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Campaign for Parliamentary Debate – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 7th February 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 February 2015 12:11

link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16282015089/sizes/z/

Zimbabweans in the UK have launched a campaign to persuade MPs to ask for a parliamentary debate on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe in the fallow period before the UK general elections on 7th May.

MPs have little parliamentary business to attend to in the next three months and the Vigil understands they are being given time off to campaign in their constituencies. We believe this is a window of opportunity to press for a parliamentary discussion of the British government’s policy on Zimbabwe. After all, even if they are not British citizens, Zimbabweans have a right to vote here.

The Zimbabwe Action Forum, meeting after the Vigil, discussed a template letter people could send to their MPs calling for a debate:

Dear MP

I am a Zimbabwean living in your constituency. I write to ask you to support a suggestion that there should be a parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe.

The idea of a debate was supported by former Africa Minister, Mark Simmonds, who kindly spoke to Zimbabweans at a recent meeting in Portcullis House (see Zimbabwe Vigil diary of 24th January 2015: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/650-progress--zimbabwe-vigil-diary-24th-january-2015). He said it had been some years since the House of Commons had last discussed Zimbabwe and it was time for another debate. He was backed in this by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, who had arranged the meeting at the request of Zimbabweans in his constituency. We were also happy to be addressed by Fiona Mactaggart, MP.

I am part of a network of Zimbabweans who are writing to their MPs to drum up support for the debate to be arranged.

I am sure you are aware of the dire situation in Zimbabwe, which was recently identified by the Wall Street Journal as the 4th worst economy in the world (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_zim-among-most-repressed-economies-the-zimbabwe-independent/). This partly explains our presence in your generous country.

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:

  1. What is the British Government’s policy on Zimbabwe? (This is unclear at present. Why is the British Government being so ingratiating to the Mugabe regime when all it does is spit in their face?)

  2. Why has the UK lifted targeted sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies when the object for imposing them has not been achieved? (Mark Simmonds spoke of ‘progress’: what progress?)

  3. By resuming direct aid to the Mugabe government the EU is further propping up an illegal regime, allowing it to offload onto donors its obligations to the Zimbabwean people in education, health services etc.

  4. What is the UK’s policy on sending back Zimbabweans? (It is still unsafe for political activists; there are few jobs and widespread poverty.)

The Forum invited further input on the letter (to be sent to the Vigil Co-ordinator). In the meantime Vigil supporters can send our draft letter to their local MPs, or amend it as they please. When we get further input we will be able to write an expanded letter. But time is pressing as any new government emerging from the May elections is unlikely to have time to discuss Zimbabwe. To find your MP, click on http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/, type in your post code or constituency. This will take you to your MP and their contact details.

Other points

  • There was a lot of interest in our montage of photos entitled ‘Mugabe falls’. To people who say we shouldn’t poke fun at an old man we say a nonagenarian should not cling to office (without a Vice-President at each elbow).

  • The Vigil is happy to see that more and more Zimbabwean groups are joining in the 21st February protest outside the Embassy. The theme of the protest, organised by Makusha Mugabe of MDC T, is: ‘This must be Mugabe’s last year in office’. There will be full details in next week’s diary.

  • Our friends in the Occupy Africa Unity Square group tell us that one of its members, Jerimos Mugwenhi, has been brutally assaulted by security agents trying get information about the protest. The leader of the group Itai Dzamara, said: ‘We cannot tolerate this any longer’ (for the full email see our campaigns page: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/652-mugwenhi-of-oaus-brutally-assaulted-and-dumped). .

  • The Vigil congratulates Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, for winning the Dod's Parliamentary Award for International Campaigner of the Year. Kate, a staunch friend of the Vigil, says on her website that the situation in Zimbabwe remains grim and Mugabe’s violent misrule still holds back its enormous potential. ‘I will continue to speak out and campaign with Zimbabwe’s democratic forces to work for a better future for their people’.

  • Thanks to Mavis Chisvo, Shingiririrayi Yvonne Bonde, John Burke, Barbara Kachidza,Tanyaradzwa Dhundhu, Linda Sibanda, Fungayi Mabhunu and Veli Mamba for arriving early to help set up the Vigil and to Mavis for looking after the Vigil table throughout the afternoon.

     

    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: 39 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Nottingham Revival Meeting. Saturday 14th February from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: The Sycamore Centre 31 Hungerhill Rd, Nottingham NG3 4NB. For more information please contact: Chair – Chamunorwa Chisuko 07832927609, Vice chair – Nobuhle Mazula 07766927229, Info and Publicity – Miriam Mutanda 07876388963, Secretary – Anesu Mlauzi 07798641426, Organising Secretary – Harmony Mbele 07783061984, Fundraising – Irvine Huni 07955784981, Treasurer – Audrey Chamangira 07745823435. Directions: catch bus 45 from the city centre near Victoria Centre and get off at Hungerhill bus stop. Cross over the pedestrian crossing to Hungerhill and continue down the hill. It’s a 3 minute walk from the bus stop.

  • Mugabe birthday protest. Saturday 21st February from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR. More information to follow.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 21st February from 6.15 pm. Venue: to be advised.

  • 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.

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 21st February from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • ROHR Slough Branch general meeting. Saturday 21st February from 11.30 am – 2 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road, Slough SL2 5JW. For further information contact: Patricia Masamba (Chair) 07708116625, Nkosi Tshabangu (Vice-Chair) 07535942709, Fungisai Mupandira (Organising Secretary) 07758958803.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 28th February at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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

  • ROHR Reading Branch general meeting and outreach. Saturday 28 February from 10.30 am – 5 pm. Venue: RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. For further enquiries contact: Information and Publicity Officer: 07888310582

  • 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 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.

