Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe (GHZ) was launched in 2014 with the purpose of inspiring more and more citizens of that country to “stick their necks out” to help solve the tough public problems that challenge that country.
The organization joined similar groups in India, Nepal, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Singapore and Argentina. Although completely independent, all are inspired by the work of the Giraffe Heroes Project in the USA.
The strategy of Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe—as all the other Giraffe groups—is simple. GHZ finds brave Zimbabweans of all ages and walks of life who are already acting courageously for the common good.. When it tells the stories of these heroes over both traditional and social media, others are moved to get into action too. Telling the stories of heroes to motivate others to action may be a very simple strategy, but it works—as it has in every culture for thousands of years.
Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe, as all other Giraffe Heroes programs around the world, will not take sides with any one political party or ethnic group. Rather, it will find and celebrate the work of those citizens whose lives transcend party, ethnicity and class—people whose work is dedicated to the good of all people in the country, from all parties and all groups.
Giraffe Heroes are chosen by a jury of citizens from nominations received from all over the country. The main criterion for being a Giraffe Hero is that the person has taken courageous action that serves the common good.
Every effort will be made to convince the new leaders of Zimbabwe that Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe serves them as well as the entire country. It is in the interest of all political parties to support Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe as a powerful means for harnessing the problem-solving ideals and efforts of every citizen.
Giraffe Hero Farai Maguwu recently risked his safety to speak to the 5,000 people who had gathered to commemorate the hundreds of villagers who had lost their lives in a vicious crackdown when the government took control of the diamond fields in the district of Marange in November 2008. The annual commemoration serves as a platform for the community to reflect on its losses and map the way forward. It is a sphere for struggle and solidarity.
Maguwu was briefly detained by the police as they sought to stop him from addressing the gathering, but he still managed to speak. In his remarks, Maguwu lamented human rights abuses, harassment of villagers and general lack of development in Marange communal lands. “The people remain poor,” he said, “the road network is deplorable, and the schools do not have enough learning facilities even though the area is the center of diamond mining in the country.
“We say to the government,” Maguwu continued, “that the Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Company must remit a certain percentage of the diamond revenue back to the community. We want money for infrastructure development. We want money for human capital development. These are simple things and should be understandable.” Maguwu also said that feared for his life and was not even sure whether he would sleep at his home that night. He expressed his determination in defending the people’s rights and asked the people of Marange to remain resolute too.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected President of Zimbabwe in August, 2018, replacing Robert Mugabe who had resigned as head of government following massive demonstrations by citizens demanding his exit from power.
Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 36 years, resulting in the death and disappearance of thousands of citizens including political activists by state security agents .
Giraffe Hero Itai Dzamara is one such courageous citizen who disapeared in 2015 after being seized by suspected state security agents at the after criticizing Mugabe 's rule and calling for his stepping down from office.He remains missing ever since and fresh calls have been made by civil society and family members to the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, calling for his return.
We thank all our Giraffe Heroes for standing up against tyranny during Mr Mugabe's era and urge them to continue such work in the new Zimbabwe.
Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe will continue working hard and courageously to promote social, political and economic rights in Zimbabwe. Giraffe Heroes will continue to monitor the new government closely, challenging it to fulfill its promises to end corruption and to bring stability, justice and economic progress to all the people who have waited so long to see it.
From the Desk of the Chairman
My name is Terry Mutsvanga and I am the Chairperson of Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe. It is my pleasure to introduce you the GH Zimbabwe (GHZ) Chapter. Although the concept is still young, we believe that we will grow big. We have already honored over 80 Giraffe Heroes—brave citizens who are "sticking their necks out" to fight for the rights of all Zimbabweans.
GH Zimbabwe strives to recognize “unsung heroes” that have positively contributed immensely in society and to tell their stories to the nation, inspiring others to stick their necks out too. In this way, we hope to leave a legacy of positivity to future generations through our work.
We are now calling upon nominations for individuals from around Zimbabwe whom you think deserve to be honored for their outstanding contributions inasmuch as advocating for social and economic rights as well as contributing positively in communities they reside in.
