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Vigil Diary Archive Dec 2007 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 01 December 2007 00:00
29 th December 2007

Our last Vigil of 2007. It's now our sixth New Year. People ask what drives us to continue. Here's one reason: with us today we had Guguzinhle Khumalo. We asked her to write her story for us. “I live in Romford, came to the UK in December 2004. I was abducted and taken to the Gwanda Green Bombers' Camp in 2002 and trained in combat. I was raped multiple times and had a child (girl) who is still in Zim with my mother. I had to flee because they threatened and beat me up so much. I left for South Africa and came here. I have never seen my daughter since I left her when she was 1 year, 7 months. I am now joining the Zimbabwe Vigil cause. Hopefully we will bring Mugabe and his evil associates down. People are suffering and we are suffering – enough is enough. I am 23 years old with no life at all. I don't think this is right. I want to go to school and be someone. For now I can't do that. What about the future of my daughter?” Guguzinhle also said that when she tries to talk to people here about what happened they can't believe it. What future is there for our land unless we all stand up and protest as the Vigil does week after week.

We have gone through our register and we find that our average attendance per Vigil this year has been 107. Last year the average was 62 and the year before 37. The number of individuals who attended this year was 1,594 as opposed to 872 in 2006 and 574 in 2005. It seems that our attendance is increasing exponentially like Zimbabwe 's inflation!

On a cold, blustery day people from all over the UK gathered at the Vigil to continue our protest against gross violations of human rights by the Mugabe regime – despite efforts to destabilize us. We heard that several people were phoned and informed that the Vigil was not happening and that they should attend a meeting in Birmingham today.

We wish you all a happy new year and pray that we won't be standing outside the Embassy on Saturday afternoons in a year's time.

FOR THE RECORD: 138 signed the register.

Please note there will be no Forum this week. The next Forum will be on Monday, 7 th January 2008 .

 

22 nd December 2007

Famous faces at the Vigil today. We reckon we could field a reasonable Zimbabwe soccer team. With us were: Memory ‘Gwenzi' Mucherahowa (former Dynamos FC captain and manager), Joe ‘Kode' Mugabe (former CAPS United captain and former Sporting Lions coach), Blessing Nkatia (Dynamos), Panganayi Kuzanga (Black Aces and Grain Tigers) and our regular supporter Moses Kandiyawo (Acadia United, Air Zim, Sporting Lions).

While constructing our football team we could also plan a new band with the brilliant talent Zimbabwe is exporting. Willard Karanga (trombonist for Thomas Mapfumo) said how dreadful it was that everyone was being forced into exile. He said several members of the band that toured the US with him were now seeking asylum in the UK . ‘Our music is not allowed in Zimbabwe ', he said. Also with us was Fungai B Gahadzikwa (mbira player with the band Ambuyo Biula Dyoko).

On the last Vigil before our 6 th Christmas loads of people took enormous trouble to be with us. We took the banners down before the end because we could not fit everyone in between the four maple trees outside the Embassy. When we gathered to sing the national anthem at the end we filled the whole piazza again. We are surprised that Zimbabweans in the UK hold meetings to clash with the Vigil. We want to work with everyone on a non-party political basis to make the plight of Zimbabwe a world concern. Certainly there are people who see this as the Vigil's role – hence the support for our trip to Lisbon .

Friends in South Africa are keeping us informed of the work of Zimbabwe Democracy Now. Most recently they erected three banners greeting delegates after the ANC gathering congratulating South Africa on its democracy. The banners demanded similar freedoms in Zimbabwe . We displayed their huge banner at the Lisbon summit ‘Mugabe you would be more welcome in the Hague ' and we are giving away their scratch cards at the Vigil ( www.zimbabwedemocracynow.com ).

The day's highlight was the first birthday party for Zizi, son of Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani and Vigil co-ordinator Dumi Tutani. The proud parents brought a cake with a portrait of Zizi in icing on the top. Another happy announcement was the engagement of long-term supporter Arnold Kuwewa to Agnieszka Mizerek from Poland . It was good to welcome back Yvonne Fombe for the first time since her baby was born.

A happy Christmas to all our supporters – hopefully our last! Thank you for your support over the past year.

FOR THE RECORD: 185 signed the register.

Please note there will be no Forum this week. The next Forum will be on Monday, 7 th January 2008 .

 

20/12/2007

Reply from the British Government to the Vigil Petition

As reported in the last Vigil diary the British Government has replied to the Vigil petition presented on our behalf by Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the all-party parliamentary committee on Zimbabwe , on the occasion of our fifth anniversary in October.

The petition read: “ A Petition to European Union Governments: We record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region”.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London SW1A 2AH

From the Minister of State

2 December 2007

Kate Hoey MP

House of Commons

London SW1A 0AA

Dear Kate

Thank you for your letter of 30 October to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition and for forwarding their petition. I am replying as Minister for Africa .

