‘ROHR Zimbabwe Celebrates 5 Yrs in Human Rights Struggle
By Panyika Karimanzira
Scores of human rights activists converged at 90 Paynes Lane, Coventry, CV1 5LJ on
Saturday 15th September, 2012.
This was to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR)
Zimbabwe. Talk of substance, talk of the spirit of togetherness of purpose, talk of
celebration of a noble cause and talk of vision for the future, talk of food music and
dance and you would have summarized the proceedings of the occasion.
ROHR Zimbabwe’s involvement with the needy and its programmes to help the suffering masses in Zimbabwe were summarized by the Chairperson of the board of trustees of ROHR Zimbabwe, Grace Mupfurutsa in a wide-ranging speech accompanied by videos of real people getting real help to start up small businesses meant to help them become self sustaining and hence less vulnerable to exploitation.
Stendrick Zvorwadza, the Vice Chairperson of the board of trustees of ROHR Zimbabwe, the embodiment of resilience and determination, who had travelled all the way from Zimbabwe for the occasion, was at hand to share with the audience his widely publicised ordeal at the hands of Zimbabwean government’s partisan police and ZANU PF’s Chipangano. He also covered the subsisting poor human rights situation in Zimbabwe, which included the impunity of those in positions of influence in government, an example of which was the illegal banning of 29 NGOs, including ROHR Zimbabwe, from operating in drought stricken Masvingo province by theZANU PF appointed governor of that province, Titus Maluleke.
In his heartrending speech, Stendrick Zvorwadza retraced his footsteps in the fight for human rights in Zimbabwe, punctuated by episodes of brutal repression and stints of incarceration.
Other speakers were drawn from the legal fraternity, politicians as well as respected media personnel and the business community.
In her speech dubbed “By grace and Favour”, based on her personal experience, Mrs Marylyn Bonzo, one of a number of guest speakers, articulated the struggles of an immigrant in so touching a manner that a number of people in the audience could not hold back tears. She epitomised the experience of an immigrant struggling to regularise their stay in a country thousands of miles away from sunny Zimbabwe and separated from her family for over a precious decade.
Politician, William Chimbetete, leader of the United Democratic Alliance, in his speech, underscored the need for Zimbabweans to look beyond the Mugabe era and to focus on solutions for rebuilding the country rather on personalities.
At the end of each presentation, the audience was afforded a question and answer session, an arrangement that added an interactive dimension to the proceedings.
To those who attended, the event was indeed a soul nourishing experience which gulvanized the resolve of even the least dedicated of human rights activists.
It was particularly pleasing to note that ROHR Zimbabwe was indeed forging ahead with practical programmes on the ground in Zimbabwe undeterred by sideshows orchestrated by unscrupulous individuals masquerading as champions of human rights in Zimbabwe whereas they have neither the legitimacy nor representation, where it matters most, i.e. on the ground in Zimbabwe.
The last phase of the proceedings was pure joy as the audience swarmed the dance floor for hours on end, gyrating to the tunes being belted from a disco ably manned by none other than Vice Chairperson of ROHR Zimbabwe UK Chapter- cum – DJ, Ronald Oputeri. Such was the level of enjoyment that one tipsy dancer was overhead suggesting that they were not going to go back home that day as they preferred home to come over and join them on the dance floor instead.
On that note, the DJ closed shop at around 1:00 am Sunday 16th September, 2012 and the audience begrudgingly dispersed to their various destinations.
For some of the pictures taken at the event click here