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Time to intervene? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 23rd January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 25 January 2016 17:04

With the Mugabe regime seemingly determined to use any means to cling to power despite the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe, the outside world must be prepared to think the unthinkable.

 

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae was clear in an interview with a UN online publication that sovereignty has limits. He made no direct reference to Zimbabwe but his message was unmistakeable. Here is part of what he had to say:  

 

‘Sovereignty has limits like any other right. A leader cannot kill and harass his people and hide behind sovereignty. A true leader does not kill, but protects his people. We still have leaders in Africa who think they are indispensable, larger than life and more important than their countries. That must stop. If a leader loses control, the world will and should intervene to save the people’ (see: http://www.un.org/africarenewal/web-features/good-leadership-about-people-%E2%80%93-festus-mogae).

 

But who is to intervene? South Africa cannot be expected to do anything given the corrupt and incompetent President Zuma. Anyway, the worst drought in decades has seen 5 of South Africa’s 9 provinces declared disaster areas, as well as parts of 2 others. So it is preoccupied by its own problems.

 

In Zimbabwe, facing a much worse situation, no food disaster has yet been declared by a president who seems to visit his own country only for parties – such as his upcoming 92nd birthday celebrations expected to gobble up $800,000. Not much for the Mugabes but it might have fed a lot of other more needy families. A pastor we support in Matableland reports: ‘People are very hungry and livestock is dying. People are talking about dying. If we put mealie meal on the bus like we have always done it no longer reaches the destination because hungry people steal from the bus.’

 

No African country has the will or capacity to intervene to avert disaster in Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s all-weather friends China and Russia will prevent any action by the UN. So it’s up to Zimbabwe’s real friends – the countries that keep on putting their hands in their pockets – to help in spite of Zanu PF’s bile Only this week Rural Development Minister Abednego Ncube told traditional leaders that they had not received their November and December allowances because of long gone Western sanctions (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-fails-to-pay-chiefs-blames-sanctions/).

 

This is the cloud cuckoo land that Zanu PF is living in, supported by back-slapping Western diplomats having the holiday of their lives. One envoy even told us: ‘Zimbabwe is my dream posting’. Pardon us while we vomit.

 

The Vigil thinks the West must stop propping up this evil regime and instead prepare plans to avert the slide into violence borne of poverty and desperation. It should pay attention to the words of Kariba’s Pastor Patrick Mugadza who came to attention for his lone protest at Zanu PF’s Victoria Falls conference. Speaking after visiting the family of abducted activist Itai Dzamara this week he said: ‘What is going on at the moment is that somebody is so much at work and that somebody is the devil’ (see: http://www.thezimbabwean.co/2016/01/mugabe-used-by-the-devil-pastor-mugadza/). We fear for the safety of Pastor Mugadza.

 

Other points

·       There was a good turnout at the forum after the Vigil at which PhD student Takunda Maravanyika engaged us in a piece of political theatre as part of his studies. He said he had been inspired by coming across the Vigil by chance in 2008. His reflections on the situation in Zimbabwe and his journey in the diaspora drew enthusiastic engagement as they chimed with the experiences of so many of us.

·       The Nottingham doctor who is trying to seize a farm in Zimbabwe Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro was invited to attend the forum to explain why a British citizen like himself should try and steal the property of a white Zimbabwean who had bought it with the approval of the government. He was unable to attend and we have written giving him seven days to make representations before we stage another demonstration outside his clinic.

·       On our second ‘bring and share’ Vigil there was a large group to help to set up at the start: Mercy Bayipayi, John Burke, Percy Chagwiza, Thulani Chagwiza, Benjamin Chigamba, Mavis Chisvo, Enniah Dube, Humphrey Dube, Isabell Gwatidzo, Deborah Harry, Barbara Kachidza, Danny Kadiki, Chipo Kamhunga, Vimbayi Karumbidza, Mable Kayiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Linton Magume, Michelle Makoni. Patricia Masamba, Nyasha Moyo, Tanatswa Moyo, Esther Munyira, Fungisai Mupandira, Catherine Musa, Casper Nyamakura, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Grace Rukure, Jennipher Sabe, Ephraim Tapa and Taurayi Tsandukwa. Thanks to Catherine and Esther for looking after the front table and to Humphrey and Linton for putting up the banners.

 

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: 51 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 6th February 2016 from 11 am to 1.30 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 an optician. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·       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 Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 6th February from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see above.

·       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.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 6th February from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark eleven months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

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

 ·     ROHR Reading branch community outreach and general meeting. Saturday 20th February. Community outreach from 12 noon – 1.30 pm: Venue: Broad Street. Awareness campaign on deteriorating human rights in Zimbabwe. General meeting from 2 – 5 pm:  Venue: RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. For further enquiries contact: Deborah Harry 07578894896, Charles Mararirakwenda 07964731721, Joshua Kahari 07877246251, Shyline 07827493930.

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

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Appeal for UN aid – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 16th January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 18 January 2016 20:22

The United Nations is understood to be considering a Zimbabwean request to provide emergency aid for Mugabe’s 92nd birthday celebrations in Masvingo next month.

 

UN East and Southern Africa spokesman, Idi Ott, said UNFED had been expecting a request for help because of the severe drought affecting Sub-Saharan Africa. He said there had been surprise at UN headquarters at the lateness of the request because it normally takes some months to mount an international appeal of this magnitude.

 

‘We know that a considerable sum will be required and understand that it is unrealistic to expect Zimbabwe in its straitened circumstances to find the money from its own resources’, he said. ‘Perhaps given the urgency of the situation Zimbabwe should appeal directly to its all-weather friends. China, Russia and Iran are likely to be supportive. Or Harare could ask South Africa, though we know it has its own problems at present after the debacle at the Wanderers’.

 

Opposition sources in Zimbabwe say they are amazed that the government has not already approached the UN for food relief to avert looming starvation caused by the drought and crop failures. One spokesman said: ‘There is something suspicious about all this. Who exactly asked the UN? The government is on holiday for another two or three weeks and there is no one here to make decisions of this gravity.’

 

A Zanu PF spokesman was reassuring: ‘People need have no fear for Comrade Gushungo. He is well-fed and there will also be enough food for the whole Politburo as well’. 

