Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights: January – June 2012 Print
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Sunday, 06 January 2013 12:01

Saturday 21st January

Zimbabweans from all over the UK gathered outside the South African High Commission calling on President Zuma to force Zanu PF to implement the Global Political Agreement. The demonstration marked the beginning of a campagn of monthly demonstrations by Zimbabweans in the diaspora, including those in South Africa and the United States. Over 300 people attended the Vigil at which a petition to President Zuma was launched.

Saturday 4th February

As London was blanketed in the first snow of the winter, Zimbabweans from several different groups met after the Vigil to launch the Zimbabwe Action Forum to discuss ways to help achieve democracy at home. Our sister organization, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) earlier held a general meeting and expressed confidence in Ephraim Tapa as leader and elected a new UK Executive.

Saturday 18th February

There was a special birthday party at the Vigil for Mugabe as he celebrated the easing of sanctions by the European Union. Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing our Mugabe mask, was given a birthday present labeled ‘looted diamonds’.

Tuesday 21st February

For the second month, the Free Zimbabwe Diaspora Campaign targeted South Africa over its lack of action on Zimbabwe. Vigil supporters joined MDC members outside the South African High Commission.

Saturday 25th February

The Vigil expressed to the European Parliament our puzzlement at remarks by the EU Foreign Affairs representative, Baroness Ashton, about the easing of sanctions on Mugabe’s cronies. We said that, contrary to her statement, there had been little progress in implementing the GPA. In fact the situation had deteriorated in the past year.

Saturday 3rd March

After the Vigil the Zimbabwe Action Forum held its second meeting, tasking a team with bringing forward proposals to achieve change at home.

Thursday 8th March

Women from the Vigil took part in a programme to mark International Women’s Day. Led by management team member Josephine Zhuga, they danced, sang and drummed at a well-attended event at City and Islington College, one of England’s largest further education colleges. Josephine told how rape was used as a form of political control in Zimbabwe.

Saturday 17th March

Following the lifting of the moratorium on sending back failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers, the Vigil noted more and more reports of people being given orders to leave. Some Vigil supporters have been detained when they reported to sign in at police stations.

Wednesday 21st March

Fungayi Mabhunu wore the Vigil’s Mugabe mask again outside the South African High Commission during the third monthly Free Zimbabwe Global Protest attended by about 60 people. Mugabe carried posters reading ‘Vote MDC and DIE’ and ‘Vote for me or DIE’

Saturday 31st March

The Vigil sent a letter to the British Prime Minister David Cameron thanking him for the commitment he gave during talks with Morgan Tsvagirai to help achieve free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The Vigil asked for an opportunity to present Mr Cameron with the Vigil’s petition to the UN for passing on to the Security Council. The petition, signed by more than 12,000 people who had stopped by the Vigil, called on the UN to ensure the next elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair.

Saturday 7th April

Sister Beverley led prayers for David Moyo who has been served with a third deportation order.  His mother and aunt were with us at the Vigil.

Saturday 21st April  

The MDC in the UK joined the Vigil to mark Independence Day. After gathering at the Vigil, about 200 people moved on to the nearby South African High Commission to continue the Global Diaspora Campaign to get President Zuma to call Mugabe to account. People then moved on to Whitehall to present the Vigil’s petition to the British Prime Minister to pass on to the UN calling on it to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Five delegates from the Vigil were allowed into Downing Street to hand over the petition. We were sorry to report that, despite our campaign for him, David Moyo was sent back to Zimbabwe.  

Saturday 28th April 2012

We were glad to welcome Vincent Dlamini, National Organising Secretary of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland and Secretary General of Swaziland’s National Public Services Union. He expressed gratitude for our support for the Swazi Vigil which has been campaigning for democracy outside the Swazi High Commission in London.

Wednesday 9th May

About a dozen people from the Vigil attended the Globe Theatre for a performance in Shona of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. It was part of a festival to mark the Queen’s jubilee during which Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays were performed in thirty-seven languages. We were given free tickets for the play and were invited to join the two stars Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu in the staff bar after the show. They had both been to the Vigil.

