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Vigil Diary Archive Mar - May 2005 PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 March 2005 00:00
28 th May 2005

One of the most animated Vigils for ages. A lovely, sunny – though blustery – day; with Ephraim and Julius on the drums and Patson again leading the singing and dancing enhanced by Dumi’s flying dreadlocks. Well attended from beginning to end and abuzz with street gossip from Zimbabwe. The word is that the regime is now eating itself, destroying the informal economy and tearing down the homes of the people. Cathy Buckle in today’s diary (http://africantears.netfirms.com) informs us Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with children at their feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and vegetables to nursing staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were substantial and made of treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting overhead to protect them and their produce from the weather. Here you could buy bananas and apples, avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes and almost any fruit or vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away by Police. The feeling at the Vigil was one of deep foreboding. While we were safe, those at home were being deprived of the very basics of life: their homes and livelihood. During the week, the Vigil was pleased to host the MDC – UK’s Africa Day demonstration on 25 th May. The news release: Zimbabwean exiles demonstrated outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London on Wednesday to mark Africa Day.  They heard the Chair of the UK arm of the MDC, Washington Ali, and other speakers call for intervention by the UN to save Zimbabwe from becoming a failed state, with all the consequences that involves.  MDC supporters from as far away as Wales, Birmingham, Leicester, Hastings and Reading joined the protest, organised by MDC UK and supported by the Zimbabwe Vigil. An estimated 50 people attended and there was was great support from the public, some of whom said they were pleased to see us during the week as well as on Saturday. The Vigil is now turning its attention to our new protest – directed at the meeting in London on 4 th July of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Our message will be directed at South Africa for its failure to insist on good governance in Zimbabwe and for its appalling treatment of Zimbabwean refugees. We will keep you informed. FOR THE RECORD: 36 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Saturday, 4 th June, 2- 5.30 pm Open Forum on Zimbabwe at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG (nearest tube Russell Square). Speakers: Gabriel Shumba, Ahmed Motala, Gugulethu Moyo, Elinor Sisulu, Brian Raftopoulos, Wilf Mbanga. ALSO FOR YOUR DIARY: Africa Book Centre, 38 King Street, London WC2 invite you to an evening with Guardian correspondent, Andrew Meldrum, author a book on Zimbabwe: ‘Where we have Hope’. 6.30 – 8.30 pm. PLEASE BE ADVISED, THERE IS NO FORUM ON BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY, 30 TH MAY.  

22 nd May 2005

COME AND JOIN MDC-UK’S AFRICA DAY DEMONSTRATION, 25 TH MAY. They are calling on the United Nations to intervene in Zimbabwe to prevent catastrophe. The demonstration, to protest against the stolen parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe and to call to the international community to support intervention by the UN, is on 25 th May, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London from 1 pm – 5 pm. Africa Day is of great symbolic importance, marking the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) in 1963. It is observed throughout the continent. The demonstration is organised by the UK arm of the Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and aims to draw attention to the complicity of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in maintaining Mugabe in power by their endorsement of the rigged elections.

21 st May 2005

WELCOME BACK, DUMI! There was jubilation when Dumi arrived at the Vigil. He was held high while everyone danced, sang and cheered round him. Dumi was released on bail earlier in the week from Dover Removal Centre where he has been since mid-January. The Vigil has been campaigning for his release and our evidence and witness statements about his high level of activism prevented his return to Zimbabwe by putting his case on a new footing. Our petitions in support of Dumi went far afield – some were filled in and posted from Zimbabwe and Germany. Dumi was bowled over by the welcome we gave him. He said he was so grateful for our support and he would never forget his very good friends from the Vigil – he hadn’t known how many good friends he had. The news that Dumi was free, had brought many of his friends to the Vigil including a large contingent from Leicester. This meant Patson was with us and as always the quality of the drumming and singing went up several notches. He has a great gift for enthusing people – everyone joins in when Patson’s there. The joyous end to the Vigil followed a tempestuous start. Almost before we had put up our first banner, we were under attack from more Mugabe supporters – didn’t we realise we were puppets of the West? What blinkers do these Mugabe supporters wear that allow them to condone gross human rights abuse and chronic bad governance? The weather was no kinder – a blustery, showery day that nearly tore the tarpaulin from our hands as we struggled to put it up and sent our petitions flying. Our one-eyed Rastafarian was back, this time wearing an academic mortar board. He was quieter and more responsive today. Maybe he realises he doesn’t have all the answers. He even bought a copy of The Zimbabwean – a paper he condemned as propaganda last week. FOR THE RECORD: 30 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 23 rd May, 7.30 pm, Forum at the George, Fleet Street, London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Guest speaker is Andy Moyse, the project co-ordinator of Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe. He is the former editor of the Standard, the founder and editor of Horizon and also former editor of Parade. Andy will speak on the state of the media in Zimbabwe.

