Campaign News
Biti challenges Ramaphosa – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 8th June 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 June 2019 13:49

MDC Deputy National Chair Tendai Biti says President Ramaphosa has a key role to play in resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe. And he warned: ‘If Zimbabwe implodes South Africa will suffer’.

Biti was speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London at the launch of a book, Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa's Advantage, to which he contributed. He said Ramaphosa was in the same position as President Mbeki a decade ago when he helped put in place the Government of National Unity in which Biti served as Finance Minister. Ramaphosa must get talks going between President Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa – and London, Washington and Brussels must help ensure a ‘soft landing’.

Biti, sitting next to another contributor to the book, former president Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, said a very cynical landscape was developing in Southern Africa about elections in the light of what he called the prevailing power-retention agenda. The situation had been worsened by the military coup which brought Mnangagwa to power. There had been an expectation of genuine change but the opportunity for a transitional government had been missed and most people now believed that the situation was even worse than under Mugabe.

He described as ‘disastrous’ a recent IMF report on Zimbabwe which – as he put it – ‘painted lipstick on a crocodile’. In reality, conditions were now so bad that it was a daily struggle to survive. He spoke of state capture and said it was essential that cartels exploiting the situation were broken up. Biti added a warning to both Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa: the military coup that toppled Mugabe was now ‘copybook’ for the whole region.

The UK government has assured the Vigil that it will only support the readmission of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth if it complies with the values and principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter. ‘We have been clear that the disproportionate use of force by security forces, as seen in January 2019, is inconsistent with the Commonwealth Charter’ it said in a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (see:

The letter was in response to a Vigil petition which also demanded that the Zimbabwe government acknowledges the Gukurahundi genocide. The Foreign Office letter says ‘We welcomed President Mnangagwa’s signing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill in 2018. However, this needs to be enacted and form part of a more comprehensive plan of credible national dialogue and healing for Zimbabwe. The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform. We have been clear that international support will be based on genuine political and economic reforms.’   

The Vigil petition reads: Zimbabwe must reform: Zimbabwe wants to rejoin the Commonwealth. Although Mugabe has gone, his fascist Zanu PF party with the backing of the military remains firmly in power. Zimbabweans in exile urge the UK not to support readmission to the Commonwealth until the regime reforms and acknowledges the genocide of some 20,000 Ndebeles by the Zanu PF regime in the 1980s.

Other points

  • Vigil activists were startled at the sight of hundreds of nude cyclists riding along the Strand. They were part of an annual global protest against oil dependency and car culture and to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the front table today and put up the banners: Marvellous Chinguwa, Pamela Chirimuta, Beaulah Gore, Patrick Hale, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Tatenda Mandiki, Dambudzo Marimira, Patricia Masamba, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Margaret Munenge, Richard Munyama, Mary Muteyerwa, Evangelista Ndlovu, Casper Nyamakura, Hazvinei Saili, Sinkiwe Sigola, Ephraim Tapa and Bridget Zhakata. Thanks to Josephine for looking after the front table, to Hazvinei and Marvellous for handing out flyers, to Mary and Margaret for drumming and to Casper, Jonathan and Patricia for photos.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 24 signed the register.


  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 22nd June. Community outreach from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Broad Street, Reading. Awareness campaign on deteriorating human rights in Zimbabwe. General meeting from 2 – 5 pm: Venue: The RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. Contact: Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806, Josh 07877246251.
  • ROHR fundraising dinner. Saturday 29th June from 6 pm till late. Venue: Zazas, 108 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JE. Contact: Esther Munyira 07492058109, Fungisai Mupandira 07468504393, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013, Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Simbarashe Jingo 07787870888, Pamela Chirimuta 07762737339, Sikhumbuzule Sibanda 07912210225, and Farai Muroiwa 07365431776.
  • ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 6th July from 11.30 am. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX. Contact: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Patricia Masamba 07708116625.
  • ROHR sponsored walk. Saturday 27th July. Contact: Esther Munyira 07492058109, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013, Patricia Masamba and Farai Muroiwa 07365431776. More information as plans progress.
  • 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 Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded 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. All proceeds 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.
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Letter to the Vigil from Foreign Office - May 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 05 June 2019 18:31

Dear Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinators,  

Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister of 27 April enclosing your petition about Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth. I am replying as a member of the Southern Africa Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It is not for the UK to decide if Zimbabwe is to rejoin the Commonwealth. The final decision is for all Commonwealth members. The UK would only support re-admission provided Zimbabwe meets the admission requirements, complying with the values and principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter. We have been clear that the disproportionate use of force by security forces, as seen in January 2019, is inconsistent with the Commonwealth Charter.

