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A Clean Break – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th November 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 November 2012 18:11

Deep foreboding about the future of Zimbabwe was evident in London this week. As the clock ticks down to the next elections, fears were expressed that Zimbabwe is facing a trial of enormous consequence.

 

This view emerged most forcefully from the exiled MDC-T Treasurer General Roy Bennett, who spoke at a crowded meeting in one of the main committee rooms in Parliament. Among those attending was the Archbishop of York, the Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu, who famously refuses to wear a clerical collar until Mugabe goes.

 

‘My message is a simple one’, Roy said. ‘There needs to be a clean break with the past in Zimbabwe – and very soon – or else the country will be a permanent basket case akin to the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Central African Republic, or any of the other forgotten and forsaken backwaters in Africa, distinguished only by occasional atrocities and marked by the utter, grinding poverty of their inhabitants.’

 

Roy dismissed as a pipe dream the idea that Zimbabwe would gradually evolve towards democracy and prosperity by co-operating with a ‘reformed’ Zanu PF. He warned that if the MDC and civil society did not drive Zanu PF from office and ‘complete the return to democratic normality’ in the next three years or so it might be too late. ‘Zimbabwe will degenerate into a Somalia. It will just be another perennial slum in Africa, a shantytown, a bantustan where the dream of the citizens extends no further than emigration. The privileged few will gorge themselves on the scraps.’ For full text of Roy’s speech, see: http://nehandaradio.com/2012/11/09/zimbabwe-could-degenerate-into-a-somalia-bennett/.

 

The occasion for Roy’s comments was a meeting in memory of Mike Campbell, a farmer who, with his son-in-law Ben Freeth, took Mugabe to the SADC Tribunal after their violent eviction from their farm. They won the case but SADC then suspended the Tribunal. During the course of the case they were abducted, beaten and tortured. Mike Campbell subsequently died of his injuries. Mr Freeth told the meeting that preparations were being made to steal the elections planned for next year.

 

Ben came to join us at the Vigil today and urged us to keep up the struggle. ‘We are encouraged because every week we see you are still there.’

 

After the Vigil he attended the monthly meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum held at the India Club down the road from the Vigil. He recalled how his own house had been burnt down along with that of Mr Campbell. ‘Zimbabwe continues to burn yet we are four years into the new government. The country has not really moved forward. Huge problems continue and no real reforms are taking place.'

 

The Joint Operations Command was still in place, the election machinery was exactly the same as in the last elections with the same people in charge who had declared those elections free and fair despite the violence. The elections supremo Mudede claimed the voters’ roll was perfect, although a third of those on it were dead or absent.

 

‘We expect violence’ he said, ‘forced meetings, Zimbabweans leaving home, crimes against humanity and the plight of the Zimbabwean people being disregarded.’ Ben said he looked to the Vigil for help in creating pressure and said our partner organization Restoration of Human Rights was part of the answer. He was applauded when he told the gathering that he did not think the solution was in violence. He went on to lead us in prayer for courage and wisdom.

Other points

·        One disturbing reminder of how difficult things were becoming in Zimbabwe was from a supporter at the forum who said her parents in Zimbabwe had appealed to her not to go to the Vigil because they had been threatened. People agreed that we must nevertheless focus on getting our message to relatives in Zimbabwe. They must realise how much the diaspora, with regular remittances, is helping to keep the country going.

·        Vigil co-ordinator Dumi Tutani expressed anger at reports that Morgan Tsvangirai was staying in a luxury hotel nearby, the Savoy, which charges a minimum of £400 a night. He asked why Mr Tsvangirai had not contacted the diaspora, who would have liked to have asked him why the MDC was denying them the vote. Dumi suggested that the Vigil should make the UK an uncomfortable place for anyone from the Government of National Unity. After the meeting he and several others headed off to protest at the Savoy.

·        We have received an invitation to attend a special service on 22nd November at Southwark Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary for the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund. There will be music by a Zimbabwean choir and readings by distinguished patrons of the fund including the Reverend Dr Nicholas Sagovsky who has visited the Vigil. See ‘Events and Notices’ for details.

·        Our article for the Independent which we put in last week’s diary can be seen on their blog on this link: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/11/06/the-zimbabwe-vigils-10th-anniversary-is-no-cause-for-celebration/

 

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: 64 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·        Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 17th November 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.

·        Relaunch of ROHR Liverpool Branch. Saturday 17th November from 12 noon – 4 pm. Venue: Sally Eccleston Centre, Moss Lane, Litherland, L21 7NJ. ROHR Zimbabwe continues with its renewal campaign. The Liverpool branch relaunch follows hard on the heels of other successful launches over the last 6 weeks: Central London Branch, Birmingham and Cambridge. Members of ROHR, human rights activists and friends of Zimbabwe are all invited. Discussions will focus on the Zimbabwe crisis and the strategies going forward. A new branch executive will also be elected and the ROHR UK National Executive will be in attendance. 

·        50th anniversary service for the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund. Thursday 22nd November at 3 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral, Montague Close, London SE1 9DA. The service will be an interesting mix of readings by PoC patrons including Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Zoë Wanamaker CBE and Reverend Dr. Nicholas Sagovsky, music by a Zimbabwean choir and personal stories from prisoners of conscience who have been helped by the charity. See: http://www.prisonersofconscience.org/about_poc/events/default.aspx

·        Election of Substantive ROHR UK Executive. Saturday 8th December. Further details as they become available.

·        Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s children’s competition for UN human rights day. Zimbabwean children are asked to submit a story / picture on 'The Portrait of a Great Zimbabwe'. For full details check: http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/CHILDREN%20STORY%20AND%20DRAWING%20COMPETITION-3.pdf. Closing date 20th November 2012.

·        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.