Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality”.In commemorating this important day, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, this year’s takes time to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding women who have defied odds in pursuit of peace in their local rural set ups. In fulfilment of the organisational mission to prevent and transform conflicts with a particular focus on social justice and human rights, HZT works extensively with women as critical peace ambassadors. Women survivors of political violence over the years have taken a leading role in spearheading the promotion of community peace, healing and reconciliation initiatives across Zimbabwe.
Defying all odds of enormous challenges facing women, from socio- economic challenges, political violence and unequal life opportunities, women working with HZT have resolutely and boldly made significant strides in the promotion of peace, tolerance and stability in their spaces of influence. These women have spearheaded community gardens of peace countrywide, platforms they discuss pertinent issues affecting them as women and encouraging each other to participate in democratic processes. These courageous women, lead half of HZT peace clubs with the responsibility to mobilise people towards building peace in rural communities. The peace clubs engage local leaders such as traditional leaders and councillors as key stakeholders in conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution and transformation.
Heal Zimbabwe is also currently in the process of establishing Women safe spaces for peace which are all inclusive spaces that affords women the opportunity to carry out income generating projects and discuss pertinent issues that affects them. These spaces are also a platform for women to preach peace. All these efforts are an acknowledgement that women play a key role in peace building and development in local communities.
International Women’s day is a day that is celebrated on 8 March every year. The day also celebrates women’s economic, political and social achievements. Heal Zimbabwe will continue working with women to fully empower them to take leading roles in building peace and development in their areas. Indeed International women’s day is a day to celebrate these outstanding women who are key peace builders in their communities.
Heal Zimbabwe Trust welcomes the move by the Minister responsible for National Healing, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s Office to withdraw the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill from Parliament. The Minister of state in the VP’s Office Tabitha Kanengoni Malinga, indicated that the ministry found it fit to first consider the adverse report by parliamentary Legal Committee.“I move to withdraw the NPRC Bill for reasons that after receiving an adverse report on the Bill, the ministry has decided to consider those issues and then we will re-submit the Bill at a later date,” she said.
Heal Zimbabwe is on record for calling for an overhaul of the bill as condition for an effective national peace, healing and reconciliation process. Topical during the public consultations by parliament on the Bill was the powers it gives to the Minister responsible which erodes the independence of the commission, the prosecuting language in the bill, lack of clarity on decentralization strategy among many other ills.
Heal Zimbabwe calls upon the Ministry to stand guided by both the constitution and, more importantly, the views of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed during the parliamentary public consultations. We further implore the ministry to deal with the issues expeditiously to ensure commencement of the parliamentary processes leading to the enactment of the law and effective operationalisation of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the call made by the Minister responsible for National Healing, peace and reconciliation, Vice President Phekezela Mphoko to address past human rights violations through dialogue, truth telling and forgiveness for national healing to succeed. VP Mphoko noted that this would address the root cause of physical, emotional and traumatic experiences and mend broken relations. VP Mphoko said this while presenting a topic at the National Defence College on National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation.
In his presentation, VP Mphoko said, “Matters of the need to reconcile people and bring about national healing have remained partially addressed or not addressed for a very long time leading to carryover of conflicts. These conflicts have affected the lives of everyone as they have been carried forward from one generation to the other”, he said.
Heal Zimbabwe commends this significant step as being in the right direction at the level of political will to push an important national process. However, Heal Zimbabwe posits that the call for dialogue should be followed by sincere actions through expeditiously setting up of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). This independent commission is under the VP’s authority and is mandated to develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
The call by VP Mphoko come at a time when his office has withdrawn the National Peace and Reconciliation bill from Parliament indicating that the Ministry found it fit to consider the adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee. Withdrawing the Bill is also commendable. However,VP Mphoko should show his commitment to the process by tabling before parliament a replacement NPRC Bill at the soonest possible time.
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in celebrating Africa Day. Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the Africa Union (AU). This year’s commemorations are taking place after the African Union launched Agenda 2063, which is both a Vision and an Action Plan. It is a call for action to all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.
Under this agenda, African leaders laid down a vision and ideals to serve as pillar for the continent in the foreseeable future. The Agenda strives to enable Africa to remain focused and committed to the ideals envisaged in the context of a rapidly changing world.
One of the Aspirations of Agenda 2063 aims to achieve a peaceful and secure Africa where mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels. As a first step, dialogue-centered conflict prevention and resolution will be actively promoted and a culture of peace and tolerance must be nurtured in Africa’s children and youth through peace education.
