Jestina Mukoko

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Jestina Mukoko

Jestina Mukoko is a Zimbabwean born Human rights activist who has gained international recognition for campaigning against human rights abuses as well as denouncing gender based violence. Mukoko is also the former national director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project which monitors and documents political violence in Zimbabwe[1]

Background

Jestina Mukoko was born in Zimbabwe in 1967. She was once married but lost her husband in 1995 and they had a son together.[2]

Educational Background

Mukoko holds a bachelor of Science in Politics and Administration from the University of Zimbabwe. She was also the 2010 fellow at the Oak Institute for International Human Rights at Colby College in Maine. In 2012, she joined other mid-career professionals as a Draper Hills Summer Fellow on Democracy and Development Program at Stanford University.[1]

Career in Journalism

For over a decade in Zimbabwe, Jestina Mukoko was a popular news anchor and Journalist with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Human Rights Activism

During most of her career in activism, Jestina Mukoko has locked horns several times with the police. Mukoko runs Zimbabwe Peace Project which is a Non Governmental Organisation that seeks to monitor as well as document political violence in the country. She has been involved with the documentation of the Matebeleland massacres in which she is said to have interviewed women and children on their experiences during the massacres.[2] She was quoted as having said that her experience in Matebeleland showed her that she was more motivated to work for human rights than as a news anchor. In an interview she stated that

I thought broadcast journalism was my second skin. My transition happened in 2000 when I was on a task in the southern part of Zimbabwe as a broadcast journalist. In interviews with survivors of the Matebelelend massacres of the 1980s made up mainly of women and children, their harrowing experiences became secondary trauma on my part and left me with an indelible mark, which is a keen interest in human rights.[2]

Through the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina and others have created a network of peace monitors throughout the country which compiles reports on trends of political violence in the country which can then be used by various

stakeholders.[2]

Clashes with the Police and Authorities

On many occasions Jestina has crossed paths with the police and has been taken to court facing many allegations ranging from the running of an unregistered organisation to the recruitment of a militia for the Movement for Democratic Change. In 2008 she was arrested on charges of having recruited a militia for the MDC. Mukoko was held in detention for several weeks by the police while carrying out investigations on the matter. She was however released on bail after the state was said to have failed to gather details and evidence incriminating Mukoko.[3] In another incident, Mukoko was also said to have been kidnapped by unknown assailants under which she was subjected to torturing. In her rendition of the incident, Mukoko stated that

I was not wearing anything other than a nightdress, I had no undergarments and other personal and medical requirements. Immediately, a woollen jersey was put across my face, covering my eyes, nose and mouth, as a result I had problems breathing and almost suffocated. First, I was assaulted underneath my feet with a rubber-like object which was at least one metre long ... Later, I was informed to raise my feet on to a table, and the other people in the room started to assault me underneath my feet. This assault lasted for at least five to six minutes. They took a break and then continued again with the beatings.[4]

After being asked several questions pertaining to her work with non governmental organisations and the civic society, she is said to have been blindfolded again and

We drove for about two hours. I do not know where we went but I had been warned that since I refused to co-operate they were going to hand me over to some people and they could not protect me. One of the interrogators said I was going to suffer, and I will have to make a choice of either becoming a witness to these alleged cases of military training or I become extinct as no prosecutions were to be held.[4]

Other Commitments

Jestina Mukoko is also involved with many other non governmental organisations. She is a board member for Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe[1]

Awards

  • Laureate of the City of Weimar (Germany) Human Rights Prize (2009)
  • U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award (2010)
  • NANGO (National Association of Nongovernmental Organizations) Peace Award
  • French National Order of the Legion of Honor award (2011)[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Why I became a dissident: Jestina Mukoko, The Freedom Collection, Published: May 8, 2012, Retrieved: December 27, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jestina Mukoko, Centre for Applied Human Rights, Retrieved: December 27, 2014
  3. Jestina Mukoko under siege again, The Standard, Published: March 10, 2013, Retrieved: December 27, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Daniel Howden Jestina Mukoko: 'Mugabe's henchmen came for me before dawn', The Independent, Published: January 17, 2009, Retrieved: December 27, 2014