Let me pass on our admiration for the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition for reaching their fifth anniversary. The fact that over 5,000 people have signed the petition you have forwarded confirms the public's strength of opinion regarding the situation in Zimbabwe . Recent media reports have graphically shown what a desperate and tragic position Zimbabwe is now in. This is due entirely to President Mugabe's policies which continue to punish ordinary Zimbabweans already suffering from unemployment, food shortages and hyperinflation.

Thank you for your words of support regarding the Prime Minister's decisions that neither he not any senior government member will attend the EU/Africa Summit in December if President Mugabe attends. We want the EU/Africa Summit to go ahead and to be successful. The Summit can and should deliver progress on peace and security, growth, development, governance and climate change. President Mugabe's attendance at the EU/Africa Summit will undermine the substantive business and dominate the media profile of the event overshadowing the important discussions taking place. We will continue to make this point in our contact with EU and AU states.

The UK government sees a resolution to the crisis in Zimbabwe as a top priority. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure a better future for Zimbabweans: a democratic and accountable government, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and policies that ensure economic stability and development, not humanitarian misery.

We believe President Mugabe must change his policies, which are hurting rather than helping ordinary Zimbabweans already struggling from hyperinflation, mass unemployment and food shortages. Political change must come from within Zimbabwe .

Yours

The Rt Hon Lord Malloch Brown

Minister of State

 

15 th December 2007

The sight of the day was a group of Father Christmases signing our petition demanding that the UN Security Council investigates human rights abuses in Zimbabwe . What a wonderful present this would be! With Christmas around the corner our thoughts were on our suffering families back home. In the words of the Advent hymn, we pray to God to save a ruined nation.

We have received a reply from the British government in response to the petition we sent the Prime Minister on our 5 th Anniversary calling on the EU to suspend government to government aid to SADC countries until they carry out their obligation to protect Zimbabwean human rights. We will put the letter on the Vigil Diary during the course of the week.

Many new faces again in a crowd which spilled from between the four maple trees and spread over most of the piazza outside the Embassy. The few embassy staff around on a Saturday looked daunted. Despite the icy cold, everyone was buoyed by the success of our demonstrations at the Lisbon Summit. We were glad someone brought at extra drum as we have beaten yet another one to death.

In between the magical singing and dancing, Stendrick Zvorwadza, Fungayi Mabhuni and Rose Benton reported on the Lisbon trip. It was also announced that 3 extra people had been appointed to the Vigil management team to help cope with the increasing attendance. Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani and Arnold Kuwewa will be looking after the back table, keeping an eye on the register in particular. Fungayai has been put in charge of security. (Vigil dog Chai will report to him!)

This new setup worked well today. Gugu noticed someone studying the information in the register. When asked he said he was looking for a relative's phone number. She asked Fungayi to deal with this. Fungayi explained to the person in question that the register was not available for general study as we had a duty under the Data Protection Act to keep confidential any personal information given to us. The procedure should be that the enquirer approaches the Vigil management team to phone and ask whether the person in question wished to be contacted.

FOR THE RECORD: 188 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday 17 th December at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Tor Hugne of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and a surprise guest will give us feedback on the just ended Human Rights Council. This is the last forum of 2007. Venue: d ownstairs function room of the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street , London , WC2N 6NA , next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street .

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary in Lisbon and London – 7-9 December 2007 – Part II

Further to our last posting we want to record our gratitude to the Lisbon human rights organisation, ADDHU ( Associação de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos) who were so helpful. Our meeting with them was joyous with much singing and dancing. Also with us were Miguel (a Portuguese journalist) and his team who were doing a documentary on our visit – they accompanied us throughout our time there and they were a great support. We were so happy to be joined by friends from Zimbabwe : Jenni Williams of WOZA, Promise Mkwananzi and Washington Katema from ZINASU, Primrose Matambanadzo (Zimbabwe NGO Human Rights Forum) and Sidney Chisi (Youth Initiative for Democracy) . There were other supporters from around the world; Marianna and Robbo from Germany who arrived with a big banner and wearing Mbeki and Mugabe masks. A Zimbabwean farmer, Peter Horsman, now living in the Algarve , came up on his own to demonstrate and was delighted to find our group to join. There were other Zimbabweans of Portuguese descent now living in Lisbon who joined our protest. The Swedish MP, Birgitta Ohlsson travelled to Lisbon with Kate Hoey and was there in support. Roy Barretto, former Zimbabwe soccer coach, was protesting with us. He was interviewed by Lance Guma ( http://www.swradioafrica.com/news121207/coach121207.htm ).

