The proceedings started very well at the launch of the Reading Branch and everyone was excited and in a jovial mood. The launch was graced by ROHR Zimbabwe President Mr Ephraim Tapa, Reading Member of Parliament Rob Wilson (MP) and Reading Councillor Ricky Deveen among the invited guests and many Zimbabweans from across the UK, who had came in their numbers to rally behind the launch of a new branch signifying that ROHR is there to grow and expand.
Mr Tawanda Dzimba, (ROHR Reading Branch Chairperson) and Mr Nicodimus Muganhu (ROHR Reading Secretary) kick-started the event by welcoming everyone to the launch of Reading Branch. Mary Muteyerwa was asked to lead us with prayer and soon after Mr Muganhu introduced our invited guests: MP Rob Wilson, Councillor Ricky Deveen and the President of ROHR Mr E Tapa and everyone was given the chance to self-introduce.
Mr Tawanda Dzimba took the floor and explained that ROHR Zimbabwe is not a political party but a non profit making organisation agitating for an end to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. ROHR Zimbabwe’s’ passion is to restore human rights in Zimbabwe and to empower the people of Zimbabwe to participate in the governance of the country. He explained the gains ROHR Zimbabwe has achieved in its work in Zimbabwe. He clarified its objectives clearly and asked for continuous support from the community.
MP Rob Wilson was invited to the floor. He highlighted that he is fully aware of the stolen election of March 2008 by Zanu PF. He mentioned that the people of Zimbabwe should shout out loud and stand up for their rights so that their voices can be heard. He also said that he is impressed by spirit of Zimbabweans in the Reading area who have come together and speak about their country. MP Rob Wilson emphasized that he is prepared to Lobby for the Zimbabwean cause in Parliament. He also said Zimbabweans in Reading should they need help are free to approach him and he will give as much assistance as he can. He mentioned that he has seen loads of people suffering after their asylum cases have been rejected.
The Councillor Ricky Deveen was given the chance to speak he said that he is not well connected with what is happening in Zimbabwe but he knows people have been abused and human rights are not respected at all. He mentioned that after WW2 Britain had to introduce the Peace and Justice Commission to heal and placate the pains and wrongs of the war. He pointed that this led to economic recovery and reconciliation. The Councillor wants to see a Zimbabwe where there is hope for the opposition, hope for democracy, Hope for better life and also upholding of human rights
Mr Tapa took to the floor and spoke about the forthcoming elections as a foregone conclusion. The body which runs the Zimbabwe election is staffed with Mugabe`s people and in no way can they let the opposition win. People are being threatened with violence as witnessed in the June 2008 sham election, if they vote for the opposition violence will return.
He mentioned that people have already been cowed into submission and are helpless, all they think of now is how to feed their families and look for the elusive dollar. Mr Tapa also lamented the stance that seems to have been taken by the west to try to sanitise Mugabe while human rights activists are being harassed left right and centre. He said it’s our job as ROHR to expose such practices.
Mr Kadzutu of Zimbabwe Yes We Can took to the floor and said that Yes We Can is not a political party but a pressure group agitating for proper governance and respect for human rights – it wants freedom and justice. He presented membership cards, t-shirts and caps and asked people to join a very promising project which has received massive enquiries from all over the country and also from Zimbabwe.
People took a break for refreshments and everyone enjoyed traditional Zimbabwean cuisine. Thanks to Deborah Harry, Oripa Chiwona, Shylene Sipada, Tracy Sharon Dzimba and Mercy Bayipayi for preparing such a good meal
Election and confirmation of the Reading Executive
The following were voted into office for the ROHR Reading Branch:
Chairperson: Tawanda Dzimba
Vice Chairperson: Mercy Bayipayi
Secretary: Nicodimus P Muganhu
Organizing Secretary: Eric Eluwasi
Vice Organizing Secretary: Charles Ndlovu
Treasurer: Deborah Harry
Vice Treasurer: Oripa Chiwona
Information and Publicity: Shylette Chipangura
Vice Information and Publicity: Anna Chikoti
Fundraising Team: Shylene Sipada, Tracy Jacobs Dzimba
Committee Members: Mary Eluwasi, Malvin Chiaridzo
Present at the launch were: Jonathan Kariwoh, David Kadzutu, Sally Mutseyami, Ishmael Makina, Mary Muteyerwa, Patricia Masamba, Sihle Sibanda, Brian Kaitano, Taylor Madondo, Colin Chitekwe, Natalia Chiurunge, Thandiwe Gwarumba, Grace Nyaumwe, Janemary Mapfumo, Pedzisai James, Anne Chikumba
Report compiled by Nicodimus Muganhu, Secretary Reading Branch