LAST_UPDATED2
 
Progress? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 24th January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 25 January 2015 14:41

Zimbabweans in the UK have welcomed the prospect of a parliamentary debate on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe as a means of questioning the British policy of re-engaging with Mugabe.

 

‘We want the British government to tell us what they mean by progress in Zimbabwe’ said Ephraim Tapa, President of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). He was referring to a remark by former Africa Minister Mark Simmonds at a meeting in Parliament on Monday which was organised by the MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, after being approached by ROHR’s Reading branch.

 

Mr Sharma, hearing the anxieties expressed by the large number of Zimbabweans, raised the possibility of a parliamentary debate because it was some years since Zimbabwe had last been discussed in Parliament.

 

The idea was supported by Mr Simmonds, one of two other MPs who attended the meeting. He said the British government had a policy of ‘incremental engagement with the Zimbabwean government’ even though it was clear that the 2013 elections had not been legitimate.

 

He said there was concern in the region about the situation and there would be ‘real problems’ for Zimbabwe’s international relations if Grace became president. Nevertheless, Mr Simmonds spoke of ‘small steps of progress’, echoing the official British and EU diplomatic line.

 

Ephraim Tapa and others argued that Zimbabwe remained in crisis with rampant corruption, a compromised judiciary, a culture of impunity, with the regime being backed by the military and violence remaining a tool of control. After the meeting, Ephraim elaborated: ‘Mr Simmonds spoke of progress but there has been no progress. The situation has clearly worsened since the 2013 elections. Yes, there is a new constitution but it has not been implemented and Zanu PF is tearing itself apart with no idea how to get out of the massive hole it has dug itself into’.

 

But Ephraim welcomed the idea of a parliamentary debate. ‘It is necessary to interrogate the British government’s policy as it is not at all clear what it hopes to achieve’. Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money in aid was helping prop up the regime.

 

He urged Zimbabweans in the UK to enlist the support of their local MP to back the suggestion of a debate. A meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum is to be held after the Vigil on 7th February to discuss a template letter outlining reasons why Zimbabwe should be discussed in Parliament.

 

Despite the claimed ‘progress’ in Zimbabwe the Vigil notes the following comments in the Foreign Office’s latest update on Zimbabwe  (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/zimbabwe-country-of-concern/zimbabwe-country-of-concern-latest-update-31-december-2014 - Zimbabwe - country of concern: latest update 31 December 2014):

  • The UK government remains concerned about politically-inspired violence and harassment, repressive legislation and limited media freedom

  • Progress to align legislation with the constitution remains disappointingly slow and limited to less sensitive areas

  • We are concerned by the continued use of oppression by police to stop legitimate peaceful protests and to limit freedom of expression

  • We are particularly concerned by incidents of reported hate speech used by the First Lady Grace Mugabe. On 6 October, Grace Mugabe was quoted as saying that she would “spill blood” if anyone attempted to remove her from her Mazoe farm, illegally appropriated from a white commercial farm owner

  • We continue to remain concerned by the general lack of respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe, particularly over property rights and security of land tenure

  • Individuals, particularly those with a high profile, remain encouraged to take the law into their own hands.

     

    This is progress?

     

    In his remarks to the meeting Mr Simmonds noted ‘some African countries are starting to get it right and serve the people’. He mentioned Mozambique among others in the region and the Vigil welcomes comments by Mozambique’s new President Filipe Nyusi (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_the-people-are-my-only-boss-nyusi/). In his first speech as Head of State, President Nyusi said he was open to considering proposals from opposition political parties. “Good ideas have no political party colours”, he said. He pledged “respect for plurality and diversity of opinions”. Nobody would be left out just because they thought differently. We remember when Mozambique used to be the poor relation of Zimbabwe. Now the situation is reversed.

     

    (In a quick report on Monday’s meeting we mentioned it had been addressed by a representative of the Occupy Africa Unity Square group. We apologise for getting his name wrong – he is David Mbinga not David Mbeki.)

     

    Other points

  • MDC-T is joining with the Vigil and other organisations to stage a demonstration on 21st February – Mugabe’s 91st birthday – protesting at the failure of his government and his refusal to hold free and fair elections. More details to come. Now that Mugabe is at home recovering from his holiday there is speculation about where his final resting place will be. One suggestion is the Zimbabwe ruins.

  • We have been invited to the British premiere of a film ‘Democrats’ by a Danish filmmaker on 5th February about the process of drawing up the new Zimbabwe constitution. For more information see: http://www.dochouse.org/film-screening/DEMOCRATS---UK-Premiere--QandA-with/417. 

    The Vigil has been asked by Paul Westwood to draw attention to his petition about the seizure of his company by Temba Mliswa, nephew of Didymus Mutasa. See: http://twitter.com/PaulPaulus13/status/464388746599620609. Perhaps Mr Westwood could pursue the Mutasa girlfriends now in Europe who were given looted farms (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_ex-minister-gave-15-farms-to-wives-lovers-the-sunday-mail/Ex-minister gave 15 farms to wives, lovers).

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Mavis Chisvo, Rachel Mudzimba, Ravie Mashingaidze, Paul Fusire and Fungayi Mabhunu. Thanks to Mavis and Helen Rukimbiro for looking after the Vigil table throughout the afternoon.

     

    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: 24 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 31st January at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 31st January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 7th February from 6.15 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 Pizza Express. 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.

  • Mugabe birthday protest. Saturday 21st February from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR. More information to follow.

