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Trying times ahead

The passion that drives my vision is like fire in my belly. I want to see a world in which the dignity of human beings is continually reinforced at the individual, interpersonal, community, national, regional and global levels. My vision may sound ambitious but it does not take much to see the suffering of another and it does not take much either to do something, albeit small to begin making a difference in their lives. That is why I am a human rights defender. I fight for my rights and the rights of those around me. I know that single-handedly, my efforts cannot solve the problems of the world, but adding my voice to the voices of those fighting many causes across the globe definitely does. However the reason I want to become a Voices of Our Future Correspondent, comes down to my beautiful nation-Zimbabwe.

In 2008, Zimbabwe experienced one of the worst spells of politically motivated violence that had ever been experienced since the bloodshed of the liberation struggle. These were the most tightly contested Parliamentary and Presidential elections since independence. Those who could not garner support through peaceful campaigns; explaining to the nation their proposed policies and how these would benefit the greater majority chose to use the barrel of the gun and baton sticks to drive people to vote for them. They were in the minority; the majority of Zimbabweans wanted a peaceful election that would bring them a leader with the people’s interests at heart.

I was among groups of civil society actors that observed the elections, assessing the pre and post election environment as well as moving from one polling station to the other on the day of the polls. The operations I participated in covered Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Manicaland, 3 of the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe and included trips into the rural areas.

It is one thing to be told about the experiences of the victims but seeing the dejection, terror and grief on the faces of victims is something different altogether. Some had had their homes torched, most had deep wounds from the attacks and beatings they received, mothers were separated from their children and old women lost their teeth. Women, young and old were assaulted, some raped in front of their husbands, sons, brothers and children. In some cases the perpetrators raped both mother and daughter, one after the other. The reasons for all this terror was that these people had made a political choice to vote for the party they believed would bring them the change they hoped to see.

Later on in the year, working at the Research and Advocacy Unit, an NGO in Zimbabwe in collaboration with WITNESS, we produced a video documenting the experiences of women victims of politically motivated violence http://www.witness.org/campaigns/partner-campaigns/zimbabwean-women-affe.... The video pushed the government of Zimbabwe to admit that politically motivated violence against women is a terrible crime and to lobby them to take measures to ensure that this would not recur. That campaign has been ongoing and has yielded some positive commitments from the Ministries of Health, Women Affairs, Legal and Constitutional Affairs and Social Welfare to devise a strategy to anticipate violence against women in election times. It is yet to be tested how deep these commitments run.

Zimbabwe faces yet another election in 2012. The possibility that the same violations that took place in 2008 will recur is high because none of the perpetrators of the violence have been punished. Instead they move around with impunity. Some of them are even in the habit of going back to their victims to torment them with threats that elections are coming and the women shall get what they have coming. The grassroots are mostly affected because political violence is usually concentrated in the rural areas away from the prying eyes of the media, the diplomats and the majority of NGOs. The chance to become a Correspondent gives me a voice, to raise the voices and the plight of other women during a crucial moment in their lives. VOF gives me the power to be the eyes and lips of these communities and I hope I can be that.

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Stella Paul's picture

Waited,waiting

First, I waited a long time to read about your vision (you bad girl!) and now, I know,I will be waiting to see this vision (you good girl!) come true. One step at a time, so right now, I too am talking about the election. Yes, power to the people always comes at a price, sometimes too heavy. But time is changing. What happened yesterday need not reoccur. And with the likes of you, there is a very good reason to expect that. I will keep my faith in you and your action. And of course, keep my fingers crossed.

Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

Hahaha, Stella. I am glad to

Hahaha, Stella. I am glad to see I am not in trouble anymore :-). I too hope it doesn't happen again. Nomatter how much a nation tries to rebuild itself after conflict the wounds and scars from the past will always remain with it. I think we have had enough bad memories to last whole generations and what we need now is positive rebuilding of our country's image and real improvements in the lives of the people. I wish the politician would understand this. Thanks for your support my dear. Appreciated as always.

Big hug :-)

YAOtieno's picture

Ouch!!!

