A merry-go-round – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 28th December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 December 2019 12:33

In Britain a merry-go-round suggests an abandonment to joy, cheerfulness and hope – the very spirit of the post-Christmas New Year season. But a merry-go-round can also mean something else: being repeatedly led down an unproductive path with no escape.

It’s the second version that Zimbabweans here in the UK believe is stopping us from coming home – as we would all love to do, especially at this time of year. To be with our families and friends in our own country and its sounds and smells and warmth . . . that’s joy!

But despite Mnangagwa’s vacuous promise that ‘the worst is over’, Zimbabweans know that nothing the President says can be believed and that, as we approach a new decade, the future is still bleak, with little to hope for under a mafia regime drowning in deceit, incompetence and corruption.  

As the New York Times puts it: ‘Government disfunction, and economic meltdown, drought and a calamitous flood has plunged Zimbabwe into a hunger crisis’. The article spells out the desperate situation: “The money here is valueless now,” said Mr. Dunha, who has eight children. All they can afford to eat, he said, are vegetables and sadza. Gerald Bourke, a spokesman for the southern Africa operations of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations, said that until recently 60 percent of its assistance to Zimbabweans was in the form of cash, but that the recipients no longer wanted the money. “Inflation is a rampant problem and people said, We’d prefer the food,’” Mr. Bourke said. (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/25/world/africa/zimbabwe-hunger-famine.html.) 

On the political front, hopes of talks between the government and the opposition faded when Mnangagwa insisted that he would not engage with MDC president Chamisa outside the Political Actors’ Dialogue (POLAD) that he set up with the fringe political parties who took part in the 2018 elections.

Chamisa has said he would never join this grouping and criticised Mnangagwa’s last meeting with POLAD which took place at his Kwekwe farm, where he was filmed, still wearing his silly scarf in the middle of summer, feeding his fish. ‘We must feed the people not the fish,’ Chamisa said.

MDC faction leader Thokazani Khupe who attended the meeting was accused of supporting the President. Meanwhile a new MDC faction called the MDC Zimbabwe has registered with the Electoral Commission. Its only known member Thulani Ndebele denied he was being used by Zanu PF though most totalitarian states like Zimbabwe are known to create fictitious opposition parties to delude the outside world.

As we end the decade we can report that, after much research the Vigil has failed to find another country with two vice presidents both of whose wives are in jail, one for trying to kill her husband and the other for complaining her husband tried to kill her. It seems a shame that they are not sharing a cell. Domestic bliss in Zanu PF!

Other points

  • A glimpse into how much of Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth is escaping government coffers was given by Mnangagwa at an anti-corruption symposium. He said that on a visit to Dubai last month he was told by one company that they had received US$60 million of gold through the black market (see: https://www.thestandard.co.zw/2019/12/22/us60-m-gold-smuggled-dubai/).
  • Few as we were at the Vigil, we were encouraged by a visit by fellow long-term human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Margaret Munenge, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Rosemary for looking after the front table, to Kevin and Charles for handing out flyers, to Chido for prayers and drumming and to Chido and Alice for photos. Thanks to all those who brought refreshments: to Rosemary for bringing a thermos flask of hot water with milk for tea and coffee and to Chido and Heather Makawa for bringing cake and other refreshments.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimb88abwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.                                                                         

FOR THE RECORD: 10 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 11th January from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Esther Munyira 07492058109.
  • ROHR Valentine’s fundraising dinner dance. Saturday 15th February from 7 pm till late. Venue: to be advised.
  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:
    Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil
    ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/
    ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515
 
The Christmas present – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 21st December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 December 2019 12:47

It’s difficult to imagine former South African president Thabo Mbeki as Father Christmas. But we can only hope that he brought good news when he made his timely visit for separate talks with Mnangagwa and Chamisa and others.

The Vigil was critical of the deal Mbeki brokered between Mugabe and Tsvangirai in 2008 but we were just as critical of the MDC for accepting it.  Nevertheless, the subsequent government of national unity turned around the economy and brought rapid growth until Zanu PF greed could no longer be contained and it rigged the 2013 elections so it could steal the new riches. 

Chamisa was a member of that flawed coalition and will no doubt have learnt lessons. Certainly no similar arrangement should be accepted which would leave Zanu PF in control when they are the ones who have brought the country tp the brink of catastrophe.

Mbeki too has ‘skin in the game’. He left office discredited. But the abysmal Zuma circus has since then changed the focus. So Mbeki could yet rehabilitate himself with a Christmas present for Zimbabwe.

Mbeki says he will be returning to Zimbabwe soon for more talks before end of the year. We wish him well. The main obstacle is Mnangagwa who insists he will only meet Chamisa within the framework of the Political Actors’ Dialogue. For his part, Chamisa said: ‘Dialogue must deliver true change and real reforms. When we shake hands, let us be agreeing to truly walk in the same direction, a new direction.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/12/give-dialogue-a-chance-sadc/.)

