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Vigil Diary 01-11-08 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 01 November 2008 00:00
A soaking Vigil saw us crowded under the tarpaulin all afternoon, singing and dancing to keep warm. Despite the rain, people still stopped to sign our petitions, though with the end of British Summer Time, it was dark well before the Vigil ended.

Vigil supporters were shocked by the murder of Osborne Kachuru of our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). He was beaten to death at ZANU PF's offices in Fourth Street, Harare, after a peaceful demonstration during the SADC talks on Monday. We are told that the Zanu PF political commissar Eliot Manyika was responsible and the Vigil swears to leave no stone unturned to make sure he eventually faces justice.

As we feared (see last diary) the SADC meeting yielded nothing. The deceitful SADC communiqué falsely claimed that the only point of dispute in the power-sharing talks was who would hold the Home Affairs Ministry. It is clear that the Troika was only interested in bullying the MDC and keeping Mugabe in power.

The Vigil has little confidence that a SADC Summit will take a different view even though Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania are likely to be less cowed by Mugabe. It was thought the one ray of light from the Harare meeting was that the new South African leadership seems to be aware of the desperate situation in Zimbabwe. We look to them to force Mugabe to honour the power-sharing agreement and, if he doesn’t, support the call by Botswana for new elections.

We were sad to hear of the death of Vigil supporter Tapiwa Machemwa in a hospital in Wolverhampton. She was only 29 and left a 4-year-old child. We observed a minute’s silence followed by a prayer from Rugare Chifungo. We also took a collection for funeral expenses.

Happier news came from Caroline Witts who comes to the Vigil all the way from Devon and sells for Vigil funds eco-friendly hessian bags advertising the Vigil. She sent two of these to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who has show great concern for Zimbabwe. She received a letter from him saying “The people of Zimbabwe continue to be in my prayers, and I thank you too for all your work and concern.”

The Vigil message continues to spread. A Canadian group has contacted us with a view to working together and our attention was also drawn to a picture of the Vigil in a Guatemalan newspaper. While we are thinking of South America, a group of Venezuelans stopped by. They said they knew what was happening in Zimbabwe – and complained that their President was “just the same”!

Finally, we are pleased to announce that the new ROHR website (www.rohrzimbabwe.org) is now live thanks to the hard work of David McAllister who is also working to refresh the Vigil website.

For latest Vigil pictures see the link in the updates column.

FOR THE RECORD: 103 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:
* Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Monday, 3rd November at 7.30 pm. Tahera Patel, solicitor at Copperstone Solicitors, will talk about asylum issues. Venue: Downstairs at the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
* Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 8th November 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.
* ROHR meeting in Coventry. Saturday, 8th November 2008, 13.30 – 17.30 pm. Venue: Jassy Mood, 18 Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5DL. For more information contact Nashe 07788 560 068, Sam 07861 206 785, Christine 07958 560 094 or P Mapfumo on 07932 216 070 or 07533 831 617.
* ROHR meeting in West Yorkshire. Saturday, 15th November 2008, 13.30 – 17.00 pm. Venue: Celandine Close, Carlton Glen, Ponterfract, Wakefield WF8 2SL. For more information contact Donnah Mugoni 07748828913, E Mkwaira 07780808101, B Sikosana 07940181761 or P Mapfumo 07533831617 / 07932216070.
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 25-10-08 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 25 October 2008 00:00

There was little expectation at the Vigil that the visit to Harare by the SADC troika would produce any relief for the desperate people of Zimbabwe. None of us could recall Angola and Swaziland, or even Mozambique, standing up for human rights in Zimbabwe – let alone face to face with Mugabe. But there was a feeling that at least it might expose the SADC troika to the realities of life in Zimbabwe – that is, if their delegations left their five star hotels for long enough to notice the collapse of the country . . . the queues at the banks, the barren shops, the streams of stinking sewage in the high-density suburbs, the erratic electricity and water supplies, the run-down hospitals, the empty schools, the starving people . . .

We are gloomy that the Vigil demands for free and fair elections and an end to human rights abuses will be met any time soon unless South Africa under its new leadership takes a firmer line with Mugabe.

The Vigil has now sent our petition to the European Union urging it to freeze government to government aid to SADC countries unless SADC upholds its obligations to the people of Zimbabwe rather than supports Mugabe and his fat cats. A copy of our representations has been sent to the SADC Secretariat suggesting that Zimbabwe be suspended from membership of SADC and that the Mugabe regime should be denied visas for SADC countries and have their assets frozen. A copy has also been sent to the AU Chairman, President Kikwete of Tanzania, and it is to him that the Vigil is now looking to apply greater pressure.

On a happier note, the Vigil celebrated with a cake the birthday of Fungayi Mabhunu of the Vigil management team, who joins us every week come rain or shine.

During the week, six Vigil members (Jenatry Muranganwa, Dumi Tutani, Anges Zengeya, Moses Kandiyawo, Kelvin Kamipura and Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani) participated in a Black History event at City and Islington College in London. Over the years we have forged a close relationship with the College who invite us back for our singing and dancing each year. Some good links were formed with staff, students and local groups.

