Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2014 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 January 2015 14:05

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2014

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2011 –

2010 –

2009 –

2008 –


Another challenging year – Saturday 4th January: We at the first Vigil of 2014 were spared the worst of the storm which saw flooding in many parts of the UK. But it was still a bracing challenge spending four hours outside the Embassy protected only by a tarpaulin strung between four trees.

The noose tightens –Saturday 11th January: With Mugabe’s return from his latest Asian holiday he will be able to celebrate his 90th birthday in some style. His office has been allocated $206 million in Chinamasa’s budget – nearly six times as much as he was given last year . . . $200 million or so should cover his travel costs this year – after all it is more than the combined allocations for: The Ministry of Industry and Commerce – $7.4 million, The Ministry of Energy and Power Development – £23.4 million, The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development – $8.6 million, The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development – $155.2 million.

Mugabe finished – Saturday 18th January: A meeting of the bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil discussed plans to stage a demonstration in Brussels next month when the EU decides whether to renew the targeted sanctions. It was agreed to run a petition to the EU demanding that there should be no recognition of the illegitimate Mugabe regime.

What country friends is this? – Saturday 25th January: The Vigil is to protest at a Zanu PF-backed visit to London by a delegation of Zimbabwean business leaders. The demonstration will take place on Tuesday outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House where the delegation will be appealing for international investment and the removal of targeted sanctions.

Mugabe’s delegation turns chicken – Tuesday 28th January: Mugabe’s broiler chickens scampered off clucking in alarm as the Vigil pursued them into Chatham House s. The Zimbabwe business delegation arrived in a people carrier but when they saw the Vigil protest outside they hastily made for a side entrance, losing a few feathers in the flurry. Why broiler chickens? The former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last week: ‘The biggest problem with Zanu PF is that they think that money grows on trees. People just believe in spending, spending, spending. It’s like a broiler chicken. The broiler just eats itself to death’.

Mugabe’s square egg – Saturday 1st February: A delegation took time out from the Vigil to go across London to the Botswana High Commission to deliver a letter of thanks to President Ian Khama for denouncing SADC’s endorsement of Zimbabwe’s rigged elections. The delegation carried posters reading: ‘Zimbabwe Vigil salutes Botswana’ and ‘Thank You President Khama’.

Financing Mugabe’s looters – Saturday 8th February: The Vigil is advising the British government not to agree to Mugabe’s request to pay for the education of 750,000 Zimbabwean primary school children. The Vigil’s view is explained in a letter to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Our letter follows up DFID’s response to concerns we expressed about development assistance to Zimbabwe falling into the hands of the rapacious Mugabe gang . . . DFID acknowledges that some British money had been routed through the regime in contravention of DFID’s funding policy in Zimbabwe and said it was strengthening its controls ‘to ensure that there can be no repeat of this kind of mistake in future’.

Boycott EU / AU meeting – Saturday 15th February: The Vigil is writing to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the EU / AU Summit in Brussels on 2 / 3 April if Mugabe attends. We think he should follow the example of his predecessor Gordon Brown who refused to attend an EU / AU Summit in Lisbon in 2007.  Our letter said: We ask: what has changed since Mr Brown took his stand? We believe the situation has got even worse, with stolen elections in 2008 and stolen elections last year. Recent revelations in the official media in Zimbabwe confirm how totally corrupt the Mugabe regime is.

Tell us the good news – Saturday 22nd February: The EU’s fawning climbdown over sanctions has predictably been scorned by Zanu PF who will now harp on about the ‘victimisation’ of Mugabe and his wife. Baroness Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, says there has been progress in Zimbabwe. We have written to her asking: What is the good news from Zimbabwe that the EU uses to justify the suspension of targeted measures?

Vigil demonstration at Heathrow – Wednesday 26th February: A group from the Vigil went to Heathrow to demonstrate against the threatened deportation of our supporter Try Mahachi. We are relieved to say he wasn’t put on the plane.

Vigil Demonstration – Thursday 27th February: Vigil activists demonstrated at a London restaurant holding a Zimbabwean tourist promotion. The protestors carried our banner ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ and posters reading ‘No Rule of Law in Zimbabwe’ and ‘Zimbabwe Tourism props up Mugabe’.

