Author Archives: Tafadzwa Mwale

UNIC takes SDGs to students

Back row: Mass communications students from Harare Polytechnic; From row from left seated Mr Grasciano Nyaguse, Ministry of Economic Planning & Investment Promotion; Tafadzwa Mwale UNIC; Amarakoon Bandara, UNDP and Mr Masuku, Lecturer Harare Polytechnic.

Back & Middle row: Mass Communication students from Harare Polytechnic; From row from left seated Mr Grasciano Nyaguse – Ministry of Economic Planning & Investment Promotion; Tafadzwa Mwale – UNIC; Amarakoon Bandara – UNDP and Mr Masuku – Lecturer, Harare Polytechnic.

UNIC takes SDGs to students

On 25 February, UNIC Harare held its first awareness-raising session on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The session, which was held at Harare Polytechnic in Harare, was attended by 50 Mass Communications students.

The event began with Tafadzwa Mwale, UNIC’s National Information Officer giving a brief background to the UN. In her presentation, she highlighted that UN was formed in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The main purposes of the UN are to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people and to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems.

The SDG focal point in the Harare UNDP office, Mr Amarakoon Bandara, who is also the Economic Advisor then spoke about The Sustainable Development Goals and the UN from a global perspective. In his presentation. He described the process leading up to the adoption of the SDGs by the UN.

He said implementation of the SDGs required the combined effort of all sectors, even at a financial level.

His presentation was followed by that of Mr Grasciano Nyaguse, Director for Policy Planning in the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion who spoke about Zimbabwe’s position on the SDGs. He explained that Zimbabwe has prioritised the following 10 SDGs -8, 7, 2, 9, 6, 13, 17, 3, 4 and 5. This prioritization would enable the Government to concentrate on those areas for maximum benefit. He said the SDGs were being aligned with the ZIMASSET Clusters. To raise awareness, the government will undertake a roll-out plan in all the provinces and will also hold multi-stakeholder consultative workshops.

The Sustainable Development Goals

Teachers with SDG poster

ABOVE: Teachers from various schools in Harare pose with the SDGs poster at the UNIC offices after attending a ZUNA meeting on January 28, 2016. UNIC Harare gave each of the 19 schools a poster as a way of raising awareness to the SDGs.

The Sustainable Development Goals

On 25-27 September 2015, over 160 heads of State and Government, together with leaders of civil society and the private sector, gathered at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York for the adoption of the new sustainable development agenda. This bold and ambitious agenda aims to end poverty and promote prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment over the next 15 years. Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted. In Zimbabwe, the United Nations and the Government of Zimbabwe are working to raise awareness of the SDGs and to implement them.

UN Sustainable Development Summit

Sustainable Development Summit

UN Sustainable Development Summit

From 25-27 September, 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Summit will take place in New York. About 150 world leaders are expected to adopt a new Sustainable Development Agenda, including 17 goals which will build on the work of the Millennium Development Goals.  Log on to http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/summit to keep abreast with what is going on at the Summit.

Furthermore, other events including — General Assembly Debate, Pope’s visit to the UN and the SDG Summit — will be available live and on-demand in the 6 UN official languages on the UN Web TV website (http://webtv.un.org).

UN Security Council Reforms seize Model UN Debate

MODEL UN YAF AMBASSADOR HANDS CERTIFICATES

Above: Nigeria’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Peter Iyamabo (centre) congratulates Autharage Abureni and Fungai Choofamba (second and third from right), the team that represented Nigeria in the Model UN while Tafadzwa Mwale (extreme left) of UNIC and Ambassador David Hamadziripi, Director for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (second from left) look on.

UN Security Council Reforms seize Model UN Debate

The topic of UN Reforms came under the spotlight on Friday, 4 September when students at Midlands State University, Gweru held their Model United Nations (UN) in partnership with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).

Representing 24 countries across the globe, the students, who are members of the Young Ambassadors’ Forum (YAF) discussed, in a diplomatic manner, the topic “It’s high time the UN Security Council adopts and implements Reforms”.

Speaking at this event, Dr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Minister of Foreign Affairs said the topic “aptly captures and conveys the frustration felt by the majority of the UN Member States at the lack of progress in the ongoing efforts to reform the UNSC.”

“It equally reflects the impatience of several Member States in getting some traction in the negotiations to create a new-look Security Council. Your topic also implicitly acknowledges the complexity of the task at hand and the painstaking process that has been underway for a number of years towards the goal of reforming the UN Security Council,” added the Minister who was represented by Ambassador David Hamadziripi, Director of Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.

