Zimbabweans demand action from Zuma – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th January 2012 Print
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Monday, 16 January 2012 19:06

The Vigil is to be joined by the MDC UK in a protest outside the South African High Commission in London next Saturday aimed at putting pressure on President Zuma to insist that Mugabe honours the Global Political Agreement. There are reports that South Africa is arranging a meeting with Mugabe and the two MDC principals to discuss outstanding issues in the way of elections. These include the depoliticisation of the security forces, reform of the electoral process and the opening up of the airwaves. Progress on all these issues has been resisted by Zanu PF.  

Saturday’s protest is part of global diaspora action promoted by the MDC in the United States (see: Free Zimbabwe Global Protest – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jan6_2012.html#Z23). Zimbabweans in South Africa, Australia, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands are also expected to demonstrate outside South African diplomatic missions. On the Vigil’s part, it will be our second demonstration outside South Africa House in the past month calling on Zuma to save Zimbabwe.

We will be inviting signatures to the following petition: ‘Zimbabwe Vigil petition to President Zuma: Exiled Zimbabweans call on President Zuma to put pressure on President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party to implement the Global Political Agreement. If they continue to refuse we urge South Africa to take measures against the Mugabe regime.’ 

We leave it to the South Africans to decide what action should be taken against the recalcitrant Mugabe regime. They could, for instance, report the failure of their mediation mission to the AU, propose the suspension of Zimbabwe from SADC or take unilateral punitive action themselves. The Vigil believes this is long overdue. 

There will also be an MDC petition, which gives greater details of the Zimbabwean diaspora demands. 

Plans are that we will meet as normal at the Vigil at 2 pm.  We will move to the South African High Commission at 3pm and attempt to present our petitions at 3.30 pm.  The Vigil drummers and singers will be outside South Africa House while a skeleton crew mans the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy until the main group returns at 4 pm.   

Other points
·         Josephine Zhuga of the front desk leapt into action like a tiger when a passing thief grabbed money from the Vigil donation bucket. Tiger Josephine grabbed hold of him demanding ‘Give us back our money’. We recovered what he had stolen before he wrenched himself free – only to be caught by our security chief Moses Kandiyawo (of football fame), and handed over to the police. We recommend a spell in a Zimbabwean jail – as experienced by the father of a woman who visited us today. She said she supported our cause because her father, Julian Simmonds of the Sunday Telegraph, spent two weeks in a Zimbabwean jail for trying to cover the 2005 elections.
·         Other visitors to the Vigil were a friendly group of the anti-capitalism protesters who have been staging a protest camp down the road from us outside St Paul’s Cathedral. They also expressed their support for us.
·         Following this week’s diary you will find the second part of our annual summary of the Vigil’s activities during the past year. The first part was published last week. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website. 

FOR THE RECORD: 67 signed the register.  

·         The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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 the views and opinions of ROHR.
·         ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
·         The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
·         Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. Saturday 21st January from 2 – 6 pm. Venues: Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy and outside the South African High Commission. The MDC UK is joining the Vigil to target South Africa for failing to get Mugabe to honour the Global Political Agreement. Protesters will move from the Zimbabwe Embassy to South African House at 3 pm and try to present petitions to the South African High Commission at 3.30 pm.   
·        ROHR general meeting. Saturday 4th February 2012 from  1 – 4 pm. The meeting is being called to elect a new UK Executive. All ROHR members and those interested in joining ROHR are welcome to attend. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. 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 big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent.  Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
·         First Joint ZimVigil, ROHR and Zimbabwe We Can Forum. Saturday 4th February from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel, 143 The Strand, WC2R 15A. For directions see above entry. Future joint forums to be held after the Vigil on the first Saturday of each month.
·         Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
·         Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
·         ‘Through the Darkness’, Judith Todd’s acclaimed account of the rise of Mugabe.  To receive a copy by post in the UK please email confirmation of your order and postal address to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and send a cheque for £10 payable to “Budiriro Trust” to Emily Chadburn, 15 Burners Close, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0QA. All proceeds go to the Budiriro Trust which provides bursaries to needy A Level students in Zimbabwe.  


Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 (Part 2) 
Saturday 2nd July: We were visited by the Information Officer of the new Zimbabwe ‘Yes We Can’ movement, Arnold Magwanyata, who told Vigil supporters that the movement wanted to encourage Zimbabweans in the diaspora to join the struggle for change. Vigil co-ordinator Dumi Tutani, the Vigil’s representative to the new movement, reported on a meeting it held in Manchester on 25th June. He said one strong message was a determination to empower women. Following on from our diary last week in which we wrote about criticism of the Vigil from the Home Office we have sent the following letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary. ‘A solicitor acting for one of our supporters asked for our comment on a letter from the Home Office which maligned the Zimbabwe Vigil. You will see further information in our diary of 25th June 2011 . . .  We totally reject the implications and challenge the Home Office to substantiate this malicious slur.’
Saturday 30th July: The Vigil has received an apology from the UK Border Agency for comments made when asylum was refused to a Zimbabwean refugee who offered a letter of support from the Vigil as evidence of activism. The comments suggested the letter was worthless because of allegations that the Vigil was a money-making organization ripping off asylum seekers. The Border Agency’s Director of Appeals and Removals Phil Douglas replied to our complaint: ‘I apologise at the outset for the offence this has understandably given.’ Mr Douglas went on to say that the comments referred to were not based on information acceptable to the Border Agency. The Vigil has also been assured by the British government that it is to try to overturn a legal decision to grant a CIO torturer permission to remain in the UK. Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a letter in response to our representations, said the UK should not be a refuge for war criminals.
Saturday 6th August: Details of how elements in Zimbabwe are trying to hi-jack our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) were given at the Vigil by ROHR’s President, Ephraim Tapa. He said ROHR was becoming increasingly prominent with its non-party political campaign for human rights but now that it was attracting the interest of potential donors a small group had unconstitutionally tried to take it over. Four people have consequently been expelled. One of our supporters Louisa Musaerenge said she had received the following threatening email apparently targeting Vigil supporters: ‘Murikupedza nguva muchiimba ku London pasi peziso ra baba Mugabe kupusa chose ticha kubvumburisai one by one you want boiling oil over you heads your brain has bin frozen there come here we sort you out dogs of english man. They laugh you all the time this whities, you bin used to wipe ass come and agriculture here home is gud’.
Saturday 27th August: Africa’s new King of Kings, President Mugabe, Defender of the Faith (except Anglican), emerged from the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday on his way to Tripoli in support of deposed King of Kings Muammar Gaddafi, who has fallen on hard times. Brandishing a rifle, Mugabe (played by Fungayi Mabhunu) was dressed in classical Arab attire so that he would not be mistaken for one of what Gaddafi describes as ‘Libyan rats’. Before disappearing in his golf cart down one of the tunnels leading to Gaddafi’s compound, Mugabe said everyone was happy in Libya until the Western gangsters started bombing the place to find more oil. ‘Don’t they know it doesn’t spring from rocks?’ Asked whether Gaddafi had been annoyed when Zimbabwe didn’t pay its $360 million bill for oil, Mugabe said: ”I explained to him that Zimbabwe had no reason to pay as we had used up all the oil’.
Saturday 3rd September: The Vigil has been told by sources in the Swaziland High Commission how King Mswati was thrown into a panic by the April protests against him in London. Apparently, when the organiser of the Swazi vigil, Thobile Gwebu, was threatened with deportation from the UK, two senior police officers were sent over to London in the hope of taking custody of her. Fortunately she has been allowed to stay in the UK. We were also informed that the king’s last minute change of hotels for the Royal Wedding in London was because the Dorchester asked him to go elsewhere because of the vigil we helped organise outside.  
Saturday 10th September: The Vigil was pleased to hear of plans for the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Zimbabwe . . . Apparently he is seeking a meeting with Mugabe. This has been criticized in the British press, with some commentators saying it will provide a propaganda opportunity for Mugabe. We took a different view and decided to send the Archbishop the following letter: ‘Dear Dr Williams: The Zimbabwe Vigil welcomes your planned visit to Zimbabwe next month in support of besieged Anglicans under the rod of the unelected president Mugabe . . . The persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe has continued too long with little condemnation from the Christian community at large. Even brother churches in Zimbabwe have scurried from the crucifixion . . . We disagree with those who question the wisdom of your visit. We are encouraged that you share our pain, though we have no doubt that Mugabe will seek to use your visit for propaganda purposes. We do not believe his regime – steeped in lawlessness, terror and greed – will make any meaningful concessions at your request. But we pray that your visit will highlight to the world the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters at home.’
