100% unprepared – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 28th March 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 March 2020 11:32

As Zimbabwe follows the UK into lockdown to try to control the spread of coronavirus, we can tell from our own experience here that Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was mistaken when he claimed early this month that Zimbabwe was ‘100% prepared’ for an epidemic (see: https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/zimbabwe-says-100-percent-prepared-coronavirus).

 

Just how unprepared the country is was shown by the wretched treatment received by the broadcaster Zororo Makamba, the first Zimbabwean to die from the virus – even though he had the advantage of being the son of a business tycoon and Zanu PF politician.

 

30-year-old Zororo returned from a visit to New York on 20th March with what was thought to be a slight flu.  When he developed a fever his doctor recommended that he go to the country’s designated health quarantine facility, Wilkins Hospital in Harare, which turned out to be woefully ill-equipped to deal with serious infections.

 

His elder brother Tawanda Makamba described a catalogue of deficiencies. If the outcome wasn’t so tragic, some of the incidents could have been slapstick farce. For instance: the hospital had no ventilator to help Zororo breathe. The family managed to obtain one but the hospital could not use it because it had an American plug. Tawanda went and bought an adaptor but the hospital said they still couldn’t use the ventilator because there were no electricity sockets in his room. So he went and bought an extension cord but they refused to use it!

 

Tawanda said the family appealed to Health Minister Moyo who promised all sorts of things and delivered nothing. Tawanda said the nurses were afraid to handle the situation. ‘It even got to a point where they were telling us that we were bothering them.’ He went on: At the end, before he died, he kept telling us that he was alone and scared and the staff were refusing to help him to a point where he got up and tried to walk out and they were trying to restrain him’.

 

He warned: ‘Right now they don’t even have water at Wilkins. So if you come here to be treated for coronavirus there is absolutely no treatment you will get. You will die’. (See: https://www.thezimbabwean.co/2020/03/makamba-family-fumes-over-zororos-death/).

 

With many countries imposing restrictions on flights and foreign visitors, the Zanu PF financier Kudakwashe Tagwirei is taking over two private hospitals in Harare to be upgraded for the elite now that they will be finding it difficult to go abroad for medical treatment. MDC Vice-President Tendai Biti said there was: ‘no limit, shame, remorse or elasticity to the evils of this regime’ (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2020/03/26/outrage-over-coronavirus-hospitals-for-the-political-elite-in-zimbabwe/).

 

In the UK we are constantly warned to wash our hands with soap and to avoid being within two metres of anyone in a public space. We have seen little sign that similar advice is being followed in Zimbabwe and observers say it is futile to expect informal traders to let their families starve.

 

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/72157713664725127). Our first virtual Vigil activists were Esther Munyira and Rose Benton who both also kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
  • The Minister of Lands, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, has made it clear that Zimbabwean white farmers are not included in the government’s recent announcement widely seen as reversing the land takeover. Phiri said only dispossessed ‘indigenous’ farmers and those covered by bilateral agreements would have the opportunity to get land back. Human rights campaigner Ben Freeth spoke of racial discrimination and said the move would not persuade the world that Zimbabwe is a secure investment (see: https://www.thezimbabwean.co/2020/03/zimbabwe-governments-land-for-compensation-offer-is-misleading/).
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

EVENTS AND 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
 
Virus stops Vigil – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 21st March 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 March 2020 15:08

After nearly 18 years of weekly protests outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London the Vigil could not take place this Saturday because of the highly contagious coronavirus. With the death toll from the disease mounting exponentially, the UK government has banned public gatherings, closed cafes and bars and advised that social interaction and travel be kept to a minimum. Scientists and medical experts here say conditions may be relaxed in four months but warn that it may be a year before normal life resumes.

 

Vigil activists want to continue the campaign for a better Zimbabwe and the Vigil is looking at ways we can do this without physically meeting on the street. We are particularly anxious to continue fundraising for our sister organsation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe.

 

We will keep you informed through the Vigil diary, which will continue to comment on how we see the situation in Zimbabwe, which appears to be reaching another crunch point with the arrival of the coronavirus, apart from the ever-devaluing currency and ever-rising inflation (now put at over 1,000% by American observer Professor Steve Hanke).

 

All shall be well says President Mnangagwa but can you trust his word?  He has just flown off to Namibia for the inauguration of President Hage Geingob despite having said the government would observe a travel ban (See: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/10/365721/World/Africa/Zimbabwe-president-defies-own-travel-ban-over-coro.aspx).

