The wet road to freedom – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 20th May 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:53

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The Zimbabwean diaspora gave ROHR activist Sipho Ndlovu a hero’s welcome when he arrived at the Vigil after a marathon seven-day bike ride through England to raise money to stop political violence in Zimbabwe and teach people in the rural areas what their voting rights are.

Sipho braved roads flooded by heavy rain on his 324 mile ride from Nottingham to London, which took in six other towns. He said some of the roads were like rivers. The weather took a toll on his bike and also his phone, which he was relying on for navigation.

Fortunately members of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe were waiting to meet him at the end of each day and they arranged to have the bike fixed and lent him a phone, as well as organising food, dry clothes, a hot bath and a place to sleep.

Sipho’s toughest day was on the long stretch from Oxford to Southampton when he was lashed by rain all day. ROHR supporters were following his progress closely and, when he was still 20 miles from Southampton, ROHR President Ephraim Tapa sent encouragement: ‘Go on soldier. We are with you all the way.’ On the next leg to Reading ROHR women waited for six hours in the drizzle to welcome Sipho.

Sipho’s welcome at the Vigil began with a prayer of thanks for his safe return led by Sister Bev Mutandiro. Daizy Fabian, Chair of ROHR Central London branch, said how important his contribution to the peace project was. She said ROHR and the Vigil must continue to support efforts for peace, justice and freedom in Zimbabwe. Vigil co-ordinator Rose Benton praised Sipho for his determination in completing his challenge through a very tough week.  The way ROHR and the Vigil had rallied around to support Sipho showed that there was a strong family feeling in the group.

The money raised by the bike ride will support the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP), which aims to train 100,000 civilian peacekeepers and overcome fear and intimidation during next year’s elections. To sponsor Sipho, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sipho-ndlovu.

In one of the latest reports of pre-election violence. the MDC T Vice-President Thokozani Khupe said police officers fired teargas when she was attending a voter registration campaign meeting at a supporter’s home in Lupane Ward 9. ‘It was during that meeting that police attacked us unprovoked,’ she said.

MDC T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said the unwarranted crackdown justified calls for outside intervention in the 2018 elections. He said the attack on Khupe and party supporters was evidence that Zanu PF, aided by a partisan police force, was not ready for a free and fair election.  ‘This is a harbinger of what awaits us. As we go towards 2018, Zanu PF will use all methods to push the country to a pre-determined electoral outcome and without SADC, the African Union and the United Nations we are never going to have free and fair polls,’ he said (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2017/05/20/police-attack-khupe/).

The discovery of more graves in Gokwe dating from the 2008 election violence underlines the importance of action to support peaceful elections this time. Midlands MDC T Senator Morgan Komichi told the Senate that he had just been shown the newly-discovered graves in various locations and local people were fearful because they associated elections with violence. He said violence was structural because it was ingrained in the procedures and administration of elections. ‘This can be removed from our society if we all agree that we are denouncing violence.’ (See: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-more-mass-graves-discovered/).

Thanks to all ROHR members who turned out to welcome, support and send Sipho safely on his journey in the towns he visited:

  • Nottingham: Chamunorwa Chisuko and Sally Mutseyami  
  • Leicester: Christopher Kamuzonde, Enniah Dube, Moline Nyabonda and Yvonne Makombe.  
  • Birmingham: Tecla Bandawe, Mercy Chapepa, Thandiwe Gwarumba, Gladys Muduve, Rumbidzai Mudyanadzo and Tarisai Murwira
  • Oxford: George Chinamhora  
  • Southampton: Ben Semwayo, Jacob Mandipira, Maxmus Savanhu, Hildah Mudzinganyama, Chipo Mtetwa and Nontokozo Ncube 
  • Reading: Shylette Chipangura, Deborah Harry, Alice Shimika and Josephine Jombe
  • Slough: Fungisai Mupandira,  Patricia Masamba, Iline Manhunzi, Anna Mwanza and Nkosikona Tshabangu
  • London: Daizy Fabian, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Maxmus Savanhu, Nyarai Masvosva, Cephas Maswoswa, Edward Ndlovu, Margaret Munenge, Fungayi Mabhunu, Catherine Musa, Cecilliah Phiri, Shepherd Nyamandi, Ishmael Makina, Charles Mupawose, Barnie Mandimika, Eletha Mpofu, Bev Mutandiro, Faith Ndhlovu, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Roseline Mukucha, Phillip Mahlahla and Alfredy Mukuvare.

