Campaign News
Zimvigil Petition: UK Government to require new Zimbabwean regime to account for Gukurahundi genocide PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 14 February 2018 13:54

The Zimbabwe Vigil is petitioning the UK Government to require new Zimbabwean regime to account for Gukurahundi genocide. The petition reads: Zimbabwe has reportedly been encouraged by the UK Government to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth. Zimbabweans in exile in the UK, and supporters, urge the UK not to support readmission until the ruling Zanu PF satisfactorily addresses the genocide of some 20000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. A simple apology would be a start but we believe an independent truth and reconciliation process offers the best hope of healing the still bleeding wounds.You can sign the petition here:

Obituary: Father Ted Rogers PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 February 2018 12:50

Liverpudlian priest who ignored death threats to train black social workers in the townships of pre–independence Rhodesia

When Father Ted Rogers set up a school in what was then Rhodesia to train young black people to become social workers his photograph was spat on, he was called a “kaffir-boetie” (lover of blacks) and told that he could be made to “disappear”.

His Jesuit superiors sent him to southern Africa in 1960 and charged him to do “social work” in the townships. Ignoring threats, the working class Liverpudlian decided it would be better to train young black people to do it instead and founded what is now the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Social Work in a disused school in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1964.

Although at that point he had no training in social work, Rogers instinctively realised the need to train students in community work that tied in with African social and family structures. In his later work in HIV/Aids he saw western medicine’s emphasis on confidentiality as a barrier because in traditional African society, the whole family would rally around an ill relative and help.

At the same time, Rogers was one of the first to speak publicly against the segregationist land acts of the prime minister Ian Smith and tracked atrocities against blacks by government forces. Priestly colleagues were deported or imprisoned under Smith’s white government and some priests were abducted and allegedly murdered by the nationalist opposition. Rogers remained as a witness to all the unrest that has broiled the nation ever since; a month before his death he published Missionary Martyrs of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe 1976-1988.

He also worked with drought victims, refugees displaced by the civil war and the families of political prisoners. With the coming of independence in 1980 and the end of civil war, Rogers was approached by the then president Canaan Banana to help in establishing training that would allow former combatants to return to civilian life and complete their education.

Rogers started the Kushinga-Phikelela Agricultural Institute and he also helped to reopen rural schools and missions. He worked with the Justice and Peace Commission, which exposed the deaths of 20,000 Ndebele civilians in Matabeleland by Robert Mugabe’s army in the 1980s.

Edward Rogers was born in Liverpool in 1924, the third of the nine children of Edward and Ellen, devout working-class Catholics. He was educated by the Christian Brothers and joined the wartime Merchant Navy at the age of 17. On his first voyage the ship was torpedoed and he spent four days, with 120 others, in blazing sun on two overcrowded lifeboats off the African coast.

That close encounter with death prompted him to ask what he could do with his life. The answer was to enter the priesthood. He trained as a Jesuit and worked with the Apostleship of the Sea in east London. He was ordained in 1958 and sent to Rhodesia in 1960.

Rogers retired as principal of the School of Social Work in 1985, but a year later he was asked by Zimbabwe’s bishops to create an Aids programme in the face of denial, ignorance and lack of public understanding about the disease. The counselling, training, public information and education for young people that he set up in Zimbabwe rivalled anything in Britain. While deaths from Aids were running at 3,000 a week, infection rates dropped from about 30 per cent in 2000 to 17 per cent a decade later. His work on Aids expanded when he acted as director of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa for several years.

He returned to the UK in 2011 because of ill health and spent his retirement at the Corpus Christi Jesuit Community in Boscombe, Dorset, where increasing frailty never dampened his jollity and humour.

“After 51 years in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe I have left with three pairs of trousers, five shirts, two pairs of shoes, a four-year-old laptop and a camera,” he said. “I am not just resigned, but peaceful and happy.”