Aid for what? – Saturday 1st March: The British government’s donation of an extra $10 million for basic education for poor children in Zimbabwe came as Mugabe was being feted at a $1 million 90th birthday bash and his daughter’s wedding was being celebrated in equally lavish style. The Vigil suggests that our money would be better spent on funding change in Zimbabwe rather than propping up the regime. Our thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for donning our Mugabe mask and playing the birthday boy in a tableau at the Vigil marking the wedding. Thanks also to Admire Mhindura for playing the role of a fawning Zuma who cancelled attendance at a Westminster Abbey memorial service for Nelson Mandela to go to the wedding.

Monuments to Mugabe – Saturday 8th March: Prosecutor-General Tomana says that, despite Zimbabwe being bankrupt with only $0.5 million in the bank, it will continue to fund the legal action against the EU for imposing sanctions. We were delighted to be joined by our supporter Deborah Harry who has been released from detention. She was taken to the airport to be deported but at the last minute there was a reprieve.

Asset in Wonderland – Saturday 15th March: As Zimbabwe sinks back to the stone age those of us driven into exile can only shake our heads in resignation at the relentless idiocy of our rulers. One brief announcement summed it up: ‘To make way for the ZimAsset Awareness Seminar, neither the National Assembly nor the Senate will meet on 12th and 13th March’ . . . ZimAsset was cobbled up to bamboozle voters in last year’s elections. To pretend it is a viable plan offering a way out of our difficulties is, in the Vigil’s view, to plunge down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. The question of asylum was brought up at a meeting after the Vigil of the Zimbabwe Action Forum. Ben Semwayo reported on a meeting of the National Coalition for Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) at which he represented the Vigil.

Vigil supports genuine asylum seekers – Saturday 22nd March: The Vigil has made a new approach to the Home Office over the sending back of asylum seekers to Zimbabwe. Our latest letter to Home Secretary Theresa May came as thousands of people demonstrated in London against the UK’s asylum policy. Our letter was delivered to the Home Office by Fungayi Mabhunu, enclosing a petition protesting at the proposed deportation of Trymore Mahachi.

EU finances Mugabe – Saturday 29th March: The Vigil will be protesting in Brussels against the invitation to Mugabe to attend the EU / Africa Summit on 2nd / 3rd April. The Vigil will be there to tell the world that things are not ok in Zimbabwe. Our message is that aid for Zimbabwe must not be aid for Mugabe and the military junta. We are very sad to report that, despite all our efforts, our supporter Try Mahachi was forcibly removed to Zimbabwe on Thursday. We are disturbed at reports of how he was treated when he was handcuffed and put on the plane.

Brussels demonstration – Wednesday 2nd April: Our Mugabe mask got another outing at the EU / Africa Summit when the Vigil demonstrated in Brussels against the EU’s craven invitation to Mugabe to attend. The mask was first ‘unmasked’ in 2007 when Vigil supporters demonstrated in Lisbon against the EU’s decision to allow Mugabe to attend the Summit there. The EU must have congratulated itself when Mugabe didn’t pitch up for the Brussels meeting, complaining that the invitation did not extend to Grace. David Kadzutu and Peter Sidindi took turns to don the Mugabe mask and enlighten the world about Mugabe’s vision: poverty, disease and corruption. Our ‘No to AU dictators’ poster was particularly popular with the hundreds of Mauritanian protesters we were grouped with who showed great interest in our cause.

Graceless Mugabe – Saturday 5th April: We were glad that participants in the Brussels excursion were able to attend the Vigil today including Ruwimbo Melody Tembo who left Stafford at 1.30 am for Brussels only getting back at 1.30 pm the next afternoon. More than 30 people attended our Zimbabwe Action Forum and heard Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa report on a recent visit back home during which he had discussions with embassies in Harare. More importantly, he met prominent opposition leaders who suggested co-operation with the diaspora represented by the Vigil coalition.

Vigil welcomes new path – Saturday 12th April: The Zimbabwe Action Forum had a special meeting to discuss recent talks in Harare that Ephraim Tapa had with some leading politicians. The following resolution was passed: ‘The Vigil notes with great interest the developments in MDC-T. The Vigil will work with any organisation whose aims are compatible with our mission statement to secure free and fair elections and end human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, while maintaining our own identity.’ A second resolution was also approved complaining about the growing number of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers being sent home at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is collapsing. The British government has expressed concern at the corruption in Zimbabwe. Their comment came in a letter to the Vigil in reply to one we had written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the EU / Africa Summit. The letter to the Vigil said the UK was supporting efforts to tackle corruption in Zimbabwe through a number of initiatives. It continued ‘We believe that significant improvements in the electoral process are required along the lines proposed by international and domestic observers, if future elections are to be both credible and transparent’.

