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Vigil Diary Archive Jan - Mar 2007 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 01 January 2007 00:00
31 st March 2005

Disappointed is too mild a description of the feeling at the Vigil following the SADC meeting on Zimbabwe . Supporters were outraged at what was seen as cowardly betrayal by our neighbours. It was agreed we would immediately run a new petition: “We record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial. We urge the UK government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region.” Of course, we do not want to hurt our brothers and sisters in Southern Africa but we must drive home to their hypocritical governments their obligation to observe the commitment to good governance they have all signed up to. We do all we can to encourage humanitarian aid but it is difficult to explain to the British taxpayer why he should pay Malawi to employ guards to stop people defacing signs on the new highway Malawi has named after Robert Mugabe.

Today's Vigil was in solidarity with the suffering back home. We watch with great anxiety and helplessness as brave people suffer on our behalf. The perpetrators of violence will not get away with it. The Vigil has a new poster – “Roll of Shame” on which we list information on these monsters with their background and crimes committed. This will be added to as information comes to light. The Vigil is pressing for the creation of a special rapporteur funded by the European Union to record human rights abuses. We were all amused that Zanu-PF is to put forward Mugabe for another term. It will confirm to the outside world that the country is run by clowns.

Our supporters in Free- Zim Youth claimed another scalp this week when they confronted Angola 's Ambassador to the UK in his own Embassy. They wanted to establish the truth of reports that Angola has agreed to send 3,000 of its para-military forces to Zimbabwe to shore up Mugabe's tottering regime. The good news is that the Ambassador denied this. The bad news is that the Vigil is getting reports from Zimbabwe that some of the perpetrators of violence do not appear to be Zimbabweans as they can't speak either Shona or Ndebele.

We had an interesting visitor today, Brian Haw, who has been staging a non-stop demonstration for six years in Parliament Square over Iraq . He briefly left his patch to visit a fellow activist being held in our local police station. He joined in the singing and dancing and expressed sympathy for our cause.

After four and a half years we at the Vigil are used to the bizarre. Vigil co-ordinator Dumi said that when he had to report to the Home Office with his baby son, Zizi, the baby was issued with ID that stated he was not allowed to work. Dumi was planning to send him cleaning up chimneys as soon as he could crawl. Dumi is to feature in a video show in Paris in June. “ Here I Am Still Strong!” a video interview with Dumi was made in 2005 by artist/film-maker Melissa Bliss on a mobile phone. It has been chosen for the Pocket Films Festival at the Pompidou Centre. The Festival is keen to hear about the situation in Zimbabwe and how mobile phones are useful. Melissa would like to hear any information about how mobile phones are used, for example, to collect evidence or to record news. You can contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We are getting so many requests for interviews etc from university students and researchers that we have had to appoint a special team to look after them. It is encouraging to find such interest and sympathy.

With the peculiar ritual of changing the clocks for British summer time it was good to end the Vigil in daylight. We welcomed several new supporters including a singing stuffed Rasta lion dressed in Zimbabwean colours which our friend Caroline from Devon brought as a mascot. He sings “Don't worry, be Happy” when you squeeze his paw. We were surprised to find after the Vigil a beautifully made new banner “ANC loves Mugabe. South Africa props up Dictator”. It had not been unwrapped for the Vigil and we would love to know who made it. We will use it on Wednesday at the demonstration outside the Embassy in support of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. See below for details.

The Belfast Vigil reports “Our first vigil got off to a great star t.  We had about a dozen Zimbabweans, lots of singing and dancing, banners and placards. We were given chocolates by a passer-by and offered free coffee at a local coffee shop by a sympathiser. We ran out of leaflets and had to print off more. As you say there is more awareness recently and people are sympathetic.  We should have had a register also but asked anyone interested in updates or in helping out to email us. We are reconsidering the venue - although the City Hall is iconic it does not reach a lot of passers-by.” They sent us a photo which we have put on our photo site. We have already passed to them a request for an interview from the Irish press. Their next Vigil is on Wednesday 18th April, 2 – 5 pm (to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day). Venue to be advised.

FOR THE RECORD: 98 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 2 nd April, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. The speaker is Viomak the Zimbabwean protest singer who launched her new CD entitled "Happy 83rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)" at the Vigil on 24 th February. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub).

•  Tuesday, 3rd April, 7.30 pm - Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ - Zimbabwe in Meltdown - to be discussed by a panel consisting of Lord Triesman, Mi nister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wilf Mbanga , Founder, Publisher and Editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, Gugu Moyo, Zimbabwean lawyer of the International Bar Association and Bill Saidi, D eputy Editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe – via phone link. Tickets £7 available online at www.frontlineclub.com .

