Guns before food – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 11th January 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 06:42

With millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation, hospitals and schools collapsing in the rubble of the economy and civil servants rejecting a 98% pay rise as inadequate, President Mnangagwa is reported to be going ahead with a plan to buy fighter aircraft from Russia in exchange for minerals.

It is not clear what threat the planes are supposed to protect us from. Perhaps it is the Zimbabwe Council of Churches which has warned the government of ‘all out chaos’ if things continue as they are. ‘Instability will grow and the state will need to use heavy repression to quell dissent due to the painful economic experiences’ it predicted. It said dialogue in the country was the only viable option (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/churches-warn-of-civil-unrest-if-govt-does-not-address-economic-challenges/). 

More likely the arms purchase from Russia reflects the government’s increasing reliance on anti-Western autocratic regimes. This was seen in the recent vote at the United Nations on a resolution seeking to protect Rohingya Muslims from army atrocities in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya had to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after their villages were burnt down by soldiers, accompanied by rapes and arbitrary arrests, tortures and deaths in detention. Perhaps Zanu PF identified themselves with Myanmar’s military government given President Mnangagwa’s role at the centre of the Gukurahundi genocide. Zimbabwe was one of only nine countries to vote against the resolution, which was passed with an overwhelming majority. 

‘Shameful’, said MDC Secretary for Education Fadzayi Mahere. ‘Ours is a government that has no moral or legal difficulty with soldiers killing civilians’. Exiled former minister Jonathan Moyo said: ‘The lie of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe is exposed. Zimbabwe did not vote at the UN with its SADC neighbours, not with its African Union comrades and not with the Commonwealth it is so desperate to rejoin.’ (See: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/politicians-rights-defenders-express-shock-over-zims-support-of-rohingya-muslims-suppression/).

Mnangagwas is now on three weeks’ leave – perhaps it’s so he can spend time on his farm calming down his wife Auxillia, who has fallen out with the Herald’s former acting editor Tichaona Zindoga, who accused her of being publicity-hungry, demanding to be followed everywhere by a dedicated media team from the Herald and the ZBC to report on her do-goodings.

Zindoga, who was fired by the Herald last October, said: ‘It makes one uplifted when you can no longer be associated with such garbage (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2020/01/08/publicity-hungry-auxillia-mnangagwa-branded-herald-editor-snake-in-the-carpet/).

Other points

  • The Italian football authority La Liga says it is ’extremely disappointed’ that more than 1,000 footballs it donated for the development of grassroots football in Zimbabwe appear to have been misappropriate by ZIFA’s former chief Philip Chiyanga (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/01/la-liga-angry-over-missing-donated-balls/).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Patience Chimba, Yvonne Jacobs, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Charles Mararirakwenda, Patricia Masamba, Lucia Mudzimu, Washington Mugari, Margaret Munenge, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Josephine, Margaret and Patricia for looking after the front table, to Yvonne, Kevin, Bigboy Sibanda, Simon Nyanhi and Beverley Mutandiro for handing out flyers, to Jonathan, Delice Gavazah, Mary Muteyerwa and Chido Makawa for drumming, to Lucia for leading the singing, to Jonathan for photos and to Rosemary Maponga who, on her birthday, brought hot drinks and cakes.
  • Thanks to those generous activists who have contributed to ROHR’s Mtoko Irrigation Project: Patience Chimba, Pamela Chirimuta, Simbarashe Jingo, Dambudzo Marimira, Margaret Munenge, Molly Ngavaimbe, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon.
  • 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: 32 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 25th January 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.
  • ROHR Valentine’s fundraising dinner dance. Saturday 15th February from 7 pm till late. Venue: to be advised.
  • 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
 
Fringe parties bought off – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 4th January 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 06:43

With people desperate and starving, the government has agreed to opposition demands smoothing the way to meeting its promise that Zimbabwe will be ‘a middle-income country’ by the end of this decade.

The sticking point was, as ever, money. The fringe parties taking part in the theatrically-named Political Actors’ Dialogue (Polad) may only have gained 2% of the vote in the 2018 elections but it was an important 2% because it meant that Mnangagwa could pretend to the outside world that he was engaged in a real dialogue with the opposition when all he was doing was fishing. Then the combined forces of 2% of the opposition came out with their demands for expenses to attend these vitally unimportant discussions when they were shown around Mnangagwa’s farm and how generously he feeds his fish.

Mnangagwa has magnanimously recognized their legitimate demands: cars, housing, wives, immunity from prosecution – all the accoutrements of signing up with Zanu PF. After all, it would help meet his promise about producing a ‘middle-income country’ – even if it is only for Zanu PF bigwigs and their acolytes.

Chamisa, who has refused to take part in the charade, has welcomed the intervention by former South African President Thabo Mbeki to try and resolve the dispute between him and Mnangagwa. But has he missed the boat? Mbeki we mean. He said he would be back in Zimbabwe by the end of the year . . . Perhaps he has been told that Mnangagwa would be too busy feeding his fish to meet him – or perhaps he realizes the boat is the Titanic.                            