14 th May 2005

Morris dancers, a mad Caribbean boxer and a white conspiracy theorist – we had it all today. No quite all: the weather – like everything else – defied prediction and was supportive if not sunny. For much of the day we were subjected to an anti-western rant from a one-eyed Rastafarian with fear shaved into his scalp. It was the usual leave Africa alone business. As always, the overwhelming majority of the people at the Vigil were black – but they were dismissed as house boys not able to appreciate the inspired leadership of Comrade Mugabe. We tried to offer him evidence of Zimbabwean human rights violations, but everything was untrue. A broadly similar view was taken by a politics student from Bristol University who managed to produce powerful evidence of the decline of education in Britain: everything written on Zimbabwe in the West – including The Zimbabwean – was propaganda funded by M16. This propaganda took in lots of people who signed our petitions, including a group of 5 children who, having looked at our banners, insisted that their mothers stopped while they signed the petitions. But we were less successful with three well-rounded Zambians who – asked to sign the petitions – said It’s all lies. Oh well: at least the Morris men with their colourful costumes and traditional folk dancing provided light relief. They drop by every year and always sign our petitions. Thanks to those who made a long journey to the Vigil: Caroline from Devon and Siphewe from Stockton. Our long-distance supporters keep us going. Our singing and drumming – suppressed for the Morris dancers’ performance – took off after they left. FOR THE RECORD: 25 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 16 th May, 7.30 pm, Forum at the George, Fleet Street, London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). After the disappointment of another stolen election, what is the way forward for the diasporan activist? In answer, Human Rights Lawyer Julius Mutyambizi of Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum will give his view of the civic society's position and Miss Emily Madamombe of MDC Leicester Branch will discuss the options and concerns of the branch activist.

7 th May 2005

A quiet Vigil by recent standards but the sight of one gentleman bowing to us three times when we were singing Ishe Komberera / Nkosi Sikelele made us feel we were reaching out to responsive people. Not that he was the only one who cared: Good Luck is the usual comment. We find that us just being there outside the embassy after two and a half years pleases many people, not least those who come and join the Vigil. It is always a bit of an adventure. This time we had sudden showers and blustery winds (and few hands) when we were trying to set up: billowing green tarpaulin flying out of our grasp while banners and posters flapped wildly. Then, miraculously, all was quiet and the sun came out and the singing and drumming began. One resolution: Evelyn is going to give a master class on all the versions of the national anthem. Great to have three of Ephraim’s sons on the drums and Roz from Salisbury again but sorry not to have Dumi. His application for bail was turned down and he is still in Dover Removal Centre pending a judicial review of the decision to deport him. He’s been in detention since January and says he has kept himself busy writing more protest songs. We are glad to say that the Zimbabwean newspaper has decided to support the Vigil campaign to allow him to stay in the UK . His high profile activism for the Vigil and the MDC could easily make him a target if he was sent back. FOR THE RECORD: 20 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 9 th May, 7.30 pm , Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Gerry Jackson, the founder and station manager of Short Wave Radio Africa will be speaking to us on the subject of Press Freedom. Gerry and her team at Short Wave Radio Africa (www.swradioafrica.com) have just been awarded the 'Free Media Pioneer 2005' Award by the International Press Institute.