The UK Government condemns the brutal suppression in Matabeleland in the early 1980s and supports the process of truth and reconciliation envisaged under the 2013 Constitution. This would allow the historical record to be established and victims of political and ethnic violence and their relatives to feel some justice has been served. We welcomed President Mnangagwa’s signing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill in 2018. However, this needs to be enacted and form part of a more comprehensive plan of credible national dialogue and healing for Zimbabwe.

The UK stands ready in friendship to support a Zimbabwe that fully embraces the rule of law, human rights and economic reform. We have been clear that international support will be based on genuine political and economic reforms.   
Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu ‘tries to kill’ Hakainde Hichilema PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 10 February 2019 15:59 

Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu ‘tries to kill’ Hakainde Hichilema

Christina Lamb – February 10 2019, 12:01am, The Sunday Times

Zambia’s opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, has accused the country’s president, Edgar Lungu, of trying to kill him.

Hichilema, 56, warned that the international community’s failure to act on state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe is encouraging other African regimes to crack down on opponents.

The opposition leader said he was holding a rally on Friday in Sesheke, southwest Zambia, when police and activists from the ruling Patriotic Front opened fire.

President Edgar Lungu was ‘ruthless’, Mr Hichilema said.

“We were having a peaceful meeting when about 100 heavily armed men from the ruling party arrived, escorted by police, and started firing live ammunition on us,” he told The Sunday Times yesterday.

Video obtained by this newspaper shows terrified men and women cowering behind vehicles and fleeing through the bush amid the crack of automatic gunfire.

“It was clearly an assassination attempt on me,” said Hichilema, who leads the United Party for National Development. He accused Lungu, who has been in power for four years, of being “ruthless”.

Zambia was long regarded as one of the most stable countries in Africa but is currently going through a debt crisis. Much of the money is owed to Chinese companies contracted to carry out road-building.

Hichilema claims Zambia is going the same way as neighbouring Zimbabwe where, according to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 people have been detained and at least 15 killed over the past month by security forces suppressing protests over high fuel prices.

“You see what happened in Zimbabwe and no one did anything . . . so it is creating a ripple effect,” Hichilema said.

Who really calls the shots in bloody Zimbabwe crackdown? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 27 January 2019 12:45 

Who really calls the shots in bloody Zimbabwe crackdown?

Christina Lamb, Chief Foreign Correspondent - 27 January 2019, The Sunday Times


The two girls, one 11 and the other 12, were on their street in the Pumula district of Bulawayo one afternoon, going between each other’s homes, when they made the mistake of peeping through the wall of the police station to see what had happened to their neighbours who had been locked up. They were spotted, dragged in by soldiers and raped in the courtyard.


“I’m losing faith in humanity,” said Nkululeko Sibanda, spokesman for Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change, in tears after speaking to the girls. “What’s happening here is beyond my ability to process.


Since exposing the scale of violence in Zimbabwe last weekend, The Sunday Times has been contacted by numerous victims and their families. The hairdresser in hospital after soldiers broke all her fingers. The teenage boy stripped naked with knives by soldiers then flogged after they could not find his uncle, a union leader. Every day more are added to the hundreds detained.


President Emmerson Mnangagwa returned from an overseas trip in the early hours of Tuesday, calling the violence “unacceptable”. The shootings may have stopped but the campaign of terror unleashed on Zimbabwe’s poor has continued.


While his Cambridge-educated finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, was posting pictures on Twitter yesterday of meeting investors in Zurich after attending Davos, soldiers in Zimbabwe were smashing up small businesses and menacing people on public buses.


So who is really in control just 13 months after Zimbabwe celebrated the end of 37 years of dictatorial rule under Robert Mugabe?


“It’s all about power,” said Beatrice Mtetwa, Zimbabwe’s leading human rights lawyer. “There can be no question but that Zimbabwe is under military rule — the army is in control.”


“This is a battle between reformers and hardliners,” explained a close adviser to Mnangagwa. “Effectively we have two presidents.”


