Bulawayo Peri-urban Youths in Action

Peri-urban Byo youths listening to a sports personality address them

About 114 youths from Bulawayo’s peri-urban St Peters Village today converged at the sports ground for a youth empowerment programme where they received sports and sustainable lifestyles information and skills.

The session which lasted for half a day was organized by Community Influencer Khumbulani Maphosa and attracted renowned sports personalities in the city.

Our 2020 focus is to partner with individual young human rights activists and community influencers to reach out to youths as empower them with knowledge and skills of defending and promoting their rights and freedoms as part of the #YouthStandUp Initiative which lines with the UN human rights theme “Youth Stand Up for Human Rights”. Mainly we are targeting youths from vulnerable situations and communities.

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Breaking News: Njube High School Students in Peaceful Demo

Njube High School students demo. Pic by MIHR

About 100 students from Njube High School in Bulawayo took to the streets in midmorning today (Monday 20 January 2020) demonstrating against sharp fees hike and demanding that they be given their right to education.

The students who were singing the Ndebele protest song “into oyenzayo siyayizonda” (we dont like what you are doing) moved from the school premises and joined Masiyephambili road and Luveve road at Emagetsini and turned back close to Entumbane complex. They were carrying the Zimbabwe flag, the President’s portrait and placards.

One of the placards asking “where is UNICEF”

According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, “every person has the right to freedom of assembly and association” (section 58). Furthermore, Section 59 accords “every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights must be exercised peacefully”

MIHR observed the demonstration and noted that the students exercised their right peacefully without damaging public or private property and without injuring passerbys.

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Government formulates Community Radios Plan

The Herald newspaper reports that the government of Zimbabwe has set in place a plan to unroll community radio stations with an initial pilot of 10 community radios. According to The Herald the first station will be in Shamva targeting the minority Chewa language speakers and is one of the 16 official languages of the country. The report did not specify where else in the other 9 areas will the community radios be.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe recognised 16 official languages and 10 of them are minority languages spoken in Matabeleland region. Matabeleland civic society and communities have over the last decade or two been at the forefront of advocating for the licensing of community radios.

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Zimbabwe Votes for Minorities Genocide

The Zimbabwe government has once again proved that it is not in its DNA to protect and defend the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities by joining 9 other countries to vote against a UN resolution on the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

In December 2019, the UN General Assembly voted on Draft Resolution A/C.3/74/L.29Situation of Human Rights of the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar” which was sponsored by Finland (on behalf of the European Union (EU)) and the United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)).

The resolution raised alarm at the continuing gross human rights violations of Rohingya Muslims who are also being displaced to neighbouring countries. Over 1.1 million Rohingya muslims have been displaced since August 2017 fleeing ethnic cleansing that involves killings, mass rapes and burning of home. An independent international fact finding mission has reported “of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities” by security forces, which the mission said “undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.” The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned in October 2018 that “there is a serious risk of genocide recurring.” The mission also said in its final report in September 2019 that Myanmar should be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against the Rohingya.

The resolution was eventually passed with overwhelming vote of 134 countries in favour against 9 in opposition and 28 abstentions. Zimbabwe was the only African country that voted against the resolution. Other countries who voted against were Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia and Vietnam.

A number of African countries also abstained from the vote, including: Cameroon, Burundi, Eritrea, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho and Zambia.

Zimbabwe has not been doing well in the past years in terms of general respect for citizens’ human rights, use of the military to violate rights of citizens and upholding rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities. For instance, a Minority Rights Group International People Under Threat 2019 Report, Zimbabwe ranked 24th in the index index and fell one place from 2018’s ranking.

On the 3rd of September 2019 The Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Energy Mutodi released a video on social media where he labelled minority Ndebele people who occupy the western side of Zimbabwe as migrants and refugees in the country.

Myanmar, where most citizens are Buddhist, has long considered the Rohingya to be “Bengalis” from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all Rohingya have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering the group stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

This action by Zimbabwe government, which is still having an unresolved Gukurahundi genocide (1983 – 1986) against the Ndebele people, is an indication that ethnic and linguistic minorities are not safe in Zimbabwe and the government is not committed to respecting their fundamental rights and freedoms.

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Matabeleland begins to expirience 2020 climate change impact

Nsezi River: Pic by concerned citizen

This is Nsezi River (between ESibomvu and Mbizingwe) in Matabeleland South province of Zimbabwe, normally it would be over- flowing in this time of the month but due to climate change effects its dry.
Climate change is real and here and it is causing massive human rights violations in our communities like right to water, right to food, right to employment, right to development, cultural rights, and rights of peasant farmers and ultimately right to life.
We may not be able to stop it but we can mitigate it and can massively document the impacts of climate change to the rights of our people.

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Bulawayo Youths Stand Up for Rights of the Elderly

Xolile Nyathi of Friends of Elitah

Youths in Bulawayo, on 02 January 2020 organized an event to recognise the rights of the elderly at Bulawayo’s Entembeni Old People’s Home honouring the elderly with blankets, clothes, foodstuffs and toiletries.

The function was organized by Friends of Elitah and Raising 1000000 Champions with Activist and Community Influencer Khumbulani Maphosa being the Guest of Honor in the event.

The day long event was also attended by youths from various locations of the City who presented clothing and cooked for the elderly and further sought to get the wisdom of the elderly on various subjects like growing up, dating and other pertinent youth issues.

Mlamuli Nyathi of Raising 1000000 Champions

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights enhances the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe and with specific emphasis for vulnerable and marginalized community groups. In the year 2020 the organization is mainly focusing on enhancing youth active participation in human rights promotion, protection and fulfilment in-line with the UN Human Rights Theme: Youth Stand Up for Human Rights. The organization shall also be supporting youths from Matabeleland to stand up for their rights and the rights of members of their community. The organization is further supporting the Campaign by Khumbulani Maphosa for the rights of the elderly in Zimbabwe on #GugawithRights

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On the 23rd of October 2019, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) attended a Parliament of Zimbabwe 2020 Budget Consultation convened jointly by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development and Thematic Committee on SDGs on the 2020 Zimbabwe National Budget on SDGs.

In the meeting, MIHR submitted a written submission where several recommendations were made on the SDGs being prioritized by Zimbabwe. Among other recommendations, MIHR recommended on SDG 4 on Target: By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

Part of the MIHR recommendations was that government “Avail funding for free access to sanitary pads by children in school”

MIHR is pleased that the government of Zimbabwe took these recommendations seriously because on the 14th of November 2019 when Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic Development announced the 2020 National Budget Statement, he announced that the government has availed ZWL$200 million towards provision of free sanitary pads for rural primary and secondary students from Grade 4 to Upper 6.

MIHR acknowledges that there are other stakeholders that could have contributed to this success story but the organization has visible contribution on the mentioned issue.

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