For an independent view check the following links to articles from Lance Guma who was with us in Lisbon: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news101207/lancediary101207.htm , http://www.swradioafrica.com/news101207/zimvig101207.htm , http://www.swradioafrica.com/news071207/Lisbon081207.htm , http://www.swradioafrica.com/news071207/summit071207.htm .

Lance has also posted photos and videos on the following links.

http://www.swradioafrica.com/lisbon/index.html and http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lanceguma&search=Search

The London Vigil was very busy while the Lisbon group was away. There were crowds at the Vigil on Saturday – 183 signed the register on a cold, wet and blustery day. Luka Phiri attended the ACTSA demonstraton outside the Portuguese Embassy on Thursday. He reports that it was raining. Kate Hoey was there with David Banks . Two Zimbabweans from Leeds / Bradford came all the way to join the protest – a valiant effort. As usual there were more British than Zimbabweans at the demo which Luka felt was pathetic. He says this is a Zimbabwean strugle and we as Zimbabweans should be in the forefront of all demos. Aljazeera filmed the demo and Vigil supporters Innocient Chichera and Rosemary Manyere were taken for an interview with the BBC World Service. Luka reports that he has had many calls from the media worldwide about the protest in Lisbon : Belgium , United States and Germany to name a few.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary in Lisbon and London – 7-9 December 2007

A Vigil team of about 30 grabbed the attention of the media during the EU/AU summit in Lisbon . Our demonstrations were shown on television all over the world. In Britain we were on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News …. We gave interviews to broadcasters and other journalists from all over the place: Finland , the Czech Republic , Voice of America … In addition we were tracked for a TV documentary to be shown later.

In Lisbon itself we became minor celebrities because we were on television every day. People greeted us when they saw our Vigil t-shirts (it was lovely weather). They agreed with our stand: ‘Super Ba star do' was how Mugabe was described by one of our taxi drivers who had seen us on TV. (Our celebrity status extended to Luton when, on our return, we were recognised by an immigration official.)

We staged demonstrations near the Summit meeting on all 3 days we were in Lisbon and, in between, plastered the city with our posters contrasting the living conditions of the poor in Zimbabwe to Mugabe's new mansion.

On our first morning, on Friday, Fungayi Mabhunu and Farayi Madzamba were roped in by the group Crisis Coalition to play the roles of Mugabe and Sudan's President Bashir for a stunt in which they were shown in bed with President Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany – the suggestion being that these two leaders were being soft in dealing with tyranny. The four playing the roles wore very realistic masks: no doubt many of you will have seen pictures in the papers showing them surrounded by Vigil supporters. (The stunt seems to have worked because both Sarkozy and Merkel were later reported to have been pretty tough with Mugabe!)

On Saturday, the opening of the Summit , we staged a seven hour protest while our supporters in London held the normal Vigil outside Zimbabwe House. We certainly had better weather in Lisbon and felt sorry for our colleagues shivering in the wind and rain in London . Thanks to Chipo Chaya, Luka Phiri, Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani, Sue Toft and Arnold Kuwewa who kept things going in London in our absence. They were augmented by the prayer group, the Zimbabwe Watchmen.

We wondered whether we would get any publicity at all given the saturation coverage our anti-Mugabe campaign had already received but the CIO came to our rescue. They arranged a pro-Mugabe demonstration with the notorious George Shire (“Widening Participation Officer” of St Martin 's College of Art in London ). Among his supporters were several young women from Guinea-Bissau who had obviously been paid to take part. We tried to talk to them but they knew no Zimbabwean languages. Someone who could at least speak English was a Jamaican woman from Brixton in London who shouted racist abuse at her own MP, Kate Hoey, who joined us for the day. The Jamaican asked us ‘Are you African? Why are you being used by whites?'

The only person who managed to shut the Shire group up was Adella Adella, wife of Tichaona Chiminya who was burnt to death by Mugabe agents in 2002. She said “You have left my children fatherless”—referring to the murder of her husband . . . . The pro-Mugabe demonstration guaranteed we would achieve our aim and keep Zimbabwe on top of the Summit agenda.

Armed police separated us from the Mugabe group, who were penned in on one side of the square, together with Gadaffi supporters flown in for the Summit . We were kept on the other side, together with anti-Gadaffi demonstrators and a group demanding freedom for Cabinda in Angola . By the end of the day we were firm friends with the other antis: the Libyans gave us their loudspeaker when they left and the Angolans gave us their t-shirts. This was after both groups joined us in singing ‘Nkosi Sikilele'. Media interest was further heightened when police wrestled to the ground and arrested two pro-Mugabe people when they tried to cause problems.

We ended Saturday by displaying a huge banner saying ‘Mugabe you would be more welcome in the Hague--- a reference to the International Criminal Court. We invited everyone to sign it. The banner had earlier been flown over the beach area; unfortunately, permission was refused to fly it over the Summit itself.