30 th April 2005

A call for Zimbabwean exiles to rise up and reclaim their homeland was trumpeted from today’s crowded Vigil. Reaching out to the diaspora, the Vigil joined forces with other groups to express determination to step up the struggle – despite the stolen elections. This is our time, said Ephraim Tapa, Chair of the Central London Branch. For his part, the UK Chair of the MDC, Washington Ali, appealed to all – regardless of ethnic group – to join what he called the new liberation struggle. He said the battle would have to be waged from abroad. We are fighting a dictator and you have never seen a dictator lose an election. Among other speakers was Julius Mutyambizi of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, who urged the diaspora to think of themselves as exiles rather than refugees. We will return, he said, but freedom in Africa has always been brought by blood. Thanks to Angie and Alex who arranged brilliant new t-shirts for the Vigil which made us look a really unified group. They also managed a special table to promote The Zimbabwean. Thanks also to Roz for prompting this demonstration one month after the stolen elections and her hard work in spreading the word. On a lovely, sunny day, with drums echoing through the streets and alleys, more than a hundred people from all over the country joined us. Among them were representatives of many Zimbabwean organisations, such as Phillip of WeZimbabwe, who expressed a new enthusiasm to share ideas to achieve change in Zimbabwe . Many passers-by signed our new petition No shaking hands with Mugabe. NB: No Forum on Bank Holiday Monday, 2 nd May. We meet as usual on 9 th May.

23 rd April 2005

ZIMBABWE VIGIL – STOLEN ELECTIONS DEMONSTRATION – 30 TH APRIL. The outcome of the parliamentary elections have left Zimbabweans in a state of shock and confusion. We, in the diaspora, need to act to help those back home. We are demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand , London (nearest stations: Charing Cross and Embankment) from 1400 – 1800 on Saturday to protest against the stolen elections and to launch a campaign for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to work together to take a more active role in helping our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe . We are running a new petition:  NO SHAKING HANDS WITH MUGABE - The latest elections in Zimbabwe were once again stolen by the Mugabe regime with the connivance of its neighbours. Retaliation is now being meted out to people who supported the opposition. We urge the British government to end Mugabe’s reign of terror and halt his drive for legitimacy: 1) bring the matter to the UN Security Council, 2) make it a priority during term as President of the EU and G8 (group of leading industrial nations), 3) put pressure on South Africa to allow democracy in Zimbabwe, 4) extend targeted sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies. Remember Zimbabwe has the highest child death rate in the world according to the latest UNICEF report in March. PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US.

23 rd April 2005

The Vigil was cheered by the last-minute rescue of one of our supporters, Tafara, who escaped being deported on Tuesday. A group of us – galvanised by a good friend of Zimbabwe , the Rev Dr Martine Stemerick – persuaded a brave Kenyan Airways flight attendant to refuse to co-operate with sending him back to Zimbabwe . For her pains, Martine was banned from Heathrow for 24 hours! A small price to pay as she wasn’t planning to go anywhere. But our grateful thanks to the Kenyan lady. We were proud to have a report on the incident on the news boards prepared by Mike and Wiz to keep passers-by up-to-date on the situation in Zimbabwe . More good news on their boards was the demotion of the Zimbabwe Ambassador to the UK , Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, to the post of Foreign Minister in the new enlarged Mugabe cabinet. This fat ox is now in a position to do even more damage to the Mugabe cause. We hope to be as much of a thorn in the flesh to his successor to the London sinecure. We can inform him in advance that he can’t do anything about the Vigil. Mr Mumbengegwi called in the local police to complain about us and they had to patiently explain that as we lived in a democracy we had every right to peaceful protest and there was no action they could take. Not that the Embassy has given up attempts to subvert us: one of our supporters today reported how he had been threatened by the CIO at our pre-election overnight Vigil. He also said that sons of the Zanu-PF bigwig, Patrick Chinamasa, along with other thugs, had visited one of supporters at his home and warned him against supporting the Vigil. We are collecting evidence to present to the police to support a complaint made by us to the government some time ago about the activities of the CIO in the UK and the presence in this country of so many Zanu-PF people, including close family members, of the Zimbabwe regime. Thanks particularly to Enock for his helpful support on a day when we miraculously escaped the threatened rain. At the sight of our green tarpaulin being erected the clouds immediately gave up. Among the many interested and supportive passers-by was a Ugandan – who was delighted that we had Ugandan friends in common. FOR THE RECORD: 13 people signed the attendance register today – we are expecting a much bigger crowd next Saturday at our demo against the stolen elections. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 15 th April, 7.30 pm , Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Tapiwa Mashakada, MP, MDC Shadow Minister of Finance will be speaking.