Saturday 17th September: The Zim Vigil band reflects our frustration with lack of progress in their latest postings of two new protest song videos (Shungurudza and Zimbabwe Blood Diamonds) on youtube (http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com). Band members Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani have been interviewed by Zim Diaspora, check: http://zimdiaspora-zimvigilband.notlong.com.
Saturday 24th September: Vigil supporters will be aware that there has been an attempt to undermine our sister organisation ROHR (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/325-zimbabwe-vigil-statement-on-rohr-). To counter this, ROHR President Ephraim Tapa and ROHR account administrator Rose Benton attended a meeting on the sidelines of the Vigil to share details of ROHR’s finances with representatives of the ROHR UK executive. Save for two small errors, which were to be clarified with ROHR Head Office, there were no financial irregularities in the accounts. One of the members quipped afterwards: 'this smacks of a smear campaign.’  
Saturday 1st October: The Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK is growing increasingly anxious at signs that the Home Office is stepping up efforts to deport Zimbabweans on the grounds that conditions at home have improved. One of the Vigil’s regular supporters Shamiso Kofi has been detained and told a ticket to Nairobi has been booked for her on Kenyan Airways on 4th October. At the Vigil today, we ran the following petition to the UK Border Agency, part of the Home Office: We, the undersigned, are worried about the proposed deportation of one of our regular supporters, Shamiso Kofi. She is one of our most passionate dancers and singers and . . . there are serious concerns about her safety . . .’ A harrowing picture of the Zanu-PF mentality was given in a new play produced in London by Chickenshed Theatre and attended by a Vigil group including Ephraim Tapa who was especially invited because of his leadership of the new Zimbabwe We Can movement. The play ‘The Rain that Washes’ was based on the experiences of Christopher Maphosa (who has attended the Vigil).
Saturday 8th October: Vigil supporter Shamiso Kofi was not deported to Zimbabwe as planned on Tuesday night. After a harrowing experience, Shamiso was taken off the flight from Heathrow with her three escorts and returned to Yarl’s Wood detention centre. We marked our 9th anniversary with Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing our Mugabe mask, standing at the front desk with wife Grace (played by Josephine Zhuga). Mugabe was holding the following petition: ‘Petition to the Unfair World: The oppressed people of Zimbabwe demand an end to the illegal and unfair sanctions against me and my Zanu PF cronies: We have redistributed farms to deserving nearest and dearest, We have transferred businesses to indigenous ministers, Our security forces make sure there are no London-type riots, We have cleared slums by pulling down houses, We have liberated our diamonds, We have nationalized the Anglican Church.Mugabe had managed to get signatures from Gaddafi (Libya), Gbagbo (Ivory Coast), Mubarak (Egypt), Ben Ali (Tunisia), Assad (Syria), Saleh (Yemen) and Mutharika (Malawi). Mugabe also promenaded around the Vigil with the following placards: Mugabe (estimated wealth $1 billion) supports the right of excommunicated Bishop Kunonga to seize Anglican churches, Mugabe says no to Western human rights: yes to murder, rape and torture, Mugabe scorns British aid: says starvation a product of neo-colonialism, Mugabe (16 farms) supports the right of West London nurse Irene Zhanda to seize a farm in Zimbabwe.
Saturday 15th October: A new attempt is to be made on Thursday to deport Vigil supporter Shamiso Kofi despite the violent failure of the first attempt earlier this month. There is speculation that the UK and South Africa are making a concerted attempt to deport Zimbabweans to put pressure on the Mugabe regime. Shamiso is one of the first Zimbabweans to be targeted for forcible return since the UK ended its moratorium on sending back failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers. It comes amid reports from South Africa that hundreds of Zimbabweans are being sent back.
Saturday 22nd October: Shamiso’s new lawyer succeeded in stopping the second attempt to deport Shamiso and is working on securing her release from Yarl’s Wood detention centre. The Vigil was pleased to be given prominent billing at a Black History Celebration at City and Islington College, Finsbury Park. Vigil supporter David Kadzutu (who is also the International Relations Secretary of the Zimbabwe We Can Movement) said that, after colonization, Africans were now fighting oppression by their own people. A troupe from the Vigil danced, sang and drummed.
Saturday 5th November: The Vigil is appalled that the EU has cleared the way for Zanu PF to expand massively its diamond swindle. We believe the EU’s craven capitulation to commercial interests will undermine fatally any attempts to get Zanu PF to honour the GPA. With virtually unlimited funds at Zanu PF’s disposal, Vigil supporters believe it is farewell to hopes of free and fair elections. The Vigil is happy to report that Shamiso Kofi has been released from detention after the government’s failure to deport her. The Vigil has received a reply to our open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury about his visit to Zimbabwe. The Archbishop expresses his ‘deep and sincere gratitude’ for our support. We were joined by about 100 uniformed members of the Chinese spiritual organisation, the Falun Gong, whose demonstrations against communist oppression we have supported. We discussed with them our disquiet at Chinese involvement in the Marange diamond racket and other matters such as arms sales to Mugabe.
