PROMINENT Zimbabwean human rights advocate Dewa Mavhinga died on Saturday following Covid-19 complications, colleague said.
He was 41.
The Southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch had recently travelled to Zimbabwe for a funeral, as well as a ground-breaking ceremony for a maternity clinic he was funding at his rural home.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change eulogised Mavhinga as a “pillar of the struggle for a better Zimbabwe.”
“He will be greatly missed,” the party said.
“Death couldn’t have robbed us of a nobler, humbler, more relevant and much needed brother and son of Zimbabwe than Dewa Mavhinga,” journalist Chofamba Sithole tweeted.
“He was a baobab of human rights, a giant who made an impact on the lives of those who knew him, but whose work will inspire generations to come,” Capitalk FM presenter Victor Mabutho said.
As Human Rights Watch’s point man in Southern Africa, although he was based in the United Kingdom, Mavhinga took up the pro-democracy struggles of citizens in the region.
In December 2017, he spoke before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the prospects for credible elections and human rights reforms in Zimbabwe.
“Dewa was an indefatigable defender of human rights for everyone,” Zimbabwe’s exiled former minister higher education minister Jonathan Moyo said, adding that he was “heartbroken” by Mavhinga’s death.
Dewa was “a good human being who gave himself honestly and wholeheartedly to the cause of humanity,” said human rights lawyer Alex Magaisa.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Dewa worked as the regional coordinator for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition based in Johannesburg.
In 2012, he co-founded the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, a public policy research think-tank based in Harare.