 

The Vigil is unable to contribute to the celebrations. All our spare money is going to feed our families at home and the malnourished staff at the Embassy. By the way, rumours that the Embassy has closed cannot be confirmed because it never seems to be open anyway.

 

Lest people think we are treating the plight of those at home lightly, one of us was told today by a 16 year-old relative in Zimbabwe: ‘Life is hard, it is tough here but we are now used to the hardships’. He added: ‘Ndaishanda Ku ZBC na Paradzayi Tichiita Painting Contracting. Then ma workers epa ZBC wakamisa vanhu basa 300 waingosvika pabasa zvonzi basa rapera without notice wopihwa mari ye 3 months a head kukata vanhu vanhu vari permanent worker’.

 

We were not surprised to read the depressing report on the situation in Zimbabwe put out recently by the UN news service: http://m.irinnews.org/Report/102339/New-Year-same-old-problems-for-Zimbabwe#.VpqpwxiLSG8.

 

Other points

·       The Vigil sends greetings to Bishop Ancelimo Magaya who says there is a leadership vacuum in Zimbabwe. Speaking to journalists in Harare, he quoted Matthew 5, v13 which says, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men’ (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-leadership-vacuum-evident-in-zim-bishop/).

·       Next week on Saturday 23rd January we will be repeating our successful ‘Bring and Share’ Vigil as suggested by our supporter Danny Kadiki. Hot food would be much appreciated. The Vigil has a large thermos flask and Chipo Parirenyatwa has arranged with Pizza Hut across the road that they will supply us with hot water so we can make tea and coffee.

·       Thanks to those who came early on a bitterly cold day (but thankfully dry) to help set up:  Humphrey Dube, Isabell Gwatidzo, Vimbai Karumbidza, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phylis Magejo, Michelle Makoni, Jenniffer Maritsa, Innocent Maya, Rosemary Mupunga, Esther Munyira, Cathrine Musa, Chipo Parirenyatwa and Taurayi Tsandukwa. Special thanks to Humphrey and Innocent for putting up the high banners and to Cathrine for looking after the front table assisted by Chipo and Sharon Moyo.

 

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: 32 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       Zimbabwe Association Exhibition. Monday 18th  – Friday 24th January. Venue: The Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, off Portobello Road, London W11 2AY. Opening reception at 6.30 pm on Monday 18th January. If you are planning to go please let the Zimbabwe Association know by emailing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

·       ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 23rd January from 12 noon – 2 pm. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.Contact: Fungayi Mabhunu 07907089899, Esther Nyambi 07446210391, Mavis Chisvo 07944612944.

·       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 Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 23rd January from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten 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 an optician. 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.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 23rd January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 6th February from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark eleven months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

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

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Indigenous hot air – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 9th January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 11 January 2016 17:28

Photolink: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/24197289621/sizes/m/

 

As far as producing hot air is concerned the Vigil is confident that Zimbabwe is a world  beater. With swarms of political parties quacking away like ducks on steroids, it is one industry in which we can more than compete.

 

So it comes as a surprise that in the ‘clarified’ indigenisation guidelines just announced the government has seen it necessary to include air (and grass, birds and swamps for that matter).

 

‘How can you possibly indigenise a commodity such as air?’ asked MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu. Economist John Robertson said it was the product of ‘shallow thinking’ and exposed the government to ridicule (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-indigenises-air-newsday-zimbabwe/).

 

The guidelines were, in fact, the product of a compromise between ridiculous Finance Minister Chinamasa and shallow Indigenisation Minister Zhuwao, nephew of Mugabe.

 

If Chinamasa thinks it will satisfy the International Monetary Fund and encourage foreign investment he is even more deluded than we thought. As for Zhuwao, he says foreign investment is not wanted: money can be raised within Zimbabwe – not just by increasing traffic fines from $20 to $100 but by, for instance, raising import taxes and implementing plans to tax vendors and churches. And surely NGOs have loads of money to tax, let alone foreign-owned businesses which should be made to disgorge some of their profits.

 

But even Zhuwao is outdone for hot air by Zanu PF spokesman Simon Kaya Moyo who says his party has done ‘extremely well’ over the past two years in particular with ‘the generality of the population feeling the effects of ZimAsset’. We suppose the hot air has at least kept them warm . . . (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-mugabes-zanu-pf-happy-despite-zim-rot-dailynews-live/).

 

Mr Moyo has put our minds at rest. The Vigil was worried about people back home who always seem to be hard up and asking us for more cash. But we now learn that there’s loads of money around.

 

We at the Vigil look forward to meeting the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona who is apparently taking a holiday in the UK. Like her colleagues, she will get $600 a day for two weeks for her accommodation and food. That’s more than some people here get a week so she will be comfortably off. It amounts to $8,400 – apart from the allowance for her family.

In all, the budget for the holidays of the National Assembly speaker and his deputy and the Senate President and her deputy is put at $110,000. The government may not be able to pay the workers but it can certainly look after itself (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-splashes-on-parly-bosses-holiday-dailynews-live/).

 

As the Vigil marked the passing of ten months since the abduction of Itai Dzamara on 9th March, we were encouraged to hear the message of Pastor Patrick Mugadza who has called on Mugabe to step aside and hand power to an interim authority. He said ‘Fear has gotten us to where we are. Dzamara, whether he just disappeared or died, he was a seed and many Dzamaras will come up if I disappear.’ (http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-26998-Many+Dzamaras,+demo+cleric+warns+Mugabe/news.aspx).

 

Other points

·       At the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil, our representative who recently made an undercover trip home gave us more details of what he had found. He spoke of mounting frustration and unrest against a backdrop of increased oppression and hunger. Widespread food shortages loomed but the government had not declared a state of emergency. It promised to bring in more food but no one knew where the money would come from or where the food would be procured. The longevity of Mugabe was now seen as a threat to national security but there were fears of civil war when he went caused by splits in Zanu PF.

·       It was good to have with us Takunda Maravanyika an actor who outlined plans to work with us to produce a piece of solo political theatre. He will be performing at our next forum on 23rd January.

