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Launch of ROHR Provinces in Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 19:01

Between 4th September and 2nd October all ten ROHR Provinces in Zimbabwe have been launched. Below are reports of these launches taken from What’sApp messages sent by members of the ROHR International What’sApp group.

 

Launch of ROHR Bulawayo Province – 4th September 2015
Bulawayo Province was launched on the same day as a big demonstration in Bulawayo about prepaid water meters. Below the relevant What’sApp postings from 4th and 5th September.
Friday 4th

·       09.03 Ephraim Tapa: ‘For now we have Bulawayo as our focus. Is everything ok over there?’

·       11.22 from Bulawayo: ‘Things shaping up. Stay close. Bulawayo residents demonstrating against prepaid water meters and poor service delivery’.

·       11.26 first picture and message from Bulawayo ‘ People of all ages streaming in’.

·       13.27 picture identifying Stanley Square with a message ‘I was asked to give a solidarity speech on behalf of ROHR Zimbabwe International, and good people I nailed it before an estimated 3,000 at Stanley Square.’

·       13.47 from same person: ‘Pray for us. After this the regime will not love it. Security.’

·       More photos come in.

·       18.35: Ephraim Tapa: ‘Congratulations guys. We can continue to go from strength to strength. And yes, together we can.’

·       20.07 from Bulawayo: ‘Good people I wish you were all in Bulawayo today. We had a wonderful day and now people know about ROHR and we had our flyers and everyone wanted to be part of us. We thank God for this day coz it was the birth of ROHR in Bulawayo.’

·       20.43 onwards messages from Bulawayo: ‘Our dream and vision will never die’, ‘Together as one’ and ‘What have we to lose’.

Saturday 5th

·       08.49 from Bulawayo: ‘Bulawayo has set a precedent. An estimated crowd of 3000 took to the streets demonstrating against the proposed installation of prepaid water meters. Like a true giant ROHR’s banners led the procession from Town House to Stanley Square where speeches were delivered’.

 

Launch of ROHR Manicaland Province – 6th September 2015
We have completed the Manicaland meeting in Mutare. It went well with representatives from all 7 districts, namely: Makoni, Mutare, Chipinge, Buhera, Nyanga, Chimanimani and Mutasa. The meeting started with an introduction to ROHR going through our code of conduct, emphasising a membership drive through cards to be available soon. We also touched on partnerships, discipline, loyalty and sharing a common vision. The members suggested a $1 membership fee for provincial and district leadership and a further $1 per quarter to show commitment. $1 a year for ordinary members was also proposed. Work plans were developed with timelines and major activities, which must be done urgently, are district sensitisation meetings with stakeholders, membership drive, partnerships and networking. The following posts have been filled to form the provincial executive:  Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Secretary, Information & Publicity Secretary, Legal Advisor, 2 Youth Representatives and 3 Women’s Representatives.

 

Launch of ROHR Mashonaland West Province – 12th September 2015
ROHR Mashonaland West Province was constituted today at Orange Grove Motel in Chinhoyi. It was a fruitful meeting by all standards. The committee includes students from Chinhoyi University of Technology who showed great enthusiasm. The issue of membership cards was discussed. Members asked for workshops to learn more about human rights. They also asked for exchange programmes. A lecturer from Chinhoyi University is the Programmes Co-ordinator and another lecturer agreed to take up an advisory role. The meeting was informed by the vice chair on the role of ROHR, its objectives and vision. He emphasised the need to support activists. It was stressed that we should all devote our time and resources to attain our objectives as one big ROHR family, A whatsaap group has been formed for Mashonaland West. The Mashonaland West Provincial Committee was elected with the following positions: Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Organising Secretary, Treasurer, Information & Publicity Secretary, Co-ordinator, 2 Youth Representatives, 3 Women’s Representatives.

