The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has been urged to set up mobile human rights awareness clinics to increase access to human rights related information and reporting of human rights violations in remote areas.
The Commission currently has two regional offices, one in Harare and the other in Bulawayo.
Speaking at a human rights awareness public meeting in Dewe village in Matobo Ward 17, area Councilor Sikhulile Hlongwane explained that holding once off public meetings was not enough for the community to understand and be confident enough to report human rights violations.
“We have seen other organizations setting up mobile clinics such that everyone would know such and such an organization is having something at such a place on such a day, why can’t you do the same so that you become accessible to locals?”
The ZHRC representative Alondoloziwe Sitsha explained that resources were a challenge but their wish is to have an office in every District across the country.
“We acknowledge that at times it becomes difficult for people to travel to Bulawayo to make a complaint that is why we work with organizations such as Habakkuk Trust so that we can reach out to other areas.”
Some of the issues that came out of the meeting include difficulties people face in trying to acquire identification documents. One woman lamented that she has spent over 6 years trying to obtain a birth certificate for her grandson who is now 14 years.
Some contributors complained about deployment of teachers who can’t communicate in local languages which they alleged is the reason why pass rate is low in Matabeleland South region while others complained about difficulties they face trying to acquire their pension funds.
Sitsha explained that anyone who feels their rights are violated can make a complaint with the Commission.
“One can make a complaint an as individual or person can represent other people who can’t represent themselves, for example representing minors in the case of birth certificates and a person or an organization can make a complaint on behalf of a community,” he said “As the Commission, we will either give you advise you, refer you to other organizations or investigate your cases and make necessary recommendations.”
The meeting was attended by over 297 people including the local leadership.