Embassy in panic – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 21st March 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 March 2015 18:43

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16861356256/sizes/m/

 

The Zimbabwean Embassy in London went into meltdown on Thursday when nine Zimbabwean expatriates charged in and demanded information about the missing human rights activist Itai Dzamara.

 

With cries of ‘We want Itai’, ‘Bring back Itai’ and ‘Zanu PF murderers’, the group demanded to see the Ambassador. Frightened staff pointed to a door but a voice from inside that room shouted ‘don’t let them in’.

 

In the meantime police – some of them armed – swarmed into the building summoned by a panic button. The protesters explained they were simply making a peaceful request for information from their Embassy because Dzamara had been seized by state agents but had not been charged with any offence within the required seven days and they had a right to ask for an explanation.

 

The police asked them to continue the protest outside and they immediately left without causing any damage or harm to anyone. The Embassy then closed for the day.

 

Those taking part in the protest were: Charles Dumisani Ndlovu and Deborah Harry who led the way into the building followed by Martin Chinyanga, Erick and Mary Eluwasi, Danny Kadiki, Arthur Molife, Thobile Gwebu and Fungayi Mabhunu. For a video of the protest see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHvbuHUZTgA.

 

The protest against the feared murder of Itai Dzamara continued at the Vigil on Saturday with posters reading ‘Where is Itai Dzamara?’ and ‘Release Itai Dzamara’. And at meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil it was agreed to send the following letter to the Ambassador.

 

Dear Ambassador

 

We would like to discuss with you the abduction of the human rights activist Itai Dzamara who was seen being taken away in an unmarked car by five armed men on Monday 9th March.

 

We fear that he is the latest victim of the Central Intelligence Organisation which has been responsible for the disappearance of thousands of opponents of the Mugabe regime.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil fears that the unbridled criminal behaviour by the Mugabe regime is stoking a fire which could consume our people.

 

Because the Embassy has no letterbox we will deliver this letter in person. We assure you that we come with peaceful intentions and intend at all times to obey the law which recognises our rights as Zimbabweans to approach our Embassy.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil

 

In our diary of 15th November 2014 we reported as follows: The last Vigil diary reported the police attack on human rights activist Itai Dzamara for protesting in Africa Unity Square in Harare. We have been inspired by his courage and his confidence of change in Zimbabwe as expressed in his facebook page of Sunday 9th November: My time in hospital has afforded me huge spaces of quietness, reflection, introspection and meditation. I am left without any doubt about three things. First, a new Zimbabwe is very possible, out of civil, peaceful and resolute means. I have seen and experienced enough during the past three weeks, to know that beyond any doubt. Secondly, l have come to understand and appreciate that, really, the majority of us, Zimbabweans, are convinced that this is not the Zimbabwe we want. Therefore, there is only one route to take – fighting for a better nation. We have to do it, if not for today or now,  certainly for our children and the future. The fight does not require bombs, knobkerries or machetes. It requires determination, peace and love. Lastly my presence in hospital bears testimony to the fact that there are elements and forces bent on resisting our struggle for a better Zimbabwe – including through murder.  But I have just completed a set of gym exercises this morning, to the shock of everyone, bearing testimony to the power and grace that is beyond human instinct or murder plots – just three days ago I was left for dead. I am left without any doubt at all that a new Zimbabwe is possible through our genuine efforts and without shedding blood or breaking bones. I am ready to continue playing my part and hereby challenge you to step up and do your duty. Through civil, peaceful and resolute means, we can make it because: We are the people! We are the numbers! Let’s go!’

 

Other points

  • One of our supporters, Epiphania Phiri, says she last phoned Itai the night before his abduction to tell him she was sending money. She carried out the transaction but the money has still not been picked up and she is trying to get a refund so she can resend it to Itai’s family. The Vigil is still collecting for him. See our campaigns page (http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/672-bring-back-itai-dzamara-fund-appeal) for how to get money to his family.