 

Launch of ROHR Harare Province – 15th September 2015
There was jostling for positions today at the Harare Gardens where a provincial structure was being constituted. No one wanted to be left out of the ROHR provincial committee as more people than invited turned up at the meeting point. The meeting started with introductions where people of immense experience and qualifications introduced themselves. Not to be out done were the students from the University of Zimbabwe also present. The Vice Chair gave a general overview of ROHR: its history, objectives and vision. The excitement was amazing and people raring to go well before the committee was formed. People asked questions and also made their recommendations. It was agreed that positions for people living with disability was a critical inclusion in the structure. The committee was elected with a lady elected as Chair. Because of the huge turnout, we had to introduce a secretary for information and publicity which is not enshrined in our constitution. District representatives were elected to kick start our district structures. A Chair and Deputy for a separate structure for the University of Zimbabwe were elected and mandated to go and fill up the structure. ROHR is raring to go in Harare. Great minds, schemers, strategists have committed themselves today to take Harare and Zimbabwe to the promised land. Thank you Harare. Thank our President. Thank you our brothers and sisters in the UK. Thank you Zimbabwe. ROHR, together we can.

 

Launch of ROHR Masvingo Province – 19th September 2015
The Masvingo provincial structure has been constituted. The people of Masvingo converged at the civic centre to elect its provincial committee. The ROHR National Chair attended. He applauded the new members and outlined the vision of ROHR. He gave an encouraging statement on the need for sacrifice in times of limited resources People agreed that besides political rights we should also fight for socio economic rights, children's rights and disability rights. The issue of gender was also discussed. Despite the lack of resources we managed to hold a successful meeting: booking the venue and buying food and bus fares for participants. The people showed that they are prepared to work for the growth of the organisation and took to heart the slogan ‘Together We Can’. The spirit in ROHR Zimbabwe International is good and encouraging. Office bearers were elected including the first ROHR representative for people living with disabilities.

 

Launch of ROHR Midlands Province – 20th September 2015
Midlands province gathered in Gweru this morning to elect a provincial executive for ROHR. The meeting was attended by 23 people, all willing to get into the structure. The Vice Chair gave the opening remarks. People spoke on the need to take a strong stance against abusers of human rights by exposing every abuse known. The team, comprised of seasoned and new cadres, then elected their leaders settling for experience and courage. There were some difficult moments as all present were capable of having a position. All made a pledge to work hard and take the cause of ROHR forward. The team boasted, as Midlands is the heart of the country, everyone in the ROHR family will feel its heartbeat.

 

Launch of ROHR Mashonaland East Province – 26th September 2015
ROHR Mashonaland East Provincial Structure was set up on Saturday 26th September. Their report on WhatsApp reads: Welcome on board a new member of our ROHR family, Mashonaland East Province. It happened this morning at the Harare Gardens We had to change the venue from Marondera to Harare for security reasons , , .  Despite all the fears, we managed to have a successful meeting where a new executive was elected with the following posts: Chair, Co-ordinator, Secretary, Treasurer and others. The meeting was chaired by ROHR’s Vice Chair who gave an overview of the organisation. ROHR’s history, vision and programmes were explained. The people present showed great interest and pledged to work hard for the organisation. The Chair promised ‘fireworks’. The new committee stated people with positions should: have time bound deliverables, work as a united team, have evidence based advocacy, be reliable and honest, be the voice of the voiceless, not to abuse the privilege of leading in ROHR and finally not abuse the WhatsApp platform meant for ROHR business. The meeting ended with participants having lunch and getting their bus fares. Our treasurer and a pastor from a local pentecostal church prayed and pronounced blessings on every member of ROHR, its visionaries and the nation of Zimbabwe. Thank you all, thank you our president and founder. God bless and protect us all.

 

Launch of ROHR Mashonaland Central Province – 27th September 2015
Today the people of Mashonaland Central converged in their capital Bindura to talk about ROHR and elect an executive. The meeting was a big success and the contributions were rich and enlightening. There is an eagerness to start work and a strong desire to champion the cause of human rights. We in Mashonaland Central are thrilled to have our provincial leadership in place today. Thanks to all the delegates who attended today’s meeting. The following districts were represented: Bindura, Shamva, Mazowe, Mt Darwin, Mbire and Rushinga. Only Muzarabani could not make the day. Thank you all. We are happy. People living with disabilities were represented.

