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Demonstration in Support of Itai Dzamara PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 12 March 2015 12:57

Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS)-UK Chapter and other civic organisations will join the Zimbabwe Vigil outside Zimbabwe House. 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR from 2 – 6 pm on Saturday 14th March 2015 to demonstrate in support of brave activist Itai Dzamara founder and leader of OAUS, who was abducted on 9th March. Please come and support this important event.

 

Message from OAUS-UK

Even if released, the protest must go on. This is in protest at the way citizens are being treated in Zimbabwe. We cannot be slaves in our own country. We now live in perpetual fear. Our lives are in danger the moment we question things that are bedevilling Zimbabwe. We come in peace and we shall die for Zimbabwe in peace. We will continue to cry for freedom in peace. We condemn any form of violence. We are the people. We are the numbers. Let’s Go. The Struggle Continues Unabated. Freedom shall win. Vincere Caritate – We will conquer, not with force, but with LOVE.

 

We are not pointing fingers nor are we accusing anyone. We are simply saying that whoever abducted Itai Dzamara should bring him back safely to his wife, children and family. We are not seeking any political mileage. Itai Dzamara has achieved enough mileage already, hence his abduction. Why should he be silenced?

 

OAUS is inviting all civic, political and religious groups, friends of Itai [ACTION] Dzamara to come and show their support and desire for freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.

 

It all started on the 17 October 2014, when a young man, former journalist and father of two, Itai Dzamara presented a petition to the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe over the “failure of your government to properly and effectively manage the country”. His sole effort transformed into a civic movement dubbed the Occupy Africa Unity Square.

 

On 09 March 2015 Itai Dzamara, leader of Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) was abducted in Harare, Zimbabwe.  There is no official statement from the authorities. Government and state security are duty bound to protect all citizens, even those opposed to the governing body. We are not pointing fingers at the state, the ruling party or security agents. We are simply appealing to whoever is holding Itai to have compassion and release him.

 

The right to freedom of expression is crucial to the development of democracy in Zimbabwe.  Information and ideas help to inform political debate and are essential to public accountability and transparency in government.

 

The Constitution of Zimbabwe gives everyone the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without State interference.

 

This includes the right to communicate and to express oneself through public protest and demonstrations. This is what Itai Dzamara and Occupy Africa Unity Square Movement were all about. In order to achieve our goals, in a civil, peaceful and resolute manner, we are guided by these golden rules, at all times and in all our conduct.

  1. We never carry nor use any weapon during our campaigns or the actual execution of our mission - not even the smallest of stones, because we don't need them at all.

  2. We never fight anyone, even when attacked and provoked, because, we want to maintain peace and order. We have a zero tolerance for violence of any form. Our form of defense is shaming and exposing perpetrators of violence or brutality.

  3. Our mission and goals absolutely have no need for us to destroy either public or private property. We must remain desirous of walking into a Zimbabwe with its property in place and intact.

  4. We never antagonise people, even those that do not agree with our purpose or join us. We always preach love, respect and upholding of human dignity. For example, we shall be consistent with reference to the police, as 'our colleagues from the police'.

  5. When attacked by the police, we do not run away, but rather we lie down and do our best to prevent damage to our heads, using our hands. We shall never be broken nor forced to abandon our mission by violent or brutal attacks from the police.

  6. At all times we clearly and openly communicate our plans, among ourselves and to any other relevant recipients. We shall always plan and execute simple, civil, peaceful and resolute strategies to achieve our goals, for which there would be nothing to hide.

  7. We shall always persevere and remain resolute, strong and unbreakable, at every stage and point when executing our mission. This shall be one of our major strengths. We do not run away nor tire from the commitment for this noble cause

  8. Our currency shall be solidarity and camaraderie among ourselves and with all Zimbabweans, under the framework of pursuing civil, peaceful and resolute methods for a better Zimbabwe.

  9. We never discriminate on any grounds, of race, political affiliation, religious interests, sexual orientation or simply viewpoint. We embrace and work with all the people desiring and committed to a better Zimbabwe.

  10. At all times we operate through, and maintain, order and unity of purpose. We are all leaders and uphold effective communication as well as proper implementation of plans. That requires self and group discipline as well humbleness required to follow orders and plans.

 

We have managed to adopt these golden rules and we entrench them within our hearts. We are all leaders and therefore with the responsibility for upholding as well as teaching about these fundamental guiding principles.

 

We are the people. We are the numbers. Let’s Go!!

