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Account for Dzamara – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th March 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 12 March 2018 13:58

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The Vigil marked the third anniversary of the abduction and presumed murder of the human rights campaigner Itai Dzamara. He was an inspiration to us and not long before his disappearance he sent us this message: ‘Your protest is not in vain.’

We are glad to see that Western diplomats in Harare are calling on President Mnangagwa to account for this outrage – one of the many committed by the Mugabe regime from which Mnangagwa must distance himself if he is to justify the welcome he has been given by the hopeful West.

Another decision must be to support the case for the reinstatement of the SADC human rights tribunal, closed at Mugabe’s behest because it ruled against farm seizures. One of the victims, Ben Freeth, speaking in London this week, said that, if Mnangagwa is serious about rebuilding Zimbabwe, he must put in place the right foundations. One step would be to recognise the recent decision by a South African court against former President Zuma’s arbitrary closure of the tribunal.

Like many others, Freeth expressed disappointment at Mnangagwa’s denial of the Zanu PF violence in the 2008 elections when Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw. It doesn’t bode well for democracy in Zimbabwe.

Freeth expressed alarm at the ‘militarisation’ of the government and of the Zimbabwe electoral commission. He said the new president had done ‘some cosmetic things’ but nothing to change the laws to create an enabling environment for investors.

He went on to warn Britain against a ‘cosy relationship’ with Mnangagwa unless he justified it by his actions and said it was not yet time for the diaspora to return. ‘That time will come. We look forward to that time. But it is not yet.’

Other points

  • The Vigil is to picket a conference in London beginning on Thursday which will be attended by a number of Zimbabwean ministers led by Finance Minister Chinamasa. They hope to encourage investment In Zimbabwe. We will be there to argue that investors should wait until reforms are in place in Zimbabwe. See ‘Events and Notices’ for further details.
  • We were joined by campaigners against the sale of Zimbabwean baby elephants to China. The advice from experts is that this causes  enormous suffering to these noble animals at their most vulnerable stage of life and is seldom successful. Thanks to Nomusa Dube for organising the protest. Posters showed pictures of caged baby elephants with the words ‘Captivity kills. Help me!’ and ‘This isn’t life. Alone, locked up in a concrete cage.’
  • Thanks to Patricia Masamba, Netsayi Makarichi and Rosemary Maponga for looking after the front table, to Faith Ndhlovu, Tryness Ncube and Heather Makawa for handing out flyers, to Patricia, Tryness, Nomusa Dube and Thomas Chaplin for putting up the banners and to Heather for taking photos.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 20 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Zimbabwe Investment Forum: Zimdaba 2018. Thursday / Friday, 15th / 16th March. Venue: The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore (corner of Exhibition Road and Kensington Road), London SW7 2AR. A number of government ministers and businessmen from Zimbabwe will be attending. The Vigil will be demonstrating outside the venue from 8.30 – 11 am on Thursday 15th March. An early start is needed for us to hand out flyers to the delegates as they arrive to register. Nearest station: South Kensington – from there you can catch bus 360. For more information on the event, check: www.zimdaba.com.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 17th March from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 31st March from 11 am – 1.45 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Agenda: adoption of the ROHR 2018 programme of action and completion of appointments to the ROHR National Executive Committee. This meeting is rescheduled from the meeting on 3rd March cancelled because of bad weather.
  • 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.
  • Swaziland Protest. Thursday 19th April from 11.30 am - 1.30 pm. Venue: outside the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. King Mswati III is likely to be in the UK for the Commonwealth Summit (19th April is Mswati’s 50th birthday). It is an opportunity to protest about human rights problems in Swaziland and the Commonwealth’s failings when it comes to dealing with the country. The protest is organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and they ask that members of the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Vigils join them.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Facebook pages:
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Time is running out – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 3rd March 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 04 March 2018 16:38

The Mugabes are aggrieved at their treatment by President Mnangagwa. Despite vast government resources devoted to their imperial upkeep, they are angry at being forced to step aside from ruling Zimbabwe. ‘It’s not fair’, Mugabe told the AU. ‘It’s unconstitutional’, calling on the organisation to intervene to reseat him on his presidential potty.