  • ROHR Slough Branch general meeting. Saturday 21st February 2015 from 11.30 am – 2 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road, Slough SL2 5JW.   For further information contact Patricia Masamba (Chair) 07708116625, Nkosi Tshabangu (Vice-Chair) 07535942709, Fungisai Mupandira (Organising Secretary) 07758958803,

  • 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 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.

 
Being counted – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 17th January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 January 2015 14:27

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16116821038/sizes/m/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16278534146/sizes/m/

 

Zimbabweans came out in the cold in London in support of the protesters who have been campaigning in Africa Unity Square since last October. The Harare protesters, led by journalist Itai Dzamara, are demanding that Mugabe step down and allow an interim administration to prepare fresh elections to rescue the country as chaos threatens amid reports of mysterious deaths in the ruling circle.

 

On a biting mid-winter day, Vigil supporters were joined outside the Zimbabwe Embassy by UK members of the Occupy Africa Unity Square movement (OAUS).

 

In a message to the gathering, Itai Dzamara said that a new Zimbabwe was within reach. He told us: ‘As you brave the cold weather of London to stand up and be counted . . . your protest today is not in vain’. He added: ‘Colleagues in other parts of the world are also seriously committed and more protests will follow your sterling effort today in other countries.’ (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/646-a-message-from-itai-dzamara).

 

The message was read by Tendai Kwari, leader of OAUS-UK. He told Vigil supporters that he wanted to see more and more people joining the OAUS protests in Harare. ‘The regime is collapsing’, he said ‘They cannot kill us all’.

 

Tendai 2pushed a copy of an OAUS letter (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/647-protest-over-failure-of-government) to Mugabe under the Embassy door. Other copies are being posted to the Embassy and to Mugabe’s office.

 

Mr Dzamara has been beaten up and arrested during his demonstrations but is not deterred. The Vigil applauds his example and we agree with the comment by the former student leader Freeman Chari that if the 100 or so NGO and human rights organisations in Harare were each to supply just one member to join Itai Dzamara at the OAUS demonstrations Zimbabwe would be free (see: http://nehandaradio.com/2014/11/07/police-savagely-beat-protester-itai-dzamara/ – Police savagely beat protester Itai Dzamara). Who knows, they might even get donor funding and then they might be joined by the MDC . . .

 

Other points

·         A meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil encouraged people to attend a parliamentary meeting arranged by ROHR Reading Branch on Monday 19th January – details below. Also raised was the possibility of challenging through the UN Dr Grace’s illegal evictions to expand her empire.

·         Following the emergence in public of a white group of Mugabe followers, we were interested to note the following in the January newsletter from Ben Freeth’s organisation: ‘On the Colletts’ farm in West Nicholson invaders are trying to get them off their conservancy despite huge support from the local people, the chiefs and the war veterans in the area for them to stay . . . It appears that their neighbour Ken Drummond, a ZANU-PF supporter, wants to extend his empire and is giving the invaders his vehicles etc. to cause mayhem.’

·         Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Helen Rukambiro, Eunice Mucherechedzo, Mavis Chisvo, Rachel Mudzimba, Paul Fusire, Muchineripi Chigwedere, Fungayi Mabhunu, Tendai Kwari and David Mbinga.

 

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:

  • Parliamentary Meeting to discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe. Monday 19th January from 4 – 6 pm. Venue: Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House. Bridge Street, London SW1A 2LW. Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/QxoRW. Nearest Station: Westminster.  The meeting has been arranged by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West at the request of the Reading branch of the Zimbabwe Vigil’s sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHRZ). It is an open meeting for all Zimbabweans and a chance to discuss Zimbabwean issues with UK MPs. We suggest you arrive early (around 3.30 pm) so you can clear security by the start of the meeting. For information contact: Nicodimus Muganhu – 07877386792, Erick Eluwasi – 07532021348, Charles D Ndlovu – 07413879590, Sally Mutseyami – 07448730581, Shylette Chipangura – 07828929806, Tino Mashonganyika – 07463272078.

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 24th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 31st January at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 7th February from 6.15 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 Pizza Express. 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.

  • 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 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.

 
Rudderless regime – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 11 January 2015 21:30

It is becoming clear that there is no one in charge in Zimbabwe. There is a leadership vacuum. 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 there was hope that one of the main obstacles to economic growth was to be removed – only for new Indigenisation Minister Christopher Mushowe to say foreign investors would be lucky to get a 49% share in their business. It could be as little as 1%. Is that clear enough Mr Chinamasa?

 

The other main economic problem, agriculture, is subject to the same government whims. Mugabe told the party congress last month that remaining white farmers should be driven off – only for Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora to say resettled farmers were free to form joint ventures with while commercial farmers (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_zimbabwe-in-land-policy-u-turn/ – Zimbabwe in land policy U-turn). Predictably his statement was immediately rubbished by other Zanu PF elements.

 

With Dr Grace openly defying party policy – let alone the law – to grab ever more land in Mazowe, few investors would have much confidence in any assurances given by such a rudderless regime except, of course,  for Western governments which, in spite of everything, speak blithely of ‘progress’ in Zimbabwe. The American Ambassador to Harare Bruce Wharton has tweeted ‘Zim makes the New York Times list of places to go!’ The British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing has picked this up and tweeted ‘Great news! @BruceWharton Zim makes the New York Times list of places to go!’

 

So the Western diplomatic community is having a whale of a time mixing cocktails in Harare. Ms Laing in her latest newsletter says: ‘I have had a fascinating first three and a half months in Zimbabwe . . . a truly inspiring place (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/391172/
UK_in_Zimbabwe_Newsletter_December_2014.pdf
).

