As millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in the historic 30 July 2018 Harmonised Elections, ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) has launched a Social Justice Manifesto which represents the voices of the people living in poverty and those facing social injustice, societal inequalities and gender discrimination. It was put together through contributions from communities, civil society organisations and social movements working with ActionAid Zimbabwe.
At a time when most people are pre-occupied with how transparent, free and fair the elections are going to be, the Social Justice Manifesto is challenging the political leadership to address bread and butter issues as their top priority and help shape a social justice agenda for Zimbabwe.
Women want accessible, affordable, available, adaptable and safe health services. They are demanding women’s empowerment that would enable their participation in decision making, access to, control over, ownership and fair distribution of resources. They are calling for safe public spaces to facilitate their meaningful participation in the national development agenda. They are seeking respect for women’s sexual autonomy and bodily integrity as well as safe, reliable and accessible public transport to allow them to travel without experiencing violence.
The young people and women want the new government to guarantee youth employment opportunities, and affordable, accessible, available, adaptable and safe education for all.
Citizens are demanding free, gender responsive public services which include health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), social protection and public safety.
Zimbabweans want to see domestic resources mobilised through progressive taxation to fund public services. There is a call for gender responsive, non-discriminatory and sexism free public institutions. The Social Justice Manifesto is also pushing for gender responsive budgets that adhere to international and regional standards by ensuring inclusiveness and respect for human rights. There is a push for women’s enhanced access, control and ownership of land and other natural resources for sustainable development, improved finance opportunities open to smallholder farmers with focus on women, and social safety nets for those in difficult circumstances to meet the basic minimum food and nutrition standards.
Communities want to enjoy land rights and legitimate tenure irrespective of race, gender and age; prioritisation of support services for climate resilient sustainable agriculture; and the establishment and strengthening of early warning systems the face of climate change. In addition, there is a campaign for effective women and youth led community-based humanitarian response systems to manage natural and human induced hazards/ disasters to promote resilient livelihoods, as elaborated in the Social Justice Manifesto.
Citizens are demanding government and public institutions to display servant-leadership with clear separation of power: The Executive, Judiciary, Legislature and the media. There is demand for democratic space for citizen’s and citizens groups to engage in civic processes to hold government to account on its commitments to human rights to entrench constitutionalism, transparency and accountability.
The Mugabe government enacted laws that continue to undermine citizens’ participation in public affairs. Will the new government repeal these laws including the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Access to Information and Privacy Act, Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (AIPA)? Will the new government ensure improved standards of accountability, democracy, and human rights in Zimbabwe? Asks Joy Mabenge, ActionAid Zimbabwe Country Director.
I had an insightful conversation with Everjoice Win ActionAid International Programmes and Global Engagement Coordinator. She feels passionately about the issues that the social justice manifesto talks about, but he raised some pertinent questions too:
People worry about whether they will be able to access money from the banks or not, whether they will be able to afford basic commodities and services come 1 August 2018, said Win during our conversation.
“Child marriage remains prevalent in Zimbabwe. Will the new government amend the Marriage Act or related legislation to comply with the Constitutional Court’s 2016 judgment under which marriage under 18 was declared unconstitutional? How will the new government utilise proceeds from our country’s immense mineral wealth to provide public services and spur economic growth that does not undermine human rights for all? Shall we continue to see collusion between business and political elites that undermines the provision of critical services such as health, education, sanitation, transport and water? “she added.
It will be interesting to see if I will find answers to the questions raised by Win. I guess I will just have to wait and see and remain cautiously hopeful.