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Zim human rights activist says human security key to sustainable peace

January 11, 2011 | Harare
Farai Maguwu, Director of Center for Research and Development (CRD). (Photo: PAS, Harare)

Farai Maguwu, Director of Center for Research and Development (CRD)

A Zimbabwean human rights activist says government, nongovernmental organizations and the international community should work together to improve human security in Zimbabwe.

“On the Chiadzwa community, I really feel that this is one area where there is need for the government, NGO sector and the international community to improve the security of the families of Marange,” said Farai Maguwu during a Food for Thought presentation held at the United States Embassy Public Affairs Section on Tuesday.

He said the latest relocation of people from Chiadzwa, to a new site, ARDA Transau in Odzi, took place in the middle of the farming season affecting their capacity to produce in the current agricultural season.

“The 51 families were given 200 bags of maize meal for consumption and $1000 for each family as disturbance fee. Children go to school about three kilometers away whilst the nearest health center is about three kilometers away. When you see a sixth grader travelling six kilometers a day to get education, I think that does not really reflect human security,” said Maguwu.

Maguwu, whose organization the Center for Research and Development (CRD) based in Mutare works to promote peace building work in rural communities as well as to carry out research and documentation in the extractive sector, said human security holds that a people-centered view of security is necessary for national, regional and global stability.

Citing a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report in 1994, Maguwu argued that human security requires attention to both freedom from fear and freedom from want and countries needed to adopt appropriate mechanisms to ensure citizens are not vulnerable to social, economic and cultural threats imposed by structural issues.

Maguwu, who has published reports on unlawful detentions, torture and killings by the police, army and security services who seek to control the diamond fields in 2008 commented on his personal security.

“When you do the work that I do, working on such a sensitive topic, it is not really safe to say I am secure or I’m free. You offend and threaten a lot of people but I believe it’s a resource that is benefiting quite a diversity of groups of people with different interests. I don’t really know who I am offending or whose interests I am threatening,” said Maguwu.

Farai Maguwu was arrested in June last year and charged with publishing falsehoods against the state. The charges were dropped in October.

He said it was important to for NGOs and interest groups to mobilize people to enable them to engage government towards a sustainable solution to ensuring security at both the individuals and community level.

“Mobilization means to organize people so that they can collectively bargain for their rights and for development in their own area. This can be done by NGOs working on various issues- human rights, HIV and AIDS and many other things. The best approach is to get to the people and discuss with them their needs,” said Maguwu.

Food for Thought sessions are held every Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section Auditorium and allow Zimbabwean and American speakers to discuss various issues with members of the public- ZimPAS© 2010.

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