The European Union has distanced itself from reported remarks by its Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia. Addressing a meeting in Harare last month he was quoted as saying ‘Luckily we don’t have a leadership crisis in this country’.
Mr Dell’Ariccia was reported to have rebuked NGOs for being confrontational and unconstructive and to have added ‘I have the impression that you are a little bit anchored in the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives AGOs – anti-government organisations’.
The Vigil wrote to Mr Dell’Ariccia’s boss, Catherine Ashton, complaining about his intervention in Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs and accusing the EU of bending over backwards to embrace Mugabe despite his refusal to hold free and fair elections or make any reforms to correct the abuses which prompted the EU to adopt its targeted measures against him and his cronies (for text of letter see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/596-mugabes-eu-cheerleader--zimbabwe-vigil-diary-21st-june-2014).
The Vigil has now received the following letter from the European Union:
I would like to acknowledge your 2nd letter to Baroness Ashton in which you refer to actions allegedly attributed to the EU Ambassador in Harare, Mr Aldo Dell’Ariccia. We have checked the circumstances, and came to the conclusion that the words of Ambassador Dell’Ariccia have been improperly quoted.
As indicated in our first letter, the objective of the EU is, and has always been, to support the Zimbabwean people in achieving a more prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe. In reviewing the restrictive measures, the EU collectively, and unanimously, decided to suspend all remaining restrictive measures with the exception of the arms embargo and those targeting two individuals – the Head of State and his spouse – and one entity, Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
The EU will continue to gear its relations with Zimbabwe with a view to promoting necessary reforms.
I would also like to confirm to you that decisions in relation to Zimbabwe are discussed with the EU member states in capitals and locally and taken in consensus.
Angel Carro Castrillo
European External Action Service
This letter was copied to 6 European Union officials including Mr Dell’Ariccia.
The Vigil is pleased that the reported comments do not reflect EU policy. They were widely covered in the media and criticised, of course, particularly by civil society. We are surprised that the loquacious Mr Dell’Ariccia did not deny them at the time.
On another matter, the Vigil has received a request from activists in Zimbabwe for help in resourcing the means to convert a scanned copy of the 2013 voters’ roll into an electronic text document. They want to compare it with previous rolls they have in their database and also with the new roll being prepared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. We forwarded their request to the UK government which has previously provided funding to support the building of technical capacity of civil society organisations.
A reply to the Vigil from the Zimbabwe desk of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says the budget for this has now run out and adds ‘Like you, we also want to see the full voters roll released or made available electronically – it will be important for historical reasons and future analysis. We’ve said that publicly. And I can assure you that the UK’s view of the election will not change unless there is a full and independent investigation – as the previous Foreign Secretary set out.’
The Vigil understands the budgetary problem but would urge the UK government to explore ways of sourcing funding for this ‘important’ project from its £11 billion budget for international development. The question of the bogus voters’ roll was brought up in a speech by Morgan Tsvangirai at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London on Friday. He said: ‘One year after the poll, we have not yet received an electronic copy of the voters roll that we ought to have received before the election in line with the dictates of Zimbabwean law’.(see: http://www.mdc.co.zw/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=311:president-morgan-tsvangirai-s-address-to-the-royal-institute-of-international-affairs-chatham-house-london&catid=79:latest-news&Itemid=659).
We are to mark the anniversary of the rigged elections at our next Vigil on Saturday 2nd August from 2 – 6 pm. Passers-by will be confronted by the following posters: ‘One year on, six years backwards’, .Wake on anniversary of Zimbabwe’s 2013 stolen elections’, ‘Where are the two million jobs?’, ‘What’s happened to the new constitution?’, ‘EU sups with devil Mugabe’, ‘No rule of law, endemic corruption’.
Despite today’s rally in Birmingham attended by Morgan Tsvangirai there was a reasonable turnout at the Vigil. Supporters agreed with Tsvangirai’s accusation in his Chatham House speech that Mugabe was in denial about the dire situation in Zimbabwe – but said he himself was in denial about his own leadership failures. Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Fungayi Mabhunu, Thobile Gwebu, Bridget Zhakata, Mavis Chisvo, Helen Rukambiro, Gladys Mapanda, Kelvin Kamupira, Francesca Toft and Cephas Maswoswa (who brought a ladder to help put up the high banners!). Thanks also to Patricia Masamba and Fungisai Mupandira for providing sadza to fundraise for the ROHR Slough branch. Free Palestine protesters passed by the Vigil and raised their banners high in solidarity.
A Vigil leader Fungayi Mabhunu, who is married to a Swazi, helped organise a demonstration by our sister organisation the Swaziland Vigil at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Wednesday. He hired a minibus and picked up exiled Swazis on the way to Scotland where they protested at the attendance of David Cruiser Ngcamphalala, Minister of Sport and a former head of the Riot Police, who is accused of torturing and killing pro-democracy activists. They also called for the release of imprisoned human rights activists such as student leader Maxwell Dlamini. Others include Thulani Maseko, a lawyer, and Bheki Makhubu, a prominent editor, who have been detained for publishing articles that criticized continued threats to judicial independence in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Fungayi said the protest had been a great success and expressed gratitude to the Scottish police for their friendliness. He said one policeman had even bought a Swaziland Vigil tee-shirt.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
FOR THE RECORD: 0ver 30 attended the Vigil.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 2nd August from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It's between a newsagent and Pizza Express. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
ROHR Slough Branch meeting. Saturday 2nd August from 11 am – 2 pm. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL. Contact: Patricia Masamba (Chairperson) 07708116625, Fungisai Mupandira (Organising Secretary) 07758958803, Sharon Zimuto (Secretary) 07988165394 and Tichaona Mafokosho (Information and Publicity) 07852585159.
ROHR Middlesbrough general meeting. Saturday 2nd August from 12 noon – 4 pm. For more information please contact Masimba Musodza(Chairman) 07581887359, Xoliso Sithole (Treasurer) 07449005447, Ndumiso Ncube (Organising Secretary) 07448522328.
ROHR Executive Committee meeting. Saturday 9th August from 12 noon. The meeting will be held in Reading ahead of the ROHR Reading Branch Fundraiser.
ROHR Reading Branch Fundraiser. Saturday 9th August from 5 – 11 pm. Venue: Pakistani Community Centre, Park Hall, London Road, Reading RG1 2PA. Tickets: £6.50 or £10 for two. Drinks, BBQ, Disco. Contact: Eric 07532 021 348. For flyer, check: https://www.flickr.com/photos/90023465@N03/sets/72157645522190494/.
Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 9th August from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
ROHR Central London Branch general meeting. Saturday 16th August from 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA.
Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 23rd August at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
ROHR Southampton Branch general meeting. Saturday 23rd August from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: Age Concern Building, 20 Romsey Road, Eastleigh S050 9AL. Special guest speakers on the day. Contact: Sally Mutseyami (Chairperson) 07448730581, Wellington Mukucha (Vice Chairperson), 07450264733, Sekayi Mwenye (Secretary) 07428570134, Chipo Mtetwa (Organising Secretary) 07403341214.
Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2013 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/560-vigil-highlights-2013. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2013 Highlights page.
The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
The Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets twice a month after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy
For the Zimbabwean Diary check: http://www.thezimbabwean.co/entertainment/film-and-theatre/71964/welcome-to-whats-on.html.