Father Ted Rogers SJ, Catholic priest and social activist, was born 9 November, 1924. He died on December 30, 2017, aged 93

Newsletter from the Mike CampbellC Foundation SADC Tribunal court hearing 6 February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 February 2018 12:43

We would like to thank everyone who prayed for our Court Case this week against President Jacob Zuma in the Pretoria High Court for his role in unilaterally closing down southern Africa's regional court, the SADC Tribunal, in 2012.

The hearing went extremely well. We were before three High Court Judges, including the Judge President. Our advocate, Jeremy Gauntlett QC SC, gave the main argument. There were also three other advocates arguing against President Zuma. They were acting for the Law Society of South Africa, who initiated the case, and other human rights organisations. Another advocate argued for President Zuma.

It was argued that President Zuma, by signing the Protocol which took away the rights of Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens to go to the SADC Tribunal on human rights issues, was not acting consistently with his constitutional duties. 

Advocate Gauntlett said that the President carries with him the Constitution of South Africa at all times. Conduct inconsistent with the Constitution was invalid.

He also argued that the SADC Tribunal's existence was an integral part of the SADC Treaty.

He went on to say that President Zuma acted in an irrational manner by not then going through the necessary steps to ratify his action through Parliament - and that there was no legitimate government objective in President Zuma's action. 

It was argued that President Zuma's signature - in removing access to the Tribunal for individual SADC citizens - ignored the vested rights of the 277 million citizens and was done in bad faith. 

It was pointed out that President Zuma had ignored the SADC Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General recommendations, as well as the World Trade Institute Advisors (WTIA) report.

Instead of taking steps against the perpetrator (Zimbabwe) he had taken steps against both the Judges and the victims of the perpetrator.

Advocate Gauntlett said "it was the jewel in the crown; the engine; the heart beat of the Tribunal to deal with human rights issues."

When SADC created the Tribunal, which was officially established in August 2005, it was created for human rights. This was the heart of it. There was also a Constitutional obligation to protect and advance human rights.

There was no explanation as to why the compensation case of Zimbabwean farmers Jarrett et al had not been allowed to continue. Zimbabwe violated the SADC Treaty so it is irrational that that this should not have been addressed. The closing of courts is contrary to international law and the SADC Treaty.

President Zuma operated at the highest level and had a Constitutional obligation to protect and advance human rights but did the opposite, also failing in his democratic obligations for a participatory process in lawmaking. 

If you take courts away, it is also contrary to the Constitution.

It was confirmed that Constitutional obligations are not trumped by comity (the need to act together with other states like Zimbabwe).

All arguments went well and they were completed in a single day, with excellent engagement from the Judges. We should be given a judgment in the next three weeks.

Many thanks again for your prayers and thank you to our amazing legal team, especially advocates Willie Spies, Jeremy Gauntlett and Frank Pelser.

Ben Freeth

Please sign online Vigil petition PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 21:03
The Zimbabwe Vigil's latest petition is now online: Please sign it and circulate widely. Thanks.
Petition to UK Africa Minister Rory Stewart: Zimbabwean exiles and supporters welcome your visit to Zimbabwe and believe the UK has much to contribute to the country. The euphoria over the removal of the Mugabes has given way to realisation that nothing else has changed. The new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke of democracy but also made clear his overriding allegiance to Zanu PF, which has repeatedly shown it does not believe in democracy. We urge you to insist on free and fair elections in Zimbabwe to determine the will of the people before the UK offers support to Mnangagwa. In particular, we stress the importance of the following: New voters’ roll and an independent election commission, Diaspora vote, Participation of Western election observers, Opposition access to state radio and television,  Police reform and the disbanding of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
Zimbabwe Vigil 18th November 2017 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 18 November 2017 23:17

We had so many people at the Vigil that we had no idea of numbers. It was by far the biggest gathering we have ever had outside the Embassy. Everyone was fired up and full of optimism. Thanks to the police for their tolerance when we swamped the pavement. The overwhelming message from the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Embassy was: ‘A new Zimbabwe’. For photos see:


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