Craven Europe – Saturday 19th April: As Zimbabwe marked 34 years of independence amid deepening hopelessness, the Vigil received a letter from the European Union which confirmed our worst fears about their pusillanimous policy towards Mugabe. We had asked them what progress there had been in Zimbabwe that the EU used to justify the suspension of targeted measures?  In their reply the EU cannot think of any progress beyond the generally peaceful manner in which the 2013 elections were conducted’ . . . It’s rather like commending the generally peaceful manner in which the Nazis gassed millions of Jews. The EU letter says: ‘Normalising the relationship with the government will enable the EU to play a stronger role in supporting the return to economic stability, improving the democratic environment, rule of law, respect for human rights, and the living conditions for ordinary Zimbabweans.’ The Vigil believes Europe’s aid money would be better spent in promoting desperately needed change in Zimbabwe – not in propping up this geriatric mafia.

Zanu PF at Chatham House – Saturday 26th April: The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, known as Chatham House, claims to be an objective and independent-minded think tank. It is nothing of the sort, judging by the Vigil’s experience of how it deals with Zimbabwe. It has just published a long report on Zimbabwe which betrays its bias from the outset: ‘A landslide victory by the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) in Zimbabwe’s elections in 2013 resulted in its comprehensive recapture of the state. The endorsement of the results by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Marketfor Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union (AU) and the UN confirmed ZANU-PF’s grip on power. It also symbolized Zimbabwe’s re-admittance into the international community . . .’ Along with Botswana, the Vigil is convinced that the elections were comprehensively rigged and that Zanu PF has no mandate to govern Zimbabwe. Who is Chatham House trying to fool? We hope to have an opportunity to ask them at a discussion on the report at Chatham House on 14th May.

Zanu PF at Chatham House – Saturday 26th April: The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, known as Chatham House, claims to be an objective and independent-minded think tank. It is nothing of the sort, judging by the Vigil’s experience of how it deals with Zimbabwe. It has just published a long report on Zimbabwe which betrays its bias from the outset: ‘A landslide victory by the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) in Zimbabwe’s elections in 2013 resulted in its comprehensive recapture of the state. The endorsement of the results by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Marketfor Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union (AU) and the UN confirmed ZANU-PF’s grip on power. It also symbolized Zimbabwe’s re-admittance into the international community . . .’ Along with Botswana, the Vigil is convinced that the elections were comprehensively rigged and that Zanu PF has no mandate to govern Zimbabwe. Who is Chatham House trying to fool? We hope to have an opportunity to ask them at a discussion on the report at Chatham House on 14th May.

The Missing link – Saturday 3rd May: A well-attended meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil appointed an interim committee to reach out to the diaspora with a view to agreeing a common voice and liaising with progressive forces in Zimbabwe. ZAF Chair, Ephraim Tapa, said the diaspora was the missing link. The meeting went on to discuss sending a delegation to the Home Secretary about the treatment of Zimbabweans seeking asylum.

Betraying the Future – Saturday 10th May: Everyone who wishes Zimbabwe well must be worried at indications that Zanu PF, desperate for money to keep afloat, is preparing to mortgage the country’s natural resources to secure a Chinese takeaway. We at the Vigil urge the many MDCs to at least unite on this one platform: warn China that when a democratic government comes to power any such deal will be repudiated.

Re-engagement with what? – Saturday 17th May: ‘Re-engagement is the only game in town’ was the message from the platform at a tightly-controlled meeting on Zimbabwe held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London. The meeting was to launch a report Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery’ by Steve Kibble and Zanu PF apologist Knox Chitiyo. Another featured speaker was Zanu PF sympathiser Dr Miles Tendi, Lecturer in African History and Politics at Oxford University. A friend of the Vigil who managed to get in to the meeting reported that the panel’s view was that 're-engagement is the only game in town.' Our reporter added: ‘the message appears to be that it doesn’t matter what you do as a government, as long as you hold onto power long enough, through intimidation and rigged elections, eventually the west will come around and the west will still engage with you and throw money your way.’

