Prominent Zimbabwean human rights advocate Dewa Mavhinga has died of Covid-19 in South Africa. His sudden death left his comrades in the civic society writhing with shock.
The late director of Southern Africa Human Rights Watch had just returned to Johannesburg after a research mission in Zimbabwe.
“I am gutted,” this is one of his friends, Professor. Ricky Mukonza’s reaction upon receiving the sad news.
Professor Mukonza worked with Mavhinga in the student movement in early 2000.
“A sober cde, working with him in the student movement around 2000 was a privilege,” lamented the Professor.
“What terrible news. Nematambudziko,” lamented Tsitsi Dangarembga, a renowned novelist and human rightist.
Zimabwe Observer Publisher and a friend to Mavinga, Sibanengi Dube also expressed his heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues.
“What a committed fellow who worked tirelessly hard to stop the shrinking of democratic space in Zimbabwe,” said Dube
Mavhinga has more than ten years of research and advocacy experience in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Deva served as the Regional Crisis Coordinator of the Alliance of Zimbabwe in Johannesburg.
In 2012, Dewa co-founded the Zimbabwe Institute for Democracy, a public policy research think tank based in Harare. He is a recipient of Chevening and Canon Collins Trust Scholarships in the United Kingdom. Deva holds an Honours Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Zimbabwe and a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Human Rights from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom.
After graduation, he joined Human Rights Watch and took the lead in exposing human rights violations in Zimbabwe, documenting these in the report, and urging the government of Zimbabwe and other international participants to ensure better protection and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe. In the face of resistance from the leaders of the Zimbabwean government who are trying to describe human rights as imposing Western values on Africa, Deva has always demonstrated how the sources of human rights values are localized.
Human rights are reflected in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights. Deva advocates the values and principles embodied in these documents, which embodies the spirit of Africa in solving African problems.
Through a groundbreaking report entitled “Rough Diamonds”: Human Rights Abuse in the Malangi Diamond Mine in Zimbabwe, it exposes the terrible human rights violations in the diamond mine in Zimbabwe. Subsequent advocacy led to the Kimberley Process certification system temporarily banning Malangi diamonds, which led to extensive reforms and a significant reduction in abuse in the diamond sector.
Mavhinga is survived by his two daughters and wife.