These are strange times in Zimbabwe. Apart from the Mugabes now completely detached from reality, this week a ‘prophet’ produced a ‘goblin’ in a Harare court. The ‘prophet’ was accused of demanding money from passengers on a bus from Binga to prevent a potentially fatal accident. He apparently scared off everyone but was arrested walking to the city centre with the ‘goblin’. The ‘prophet’ unveiled the ‘goblin’ in court – a live tortoise draped in a hyena skin and beads, looking rather like Mr Mugabe, who has long had an interest in goblins and calabashes and such like. Perhaps the tortoise was on his way to see President Mnangagwa (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/prophet-presents-goblin-in-court/).

The Vigil hopes that Mnangagwa will stop moving like a tortoise. Four months ago he insisted that the upcoming elections would be free, fair and credible. He has since repeated this mantra at every stop as he continues Mugabe’s circus of never-ending travel. Now there are only 5 months left before the constitutional deadline to hold the elections.

President Mnangagwa has made a big thing of his willingness to allow EU observers into the country. This is seen as a major step forward because ‘tame’ observers from AU countries and ‘friends’ have shamelessly endorsed repeated election fraud in Zimbabwe. Court-ordered revelations in South Africa, for instance, have shown how damning criticism of election rigging in Zimbabwe was repressed by the Pretoria government.

But the EU takes things more seriously. It’s already late to begin the lengthy process of getting observers from them. As the EU ambassador in Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, explained: ‘The first thing we need is a formal request by the government to invite what we call an exploratory mission which is a mission of experts who will speak to the different stakeholders of the electoral process and assess whether indeed these stakeholders consider these observation missions as useful. They will also assess the feasibility of electoral observation from a security and logistical point of view. And then they will advise us on whether or not an EU electoral observation should be deployed. And then, of course, the final decision will be taken once, based on that mission, the government confirms its willingness to deploy that mission or not.’ (see: https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2018/02/26/ed-govt-yet-to-formally-invite-us-for-zim-poll-eu).

Apart from inviting the observation missions, there is clearly a lot of work still to be done. We have heard nothing, for instance, about the need to open state-controlled media to the opposition during the election campaign. Time is running out.

Other points

  • In a landmark ruling, the Pretoria High Court has said that former President Zuma had no power to close the SADC Tribunal in 2012. Mugabe persuaded Zuma to close the court because it had ruled against the seizure of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe.
  • The Zimbabwe London Investment Forum ‘Zimdaba London 2018’ takes place on Thursday / Friday 15th / 16th March at the Royal Geographical Society. It is bringing together business leaders and investors from the UK and Europe together with a business and ministerial delegation from Zimbabwe, to discuss investment opportunities in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Vigil and ROHR will be demonstrating outside the venue from 8.30 – 11 am on Thursday 15th March. We will be carrying posters and handing out flyers to the delegates with the message that no investment should take place until reforms to ensure democracy (free, fair and credible elections) and human rights have been implemented. For more information on the venue check ‘Events and Notices’.
  • After a week of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures and transport disruption, few people made it to the Vigil. Thanks to the valiant few, especially Isabell Gwatidzo, Rosemary Maponga and Ephraim Tapa, who were there from the start to put up the banners and look after the front table. Thanks also to Racqueline Changunda who handed out flyers, Simon Nyanhi who helped pack up at the end and Rosemary for bringing tea.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 7 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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‘No free and fair elections’, Mawarire – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 24th February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 25 February 2018 13:10

The human rights campaigner Pastor Evan Mawarire has made clear that he has no confidence in the government of President Mnangagwa. Speaking at a meeting in Parliament in London on Thursday, the #ThisFlag leader said Zanu PF’s culture seemed to be second nature to the government and predicted the upcoming elections would not be free and fair.

