Isolation blues – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 25th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 April 2020 13:42

After a long wet winter in the UK we are having a golden spring. So it’s doubly vexatious that we are still in coronavirus lockdown after five weeks – with no end in sight.

 

Unlike Zimbabwe, television here hasn’t run out of programmes. But better entertainment can be found in following the tweets of exiled former Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.

 

Moyo’s latest contribution is to accuse the Chinese Chargé d’Affaire in Harare, Zhao Baogang, of meddling in the political affairs of Zimbabwe. Baogang had tweeted that Zimbabweans are only dying from coronavirus in the UK and not in China. (He didn’t mention that Africans had been chased away from China . . . ) Baogang further asserted that sanctions harmed Zimbabwe more that the virus.

 

Moyo said in response: ‘This revolutionary Chinese friend of the rogue regime is undiplomatically and proudly celebrating Zimbabwean deaths in the UK due to Covid19 in such an insensitive way that would get him sent back to his racist homeland in any other country with a proper and legitimate government!’ After Baogang deleted his tweet. Moyo returned to the attack: ‘The racist diplomat from racist China has deleted his offensive, outrageous and totally unacceptable tweet as if he does not know that the Internet, or rather Twitter, does not forget.’

 

Moyo said Boagang was abusing his status in Zimbabwe. ‘He’s blissfully unaware that Chinese mega-deals, most of which have been signed by either corrupt or drunken officials, are even more harmful as they rob future generations!’ (See: https://www.thezimbabwemail.com/zimbabwe/robert-mugabes-minister-clash-with-chinese-ambassador/).

 

Next on stage was Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi who blamed the virus on eating ‘dogs, cats, snakes, bats, monkeys, baboons and other wild life’ putting the rest of the world at risk. He suggested that Zimbabwe might be able to provide beef to China instead (see: https://news.pindula.co.zw/2020/04/24/dog-eating-chinese-exposing-world-to-covid-19-says-zimbabwe-deputy-information-minister-promises-to-increasebeef-exports-to-china/).

 

Mutodi also weighed into the fuss over the Zimbabweans who voluntarily returned home from the UK and objected to being quarantined in student hostels at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare, complaining of inadequate facilities with no running water. Mutodi rebuked them for ‘trying to demand VIP treatment’ and reminded them that quarantine was not a matter of choice.

 

On this occasion, the Vigil can sympathise with Mutodi. Zimbabweans are being deported in their hundreds from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. The Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube says that city is already overwhelmed (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/04/65-returning-zimbos-demand-hotel-quarantine/).

 

The government has responded by cutting quarantine from 14 to 8 days. But this has been criticised by the president of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, Tawanda Zvakada, who said it risked spreading the virus as people return to their home areas.

 

The Vigil is pleased that the UK has given Zimbabwe US $43.6 million to help it deal with the pandemic – the largest donation by any country. As we in the UK look out of our windows at the sunshine we can only hope that suggestions by the Trump administration that the sun reduces the strength of the virus will save us all from further suffering.

 

Other points

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
 
40 wasted years – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 18th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 April 2020 12:45

As Zimbabwe marked Independence Day, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said the independence dream has been shattered by Zanu PF tyranny, violence and corruption.

 

A comment on the Zimbabwe Situation website made a similar point: ‘The Zanuvirus will continue to cause havoc just as it has done for 40 years since the infection took hold.’

 

Chamisa called for concerted efforts to remove Zanu PF from power, saying ‘let’s get the job done. Zimbabwe is too richly resourced to be this underdeveloped’. He urged Zimbabweans – wherever they are – to clap 40 times for change at 6 pm (see: https://bulawayo24.com/news/national/183384).

 

In the UK Zimbabweans have become accustomed to clapping at 8 pm on Thursdays to show their support for the National Health Service staff dealing with the coronavirus and some themselves dying from it. Among the victims this week was Rutendo Mukotsanjera, a single mother aged 45 who leaves a daughter Chichi, 12, orphaned with no family in the UK. Ms Mukotsanjera worshipped at the Renew Church in Utoxeter whose members are caring for Chichi and have raised more than £30,000 for her future.

 

Zimbabwe appears so far to have escaped lightly from the pandemic, although the future looks bleak despite President Mnangagwa repeating in his Independence Day message that Zimbabwe would be ‘an upper second’ economy’ by the end of the decade – laying himself open to a 20 year prison sentence he has threatened against anyone responsible for fake news!

