Rights-based approach key in solving socio-economic challenges

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GEORGE MAKONI – THE recent decision to demolish illegal structures by the Local Government ministry failed to consider a number of key issues, hence is irrational and insensitive.

In doing so, the government indeed put the cart before the horse.

In as much as issues to do with proper urban and rural planning are critical, it is also important to consider issues to do with the citizenry, particularly on their livelihoods and other related rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights (Chapter 4.)

The political and strategic factors — in my view — including the fact that the citizenry has generally been demobilised by Covid-19 hugely catalysed this decision, as it was guaranteed that they would not resist and indeed it worked as planned.

The need for proper urban and rural planning in development must be twinned with realities that the informal sector is the backbone of our economy. Formal employment, as a result, is now a thing of the past to the majority of Zimbabweans.

The idea of designated market places, set to accommodate those in the informal sector is quite noble, but lacks the desired preparedness on the part of the government. For instance, the scarcity of resources to establish the facilities is genuine.

Local authorities are visibly struggling to set up the alternative market places. There are generally no clear timelines to complete these projects and the numbers expected to be accommodated are enormous.

The initiatives by the government, through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development and Youth ministries to release relief funds to those in the informal sector appear to be short-term interventions and they fall short of meeting the needs of all and sundry.

Clearly, the majority of those in the informal sector might lose whatever livelihood they might have as a result of the demolitions of the illegal operating sites. Are there any plans or discussions taking place to provide alternative opportunities? To what extent are we prepared to tackle the related tasks in line with the available resources?

The unexpected entry of the Covid-19 pandemic into the fray is also an eye-opener to civic society on the kind of programming which really has positive impact on target groups.

A human rights-based approach and the promotion of livelihoods address many of the underlying drivers of conflict. For example, strengthening social and economic rights through improved service delivery of duty bearers helps prevent violent conflicts.

 

There is need to have an integrative approach or to twin the efforts of political and civic rights together with social, economic and cultural rights. Economic, social, and cultural rights include the human right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, and housing, the right to physical and mental health, the right to social security, the right to a healthy environment and the right to education. Twinning is mainly to acknowledge how efforts in human rights can pave the way for changes in equally critical livelihood issues.

Concerted efforts of State and non-State actors in ensuring that the survival of the poor gets a place on the top of the development agenda remains crucial. Ideas on how best communities can sustain their livelihoods best come from them and should not to be discussed in the comfort of beautiful offices or hotels.

Complementing others, rather than competing is key not only between the State and non-State actors. With civic society, it is key to have concerted efforts to avoid duplication. Coalescing on lobbying the policy makers on people-centred interventions and policies will have the right impact on communities.

The people must take the centre stage in efforts towards addressing the challenges that affect them.

 Makoni is a pro-democracy activist and writes here in his own capacity. 

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