Zimbabwe Ambassador at Vigil – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 13th October 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 October 2018 19:14

Gift Kunjona, Chief Ndiweni, Ben Freeth, Archbishop John Sentamu, Kate Hoey                             https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/44490086814/sizes/m/    
Zimbabwean Ambassador Christian Katsande with Vigil activist
Zimbabwe Vigil’s 16th anniversary


The Vigil marked its 16th anniversary and – to our surprise – we were joined by the new Ambassador Christian M Katsande and his deputy. He invited us to have a meeting with him and we are happy to accept the invitation. This is the first time in 16 years that the Embassy has chosen to engage with us. The Ambassador bought a copy of the Vigil book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ for which we gave him a receipt at his request.

Zimbabwe House has been an unfriendly place for years. It is closed on Saturdays when the Vigil protests but when we  tried to communicate with them during the week it has always gone into panic mode, calling the police (right next door) to get us out of the building.

We want to ask them why things haven’t changed in Zimbabwe in the 16 years we have been protesting outside the Embassy. The Vigil believes that the problem is Zanu PF’s controlling mindset. Despite the ousting of Mugabe by Mnangagwa, this hasn’t changed. It’s got worse. Even as the economy collapses Zanu PF refuses to accept responsibility, now blaming the situation on enemies spreading panic and confusion. Stop the money dealers, they say, stop the vendors (see: https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/zanu-pf-appeals-to-government-to-allow-imports-17419832). These ‘enemy agents’ have replaced ‘sanctions’ as the cause of the country’s troubles.

The EU report on the elections reinforces the view from Harare North that the UK has backed the wrong horse in Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF-lite (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/10/zim-election-results-murky-eu/). The UK will probably facilitate a financial bail out for Zimbabwe but we at the Vigil have little confidence that even a big loan will end our problems. Ten months into the new regime and how many of the corrupt Zanu PF elite are in jail? How many bankrupt parastatals have been reformed? Meanwhile, the economist Godfrey Kanyenze, a former board member of the reserve bank, says the Mnangagwa regime has already run up a debt of over $4.5 billion since last November (see: http://www.mikecampbellfoundationresources.com/page/debt-rises-dramatically).

Other points

  • After the visit of the Ambassador those at the Vigil were asked what we should require from the Embassy. It was suggested that we should challenge the Embassy on the reported co-operation with the Home Office to facilitate deportation of Zimbabweans back home. We should also make the case for the diaspora vote.
  • A Zimbabwean passer-by who appeared to be involved with an EU project on wild life in Zimbabwe talked to one of our key activists. He asked what were we achieving by our protest and suggested that if he came back to Zimbabwe he would ensure he got a farm!        
  • Chief Felix Ndiweni says one of Zimbabwe’s problems is that traditional leaders have been politicised by Zanu PF. Chief Ndiweni had worked in the UK for 34 years before going home to Matabeleland to succeed his father who had been chief for 71 years. He came back to London to address a meeting on Zimbabwe at the Royal Geographical Society on Tuesday. He told the meeting, arranged by the Mike Campbell Foundation, that the youth were angry and needed to be taken seriously. Another speaker at the meeting was MDC Alliance politician Gift Kunjona, who has been imprisoned 44 times for his political activism. He spoke about Zanu PF impunity.  The human rights activist Ben Freeth said he had no doubt that the July elections were rigged and was sad at the muted response by the then UK Ambassador Catriona Laing. Prayers for Zimbabwe were led by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who famously cut up his clerical collar on TV in protest at Mugabe. He spoke of a need for justice in Zimbabwe.
  • Vigil activists attending the Mike Campbell event were: Bianca Mpawaenda. Chido Makawa, Daizy Fabian, Ephraim Tapa, Esther Munyira, Faith Ndhlovu,Heather Makawa, Josephine Jombe, Margaret Munenge, Michelle Makoni, Netsayi Makarichi, Nyarai Masvosva, Patience Muyeye, Patricia Masamba, Rose Benton and Rosemary Maponga.
  • Congratulations to Patricia Masamba who has been made a Vigil co-ordinator because of her commitment to the Vigil. She is one of the team who ensures the Vigil keeps running by bringing the Vigil table, banners, posters and other paraphernalia to the Embassy on a Saturday.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Linda Dodzo, Miriam Gasho, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Tapiwa Muskwe, Minienhle Sibanda and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks also to Minienhle, Linda, Miriam and Joyce for looking after the front table and handing out flyers and to Minienhle and Grace Nyaume for taking extra photos.
  • 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: 13 signed the register.


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Back to 2008 – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 6th October 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 October 2018 16:12

How time flies. Here we are again with hyperinflation, emptying shelves and no real money: just as predicted when Zanu PF cast off the constraints of coalition government 5 years ago and started feeding again. 

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, chastened by his look into the government ledgers, is visiting Britain in a desperate bid to raise money – Zimbabwe having been rebuffed by China, tired of non-performing loans. The Vigil wishes Ncube the best of luck.

Apart from talks with the British government and prospective investors, the minister is scheduled to speak on Monday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London, where the Vigil has staged many protests against Zanu PF representatives, notably Ncube’s predecessor Chinamasa. 

The new minister is, we believe, a non-party figure. So this time we will be taking the day off, giving him the benefit of the doubt. We too want investment in our country.