•  Wednesday, 4 th April, 12 – 2 pm – join ACTSA and the Trades Union Congress for a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for 3 rd and 4 th April.

•  Wednesday, 18 th April, 2 – 5 pm – the second Belfast Vigil (to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day). Venue to be advised.

•  Saturday, 28 th April, 11 am – 3 pm . The Bristol Vigil meets under the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

 

29 th March 2007

ACTION FOR ARMCHAIR ACTIVISTS

Recent events have focused the world's attention on Zimbabwe .  Even if you unable to join in street protests, there is lots of action you can take to keep up the pressure for change.

  ZANU-PF OFFICIALS KIDS LIVING IN THE LAND OF 'IMPERIALISTS'

The news website: zimdaily.com has set up a forum for naming the children of Mugabe cronies at expensive schools and universities in the UK , USA and Australia .  If you can add any names, particularly for the UK , please use this link: http://www.zimdaily.com/news/117/ARTICLE/1464/2007-03-27.html .  Zimdaily will be forwarding the names to the relevant authorities.

  ZIMBABWE PETITION ON DOWNING STREET WEBSITE

Ordinary people can post petitions on this website.  This one calls for the British Prime Minister to intervene in Zimbabwe - weblink: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Mugabe

  STRIP MUGABE OF HIS HONORARY DEGREE FROM EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY

The newspaper Scotland on Sunday is calling for this, to add your name, use this link: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1559&id=460822007

  SEND A MESSAGE TO THE ZIMBABWEAN EMBASSY, LONDON

ACTSA has posted a message decrying the violent treatment of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which you can email to the Embassy, via this link: ttp://www.actsa.org/Pages/Page.php?pID=1164&title=Stand%20in%20solidarity .  For those who can make it, please support their demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London from 12 - 2 pm on Wednesday, 4th April 2007 .  They are standing in solidarity with the ZCTU when they hold a two day general strike on 3rd and 4th April.

  TAKE ACTION: STOP HARASSMENT OF ACTIVISTS IN ZIMBABWE

Amnesty International asks you to send an appeal to the President of the African Union and the Chair of the South African Development Community to call on the government of Zimbabwe to end human rights violations in Zimbabwe - they provide a letter to copy via link: http://web.amnesty.org/pages/zwe-220307-action-eng . This is particularly important in view of the disappointing outcome of today's ( 29/3/07 ) meeting of Southern African leaders in Tanzania .

 

24 th March 2007

It was a relief to find Zimbabwe House still intact when we arrived at the Vigil. Although it is now reportedly owned by the Libyan government, we have grown rather fond of the place since the Vigil star ted four and a half years ago. And we know what a difficult week it has had. On Wednesday a dozen or so Zimbabweans staged a sit-in: staff fled in panic though the demonstrators only wanted to present a petition to the Ambassador. When they refused to leave they were arrested but thankfully were released at the end of the day without charge. At the same time a demonstration was held by our supporters Free-Zim Youth outside the nearby South African High Commission demanding an end to Mbeki's support of Mugabe. We have not been impressed by the comments this week of the South African High Commissioner, Lindiwe Mabuza, that South Africa is not guilty of inaction. No doubt a noisy supporter of the Anti-Apartheid Movement herself, she said “Noisy posturing has not and will not work”. We will make it work.

Zimbabweans in the UK have decided enough is enough. Everyone is appalled at the reports of torture and random brutality and are taking matters into their own hands. The MDC in the UK are summoning supporters to North Terrace, Trafalgar Square , at 10 am on Wednesday for a protest. Details will be given at the time. On Thursday, Free-Zim Youth are to lobby the Angolan embassy following (unconfirmed) reports that it is to send paramilitary police to beef up Mugabe's security forces (meet Baker Street tube station at 14.00). The following Wednesday, 4 th April, from 12 – 2 pm ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-apartheid Movement) with the support of the British Trades Union Congress are to stage a demonstration outside the embassy in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for 3 rd and 4 th April.

The Zimbabwe situation continues to get wide media coverage in the UK and this was reflected in the support the Vigil received from passersby. It is heartening to see how many people have taken our cause to their hearts, though our faithful East European returned again to say how much he supports Mugabe! If we weren't tolerant Zimbabweans he would have been lynched by now. It was a good omen that on the first day of the Belfast Vigil we had supporters from Ireland joining us in London .

Vigil supporters will be sorry to hear that Jenatry (Chihota) has been hurt in a car accident. He has always been an inspiration with his dancing and singing and we pray for his speedy recovery.

