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ROHR to elect new UK Executive – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 7th January 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 08 January 2012 19:00

 The Vigil was informed that a meeting has been called in London next month to elect a new UK Executive for the Vigil’s sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). A CIO-inspired attempt to subvert the organisation has prompted the Founder and President of ROHR, Ephraim Tapa, to dissolve the Interim Executive.   

Mr Tapa said malicious accusations of corruption leveled at him had been comprehensively rebutted by the production of all relevant financial records (see: http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/Latest-News-from-ROHR-in-the-UK/new-year-message-from-rohr-zimbabwe-founder-ephraim-tapa.html).   

The London meeting will be held at the Strand Continental Hotel, 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA at 1 pm on 4th February.  It will be followed at 6.30 pm by a forum of supporters of the Vigil, ROHR and the recently-formed Zimbabwe We Can movement to exchange views. (Members of the CIO will, as usual, be in attendance!) It is planned that the three organisations will hold a regular joint forum on the first Saturday of each month after the Vigil (see Events and Notices for more details). 

Other points
·As we held our first Vigil of 2012, leaders of the ANC were gathering for celebrations in Bloemfontein marking the organisation’s 100th anniversary. Sadly, we feel unable to congratulate them as the ANC has betrayed those seeking freedom in Zimbabwe and allied itself to repressive regimes around the world.
·Talking about repressive regimes. ZBN News have uploaded a video on youtube (see: Weeping North Koreans inspire Vigil Demonstrators to Show Grief for forthcoming Death of Mugabe –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPJVC1NY0fM) of Vigil supporters ‘practising weeping hysterically for the forthcoming death of Mugabe’ as reported in our Christmas Eve diary (http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/355-dictatorial-grief-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-24th-december-2011).
·Following this week’s diary you will finds the first part of our annual summary of the Vigil’s activities during the past year. The second half of last year will be covered next week.  

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website. 

FOR THE RECORD: 56 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. 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 the views and opinions of ROHR.
·         ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
·         The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
·         Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. Saturday 21st January from 2 – 6 pm. Venues: Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy and outside the South African High Commission. The MDC UK is joining the Vigil to target South Africa for failing to get Mugabe to honour the Global Political Agreement. Protesters will move from the Zimbabwe Embassy to the South African High Commission at 3 pm and try to present a petition to the South African High Commission at 3.30 pm.    
·         ROHR meeting to elect its UK Executive. Saturday 4th February from 1 – 4 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel, 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent.  Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
·         First Joint ZimVigil, ROHR and Zimbabwe We Can Forum. Saturday 4th February from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel, 143 The Strand, WC2R 15A. For directions see above entry. Future joint forums to be held after the Vigil on the first Saturday of each month.
·         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 send 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. 

 

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 (Part 1) 

Saturday 15th January: We had to call for police help for only the second time in our eight years outside the Embassy. This time it was a demented pro-Mugabe Caribbean shouting abuse.  The last time we had to call for police help was when Tsvangirai’s uncle Hebson Makuvise, now Ambassador to Germany, tried to hijack the Vigil.  

Saturday 22nd January: Vigil supporters were overjoyed by news that management team member Luka Phiri has been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. His face told everything: a beaming smile.  Luka has had a long struggle to get his papers, mostly because he arrived in the UK on a Malawi passport.  

Saturday 5th February: Today we were visited by members of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Focus Group: Thamsanga Zhou, Lucia Dube and Martin Chinyanga.  Thamsanga stressed how important it was to attend the Vigil and said that all Zimbabweans in the diaspora should work together for an end to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and for free and fair elections. 

Saturday 12th February: As Egyptians celebrated the triumph of people power, the Vigil marked the second anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Government of National Unity (GNU) with posters expressing our disgust at how the agreement has rescued Zanu-PF and emasculated the MDC. We are still bewildered why MDC leaders signed up to such a flawed document. ‘Two years forward for GNU – two years backward for MDC’ read one of our posters. With the quasi-legitimacy conferred by the GNU, Zanu-PF is making further inroads in the UK. The Guardian newspaper reported recently that 32 suspected Zanu-PF war criminals are believed to be in the UK.   

Saturday 19th February: The mystery of Mugabe’s whereabouts as his 87th birthday approached was solved when he suddenly arrived at the Vigil to launch his planned two million person petition against the illegal sanctions which as you all know have done so much damage to our country by beating up innocent people, raping and starving them etc and generally sanctioning them with the aim of illegal regime change. The Commander-in-Chef and Head of Everything, Robert Mugabe (Dickson Munemo in our Mugabe mask) emerged tottering on walking sticks from Rymans Stationers next to the Vigil. He had apparently mistaken it for the optician’s shop on the other side of the Embassy.  

