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Why the world is shunning Zim’s business without human rights

BY DZIKAMAI BERE

Only a criminal economy can exist in a place where there is no sanctity for human dignity.

On June 15 2019, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Forum) released the report, Business without Conscience: Human Rights Principles and Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement. (See the report here http://www.hrforumzim.org/alerts/bwc/)

In this report, the Forum noted that: “states that respect the rights of their own people tend to feel uncomfortable, fully embracing and associating as partners with states that
violate the rights of their own citizens.” The report proposes that the “open for business mantra” should be accompanied by tangible improvements in human conditions internally and
these must include the realisation and full enjoyment of human rights by all people who live in Zimbabwe and all those who call Zimbabwe their home.

On August 23 2019, the Forum released the report: The New Deception- What has changed: Baseline Study on the Record of Zimbabwe’s New Dispensation in Upholding Human Rights. (See the
report here http://www.hrforumzim.org/news/newdeception/)

The report shows that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe is worsening under the “new dispensation” because there is a greater tendency by the government to employ much greater
violence. In August 2019 alone, the Forum documented 18 cases of abductions and an unprecedented attack on fundamental freedoms. In full glare of the world, the Zimbabwean government
attacked unarmed civilians with unmitigated ruthlessness.

Hardly a week after deploying scarce resources to cause violence against defenceless people, President Emmerson Mnangagwa carried on the national begging bowel to the International
Conference on African Development which took place from August 28-30 2019 where he met a Japanese delegation in a meeting which The Herald of August 25, 2019 had described as “a major
engagement set to unlock mutually beneficial opportunities between Harare and Tokyo”.

After the meeting, the Japanese Foreign Affairs ministry issued a statement and shared with the world the minutes of the engagement. The statement stated:

“Prime Minister Abe mentioned the importance of institutional reforms for promoting business, as discussed at the Ticad7, and stated that, “We hope that reform will be promoted and
democratisation will be advanced in Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Mnangagwa.” (See full statement here https://www.mofa.go.jp/afr/af2/zw/page3e_001092.html)

This statement tells us that civilised governments are not keen on doing business with those who violate human rights. Where the situation may seem like, they are eager to let the world
know that they are not in that business.

All these developments are happening in the context where we need the world. We cannot stand on our own and cannot afford the arrogance of telling anyone to go to hell because the only
hell here is the hell that our government has created for its people. Currently, the World Food Programme is estimating that over 5,5 million Zimbabweans will need food aid starting
this October. (see report here https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1043861)

The truth is that, without investing in human rights protection and promotion, no civilised government or business will be interested in investing in our country because such investment
is seen as investing in the repression of the people.

This would call into question issues of morality. Why should any business or government, unless they were intrinsically evil
themselves, trust a business partner who shows no regard for the sanctity of life. If they can kill and abduct their own people, why would anyone trust them with money? It takes a
special kind of idiocy to ignore these truths.

Dzikamai Bere is the programmes coordinator at the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. He writes in his personal capacity. Comments can be sent to dzikamaibere@gmail.com

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