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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 1st January 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 02 January 2011 16:57

We gathered under a gloomy sky for our New Year’s Day Vigil, relieved that the weather was merely miserable rather than freezing. Needless to say we soon had our tarpaulin up for protection against the drizzle . . . 

We were encouraged by the presence of supporters all the way from Northern Ireland and Scotland. Tabetha and Otis Mutyambizi caught the ferry from Belfast on Thursday night and the coach from Manchester today. They said they were glad to have a bath, having been victims of the big freeze in Northern Ireland which caused many burst water pipes. Others from far afield were Mkululi Sibanda and his wife Tafadzwa Joyce Murungweni who live in Glasgow 

We were also encouraged by the strong line taken by West African states against the Mugabe clone Gbagbo for trying to steal the Ivory Coast presidential election. Our hope for the new year is that SADC will be inspired by this to take a tough line in support of democracy in Zimbabwe. We know the Angolan regime has expressed support for Gbagbo but we trust Zuma at least will see the light. Facing the prospect of having to expel hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans this year, Zuma must realise that it is in South Africa’s own interest to lance the Zimbabwe boil. For the Vigil’s part, our New Year resolution is to continue until he does so. 

Other points
·         It was good to start the new year with many Vigil regulars ready at 2 pm to set up. Thanks to Luka Phiri, Gladys Mapanda, Godfrey Madzunga, Josephine Zhuga and Batson Chapata.
·         Vigil stalwart Farai Marema – a musician who has performed with Thomas Mapfumo – has arranged one of the Vigil songs as a ringtone. He sings it with Vigil co-ordinator Dumi Tutani and is putting it online this week. More on this next week.
·         Beverly Mutandiro led the singing and prayers. Her message for the new year was verse 33 from chapter 16 of St John’s Gospel.  The verse was printed on the back of her tshirt: ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
·         As usual we are giving a summary of the Vigil’s past year’s highlights. Below is the first part drawn from Vigil diaries from January to June. The second half of last year will be covered next week. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

FOR THE RECORD: 38 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 Oxford general meeting. Saturday 8th January from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: New Road Baptist Church, Oxford OX1 1LQ. The struggle continues especially with the elections to be held any time soon. Let’s share ideas on what to do so we will be prepared for them. ROHR executive will be present. Everyone is welcome. Contact Wish Mandava 07553491264, Lucy Takawira 07760315739, P Chibanguza 07908406069 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·       ROHR Wolverhampton general meeting. Saturday 15th January. Venue: Heath Town Community Centre, 208 Chevril Rise, Wolverhampton WV10 0HP. Contact  Tsvakai Marambi 07915065171, Florence Munemo 07901733634, Flora Nyahuma 07900036702, Odius Sahondo 07771565949, P Chibanguza 07908406069,
·       ROHR Newcastle general meeting. Saturday 22nd January from 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Warwick Court, Warwick Street, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE8 1EY. 3 mins walk from the Gateshead Interchange opposite Gateshead Civic Centre and Gateshead Police Station. Free parking available. For directions please contact Susan Ndlovu 07767024586, Allen Chamboko 07500246416, Kuda Derera 07411337933, Rugare Chifungo (Coordinator) 07795070609 or P Chibanguza (Coordinator) 07908406069
·       ROHR Ashford Kent general meeting. Saturday 5th February, Venue: the Star Pub, Ashford, Kent TN24 8PA opposite Liquid Night Club off Hythe Road, 5 mins walk from Ashford International Station. ROHR executive members present. Contact Danmore Munyuki 07535213801, Munyaradzi Badze 07709317869, Egbert Mtengwa 07985592931 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.
·       ‘Through the Darkness’, Judith Todd’s acclaimed account of the rise of Mugabe.  To receive a copy by post in the UK please email confirmation of your order and postal address to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 0send a cheque for £10 payable to “Budiriro Trust” to Emily Chadburn, 15 Burners Close, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0QA. All proceeds go to the Budiriro Trust which provides bursaries to needy A Level students in Zimbabwe
·       Workshops aiming to engage African men on HIV testing and other sexual health issues. Organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust (www.tht.org.uk). Please contact the co-ordinator Takudzwa Mukiwa ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) if you are interested in taking part. 

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2010

As usual we are giving a summary of the Vigil’s past year’s highlights. Here is the first part drawn from Vigil diaries from January to June. The second half of last year will be covered next week. 

