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ZimRights News
ISSUE 4 I 30 April 2021
Welcome to ZimRights News
Welcome to ZimRights News, a Monthly Human Rights Update brought to you by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association. We capture for you all the key human rights developments in Zimbabwe. To receive the audio version of this newsletter, subscribe here Or send us a WhatsApp message on +263 772954075

Constitutional Amendment Bill number 2: On 20 April 2021, the mutilation to our progressive constitution became real when 191 members of the lower house of the National Assembly passed Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 with only 22 voting against the Bill. The Bill will go to Senate where it is likely to sail through with Zanu PF senators conniving with the Douglas Mwonzora camp. The Bill is harmful to democracy and human rights because it allows the President to capture the judges of the superior courts among other unspeakable transgressions. The Bill also takes away important functions of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and places them under the Public Protector an entity that is not as Independent as the ZHRC. The bill also removes the running mates clause during Presidential elections taking away the power from the citizens to vote for deputy Presidents. The removal of the requirement to advertise the post of the prosecutor general and subject candidate to public interview aids to abuse of power by a sitting president. The Bill entrenches more power in the presidency. Read our full statement against the bill here.

Legislating Patriotism: While the Constitution allows for Freedom of Expression, this right is again under threat as the government of Zimbabwe attempts to legislate patriotism through the clearly unpatriotic proposed Patriot Bill. The Bill will criminalise fundamental rights such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of Association. We reflect on the proposed bill in our Independence Day statement here.

State Intensifies Attacks on Activists: On 6 April 2021, Political Activist Makomborero Haruzivishe was sentenced to 14 months in prison for inciting public violence and resisting arrest. Joana Mamombe and Celia Chimbiri continue to languish at Chikurubi. Mamombe was forcefully taken away from a Parktown hospital on 22 April while undergoing treatment following her falling ill while in prison. While activists are locked up for defending rights and fighting for a better Zimbabwe, the corrupt are protected and their cases keep dragging at courts. Listen to ZimRights Director speak against the victimisation of Joana Mamombe.

Police Brutality Continues Against Lawyers and Journalists: On 6 April 2021, journalist Samuel Takawira was assaulted by police while lawfully carrying out his media duties at the rotten row magistrates’ courts. On 30 April, ZLHR Lawyer Webster Jiti was briefly arrested and harassed at the Rotten Row Magistrates Court while representing his client Takudzwa Ngadziore.

Torture: On 15 April 2021, Legwani Mavhunga and Munyaradzi Mafararikwa were arrested at Rotten Row Magistrate court while attending Job Sikhala’s court case. The two were accused of demonstrating. While in police custody, the two were reportedly tortured and Mavhunga had an unknown substance poured on his face resulting in severe skin burns. The two as is now the norm with political arrests were denied bail on 17 April. 

Arbitrary Arrests: April was dominated by arbitrary arrests especially of perceived political opponents. On 23 April 2021, 9 Masvingo residents were arrested for taking their empty water buckets to the city council offices to demonstrate against critical water shortages. This is despite that section 77(a) that guarantees the right to safe, clean, and portable water. The 9 spent a night in cells and were admitted on $5000 bail each. Vimbai Tome was arrested on 6 April 2021 at Rotten Row magistrates’ courts after raising alarm that a police officer had fondled her breasts. Several other youths were arrested and charged with public nuisance. In Hwange. On 15 April 2021, Never Tshuma the chairperson for the Dinde Development Association which has been resisting a Chinese coal project was arrested accused of inciting the villagers to object to the project.

Displacements: Business and the State continue to collude to displace indigenous communities in favour of capitalists. In Dinde, Hwange the community is under threat from a Chinese company that started coal exploration in the area on 15 April 2021 despite community resistance that the project violated their environmental and land rights.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) We Lead, and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) will be hosting a Virtual Constitution Rally on Thursday 6 May 2021 as a platform for the Zimbabwean citizens at home and abroad to register their outrage at the ongoing mutilation of the Zimbabwean Constitution. 

To participate in the Constitution Rally, please register here

Ahead of the rally, we further invite you to a series of actions aimed at showing your outrage.

1. Use the hashtag #ResistDictatorship to post on social media. Record a video, or a voice note and share it with us on +263734053955 and we will share this on our platforms
2. Write or call your Member of Parliament and let them know that you disapprove of the mutilation of the Zimbabwean Constitution
3. Call your friends and tell them about this campaign and ask them to plug in.

Thank you for participating in this action.

Please note that the Rally will be live-streamed on our Facebook Pages

ZimRights believes that it is only through being knowledgeable that communities can push their representatives to change laws that violate the constitution. Realising the great betrayal by 191 members of the lower house of the National Assembly, we are sharing with citizens more resources for action against amendments to the constitution. You still have the chance to speak to your senators. In this resource, we explain why this amendment is bad for our country. We also share the details of the senators whom you can call to ask them to stop the amendment. Download this resource here. And do not forget to attend the Constitution Rally. Registration is here. Additionally use the #ResistDictatorship to share more views and actions.
ZimRights Members in Gutu Confront Council Over Possible Displacements.
Conscious of their rights in the event of displacements, Hwicho community of Gutu District in Masvingo Province engaged council for clarity as the Gutu Rural District Council had been mooting expanding its territory to encompass the Hwicho, Mukadziwashe and Machaya communal lands as part of its growth point expansion. Since March 2020, the council has been surveying and pegging works without involving and officially communicating with the affected communities. An estimated 400 households would be affected by the council’s move. The communities, alert of their rights and dissatisfied with council communication using unofficial channels, the ZimRights members wrote to council seeking clarity on the displacements matter. Gutu RDC responded to the letter assuring the community that should the council decide to acquire their land for developmental purposes due process will be followed. Read the full report here.
#Hands Off The Peoples’ Constitution: Citizens Gear Up for the Constitution Rally
ZimRights continues with its campaign to defend the constitution. With 191 House of Assembly members voting in support of Constitutional Amendment Bill number 2, ZimRights has reignited campaigns for citizens to question their MPs who voted for the bill. ZimRights issued a press statement denouncing the overwhelming vote for amendments that entrenches power in the Presidency. In addition to the statement, we are inviting all citizens to get in touch with their members of parliament and register their disapproval. The details of how to get in touch with your MPs are on the Parliament website. On Thursday 6 May 2021, ZimRights, WeLead, ZPP and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will convene a Constitution Rally where citizens will express their outrage at the ongoing attacks on the Constitution. If you wish to participate in this rally, please check our social media pages for details on how to register.
Should Companies Suspend Patent Rights on COVID 19 Vaccines?
26 April 2021 was World Intellectual Property Day. ZimRights teamed up with ZIMCODD, Magamba Network, Kubatana, Citizen Manifest and VISET to confront the question: Should Companies Suspend Patent Rights on COVID 19 Vaccines? Under the Peoples Vaccine Campaign, the six organisations held a panel discussion in which panellists spoke out against the current vaccine apartheid in which rich countries are monopolising the vaccine while poor countries struggle to acquire vaccines. The campaign called on world leaders to ensure that the widening gap of vaccine access between developing countries and the developed countries is closed. “This can be done through waiving patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines and increasing funding for procurement, science, research, and awareness programs related to COVID-19.” Said the Campaign in a statement released on the day. Watch the panel discussion here. 
By Kenias Shonhai
ZimRights Blog: Mutilation of the Constitution by the People’s Representatives
In our featured blog, ZimRights Projects Lawyer, Kenias Shonhai explains the implications of the actions of the 191 members of the House of Assembly who voted for Constitutional Amendment Bill number 2. Read the article below.

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