Wednesday 24th January 2024

Today, Wednesday 24th January 2024 Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe participated in a groundbreaking X-Space dealing with the topic “The Role of The Diaspora IN DEFENDING THE DEMOCRATIC SPACE IN ZIMBABWE hosted by Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition.

Among the panelists were Panyika Karimanzira (ROHR Zimbabwe spokesperson), Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Felix Ndiweni, Tendai Ruben Mbofana and Thomas Mutangiri.

ROHR Zimbabwe members who attended include Vongayi Mufara (ROHR Zimbabwe’s UK Chapter Chairperson), Marian Mangani (ROHR UK Chapter Midlands Branch Fundraier), Basil Kamombe (ROHR UK Chapter Deputy Information & Publicity Secretary), Xoliso Sithole (ROHR UK Chapter North Branch Fundraier), Vengai Mutsawu (ROHR UK Chapter North Branch Chairperson and UK Chapter Fundraier), Nina Mutepfa (ROHR UK Chapter Midlands Branch Secretary), Lilian Nleya (ROHR Advocacy & Mentorship Committee member), Ronald Mutumbi (ROHR UK Chapter North Branch Organising Secretary), Phylis Melody Magejo and Shepherd Mutemaringa.

The meeting recognized the need for the Zimbabwean diaspora to take the leading role in challenging the status quo considering the fact that the hands of the activists on the ground are now tied by the shrinkage of the democratic space through the enactment of such  laws as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill (Commonly referred to as “The Patriotic Act) purportedly designed to outlaw what they broadly call “unpatriotic acts”, which essentially include criticising the President or the government of Zimbabwe from abroad, the Private Voluntary Organisations Act (PVO), the Maintenance of Public Order Act (MOPO), which replaced POSA and the Cyber and Data Protection Act of 2021 all of which collectively aim to shrink the democratic space and control the activities of nongovernmental organisations and individuals.

The following possible action points were put on the table for possible consideration;-

  • The diaspora to get more organised and come up with workable collaborative structures.
  • The diaspora to mobilise resources to support the activities on the ground, including community education on human rights, democracy, voting etc..
  • The diaspora to take a more prominent role in coordinating the activities on the ground.
  • The diaspora to lobby host governments to take a stand on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
  • The diaspora to lobby regional and international bodies like the SADC, AU, UN, EU, Commonwealth to call the Zimbabwean government to order and to keep the Zimbabwe situation in the limelight.
  • The diaspora to demand the right to vote.

The meeting noted that the diaspora voting population exceeds 6 million which is way above the 4 million or so Zimbabwean based people who registered to vote in the August 2023 harmonised elections.

It also noted that diaspora remittances in 2023 (9.44 billion U.S. dollars as of Oct.31, 2023) were more than Foreign Direct Investment and around 16% of the total foreign currency inflow.

Work on what was agreed will continue in the background and ROHR Zimbabwe will seek to engage other diaspora based organisations on the way forward.

Further meetings of this nature will be convened by Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition in collaboration with Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe, MyRight2Vote, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO) and other diaspora based Zimbabwean organisations.

Screenshots of the X-Space can be viewed here.

Report by:
Information & Publicity Department.