On the final day of the Summit , we staged another demonstration in case the Mugabe hirelings were there. But Mugabe had obviously decided that enough had been spent on a losing cause and the money could be better spent stocking up on electricity, water, bread and other essentials from the local boutiques. Only the Gadaffi supporters were on the other side of the square – but they have oil money! As everyone says, if only Zimbabwe had oil (rather than diesel coming from the rocks).

We are writing this hurriedly on our return and will report later on the people who helped us.

Lance Guma of SW Radio Africa was with us on the trip to Lisbon and will be posting reports, pictures and videos. See www.swradioafrica.com for links to this information.

 

1 st December 2007

Once again we had an enormous attendance – more than 200 Zimbabweans from all over the UK . There was a queue to sign the register. We should star t thinking of a Vigil crèche! First at the Vigil was Juliet Ngulube who got up at 5 am to travel all the way down from Manchester . Happily, she was soon joined by an old friend, Dorcas Nkomo, from Southampton . It's so encouraging to see the efforts people make to join our protest against Mugabe.

But the main subject of discussion as we sheltered from the rain under our tarpaulin was the EU / AU Summit in Lisbon . The Vigil has booked for 29 of our supporters to go to Lisbon (thanks to several generous donors). Many of our most committed supporters wanted to come but lacked the right travel papers. They will be at our usual London Vigil to support us from a distance. For details of our plans see the News Release below. As you will see the Vigil is central to several other protests.

What we don't say in our news release is that we have heard from informed sources that we should try and track members of the Zimbabwean delegation to try and establish in which banks they deposit their stolen money and to whom they sell their Murange diamonds. While in Lisbon we will displaying a new poster: it shows three photographs contrasting Mugabe's new mansion with the squalid living conditions of the masses.

 

We were pleased that Judith Todd found time for a farewell visit. She is to speak about the Zimbabwe situation in the United States , where her new book is being launched.

We thought the weather was pretty lousy but two people from the Faroe Isles dropped by. For them the weather must have seemed tropical! Grateful thanks to the kind lady who works locally who dropped by again and, without any fuss, dropped off three packets of biscuits.

Stendrick of our new partner ROHRZimbabwe said that he'd been in contact with activists in Zimbabwe who dismissed the Mugabe propaganda of a large turnout in the so-called ‘million man march'. Stendrick said the event was a flop and many of those who took part had been forced to attend. He said the real lesson was that Mugabe could still instill fear. His comments were supported by a report in the Times today in a unprecedented three-page report on Zimbabwe .

FOR THE RECORD: Over 200 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday 3 rd December at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. This week the Forum hosts a double event featuring Sarah Harland of the Zimbabwe Association and a poster party in preparation of the Portugal demo. Sarah will address the forum on the recent judgement on returning failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers. Venue: d ownstairs function room of the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street , London , WC2N 6NA , next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street .

 

News Release – 2 nd December 2007

Zimbabweans to protest at summit in Lisbon

The Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating against Mugabe outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday for more than five years, is to send a group of about 30 to Lisbon this week to protest during Mugabe's attendance at the AU / EU Summit. The Vigil is linking up with a Portuguese human rights organisation, ADDHU ( Associação de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos), to stage a demonstration as close to the Summit venue (Parque des Noacios) as the police will allow (100 metres). The demonstration will be on Saturday, 8 th December from 2 – 5 pm . There will be singing and dancing to the sound of drums. Available for interviews will be Zimbabwean political activists and survivors of torture, rape and other abuses of Mugabe's Zimbabwe .

For further information on the demonstration and other activities planned for the summit, contact Vigil Co-ordinator Rose Benton 07940 996 003. Details of other action will be announced later.

The normal Vigil will take place from 2 – 6pm on Saturday, 8 th December, in London as usual augmented by supporters from ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa ) and trade unions. For more information, contact: Luka Phiri, 07951293 766 or Chipo Chaya , 07904 395 496.

ACTSA, supported by trade unions and Vigil activists, is also to stage a protest outside the Portuguese Embassy, 11 Belgrave Square , London SW1X 8PP , on Thursday, 6 th December, from 12.30 - 2pm . For more information, contact: Simon Chase 07809 396 128, 020 3263 2001.

Other action is planned in Cardiff and Harare . The Cardiff demonstration is organised by the Zimbabwean Development Support Association and will be held from 12 – 2 pm on 8 th December at Bevan Statue, Queen's Street, Cardiff . For more information contact: Kuchi Cuthbert Makari 07939 721 419

The demonstration in Harare is being organised by Vigil partner Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHRZim) www.rohrzimbabwe.com . For more information, contact: Stendrick Zvorwardza , 07960 113 496.
 

How can you help?

The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.