Next week, by general consensus, we are going to pull out all stops at the Vigil in support of the brave activists at home facing such appalling dangers. We know from phone contacts as well as news reports that many people are being sought out from their homes and beaten up for their political beliefs. This is what we hope to bring out more clearly to the British public – the deliberate attempt to crush any dissent.

It's ironic that when the newspaper the Zimbabwean is doing so well in Zimbabwe the Vigil is having problems with the UK distribution system. The paper has become such a valuable resource. This is what the publishers report “We managed to truck 30 000 copies into Zimbabwe this week - they were sold out in 45 minutes!! It took 30 hours to get them there from Joburg including a night at the border. People just desperate - and here our distributors are chucking away thousands unsold every week”. If anyone can offer a way forward in the UK , such as newsagents where there are large concentrations of Zimbabweans, please contact the Zimbabwean ( www.thezimbabwean.co.uk ) or the Vigil. We understand that the more copies that can be sold here, the more copies can be trucked into Zimbabwe for people starved of information.

FOR THE RECORD: 72 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 26 th March, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Speakers: Tendai Mutyambizi and Margaret Musemwa of Communities Point will talk about a project which focuses on women and confidence building. The main focus is women who were victims of sexual abuse in their countries of origin and the barriers they face when they claim asylum in the UK . Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

•  Wednesday, 28 th March, 10 am – join the MDC UK on the North Terrace, Trafalgar Square . Details of action to be announced then.

•  Thursday, 29 th March, 2 pm – join Free-Zim Youth to lobby the Angolan government following reports that it is to send para-military police to beef up Mugabe's security forces (meet Baker Street tube station).

•  Saturday, 31 st March, 2 – 6 pm – Special Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London , in solidarity with victims of political violence in Zimbabwe .

•  Saturday, 31 st March – 11 am - 3 pm . The Bristol Vigil meets under the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

•  Wednesday, 4 th April, 12 – 2 pm – join ACTSA and the Trades Union Congress for a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for 3 rd and 4 th April.

•  Saturday, 18 th April, 2 – 5 pm – the second Belfast Vigil (to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day) outside the gates of City Hall.

 

23/03/2007

The Vigil was asked by the Sunday Herald, a Scottish newspaper, for a piece for their blog on “What the West should do about Zimbabwe ”. Founding Vigil member, Dennis Benton (retired BBC World Service journalist), submitted the following:

WHAT THE WEST SHOULD DO ABOUT ZIMBABWE

The sudden explosion of the Zimbabwean crisis into popular demands for action has thrown the British government onto the back foot. It would be unfair to say that the government has not been engaged on the issue but it has been on a hiding to nothing. What can it do? It could send a planeload of troops and solve the problem overnight. But there are various obstacles to this, chiefly that it would be regarded in Africa and in the third world generally as neo-colonialism. Mugabe and much of Africa have found it convenient to blame colonialism for the desperate straits to which corrupt and inept leadership has driven their countries over the past half century. Secondly, most of the world does not give a damn about Africa so any attempt in the United Nations and other bodies to do anything about Zimbabwe will be vetoed by the self-serving interests of the second world. After all, they will say, Mugabe is not the world's worst leader: look, for instance, at North Korea or Burma . The reason why we must do something about Zimbabwe is that, unlike North Korea and Burma , it was a success and can be so again. As President Nyerere of Tanzania told Mugabe at independence: ‘you are inheriting a jewel'. The people are intelligent and hard-working, educated and cultivated. The land is beautiful and full of possibilities. When its people began to turn against Mugabe some ten years ago he began to act like a cornered rat and jettisoned all respect for the law. Despite this, there was little the West could do to rein him in. Targeted sanctions were imposed, preventing him and his cronies travelling to Western Europe , the United States and some members of the Commonwealth and support from the World Bank was suspended. Since then Western governments have been scratching their heads how to make Mugabe's life more difficult. Here are some suggestions which have been floating around and are now being considered as the situation worsens:

•  Extend the targeted sanctions to include, for instance, the children of Mugabe and his cronies. They have destroyed Zimbabwe 's education system and should not escape the consequences.

•  Secure the appointment of a special rapporteur on Zimbabwe through the UN or some other agency to compile a dossier on those perpetrating the violence to drive home to them that they cannot act with impunity and that punishment will come.

•  Generally increase pressure on African countries to honour their commitment to observe and protect human rights abuses. There have been some welcome signs in the last week or so from the Zambian President and others that Africa 's defensive solidarity on this issue is crumbling.

•  In particular, suspend aid to countries such as Malawi and Namibia which are supporting Mugabe. It was not too long ago that Mugabe was invited to Malawi to open a highway named after him. The West should make it clear that they are not going to pay people to kick us and their own people in the teeth.

