12th October 2020
On Sunday 11th October 2020, a meeting of the Chairpersons and Secretaries of ROHR Zimbabwe’s UK Chapter’s structures was held via Zoom. The meeting was chaired by National Chairperson, Nicolate Gwati.
Register of Attendance
Olivia Chamboko, Alvina Chibhamu, Nicolate Gwati, Nomagugu Sibanda, Delina Mutyambizi, Billie Nedie
No apologies were received from non-attending members.
- Non-attendance/participation at Branch level
- Problems within ROHR
Meeting started at 17:00hrs
Nikki asked the chairs to suggest what to do for non-attending members
- OliviaChamboko cited problems with members not doing their duties, excuses being no experience sometimes, or short notice. She noted that some people seem to just want to collect information without participating and it is weighing heavily on the few members that had to carry the burden of making things work.She had raised the matter with the Board of Trustees and had been advised to remove any non-committed member from the Branch Committee provided she followed due process and that the Branch Executive Committee has passed a resolution to remove such members. Olivia statedthat the Scotland Branch Executive Committee had held a meeting yesterday, 10th October 2020 and had resolved, among other things, to give non-committed members a month’s notice to either pull up their socks or be risk being stripped of their portfolios.
- AlvinaChibhamu stated that they had raised this matter recurrently and that they had now reached the end of their tethers, hence the notice to non-committed members. Only a few people seemed to toil for the branch. The others seemed content with just piggybacking on the fewdespite everyone knowing what their role entails. Even when they have been fed with ideas, deadlines are still missed and they have to be chased up.
What has been working?
Alvina, Vongayi and Olivia are doing all the work and carrying the branch and this has become too taxing.
Nicolate Gwati cited non activity from the North Branch for a while. Karen responded by saying they have revamped the committee but still face the same problems as before where only a handful of people do all the work. This is hugely discouraging as usually one person ends up taking up multiple roles to make the branch work.
There was need to address this as a (new) committee, but even when the meeting was called to try and re-strategize-only three people attended.
Nicolate also stated that members are also not active. Only the same three people in the Branch Executive Committee tend to participate.
Nomagugu Sibanda also noted that not many people seem committed. Some give the excuse of having work commitments, others have given the pandemic as an excuse, some are experiencing digital poverty and cannot participate on zoom calls.
Recommendations sought from Board members with all their vast experience as the current situation is non-sustainable.
- Delina commented this has been a long-standing attitude since she came on board in 2009. Sadly, the commitment we rely on is from a handful of willing members. This attitude extends to the wider Zimbabwe populace, Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono for instance complained that people literally wage a war, commenting only on social media about issues but not acted on the information.
- Mr Nedie pointed out that turnout was high and huge when ROHR started as most people did not have documentation. However, the ‘2020 challenge’, stemmed from a “forensic interpretation” of the future of ROHR he did in 2009,where membership was predicted to dwindle and then revamped, which is where we are now.
- Mr Nedie commended the Scotland branch for the work it is doing, together with other members who are still focused.
Challenges facing ROHR
We are perceived as an Asylum-seeking organisation and as such we struggle to attract membership from people with some form of right to remain.
- We need to address attitudinal challenges. We could start by engaging all Zimbabweans, especially old members, including British citizens as well as those without status. Mr Nedie bemoaned the apathyinthe Zimbabwean diaspora in general when it came tostanding up for human rights. He said that we need to take a leaf from west Africans who always unite for a common cause.
- On that note, Nikki cited the #EndSARSmovement in Nigeria where its government is buckling due to mounted pressure from the whole country, they managed to rope in the international community through social media.
- The Covid-19 pandemic issue has taken us backwards as there is no face to face contact. In some branches, members may have been demotivated by not seeing ROHR longstanding members, mostly board members coming to in supporttheir branch meetings. Current restrictions have meant the non-appearance of familiar faces/ ROHR members in these branches.
Proposed way forward
- We need ROHR foot soldiers on the ground in Zimbabwe-wearing ROHR t-shirts, being seen on television, radio, and social media to put ROHR on the map
- Zimbabweans are not united, we need to change that narrative and have every member change the way we are seen in their own circles, in and outside of ROHR.
- Delina commended Scotland and Midlands branches for their contributions towards the visibility of ROHRas a human rights organisation. Scotland Branch’s fundraising efforts in support of the Epworth kitchen in Zimbabwe through reaching out to the communities outside of Zimbabweans to solicit funds is commendable. We need to be aware of what is happening around and continue to supportinitiatives that foster a change in attitude towards human rights and welfare issues of the Zimbabwean populace thereby enhancing the image of ROHR Zimbabwe as a human rights organization.
- Alvina added that the Scotland Branch discussed Black History Month, in particular,the relevance ofcountless unsung heroes in Zimbabwe. She also suggested we market ROHR Zimbabwe beyond Zimbabwean circles and hope to collaborate with like-minded international human rights organizations.
- Alvina suggested to take advantage of the pandemic situation and hold a National zoom meeting
- Some members give the excuse of lack of training. Mr Nedieoffered to mentor anyone who felt they needed help in performing their role.
- Nicolate said we need to find a way of speaking to members. Take it to task to start calling members to try and re-engage them and map ways forward. Survey underway from the Executive Committee to try and bring people back to the fold from all the issues being raised by members
- Delina spoke on the area of educating members as some do not understand their rights etc. Campaigns such as #MeetYourMP helped raise awareness. When approached, MPs are usually keen to know learn more about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and tend to be very cooperative. A good example is when Alvina’s MP came to a Scotland Branch meeting to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. This followed the meeting Alvina had with the MP. We need to keep on knocking on doors and keep making noise as ROHR. We should be nonpartisan so that we are in good position to challenge any office if they are in breach of human rights.
- Mr Nedie suggested organising capacity building- education exercise about what it means to be a Human Rights Activists and all the questions surrounding, retraining of members, motivation, and other workshops for members. (Olivia asked if we could have the trainings on meetings)
Nicolate announced we will reconvene in 2 weeks. The date for the next meeting was set and announced as 18thOctober 2020
With all agenda items having been exhausted, the meeting was declared closed by Nicolate Gwati at 1800hrs.
AlvinaChibhamu-Secretary of UK Chapter took minutes.
To see screenshots of the meeting please follow this link.
By Information & Publicity Department