  • Also on our campaigns page is a report from journalist David Wilkins on our Mugabe birthday protest in which he interviews several of our supporters. David has won our respect for overcoming his blindness to come out by himself to follow our activities (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/671-unhappy-birthday-dear-mugabe-).  

  • Our supporter Sister Beverley Mutandiro who often leads prayers at the Vigil spoke of the many people who approached her today troubled by failed asylum applications and the difficulties of missing their children and spouses. She asked that the following bible verse be put on the diary to comfort them. Isaiah 41 v10: Do not be afraid – I am with you. I am your God, let nothing terrify you. I will make you strong and help you. I will protect you and save you.

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Joseph Chivayo, Mavis Chisvo, Patrica Masamba, Fungisai Mupandira Paul Fusire, Brenda Chavundura, Ishmael Makina, Helen Rukambiro, Rachel Mudzimba, Fungayi Mabhunu and Tryness Ncube. Thanks also to Tryness for buying copies of a useful book on asylum and giving them away to others at the Vigil who needed them.

  • For Paul Davey’s photos of last week’s ‘I am Itai Dzamara’ protest, Check: .http://pauldaveycreative.photoshelter.com/gallery/2015-03-14-Zimbabweans-protest-in-London-against-disappearance-of-democracy-campaigner-Itai-Dzamara/G0000K7jsH4xppUQ

     

    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 Zimbabwe Training Day. Saturday 28th March 2015 from 11 am – 5 pm. Venue: Secular Hall, 75 Humberstone Gate, Leicester LE1 1WB.  The training is particularly for office bearers on ROHR branch committees. The training will cover: the duties and roles of office holders, asylum and immigration matters, and the history of ROHR and human rights activism. For more information, contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707, Tino Mashonganyika 07463272078, Xoliso Sithole 07455911728 and Sally Mutseyami 07448730581.

  • 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 Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 28th March 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 4th April from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

  • ROHR Executive Meeting: Saturday 4th April 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 4th April 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 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.

 
We are Itai Dzamara – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th March 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 March 2015 20:36

Photolinks

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16193619214/sizes/n/  

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/16790072376/sizes/m/

 

Exiled Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday about the abduction of the human rights activist Itai Dzamara whose brave Harare protest ‘Occupy Africa Unity Square’ (OAUS) has made him a beacon of freedom. There are mounting fears that Itai has been killed by state security agents because he was seen being bundled into an unmarked truck by 5 unidentified men – typical CIO behaviour.

 

At the suggestion of the writer Vince Musewe, Vigil supporters carried posters ‘I am Itai Dzamara’ to show solidarity with a man Musewe said had ‘a burning desire to do that which we must despite the personal cost’.

 

Musewe asked: ‘Where are our pastors and our bishops? Where are our churches, civic organisations, human rights activists and our NGOs, our prophets and prophetesses, our community leaders, our opposition political party leaders and all those amongst us and in the Diaspora who claim that they stand for our freedom? Where are you all now because words alone will not do?’ For Musewe’s message see: http://nehandaradio.com/2015/03/13/i-am-itai-dzamara/.

 

Among those at the Vigil was Tendai Kwari, leader of OAUS-UK, who said he feared for Itai’s life. He added that a citizen of Zimbabwe could not be allowed to just disappear. ‘We are all now living in fear’.

 

Ephraim Tapa, President of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). told the fired-up gathering that many people had disappeared after being abducted and tortured or from so-called accidents. ‘Enough is enough’ he said. ‘We must move the struggle to another level. The Zanu PF regime must be dismantled. People must demonstrate outside Zimbabwe’s embassies abroad and use social media to encourage people at home to join the protest.’

 

Itai Dzamara has been arrested, assaulted and tortured several times during his protest which was launched last October when he called on Mugabe to step down.

 

For a video showing the treatment that he might have received from the state, see: http://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/Watch-Zimbabwe-police-brutality-20150313.

 

Some people at the Vigil have experienced this brutality at first hand. A collection was taken at the Vigil for Itai Dzamara’s wife Sheffa, who says her young children haven’t stopped crying for their father to come home.