 

Were Mr Wharton and Ms Laing at the ZimRights meeting which gave an award to the notorious farm invader Joseph Chinotimba, who led a group which invaded the Supreme Court and demanded: ‘kill the judges’? Perhaps they joined in singing for he’s a jolly good fellow. (See: http://allafrica.com/stories/201501050748.html Zimbabwe: 'Chinotimba Not a Rights Defender'.) 

 

Other points

  • No one knows how many Zimbabweans are in the UK. Estimates range widely. Now the House of Commons Library has put the figure at 52,000. This, of course, will be an underestimate because ‘illegals’ are obviously under the radar. But it provides a considerable constituency which could help sway the knife-edge general elections in May. Zimbabweans are classed as Commonwealth citizens and can vote here because the UK government hasn’t bothered to update the law since Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth twelve years ago. We urge you to express your opinions of the UK’s policy on Zimbabwe in the elections.

  • The car bringing the Vigil paraphernalia – a 15 year old Peugeot – barely made it. Thanks to Paul Fusire for diagnosing the absence of a fan belt! He said he got used to dealing with ropey old cars in the rural areas at home particularly using women’s tights as a makeshift fanbelt. But everyone was wearing trousers so we called the AA.

  • Below find our last 4 month tranche of the Zimbabwe Vigil 2014 highlights.

     

    Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights September – December 2014

    ‘Tax’ the Mafia –Saturday 6th September: President Mugabe – having failed to sell Zimbabwe in Beijing – is now turning to street vendors in Chitungwiza to bail out his bankrupt regime: they are being told they must register to pay tax. The Vigil believes, however, that there is still an untapped source of funding available: how about cropping the Zanu PF bigwigs and their mysterious wealth? Vice-President Mujuru appears to be ready for plucking and if her rich supporter Didymus Mutasa and other cronies could also be ‘persuaded’ to cough up a billion dollars or so, Zanu PF could look forward to a well-fed congress. Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for donning our Mugabe mask for a tableau illustrating the financial desperation of the Zanu PF regime. He was shown with a bucket for donations from the passing public, flanked by posters such as: ‘Bankruptcy sale’ and ‘Country clearance’.

    A ZimAsset – Saturday 13th September: The Vigil is awed by the academic triumph of the First Lady – now to be known not just as Mother of the People but also as Doctor. And what could be more appropriate than the subject of her learned thesis ‘The changing social structure of the family: the case of children’s homes in Zimbabwe’. Few could deny that Dr Grace is qualified on such a subject with her vast and ever-expanding ‘orphanage’ holdings in Mazowe. ROHR President Ephraim Tapa, just back from 12 days in Zimbabwe, told the bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil that he had found a dispirited people who had lost faith in politics.

    Chatham House demo – Tuesday 16th September: People running away in fear: it must have seemed like old times for Deputy Foreign Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa. Except this time it was the former CIO agent doing the running when he arrived with Embassy flunkies to give a talk at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. They tried to sneak into the building through a side door but Vigil demonstrators got there first and blocked Mutsvangwa’s entry, demanding to know what he was doing in London. By the time he got into the building he was visibly shaken.

    Tables turned – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 20th September 2014: Following the demo on Tuesday the Vigil took the opportunity to remind the world of Musvangwa’s violent background and our annoyance that Chatham House takes every opportunity to invite Mugabe representatives to tell the world how wonderful he is.

    Zanu PF’s forked tongue – Saturday 27th September 2014: The Vigil notes Mugabe’s restatement of his attitude towards the ‘evil’ donors who are trying to educate our children, maintain a health service and feed the starving. Mugabe told the UN General Assembly that, for daring to empower her people, Zimbabwe had become a victim of ‘the evil machinations of Western countries’. Mugabe’s rant exposed the hypocrisy of Deputy Foreign Minister Mutsvangwa who, according to the Herald, voiced a very different view of the West when he spoke at Chatham House. He was quoted as saying: ‘why not do once again what Cecil Rhodes did in 1890 when he brought capital and business to Zimbabwe’..

    Stop the tanks – Saturday 4th October: Anyone who has seen pictures of the teeming crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong will be impressed by their courage. A photograph of an unarmed student standing defiantly in the path of a tank sent to put down a protest in Beijing 25 years ago has become an icon of courage. We at the Vigil welcome Tsvangirai’s statement that he is to exercise his constitutional right and take to the streets to protest about the  failure of the Zanu PF regime. Will he be the man to stop the tanks? The Vigil was graced by the presence of Dr Mugabe in her splendid new academic robes. She carried posters such as ‘Let me lead you to the promised Guccis’.

    Charity meeting – Wednesday 8th October: The Vigil was represented at a charity meeting in London on a wet evening to hear a talk by former Education Minister David Coltart. We were unhappy when the chairman announced he didn’t want any questions of a political nature as there was a lot we wanted to ask.

    Let them eat yoghurt – Saturday 11th October: On the Vigil’s 12th anniversary we were blessed with a warm and sunny afternoon. We were not surprised by remarks by Dr Grace who told a rally in Gweru: ‘Nobody will remove me from the farm which I took. Blood will be spilt if anyone attempts to remove me from that farm . . . Women, we need land, so let us take it. Even if we don’t farm on the land, that is not a problem as long as you have it and it’s yours.’ At a rally in Harare she said: ‘Nobody is buying my yoghurt. Business is very bad because of sanctions. You can’t even find a person who can buy a packet of milk’.

    Cognitive dissonance – Saturday 18th October: The British government has expressed concern at the lack of progress in reforming the electoral process in Zimbabwe. It says the newly passed Electoral Amendment Act still contradicts the new constitution, with no sign of further amendments being planned. The Foreign Office’s comments come as the European Union is apparently preparing to make further concessions to Mugabe next month, despite Zanu PF’s failure to allow free and fair elections and respect the rule of law. The Vigil’s view of the situation in Zimbabwe is apparently far too negative according to a columnist of the London Times, Matthew Parris. who has had another happy holiday there and says ‘Zimbabwe is a safe and ordered place with a stable economy: one of Africa’s more advanced countries.’

