'No freedom after expression in Africa'

'No freedom after expression in Africa'
Published: 22 July 2019 (77 Views)
A PRELIMINARY report on the implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), has revealed gaps in implementing the African Union charter on human rights such as freedom of expression and association.

Presenting the preliminary findings of the report, which is yet to be fully unveiled, at an ActionAid workshop on ACDEG in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Johannes Chiminya — an ActionAid Pan African governance adviser, said freedom of expression is still a pipedream and is not guaranteed in most African countries that are ACDEG member States.

ACDEG is a charter that emphasises the significance of good governance, popular participation of citizens in governance issues, the rule of law and governance issues, and its mission is to help African countries strengthen institutions of good governance, continental unity and solidarity.

This African Union (AU) charter has been signed by 46 countries and ratified by 33, with Zimbabwe having ratified ACDEG in March this year.

"On freedom of expression, we found that in all countries, legal provisions are in place, but in practice, it was not being implemented," Chiminya, a Zimbabwean, said.

"Most people in African countries are free to say what they want, but there is no guaranteed freedom after expression."
In Zimbabwe, several people have been arraigned before the courts for their anti-government rants and for criticising President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

This is despite the country having a beautiful Constitution which stipulates freedom of information and expression.

Binga North MP Gabuza Joel Gabbuza (MDC Alliance) is currently grappling with a court case under the harsh Criminal Law and Codification Act, where he is accused of referring to Mnangagwa as a clueless "dog" with no capacity to solve Zimbabwe's economic malaise.

Another opposition legislator, Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala, has also been arraigned before the courts and is facing treason charges after saying Mnangagwa's government will soon be removed from power while addressing a political party rally in Masvingo.

These cases show that while section 61 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the media, there is no freedom after expression.

ACDEG article 2 (10) stipulates that all member States must "promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the Press and accountability in the management of public affairs".

Chiminya said their findings also revealed that whenever citizens demanded an end to corruption in most African countries, they were often harassed or victimised.

Zimbabwe currently does not have a Whistleblower Act, which is pivotal to protect people that report corruption so that they are not victimised.

Mnangagwa vowed that his government will have a no-nonsense approach to corruption, and that all corrupt people would be arrested despite their political muscle.

Some bigwigs in Zanu-PF, including former ministers Ignatius Chombo (Finance), David Parirenyatwa (Health), Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government) and several other government officials were arrested for corruption, but people have seen this as mere targeting of political opponents that served in deposed Mugabe's government.
There has also been very few convictions of bigwigs facing corruption charges, with only the small fish being jailed.

Chiminya said in most countries, laws were passed to constrain activities of civic society organisations so that they stay mum on corruption. The laws hardly empowered citizens to speak out against corruption.

Article 3 (9) of ACDEG stipulates that: "State parties shall follow the principle of condemnation and rejection of acts of corruption, related offenses and impunity."

ACDEG article 33 emphasises a lot on effective and efficient management of State resources, promoting transparency in public finance management, preventing and combating corruption, preventing and combating corruption and crime and implementing economic development strategies to combat poverty as well as strengthening of transparency and accountability institutions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

Billions of dollars from natural resources such as diamond cannot be accounted for in Zimbabwe and billions more having been lost through illicit financial flows.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has, every year, produced damning reports on financial impropriety at public institutions and ministries which have resulted in several millions of dollars being lost.

However, the same anomalies that she points out keep recurring every year.

Ghanaian academic Kwame Karikari told journalists at the ActionAid workshop in Ethiopia that there is need for citizen capacitation to speak out against corruption.

Batlokoa Makang, the AU peer review mechanism liaison officer, said the AU charter also placed a lot of emphasis on the fight against corruption in Africa.

He said although the AU can penalise countries that do not adhere to what is stipulated in its charters, it still follows former Organisation of African Unity principles of non-interference on member States.

"African civic society needs to be strong enough to pressurise governments to do what they are supposed to do and exert pressure against corruption," Makang said.

