Creating Spaces for Human Rights Learning in Zimbabwe, Part II

With financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Authority Sida)/the embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute is implementing an extensive human rights capacity development programme for government institutions, independent commissions, civil society organisations, independent research centres, academia, and traditional leadership.

The aim of the programme is to contribute to enhanced enjoyment of constitutional rights in Zimbabwe. This involves support to initiatives contributing to legislation, policies, practices and decision-making being increasingly informed by international human rights standards and principles.

An important element of the Programme is the implementation of Professional Training Programmes (PTP) on human rights, bringing together participants from different sectors in society to discuss and share experiences particularly on reform relevant issues and how to apply human rights standards in practice. Two participants from the series of PTPs on human rights share their experiences below

Priscilla Mbanga (Personal Photo)
Meet: Priscilla Mbanga

Priscilla Mbanga is the Director responsible for Monitoring and Inspection at the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC). She participated in RWI’s PTP which focused on the Protection of Vulnerable Groups in Zimbabwe. Additionally, she did a training on Human Rights and Treaty Body Mechanisms, with a focus on the national human rights institutions. This training helped the Commissioners and staff at ZHRC to appreciate the UN human rights system better and prepared them for future reporting. In addition to this Priscilla also describes how she benefitted from the knowledge of and connection with the other participants in these trainings.

“My network has definitely expanded following my participation in the PTP II training programme on Vulnerable Groups. I have worked with some of the participants on a continuous basis especially engaging the same on the human rights of vulnerable groups.”

After the PTP Priscilla has also been able to monitor the situation of irregular migrants in Zimbabwean prisons. She has ensured that this vulnerable group is given the due attention they deserve. Priscilla explains that it is very fulfilling to her to work with human rights as it highlights the inherent dignity in human beings.

“I have a passion for human rights and contributing to the realisation of human rights by everyone and in particular vulnerable members of our society. It is an area where it is possible to influence real change in humanity.”

Edson Paul Mutema (Personal Photo)
Meet: Edson Paul Mutema

Dr Edson Mutema is a lecturer and Head of the Department for Local Governance Studies at the Midlands State University (MSU) in Zimbabwe. In 2019 he participated in the PTP on Human Rights and Local Governance. Since then he has become a trainer himself and in 2020 he developed an online module for the participants of RWI’s PTP on Human Rights and Local Governance in the context of the SDGs. Edson also incorporated learnings from the human rights programme in the BSc in Local Governance Studies at MSU, having developed a course outline on human rights and local governance as his PTP action plan.

Edson tries to encourage more people to learn about the intersection of human rights and local governance.

“I encouraged one of my Master students to do a Research in Local Governance and Human rights. I supervised the dissertation and it’s currently under examination. I am also writing a book on Local Governance and Human Rights. Currently I am also supervising two doctoral students, the next students will be encouraged to do research on Local Governance and Human Rights.

Passing on his learnings to students of Local Governance, and helping them to observe human rights as they provide services to the community, is what motivates Edson to work with human rights.

I am intrinsically motivated once human rights are observed in Local Governance practice the realisation of sustainable development goals are made easier. Furthering the knowledge of the next generation is critical for the realisation of human rights at sub-national level.

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