Saturday 26th February: The illustrious leader, icon, beacon, legend and philanthropist with “telescopic foresight” can’t keep away from the Vigil. Tearing his illustrious self away from his adoring fans at his birthday celebrations, Mugabe (played by Dickson Munemo) suddenly materialized outside the  Embassy dressed in the robes of an Arab sheik to show his solidarity with his Libyan friend Gaddafi, who is apparently running short of power at the moment. Of reports that a plane stuffed with gold was ready to take Gaddafi to Harare, the beacon and philanthropist said the great Libyan philosopher and prophet only wanted to visit his Ethiopian brother Mengistu Haile Mariam, who has been sheltering in Zimbabwe for many years, to discuss how ungrateful people are to their despots.   

Tuesday 1st March: President Mugabe was strung up from a tree outside the Embassy  at a Vigil in support of an attempt to stage an anti-Mugabe demonstration in Harare. We were joined by a Reuters news team, apart from other journalists, and passers-by stopped to take photos with their mobile phones. Bus drivers hooted in solidarity as Terence Mafuva in our Mugabe mask and a white shroud dangled from the branch of a maple tree (discreetly supported by a small stool). The Vigil was pleased to get a message of encouragement from Passop, the Zimbabwe support group in South Africa, who were holding a solidarity demonstration outside Parliament in Cape Town. 

Monday 21st March: Zimbabwean exiles in the UK and supporters demonstrated outside the Zimbabwean Embassy and the South African High Commission in London in protest at the growing violence as Mugabe’s Zanu PF prepares for new elections. Amid drumming and singing, over a hundred demonstrators outside South Africa House carried banners reading ‘Zuma where is our road map?’, ‘Blood on Zuma’s hands’, Mugdafi stop selective justice now’, ‘Zuma publish election dossier now’, ‘AU act now’, ‘Zanu PF game is up’, ‘Mugabe stop torture, false arrests’, ‘Bloody SADC where are you? – wake up’, ‘Chihuru, Chiwenga, Shiri – Hague is waiting’, ‘Bloody Zuma – ungunthakathi’ and ‘No violence in Zim? Ask Gwisai’. A deputation was sent to the Home Office to deliver a petition protesting at new moves to send home failed Zimbabwe asylum seekers. 

Saturday 2nd April: The Vigil celebrated the imminent ousting of another illegal president – Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast – whose clinging to power after losing the election last November has cost countless lives. As Ouattara's forces closed in on Gbagbo in Abidjan, Vigil supporters played the West African drama out in front of the Zimbabwe Embassy.  Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing our Mugabe mask, welcomed his Ivorian friend with the poster ‘Zimbabwe – world of wonders: Mugabe, Mariam, Gbagbo? Gaddafi?’ Gbagbo (played by Stanford Munetsi) bore on his back the poster ‘G’bye G’bye G’bagbo’. Trailing behind the former Ivorian President was another Mugabe ally – Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi – played by Paul Mathema in Arab robes. The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit website: www.imusicafrica.com 

Saturday 9th April: Vigil supporters were encouraged by indications of a change of attitude to Mugabe by SADC leaders meeting in Zambia. Have they been given the jitters by what is happening in North and West? Mugabe’s arrival by ‘golf cart’ at the Livingstone meeting with a huge entourage of 60 (including a large medical team) clearly exposed both his increasing frailty and the big-man arrogance of Zanu PF. (Zuma was accompanied by only 12 people.)  Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for playing the role of Mugabe arriving at the Vigil on a municipal bicycle propped up by Godfrey Madzunga and Ronald Nxumalo. 

Saturday 16th April: Vigil supporters are disappointed that Mugabe’s Ambassador to London has been invited to the Royal Wedding on 29th April. But the presence of Ambassador Machinga might be entertaining as he goes around Westminster Abbey soliciting signatures supporting the 2 million person anti-sanctions petition. Zim Vigil regular, Swazi national Thobile Gwebu took a stronger line when she heard that King Mswati of Swaziland would be present at the wedding, travelling to London with an entourage of no less than fifty to stay at the super expensive Dorchester hotel. Thobile, who launched a Vigil outside the Swaziland High Commission in London modeled on our own protest, was able to reach a large audience by being interviewed on the BBC TV Newsnight programme which looked at the brutal repression of the recent unrest in Mbabane.  