 

Tendai Kwari – Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS-UK)
LAST_UPDATED2
 
A ‘discredited’ judge? – Letter to the UK Home Secretary PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 March 2015 14:14

To: Ms Theresa May

Secretary of State for the Home Department

2 Marsham Street SW1P 4DF

 

Dear Ms May

 

The Zimbabwe Vigil wishes to protest at being described as a ‘discredited’ organisation by Judge Ford at a recent immigration tribunal hearing involved one of supporters, Epiphania Phiri.

 

The Vigil wrote a letter in support of Ms Phiri’s asylum claim as it is prepared to do for all who fulfil our requirements of a sufficient number of attendances and give us no reason to doubt their commitment.

 

In her decision rejecting Ms Phiri’s appeal against deportation, Judge of the First –Tier Ford said (paragraph 55): But the Zim Vigil and the associated ROHR have been discredited as organisations that either deliberately has allowed individuals seeking to fabricate an asylum claim based on their political beliefs, to use evidence of Zim Vigil attendance and activities to bolster their claim or alternatively, has not sought to verify the credentials of those involved in the activities of Zim Vigil and ROHR, so as to ensure that those who claim to support them are genuine supporters motivated by a genuine interest in the promotion of human rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe.

 

The Vigil emphatically rejects the suggestion that it ‘deliberately’ helps people ‘fabricate’ as asylum claim. We think this is a totally unjustified comment.

 

We would also point out that there is no way we can ‘verify the credentials’ of all those attending the Vigil, many of them people in difficult circumstances dispersed around the country. We are a human rights group with limited means and not a charity or an asylum organisation, let alone a detective agency.

 

We stand by everything we say in our support letter and you will find below the text of the current version. 

 

You will note the disclaimer at the top mentioning misconceptions about the Vigil held by some Home Office case workers.  We have over the years received two apologies from the Home Office for the type of unsubstantiated slur on the Vigil made by Judge Ford (for letter of 18/7/2011, see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/323-text-of-letter-from-ukba-to-the-zimbabwe-vigil and for letter of 30/6/2014, see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/599-letter-from-uk-visas-and-immigration--30062014).

 

We accept that we may not be privy to all the details of the history of the people we write letters for.  All we can write about is how their current involvement with us meets our threshold for political activism that could put them at risk if they were returned home.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinators

 

Text of Vigil letter

 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: It has come to our attention that some asylum tribunal judges and UKBA officials have misconceptions about the Vigil. Misinformation from Zimbabwe media sites has been used by UKBA officials to discredit the authenticity of Vigil letters – please check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/323-text-of-letter-from-ukba-to-the-zimbabwe-vigil for text of letter from UKBA confirming this information should not used in this way. The Vigil does not issue membership cards. Our supporters sign a register weekly and we log this information on our attendance database.  Our flickr photo website is password protected and photos can only be uploaded by Vigil personnel. We do not charge for letters we write for our supporters but usually ask for a small (£10) administration fee to cover our costs

 

I’m writing this letter on behalf of ***, a  supporter of the Zimbabwe Vigil. The Vigil has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday since October 2002 in protest at human rights violations in Zimbabwe and in support of free and fair elections (see our website). As usual, the last elections on 31st July 2013 were comprehensively rigged to return Mugabe to power (see: ‘Not credible: Zimbabwe’s 2013 election results marred by fraud’ – http://www.sokwanele.com/zimbabwe-elections/evidence-of-fraud).  Supporters such as *** help draw attention to the plight of Zimbabwe by engaging passers-by and taking part in protest singing and dancing. Some years ago the Observer newspaper described us as the largest regular demonstration in London.

 

The Vigil accepts the right of the UK to send home failed asylum seekers but trust that the UKBA will continue to grant protection to those Zimbabweans who need it. We believe that it is not safe to send home Zimbabweans who are known human rights activists.

 

In August 2011 a BBC report said Zimbabwe was sending spies to the UK to spy on the refugee community (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/aug27_2011.html#Z10). The Vigil has long known this. In July 2010 one of our supporters returned home on a visit. He was identified as a Vigil supporter and arrested, beaten up and tortured.  He would still be there if it hadn’t been for our efforts to get him legal help and escape from Zimbabwe. (See Vigil diaries of 31/07/2010: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/246-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-31st-july-2010, 07/08/2010: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/247-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-7th-august-2010).

