40 wasted years – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 18th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 April 2020 12:45

As Zimbabwe marked Independence Day, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said the independence dream has been shattered by Zanu PF tyranny, violence and corruption.

 

A comment on the Zimbabwe Situation website made a similar point: ‘The Zanuvirus will continue to cause havoc just as it has done for 40 years since the infection took hold.’

 

Chamisa called for concerted efforts to remove Zanu PF from power, saying ‘let’s get the job done. Zimbabwe is too richly resourced to be this underdeveloped’. He urged Zimbabweans – wherever they are – to clap 40 times for change at 6 pm (see: https://bulawayo24.com/news/national/183384).

 

In the UK Zimbabweans have become accustomed to clapping at 8 pm on Thursdays to show their support for the National Health Service staff dealing with the coronavirus and some themselves dying from it. Among the victims this week was Rutendo Mukotsanjera, a single mother aged 45 who leaves a daughter Chichi, 12, orphaned with no family in the UK. Ms Mukotsanjera worshipped at the Renew Church in Utoxeter whose members are caring for Chichi and have raised more than £30,000 for her future.

 

Zimbabwe appears so far to have escaped lightly from the pandemic, although the future looks bleak despite President Mnangagwa repeating in his Independence Day message that Zimbabwe would be ‘an upper second’ economy’ by the end of the decade – laying himself open to a 20 year prison sentence he has threatened against anyone responsible for fake news!

 

What makes this aspiration even more unreal is a statement by the National Chamber of Commerce that a quarter of Zimbabwe’s formal jobs and three-quarters of informal ones would be wiped out by the impact of the infection. It predicted that the economy would contract by 9% this year (see: https://bulawayo24.com/news/national/183589).

 

The economy has not been helped by the government’s inept handling of bankrupt Air Zimbabwe which last week sent its employees on unpaid leave. Not surprising as a Boeing 777 acquired in January has only now taken its first flight for the airline – not a scheduled one but to Addis Ababa for maintenance . . . (See: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/air-zimbabwe-flies-boeing-777-to-maintenance-after-3-months-on-the-ground/).

 

While the Boeing sat on the ground in Harare. The government spent hundreds of millions of dollars over budget on foreign travel expenses. They included hiring a private jet from Dubai to fly to Zimbabwe to take Mnangagwa on a 40 minute local trip (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/04/ed-foreign-trips-bleed-treasury/).

 

Other points

  • A former judge, now in exile in New Zealand, paints a bleak picture of dashed hopes for Zimbabwe (see: https://bulawayo24.com/opinion/columnist/183647).
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked 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 (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157713953468088). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Jacob Mandipira who kindly contributed to Vigil funds. Jacob’s message on Independence Day was: ‘Zimbabwe independence what a shame! 40 years of hell under the Zanu PF rule. The mass is suffering big time’.
  • 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 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. 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
 
Viral mania – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 11th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2020 12:50

Every military regime such as Zanu PF goes mad in its own way, whether its Venezuela, Russia, Iran or China . They share a common aim: to enrich themselves at the expense of their enslaved people.

 

Zanu PF has spent 40 years honing their model, which has hardly changed despite the army coup against Mugabe. And they are not going to change their methods now. Why shoud they if they are working?

 

The other day the British Embassy urged all UK citizens in Zimbabwe to return home immediately even though the daily death toll from the coronavirus here was now touching 1,000 and Zimbabwe’s Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi claims that the probability of coronavirus gaining a foothold in Zimbabwe is ‘next to zero’. (See: https://www.zimeye.net/2020/04/09/mutodi-pours-cold-water-on-chamisas-unwise-suggestion/.)

 

A bold claim and we would be relieved if it came true. But we doubt it, especially given Zimbabwe’s inadequate medical service and that so many people are malnourished and without adequate water or the capacity to self-isolate to prevent infection, which appears to have been the key to fighting off the virus everywhere else.

 

The government has been criticised for approving the use of traditional herbal treatment for coronavirus patients. We would not scoff at traditional medicine but note that Dr Nyika Mahachi, the President of the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, said the government’s decision was unwelcome and that it was important to stick to the World Health Organisation guidelines on how to contain the virus (see: https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/zimbabwes-government-says-herbal-treatment-ok-covid-19).

 

The reality is that, even if the government is serious about the pandemic, it does not have much room to manoeuvre, given that the International Monetary Fund says that Zimbabwe only has US$109 million in foreign exchange reserves – enough for only one week’s imports – because the virus threatens tobacco sales, the second biggest source of foreign exchange (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimbabwe-dollar-zwl-usd-news-fx-shortage-to-worsen-on-virus/).