·       Sarah Harland of the Zimbabwe Association dropped in at the Vigil to borrow our spare banner ‘End murder, rape and torture in Zimbabwe’ for an exhibition opening on Monday 18th January – ‘Stories of Resilience: oral accounts of Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK from 2001 to 2013’. For details see ‘Events and Notices’.

·       Thanks to those who came early on a very wet day to help set up: Barbara Kachidza, Edna Mdoka, Esther Munyira, Isabell Gwatidzo, Innocent Maya, Jenniffer Maritsa, Joel Kaziboni, Sharon Moyo and Taurayi Tsandukwa. Thanks to Sharon for looking after the front table throughout.

·       Below you can find the last of three summaries of the 2015 Vigil diaries. It covers highlights from the last four months of the year.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights: September – December 2015

‘What have we to lose?’ – Saturday 5th September: This week the Vigil’s sister organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe took to the streets. They staged a demonstration in Harare against the Mugabe regime and joined in a protest march in Bulawayo against pre-paid water meters which it is argued will worsen the situation of the poor. ROHR leader Ephraim Tapa said he had told members in Harare that it was their constitutional right to demonstrate regardless of what the police said. Ephraim, who was speaking at the Action Forum held after the Vigil, disclosed he had just made an undercover visit to Zimbabwe. He said plans were underway for demonstrations in other areas.

IMF says no money for Zimbabwe – Saturday 12th September: The International Monetary Fund says that even if the Zimbabwean government makes economic reforms it will take at least three years before it can expect loans from international lenders. For his part, the European Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe van Damme said Zimbabwe needed a return to the rule of law and respect for property rights if it is to attract foreign investment. These comments will be part of the message the Vigil will be presenting to any customers gullible enough to attend a Zanu PF fundraiser in London on 22nd September. The Vigil remembered civil rights activist Itai Dzamara on the 6-month anniversary of his abduction by government agents.

End of Mugabe Era – Saturday 19th September: The fiasco of 91-year-old Mugabe reading the wrong speech at the opening of Parliament cannot be dismissed as ‘a common era’ as the Herald put it (before correcting its spelling error!). Zanu PF MPs clapped sagely, suggesting that anything Mugabe said is alright with them. The opposition, which had heckled the State of the Nation Address when it was first delivered, had received death warnings to behave this time so they tried to keep a straight face.

London anti-Zanu PF demo – Tuesday 22nd September: The Vigil protested outside a meeting in London’s financial district at which a delegation representing the Mugabe regime tried to persuade people to invest in Zimbabwe. The delegation was led by Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha and included leaders of some bankrupt parastatals. Protestors displayed posters reading: ‘Don’t fund Mugabe’, ‘51% tax on investment’, ‘Britain don’t invest with Mugabe’s govt of thieves’ and ‘Where is Itai Dzamara?’

Minister flees London demo – Wednesday 23rd September: Zimbabwean minister Mike Bimha and Zanu PF cronies had to change venues for a London conference because of our protest. The conference aimed at getting money from the diaspora was scheduled to be held at the Embassy. Vigil and ROHR demonstrators gathered ahead of the planned start and put up banners. But the Embassy remained quiet with the front door locked and no staff in sight. Later we were informed by a policeman that the conference had been moved to a hotel.

Mugabe’s same old song – Saturday 26th September: For the second time in a few weeks Mugabe has delivered an old speech – this time recycling his clapped-out ideas at the United Nations, complaining that Zimbabwe lacks resources to implement the new UN development programme because of (the long-suspended!) sanctions imposed by Western countries. After our weekday protests we had a lot of encouraging messages. One read: ‘All the leaderless folks back home salute you for your courage and patriotism’.

Mugabe’s prosperity gospel – Saturday 3rd October: A Zimbabwean website’s story has been given splash treatment in the mass circulation Daily Mail here in the UK. The story taps into one of the few thriving industries in Zimbabwe – the prosperity prophet phenomenon. The prophet involved this time is Malawi-born Shepherd Bushiri who claims to have a private jet so private that nobody can see it and to be able to walk on air (presumably when he is not using his private jet). The website’s video about the miraculous ‘walking in the air’ has gone viral after being uploaded to Youtube. But the Mail, along with others, points to the unexplained shadow of someone apparently helping to support the floating prophet. The hoax helps explain the superstitious support for false prophet Mugabe and his creed of ‘believe in me: I can perform miracles’. A meeting of our Action Forum heard that ROHR has now, with the addition of Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North, set up structures in all ten provinces.

Khama save Zimbabwe – Saturday 10th October: To mark the Vigil’s 13th anniversary we launched a new petition warning that the situation in Zimbabwe is on a knife-edge because of threats by the army to wield ‘the Zanu PF axe’ against Mugabe’s opponents.  The petition is addressed to SADC Chair President Khama of Botswana and calls on SADC to intervene to stop a meltdown. We were sorry to see that about ten Zimbabweans saw fit to hold their own ‘vigil’ outside the Embassy at the same time as us – a sad example of how Zimbabweans can’t seem to work together. Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for donning our Mugabe mask to be pictured standing in front of the ‘anti-vigil’ holding a poster ‘thanks to Zanu PF Vigil for your support’.

Expel British farm looter – Saturday 17th October: The Vigil has called on the British authorities to take action against a UK doctor who is attempting to seize a farm in Zimbabwe. It is the latest incident in which Zimbabwean exiles given refuge in the UK have revealed the hypocrisy evidenced in the growth of Zanu PF activities in Britain.

Confusion Award – Saturday 24th October: China’s award of the Confusion Prize to Mugabe will be welcomed by all right-minded Zimbabweans. At last the confused leader is getting the recognition he deserves. The award comes at the right time for Mugabe. It brings in some money which will help the family’s struggling milk business, which apparently has run into ‘liquidity’ problems. In short, some people have been milking him.

Nottingham demonstration against farm looter – Tuesday 27th October:

About fifty people gathered outside a clinic in Nottingham run by Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro who is trying to seize a farm in Zimbabwe.  Dr Nyatsuro, now a British citizen having lived here for more than 10 years is trying to take over a farm from a white Zimbabwean, Philip Rankin who bought the farm after Independence with the approval of the Mugabe authorities. Vigil activists displayed posters reading: ‘Down with farm looter Dr Nyatsuro’, ‘No to Mugabe supporters in UK’.