A still birth – Saturday 24th May: The Vigil welcomes the belated court challenge to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the voters’ roll used in the last elections as required by the constitution. This week marked the anniversary of the signing into law of the new constitution providing for improved civil liberties. What a still birth! Zanu PF has simply refused to change laws which allow it to deny people their – now constitutional – right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

EU’s policy stinks – Saturday 31st May: There was speculation at the Vigil that the eagerness of the EU to offer hundreds of millions of dollars to the Zanu PF regime may be linked to reports that Mugabe is to step down soon. Mugabe is said to have been told by the Joint Operations Command to leave it to the military to manage a takeover by Mujuru’s rival, Justice Minister Mnangagwa. Vigil supporter Dr Clifford Mashiri has appealed to the EU not to release the money to the Zanu PF regime until it allows the diaspora vote.

LOL EU – Saturday 7th June: As the EU embraces Zanu PF, the party’s supporters in the UK are ‘coming out’ in force. Nehanda Radio displayed photos on its website taken at the launch of a new branch of Zanu PF in Bracknell, near London. The Vigil has put Nehanda Radio’s photos on our flickr website and we ask people to let us know if they can identify anybody so that we can check on our database to see if any of them have come to the Vigil. If they have misrepresented themselves as human rights activists to get our support for permission to stay in the UK we would like to expose them to the Home Office and see these frauds sent back home to enjoy the paradise that Zanu PF has created.

Enter Fool Stage Left – Saturday 14th June 2014: ‘Life is getting better in Zimbabwe’ reads the headline over a ‘review’ by a former director of Britain’s National Theatre Richard Eyre. ‘Many Zimbabweans are now prospering’. Mr Eyre says. Harare ‘utterly failed to live down to my expectations. In spite of forceful government and forced land redistribution, if you walk around the centre and the suburbs of the city you will witness no violence and encounter universal courtesy.’  Mr Eyre appears to be less than fully informed of the real situation he surveyed only from the verdant suburbs of Harare. We ask ourselves: did this theatrical giant bestride Chintingwiza? The Vigil today launched a new petition to the European Union calling for voting rights for the diaspora to be made a precondition for further re-engagement with Zanu PF.

Mugabe’s EU Cheerleader – Saturday 21st June: The Zimbabwe Action Forum, meeting after the Vigil, condemned pro-Mugabe comments by the EU’s Ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’Ariccia. ‘Luckily we don’t have a leadership crisis in this country’, he said, sounding for all the world like Mugabe’s spokesman. Dell’Ariccia went on to rebuke NGOs for being confrontational and unconstructive and added ‘I have the impression that you are a little bit anchored in the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives AGOs – anti-government organisations’. The envoy went on to condemn civil society for being critical of Zanu PF’s electioneering ZimAsset plan. The meeting voted to write to Dell’Ariccia’s boss Catherine Ashton suggesting that she recall him ‘for re-education in diplomacy’.

‘Following the rot’ – Saturday 28th June: Extroverts in tight dresses and bouffant wigs tottering along the Strand in high heels: it was Gay Pride Day in London. Mugabe would have loved it. He is so taken with gays that we could imagine him tottering along the Strand after them. A mad fancy? No madder than what is happening in Zimbabwe. Take the mad case of the ‘Mujuru flies’. Secretary-General of the Progressive Teachers’ Union Raymond Majongwe went to see for himself the plight of the 3,000 families displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi floods five months ago. These desperate people have to share 36 latrines. Majongwe reports: ‘There are large flies called Mai Mujuru flies which are ravaging the area’.

Home Office apologises to Vigil – Saturday 5th July: The Home Office has apologised to the Vigil for comments made by an official in a letter turning down an asylum request by a Vigil supporter. The official alleged that anyone could get a letter from the Vigil in support of their asylum claim on payment of a charge so the Vigil letter would be disregarded. We wrote to the Home Office complaining about this libellous accusation, which derived from a malicious web article, pointing out that the Home Office had admitted it was unfounded three years ago. Now, in an official letter, a Home Office manager says: ‘We recognise the Zimbabwe Vigil as a UK-based pressure group representing the Zimbabwean diaspora.’ It adds that officials have been reminded that they should disregard the article in assessing what weight to give to letters written by the Vigil. The Vigil was interested to see that the Zimbabwean all-white pro-Mugabe group has welcomed the EU’s conciliatory policy to Zimbabwe. We wonder how they regard Mugabe’s latest racist rant demanding that no white person should ever farm in Zimbabwe again, even working for a black boss.