 

While the United Nations tries to raise money to feed Zimbabwe, it is disturbing to read of the all-too-familiar tactics by Zanu PF to hijack a social welfare programme funded by the World Bank to cushion informal traders against the lockdown (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zanu-pf-hijacks-wold-bank-funds/).

 

Of course the country’s main source of revenue is mining but this has for long been under the control of the military and the Zanu PF bigwigs. An article by Kudzai Chimhangwa in Open Democracy gives a useful update on the looted resources behind the Zimbabwe emergency – money which could have saved us from the looming disaster (see: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/will-zimbabwes-diamonds-be-forever-a-glimpse-into-a-nations-resource-rich-curse/).

 

Of one thing you can be sure: the military will be able to keep order whatever happens. They have all the bullets necessary. And they have the support of SADC and AU and the embrace of fellow tyrants from China to Venezuela (see: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2020/04/10/military-in-us90m-murky-weapons-deals/).

 

Other points

  • We were saddened to hear of the death of Mike Auret, the former MDC MP, and one of the people who inspired the Vigil. Mike chaired the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace which exposed the extent of the Gukurahundi genocide carried out by Zanu PF in the 1980s.
  • Our condolences to Vigil Co-ordinator Esther Munyira at the passing of her father.
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked 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 (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157713848220758). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Charles Mararirakwenda who 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 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. 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
 
What can you believe? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 4th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 April 2020 16:52

In these desperate times it becomes more difficult to separate fact from fake news. Social media spread rumours as fact while the government-controlled media specialise in half-truths. Even independent newspapers rush to print unsubstantiated stories without sufficient scrutiny.

 

Take for instance the recent announcement that land was being handed back to dispossessed farmers. Even world media got it wrong and assumed that white farmers were to return. It meant nothing of the sort as Comrade Air Marshal Shiri, the Lands Minister, later explained – some whites could come back but not Zimbabwean whites because they were not really Zimbabwean . . .

 

Or, more immediately, take today’s story about Nelson Chamisa. Bulawayo 24 excitedly reported ‘A pophetic message’ (sic) from Chamisa quoting him as tweeting: ‘Zimbabwe is about to see God's powerful move. We shall soon be the hub of new development modes in the world. We shall be the wisdom center of the entire continent. We shall have a new song of joy. A new anthem and new wealth. Oh I see all these new things. Everything NEW! I smell change. Change is in the air!’ (See: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-182634.html.)

 

Well, we know that restrictions on alcohol sales have just been announced but withdrawal symptoms don’t usually spark a full-blown messianic complex so quickly, do they? Not surprisingly, looking at Chamisa’s twitter account we can’t find the tweet quoted.

 

Of course, it’s possible that poor Nelson has been driven mad by the Supreme Court ruling this week that he is not really the MDC leader: ‘Just a naughty boy’ as a UK comic would put it. MDC Senator David Coltart, himself a lawyer, says the Mnangagwa regime is deeply worried at the threat posed by Chamisa’s MDC and that the court’s ruling is ‘seriously flawed from start to finish’.

 

Coltart said he had shared with Chamisa texts from the Bible including Isaiah 40.29: ‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak’. Coltart says of the MDC: ‘There is no doubt that in many senses we are now at our weakest – we have the full force of a brutal, corrupt and violent state arrayed against us. The regime will probably use its power to deprive us of our buildings, assets and income in the coming weeks. But I believe that it is in our moments of greatest physical weakness that we are strongest.’ (See: http://www.davi?coltart.com/2020/04/giving-strength-to-the-weary-and-increasing-the-power-of-the-weak-comment-regarding-the-supreme-court-judgment-issued-on-the-31st-mhelparch-2020-against-nelson-chamisa/.)

 

The Vigil was heartened by reports from Harare of a US$770 million handout from the UN to help overcome Zimbabwe’s problems with famine and coronavirus etc. Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry tweeted the news: ‘UN Zimbabwe have provided Zimbabwe with a $770 million humanitarian response plan’. Yes indeed, but is this real money or just an appeal for money? It appears to be the latter and we can only hope that it will be delivered.

 

What is clear is that the International Monetary Fund says only half of the humanitarian aid last requested for Zimbabwe by the United Nations had been pledged by donors. It added ominously that the Zimbabwe economy contracted by 8.3% last year (see: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-03/imf-says-zimbabwe-needs-aid-urgently-to-ease-humanitarian-crisis).

 

An equally gloomy report came from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Independence. The conference said the country had lost an opportunity to redefine its history, foster national healing and to end corruption, international isolation and to save the collapse of the country’s infrastructure (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/04/zim-has-lost-40-years-catholic-bishops/).

 

Other points

  • Because of the coronavirus, we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked 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 (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157713754508431). Our virtual Vigil activists today were Marvellous Chinguwa and Rose Benton who both also 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 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. 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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