The Vigil gathered in the middle of three days of National Hypocrisy. The so-called ‘healing’ exercise announced by Mugabe failed to convince our supporters that he has any intention of reining in his thugs or allowing the rule of law. Mugabe boasts he has degrees in violence – and obviously in hypocrisy too.
Our supporters wanted to know when there will be justice for the oppressed and an acknowledgement of the evil perpetrated by Zanu PF. As one supporter (Brian Sibanda) said ‘what happens on day 4 . . . . back to torture?’ He was questioning Ephraim Tapa, President of our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), who told the Vigil that 15 ROHR members had been arrested in Harare today during a demonstration against Mugabe’s hypocrisy.
Ephraim joined us at our monthly forum after the Vigil and gave further details of the ROHR protest. He said over 100 ROHR activists had marched towards parliament, swelling to over 200 by the time they were stopped by police. ROHR members denounced the deception of the three day ‘healing process’ nd the police summoned reinforcements and made arrests. Undeterred others, dressed in black, went on to the venue of a ‘peace gala’.
Here are some points which emerged from our open forum:
· There was a suggestion that Tsvangirai was covering up the extent of violence in Zimbabwe – ‘one day he is the President of the MDC and the next the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe’.
· Vigil supporters must approach their MPs in the UK and tell them what is going on in Zimbabwe. MPs in the UK had been misled by the propaganda that everything was ok.
· China is going to take over all Zimbabwe’s resources and we are going to be reduced to a Chinese colony.
· The new constitution must allow for an input from the diaspora and include provisions for dual citizenship and the vote for diasporan Zimbabweans.
· ‘Where is the peace?’ said one supporter, ‘where is the justice?’ ‘Where is the Zimbabwe we are talking about?’
· Another Vigil supporter expressed pessimism about real change. He called for a new party with a people’s militia.
· Several people stressed the need for the setting up of a peace and reconciliation commission such as in post-apartheid South Africa.
· The Vigil and ROHR are not asylum organisations – we are human rights organisations. For asylum matters supporters should consult our coalition member the Zimbabwe Association which has the necessary expertise. The question arose because people are being asked at Home Office interviews about the structures and personnel of these organisations. Supporters were encouraged to check our websites. We are quite transparent and have nothing to hide.
· Zimbabwe has just been ranked number 2 in the list of failed states (after Somalia). We have climbed up the rankings one place a year since 2006 when we were ranked number 5. The failed states index is published by Foreign Policy magazine, a division of the Washington Post. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/06/22/the_2009_failed_states_index.
· 10,000 days of Mugabe violence – are three days of peace enough?
· Patson Muzuwa ‘I was arrested nine times and have been tortured. You need the longest spoon to dine with the devil’.
· In response to a question about the Vigil’s representation in Zimbabwe, it was pointed out that our partner organisation ROHR fulfilled this function.
· The message of the ROHR protest against the peace days cover-up was truth and justice. Truth was needed to counteract the culture of impunity then justice. Only after that could peace and forgiveness follow.
· Talk of a new constitution was a red herring. People are too abused. Free and fair elections and stable government is needed before a constitution can be drawn up.
The Vigil understands that Bishop Chad Gandiya is to be enthroned on Sunday in Harare and we send him our best wishes. Our supporters sent his wife Faith some hyacinth bulbs and we trust they are coming out now.
We were pleased to hear that long-term supporter Priscillah Chakanyuka had got her papers and it was good to welcome back Vigil team member Bonny Adams from her travels. Thanks once again to Jonathan Kariwoh who stepped in to manage the back table.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/
FOR THE RECORD: 171 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· ROHR Stoke-On-Trent general meeting. Saturday 1st August 2009 2 00 – 5 00 pm. Venue: Mandela Club Restaurant, 66-68 Piccadilly Street, Hanley, Stoke-On-Trent ST1 1HX. Contact: Pauline Mutema 07850462301, Joana Zhira 07845896347and Farirai Muchibwa 07746628397.
· ROHR Hayes and Northolt launch meeting. Saturday 8th August from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes UB4 0PL. ROHR President and a well known lawyer present. Contact Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Juliet Musandiriri 07551319522, Rodah Kuhlengisa 07958205544 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
· ROHR Milton Keynes general meeting. Saturday 15th August from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Old Bath House Community Centre, 205 Stratford Road, Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5RL (near Tesco and 2 mins away from Wolverton train station). Contact Punish Mandere 07883071990, Martha Jiya 07727016098, Josephine S Phiri 07853572982, Diana Satumba 07737879653.
· Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).