Zimbabwe: Information on the following organizations, including objectives, membership, and treatment by authorities: Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT), Zimbabwe National Student's Union (ZINASU), and #ThisFlag (2015-February 2017) [ZWE105759.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT)

According to their website, YETT began "as a program under Ecumenical Documentation and Information Center in South Africa (EDICISA)" and in 2004,

consultations were made with Zimbabwean partner organizations, three Swiss agencies namely; HEKS Interchurch Swiss Agency, Bethlehem Mission Immense (BMI) and Fund for Development and Partnership in Africa (FEPA) to develop a common approach to conflict transformation for the reconstruction of Zimbabwe through the Joint Youth Initiative which led to the coining of Youth Empowerment and Transformation Programme which was then registered as a trust in May 2009. (YETT n.d.a)

The same source further describes YETT as a "youth networking organization committed to the full participation of young people in sustainable development through advocacy and capacity building of youth organizations in Zimbabwe" (ibid.). The website also indicates that YETT's "major program activities" are to "[e]ngage in policy advocacy in order to create an environment conducive to youth participation in national discourse so as to ensure youth development" and to "[b]uild [the] capacity of youth and youth organizations to deliver for national development through training, technical and financial support" (ibid.).

According to the activities section of their website, YETT is involved in the following:

International Partnerships

Youth Participation

YETT continuously monitors key legislation with a view to provide timely responses on issues affecting youth and youth organisations and a number of initiatives are currently taking place as we utilize opportunities in the operating environment to provide strategic leadership in the following components.

Youth Vision for Tomorrow

Peace-building

National Youth Policy

Grant-Making

The strengthening of youth organisations through grant making is a huge responsibility, as such the institution has over the years utilized on its networks to mobilize resources for the support youth organizations. YETT provides institutional and activity-based funding.

Youth Fund

Activity Based Funding

Capacity Building

Young Women Development

Intergenerational Dialogue

Young Women Leadership Retreat

Southern Young Women's Festival

Winter School

International Partnership. (YETT n.d.b, bold in original)

A February 2015 article in the Zimbabwe Sentinel, a newspaper whose website is run by the Zimbabwe Media Center, which also "provides facilities to freelance reporters" (VOA 11 Apr. 2016), reports that YETT offers "youth training fellowships" that give youth "opportunities to travel to other countries to learn from their peers on business, leadership and other development skills meant to make youth active citizens in all facets of life" (The Zimbabwe Sentinel 10 Feb. 2015). The same source further reports that YETT and its partners "recently held" a workshop that "revealed that young people were sidelined in developmental processes by policymakers and politicians" (ibid.).

The YETT website indicates that YETT has a "team of 9 board members" and that the organization’s secretariat is comprised of "9 permanent staff members and two interns" (YETT n.d.c.). The same source lists the following individuals and titles:

  • Lucy Mazingi, Director;
  • Rosewita Katsande, Programs Manager - Grants;
  • Kudzai Mberi, Finance and Administration Manager;
  • Itayi Usaiwevhu, Advocacy and Information Officer;
  • Lynette Chitewere, Finance Assistant;
  • Sharon Dzvetero, Administration Assistant;
  • Charles Chisale, Logistics Officer (ibid.).

Information on the treatment of YETT members, including specific incidences, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Zimbabwe National Student's Union (ZINASU)

According to their blog, ZINASU is a "conglomeration of tertiary students across Zimbabwe; [it] provides national student representation plus demand driven solidarity and support to the student movement and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe" with a focus on "victims of human rights abuses in terms of privatisation of education and attack on academic freedoms" as well as female participation (ZINASU n.d). The same source further states that "[h]istorically, ... ZINASU has been at the centre of providing relevant, effective national student representation of Zimbabwean college students" (ibid.). According the YETT website,

YETT assisted ZINASU to set up systems to strengthen the organization[’]s capacity and management through a process that put together a Finance and Procedures policy. The activity also allowed the organization to revisit its vision and mission. This process was necessary to help the organization resurge from the organizational development challenges it has been going through. (YETT n.d.d)