 

What makes this aspiration even more unreal is a statement by the National Chamber of Commerce that a quarter of Zimbabwe’s formal jobs and three-quarters of informal ones would be wiped out by the impact of the infection. It predicted that the economy would contract by 9% this year (see: https://bulawayo24.com/news/national/183589).

 

The economy has not been helped by the government’s inept handling of bankrupt Air Zimbabwe which last week sent its employees on unpaid leave. Not surprising as a Boeing 777 acquired in January has only now taken its first flight for the airline – not a scheduled one but to Addis Ababa for maintenance . . . (See: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/air-zimbabwe-flies-boeing-777-to-maintenance-after-3-months-on-the-ground/).

 

While the Boeing sat on the ground in Harare. The government spent hundreds of millions of dollars over budget on foreign travel expenses. They included hiring a private jet from Dubai to fly to Zimbabwe to take Mnangagwa on a 40 minute local trip (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/04/ed-foreign-trips-bleed-treasury/).

 

Other points

  • A former judge, now in exile in New Zealand, paints a bleak picture of dashed hopes for Zimbabwe (see: https://bulawayo24.com/opinion/columnist/183647).
  • 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/72157713953468088). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Jacob Mandipira who kindly contributed to Vigil funds. Jacob’s message on Independence Day was: ‘Zimbabwe independence what a shame! 40 years of hell under the Zanu PF rule. The mass is suffering big time’.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

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
 
Viral mania – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 11th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2020 12:50

Every military regime such as Zanu PF goes mad in its own way, whether its Venezuela, Russia, Iran or China . They share a common aim: to enrich themselves at the expense of their enslaved people.

 

Zanu PF has spent 40 years honing their model, which has hardly changed despite the army coup against Mugabe. And they are not going to change their methods now. Why shoud they if they are working?

 

The other day the British Embassy urged all UK citizens in Zimbabwe to return home immediately even though the daily death toll from the coronavirus here was now touching 1,000 and Zimbabwe’s Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi claims that the probability of coronavirus gaining a foothold in Zimbabwe is ‘next to zero’. (See: https://www.zimeye.net/2020/04/09/mutodi-pours-cold-water-on-chamisas-unwise-suggestion/.)

 

A bold claim and we would be relieved if it came true. But we doubt it, especially given Zimbabwe’s inadequate medical service and that so many people are malnourished and without adequate water or the capacity to self-isolate to prevent infection, which appears to have been the key to fighting off the virus everywhere else.

 

The government has been criticised for approving the use of traditional herbal treatment for coronavirus patients. We would not scoff at traditional medicine but note that Dr Nyika Mahachi, the President of the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, said the government’s decision was unwelcome and that it was important to stick to the World Health Organisation guidelines on how to contain the virus (see: https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/zimbabwes-government-says-herbal-treatment-ok-covid-19).

 

The reality is that, even if the government is serious about the pandemic, it does not have much room to manoeuvre, given that the International Monetary Fund says that Zimbabwe only has US$109 million in foreign exchange reserves – enough for only one week’s imports – because the virus threatens tobacco sales, the second biggest source of foreign exchange (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimbabwe-dollar-zwl-usd-news-fx-shortage-to-worsen-on-virus/).

 

While the United Nations tries to raise money to feed Zimbabwe, it is disturbing to read of the all-too-familiar tactics by Zanu PF to hijack a social welfare programme funded by the World Bank to cushion informal traders against the lockdown (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zanu-pf-hijacks-wold-bank-funds/).

 

Of course the country’s main source of revenue is mining but this has for long been under the control of the military and the Zanu PF bigwigs. An article by Kudzai Chimhangwa in Open Democracy gives a useful update on the looted resources behind the Zimbabwe emergency – money which could have saved us from the looming disaster (see: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/will-zimbabwes-diamonds-be-forever-a-glimpse-into-a-nations-resource-rich-curse/).

 

Of one thing you can be sure: the military will be able to keep order whatever happens. They have all the bullets necessary. And they have the support of SADC and AU and the embrace of fellow tyrants from China to Venezuela (see: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2020/04/10/military-in-us90m-murky-weapons-deals/).

 

Other points

  • We were saddened to hear of the death of Mike Auret, the former MDC MP, and one of the people who inspired the Vigil. Mike chaired the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace which exposed the extent of the Gukurahundi genocide carried out by Zanu PF in the 1980s.
  • Our condolences to Vigil Co-ordinator Esther Munyira at the passing of her father.
  • 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/72157713848220758). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Charles Mararirakwenda who kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

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
 
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