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Thirst for human rights – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 2nd January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 18 January 2016 20:20

A representative of the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) has been on an undercover visit to Zimbabwe during which he travelled extensively. He rejoined us today and reported finding a thirst for human rights.

 

He said he had spoken at many meetings, including in the Zanu PF heartland of Mashonaland West. Among those attending were university lecturers as well as pastors who said they were prepared to speak from the pulpit about human rights. Indeed, they are forming a pastors’ forum for human rights.

 

Our representative said people were impatient for change. They wanted to see power devolved to the people. He added: ‘They are conditioned to abuse so have high tolerance levels. We need to change that mindset so that they are aware of their rights as human beings and demand what belongs to them.’

 

He added that we must encourage people to come together so they are better prepared to deal with threats. They must be empowered to regain their dignity. They should get involved in community projects and we in the diaspora can help finance this.

 

He said there was interest in Joice Mujuru’s People First movement but no one knew what to expect from those who had come out of Zanu PF. They were waiting to see. But they were ready to push for human rights as the building blocks for change.

 

Our envoy said that while he was in Harare he tried to renew his expired passport under a provision in the new constitution providing for dual citizenship. But when his name was entered into the computer a message flashed up ‘Threat to national security’ originating from the CIO Directorate.

 

The lady processing his claim asked anxiously ‘What have you done?’  When he said he was a human rights campaigner she said: ‘No it’s political. Just go now or it has to be referred to security.’

 

Our representative asked the Vigil: ‘Why am I a terrorist for what we have been doing here at the Vigil? Zimbabwe is going down. The people are suffering and want change.’

 

Other points

·       Thanks to those who came early on a cold, dark and wet first Vigil of 2016 and worked hard to put up our tarpaulin: Esther Munyira, Michele Makoni and Fungayi Mabhunu. Thanks to Catherine Musa for looking after the front table. Thanks also to those who stayed to the end to help pack up: Isabell Gwatidzo, Fungayi Mabhunu, Michelle Makoni, Innocent Maya, Esther Munyira, Catherine Musa, Beverley Mutandiro, Chipo Parirenyatwa and Ephraim Tapa.

·       Below you can find the second of three summaries of the 2015 Vigil diaries. It covers highlights from the second four months of the year. We will print the last four-month summary next week.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights: May – August 2015

A feast of hypocrisy – Saturday 2nd May: A massive power blackout ushered in SADC’s summit in Harare at which fireworks over xenophobic attacks in South Africa burst the organisation’s usual backslapping bubble of hypocrisy. President Khama left early to fly home to Botswana after joining President Zuma in asking the pointed question: ‘Why are people fleeing their own countries?’ lifting the lid on the forbidden topics of misgovernance and oppression.  Zuma noted that he had been told by an immigrant: ‘If you raise your voice (in my country) you disappear’. The hypocrisy of Mugabe and SADC is matched by the weasel words of the International Monetary Fund, which claims to have detected ‘meaningful progress’ in Zimbabwe.

Challenge Mugabe – Saturday 9th May: With senior US officials due to visit Zimbabwe for talks in the coming week, the Vigil calls on them to remain focused on human rights issues, in particular the abduction of Itai Dzamara. Despite a court order to investigate his disappearance, the police appear to have done nothing to look for him and it is feared that he has met the fate of so many awkward opponents of the regime: tortured and killed. The Zimbabwe Association’s exhibition in London shows fascinating glimpses of the Vigil’s 13-year history. The Exhibition is to tour the country.

A ZimAsset – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 16th May: Bananas are plentiful in KwaZulu Natal. So apparently are doctorates, judging by the PhD awarded to General Constantine Chiwenga by the university there. The armed forces commander has taken time out from his diamond looting, vote rigging, and widespread farming and business interests, apart from his day to day military chores, to gain a Doctor of Philosophy degree in – of all things – Ethics. He says he interviewed Mugabe for his research. The former Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, now ousted from the party, has suddenly seen the light and talks of ‘illegal bugging, torture, intimidation and abductions’. Another of the walking dead, former presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, speaks of ‘complete lawlessness in Zimbabwe’

Mugabe’s poison – Saturday 23rd May: President Mugabe has called on South Africans to direct their xenophobia at whites instead of blacks. ‘I give poison not for you to swallow but to give to someone else’ he told the applauding staff at SADC Headquarters in Botswana. Speaking as Chair of the African Union as well as of SADC, Mugabe said South Africa needed a second liberation which would transfer wealth to blacks. He also called on Africa to stop courting the West for financial support, arguing that even with the end of colonialism the oppressors were back in Africa in the form of NGOs.

