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ZimRights News
ISSUE 9 I 14 JUNE 2020
Welcome to ZimRights News
Welcome to this edition of our Weekly Human Rights News Round Up. Every week, we capture key human rights developments covering the most important human rights issues in Zimbabwe from a community perspective. If you missed our previous editions, you can find them here . If you missed our Special Message on COVID 19, you can find it here. To receive this podcast on Whats App, subscribe here

In General
Last week, we convened the First National Council meeting for 2020, bringing together representatives from all ZimRights' 11 Provincial Chapters. A full communication on the Council Resolutions will be shared soon. The highlights were that the Council unanimously adopted a New Transitional Strategy: A Path to Transformative Activism. The Council also issued a statement on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. The Council invoked for the first time in history, section 8 (1) (4) of the ZimRights Constitution to confer honourary membership to the Association's former National Director Mr. Okay Machisa (pictured above) in honour of his extra-ordinary service to the Association as National Director from 2008 - 2019.

In other issues, the country plunged into an unprecedented human rights crisis, with an arrest of eight lawyers within a week, and further prosecution of the three MDC officials who endured abduction last month. As if that was not enough, the economy continued to take a knock, with the local currency plunging to 1:80 to the US dollar on the parallel market. This resulted in prices shooting up, leaving Zimbabweans poorer, more vulnerable and in dire need of social safety nets, which government has not provided. There were fresh reports of corruption among government officials, and this followed Zanu PF’s threats to journalist Hopewell Chin’ono after he exposed under-hand deals in the procurement of COVID-19 PPE material.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe went on to announce public hearings on Constitutional Amendment Bill 2 despite the country being under a partial COVID-19 lockdown. The president subsequently announced relaxed COVID-19 measures and allowed the informal sector to operate only after getting registration letters.
Zimbabwe is witnessing an unprecedented increase in human rights violations. Many communities are under attack. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is mandated by the Constitution to receive and investigate any complaints of human rights violations. To help communities make effective use of the ZHRC, we have compiled A Citizen Guide to Understanding the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. The Guide clearly outlines the structure and functions of the ZHRC and the complaints procedure. Please use this link here to download the Guide. If you wish to receive the Whats App version of this Guide, send your request to +263 714 724 133.

Our Hands-off the Peoples Constitution Campaign is off the ground. Some of you have already spotted our Campaign Bill Board and we invite you to plug into this campaign.

Following the announcement that public hearings on the amendment of the Constitution would begin, we have scaled up our campaign #HandsOffOurConstitution. Our members across the country are participating in the hearings. We have made our position very clear. The ZimRights National Council issued a statement which articulates the ZimRights position. Read the full statement here; or Watch the video of ZimRights National Chairperson Takesure Musiiwa delivering the statement on our Facebook

Resources for Parliamentary Hearings
In accompanying communities in their ongoing conversations with the Parliament of Zimbabwe, we have compiled a number of resources. The main resource that we are sharing is A Citizen Guide to Understanding Constitutionalism. Please download it here to get a deeper understanding of Constitutionalism in our country. Secondly, we have compiled a short resource on What You Must Know About Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2. This is a short precise factsheet that simply looks at the Amendment Bill Number 2 and highlights the key problems with that proposed Amendment. You will find it here in English, Ndebele and Shona. We urge you to download these resources, share with others and get ready for engagement with the Parliament. If you are participating in the hearings, please share with us your experiences on Whats App number +263 714 724 133. If you need any of these resources on Whats App, send us a message on the same numbers. To interact with the Campaign on line, use #HandsOffOurConstitution.

ZimRights Members Speak Out
Some of our members have started speaking out against Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2. Listen to voices from Murehwa, Chiundura, Norton and Bulawayo.

Speak to your MP
Now that you have these resources, please go a step further. Call your Member of Parliament and ask them to defend your Constitution. Your MP is elected to represent you. They have an obligation to represent you in Parliament. If you need their contact details, you can download them here.
International Albinism Awareness Day

"Made to Shine"

"Made To Shine" is the theme for this year's International Albinism Awareness Day, observed on June 13. The theme was chosen to celebrate the achievements and successes of persons with albinism worldwide. It is also a call to stand in solidarity with people with albinism through their challenges. In this unprecedented time, people with albinism continue to suffer all types of human rights violations. Recently, in some countries, they have been branded “Corona” or “COVID-19” in an attempt to scapegoat them for the pandemic. Killings, attacks, bullying, dehumanising stigma and discrimination continue against people with albinism. Yet on this day, we are reminded that in spite of these horrific practices, people with albinism continue to defy odds, overcome hurdles and face up to injustices with resilience. Today, we stand together with people with albinism all over the world in their fight to live a life that is free of stigma, discrimination, fear and violence. A world where they are made to shine. 

To mark this important day, we feature Gwenlisa Tapiwa Marange. She is the Founder of Alive Albinism Initiative. Gwen is a disability activist with a focus on the rights and empowerment of Persons With Albinism (PWAs). Listen here.

The synergy between journalism and human rights

In the past few weeks, we have seen the emergence of journalism as a tool for pushing for accountability. We have seen threats by ZANU PF on the person of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono. As we show solidarity with the media fraternity, this week, we feature a blog article by young journalist Ruvimbo Muchenje. A member of the Young Journalists Association, Muchenje writes about the role that journalism plays in bringing into focus human rights issues in communities. Journalism is a key instrument in giving community voices and complements the work of human rights organisations like ZimRights and therefore, government should ensure the freedom of press is recognized as it is a key instrument for development. ‘Media therefore becomes the backbone of a healthy democracy by educating communities on their rights, exposing human rights violations and advocating for recognition of human rights,’ writes Muchenje. Read the full article here.

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Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
Phone +263 242 707 278 | Hotline +263 734 053 955