 

This incident shows that activism in the UK and attendance at the Vigil increases the risk of being known by the forces within Zimbabwe that still perpetrate violence against Mugabe opponents. We are a high-profile protest that has been under constant surveillance by intelligence operatives of the regime. Our supporters are those who care enough about the human rights abuses in their country to attend our protests. Many of them make a considerable effort in terms of cost and long hours travelling to come because they see the right of freedom to protest, which is denied to those back home, as important in the campaign against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

 

Our supporters are easy to identify because pictures of the Vigil are widely available on the internet and can be accessed by the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation.  This was demonstrated when a photo of one of our supporters appeared in the newspaper the Zimbabwean. Within days his family home in Zimbabwe was raided by the police who spoke angrily about Zimbabweans in the UK (http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/181-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-22nd-august-2009). More recently, the funeral of the mother of a member of the Vigil management team was disrupted by Mugabe’s Zanu PF members because of his involvement with the Vigil (http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/312-voice-of-british-caribbeans-ashamed-of-mugabe-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-4th-june-2011). 

 

In November 2014 a whistle-blower at Harare International Airport warned people returning home to be careful, especially if they had been involved in pro-democracy activities abroad. You can see his chilling report on this weblink: http://newzimbabwe.com/news-18903-Airport+staffer’s+chilling+warning+for+exiles/news.aspx.

 

The Zimbabwe Vigil looks forward to a time when all exiled Zimbabweans can return home in safety to rebuild our country but, following the latest rigged elections, we have little hope of an improvement in the human rights situation in the immediate future.

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinator

 
Zimbabwe Update from Amnesty International UK: Woza Action March 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 March 2015 14:10

On February 13 WOZA members were seen on the streets of Zimbabwe once more. They have been largely absent from our view for the last 12 months and it was good to know that they are still very much alive and functioning. As is traditional they used Valentines’ Day to act as their vehicle to spread their message of ‘Love’. As usual they carried red roses which they handed out to the police and passers –by. Some of those roses may well have been those that you, AIUK activists, had made and sent to them.

 

Over 550 members marched through the streets of Bulawayo with the intention of handing in a petition to the Resident Minister at the Government buildings. Their theme was ‘Demanding Dignity – Demanding Women’s Empowerment!’ The protest followed a civic education programme covering the constitutional clauses on the right to earn a living. Their demands were written on placards and were also included in the Woza Moya newsletter that was distributed along with the roses.


The demands included the creation of jobs, a halt on the relocation of informal traders from Bulawayo city centre and the ‘urgent convening of a country wide consultation to map a collective way forward on how to revamp the economy putting women and youth at the centre of the economic empowerment action plan’.

 

As WOZA members marched to the government complex police officers in vehicles watched and followed. On arrival at the complex, the security guards immediately locked the gate preventing access to the building. However, they continued their peaceful protest, singing their composed songs that stated their demands and expressed their views.

 

As the final stage of the demonstration was coming to an end, 15 riot police arrived and started to push the women away with baton sticks. WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, both advised the police officers that the protest was now dispersing and asked them to allow for closing slogans and for peaceful dispersal. Both were rudely told to shut up and manhandled as they tried to stress that police officers were now causing disorder. The police then herded the women in a forced procession going out of town, prodding, manhandling and beating them. Six members received medical attention for soft tissue damage, and one fainted.

 

The WOZA leaders have resolved to write a formal letter of complaint to the Police authorities about the police officers’ behaviour and the denial of their rights to peaceful assembly and protest.

 

WOZA’s demands for the right to earn a living and the need for a countrywide plan to get the country out of its economic doldrums comes at a time when it is reported that more than half of Zimbabwean adults earn less than$100 a month. The Finscope Consumer Survey Zimbabwe 2014 also revealed that nearly half of the population had to skip meals for lack of cash, and that 36% of children are unable to attend school as their families cannot afford the fees. Job losses continue to be reported with the recorded loss of 7000 in 2014 with companies going into liquidation. The Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress reported that 52 firms cuts jobs last year and these included some major employers like the Grain Marketing Board, Nissan Zimbabwe and First Mutual.

 

Other groups have also tried to make their voices heard. In February, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe had a planned march blocked by police in Harare. The latter on the eve of the march issued a series of demands that the organisers needed to meet for the march to go ahead. The teachers’ leaders claim that they had given the authorities sufficient notice of their intentions, but as the new requirements were only made known to them 24 hours before the scheduled date, the march was effectively prevented.

