UN human rights experts are calling for the Zambian Government to prove its commitment to tackle gender-based violence by stripping Musician Clifford Dimba, known as General Kanene of the title of Ambassador in the fight against gender violence.
General Kanene was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the rape in 2014.
But after serving just one year of his sentence he was pardoned by President Edgar Lungu and appointed the country’s ambassador against gender violence.
Since his jail release, he has also allegedly been involved in two other incidents of violence against women.
This week, General Kanene was one of the 75 Musicians that were invited to participate in the “I Care About Her” training in role modelling, promoting positive gender norms, contributing to gender equality and the respect of women’s rights.
The training was organized by Musician B-Flow and was funded by Oxfam.
But the UN human rights experts are now calling for the Zambian Government to prove its commitment to tackle gender-based violence by stripping General Kanene of his title.
“Such an outrageous release and appointment as an ambassador for the fight against gender-based violence not only traumatises the victim all over again but discourages other victims from reporting similar offences,” said Dubravka Šimonovi?, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
“The pardon and appointment undermine the strong message against sexual abuse of women and girls that was sent with the original sentence and trivialise the serious nature of these offences. Rather, Clifford Dimba has been placed in a prominent position and even portrayed as a role model to fight violence against women.”
“It constitutes an utter disrespect for women and girls in Zambia who might rightly feel that their Government is not protecting them.”
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography added, “It constitutes an utter disrespect for women and girls in Zambia who might rightly feel that their Government is not protecting them. The pardon has meant impunity for an abhorrent crime and his subsequent appointment as ambassador for the fight against such violence is more than cynical and adds insult to injury for the victim.”
The experts highlighted that the granting of General Kanene’s pardon is incompatible with Zambia’s international human rights obligations, and President Lungu’s role as a champion in the UN Women’s campaign He for She.
They are now calling on the Zambian government to revoke his pardon and ensure other people convicted of sexual violence are not pardoned.
Meanwhile, BFlow has apologized for inviting General Kanene to the programme.
“I would like to apologize to every woman who has felt disrespected, mocked and offended by my recent decision to include General Kanene on the list of the 75 Zambian artists that participated in my role modelling training which was focused on promoting positive social norms, contributing to gender equality and the respect for women’s rights,” BFlow wrote on his Facebook page.
“As an activist and Ambassador for the I Care About Her Campaign (ICAH), I have always looked forward to a time when I’m able to mobilize my fellow music artists and bring them on board because I believe ending violence against women and girls calls for our collective effort. I know that with a united front, we can make a bigger impact in reducing cases of violence against women as well as stopping and ending GBV,” he said.
” As the saying goes “alone I can go fast, but together we can go far”. They say teamwork makes the dream work. In trying to identify which artists I was going to train in the area of ending GBV, I saw it necessary to consider offering some important lessons on positive gender norms to someone whose actions have repeatedly frustrated my efforts of advocating against gender based violence. In my quest to recruit new champions among good men who respect women’s rights, I have seen the need to also engage men who have been the perpetrators because if I target my messages at only the good men, I risk preaching to the choir.”
“The Bible says “It is not the healthy who need a Doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance” – Luke 5:31-32. It is on this premise that I invited General Kanene to last week’s ICAH training for Musicians. Awarding him a certificate of participation was my way of letting him know that we are watching him closely and that he is making a pledge to be the complete opposite of the dangerous man he has been in the recent past. This is something I made clear to him. I have said before that the fact that he did not serve his full jail sentence because he was pardoned should be reason enough for us to worry that if we don’t keep an eye on him, he will continue violating women’s and girls’ rights or feel he is above the law,” he stated.
“I agree with you all that he needs counselling more than he needs my training and certification. I also agree that posting a picture of him holding a certificate is giving unnecessary publicity to an abuser and adding salt to the wounds of the victims he has been hurting. For this reason, I apologise for announcing him as one of the 75 newly trained champions for the #ICareAboutHercampaign because I empathise with everyone who is disappointed by this.”
“Be rest assured that extending an invitation to him was done in good faith. In conclusion, I will say I can choose to resent Kanene and to never ever speak to him again owing to the shame he has caused me as a man and the pain he has caused my mothers, sisters, nieces and female friends out there, but I know that I would feel guilty of keeping the word of God to myself yet I have an opportunity to preach to a brother who might be in dire need of my positive inspiration in order for him to receive his salvation. If anyone has ideas of how best I can help my colleague, please do not hesitate to share with me.”