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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary 20/12/2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 21 December 2008 22:48

Father Cholera visits the Vigil

There was massive media presence because of the juxtaposition of cholera and Christmas. We were particularly pleased to have the SABC with us because our main message is addressed to South Africa.  We are encouraged that the rest of the world seems to be coming around to our view – both our petitions are aimed pressing South Africa to take action against Mugabe.

 

Father Cholera had an exhausting time sweating behind his Mugabe mask. When he appeared in his Santa Claus outfit he was mobbed by television crews (Sky, CNN, Channel 4, Aljazeera and others). He cut down from the trees beautifully wrapped Christmas presents (grateful thanks to Pattie and her group for producing these) and handed them to Vigil supporters representing the people of Zimbabwe. They were labelled: cholera, anthrax, starvation, hunger, violence, murder, rape, torture, greed, injustice, destruction, death,  corruption, lies, inflation, AIDS, malaria, devastation, kleptocracy, terror.  People told Father Cholera that they did not want his presents and led by Jenatry Muranganwa shouted out a chorus ‘Mugabe must go, Mugabe must die’. Feelings were very high as many have relatives suffering from the cholera crisis. It was decided that a fitting place to leave the presents was the doorstep of the Embassy where we also placed a large white cross.    

 

Lots of people were interviewed about their experiences. We should caution here that the Vigil does not necessarily endorse the comments made by people attending the Vigil. There is no way that we can stop people being interviewed but we always try to use spokespeople that we know are well-informed and in harmony with the Vigil mission statement.  

 

We googled ‘Father Cholera’ and found that the story of our protest was widely reported.  As well as being on the Channel 4 and Yahoo News websites and those of national newspapers (Guardian, Daily Express, Mirror, Daily Star) it was in the Post in Ireland, the Herald and the Falkirk Herald in Scotland, and provincial English papers in Wigan, Liverpool and Bath. There is a good video on Virgin Media, check link: http://latestnews.virginmedia.com/news/video/2008/12/20/father_cholera_hands_out_gifts 

 

On a mild, dry day the protest drew a large crowd augmented by a busload from Leicester brought by Patson Muzuwa. We celebrated the second birthday of Zizi, son of Dumi and Gugu Tutani of the Vigil Management Team.  A collection was made for cholera. Finally, congratulations to Vigil supporter Yeukai Taruvinga. She has won an award for her work as a Volunteer with the Refugee Council.  Please check: http://www.therightethos.co.uk/volunteer.htm for the full story.  

 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

 

FOR THE RECORD: 200 + signed the register.

 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 22nd December at 7.30 pm. Venue: The Cole Room, Fabian Society, 11 Dartmouth St, London SW1H 9BN (020 7227 4900). Nearest station: St. James’ Park. 
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   Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 3rd January 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Tafadzwa Musemwa 07954 344 123 and Roggers Fatiya 07769 632 687
Unite Zimnite. Saturday, 24th January 2009 at 7 pm. King’s College London’s student-led charity Project Zimbabwe is holding a fundraiser for Zimbabwe. The event is an African themed open mic night with over 8 acts coming to perform.  Money raised will go towards their MedYouth Project, a life skills programme being taught to school children in Bulawayo next summer. Venue: Function Room, Walkabout, Temple. Cost: £10/£5NUS. For more information, check: http://www.kclprojectzimbabwe.blogspot.com/ 
Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
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Vigil Diary 13th December 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 14 December 2008 19:55

Another drenching day. Our tarpaulin collected gallons of rainwater which we periodically unloaded by prodding it with umbrellas. It was a bedraggled day for our partners, the Zimbabwe Association, who were marking it as a ‘singing for our supper’ day in towns all over Britain.  To quote them, ‘After years of being stranded in the limbo of a seemingly endless asylum process, hundreds of Zimbabweans in the UK are now destitute and without support. Those attempting to support themselves are faced with criminalisation for working without permission. In this season of goodwill desperate Zimbabweans ask for their status as refugees to be recognized, so that they can stand on their own feet, support themselves, pay taxes and rebuild their lives.’ The Vigil was happy to join the Zimbabwe Association choir singing carols in the rain in English, Shona and Ndebele. Money collected from passers-by will go to help destitute Zimbabweans in the UK and to assist with the cholera crisis.  