    Normalising the abnormal – Saturday 25th October 2014: The Vigil seldom agrees with The Herald but we do have some sympathy with the paper’s scepticism about the naïve remarks about Mugabe by Britain’s new Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing. ‘Obviously he’s an iconic figure’, she told The Herald. Commenting on the interview, the Herald argued that Britain and the West  had to go down on their knees and show real repentance for the terrible things they had done to Zanu PF.

    Leadership paralysis – Saturday 1st November: The Vigil can’t get excited about the EU’s decision to lift sanctions. We were told this was coming some time back. We simply point out that the sanctions were imposed because of Zimbabwe’s rigged elections and lack of respect for the law. This has not changed and the EU knows it, though they talk blithely about ‘progress’ . . . Finance Minister Chinamasa says the indigenisation law is to be clarified to encourage foreign investment but everyone knows that no decisions are being taken while Zanu PF tears itself apart. Even though the EU seems to be waiting unto Mugabe’s 91st birthday before it lifts the travel sanctions on him and his clever wife, the old idiot popped up at the Vigil as part of Grace’s ‘meet the people’ tour. He was suitably attired for Halloween and accompanied by three weevils disguised as devils.

    Vigil supports meeting – Tuesday 4th November: Vigil supporters turned up in force to sing and drum at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The occasion was an evening devoted to Zimbabwe organised by the Mike Campbell Foundation. Mr Campbell, a commercial farmer, died in 2011 as a result of injuries caused by his abduction and torture by Mugabe’s supporters. Speaking for the Vigil, Ephraim Tapa told the large audience that the EU’s re-engagement with Mugabe was depriving civil rights activists of support.

    EU betrays Zimbabwe – Saturday 8th November: Zimbabweans exiled in the UK are to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street on 15th November following the EU’s lifting of sanctions. Fungayi Mabhunu, a spokesman for the Vigil, said: ‘We are protesting at the EU’s spineless capitulation to Mugabe even though he has made no reforms whatsoever . . . Now the new EU Ambassador says he ‘had a lovely chat with Mugabe’. It is sickening. Mugabe has turned the country into a death camp.’

    Appeasing a dictator – Saturday 15th November: Vigil supporters toyi-toyied to Downing Street singing ‘Vigil Yedu’. We displayed our banner: ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ while a delegation was admitted into the Prime Minister’s residence to hand over a petition signed by some 12,000 people who had passed by the Vigil. When the delegation returned to the Vigil we launched a new petition: A petition to the European Union: With Zimbabwe’s new constitution being disregarded by Mugabe, we deplore the EU’s scramble to re-engage with his illegitimate regime. We call on the EU, and the UK in particular, to insist that: the constitution is implemented, the rule of law is respected, the voters’ roll is made available for public scrutiny as constitutionally required and the diaspora be allowed to vote.

    Lies and hypocrisy – Saturday 22nd November: Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa, speaking outside the South African High Commission in London, appealed to South Africa to reverse its policy and stand with the people of Zimbabwe and support our demand for democracy and human rights. He was speaking as Vigil supporters delivered a letter to the High Commission about the findings of the South African Judicial Observer Mission sent to report on the 2002 Zimbabwe elections. This report has now been released on the instructions of the South African Constitutional Court after having being suppressed by the Pretoria government. As long suspected, the report concludes that the election could not be considered free and fair. Ephraim said: ‘If the report had been published at the time perhaps we would have got rid of Mugabe a long time ago’.

    Six impossible things before breakfast – Saturday 29th November: As Chinamasa delivered his fantasy budget, the Vigil turned to Alice in Wonderland for an insight into what is going on in Zimbabwe. After all, like Alice in the book, we are in a world where we are required to believe six impossible things before breakfast. Take these quotes: ‘We are not a basket case’, ‘Zimbabwe’s economic prospects are weighed down by sanctions’, ‘Corruption has been caused by sanctions’ ‘The exposure of corruption in the media is the work of subversive elements’, ‘ZimAsset is the answer to our problems’ and ‘The Khampepe Report (on the 2002 elections) is a mere private opinion’. In this topsy-turvy world it seems that Joyce Mujuru is cast as Alice eating cake until she grows too big and Queen of Hearts Grace orders: ‘Off with her head and the heads of all her supporters’.

    Who cares about food? – Saturday 6th December: We are told that providing bread and circuses was the way Roman emperors kept the people satisfied. The Vigil thinks that Emperor Mugabe, despite his sweaty Oscar-worthy performance at the party congress, has fallen short in the bread department. Circus-wise he’s done well. Now the congress is over, Mugabe can take his usual well-deserved holiday until his birthday celebrations in February while the purged leadership gets on with the goal of the congress: ‘Accelerated implementation of ZimAsset’. But since this programme is complete fantasy, all it requires is a letter to Father Christmas.

    Senile Mugabe not voice of Zimbabwe – Saturday 13th December: The Vigil has delivered a letter to the Ghanaian High Commission in London apologising for the insulting remarks about Ghana made by Mugabe. We are particularly concerned because senile Mugabe is the President-elect of the African Union and is bringing the whole of Africa not just Zimbabwe into ridicule. Speaking at Zanu PF’s Congress, Mugabe said: ‘I have been to Ghana, 1958 – 1960, and when you look at them now and compare their present situation to that which existed in the 1960s, no change. There might be more people yes. There may be one road from the airport that has been well done. That’s about all. No change.’ Confirmation of Zanu PF’s popularity in the UK came in a report in The Herald about corruption in the selling of Zanu PF membership cards. Zanu PF says about $400,000 can’t be accounted for and cites, as an example, that South Africa received 3,000 cards but 2,881 of them had yet to be accounted for. In contrast, ‘the United Kingdom received an equal number but sold all the 3,000 cards’.

