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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 10th July 2010 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 July 2010 15:28

The immortal Dr Pangloss was a character in Voltaire’s novel Candide – immortal not least because he is now working for the British Foreign Office. Pangloss was super-optimistic. Amid the chaos of the Lisbon earthquake 250 years ago he could still maintain ‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’.  

This appears to be the attitude of the Foreign Office towards the chaos in Zimbabwe. It sees steady progress (although at a ‘glacial speed’). There are good things happening, we are told. In fact we should jolly well think of going back to enjoy them. 

A different picture emerges from a former British diplomat in Harare, Philip Barclay, in his book ‘Years of Hope and Despair’. Barclay has been promoting his book in London and points to continuing disregard of the rule of law and the increasing acquiescence of the MDC within the unity government.  

Soundings at the Vigil suggest that Barclay’s take is closer to reality than the line now being peddled by the Foreign Office. The diaspora cannot accept progress at a ‘glacial’ pace. We’ll all be dead before we can go home. In that case why is the Home Office not told to let Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers work here?    

The Vigil does not believe that this is all that can be achieved. We think the British government should put renewed pressure on SADC countries to meet their obligations to Zimbabwe. In particular, we want to know what is being done to ensure free and fair elections. Britain should use its financial muscle. After all, it is British taxpayers’ generosity that is helping to prop up  these countries.  

The British government’s softly softly approach is more surprising given a damning report by international legal bodies on the state of law in Zimbabwe which was launched recently at a meeting in parliament The report was compiled by a mission which included representatives of the Bar Council, the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association and Avocats Sans Frontieres among others. It says the power sharing deal has failed to stop extra-judicial killings, kidnappings and torture. The report adds that human rights abuses continue to occur and go uninvestigated by the authorities. ‘Access to justice is virtually non-existent’ it says. (http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/assets/documents/7351_BHRC_Zimbabwe_Report.pdf and http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/news/latest/555.html).   

Other points
·       The blistering heat failed to subdue the exuberant dancing and singing at the Vigil.
·       Ephraim Tapa, President of ROHR, spoke to supporters about the constitutional outreach programme.  He said it was being disrupted by Zanu PF violence aimed at keeping Mugabe in power.
·      
The following piece appeared in the Londoner’s Diary of the London Evening Standard on Thursday, 8th July.
http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/2010/07/zimbabwean-deputy-pm-upsets-exiles.html

Zimbabwean deputy PM upsets exiles
What not to wear to the commonwealth Society . . . Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minister Ms Thokozani Khupe, who was a popular anti-Robert Mugabe figure before she joined the government after the 2008 election is in London but has upset sometime supporters by demanding they put on their gladrags and pay up to get an audience with her.

Ms Khupe spoke at the Royal Commonwealth Society in Northumberland Avenue last night. Members of the Zimbabwe Vigil, who demonstrate against human rights abuses outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in The Strand every Saturday, had been surprised to be invited to meet her face to face at a dinner after the event.
The catch was the ticket price and the dress code. Leaders of the vigil find it offensive that, with Zimbabwe producing more asylum seekers than any other country, diners were expected to pay £25 for the dinner and to wear lounge suits or cocktail dresses.
“With 158,000 Zimbabweans seeking asylum from the coalition government in 2009, Khupe’s dinner is just one more sign of how unreal the Movement for Democratic Change elite are becoming,” writes Dennis Benton in the Zimbabwe Vigil Diary.
“Not many of the Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK have a lounge suit or a cocktail dress. Those Zimbabweans likely to go to this event are well-connected Zanu-PF people [Mugabe’s party] of whom there all too many in the UK.Benton notes that, as a close MDC associate of former opposition leader and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Khupe was once a popular figure. “We repeat our invitation to Ms Khupe to come to the vigil and talk to some of the ordinary Zimbabweans who can’t afford £25,” says Benton, a former BBC man. 

Unfortunately Ms Khupe did not attend the Vigil.  Security issues were mentioned…. As a representative of the Zimbabwe government she would have been perfectly safe outside her own Embassy and we are right next door to Charing Cross Police who would have policed the Vigil if we requested it. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check the link at the top of the home page of our website.  For earlier ZimVigil TV programmes check: http://www.zbnnews.com/home/firingline. 

FOR THE RECORD: 161 signed the register. 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:
·       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.
·       ROHR Liverpool Vigil. Saturday 24th July from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: Church Street (Outside Primark), Liverpool City Centre. For details please contact: Anywhere Mungoyo 07939913688, Trywell Migeri 07956083758, Panyika Karimanzira 07551062161. Future demonstrations: 31st July, 7th and 21st August, 4th September. Same time and venue.
·       ROHR Coventry general meeting. Saturday 24th July from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: 90a Paynes Lane, Coventry CV1 5JH. ROHR National Executive and a well known lawyer present. Contact V.J Mujeye 07534034594, Nash Sibanda 07886660392, Pauline Makuwere 07575265710, P. Mapfumo 07932216070/07915926323 or P Chibanguza 07908406069.
·       ROHR West Bromwich general meeting.  Saturday 31st July 2010 from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich  B70 0HF. Contact: Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Peter Nkomo 07817096594, Diana Mtendereki 07837682108, P Chibanguza 07908406069 or P Mapfumo 07915926323.
·       Supporter Adrian Smale will be cycling 85 miles from Salisbury to the Vigil to raise money for Zimbabwean orphans on 24th July.  If you want to sponsor him contact him on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or tel: 07946 128204.
·       ROHR Hayes general meeting. Saturday 31st July from 1 – 5 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes, UB4 0PE. The raffle for the computer, DVD player, printer and Samsung mobile phone will be drawn – tickets are still on sale. ROHR Executive present. Contact Roda Kulhengisa 07958205544, Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Charity Nyamuzuwe 07898765091 or P Mapfumo 0791592623 / 07932216070.
·       ROHR Stoke-On-Trent general meeting. Saturday 7th August from 2 – 5 pm.  Venue: YMCA Edinburgh House. Harding Road  Stoke-On-Trent ST1 3AE. Substantive committee to be  elected. Executive members present. Contact: Pauline Mutema on 07850462301, David Mugwira 07866873493, Maxwell Dube 07533349840, P Chibanguza 07908406069 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
·       Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts
·       Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil
·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturdays from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. For more information check: www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
·       Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
·       Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. For information: http://www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk/pages/Strategic.html or contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
·       For Motherland ENT’s videos of the Vigil on 24/04/2009, check: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvwikOhO3Fk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7qqXJ7jfVY.

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