Forward to the Stone Age – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 31st January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 February 2015 14:10

Mugabe is an appropriate choice as chairman of the African Union (AU). People at the Vigil thought that the ancient dictator, boots licked by cringing cronies, lording it over a cowed and impoverished people, certainly meets the job description.

 

The AU used to be called the Organisation of African Unity until it became so discredited that the name was changed. But as Zimbabweans know all too well, rebranding is just a means of continuing looting under another name. The unreformed organisation remains a club of paranoid megalomaniacs and kleptocrats, with the exceptions coerced into connivance.

 

So who could better fill the role of front man for Africa than Mugabe, ruler of the fourth worst economy in the world according to the Wall Street Journal  (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/
zimsit_w_zim-among-most-repressed-economies-the-zimbabwe-independent/
Zim among ‘most repressed economies’). The AU deserves Mugabe. He will show the world the true face of African leadership.

 

With typical hypocrisy, the South African head of the AU Commission set out the aims of the Summit meeting: ‘Democracy, good governance and human rights’. Well they have found the man for the task. Prepare for a new African Renaissance: this one rebranded as the Stone Age.

 

Mugabe was lucky to escape stoning on his visit to Lusaka the other day when he was met by demonstrators chanting ‘Mugabe must go’. In full-damage limitation mode, the Herald was quick to dismiss the protesters as a ’handful’.  Look at the video to see how many people comprise a Herald handful (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z-yONT73Ho).

 

Other points

  • Joke of the week: the AU is not the only useless international organisation. You could add the EU with its re-engagement with Mugabe policy. But first prize must go the United Nations. It says unemployment is at 5.42% (see:http://www.timeslive.co.za/africa/2015/01/20/zimbabwe-unemployment-at-5.42-un - Zimbabwe unemployment at 5.42%: UN). Obviously,anyone selling two tomatoes (or digging their own grave) is counted as employed.

  • Thanks to Epiphania Phiri, Rachel Mudzimba and Eunice Mucherechedzo for helping to set up on a day when we were threatened with snow. Our hearts were lifted by a generous donation from an anonymous supporter.

  • You may be interested in two reports on recent visits to Zimbabwe, the first by the Australia-based Moses Chomboko of Zimbabweans United for Democracy (Zunde), which is joining us for the 21st February protest (see:  http://nehandaradio.com
    2015/01/23/zimbabwe-must-worse-somalia-admit-failure/
    ). The other report is by Australian former government minister Peter Costello (see:
    Zimbabwean Diary –   http://www.spectator.co.uk/australia/australia-diary/
    9422362/zimbabwean-diary/
    ). He says he looks forward to visiting Mugabe in Heroes’ Acre.

  • The Zimbabwe Action Forum will meet after the Vigil on 7th February and will discuss how to further a suggestion that there should be a UK parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe. We propose to put together a letter which supporters can send to the MPs to encourage them to support the debate in parliament. If you can’t come to the meeting you are welcome to email your input to co-ordinator@zimvigil.co.uk. The proposal for a parliamentary debate has gained a lot of traction.

     

    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: 20 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 7th February 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.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 14th February from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • Mugabe birthday protest. Saturday 21st February from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR. More information to follow.

  • ROHR Slough Branch general meeting. Saturday 21st February from 11.30 am – 2 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road, Slough SL2 5JW.   For further information contact: Patricia Masamba (Chair) 07708116625, Nkosi Tshabangu (Vice-Chair) 07535942709, Fungisai Mupandira (Organising Secretary) 07758958803.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 28th February at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

  • ROHR Reading Branch general meeting and outreach. Saturday 28 February from 10.30 am – 5 pm. Venue: RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. For further enquiries contact: Information and Publicity Officer: 07888310582

  • 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.

  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2014 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/642-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2014. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2014 Highlights page.

 
Progress? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 24th January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 January 2015 14:41

Zimbabweans in the UK have welcomed the prospect of a parliamentary debate on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe as a means of questioning the British policy of re-engaging with Mugabe.

 

‘We want the British government to tell us what they mean by progress in Zimbabwe’ said Ephraim Tapa, President of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). He was referring to a remark by former Africa Minister Mark Simmonds at a meeting in Parliament on Monday which was organised by the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, after being approached by ROHR’s Reading branch.

 

Mr Sharma, hearing the anxieties expressed by the large number of Zimbabweans, raised the possibility of a parliamentary debate because it was some years since Zimbabwe had last been discussed in Parliament.

 

The idea was supported by Mr Simmonds, one of two other MPs who attended the meeting. He said the British government had a policy of ‘incremental engagement with the Zimbabwean government’ even though it was clear that the 2013 elections had not been legitimate.

 

He said there was concern in the region about the situation and there would be ‘real problems’ for Zimbabwe’s international relations if Grace became president. Nevertheless, Mr Simmonds spoke of ‘small steps of progress’, echoing the official British and EU diplomatic line.

 

Ephraim Tapa and others argued that Zimbabwe remained in crisis with rampant corruption, a compromised judiciary, a culture of impunity, with the regime being backed by the military and violence remaining a tool of control. After the meeting, Ephraim elaborated: ‘Mr Simmonds spoke of progress but there has been no progress. The situation has clearly worsened since the 2013 elections. Yes, there is a new constitution but it has not been implemented and Zanu PF is tearing itself apart with no idea how to get out of the massive hole it has dug itself into’.

 

But Ephraim welcomed the idea of a parliamentary debate. ‘It is necessary to interrogate the British government’s policy as it is not at all clear what it hopes to achieve’. Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money in aid was helping prop up the regime.