    Food for Embassy – Saturday 20th December: After learning that Zimbabwean diplomats were going without pay because of lack of funds the Vigil arranged an emergency Christmas food drop for Zimbabwe House. We left a pile of food and other supplies in the Embassy’s doorway with the notice: Christmas Appeal: Zimbabwean diplomats starving, Leave food for them here, (Sorry – no GM foods).   We had thought of the food drop as primarily a symbolic gesture to show up the failures of the Mugabe regime, with people supplying unwanted food from their own resources. But one supporter went to the supermarket to buy food specially and another brought sanitary towels and condoms. In addition, two passers-by went and bought extra food.

    Shot in the foot – Saturday 27th December: The new indigenisation minister Christopher Mushowe has clarified the indigenisation policy which has been blamed for scaring off desperately needed foreign investment. Mushowe told the Herald that 49% was the maximum allowed for foreign shareholding and 51% was the minimum for the indigenisation holding: ‘So it's not cast in concrete that it's 49 percent, it can be one percent because it is the maximum and 51 percent can be 99 percent because it's the minimum’.

     

    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: 23 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 17th January from 6.15 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 Pizza Express. 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.

  • Parliamentary Meeting to discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe. Monday 19th January from 4 – 6 pm. Venue: Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House. Bridge Street, London SW1A 2LW. Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/QxoRW. Nearest Station: Westminster.  The meeting has been arranged by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West at the request of the Reading branch of the Zimbabwe Vigil’s sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHRZ). It is an open meeting for all Zimbabweans and a chance to discuss Zimbabwean issues with UK MPs. We suggest you arrive early (around 3.30 pm) so you can clear security by the start of the meeting. For information contact: Nicodimus Muganhu – 07877386792, Erick Eluwasi – 07532021348, Charles D Ndlovu – 07413879590, Sally Mutseyami – 07448730581, Shylette Chipangura – 07828929806, Tino Mashonganyika – 07463272078.

  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 24th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 31st January at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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

  • 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 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.

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Dead hand at the tiller – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 3rd January 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 04 January 2015 11:07

Photolink: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16186657671/sizes/m/

 

As the Mugabe family celebrated the festive season in Singapore many Zimbabweans wished them a long stay there – preferably a permanent one. Acting President Mnangagwa would win a few friends (rare enough) if he were to ensure this.

 

Not that the Vigil has any confidence in a regime led by Mnangagwa whose teeth are stained by the blood of thousands. But anything is better than Mugabe’s dead hand at the tiller. And change at the top will further expose the contradiction in Zanu PF: how long can the chefs flaunt their looted wealth, their flashy clothes and cars, in the face of the impoverished who have only the delusional ZimAsset to look forward to?

 

On a cold and wet Saturday in London we staged a little tableau inspired by pictures of Mugabe’s holiday feast in Singapore. Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for donning our Mugabe mask and tucking in to deep-fried Mujuru accompanied by pickled sweetmeats. Posters reading: ‘Christmas in Singapore,’ ‘Don’t come back’ and ‘Stay away Mugabe’ were held up by Helen Rukambiro, Ishmael Makina, Paul Fusire, Tryness Ncube and Tanyaradzwa Dhundu.

 

In the English winter we are warmed by Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi’s proposal to establish 10 family theme parks for poor civil servants and other unemployed people. They must develop a ‘holidaying culture’ in the national interest, he said. That, friends, is Zimbabwe 2015 (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-to-make-recreation-affordable/ - Govt to make recreation affordable).

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Today’s diary carries the second of a three-part summary of our 2014 diaries. They show how we have tried (unsuccessfully) to encourage European support for freedom and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. We intend to continue this struggle in 2015.

 

Other points

  • We draw your attention to an article on the diaspora vote by Vigil supporter Dr Clifford Mashiri (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-no-fresh-polls-before-diaspora-vote-is-restored/ – No fresh polls before Diaspora Vote is restored).

  • Thanks to Tryness Ncube for bringing cakes and Paul Fusire, Deborah Harry and Fungayi Mabhunu for arriving early to help us set up.

     

    Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights May – August 2014

    The Missing link – Saturday 3rd May: A well-attended meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil appointed an interim committee to reach out to the diaspora with a view to agreeing a common voice and liaising with progressive forces in Zimbabwe. ZAF Chair, Ephraim Tapa, said the diaspora was the missing link. The meeting went on to discuss sending a delegation to the Home Secretary about the treatment of Zimbabweans seeking asylum.

    Betraying the Future – Saturday 10th May: Everyone who wishes Zimbabwe well must be worried at indications that Zanu PF, desperate for money to keep afloat, is preparing to mortgage the country’s natural resources to secure a Chinese takeaway. We at the Vigil urge the many MDCs to at least unite on this one platform: warn China that when a democratic government comes to power any such deal will be repudiated.

    Re-engagement with what? – Saturday 17th May: ‘Re-engagement is the only game in town’ was the message from the platform at a tightly-controlled meeting on Zimbabwe held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London. The meeting was to launch a report Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery’ by Steve Kibble and Zanu PF apologist Knox Chitiyo. Another featured speaker was Zanu PF sympathiser Dr Miles Tendi, Lecturer in African History and Politics at Oxford University. A friend of the Vigil who managed to get in to the meeting reported that the panel’s view was that 're-engagement is the only game in town.' Our reporter added: ‘the message appears to be that it doesn’t matter what you do as a government, as long as you hold onto power long enough, through intimidation and rigged elections, eventually the west will come around and the west will still engage with you and throw money your way.’