Talks or Chaos – Saturday 12th July: The Vigil is heartened by signs that people are beginning to accept that an all-embracing national dialogue is the only way forward to prevent chaos in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: ‘The economic transformation that we want to achieve requires the voice of everyone, including the opposition and civic society’. For our part, we want to reach out to everyone and were happy to be invited to take part in a demonstration in Birmingham organised by MDC T in the UK to draw attention to the Zimbabwe crisis. In our view the EU is not helping by dropping  its objections to the lack of reforms and rushing to embrace Mugabe.

One hand clapping – Saturday 19th July: It came as no surprise to the Vigil that the Belgian Ambassador to Harare is quoted as saying ‘there is nothing amiss in Zimbabwe’. He said Belgium is pushing for the removal in November of the remaining EU sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe because of human rights abuses. Mr Johan added that the President of the World Diamond Centre based in the Belgian city of Antwerp was soon to visit Zimbabwe – an indication of the reason for Belgium’s hand of friendship to Mugabe. The Vigil observes that Belgium has not been noted for supporting human rights in Africa. Indeed it was famous for cutting off a hand of anyone in the Belgian Congo who objected to being owned by King Leopold.

Glasgow Protest – Wednesday 23rd July: A Vigil leader Fungayi Mabhunu, who is married to a Swazi, helped organise a demonstration by our sister organisation the Swaziland Vigil at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He hired a minibus and picked up exiled Swazis on the way to Scotland where they protested at the attendance of David Cruiser Ngcamphalala, Minister of Sport and a former head of the Riot Police, who is accused of torturing and killing pro-democracy activists.

EU position ‘misunderstood’ – Saturday 26th July: The European Union has distanced itself from reported remarks by its Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia. Addressing a meeting in Harare last month he was quoted as saying ‘Luckily we don’t have a leadership crisis in this country’. The Vigil complained to Mr Dell’Ariccia’s boss, Catherine Ashton, and in a reply to the Vigil, the EU said: ‘We have checked the circumstances, and came to the conclusion that the words of Ambassador Dell’Ariccia have been improperly quoted’.  On another matter, the Vigil, acting at the request of Zimbabwean activists, approached the Foreign Office for further help in resourcing the means to convert a scanned copy of the 2013 voters’ roll into an electronic text document. In reply to the Vigil the Foreign Office acknowledged the importance of the matter but said the budget for this has now run out.

Recall Ambassador –Saturday 2nd August: The Zimbabwean human rights activist Ben Freeth has written to the Vigil with information supporting our demand for the recall of EU Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia because of his support for the Mugabe regime. Although the EU told us in a letter that Mr Dell’Ariccia had been misreported, Ben Freeth says he spoke to the Ambassador and he repeated that he did not believe that Zimbabwe had a leadership crisis. The Vigil marked the anniversary of the stolen 2013 elections by staging a tableau mocking the victory banquet in Harare this week held by Mugabe for his mafia henchmen. Fungayi Mabhunu, wearing our Mugabe mask, presided at a Vigil banquet flanked by supporters wearing red devils’ masks amid posters such as: EU sups with devil Mugabe.

A voice silenced – Saturday 9th August: This weekend marks the end of SW Radio Africa which has been broadcasting high quality journalism to Zimbabwe for thirteen years. Coming at a time when the independent press at home is facing a growing financial squeeze, the Vigil believes the loss of this voice is a tragic blow to democracy. Supporting a peaceful democratic transition is proclaimed as one of the main objectives for Zimbabwe of the UK’s Department for International Development, which must have given our country well over a billion dollars of aid during the lifetime of SW Radio Africa. It’s a pity DFID didn’t see fit to provide money to keep the radio station going as it filled the prescription for this. The Vigil is glad to hear that EU Ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’Ariccia is returning home.

No joke – Saturday 16th August: Supporters at the Vigil beamed broadly in response to Mugabe’s appeal to Zimbabweans to pretend that all is well to the SADC Summit at the Victoria Falls. Our smiles were so big we couldn‘t help laughing at Mugabe’s request: ‘We are asking you to smile and show the region that we are a hospitable people, that we can welcome visitors. Let us all smile and for just a moment forget our problems . . . albeit under the burden of sanctions.’ To underline our joy at our desperate situation we held up smiley pictures with the posters: Mugabe: ‘Smile for the SADC Summit’ and Mugabe: ‘Smile, though your heart is breaking’. The Vigil was joined by ZAPU Secretary-General Dr Ralph Mguni, who said that Zimbabweans used to be respected around the world but they are now regarded as trash.