Saturday 9th January
·         Snow at the Vigil. It’s our eighth winter protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy but the first time it has snowed . . . To protect us from the elements we used two tarpaulins – one to catch the snow and the other as a windbreak.
·          During the week the Vigil sent the following letter to the International Development Committee of the British Parliament, which is to review the British government’s aid to Zimbabwe. “The Zimbabwe Vigil wishes to express its opposition to any dilution of the pressure on Mugabe and his cronies until they comply fully with the Global Political Agreement signed with the two MDC factions in September 2008. We believe, in particular, that to give development aid to the coalition government is premature and will send the wrong signals . . .  

Saturday 16th January
Revival of Vigil petition to the international football federation to move the soccer World Cup from South Africa in response to President Zuma’s cynical suggestion that the MDC should simply accept that Mugabe would not implement the agreement he signed 16 months ago. Zuma said the MDC should ‘park’ the issues in contention. The Vigil believes that, by not addressing the human rights issues in Zimbabwe, Zuma is putting the whole region in danger. He needs to take another shower.  

Tuesday 26th January
Vigil representatives attended the Parliamentary Committee Hearing on assistance to Zimbabwe at the House of Commons.  

Saturday 30th January
·           With the failure of the SADC-mediated talks to resolve differences over the Global Political Agreement, the Vigil launched a new petition calling for elections as soon as possible. The petition reads: ‘Petition to President Zuma of South Africa: After a year of the Zimbabwe interim government it is clear that it is going nowhere so we call on President Zuma as mediator for the Southern African Development Community to arrange free and fair elections as soon as possible.’ We intend to submit the petition to the South African High Commission during President Zuma’s state visit to Britain in March. 
·           Gwinyai Primary School were delighted to receive a consignment of sports equipment and stationery from the Vigil.  The goods were purchased thanks to a class at the Dolphin School, Battersea, and their teacher Steve Garvey. 

Saturday 6th February
·           This week we sent Morgan Tsvangirai a petition we have been running for several months urging the MDC to stop co-operating with Mugabe. The petition reads ‘Petition to the Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. We urge you to refuse to co-operate with President Mugabe until he respects the rule of law and complies fully with the agreement under which the Zimbabwean coalition government was formed in February.’
·           Launch of  ZimVigil TV by Dr Tim Rusike of ZBN News from footage he took at the Vigil. 

Saturday 13th February
Our Iranian friends in London have created a poster showing Mugabe and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shaking hands.  

Mugabe Birthday Protest – Saturday 20th February

Swigging appropriately from a Methuselah of champagne, a swaggering (or was it swaying) Robert Mugabe, accompanied by Amazing Grace, celebrated his 86th birthday at the Zimbabwe Embassy. Mugabe (in the Vigil mask) visited the nearby South African High Commission to pay his disrespects ahead of President Zuma’s visit to London displaying a sign reading ‘No Zumabwe’. Presents for Mugabe were labeled Giles Mutsekwa (Co-Minister of Home Affairs), Elias Mudzuri (Minister of Energy and Power Development) and Murisi Zwizwai (Deputy Minister of Mines) – the MDC ministers being investigated by the party on allegations of joining the corrupt Zanu(PF) gravy train. 

Saturday 27th February
·           Vigil letter sent to the South African High Commissioner in London requesting permission to present our petition to President Zuma when he calls at the High Commission  during his State Visit (3rd – 5th March). A copy of a Vigil letter to Zuma is included. “The Zimbabwe Vigil is pleased that you are supporting elections in Zimbabwe in 2011, as envisaged in the Global Political Agreement. We are aware that politicians in Zimbabwe don’t want new elections until they have had their fill at the trough but we believe that the situation can only worsen until there is a democratically elected government in place. What Zimbabweans want to know from you is how SADC can ensure that the elections are free and fair, given that Zanu (PF) has already reactivated militia bases and refuses to implement the GPA.”
·           ZimVigil TV page goes live on Zimvigil. Dr Tim of ZBN News reports that his coverage of last week’s Mugabe birthday demo had unprecedented response from all round the world especially Zimbabwe and South Africa. 

Wednesday 3rd March
Vigil regular Josephine Zhuga gave a passionate account of the life of women in Zimbabwe to an appreciative audience of students at City and Islington College to mark International Women’s Day.  

Thursday 4th March
·           Vigil supporters attended a meeting at the Royal Commonwealth Society on ‘The Role of the Media in Zimbabwe's Transition’ at which the BBC journalist Sue Lloyd-Roberts spoke about her recent damning report ‘The polarised lives of Zimbabwe’s rich and poor’.
·           The Vigil’s Ephraim Tapa took part in a BBC Radio debate. He wiped the floor with Blessing Miles-Tendi who had written a piece advocating the lifting of sanctions. 