UK demand for expulsion of Zim doctor – Saturday 31st October: The attempt by a British GP to seize a farm in Zimbabwe was condemned by Ephraim Tapa, founder member of the Vigil and President of ROHR. Ephraim accused the doctor of hypocrisy in trying to grab a farm from a white Zimbabwean farmer and in an interview with Voice of America he said that Dr Nyatsuro’s British citizenship must be revoked. ‘You can’t have it both ways. No to cronyism and no to tourism farming.’

Zanu PF swaggers in UK – Saturday 7th November: Attempts to disrupt the Vigil as we embark on our 14th year are linked we believe to a growing Zanu PF mafia in the UK. It is clear that some Zimbabweans who have settled here are unrepentant Mugabe supporters. While the Vigil is busy challenging a British GP who is trying to take over a farm in Zimbabwe we ourselves are under siege from a determined group who are seeking to profit from the asylum industry. They are trying to hijack our brand for their own purposes. At the Vigil today we marked eight months since the abduction by state intelligence agents of human rights activist Itai Dzamara.

Zimbabweans protest again at looting British GP – Friday 13th November: Thirty people went to Nottingham to stage another demonstration outside the clinic run by Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica who are trying to seize a farm in Zimbabwe although they have lived in the UK for more than ten years.  The supporters of the Vigil and  ROHR sang and danced and handed out flyers to passers-by.

 

Zanu PF‘s Fantasyland – Saturday 14th November: All Zimbabweans will have rejoiced that Zimbabwe is to produce its very own car and export it to the rest of Africa. The announcement in the Herald spoke of turning the country into ‘a regional giant of exporting finished products’. A note of reality came in the American magazine ‘Foreign Affairs’, which questioned Zimbabwe’s plan to borrow money from the international financial institutions so that it can begin to pay off the interest on its debts so that it can borrow more money which it will of course not repay. The Vigil expressed our solidarity with France after the terrorist attacks in Paris by wearing mourning bands.

Zimbabwe’s ‘perfect storm’ – Saturday 21st November: With Christmas approaching, Zimbabwe seems to be facing all the gifts from hell: economic meltdown, simmering violence, a looming food crisis and a witch on the rampage. The South Africa-based think tank NKC African Economics says Zimbabwe is on the brink of total collapse and the infighting in Zanu PF could trigger unprecedented chaos. As Zanu PF gathers at Victoria Falls for its conference. Zimbabweans can only be grateful that mother of the nation Dr Grace will be there to hand out adult size 12 plastic shoes to the children.

Ugly budget – Saturday 28th November: The ugly situation in Zimbabwe was reflected in the pitiful budget of $4 billion announced by Finance Minister Chinamasa. To put it in perspective, the money involved is less than half the annual turnover of the South African food retailer Shoprite . . . The Vigil is sad that Zimbabwe is not under the leadership of someone with the vision of new Tanzanian President Magufuli whose first move was to cancel independence day celebrations to spend the money on a clean up campaign. This is not Mugabe’s way. He went on from his Paris shopping trip to triumph at the Vigil’s Mr Ugly competition, winning the Nikuv floating trophy.

Goblin economics – Saturday 5th December: Zanu PF says it has raised well over the $3 million it wanted for its conference at Victoria Falls. Most of this money will come, in reality, from state coffers. Our galaxy of parastatals – driven into bankruptcy by Zanu PF looting – paid up to $100,000 each for a boastful table at dinners in Harare and Bulawayo held to raise funds for the conference. First Lady Dr Goblin Mugabe accused non-governmental organisations of giving food handouts to hungry people ‘year in and year out’. Dr Goblin continued ‘this shows that they don’t have the people at heart. They want us to be beggars for the rest of our lives.’

United for human rights  - Saturday 12th December: Zimbabweans supported our friends of the Swaziland Vigil when they presented a petition to the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street calling for the suspension of Swaziland from the Commonwealth until there is democracy and an end to human rights abuses. Nine months after Itai Dzamara was abducted, the Vigil held its monthly protest to ensure he is not forgotten.

Quoting Bible a crime – Saturday 19th December: The hypocrisy of the Zanu PF regime and the complicity of the outside world have been exposed by the solitary pilgrimage of Pastor Patrick Mugadza who took the road to Calvary from Kariba to protest against Mugabe at the Victoria Falls conference. Despite our lauded and expensive yet-to-be-implemented 2013 constitution which enshrined human rights, Pastor Patrick was thrown into prison for displaying a poster ‘Mr President, the people are suffering. Proverbs 21, 13’ (‘Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard’.)  The Vigil is particularly disappointed at the failure of the UK and the West to promote the new constitution for which they provided so much money in a time-consuming process which succeeded only in distracting attention from Zanu PF’s stealing the last elections.

Mugabe’s happy Christmas – Saturday 26th December: As we spent another Christmas in exile we were surprised to hear from the United Nations that ‘Zimbabwe had done tremendously well’ on the human rights front. We would never have known this if the Herald had not carried an article by the UN’s acting resident co-ordinator Dr David Okello. The Herald quoted him as saying: ‘Zimbabwe has made tremendous strides in living the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. The latest UN ravings must have cheered Mugabe as he set off for his annual holiday in the Far East after a celebratory banquet at State House for Zanu PF bigwigs. Zimbabwe now closes down for the next month or so until the geriatric reappears to replenish his funds for his 92nd birthday celebrations.

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: 52 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

 ·       ROHR Leicester branch meeting. Saturday 16th January from 2 – 4 pm. Venue: The Salvation Army, Kildare Street, Leicester LE1 3FY. Directions: Opposite the Perking Chinese Restaurant in the City Centre. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403 439707, Tafadzwa Mushakwe 07551 873256 and Yvonne Makombe 07453 909247.

·       Zimbabwe Association Exhibition. Monday 18th  – Friday 24th January. Venue: The Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, off Portobello Road, London W11 2AY. Opening reception at 6.30 pm on Monday 18th January. If you are planning to go please let the Zimbabwe Association know by emailing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

·     ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 23rd January from 12 noon – 2 pm. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.Contact: Fungayi Mabhunu 07907089899, Esther Nyambi 07446210391, Mavis Chisvo 07944612944.