Do you know of a fellow Zimbabwean—man or woman, young or old, from any tribal, economic, political, social or professional background, who is acting bravely ("sticking her or his neck out," just like a giraffe!) to help solve one of our country’s pressing problems, including, for example, poverty, poor infrastructure, mismanagement, corruption and enormous challenges in almost every sector of the economy? If you do, email the information to me at Terry Mutsvanga email@example.com.
The Giraffe Heroes of Zimbabwe
Tunamirai Zimonte fights to educate young people in Zimbabwe on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Zimonte speaks and writes about this growing problem, facilitates training workshops and lobbies the government for enforcement of drug laws. He is continually threatened by drug dealers, and police are typically reluctant to take any action. Nonetheless, Zimonte perseveres. More
Despite paying their monthly water bills, the residents of Chegutu, Zimbabwe, have gone for years with inadequate supplies of clean water, resulting in outbreaks of cholera and other diseases. Misheck Kazembe set up a nonprofit organization to challenge the local governing Council to deliver the water. He is not stopped by threats by the local police. More
The Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL), a Zimbabwe coal-mining company, has not paid its workers for years, sending many families into deep poverty. Spouses and widows of HCCL workers, as well as former workers themselves, have banded together to protest. The women have encountered harassment and threats but they continue their demonstrations. More
Philemon Jambaya is a young Zimbabwean journalist who defends freedom of the media. For his efforts, along with fellow journalists, he’s been beaten up by police. Jambaya started the Young Journalists Organisation advocating for journalists’ rights and he’s not about to quit. More
Kudzai Kadzere is an attorney in Zimbabwe who typically represents clients who have been arrested and detained for protesting economic and political conditions. Kadzere advocates for these citizens’ rights, regularly bails them out of prison, and often faces threats of beatings from local police. More
Abigale Mupambi is one of the few women activists campaigning for implementation of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution. She's braved many threats to her safety in order to call out President Mugabe for his lack of support, and she travels throughout the country to urge citizens to fight for heir constitutional rights. More
Zacharia Mushawatu founded Youth Advocacy for Voter Enlightenment and Progressive Orientation—YAVEPO. The organization encourages young people not only to vote, but to stand as candidates themselves. YAVEPO is threatened with assaults by supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF Party. More
Artist Tafadzwa Muzondo transformed an old, dirty foot bridge into a scintillating arts center and educational site for the town of Highfield’s troubled youth. Though one of Muzondo’s controversial plays was banned by the government, and two others shut down, he continues undeterred. More
Busani Sibindi is an activist in Zimbabwe who wants justice for the thousands of people massacred in a tribal purge decades ago. The government threatens, arrests, and harasses him. Still, he persists, founding the Save Matebeland Coalition Trust and organizing protests throughout the country. More
At a University of Zimbabwe graduation ceremony attended by the country’s president, student activist Tonderai Dombo held up a placard protesting the lack of jobs. He was immediately arrested, detained overnight, fined, and—at least temporarily—denied his graduation certificate. But he won't quit. More
Kumbulani Zamuchiya is an award-winning Zimbabwean film-maker focusing on civil rights abuses. His documentary, “Voices from a Tent,” told the story of how villagers were evicted from their homes without compensation after a dam broke. Another film profiled Itai Dzamara, an activist kidnapped by suspected state security agents. More
Attorney Fadzai Mahere has continually challenged the Zimbabwe government about malfeasance and corruption. She’s been vilified and arrested, but she continues to speak out in favor of her fellow citizens’ rights and in support of the disadvantaged. Being a woman in a male-dominated profession—and society—has not deterred her. More
Zimbabwe has been rocked by a series of strikes and protests as citizens pressure President Mugabe's government to provide employment as well as food to millions of citizens who are suffering. Stan Zvorwadza is a key leader of these brave fights. More
Obert Masaraure leads the way in the struggle to provide decent education for the schoolchildren of Zimbabwe. More
Jenny Williams is one of very few women in Zimbabwe who have dared to stand up and fight for their rights, Cultures that have long discounted and suppressed women are hard to change. More