I believe stories such as this as this are the reason why VOF is here. Your words and pictures are strong!
To be honest I am somewhat horrified by the pictures. I hope you get to use your voice adnd your pen to help avoid the recurrence of such atrocities.

Kenya faced the same challenges in 2007 and will also be going for elections in 2012. Read about the cases here http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/07/kenyans-hague-crimes-against...

Lets hope we have learnt from our mistakes.

Keep writing,

Y

P.S Just checked out your blog and it is quite informative

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

MaDube's picture

Thanks

Thank you Yao. I got an email that you subscribed to my blog. Thanks so much for the support. I am afraid sometimes people find my discussions too heavy and I am learning the art of simplifying my presentations because I need to share the things I know that can help in any way to improve the human rights of all people. Stella and all of my sisters here on the Pulse would be great teachers on how I can do that. Thanks dearie :-)

usha kc's picture

Oh My god !! seeing these

Oh My god !! seeing these pics made me cry dear. I even can not imageine but this is the reality we woman are facing.
You deserve to be VOF correspondent ,, my good wishes for you sis.

By the way i liked siter stella's line saying you Bad girl and Good girl!! :)

lots of love

MaDube's picture

2008 was a terrible year in

2008 was a terrible year in Zimbabwe and I do not wish for my country to ever go back there. Ever again. The combination of the political violence and the financial/economic breakdown was terrible for women especially. I am so happy that I discovered World-Pulse at a time when I really needed it and even if I do not make it into the VOF, this platform that they have put in place for women to raise their voices will be great to raise global awareness and gather support for women in Zimbabwe.

Thanks my dear for your support.

Stella Paul's picture

Hehe

Usha sis

Now if she scolds me for calling the bad girl, you have to share it 50-50 :)

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

MaDube's picture

LOL. No scolding, just an

LOL. No scolding, just an affectionate hug for the encouragement because I know that is why I was a bad girl in the first place. I was not doing what I was supposed to do.

Ify Onyegbule's picture

Oh my God!

MaDube,

This piece got to me! Oh my...is this a kids hand? ohhhh myyyy!

MaDube's picture

No Ify that is the bleeding

No Ify that is the bleeding hand of a grown woman who was assaulted in April 2008, after the first election in March and pending the Presidential run-off election in June.

Ify Onyegbule's picture

ohhhh myyyy

What? how wicked can people be?

Carlotta's picture

That is a brilliant article

That is a brilliant article MaDube. i do hope you become a correspondent so that the world can get to know what is really on the ground in Zimbabwe where human rights are concerned. The pictures are heartbreaking, the one with a swollen should be thankful he still has a hand at all, i heard of some whose hands were actually cut so that they wouldn't vote wrongly again. Thanks for sharing, we know what a risk that can be.

MaDube's picture

So many things happened. One

So many things happened. One of my colleagues talked to a woman whose child was killed. They put the baby in a sack and tied it and started hitting the sack to the ground. They would tell her do not worry about this child, and do not weep because you are losing the child. It belonged to so and so party and you shall give birth to a new one whom you will give to our party. Can you imagine?

amiesissoho's picture

wow!

My dear you really understand why human rights defenders are not in the good books of many leaders, exposing the horrendous acts is not in their interest, yet the victims need to speakout. You deserve to be the eyes and mouth of such people. good luck with your vision.:)

Amie

MaDube's picture

Thank you sis Amie. I

Thank you sis Amie. I understand what you mean because talking and exposing violations comes at a price. Our job in that way is therefore not easy but if we do not do it, who will and who will we then blame if things do not get better. So we will just risk it.

Adepeju's picture

Well done Madube, Keep

Well done Madube, Keep fightting and standing up for change! Human right defender, excellent lawyer!!!!

MaDube's picture

Thank you Peju. Will try my

Thank you Peju. Will try my best to keep the fight alive.

RuthHartmann's picture

What courage.

What came to me upon reading your story is that I am SO thankful that you exist and the PulseWire exists as a venue to get the news of these events broadcast far and wide so that we can be informed and do all that we can to stop these things from happening. I support you in your vision and am inspired by your courage and willingness to speak out and lead the way to change.