Tafadzwa Mwale, UNIC’s Officer in Charge said one of the advantages of the Model UN is it allows the students exposure to global topical issues and tests their ability to then engage in a discussion around the issue in a constructive and results-orientated manner. This then allows the students to be part of a grand academic tradition that has raised many important global leaders in politics and business.

In addition, the Model UN has afforded the students exposure to the world of diplomacy.
“By the time they come to discuss their topic, the students will have gone through rigorous training on the Model UN process by the UN Information Centre, on how to speak diplomatically, how to negotiate better and on other areas so that they represent the real United Nations General Assembly as much as possible. The students also get to meet with ambassadors and/or embassy officials as they prepare for this event,” Mwale explained.

Minister Mumbengegwi explained that the current negotiations on the reform of the UN Security Council can be traced to as far back as 1993 when the UN General Assembly decided to establish an Open-Ended Working Group to consider all aspects of the question of the increase of the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council. In 2009, the Open-Ended Working Group was replaced by the current Intergovernmental Negotiations.

Below: The Model UN banner.

MODEL UN YAF BANNER

UNIC Harare commemorates the first-ever day for Albinism awareness

Women living with albinism commemorated the first International Albinism Awareness Day in Harare on 13 June.

Women living with albinism commemorated the first International Albinism Awareness Day in Harare on 13 June.

On June 13, UNIC Harare joined hundreds of Zimbabwean people born with albinism in celebrating their talents and achievements during the first-ever International Albinism Awareness Day. The event, which was held at Harare Gardens in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, was also used to highlight the challenges they face.

The  International Albinism Awareness Day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 in response to the “growing international understanding of the need to fight against discrimination and stigma against persons with albinism while also addressing root causes,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his statement to mark the Day.

He noted that although people with albinism can live normal, healthy and productive lives given the right opportunities, “far too many suffer isolation, mutilation and even death because of persistent discrimination and ignorance surrounding their condition.

“Continued reports of gruesome violations, killings and attacks against persons with albinism, including children, women and persons with disabilities, and the elderly, remain a deep concern. Persons with albinism continue to live in fear of their lives. Yet the resilience and courage of the survivors of these attacks and the abilities of persons with albinism, and the degree of commitment of those who work for the enjoyment of their rights is heartening,” said Ban Ki-moon.

According to Talent Maunganidze, a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe University who was also born with albinism, many people with albinism are mistreated.

He said children are labelled “murungudunhu,” a Shona term which is derogatory.  Added to that, the majority of people born with albinism are short sighted and furthermore, most people do not want to associate closely with them. The sun is also their enemy, as it gives them pimples, Maunganidze said, adding that hats help to minimize the amount of sun going to the skin.

In a work environment, they can be employed but not paid said Gibson Gurumani.

“The government should assist by giving us places to live and also with projects so that we can be self sustaining,” he said.

Women born with albinism also face the risk of being raped because of the myth that “if you sleep with a person born with albinism you will get cured, a belief that is false, said Gwen Marange, Alive Albinism Initiative Director.

“We do not heal HIV. It is a myth. We say No to superstitious beliefs,” said Marange.

The United Nations has pledged to continue mobilizing international action to eradicate all forms of discriminatory practices against persons with albinism.

UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli speaks during the official launch

UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli speaks during the official launch

UNIC Harare unveils Shona and Ndebele versions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

 On 12 February, 2015, UNIC Harare unveiled local language versions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event was officiated by the UNIC Harare Director and UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli in the UNIC library, where framed copies will remain a permanent feature.

Speaking at this event Mr Parajuli said the event was the “beginning of a long journey.”

“We have only managed to translate the Declaration into two Zimbabwean languages while the Constitution of Zimbabwe recognizes 16 national languages. Together, we will surely get there where our Zimbabwean children and youth will have the opportunity to read the articles of the Declaration in their own mother tongue and apply them in their lives and for the benefit of their communities,” he said.

Mr Parajuli commended the Government of Zimbabwe for its commitment to promote human rights. He cited the Government’s adoption of “a progressive, people centred and rights-based constitution,” saying this was a key milestone in Zimbabwe’s human rights history.

Likewise, Zimbabwe’s participation for the first time in the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights, where it accepted and has since been working to implement 130 recommendations made through the UN Human Rights Council is another key milestone.

The UPR is a global process which allows for all countries to mutually review their human rights achievements and challenges every four years.

