Campaign News
Exposed: the horror Zimbabwe is hiding behind a news blackout PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 20 January 2019 12:47

Exposed: the horror Zimbabwe is hiding behind a news blackout

Mugabe’s successors beat and kill in a brutal betrayal of the hopes raised by his downfall — and try to stop the world seeing

Christina Lamb 20/01/2019, The Sunday Times

Hundreds of people, including children as young as 10, have been killed or beaten in Zimbabwe in recent days in a crackdown the regime has tried to hide by shutting down the internet and deporting foreign journalists.

The violence comes as the country’s president heads to the economic summit in Davos by private jet tomorrow to brush shoulders with the rich and powerful in his quest for international recognition and investment in his bankrupt nation.

Last week civil society groups, led by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, wrote to the EU accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of using “murder of unarmed civilians as a tool to retain power”.

They demanded that he be barred from entering Switzerland unless he “immediately cease the ongoing human rights violations”.

The government has admitted only to three deaths and 300 detentions, but in the past few days The Sunday Times has secretly met hundreds of people in safe houses, hospitals and courts who have been beaten or had dogs set on them by masked police or soldiers.

Among them were a 15-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.

The closure of the internet for periods since Tuesday, on government orders, has made information difficult to obtain, but a doctor at Harare’s biggest hospital said the morgue was full. One western diplomat said they had heard of as many as 200 deaths, certainly 50.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said they had treated 72 people for gunshot wounds.

Hundreds of people have been detained and denied bail by magistrates who seem to be acting on government orders.

When diplomats demanded a meeting with the government, they were given what one described as “a command briefing” by Cain Mathema, the acting foreign minister. No questions were allowed.

The crackdown followed a more than doubling of fuel prices, with petrol costing $3.31 (£2.57) a litre, the most expensive in the world. It prompted a nationwide shutdown on Monday as well as protests and looting.

The midnight abductions and widespread beatings across the country that followed represent another dashing of hopes for Zimbabweans who believed things would change with the removal of long-time dictator Robert Mugabe, 94, whose authoritarian 37-year rule ended in November 2017.

Last August six people were shot in front of foreign journalists during protests against the election of Mnangagwa, who had been Mugabe’s deputy and right-hand man for decades but has tried to sell himself internationally as something new.

“This is worse than Mugabe,” said Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, yesterday. “These are old wolves in new clothing, using the same old methods of human rights abuses and internal displacement. They are telling the world they are open for business when they are selling a dummy.”

He spoke after attending the funeral of Kelvin Tinashe Choto, 22, a talented footballer and captain of the team in his township of Chitungwiza, who was one of those shot.

Chamisa paid tribute to “a young man with a bright future who was not politically involved in any way, yet was so badly shot his skull could not be reconstructed”.

Zimbabwe: the silencing of our voices PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 January 2019 20:53

From Cathy Buckle 18/09/2019

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been one of the worst weeks in Zimbabwe for many years and has left us shocked, frightened and very uncertain about what is happening  and what lies ahead for us  in the coming days and weeks. I am writing this letter from Zimbabwe during a brief window in which a court order has just been granted to re-open access to the internet but not to social media sites and communication Apps. We all know this window to the world will not last 

It has been almost impossible to follow what has been going on for most of this week. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it was mostly too dangerous for people to venture out of their homes. A three day stayaway called by the Congress of Trade Unions and other civic groups rapidly spiralled out of control on Monday: violent protests, burning vehicles and buildings, looting shops, barricaded roads and vigilante groups running riot in our towns and cities. Many people reported hearing gun shots, helicopters hovering and pillars of black smoke rising. On Monday and early on Tuesday many thousands of messages about what was going on and what people were seeing, flooded social media, along with  horrific pictures and videos showing  destruction, looting, injured and dead people and a massive crackdown by police and soldiers. By about 9.00 am on Tuesday morning the government ordered the internet to be shut down and then we were in the dark about what was going on, and so was the world. The silence of our phones and computers was very frightening. We had no way of knowing who was in trouble, who needed help, if it was safe to go out, if we’d be able to get back home if we did venture out; if our children at school were OK, if our friends in other parts of the country were OK.  

By Wednesday we heard that over 600 people had been arrested including Pastor Evan Mawarire  who led the This Flag movement in 2017. We still don’t know officially how many people have died in the past few days. We have heard that doctors handled 68 gunshot wounds and over 170 injuries. There are thousands of stories and eye witness accounts that cannot be told now.

On Thursday and Friday people have ventured out, restocked as many groceries as they can find and afford and about 50% of shops are still closed. In my home town today there are riot police and armed soldiers on the streets, outside the supermarkets that are open and at the road blocks out of town. The sight of armed soldiers in our towns is very un-nerving. There are big gaps on supermarket shelves where goods have not been restocked because delivery trucks have not been coming from Harare. Vegetables and perishable goods are in short supply, there is no bread and we have not had water for a week.  During ongoing internet blackouts we are unable to use our bank cards at many outlets as they require internet connections; we cannot pay for essential services, cannot pay wages, cannot contact our families, cannot keep up with national development.

