I. Lack of Coins
Desk and basic field research was conducted to determine the scale of the problem associated with customers being issued with vouchers or tokens in place of coin change after making a purchase. An opinion paper was circulated and meetings were held with the Ministry of Finance, who agreed it was a widespread problem but said they were struggling to find a solution to the problem, citing prohibitive costs as militating against the importation of coins.
II. Compulsory co-registration of matrimonial property
The LRF published an article to gauge public opinion regarding the compulsory co-registration of matrimonial property. This was influenced by reports received of spouses being evicted or dispossessed of matrimonial property where the spouse holding the title deeds decided to dispose of the property without their partner’s consent, causing great hardship for the non-titled spouse and children. A series of meetings were held with key stakeholders to advance the idea of legislative intervention on the registration of matrimonial property, including the Ministries of Justice and Legal Affairs, Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development and the Law Development Commission.
The issue of women’s entitlement to property has now been taken up by the Property and Inheritance Rights Network of Zimbabwe, a network of seven organisations with the LRF being one.
B. Children’s Rights
Much of the LRF’s advocacy has focussed on children’s rights. This was informed by the need to draw attention to children’s issues as their rights were not enshrined in the Constitution. The LRF was part of the team tasked with drafting the Children’s Charter, which was launched at the opening session of the Junior Parliament. The Charter covers issues to do with education, health, safety, care and protection, identity, equality and non discrimination, alternative care, harmful traditional and faith practices, access to justice, friendly environment, labour, information, governance, participation, corporal punishment and child friendly budgets.
To complement the efforts to raise awareness on children’s rights, the LRF, as a member of the Child Protection Coalition (CPC), took part in the compilation of the shadow report to the United Nations on the Convention on the Rights of a Child, highlighting the lack of constitutional protection of children’s rights. 300 members of the Junior Parliament received training from the LRF on the importance of advocacy after a request was made by Zimbabwe Youth Council. Following this training the Child President, in his speech on the inauguration of the Junior Parliament, reiterated to the ‘senior’ cabinet the need to have a section on children’s rights in the new Constitution.
Commemorations provide a useful platform to advocate rights related issues. Once again the LRF collaborated with other organisations in observing various international commemorative events, including International Women’s Day, World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, the Day of the African Child, World Aids Day, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence and Human Rights Day. As well as promoting cooperation between NGOs and presenting strong messages, these events also enabled the LRF to reach a wider and different audience.