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THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is giving free legal aice on social and economic rights to poor citizens who cannot afford lawyers.

Officials from the organisation said the aim is to empower poor citizens with knowledge on how they can litigate and get legal recourse.

“We are giving back to the communities that we serve by coming out to peri- urban and rural areas where access to information is limited. Apart from providing free legal assistance we are also educating them on the social and economic rights that are enshrined in the new constitution,” ZLHR director Irene Petras told NewZimbabwe.com in an interview.

The Human rights watchdog said it was targeting areas like Hopely and the farming communities where social and economic rights were violated without being reported mainly because of the victims’ ignorance.

Such rights include access to clean water, right to decent shelter, access to treatment, child marriages, child labour and physical abuse by law enforcement agents.

Marufu Mandewere, one of the ZLHR officials carrying out the programme, said the response they have received so far was over whelming.

“There are a lot of sad stories coming out of this community (Epworth) the issues range from poor service delivery to gender based violence,” said Mandewere.

He added: “From here we are going to compile all the cases and categorize them in accordance with their relevance and time before we proceed to the courts. We are also going to share them with other organizations which provide legal assistance like the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association which will them deal with them.”

NewZimbabwe.com spoke to one Murambiwa Nyakunaka who claimed to have once worked for the Chitungwiza municipality for more than 30 years in the 1970s and was retrenched without benefits.

The elderly man said he was seeking for information on how he could claim “compensation” from the local authority.

He said: “I do not remember the exact year I lost my job but it was in the late 70s .We were told that we were going to be compensated us but up to now they have not,” said Nyakunaka.

“Whenever I approach the municipality they say they do not have my records because the case is too old. They also say the ones who were in charge then had since died and they cannot help me.”

Source : New Zimbabwe