 

The political situation in Zimbabwe continues to be uncertain and the necessary Constitutional reforms are still to be made. Meanwhile rights to freedom of speech and rights of assembly are being denied to its citizens.

 

ACTION

Please ask your groups to write to the police authorities, with copies to the Ambassador in London asking them to ensure the right to assembly and peaceful protest are protected by all officers and that any contraventions are investigated and those responsible held to account.

 

Also please send solidarity messages to WOZA. They have been silent for so long, let’s give them some further encouragement to continue their struggle for human rights in Zimbabwe.

 

Suggested action follows:

 

1. Suggested letters:

Commissioner General of Police Augustine Chihuri

Zimbabwe Republic Police

Police Headquarters

PO Box 8807, Causeway

Harare. Zimbabwe

 

Dear Commissioner-General

 

 As members of Amnesty International we are writing to urge you to ensure that all officers under your command uphold the constitutional rights of citizens to freedom of expression and rights to peaceful assembly.

 

On February 13 2015, members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise were effectively denied those rights by the actions of police officers who used batons and unnecessary force to disperse an otherwise legal and peaceful march through the street of Bulawayo. Six members needed medical treatment following the police actions.

 

We call on you to investigate this matter and to ensure that those responsible are held to account. We also urge you to ensure that all police officers are fully trained in the provisions of the Constitution and that they always act in a professional and impartial manner.

 

Thank you for your attention in this important matter.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 Please send copies of your letters to:

 Zimbabwean Ambassador,

 His Excellency Mr Gabriel Mharadze Machinga

Zimbabwe House

429 Strand

London WC2R 0JR

Address him as ‘Your Excellency’.

 

 If you wish you can also send copies to WOZA.

 

2. Solidarity action.

Please use your ingenuity for this!

You could send a large card from the group – perhaps of red roses, a photograph of your group members, a photograph of a local scene where you live, a collage made by group members and/or member of the public if you have an event coming up…..

 

Suggested wording:

  • ‘In solidarity with your important human rights work’;

  • ‘The power of love will overcome the love of power’;

  • ‘We support you in your struggle for human rights in Zimbabwe’.

     

    Send your messages in English, Shona or Ndebele to:

    WOZA

    PO Box FM701

    Famona

    Bulawayo

    Zimbabwe

     

    Thank you.

 
Ephraim Tapa’s speech at the 21st February 2015 Demonstration PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 22 February 2015 14:37

Thank you organisers of this event – Makusha Mugabe, Rose Benton and all those who have made this day possible.

 

Finding the energy to regroup, unite and protest against the Mugabe dictatorship demonstrates that we are still on the highway to freedom, on course to liberate our motherland, still undefeated; never mind successive stolen elections and the dictator’s tyrannical ways.

 

The theme of today’s gathering says it all – Mugabe Must Go, and 2015 marks his last birthday in office. 35 years is way far too much, it’s unacceptable!

 

And because we are here, and we say NO! this gives us hope that Zimbabwe shall be free, once again, and in our life time – the rule of law, a human rights culture, freedom of choice and equality of opportunities shall surely abound in Zimbabwe.

 

But we have said Mugabe must go for so many years now and still there is no sign of him leaving. He has even roped in his wife Grace, to take over from him, and after Grace, Chatunga and then his children and then their children, a dynasty! That is why I totally embrace today’s theme; Mugabe must go now and 2015 is the deadline!

 

How much more suffering, indignity, displacements, dispossessions, contempt, murders, torture, disappearances, harassment, arbitrary arrests, electoral fraud, political violence, corruption, political patronage must we endure before we can rise up against Mugabe’s cruel and hateful politics, and reclaim our Zimbabwe and, with it, our futures?

 

Democratic forces at home have tried, but the system simply won’t allow them to succeed.

 

We have tried voting, election after election, winning all in the process; we have protested fraud and brutality, we have formed multiple parties; we have boycotted and threatened to boycott elections; we have petitioned the courts; we have even negotiated a political agreement and even ‘shared power – all to no avail.

 

Today, the democratic forces stand divided, bereft of viable alternatives and, in a number of ways, hooked up to the very system that, ironically, they seek to overthrow.

 

The internal programs have failed the people of Zimbabwe; it’s a betrayal of the worst order!

 

Let’s now accept that the time to come back to each other as diaspora is now; that the time for new strategies is now, the time to sing a new song! For Mugabe to go by our deadline, it will take those of us outside Mugabe’s reach/control to deliver a free Zimbabwe for all. Let’s now begin a new journey under the diaspora initiative!

