Step up Ramaphosa – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 16th February 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 February 2019 16:07

Mnangagwa’s nickname was never complimentary. Crocodiles are feared not admired. There is certainly much to fear in the hooded eyes of Mnangagwa – and nothing to admire in the bare-faced lies he told French television when he was interviewed at the AU summit in Addis Ababa.

The recent unrest was basically part of the West’s regime-change agenda, he said, engineered by NGOs and the MDC alliance and funded from abroad. The security forces had been the target of co-ordinated violent attacks ‘in every single town’.

As for the women who claimed to have been raped: ‘let them be paraded so we can see them . . . What we are doing is good for our people, good for Zimbabwe’, he declared (see: https://www.france24.com/en/f24-interview/20190210-emmerson-mnagagwa-zimbabwe-protests-interview-mugabe-regime-change-operation).

Well, of course it was good enough for the AU – but the bar there is so low a crocodile can easily slither over it and slurp down another bottle of comfort with his cronies.

Like the AU, SADAC showed no interest in the unrest in Zimbabwe, merely blaming sanctions. As UK-based law lecturer Alex Magaisa observed ‘SADC grabs and elevates Zanu PF's cheap propaganda. No word on the egregious human rights abuses by the security services and Zanu PF sponsored youths, even as they confess. Villains cast as victims, victims as villains. And they expect the world to take them seriously?’ (See: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-156036.html).

But Mnangagwa hasn’t persuaded the West. The EU parliament has now recommended tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe. For its part the United States has called on all sides to come together in a national dialogue. It said: ‘in order for such a dialogue to succeed, the Government of Zimbabwe should end its excessive violence and intimidation, immediately release the civil society activists who have been arbitrarily detained, and hold security force members responsible for human rights violations and abuses accountable’.

It said the dialogue should be mediated by a neutral third party but who could that be? The Vigil thinks its time for Cyril Ramaphosa to take on the burden of Zimbabwe. The future of Zimbabwe and South Africa is inextricably linked and, despite his reluctance, the South African President must try and succeed where Thabo Mbeki failed. 

Other points

  • It was good to have with us Nomusa Dube and others who were protesting against the sale of baby elephants to China by the Zimbabwean government. They said these sales are helping to fund the security forces who so viciously and randomly attacked the citizens of Zimbabwe.
  • Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has had a letter published in the British Guardian newspaper calling for an independent investigation into the violent repression of Zimbabwean protesters. The letter was signed by Peter Hain, a prominent member of ACTSA’s predecessor the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Among the signatories were the three Vigil co-ordinators (see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/15/call-for-zimbabwe-to-halt-repression).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Josephine Jombe, Rosemary Maponga, Bianca Mpawaenda, Tapiwa Muskwe, Pearl Shambare, Bigboy Sibanda and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Bianca, Josephine, Rosemary and Pearl for looking after the front table, to Bigboy, Tapiwa, Gertrude Mudede, Agnes Mukumba, Kelvin Beja and Farai Mutumburi for handing out flyers and to Jonatha Kariwo for taking photographs.
  • 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: 22 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 9th March from 11 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625.
  • 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.
  • 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 for £10. 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:
 
Mounting calls to intervene in Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 9th February 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 February 2019 12:39

The international community has been warned that its failure to act on state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe is encouraging other African regimes to crack down on opponents. 

The warning came from Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who has accused the country’s president, Edgar Lungu, of trying to kill him. He said police and activists from the ruling Patriotic Front opened fire on a rally he was holding in Sesheke in south west Zambia.

Hichilema said Zambia was going the same way as Zimbabwe, where reports say at least 17 people have been killed and many others injured, tortured or raped by security forces suppressing protests over rising fuel costs. More than a thousand people are said to have been detained.

‘You see what happened in Zimbabwe and no one did anything . . . so it is creating a ripple effect,’ Hichilema said (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/998-zambias-president-edgar-lungu-tries-to-kill-hakainde-hichilema).

In a new briefing ‘Open for business, closed for dissent’, the human rights organization Amnesty called on the international community to take an unequivocal stand and publicly condemn the human rights violations in Zimbabwe (see: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/zimbabwe-most-brutal-tactics-imaginable-used-authorities-crush-fuel-hike-protests).

The African Union is holding its annual meeting but, while Zimbabwe and other African countries such as Sudan are in ferment, it is devoting the meeting to discussing migration. This is no doubt an important question and it will please President Mnangagwa who has taken the time off to go and hobnob in Addis Ababa, leaving his rampaging soldiers to beat the people into submission. The fact that his Zanu PF party has caused millions of Zimbabweans to flee the country will probably not be mentioned.

The most troubling message came from the UK-based academic Professor Stephen Chan, who closely follows Zimbabwean affairs. He told a meeting of the UK parliamentary committee on international development that the army’s brutality was intended to deter any future protests. People were ‘left with wounds to tell a tale to relatives, friends etc’ (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/02/zim-security-forces-are-divided-uk/).