 

Launch of ROHR Matabeleland South Province – 1st October 2015
Today the people of Matabeleland South gathered in Gwanda to elect their provincial executive for ROHR. The excitement seen at all the other province launches was by far exceeded. The meeting coincided with the town fathers intending to introduce prepaid water meters. This has not gone down well with residents and a demo is planned. The demo is being led by the residents’ association and ROHR. An estimated 5000 people are expected to take to the streets. The meeting was well attended and a Chair was elected. Passionate human rights activists were chosen to be part of the executive. As always, the history, vision and objectives of ROHR were outlined. The meeting was graced by members of the residents’ association who asked ROHR to speak on the day of the demo. A special guest was the first executive mayor from the opposition, also a former headmaster, lecturer and legislator. The new executive requested help with visibility material on the day of the demo in form of tshirts, banner, fliers and mobilisation funds. A hearty welcome to our new brothers and sisters.

 

Launch of ROHR Matabeleland North Province – 2nd October 2015
The final member of our ROHR family finally came home officially this morning in the resort town of Victoria Falls. People from all around Matabeleland North converged to elect their provincial executive. It was the last province to be constituted but certainly not the least. The launch went so well and the people chose a lady to be the Chair and a reverend as the treasurer amongst others. Now that all provinces have been constituted, real work starts now from all the corners of this country. Thanks to all the people who made this exercise a success, all provincial chairpersons, the national secretariat and our leaders in the UK. We thank you most of all President and founder. Welcome Matabeleland North and thank you ROHR family for making this possible. Truly Together We Can.

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ZIMBABWE ALERT – Relentlessly pushing Zimbabwe’s poor towards the edge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 23 August 2015 11:15

Zimbabwe is not the place for an easy life today.  With the economy in tailspin, businesses closing and workers being laid off in increasing numbers, and with a quarter of the population forced to work outside the country in order to keep their families alive, it comes as no surprise to learn that the unemployment rate is a staggering 90 per cent.  And if life is difficult even for the few in employment, one can but wonder how the rest manage to get by.

 

Imagine then the precarious life of some of those living close to the edge. Take for example a settled community of some 300 families eking out a meagre existence on a barren strip of land some 15 miles east of the city of Bulawayo. The area they inhabit is given the rather imposing name of Willsgrove Farm.   Here among the thorn scrub, without significant income or resources, or indeed any of the facilities we consider essential to modern life, somehow they manage to survive – just.  Mind you, even in their dire poverty they are in a better position than some because at least the houses they live in are constructed of good and strong building materials.  Better by far than the flimsy structures of their near neighbours in Killarney, dwellings which the Zimbabwean security forces tore down in the infamous Operation Murambatsvina back in 2005.  By contrast the dwellings on the Willsgrove Farm are well constructed and of sturdy material.  The community has been settled here for many years – the headman for 27 years – and no one was intending to move.

 

On the afternoon of 5th August a pastor was visiting this community who are a part of his scattered flock of impoverished, marginalised people. Suddenly and without warning a contingent of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrived on the scene.  They produced to the old headman a document purporting to be an eviction order served on behalf of the company claiming ownership of the land, and while still talking to him proceeded to start throwing out his belongings.  Minutes later a bulldozer appeared and began systematically demolishing, first his house and then the dwellings of other recognised leaders in the community.  The speed of the operation was breath-taking, as was the brutality that accompanied it.  Evidently the orders under which the ZRP were operating were not only to destroy these solid dwellings but to put the building materials beyond any possibility of rescue or re-use.  One old man who had used all his savings on retirement to purchase one solid roof structure saw that roof knocked down and then mangled beyond recognition.