Women and children are at the receiving end of economic maladministration.

On independent institutions such as commissions, Chiminya said their study found that in most cases, these were infiltrated by members of the ruling elite and were very poorly funded to execute their mandate.

In Zimbabwe, the Constitution stipulates that those who sit on independent commissions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), among others, should be chosen through public interviews, where 12 are shortlisted and the President then appoints nine out of the 12. This should also follow tenets of gender equality.

This has been successfully followed, although there are still complaints that the electoral body Zec is made up of ruling party sympathisers, despite government denying the allegations by opposition political parties.

ACDEG article 14 (1) and (2) stipulates that: "State parties shall establish public institutions that promote and support democracy and constitutional order," and (2), "State parties shall ensure that the independence or autonomy of the said institutions is guaranteed by the constitution."

Chiminya said: "In most institutions, there is no trust by citizens because most top level officials in public institutions are nominated by the President and there is high interference. There is also a perception that most public institutions are corrupt; for example, the police in Zimbabwe.

"There is need for openness and transparency in selection of public officials rather than leaving it to the President because at the end governments (should) be run at the mercy of citizens."

He said lack of funding means institutions like the ZHRC cannot adequately fulfil their monitoring function, thus good governance and monitoring is weakened.

- newsday

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Patrick Zhuwao reveals how Mnangagwa captured the judiciary

by Patrick Zhuwao | 26 August 2019 | 93 Views

New fuel prices for different cities announced

by Mandla Ndlovu | 26 August 2019 | 97 Views

Cain Mathema and Police Boss challenged over abductions

by Mandla Ndlovu | 26 August 2019 | 60 Views

Food relief for urban poor

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 57 Views

'Sanctions stifle Zimbabwe reforms'

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 48 Views

Sasai, Ecocash bureau de change to marry

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 47 Views

Govt reviews 60 IPP licences

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 50 Views

Protests warning for MDC-Alliance

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 72 Views

US comedian Steve Harvey in Victoria Falls?

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 48 Views

Dynamos, Chicken Inn in stalemate

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 44 Views

Mangudya's Treasury Bills get massive investor thumbs up

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 38 Views

Zimbabwe eyes more power imports from Mozambique

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 62 Views

Matabeleland North teachers' college set up in Hwange

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 44 Views

NGO dismisses Zimbabwe abduction claims

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 48 Views

Man stones elderly beerhall patron

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 43 Views

Deadly xenophobic attacks against truck drivers in South Africa

by Mandla Ndlovu | 26 August 2019 | 49 Views

Government commissions US$5m Zimsec printing press

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 39 Views

Pair steals US$2 300 from cars

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 39 Views

'ZCTU will protest until Mnangagwa listens'

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 34 Views

Zimbabwe lithium mine secures power supply

by newZWire | 26 August 2019 | 36 Views

Zanu-PF MP threatens Silobela miner

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 28 Views

BCC to disconnect defaulters

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 28 Views

MDC calls for regional intervention

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 28 Views

Municipalities revenue collection bid dealt blow

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 27 Views

Glen View new battlefield for Chamisa, Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 23 Views

Mutare probes MDC, Zanu-PF councillors over stands

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 33 Views

'Glen View South litmus test for Mnangagwa'

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 24 Views

Zanu-PF Youth League in door-to-door campaign

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 34 Views

UN looks into Zimbabwe rights abuses

by Staff reporter | 26 August 2019 | 29 Views

Zanu-PF congratulates Mnangagwa

by Zanu-PF | 25 August 2019 | 67 Views

Harare-Chirundu highway project begins

by Staff reporter | 25 August 2019 | 65 Views

Little change one year on from Mnangagwa's inauguration

by Bill Corcoran in Cape Town | 25 August 2019 | 74 Views

He taught us to listen, not simply hear

by Thomas Tondorindo Murisa | 25 August 2019 | 75 Views

Police State

by Zimbabwe Vigil Diary | 25 August 2019 | 64 Views