 

This week he also banned all public gatherings attended by more than 100 people but the next day he addressed a rally attended by thousands of supporters (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/03/ed-breaks-own-covid-19-decree/).

 

Earlier he told visitors to his farm: ‘At this farm, we have plenty of livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and countless poultry. From all those we eat whatever we want when we feel like’ – this despite recently telling Zimbabweans to eat vegetables and potatoes because ‘meat is not good for you’ (see: https://nehandaradio.com/2020/03/14/i-eat-plenty-of-meat-at-my-farm-mnangagwa-tells-starving-villagers/).

 

At least Mnangagwa is consistently inconsistent!

 

Other points

  • Latest developments in the government corruption saga: former boss of the Zimbabwe National Road Authority Frank Chitukutuku faces losing six houses, a fleet of cars and several companies. He is accused by the National Prosecuting Authority of approving questionable contracts that prejudiced Zinara of US$39 million in connivance with rural district officials and road engineers (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/zinara-corruption-saga-opens-can-of-worms/).
  • Former Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has been luckier. It seems he will escape a charge of criminal abuse of office because a crucial document is ‘missing’ (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/03/ex-minister-chombo-off-the-hook/).
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.                                                                            

EVENTS AND 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:
 
‘Living on the Edge’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th March 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 March 2020 16:24

A valiant group braved coronavirus to hold the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy despite the UK gradually going into lockdown as the disease claims more victims.

 

Airliners are being grounded and large gatherings cancelled to reduce the chances of infection. People are urged to wash their hands frequently, not to shake hands and, indeed, keep a metre distance from others – difficult if crowded into a bus or train.

 

These precautions are being taken in countries with sophisticated health services. What will happen when the coronavirus hits Zimbabwe fills us with trepidation, given the state of its health service and the weakened immune system of so many malnourished people.

 

Whether this troubles the Zanu PF elite is open to doubt. After all, President Mnangagwa, instead of investing in hospitals, has wasted money on hiring three expensive public relations companies to campaign for the removal of US sanctions. The Americans have now extended them, including Owen Ncube, the security minister accused of ordering security services to abduct and mistreat members of the opposition.

 

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, urged the Zimbabwe government to ‘immediately end state-sponsored violence including against peaceful protesters, civil society, labour leaders and members of the opposition in Zimbabwe, and to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuse.’ (See: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-zimbabwe-sanctions/u-s-blacklists-zimbabwe-officials-over-human-rights-abuse-idUKKBN20Y2D7).

 

To mark the 5th anniversary of the abduction of the human rights campaigner Itai Dzamara, the European Union has demanded action by the Zimbabwe government. The response was a bizarre statement by the police that investigations into the matter were continuing and that law enforcement agents had submitted ‘over 113 fortnightly updates to the High Court’! (See: https://www.herald.co.zw/police-submit-over-100-reports-on-dzamara/.)

 

An equally bizarre comment came from Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri who said coronavirus was the work of God punishing countries which imposed sanctions. She added: ‘They are now staying indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to our economy’. (see: https://www.enca.com/news/coronavirus-work-god-punishing-west-zimbabwe-minister.)

 

Other points

  • During the week a number of Vigil activists attended a meeting of the Mike Campbell Foundation at the Royal Geographical Society. Under the title ‘Living on the Edge’ there was a discussion on the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Chief Felix Ndiweni gave a moving account of his legal persecution. The late Mike Campbell was one of the farmers beaten up when his land was seized. We doubt that he would be convinced by the government’s announcement offering land to dispossessed farmers (see: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-13/zimbabwe-offers-land-to-recompense-dispossessed-white-farmers). Those who attended from the Vigil and MDC were: Cephas Maswoswa, Charles Mararirikwenda, David Kadzutu, Delice Gavazah, Dennis Benton, Esther Munyira, Handsen Chikowore, Martin Chinyanga, Mary Muteyerwa, Mercy Mukaririrwa, Patricia Masamba, Rose, Benton, Rosemary Maponga and Tapiwa Muskwe. Special thanks to Rose Maponga for bringing a drum.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up the Vigil today: Miriam Gasho, Rosemary Maponga, Philip Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Tapiwa Muskwe, Farai Mutumburi, Sithobekile Sikhosana and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Rosemary and Miriam for looking after the front table, to Farai, Kevin, Netsayi Makarichi and Sithobekile for handing out flyers, to Patricia for taking photos, to Miriam for prayers and to Rosemary for providing hot drinks.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimb88abwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

                                                                              

FOR THE RECORD: 10 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 12th April from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Esther Munyira 07492058107.
  • 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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