The Vigil believes a new coalition of some sort is needed to move Zimbabwe forward – but a coalition that is not one-sided like the last one. This would be a real Christmas present for Zimbabwe.

Whether it will prevail over the apparent Christmas present delivered the other day to military headquarters in Harare we don’t know. This was a US$3.4 million Bugati Chiron, one of the world’s most expensive and fastest cars. Just right for Zim roads (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2019/12/20/worlds-fastest-car-us3-3-million-bugatti-chiron-lands-in-zimbabwe/).

Other points

  • Zimbabwe faces having the assets of the state mining company seized after a final appeal of the 2014 arbitration ruling failed. Companies linked to British Virgin Islands-based Amari Holdings Ltd won the right to seize assets worth $65.9 million in compensation for Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s cancellation of nickel and platinum ventures formed in 2007 and 2008. The ruling by the International Court of Arbitration was made after a hearing in Lusaka. The lawyer acting for Amari, Ian Small-Smith said: ‘They seemingly still don’t appreciate how adversely this will impact the credibility of Zimbabwe as an investment destination.’ (See: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-18/zimbabwe-faces-mining-asset-seizure-over-canceled-joint-ventures.)
  • As Vigil activists celebrate Christmas, we want you to know that the suffering people of Zimbabwe are always in our thoughts, particularly at this time.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Tendai Chigariro, Garikai Mananje, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Esther Munyira, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Esther and Kevin for looking after the front table, to Tendai, Abigail and Esther for handing out flyers, to Delice and Garikai for drumming and to Esther and Ephraim for photos.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimb88abwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.                                                                           

FOR THE RECORD: 13 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Valentine’s fundraising dinner dance. Saturday 15th February 2020 from 7 pm till late. Venue: to be advised.
  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:
 
Zanu PF feasts – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 December 2019 12:57

The Vigil wonders why the Reserve Bank did not ask Zanu PF to take ‘a haircut’ rather than squander five million dollars on its extravagant ‘National People’s Conference’ at Goromonzi. A feast of hundreds of cattle and goats, thousands of chicken and 8 tonnes of maize was provided  for the 7,000 delegates while the people starve.

We say ‘a haircut’ because the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee apparently wants to reject the majority of government debts. The idea is that, for instance, Zimbabwe may pay only 5% of the US$60 million which it owes South African Airways, which is now itself facing financial challenges (see: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-09/south-african-airways-may-only-get-5-of-money-owed-by-zimbabwe).

The Vigil doubts that this will smooth the borrowing path for the planned new version of Zimbabwe Airways, let alone encourage South Africa’s ESKOM to resume its charitable power supplies to Zimbabwe.

But the focus was at Goromonzi High School, where locals watched in awe as Zanu PF bigwigs turned up in their expensive sports utility vehicles. One said ‘if the conference was open to us we would attend and also have a taste of the nice food that we have not eaten for so long. We would at least forget our hunger for those two days.’ (See: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2019/12/13/zanu-pf-banquet-in-deep-sea-of-poverty/).

A Newsday editorial observed of Zanu PF: ‘They are just functioning according to their default mode — as they have always done even under the late former President Robert Mugabe — to feast and make merry while the rest of the population wallows in abject poverty. (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/12/editorial-zanu-pfs-opulence-amid-famine-should-not-be-surprising/).

A close observer of Zimbabwe, Professor of World Politics at the University of London, Stephen Chan, said ‘in almost all countries in the world, during times of austerity, all political parties would hold their conferences with a reduction in expensive provision. They would do that to show solidarity with a nation going through hard times.’ (See: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2019/12/13/zanu-pf-indaba-a-jamboree-in-the-midst-of-biting-hunger/).

Other points

  • A prospective investor planning a US$250 million solar project in Zimbabwe – surely a good thing – got the go-ahead from the government in July. Then his problems began. Officials started demanding a share in the project, so the whole thing is stalled. This typical story is given extra force by appearing in the government mouthpiece the Herald (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/sa-investor-makes-bribery-claims/).
  • Progress is also stalling on Zimbabwe’s application to rejoin the Commonwealth after the British Ambassador said Zimbabwe was failing to implement key reforms. Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi responded on twitter that Zimbabwe didn’t care, adding ‘the game of endless reforms is shameful’ (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/mutodi-thumbs-nose-at-british-over-zim-commonwealth-snub/).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Patience  Chimba, Enniah Dube, Jonathan Kariwo, Chido Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Benjamin Molife, Washington Mugari, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Molly Ngavaimbe, Hazvinei Saili, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Margaret, Hazvinei and Molly for looking after the front table, to Rosemary and Kevin for handing out flyers, to Chido and Delice Gavazah for drumming and to Patricia, Hazvinei and Jonathan for photos. It was good to have Enniah with us after a long illness.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimb88abwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.                                                                           

FOR THE RECORD: 20 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook
 
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