Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) have just learnt that the Zimbabwean government has ordered the cancellation of the coronation of Crown Prince Bulelani Lobhengula arguing that the installation of the Crown Prince is unconstitutional.
1. As MIHR we have seen a letter signed by Minister J. G Moyo (Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing) on 27 February 2018 addressed to the Crown Council Chairman Chief Mathema, which orders the cancellation.
2. As a human rights watchdog, we wish to advise the Government of Zimbabwe and the Minister that there is nothing unconstitutional with a people crowning their Crown Prince or resuscitating the Lobhengula throne. However, the decision that the government has taken (via the Minister) is unconstitutional and violates local and international law. The following are the laws that the Minister’s directive is violating:
a) Article 27(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says _“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”_
b) Article 1 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which stipulates that _“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”_
c) Article 2(1) and (2) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities which stipulates that _“Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (hereinafter referred to as persons belonging to minorities) have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.
Persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic and public life.”_
d) Article 22 of the African Charter on Human and People’ Rights which says _“All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.”_
e) Section 63(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which spells out that _“Every person has the right to participate in the cultural life of their choice”._
3. It is in this light therefore that we call on the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Government of Zimbabwe to act constitutionally and allow the Crown Council to continue with their event of coronation Crown Prince Bulelani Lobhengula.
4. We further remind the Minister and the Government that under international law, they have the duty and obligation to protect the cultural rights of the Ndebele people who want to install their Crown Prince. Specifically Article 1(1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities mandates that _“States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”_
5. We also wish to remind the Minister and the Government that under the Constitution of Zimbabwe and specifically Section 16(3) the Constitution mandates the _“State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take measures to ensure due respect for the dignity and traditional institutions”_ and therefore the Minister’s decision doesn’t show respect and dignity for the Ndebele traditional institution.
6. Furthermore, Section 44 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates that _“The State and every person, including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of the government at every level must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and freedoms”_ contained in the Constitution.
7. We further encourage the Crown Council to claim their right by challenging this unconstitutional decision of the Minister through all legally and non-violently available mechanisms including the courts.
_MIHR General Secretary_