the need for government and investors to promote, protect, and fulfil human
rights of communities especially
Environmental, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (EESCR), the Zimbabwe
Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has introduced a webinar series to
deliberate on how Zimbabwe can poise economic expectation against the respect
for human rights including how the courts and the legal professionals can play
a pivotal role in the protection of EESCR in Zimbabwe.
Speaking during the first segment of
the virtual meeting on the 27th of April,2021, ZELA Executive
Director in his introductory remarks noted that, progressive realisation of
rights also entails the capacity of the judiciary to enforce EESCR including
affording remedies when these have been violated. The balance
between the promotion of human rights and development projects is hinged on the
broader principles of good governance and comprehensive legal framework.
Chair and Professor of Law, Tumai Murombo did not mince his words highlighting that
theoretically, Zimbabwe has necessary instruments with Section 3 of the
Constitution’s founding values and principles being clear
on the supremacy of the Constitution; the rule of law; fundamental human rights
and freedoms; good governance among others that provide a
basis to uphold the tenets of the supreme law of the land
hinged on values of promoting, protecting, and fulfilling human rights.
that, “The fulfilment of EESCR depends on the rule of law, good governance,
institutional integrity and resilience of institutions a State puts in place to
ensure that these rights are protected, promoted and fulfilled. Indicators of
good governance include transparency and at theoretical level indeed these
values represent a good basis for Zimbabwe.
country has all the values that are expected in a democratic society but the
question many have been grappling with for many decades is whether we uphold
these indicators which are necessary? These values must be embedded in society
and everyone should abide to these.
The rule of
law is a double-edged sword which can be used to repress or to suppress but it
can also be a fundamental principle necessary for everyone to enjoy EESCR. The
promotion, protection, and fulfilment of EECR requires a delicate balance at a
theoretical level and in practice.”.
the aspect of litigation, renowned lawyer Tendai Biti Litigation highlighted
that litigation is a strong tool for changing the status quo and organisations
and lawyers should not tire in using this avenue. He advised that Lawyers need
a good knowledge base on procedural law and the law in general that affects the
enjoyment of EESC rights. This is because sound appreciation of the politics of
the bench will help in crafting strategies when going to court. He gave an example of the Indian
jurisprudence in drafting cases that the lawyers can pluck a leaf from.
expressed concern on how the Constitutional court has adopted an attitude of
avoidance, in some instances employing doctrines such as that of rightness,
mootness. Sadly, some citizens are being thrown out of court over flimsy
technicalities. Thus, there is need to know the procedural law, he emphasized.
practitioner, Richard Ncube also highlighted that it is important to encourage
litigants to participate and become relevant in the good governance trajectory
that is envisioned by the Constitution although it is concerning to note how
some of them end up receiving threats and intimidation from known
and unknown people. It is therefore critical to
manage expectation of communities and ensure that there is close attention paid
to their safety and security in politically charged cases.
on the same one of the participants had this to say,
“When you have,
citizens being intimidated to the extent of fearing to vindicate their rights
in courts in a lawful manner, then civil and political rights are compromised.
This is one of the major challenges in Zimbabwe. Citizens should be free to
litigate and defend their rights without fear. Without a guarantee of equal
protection of the law EESC rights become difficult to enforce”.