Africa’s richest woman – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 24th November 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 November 2018 16:02

No it’s not Grace Mugabe, though Grace is not short of money or farms or houses or cars or diamonds. It’s someone rather younger – 45-year-old Isobel dos Santos who apparently accumulated a fortune of more than $2 billion in her piggy bank while her father was president of Angola.

We doubt that business savy accounted for her financial success. And so does the new administration of former Defence Minister, President Lourenco, who took over when her father retired last year and then sacked her as president of the state oil company Sonangol. She now lives in luxurious exile in Europe.

Her brother Jose who was given a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund to manage, presumably ‘on behalf of the people’, was not so lucky. He is now in custody in connection with a $500 million fraud.

Why should Zimbabweans be interested in this. Well President Lourenco says he is ‘not afraid to play with fire’ in his crusade against corruption in Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy whose people are among the poorest in the world. Ring a bell?

At a time when President Mnangagwa is trying to persuade the world that Zimbabwe is ‘open for business’ and for help in rebuilding the economy, the Vigil would like to see him put some muscle into his promised attack on corruption. How about starting with Grace?

A cautious budget by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is unlikely to be half as persuasive to prospective investors as jail terms for some of the Zanu PF elite – especially in the face of damning evidence of Zanu PF’s manipulation of elections, abductions and torture given to the commission investigating the army shootings in Harare after the elections.

Former Zanu PF provincial youth leader Jim Kunaka told the Commission that one of the Commission’s members, Charity Manyeruke was herself involved in the violence. ‘I am shocked that as commissioners you are sitting with Charity Manyeruke. She is actually one of the architects of violence in Zanu PF. When I was provincial chairman of Zanu PF we actually sat at the same table planning how to attack and beat up MDC supporters. She was my commander and she sent me on errands of violence.’

He went on to assert that the new dispensation of President Mnangagwa had not broken the pattern: ‘Zanu PF devours its own children’, he said. ‘If you refuse to toe the Zanu PF line they will deal with you. The noise that happened in town was sponsored by Zanu PF because they knew they had been defeated in the elections so they sat down and planned the violence to justify bringing in the military and blamed it on the opposition. We used to do this when I was in the party.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/11/ex-zanu-pf-terror-leader-spills-the-beans/).

Other points

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Jonathan Kariwo, Bianca Mpawaenda, Margaret Munenge, Patience Muyeye and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Bianca, Patience and Margaret for looking after the front table, to Linda Dodzo, Tapiwa Muskwe, Bigboy Sibanda and Simbarashe Jingo for handing out flyers and to Jonathan for taking photos.
  • 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: 14 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 15th December from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • 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 over the past 15 years 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 for £10. All proceeds will 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Facebook pages:
 
From Marxist to Thatcherite – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 17th November 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 November 2018 20:21

The most reviled / revered British Prime Minister of the past half century has been championed in the pages of the influential London newspaper the Financial Times by none other than Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In the face of fierce opposition, Mrs Thatcher forced through sweeping changes which paved the way for strong economic growth. President Mnangagwa obviously sees himself in the same light. ‘Like Thatcher we are not afraid of taking tough and at times painful decisions’, he writes. ‘As she used to put it, there is no alternative.’

Mnangagwa spoke of the need for spending cuts, new taxes and a drive against corruption. ‘The national budget must be balanced and spending reined in. The government wage bill is unsustainable.’

Like Thatcher, who was in power when Zimbabwe gained independence, Mnangagwa promised privatisation of state-owned enterprises. ‘A large and inefficient public sector cannot be allowed to hold back private enterprise.’ (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/978-zimbabwe-has-no-choice-but-to-embark-on-painful-reforms-.)

That the government needs to make drastic reforms is undisputed. The American economist Steve Hanke, who has closely followed Zimbabwean affairs, says the outcome for the economy was disastrous under what he called the Marxist regime of Mugabe and his Zanu PF accomplices like Mnangagwa. Hanke said that, according to the IMF, Zimbabwe was one of the poorest countries in the world. ‘Measured by real gross domestic product per capita, living standards are now only 78% of what they were when Mugabe assumed power in 1980 . . . Since the land reforms of 2000, the value of farm production has shrunk by 45%.’ (See: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2018/11/17/zim-remains-in-economic-ditch/.)

Mnangagwa may no longer be the Marxist ideologue suggested by Professor Hanke and economic reform is not the only problem he faces. The sight of two generals brazenly denying that the army was responsible for the deaths of civilians on the streets of Harare on 1st August has been greeted with derision by the outside world, eroding faith in the commission of enquiry into the shootings.

