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ZimRights News
Welcome to ZimRights News
Welcome to the first edition of ZimRights News for 2021. This is 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 Whats App message on +263 734 053 955

As we begin the year, we start by reflecting on the work we did in 2020. We share with you our 2020 Impact Report. In the course of the year, we successfully implemented 7 projects covering 10 provinces of Zimbabwe and the 11th Virtual Province of Zimbabweans from all walks of life. Through these projects, we reached out to 200 000 people through online and physical interactions. Our digital platforms made 3,9 million impressions at their peak in the month of August. We amplified the human rights discourse and unraveled human rights violations in communities. We brought communities to the centre of the policy conversations on proposed constitutional amendments. We rendered assistance to 1200 victims of human rights violations and supported 26 activists in distress. We welcomed 3949 new members to the ZimRights family. We believe we made a difference. Read our full Impact Report here.
Pre-trial Incarceration: The excessive and irrational use of pre-trial detention has spilled into the new year, 2021. Allan Moyo, 23, a University of Zimbabwe student arrested on the 7th of December 2020 is still in detention. Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono arrested on the 8th of January 2021 was only given bail at the High Court on the 27th of January. ZimRights has condemned unnecessary pre-trial incarceration as it is an attack on fundamental freedoms more-so during this Covid-19 pandemic as it exposes citizens to the virus. Read our full statement here.

Lockdown: On 2 January 2021, Health and Child Care Minister Constantino Chiwenga who also doubles as the Vice President announced a national 30-day lockdown period. On 29 January, as Acting President, Minister Chiwenga extended the lockdown again to 15 February. The government however did not announce any plans to support citizens who are unable to work during this lockdown. Citizens, most of whom are self-employed are grappling with the economic hardships that have been worsened by the pandemic. Even in his address on 23, January, President Emmerson Mnangagwa did not give any indication on when citizens will be assisted though he told the nation, “help is coming.”

Weaponisation of Covid-19: The imposition of another month and a half hard lockdown without the provision of social safety nets has resulted in increasing crime and offenses. In the weekly Covid-19 Task-force statement on 28 January 2021, acting information Minister, Jenfan Muswere said as of 20 January 2021, a total of 347 264 people had been arrested countrywide for violating the Covid-19 regulation and of these 119 557 had been arrested for not wearing masks properly. ZimRights raised concern over the reckless detention of citizens over trivial crimes, exposing them to Covid-19 in the already overcrowded prisons. Read full Statement on Weaponisation of Covid-19 here

Extra-Judicial Killings: On the 16th of January 2021, six Infantry Battalion Soldiers who were deployed at Guinea Fowl base, Gweru shot Tatenda Munetsiwa (42) who later died, Matambanadzo Munetsiwa and Farai Vakirai who are still nursing injuries. Reports say the three had confronted soldiers after distress calls from other villagers who were being assaulted by the soldiers who claimed that they were looking for copper cable thieves.

Police Brutality: On the 8th of January 2021, police in Kwekwe reportedly mistakenly shot a 23-year-old woman Deon Jayne Craig while searching for the woman’s brother, Maxwell. It is reported that the bullet is still lodged in her right foot.

Hefty Fines: In a notice in the extraordinary Gazette on 25 January 2021, the government published the amended new scale of fines with massive increases. A legal watchdog Veritas deems the notice to be invalid. Citizens bemoaned that the massive increases despite the government mantra of currency stability will fuel corruption within the police force as citizens are likely to opt to pay bribes than the hefty fines. ZimRights is challenging the new fines at the High Court as due process was not followed.
On 25 February 2021, starting at 10am, ZimRights will host its first Right to Peace Global Summit, bringing together leading global peace experts and ZimRights community leaders for an exchange on peacebuilding as a tool for realising human rights in communities.

The Summit will run under the theme - Sustaining Peace Through Human Rights in Zimbabwe. ZimRights will take this occasion to launch its Right to Peace Manual.

Details of the event will be shared with registered participants. To register, send an email to [email protected]
Civic Engagement Beyond Covid 19
On 3 December 2020, ZimRights held a Youth Human Rights Dialogue focusing on post-COVID 19 recovery plan. On the sidelines of the dialogue which was broadcast on ZiFM Stereo, ZimRights National Director Dzikamai Bere sat down with ZiFM's Patience Musa to reflect on the road ahead for human rights. Bere spoke about the need to invest in innovative tools that allow for civic engagement even in times when movement and association are restricted. You can listen to the conversation here.
ZimRights believes that freedom from poverty is a human right. Poverty is not only the deprivation of economic or material resources but a violation of human dignity too. The late United Nations Former Secretary-General United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. once said "Wherever we lift one soul from a life of poverty, we are defending human rights. And whenever we fail in this mission, we are failing human rights." To fight the biting poverty, ZimRights members have initiated several income-generating projects among them, detergent making project in Cowdray Park Bulawayo, a dishwashing project in Plumtree, a poultry project in Nyamazizi Mt Darwin, and several gardens throughout the provinces. Read more on our social media pages.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) published the education in crisis report that noted that education in Zimbabwe is now in an intensive care system, trapped in a multifaceted crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. The report states that the education system had no remote policy and that only 5% of the learners were able to do virtual learning after the Covid-19 shutdown. The report also finds that there has been no investment in school infrastructure development and notes that without capacitating the teachers, the right to education will remain compromised. Among the recommendations is that government should fully implement section 75 of the constitution that provides for the right to education including basic state-funded education. If you want to receive the report on What's App, send us a Whats App message on +263 772 954 075.
On 30 September 2020, The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission launched the Report of the Inquiry on Access to Documentation. The report finds, among other shocking findings, that over 2,3million children in Zimbabwe have no birth certificates, a wholesale violation of the right to identity. See the full report here. To help citizens interact with this report we are featuring this month an Analysis of the ZHRC report. Our Special Report titled, 'An Analysis of the Report on National Inquiry and Access to Documentation in Zimbabwe' provides some important recommendations on how citizens can act on the findings of the ZHRC. Download the featured report below.
While it is necessary to lock down the country as a preventative measure to stop the rapid spread of Covid-19, locking people in their homes whose survival is from hand to mouth is inhumane. A street vendor who used to sell her wares in the CBD, who only wanted to be identified as Mai Faith speaks on the imposed lockdown without the provision of social safety nets for the poor.

ZimRights Seeks Court Intervention
for a Covid-19 Vaccination Plan
On 3 February 2021, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court in Harare, seeking to compel the government of Zimbabwe to provide a COVID-19 National Vaccination Deployment Plan and the accompanying budget in the face of a ravaging pandemic that has killed over two million people worldwide and over 1200 in Zimbabwe. Read our full statement here on this development.
By Francisca Zengwa
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, in a recent report documented over 2 million Zimbabweans who have no access to documentation, a reality that hampers their access to many other rights. In November 2020, the Supreme Court was asked to make a determination in the case of Mr. Wheeler against the Registrar-General who was being denied citizenship on the basis that he had acquired the citizenship of another country. Francis Zengwa, our Projects Lawyer discusses this case in light of the ZHRC report and the right to access documentation. Read the full article here.
We welcome your feedback. If you have updates to share with us, email [email protected]
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Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
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