•  Impose a sports boycott. It's an affront that Zimbabwe should be taking part in the Cricket World Cup when the Zimbabwean cricket authorities are controlled by Mugabe.

To acces the blog, click http://forum.sundayherald.com/viewtopic.php?t=20#top

 

17 th March 2007

With hot news coming in from Zimbabwe while the Vigil was underway we felt a bit like a news service, relaying information to the BBC and others. It is no secret that one of our supporters is Grace Kwinjeh's sister so we knew immediately when the police stopped Grace and Sekai Holland from flying to South Africa for treatment of the injuries they received in custody. Other informed sources phoned to tell us about the CIO hijacking of the body of Gift Tandare, the MDC activist shot dead last Sunday by the police. We regard it as part of our job to keep the media informed about what is going on in Zimbabwe and have had a very successful week doing this. Coverage of Zimbabwe in the British media has been enormous and most outlets also reported Wednesday 's demonstration outside the Embassy.

Being St Patrick's Day, as well as the final day of the Six Nations rugby tournament, there was a high-spirited feeling in London , but the Vigil sobered up people passing along the Strand with our graphic pictures of a beaten-up Morgan Tsvangirai, Sekai and Grace. Many people who stopped to sign our petition expressed disgust at the failure of African countries to condemn Mugabe's criminality.

Our supporters in Free-Zim Youth are to stage a demonstration outside the South African High Commission in London from 1 – 3 pm on Wednesday to bring this disquiet home to South Africa on the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. They point out that, just as Gift Tandare was shot indiscriminately, so the people in Sharpeville died. The massacre signalled the star t of armed resistance in South Africa and prompted world-wide condemnation of the Pretoria government. Readers might like to look at the weblink we put on the last diary item ( http://www.reuters.com/news/video/videoStory?videoId=23516 ) showing how Free-Zim Youth embarrassed the President of the African Union speaking in London .

Great to welcome lots of new supporters drawn back into action by this week's horrific events. Among them were several children – including Zizi, baby son of Vigil co-ordinator Dumi and his wife Gugu. We hope to bring news soon of more new vigils, but for the moment, let us welcome Belfast who are to stage their first Vigil next Saturday – see below for details.

FOR THE RECORD: 72 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 19 th March, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. The speaker is Geoff Hill , South Africa correspondent for the Washington Times and author of “ Battle for Zimbabwe ” and “What Happens after Mugabe”. Our usual venue is not available to us. We will meet on the first floor – main bar, Strand Continental Hotel , 143 The Strand , WC2R 15A. From the Vigil a 10 minute walk away from Trafalgar Square after Waterloo Bridge but before Somerset House. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn (Piccadilly and Central lines).

•  Wednesday, 21 st March, 1 – 3 pm – join Free-Zim Youth's protest outside South Africa House, Trafalgar Square , London WC2N 5DP on the 47 th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa .

•  Saturday, 24th March, 14.00 – 17.00 - the first Belfast Vigil outside the gates of City Hall. Their second Vigil will be on Wednesday, 18th April, to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day.

•  Saturday, 31 st March – 11 am - 3 pm . The Bristol Vigil meets under the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

 

MDC UK LONDON DEMONSTRATION – 14 TH MARCH 2007

The Zimbabwe Embassy in London was closed today. What a surprise. About 200 Zimbabweans distraught at the brutal treatment of opposition activists in Zimbabwe found no one to answer their questions. All we saw was an anxious face behind a twitching curtain. Fear and guilt. We wanted to know why the regime in Zimbabwe had meted out the vicious treatment which had left so many MDC and other activists severely injured. Pictures of their injuries have horrified the world and we were swamped by the media. The demonstration called by the MDC UK was easily the biggest ever held on a weekday by Zimbabweans in London . Big enough to alarm the Embassy people. They had asked the police to ban the protest because they said 2,000 people were coming to attack the Embassy. The police had to explain once again that Britain is a democracy and that people are allowed to gather and expresstheir views. For the first time in five years of Vigil protest there were barriers round the Embassy rather than containing demonstrators. Ephraim Tapa, Chair of MDC UK spoke for us all when he said we must keep up the pressure. A collection was made for Gift Tandare, the MDC activist who was shot dead on Sunday by Zimbabwean police. We grieve with his family. For pictures of the demonstration, please see the link in the updates column on the right of this page.

 

PRESS NOTICE

ZIMBABWEAN DEMO IN LONDON ( 14/3/07 )

Zimbabweans in the UK are to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Wednesday in protest at the arrest and torture of peaceful protesters in Zimbabwe .

