31st May 2020

On Saturday the 30th May 2020, the Midlands Branch of the UK Chapter of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe held a meeting via zoom. The meeting was on a zoom platform because it was impossible to hold a physical meeting due to the nationwide lockdown because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was also attended by members from other branches. The meeting was chaired by the branch Chairperson, Nicolate Gwati.

Register of Attendance 
Nicolate Gwati, Blessing Goronga, Vengai Mutsawu, Harriet Ndlovu, Mercy Ndlovu, Olive R Ruzvidzo, Lilian T Nleya, Nomagugu Sibanda, Vongayi Mufara, Paul Westwood, Alvina Chibhamu, Marian Mangani, Olivia Chamboko, Thenjiwe Ndlovu, Panyika Karimanzira, Maruwiza Nkhambala, Tabeth Mabiza Nhakaniso, Lindah Chenyama, Laina Murape, Lorraine Zakeyo
Apologies were received from Tsungirai Kahiya and Weston Mupfururirwa

1. Welfare check on members
2. Campaign- idea and strategy
3.  Other issues raised
4. Issues to investigate

The meeting commenced at 14:40hrs

1. Welfare check on members
The chairperson greeted everyone and acknowledged members of other branches and visitors who we able to join us. Everyone confirmed to be well and keeping safe during the current lockdown due to the Covid -19 pandemic.

2. Campaign ideas and strategy 

  • Nikki went straight on to the campaign; she told the members about the campaign that we were planning to hold about The Zimbabwean Government’s inadequate response to Covid-19. She opened the floor to suggestions from everyone.
  • Blessing mentioned that it was a great idea holding a campaign for the Abductions that a going on in Zimbabwe.
  • Lilian highlighted that whilst some countries have been trying to control the spread of the virus and keep their citizens safe the Zimbabwean Government was not prepared for the pandemic leaving its citizens to fend for themselves. She mentioned that the Chinese Billionaire donated PPE which was in return sold to the citizens due to corruption. Lillian said the government should stop putting their own personal interests first but should instead consider the needs of the citizens.
  • Nomagugu Sibanda mentioned the Zimbabwean citizens that returned to the country only to be quarantined in grimy isolation centres .According to the quarantined citizens the places had no water, no hand sanitizers, no masks , no food ,the toilet was being shared by many people and no testing of the virus was being made at these centres. She said that the government should do better.
  • Marian spoke about the lady in Chitungwiza [Mrs Samantha Murokozi] who started a humble cause to feed the hungry and the homeless. She said instead of corruption this is the time that a government that cares would marshal its resources to provide for the needy. She indicated that we as ROHR need to say enough is enough.
  • Nikki talked about President Mnangagwa declaring a nationwide lockdown on the 30th of March 2020. Unlike other countries like South Africa who provided their citizens with income to sustain them during lockdown Zimbabwe did not. She said that at least 95% of the population are informal traders who live from hand to mouth and they are now left to starve whilst the government looks on.Nikki said that its time to rise up and hold our government to account otherwise our suffering will never stop.
  • Vengai Mutsawu also mentioned that the conditions in the quarantine centres were deplorable and as a result the school where people were being quarantined in Plumtree was burnt down.
  • Alvina Chibhamu added on that the strategy in approaching the MPs is highly effective as they can discuss the issues that are raised in Parliament.
  • Paul Westwood highlighted that as an organisation we should take decisive action. He also mentioned that reaching out to MPs of various constituencies was also desirable. Even writing a letter to Boris Johnson himself is an effective way of making ourselves heard. He also suggested that, as activists, we need to team up and keep track of the human rights violations that are occurring in Zimbabwe.

3. Other Issues raised

  • With regards to the issue of corruption in Zimbabwe Paul raised the issue of the corruption with Drax and he also raised the question as to what happened to the million dollars that the government indicated that they had spent in helping people during the pandemic as there was little evidence on the ground of who had benefited from this money
  • Tabeth raised her concerns as a member of the organisation saying that we seem to be speaking in a vacuum as our voices do not seem to be heard. She indicated that our message to the public did not seem to be coherent enough and as such there was a bit of confusion as to what our main focus as an organisation was.
  • She rightly mentioned that our twitter account only has 73 followers and that the last post was made in 2019. She also indicated that as an organisation we seem to be always reactionary instead of addressing issues of human rights violations before they occur.
  • She challenged us to ask ourselves the difficult questions of why people are not listening to us and why people are not following our social media pages and that there was no proper capacity building going on in the organisation
  • Tabeth also challenged us as an organisation to sell our vision well so that everyone can understand what we stand for
  • Mr Karimanzira responded to some of the concerns that Tabeth raised by indicating that some of the issues that we are experiencing as an organisation are due to two factors; a mindset issue where some people don’t want to be associated with the organisation for fear that they will be labelled as asylum seekers and a capacity issue in that very few people in the organisation are actually willing to do the work that is necessary in order to make the organisation more visible.

4. Issues to investigate

  • In our discussion it was highlighted that the government of Zimbabwe had indicated that they had a strategy to deal with everything that had to do with the pandemic so we need to compare what they have done so far to what they indicated in their strategy to see if they have done what they said they would do.
  • We need to also look at the list of the donations that were donated to Zimbabwe and investigate and see how these were distributed.

5. Any Other Business

Pictures (screenshots) of the zoom call were taken.

Nicolate Gwati, the branch chairperson, announced that the date of the next branch meeting will be advised in due course.
All agenda items and any other business having been exhausted, the Chairperson, Nicolate Gwati concluded the meeting by thanking everyone present and closed it at 16:40 hrs.

To view pictures taken at the event, click here.

By: Information & Publicity Department