We do not know what next week holds for us, we do not know what tomorrow holds; we do not even know if the internet will still be on by tomorrow morning.  The silencing of our voices is very chilling. Please keep Zimbabwe in your hearts, thoughts and prayers in this very frightening time in our country.
Apartheid style evictions in Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 January 2019 12:48

11 January 2019 


News is breaking of the violent eviction of a whole community living close to Bulawayo. Yesterday (10 January) residents of what is known locally as the McDonald Bricks site, some 20 miles east of the city, found themselves faced with three truck loads of ZRP (Police) and a support unit which had come with orders to destroy their homes forthwith.


Approximately 1,400 families live in this community.  Some of these have been living here for a lifetime, though their number has been increased in recent years by others drawn to the site, which has no water or other amenities, by the opportunity to avoid municipal charges they cannot afford. Together they comprise an impoverished community which, without any help from the State, has been forced to fend for itself under the harshest conditions. Their very survival is a mark of their resilience.

Shocked and surprised by the arrival of a large police contingent and the demand they should step aside to allow their cherished homes to be demolished, the residents responded angrily. An ugly scene was developing between, on the one hand, the police and their support unit, brandishing batons and guns, and on the other, the residents, some of whom seized spears and knobkerries to defend their property.  At this point, eyewitnesses report, the Commander of the support unit addressed the people. He reminded them of what had happened in Harare following the disputed elections last year, when the army opened fire on unarmed civilians already in flight, killing six and wounding many others. He said the people should remember the army’s reputation and not stand in their way.


Bulldozers then moved in and the brutal destruction of the dwellings followed, accompanied by the wailing of distraught women. Some of the structures were flimsy but others were more substantial. Many had been constructed of quality building material, including the occasional tiled roof here and there. The demolitions proceeded relentlessly, while the residents could only stand by, scarcely believing their eyes, as they watched their only security in life being trashed.  A local pastor was one of those who witnessed the unbelievable cruelty. He has ministered to these people for over 20 years and was in shock.


Not only is this a moral outrage but the legality of it is, to say the least, questionable. The ownership of the land on which the “McDonald Bricks” community lives is disputed.  An attempt a few years ago by a would-be developer to establish ownership of the freehold of the site was rejected by the Court on the evidence of a surveyor called in to interpret the only available maps. That decision was appealed to the High Court, but the matter was not then resolved. As far as the residents were concerned, pending any further application to the Courts, they were entitled to remain in occupation of their properties.   


The residents were not even permitted to remove their belongings. This the police did in their own fashion, later dumping items seized from the dwellings along the Old Gwanda Road. No compensation was offered to those evicted, nor any assistance with relocation.


The distraught evictees have no reserves of food or cash for transport. A few have been offered temporary lodging by Christian friends but most are now sleeping in the open. Without shelter, food or the most basic facilities, all – and particularly little children and the frail elderly – must be considered at great risk.


The exercise of such brute power in the name of the State against poor, defenceless citizens must surely invite comparison with some of the worst atrocities committed by the Apartheid regime against some of the long-settled communities in South Africa that were perceived to stand in the way of that regime’s racist ideology.


Graham Shaw
Zimbabwe Victims' Support Fund 

Zimbabwe has no choice but to embark on painful reforms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 November 2018 20:14


Zimbabwe has no choice but to embark on painful reforms


Spending cuts, new taxes and an anti-corruption drive can help to revive the economy




When Margaret Thatcher was elected UK prime minister in 1979, she recognised that piecemeal change would not be sufficient to tackle the problems of labour unrest, rampant inflation and economic stagnation. A wholesale transformation and modernisation of the British economy was required. While there would inevitably be downsides to such rapid change, Thatcher was undeterred.


The challenges that Zimbabwe faces today are no less acute. But my government is committed to tackling them head on. Like Thatcher, we are not afraid of taking tough, and at times painful, decisions. As she used to put it, there is no alternative.


In order to reform, restructure and rebuild the Zimbabwean economy, the national budget must be balanced and spending reined in. The government wage bill is unsustainable.


A large and inefficient public sector cannot be allowed to hold back private enterprise. We have set about cutting unnecessary expenditure, therefore. We are reducing the number of ministries, limiting foreign travel and perks for officials, and retiring or redeploying senior officers.


Privatisation and the reform of state-owned enterprises are also key components of this strategy. Organisations which have outlived their commercial viability or necessity will be dissolved.


Over the past two years, we have spent large sums to support struggling state-owned enterprises. But we cannot continue to prop them up. So we have earmarked under-performing bodies for sale and have given them strict deadlines to conclude privatisation deals.


Governments do not only cut. They must also collect. As part of an effort to broaden the tax base, we recently introduced a 2 per cent levy on electronic transfers, which make up around 96 per cent of all financial transactions. Collecting revenue effectively and efficiently, combined with cuts and privatisations, will enable us to cut the budget deficit.


These measures are being complemented by an anti-corruption drive that will save Zimbabwe hundreds of millions of dollars. Investigations are under way and arrests are already being made, including of ministers and senior executives. The era of zero tolerance for corruption is here.