 

The Vigil’s own carol day will take place next week when we are mounting a media stunt on the last Saturday before Christmas.  Our Mugabe impersonator, Fungayi Mabhunu, will make an appearance as Father Cholera dressed in the traditional Santa Claus suit and wearing our Mugabe mask. He will hand out presents labelled cholera, anthrax, starvation, violence, murder, rape, torture, greed etc,etc.  Passers-by will be invited to light candles before a Cross in the doorway of the Embassy.  Yes, we know, a Cross at Zimbabwe House! There is bound to be an angry complaint to the police from the devil’s own Ambassador.  The Vigil wishes to show the passing public the horrors of the Zimbabwe Christmas this year in contrast with our Western Christmas even during the current economic downturn. 

 

Fungayi today had a trial run with his Father Cholera outfit and was interviewed by CNN, who filmed the Vigil.  The Vigil is always asked to put forward people to speak about the Zimbabwe crisis and Fungayi earlier this week appeared on France 24 TV.  Luka Phiri of the Zimbabwe Association and the Vigil appeared on BBC television.  Ephraim Tapa was interviewed by Deutsche Welle Radio on Human Rights Day about his torture experiences. 

 

The plight of Zimbabwean human rights campaigner, Jestina Mukoko, and other activists who have been abducted in Zimbabwe has prompted international concern. The Independent Catholic News has set up a petition (see http://www.indcatholicnews.com/petition324.html). They asked us where they can submit it and we are putting them in touch with SW Radio Africa’s page of recommended action from Amnesty International - http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/disappeared101208.htm

 

Isaac Ndoro, Interim Chair of ROHR in Liverpool reports that they help another protest on Saturday,13th December. “Another rainy and cold day for Liverpool activists as they presented once more their petition to the lovely and friendly community of Liverpool in Church Street. As the cholera epidemic sweeps across the country Liverpool activists tried their best to let the world realise how bad the scenario in Zimbabwe is.” They are running the Vigil petitions and report that they collected 409 signatures.  See ‘For your Diary’ for details of their next protest. 

 

For latest Vigil pictures check the pictures page. 

 

FOR THE RECORD: 94 signed the register.

 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
Central London Zimbabwe
Forum. Monday 15th December at 7.30 pm. The speaker is Dr. Farai Madzimbamuto, a Director of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, who will talk about the cholera epidemic. Venue: The Cole Room, Fabian Society, 11 Dartmouth St, London SW1H 9BN (020 7227 4900). Nearest station: St. James’ Park.
Next ROHR Liverpool Protest. Saturday, 20th December 2008 from 14.00 – 16.00. Venue: Bold Street, Liverpool City Centre. 

ROHR Wolverhampton Christmas Party. Saturday 20th December. Venue: Heath Town Community Centre, 208 Chervil Rise, Wolverhampton WV10 0HP. Contact: Colleen Maredza 07733394648, Nancy Mangwandu 07727019329, Tendai Sithole 07966381953

ROHR Brighton Christmas Fundraising Party. Saturday 20th December. Venue: St Leonard Church Hall, 12 Glebe Villas, Hove, Brighton BN3 5SL. Admission £5 (one plate of Isithwala/Sadza and two drinks free). Contact: Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Seph Mpofu 07786164808, Phyllis Chibanguza 07535936460

Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 20th December 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Tafadzwa Musemwa 07954 344 123 and Roggers Fatiya 07769 632 687. 

Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays). 
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Vigil Diary - 6th December 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 07 December 2008 20:20

British opposition leader demands action on Zimbabwe

 

The leader of the UK Liberal Democrat Party, Nick Clegg MP, visited the Vigil and called for international action to oust Mugabe.  Addressing Vigil supporters, Mr Clegg condemned the brutality of the Mugabe regime. He said it was a stain on the conscience of the world. The UN, he said, must take any measures necessary to remove Mugabe.

 

Mr Clegg criticized the ‘softly softly’ approach of former President Mbeki and called on South Africa and China to stop supporting the regime.  He was referring to their opposition to any action against Mugabe by the Security Council.  

 

The Lib Dem leader paid tribute to the persistence of the Vigil and declared ‘you will prevail in the end’.

 

Many prominent people have visited the Vigil over the past 6 years but Mr Clegg was the first party leader to address supporters. He was filmed by Channel 4 and we all gathered in our local pub, the Theodore Bullfrog, after the Vigil to see the broadcast report.  It carried horrendous pictures of the cholera epidemic as well.  

 

Despite Mr Clegg’s hopes of a change of attitude by South Africa, the Vigil remains skeptical.  Fungayi Mabhunu, of the Vigil Management Team, attended a function at South Africa House on Friday and spoke to the High Commissioner, Ms Lindiwe Mabuza.  Despite the world attention on the Zimbabwean ‘non-crisis’, Ms Mabuza said it was an African problem and the West should not stick its nose in (presumably so they couldn’t sniff something being swept under the carpet). The Vigil expects that, if it follows her line, the forthcoming fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe by a South African delegation will conclude that everything in Zimbabwe is ok. After all South Africa has endorsed all the rigged and violent elections in Zimbabwe for the past decade. 

 

Our partners, the Zimbabwe Association, are to join us next week to sing Christmas Carols. The Vigil’s own carol day will be on 20th December.  There will be more details of this next week and we promise a big surprise.  

 

Some points:
Vigil supporter Simon Mambonga is speaking for a second time to the Caribbean Labour Solidarity Group on Sunday, 7th December.
David Dinnell, a Zimbabwean who has written a play about Zimbabwe, ‘How to Cook a Country’, came and talked about his play.  He is planning to bring the whole cast next week.
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Another visitor was Margaret Milort-Holland, a Zimbabwean living (appropriately) in Holland. She thinks there should be protests at The Hague (where we want Mugabe to stand trial) and will be sending us her ideas about this. 

 

It was a welcome change to have bright sunshine in place of the rain we have been having. 

 

For latest Vigil pictures check the pictures page.  

 

FOR THE RECORD: 104 signed the register.

 

FOR YOUR DIARY
* Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 8th December at 7.30 pm. Elliot Pfebve, former MDC candidate for Bindura, and Jabulani Brian Zengeni, a lawyer, will be discussing Amendment 19 of the Constitution. Venue: The Cole Room, Fabian Society, 11 Dartmouth St, London SW1H 9BN (020 7227 4900). Nearest station: St. James’ Park.
* ROHR meeting in
Leicester. Saturday, 13th December, 12.00 – 1 7.00. Venue: Referencing and Lending Library, Bishop Street opposite the Town House in Leicester city centre. Speakers invited from ROHR in London and community groups in Leicester. Local media have been alerted. The ROHR meeting will be followed by Zimbabwe Association christmas carols at the town house.
* ROHR members’ meeting in
Huddersfield. Saturday 13th December from 13.30-17.00. Venue: 118 Walpole Road, Huddersfield, HD4 5ET. Contact: Donnah Mugoni 07533259373, Prudence Chikozhere 07533703043, Patience Karuwa 07908075149.
* ROHR
Wolverhampton Christmas Party. Saturday 20th December. Venue: Heath Town Community Centre, 208 Chervil Rise, Wolverhampton WV10 0HP. Contact: Colleen Maredza 07733394648, Nancy Mangwandu 07727019329, Tendai Sithole 07966381953.
* ROHR
Brighton Christmas Fundraising Party. Saturday 20th December. Venue: St Leonard Church Hall, 12 Glebe Villas, Hove, Brighton BN3 5SL. Admission £5 (one plate of Isithwala/Sadza and two drinks free). Contact: Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Seph Mpofu 07786164808, Phyllis Chibanguza 07535936460.
* Next
Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 20th December 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Tafadzwa Musemwa 07954 344 123 and Roggers Fatiya 07769 632 687
*
Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
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Vigil Diary 29th November 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 November 2008 21:16