As we mentioned last week, the Vigil was approached by Caribbean Labour Solidarity who wanted a Zimbabwean speaker. We are pleased that one of regular supporters, Simon Mambongo, will be representing us and he would welcome support. See ‘for your diary’ for details of the meeting. We notice that many people who used to support Mugabe as a liberator are reappraising their position. There are more and more articles critical of Mugabe in newspapers in the formerly supportive Afro-Caribbean world.

For latest Vigil pictures see the link in the updates column.

FOR THE RECORD: 136 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:
* Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Monday, 27th October, at 7.30 pm. Postponed from last week, Trudy Stevenson, Secretary for Policy and Research of Mutambara MDC, will update the forum about the elections, the appointment of the Speaker and the power sharing talks. Venue: The Fabian Society, 11 Dartmouth St, London SW1H 9BN (020 7227 4900). Nearest station: St. James’ Park.
* ROHR meeeting in Manchester. Saturday, 1st November 2008, 12.00 – 4.00 pm. Venue: Afewe Pub, Royce Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5TR. For information call Moses Nyagotsi on 07778 547 971 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07932 216 070 or 07533 831 617.
* ROHR meeeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Sunday, 2nd November 2008, 12.00 – 4.00 pm. Venue: Chervron Community Centre, Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE4 2HQ. For information call T Musariri on 07765 055 095, T Mauwa 07832 354 304 or P Mapfumo 07533 831 617 or 07932 216 070.
8 Caribbean Labour Solidarity meeting. Sunday, 2nd November at 12 noon. The speaker is Simon Mambongo of the Vigil who will talk about developing conditions in Zimbabwe. Venue: HCD, 62 Beechwood Road, Hackney London E8 (off Dalston Lane E8) Station; Dalston Kingsland, Buses: 28, 30, 38, 242, 277, 149, 243.
* Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 8th November 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.
* 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 18-10-08 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 18 October 2008 00:00

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 18 th October 2008

The Vigil's petition to the EU has drawn much interest at a time when SADC has been asked to break the political deadlock. The petition calls on the EU to suspend government-to-government aid to SADC countries because of their dereliction over Zimbabwe . We have even had a detailed enquiry from a Malawian journalist.

There was little confidence at the Vigil that the SADC security troika of Swaziland , Angola and Mozambique would suddenly change their allegiance and stand up to Mugabe.

We were joined by a Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa who said he'd been inspired by our petition to research the possibility of sueing SADC. The organisation has already admitted it acted too hastily in recognising the Mugabe regime after elections SADC's own observers said were seriously flawed.

People at the Vigil felt that pressure must be maintained on SADC until it suspends Zimbabwe 's membership and denies the Mugabe regime visas and freezes their bank accounts.

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Sixth Anniversary of the Vigil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 11 October 2008 00:00

Sixth Anniversary of the Vigil – 11 th October 2008

Friends from times past joined us in brilliant sunshine for the Vigil to launch our 7 th year outside the Embassy. Unfortunately Glenys Kinnock MEP was unable to be with us to receive our petition to the EU so we sending it to Brussels by post (see letter below).

Our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe is foremost in our thoughts at the moment. They are trying to expand democratic space in Zimbabwe and you may have seen in the media how their struggle has been going (see our last entry). Ephraim Tapa, the ROHR President and a Vigil founder member, was with us to brief us on the organisation's bold protest in Harare on Friday. It is a new dimension for their campaign for justice and democracy. They are demanding free and fair elections within the next two years.

With the world financial crisis dominating the news, the Zimbabwe situation has inevitably slipped from the headlines. We were asked by several passers-by: “Why are you still demonstrating?” We regard it as an important part of our mission to make people aware of the situation when media attention is elsewhere.

With a large turnout singing and dancing on the Strand we certainly got noticed. Afterwards it was off to our local pub the Theodore Bullfrog for an anniversary party. Grateful thanks to Chipo Chaya and Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani for working so hard all day to provide very tasty sadza and stew for Vigil supporters. They were helped by Moses Kandiyawo and Dumi Tutani. Thanks also to Arnold Kuwewa who. in the absence of our chefs, had many extra duties. We were touched by the generosity of three ladies from the Zimbabwe Exiled Women's Association (Florence Matongo, Pauline Mutema and Ekiwa Chimedza) who unexpected provided soft drinks for the Vigil.

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Vigil Diary 27-09-2008 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 04 October 2008 22:05

Despite the brilliant late summer weather in London, all the talk at the Vigil was about the gloomy situation at home. We all had stories to recount of starvation and the collapse of the health and education systems. A supporter reported that his mother in Mbare says she has permanent diarrhoea. Even boiling the water doesn’t help. As for schools, it looks like 2008 is going to be wipe-out year . . . . no teachers, no exams.. Our lives are on hold.

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