ZADHR Chairperson, Dr Rutendo Bonde's Speech: Interactive Meeting Breakfast Meeting Between Healthcare Service Providers and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) 1 July 2016 PDF Print E-mail

Honourable Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa

Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Commissioner Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi

The Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, Dr. Fortune Nyamande

Commissioners from Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission

Distinguished delegates from the Health Sector in Zimbabwe

The Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Vengesayi Erick Mukutiri and other members of the ZHRC Secretariat here present

The Director of ZADHR, Mr. Calvin Fambirai and ZADHR Staff in attendance

Members of the Media Fraternity

Ladies and gentlemen

All protocol observed

Allow me to take this opportunity to welcome you all to this breakfast meeting and to introduce myself and my organisation.

For the purposes of familiarisation, my name is Doctor Rutendo Bonde. I am a medical doctor by profession and I am also the board chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR).

Allow me once again to take this opportunity and thank you all for finding time in between your respective busy schedules to come and be part of this important discussion, hoping that what will come out of this meeting will be fruitful towards the discharge of our duties as health practitioners, human rights overseers and service providers.

I welcome you all to this breakfast meeting, where us, as ZADHR, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGOs Forum (NGOForum) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), have decided to deliberate on a number of issues with you, the health service providers, issues which we all find pertinent in our day-to-day lives towards the enjoyment of health as a basic human right by all.

As ZADHR, we appreciate that nation-building requires concerted efforts and co-operation between human rights enforcers, healthcare service providers, government as well as every other concerned party such that at the end of the day, we achieve our goals such as increased healthcare quality.

While we appreciate the challenges of funding faced by the health sector and the expectations of citizens, we commend the efforts that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has been making to date while also recognising the role of the ZHRC in defending, promoting and enforcing the right to healthcare.

We believe that a lot still has to be done to get us back on the right footing.


For a brief background, let me say in September last year, ZADHR, NGOForum and ZimRights embarked on a project titled “Towards a strengthened Human Rights Commission in Zimbabwe”. The project recognises the invaluable role of the ZHRC in ensuring the promotion of human rights and observance of the rule of law. It also takes cognisance of the under-capacitation of the ZHRC and thus seeks to strengthen it so it adequately responds to the protection and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe. To that end, the Commission and its civil society partners have conducted roadshows for the purposes of “taking the ZHRC to the people”. We received a lot of feedback from the people that attended the roadshows, which I’m sure ZHRC Chairperson Elasto Mugwadi will speak about.


So when we gathered the information, we found it imperative that we hold this breakfast meeting to share experiences on health and human rights in Zimbabwe such that we allow ZHRC to have an appreciation of the current state of healthcare provision in the country and strategise on ways of enhancing the right to health, in as much as it mutually touches on every other right in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

With this meeting, we aim at providing an interactive platform between the Commission and health service providers, to enhance the interest of ZHRC in promoting, protecting and enforcing the right of health and to map out a collaborative strategy for combating violations of the right to health in Zimbabwe.

The ZHRC has a task to assess the state of health institutions, prison facilities, old people’s homes among other strategic places.

What we, as civic society organisations and health service providers, want to push is for the human rights overseer, the ZHRC, to co-opt a medical professional for all the visits they make to such institutions, since health is a key imperative in the assessment. Alternatively, ZADHR urges the ZHRC to establish a Technical Working Group on Health, where we will have medical professionals working together with ZHRC and participate in monitoring visits.

Further, we wish to bring to the attention of the Commission the absence of human rights courses in medical schools for undergraduates and also for Continuous Education for professionals.

We, therefore, wish to implore the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as the College of Health Sciences to ensure that medical students undergoing training should be exposed to issues to do with human rights.

We believe such training will go a long way in enhancing clinical effectiveness among health professionals through an appreciation of rights-based approaches to healthcare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is celebrating ten years of existence. It was formed in November 2002 by a group of doctors and other health professionals against a backdrop of political violence in Zimbabwe. The combined conscience of this group of men and women compelled this group – realising that as frontline witnesses to the impact of social ills - health professional had a responsibility to speak out and to engage where necessary as on behalf of the vulnerable.
This was not a novel concept as the famous Physicians for Human Rights organization was in existence in other parts of the world. It was a Zimbabwean, home grown response tailored for home grown problem solving.
 As the years have passed, the agenda of the organization has also grown to embrace the full spectrum of health and the human rights agenda. Yet from its inception, the vision of the organization has been clear:  “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health by all Zimbabweans through a health service and health service providers that promote the right to health”  
The position of ZADHR is unique in that it is both a professional association as well as a civil society player, using the strengths of both constituencies to advance the agenda of health as a human right in Zimbabwe.
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