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The IP coordinating team visits Zimbabwe

The IP coordinating team visited Zimbabwe on 1st-4th August 2011 to monitor the implementation of the IP program, including sensitizing the key stakeholders in the intellectual property rights institutions. Mr. Benson Zwizwai Zimbabwe Chapter Coordinator coordinated these meetings. The team managed to hold several meetings with the national steering committee of the IP program in Zimbabwe to review and plan for the implementation of the remaining phases of the programme. The visit culminated with a meeting with the registered members of the ATPS Zimbabwe Chapter. In order to sensitize the key stakeholders and raise the profile of the IP program (in particular) and that of ATPS (in general) the team met and held very insightful discussions with (amongst others) The president of the Zimbabwe National Association of Traditional Healers (ZINATA), Prof. Gordon Chavunduka. Prof. Chavunduka is a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe and was instrumental in the establishment of the traditional medicine practitioner’s act (1981) that gave legal recognition to traditional medicine in Zimbabwe. A traditional healer himself, Prof. Chavunduka shared with the team the many challenges still facing traditional medicine in Zimbabwe but also the important strides made in recognition and regulation of the same. The Chief Registrar at the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Mr. Fidelis Maredza. Mr. Maredza briefed the team on the on-going efforts to establish an IP policy for Zimbabwe. He highlighted that an inter-ministerial committee comprising 12 different ministries was working closely with other stakeholders to craft a holistic IP policy for the country expected to be completed by June 2012.  This on-going process presents an opportune moment for the IP programme to ensure that the issues of traditional knowledge, access and benefit sharing are included in the IP policy.  As a result of this meeting, Mr. Zwizwai was invited to join the inter-ministerial committee. Discussions are now underway on how ATPS could support the on-going IP policy formulation process in Zimbabwe The Programs Manager of CAMPFIRE Association, Dr. Cecil Machena. The CAMPFIRE association model is internationally recognized example of access and benefit sharing. Dr. Machena explained to the team the details of the program, its origins, applications and impact to date and plans for expansion in the future. Of key interest is the involvement of the local communities in wildlife management through the rural district councils (RDCs), the safari operators and village committees. The formula for sharing the benefits has been worked out and the communities get technical backing from the CAMPFIRE Association. The Association would provide a good case study for the IP program on working examples of benefit sharing involving local communities traditional knowledge in managing genetic resources. The Director of Policy Management, Promotion and Advocacy at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ms. S.C. Madzinga. Mrs. Madzinga highlighted the efforts to revise the S&T policy launched in 2002 to take on board new developments in the S&T landscape. She recounted her experiences with ATPS, and particularly the training workshop on biotechnology and intellectual property rights in 2005 that was held in Maputo, Mozambique. The ATPS-Zimbabwe Chapter has developed close working relationship with the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Scientific Revival Day 2011 will focus on stakeholder engagement towards revising the S&T policy, amongst other things. The Ministry has also been instrumental in the IP policy formulation process. Meeting with the Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO), Mr. Gift Sibanda The IP team learnt that the ARIPO protocol on traditional knowledge has been endorsed by the council of ministers and is being used by WIPO as a working document in developing guidelines for traditional knowledge protection globally. ARIPO has a rich collection of information on the various legal frameworks at the national level (in its member states) regional level as well as globally. They have expressed willingness to share these with the ATPS/BTA program to help strengthen the research and capacity building activities of ATPS and its partners To provide a framework for such collaboration, the meeting agreed on the need to establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ARIPO and ATPS in order to strengthen their working relationship as well as provide a framework for this envisaged/proposed collaboration.
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