United Nations Human Rights CouncilMedia Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)Weekly Media Update 2006-25Monday June 19th 2006 – Sunday June 25th 2006
IN the week under review Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa addressed the newly established United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, during which he provided the institution with a clear example of government’s warped perception on the role of non-governmental organisations operating in the field of good governance and human rights.
SW Radio Africa (22/6) and the Zimbabwe Independent (23/6) reported Chinamasa accusing these NGOs of trying to "destabilise their popularly elected government" after being "clandestinely" and "non-transparently" established by developed countries.
Said Chinamasa: "Their objectives include destabilisation and interference with the evolution of our political process, undermining our sovereignty (and) creating and sustaining local opposition groups that have no local support base".
He then appealed to the new UN council to "prohibit" direct funding of local human rights NGOs by developed countries, saying if "any (financial) assistance is desired" it should only be "channelled through the UN system".
Such unlikely claims and his brazen attempt to seek universal endorsement of government’s determination to further erode civil society’s democratic space serves to expose the authorities’ fear of having their undemocratic conduct subjected to scrutiny.
But while Chinamasa dismissed allegations of human rights violations as "fabrications" of the West and assured the Council that government would uphold the "human rights of all its people" as provided for in "Charter of the United Nations and in our Constitution", events on the ground proved otherwise.
For example, during the week the media carried six fresh cases of rights violations. These included the arrest of members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, the barring and disruption of MDC gatherings by the police, who justified their actions on grounds that they were merely enforcing the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
In one of the reports, The Standard (25/6) reported that the CIO had "threatened" some church leaders whom they accused of holding an "illegal" meeting in Highfeild.
Reportedly, one of the pastors, Bishop Levee Kadenge, has subsequently gone "underground after he was threatened with death by a CIO operative" who warned him that the intelligence agency wanted to "wipe him out".
To further illustrate the extent to which the country had become a police state, the paper cited other recent incidents in which "state security agents" had threatened student leaders and workers’ representatives against staging anti-government protests.
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