Mixed messages – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 11th May 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 12 May 2019 14:35

It is ironic that Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa happened to be in London spreading the ‘Zimbabwe open for business’ message when it was announced in Harare that draconian power cuts are being imposed. 

They are not just routine measures. An announcement by the power utility ZESA said some suburbs across the country would be cut off for at least 10 hours a day because of reduced generation at major power stations. Worse still, most of the power-shedding will be during the morning and evening peak periods of 5 am – 10 am and 5 pm – 10 pm. A spokesman said if the measures were not implemented the country could be plunged into total darkness by October.

Another irony was a notice advertising the auction of farm equipment from the troubled Mugabe farming enterprise. The equipment includes five combine harvesters, tractors and at least 30 vehicles. The Mugabe family have been facing lawsuits over unpaid debts.

No such financial difficulties for Comrade Obert Mpofu, one of the richest men in Zimbabwe, who ironically has survived the demise of the Mugabes and as Zanu PF Secretary for Administration this week had talks in Harare with British Ambassador Melanie Robinson.

‘I was able to express our support for the reforms the President has laid out on the economic and political side’, the Herald quotes her as saying (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/british-envoy-commends-zim-reforms/).

Judging from recent statements, the UK, the EU and – more importantly – the US are now singing from the same song sheet: accepting the military regime – at least until further atrocities by the security forces.

The West seems to have given up hope in Zimbabwe’s fractious political opposition and the stick of human rights with which it used to beat Mnangagwa has been replaced by a carrot – the removal of sanctions to tempt Zimbabwe out of the orbit of China, Russia etc.

Other points

  • Several members of the Mutsvangwa party, including Zanu PF bigwig husband Christopher, came past the Vigil to go into the Embassy. They declined to engage with us.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Tinotenda Chihope, Pamela Chirimuta, Patrick Hale, Simbarashe Jingo, Josephine Jombe, Patricia Masamba, Esther Munyira, Farai Muroiwa, Mary Muteyerwa, Sipho Ndlovu, Sikhumbuzule Sibanda and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Josephine for looking after the front table, to Simbarashe for handing out flyers, to Mary for drumming and to Patricia, Jonathan and Sipho for photos. Thanks also to Mary, Pamela and Sikhumbuzule for contributing to a new ROHR banner.
  • 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.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 25th May. Community outreach from 11.30 am – 1.30pm. 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:  Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806, Josh 07877246251.
  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 8th June from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625.
  • ROHR fundraising dinner. Saturday 29th June from 6 pm till late. Venue: Zazas, 108 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JE. Contact: Esther Munyira 07492058109, Fungisai Mupandira 07468504393, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Simbarashe Jingo 07787870888, Pamela Chirimuta 07762737339, Sikhumbuzule Sibanda 07912210225, and Farai Muroiwa 07365431776.
  • ROHR sponsored walk. Saturday 27th July. Contact: Esther Munyira 07492058109, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013, Patricia Masamba and Farai Muroiwa 07365431776. More information as plans progress.
  • 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:
 
Joyless Mayday – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 4th May 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 May 2019 11:07

Comrade Mnangagwa’s Mayday message to the workers was predictable: everything is going to be better. We know you are being exploited by businessmen’s greedy price rises but we demand that employers raise your pay.

The message went down like a bond note or an RTGS dollar. It was like just another fatuous promise in the Herald that we are on course to be a middle-income country by 2030 (instead of one of the poorest in the world with one of the highest inflation rates).

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ president Peter Mutasa said Workers’ Day had been dampened by the spectre of food insecurity and serious financial challenges. All hopes after the removal of Mugabe that things would improve had been dashed. ‘A majority of school children are going to be sent away from school for failure to pay fees,’Mutasa said. ‘A lot of workers are dying at their homes because they cannot afford medical care because they earn useless RTGS dollars.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/05/we-face-a-bleak-year-zctu/.) 

The fear in the government of street protests driven by abject poverty was betrayed by an hysterical claim by the Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema. ‘It is disturbing to note that the ZRP and other security services have gathered intelligence to the effect that a group of foreign nationals want to facilitate a three-day civic organisation workshop in Bulawayo in May 2019. The main agenda of the workshop is to mobilise and capacitate civic organisations and individuals to stage purported effective demonstrations and disturbances to overthrow the Zanu-PF Government,’ he said.(See: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-161534.html). 

We can all rest comfortable in our beds knowing that the security services know about a routine workshop being planned in Bulawayo. Well done for being so observant

The Vigil had our own observer in Zimbabwe for the past month – Ephraim Tapa, one the founders of the Vigil in 2002, head of our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) and earlier one of the founders of the MDC in his role as head of the civil service union.

Ephraim was dispirited by his latest visit. Basically, ordinary people are ‘just trying to get on with their lives’ – too scared to protest because of the vicious behaviour of the security forces in the January ‘shutdown’ campaign following the post election shootings last August. Civil society has also lost its voice as a result with many human rights activists fleeing to South Africa.

Ephraim said he was further disturbed by reports of division in the MDC and electoral malpractices around its congresses. He said the MDC would fast lose its moral high ground if its leadership did nothing to ensure clean, violence-free elections and adhere to the party constitution. Chamisa’s policies, particularly around his collaboration with the G40 Zanu PF faction and hailing of Robert Mugabe as a ‘great leader,’ were divisive and needless.