Other points

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Enniah Dube, Daizy Fabian, Marian Machekanyanga, Linton Magume, Rosemary Maponga, Nyarai Masvosva, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Bianca Mpawaenda, Esther Munyira, Fungisai Mupandira, Tapiwa Muskwe, Pearl Shambare, Minienhle Sibanda and Soneni Sibanda. Thanks to Bianca and Rosemary for looking after the front table, to Tapiwa, Bigboy Sibanda and Simbarashe Jingo for handing out flyers and to Jonathan for taking photos.
  • 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: 28 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Reading Christmas party fundraiser. Saturday 24th November from 7:30pm until 11:00pm. Venue: The Spice Oven Buffet Restaurant, 2 – 4 Church Street, Reading RG4 8AT. ROHR. Tickets: £20 per adult, free entry for children under 5 years. For more information, contact: Deborah Harry (07578894896), Charles Mararirakwenda (07588275745), Joshua Kahari (07877246251), Sihle (07985712749).
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 15th December from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • 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 over the past 15 years 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 for £10. All proceeds will 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • 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
 
Lonely country – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th November 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 November 2018 15:22

A new Zimbabwean investment drive has been taking place in the UK with a delegation led by Priscah Mupfumira, Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. She offered a few hollow banalities along the lines of Mnangagwa’s ‘open for business’ mantra and excitedly announced that Zimbabwe had been named in the top three tourist destinations for 2019 by the well-known travel organization Lonely Planet (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/mupfumira-speaks-to-london-investors/). 

The Vigil did not picket the meeting to give prospective investors our dystopian views of the situation in Zimbabwe. It was not necessary: news from Zimbabwe is bad enough. But we are proud our country is such a highly rated tourist attraction and we hope many people will go and see it for themselves.

But anyone who goes to Zimbabwe will see it is not an attractive business destination, open or not. The country’s financial affairs are so ethereal that the country could itself be described as a ‘lonely planet’.

A year ago we took to the streets to celebrate the army coup against Mugabe and welcomed Mnangagwa’s promise of change. But he has not delivered on this promise. Having been Mugabe’s loyal servant for so long he seems to think he must follow the same pattern. Despite the economic crisis, he hires an expensive plane from Switzerland to pick him up and take him to Guinea for two days. How many Zimbabweans even know where Guinea is, let alone why he felt he had to go there? The announced result was risible: among four trivial agreements the most notable one allowed diplomats and service personnel from the two countries to visit each other without getting a visa . . . (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/11/mnangagwa-dumps-airzim-for-luxury-swiss-jet/).

The Vigil thinks that, if Mnangagwa paid more attention in getting to the bottom of the corruption which he has sworn to tackle, he would notice that the jails are full but not with any of the former ministers and Zanu PF elite charged with fraud only for the prosecutions to wither away. Rather like the economy which, on the eve of the new budget, is facing the prospect of collapse. This may not be a major problem for most Zimbabweans, whose own economies collapsed a long time ago, but it may be inconvenient for those dependent on the predatory Zanu PF elite, which still tries to pretend that all is well.

Who will invest in what the MDC describes as a ‘bottomless’ Zimbabwe, whose foreign debt has ballooned since Mnangagwa took over? Some economists say that Zimbabwe has now gone beyond creating bogus bond currency and RTGS (real time gross settlement) transfers. They say the financial system has, in effect, now gone ethereal. In other words real money has gone to a lonely planet a long way away. Somewhere only the Zanu PF elite can access it (see: https://www.biznews.com/africa/2018/11/06/zimbabwe-inches-closer-brink-analysis).

Other points

  • Cathy Buckle writes a moving article on the trial ordinary people are going through (see: https://www.thezimbabwean.co/2018/11/my-heart-was-not-strong-enough-for-what-i-saw/).
  • Cold water has been poured on the Mnangagwa project by the Commonwealth’s critical report on the elections (http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/zimbabwe-election-commonwealth-releases-observer-group-report).
  • Reports of an apparent attempt by Zanu PF elements to abduct opposition leader Nelson Chamisa when he was returning from a rally will further blight the government’s reputation.
  • Thanks to those who helped out today in heavy rain: to Abigail Chidavayenzi, Jonathan Kariwo, Joana Kwenda, Michelle Makoni, Patricia Masamba, Bianca Mpawaenda and Ephraim Tapa for putting up the tarpaulin and banners, to Bianca, Patricia and Michelle for looking after the front table, to Abigail, Joana, Simbarashe Jingo and Joyce Mbairatsunga for handing out flyers and to Jonathan for taking photos.
  • 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: 16 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 17th November from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR Reading Christmas party fundraiser. Saturday 24th November 2018 from 7:30pm until 11:00pm. Venue: The Spice Oven Buffet Restaurant, 2 – 4 Church Street, Reading RG4 8AT. ROHR. Tickets: £20 per adult, free entry for children under 5 years. For more information, contact: Deborah Harry (07578894896), Charles Mararirakwenda (07588275745), Joshua Kahari (07877246251), Sihle (07985712749).
  • 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 over the past 15 years 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 for £10. All proceeds will 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Facebook pages:
 
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