A closed door – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 29th June 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 30 June 2013 13:25

Exiled Zimbabweans symbolically knocked on the closed door of the Zimbabwe Embassy in London in protest at the refusal to give the diaspora a vote in the coming elections. We are being denied a basic human right – one in which we are supported by the African Union.


The demonstration on Thursday 27th June marked the fifth anniversary of the abortive presidential run-off which enabled Mugabe to bludgeon his way back into State House. The demonstration was organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, under the banner of ‘Never Again’ to a repeat of the terrible events of 2008.


Apart from Vigil, ROHR and Zimbabwe We Can supporters, there were also representatives of trade unions and Amnesty International among groups joining us in calling for free and fair elections that comply with SADC standards – a goal which seems increasingly unobtainable given Mugabe’s persistent failure to honour his promises of reforms.


Although Thursday was a working day, it did not surprise us to find that the Embassy was sealed up against the world. Perhaps it was because they get to hear of our protests. Anyway, we are accustomed to a closed door.


Centrepiece of the demonstration was a stark ‘tree of hope’ (made by Mark Beacon of ACTSA) on which was hung messages wishing for free and fair and non-violent elections written on red paper roses by people who had called at our regular Saturday Vigil. The tree was taken to Southwark Cathedral after the demonstration and installed there by the Sub-Dean, Canon Bruce Saunders, who led us in prayers for peace and justice.


Father Saunders explained the Cathedral’s strong links with Zimbabwe and told us prayers for Zimbabwe in the election period were to be said in all churches in the Southwark diocese. He showed us a  map of Zimbabwe on the wall of the Cathedral incorporating earth and artifacts from home. We were touched when we left to see a young girl already filling out a message for our tree of hope.


On our way by bus to Southwark Cathedral an article in the London Times by their regular columnist former Conservative Party MP Matthew Parris was passed among supporters. Headlined ‘Mugabe – a great warrior and, yes, a great leader’, it caused universal shock.  ‘Was he paid by Mugabe?’ one supporter asked.


Matthew Parris, who was educated in Zimbabwe, speculated in his column about Nelson Mandela’s final resting place and went on to speak of Rhodes’s grave in the Matobo National Park. He says: ‘When the time comes, even as a sort-of white Rhodesian, I should like to see Mugabe’s memorial alongside Rhodes in that sacred place. I know the President is from the Mashona people, historic foes of the Matabele. I know Rhodes did many cruel things, dispossessed and killed many people and cheated Chief Lobengula unforgivably. But still, for his restless and unbounded energy, for his vast achievements and for his almost limitless vision, I would call Rhodes’s a great life.  


‘Exit half my readers. Now to alienate the other half.  I know Robert Mugabe has made some terrible mistakes, brought his country for a while close to ruin and been associated with the murder of many Matabele people. But still, for his tremendous ambition, his long fight against overwhelming odds, and his deliverance of his people from submission to another race, he deserves the name of both warrior and leader, and I would call his a great life.  


‘Great men may do brutal things. History is shaped by complicated people, their greatness seldom uncompromised, their nobility tangled with infamy, their wisdom with folly. For good or ill and usually both, they stamp indelibly their age and their country, and we can respect without always approving. I should one day like to see Cecil John Rhodes and Robert Gabriel Mugabe side by side in that awesome place.  In this there might be, as Nelson Mandela above all other Africans would recognise, something like a reconciliation.’


Yes, the Vigil agrees there is something ‘awesome’ in the idea of burying the Gukurahundi butcher of 20,000 Ndebeles in the Ndebele ‘sacred space’ – but not in the sense Parris means. Over the years the Vigil has chronicled his idiotic comments on Zimbabwe which seem to follow his regular holidays there. (One way of paying for them!) See vigil diaries of 11/01/2011 and 18/04/2012 –


The warm sunshine seemed to empower us at the Vigil today. Regular supporter Peter Sidindi condemned African leaders for being taken in by Mugabe’s revolutionary posturing when he was exactly the opposite of a freedom fighter. Ephraim Tapa, leader of ROHR and the We Can Movement said that as from today we were without a parliament and without reforms ahead of the coming elections . . . in other words facing a closed door.  


Other points

·         Thanks to those who attended the ‘Never Again’ protest, namely Arnold Magwanyata, Cephas Maswoswa, Charles Dumisani Ndlovu, David Kadzutu, Dennis Benton, Eric Eluwasi, Eugenia Mushonga, Manyara Matandaware-Ngwenya, Mary Eluwasi, Netsai Makarichi, Nkosikona Tshabangu, Persuade Ziki, Rose Benton, Rosemary Maponga, Sandura Ncube, Tino Mashonganyika. Some came from as far afield as Birmingham, Colchester and Southampton. We were glad to be joined by Marga Knorr of Beyond Violence who came to last week’s Forum to talk about ways we could work together.

·         For pictures of Thursday’s demonstration taken by Paul Davey, check:


For latest Vigil pictures check: 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: 49 signed the register.



·         ROHR Leicester branch meeting. Saturday 6th July from 1.30 – 4 pm. Venue: Woodgate Resource Centre, 36 Woodgate, Leicester LE3 5GE. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707 (Chairperson), Pardon Gurupira 07427382599 (Vice Chairperson), Bryan Mashonganyika 07450547313 (Secretary).

·         ROHR Slough branch meeting. Saturday 13th July from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road SL1 5JW. Contact: Grace Nyaumwe 07850 284 506, Patricia Masamba 07708 116 625.

·         Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 20th July from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. 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.

·         ROHR North East Region Zimbabwe Day Fundraising Event. Saturday 27th July from 1 – 8 pm. Venue: Benton Community Centre, 17 Edenbridge Crescent, Benton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE12 8EP. Food, drink & entertainment. Contact Givemore Chitengu 07912747744, Kennedy Makonese 07979914429, Tapiwa Semwayo 07412236229, Collet Dube 07951516566. 

         Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link:  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.

         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 Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

         Facebook pages:

-         Vigil:

-         ZAF:

-         ROHR:

         Vigil Myspace page:

         Useful websites: which reports on Zanu PF abuses and where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe

         Contact details for Beyond Violence. Facebook:, Website:, Twitter:


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