·       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 Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 23rd January from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten 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 an optician. 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.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 23rd January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 6th February from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark eleven months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

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

·      Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Thirst for human rights – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 2nd January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 18 January 2016 20:20

A representative of the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) has been on an undercover visit to Zimbabwe during which he travelled extensively. He rejoined us today and reported finding a thirst for human rights.

 

He said he had spoken at many meetings, including in the Zanu PF heartland of Mashonaland West. Among those attending were university lecturers as well as pastors who said they were prepared to speak from the pulpit about human rights. Indeed, they are forming a pastors’ forum for human rights.

 

Our representative said people were impatient for change. They wanted to see power devolved to the people. He added: ‘They are conditioned to abuse so have high tolerance levels. We need to change that mindset so that they are aware of their rights as human beings and demand what belongs to them.’

 

He added that we must encourage people to come together so they are better prepared to deal with threats. They must be empowered to regain their dignity. They should get involved in community projects and we in the diaspora can help finance this.

 

He said there was interest in Joice Mujuru’s People First movement but no one knew what to expect from those who had come out of Zanu PF. They were waiting to see. But they were ready to push for human rights as the building blocks for change.

 

Our envoy said that while he was in Harare he tried to renew his expired passport under a provision in the new constitution providing for dual citizenship. But when his name was entered into the computer a message flashed up ‘Threat to national security’ originating from the CIO Directorate.

 

The lady processing his claim asked anxiously ‘What have you done?’  When he said he was a human rights campaigner she said: ‘No it’s political. Just go now or it has to be referred to security.’

 

Our representative asked the Vigil: ‘Why am I a terrorist for what we have been doing here at the Vigil? Zimbabwe is going down. The people are suffering and want change.’

 

Other points

·       Thanks to those who came early on a cold, dark and wet first Vigil of 2016 and worked hard to put up our tarpaulin: Esther Munyira, Michele Makoni and Fungayi Mabhunu. Thanks to Catherine Musa for looking after the front table. Thanks also to those who stayed to the end to help pack up: Isabell Gwatidzo, Fungayi Mabhunu, Michelle Makoni, Innocent Maya, Esther Munyira, Catherine Musa, Beverley Mutandiro, Chipo Parirenyatwa and Ephraim Tapa.

·       Below you can find the second of three summaries of the 2015 Vigil diaries. It covers highlights from the second four months of the year. We will print the last four-month summary next week.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights: May – August 2015

A feast of hypocrisy – Saturday 2nd May: A massive power blackout ushered in SADC’s summit in Harare at which fireworks over xenophobic attacks in South Africa burst the organisation’s usual backslapping bubble of hypocrisy. President Khama left early to fly home to Botswana after joining President Zuma in asking the pointed question: ‘Why are people fleeing their own countries?’ lifting the lid on the forbidden topics of misgovernance and oppression.  Zuma noted that he had been told by an immigrant: ‘If you raise your voice (in my country) you disappear’. The hypocrisy of Mugabe and SADC is matched by the weasel words of the International Monetary Fund, which claims to have detected ‘meaningful progress’ in Zimbabwe.

Challenge Mugabe – Saturday 9th May: With senior US officials due to visit Zimbabwe for talks in the coming week, the Vigil calls on them to remain focused on human rights issues, in particular the abduction of Itai Dzamara. Despite a court order to investigate his disappearance, the police appear to have done nothing to look for him and it is feared that he has met the fate of so many awkward opponents of the regime: tortured and killed. The Zimbabwe Association’s exhibition in London shows fascinating glimpses of the Vigil’s 13-year history. The Exhibition is to tour the country.

A ZimAsset – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 16th May: Bananas are plentiful in KwaZulu Natal. So apparently are doctorates, judging by the PhD awarded to General Constantine Chiwenga by the university there. The armed forces commander has taken time out from his diamond looting, vote rigging, and widespread farming and business interests, apart from his day to day military chores, to gain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in – of all things – Ethics. He says he interviewed Mugabe for his research. The former Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, now ousted from the party, has suddenly seen the light and talks of ‘illegal bugging, torture, intimidation and abductions’. Another of the walking dead, former presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, speaks of ‘complete lawlessness in Zimbabwe’

Mugabe’s poison – Saturday 23rd May: President Mugabe has called on South Africans to direct their xenophobia at whites instead of blacks. ‘I give poison not for you to swallow but to give to someone else’ he told the applauding staff at SADC Headquarters in Botswana. Speaking as Chair of the African Union as well as of SADC, Mugabe said South Africa needed a second liberation which would transfer wealth to blacks. He also called on Africa to stop courting the West for financial support, arguing that even with the end of colonialism the oppressors were back in Africa in the form of NGOs.

Bullet brain – Saturday 30th May: After 35 years of Mugabe, Zimbabweans will not be surprised at Sepp Blatter still clinging on to office as president of FIFA. He is a soul mate of Mugabe’s in corruption and manipulation. One of Mugabe’s most devoted disciples is Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu. He has not had the opportunity to sell the world cup to a desert country with little history of football. But his announcement that the government is planning to bring in bullet trains shows a similar level of delusion.

Sleeping on the job – Saturday 6th June: All Zimbabweans will be pleased that the veteran BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson thinks of Zimbabwe as ‘intensely beautiful, calm and welcoming’. In an article in the British Daily Telegraph, Mr Simpson says Zimbabwe is going through ‘a period of relative political stability’. The Vigil thinks Mr Simpson, instead of tossing off trite pieces for the travel pages, should do some research into what is happening in Zimbabwe before he next writes about it. He might even come across an article in the American ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine in which the authors say: ‘Over the course of the past few months, we have witnessed an ominous series of warning signs: bitter political infighting within the country’s ruling party, the worsening of already deplorable economic conditions, the abduction and disappearance of a prominent human rights activist, and a surge of inflammatory rhetoric and political violence.’ Perhaps Mr Simpleton is asleep like President Mugabe, wandering the world like the Flying Dutchman, treated in Nigeria a few days ago as a geriatric imbecile even before demonstrating the reality of this by snoring his way through President Buhari’s inauguration.