Saturday 12th May

The Vigil had its annual visit by the Westminster Morris Men, traditional English male dancers who perform around the Borough of Westminster every year on the second Saturday in May. They grabbed hold of Vigil supporter Francesca Toft, danced round her and at the end of their performance lifted her aloft and then announced that they had just performed a fertility dance . . . The predominantly elderly dancers kissed her on the cheek in turn at the end.

Wednesday 16th May

Vigil supporters joined the Swaziland Vigil in a demonstration outside a leading London hotel against the visit of King Mswati III of Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute ruler – who was in the UK to attend a diamond jubilee banquet for the world’s monarchs hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday 18th May. Amid drumming, singing and chants of ‘Mswati must go’, the demonstrators carried banners reading: ‘King Mswati buys £30m plane while his people eat cow dung’, ‘Mswati and his 30 strong entourage stay in £400 a night Savoy Hotel while his people starve’, ‘End human rights abuses in Swaziland’, and ‘Democracy now for Swaziland’.

Saturday 19th May

After the Vigil we processed from the Zimbabwe Embassy to the Savoy Hotel about 200 yards down the Strand to join the Swazi Vigil as guests arrived for a dinner hosted by King Mswati. We heckled them with cries of ‘Shame on you, Shame on you’.

Saturday Ss Saturday 26th May

The Vigil broke the news to the world of the arrest in Zimbabwe of the BBC classical music presenter Petroc Trelawny. We were informed by relatives in Bulawayo that he had been taken into custody for taking part in the city’s music festival without permission to work in Zimbabwe, even though he was not being paid. 

Saturday 2nd June

The British government has assured the Vigil that it is ready to help SADC in its efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The assurance came in a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to our petition submitted on 21st April calling for UN intervention in Zimbabwe. Here is part of their reply: ‘We share your concerns over the potential for violence in the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe and that the international community, particularly SADC, have a critical role to play in ensuring that this does not happen.’ People from the Vigil went on to a lively and well-attended meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) to discuss what we could do to keep up pressure on SADC.

Wednesday 6th June

The Vigil staged two demonstrations against the visit to London of President Michael Sata of Zambia who was a guest at the Jubilee celebrations for the Queen. Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani said ‘Sata is an unashamed supporter of Mugabe. His parroting “Pamberi ne Zanu PF (Forward with Zanu PF)” at last week’s SADC meeting was disgraceful.’  The first demonstration took place at Marlborough House where the Queen attended a lunch for Commonwealth leaders. The demonstrators then went on the Zambian High Commission to deliver a letter deploring President Sata’s interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. President Sata, a former platform sweeper at London’s Victoria station, was offered a new broom by the Vigil ‘so that you can resume a profession for which you seem better equipped than your current one’. Zambian diplomats refused to accept the letter and broom so we posted the letter in a letterbox across the road.

Saturday 9th June

A Zambian website which carried a report about our demonstrations against President Sata soon had more than 80 comments – mainly supportive of our action. Someone even suggested regular Friday ‘broom’ days.

Thursday 21st June

The Vigil’s Mugabe mask made an appearance outside the Zambian High Commission for the sixth round of the monthly Free Zimbabwe Global Campaign aimed at pressuring SADC leaders into ensuring democratic reforms in Zimbabwe. Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing the mask, made another attempt to deliver a new broom for President Sata but once again Zambian diplomats spurned the gift. The Zambians seemed particularly unnerved by the Mugabe mask (not surprisingly!) and called the police for help. The police explained to them that we were acting within our rights.

30th June 2012

The monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) met after the Vigil and adopted a cartoon as a symbol. It has the caption ‘The people don’t know their true power . . .’ showing a dictator pontificating at the end of a plank suspended over a precipice – only kept from falling by subservient people standing on the other end of the plank and listening to him.