Human rights defenders under siege – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th July 2021 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 July 2021 16:59

 

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/51302025132/sizes/m/

 

Human rights organisations have complained to the United Nations of a worsening situation in Zimbabwe. They sent a joint letter to the UN Special Rapporteur for the Situation of Human Rights’ Defenders, which was also copied to six other UN Special Rapporteurs.

 

The letter said Zimbabwe was under siege as citizens’ rights continued to be violated. ‘We write to call your attention to the disturbing trend in Zimbabwe of weaponising the criminal justice system to stifle dissent and suppress the activities of human rights defenders and journalists.’

 

It continued: ‘We are particularly concerned that the arrests and charges against individuals are politically motivated and violate their human rights, including their personal liberty and freedom of expression.’

 

The letter also expressed concern over the proposed Patriotic Bill, which will criminalise Zimbabweans speaking negatively about Zimbabwe on international platforms (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/07/rights-bodies-flag-un-over-zim-rights-violations/).

 

Meanwhile non-governmental organisations in Masvingo have been summoned to a meeting with the provincial development co-ordinator, Jefta Sakupwanya, next week. New Zimbabwe quotes sources as saying he wants to ‘clip their wings’.

 

Sakupwanya’s counterpart in Harare, Tafadzwa Muguti, started the crackdown when he ordered NGOs based there to report to his office. They have refused, saying his directive had no legal force (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/govt-intensifies-crackdown-on-ngos/).

 

A Zimbabwean NGO, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), has expressed fear of violence with national elections looming in 2023. RAU called for the military to be confined to barracks ahead of the elections and for the prosecution of anyone making hate speech to avoid a bloodbath.

 

RAU consultant Tony Reeler points to a survey by the research organisation Afrobarometer, which indicates that a majority of Zimbabweans are dissatisfied with the government. ‘Only 48% trust President Emmerson Mnangagwa and this suggests the increasing probability that the 2023 elections will be very violent. It is worth noting further that elections are usually violent where Zanu PF's hold on the presidency is seriously challenged.

 

He said that, looking at the statistics, no ruling party in a ‘normal country’ would win an election (see: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-07-09-the-numbers-dont-lie-zanu-pf-would-have-to-defy-the-reality-of-political-economy-to-win-the-next-election/). The Vigil believes that Zimbabwe is by no means a normal country.

 

Other Points:

  • The beleaguered human rights organisations in Zimbabwe have expressed concern at the situation of vulnerable groups after a new lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Samuel Wadzai, speaking on behalf of vendors, opposed the reintroduction of exceptions which allow police and government employees to do their jobs but not vendors. Many vendors have ignored the rules. Lucia Mtetwa, who sells second hand clothes, told Voice of America: ‘I only see corruption increasing because of these letters because everyone wants to go somewhere – with an exemption letter or not. This only gives police an advantage. They will start demanding bribes as they were doing during the last time during the lockdown.’ (See: https://www.voanews.com/africa/zimbabwe-reverts-2020-lockdown-covid-19-cases-rise.)
  • But not all the news from Zimbabwe is gloomy. The country could be saved by mbanje according to Tino Kambasha of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency. Zimbabwe has opened up cannabis farming to encourage investment in hemp for industrial and medicinal uses. Kambasha said: ‘it's a market that is growing fast and we think it’s going to be a game-changer for this country’ (see: https://www.voanews.com/africa/cannabis-growing-gathers-momentum-zimbabwe).
  • South Africa’s previous president Jacob Zuma is in prison for refusing to testify to a corruption commission, a move that shows how the South African judiciary – unlike Zimbabwe’s – is still independent. During his nine years in office he is alleged to have looted state-owned enterprises on a mind-boggling scale. A leading article in the UK Times newspaper says the jailing of Zuma is an important step on the road to returning to the founding ideals of the post-apartheid state (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1151-the-times-view-on-the-jailing-of-jacob-zuma-hard-graft).
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157719526610851. Our virtual Vigil activists today were Jacob Mandipira and Grace Munyanyi who both kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

Notices:

  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:

         Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

         ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/

         ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515
 
Zimbabwe tycoon’s ‘dirty money’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 3rd July 2021 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 July 2021 14:56

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/51290008200/sizes/m/

 

The South African publication Daily Maverick has published a new report on the dodgy business dealings of Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Zimbabwe’s richest businessman and a close advisor to President Mnangagwa.

 

The report is titled ‘Shadows and Shell Games: Uncovering an Offshore Business Empire in Zimbabwe’. It looks at the business manoeuvres Tagwirei uses to tighten his hold on the Zimbabwean economy and increase his reach into other countries in the region, including South Africa and Mauritius.

 

The report is by The Sentry, an organisation based in Washington which describes itself as ‘an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system’. 

 

John Prendergast, who co-founded the organisation with the actor George Clooney, said: ‘Zimbabwe has long been victimised by networks rooted in Zanu PF which have undermined the vast promise that the Zimbabwean people and natural resources possessed at independence’.

 

J R Mailey, its Investigations Director, said ‘whether it is Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe or South Africa we see the role of offshore enablers – banks, lawyers, and company formation agents – again and again, enabling the looting of Africa’s resources by politically connected cronies. All of them – politicians, cronies and enablers – need to face accountability for what they are doing.’

 

Tagwirei was added to the US sanctions list last year on the grounds that he ‘and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption’. He is said to have used South African businessmen to evade the sanctions and create what he envisaged as ‘one of the biggest companies in Southern Africa’.

 

The report documents Russian involvement in the business deals as well as the role of the Zimbabwean military in what it called ‘off-budget financing of Zimbabwe’s abusive and partisan military’.