Agenda 2063 also compels member states to seek to further the ideals of this agenda by promoting dialogue centered conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms. For Zimbabwe, this can only be achieved when the government swiftly sets up the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) which is a constitutional commission with the mandate of developing mechanisms for early detection of areas of potential conflict and disputes and to conciliate and mediate disputes among communities, organizations, groups or individuals. Such a step will work positively towards the attainment of the objectives of Agenda 2063. This will also compel Zimbabwe to affirm its commitment to the fight against human rights abuses that include torture, abductions and intimidations.
On the occasion of this years’ commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe urges the government to celebrate Africa day by putting timelines on making the NPRC functional starting with the immediate tabling of the NPRC replacement Bill before parliament. This is a direct contribution to the African Union vision of Agenda 2063, which aims at achieving a peaceful and secure Africa where all mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be functional at all levels.
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa in celebrating the Day of the African Child. The day celebrated every year on the 16th June, was set aside to remember the young people of South Africa who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against apartheid system of education. This years’ commemorations are being held under the theme “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s rights”. This year’s theme is part of the efforts to elevate child protection agenda in conflict situation in Africa as well as guarantee the protection and preservation of life and well-being of the African children.
This year’s commemorations also calls for African governments to come up with legislation that seeks to protect and elevate the rights of children in Africa. For Zimbabwe, this year’s occasion of the Day of the African child offers an opportunity to reflect on section 19 of the Constitution which provide for children’s rights where every child is to be protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse and have access to appropriate education and training. It’s also an opportunity to evaluate progress made towards achieving Zimbabwe’s violent election episodes particularly the 2008 elections violence which left many children displaced, orphaned and vulnerable after their parents were either killed or displaced because of political violence. This robbed the children of bread winners and better education, health and shelter.
Heal Zimbabwe calls on the government of Zimbabwe to adopt policies and measures to ensure that every child is protected from violence, abuse or torture and be protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and all forms of abuse. The National Peace and reconciliation process is a window of opportunity in dealing with conflict in Zimbabwe thereby inculcating a culture of peace and an environment that protect all children’s rights and other fundamental human rights.
Heal Zimbabwe wishes to extend its condolences to the Ndebele family and the country at large on the passing on of Cyril Ndebele, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) chairperson. Ndebele passed on 7 October 2016 in Bulawayo.
His death come barely 7 months into his tenure having being sworn in as NPRC chairperson on 25 February 2016. As NPRC chairperson, Mr. Ndebele’s enormous task was to lead the NPRC, which has the mandate of ensuring post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation and develop programmes that promote national healing, unity and peaceful conflict resolution. His death has further derailed the operationalization of the commission. To date, the commission is not yet operational because of lack of an enabling act.
Heal Zimbabwe laments that it’s very unfortunate that Ndebele has passed on without having started to execute his duties due to non-operationalization of the NPRC by the government. Furthermore, the withdrawal of the NPRC bill from Parliament by the Ministry of National Healing alone is not enough but government must take necessary steps to ensure that the NPRC is set up without delay.
Heal Zimbabwe calls for the speeding up of the finalization of another NPRC bill, one that must have the input of various stakeholders who include victims, citizens, government and civic society. Heal Zimbabwe further implores government to expeditiously start processes that lead to the enactment of the law and the effective operationalization of the NPRC.The President must also move in to appoint a replacement for Ndebele as it helps to speed up the process of national healing and reconciliation.
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. The special day is commemorated annually on the 30th of August. The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was passed under resolution 65/209 on 21 December 2010 which expressed great concern on the rising cases of involuntary disappearances. This culminated into the adoption of the International Convention for the protection of all Persons of Enforced Disappearances where 30 August was declared as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
In his message on this year’s commemorations, United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance for member states to implement the provisions of the International Convention for the protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006. “On this international day, I urge all member states to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay, and I call on the States parties to the Convention to implement it… It is time for an end to all enforced disappearances”, he said.
For Zimbabwe, this year’s commemorations come against a background where abductions are still taking place 36 years after independence from colonial rule. Pro Democracy activist, Itai Dzamara who was abducted on 9 march 2015, remains a clear example especially given that his whereabouts remain unknown to this day. On 27 August 2016, around 1am, Kerina Gweshe Dewah, the MDC-T Harare Provincial Vice Chairperson, was also abducted by 18 unknown armed men from her Glen View home. The family of Dewah searched for her at more than 10 police stations but to no avail only for her to then appear at Rotten Row Court facing trumped up charges of inciting political violence. On Friday 26 August 2016, Gift Ostallos Siziba a human rights activist was also abducted during the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) demonstration in Harare. After Siziba was abducted, he was taken to ZANU PF headquarters where he was subjected to brutal assaults to the extent that his left hand is now barely functional and his right hand swollen.
