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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.

 
‘Robert Mugabe’s last birthday in office’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 15 February 2015 12:08

Statement from Wilbert Mukori 11/02/2015

We, the undersigned, have gathered together on this day 21st February 2015, President Mugabe’s 91st birthday, not to wish him happy birthday but to add our voices to those demanding that he and his Zanu PF must step down now to allow for a peaceful end to the economic and political crisis, 35 years of his corrupt and tyrannical rule has caused. President Mugabe is a failed leader and he must now go.

 

No one can deny that the national economy is in ruins because the facts on the ground speak for themselves. Unemployment is 90% plus, 2 million are now living in abject poverty, the regime is now forcing soldiers to go on one month leave every other month to save on food bills, etc. This situation is unsustainable and is getting worse and not better.

 

The regime's ZimAsset recovery plan has failed to raise the $27 billion it requires. The two cheques from the Chinese ($4 billion) and Russians ($3 billion) in the ZimAsset begging bowl are for projects and not budgetary support which is what the regime was after and worse still they are both post-dated. Whilst the two nations were very quick off the mark in joining in the looting of Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds, one of the concessions demanded in return for the cheques, they have been dragging their feet in starting the projects.

 

The economic recovery and 2.2 million new jobs that ZimAsset was supposed to bring will never ever happen. As long as Zanu PF remains in power the Zimbabwe economy will never recover.

 

Zimbabwe’s economic failure has create a health time-bomb; the failure to supply clean running water means hundreds of thousands are at risk from water borne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera. The second time-bomb the nation is sitting on is a social one: the fact that, with a 90% plus unemployment rate, the country has still not seen masses coming out in the street to protest is a marvel but the regime would be unwise to test providence.

 

The Kariba Dam wall has not burst but that is no excuse to do nothing about the cracking walls and to fill it beyond its designed maximum capacity. If it should burst, the wall of water, uprooted trees and rocks twenty metres high and three kilometres wide will sweep all before it. We should not wait until there are street protests and rioting in our cities and town to do something about the country’s economic meltdown because the rioting may unleash chaos and destruction no one can control.

 

We are gathered here on President Mugabe’s 91 birthday, to send the following messages to these people:

  1. To President Mugabe: we are not here to wish you happy birthday but to remind you that you have failed and it is time to go. You have the choice of peaceful evolutionary change in which the country is allowed to implement all the democrat reforms followed by free, fair and credible elections. Or if you hang on to power like a binnacle to a rock you can rest assured that violent revolutionary change will sweep you aside just as it has done many other tyrants before you.

  2. To Zanu PF ruling elite: any economic system that forces 90% of the population into poverty is economically, socially and politically unsustainable. Regime change, unwelcome as it is to your ears, is now a national necessity and all those still trying to resist change are whistling in the graveyard.

  3. To Zimbabwe’s SADC neighbours: Zimbabwe’s rigged 2013 elections was a fudge, they did not end Zimbabwe’s political crisis and now it is more complex than ever. Still SADC must once again play its part to achieve a peaceful evolutionary change as opposed to the violent route President Mugabe is pushing the nation into. When your neighbour’s house is on fire it is wise to help put out the fire because a burning ember carried by the wind could set your home alight too.

  4. To ordinary Zimbabweans; it is in our interest to seek a peaceful end to this Zanu PF dictatorship and the only way to achieve that is by using all the available avenues to demand that Zanu PF step down now to allow the implementation of ALL the democratic reforms way followed by free, fair and credible elections. There is no such thing as peaceful demonstrations in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; he will deploy the Riot Police with strict orders to shoot to kill to meet the demonstrators. Once provoked the crowd will very quickly turn into a rioting mob!

People must understand that doing nothing is no longer an option; it is doing nothing that has led the nation into this mess and doing nothing will leave only one way out – a violent revolutionary route.

  1. To the UN and the international community: whilst we readily admit that Zimbabwe wasted its best chance to bring about peaceful democratic change by implementing the reforms during the 2008 to 2013 GNU, we have since learnt our lesson and now seek all your assistance to end this nightmare. Given Zimbabwe’s political dynamics it will need the UN or some other such body to mediating role SADC played last time to force President Mugabe and Zanu PF to step down and allow the implementation of all the democratic reforms agreed to in 2008.

 

We are asking the international community to erect a fence at the top of the cliff to stop Zimbabwe becoming another Libya or Syria where the community is now busy running an ambulance service gathering broken bodies and broken lives at the bottom of the cliff.

 

List of the organisations and individuals who support and endorse the statement: Zimbabwe Vigil, MDC-T UK, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe African People’s Union UK (ZAPU-UK), Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS UK), Zimbabwe Yes We Can, Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE), Zimbabwe Social Democrats and the Swaziland Vigil.

 

Protest Details

Time and Date: 2 – 6 pm on 21st February 2015

Venue: outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR

 

 
Mugwenhi (Of OAUS) brutally assaulted and dumped PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 February 2015 14:26

Occupy Africa Unity Square (OAUS) member Jerimos Mugwenhi, who went missing earlier on, has been released after a session of brutal assault by security agents, right at Zimbabwe Parliament, and in blatant violent of his constitutionally guaranteed rights. 

 

Mugwenhi has said that 'They were about seven and took turns to assault me, using fists, claps as well as sjamboks, all over the body. They were forcing me to reveal details about OAUS, our leader Itai Dzamara and who is funding us.' 

 

After the assailants spent close to an hour beating Mugwenhi, they then took him to Harare Central Police Station where he was briefly interrogated and had his details taken, before being ordered to leave. 

 

No charges were laid against him.

 

Mugwenhi was grabbed, mafia-style, by a group of state agents during an OAUS whistling protest after the House had adjourned today's session.

 

Dzamara has said: 'If Robert Mugabe really thinks that he can salvage his legacy through such barbarism and stone-age abuse of human rights, then he is a huge shame and embarrassment. How does a whole chair of the region preside over such wanton abuse of rights? We are staging peaceful demonstrations and have been daring the state to arrest and charge us if we are breaking any law. This propensity to violence and brutality has blighted Mugabe's long tenure in office and, apparently, brought a lot of trouble onto the entire nation. We cannot tolerate this any longer.'

 

Tendai Kwari, OAUS UK

 
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