Mawarire said the ousting of Mugabe by the army had been a game of musical chairs; the same people who had served Mugabe were still in the government, with the addition of some military figures.

He said the new government had launched a road show proclaiming that Zimbabwe was open for business and that investors were welcome, but asked “Is it open for freedom?’ Mawarire observed that there had been no desire in the past by Zanu PF to allow Zimbabweans to be free. To deserve the people’s trust, the new regime must do things to earn their confidence. He said they could not ignore the past, such as Gukurahundi, and insisted: ‘it is incredibly important that the wounds of the past are attended to’, adding that the people responsible were still in the government.

Pastor Mawarire said the new government had much to do, such as aligning laws to the 2013 constitution, and insisted that POSA must be repealed because it contravened the constitution. Yet the government was moving slowly on this.

He warned his audience, which included members of both the Houses of Commons and Lords, that the British government must be careful in dealing with the new regime and not seek economic gain at the expense of the real interests of the people.

Questioned on the elections, Mawarire said he was not very hopeful that they would be any different from those in the past. The ones who had kept Mugabe in power were the ones now asking to be returned to office. However, he expressed confidence that change could not be long delayed if people could be mobilised. They had been slaves to politicians but had showed their real feelings when Mugabe was overthrown. Fear was in the past and the church was waking up.

On the MDC presidential candidate, Mawarire said his preference was for a younger person. ‘I would love to see Nelson Chamisa chosen if the party’s constitution allows it,’ he said, adding that there was a general acceptance of Chamisa.

Other points

  • What Pastor Mawarire referred to as the government’s ‘roadshow’ is to descend on London next month. A number of government ministers will attend a meeting to try and drum up foreign investment. Vigil activists will be there to give our view of the situation in Zimbabwe.
  • A small attendance today because most of our activists were attending a memorial service for Morgan Tsvangirai in Luton. On a bitterly cold and windy day, thanks to those who put up the banners, looked after the front table and with freezing hands handed out flyers to passers-by: Racqueline Changunda Abigail Chidavayenzi, Nyarai Masvosva, Margaret Munenge, Debra Ncube and Ephraim Tapa.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 10 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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Vigil mourns Tsvangirai ‘Father of the nation’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 17th February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 February 2018 21:27

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The Vigil mourned Morgan Tsvangirai, cornerstone of the MDC since its inception in 1999. His courage inspired all those seeking the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. 

For two decades he endured everything the Mugabe regime could throw at him: attempts on his life, the murder of his wife Susan, beatings, imprisonment, trumped-up treason charges and constant CIO manoeuvres to undermine him. He became a beacon of resistance around the world. The UK Times newspaper yesterday published a laudatory obituary spreading to two pages. It was a worthy tribute to a great man (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/923-morgan-tsvangirai-obituary).

Morgan inspired us as members of the MDC in the UK to launch the Vigil in 2002. We organised public meetings for him in London but fell out with him when we believed he was overriding party structures. (Now is not the time to go into our differences: anyone interested can see our version in the Vigil book 'Zimbabwe Emergency’.)

Despite our differences, the Vigil continued to work with the MDC and MDC members were with us outside the Embassy today to mourn his death. Many were in tears as, dressed in red MDC colours, they laid flowers in an Embassy doorway and sang a farewell in Shona to the old Scottish tune of Auld Lang Syne (times long past).

They left a handwritten placard reading: ‘Morgan R Tsvangirai. We salute your courage and heroic determination. The struggle continues. We all revere you father of the nation’.

Vigil founder member and head of our sister organisation ROHR Ephraim Tapa, who helped start the MDC with Morgan, paid this tribute: ‘What a life and what a journey! Rest in peace comrade leader Morgan Tsvangirai’. Ephraim recalled how, when he was abducted and put in a torture camp in 2002, the MDC rescued him and put him in a safe house. While there Tsvangirai regularly visited him and the MDC organised his escape from Zimbabwe.