Zhing-zhong deal – Saturday 23rd August: As Mugabe and top ministers converged on Beijing in a desperate appeal for a financial bailout, the Vigil was alerted to indications that an illegal deal was being negotiated to rescue Zimbabwe from its economic torpor and pay the government’s pressing running bills. Zanu PF’s golden grail is $27 billion to fund the fatuous ZimAsset programme for economic development which formed the centrepiece of its 2013 election campaign but – a year on – has failed to get off the ground.

The empty vessel – Saturday 30th August: As Mugabe made his thirteenth visit to Beijing, his hosts must have found it Chinese torture to keep a straight face. A 21-gun salute for the empty vessel must have been the final straw, especially knowing they were expected to fill it with gold. The Chinese will remember that when Mugabe came to power in 1980 Zimbabwe’s annual gross domestic product was rather more than theirs at US$1,295 per head compared to China’s US$1,061. They will have observed in awe how he has managed to completely ruin the country so that in 2013 the GDP figures were: Zimbabwe US$446 and China US$3,583. Like clockwork, Mugabe trotted out the tired cold war rhetoric: ‘Down with colonialism, imperialism and capitalism’ which must have seemed rather quaint to his welcoming group of Chinese capitalists, colonialists and imperialists. If Mugabe had expected them to join his chorus he must now realise that they no longer zhing from the same zhong sheet.

‘Tax’ the Mafia –Saturday 6th September: President Mugabe – having failed to sell Zimbabwe in Beijing – is now turning to street vendors in Chitungwiza to bail out his bankrupt regime: they are being told they must register to pay tax. The Vigil believes, however, that there is still an untapped source of funding available: how about cropping the Zanu PF bigwigs and their mysterious wealth? Vice-President Mujuru appears to be ready for plucking and if her rich supporter Didymus Mutasa and other cronies could also be ‘persuaded’ to cough up a billion dollars or so, Zanu PF could look forward to a well-fed congress. Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for donning our Mugabe mask for a tableau illustrating the financial desperation of the Zanu PF regime. He was shown with a bucket for donations from the passing public, flanked by posters such as: ‘Bankruptcy sale’ and ‘Country clearance’.

A ZimAsset – Saturday 13th September: The Vigil is awed by the academic triumph of the First Lady – now to be known not just as Mother of the People but also as Doctor. And what could be more appropriate than the subject of her learned thesis ‘The changing social structure of the family: the case of children’s homes in Zimbabwe’. Few could deny that Dr Grace is qualified on such a subject with her vast and ever-expanding ‘orphanage’ holdings in Mazowe. ROHR President Ephraim Tapa, just back from 12 days in Zimbabwe, told the bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil that he had found a dispirited people who had lost faith in politics.

Chatham House demo – Tuesday 16th September: People running away in fear: it must have seemed like old times for Deputy Foreign Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa. Except this time it was the former CIO agent doing the running when he arrived with Embassy flunkies to give a talk at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. They tried to sneak into the building through a side door but Vigil demonstrators got there first and blocked Mutsvangwa’s entry, demanding to know what he was doing in London. By the time he got into the building he was visibly shaken.

Tables turned – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 20th September 2014: Following the demo on Tuesday the Vigil took the opportunity to remind the world of Musvangwa’s violent background and our annoyance that Chatham House takes every opportunity to invite Mugabe representatives to tell the world how wonderful he is.

Zanu PF’s forked tongue – Saturday 27th September 2014: The Vigil notes Mugabe’s restatement of his attitude towards the ‘evil’ donors who are trying to educate our children, maintain a health service and feed the starving. Mugabe told the UN General Assembly that, for daring to empower her people, Zimbabwe had become a victim of ‘the evil machinations of Western countries’. Mugabe’s rant exposed the hypocrisy of Deputy Foreign Minister Mutsvangwa who, according to the Herald, voiced a very different view of the West when he spoke at Chatham House. He was quoted as saying: ‘why not do once again what Cecil Rhodes did in 1890 when he brought capital and business to Zimbabwe’..