Big issues – Saturday 13th June: There are big issues facing leaders at the African Union Summit in Johannesburg. Women’s empowerment is the public face of the summit. But behind closed doors more immediately troubling problems will be raised. The headline issue is the resurgence of xenophobia in South Africa but the Vigil hopes AU leaders will address the broader question of the global migration crisis. It should come up with ideas on how they can encourage people to stay at home and develop the continent rather than fleeing to the West. Today we launched our new petition: To the UK Prime Minister: Exiled Zimbabweans, supporters and friends, at the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, record our disgust at the anti-white rants of Zimbabwe’s illegitimate President Mugabe. We wish to affirm our unwavering support of Zimbabwe’s constitutional requirement for non-racism.’

Falling from the sky – Saturday 20th June: News that Mali is to donate $300 million to avert starvation in Zimbabwe would be warmly welcomed by the worried Zimbabwean diaspora, scrimping to send money home to help our  families.  But such manna from heaven is unlikely to say the least. Mali’s President Keita is all big talk. On a state visit to Zimbabwe, he was shown over one of Mugabe’s collection of farms and said he was amazed by the ‘success stories’ of the land reform programme. As we gathered for our weekly Vigil we mourned the death of an African refugee – reportedly from Zimbabwe – who fell to earth from the undercarriage of a plane approaching London’s Heathrow Airport.

No to Mugabe’s poison – Saturday 27th June: The Zimbabwean diaspora turned out in force to present a petition to the Prime Minister’s official residence disowning racist comments by Robert Mugabe. In a letter accompanying the petition we assured Mr Cameron that Zimbabwean exiles in the UK wish to disown racist comments by Mugabe.

Geriatric Genocidaire – Saturday 4th July: The Vigil has launched a new petition calling for the arraignment of Mugabe before the International Criminal Court. We know he will be protected by his Security Council friends in Beijing and Moscow but we wish to focus attention on the evidence for the prosecution because Africa continues to honour this geriatric genocidaire. The Zimbabwean economist and opposition MP Eddie Cross recently looked at the population statistics and concluded that, even allowing for mass emigration, the population is some 10 million people short of what would have been expected by the historic growth trend – the result of misgovernance: starvation, disease and poverty.

Mugabe murdered Dzamara – Saturday 11th July: Exiled Zimbabweans and friends demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy to mark 4 months since the abduction of the civil rights activist Itai Dzamara. A letter accusing Mugabe of Itai’s murder was pushed under the closed front door of the Embassy. Vigil founder member and President of ROHR Ephraim Tapa announced that the Vigil would mark Itai’s abduction every month on the nearest Saturday to the 9th of the month until his family’s demands were satisfied.

Countdown to jubilation – Saturday 18th July: Suddenly Zimbabwe is back in the news. We thought the big news of the week was the remarkable volte-face by Vice-President Mnangagwa who, on a visit to China, admitted that Zanu PF had completely screwed up and would have to rethink everything. But what has propelled Zimbabwe up the news agenda is not the nitty-gritty of Zimbabwean politics but the human drama: who is going to take over from Mugabe. The question is discussed in an article in the UK Times today by the Zimbabwean journalist Jan Raath, who concludes: ‘The day Mugabe dies, the entire nation may well be enveloped in an explosion of jubilation.’

Divine Grace – Saturday 25th July: With her magical spiritual powers Amai Grace Mugabe PhD miraculously manifested herself at the Vigil in London to mark her 50th birthday. Asked how she had transported herself here while simultaneously gracing a glittering dinner/dance at her Borrowdale Brook mansion, the First Lady simply pointed to the full-colour advertisement sponsored by Air Zimbabwe in a 14-page birthday supplement in the Herald. We understood immediately what she meant as we all know that the bankrupt airline is capable of miracles or it would have stopped flapping its wings a long time ago. Thanks to Deborah Harry for donning our Mugabe mask to play  Grace.

Where’s the Pie? – Saturday 1st August: The second anniversary of the last stolen elections passed with little remark – though Zanu PF acknowledged for the first time the hollowness of its ZimAsset election manifesto. At the time it was unveiled the Vigil described the five-year economic programme as ‘Pie in the Sky’. Now it’s clear there is indeed no pie in prospect and Zanu PF doesn’t even know the recipe to bake one. ROHR members organised a protest at the Vigil today in support of workers back home and the many job losses resulting from recent legislation on the termination of contracts.

Mugabe and Co – Saturday 8th August: One of the expelled Zanu PF leaders has complained that the party has been turned into Mugabe’s private property and is inflicting ‘untold misery’ on Zimbabweans. Former Masvingo Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti was speaking in an interview with the Daily News. The Vigil welcomed unexpected visitors from Zimbabwe: Douglas Mwonzora, Secretary-General of MDC-T, and Theresa Makone, the party’s Treasurer. Mr Mwonzora spoke of reforms wanted by MDC-T, including the diaspora vote. The Vigil marked 5 months since the activist Itai Dzamara was abducted by the CIO. Despite international protests, all we get from Mugabe and Co is deathly silence. 

Produce all skulls – Saturday 15th August: Sacked information minister Jonathan Moyo simply can’t get out of propaganda mode. From his lowly perch as just one of the education ministers, Moyo is reduced to tweeting that the Zanu PF government can’t concentrate on turning around the economy before the repatriation of the remains of First Chimurenga heroes from foreign museums.  The Vigil managed to capture pictures of Mugabe visiting the British Museum in search of skulls. He was accompanied by his pet lion Rhodes. For our part, we urge Zanu PF to expand its search for skulls to include the 20,000 victims of Gukurahundi. And by the way where is Itai Dzamara?

Let them eat ice cream – Saturday 22nd August: All the reports we get at the Vigil suggest that the wheels are coming off Zimbabwe. This week we were sent several emails which in different ways graphically show how bad things are becoming. ‘We live in a country with absolutely no rule of law’, said one correspondent. ‘There is no money and everyone, not only government, is desperate to find funds. Corruption and bribery are a way of life. They are ingrained and will be hard to get rid of.’ Meanwhile Dr Grace has opened a new factory selling her dairy products, including ice cream. MDC spokesman Obert Gutu spoke of her extravagant display of wealth in a sea of poverty and said it was a clear sign that the Zanu PF regime was completely out of touch with the people.