Bullet brain – Saturday 30th May: After 35 years of Mugabe, Zimbabweans will not be surprised at Sepp Blatter still clinging on to office as president of FIFA. He is a soul mate of Mugabe’s in corruption and manipulation. One of Mugabe’s most devoted disciples is Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu. He has not had the opportunity to sell the world cup to a desert country with little history of football. But his announcement that the government is planning to bring in bullet trains shows a similar level of delusion.

Sleeping on the job – Saturday 6th June: All Zimbabweans will be pleased that the veteran BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson thinks of Zimbabwe as ‘intensely beautiful, calm and welcoming’. In an article in the British Daily Telegraph, Mr Simpson says Zimbabwe is going through ‘a period of relative political stability’. The Vigil thinks Mr Simpson, instead of tossing off trite pieces for the travel pages, should do some research into what is happening in Zimbabwe before he next writes about it. He might even come across an article in the American ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine in which the authors say: ‘Over the course of the past few months, we have witnessed an ominous series of warning signs: bitter political infighting within the country’s ruling party, the worsening of already deplorable economic conditions, the abduction and disappearance of a prominent human rights activist, and a surge of inflammatory rhetoric and political violence.’ Perhaps Mr Simpleton is asleep like President Mugabe, wandering the world like the Flying Dutchman, treated in Nigeria a few days ago as a geriatric imbecile even before demonstrating the reality of this by snoring his way through President Buhari’s inauguration.

Big issues – Saturday 13th June: There are big issues facing leaders at the African Union Summit in Johannesburg. Women’s empowerment is the public face of the summit. But behind closed doors more immediately troubling problems will be raised. The headline issue is the resurgence of xenophobia in South Africa but the Vigil hopes AU leaders will address the broader question of the global migration crisis. It should come up with ideas on how they can encourage people to stay at home and develop the continent rather than fleeing to the West. Today we launched our new petition: To the UK Prime Minister: Exiled Zimbabweans, supporters and friends, at the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, record our disgust at the anti-white rants of Zimbabwe’s illegitimate President Mugabe. We wish to affirm our unwavering support of Zimbabwe’s constitutional requirement for non-racism.’

Falling from the sky – Saturday 20th June: News that Mali is to donate $300 million to avert starvation in Zimbabwe would be warmly welcomed by the worried Zimbabwean diaspora, scrimping to send money home to help our  families.  But such manna from heaven is unlikely to say the least. Mali’s President Keita is all big talk. On a state visit to Zimbabwe, he was shown over one of Mugabe’s collection of farms and said he was amazed by the ‘success stories’ of the land reform programme. As we gathered for our weekly Vigil we mourned the death of an African refugee – reportedly from Zimbabwe – who fell to earth from the undercarriage of a plane approaching London’s Heathrow Airport.

No to Mugabe’s poison – Saturday 27th June: The Zimbabwean diaspora turned out in force to present a petition to the Prime Minister’s official residence disowning racist comments by Robert Mugabe. In a letter accompanying the petition we assured Mr Cameron that Zimbabwean exiles in the UK wish to disown racist comments by Mugabe.

Geriatric Genocidaire – Saturday 4th July: The Vigil has launched a new petition calling for the arraignment of Mugabe before the International Criminal Court. We know he will be protected by his Security Council friends in Beijing and Moscow but we wish to focus attention on the evidence for the prosecution because Africa continues to honour this geriatric genocidaire. The Zimbabwean economist and opposition MP Eddie Cross recently looked at the population statistics and concluded that, even allowing for mass emigration, the population is some 10 million people short of what would have been expected by the historic growth trend – the result of misgovernance: starvation, disease and poverty.

Mugabe murdered Dzamara – Saturday 11th July: Exiled Zimbabweans and friends demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy to mark 4 months since the abduction of the civil rights activist Itai Dzamara. A letter accusing Mugabe of Itai’s murder was pushed under the closed front door of the Embassy. Vigil founder member and President of ROHR Ephraim Tapa announced that the Vigil would mark Itai’s abduction every month on the nearest Saturday to the 9th of the month until his family’s demands were satisfied.

