Human rights

Rwanda: ousted former senator Kalimba praises human rights activist

The late former senator, Zephyrin Kalimba, has been hailed as a man who has dedicated his life to the defense of human rights.

The 62-year-old man died Sunday evening January 2 at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali where he had been admitted for a few days due to an undisclosed illness.

Kalimba was a senator for eight years from 2012 to 2020.

During his tenure in the Senate, he served on the Committee on Political Affairs and Governance, which is responsible for overseeing the application of the fundamental principles of equitable power-sharing, pluralism and equality, among others.

Speaking about the life of Kalimba, Augustine Iyamuremye, the President of the Senate described him as a person who dedicated his life to defending human rights.

“Prior to joining the Senate, he served in human rights and welfare organizations, especially for historically marginalized people. When he arrived in the Senate, he supported the cause. It is something that he did with humility. him, “he noted.

Vincent Bavakure, the president of the Association of Rwandan Craftsmen (COPORWA), an organization that Kalimba ran before joining the Senate, told the New Times that the deceased was a caring person who always made decisions after taking the time to ‘think it. .

“We have worked together since 2007, when I had just finished my studies. He was the one who gave me the job at COPORWA, where I have worked so far. He was nice to everyone, in especially his employees. We have never seen him disrespect anyone at work, “he said.

“Even after he left, he still supported us. As president of COPORWA I used to ask him for help, for example sometimes we would invite him to take part in our radio shows, and he would come, ”he added.

Bavakure particularly highlights Kalimba’s contribution to the upliftment of historically marginalized communities, where he, among other things, built houses for them, and advocated for them to get scholarships.

“He pleaded for a number of students from these communities to obtain university scholarships from the Department of Local Government. I was one of those students, ”he said.

“He built houses for the inhabitants of Bugesera, Nyaruguru, among others. He donated animals to them and also educated them on how to live better, ”he added.

Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement said he remembered him for his truth and his good ideas.

“Rest in peace Honorable Zephyrin Kalimba. I remember your truth in the Senate and the way you always brought ideas for the construction of Rwanda, ”Bizimana wrote on her Twitter page.

Bizimana also served with the deceased in the Senate.

Kalimba leaves behind a wife and nine children.

He was born in the Ruhango district in southern Rwanda.

He held various positions in Rwanda before and after the genocide.

Here, among others, from 1978 he worked in the former Gendarmerie (Police) for 4 years and 8 months, before joining the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Later, he began his work journey in civil society, where he created several human rights organizations.

In 1997, he was regional coordinator of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests.

He has also conducted research for the African Commission on Human Rights, in particular on indigenous communities in Africa.