    A still birth – Saturday 24th May: The Vigil welcomes the belated court challenge to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the voters’ roll used in the last elections as required by the constitution. This week marked the anniversary of the signing into law of the new constitution providing for improved civil liberties. What a still birth! Zanu PF has simply refused to change laws which allow it to deny people their – now constitutional – right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

    EU’s policy stinks – Saturday 31st May: There was speculation at the Vigil that the eagerness of the EU to offer hundreds of millions of dollars to the Zanu PF regime may be linked to reports that Mugabe is to step down soon. Mugabe is said to have been told by the Joint Operations Command to leave it to the military to manage a takeover by Mujuru’s rival, Justice Minister Mnangagwa. Vigil supporter Dr Clifford Mashiri has appealed to the EU not to release the money to the Zanu PF regime until it allows the diaspora vote.

    LOL EU – Saturday 7th June: As the EU embraces Zanu PF, the party’s supporters in the UK are ‘coming out’ in force. Nehanda Radio displayed photos on its website taken at the launch of a new branch of Zanu PF in Bracknell, near London. The Vigil has put Nehanda Radio’s photos on our flickr website and we ask people to let us know if they can identify anybody so that we can check on our database to see if any of them have come to the Vigil. If they have misrepresented themselves as human rights activists to get our support for permission to stay in the UK we would like to expose them to the Home Office and see these frauds sent back home to enjoy the paradise that Zanu PF has created.

    Enter Fool Stage Left – Saturday 14th June 2014: ‘Life is getting better in Zimbabwe’ reads the headline over a ‘review’ by a former director of Britain’s National Theatre Richard Eyre. ‘Many Zimbabweans are now prospering’. Mr Eyre says. Harare ‘utterly failed to live down to my expectations. In spite of forceful government and forced land redistribution, if you walk around the centre and the suburbs of the city you will witness no violence and encounter universal courtesy.’  Mr Eyre appears to be less than fully informed of the real situation he surveyed only from the verdant suburbs of Harare. We ask ourselves: did this theatrical giant bestride Chintingwiza? The Vigil today launched a new petition to the European Union calling for voting rights for the diaspora to be made a precondition for further re-engagement with Zanu PF.

    Mugabe’s EU Cheerleader – Saturday 21st June: The Zimbabwe Action Forum, meeting after the Vigil, condemned pro-Mugabe comments by the EU’s Ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’Ariccia. ‘Luckily we don’t have a leadership crisis in this country’, he said, sounding for all the world like Mugabe’s spokesman. Dell’Ariccia went on to rebuke NGOs for being confrontational and unconstructive and added ‘I have the impression that you are a little bit anchored in the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives AGOs – anti-government organisations’. The envoy went on to condemn civil society for being critical of Zanu PF’s electioneering ZimAsset plan. The meeting voted to write to Dell’Ariccia’s boss Catherine Ashton suggesting that she recall him ‘for re-education in diplomacy’.

    ‘Following the rot’ – Saturday 28th June: Extroverts in tight dresses and bouffant wigs tottering along the Strand in high heels: it was Gay Pride Day in London. Mugabe would have loved it. He is so taken with gays that we could imagine him tottering along the Strand after them. A mad fancy? No madder than what is happening in Zimbabwe. Take the mad case of the ‘Mujuru flies’. Secretary-General of the Progressive Teachers’ Union Raymond Majongwe went to see for himself the plight of the 3,000 families displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi floods five months ago. These desperate people have to share 36 latrines. Majongwe reports: ‘There are large flies called Mai Mujuru flies which are ravaging the area’.

    Home Office apologises to Vigil – Saturday 5th July: The Home Office has apologised to the Vigil for comments made by an official in a letter turning down an asylum request by a Vigil supporter. The official alleged that anyone could get a letter from the Vigil in support of their asylum claim on payment of a charge so the Vigil letter would be disregarded. We wrote to the Home Office complaining about this libellous accusation, which derived from a malicious web article, pointing out that the Home Office had admitted it was unfounded three years ago. Now, in an official letter, a Home Office manager says: ‘We recognise the Zimbabwe Vigil as a UK-based pressure group representing the Zimbabwean diaspora.’ It adds that officials have been reminded that they should disregard the article in assessing what weight to give to letters written by the Vigil. The Vigil was interested to see that the Zimbabwean all-white pro-Mugabe group has welcomed the EU’s conciliatory policy to Zimbabwe. We wonder how they regard Mugabe’s latest racist rant demanding that no white person should ever farm in Zimbabwe again, even working for a black boss.

    Talks or Chaos – Saturday 12th July: The Vigil is heartened by signs that people are beginning to accept that an all-embracing national dialogue is the only way forward to prevent chaos in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: ‘The economic transformation that we want to achieve requires the voice of everyone, including the opposition and civic society’. For our part, we want to reach out to everyone and were happy to be invited to take part in a demonstration in Birmingham organised by MDC T in the UK to draw attention to the Zimbabwe crisis. In our view the EU is not helping by dropping  its objections to the lack of reforms and rushing to embrace Mugabe.

