7th January, 2017

ROHR Zimbabwe Central London Branch Launch Meeting Saturday 7th January, 2017 Report

On Saturday 7th January, 2017 Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe human rights activists from various cities and towns in the UK converged at The Royal Festival Hall in central London for a meeting and the official launch of the Central London Branch of the UK Chapter of ROHR Zimbabwe. The meeting was co-chaired by George Shambela (in his capacity as Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the UK Chapter) and Paradzai Mapfumo (one of the three Board members present). It started at noon.

The meeting was a culmination of a process, the brainchild of Mary Nyarai Muteyerwa that started with the coming together of members resident in London and environs to form a branch. After a period of caucusing via a bespoke WhatsApp group they then elected an executive branch committee on 7th December, 2016. This committee then convened this branch launch meeting of 7th January, 2017 which was presided over by three Board members, Stendrick Zvorwadza, Paradzai Mapfumo and Panyika Anselm Karimanzira who officially endorsed and unveiled the new branch committee.

The new Central London Branch committee

Chairperson: Mary Nyarai Muteyerwa

Vice Chairperson: Plaxedes Damiso

Secretary: George Shambela

Vice Secretary: Mevis Mutanga

Organizing Secretary: Margret Tandi

Deputy Organizing Secretary: Patricia Chingozha

Treasurer: Morella Gertrude Nhau

Information & Publicity Secretary: Pythias Makonese

Fundraising Committee Member: Sibongile Bvungidzire

Fundraising Committee Member: Bridget Mupotsa

Committee Member: Salome Nkiwane

Committee Member: Chipo Kamhunga

Committee Member: Kuziwa Mafaro

After the usual civilities and protocols the guest speakers were given the floor followed by a question and answer question per speaker. John Burke spoke about his organization, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organization (ZHRO) summarised its constitution and outlined its aims and objectives as well as how to join it. He also described the challenges that were currently being faced by Zimbabweans seeking to regularise their stay in the UK and how ZHRO could help.

Peter Sidindi, a veteran activist, spoke of his organization, MaZimbabweans Yes We Can (MZYWCAN). His address was in the same format as John Burkes above. He also went on to give practical recent examples of the work his organization does.

Another veteran activist, Arthur Molife weighed in with a similar address to Peter Sidindi’s, putting emphasis on the need for proper evidence gathering and assembling as well as maintaining integrity right throughout the process.

Speakers from the ROHR Zimbabwe stable were Paradzai Mapfumo, Panyika Karimanzira and Stendrick Zvorwadza.

Paradzai Mapfumo dwelt mainly on the structural aspects of ROHR Zimbabwe. Panyika Karimanzira dwelt on the Information and Publicity aspects, including giving an update regarding the activities of ROHR Zimbabwe in the UK and its relevance to activities on the ground in Zimbabwe. This included how financial contributions by members in the UK went a long way in assisting activists on the ground in Zimbabwe. He also emphasised the fact that ROHR Zimbabwe’s core business was not asylum and that asylum only becomes part of ROHR Zimbabwe’s business by virtue of it being a human right.

The main speaker was Stendrick Zvorwadza, the founder and one of the Board Members of ROHR Zimbabwe and a prominent activist based on the ground in Zimbabwe. He started by thanking members of ROHR Zimbabwe in the UK for assisting with the funding of the operations of activities on the ground in Zimbabwe and for the solidarity with the individual activists. He went on to describe in detail the programmes ROHR Zimbabwe was currently involved in. He also described the synergistic relationship ROHR Zimbabwe has with the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) and the broader social movement fraternity in Zimbabwe. He also described the various instances of state sponsored persecution of activists (him included) in Zimbabwe and how the situation was increasingly becoming risky for the activists.

A common thread amongst the speakers was a call for unity amongst different Zimbabwean human rights groups in the UK.

There was also a lively question and answer session during which everyone present contributed to the ensuing discourse covering a wide range of topics, including ROHR Zimbabwe’s ongoing involvement with and impact on the activities on the ground in Zimbabwe.

A total of 33 people (including a few guests) attended this meeting. They included Delina Mutyambizi, Valentino Donchichio, Charles Rufayi, Maria Rufayi, Kuziwa Mafaro, Elizabeth Kawonza, John Burke, Peter Sidindi, Arthur Molife, Rumbi Sambana, Gift Moyo, Thobekile Gumbo, Blessing Goronga, Tsungirirai Kahiya, Shamiso Moyo, Chipo Komboni, Lorraine Mudjgiwa, Bridget Mupotsa, Namatirai Angela Sithole, Tawanda Mawushe and Sibongile Bvungidzire.

Apologies were received from Petronella Mahachi, Grace Makoni, Sonboy Ndebele, Magadaline Moyo, Primrose Ngwenya, Mollen Ngwenya, Mildred Mudara, Lynette Chivizhe, Kelly Mutasa, Farai Nhakaniso, Karen Nhakaniso, Jane Nataniel and Kingstone Jambawo.

The meeting ended at 16.10 hrs.

To view pictures taken at the event, click here or follow link below.


By: Information & Publicity Department

Cover Picture:- https://www.flickr.com/photos/rohr_zimbabwe__manchester/32061962482/in/album-72157677007683682/