MaDube's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much Ruth for all your encouragement. We always find strength in knowing that our work will make a difference for the women, children and men we work with and we also value all the support we can get in our fight. So thank you.

Chinemu's picture

Better die standing than live kneeling

MaDube, you are one in a million, bravely you unearthed these inhuman acts, don't get threated, do your job, better die standing than live kneeling, I love u girl

MaDube's picture

Thank you Chinemu but I will

Thank you Chinemu but I will not take all the credit for this work. I worked in the Women's Programme for an amazing organisation called the Research and Advocacy Unit www.researchandadvocacyunit.org that does research and advocacy fighting for an end to organised violence and torture. We were a team of 4 women in the Women's programme and these women are amazing. You can take a look at the website and read the many reports produced on violations against women human rights defenders, against women political activists, issues of rape, transitional justice and many others.

joyacomeaux's picture

The truth hurts!

MaDube,

It is hard for us to see the truth of your life and the lives of others.

It is much harder to live it yourself.

Now that you can share your pain with others, I hope that it gives you even more strength to carry on.

Our prayers are with you!

What else can we do?

God seems to be the only force strong enough to change this situation.

You are the warriors for change in the world.

People will have to wake up and see that this is not what we came here to do, and opening their eyes, you are truly a messenger for peace.

Thank you so much for sharing your pain, and the pain of those that are so bravely carrying the weight of the world.

love,
joya

MaDube's picture

Thank you Joya. What worries

Thank you Joya. What worries me is the possibility of recurrence when we have not fully dealt with past violations. What we are fighting for now is a remedy for these victims.Some of the women just want an apology, others want sustained medical care because they contracted HIV/AIDS when they were raped, others want criminal justice. The views of the women vary greatly and these are the findings we made when we carried out a survey to find out the views of women on where to next after the conflict. I pray for peaceful elections in 2012 and I hope none of these things will happen again.

joyacomeaux's picture

Not acceptable...

Yes,
Contracting AIDS from being rape is not acceptable. It should be considered murder in the first degree. My heart goes out to all of these women. I hope your able to use WorldPulse.com to expose and correct this situation.
All the best,
joya

Okeny-Lucia's picture

I knew you would fly high

Hey
Ma Sister,I knew you would fly high,seeing the professionalism put into the article and photos,talks of passion and unique strength.
From reading your first article about the Diplomats or Spouse,Association,ahahahah.You put spot on matters as they are.Zimbabwe has retarded in democracy and I hope every other African country learns from this.I dont know where the rain first started beating us!
Excellent work,do not give up! Thank you

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

MaDube's picture

Asante sana sisi Lucia. Bwana

Asante sana sisi Lucia. Bwana awabariki. It is a tough fight we fight but with wonderful women such as you to support the cause, I am sure it shall be done. I will definitely be keeping you informed of the developments through my pulsewire journal and my blog.

udoka29's picture

When all the violence

When all the violence occurred in Zimbabwe and Kenya some thought that they media was just trying to exaggearte and get the best story they could (which is really the worse possible story they could get). It's empowering and reassuring that with people like you who believes in her country and fights the fight for a better Zimbabwe and a more peaceful world that we can trust that the right actions shall be taken to accomplish your vision

MaDube's picture

I think that is the problem

I think that is the problem with mainstream media nowadays. They do tend to sensationalise issues, SOMETIMES and so when they are sincere people will tend not to believe it. For instance before I came here to Egypt, I thought there was chaos everywhere, that there was lots of crime and that it would be totally unsafe. But at the end of this month I will be going back home and I have not experienced crime or get caught in any violent situation. I even sat in Tahrir Square in solidarity with protestors thrice and it was peaceful all the time. In the case of Zimbabwe they also had the facts right but sometimes the presentation was wrong. People were not only attacked because they belonged to a certain party, in some cases merely being 'suspected' of belonging to that party attracted violence. Teachers in rural areas were accused of being opposition agents because they are educated. It was a crazy time :-(

udoka29's picture

I can only imagine. The Jos

I can only imagine. The Jos crisis that's been going on for years is truly devastating on those affected, but the surprising thing is as small as Jos is, there are places that are actually peaceful. Apparently those who fight and kill do it in some specific areas. But the way the media took it up made it look like the entire country was up in flames. Yes hundreds have dies because of the continued unrest, but it still doesn't mean that the media should exploit a story for their own benefit.