But Ncube’s new tax on electronic money transactions shows how desperate the Zimbabwean government is. The MDC describes it as a tax on the poor. Ncube’s task now is to ensure that the rich share the burden and spare us the sight of a $3 million Bugati car being unloaded at Robert Mugabe International Airport.

The diaspora watches anxiously as the government tries to deal with the the deteriorating financial situation, though we are encouraged by signs of a more responsive attitude by the authorities on some fronts. We were astonished when the new Minister of Health and Childcare, Dr Obadiah Moyo, promptly flew to Bulawayo to look into a public health question brought to his attention by human rights activists. ‘Burombo flats has got burst pipes with running raw sewage, sometimes running through the houses’, he was told (see: http://nehandaradio.com/2018/10/02/burombo-flats-condemned-as-unfit-for-human-habitation/).

Another heartening sign of a change in behaviour is suggested by a court decision ordering the state to pay $150,000 to the human rights activist Jestina Mukoko for damages after she was abducted in 2008 and tortured by state security agents.

Other points

  • One of our Vigil activists, Daizy Fabian, is to speak at the 2018 Conference of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) on Saturday 27th October. Daizy’s aunt was one of those shot dead by soldiers on 1st August. For full details see: ‘Events and Notices’ below.
  • Thanks to those who came early on a rainy day – the first in London in ages – to help set up the table and put up the banners: Miriam Gasho, Josephine Jombe, Marian Machekanyanga, Alice Majola, Margaret Munenge and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks also to Josephine, Alice and Marian for looking after the front table, to Heather Makawa and Deborah Harry for handing out flyers and to Heather for taking extra photos.
  • 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: 25 signed the register.


Something stinks – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 29th September 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 September 2018 14:30

Riot police with batons and water cannon patrolling the streets. Disease spreading. Zimbabwe is open for business they say.

The most vibrant sector of the economy disagrees. Reports say harassed street vendors are piling up stones at night to fight off attempts to shut down their activities in city centres (see: https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2018/09/27/zim-on-edge-as-vendors-fight-back).

With formal unemployment estimated at 90%, street trading has been the mainspring of the economy for at least the last 20 years. Born of desperation, it is for many people the only way of scraping a living.

Now they are blamed for the failure of the state and accused of spreading cholera when decades of corruption and negligence have allowed the collapse of infrastructure and the pollution of urban water sources.

The comrades of Zanu PF have sadly neglected the poor in their bold strides towards self-enrichment. Easy enough: just don’t go to the high density suburbs to be reminded of reality.

Zimbabwe’s street vendors, who include university graduates, have been an innovative resource, selling almost anything. But they may have been outpaced by Zambian vendors who have found a market for crap ours hadn’t thought of.

Fearing the import of cholera, our Zambian neighbours imposed a regime requiring Zimbabweans to demonstrate they were not carrying the disease. They were offered a lavatory where officials would check their stools for cholera. Laxatives were available. The easy way out was to buy Zambian stools instead.

‘I paid $5 to buy a teaspoon full of stool and it was tested and I passed through’, said one cross-border trader (see: https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-09-28-poo-sold-at-zim-border-to-avoid-cholera-testing/),

Latest news however is that the bottom has fallen out of the stool market. The Zambian authorities have apparently turned their nose up at it, saying the whole business stinks. Zimbabweans will be unable to afford it soon anyway  because President Mnangagwa says he’s going to introduce a programme of austerity to help revive the economy. Zimbabweans are well prepared for it.

Other points

  • Mnangagwa was not asked to take a stool test when he went to New York for the UN General Assembly. Perhaps he should have taken a lie detector test instead. The MDC has accused him of spewing lies to whoever would listen (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/09/shameless-ed-in-un-trip-of-lies/).
  • The Vigil would add another of his lies: his demand for an end to ‘illegal’ sanctions. He neglects to mention that Mugabe wasted a fortune in legal costs in a failed attempt to get EU sanctions declared illegal.
  • Ethiopia is sending a team to Harare to learn from ZEC how to run elections. While they are in Zimbabwe they would be better advised to consult the former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who advised Mugabe how to rig elections. He was given asylum in Zimbabwe which has refused Ethiopian requests to extradite him for trial.   
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Miriam Gasho, Jonathan Kariwo, Patricia Masamba, Raymond Mashamba and Minienhle Sibanda. Thanks also to Patricia, Minienhle and Jonathan for looking after the front table and to Miriam for handing out flyers.
  • 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: 16 signed the register.


  • Mike Campbell Foundation – Zimbabwe: rising from the ruins? Tuesday 9th October from 7 – 9 pm (doors open at 6 .30 pm). Venue: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Speakers include: Kate Hoey MP (Chair), Ben Freeth MBE, Fergal Keane OBE, Archbishop Sentamu, Chief Felix Ndiweni and Gift Konjana. To book, visit: https://event.bookitbee.com/18402/my-first-event-1347?preview=y
  • Zimbabwe Vigil’s 16th anniversary. Saturday 13th October from 2 – 5 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. Please join us to mark the Vigil’s anniversary.
  • Relaunch of Reading MDC branch. Saturday13th October from 12 noon – 2 pm. Venue: Risk, 35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS. For more information call: Deborah Harry 07578894896, Model Pamire 07737485777.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 20th October 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 over the past 15 years 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 will 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Facebook pages:
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Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights of 2010
Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights of 2009
Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights of 2008
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