Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) is a human rights non-profit and non-governmental think tank organization based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and exists to support, enhance and strengthen individual and institutional efforts of protecting and promoting human rights through research, capacity building, advocacy, lobbying and documentation in the Matabeleland Region of Zimbabwe.
Vision: Our vision is of a nation where all human beings full enjoy all human rights, freedoms and justice.
- Human Rights capacity building for community based organizations and individual human rights defenders,
- Human Rights support for human rights defenders and civic society organizations,
- Human Rights research and documentation,
- Human Rights advocacy and lobbying
- Human Rights Awareness and Consciousness raising
The Institute is currently operating with an active number of 30 Human Rights Defenders from the 3 provinces of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo and is envisaging increasing the number of active Human Rights Defenders to 150 by end of 2016.
Since Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980, the people of Matabeleland, who are of about 13 ethnic, tribal and linguistic minorities occupying 3 political and administrative provinces and estimated to be about in population size (about 15.9% of the national population); have been subject to massive human rights violations.
Genocide: Between 1982 and 1987 the people of Matabeleland experienced a state sponsored and tribal motivated genocide that left over 20 000 Matabele civilians killed and thousands more disappeared without trace. The state of Zimbabwe has not endeavored to address the effects and impact of this genocide serve for the President’s acknowledgement in 1999 that the genocide was ‘a moment of madness’. Civic society and individual activists who have openly advocated for truth and justice of the genocide have either been arrested, tortured, blocked or disappeared without trace. There are high levels of state repression on civic efforts to foster justice for the genocide victims.
Economic Injustices: in the year 1992 Matabeleland (which lies in the low rainfall natural farming regions 4 and 5 of Zimbabwe) experienced the worst drought in the region and the country. Coupled with the government Economic Structural Adjustment Programme most citizens of the region experienced economic injustices of loss of income and livelihood as many were retrenchment from Zimbabwe’s then industrial hub – Bulawayo Province.
The economic meltdown in Zimbabwe experienced since the year 2000 to date has resulted in an estimated 3 million Zimbabwean migrants leaving mainly in squalid conditions in neighboring South Africa and above 40% are of Matabeleland origin due to the region’s proximity and linguistic relatedness to South Africa. This has been further propounded by closure of about 92 major companies in Bulawayo between the year 2005 and 2013 which have left over 25 000 Matabeleland citizens unemployed. These migrants have also been victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Social Rights Violations: cases of tribal discrimination and violation of rights to education, health, water, free speech, access to information, representation and security have been rampant in the region mainly due to underdevelopment and the centralized system of governance which has disregard for minority rights and minority communities.