South Africa House Protest to greet President Zuma, Friday 5th March
Protest outside South Africa House to greet President Zuma during his State Visit. Our message: elections cannot come soon enough provided that the international community can ensure that they are free and fair. Our petition outlining this was delivered to the High Comission. Mugabe (in the Vigil’s mask) was present to greet his friend Zuma with the following placards: ‘Thank you Zuma’, ‘Bring me my machine gun’ and ‘Have another wife on me’. Zuma’s appeal for the lifting of targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his gang went down like a lead balloon. It made him seem out of touch with reality. Here’s what the Times said in a leading article ‘Jacob Zuma is hard to take seriously, but his support of Robert Mugabe is a disgrace’.  The real message to Zuma was in the spontaneous booing from more than 100 Zimbabweans and the chant of ‘Shame on you’ when he arrived. We were joined by some South Africans who shouted something like ‘Ag Ag Zuma is Kak’, whatever that means. 

Saturday 6th March
We were told that we were joined by actor Jeremy Irons during the singing of Ishe Komberera / Nkosi Sikeleli. Judge for yourself – picture 2128. Many famous actors have dropped by in the past including Tim Robbins, Emma Thompson and Simon Callow. We are grateful for their support. 

Saturday 13th March
Launch of Vigil petition to the UN Security Council calling on it to ensure that the elections are not stolen again.  The petition reads: ‘We call on the Security Council to ensure that the next elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair. We look to the United Nations to supervise the electoral process and the handover of power to a new government and believe peace-keeping troops will need to be in place before, during and after the polling.’ As we explained to President Zuma, Vigil supporters believe that the situation in Zimbabwe can only worsen the longer elections are delayed. Our argument is that:
1.       
After a year of the interim unitary government it is clear that it is making no progress.  If anything it is going backwards. The Mugabe regime has shown that it is determined to cling to power and that it will block real change, such as a free media and independent judiciary, so new elections are the only way forward.
2.        The situation will steadily deteriorate as long as Mugabe and his gang remain in power. Finance Minister Tendai Biti has admitted his hoped-for foreign budgetary aid and external investment will not be realised and, on top of that, the national exchequer has seen zero benefit from the exploitation of the Chiadzwa diamond fields. 
3.        The Vigil rejects the argument that lifting or suspending targeted sanctions will make the Mugabe regime more conciliatory. On the contrary, we are convinced that appeasing the regime will only encourage it in its intransigence. We believe that the Mugabe gang fears that any change will lead to their prosecution for human rights and other abuses and that it is up to South Africa – as their supporter over the years – to make arrangements for the future of these criminals.
4.        In particular, Vigil supporters reject the notion that sanctions should be lifted because they are misrepresented by the Mugabe regime as sanctions against Zimbabweans in general. We believe the proper answer to Mugabe’s propaganda is to patiently convey the truth to Zimbabweans and deluded Mugabe sympathizers in Africa and elsewhere. The Allies in the Second World War did not defeat national socialism, Italian fascism and Japanese militarism by bowing to their odious propaganda.  

Saturday 27th March
Milestone was the sale of the 1,000th of our hessian bags labelled ‘Working for a new Zimbabwewww.zimvigil.co.uk’. All profits from the sale of these bags have gone to help our work. Thanks to Caroline Witts who has brought them all the way from Exeter, Devon (170 miles from London) for the last 2 years.  

Saturday 3rd April
All the equipment from pupils at the Dolphin School in London has now been delivered to four schools in Zimbabwe: Gwinyai Primary School, Southerton Primary School, Gumbo Primary School and Baring Primary School.   

Sunday 4th April
A special Prayer Vigil for Zimbabwe outside the Zimbabwe Embassy on Easter Day was attended by about 100 people. It took place after a procession from nearby St Martin-in-the-Fields Church where Vigil supporter Josephine Zhuga led the choir.  

Independence Day Protest – Saturday 17th April
The Vigil marked Zimbabwe’s 30th anniversary of Independence with a big attendance during which we left thirty candles at the South African High Commission to remind them of their obligation to help us achieve true independence. We were joined by Lovemore Matombo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Gabriel Shumba of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. Another visitor to the Vigil was Mr Mugabe (in our Mugabe mask).  He joined us at the South African High Commission with a placard reading ‘Thanks Comrade Malema’.  He reappeared later outside the Zimbabwe Embassy with a bottle of wine and large glass and a placard reading ’Here’s to another 30 years’.   