MaDube's picture

And about crime in Egypt I

And about crime in Egypt I guess I spoke too soon. It is as if I brought it upon myself by mentioning it. I got robbed today in the morning on my way to work. I lost money, id, bank cards and some other stuff. The person just sneaked off my wallet from my bag at the bus station because there were so many people there. I was so upset.

Greengirl's picture

Here you go again!

Truth is, I am always on the look out for your piece. You are such a brilliant young lady. How would I have ever known that you are out there speaking, without World Pulse. Madube, I have an unusual confidence in your expertise. How much would I have to pay to retain you as my lawyer? Lol! Ton's of friendship and a listening hear I am sure. Your style of telling and sharing is amazing. The words just flow, unwind and get one easily to the very heart of your message. The pictures also speak volumes. I bet it is a horrible situation for one not to be able to freely express one's right. More so too, to be brutalized for standing for what one believes in. I pray for every Zimbabwean out there, whose rights are not respected. May what is true, fair, and just usher in a new Zimbabwe. God bless you Madube! You have all it takes to be a Voices of Our Future Correspondent.

Joyfully,

Olanike.

MaDube's picture

Sis Ola, you are far too kind

Sis Ola, you are far too kind with your praises. I must say I am deeply encouraged by your unwavering support and confidence in me. Thank you. I hope I will never disappoint myself and you by failing to speak up as much as I can. Thank you sisi.

faridaY's picture

Madube keep doing the work

Madube keep doing the work you are doing. Your determination and commitment to highlighting the abuse of human rights and the injustices that continue to colour so much of African politics is inspiring. I pray the 2012 is peaceful and fair, and I look forward to reading your stories on that electoral process and the developments in Zimbabwe.

MaDube's picture

I pray for a peaceful

I pray for a peaceful election too and I hope it will also be free and fair and give room for Zimbabweans to express their political preferences. Thank you Farida.

zacyrus's picture

Interessting

Your story is very informative. It makes me cry and makes me rebel. I followed very closely the events in your country. Your pictures are really horrible and I can not believe that human beings inflict so much evil like that.

MaDube's picture

Thanks Zacyrus. I am sure

Thanks Zacyrus. I am sure anyone living in the SADC region would not have missed the noise that was happening in 2008. I do not know if you also saw how the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) helped Zimbabweans. China was importing a whole ship of arms to Zimbabwe at a time when the same arms were being used against innocent civilians. COSATU stood with us and lobbied the South African government to prevent the arms from being offloaded on South African coasts since Zimbabwe is landlocked. They knew the arms would only increase the levels of violence so the Transport workers Union refused to offload the arms.

Celine's picture

My Sister Rumbidzai, I can

My Sister Rumbidzai,

I can feel your heart and your vision for your dear country. The same scenario you gave was same in Nigeria in 2003 and 2007, but the last general election we had in April 2011 was declared the most free election in Nigeria, even though after elections, some disgruntled personalities mobilized youths in the Northern Nigeria to cause violence, instead of going through the stated court process. My civil society organization also observed and I played salient role in the entire process.

I tell you, we did a lot of pre-election campaigns and sensitization to get what we had in April 2011. Civil societies campaigned for and got some reforms on the existing electoral laws. Parents, Youths, schools, community organisations and community leaders, law enforcements agencies, media organizations, etc were all involved in the campaign and sensitization. We carried placards against contestants who are already known with bad records.

Great work dear sister to get your vision accomplished and best of luck in this direction.