 

The Sentry alleges that Tagwirei bought out the military’s 50% share in a mining company. ‘Noting the role of the Zimbabwean military in violently suppressed demonstrations and keeping Zanu PF in power, the report argues that parliamentary financial control of any national defence force is a prerequisite to ensure the security sector cannot set and finance its own agenda. Off-budget revenue removes oversight over spending by Parliament and scrutiny bodies such as Zimbabwe’s Auditor-General. It would be troubling if a prominent tycoon accused of corruption purchased a mining company from Zimbabwe’s military . . . ‘

 

The report concludes ‘the operations of Tagwirei’s network are emblematic of larger, structural problems in Zimbabwe. A select group of politicians, the military, and businesspeople dominate government decision-making with little oversight or scrutiny. Key information about public finances remains shrouded in secrecy. An environment of impunity prevails. Left unaddressed, these dynamics will likely become further entrenched.’

 

It calls for a ‘co-ordinated strategy to counter state capture, involving the US, the UK, the EU, and the World Bank (see: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-07-01-dismantling-zimbabwes-kleptocracy-report-lifts-lid-on-kuda-tagwireis-offshore-dealings-and-sanction-avoiding-strategies/ and ‘The Offshore Hive of Zimbabwe’s Queen Bee, https://www.ft.com/content/af8f3546-1b9b-40f1-afb1-5e7ce3b011da).

 

Other Points:

 

Notices:

  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:

         Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

         ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/

         ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

 
Virtual reality – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 26th June 2021 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 June 2021 12:58

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/51272489978/sizes/m/

 

President Mnangagwa’s wealth is estimated at US$500 million by the research company Africa Risk Consultancy (ARC). He heads its list of the wealthiest members of Zimbabwe’s ‘ruling political elite’.

 

ARC says Mnangagwa has ‘substantive stakes in at least four national banks, several gold mines and equity interests in transport and agri-business companies’. It observes that his wealth contrasts grotesquely with the annual per capita income in Zimbabwe of about US$1,400 (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/report-exposes-harares-corrupt-elites-and-south-african-connections/).

 

The World Bank estimated this week that almost half of Zimbabweans are living in extreme poverty. It says good harvests offer some hope, with the biggest maize crop in almost four decades (see: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jun/21/half-of-zimbabweans-fell-into-extreme-poverty-during-covid).

 

However agricultural experts say the actual yield in Zimbabwe will be ‘dismal’, with 1.4 tonnes per hectare compared with the 5.9 tonnes achieved in South Africa (see: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-06-21-zimbabwe-forecast-to-reap-biggest-maize-crop-in-almost-four-decades-but-yields-remain-dismal/).

 

The ARC report lists Vice President Chiwenga second on its list of the rich political elite. So it was interesting to hear him calling for a corruption-free Africa, saying that the cancerous scourge was depleting resources meant to benefit the public.

 

General Chiwenga was delivering a ‘virtual’ address to delegates at Victoria Falls marking Continental Africa Public Service Day. He said: ‘Corruption has become endemic in our culture and needs to be weeded out in our public systems. Zimbabwe has adopted a zero tolerance to corruption approach and has instituted arrests of perpetrators, some of whom have already been convicted and are currently serving their sentences.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/06/corruption-is-endemic-in-africa-chiwenga/.)

 

The Vigil would point out to the wealthy general/politician Chiwenga the sad case of Stanley Kazhanje, former chair of the Zimbabwe Power Company, sentenced to imprisonment for corruption but refused admission to jail – no doubt because they are cluttered up with opposition people.

 

Short of breaking into jail, Mr Kazhanje has done all that he possibly can to be admitted – but to no avail. The police are simply not interested. At one stage a High Court judge ordered that he should surrender himself to the Registrar of the High Court, which he did. But the Registrar refused to accept him, saying he had no warrant for his committal. He was referred to the police officers at the court, who didn’t know what to do without a warranted committal (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/ex-zpc-boss-fails-to-find-way-to-jail/).

 

The Vigil asks how come, when opposition activists are bundled into jail, there is not the same problem? Perhaps Vice President wealthy General Chiwenga could make a ‘virtual’ jail for the convicted elite? About a third of Zimbabwe’s annual gold production was lost to smuggling last year according to Fidelity Printing and Refiners, an arm of the central bank. It amounts to about US$1.5 billion. The head of Zimbabwe’s miners’ federation Henrietta Rushwaya, who is close to the President, was arrested last October on her way to Dubai with six kilograms of gold. Unfortunately, because of the backlog, she is yet to face justice (see: https://www.barrons.com/news/zimbabwe-says-lost-third-of-gold-output-to-smugglers-01624385108?tesla=y).

 

Other Points:

  • A ‘Celebration of Life’ ceremony was held yesterday for seven-year-old Jesse who sadly passed away last month. His mother, Isabell Gwatidzo, asked us to pass on her gratitude to all those who contributed to the costs and to those who, despite Covid restrictions, attended the event. They were: Alice Majola, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Daizy Fabian, David Mukaro, Dumi,Tutani, Ephraim Tapa, Etines Kapiya, Grace Munyanyi, Jonathan Kariwo, Lucia Mudzimu, Patricia Masamba, Peter Sidindi, Sharon Moyo and Tarisai Murwira. For photos, check:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157719463396201
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157719514123740. Our virtual Vigil activists today were Grace Munyanyi, Jane Kaphuwa, Garikai Mananje and Margaret Munenge who all kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

Notices:

  • 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 us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:

         Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

         ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/

         ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

 
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Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights of 2010
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