Who is Jestina Mukoko?


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The United States embassy provided an insight into Jestina Mukoko and her Zimbabwe Peace Project when it nominated her for the Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage.

It said Mukoko had served as the executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a non-governmental organisation made up of approximately 400 brave Zimbabweans who monitored human rights abuses throughout Zimbabwe, since 2007.

ZPP’s reports had helped provide the international community with accurate assessments of human rights abuses, including violence against women and politically-slanted distribution of food, in communities across Zimbabwe, particularly during the violent 2008 election period.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE923,

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE923

2009-11-27 09:56

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1410

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0923/01 3310956

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 270956Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5160

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000923

 

SIPDIS

 

FOR G/IWI

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN PHUM PREL KPAO ZW

SUBJ: NOMINATION FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S AWARD FOR

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

 

REF: STATE 111471

 

1. (U) The following is Embassy Harare’s nomination for the

Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage.

 

NAME: Jestina Mungarewa Mukoko

TITLE: National Director

INSTITUTION: Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)

DOB: 22-MAR-1967

POB: Zimbabwe

Citizenship: Zimbabwean

Contact: 17425 Flanagan Crescent, Hillside, Harare, Zimbabwe

TEL: 263-912-414-334

EMAIL: [email protected]

PASSPORT NUMBER: BN206684

 

2. Since 2007, Ms. Mukoko has served as the Executive Director of

the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), an NGO made up of approximately

400 brave Zimbabweans who monitor human rights abuses throughout

Zimbabwe. ZPP’s reports have helped provide the international

community with accurate assessments of human rights abuses,

including violence against women and politically-slanted

distribution of food, in communities across Zimbabwe, particularly

during the violent 2008 election period. Even before joining ZPP,

Ms. Mukoko was a well-known leader in the human rights and activist

communities in Zimbabwe through her work with other NGOs after a

successful career as a journalist. Ms. Mukoko first made a name for

herself as a broadcaster for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation where

she delivered the news to Zimbabweans in English, Shona, and

Ndebele. She was a pioneering role model for professional women in

journalism, which had traditionally been dominated by men. Her many

years as a radio and television journalist introduced her as a

friendly and familiar face to Zimbabweans in every corner of the

country. After leaving television and radio, Ms. Mukoko moved to

civil society where she has used her journalism and publicity skills

to further promote civic education and human rights.

 

3. After years of documenting and speaking out on human rights, Ms.

Mukoko herself became a victim of a state-sponsored attack last

year. An active figure in Zimbabwe’s civil society, she was

abducted by state security agents from her home on December 3, just

hours after giving a speech to a civil society group calling on

Zimbabweans to take action during the 16 Days of Activism Against

Gender Violence. During her abduction, she was tortured by agents

who beat her, subjected her to falanga (beating on the soles of the

feet), and forced her to confess to an alleged plot to mount a

terrorist incursion from neighboring Botswana. Ms. Mukoko appeared

in a Zimbabwean police station suddenly on December 23, and was

subsequently held at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security prison

until a court finally granted her bail on February 27.

 

 

4. Throughout her incarceration at Chikurubi, and despite several

court orders calling on officials to allow her to be treated at a

private medical facility, she was repeatedly denied adequate medical

care for injuries and medical conditions that went untreated during

her detention. After she appealed through the courts, the

Zimbabwean Supreme Court finally ruled on September 28 that state

security forces had violated her human rights to such an extent as

to warrant a permanent stay of prosecution in the case against her.

Although she has secured this significant legal victory, Ms. Mukoko

is continuing her fight against the security agents who abducted and

tortured her by suing them in Zimbabwe’s courts for over US$1

million. Regime violence and intimidation has often silenced its

opponents. Ms. Mukoko’s ongoing legal case is an important

statement against violence and oppression. Her bravery in calling

those responsible for her abduction and torture to account, as well

as her continuing role as head of ZPP has only reinforced her

position as a leading human rights defender in one of the most

oppressive countries in the world.

 

5. In the election-related violence that blanketed Zimbabwe in

mid-2008, women often suffered particularly harsh abuse at the hands

of security agents and ZANU-PF youths. Ms. Mukoko’s abduction and

subsequent court case brought the subject of politically-motivated

violence — particularly violence against women — and human rights

abuses home to all Zimbabweans. Across the country, people in

villages discussed “what happened to Jestina” and debated on whether

the government, even if it had a legitimate case against her, was

justified in abducting her in such a violent fashion.

 

6. Despite the horrors she has endured, Ms. Mukoko continues to

serve as ZPP’s Executive Director and as a role model for

Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean security forces returned her passport to

her on September 30, and she has already traveled overseas to

continue her work crusading for human rights in Zimbabwe. Although

Ms. Mukoko has always been an easily recognized figure since her

days as a TV newswoman, her abduction has further raised her profile

and the sensitive issue of women as victims of political violence.

Her actions and story already inspire women, young and old, in

Zimbabwe to courageously pick up the pieces of their shattered

lives, to fight human rights abusers in the courts, and to speak the

truth — however painful it might be. Since winning her case in the

Supreme Court, Ms. Mukoko has spoken openly of the counseling she

and her family have received and how it has helped them. Already,

other victims are coming forward to request counseling as they seek

to follow Ms. Mukoko’s example.

 

7. Before her abduction, Ms. Mukoko was already widely respected as

a courageous woman thanks to her important work at ZPP in

documenting human rights abuses. Ms. Mukoko’s tragic ordeal and her

brave response give even greater strength to her nomination.

Conferring her with the International Woman of Courage Award would

further encourage other Zimbabwean women who bear the scars of

political violence and fighting the male-dominated professional

establishment to follow her lead in defending human rights in word

and deed. It would also encourage survivors of violence and

repression to seek the important emotional support that can help

them move forward.

 

8. Ms. Mukoko was informed of Post’s submission of this nomination.

 

9. Embassy Officers working on women’s issues:

NAME: Ms. Amanda Porter (POL Section), U.S. Embassy Harare, TEL:

263-4-250593/4

NAME: Ms. Priscillah Kapungu, (Public Affairs Section) U.S. Embassy

Harare, TEL: 263-4-758800/1

 

RAY

 

(270 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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