Celine

MaDube's picture

I was also following the

I was also following the Nigerian elections because two very good sisters and friends of mine Sokari Ekine and Oluwatoyin Ajao were keeping us updated on the events on their blogs and on facebook. I was glad that the election was relatively peaceful and that the violence was not widespread. Zimbabwean civil society is also currently advocating electoral reforms and we all hope for a more democratic constitution that will allows such amendments to be possible before the next elections. Thank you for your support dear sis.

Osai's picture

Very Visual and those images

Hi Madube,

This gives us a sober reflection of the violence we face in our lives especially of women who are particularly targeted for their opposition to government. Well-done for making sure we do not forget the risk and sacrifice our sisters go through.

All the best!

Cheers,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

MaDube's picture

Thank you Osai. Women in

Thank you Osai. Women in Zimbabwe have stories to tell but they do not trust the media whom they accuse of coming to take their stories and selling them to make money. However if you approach them explaining that you are doing it to push for reforms and wish their voices to be heard so that something can be done to right their wrongs they become more open. Mainstream media has killed the value of reporting crises. Now it is about whose station attracts more viewers so whose account is more catchy than the others'. That is why I am in love with the idea of Worldpulse where stories are told as they are, with great levels of honesty and clarity.

Ariee's picture

powerful vision

The pictures said a lot......

I really hope you'll be a VOF correspondent because your writing is lends a strong voice to people who are oppressed ......... :)

Astha Joshi

MaDube's picture

Your confidence in me is

Your confidence in me is overwhelming. Thank you Astha. I truly appreciate it.

zoneziwoh's picture

my good Lord, this is scary.

my good Lord, this is scary. gosh! oh no--I cant stand thinking about the pains. It is a sad experience. MaDube, thank you so much for sharing this story. I watched the documentary, it feel so frutsrtaing. Nonetheless, I am glad institutue like yours, WUTNESS are present in Zim to restore the hopes of the afflicted.
keep on the good work. Africa is changing and definitely free from motivated/ targeted forms of violence, especially political violence

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

MaDube's picture

Thank you Ziwoh. Yes, WITNESS

Thank you Ziwoh. Yes, WITNESS is an amazing global partner to all those who wish to document human rights abuses through video. They gave us the training, the equipment and assisted us with the editing of the video I mentioned in my post. We had several written reports that documented similar stories to the ones we presented in our video, but the video made such a huge difference because people could put faces to the violations. They were just not mere stories, these were the accounts of real flesh and blood people.

Taz's picture

Power to your dreams

Hi MaDube,

I am encouraged by your courage to speak out against such gross violations of human rights. My country, Kenya, also witnessed horrific post-election violence after the disputed 2007 presidential polls. I certainly do not wish for Kenya, or indeed any other country, to ever go down that road again. Thanks again for taking a bold stand to be the voice of the voiceless.

Peace!

Taz

MaDube's picture

Thank you Taz. These stories

Thank you Taz. These stories were true and everybody knew things like this were happening so it was hard for anyone to deny that they happened. When we screened the video before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender, one of the male chiefs who was there denied that these things had happened. He said that we were lying, resenting men as dogs that would sleep with the same woman one after the other. He was shouted down by most of the females present, some of whom belong to the same party as he does, which was responsible for the perpetration of the violations. This was a positive outcome for us and really encouraging to see female politicians from both sides uniting to speak against these horrible acts.

Akech's picture

Dear Madube, I always knew

Dear Madube,

I always knew that there was something extraordinary about you! I admire your courage, your passion and professionalism. What you stand for is remarkable. Do not stop. I am so impressed by your brilliance....Go girl!!!
I wish you loads and tonnes of success!

Love Akech!

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

MaDube's picture

Oh, Akech. Thank you so much.

Oh, Akech. Thank you so much. Your words are very encouraging and give me the confidence to continue to speak up.
I am glad I met you :-)

Maggs's picture

I keep thinking I need to get

I keep thinking I need to get you a cape and special powers, but you don't need that, you are already a superheroine for standing up and talking with conviction.

maggs

MaDube's picture

Hey love

I know you are in Zimbabwe and you were there when we went through the worst time in 2007-2009 so I would say we and all the women who stayed at home and faced the hard times are all heroines. But thank you for your support dear.

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