According to their blog, ZINASU has 44 member institutions (ZINASU n.d). A list of ZINASU member organisations, as provided on their blog, is attached to this Response. Further and corroborating information on their membership numbers or procedures could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources state that on 24 September 2016, ZINASU members were arrested in Mutare (The Zimbabwean 25 Sept. 2016; Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2017). Human Rights Watch further indicates that

police in Mutare arrested and detained 17 members of the [ZINASU] on charges of allegedly gathering in contravention of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). After three nights in detention, the Magistrate's Court freed 15 of the 17 ZINASU members and declared their arrest unlawful. At the time of writing, two student leaders remain in custody. (ibid.)

Further information on the treatment of ZINASU members could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. #ThisFlag

Sources state that Pastor Evan Mawarie leads the #ThisFlag "campaign" (Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2017; IRIN 13 July 2016) or launched the "hashtag #ThisFlag" (DW 2 Feb. 2017). Deutsche Welle (DW), "Germany's international broadcaster" (ibid. n.d.), reports that in April 2016, Mawarire "called on Zimbabweans to reclaim their flag and national pride. Via social media, he organized a day-long stay-at-home protest that effectively shut down business [in] major cities" (ibid. 2 Feb. 2017). According to IRIN News, "[t]he disobedience campaign, organised through a vibrant social media, is protesting government corruption and economic mismanagement. It is the most serious challenging the ruling party…has faced in a decade" (IRIN 13 July 2016). The BBC similarly described the "stay-at-home strike" as "one of the largest anti-government protests in years" (BBC 1 Feb. 2017).

Citing Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, IRIN news reported that that "[m]ore than 300 people have been arrested across the country since the beginning of [July]" (IRIN 13 July 2016). According to Human Rights Watch, "[a]t various times since June 2016, hundreds of protesters, including student activists, human rights activists, and opposition supporters were arrested, detained, and later released on bail without charge" (Human Rights Watch 17 Jan. 2017). DW reports that upon returning from the US, Evan Mawarire was arrested (DW 2 Feb. 2017). Similarly, the BBC indicates that

When he landed in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, Mr Mawarire "was escorted into another room by three men even before he went through immigration or customs", his sister Telda Mawarire told AFP news agency.

Our correspondent reports that, after being detained at the airport, Mr Mawarire was taken to a police station in the centre of the capital, Harare. (BBC 1 Feb. 2017).

DW further reported that Mawarire's lawyer "informed reporters [that] "[Mawarire] has been charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government, the very charge he was acquitted of last year'" (DW 2 Feb. 2017).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 1 February 2017. "Zimbabwe's #ThisFlag Pastor Evan Mawarire Detained on Return." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]

Deutsche Welle (DW). 2 February 2017. "Zimbabwe's #ThisFlag Founder Detained." [Accessed 3 Feb. 2017]

Deutsche Welle (DW). N.d. "Deutsche Welle at a Glance." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]

Human Rights Watch. 17 January 2017. "Zimbabwe." Events of 2016. [Accessed 3 Feb. 2017]

IRIN News. 13 July 2016. Sally Nyakanyanga. "Zimbabwe's Season of Discontent." [Accessed 3 Feb. 2017]

Voice of America (VOA). 11 April 2016. "Zimbabwe Cracks Down on Online Dissent." [Accessed 6 Feb. 2017]

Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT). N.d.a. "About Us." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2016]

Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT). N.d.b. "What We Do." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT). N.d.c. "Board & Staff." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT). N.d.d. "Activity Based Funding." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017]

The Zimbabwean. 25 September 2016. "Police Disrupt ZINASU GC, Students Leaders Arrested." [Accessed 6 Feb. 2017]

Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 6 Feb. 2017]

The Zimbabwe Sentinel. 10 February 2015. Byron Mutingwende. "Youths Demand Spaces in National Development Process." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project; Daily News; ecoi.net; Factiva; Foreign Policy; Freedom House; The Guardian; The Independent; Insight on Conflict; United Nations – Refworld; Washington Times; Zimbabwe Daily; Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Attachment

Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). N.d. "Member Institutions." [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017]