Stop the tanks – Saturday 4th October: Anyone who has seen pictures of the teeming crowds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong will be impressed by their courage. A photograph of an unarmed student standing defiantly in the path of a tank sent to put down a protest in Beijing 25 years ago has become an icon of courage. We at the Vigil welcome Tsvangirai’s statement that he is to exercise his constitutional right and take to the streets to protest about the  failure of the Zanu PF regime. Will he be the man to stop the tanks? The Vigil was graced by the presence of Dr Mugabe in her splendid new academic robes. She carried posters such as ‘Let me lead you to the promised Guccis’.

Charity meeting – Wednesday 8th October: The Vigil was represented at a charity meeting in London on a wet evening to hear a talk by former Education Minister David Coltart. We were unhappy when the chairman announced he didn’t want any questions of a political nature as there was a lot we wanted to ask.

Let them eat yoghurt – Saturday 11th October: On the Vigil’s 12th anniversary we were blessed with a warm and sunny afternoon. We were not surprised by remarks by Dr Grace who told a rally in Gweru: ‘Nobody will remove me from the farm which I took. Blood will be spilt if anyone attempts to remove me from that farm . . . Women, we need land, so let us take it. Even if we don’t farm on the land, that is not a problem as long as you have it and it’s yours.’ At a rally in Harare she said: ‘Nobody is buying my yoghurt. Business is very bad because of sanctions. You can’t even find a person who can buy a packet of milk’.

Cognitive dissonance – Saturday 18th October: The British government has expressed concern at the lack of progress in reforming the electoral process in Zimbabwe. It says the newly passed Electoral Amendment Act still contradicts the new constitution, with no sign of further amendments being planned. The Foreign Office’s comments come as the European Union is apparently preparing to make further concessions to Mugabe next month, despite Zanu PF’s failure to allow free and fair elections and respect the rule of law. The Vigil’s view of the situation in Zimbabwe is apparently far too negative according to a columnist of the London Times, Matthew Parris. who has had another happy holiday there and says ‘Zimbabwe is a safe and ordered place with a stable economy: one of Africa’s more advanced countries.’

Normalising the abnormal – Saturday 25th October 2014: The Vigil seldom agrees with The Herald but we do have some sympathy with the paper’s scepticism about the naïve remarks about Mugabe by Britain’s new Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing. ‘Obviously he’s an iconic figure’, she told The Herald. Commenting on the interview, the Herald argued that Britain and the West  had to go down on their knees and show real repentance for the terrible things they had done to Zanu PF.

Leadership paralysis – Saturday 1st November: The Vigil can’t get excited about the EU’s decision to lift sanctions. We were told this was coming some time back. We simply point out that the sanctions were imposed because of Zimbabwe’s rigged elections and lack of respect for the law. This has not changed and the EU knows it, though they talk blithely about ‘progress’ . . . Finance Minister Chinamasa says the indigenisation law is to be clarified to encourage foreign investment but everyone knows that no decisions are being taken while Zanu PF tears itself apart. Even though the EU seems to be waiting unto Mugabe’s 91st birthday before it lifts the travel sanctions on him and his clever wife, the old idiot popped up at the Vigil as part of Grace’s ‘meet the people’ tour. He was suitably attired for Halloween and accompanied by three weevils disguised as devils.

Vigil supports meeting – Tuesday 4th November: Vigil supporters turned up in force to sing and drum at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The occasion was an evening devoted to Zimbabwe organised by the Mike Campbell Foundation. Mr Campbell, a commercial farmer, died in 2011 as a result of injuries caused by his abduction and torture by Mugabe’s supporters. Speaking for the Vigil, Ephraim Tapa told the large audience that the EU’s re-engagement with Mugabe was depriving civil rights activists of support.

EU betrays Zimbabwe – Saturday 8th November: Zimbabweans exiled in the UK are to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street on 15th November following the EU’s lifting of sanctions. Fungayi Mabhunu, a spokesman for the Vigil, said: ‘We are protesting at the EU’s spineless capitulation to Mugabe even though he has made no reforms whatsoever . . . Now the new EU Ambassador says he ‘had a lovely chat with Mugabe’. It is sickening. Mugabe has turned the country into a death camp.’

Appeasing a dictator – Saturday 15th November: Vigil supporters toyi-toyied to Downing Street singing ‘Vigil Yedu’. We displayed our banner: ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ while a delegation was admitted into the Prime Minister’s residence to hand over a petition signed by some 12,000 people who had passed by the Vigil. When the delegation returned to the Vigil we launched a new petition: A petition to the European Union: With Zimbabwe’s new constitution being disregarded by Mugabe, we deplore the EU’s scramble to re-engage with his illegitimate regime. We call on the EU, and the UK in particular, to insist that: the constitution is implemented, the rule of law is respected, the voters’ roll is made available for public scrutiny as constitutionally required and the diaspora be allowed to vote.