 

Nor did the destruction end with the houses. Chickens reared by residents, turkeys and domestic animals suffered a worse fate.  The headman himself who owned three chicken houses containing some 2,000 poultry watched helplessly as the bulldozer flattened both the structures and the birds housed in them. The remaining live chickens found among the houses were stuffed into sacks and left to suffocate. Likewise with a number of puppies seized by the ZRP.

 

   It was a sickening display of unbelievable cruelty. Residents stood, shocked and helpless, while the wanton violence and mayhem swept through the community – a community that until that fateful afternoon had been living at peace with itself and the world.  Men, women and children wept aloud at the destruction unfolding before their unbelieving eyes.  

 

The pastor tried to remonstrate with the ZRP but to no avail.  Only later was he able to persuade them even to let him know where they had dumped the items seized in the raid – mostly in the bush and further out of town.  The now homeless residents of the Willsgrove Farm estate made their way on foot to these sites as best they were able in order to protect their trashed belongings.

 

The following morning (6th August) the ZRP returned to Willsgrove Farm and continued the wanton destruction of homesteads. But by this time the local press had been alerted and were present to witness the mayhem. So too a human rights lawyer who by early afternoon had secured authority sufficient to stop the evictions and the violence pending a Court hearing on 2nd September.  It transpires that there has been some litigation over a period concerning this site and the right of the residents to live there, though as the lawyer made plain to the ZRP even the existence of a valid eviction order, if such there was, would in no way justify such wanton brutality or the destruction of the property which was the subject of litigation. In the pastor’s words their actions were “very, very cruel”, indeed “barbaric”.

 

Moreover this barbaric raid upon the Willsgrove Farm community is by no means an isolated incident in Zimbabwe today. Similar raids have taken places in and around Harare and Chinoyi upon street traders and other poor and marginalised communities.  A common feature throughout is the destruction of well-constructed dwellings – in several cases dwellings that were built with donor funds following the terrible bloodshed that was a feature of the elections in 2008.  Within the seething political cauldron that is Zimbabwe today who, outside the inner circles of ZANU PF, can say who is responsible for initiating this destructive purge, or what their motive is?  It has become the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans under this suffocating tyranny simply to suffer and to endure, without asking why.

 

Meanwhile for the pastor and the few courageous souls who are working with him on the ground many months of intensive work lie ahead. He has already started attending to the urgent needs of this freshly displaced and traumatised community, ferrying them to collect their few battered belongings, taking those few who have relatives able to accommodate them temporarily to those homes, and providing such food, clothing and blankets as are available.  Informally an urgent appeal has gone out to local churches and a limited response is beginning to trickle in from a few individuals. Remember, these are hard times in Zimbabwe for all but the tiny number safely cocooned by political patronage.  For most there is little to give away or be generous with.

 

Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund has received an appeal to help the roughly 1,000 people who have been rendered homeless and who are in urgent need of relief supplies, particularly food and clothing.  We are sending an immediate initial sum of $ 1,000 and hope to send more later, depending on the needs identified on the ground and the response of our supporters.

 

Your prayers are also requested for the victims of this latest outrage and for those bravely standing with them in their hour of desperate need.  Remember Karl Barth’s words – “To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

 

17th August 2015

 

Editorial note: we have taken out names.

 
Mugabe demands return of freedom fighters’ skulls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 15 August 2015 12:18

Jan Raath Harare  10:39AM, August 14 2015

 

President Mugabe has accused British museums of displaying the skulls of beheaded Zimbabwean freedom fighters and demanded their return, setting off a new row with the country’s former colonial masters.

 

In a speech to mark “Heroes’ Day” this week, Mr Mugabe said that in the 1896-97 uprising by the Matabele and Mashona people, the chieftains were “decapitated by the colonial occupying force . . . then dispatched to England to signify British victory over and subjugation of the local population”.

 

He claimed that the skulls were exhibited in British museums. “Surely, keeping decapitated heads as war trophies in this day and age, in a national history museum must rank among the highest forms of racist moral decadence, sadism and human insensitivity,” he said.

