Cynicism reigns – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 20th October 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 October 2018 14:16

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/31579355658/sizes/m/
Happymore Chidziva MP addresses Vigil and MDC activists 

‘Electric car causes stir in fuel-starved Zimbabwe’ read the headline today on News 24. We can understand why the sight prompted interest given the return of long queues for fuel.

But then reality kicked in. What about the difficulty recharging the car when electricity supplies are so erratic? Perhaps that was why the car was seen on the back of a recovery vehicle, thought the cynics. At least it wasn’t another $3 million Bugati seen being unloaded at Robert Mugabe International a few weeks ago. 

Cynicism now reigns in Zimbabwe. Few now trust what they are told by the authorities. Even Zanu PF is increasingly rejecting the fantasy world bequeathed by ‘son of God’ Mugabe.

Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutode recognizes the problem: ‘This is an economy that is dealing with a legacy of . . . Mugabe. We are now in a new dispensation . . . so there are a number of economic issues we need to correct . . . Zimbabwe very much needs to access multi-lateral funding for its debt and if that doesn’t happen we will be in crisis.’ (See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/19/zimbabwe-needs-aid-to-prevent-further-crisis-warns-ruling-party.)

Everyone experiences this on the streets. The value of bond notes has collapsed, as the Vigil predicted it would when they were introduced two years ago. Our diary of 26th November 2016 noted ‘because Zimbabweans have lived through this asset stripping before, they know exactly what to expect. Savings will be wiped out by rapidly depreciating Mickey Mouse money for the benefit of the elite which will externalize all remaining US dollars in the country’.

Now we hear that people suspected of externalizing funds are not being taken to court because the national prosecution authority does not yet have a substantive Prosecutor-General in office. A lawyer commented: ‘Economic crime is rife in Zimbabwe but there is no political will to deal with it (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-147681.html).

The new Finance Minister Ncube realizes what’s happened and has announced the scrapping of the vaunted farm mechanization programme introduced by Mugabe in 2007. It was, he said, ‘riddled with corruption.’ A number of unnamed members of the political elite were said to have given themselves irrigation equipment, brand new tractors, combine harvesters and other farming materials. The loans were never paid back and the government had to write off more that $200 million. Mr Ncube’s decision came despite the government’s farming policy being championed by Vice President Chiwenga who said Zimbabwe could again become Africa’s bread basket.

This Zimbabwean delusion is scrutinised in an article by Michelle D Gavin, senior fellow for Africa Studies at the US Council on Foreign Relations. She says: ‘State media trumpets headlines about breakthroughs with the international financial institutions or new investments from abroad, but closer inspection tends to reveal far less than meets the eye. When creditors agree to a payment plan to clear longstanding debts, it doesn’t mean that new loans are coming, or even that arrears will actually get cleared. When start-up hedge funds commit to try to raise capital for unspecified projects in the future, it doesn’t mean that an influx of dollars has been secured. In their quest to paint a picture of a new dawn, Zimbabwean officials keep overselling small and preliminary steps, undermining their own credibility’ (see: https://www.cfr.org/blog/zimbabwes-falling-expectations).

The failure of the government to follow up on its promises, for instance in implementing the electoral reforms required by the constitution, has not gone unnoticed abroad. Those international electoral observers that matter were less than enthusiastic about the elections and even the others were shocked by the army’s shootings in Harare. The upshot is that Zimbabwe is not seen as ‘open for business’. A touted investment conference has been postponed for a year and prospects of being invited to rejoin the Commonwealth have dimmed according to Sue Onslow, Deputy Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

People have been disillusioned by the Mugabe fantasies: now they are increasing becoming cynical about the promises of the Mnangagwa regime. 

Other points

  • The Vigil drew its biggest attendance for some time, boosted by MDC members who came to support MDC MP for Highfield Happymore Chidziva, who is MDC National Youth Chair. Mr Chidziva said the Vigil’s weekly protest outside the Embassy was very important and our message was getting through.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Shylette Chipangura, Daizy Fabian, Hellena Gusinyu, Deborah Harry, Josephine Jombe, Joshua Kahari, Junior Madzimure, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Getrude Mudede, Nicodimus Muganhu, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Sipho Ndlovu, Molly Ngavaimbe, Pearl Shambare, Alice Shimika, Minienhle Sibanda, Ephraim Tapa and Sharon Zimuto. Thanks also to Josephine and Pearl for looking after the front table and to Heather and Pearl for handing out flyers.
  • A special thank you to Rose Maponga and Nyarai Masvosva for bringing sadza and stew to fundraise for the Vigil.
  • 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: 43 signed the register but there were many more than that present.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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

Pictures
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
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/31422910858/sizes/m/
Zimbabwe Vigil’s 16th anniversary
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/45297080521/sizes/m/ 

 

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.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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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.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

 
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