Special thanks: to Sally Mutseyami of ROHR’s publicity department for ensuring that the information about the bike ride got as wide circulation and publicity as possible, to Ben Semwayo who lent his phone to Sipho and to Notokozo Ncube who paid for Sipho’s dinner and drove Ben to his house to fetch the phone, to Chris Kamuzonde who paid for a hotel room for Sipho in Leicester, to ROHR Birmingham for taking Sipho out to a meal after he had been greeted at the Vigil and to Rumbi Sambana for making the ‘Welcome back Sipho’ poster.

Other points

  • It was good to have Cephas Maswoswa with us. He thanked everyone for their support for him when he lost his 22-year-old son.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Lizzie Dziruni, Daizy Fabian, Phillip Mahlahla, Nyarai Masvosva, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Margaret Munenge, Charles Mupawose, Edward Ndlovu and Caroline Witts. Thanks to Roseline, Eletha and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table, to Faith Ndhlovu, Alice Shimika and  Cathrine for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Phillip, Charles, Edward, Nyarai, Daizy, Margaret Alfredy Mukuvare and Mduduzi Ndlovu for putting up the banners. Thanks also to Nyarai for bringing cakes to share.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 36 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

 
Overcoming fear – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 13th May 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 May 2017 10:44

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Supporters of Restoration of Human Rights gathered at the Vigil to give a send-off to ROHR activist Sipho Ndlovu who will be cycling through England for seven days to raise funds for the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP). Sipho will cover 324 miles from Nottingham to London, calling at Leicester, Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton, Reading and Slough.

ZimPAP was formed by ROHR International together with 18 other Zimbabwean civil society organisations, including Heal Zimbabwe, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and Amnesty International. Its aim is peace-building and the prevention of violence around next year’s elections.

ROHR President Ephraim Tapa was enthusiastic about the initiative, which he said would curb voter manipulation by encouraging co-operation across the political divide to overcome fear.

During the week Ephraim and others from the Vigil and ROHR had a meeting in London with visiting Senator Michael Carter of MDC T, which discussed ways of reassuring rural voters that they could safely support the party of their choice.

Senator Carter was impressed by the success of the ZimPAP programme in Mashonaland East and suggested that people from the urban areas should be sent to cover all rural polling stations, before, during and after the voting to counter intimidation.

Senator Carter, his wife Judy, as well as two sons and a grandson, joined us at the Vigil and were given a warm welcome, especially when they spoke Shona and joined in the singing and dancing.

Senator Carter was given a Vigil cap. He encouraged us to continue our work and said, though we had all been naïve about how difficult change was going to be, we should be confident that it would come. The problem was the fear in the rural areas which needed to be overcome. Judy Carter went on to say how important the diaspora had been and said ‘Don’t give up. You have kept your relatives alive.’

We all wished Sipho well as he set off on his bike to catch his train to Nottingham. To sponsor Sipho please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sipho-ndlovu and to follow his journey check the ROHR facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/.