Satuday 1st May 2010
The Vigil marked May Day by supporting an appeal from Amnesty International for the Zimbabwean authorities to stop intimidating and harassing human rights activists. People at the Vigil carried placards reading: ‘May Day Appeal - End Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe’, ‘May Day Appeal - Protect Human Rights Activists in Zimbabwe’ and ‘Vigil Supports Oppressed Trade Unionists in Zimbabwe’.  Amnesty International official Shane Enright said: "It's so important that people around the world stand in solidarity with the brave human rights and trade union activists in Zimbabwe this May Day. Our message to the police and security services is that we are watching you and will call you to account, however long it takes." 

Monday 3rd May
Many Vigil supporters attended the London Citizens and Citizens UK pre-election assembly with David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster.  The immigration question was at the heart of the meeting. One of the questions raised was about the welfare of children detained with their parents in immigration centres and there were promises to look into this.  

Saturday 8th May 2010
The Vigil received an email from James Chidakwa about a commemoration for his friend and fellow activist Tonderai Ndira who was brutally murdered two years ago. Reports say that he had been shot in the heart, with multiple stab wounds, his eyes gouged, his tongue cut out, and his neck, skull, jaw and knuckles broken.  

Tuesday 11th May
Vigil supporters attended a memorial for Tonderai Ndira. They reported that it was a warm-hearted occasion as they remembered the horrors meted out to Tonderai two years ago. Money was raised to support Tonderai’s family. 

Friday 21st May
Vigil dancers performed at City and Islington College’s Adult Learners’ Week Family Fun Day.  They electrified the audience with their energetic dancing and rousing singing.  Regulars at the Vigil require no rehearsal and can just step up and perform at a moment’s notice. 

Saturday 29th May
The Vigil sends letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague calling on the new British government to support our demand for early elections in Zimbabwe and urging the British government to ensure peacekeeping troops are sent to Zimbabwe to prevent Mugabe from stealing the elections. 

Saturday 12th June
·          Mugabe (in our mask) popped up at the Vigil to demand that the next World Cup should be held in Zimbabwe to celebrate his 90th birthday. The Vigil sported England flags and placards wishing the England football team good luck in the competition. We are also running a World Cup draw for Vigil supporters.
·          Two prominent human rights activists from Zimbabwe visit the Vigil: Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Roselyn Hanzi the Project Manager for both the Human Rights Defenders Unit and the Constitutional Reform and Policy Formulation Unit. Addressing the Vigil, Irene said Zimbabweans in the diaspora should hesitate to go home until the rule of law was restored and human rights were respected.
·          During the week a number of Vigil supporters attended a House of Lords debate on Zimbabwe. Management team Member Patson Muzuwa said that afterwards a number of peers who took part in the debate said they were very disappointed at the failure of South Africa to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis
·          Vigil supporters attended two events to launch ‘Zimbabwe – Years of Hope and Despair’ a book by Philip Barclay a diplomat who was based at the British Embassy in Harare from 2006 – 2009.  Vigil people walked out of the first meeting, hosted by the MDC Central London Forum, when a Mugabe apologist was given a platform to spout Zanu PF propaganda at length. One Vigil supporter said she was not prepared to listen to someone who supported murderers, rapists and torturers. At the official book launch later in the week Mr Barclay said he had been interested to see this division in the Zimbabwean diaspora in London.   

Media Release from the Zimbabwe Vigil – Monday 14th June
Hague: New government to continue policy on Zimbabwe
Reply to Vigil letter from new British Foreign Secretary, William Hague. He made it clear there will no change of policy on Zimbabwe. ‘I am aware of the good work the Zimbabwe Vigil does in keeping alive the pressure for reform in Zimbabwe. It is dispiriting to consider just how long the people of Zimbabwe have been waiting for the opportunity to express their views in free and fair elections and to be able to contribute to the revival of a prosperous and democratic country . . . I wish the Zimbabwe Vigil every success in achieving their aim of a peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe.’ 

Saturday 26th June
Church service in support of Zimbabwean victims of torture with the Vigil providing the choir and drummers. Speakers at the service included the Rev Useni Sibanda (National Director of Zimbabwe Christian Alliance) who joined a procession to the Vigil where he paid tribute to the Vigil for carrying on the struggle for so long.

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