Other points

  • A senior official of Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Sunit Bagree, has called on the West to demand an international investigation into the Zimbabwean human rights violations (see: https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2019/02/07/west-must-up-game-on-human-rights).
  • At the Vigil flowers were placed against the wall of the Embassy in tribute to the victims of the security force rampage.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Enniah Dube, Gertrude Makosvo, Patricia Masamba, Bianca Mpawaenda, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Fungisai Mupandira, Tapiwa Muskwe, Casper Nyamakura and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Bianca, Margaret and Esther for looking after the front table, to Thomas Mahosah, Katie Truslove and Bigboy Sibanda for handing out flyers and to Casper, Gertrude, Fungisai Mupandira, Daizy Fabian, Patricia Masamba and Joyce Mbairatsunga for photographs.
  • 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: 33 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 9th March from 11 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625.
  • 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.
  • 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 for £10. 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:
 
British diplomacy condemned – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 2nd February 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 February 2019 16:42

British diplomacy on Zimbabwe came in for a mauling in a parliamentary debate this week and there were demands to suspend any re-engagement with the Mnangagwa government, oppose Zimbabwe being readmitted to the Commonwealth and seek intervention by international organisations such as the UN, AU and SADC to get soldiers withdrawn to barracks. 

The debate, attended by Africa Minister Harriett Baldwin, was led by the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, Kate Hoey, who said there was no doubt that the British Embassy in Harare had become too identified with Zanu PF.

She asked: ‘Will the Minister confirm that Her Majesty’s Government, and particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, have learnt a lesson from what I would call the ill-advised cosying-up to the Zimbabwean leadership, which owed its position, power and loyalty to the military and political machine that manoeuvred to install it and not to the people of Zimbabwe through a free and fair electoral process? I will not go into more detail; the Minister knows what I am talking about. There is no doubt that our embassy in Zimbabwe had become too identified, rightly or wrongly—I think wrongly—with ZANU PF.’

Ms Hoey went on: ‘I want to make sure that the Minister realises that those of us who urged caution, particularly Zimbabweans who have long had to cope with the machinations of ZANU PF brutality and the manipulation of international opinion, were rebuffed by some officials in our embassy who thought that they knew better. I hope that we have learnt that lesson.’ 

A former Africa Minister James Dudderidge acknowledged that he had in the past accused Kate Hoey of being ‘a bit pessimistic’: ‘Sadly, again, she has been proved right and a realist about the situation.’

Ms Hoey opened the debate saying: ‘The systematic abuse and actual torture of individuals continues as we speak. The women who have been raped by soldiers have nowhere to report these crimes, because the rule of law in Zimbabwe has broken down.’

She continued: ‘People were too afraid to move around, because of the burning of vehicles. They knew that many of the soldiers were doing this, but not in uniform. The Zimbabwean Government had the audacity to think that people would believe their story that these people had gone to army barracks or police stations, stolen the uniforms and then taken part in this activity. Of course, that was complete nonsense.

‘I could go on for a long time about all the terrible things that have happened, but there is no doubt that Mnangagwa knew what was going on. Whatever he has said about what he will do, nothing has happened—none of the responsible people have been prosecuted. For me, one of the most dangerous things is how the constitution is being completely ignored and the level to which the rule of law has been trampled on by the executive, the army, the police, the national prosecuting authority and some elements of the judiciary.’

Summing up the debate was an MP of the Scottish National Party, Peter Grant, who said the international community must intervene. He spoke of numerous allegations of women being gang-raped by uniformed soldiers.

‘The changing response from the authorities is notable and revealing. Initially, as always happens in such cases, they tried to deny anything had happened. They denied that there had been violence and said that such violence as there was had somehow been the responsibility of the protestors. Then they admitted that the police and army had used force, but claimed that it had been proportionate. A Government spokesman told the BBC, “When things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed”. It was only when there was incontrovertible video evidence that could not be claimed to be fake, making it clear that police and army officers were involved in assaults, that the authorities finally accepted it had been happening. Chillingly, the President’s own spokesperson said the crackdown was “just a foretaste of things to come”.’

The Africa Minister said the response of the security forces to the protests against the petrol price rise had been disproportionate and reminiscent of the darkest days of the Mugabe regime. President Mnangagwa must act to stop the abuses.

To watch the debate see: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/1d5bcc85-bc13-42dd-9e2f-f6acb22f7750 and for the Hansard transcript check: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-30/debates/93C7CC8B-4AC6-4BD1-9278-A6122A767554/Zimbabwe#contribution-3405B70F-A832-4214-B10E-318F9F628139.

Other points

  • In the debate Ms Hoey mentioned the Vigil: ‘There has been a worrying trend recently, which may stop again now, of some of the Zimbabwean diaspora being sent back as part of the euphoria about the supposedly new regime. The Zimbabwe Vigil, which carries out a vigil on Saturday afternoons outside the Zimbabwean embassy and has maintained its solidarity and support for people in Zimbabwe, is worried that the Home Office is perhaps being too quick off the mark to send people back there where they could be taken into custody.’
  • It was good to have with us at the Vigil today members of ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa).
  • Support for Zimbabwean trade unionists came from the British Trades Union Congress who demonstrated outside the London Embassy on Friday. African trade unionists have also been supportive. The Nigeria Labour Congress demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in Abuja. The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions have written to Mnangagwa calling for the release of detained Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) plan a demonstration in solidarity with ZCTU and Zimbabwe citizens on Wednesday 6th February at 9 am at the Beit Bridge border gate, Musina, Limpopo.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Jane Kaphuwa, Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Getrude Makosvo, Richard Munyama, Farai Murowa, Casper Nyamakura, Sikhumbuzule Sibanda and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Alice and Farai for looking after the front table, to Jane, Heather and Chido for handing out flyers and to Heather, Casper, Ephraim, Netsayi Makarichi, and Daizy Fabian for photographs.
  • 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: 42 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 9th February from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625.
  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 16th February from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • 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.
  • 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 for £10. 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:
 
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