He concluded that much of the press coverage in Zimbabwe is unreliable and civil organisations are impotent. People seem to have given up politics as a way forward and appear to be desperately looking for a way beyond the current two-party politics of Zimbabwe.

Other points

  • We were joined today by Chrispen Chamburuka, the newly elected Chair of the MDC UK andIreland, and some of his team. There was agreement that the Vigil and the MDC should work together in the UK.
    The Vigil is often visited by journalists and our attention has been brought to an article which appeared in an online media site SW Londoner a few months ago (see: http://www.swlondoner.co.uk/zimbabwe-protestors-strand/). Among the people interviewed was one of our co-ordinators Rose Benton. She says she wants to make it clear that she has no intention of ending her association with the Vigil. But she is due to have an operation on her shoulder in September and will have to ease up on her commitment.
  • We were joined by some Algerians today bringing a large Algerian flag. Solidarity photos were taken with both the flags of Zimbabwe and Algeria featuring.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Pamela Chirimuta, Miriam Gasho, Deborah Harry, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Mary Muteyerwa, Ephraim Tapa and Reuben Waretsa. Thanks to Josephine and Miriam for looking after the front table, to Bianca Mpawaenda, Rosemary Maponga and Bigboy Sibanda for handing out flyers, to Jonathan, Reuben and Deborah for photos and to Mary for drumming.
  • 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: 27 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 11th May from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX.
  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 25th May. Community outreach from 11.30 am – 1.30pm. 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:  Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806, Josh 07877246251.
  • ROHR Fundraising supper. Saturday 29th June. More information as plans progress.
  • 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:
 
Mnangagwa must come clean on Gukurahundi - Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 27th April 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 May 2019 18:22

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/33844045238/sizes/c/ 

Today the Vigil presented a petition to the UK Prime Minister’s residence urging her to insist that President Mnangagwa accounts for the Gukurahundi genocide.

The petition reads: ‘Zimbabwe has reportedly been encouraged by the UK Government to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth. Zimbabweans in exile in the UK, and supporters, urge the UK not to support readmission until the ruling Zanu PF satisfactorily addresses the genocide of some 20000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. A simple apology would be a start but we believe an independent truth and reconciliation process offers the best hope of healing the still bleeding wounds.’

You may ask why at this time, amid Zimbabwe’s economic woes, with ever rising prices and climatic turbulence threatening lives and crops, the Vigil chooses to make Gukurahundi our challenge to the UK government. Well, the reason is that it is an open sore which the Ndebele people will never forgive until there is a genuine apology and compensation. Until this is forthcoming our country will always be divided.

This division extends to the Zimbabwean community in the UK. An Ndebele group sometimes demonstrates alongside us outside the Embassy, but they refuse to join us. Their protest involves only one issue: Gukurahundi – even after the lapse of more than 30 years.

South Africa, after the end of Apartheid, set the pace for reconciliation with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After listening to the evidence of the aggrieved, it was able to offer amnesty to those who admitted their fault and repented in public.

Two years ago, before he was overthrown, Mugabe set up the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission but its progress has been slow and it lacks the independence and the wide remit of its South African counterpart. Bulawayo-based civil society organizations comprising the Matabeleland Collective want the remit of the Commission to be widened and have demanded the release of two government reports on Gukurahundi which have been kept secret. Even the chair of the Commission Mr Justice Nare says he has been unable to get hold of the reports (see: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2019/04/26/gukurahundi-pressure-groups-demand-truth-from-mnangagwa/, https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2019/04/26/survivors-want-gukurahundi-perpetrators-prosecuted-nare/ and https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-160903.html).

Retired Justice Nare says that some feel that people should be prosecuted for having played a role in Gukurahundi and that there should also be compensation. It is clear that if the Commission is to resolve what Mugabe spoke of as a ‘moment of madness’, it will need considerably more resources. The United Kingdom and the United States, which both failed to respond adequately to the genocide, may well see their way to helping finance the Commission if they were assured of its independence.

Other points

  • A big thank you to Esther Munyira for organising the presentation of the Vigil petition to 10 Downing Street – from arranging police permission to leading the group to Downing Street and liaising with the police on site. Thanks to the other petitioners: Miriam Gasho, Casper Nyamakura, Marian Machekanyanga and Joseph Simbarashe Jingo for taking the petition into Downing Street. Thanks also to those who stayed behind to look after the Vigil: Patience Muyeye, Jonathan Kariwo and Ephraim Tapa.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table and put up the banners: Miriam, Joseph Simbarashe, Jane Kaphuwa, Jonathan, Marian, Esther, Tapiwa Muskwe, Mary Muteyerwa, Patience, Casper, Sikhumbuzule Sibanda, Ephraim and Reuben Waretsa. Thanks to Patience and Jonathan for looking after the front table, to Jane and Alice Majola for handing out flyers and to Casper, Jonathan, Tapiwa, Reuben, Patience, Richard Munyama, Heather Makawa and Tatenda Mandiki for 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: 37 signed the register.

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:
 
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