Much anxiety at the Vigil about the cholera epidemic. Patson Muzuwa said he knew of eight people who had died.  There was certainly a feeling that the death toll was much higher than the figures given. Ephraim Tapa said he had received reports from Zimbabwe of hundreds of deaths a week. We were sorry to hear from Chipo Chaya of our Vigil management team that her cousin has the disease.  

 

On a cold, gloomy wet day, when the light went at 4 pm, we were cheered to find three people (Andrew Kumwenda, Anesu Monalisa Mlambo and Kudzanai Kanyimo) who had come down all the way from Liverpool. They left there by bus at 8 am and were due to get home after 11 pm. 

 

Six-year-old Candice visited the Vigil with her school’s teddy bear, Bill. The teddy bear stays with a different child each weekend and the child then reports to the class on his adventures.  This is probably the first time he has taken part in a human rights protest! 

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Letter from the Zimbabwe Vigil to South Africa and the Elders – 26th November 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 26 November 2008 22:54

The dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance emerging from South Africa in the past week stabs at the heart of all those working for democracy in Zimbabwe. 

The group of three ‘Elders’ spent a couple of days in South Africa talking about Zimbabwe and say they have been shocked by what they have learnt. Where have they been for the past 10 years? Have they read nothing, heard nothing?  

Even though they were not allowed into Zimbabwe, they submitted a report to South Africa’s President Motlanthe. He says he was shocked by the report and talks about ‘quibbling over ministries’. Where has he been for the past 10 years? Has he read nothing, heard nothing? 

They say the situation is desperate – and so it is – but it is not helped by this dishonesty, hypocrisy and ignorance. They say the Zimbabwean party leaders must put aside their differences and join in a power-sharing government to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe – as if another short-sighted and deceitful agreement like the one signed in September will do anything to improve the situation.   

Contrary to the perception emerging from the talks in South Africa, the crisis in Zimbabwe is caused by Mugabe alone and is not the result of the failure to set up a power-sharing government and may well be worsened by it.  If Zimbabweans see that their democratic will is again thwarted they may well be reduced to violence. 

There is no way through for Zimbabwe until there is real power-sharing and to treat Tsvangirai as a junior partner when he won the general election last March will do nothing to help Zimbabweans. If he joins the government as a puppet nothing will change. Is this what the Elders want? South Africa clearly does, as is evidenced by the insulting letter reportedly sent to Tsvangirai by the mediator Mbeki in which he apparently complained of his links with the West. Where does Mbeki think aid and investment will come from to revive Zimbabwe? China, North Korea, Burma, Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba? The $30million offered by South Africa will not go far given the mendacity and greed of the Mugabe regime. 

If there is to be any real pressure for change in Zimbabwe it must be applied on the Mugabe regime.  The Botswana government sees this clearly (watch BBC Hardtalk with Phandu Skelemani, Foreign Minister of Botswana - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fw6yw/HARDtalk_Phandu_Skelemani_Foreign_Minister_of_Botswana/). The Southern African region must take its advice and isolate the regime.

 For our part the Vigil wants to see:
1.        No recognition of Mugabe’s illegitimate regime
2.        Neighbouring countries to refuse visas to members of the regime
3.        A freeze on the assets of members of the regime
4.        Tighter UN sanctions on the regime
5.        The establishment of refugee camps in countries bordering Zimbabwe where desperate Zimbabweans can seek food, medical attention, shelter and education no longer available at home.
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