As the Gender Officer for the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Joana Mamombe has shown immense courage in fighting for student rights. More
Comedian and actor Silvanos Mudzvova toured the country with a one-man play calling sharp attention to the looting of diamond income meant for the entire nation. The authorities aren’t pleased. More
How far would you go to track down the truth about a brother snatched off the street by suspected government agents? For Patson Dzamara, there are no limits. More
For Grace Chirenje, it’s not easy being an activist—especially when you’re a woman. Especially when you’re focusing on empowering people who have never before been empowered. More
O'Brien Makore is an urban planner and civic innovator with a great passion for finding innovative solutions to emerging urban development challenges. A key part of that is fighting corruption. More
Promise Mkwananzi is a human rights defender and currently Director of the Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation (ZISO) a nonpartisan body that promotes and safeguards the interests of the millions of Zimbabweans who work in the so-called “informal” sector of the country’s economy, more
Kuchera Masimba, born with a visual impairment, in high school began his life’s work as an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. In one famous case, Masimba fought and won a court case against the government so that blind people could vote without government interference. more
Chenjerai Hove was a prolific poet whose literary work was humorous, hard hitting and educative. From 1982 till his death in July 2015, Hove dedicated his time to writing short stories and poems that depicted the struggles and travails of Zimbabweans under the autocratic rule of President Robert Mugabe. Hove died in exile in Norway on 12 July 2015. more
In 2010 more than 1700 households from Chisumbanje village in Chipinge were forcibly displaced from their homelands to pave way for a multi million dollar ethanol project run by a local business tycoon. Claris Madhuku resolved to fight for proper compensation and relocation for the villagers, many of whom were living in abject poverty. more..
Retired Anglican Bishop Sebstian Bakare, born in 1940, is an iconic figure in Zimbabwe whose work in the church and society has one connecting thread – quest for social justice and equality . Bishop Bakare has lived his entire life fighting for human rights, freedom and dignity for his people. more
In 2008, the government of Zimbabwe took control of the Marange diamond fields, an important resource for the country’s economy, discovered just two years before. The government claimed that wildcat diamond miners were funding rebel groups and so needed to be controlled. However, activist Farai Maguwu claims that in addressing that perceived problem, the military and police created something far worse—systematic abuse of illegal miners,...more
Betty Makoni knows all about the traumas that can befall a girl child in her country, Zimbabwe. She lived through horrors herself and is making sure that other girls' childhoods are nothing like her own.
Makoni escaped abuse by getting a working scholarship to an all-girls boarding school and going on to earn two degrees. As a teacher in co-ed schools, she witnessed the prejudice and violence that beset her female students. Male...more
Imagine being rendered destitute and homeless from ancestral land that you once called home for decades following heavy flooding that ravaged everything that you possessed?
Like the infamous Cyclone Katrina which pounded parts of Mississippi, that was the similar situation which characterised heavy flooding that pounded Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province in February 2014 leaving a trail of destruction.
The heavy rains destroyed the...more
When the “diamond rush” struck the impoverished populace in 2006, thousands of poor Zimbabweans flocked to the Marange district in the country‘s Manicaland Province in a desperate attempt to “get rich quickly”.
The fortunate ones became instant millionaires whilst the unlucky perished from injuries inflicted upon from dog wounds and multiple bullet wounds fired by “trigger happy” state security agents under the guise of maintaining...more
In a number of African cultures, women are confined to the kitchen were they are expected to cook and perform all the household chores. Such is the patriarchal system that allows only men to engage in political and social activities, thus depriving the “girl child” access to challenging roles.
But that seems to be evolving in Zimbabwe as women are now taking up leadership roles in communities they reside. Such women can be found in both...more
When Zimbabweans voted “Yes” in favor of a new constitution, little did they know that it was just a “worthless paper” that the ruling ZANU PF government did not care to abide to.
