Android Application Promotes Rights in Zimbabwe

June 18, 2015

An Android Application of the Declaration of Rights contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) was recently launched to inform Zimbabweans of their constitutional human rights and increasing their ability  to demand the enforcement of those rights. Though political analysts say the Decalaration of Rights in Zimbabwe’s highest law is highly progressive there is very little knowledge about it among the citizens. The application which is now available in the Google playstore seeks to plug this anomaly.  

With mobile phone penetration estimated at over 100 percent in Zimbabwe, mobile telephony is increasingly becoming a key tool to empowering citizens with access to information. According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), there are over 13.5 million active mobile telephony subscribers in Zimbabwe, most of whom can potentially download the application thanks to the high penetration of Android phones.

Hivos Southern Africa Hub, with financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is managing the project titled “Fostering Constitutionalism: Promoting the Enforcement of Socio-Economic and Environmental Human Rights in Zimbabwe.” The Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) is implementing the project in partnership with Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s high mobile penetration to empower citizens and enhance their spirit of constitutionalism.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Zimbabwe, Gerdine Albertine Agnes Sneller, who officially launched the application, highlighted the importance of social media and ICTs in promoting development work, particularly human rights and constitutionalism.

The DoR App contains an introductory section with an explanation of what the Declaration of Rights is. It makes a distinction between civil and political rights, and socio-economic and environmental rights. The human rights Section details all human rights provisions (civil, political, socio-economic and environmental) in the constitution. The app also contains a section on limitations to the human rights that outlines provisions that limit the realisation of human rights. Lastly, there is a section on enforcement of human rights through the courts and independent commissions.

“In Zimbabwe alone, it is estimated that the unique subscriber penetration (subscribers who are actually on mobile devices or have multiple-active mobile SIM cards) stands at 60 percent. Fast growing internet penetration is also delivering a unique audience that development organisations can target through innovative ICTs,” said CALR Executive Director Nyasha Chishakwe at the launch of the application.

Deborah Baron, LRF’s Executive Director, said that modern technologies have a key role to play in promoting human rights in Zimbabwe.

“LRF is proud of this initiative that seeks to offer the public a valuable information resource through the use of modern technologies,” she said, adding that LRF has a long history of simplifying and packaging legal issues in a way that is accessible to a majority of Zimbabwean citizens.