The abduction of another leading Zimbabwe human rights campaigner is a cruel irony for Christchurch-based Zimbabwean Mandla Akhe Dube on international Human Rights Day.
Today (December 10) is the 60th anniversary of the international declaration on human rights, which enshrined the basic rights of every person.
Mr Dube says the abduction of Zimbabwe Peace Project executive director Jestina Mukoko a week ago adds to the anguish of Zimbabweans at this time. Ms Mukoko played a significant role collecting evidence against the perpetrators of violence in Zimbabwe.
Mr Dube met Ms Mukoko in 2002 when she worked for Radio Netherlands and he worked for an election monitoring group, just before emigrating to New Zealand.
It is not known whether Ms Mukoko, who Mr Dube describes as hard working, passionate and fearless, is alive or dead. If she was dead, it would not stop the work.
“If they abduct one person and kill her does that mean the database of information has died?”
Her abduction adds to the growing list of Zimbabwe campaigners who have gone missing.
Mr Dube works for New Zealand aid agency Christian World Service (CWS), which helps organizations around the world that meet gross human rights abuses in the course of their work. In Zimbabwe, Christian World Service has long funded two Zimbabwean organizations running feeding programmes in starving rural areas.
At this crucial time, CWS says the New Zealand government needs to use its good relations with South Africa to pressure it to take a stronger stand against the Mugabe regime, as Botswana and Kenya have done. The New Zealand Government can increase its food aid through grassroots organisations.
The abduction is one example of a raft of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, where lack of basic health services is fuelling a cholera epidemic that has cost more than 650 lives.
“We are dealing with a government whose historic brutality is very well-known. I struggle with keeping hope alive when year after year this bugger (Mugabe) is still there,” Mr Dube said.
Zimbabweans had shown their will to kick Mugabe out in two elections this year, widely heralded as shams. The international community continued to fail to uphold the human rights of Zimbabweans.
Save Zimbabwe Campaign NZ is today (December 10) collecting medical supplies like water purification tablets, rehydration tablets, latex gloves, painkillers and bandages to send to Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, civic organisations will mark the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights with demonstrations demanding immediate reform.
10 December 2008