 

We have said 2015 is Mugabe’s last birthday in office. This is a serious declaration that must be backed up with a series of actions, effective strategies and a unity of purpose among the Zimbabwe diaspora community

 

I call upon all genuinely concerned Zimbabweans to contribute to the current efforts in developing these strategies, join hands around ongoing campaigns such as the parliamentary lobby for Zimbabwe debate, working towards a declaration of principles defining the Zimbabwe Diaspora position on the many issues currently bedevilling Zimbabweans at home and abroad; developing a broader platform and program that truly represent the views and aspirations of those at home and abroad.

 

We need to develop a tentative programme of action that ensures Mugabe will not be in Office come 21 February 2016.

 

I invite you to the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil to continue with this conversation.

 
Letters to MPs re Parliamentary Debate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 15 February 2015 12:12

Dear Supporters

As mentioned in the last diary, the Vigil is asking people to send a letter to their MPs to seek their support for a debate on Zimbabwe in the House of Commons. We have taken on board suggestions and made small amendments to our proposed letter as below .To find your MP, click on http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/, type in your post code or constituency. This will take you to your MP and their contact details.

 

Dear MP

 

I am a Zimbabwean living in your constituency. I write to ask you to support a call for a parliamentary debate on Zimbabwe.

 

The idea of a debate was supported by former Africa Minister, Mark Simmonds, who kindly spoke to Zimbabweans at a recent meeting in Portcullis House (see Zimbabwe Vigil diary of 24th January 2015: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/650-progress--zimbabwe-vigil-diary-24th-january-2015). He said it had been some years since the House of Commons had last discussed Zimbabwe and it was time for another debate. He was backed in this by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, who had arranged the meeting at the request of Zimbabweans in his constituency. We were also happy to be addressed by Fiona Mactaggart, MP.

 

I am part of a network of Zimbabweans who are writing to their MPs to drum up support for the debate to be arranged.

 

I am sure you are aware of the dire situation in Zimbabwe, which was recently identified by the Wall Street Journal as the 4th worst economy in the world (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_w_zim-among-most-repressed-economies-the-zimbabwe-independent/). This partly explains our presence in your generous country.

 

In brief, all elections in Zimbabwe are rigged, there is no rule of law, corruption is rampant and the new constitution – largely paid for by the British taxpayer – is predictably ignored by the Mugabe Mafia. Yet Britain talks of ‘progress', ‘re-engagement’ and is lifting sanctions!

 

We want the debate to raise, for example, such questions as:

  1. What is the British Government’s policy on Zimbabwe? (This is unclear at present. Why is the British Government being so ingratiating to the Mugabe regime when all it does is spit in their face?)

  2. Why has the UK lifted targeted sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies when the object for imposing them has not been achieved? (Mark Simmonds spoke of ‘progress’: what progress?)

  3. By resuming direct aid to the Mugabe government the EU is further propping up an illegal regime, allowing it to offload onto donors its obligations to the Zimbabwean people in education, health services etc.

  4. What is the UK’s policy on sending back Zimbabweans? (It is still unsafe for political activists; there are few jobs and widespread poverty.)

 

Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West, who arranged a parliamentary meeting on Zimbabwe at the request of the ROHR Reading Branch, has offered the following letter.

 

…………………………………………………MP

House of Commons

Westminster

SW1A 0AA

 

Dear ………………………………………MP

I am writing to ask you to support a future debate on Zimbabwe in the House of Commons.

There has not been a full debate on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe since December 2010 and this is therefore well overdue.

Since that time, there have been Parliamentary elections held in Zimbabwe, (during which time there were wide reports of violence against members of the opposition). The British government has expressed serious concerns about voting irregularities during these elections, in particular the refusal of the Zimbabwean government to release the full electoral roll.

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has suggested that there should be a full Parliamentary debate on the issue of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and has agreed to approach the Backbench Business Committee to facilitate this.

I would be grateful if you could please let me know if you will:

  1. Support Alok Sharma in approaching the Backbench Business Committee to call for this debate

  2. Attend this debate and speak up on behalf of the Zimbabwean community in your constituency

Please do also contact Alok Sharma directly to let him know if you would be happy to support him in approaching the Backbench Business Committee.

Yours sincerely

<Name>

<Address and postcode>

 

If you have not already written we urge you to send one of these two letters or feel free to put the request in your own words. The important thing is to act quickly.

 
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