Monday 18th April: Some 150 people gathered outside the Zimbabwe Embassy to protest on Zimbabwe’s Independence Day against increasing Mugabe violence. Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa summed up our mood on the 31st anniversary of independence: ‘we have nothing to celebrate’, he said. An anniversary card was delivered to the Zimbabwe Embassy calling for an immediate end to the violence, free and fair elections and justice for the people of Zimbabwe. 

Wednesday 20th April: Following comments in the Vigil diary on 16th April, the London Evening Standard took up the matter of the invitation to the Zimbabwean Ambassador to attend the Royal Wedding. After some research the newspaper concluded that the UK would be justified in withdrawing the invitation so the Vigil sent the following letter to the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague.  ‘Exiled Zimbabweans in the UK represented by the Zimbabwe Vigil wish to express their disappointment that the Zimbabwe Ambassador Gabriel Machinga, has been invited to attend the Royal Wedding. President Mugabe and his corrupt coterie have rightly been placed under EU sanctions for their human rights abuses and Mr Machinga has always made it clear that he represents Mugabe and not the people of Zimbabwe or even their coalition government . .  

Tuesday 26th April: ZimVigil supporters had to search Mayfair when Swazi despot Mswati and his entourage of 50 failed to turn up at London’s deluxe Dorchester Hotel to stay for the Royal Wedding. About 80 demonstrators had gathered outside the hotel to support the Swaziland Vigil which had arranged a picket of protest against Mswati’s oppressive rule – only to find that the Swazi freeloaders had gone to the nearby Four Seasons Hotel.  Mswati had obviously got the message as members of his entourage at the Four Seasons were overheard talking about our demonstration which had attracted much media attention with protesters carrying posters such as ‘Swazi King parties while country starves’ and ‘Royal Wedding guests are human rights abusers’.  

Saturday 30th April: Vigil supporters ended another busy week by picketing the farewell reception given by Swazi King Mswati. Guests appeared uncomfortable when they saw the protest. The Swaziland High Commissioner Dumsile T Sukati jumped out of her car and hurried into the building. Despite the failure of our appeals to the British government to withdraw the invitations to the Royal Wedding extended to Mswati and the Zimbabwe Ambassador Gabriel Machinga, we were compensated by the widespread publicity for our joint human rights cause. The Foreign Office said in a letter to the Vigil ‘Thank you for your letter of 20th April 2011 about the invite of the Zimbabwe Ambassador Gabriel Machinga to the Royal Wedding. Representatives from all countries that the UK has working relationships with have been invited to the Royal Wedding . . .’

Saturday 14th May: The demand for change is steadily moving down Africa judging from the reception given to Mugabe and other African leaders attending the installation for another term of Ugandan perpetual President Museveni. Their motorcade was assailed by stone-throwing protesters shouting ‘Go to hell dictators’ and ‘You dictators: we are tired of you’.  These messages were reflected in posters displayed by Vigil supporters.  The traditional English dancers the Morris Men made their annual visit to us and gave us a good show. Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu drew a laugh from them when he said ‘it was good to see Englishmen dancing like Zimbabweans’.  

Friday 20th May: Zimbabwe Vigil dancers performed at a Community Event for Adult Learners’ Week at City and Islington College in North London.  Thanks to Dumi Tutani, Farai Marema, Wendy Ziyambi, Edna Mdoka and Moses Kandiyawo for a lively and much appreciated performance that helped to spread the awareness of Zimbabwe’s human rights abuses.  

Saturday 21st May: To help focus the minds of SADC leaders the Vigil has been pushing the British government to suspend aid to countries supporting Mugabe. Britain is one of the very few countries – if not the only one – to honour the Gleneagles Agreement of 2005 under which the world’s richest countries committed themselves to giving 0.7% of their national income in foreign aid. In Britain’s case this will amount this year to £8.1 billion (rising to £11.5 billion in 2014 /15). All this is at a time of stringent budget cuts at home. Here is a letter the Vigil has sent to the Defence Secretary, Dr Fox. who wants a more nuanced approach to how British government aid is allocated. ‘The Zimbabwe Vigil notes with interest your recent comments and fully supports demands for a more flexible approach to the UK’s overseas aid . . . Of particular interest to us is budgetary aid given to member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), amounting to many hundreds of millions of pounds a year. SADC has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe by pandering to the odious Mugabe regime for the past decade . . . Take, for instance, the notoriously corrupt regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will feature among the top 10 recipients of UK spending in direct aid for 2012 / 2013 at £165 million. Or take Malawi, which although this year is receiving £90 million of British budgetary aid, has recently expelled the British High Commissioner for criticising President Mutharika for being intolerant of criticism. Mutharika has made no secret of his admiration for Mugabe, naming a new highway after his idol, who in turn has given the Malawian leader a stolen farm.’  