16 th April 2005

Today we marked the 25 th anniversary of Zimbabwean Independence draped with black cloth to symbolise the death of democracy in Zimbabwe . Although we had figured on a wake with people wearing black armbands, we could not repress the dynamic feeling for change and optimism which swept the Vigil. The feeling was that we’ve gone through so much that we have no alternative but to work even harder for change. Thanks to Angie and Alex for bringing the black material to festoon our 4 maples – and a great joy to meet their 3 year old son, Callum, who, after running around at the Vigil all day, will no doubt sleep very well tonight. Also a welcome to Roz and many thanks to her for all her hard work in promoting our forthcoming demonstration on 30 th April. The theme is Stolen Elections and we are hoping for a big crowd. Geoff Hill, who has a new book on Zimbabwe coming out shortly, dropped by to express his support and he will be speaking at the Forum on Monday night. Having Patson with us is always invigorating and with Ephraim on the drums, they are an unbeatable combination. Mike contributed another brilliant cartoon: a tombstone over 25 years of Zimbabwean independence. We introduced a new petition today at the request of our firm supporters, targeting the British government under no circumstances to legitimise the new regime in Zimbabwe :  NO SHAKING HANDS WITH MUGABE - The latest elections in Zimbabwe were once again stolen by the Mugabe regime with the connivance of its neighbours. Retaliation is now being meted out to people who supported the opposition. We urge the British government to end Mugabe’s reign of terror and halt his drive for legitimacy: 1) bring the matter to the UN Security Council, 2) make it a priority during term as President of the EU and G8 (group of leading industrial nations), 3) put pressure on South Africa to allow democracy in Zimbabwe, 4) extend targeted sanctions against Mugabe’s cronies. FOR THE RECORD: 42 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 18 th April, 7.30 pm , Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Jenni Williams, co-ordinator of WOZA will be giving us up to the minute news from Zimbabwe and about the recent WOZA action. Sharing the platform will be Geoff Hill, Author of  Battle for Zimbabwe  and Southern African correspondent for the Washington Times. He will be giving us an update of what is happening in South Africa post election.

9 th April 2005

A cold Spring day – perhaps reflecting developments in Zimbabwe . A picture of Prince Charles shaking hands with Mugabe at the Pope’s funeral took pride of place on the Vigil table. Poor fellow (Prince Charles, that is) obviously couldn’t tell one black man from another . . . . Our caption read They all look the same to me. Well, we are not the same and that is what the Vigil is about: trying to educate the British government (the public is already on board) that they can’t continue their own insipid version of South Africa ’s quiet diplomacy. Mugabe making a mockery of EU sanctions can only underline the point. Thanks to Jubeada and Amina for their help in opening up and also to Sarah who came from Bristol to help with the drumming, which helped to create a dynamic atmosphere which drew lots of attention. We were glad to welcome friends from WeZimbabwe, a charitable organisation for Zimbabweans, promoting a concert at 7.15 pm on Tuesday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall which will showcase contemporary Zimbabwean performing arts. Come if you can and be lifted by the fire of Zimbabwean music and dance. Following the elections, the Vigil has been approached by a lot of Zimbabweans in the UK wanting to become more active. Plans are underway for a demonstration outside the Embassy on 30 th April to protest against the stolen elections and to launch a campaign for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to work together to take a more active role in helping our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe . Before that, we will mark Zimbabwe ’s 25 th anniversary of independence (April 18 th)

by having a wake at our Vigil next week - draping our 4 maples with black ribbons and wearing black armbands to symbolise the death of democracy in Zimbabwe . FOR THE RECORD: 25 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 11 th April, 7.30 pm , Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Dr Ingrid Landman, Chair of the Zimbabwe HIV Commission Society will speak on how bad is the HIV pandemic in Zimbabwe and what can we do. LOOKING FORWARD: Forum on Monday, 18 th April – Jenni Williams, co-ordinator of WOZA will be giving us up to the minute news from Zimbabwe and about the recent WOZA action. Sharing the platform will be Geoff Hill, Author of  Battle for Zimbabwe  and Southern African correspondent for the Washington Times. He will be giving us an update of what is happening in South Africa post election.