Other points

  • The EU has withdrawn its offer of 16 million euros in aid for the development of infrastructure to protect wildlife in the Save Valley Conservancy over the government’s reluctance to end land invasions and protect property rights. Some properties in the Conservancy are owned by investors from EU countries. The government has turned a blind eye to bilateral agreements protecting these properties.
  • The British Times newspaper reports that ‘Africa’s richest woman’, the daughter of Angola’s former president dos Santos, has had her assets frozen by the new president. She is said to have corruptly amassed a fortune of more than $2 billion.
  • Another article in the Times says Mugabe’s friend President Obiang, ‘the world’s longest serving president’, is now also in a pickle. His family has run through Equatorial Guinea’s oil  wealth and now wants a $283 million loan from the International Monetary Fund after a fall in oil prices. The Times says ‘the value of the IMF package equates to what Teodorin Obiang, the Vice-President, one of the President’s 42 children, spent between 2000 and 2011’.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Rosemary Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Dambudzo Marimira, Benjamin Molife, Esther Munyira, Molly Ngavaimbe, Hazvinei Saili, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin.Wheeldon. Thanks to Rosemary and Hazvinei for looking after the front table, to Kevin, Molly, Rosemary and Deborah Harry for handing out flyers, to Delice for drumming and to Hazvinei for photos. Thanks also to those who brought refreshments: to Rosemary for bringing a thermos flask of hot water with milk for tea and coffee and to Molly for cakes.
  • 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: 14 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 11th January from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Esther Munyira 07492058109.
  • ROHR Valentine’s fundraising dinner dance. Saturday 15th February from 7 pm till late. Venue: to be advised.
  • 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:
 
A merry-go-round – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 28th December 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 December 2019 12:33

In Britain a merry-go-round suggests an abandonment to joy, cheerfulness and hope – the very spirit of the post-Christmas New Year season. But a merry-go-round can also mean something else: being repeatedly led down an unproductive path with no escape.

It’s the second version that Zimbabweans here in the UK believe is stopping us from coming home – as we would all love to do, especially at this time of year. To be with our families and friends in our own country and its sounds and smells and warmth . . . that’s joy!

But despite Mnangagwa’s vacuous promise that ‘the worst is over’, Zimbabweans know that nothing the President says can be believed and that, as we approach a new decade, the future is still bleak, with little to hope for under a mafia regime drowning in deceit, incompetence and corruption.  

As the New York Times puts it: ‘Government disfunction, and economic meltdown, drought and a calamitous flood has plunged Zimbabwe into a hunger crisis’. The article spells out the desperate situation: “The money here is valueless now,” said Mr. Dunha, who has eight children. All they can afford to eat, he said, are vegetables and sadza. Gerald Bourke, a spokesman for the southern Africa operations of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations, said that until recently 60 percent of its assistance to Zimbabweans was in the form of cash, but that the recipients no longer wanted the money. “Inflation is a rampant problem and people said, We’d prefer the food,’” Mr. Bourke said. (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/25/world/africa/zimbabwe-hunger-famine.html.) 

On the political front, hopes of talks between the government and the opposition faded when Mnangagwa insisted that he would not engage with MDC president Chamisa outside the Political Actors’ Dialogue (POLAD) that he set up with the fringe political parties who took part in the 2018 elections.

Chamisa has said he would never join this grouping and criticised Mnangagwa’s last meeting with POLAD which took place at his Kwekwe farm, where he was filmed, still wearing his silly scarf in the middle of summer, feeding his fish. ‘We must feed the people not the fish,’ Chamisa said.

MDC faction leader Thokazani Khupe who attended the meeting was accused of supporting the President. Meanwhile a new MDC faction called the MDC Zimbabwe has registered with the Electoral Commission. Its only known member Thulani Ndebele denied he was being used by Zanu PF though most totalitarian states like Zimbabwe are known to create fictitious opposition parties to delude the outside world.

As we end the decade we can report that, after much research the Vigil has failed to find another country with two vice presidents both of whose wives are in jail, one for trying to kill her husband and the other for complaining her husband tried to kill her. It seems a shame that they are not sharing a cell. Domestic bliss in Zanu PF!

Other points

  • A glimpse into how much of Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth is escaping government coffers was given by Mnangagwa at an anti-corruption symposium. He said that on a visit to Dubai last month he was told by one company that they had received US$60 million of gold through the black market (see: https://www.thestandard.co.zw/2019/12/22/us60-m-gold-smuggled-dubai/).
  • Few as we were at the Vigil, we were encouraged by a visit by fellow long-term human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Margaret Munenge, Ephraim Tapa and Kevin Wheeldon. Thanks to Rosemary for looking after the front table, to Kevin and Charles for handing out flyers, to Chido for prayers and drumming and to Chido and Alice for photos. Thanks to all those who brought refreshments: to Rosemary for bringing a thermos flask of hot water with milk for tea and coffee and to Chido and Heather Makawa for bringing cake and other refreshments.
  • 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 11th January from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Esther Munyira 07492058109.
  • ROHR Valentine’s fundraising dinner dance. Saturday 15th February from 7 pm till late. Venue: to be advised.
  • 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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