The occasion of this year’s commemoration of the Day in Zimbabwe offers an opportunity for the Government to expedite the search for Missing persons particularly Itai Dzamara whose search was ordered by the High Court. Abductions remain a gross human rights violation that must be condemned as it is not only degrading but barbaric and a bad practice. The increase in abduction cases highlights the Government’s insincerity over ensuring that citizens are protected against involuntary abductions.
Enforced disappearance remain a serious violation of human rights and a crime. Section 53 of the Constitution provides for Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such fundamental human rights and freedoms are to be enjoyed by every citizen without selective application.
Heal Zimbabwe implores the Government to stop using abductions as a tool to deal with political opponents. In light of the growing discontent in the country evidenced by the persistent protests taking place countrywide, HZT has activated its 24 hour early warning and early response mechanism to human rights violations and will be responding accordingly. For any cases of human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, abductions etc feel free to contact us on the following numbers: +263 779 449 071 and +263 777 462 931.
A call for National Unity, Peace and Stability as guaranteed in Chapter 2: Section 10 of the Constitution!!!
Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Peace. This year’s commemorations are running under the theme, “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations’ General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
In his address on the occasion of this years’ International Day of Peace, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the importance of UN member states to create a future that promotes prosperity, peace and partnership in pursuit of peace and sustainable development. “The people of the world have asked us to shine a light on a future of promise and opportunity. Member States have responded with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms. An agenda for the planet, our common home. An agenda for shared prosperity, peace and partnership.” he said.
For UN member states like Zimbabwe, the occasion for this year’s commemoration offers an opportunity for self-introspection on how it has fared in creating a future that seeks to promote and uphold peace. Goal number 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demands that countries promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Unfortunately, for the country, the current episodes where riot police is responding to peaceful demonstrations by citizens using brute force, continues to create fissures and dents on all attempts to enjoy fundamental human rights and freedoms by citizens. Fundamental human rights and freedoms such as those provided for in section 59 of the constitution which promotes freedom to demonstrate and petition must be enjoyed by every citizen.
This year’s commemorations are also taking place against a background where the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), an independent commission mandated to ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation is yet to be functional. While the gazetting of the NPRC bill on 18 December 2015 by government was a positive step towards operationalising the NPRC, such effort alone is not enough to attain national healing and reconciliation. The withdrawal of the NPRC bill from Parliament in May 2016 after citizens shredded its content during nationwide public consultative meetings is testimony that the bill failed to offer a comprehensive framework to justice, healing, reconciliation and social cohesion.
Heal Zimbabwe calls upon the Ministry responsible for National Healing to stand guided by both the constitution and the views of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed during the bill consultations. Heal Zimbabwe further implores the Ministry to swiftly move in to ensure commencement of the Parliamentary processes that lead to the enactment of the law and effective operationalisation of the NPRC. And equally important, HZT reiterates that the Government must engage protestors and proffer solutions to their grievances rather than quelling the protests using violence as this only defer the problems. HZT lastly, calls upon all Zimbabweans expressing their grievances through protests to do so peacefully as violence is totally unacceptable in modern day societies. Peace begins with me, Peace begins with You, Peace begins with all of Us!!!
On Saturday 15 October 2016, HZT joined the rest of the world in commemorating the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Rural Women. The UN international Day of Rural Women celebrates and honours the importance of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development.
HZT acknowledges that women are major players in ensuring community development. They play an important role in peace building right from the home to the society at large. HZT works with diverse groups of rural women all around Zimbabwe and has established Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation (WSSR), these are platforms were women of different age groups, backgrounds and political persuasions meet fortnightly to discuss pertinent issues that affect them specifically as women. These women work as Community Accountability Action Teams (CAAT) that raise awareness and demand for social accountability, good governance and democracy within their communities.
To commemorate the day, HZT women safe spaces from Gutu, Bikita and Zaka held 4 public awareness clean – up campaigns on Social Accountability and Peace building where they raised awareness among community members on the importance of peace, the need to demand social accountability from duty bearers and active community participation in developmental issues. With the assistance of HZT, the women have managed to mediate conflicts and conduct peace dialogues within their communities. Through door to door campaigns, the Women safe spaces members have also managed to build the confidence of other women to actively participate in governance, social accountability and democracy issues.
HZT continues to implement activities that seek to build social cohesion and empower women to actively participate in peace building, governance and democracy issues as they are usually side-lined. In light of the current challenges facing women, HZT calls upon the Government to fully operationalise the Gender Commission, a commission charged to conduct research into issues relating to gender and social justice, and to recommend changes to laws and practices which lead to discrimination based on gender.