The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), the country’s first post-independence indigenous human rights advocacy group passed a raft of resolutions that will see major changes in how the association operates. The changes will see the creation of a Women Council, the Business Council, the Diversity Council as well as a Diaspora Council as the grassroots movement moves towards a new inclusive human rights strategy for Zimbabwe.
These changes are part of the 14 resolutions passed by ZimRights during an Extraordinary General Meeting convened on 17 March 2021 at a virtual conference called specifically to ratify the resolutions and accelerate the institution’s transformation.
In June 2020, ZimRights National Council, representing the association’s 11 Provincial Chapters passed a raft of measures meant to facilitate a new transitional strategy following the appointment of the new National Director Dzikamai Bere. However, the resolutions needed to be ratified by an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) since they would require changes to the Constitution.
Speaking at the end of the EGM, ZimRights National Chairperson Takesure Musiiwa told the delegates that the resolutions will pave way for increased growth of the association and give the new leadership the tools they need to ensure the association continues to lead the human rights advocacy agenda in the country.
“It was not an easy journey,” Musiiwa said. “We started this process in June 2020 but the COVID-19 situation had slowed us down. We are glad we finally managed to get this off the ground.”
Themba Chiveya the National Vice Chairperson said,” the resolutions adopted will strengthen ZimRights and broaden the organisation’s campaign for human rights by promoting the active involvement of the Women, Youths and people living with disabilities.”
The 14 resolutions adopted include resolution number 8 which seeks structural changes to institution to promote the participation and leadership of women in ZimRights through capacity building as well as creation of a dedicated women’s council.
“The goal is not only to facilitate the assumption of women into leadership,” Dzikamai Bere, the National Director told the delegates, “But to make women to be so empowered that through the same competitive processes, they will emerge victors. It is not affirmative action that we seek.”
Entrance Takaedza, ZimRights Masvingo regional council treasurer said, “the introduction of a women council will enable ZimRights to create a more human rights conscious society as more women will participate and also spread the human rights gospel.”
Another resolution passed by the EGM is resolution 7 which creates a Diversity Council, paving way for persons living with disabilities to be part of the movement.
Resolution number 6 creates ZimRights Abroad, a diaspora chapter which allows Zimbabweans in the diaspora to join ZimRights and advance their rights. It is estimated that there are over 4.5 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
“Zimbabwe’s biggest human rights movement cannot ignore 4,5 million of its people.” Said Bere.
Silvanos Mudzova a ZimRights member now living with disability in the diaspora lauded the new councils and said,” involvement of all sectors in society would ensure that the human rights agenda becomes everyone’s fight.”
The resolutions by ZimRights come at a time when the institution is involved in a new strategy following changes in leadership in January 2020. Bere, the National Director said the year 2020 was a learning year and now the institution is very clear about its direction.
“The 17 March ZimRights EGM is the most single progressive meeting that I have ever attended in my life.” Bere said, “It represents a major shift in how the association will go forward. I believe we are becoming everyone’s movement. We will see more diversity which means wealth of ideas. We will see more women leaders emerging. We will see young people becoming more involved. And we will see an outreach into the diaspora communities.”