 

People might like to sign an online petition to the European Union asking for their help to ensure the release of Itai Dzamara: https://www.change.org/p/council-of-the-european-union-call-for-the-release-of-occupy-zimbabwe-leader-itai-dzamara?recruiter=254630181&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

 

 

Other points

  • Swazi Vigil Meeting with Vincent Ncongwane. Wednesday 18th April from 6 – 8 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Nearest station: Temple, next to Kings College London Mr Ncongwane is the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland and will speak of the role the Swazi Vigil UK can play in supporting democratic reform.

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

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 21st March 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 Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco, a play by Zimbabwean writer Andrew Whaley showing at the Gate Theatre, 11 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HQ, until  21st March. For more information and to book, check: http://www.gatetheatre.co.uk/events/all-productions/the_rise_and_shine_of_comrade_fiasco.

  • Democrats. Two showings of this film about the constitution-making process in Zimbabwe in London on 20th March at 6.30 pm at the Barbican and 23rd March at 6.15 pm at the Ritzy, Brixton. Check: http://ff.hrw.org/film/democrats?city=4 for tickets. Both screenings are followed by discussion with filmmaker Camilla Nielsson and Dewa Mavhinga, Senior Researcher for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch).

  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 28th March 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.

 
No appeasement – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 7th March 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 March 2015 15:36

Strong support for the Vigil’s criticism of the European Union’s new policy of ‘re-engaging’ with the Mugabe regime has come from a former senior American official.

 

‘To appease a brutal dictator and his henchmen is to wind up on the wrong side of history’, warns the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Todd Moss (see: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/03/mugabes-new-best-friends-in-brussels/). Mr Moss’s article appears in ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine with the sub title ‘Why is Europe suddenly cozying up to Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian kleptocrat’? He says Mugabe’s lavish birthday celebration ‘was yet another reminder of the stark contrast between the increasingly venal lifestyles of the country’s politically-connected nouveau riche and regular Zimbabweans, who are now poorer than they were when Mugabe came to power nearly 35 years ago’.

 

With President Obama renewing American sanctions for another year, Mr Moss says that it is perplexing that Europe is now choosing to break ranks and resuming aid, signalling a shift in approach from sticks to carrots.  Europe, he says, is wilfully blind to what is happening and who is responsible for the worsening conditions in Zimbabwe. ‘Any new support for the current government will likely only further entrench the current coterie around Mugabe.’

 

He notes: ‘When announcing the resumption of aid, a jovial EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phillip van Damme, claimed, “In a true partnership among equals, we may sometimes diverge in opinion and vision. But those divergences can be overcome through real, frank and open dialogue without taboos. It’s like in a marriage.” While diplomats in the field sometimes get lost in their bubble or mistake cocktail parties for real politics, I just cannot believe that European policymakers are under the illusion that the problems in Zimbabwe are from a lack of communication. Do the Europeans really believe they will overcome their differences with the government of Zimbabwe on torture, land grabbing, vote stealing, and diamond theft via open dialogue? Surely not.’

 

Mr Moss concludes that ‘the ethical and strategic move is to keep Mugabe and his birthday party guests at arm’s length’.

 

A different view is taken by Dr Tapiwa Shumba, former spokesperson for the MDC in South Africa, who says opposition parties must realise that Zanu PF and Mugabe are in power and stop being confrontational. ‘It is because of this confrontational strategy that the opposition must also partly take responsibility for the obvious polarisation in the country’, say Dr Shumba who has taken a one year sabbatical we presume to work out how the opposition can help run the gas chambers in Zimbabwe more economically. ‘Opposition with co-operation’ as he put it (see: http://nehandaradio.com/2015/03/05/zimbabwe-opposition-must-change-from-confrontation-to-cooperation-shumba/).

 

Whatever the differences of opinion over re-engaging Mugabe, no one can deny the rampant corruption in Zimbabwe. But despite this, Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) continues to pour money into Zimbabwe which we have long argued serves to prop up the regime. The author Jonathan Foreman says DFID is willfully naïve.

