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‘Independence without freedom meaningless’

HUMAN rights watchdog Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has lamented government’s failure to live up to the ideals of true independence, where citizens were able to freely express themselves without fear of inviting the wrath of State security agents.

The ZPP made the remarks in its Independence Day message.

“ZPP joins the rest of the nation in commemorating Independence Day. Independence Day is a symbol for the fight for the one man one vote principle as well as advancement of socio-economic rights. The government has largely not lived up to these ideals, as in the past, political activity has been restricted for dissenting voices while the quality of life for citizens has deteriorated with more than 800 000 households dependent on food aid,” the ZPP statement read in part.

“This year’s independence comes a few months before the harmonised elections. Zimbabweans have, for long, waited to truly enjoy one man one vote through freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of conscience. The government has promised a free and fair election, but this is not guaranteed unless the necessary constitutional and legislative measures are implemented.”

The civil and human rights watchdog said the day also served as a reminder to the government that enough had not been done to guarantee enjoyment of socio-economic rights.
“Health continues to be elusive as the public health institutions have collapsed. The increased reports of arbitrary evictions from farms and residential areas have made the independence dream elusive. Food aid continues to be distributed in a politically partisan manner despite a dire food security situation for many households,” the statement read.

“As ZPP, we urge government to truly implement the Constitution by aligning several laws with the new Constitution to guarantee a truly free and fair one man one vote election as was envisaged on April 18, 1980 and implement policies that advance socio-economic rights.”

The ZPP’s remarks come at a time when government has announced that it had fired all striking nurses in what the human and civil rights activists described as a serious violation of the health workers’ rights to protest.

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