 

The state-run press took up Mr Mugabe’s campaign against the British “barbarians”. The Herald newspaper even compared the alleged exhibition of skulls with the killing of Cecil the lion last month.

 

Whether the skulls exist, however, is yet to be established. The British Museum said it did not have human skulls matching Mr Mugabe’s description, nor “any other human skulls from Zimbabwe” in its collection.

 

A spokesman for the Natural History Museum said it did have human remains from Africa from that period but its pathology department was unaware of any request relating to Zimbabwe.

 

“The Natural History Museum has a policy of considering requests for return of human remains to their places of origin, under the provisions of Section 47 of the Human Tissue Act 2004,” the spokesman said. “The museum engages in discussions with governments and communities who wish to make a claim for return of remains.”

 

Officials said there were no exhibits of any Zimbabwean body parts on display in any of London’s museums.

 

Historians also question the version of events presented by Mr Mugabe, noting that there was no record of decapitations in that conflict. Professor Terence Ranger, the doyen of Zimbabwe’s early colonial history and a friend of Mr Mugabe, had established that there was talk of one possible decapitation in the two-year rebellion.

 

A chief in the east of the country had hidden from officers of Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Police.

 

“They had to dynamite him out,” said a historian who asked not to be named. “As soon as they captured him, he was subjected to a summary court martial, found guilty and shot. There was talk that one of the troopers had cut off his head and taken it back to England but Ranger said there was never anything to back it up.”

 

Most of the leaders of the rebellion were given courts martial, found guilty and shot or hanged, and then buried in the yard of the prison, he said. “It’s a bit of an exaggerated idea to suggest that British officials routinely beheaded people. It’s just not credible. 

 

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/africa/article4527157.ece

 
Pastor’s Eviction Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 August 2015 13:13

On 5 August 2015 around 2 pm, without warning, the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the company of the Deputy Sheriff arrived at the headman’s house on Willsgrove Farm with an eviction order and commanded the headman to move away and said that they were destroying the buildings.  This farm is the property of a brick manufacturing company. As the senior police officer was talking to the old man the rest of his team rushed into the house and started throwing out the belongings. No sooner had they started than a bulldozer arrived and started to demolish the buildings. They did not only demolish the homestead but also three chicken houses that the headman had, containing about 2000 birds. The remaining live chickens were stuffed into sacks. The turkeys’ legs were tied and they were also shoved into sacks. Most of them suffocated. In addition puppies were also put into sacks and suffocated. They also towed the headman’s car away. It was found with no bonnet and a smashed windscreen. The headman had been living on the property for 27 years.  

After this they moved to another brick under iron homestead which they destroyed and took property such as fridges which were taken to an unknown destination. They targeted the four leaders of the community first. After that they started on the other homesteads. There was a lot of crying among the people: women and men and children.

At first we did not know how to respond. The police said that because I was not living there they could not give me any details. Then we did some follow-up and located property along the Old Esigodini Road. Once the people knew where their property was whole families (33 people) walked to where it was to guard it. Similar groups formed round property on the Gwanda Road (8 families) and in the bush (40-50 families). They slept out in the cold with no shelter for three nights by the road.

On 6th August the police returned at 9am and continued to destroy homesteads. We alerted the press, who came to witness what was happening, and we also notified Bulawayo churches and pleaded for food and blankets. We received help from Bulawayo Help Network, Whitestone Chapel and individuals who donated food, clothing and fuel.

A human rights lawyer managed to get the evictions stopped.  He came with papers around 2 pm. He showed the police the papers and instructed them to stop the operation immediately. There will be a hearing on 2nd September.

Records have been taken of the people now internally displaced and around 1000 names have been collected.

Bulawayo is not the only city affected by the destructions. The same thing is happening in Chinoyi and around Harare.

At present the families are very distressed.  Some of the children have been taken to pastors and relatives in the surrounding area. I am very puzzled and distressed at the manner in which this exercise was carried out in such an inhumane way to people who are struggling to make ends meet and the way in which animals were destroyed. To date people are still sleeping in the open indicating that they have nowhere else to go. The little that they have has been destroyed. One old man had to be taken to hospital and they said he had to be put into Ingutsheni Hospital because of his unstable mental condition.

