Rita Nyampinga is a civic activist and Human Rights Defender (HDR). She is an award winning human rights defender and a gender and women’s rights activist whose over thirty years + experience with various organisations has seen her hold very influential positions in the structures of the labour movement as a lobbyist, advocate, trainer in peace building, advisor, community mobiliser and other posts. Rita has worked with local and international organisations as board member with special interest on gender and human resources. As such she is founder and Director of Female Prisoners Support Trust a humanitarian organization working with the marginalised women and children in places of detention. Special focus on health, access to treatment, working with peer educators in prisons on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She sits on boards of powerful networks Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Female Students Network, Women and Land in Zimbabwe. She was part of the Church and Civil Society Platform which worked closely with the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration during the Government of National Unity (2008-2013) in Zimbabwe.

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In May 2019, four pro-democracy campaigners, George Makoni, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura and Nyasha Mpahlo, were arrested at Harare International Airport. They were accused of plotting to subvert President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, and were denied bail when they appeared before magistrate Hosea Mujaya, where they were charged with subversion. They were represented by Jeremiah Bamu.

The State alleges that on 13 May 2019, the suspects, who are all members of various civic society organisations, allegedly connived with their accomplices, (who are still at large) and travelled to Maldives where the four participated in a meeting. They underwent a training workshop organised by a Serbian non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Centre for Applied Non-violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) aimed at subverting a constitutionally elected government. During the workshop, the accused were trained on how to mobilise citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience and or resistance to any law during the anticipated national protest by anti-government movements, read part of the State’s papers. The accused were also trained on how to operate small arms and to evade arrest during civil unrest. The State also alleges that the quartet was taught basics of counter intelligence and acts of terrorism. Upon arrival and arrest at the airport, their laptops, cellphones and notes from the workshop, that contained the alleged subversive materials, were seized by the State. [1]

In June, the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) protested and released a statement with more details. All those arrested for subversion include George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa, and Rita Nyampinga, seven (7) Zimbabwean civil society activists on their way home from attending a training workshop organized by CANVAS in the Maldives from May 15 to 19, 2019. The detainees have been denied bail so far with six remanded in prison and the seventh, Gamuchirai Mukura, remanded in a public hospital. The charges include: “subversion”, “counterintelligence”, and “being trained in use of small arms”. The activists could face up to twenty years in prison for these charges. The workshop focused on advocacy and civic engagement capacity building such as: Developing Shared Vision of Tomorrow; Civic Engagement; Effective Communications; Protecting Privacy and Security; and Organizational Planning. [2]

In February 2020, the judicial harassment of seven HRDs continues.[3]

  1. 4 rights activists denied bail, Newsday, Published: 23 May 2019, Retrieved: 24 March 2020
  2. [Link_Here “Nonviolence is a basic human right” CANVAS], Newsday, Published: 6 June 2019, Retrieved: 24 March 2020
  3. George Makoni works on local governance with the Centre for Community Development Trust., Centre for Community Development Trust”, Published: February 2020, Retrieved: 24 March 2020