The adviser was referring to Mnangagwa and his deputy, General Constantine Chiwenga, who as army chief led the move against Mugabe in November 2017.


Those close to both men say there is little love lost between them and that Chiwenga has grown impatient with Mnangagwa for appointing people from his Karanga tribe and profiting from stakes in diamond mines and Zuwa, the country’s biggest petrol station chain.


“[Mnangagwa] has become too greedy and people are fed up,” said a foreign businessman who has known both men for decades. “Diamonds, fuel . . . he hasn’t stopped collecting and putting pressure on people."


Mnangagwa left the country earlier this month on an investment-raising tour after announcing that fuel prices would more than double. When fuel protests erupted and a nationwide stayaway from work began, Chiwenga decided to act.


The Sunday Times has learnt that, at the height of the street crackdown, there were plans either to impeach the president or launch a coup on January 18 — but Chiwenga failed to get enough support from fellow MPs in the ruling Zanu-PF party and the presidential guard remained loyal.


Some MPs publicly said they had been threatened by Chiwenga’s men.


“They threatened to kill me and harm my family,” tweeted one. “I stand by Mnangagwa. The plot is foiled. They lack numbers for impeachment.”


“The whole stayaway and protests was a pretext for the military to come out,” claimed the presidential adviser. “There are so many fissures within government, lots of people aligned to Chiwenga, also some with Grace Mugabe [the wife of Mnangagwa’s predecessor]. There’s also a tribal element It’s a complete mess.”


The adviser added: “It’s a battle for the control of Zimbabwe and control of resources, the fact that shit hits the fan the moment he is out of the country I don’t think is a coincidence.”


Terence Mukupe, a former Wall Street banker who was Mnangagwa’s deputy finance minister and has family ties to him, also tweeted that he was receiving death threats to switch sides. “I will never sellout on my president,” he wrote. “You are wasting your time threatening to kill me and my family . . . I will never join your sick plot!!! Come get me and do as you please but my president is not going anywhere!!!”


Mnangagwa is himself no stranger to violence, having headed the feared CIO intelligence agency during a crackdown in the 1980s in which thousands were killed in Matabeleland.


Mukupe insisted to The Sunday Times that Mnangagwa has changed and his focus now really is on reopening the country for business. Referring to a prophecy made by a local pastor last year, he added: “He was told by his prophet if he directly orders spilling of blood that would be the end of his presidency and he believes that.”


Mukupe said he had no doubt the army was behind the crackdown. “Look at it this way: he takes off to market the country and those on the ground start carrying out acts contrary to what he is preaching. It was clear sabotage. The army believe it’s they who put the president in power so they should be the ones calling the shots,” he added.


Others disagree, arguing that this may be a “good cop bad cop” routine.


“I’ve known him many years and he hasn’t changed yet,” said the foreign businessman. “The only way [Mnangagwa] has been able to maintain control is violence on the streets, beating people up — that’s his raison d’être. He was trained by North Korea and as head of CIO was ruthless.”


Mtetwa also thinks it is too convenient to blame Chiwenga: “I don’t believe one man has the power to do this without others being in agreement. It’s the entire Zanu-PF system.”


Under the Mugabe regime, she was twice arrested and badly beaten three times, and represented scores of people who were detained and tortured. “These are days we thought we would never see again,” she said. “Only this is worse. Using live ammunition, putting 14, 15 and 16-year-olds in custody, wholesale arrests without any evidence . . . We are seeing systematic denial of bail, trials without people even knowing the charges. The courts are violating every rule in the book in what is clearly an orchestrated campaign.”


For the past 12 days, Fadsizai Chibanda has gone every day to Chikurubi maximum-security prison in Harare to try to visit her husband, Patrick, who was dragged from their home in a midnight raid at the start of the crackdown. She is borrowing money to pay the bus fares, $6 (£4.55) each way, with nothing coming in because the small pre-school she runs is closed down.


She saw him once in court, where he looked dirty and beaten and was, as with all those picked up, denied bail. When she tried taking food to the prison, it was rejected.


"They are deliberately starving them,” said Mtetwa, who is representing Evans Mawarire, a well-known pastor who was arrested after calling for non-violent protest against the fuel-price rises. “The prisons have no food and when we take things they refuse to accept it, saying it might have cholera.”


