Visiting justice Minister of Namibia Yvonne Dausab (R) talks to Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly Coordinator Zakithi Sibandze during the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Summit  and The 3rd Biennial  General Assembly at Ciela resort in Chongwe District on Monday, November 28,2022 .Picture by THOMAS NSAMA/ZANIS




Zambian musician Chama Fumba commonly known as Pilato (R) discusses with The Zambian Lecturer in Modern History Dr SIshuwa Sishuwa (C) and Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa during the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Summit  and The 3rd Biennial  General Assembly at Ciela resort in Chongwe District on Monday, November 28,2022 .Picture by THOMAS NSAMA/ZANIS

By Elijah Ngoma – The Scope Newspaper Zambia

THIS year’s Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Summit (SAHRDS) which attracted delegates across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region focused on the vulnerability of those that are always on the forefront fighting for democracy and peace in their nations.

The 2022 SAHRDS themed: ” A Journey to Sustainability: Protecting Civic Space through Strengthening Institutions for and Networks of Environmental and Human Rights Defenders in Southern Africa,” was held at Ciela Bonanza Resort in Chongwe District, east of Lusaka Province.

Speaking at the same event, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) Borniface Chembe
reiterated a need to have a very strong legal framework that backs the works of Human Rights Defenders, a desire enveloped in SACCORD spearheading the formulation of a bill on the protection of HRD’s.

Mr. Chembe says entrenching backwards and forward linkages that connect grassroots communities to the national and regional levels must be prioritized.

Chembe appreciated the collaborative initiative made by the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) and the Zambia Human Rights Defenders Network (ZHRDN) as a step in the right direction, designed to consolidate democracy and overall good governance.

Said Chembe: “The initiative will help generate strategic options of what is to be done. There is still a lot that is supposed to be done, and that it is the duty of partners like the media, who can be instrumental in the dissemination of the information to be strengthened as a communication platform”.

Chembe is delighted that Zambia has made a lot of efforts to ensure that as much as possible necessary space required for airing democratic preferences is guaranteed.

The SACCORD Executive Director encouraged formulation and enactment of laws and systems facilitating smooth operation of the HRD’s.

Chembe emphasized a need to do more were legal reforms are concerned.

Meanwhile, Namibian Minister of Justice Ms. Yvonne Dausab
has urged the human rights defenders network to remain united if they are to continue speaking the same language and fighting the same just cause.

Ms. Dausab noted existence of a real fight frustrating those promoting rights of voiceless people in the Southern African region.

She reminded delegates that there is need for real change especially in western Sahara, as people want justice, peace among the many good governance aspirations.

Ms. Dausab expressed shock that countries in Southern African region, which is 62-years-old of independence like Madagascar are still struggling compared to young democracies like 32-year-old Namibia.

“The above scenario makes very sad reading and just reminds all leaders of the great works they have at their hands to improve the welfare and economies of the SADC region,” Ms. Dausab advised.

Commended as a forthright leader during her civil society life, Ms. Dausab preached a need for peers to transform the thinking of the African History.

And Constitutional Lawyer (SC) John Sangwa,
as a constitutional lawyer called for institutional change as people focus on the consolidated good governance.

Mr. Sangwa advised delegates to look at the present day environment as taking this in context will make work more realistic.

State Counsel Sangwa regretted that human rights defenders are fighting for their survival, invariably making it difficult for them to act effectively.

Sangwa says transformation in the area of democracy and freedom of expression must be entrenched.

And Southern African Human Rights Executive Director Washington Katema
sought a mechanism that focuses beyond those that are known or elite communities.

Quizzed State Counsel Sangwa: “We need deliberate measures to provide security upgrade on the premises and offices used. If need be installed cameras will protect us. There is need to offer holistic mental support and protection of those facing arrests. We have come up with laws to defend human rights activists as is the case in Togo.
We need to ask ourselves, who the enemies of our society are? Are we as civil society the ones at fault, or it is those violating our human rights?”

On his part, Activist Fumba Chama, branded as Pilato says it is everyone’s duty as a human rights defender to fight vulnerability.

“It is every persons responsibility to protect the human rights of citizens.
There is need for political will from government as duty holders, just as right holders must not sit on their constitutional obligations and privileges,” admonished Pilato.

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