Saturday 4th June: One of Britain’s best-known poets Benjamin Zephaniah joined us at the Vigil and condemned Mugabe and his betrayal of Africa. Zephaniah, born and brought up in the UK of West Indian parents, spoke to us of his disillusionment with Mugabe. He said ‘I am friends with Mandela. I have only seen him angry once and that was about Mugabe when he spoke about failure of leadership in Africa.’ (The Vigil remembers the occasion well because Mandela’s comment followed a campaign by the Vigil and others to urge him to reject Mugabe when he visited London to celebrate his 90th birthday.) The Vigil welcomes Zephaniah’s support particularly highly because we have had such difficulty getting our message over to our Caribbean brothers. It has been difficult to convince them that Mugabe the liberator has turned into Mugabe the monster. It was great to have Vigil team member Patson Muzuwa with us again with a party from Leicester. He was most appreciative of the support Vigil members gave him on the recent death of his mother. But we were alarmed to hear that her funeral was invaded by two truckloads of Zanu PF who disrupted the proceedings. We understand this was a direct result of Patson’s involvement with the Vigil.   

Saturday 11th June: Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa has been elected President of the new Zimbabwe ‘Yes we Can’ Movement. Ephraim is also President of our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe.  

Saturday 25th June: Few Zimbabweans have much respect for the UK Home Office . . . What prompts this comment is a letter from a Home Office official to a lawyer acting for one of our supporters who is seeking political asylum. The official said this about a letter from the Vigil supporting the asylum claim: ‘Objective evidence from www.nehandaradio.com raised public awareness that the Zimbabwe vigil was exploiting asylum seekers in the UK and would on the payment of a fee issue a letter to state attendance at the vigil. Therefore, no weight is attached to the production of this letter’.   Our supporter’s lawyer asked for our comment on this ‘objective evidence’. Here is the response of one of our Vigil Co-ordinators. ‘I attach a doc with the history of why Nehanda Radio wrote the article decampaigning the Vigil. As you will see on 20th June 2009 Morgan Tsvangirai addressed the Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK and was booed off. The Vigil was accused of orchestrating this  and we wrote this riposte in our diary of 27th June "But Vigil supporters were too fired up about another matter – the silly allegations on some loud-mouthed Zimbabwean exile websites that the Vigil and ROHR were behind the booing of Morgan Tsvangirai when he spoke to the UK diaspora in Southwark Cathedral last week. Anyone looking at videos of the occasion will see that the angry response was prompted by Mr Tsvangirai’s remarks and was spontaneous and could not possibly have been planned."  You will see that we also outline our policy on asylum letters in this particular diary - and our policy is still the same now. Nehanda Radio's article of 30th June 'ROHR & ZimVigil exploiting asylum seekers' is in retaliation for this. Even though we didn't mention them by name they recognised themselves. We are not an organisation set up to help asylum seekers: we campaign against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and all we can write about asylum claims by our supporters is their visibility as activists because they attend our protests – the more they come the more visible they are. We are entirely self-funding: the charge of £10 for our letters is for admin costs to cover paper, envelopes, print cartridges, phone calls, postage etc. Anyone who works for the Vigil does so voluntarily - nobody is paid.  For people who are good attenders the admin fee for letters is not charged.’ For our policy on administrative costs for letters, check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/171-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-27th-june-2009. 

Sunday 26th June: The London chapel of John Wesley – one of the founders of the Methodist Church – resounded to the sound of drums and African singing and dancing as exiled Zimbabweans and supporters gathered to mark the UN international day in support of victims of torture. The Vigil supplied the choir and drummers, who were energized by management team member, Patson Muzuwa, himself a survivor of torture.  Our host at the Methodist world’s ’cathedral’ was the Reverend Jennifer Potter who is Methodist ‘companion’ for Zimbabwe, visiting there every year. Jennifer prayed for a new dawn in Zimbabwe and reached out to Anglican friends in Zimbabwe who, she said, seemed to be particularly persecuted. The service was addressed by two visitors from Zimbabwe: Irene Petras, Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Kudakwashe Chitsike of the Research and Advocacy Unit (Zimbabwe).  

Monday 27th June: Vigil supporters provided the backbone for a protest by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) against violence in Zimbabwe. The Embassy refused to accept 1,300 cards ACTSA had collected calling for an end to the violence.  The Embassy (as usual!) was closed so we stuck one of the cards under the door signed ‘Zimbabwe Vigil’ and listing our address as ‘outside the Zimbabwe Embassy’.  

(Part 2, covering the last half of 2011, will be published next week.)

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