Dewa Mavhinga

  • University of Essex, LLM International Human Rights Law


It is with great sadness that we announce that Canon Collins Alumnus, Dewa Mavhinga, died suddenly on December 4, 2021.  At the time of his death, he was the Southern Africa director, overseeing and supporting a broad range of work in the region, including exposing and bringing an end to political repression, forced evictions of indigenous people, and violence and discrimination against women, LGBT people, and foreigners, as well as demanding access to clean water and fair distribution of vaccines and COVID-19 relief packages.

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Dewa worked as the Regional Coordinator for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition based in Johannesburg. In 2012, Dewa co-founded the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, an independent public policy research think-tank based in Harare. After graduating, he joined Human Rights Watch and spearheaded its work to expose human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, documenting these in reports, and pressing the Zimbabwean government and other international players to ensure greater protection and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe. In the face of resistance from Zimbabwe’s government leaders (who sought to portray human rights as an imposition of western values on Africa), Dewa has consistently demonstrated how the source of human rights values is home-grown. Human rights are reflected in the constitution of Zimbabwe, and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Dewa advocates for the values and principles that are enshrined in these documents that embody the spirit of African solutions for African problems.2012. In 2012, he co-founded the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, a public policy research think-tank. He also served on the board of directors for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance.

“Dewa was a deeply empathetic and highly effective human rights activist whose work made many people’s lives better, whether it was pushing the Zimbabwe government to respect the right to protest in the face of economic hardship or ensuring that victims of human rights abuses across Southern Africa have access to justice,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

For a selection of some of Dewa’s articles and reports, click here.

To listen to an interview with Dewa, click here.

Greatest Achievement

Exposing horrific human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields through a groundbreaking report entitled “Diamonds in the Rough”: Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields. Subsequent advocacy led to the temporary ban of Marange diamonds by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme resulting in extensive reforms and significant reduction of abuses in the diamond fields.

Professional Interests

The promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe and southern Africa.