The total liar – Saturday 29th August: ‘There are lies, damned lies and statistics’ goes the saying. Mugabe ticked all these boxes in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament. From his preliminary lie boasting of ‘peace and stability’, to his damned lie about tackling corruption to his ludicrous growth statistics, he was the total liar. Zimbabwean economist John Robertson said the State of the Nation Address was ‘clueless’. We were pleased to be joined by members of MDC-T Executive in the UK.

 

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: 21 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       ROHR Executive Meeting: Saturday 9th January at 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·       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.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 9th January from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark ten months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 9th January from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten 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 an optician. 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.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 9th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

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

·       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.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Mugabe’s happy Christmas – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 26th December 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 01 January 2016 19:27

As we spent another Christmas in exile we were surprised to hear from the United Nations that ‘Zimbabwe had done tremendously well’ on the human rights front. We would never have known this if the Herald had not carried an article by the UN’s acting resident co-ordinator Dr David Okello.

 

The Herald quoted him as saying: ‘Zimbabwe has made tremendous strides in living the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (see: http://www.herald.co.zw/human-rights-zim-has-done-extremely-well/).

 

Dr Okello, who is the World Health Organisation’s representative in Zimbabwe, went on: ‘The right to health care, food and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, social security, to political participation and the fair administration of justice are all fulfilled for all members of society.’

 

We at the Vigil are a bit mystified by the article because, as far as we can make out, the exact opposite is the case in Zimbabwe. But then we recalled that last January the UN put Zimbabwean unemployment at 5.42% - surprising not only for its precision but also for its complete lunacy (see Vigil diary of 31st January 2015).

 

The latest UN ravings must have cheered Mugabe as he set off for his annual holiday in the Far East after a celebratory banquet at State House for Zanu PF bigwigs. Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko gushed: ‘Sir, you have directed the party par excellence, you have directed the Government par excellence, you have directed Sadc par excellence and you are directing the African Union par excellence!’ (See: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-bob-in-xmas-party-while-many-starve/).

 

Other points

·       On our last Vigil of the year a few brave souls managed to get to the Embassy despite the diminished transport on Boxing Day. They were heartened by a regular benefactor who once again gave a generous donation

·       Below you can find the first of three summaries of the 2015 Vigil diaries. It covers highlights from the first four months of the year. We will print the rest over the next two weeks.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights: January – April 2015

Dead hand at the tiller – Saturday 3rd January: On a cold and wet day we staged a little tableau inspired by pictures of Mugabe’s holiday feast in Singapore, with Fungayi Mabhunu donning our Mugabe mask and tucking in to deep-fried Mujuru. 

Rudderless regime – Saturday 10th January: It is becoming clear that there is no one in charge in Zimbabwe. No sooner does one minister make a policy statement than another contradicts it. After Finance Minister Chinamasa gave assurances that the indigenisation policy would be clarified to encourage foreign investment, the new Indigenisation Minister Christopher Mushowe said foreign investors would be lucky to get a 49% share in their business. It could be as little as 1%.

Being counted – Saturday 17th January: Zimbabweans came out in the cold in London in support of Itai Dzamara who has been campaigning in Africa Unity Square since last October demanding that Mugabe step down. We were joined outside the Embassy by UK members of his Occupy Africa Unity Square movement. In a message to the gathering, Itai Dzamara said that a new Zimbabwe was within reach and our protest would not be in vain.

Call for UK parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe – Tuesday 19th January: The possibility of a parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe emerged at a meeting in a parliamentary committee room organised by the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, who was approached by Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) Reading branch. The idea was supported by former Africa Minister Mark Simmonds who also attended the meeting. He spoke of ‘small steps of progress’ in Zimbabwe.

Progress? – Saturday 24th January: Ephraim Tapa, President of ROHR, disagreed with Mr Simmonds that there had been progress in Zimbabwe but welcomed the idea of a parliamentary debate. He told the Vigil: ‘It is necessary to interrogate the British government’s policy as it is not at all clear what it hopes to achieve’.

Forward to the Stone Age – Saturday 31st January: Mugabe is an appropriate choice as chairman of the African Union (AU). The South African head of the AU Commission set out the aims of the meeting at which Mugabe was chosen: ‘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. 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 in Zimbabwe is 5.42%.

Campaign for parliamentary debate – Saturday 7th February: The Zimbabwe Action Forum, meeting after the Vigil, discussed a template letter people could send to their MPs calling for a debate on Zimbabwe. Part of the letter said: In brief, all elections in Zimbabwe are rigged, there is no rule of law, corruption is rampant and the new constitution – largely paid for by the British taxpayer – is predictably ignored by the Mugabe Mafia. Yet Britain talks of ‘progress’ and is lifting sanctions! We want the debate to ask questions such as: What is the British Government’s policy on Zimbabwe?

Zanu PF arrogance – Saturday 14th February: Anyone really hoping for a turnaround in the Zimbabwean economy will be dismayed by the comment by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo. Speaking after a meeting with a 19-strong British investor delegation, he said there had been ‘some little unpleasant disagreements’. Chombo was apparently outraged that the naïve investors wanted to know where Zimbabwe is going.

The carpet’s to blame – Saturday 21st February: Zimbabweans in the UK gathered in force outside the Embassy to mark Mugabe’s 91st birthday. The increasingly confused tyrant was supposed to be in South Africa attending to his duties as supreme leader of SADC (and Africa in general) but seems to have caught the wrong plane and turned up outside the Embassy, where he demonstrated how Mai Mujuru hid under the carpet and almost caused him to fall. Thanks to Fungayi who donned our Mugabe mask and demonstrated Mugabe’s fall to the assembled media. The demonstration brought together a wide range of diaspora groups. Apart from our sister organisations, they included MDC-T, ZAPU, Occupy Africa Unity Square, Zimbabweans United for Democracy, Zimbabwe Social Democrats and the Swaziland Vigil.