Saturday 12th November: Only days after police in Harare made threats against a member of the Vigil management team, three obvious CIO operatives were photographed at the Vigil. The three men were spotted emerging from the side door of the Embassy . . .  Ironically, the photos were taken by Fungayi Mabhunu, who only this week received a chilling message from a contact in Harare. The message he got was ‘don’t come back’. We were glad to be joined by Shamiso Kofi, who was recently released from detention.
Saturday 19th November: The ZimVigil band’s song ‘Mwari torai vanoti shungurudza’ (God take those who trouble us) has been featured on SW Radio Africa’s new programme ‘Beyond Protest’ (check: http://www.2bctnd.net/swra_wp/?p=12503).
Saturday 26th November: To our disappointment there was no sign of the promised Zanu PF demonstrators when a Vigil supporter went to check outside the Prime Minister’s residence, 10 Downing Street. Mugabe fans in the UK, led by George Shire, Lloyd Msipa and Laurence C Muzembi (brother of Zanu PF Minister Walter), had said they were to present a petition today to Mr Cameron calling for an end to the vicious neo-colonialist, racist, destructive and ineffective illegal sanctions which have deprived Zimbabweans of electricity and water, destroyed agriculture, caused potholes, prevented drugs reaching the sick and the supply of spares for ambulances and caused the drought and floods. At the last count the petition had amassed 51 signatures so perhaps the weight of it delayed the planned march from Lancaster House.
Saturday 3rd December: With the sun setting as early as 4 pm, we at the Vigil need everything we can get to cheer us up as we stand out in the cold. One of the posters in the Embassy window did the trick. Part of the ‘Wonders of Zimbabwe’ tourist promotion campaign, it read ‘Wonder what our cultural ceremonies are like?’ We couldn’t help but think of Tsvangirai’s on-off wedding. But a canvass of opinion among Vigil supporters showed that the affair was more than a laughing matter. People were alarmed that Tsvangirai appears to have walked blindly into a Zanu PF trap.  Although there is respect for the Prime Minister’s heroic work leading the MDC for the past twelve years, it was felt that he should – as the saying goes – consider his position.
Friday 9th December: An article on 5th December on nehandaradio.com (http://nehandaradio.com/2011/12/05/zimbabwe-vigil-should-consider-their-position/) repeated several malicious accusations against the Zimbabwe Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). The article is a cut and paste job from discredited Nehanda Radio articles, some dating back two and a half years, when the Vigil was blamed for Tsvangirai being booed at Southwark Cathedral in London. The latest attack is in response to our diary of 3rd December suggesting that Tsvangirai should consider his position as leader of the MDC, partly because of his lack of political acumen in having a relationship with a woman with known Zanu PF connections.
Saturday 10th December: Fresh from the Zanu PF conference in Bulawayo, Robert Mugabe materialized at the Vigil to demand immediate elections – preferably before his 88th birthday in two months’ time. ‘No time can be lost’, he said. ‘Zimbabwe is in moral danger. No woman is safe from Morgan Tsvangirai.’ The aged leader, played by management team member Fungayi Mabhunu in our Mugabe mask, could still wield a nifty sjambok which he brandished at Fadzai Muparutsa of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe. Fadzai was at the Vigil with Gideon Shoko, Deputy Secretary General, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Gideon said how encouraged he was that we were still ‘pushing the struggle’ after nine years outside the Embassy.
Saturday 17th December: The Vigil staged a demonstration outside the South African High Commission in London to urge President Zuma to force Mugabe to honour the Global Political Agreement. Vigil activists and MDC members stood in silence with banners reading: ‘Zuma save Zimbabwe’. The demonstration reflected the Vigil’s disgust at the ANC’s offer to help Zanu PF in the next elections. Further evidence of the incompetence of the UK Border Agency came in a letter to a member of the Vigil Management Team who requested access to the file on her held by the UKBA. The letter said ‘We have now completed the processing of that request, but, unfortunately, we have been unable to locate all of the UKBA records relating to yourself . . .
Saturday 24th December: Inspired by videos on youtube showing North Koreans apparently weeping hysterically at the death of Kim Jong-il, the Vigil spent Christmas Eve outside the Zimbabwe Embassy practising public grieving for Mugabe. After all, we don’t want to be found wanting when mourning comes. Vigil supporters beat their breasts, pounded their heads against the nearest soft object (after all it was just a practice), wept controllably, heaved their shoulders and generally looked bereft at the sight of a prostate Mugabe (played by Fungayi Mabhunu in our Mugabe mask) lying wrapped in a shroud. We were cheered by the vociferous support for us shown by Congolese demonstrators as they passed the Vigil on their way to Whitehall to express their outrage at the stolen presidential election in the DRC. One demonstrator broke away from the tightly-policed procession to hurl water in the face of Mugabe depicted on one of our banners ‘Mugabe wanted for murder’.
Saturday 31st December: At the last Vigil of 2011 we discussed likely developments at home in the next twelve months. Sadly they were rather pessimistic. There was agreement on the most likely options: (1) the situation could continue as it is for another year with halting progress on the constitution front, not helped by Mugabe spending most of his time flying to and from Singapore for medical treatment. (2) Zanu PF (and we include in this military leaders), desperate to see a dying Mugabe returned to office, could engineer elections by collapsing the government – for instance, arresting Tsvangirai.