Countdown to jubilation – Saturday 18th July: Suddenly Zimbabwe is back in the news. We thought the big news of the week was the remarkable volte-face by Vice-President Mnangagwa who, on a visit to China, admitted that Zanu PF had completely screwed up and would have to rethink everything. But what has propelled Zimbabwe up the news agenda is not the nitty-gritty of Zimbabwean politics but the human drama: who is going to take over from Mugabe. The question is discussed in an article in the UK Times today by the Zimbabwean journalist Jan Raath, who concludes: ‘The day Mugabe dies, the entire nation may well be enveloped in an explosion of jubilation.’

Divine Grace – Saturday 25th July: With her magical spiritual powers Amai Grace Mugabe PhD miraculously manifested herself at the Vigil in London to mark her 50th birthday. Asked how she had transported herself here while simultaneously gracing a glittering dinner/dance at her Borrowdale Brook mansion, the First Lady simply pointed to the full-colour advertisement sponsored by Air Zimbabwe in a 14-page birthday supplement in the Herald. We understood immediately what she meant as we all know that the bankrupt airline is capable of miracles or it would have stopped flapping its wings a long time ago. Thanks to Deborah Harry for donning our Mugabe mask to play  Grace.

Where’s the Pie? – Saturday 1st August: The second anniversary of the last stolen elections passed with little remark – though Zanu PF acknowledged for the first time the hollowness of its ZimAsset election manifesto. At the time it was unveiled the Vigil described the five-year economic programme as ‘Pie in the Sky’. Now it’s clear there is indeed no pie in prospect and Zanu PF doesn’t even know the recipe to bake one. ROHR members organised a protest at the Vigil today in support of workers back home and the many job losses resulting from recent legislation on the termination of contracts.

Mugabe and Co – Saturday 8th August: One of the expelled Zanu PF leaders has complained that the party has been turned into Mugabe’s private property and is inflicting ‘untold misery’ on Zimbabweans. Former Masvingo Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti was speaking in an interview with the Daily News. The Vigil welcomed unexpected visitors from Zimbabwe: Douglas Mwonzora, Secretary-General of MDC-T, and Theresa Makone, the party’s Treasurer. Mr Mwonzora spoke of reforms wanted by MDC-T, including the diaspora vote. The Vigil marked 5 months since the activist Itai Dzamara was abducted by the CIO. Despite international protests, all we get from Mugabe and Co is deathly silence. 

Produce all skulls – Saturday 15th August: Sacked information minister Jonathan Moyo simply can’t get out of propaganda mode. From his lowly perch as just one of the education ministers, Moyo is reduced to tweeting that the Zanu PF government can’t concentrate on turning around the economy before the repatriation of the remains of First Chimurenga heroes from foreign museums.  The Vigil managed to capture pictures of Mugabe visiting the British Museum in search of skulls. He was accompanied by his pet lion Rhodes. For our part, we urge Zanu PF to expand its search for skulls to include the 20,000 victims of Gukurahundi. And by the way where is Itai Dzamara?

Let them eat ice cream – Saturday 22nd August: All the reports we get at the Vigil suggest that the wheels are coming off Zimbabwe. This week we were sent several emails which in different ways graphically show how bad things are becoming. ‘We live in a country with absolutely no rule of law’, said one correspondent. ‘There is no money and everyone, not only government, is desperate to find funds. Corruption and bribery are a way of life. They are ingrained and will be hard to get rid of.’ Meanwhile Dr Grace has opened a new factory selling her dairy products, including ice cream. MDC spokesman Obert Gutu spoke of her extravagant display of wealth in a sea of poverty and said it was a clear sign that the Zanu PF regime was completely out of touch with the people.

The total liar – Saturday 29th August: ‘There are lies, damned lies and statistics’ goes the saying. Mugabe ticked all these boxes in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament. From his preliminary lie boasting of ‘peace and stability’, to his damned lie about tackling corruption to his ludicrous growth statistics, he was the total liar. Zimbabwean economist John Robertson said the State of the Nation Address was ‘clueless’. We were pleased to be joined by members of MDC-T Executive in the UK.

 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

FOR THE RECORD: 21 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       ROHR Executive Meeting: Saturday 9th January at 12 noon. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·       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 us.

·       Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 9th January from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark ten months since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 9th January from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten 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 sign at street level. It's between a newsagent and an optician. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 9th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2014 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/642-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2014. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2014 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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