Following a spirited campaign spearheaded by the Organising Secretary Joana Zhira ably supported by Pauline Mutema, Agnes Chivhimbo and Farirai Muchibwa a ROHR meeting attended by up to 24 people took place in Stoke-On-Trent as planned. This was a fitting tribute to the afore-mentioned response to the recruitment drive which involved distributing flyers and displaying placards at expedient locations and times. They braved cold weather, rain and curious glances as they robustly rose to the challenge issued throughout the year by ROHR President E. Tapa and his committee to spread awareness of the ongoing cholera deaths and related challenges facing Zimbabweans amid gross violations of their human rights by the ruling party in their country.
Emnah Zibgowa gave the opening speech in which he shared with the members present his knowledge of and experience with human rights and the attendant commitments and responsibilities of all members of ROHR. Members present were reminded of the HR (Human Rights) violations for which the ruling party is notorious of; violations of the rights to education, shelter, food and health as evidenced by the total collapse in Zimbabwe of the economy, justice and fair treatment. Also lamentable is the suppression of all forms of freedoms of expression through peaceful demonstrations or writing about subjects that appear to criticise the government. These were singled out as some of the violations of our human rights. The aims of ROHR include the courage to risk punishment by the regime when actively raising awareness in all people of the need to point out human rights violations as well as refraining from selfish behaviour in the course of such activism.
Mr Nyamande also spoke on the same vein building on the previous speaker’s speech. Freedom of speech and desisting from an individualistic mentality were emphasised. He insisted that even though we are small group we can stand our ground and fight back and make our oppressors realise we are saying ‘enough is enough’ to human rights abuses or violations.
Mr Moses Nyagodzi spoke at length about the economic and political problems besetting Zimbabwe. The brutalities perpetrated by the ruling party are well known through out the world. Although the opposition parties were found to have their fair share of human rights shortcomings, it was observed state-sponsored militia and security agents were the major perpetrators. In this regard, members were urged to throw their full weight behind ROHR as a Human Rights watchdog. It was argued that the Human Rights’ view to the power sharing DEAL was that it was a waste of time considering that Mugabe has a long drawn out history of insincerity considering how he cheated ZAPU. The policy position of ROHR is that the perpetrators of murder and other violent acts should be brought to justice and concern was raised that MDC-T seems prepared to make some concessions. ROHR’s position is that there can never be any compromise where Justice, Peace, Freedom and Democracy are at stake.
Many thanks to Farirai Muchibwa who did sterling fundraising work involving selling refreshments and related activities. Thanks also go to photographers Des Paraiwa and Aaron Masakure who skilfully captured images that appear in the ROHR website in conjunction with various ROHR gatherings and activities.
Compiled by Secretary: Amon Chauke