 

He urged Zimbabweans in the UK to enlist the support of their local MP to back the suggestion of a debate. A meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum is to be held after the Vigil on 7th February to discuss a template letter outlining reasons why Zimbabwe should be discussed in Parliament.

 

Despite the claimed ‘progress’ in Zimbabwe the Vigil notes the following comments in the Foreign Office’s latest update on Zimbabwe  (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/zimbabwe-country-of-concern/zimbabwe-country-of-concern-latest-update-31-december-2014 - Zimbabwe - country of concern: latest update 31 December 2014):

  • The UK government remains concerned about politically-inspired violence and harassment, repressive legislation and limited media freedom

  • Progress to align legislation with the constitution remains disappointingly slow and limited to less sensitive areas

  • We are concerned by the continued use of oppression by police to stop legitimate peaceful protests and to limit freedom of expression

  • We are particularly concerned by incidents of reported hate speech used by the First Lady Grace Mugabe. On 6 October, Grace Mugabe was quoted as saying that she would “spill blood” if anyone attempted to remove her from her Mazoe farm, illegally appropriated from a white commercial farm owner

  • We continue to remain concerned by the general lack of respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe, particularly over property rights and security of land tenure

  • Individuals, particularly those with a high profile, remain encouraged to take the law into their own hands.

     

    This is progress?

     

    In his remarks to the meeting Mr Simmonds noted ‘some African countries are starting to get it right and serve the people’. He mentioned Mozambique among others in the region and the Vigil welcomes comments by Mozambique’s new President Filipe Nyusi (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_the-people-are-my-only-boss-nyusi/). In his first speech as Head of State, President Nyusi said he was open to considering proposals from opposition political parties. “Good ideas have no political party colours”, he said. He pledged “respect for plurality and diversity of opinions”. Nobody would be left out just because they thought differently. We remember when Mozambique used to be the poor relation of Zimbabwe. Now the situation is reversed.

     

    (In a quick report on Monday’s meeting we mentioned it had been addressed by a representative of the Occupy Africa Unity Square group. We apologise for getting his name wrong – he is David Mbinga not David Mbeki.)

     

    Other points

  • MDC-T is joining with the Vigil and other organisations to stage a demonstration on 21st February – Mugabe’s 91st birthday – protesting at the failure of his government and his refusal to hold free and fair elections. More details to come. Now that Mugabe is at home recovering from his holiday there is speculation about where his final resting place will be. One suggestion is the Zimbabwe ruins.

  • We have been invited to the British premiere of a film ‘Democrats’ by a Danish filmmaker on 5th February about the process of drawing up the new Zimbabwe constitution. For more information see: http://www.dochouse.org/film-screening/DEMOCRATS---UK-Premiere--QandA-with/417. 

    The Vigil has been asked by Paul Westwood to draw attention to his petition about the seizure of his company by Temba Mliswa, nephew of Didymus Mutasa. See: http://twitter.com/PaulPaulus13/status/464388746599620609. Perhaps Mr Westwood could pursue the Mutasa girlfriends now in Europe who were given looted farms (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_ex-minister-gave-15-farms-to-wives-lovers-the-sunday-mail/Ex-minister gave 15 farms to wives, lovers).

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Mavis Chisvo, Rachel Mudzimba, Ravie Mashingaidze, Paul Fusire and Fungayi Mabhunu. Thanks to Mavis and Helen Rukimbiro for looking after the Vigil table throughout the afternoon.

     

    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: 24 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 31st January at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 31st January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 7th February 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.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

  • Mugabe birthday protest. Saturday 21st February from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR. More information to follow.

  • ROHR Slough Branch general meeting. Saturday 21st February 2015 from 11.30 am – 2 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road, Slough SL2 5JW.   For further information contact Patricia Masamba (Chair) 07708116625, Nkosi Tshabangu (Vice-Chair) 07535942709, Fungisai Mupandira (Organising Secretary) 07758958803,

  • 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.

  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2014 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/642-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2014. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2014 Highlights page.

 
Call for UK parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe – 19th January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:10

The possibility of a parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe emerged at a meeting in a parliamentary committee room today organised by the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, who was approached by Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) Reading branch.

 

At the well-attended meeting, Mr Sharma mentioned the possibility of a parliamentary debate and this idea was supported by former Africa Minister Mark Simmonds who also attended the meeting, as well as another MP, Fiona Mactaggart.

 

Mr Simmonds said the UK government had a very strong commitment to the people of Zimbabwe and that it had a policy of ‘incremental engagement with the Zimbabwe government’ even though he acknowledged the 2013 elections were not legitimate. He said a parliamentary debate would be a good idea as a vehicle of bringing Zimbabwe to public attention.

 

Ephraim Tapa, President of ROHR, questioned the European Union’s re-engagement agenda with the Mugabe regime and spoke of the plight of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers: ‘you could be sending people back to civil war,’ he said.

 

David Mbinga of the Occupy Africa Unity Square movement (OAUS) declared himself to be ‘one of the angry youth’. He said they could not wait for change until 2018, when the elections would be rigged anyway, and wanted to take to the streets. They would like the British government to warn Mugabe that they were keeping an eye on how he dealt with protesters.

 

Mr Sharma suggested that we prepare a list of Zimbabwean issues which we wanted debated in Parliament and write to our MPs to promote the idea of a debate. A fuller account of the meeting will be given in our diary on Saturday.

 

For pictures check: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/sets/72157648054760553/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 
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