    One hand clapping – Saturday 19th July: It came as no surprise to the Vigil that the Belgian Ambassador to Harare is quoted as saying ‘there is nothing amiss in Zimbabwe’. He said Belgium is pushing for the removal in November of the remaining EU sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe because of human rights abuses. Mr Johan added that the President of the World Diamond Centre based in the Belgian city of Antwerp was soon to visit Zimbabwe – an indication of the reason for Belgium’s hand of friendship to Mugabe. The Vigil observes that Belgium has not been noted for supporting human rights in Africa. Indeed it was famous for cutting off a hand of anyone in the Belgian Congo who objected to being owned by King Leopold.

    Glasgow Protest – Wednesday 23rd July: A Vigil leader Fungayi Mabhunu, who is married to a Swazi, helped organise a demonstration by our sister organisation the Swaziland Vigil at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He hired a minibus and picked up exiled Swazis on the way to Scotland where they protested at the attendance of David Cruiser Ngcamphalala, Minister of Sport and a former head of the Riot Police, who is accused of torturing and killing pro-democracy activists.

    EU position ‘misunderstood’ – Saturday 26th July: The European Union has distanced itself from reported remarks by its Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia. Addressing a meeting in Harare last month he was quoted as saying ‘Luckily we don’t have a leadership crisis in this country’. The Vigil complained to Mr Dell’Ariccia’s boss, Catherine Ashton, and in a reply to the Vigil, the EU said: ‘We have checked the circumstances, and came to the conclusion that the words of Ambassador Dell’Ariccia have been improperly quoted’.  On another matter, the Vigil, acting at the request of Zimbabwean activists, approached the Foreign Office for further help in resourcing the means to convert a scanned copy of the 2013 voters’ roll into an electronic text document. In reply to the Vigil the Foreign Office acknowledged the importance of the matter but said the budget for this has now run out.

    Recall Ambassador –Saturday 2nd August: The Zimbabwean human rights activist Ben Freeth has written to the Vigil with information supporting our demand for the recall of EU Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia because of his support for the Mugabe regime. Although the EU told us in a letter that Mr Dell’Ariccia had been misreported, Ben Freeth says he spoke to the Ambassador and he repeated that he did not believe that Zimbabwe had a leadership crisis. The Vigil marked the anniversary of the stolen 2013 elections by staging a tableau mocking the victory banquet in Harare this week held by Mugabe for his mafia henchmen. Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing our Mugabe mask, presided at a Vigil banquet flanked by supporters wearing red devils’ masks amid posters such as: EU sups with devil Mugabe.

    A voice silenced – Saturday 9th August: This weekend marks the end of SW Radio Africa which has been broadcasting high quality journalism to Zimbabwe for thirteen years. Coming at a time when the independent press at home is facing a growing financial squeeze, the Vigil believes the loss of this voice is a tragic blow to democracy. Supporting a peaceful democratic transition is proclaimed as one of the main objectives for Zimbabwe of the UK’s Department for International Development, which must have given our country well over a billion dollars of aid during the lifetime of SW Radio Africa. It’s a pity DFID didn’t see fit to provide money to keep the radio station going as it filled the prescription for this. The Vigil is glad to hear that EU Ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’Ariccia is returning home.

    No joke – Saturday 16th August: Supporters at the Vigil beamed broadly in response to Mugabe’s appeal to Zimbabweans to pretend that all is well to the SADC Summit at the Victoria Falls. Our smiles were so big we couldn‘t help laughing at Mugabe’s request: ‘We are asking you to smile and show the region that we are a hospitable people, that we can welcome visitors. Let us all smile and for just a moment forget our problems . . . albeit under the burden of sanctions.’ To underline our joy at our desperate situation we held up smiley pictures with the posters: Mugabe: ‘Smile for the SADC Summit’ and Mugabe: ‘Smile, though your heart is breaking’. The Vigil was joined by ZAPU Secretary-General Dr Ralph Mguni, who said that Zimbabweans used to be respected around the world but they are now regarded as trash.

    Zhing-zhong deal – Saturday 23rd August: As Mugabe and top ministers converged on Beijing in a desperate appeal for a financial bailout, the Vigil was alerted to indications that an illegal deal was being negotiated to rescue Zimbabwe from its economic torpor and pay the government’s pressing running bills. Zanu PF’s golden grail is $27 billion to fund the fatuous ZimAsset programme for economic development which formed the centrepiece of its 2013 election campaign but – a year on – has failed to get off the ground.

    The empty vessel – Saturday 30th August: As Mugabe made his thirteenth visit to Beijing, his hosts must have found it Chinese torture to keep a straight face. A 21-gun salute for the empty vessel must have been the final straw, especially knowing they were expected to fill it with gold. The Chinese will remember that when Mugabe came to power in 1980 Zimbabwe’s annual gross domestic product was rather more than theirs at US$1,295 per head compared to China’s US$1,061. They will have observed in awe how he has managed to completely ruin the country so that in 2013 the GDP figures were: Zimbabwe US$446 and China US$3,583. Like clockwork, Mugabe trotted out the tired cold war rhetoric: ‘Down with colonialism, imperialism and capitalism’ which must have seemed rather quaint to his welcoming group of Chinese capitalists, colonialists and imperialists. If Mugabe had expected them to join his chorus he must now realise that they no longer zhing from the same zhong sheet.

     

    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: 15 signed the register.

     

    EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 17th January from 6.15 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 Pizza Express. 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 meeting in Parliament. Monday 19th January from 3.30 – 6 pm. Venue: House of Commons. For information contact: Nicodimus Muganhu – 07877386792, Erick Eluwasi – 07532021348, Charles Ndlovu – 07413879590, Sally Mutseyami – 07448730581, Thandiwe Gwarumba - 07503512308

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 31st January at 12 noon. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.

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

  • 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 Vigil Highlights 2013 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/560-vigil-highlights-2013. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2013 Highlights page.

 
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