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"Giraffe 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 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.
Breaking News— in Zimbabwe, a New Cruelty Every Day
State arbitrariness, police violence and deprivation make life in Zimbabwe hell. Even teachers fight for survival, led by Giraffe Hero Obert Masaraure More
BREAKING NEWS—ANOTHER GIRAFFE HERO BEATEN BY GOVT THUGS AS ZIMBABWE CRISIS DEEPENS
Zimbabwe democracy and human rights activist (and Giraffe Hero) Tatenda Mombeyarara was recently abducted and beaten up by armed men for his antigovernment activism.. He was left with a broken leg and serious injuries. He's now charged with treason
HARARE - Lying on a hospital bed, the man in his late thirties, twitched and twisted his face, in pain as he showed the injuries all over her back to the few people who had come to visit him.
The man, Tatenda Mombeyarara, a human rights activist in Harare, began telling the story behind his injusires and subsequent hospitalisation.
A few days back, on a windy night of 14 August night, six armed men, suspected to be state securiy agents, had abducted and assaulted Mombeyarara.
This was two days before the opposition MDC was due to hold its demonstrations in Harare, and the incident, which happened on the same night when an MDC youth leader Blessing Kanotunga had met the same fate, was suspected to be the work of the State.
A coordinator at a pro-democracy civil society organisation, Citizen Manifesto, Tatenda appeared unfazed by the abduction and assault, and went to speak openly about the need for government to uphold human rights.
In a country where people are abducted in the dead of the night and nothing happens to the perpetrators, everyone lives in fear and self expression becomes a risk. But so resolute is Tatenda that from his hospital bed, he continued to give interviews with local and international media, reaffirming much the human rights situation has deteriorated in the country.
“The reality is that they have worsened. We are in a far, far much worse situation. So if we got sanctions because of human rights abuses, what should actually be happening is tightening those sanctions," said Tatenda in an interview with Voice of America.
This is not the first time the State has attempted to silence Tatenda, a man who has been actively organising citizens forums where people would speak about social issues affecting the country.
In May, after attending a workshop on human rights in the Maldives, Tatenda and six others were arrested and charged with treason. They spent weeks in remand prison before getting very tight bail conditions, which included reporting to the police daily.
That did not stop Tatenda. A week after his abduction and assault, he wrote for the first time on Facebook. "Hallo colleagues, friends, comrades and associates. Thank you all for the solidarity, moral and material support, prayers and good wishes. I underwent successful surgery and I am mending.
The death squad sent to destroy me damaged my body and bruised my soul. But then still I live! I am a proud Zimbabwean aspiring for a better Zimbabwe defined by peace, harmony, wellness, justice and democracy," he wrote.
Perhaps what kept him, and still keeps him going is the overwhelming local and international solidarity, as Zimbabwe once again slides back into the dark era of human rights abuses, and all that human rights defenders can rely on, is solidarity amongst themselves. Following a visit to the hospital to see Tatenda, the US AMbassador Brian Nichols tweeted, “The U.S. government is concerned about renewed reports of abductions and assault of civil society members and opposition party members. Harassment and intimidation have no place in a democratic and pluralistic society."
BREAKING NEWS—GIRAFFE HERO JAILED FOR TREASON
Giraffe Hero Joana Mamombe becomes the first woman in Zimbabwean to be charged with treason following the January fuel price protests. She's being accused of having incited people to revolt against the government of Emmerson Mnangagwa by calling for people to protest against the worsening economic crisis. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison.
Remember her name. Global pressure will be important in keeping her safe. For the full update and original profile, go here,
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Giraffe Heroes of Zimbabwe
Despite risks of threats and violence, young photo-journalist Panashe Makufa has employed many tactics in his fight for consumers rights, freedom of expression and journalistic freedoms—from staging one-many demonstrations to court challenges to police actions against the media. His current fight is for the right to report freely on the Covid-19 outbreak in his country. More
Theresa Nyava grew up poor in rural Zimbabwe, and her family couldn’t afford to purchase menstrual products for her or her sisters. Once in university, Nyava began donating money to underprivileged schoolgirls and lobbying for affordable menstrual products and services, later forming a nonprofit, Nyava has been denounced by many religious and tribal leaders, who resent her challenge to traditional ways of treating females. More
Stabile Dewa, a vibrant Zimbabwe democracy and women rights activist is one of the seven people recently charged with treason in the southern African country. She was arrested in May returning from a democracy workshop in the Maldives and spent days in prison before she was released on a $1000 bail pending trial. More
Outspoken and defiant, Zimbabwean traditional Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni “speaks truth to power,” criticizing government political and land-use abuses and supporting human rights. For his efforts he’s been labeled a “security threat” and physically attacked by gangs sent by his opponents. More
Vibrant and fearless Zimbabwean HIV activist Chipiwa Mugabe is fighting for LGBTIQ rights in Zimbabwe despite the stigma surrounded with the topic. Chipiwa, a former sex worker has been arrested several times in Zimbabwe for her sexual health rights campaigns but she remains determined to push for the rights of marginalized people in society. More
Robson Chere, a teacher and trade unionist in Zimbabwe has been arrested several times by the police for calling on the government to pay rural teachers a decent salary and improve their working conditions. “I will not just stand and watch myself and my comrades dying from man-made poverty,” he says, but I choose to speak out.” More
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
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
UPDATE APRIL 2, 2019: Joana Mamombe, Zimbabwe’s youngest Member of Parliament at age 25, is facing treason charges for attempting to overthrow the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and if convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison.
Mamombe, a former student leader during her university years was elected an opposition MP in Zimbabwe’s capital during last year’s general elections becoming the southern African country’s youngest legislator. For the full update and the original posting, go here.
Mamombe was named Giraffe Hero years ago and has continued with her activism in fighting for justice and human rights.
Back then Mamombe felt that it was her duty as a citizen to defend other citizens’ rights, and she has put her opinions into action many times. Typically, she’s defiant about maintaining her participation in marches and other protests: “I’m not afraid to do that.”
She was arrested in March this year while attending parliament business. Her treason charges emanate from her January press conference statement in which she urged members from her constituency to ‘dress in black’ and embark in a ‘peaceful protest’ over the high cost of living in Zimbabwe after government hiked the price of fuel.
The protests in January led to the death of at least 17 people who were shot dead after soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters.
Prosecutors charge that Mamombe wanted to overthrow President Mnangagwa’s government after she urged people to protest over the high cost of living at a press conference. Her arrest has been condemned by her party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), civic society groups and ordinary people.
Mamombe who was detained for days is currently out on bail and is among other opposition MPs and civic society leaders who are facing treason charges.
She is being represented in court by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
Mamombe studied Biotechnology at a local university and also studied in Norway and the United Kingdom.
She was the secretary general of the country’s largest tertiary student’s movement, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) from 2013 to 2015 and goes by the moniker ‘Mama Madikizela’ named after the anti-apartheid hero Winnie Madikizela, the late ex-wife of struggle icon Nelson Mandela.
After her detention for days Mamombe was granted bail by the High Court she tweeted the “struggle continues unabated.”
Her case is pending before the courts.
ORIGINAL POST: As the Gender Officer for the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Joana Mamombe has shown immense courage in fighting for student rights. More
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