2 nd April 2005

The Vigil began in a somewhat subdued spirit – though anyone who read our report on polling day could not have had any illusions about the outcome of the elections. Nevertheless the brazen cheating and the bitter disappointment of MDC supporters on the ground in Zimbabwe hardly contributed to a cheerful mood. Everyone had a tale to tell about vote rigging in constituencies they knew about. But a Nigerian man helped lift our spirits with an impassioned appeal: Africans must help themselves. The brilliant sunshine and other supportive passers-by cheered us all up and by the close, with the drumming, singing and dancing, the old magic was there and we left determined to keep going until there really are free and fair elections. No one believes that day won’t come sooner rather than later. As someone pointed out, the Zimbabwean people will find that Mugabe’s anti-Blair propaganda will not fill their stomachs. FOR THE RECORD: 27 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 4 th April, two meetings on the implications of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary elections. 6.30 pm in the Council Chamber in Congress House, Great Russell Street – Action for Southern Africa and Amicus, with support from the TUC,are holding a meeting to discuss the outcomes and implications for the future following the Zimbabwean Parliamentary elections that took place on 31 st March. Keynote Speaker: Mr George Kawenda, President of the Zimbabwe Banking and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU), and member of the general council of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you wish to attend. 7.30 pm , Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). Mr Albert Musarurwa chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum will also speak on the way forward. Vigil and Forum supporters plan to move from one meeting to the other.

31 st March 2005

Overwhelming support for the MDC. That was the result of the parliamentary elections – at least at the one polling station where a free and fair internationally-monitored ballot took place, namely the mock election outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London . Scores of exiled Zimbabweans cast their symbolic vote in London and 94.2% of them backed the MDC. (For the record, 2.7% voted for independents, 1.3% for ZANU and only 0.9% for ZANU-PF; the other 0.9% were spoilt ballots.) The mock polling station was manned from 6 am to 6 pm (BST), mirroring the voting time of 7am to 7 pm in Zimbabwe, and drew hundreds of passers-by to sign the Zimbabwe Vigil’s petition calling for genuine elections in Zimbabwe, including voting for half the electorate now in exile. Many people showed great interest in the situation in Zimbabwe . Among people dropping by – in fact he spent quite some time with us – was Professor Terence Ranger, the distinguished historian, who has taught at the University of Zimbabwe . He was upstaged only by a Town Crier in full eighteenth century regalia. The media showed keen interest, not only in the mock voting but also in the overnight Vigil from 8 pm the previous day to express support for a similar protest at Beit Bridge by the Congress of South African Trades Union (COSATU). A stalwart group kept the Vigil alive throughout the night, drumming and singing, and even in the heart of darkness turnout never dropped below 16. Many – sleepy and exhausted – kept up their support during polling day – a total of 22 hours! Even then it was not over for several of them: they were needed in television and radio studios to explain why the world should not give up on Zimbabwe . (We were able to fill all requests from the media: one station wanted Zimbabwean exiles under 24 and another wanted Asian Zimbabweans!)

