Rohr Zimbabwe South London Branch Meeting of 17.05.14_Report
By Tawanda Mawushe
17th May, 2014
On the 17th of May 2014, the South London branch of the Restoration Of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe’s UK Chapter held a general meeting at 12 Sydenham Road, London SE26 5QD from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. In attendance were; – Paradzai Mapfumo (Member of The Board of Trustees and also National Coordinator – UK Chapter), Priscila Chitsinde (Organizing Secretary – UK Chapter and also Chairperson of South London Branch), Tawanda Mawushe (Committee Member of London Branch), Kenneth C. Matemberere, Fungai Mashezha, Christine Chitongo and Annyhezzel Muponda among others.
As there had been several developments within the organization, there were a number of issues to discuss, among them, updates on developments on the ground in Zimbabwe, South Africa, USA and within the UK
Mr Paradzai Mapfumo began by welcoming the committee and thanking everyone for their attendance. He went on to give a concise recap of the aims and objectives of ROHR Zimbabwe. He also touched on the exploits of several ROHR members within the UK as well as in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the USA. The suffering and ill treatment of Zimbabwe based members was also recalled including the arrest and detention of ROHR Zimbabwe Board of Trustees member Mr Stendrick Zvorwadza on trumped up charges on several occasions, as well as similar persecution of several other members of ROHR Zimbabwe and other human rights activists in Zimbabwe. Their illegal detention as well as the deprivation of their basic human rights throughout their ordeal was noted. Several other cases of human rights violations had been documented and some of the cases were still ongoing, Mr Paradzai Mapfumo went on to report to the meeting. Newspaper cuttings documenting the arrests and tribulations of the ROHR Zimbabwe members in Zimbabwe were circulated during the meeting. Mr Paradzai Mapfumo also reminded ROHR Zimbabwe South London Branch committee members of the importance of the work they had embarked on, emphasising on the importance of education and sharing of information, including with members of the public.
It was not all doom and gloom as news was shared about the progress that had been made concerning the organisation and human rights cases in general. One particular source of inspiration was the employment scheme initiated by ROHR Zimbabwe members in Zimbabwe. This was especially so considering the extremely high rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe, a situation which meant that it had become a constant struggle for parents to feed their families, let alone send their children to school. Families with more than one child were often put in the un-enviable position of choosing which child to see through education at the expense of the other child or children. Cognisant of the fact that it is a human right for every person to have access to education, ROHR Zimbabwe members came up with an initiative to help local women start up their own businesses (small enterprises). After local women had identified the buying and selling of goods as a decent way of making a sustainable living, ROHR Zimbabwe went on to help these women by assisting with the initial capital. Once the small business was on its feet and self sustaining, the owner would repay the initial capital to ROHR Zimbabwe, which in turn would lend the money to the next beneficiary so they too could set up their small enterprise. The cycle carried on in similar fashion, leading to the empowerment of many women who were originally marginalized and also leading to the alleviation of poverty amongst many families. As the old adage goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This job creation scheme was successful in that it provided the means to a source of income for the locals thereby allowing them to feed their families as well as send their children to school.
Priscilla Chitsinde, herself having been to an internationally hosted training event for charity organisations such as ROHR Zimbabwe in recent times, mentioned the availability of courses and training on human rights. She encouraged ROHR Zimbabwe members to seek out opportunities to improve their knowledge on the subject of human rights. Priscilla also advised the committee members on ways to get “the message” to a wider audience. She mentioned volunteering and networking with local councils as well as other reputable organisations within the community as some of the ways of spreading the human rights message as well as making a positive impact in the communities in which we live. Mr Mapfumo chimed in making the point that members could also use their affiliation with the organisation as a platform to work with bigger organisations on a larger scale, thereby enhancing the organisations profile and that of the individual in the same breath.
As the meeting drew to a close, the committee members were encouraged to spread the word regarding issues pertaining to human rights infringements not just in Zimbabwe but all over the world. The issues that affect one country will probably be issues that have affected or continue to affect others.
Human rights are not just a matter of nationality, but a matter of humanity. They are universal, it was noted.
For pictures click here.
By Tawanda Mawushe
ROHR Zimbabwe South London Branch Executive Committee Member