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Police State – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 23rd March 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 24 March 2013 15:58

Spring snow didn’t stop us as we trailed around central London visiting various embassies to protest against the harassment of those opposing Zimbabwe’s police state. The protest was part of the 15th round of the Free Zimbabwe Global Campaign which has seen monthly protests by the Zimbabwean diaspora around the world since the beginning of last year.

 

Shivering in the coldest March for 50 years was no worse than the suffering of civil rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa being deprived of blankets while being illegally held in a Harare police cell. Blizzards in various parts of the country made travel difficult, preventing many supporters joining us, but those who made it displayed posters such as ‘Free Beatrice Mtetwa’, ‘Stop harassment of Zimbabwean human rights groups’, ‘End police lawlessness’ and ‘Restore rule of law in Zimbabwe’.

 

Our first foray from the Vigil was to the Tanzanian High Commission where we delivered the following letter to pass on to President Kikwete.

 

‘We Zimbabweans in exile, are writing to you in your capacity as Chairperson of the SADC Security Troika to express our alarm at the illegal behaviour of the police in Zimbabwe.

 

Within hours of an overwhelming vote for a new constitution which we were told would enhance human rights, police arrested Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s senior legal advisor and three of his staff after searching his home. The MDC officials were reported to be preparing a dossier on allegations of corruption involving three Zanu PF ministers.

 

The prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was then arrested when she arrived and asked to see the police search warrant. She was kept in a police cell in defiance of a ruling by a High Court judge that she should be released.

 

The incident comes after a steady increase in high-handed behaviour by the police including the harassment of officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission investigating the Zanu PF ministers.

 

Human Rights Watch has called on the Zimbabwean government to stop the police abuse of power and hold those responsible to account. It said in a statement ‘Zimbabwe’s authorities cannot expect to create a rights-respecting environment ahead of elections in the context of oppression, harassment and intimidation of civil society activists’.

 

We support this statement and urge you to insist that the police in Zimbabwe act within the law and respect the spirit of the Global Political Agreement.’

 

Since we wrote the letter further details of the Zanu PF corruption have emerged which have been detailed in the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar23_2013.html#Z4Corruption at centre of Zim arrests).

 

As snow continued to fall we then set off to the the South African High Commission where we left a copy of the letter to be passed on to President Zuma as SADC facilitator on Zimbabwe. The Vigil welcomes signs that he is beginning to put some muscle into his role, as reported by, among others, the Zimbabwean Independent (see: Polls roadmap: Sadc stays the course – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar23a_2013.html#Z6 & Zanu PF, Sadc on warpath – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar23a_2013.html#Z4).

 

Then it was back to join our frozen friends at the Vigil to push a copy of the letter under the door of the Zimbabwe Embassy ahead of the visit to London this week by Zimbabwean ministers to beg for money (see: GPA negotiators take begging bowl to UK – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar23a_2013.html#Z7).

 

The Vigil questions Britain’s policy. Most remaining EU sanctions are apparently to be lifted following the ludicrous referendum on a new constitution and now Britain seems to be eager to give Mugabe anything else he wants. Perhaps some carpets for his mansion in Kwa-Zulu, Natal? (see: Mugabe’s multi-million rand sanctuary almost complete – http://www.swradioafrica.com/2013/03/20/mugabes-multi-million-rand-sanctuary-almost-complete/).   

 

For eleven years now the Vigil has been trying to make the point to the British government that there is no future in dealing with Mugabe on his own terms. Lift sanctions and it will make no difference. There will be another demand. Instead of pouring money into propping up Zanu PF with aid, the UK’s money should be better directed than providing cars, houses etc for Zimbabwean government ministers (see: Unity govt splashes out on ministers – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar23a_2013.html#Z5).

 

We wonder why our taxes should pay for Mugabe and Grace to go to lecture Rome when Finance Minister Biti says more money is spent on ministerial travel around the world than on the entire education budget. We, as British taxpayers, are paying for Zimbabwe’s education and health services to allow Mugabe to posture around the world and affront the Pope. We suggest that the £100 million or more of official British aid to Zimbabwe every year should be redirected to support the millions of people who have been forced to flee the country and are desperately trying to get money to help their families at home. President Zuma will surely support this as he faces a new influx of desperate Zimbabweans fleeing a gangster state.            

 

Other points

·         Although we work with the MDC in the global political protest we have reservations about the leadership of the MDC in Zimbabwe. ‘What a charming and comradely relationship MDC have enjoyed with Mugabe’ says our friend Wilbert Mukori (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/mar21_2013.html#Z22MDC formations too comfortable in government).

·         Thanks to our valiant supporters who braved the foul weather to join us today. A special thanks to Jonathan Kariwoh and Lindiwe Bare who stayed behind to look after the Vigil while we toured the embassies.

 

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: 46 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·        ROHR Coventry Branch meeting. Saturday 30th March from 12.30 – 3.30 pm. Venue: Bethel Dunamis Christian Centre, 90 Paynes Lane, Hillfields, Coventry CV1 5LJ. Contact:  Tafadzwa Mushakwe 07551873256, Hilda Gwesele 07939127819.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 6th April from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. 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. Next ZAF: Saturday 20nd April same time and venue.

·         Launch of ROHR Leeds Branch. Saturday 6th April. More details to follow.

·         Round 16 of the Free Zimbabwe Global Campaign (FZGC). Saturday 20th April when we will also mark Zimbabwe’s Independence Day.

·         Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/467-vigil-highlights-2012.  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.

·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization 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.

·         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.

 

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.