Arbitrary arrests of citizens characterized by brutal police torture typical before the ushering in of the new constitution were to continue with civic society leaders being the latest targets of the state machinery.
One such citizen who was caught “in...more
“I was heavily assaulted by the police and spent two days in hospital but that hasn’t broken my spirit. I will keep on fighting for what I believe in."
These were the words uttered by 37 year old journalist cum human rights activist Itai Dzamara whilst addressing scores of people who had gathered in the Africa Unity Square in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD). Before the assault, Dzamara had succeeded in leading a peaceful...more
The HIV/AIDS pandemic that has ravaged Zimbabwe since the 1980s has resulted in millions of children being rendered orphans.
The situation has been worsened by the failure of the government to provide a “safety nets” that are crucial in assisting towards the upkeep of such children.
Many of these children are leaving destitute lives were they are prone to drug and sexual abuse.
However a few citizens have tried to assist by...more
When Zimbabwe attained Independence in 1980 after 90 years of British colonial rule, a majority of white nationals took the backseat in participating towards participating in active politics or civic activism.
They were further alienated by the 2000 land reform which witnessed a greater majority of the population loosing farms and other properties. Ever since they have been playing a “Wait and see game” and it has become so “unusual”...more
31 year old James Bayanai has set himself on a track to make his contribution to change the world through spearheading projects to promote literacy in rural Zimbabwean communities.
Since 2010 James has been involved in International Youth Advocacy and plenty humanitarian initiatives.
In May of 2010 while working in Cape Town SA for an Internet Service Provider, James Bayanai received a challenge of his life after reading in the...more
The Zimbabwe government still violates citizens’ rights despite a new constitution. Human rights defenders, including lawyers, risk beatings whilst defending human rights violations victims.
Kennedy Masiye, a lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), was recently severely bashed by the police whilst attending to protestors who were demonstrating in the Harare Central Business District (CBD) against the country’s...more
Beatrice Savadye is a 27 year old human rights activists and current Director for Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS) an organization working to promote social and economic justice for young people in Zimbabwe.
Beatrice comes from a humble background where she had to pan for gold at Kitsiyatota and would be a street vendor after school and during school holidays so as to able to raise school fees. This is what...more
“I was beaten the whole night by the police but that will not deter me from pursuing the fight for a better Zimbabwe “I am now very much committed and strong in standing up for the rights of my fellow citizens’.
Such were the courageous words uttered by Charles Nyoni following his discharge from a Harare hospital.
Nyoni had been arrested in Parliament after he had presented a petition in parliament calling for the government to...more
Zimbabwe has not been spared challenges that other African countries have faced. Once a glorious bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered economic, social and political instability for the past two decades, leaving the majority of the ordinary people vulnerable. Government operations like Operation Restore Order (May 2005), destroyed backyard cabins and shacks which were shelter to many as well as small markets for vendors. Many urban...more
Speaking against state sponsored violence is a huge crime in Zimbabwe. Those who speak out from rural communities do so at great risk to their
personal security and that of their families. The vulnerability of human rights defenders in rural communities is even more severe for women who are still treated as less equal to their male counterparts due to cultural violence. Nevertheless, some women have defied odds and began to stick their...more
State security agents who were deployed into the Marange diamond fields between 2006 and 2011 have been accused of committing gross
human rights abuses. These include murder, torture, rape, robbery, extortion and forced labor. Within a few months Marange, a once peaceful and serene rural environment, had been transformed into a war zone.
However, not all state security agents became beasts on behalf of the state. Some refused to...more
The rate of environmental degradation due to alluvial gold mining has left the community of Penhalonga devastated. A once beautiful, serene
and quiet natural habitat has become ravaged, dusty and made uninhabitable by the mining operations of DTZ OZGEO. The company has caused such environmental damage as has not been witnessed in Manaicaland Province since time immemorial. The Mutare River, which epitomized the beauty of Penhalonga, has...more