MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday told mourners at the burial of the late human rights activist, Dewa Mavhinga that he had warned him not to come back to Zimbabwe, a few days before he died.
Mavhinga, who was southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch, succumbed to COVID-19 on December 6, in South Africa.
The Human Rights Watch said Mavhinga had died a few days after he returned to Johannesburg from a research mission in Zimbabwe.
He was laid to rest yesterday at his rural home in Chivhu, where several senior opposition party members, civic society members, and human right activists were in attendance.
“I had told Dewa to defer his visit to Zimbabwe, but he insisted that he would come,” Chamisa said.
“He told me that he was in the southern region visiting other countries including Mozambique. He inquired why I was stopping him from coming to Zimbabwe. I also insisted that he should not come to Zimbabwe. About four weeks ago, we held a virtual meeting with Dewa and three others for over an hour planning the way forward on the 2023 elections. Dewa was a veteran, a stalwart, very resolute and a beast on fighting for human rights. It is not possible to become a human rights defender without a human rights attacker. He was a defender because our people are being attacked. We have been robbed as a country, as the whole world, as a generation.”
He also described Mavhinga as an intelligent cadre who was determined to fight rights abuse.
Mavhinga started his career in human rights as deputy co-ordinator at the forum’s International Liaison Office in London from April 2007 to April 2008. He then joined the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional office in South Africa before joining the Human Rights Watch.
He started as a senior researcher and advocate before being elevated to the position of director, a post he held until his death.
In 2012, Mavhinga co-founded the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute. He was also the founding chairperson of the Living Together Institute and also a board member for the Savanna Arts Trust Theatre Group.