Other points

  • The Vigil was not surprised that Zanu PF wants to abolish dual citizenship which has been provided for in the vaunted ‘new’ constitution of 2013. Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said dual citizenship posed ‘security challenges’ and made it clear the government regards the constitution as a pick-and-choose document (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-to-abolish-dual-citizenship/).
  • Japanese expert on Zimbabwe, Ken Yamamoto, says that if Zimbabwe had proper leaders it could have been the Singapore or South Korea of Africa by now with a $100 billion economy. GDP this year is estimated at below $15 billion (see: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-110217.html).
  • Former Finance Minister and presidential candidate Simba Makoni dismissed Mugabe’s recent denial that Zimbabwe is a fragile state. Makoni said the economy was collapsing: ‘Government can’t pay its workers. Hospitals and schools are sustained by donors. We have the highest ratio of graduate informal traders in the world,' Makoni tweeted. ‘Up to one third of the population are economic refugees. It is estimated that approximately three million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, many of them illegally. Public infrastructure is decrepit and dysfunctional. National roads are pot-holed. For nearly 20 years, people who fed themselves before have survived on food aid. The economy shrank to 40 per cent of its size in 10 years,’ he said (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-mugabe-also-fearful-makoni/).
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Vimbayi Chambara, Muchineripi Chigwedere, Mavis Chisvo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Josephine Jombe, Fungayi Mabhunu, Thomas Machingauta, Alice Majola, Netsayi Makarichi, Heather Makawa, Theodora Mandishaya, Nyarai Masango, Rachel Mudzimba, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Charles Mupawose, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Tsitsi Ndoro, Casper Nyamakura, Tawanda Rusape, Rumbidzayi Sambana and Pearl Shambare. Thanks to Roseline, Mavis and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table, to Rumbidzayi, Sihle Sibanda, Esther Munyira, Isaac Chawasarira, Flemming Diza and Rosemary Maponga for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Vimbayi, Casper, Charles and Mduduzi for putting up the banners.
  •   Thanks to those who contributed to our fundraising efforts for the ZimPAP project: to Daizy Fabian, Etines Kapiya and Rosemary Maponga making, bringing and serving food, to Margaret Munenge for providing bottles of water and to Isabell for collecting for Sipho’s bike ride.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR. 

FOR THE RECORD: 50 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Southampton branch meeting. Wednesday 17th May  from 3 – 5 pm. Venue Frog and Parrot Pub, 166 Above Bar Street, Southampton SO14 7DU. Ahead of the meeting at 2 pm, the branch will be welcoming Sipho Ndlovu on his bike ride into Southampton in front of the Guildhall, West Marland Road, Southampton SO14 7LP. Contact: Ben Semwayo (Chair) 07401611932, Reuben Waretza (Publicity and Advocacy) 07946607617 and Cecil Shumba (Secretary) 07575954654.
  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 20th May.  Community outreach from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm: Venue: Broad Street, Reading. Awareness campaign on deteriorating human rights in Zimbabwe. General meeting from 2 – 5 pm: Venue: The RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. Contact: Sihle Sibanda 07985712749 (Deputy Chair), Alice Shimika 07462067504 (Secretary), Charles Mararirakwenda 07964731721 (Organising Secretary).
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 20th May from 6.30 pm. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. We will move to the RFH at the end of the Vigil at 6 pm.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 27th May from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2016 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/843-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2016. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2016 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:
 
‘To save Zimbabwe, do something’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 6th May 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 May 2017 14:29

 

 

President Mugabe laughed at the suggestion that Zimbabwe is a fragile state. The question was put to him on Thursday at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Durban.

‘That isn’t true’, he snorted. ‘Zimbabwe is the most developed country on the continent after South Africa. We have a bumper harvest, not only of maize but also of tobacco and many other crops. We are not a poor country.’

Mugabe’s head then slumped on his chest as he returned to dreamland – before he could be told of the violent clashes on the tobacco sales floors in Harare, where riot police fired teargas at desperate farmers demanding payment for their crops. They complained ‘hurumende yedu haichadi vanhu yakutirwisa Smith aiva nani’ (The government is now fighting us; the Smith regime was better.) See: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-police-tear-gas-bash-tobacco-farmers/.

