Heal Zimbabwe director Rashid Mahiya says there has expressed concern over the continued deterioration of human rights in the country saying the State is closing the democratic space through various legislations.
In an interview with 263Chat on the sidelines of the International Human Rights Day commemorations last Friday Mahiya said the laws threaten the existence of civil society organisations and may lead to the closure of many.
“The State is closing the space and we see a lot of legislation, a lot of media laws that have been put in place, and the PVO Amendment Bill which seeks to shrink the operating space. We are saying that given the rise of vigilante groups and abductions from 2017, it’s an indication that the 2023 elections might be a violent election. We are trying to see what we can do collectively as civil society and citizens to make sure that citizens can peacefully participate in the elections.
“We see that as an infringement to the citizens’ right to association. We are fighting that as civil society. We see the civil society space being closed. We want a solution, and that’s why we are having this reflection. The proposed law, seeks to put a super minister who decides who sits in civil society organisation boards, or can suspend the leadership of non-governmental organisations,” Mahiya said
He said they were looking at ways of ensuring peace in the forthcoming 2023 elections.
“Our major concern is to look at the implications of all the discussions in having peaceful elections in 2023. We are also looking at what we can do to ensure that we have peaceful elections as well as to try to ensure and encourage peaceful elections,” he said.