Lies and hypocrisy – Saturday 22nd November: Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa, speaking outside the South African High Commission in London, appealed to South Africa to reverse its policy and stand with the people of Zimbabwe and support our demand for democracy and human rights. He was speaking as Vigil supporters delivered a letter to the High Commission about the findings of the South African Judicial Observer Mission sent to report on the 2002 Zimbabwe elections. This report has now been released on the instructions of the South African Constitutional Court after having being suppressed by the Pretoria government. As long suspected, the report concludes that the election could not be considered free and fair. Ephraim said: ‘If the report had been published at the time perhaps we would have got rid of Mugabe a long time ago’.

Six impossible things before breakfast – Saturday 29th November: As Chinamasa delivered his fantasy budget, the Vigil turned to Alice in Wonderland for an insight into what is going on in Zimbabwe. After all, like Alice in the book, we are in a world where we are required to believe six impossible things before breakfast. Take these quotes: ‘We are not a basket case’, ‘Zimbabwe’s economic prospects are weighed down by sanctions’, ‘Corruption has been caused by sanctions’ ‘The exposure of corruption in the media is the work of subversive elements’, ‘ZimAsset is the answer to our problems’ and ‘The Khampepe Report (on the 2002 elections) is a mere private opinion’. In this topsy-turvy world it seems that Joyce Mujuru is cast as Alice eating cake until she grows too big and Queen of Hearts Grace orders: ‘Off with her head and the heads of all her supporters’.

Who cares about food? – Saturday 6th December: We are told that providing bread and circuses was the way Roman emperors kept the people satisfied. The Vigil thinks that Emperor Mugabe, despite his sweaty Oscar-worthy performance at the party congress, has fallen short in the bread department. Circus-wise he’s done well. Now the congress is over, Mugabe can take his usual well-deserved holiday until his birthday celebrations in February while the purged leadership gets on with the goal of the congress: ‘Accelerated implementation of ZimAsset’. But since this programme is complete fantasy, all it requires is a letter to Father Christmas.

Senile Mugabe not voice of Zimbabwe – Saturday 13th December: The Vigil has delivered a letter to the Ghanaian High Commission in London apologising for the insulting remarks about Ghana made by Mugabe. We are particularly concerned because senile Mugabe is the President-elect of the African Union and is bringing the whole of Africa not just Zimbabwe into ridicule. Speaking at Zanu PF’s Congress, Mugabe said: ‘I have been to Ghana, 1958 – 1960, and when you look at them now and compare their present situation to that which existed in the 1960s, no change. There might be more people yes. There may be one road from the airport that has been well done. That’s about all. No change.’ Confirmation of Zanu PF’s popularity in the UK came in a report in The Herald about corruption in the selling of Zanu PF membership cards. Zanu PF says about $400,000 can’t be accounted for and cites, as an example, that South Africa received 3,000 cards but 2,881 of them had yet to be accounted for. In contrast, ‘the United Kingdom received an equal number but sold all the 3,000 cards’.

Food for Embassy – Saturday 20th December: After learning that Zimbabwean diplomats were going without pay because of lack of funds the Vigil arranged an emergency Christmas food drop for Zimbabwe House. We left a pile of food and other supplies in the Embassy’s doorway with the notice: Christmas Appeal: Zimbabwean diplomats starving, Leave food for them here, (Sorry – no GM foods).   We had thought of the food drop as primarily a symbolic gesture to show up the failures of the Mugabe regime, with people supplying unwanted food from their own resources. But one supporter went to the supermarket to buy food specially and another brought sanitary towels and condoms. In addition, two passers-by went and bought extra food.

Shot in the foot – Saturday 27th December: The new indigenisation minister Christopher Mushowe has clarified the indigenisation policy which has been blamed for scaring off desperately needed foreign investment. Mushowe told the Herald that 49% was the maximum allowed for foreign shareholding and 51% was the minimum for the indigenisation holding: ‘So it's not cast in concrete that it's 49 percent, it can be one percent because it is the maximum and 51 percent can be 99 percent because it's the minimum’.


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