The economy is already quietly showing signs of improvement, with growth forecasts revised upwards. Many sectors are thriving. The country’s gold mines have already surpassed the total output of 2017, for example, while a plant for the production of lithium carbonate project in Kwekwe is off to a promising start. Critically, agriculture is increasingly being funded by the private sector.


However, Zimbabwe cannot succeed alone. We are seeking new areas for co-operation and partnership. I was delighted, therefore, by the warm welcome our delegation received at the recent UN general assembly, where I urged the international community to support us as we revive our economy and build a better future.


Mthuli Ncube, the minister of finance, a former African Development Bank chief economist, delivered this message at the recent IMF and World Bank meetings in Bali. There, he met development partners and creditors who welcomed Zimbabwe’s debt-settlement and transitional stabilisation plans.


The process of change is not smooth. Some pain and discomfort along the way is inevitable. The arduousness of the path of reform can sometimes lead governments to stall or backtrack. But as a passionate reformer leading a reformist government, I know there is no other way. We cannot allow anything to slow us down.


As Thatcher once said: “Yes, the medicine is harsh, but the patient requires it in order to live.”


The writer is president of Zimbabwe 

Giving away the essence of Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 September 2018 12:26

Letter from Cathy Buckle 7th September 2018

Dear Family and Friends,

The dust but not the pain of Zimbabwe's 2018 elections has now mostly settled. Feelings of disbelief, shock and disgust have been replaced by an abiding sense of betrayal and exhaustion. Betrayal by national institutions and safeguarding systems and exhaustion at the thought of another five years of the same political party which has been in power for thirty-eight years and which took Zimbabwe from being the breadbasket of Africa to the laughing stock of the world.

The “Open for Business” boast by Zanu PF continues and every night ZBC TV tell of us of foreign investors and deals about to be signed with China and other countries while we at home say “what about us?” What about Zimbabwean investors; Zimbabwean companies, Zimbabwean businesses, Zimbabwean skills? What about calling home the four million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and investing in them, their skills and their passion for their homeland? As the foreign investment frenzy grows, we at home wonder if we are on the cusp of giving away the very essence of Zimbabwe and her abundant natural resources? 

Meanwhile back at home Zimbabwe is in a perilous place nine months after a coup (now sanitized and being called a ‘soft coup’) put Zanu PF’s President Mnangagwa in power and six weeks after the contested 2018 elections returned him to power.

Where to start? Well, it’s simple really: MONEY. There isn’t any. We go into supermarkets and shops and purchase our requirements with swipe cards (debit cards) or mobile (phone) money. We pay for our utilities, fuel and drugs with swipe cards and if we are very, very lucky we may have a few Bond coins in our pockets to pay the odd toll gate fee on the highway or a hand of bananas on the roadside. The problem comes with the fact that so much of what we buy is imported: almost all our medicines, an estimated 80% of our food; spare parts, chemicals, all our fuel and the list goes on and on. Suppliers can only import replacement stock if they have real US dollar money, not swipe cards or Zimbabwe’s unrecognized Bond notes, and they can only get US dollars from the bank and the banks don’t have any money.  

In the past fortnight medicines have declined to critical levels and we are again trudging from one pharmacy to the next only to be told: “sorry out of stock.” At first it was less common drugs we couldn’t find, now it’s everything, including for the most common conditions such as blood pressure. At the local hospital this week scores of epilepsy patients were being turned away from outpatients and told to “go and find your tablets somewhere else,” because the hospital pharmacy has nothing in stock. The lack of empathy and compassion is embarrassing and shameful. The pharmaceutical sector apparently need US$4 million a week in order to import supplies but the Reserve Bank haven’t allocated any funds to the sector since May.  As I write we are hearing of a cholera outbreak in Glen View and Budiriro suburbs in Harare. Five people have died and another thirty-five are in hospital.  At least four and half thousand people died from cholera in 2008 and it sends chills down our spines to think of a return to that time of extreme anguish. 

Wheat supplies were next to make the headlines. The Grain Millers Association said supplies have reached their lowest levels since 2005. There are currently 28,000 tonnes of wheat in stock and the country needs 38,000 tonnes a month. ‘Bread shortage looms’ were the banner newspaper headlines this week and again the problem is money. The Reserve Bank have not remitted the promised twelve and half million US dollars to the suppliers outside Zimbabwe and so the wheat for our daily bread is sitting at the port in Mozambique. This crisis comes at a time when the World Food Programme have said 1.1 million Zimbabweans need food aid between now and the 2019 harvest.

We can’t help wondering what will be next: food? fuel? The irony of the Zanu PF government giving ninety brand new vehicles, which have to be imported using real money, to traditional Chiefs and an unknown number to War Veterans last week, is not lost on Zimbabweans struggling to find basic medicines. We have finished licking our wounds and hanging our heads after the 2018 election and are starting to find our voices again. Zimbabwe remains a country in waiting. Until next time, thanks for reading this letter and for supporting my books about life in Zimbabwe, love Cathy.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>


How can you help?

The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.