Predictably, President Zuma jumped in to support Mugabe’s fantasy, ignoring a report last week from the AfrAsia Bank which said Zimbabweans are among the poorest people in the world. It put Zimbabwean wealth per person last year at US$200. By comparison, wealth per capita in Botswana was US$6,700 and Zambia US$1,200. The report noted that, back in 2000, Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa but now lagged well behind.

An exasperated denunciation of Zimbabwean political apathy came from Linda Masarira, a supporter of our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe. She asked: ‘Why are Zimbabweans pretending that everything is ok. Today Mugabe is lying in South Africa. We all know it is a lie. We are the laughing stock of the world.’ See: https://www.facebook.com/lindatsungiriraimasarira/videos/700015266867611/.

Linda said on Facebook: ‘We all have to stand up for our rights. Why are you not doing anything? Let us show Zanu PF and the world that we are fed up.’

Linda knows to her cost the perils of confronting the regime, having spent many months in jail for protesting against injustice. She has been campaigning with Patson Dzamara, brother of the murdered activist Itai. Patson is reported to have been moved to an intensive care unit of a Harare hospital after being jailed again last week (see: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-109784.html). 

Other points

  • ‘To save Zimbabwe, do something’ was also the message from the Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil. Ephraim Tapa, President of ROHR, announced plans for a peace demonstration in Harare’s central business district at the end of May. He said it was part of an initiative by the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP) which groups 19 civil society organisations, including ROHR, and launched a successful programme in Mashonaland East Province last month. Ephraim said: ‘As ROHR International, we stand against violence and political manipulation deployed against the people of Zimbabwe. We stand in support of free democracy and therefore offer ourselves as the voice of the people. We aim to nip electoral violence in the bud . . . Once fear is defeated, Zimbabweans will be able to vote freely.’
  • One person who is doing something is Vigil activist Sipho Ndlovu who is to cycle from Nottingham to London, taking in six other cities on the way in a 324 mile sponsored ride from 14th – 20th May in support of ZimPAP. To sponsor him please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sipho-ndlovu.
  • Vigil and ROHR supporters arrived drained following a night without sleep spent comforting our friend Cephas Maswoswa who lost his 22-year-old son last week when he died in intensive care in a Johannesburg hospital. Cephas’ loss resulted in extraordinary support from the Vigil and ROHR both financially and in caring. The solidarity of the Vigil and ROHR family was shown in the generosity and kindness of our activists. Cephas and his family were visited and comforted by our supporters on three occasions during the last week. All too many Zimbabweans in the diaspora have felt the bitter pain of losing loved ones. Only recently Jonathan Kariwo lost his brother and today we heard that Mavis Chisvo lost her only sister very suddenly, thought to be from malaria. We took a collection for her.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Mavis Chisvo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Phillip Mahlahla, Nyarai Masvosva, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Margaret Munenge, Farai Mutumburi and Tawanda Rusape. Thanks to Roseline, Cathrine Musa and Elizabeth Hlebayi for looking after the front table, to Nancy Makurira, Abigail Chidavayenzi and Faith Ndhlovu for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Phillip, Nyarai and Tawanda for putting up the banners. A special mention of Phillip who apart from clearing up the Vigil at the end helps the Muslim group that takes over from us to set up their food tables to feed the homeless.
  • Special thanks to Rumbidzayi Sambana who went out of her way to collect the Vigil drum to take to the all-night wake for Cephas’s son. Also to Isabell Gwatidzo for taking charge of the collections for Mavis and Cephas. Thanks to Elizabeth Hlebayi who brought a smart new shaker for the Vigil, much needed as our shakers keep disappearing.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 39 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 13th May from 11 am. Venue:  The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.
  • 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.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 13th May from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 20th May from 6.30 pm. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. We will move to the RFH at the end of the Vigil at 6 pm.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2016 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/843-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2016. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2016 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:
 
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