26 th March 2005

The start of a momentous week for Zimbabwe and a busy one for the Vigil. Today we hosted an MDC Rally organised by the UK District Chair, Washington Ali. It was addressed by the Liberal Democrat spokesman for International Development, Tom Brake – so we have now been supported by senior MPs from all three main political parties in the UK . Another speaker was the Chairman of Partners for Zimbabwe , Charles Nhova, who outlined the steps necessary to return Zimbabwe to normality. Several UK MDC branch chairs and members of the MDC’s UK national executive attended (including their delightful children – we had to close the barriers to stop the toddlers being squashed by the traffic). Great to have our friends from Leicester down, including the Vigil baby, Tinotenda, and one supporter came from as far away as Austria . The singing thrilled the people passing by and was only subdued by a sudden shower shortly before our scheduled end at 18.00. We were buoyed up by the warm support we received from the public – who have been well-informed about the situation by the British media recently. The Vigil’s next project is an all-night Vigil on Wednesday, 30 th March, from 8 pm until polling opens in Zimbabwe – 6 am , British Summer Time. This is to express our support for South Africa ’s trade union federation, COSATU, which is staging protests on the eve of the Zimbabwe elections. On election day, Thursday, 31 st March, we will be set up as a mock polling station during voting hours, 6 am to 6 pm BST to mirror the voting hours in Zimbabwe . We will have transparent ballot boxes with mock ballot papers. But ours will not be filled in, in advance, by the army. The Vigil wants to draw attention to the failure of the Mugabe regime to allow free and fair elections and the disenfranchisement of half the electorate who have fled the country. ZIMBABWEANS COME AND VOTE. The votes will be handed in to the Embassy on Friday, 1 st April – appropriately April Fools’ Day. Our attempt to view the voters’ roll resulted in the Embassy being closed down for the afternoon – workmen, tourists and couriers were turned away in the Embassy’s panic at meeting real Zimbabweans. Perhaps we’ll close them down again. . FOR THE RECORD: 55 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 28 th March at 7.30, Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). We will be putting the finishing touches to our mock ballot and all-night vigil plans.

19 th March 2005

Spring at last. A gloomy winter suddenly gave way to brilliant sunshine which had our supporters peeling off their outer layers. But the Vigil was overshadowed by a big demo in Trafalgar Square against Western intervention in Iraq . We were disappointed that so few of the partying demonstrators paid much attention to the Vigil for Zimbabwe despite a recent statement by Unicef that Zimbabwe has the highest child death rate in the world. The situation in Zimbabwe is getting lots of coverage in the media but there is a complete absence of any ideas on how the world should react. As the Vigil ended, the Zimbabwean Ambassador, Simbarashe S Mumbengegwi, was speaking at a public meeting nearby organised by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). One of the Trafalgar Square people dropped off leaflets with us on his way to the meeting. It read With the Zimbabwean elections just around the corner, imperialism is once against stepping up its propaganda efforts against the Zimbabwean State . . . . .Their dearest wish is to oust Zanu-PF and replace it with an administration that will willingly submit to the unlimited plunder of Zimbabwe ’s resources by the multi-nationals. No doubt imperialism is to blame for the child death rate in Zimbabwe . The Vigil is doing all it can to put the real situation in Zimbabwe before the British public. Next Saturday there is to be a rally at the Vigil organised by MDC UK District Chair, Washington Ali, aimed at raising awareness ahead of the Zimbabwean Parliamentary elections on 31 st March. We are also staging an all night vigil outside the Zimbabwean Embassy on Wednesday, 30 th March, starting at 8pm to coincide with COSATU’s vigil at the Beitbridge border post.  On election day itself we will be outside the Embassy from 5 am to 5pm holding a mock ballot. These times mirror polling in Zimbabwe . We will have mock transparent ballot boxes, mock ballot papers and mock polling officers. The mock ballot has been planned to make the point that hundreds of thousands of exiled Zimbabweans in the UK are unable to exercise their democratic right to vote in the Zimbabwe elections. ZIMBABWEANS IN THE UK , COME AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. FOR THE RECORD: 31 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 21 st March at 7.30, Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). The forum has invited two activists who contested the Parliamentary Election 2000 on the opposition ticket: Elliot Pfebve, MDC and Dr Magonya, Zapu.

