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Vigil ‘pom pom’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 13th October 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 14 October 2012 17:53

A ‘pom pom’ for Vigil supporters. Today marked the beginning of our 11th year outside the Embassy in line with the mission statement we adopted in 2002: ‘The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.’

 

Today was certainly no celebration as our objectives are far from being achieved. But on our 10th anniversary our thoughts turned to our decade of sun, rain, wind and snow and particularly our memories of friends who are with us no more: dear quiet Bernard Hukwa who threw himself into the Thames only months ago or, years earlier, the gaunt, dying MDC shadow minister who sat huddled silently in blankets for the whole of a bitterly cold Vigil, or of the late Father Bernard SJ who used to come with his Zimbabwean students, and of Archbishop Pius Ncube who came and comforted people at the Vigil kneeling at his feet.

 

There are many other people who have sustained us over the past decade: the silent benefactor who would from time to time stuff a wad of £20 notes into our startled hands, the Oxford music professor who joined us in a local pub to tutor us on singing, the film stars such as Tim Robbins and Emma Thompson who signed our petitions not to mention Simon Callow who stopped his taxi to get out and give us some money. And we don’t forget the nuns who pray for us from their Welsh convent.

 

But this is all the past. We went on after the Vigil down the road to the India Club in the Aldwych. where Ephraim Tapa, one of the founder members of the Vigil, chaired a meeting to discuss the way forward. He mentioned the BBC interview this week given by the Zanu PF Justice Minister Chinamasa in which he made it clear that Zanu PF will never hand over power (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/oct12_2012.html#Z22 – Would Zanu-PF accept Tsvangirai as president?).

 

Many people expressed despair at the situation at home: that it had economically gone backward and that they couldn’t go home, that the Chinese were settling the country etc. Our group consisted of people representing a variety of viewpoints from MDC to ZAPU but there was a strong feeling that we needed to unite in the diaspora in the face of the uncertainties at home, where the suggestions are that elections might be impossible before late next year. Eddie Cross of MDC-T and others including Welshman Ncube and civil society people say that expectations of elections by next March are unrealistic because there is simply not time to make the necessary reforms (see: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/comment/blogs/eddie-cross/61387/the-real-game-changer-zuma.html – The real game-changer Zuma, SADC).

 

The meeting ended troubled and uncertain but with determination to continue the Vigil until our objectives are achieved. As Ephraim put it ‘We are doing it for (imprisoned MDC youth leader) Solomon Madzore and the others, for people who have disappeared, for those who hope for democracy in Zimbabwe, for a free Zimbabwe’.

 

Other points

·        We were happy to be joined by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who earlier sent us this email: ‘"Happy 10th birthday to the Zimbabwe Vigil. Congratulations and bravo! Huge thanks to the organisers and to everyone who has ever participated. Your weekly witness for democracy and human rights has been admirable and inspiring. Freedom for Zimbabwe has been long delayed but it cannot be denied!’ Peter was at the first Vigil. Other good wishes included a message from a Scottish supporter Joan Weir ‘All good wishes for Saturday's Vigil from me and friends in Scotland – very sorry I can't be there.    No celebration perhaps but you must accept congratulations on sustaining the Vigil so long and, as importantly, so effectively.   I hope the media take up the extraordinary facts about the corrupt voters' roll.’ A more message one was from Gerald Chigome ‘I am sorry I will be unable to attend due to financial problems. Am in Wolverhampton but would have loved to attend. All the best for day and forward with the struggle’.

·        Thanks to the ladies from ROHR Slough branch (Josephine Zhuga, Grace Nyaumwe and Iline Manhunzi) who brought sadza and nyama and mealies which they sold for ROHR funds. Thanks also to Mary Mateyerwa and Flora Dlamini (of the Swazi Vigil) who brought various snacks to feed hungry supporters.

·        We were distressed to hear that our strong supporter Ellen Gonyora was homeless this week and had to sleep on the streets of Leicester. She is in the process of getting her life sorted out after being granted asylum. Sorting out housing and benefits can be a lengthy and painful process and this is where we can all help and support each other.  

·        Rose Benton was interviewed about our 10th anniversary by SW Radio Africa (check: Newsreel 12.10.12 (24 minutes into the broadcast) – http://www.swradioafrica.com/podcasts/wordpress/?p=17948).

·        Cephas Moswoswa suggested that our next diaspora protest on Saturday should be focused on China because of their abusive relationship with Zimbabweans. It was agreed to take this forward. (Another member of the Vigil Lungile Ncube was delighted to come across Cephas who he said had built his father’s house.)

·        We were not the only people protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy this week. Activists from the transport union RMT delivered a letter to the Embassy calling on Zimbabwe to honour its human rights obligations and  stop attacks on lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Zimbabweans – photos of the protest are on our flickr website.

 

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: 78 signed the register but our pictures show many more attended.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·        Tenth 21st Movement Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. Saturday 20th October. It is suggested we target the Chinese Embassy. More detail as arrangement firm up.

·        Launch of ROHR Central London Branch. Saturday 27th October. Further details to be advised.

·        Special Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 10th November from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Our special guest will be Ben Freeth. 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.

·        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.

·        To sponsor the Mike Campbell Foundation expedition ‘Sailing across the Makgadikgadi Pans’ which will raise money for the work of the Foundation, go to www.justgiving.com/Mike-Campbell-Foundation.

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

 

How can you help?

The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.