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Much ado about nothing – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th July 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 16 July 2012 18:20

Once again the targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe are in the news, with a report in the London Daily Telegraph that the EU is planning to conditionally suspend them to encourage progress towards free and fair elections.

The EU’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, threw cold water over this report but did say that discussions were under way which could lead to greater ‘co-operation’ with Zimbabwe.

The EU measures are only due for review in February and any decision to lift them could hardly be made arbitrarily, as similar measures have been imposed by the US and other countries.

What is clear to the Vigil is that the MDC’s requests for the lifting of sanctions are having some effect (in Europe at least), amplifying Mugabe’s propaganda about the alleged damage they are doing to the Zimbabwean economy. 

But if the EU – or the MDC for that matter – think lifting sanctions will make any difference in securing free and fair elections the Vigil believes they are in for disappointment. The MDC committed itself to calling for an end to sanctions when it signed up to the misbegotten GPA. Another crazy concession was the GPA’s call for an end to outside broadcasts to Zimbabwe – something over which the Zimbabwean authorities have no control whatsoever. Zanu PF can now argue that this impossible requirement is now the deal breaker.

Sanctions have only really been symbolic – of marginal consequence to the EU or Zimbabwe. How else is one to explain the report on Friday from the UK’s Parliamentary Committees on Arms Export Controls which note that ‘sensitive equipment’ had been sold to Zimbabwe among other countries regarded by the Foreign Office as having dubious human rights records. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmquad/419/41925.htm)

As for lifting the travel ban, this would give the Vigil an opportunity to demonstrate against visits by Zimbabwean human rights abusers. We are already exploring what legal steps we could take against them should they come here.

Anyone who seriously believes that lifting sanctions will make an economic difference to Zimbabwe cannot have read a recent article in the Zimbabwe Independent by the Zimbabwean economist Erich Bloch, who makes the point that the fundamental economic problem in the country is corruption (see: Eric Bloch Column: Govt must act on corruption – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul7a_2012.html#Z21). They could also take a look at Eddie Cross’s article on indigenization which he says is part of a Zanu PF plan to collapse the economy so that they can devour the corpse (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul14a_2012.html#Z12 – The Kasukuwere circus).

What is making a real difference to Zimbabwe in fact is the UK’s aid. According to a report by the Voice of the People Radio, the representative in Zimbabwe of the UK’s Department for International Development, Dave Fish,  said that Britain’s development aid to Zimbabwe since February has already amounted to more than $300 million (see: UK’s development Aid to exceed $300 million – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul2_2012.html#22). Until now we understood from official figures that British aid amounted to $100 million or so a year. It is curious that the UK has given Zimbabwe 10 times as much as Finance Minister Biti says he has received from the diamonds in the same period!

The Vigil believes that some of this aid should be given to support change rather than compensate for the looting of diamonds, along the lines proposed by the MDC Treasurer General Roy Bennett in his recent speech in Oxford (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/may30_2012.html#Z13 - Roy Bennett Speech: Smoke and mirrors: another look at politics and ethnicity in Zimbabwe).

Other points

·        Next Saturday the Vigil will again be supporting the MDC diaspora campaign aimed at increasing pressure for reforms before the expected elections next year. The UK’s contribution to the monthly 21st Global Protest will take the form of a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in protest at reports that Russian military helicopters are being supplied to Zimbabwe in return for platinum concessions (for full details see Events and Notices below).

·        Vigil supporters were shocked to hear of the sudden death on Monday of Khama Matambanadzo, Chairman for South East District of the MDC UK & Ireland. We had got to know Khama through his involvement with the 21st Movement protests this year. Our condolences go to his family and friends and his colleagues in the MDC.

·        Founder Vigil member Bee Tapa was surprised to meet his former teacher Grace Nyaumwe at the Vigil. She taught him Shona at St Paul’s Mission School in Murewa in 2001.

·        The Vigil notes that British tour operators are again featuring Zimbabwe in their travel brochures. Anyone planning to go to Zimbabwe might care to look at the experience of a couple who recently visited a Zimbabwean National Park (see: http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/7814 - Our bitter sweet Matobo – returning to the playground of childhood).

·        The Swaziland Vigil, on Friday 20th July, is to present a petition to the Commonwealth calling for the suspension of Swaziland because of human rights abuses and lack of democracy (for full details see Events and Notices below).

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: 54 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·        Swazi Vigil presentation of petition to the Commonwealth Secretariat. Friday 20th July. Meet at Charing Cross Station at 3 pm (Trafalgar Square exit) for immediate move to present the petition at 3.30 to the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX.

·        Seventh 21st Movement Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. Saturday 21st July. Meet at the Vigil at 2 pm. Once the Vigil is set up a group will go by public transport to the Russian Embassy, 6-7 Kensington Park Gardens, London W8 4QP. We plan to be outside the Embassy from 3.30 – 4.30 pm. We are targeting the Russian Embassy because of reports of the sale of Russian military helicopters to Zimbabwe. Nearest station: Notting Hill Gate.

·        Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 28th July 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. www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.

·        Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). (NB: please note change of date). Saturday 28th July from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 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 on the south side of the Strand 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. Future special ZAF meetings: Saturday 13th October when we mark the 10th anniversary of the Vigil and Saturday 10th November when our special guest will be Ben Freeth.  These two meetings will take the place of the regular ZAF meetings in October and November. Both events at 6.30 pm at Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see entry above.

·        Relaunch of ROHR Nottingham Branch: Saturday 4th August starting at 2 pm. A fundraising do will follow till late. Zimbabwe traditional food, music and dance. Venue details to follow. 

·        ROHR North East Fundraising Event. Saturday 18th August from 2 – 7 pm. Venue: Longbenton Methodist Church Hall, Chesters Avenue, Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8QP. Directions: from Four Lane Ends Metro Station, start out on Benton Road.  At roundabout take the first exit onto West Farm Avenue. Turn left onto Chesters Avenue. For more information contact Tapiwa Merrymore Semwayo on 07412236229, Catherine Tshezi on 07428189705 and Susan Ndhlovu on 07767024586.

·      The Rain that Washes showing at The Lounge, Leicester Square Theatre, from Monday 17th September – Saturday 6th October at 7 pm. Check: http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/126523428/events or phone the booking line: 08448733433 for specific dates and to book tickets. ‘Instantly plunged into a young man’s compelling story of growing up in turbulent Zimbabwe, we live and breathe his extraordinary journey from innocence to escape, finally returning to his homeland to witness the greatest betrayal of all . . . Inspired by a series of interviews between Zimbabwean Christopher Maphosa and writer Dave Carey, The Rain That Washes is a true story that is poignant, political and, most of all, personal’. 

·        Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/363-vigil-highlights-2011.  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.

·        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.

·        Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.

·        Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.

·        Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.

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