12 th March 2005

Rousing Vigil despite a chilly wind – though for the first time in ages we didn’t have to put up our tarpaulin. Spring is certainly on the way – hopefully in Zimbabwean politics as well. The galvanising presence of Patson from Leicester never fails to lift spirits – when he’s not drumming and singing he is still at the centre of things, motivating and helping others. Also glad to have Addley back and to see Siphewe from Stockton and Njabulo from Hastings . Mike and Wiz’s notice boards with the latest news from Zimbabwe and Mike’s pointed Mbeki cartoon drew loads of attention. Too late to go on the notice board but encouraging to everyone (from a publicity point of view) was a two page spread on Zimbabwe in The Times today. The British public is certainly getting the message and is really on board judging from its readiness to sign our petitions and the intelligent questions we are asked. We get fewer and fewer loonies. The worst we get nowadays is older gents saying with resignation that we will never get rid of Mugabe . . . . Has he discovered the secret of eternal life? It’s always good to have people from other African countries signing our petitions so we were lifted by an imposing gentleman from Cameroon who was very encouraging and signed our petitions. Talking about petitions, the Vigil was busy this week handing over the petition we have been running for the past several months urging international action to try to ensure that the elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair. The original petition signed by more than 10,000 people passing by the Vigil was handed over yesterday at the London High Commission of Mauritius, the current chair of the Southern African Development Community. A Vigil delegation had a cordial meeting with the High Commissioner and his Deputy and we expressed our fears that the SADC election protocol was being flouted in Zimbabwe . They promised to pass our views on. On Wednesday, the House of Lords had a debate on Zimbabwe , which was described as a ‘failed state’. The debate was led by Baroness Park , who has taken a close interest in Zimbabwe , and who was given a copy of our petition, to which she referred in her speech. All the speakers in the two and a half hour debate showed that they were well-informed about the situation and deeply troubled. Copies of the petition have been sent to all the other SADC countries and other international organisations. Our next project is to organise a dummy ballot for election day outside Zimbabwe House. Apart from anything else, we want to draw attention to the refusal of the Mugabe regime to allow a vote to the estimated 3 million Zimbabweans who have fled the country. They must comprise more than a third of the electorate? Plans for the dummy vote are to be discussed at the Forum on Monday. See below for details. FOR THE RECORD: people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 14 th March at 7.30, Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice).

5 th March 2005

It’s been snowing on and off for the past couple of weeks and we were hoping that today’s Vigil would provide a colourful picture of exiled Zimbabweans shaking knee-deep in snow. Alas it was not to be. No snow but plenty of shaking thanks to the energetic dancing of Moses and the exuberant drumming of Mike and Ephraim helped by Ephaim’s uncle, brother and son. We were honoured to have the MDC Election Director, Remus Makuwaza with us again on his last day before leaving the cold of the UK for the heat of the Zimbabwe elections, in which he is contesting Makoni West. We were also pleased to be joined by other visitors from as far afield as Leceister and Yorkshire and by John Nyamande of MDC Grays Branch in Essex . Andi Osho, from Full Frontal Theatre, also spent the afternoon with us. Her group is mounting a production in London about Zimbabwe . She interviewed some of the people at the Vigil about their experiences at the hands of the Mugabe regime. The Vigil is finalising plans to present a petition calling on the international community to ensure that the Zimbabwe elections are free and fair. The petition is to be handed in to the High Commission of Mauritius with the following letter.  We respectfully submit a petition about the Parliamentary Elections to be held in Zimbabwe on 31 st March. The petition was signed by more than 10,000 people at the Zimbabwe Vigil, which is held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday in support of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe . We are submitting the petition to you as Chair of the Southern African Development Community and therefore as overseer of the electiason protocol agreed by SADC last year, to which Zimbabwe was a signatory. It is clear already that Zimbabwe has flouted the guidelines laid down for free and fair elections, not least by its delay in inviting SADC representatives to visit Zimbabwe . We attach an overview of how the Zimbabwe Government has failed to live up to its obligations and urge SADC to do everything it can, even at this late stage, to try to make the elections as free and fair as possible. Copies are also to be sent to other SADC countries and international organisations. The Forum on Monday night will be finalising arrangements. See below for details. FOR THE RECORD: 32 people signed the attendance register today. FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 7 th March at 7.30, Forum at the George, Fleet Street , London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice).
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