Other points

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 54 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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Mnangagwa must be honest about genocide – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 11 February 2018 16:16

The Vigil has launched a new petition calling on President Mnangagwa’s government to account properly for Gukurahundi. The petition reads: Zimbabwe has reportedly been encouraged by the UK Government to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth. Zimbabweans in exile in the UK, and supporters, urge the UK not to support readmission until the ruling Zanu PF satisfactorily addresses the genocide of some 20000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. A simple apology would be a start but we believe an independent truth and reconciliation process offers the best hope of healing the still bleeding wounds. 

The Vigil believes the steps taken so far by the Zimbabwean government will not adequately address the genocide, during which children were made to watch their parents being burnt alive in their homes, their remains thrown down abandoned mineshafts. The truth needs to be made public and those involved must express contrition, with reparations made to those wronged.

The new petition, which will also be posted online, joins another one we are running that calls on the British government to withhold any support for the new regime until there are free and fair internationally monitored elections. The petition to UK Africa Minister Harriett Baldwin reads: Zimbabwean exiles and supporters welcome your visit to Zimbabwe and believe the UK has much to contribute to the country. The euphoria over the removal of the Mugabes has given way to realisation that nothing else has changed. The new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke of democracy but also made clear his overriding allegiance to Zanu PF, which has repeatedly shown it does not believe in democracy. We urge you to insist on free and fair elections in Zimbabwe to determine the will of the people before the UK offers support to Mnangagwa. In particular, we stress the importance of the following: New voters’ roll and an independent election commission, Diaspora vote, Participation of Western election observers, Opposition access to state radio and television, Police reform and the disbanding of the Central Intelligence Organisation.

The British government appears to be enthusiastically embracing Mnangagwa’s government but reports suggest that other European Union countries are taking a more cautious approach, insisting on firm evidence that Zimbabwe is on the road to reform (see: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2018/02/09/britain-eu-divided-zim-funding/).

The Vigil believes that Zimbabwe will be helped on this road by the elevation of Cyril Ramaphosa to the South African Presidency as soon as disgraced President Zuma can be dragged out of office. Reports quote a close ally of Ramaphosa as describing Zuma as a ‘monster’ who ‘does not care about his country, not even its people’ (see: https://city-press.news24.com/News/no-immunity-for-zuma-the-monster-but-ramaphosa-needs-to-avoid-bloodshed-20180208). 

Other points

  • The South African High Court has begun hearing a case against President Zuma for his role in closing down the SADC Tribunal which dealt with human rights. Zimbabwean human rights campaigner Ben Freeth, who had successfully taken Mugabe to the Tribunal over farm seizures, reports that the hearing went well and a judgment is expected in the next three weeks (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/918-newsletter-from-the-mike-campbellc-foundation-sadc-tribunal-court-hearing-6-february-2018).
  • The Vigil would like to pay tribute to our friend Father Ted Rogers who died recently at the age of 93. The Times newspaper in the UK has carried an obituary which recalls him saying when he retired to England: ‘After 51 years in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe I have left with three pairs of trousers, five shirts, two pairs of shoes, a four-year-old laptop and a camera,’ he said. ‘I am not just resigned, but peaceful and happy.’ We were always happy when he joined us at the Vigil (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/919-obituary-father-ted-rogers).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up and stayed to the end to pack up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Viola Chihota, Edward Ndlovu, Soneni Sibanda, Peter Sidindi, Namatirai Sithole and Ephraim Tapa. Special thanks to Edward, Peter and Ephraim for putting up the tarpaulin at the start of yet another wet, cold Vigil. Thanks also to Abigail and Soneni for taking care of the front table and to Namatirai, Faith Ndhlovu, Debra Ncube and Nancy Makurira for handing out flyers.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 18 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

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