No one knows where the crackdown is leading. Though there is clearly no love lost between the president and his deputy, they need each other, says Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at Soas, University of London (the School of Oriental and African Studies) and a regular visitor to Zimbabwe. “General Chiwenga and [Mnangagwa] are not a happy couple but they also can’t live without each other.”


Whatever the real reason for it, the violence is a huge disappointment for those who thought things would change post-Mugabe.


Among them is Kerry Kay, who knows only too well the scale of Mugabe repression after her husband, Iain, was beaten to within an inch of his life in 2002 by thugs carrying sticks wrapped with barbed wire, who forced them off their farm.


The last time I saw her was at the march in November 2017 to call for Mugabe’s resignation, where people cheered the soldiers who had arrested him. Then she was jubilant, hugging everyone and telling me she “felt 17”. Yesterday she was smuggling baby food to a woman who had been locked up with her 11-month-old child.


“I’ve documented hundreds of thousands of cases since 1998 and I can’t believe this is happening again,” she said. “These are evil bastards who have so much blood on their hands they could drown in it, and they will do anything to stay in power.”

Life beyond survival coping mechanisms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 20 January 2019 13:33

Life beyond survival coping mechanisms

from an anonymous contributor 18/01/2019

'The start of another week and one in which most people have moderated their expectations. Getting through the week without the car being burnt, or the kids hurt, is a desirable outcome.

While the trade unions and the Opposition have called for the stay-away, they are irrelevant. There are not enough people left in formal jobs and employment for the unions to command any sort of significant membership. The Opposition has also been exposed and discredited, and no one is waiting for the various flavours of the MDC to do anything constructive. They are divided and fully infiltrated.

What we are seeing is something different, and in many ways akin to the “Yellow Jackets” in France. This is the urban poor slowly arriving at the realisation that the massive fuel cost increases, and the shortages and inflation pressures they know will follow, are beyond their survival coping mechanisms. The masses in the townships are slowly living the truth that they do not have a future, and that their children are fated to an existence dominated by hunger.

The ZanuPF-State security apparatus are fully aware that they are facing a leaderless insurrection of the poor. The wailing and gnashing for bread, and an agitation for a more tolerable existence. As such State agents have been widely filmed today in civilian clothing in the townships using AK47’s on any crowds of the poor that they find. They are using selective individual killings to try and frighten and diffuse the anger and energy of the mobs. There will not be the media show this time around of uniformed military shooting veggie sellers.

Naturally the poor and the unemployed are less than enthusiastic about their circumstances, so they are burning police stations, barricading roads, and are trying to make as much of a nuisance of themselves as they can. All while playing cat-and-mouse as they try to avoid risking too much harm to themselves. Without question looting is rife, and there is a breakdown in the structures of law and order in all the major urbanised areas. Central government is not in control of large swathes of the urban areas.

Will the current uprising of the poor improve their lot? No. This is a junta and not a democracy, so the State is content to kill controlled numbers of rioters until the mob loses its cohesion and enthusiasm. In this reality the only voices that count are those reinforced with firearms. In Zimbabwe the rest are just free-range tax payers to be subjugated and mercilessly bled. The chattels and harlots of the State. The children of the poor will go hungry this year, and they will sink deeper into poverty. Their daily grind will worsen as they are denied more and more basic services.

Will the +250% increase in the fuel price, and the attendant consequences, yield any positive results within the economy? No. The fuel queues are here to stay regardless of the pricing model that Ncube and friends try to introduce. Any models that do work involve the civil servants, doctors, teachers etc. unable to access fuel with their Zimbabwe Dollar salaries.

We have a situation where any policy choices that improve the economy, directly hurt and marginalise special interest groups within ZanuPF. The interests of the Party faithful would have to be sacrificed for the greater good. There are no policy options available to ZanuPF today that will jump start the economy and allow a developmental track to be developed. You can not be the cure when in fact you are the problem. This is the conundrum that has enveloped the country since the military coup a year ago, and no progress has been made since then to install a credible and effective narrative.

As we move closer to the formal re-introduction of the Zimbabwe Dollar, and the criminalisatiion of hard currency holdings by anyone outside of the ZanuPF gangster elite, the crisis will continue to deepen. This movie is a long, long way from over, and the suffering and stories have just begun. 

The rain in Harare today sent everyone scurrying for cover, but no doubt the sports will resume in the morning. Going to be a long week.

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