Mr Francis Munhundiripo, Principal Administrative officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the unveiling came at the right time given that Zimbabwe’s new Constitution recognizes 16 local languages as official languages. He expressed the hope that UNIC and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) would work together to translate and disseminate the document into the other official languages.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Mr Elasto Mugwadi said the launch is an important landmark in the development of fundamental human rights awareness as henceforth, Ndebele and Shona speaking people in this country will be acquainted with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights couched in their mother tongue.”

He said it is our obligation to “bring the awareness of the generality of humankind to their entitlement to these rights and freedoms through various methods including teaching, education and information dispensation in languages which people understand and converse in.”

Following the Launch, UNIC will work with a cross-section of organizations to disseminate the local language versions of the declarations.

Secretary-General’s remarks at closing session of the 67th session of the General Assembly New York, 16 September 2013

We have reached another notable moment on the United Nations calendar.

With the end of the 67th session of the General Assembly, we express our gratitude to the President of this body, His Excellency Vuk Jeremic, as well as the Vice Presidents, committee chairs and others who helped steer the Assembly through an eventful year.

I thank again His Excellency Vuk Jeremic for the great dynamism he brought to the job.  When he was elected, he was just a month away from his 37th birthday, making him one of the youngest people ever chosen to serve in this capacity.  I am sure he now feels considerably older than 38; presiding over 193 Member States has a way of aging a person!

Over the past year, the General Assembly has realized a number of significant achievements across the range of issues that are on the General Assembly’s agenda.

To cite but a few, the Assembly held its first-ever High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law and adopted a far-reaching and forward-looking Declaration on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels.

The Assembly also adopted an Arms Trade Treaty, the first-ever international treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons.

These were important breakthroughs indeed.

All in all, the Assembly adopted more than 300 resolutions, including on the strengthening of the Organization itself.

Mr. President, you also convened a number of thematic debates and dialogues on entrepreneurship, culture, inequality and, just last week, on the Responsibility to Protect, a timely initiative indeed.  The Assembly also renewed its efforts to combat trafficking in persons.

The 67th session coincided with a challenging period for the international community.

The Assembly stepped in when the Security Council was divided on Syria.

The Assembly continued to wrestle with the prolonged consequences of the global economic crisis.

Member States also began the hugely important discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and a new set of goals for sustainable development, including by establishing the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the High- Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

The 67th session also saw us close the General Assembly Hall for a much-needed renovation.  I thank Member States for the continued support for the Capital Master Plan.

I again thank all those who, during the 67th session, helped to establish the necessary groundwork for achievements in the years ahead.  I look forward to the capable stewardship of Ambassador John Ashe during the 68th session of the General Assembly to take this vital work forward, for the benefit of the people we are here to serve.

I thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership.

UNIC HARARE is supporting efforts to promote cultural diversity – International Mother Language Day 2013

Prominent television personality Rebecca Chisamba (left) joined UNIC in commemorating International Mother Language Day 2013

Prominent television personality Rebecca Chisamba (left) joined UNIC in commemorating International Mother Language Day 2013

 

UNIC Harare is supporting efforts to promote cultural diversity and multilingualism in Zimbabwe. For the second year running, the Centre partnered with Children in Performing Arts Workshop (CHIPAWO) and UNESCO in commemorating International Mother Language Day 2013.

The commemoration held in Harare on Saturday 23 February saw children drawn from Children in Performing Arts Workshop (CHIPAWO) centres in Harare, Norton, Domboshava, Chitungwiza and Bindura, perform traditional dance, drama and recite poetry in different local languages thereby demonstrating the rich cultural diversity and multilingualism existing in Zimbabwe.

The children also made totemic praises to demonstrate the need to master different and rich cultural forms of expression and to emphasize and enlighten the audience on the importance of totems, their role in promoting identity and to strengthen relations.

Emerald Hill School for the deaf taught other children sign language.

Over 500 children were present at this event, as well as United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) staff.

UNIC mounted an exhibition of UN publications translated into Shona and Ndebele. These included the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Calendar of UN Observances.

UNIC also translated into local languages the International Mother Language Day Message issued by the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. This was read in Shona by Guest of Honour, Rebecca Chisamba. Mrs Chisamba is a popular, local language talk-show host in Zimbabwe.

There are more than 16 languages spoken in Zimbabwe. These include Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.  But the more widely-used languages in Zimbabwe are Shona and Ndebele.

The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed International Mother Language Day in November 1999 (30C/62). The Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism and to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education.

On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.

The United Nations recognizes that languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

International Mother Language Day represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.