Up to now we have not had any support from the local churches by way of food, blankets, clothing and transport. No one has come to visit. The displaced people are greatly encouraged when people come to see them.

 
Ben Freeth’s Address to US Congress – 2nd June 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 28 June 2015 13:48

“The only language the black man will understand is the language of the gun.  The more you kill the closer you get to your objective.”

 

“Our party must continue to strike fear into the heart of the black man, they must tremble . . .”

 

“I am the Hitler of the times . . .”

 

Imagine a President of a western country saying such things.  These are exact quotes from our President - except you need to substitute the word “black” for “white.”

 

 “Whites are not human beings . . .” said our late vice president.

 

We need to get the root of the problem in Zimbabwe.  What is it that caused the fastest shrinking economy in the recorded history of the world in a peace time situation?  What is it that brought the most industrialized country in sub Saharan Africa after SA into a state of 85% unemployment?  What is it that made the bread basket of Southern Africa into a country that would have had widespread death by starvation if food aid had not come in from the USA and the west every year for the last 14 years?  What is that has caused an estimated 25% of the entire Zimbabwe population to flee the country of their birth in such a short period of time?

 

At the root of it is the break down of the rule of law and the discrimination that has allowed Mugabe’s political elite to greedily grab or destroy homes, businesses and other assets from opposition members or people with a white coloured skin.  They then asset strip them and leave the workers on them hungry, poor and dependant on the ruling Party and international food aid for their very survival.

 

The racial record of the Mugabe’s ruling elite is evident: first there was the racially inspired genocide of the 1980s when the current regime murdered an estimated 20,000 Matabele people.  Then there is the white population in Zimbabwe that has depleted in numbers by approximately 90 percent.  In the last 15 years the white population on the farms has been systematically and lawlessly driven off their farms and is now less than 5 percent of what it was; and the ethnic cleansing of those rural areas continues.  Those last 5 % are persistently terrorized or criminalized - and face 2 years in jail for committing the crime of farming and living in their own homes in a country that is starving.   

 

My father in law, Mike Campbell, was abducted and severely beaten – and later died – when Mike took Mugabe to court in the regional African SADC Tribunal on the racial discrimination issue – and the fact that we as white people are constitutionally denied the right to a day in court when our homes and livelihoods are violently and systematically stolen.  Mike got a final and binding judgment to say that racial discrimination is taking place in Zimbabwe and must stop.  Despite that not a single signatory country to the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination [ICERD] has asked the Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination [ICERD] to investigate the continued breaking of the ICERD by the Zimbabwe Government - and with that the UN Charter, the African Charter and the SADC Treaty.   

 

Later, after the Zimbabwe Government was found to be in contempt of court, Mugabe got the whole court closed down, depriving quarter of a billion people in 15 countries in Southern Africa of a court of last resort when their own justice systems fail them.

 

As both the current African Union Chairman and the SADC Chairman he has recently told SADC: “I give poison not for you to swallow but to give to someone else” - the poison being racial hatred, and the “someone else” being white people.  The double standards of the world need to stop. Racism against white people is just as evil and wrong as racism against black people or any other people. 

 

I have been impressed by the moral manner in which so many in the USA wish to try to deal with immoral situations.  The Zimbabwe Democracy Act needs to remain in place and be strengthened.  At the same time, in the spirit of truth and the Martin Luther King civil rights movement, it is important that the USA made a complaint to CERD and asked for an investigation into the Zimbabwe Government.

 

Until non-discrimination, property rights and the rule of law are returned to the people of Zimbabwe and Africans as a whole, hunger, deprivation and regression will continue to be the order of the day.  Racial discrimination takes a nation into a never ending spiral of hate and recrimination.  There is no way forward while the world allows this to continue.  Silence is the sickening sound of tacit approval.     

 

Ben Freeth MBE

 
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