 

The reason is that DFID staff, like so many people in Big Aid, are wearing ideological blinkers. They have to keep on giving money to governments that are ravaging their own societies, and they have to pretend that local officials are akin to our own, rather than bandits and exploiters. Otherwise they would have to surrender their core conviction that “fragile” (i.e. chaotic, corrupt, impoverished and dysfunctional) states are that way not through the fault of their own governments and elites, but only because of a lack of money, resources or technology, and/or because evil foreigners have wrecked them . . . It’s why the UK’s bloated aid effort will continue to be wasteful, inefficient and a kick in the teeth for the British taxpayer’ (see: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/02/13/britains-bloated-wasteful-foreign-aid-programme-is-next-to-useless/ –Incompetent British Aid Agency Overwhelmed By Too Much Money).

 

The Zimbabwe Peace Project complained only this week that children of MDC members in Bindura South are being denied access to educational assistance under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM). The British taxpayer has been the main sponsor of this project (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_opposition-party-members-children-denied-access-to-educational-assistance-zpp-newsday-zimbabwe/).  British diplomats could take the matter up with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, but its Chief Executive Ngonidzashe Gumbo has just been jailed for – you guessed it – corruption (see: http://www.herald.co.zw/anti-corruption-commission-boss-jailed/). Not surprisingly, Mr Gumbo is a former Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police.

 

Other points

·         We had a chaotic start to the Vigil because all traffic was disrupted by a big demonstration over climate change. A police van was parked in the middle of our space.

·         On a lovely sunny day (at the request of Enniah Dube, Vice-Chair of ROHR) we marked International Women’s Day in support of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who were beaten by police during a Valentine’s Day protest in Bulawayo (see report from Amnesty International on our campaigns page: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/665-zimbabwe-update-from-amnesty-international-uk-woza-action-march-2015-).

·         A meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil heard a preliminary report of a working committee set up to formulate a charter for the Zimbabwean diaspora.

·         Thanks to a regular supporter who brought a number of Zimbabwean caps for us to sell in support of our activities.

·          The Vigil has protested to the British Home Secretary Theresa May at an asylum judge’s ill-informed criticism of us. You can see the letter on our campaigns page: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/666-a-discredited-judge--letter-to-the-uk-home-secretary).

·         Thanks to Deborah Harry, Epiphania Phiri and Hilda Gwesele who sold drinks and snacks to fundraise at the Vigil. Thanks also the Eunice Mucherechedzo and Helen Rukambiro for taking care of the front table.

 

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: 54 signed the register but there were many more at the protest.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Southampton branch meeting and outreach. Saturday 14th March 11 am – 3 pm. Venue: Eastleigh Library, 1st Floor, Swan Centre, Eastleigh SO50 5SF. Special guests Councillor Wayne Irish and NHS Practitioner Sunitha Rajeev. For further enquiries please contact: Sally Mutseyami (Chairperson) on 07448730581.

  • ROHR Slough general meeting.  Saturday 14th March from 11 am – 2 pm Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Slough. For more information contact: Fungisai Mupandira (Organising secretary ) 07758958803, (Chairperson )Patricia Masamba 07708116625, (Vice chairperson ) Nkosi Tshabangu 07926 977 646.

  • The Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco, a play by Zimbabwean writer Andrew Whaley showing at the Gate Theatre, 11 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HQ, until  21st March. The theatre has given the Vigil flyers with a promo code for discounted tickets of £5 until 14th March. These can be picked up from the Vigil. Check: http://www.gatetheatre.co.uk/events/all-productions/the_rise_and_shine_of_comrade_fiasco for more information and to book.

  • Democrats. Two showings of this film about the constitution-making process in Zimbabwe in London on 20th March at 6.30 pm at the Barbican and 23rd March at 6.15 pm at the Ritzy, Brixton. Check: http://ff.hrw.org/film/democrats?city=4 for tickets. Both screenings are followed by discussion with filmmaker Camilla Nielsson and Dewa Mavhinga, Senior Researcher for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch).

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

  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 21st March from 6.15 pm. 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 Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 28th March 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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