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
 
‘Command Justice’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 7th March 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 March 2020 14:17

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/49632396352/sizes/m/

 

The British newspaper the Times has published a report on the tawdry divorce battle between Vice President Canstantino Chiwenga and his wife Marry. Zimbabweans will be familiar with the lurid account of attempted murder, voodoo and drugs. But what rang a bell with the Vigil was Marry’s comment that she was doomed because of ‘command justice’. (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1065-marry-chiwenga-jilted-wife-off-zimbabwe-strongman-fears-for-her-life).

 

Zimbabwe has become a command state: ‘command agriculture’ has provided a smooth avenue for corruption, ‘command economy’ an equally convenient way of siphoning off the country’s riches to Zanu PF bigwigs.

 

It has long been clear that ‘free and fair elections’ is an aspiration rather than the rule. In many countries elections have become a charade. The fuss over the last elections in Malawi provide bracing evidence of this. Zimbabweans are used to having ‘command election results’ followed by Marry Chiwenga’s ‘command justice’ when the opposition protests.

 

President Mnangagwa is already preparing for the next elections in 2023, though he admitted to the Politburo this week that his government had failed and had no new ideas (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/mnangagwa-admits-failure-he-must-go/).

 

The schizophrenic position of the government could perhaps explain the extraordinary behaviour of a senior Zimbabwean diplomat in the United States who has been flown home after being arrested by police while running around in the middle of the night screaming and shouting (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2020/03/06/top-zimbabwe-diplomat-breaks-into-united-states-home-gets-immunity/).

 

We can only speculate that he could have been driven mad by the US Government’s decision to renew targeted sanctions imposed on some Zanu PF officials. A US statement said President Mnangagwa’s government ‘has arguably accelerated its persecution of critics and economic mismanagement in the past year, during which security forces have conducted extrajudicial killings, rapes, and alleged abductions of numerous dissidents.’ (See: https://www.zimlive.com/2020/03/04/us-extends-zimbabwe-sanctions-over-accelerated-persecution-of-critics/).

 

Other points

  • Zimbabwe is facing ‘an economic and humanitarian crisis’ says the International Monetary Fund. IMF officials recently visited Zimbabwe and complained of a lack of reforms (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/03/zimbabwe-in-economic-and-humanitarian-crisis-as-imf-sounds-alarm.html).
  • On Friday Vigil activists attended churches on the World Day of Prayer, which this year was devoted to Zimbabwe with the service written by Zimbabwean women. We were deeply touched by the support we witnessed in the UK but sorry to hear reports that the day was less successful in Zimbabwe itself. One observer complained that the service she had attended in Bulawayo had devoted most of its time to acknowledging dignitaries rather than praying for the suffering. A contact in Bulawayo said she was distressed by the politicisation of the event and what she called the corruption of the church.
  • The Zimbabwe army commander Edzai Chimonyo says the military are soon to start monitoring social media, which he said posed a dangerous threat to national security. The move has been condemned by human rights groups (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/03/army-to-monitor-social-media/).
  • The Vigil today marked the 5th anniversary of the abduction by government agents of civil rights protester Itai Dzamara. He has not been seen since.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up the Vigil today: Beauty Bangura, Cynthia Chibanda, Pamela Chirimuta, Rangarirai Chivaviro, Enniah Dube, Daizy Fabian, Delice Gavazah, Jonathan Kariwo, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Garikai Mananje, Jacob Mandipira, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Mary Muteyerwa, Qiniso Sibanda, Ephraim Tapa, Kevin Wheeldon and Ntombizodwa Zololo. Thanks to Daizy, Esther and Margaret for looking after the front table, to Kevin , Rangirai and Jacob for handing out flyers, to Mary and Chido for drumming, to Jonathan and Chido for taking photos and to Rosemary Maponga for providing hot drinks. Thanks also to those who made posters for the Itai Dzamara protest: Garikai, Daizy, Washington Mugari and Tapiwa Muskwe.
  • 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: 26 signed the register. 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Living on the Edge. Tuesday 10th March from 7 – 9 pm (doors open at 6 pm). Venue: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. The event is organised by the Mike Campbell Foundation. Among the speakers are Chief Felix Ndiweni and Beatrice Mtetwa. For full details of the event check: https://media.wix.com/ugd/02876c_5b68a136280c42ebbf39f8ebbb722299.pdf.
  • 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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