A nauseating feast – Saturday 28th February: ‘An event of truly spectacular moral ugliness’ was how the Mayor of London Boris Johnson described Mugabe’s 91st birthday party. Fungayi wore our Mugabe mask as we restaged thec  Victoria Falls feast.

No appeasement – Saturday 7th March: Strong support for the Vigil’s criticism of the European Union’s new policy of ‘re-engaging’ with the Mugabe regime has come from American former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Todd Moss. With President Obama renewing American sanctions for another year, Mr Moss says that it is perplexing that Europe is now choosing to break ranks and resuming aid, signalling a shift in approach from sticks to carrots.  Europe, he says, is wilfully blind to what is happening and who is responsible for the worsening conditions in Zimbabwe. ‘Any new support for the current government will likely only further entrench the current coterie around Mugabe.’ On a lovely sunny day we marked International Women’s Day in support of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who were beaten by police during a Valentine’s Day protest in Bulawayo.

We are Itai Dzamara – Saturday 14th March: Exiled Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the Embassy about the abduction of the human rights activist Itai Dzamara whose brave Harare protest ‘Occupy Africa Unity Square’ (OAUS) has made him a beacon of freedom. Among those at the Vigil was Tendai Kwari, leader of OAUS-UK, who said he feared for Itai’s life.  Not troubled by Itai’s fate, Mugabe set off with about 100 hangers-on for an obscure UN conference in Japan on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’, riding roughshod over objections from the Japanese Embassy in Harare at his bloated delegation.

Embassy demonstration – Thursday 19th March: The Embassy went into meltdown when nine Zimbabwean expatriates charged in and demanded information about Itai Dzamara.  With cries of ‘We want Itai’, ‘Bring back Itai’ and ‘Zanu PF murderers’, the group demanded to see the Ambassador. Frightened staff pointed to a door but a voice from inside that room shouted ‘don’t let them in’. In the meantime police – some of them armed – swarmed into the building summoned by a panic button. The protesters explained they were simply making a peaceful request for information from their Embassy. The police asked them to continue the protest outside. The Embassy then closed for the day.

Embassy in panic – Saturday 21st March: The protest against the feared murder of Dzamara continued at the Vigil with posters reading ‘Where is Itai Dzamara?’ and ‘Release Itai Dzamara’. At meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil it was agreed to send a letter to the Ambassador asking for a meeting to discuss the abduction and warned ‘The Zimbabwe Vigil fears that the unbridled criminal behaviour by the Mugabe regime is stoking a fire which could consume our people. Because the Embassy has no letterbox we will deliver this letter in person.’

Another Embassy Protest – Friday 27th March: Ten people got into the Embassy and sang protest songs in the reception area, brandishing placards such as ‘Bring back Itai Dzamara’, ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF government must go’.  Scared Embassy staff retreated and summoned the police who asked them to continue their protest outside. The demonstrators went on to the nearby South African High Commission, where they demanded that Mugabe should be replaced as chair of the AU and SADC.

Embassy challenged again – Saturday 28th March: Everybody at the Vigil signed a letter to the Zimbabwe Embassy about Dzamara to be delivered by hand. Vigil spokesman Fungayi Mabhunu said ‘As far as the Vigil is concerned we will seize every opportunity to remind the world of what happens to brave and principled people in Zimbabwe who oppose Mugabe and Zanu PF. Every Zimbabwean representative coming here must face the question: Where is Itai Dzamara?’

Diaspora No to Mugabe – Saturday 4th April: If further evidence was needed that Mugabe is crazy it came with his appeal to the diaspora to give him more money – presumably for his non-stop travels in search of eternal life. Whatever Zanu PF in the UK says, no sane Zimbabwean here would dream of putting their money anywhere within Zanu PF’s grasp. Although the party’s UK spokesman happily proclaims that ‘the economic renaissance (is) already in motion’.

Deadly silence – Saturday 11th April: While Mugabe continues to flaunt himself abroad, there has been a deafening silence from the Zanu PF regime about the abduction of Dzamara despite a court order to search for him. Even ousted Vice-President Mujuru claimed to be outraged by Zanu PF’s indifference to Dzamara’s fate. Amnesty International says no credible investigation seems to be taking place. 

Vigil Protests – Friday 17th April:

Exiled Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the Embassy and the South African High Commission in London in protest at the abduction in Harare of Dzamara and at the new upsurge of xenophobic violence in South Africa. The protests came as ambassadors of SADC countries were holding a meeting at Zimbabwe House. Barriers were placed outside the Embassy and police kept guard after several incidents in which demonstrators entered the building in attempts to deliver a letter. Once again the Embassy refused to accept the Vigil’s letter asking to discuss the abduction of Dzamara and the demonstrators were told they could not even push it under the closed front door. So we posted it at the local post office. Activists took time out from the demonstration to gather outside the nearby South African High Commission and presented a letter for President Zuma protesting at the upsurge of xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Let them drown? – Saturday 18th April: News that some 700 migrants from Africa drowned when their boat capsized off Libya came within hours of a meeting at which the Zimbabwe Action Forum discussed the failure of the European Union and the African Union to deal with the growing crisis posed by the headlong flight from Africa and the Middle East. Among the ideas the forum discussed was the need for a UN protection zone outside the EU where migrants could receive food and medical attention, and indeed schooling, while their asylum claims for Europe could be processed. On the 35th anniversary of independence, the Vigil was joined outside by Mugabe himself (Fungayi in our Mugabe mask).  He was surrounded by devils bearing the gifts he has given the Zimbabwean people in his long reign: unemployment, starvation and terror.

Mugabe’s illegal sanctions – Saturday 25th April: The ignominious failure of the Mugabe regime’s court challenge to the sanctions imposed by the European Union has escaped much attention. That the challenge was a ludicrous waste of public money was obvious to the Vigil from the start – thrown into comic relief anyway by the gradual removal of the targeted measures. Zimbabwe must now foot the entire bill for this legal circus. Before the Vigil there was another demonstration outside the South African High Commission against the latest xenophobic violence.

 

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: 7 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 9th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·     ROHR Executive Meeting: Saturday 9th January at 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·      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.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 9th January from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark ten months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

·     Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 9th January from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten 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 an optician. 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.

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

·   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.

·        Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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