2012 becomes a crucial year for ROHR. The trials and tribulations of 2011, the efforts of ZANU PF in trying to infiltrate and split the organisation all paled into insignificance as ardent members and supporters braved the chilly weather to converge at the Strand Continental Hotel on 4th of February 2012. This was evidenced by the harmony, unity of purpose and commitment to the cause of human rights that characterised the meeting from start to finish. The presence of some members from the Zimbabwe Vigil team including Rose Benton and Fungayi Mabhunu made it all the more assuring and inspirational.
Following registration and introductions, one of the UK Co-ordinators, Mr Collin Chitekwe, opened the meeting by drawing attention to ongoing attempts by a few disgruntled members of the previous UK executive in collaboration with agents from the Mugabe regime to destroy ROHR Zimbabwe by demonising its Founder and President, Mr Ephraim Tapa. He cautioned members to be wary of anyone who sought to discredit those who had a good track record of fighting for a better Zimbabwe and encouraged all to be vigilant. He ended up by encouraging members to take responsibility for defending their organisation and to raise issues of concern at appropriate fora and not in the media.
It was then time for the Founder to take the floor. Mr Tapa gave an account of how the organisation was formed, starting with himself and later, inviting others to the Board of Trustees. He went on to explain how the financial arrangements operated, detailing the in-built checks and balances, in the process. The meeting heard how ROHR had become a victim of its successes and how the enemy had taken advantage to cause divisions and near demise of the organisation. The President declared ‘we all know who stands to benefit from the collapse of ROHR’ adding that this will never be allowed to happen. Later, Mr Tapa took time to tackle the spurious allegations of financial impropriety levelled against him, proving to all present that it was in fact himself who had subsidised the organisation from own pocket right from its inception. He also told the meeting why these problems had only started now, citing his involvement of the Zimbabwe We Can Movement and a perceived opportunity to benefit from possible donor funds by some members of the former Board of Trustees . The meeting were left convinced that the ugly hand of the Zimbabwe regime was at work prompting member after member, to express their dismay at the unwarranted interference and their determination to save the organisation and bring it to its former glory.
After all questions had been asked and clarifications made, the meeting culminated in the election of an interim national executive committee with a fixed term of 6 months. The new interim office bearers are: Chair: Catherine Tshezi, Vice Chair: Wellington Muringai, Secretary: Portia Mwayera, Vice Secretary: Tapiwa Semwayo, Treasurer: Fungayi Mabhunu, Vice Treasurer: Bright Domingo, Organising Secretary: Chamunorwa Chisuko, Deputy Organising Secretary: Mary Ndoro, Information and Publicity: Nobuhle Mazula, Vice Information and Publicity: Huvandirwa Makaza, Fundraising Team: Ernest Zvoma, Tawanda Matemura, Naome Kakungowa, Georgina Makaza, Delline Mutendi, Co-ordinators: Jonathan Kariwoh, Rumbidzai Javani and Bright Domingo join existing co-ordinators: Collin Chitekwe, Rugare Chifungo and Lungile Ncube.
Members believed that this would give them the opportunity to assess and identify those who were genuinely interested in human rights activism. The new team was tasked with the responsibility to revive structures, conduct a membership audit, bring in growth and stability to the organisation. It was resolved that a national conference would be held at the expiry of six months to elect a substantive executive. ROHR members were happy to move on and take the fight against the abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe to the Mugabe regime.
One of the attendees concluded by declaring ‘We, as the new ROHR national executive are prepared and committed to work hard and dedicate ourselves to the restoration of human rights and advocate for those that are unable to do so themselves. We should take this opportunity to reflect that while we can, some people (in Zimbabwe) cannot stand up and fight against human rights abuses and it is therefore our duty and obligation to do just that, bring justice to Zimbabwe.’
Another member cited reports of the Chinese abusing workers in Zimbabwe (Racist Chinese bosses abuse African workers, http://greatindaba.com/issue/january-2012/article/racist-chinese-bosses-abuse-african-workers) and the ongoing abuses at the Marange diamonds fields(http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/zimbabwe/111005/blood-diamond-mines-conflict-minerals-kimberley-process-). The newly elected member declared ‘this cannot be allowed to continue’.
Yet another member pointed out a recent article that human rights abuses are now rife in Matabeleland North and that according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Matabeleland North province is now the most hostile province in the country as police have so far arrested or harassed more than 40 politicians and human rights activists since January lastyear.www.dailynews.co.zw/index.php/news/34-news/6854-cops-defy-high-court-order.html. Everyone agreed that ROHR Zimbabwe had a lot to do to bring relief on the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Watch this space.
ROHR UK Publicity and Information Secretary (Interim)