Supporters of the Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will gather outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand , London from 1 – 4 pm on Wednesday, 14 th March 2007 in solidarity with the suffering of opposition activists in Zimbabwe .

They will be joined by supporters of the Zimbabwe Vigil, who have been demonstrating outside the Embassy every Saturday since October 2002 in support of free and fair elections and against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe .

For interviews etc, contact: Ephraim Tapa, Chair, MDC UK – 07940 793 090

Julius Mutyambizi -Dewa, Secretary, MDC UK – 07984 254 830

Rose Benton, Vigil Co-ordinator – 07970 996 003

 

URGENT MESSAGE – LONDON DEMO ON WEDNESDAY

THE VIGIL IS JOINING FORCES WITH THE MDC IN THE UK TO STAGE A DEMONSTRATION IN PROTEST AT SUNDAY'S EVENTS IN ZIMBABWE .

THE DEMONSTRATION WILL TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE THE ZIMBABWE EMBASSY ON WEDNESDAY, 14 TH MARCH FROM 1 – 4 PM .

COME AND SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE BRAVE PEOPLE IN ZIMBABWE WHO ARE PREPARED TO RISK THEIR LIVES TO END THE MUGABE MADNESS.

 

10 th March 2007

For the second week in a row hundreds of Zimbabweans gathered at the Vigil to protest at the rapidly deteriorating situation back home. Everyone seemed to sense the time has come. This week the immediate draw was a rally in nearby Trafalgar Square organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa , the successor to the Anti-apartheid Movement) to mark the role of women in the struggle for freedom and justice. The rally was supported by British trade unions and the main speaker was Lovemore Matombo, President of the ZCTU (Zimbabwe Comgress of Trade Unions). He said the worsening poverty in Zimbabwe was hurting women most of all and protecting women was protecting the nation. The protest singer Viomak, who launched her latest CD at the Vigil two weeks ago, entertained the crowd between speeches by such people as Frances O' Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, and Kate Hoey, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe .

At the close of the rally there was a mass toyi-toyi to the Vigil accompanied by the Vigil drums. Passers-by were bemused when over a hundred Vigil supporters danced and sang their way along the Strand . The Vice-President of the ZCTU, Lucia Matibenga, told the Vigil that, despite talk of divisions, various groups in Zimbabwe were working together under the Christian Alliance to campaign for change. She was warmly applauded when she declared “those not working for unity are working for Mugabe.People must work together now and set aside personal agendas”. When the Vigil finally broke up, we left the doorways of the Embassy carpeted in red carnations in tribute to the bravery of Zimbabwean women.

Thank to all those who were on the rota to keep the Vigil going during the rally – nobody forgot and everyone was on time to relieve the previous shift. Thanks to Patson, Dumi, Mercy and Doubt who gave the rally such an authentic Zimbabwean feeling. It was good to have the Bristol Vigil join us as well as supporters from Liverpool , Huddersfield , Leicester and many other places. Our faithful English supporter, Ian, has posted a short piece on today's rally on the Indymedia website, check link: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/03/364823.html?c=on#c168588 .

FOR THE RECORD: Attendance about 250 (could be more because the register was overwhelmed again).

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 12 th March 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Our usual venue is not available to us. We will meet at The Bell and Compass (small function room at the back of the bar area – look for sign saying MDC London Forum), 9-11 Villiers Street , London , WC2N 6NA . Underground: Charing Cross (1 minute), Embankment (3 minutes) .

•  Saturday, 24th March, 14.00 – 17.00 - the first Belfast Vigil outside the gates of City Hall. Their second Vigil will be on Wednesday, 18th April, to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day.

 

3 rd March 2007

Like a relentless Zulu impi, a swelling wave of MDC supporters swept down the Strand from Trafalgar Square to join the Vigil. MDC UK had called on supporters all over the country to converge on the Vigil to express disgust at Mugabe's attempt to postpone the presidential election till 2010 and in solidarity with MDC activists back home who are being treated with psychopathic brutally for peaceful protest. It turned out to be probably the biggest Zimbabwean gathering ever held in the UK . Thanks particularly to Jason Mtewu, Organising Secretary of MDC UK , and Mathew Nyashanu, MDC UK Information and Publicity Secretary for their efforts in organising this event. We reckon more than 350 people came frpm all over the UK . At one comparatively quiet stage we asked the police how many people were there and they thought about 250. We have never had this many people in four and a half years of the Zimbabwe Vigil. The feeling was electric. Something is happening. Everyone seemed to sense that an end to our agony is at hand. Perhaps a trampled poster left at the end of the meeting said it all “Send Mugabe to the Hague ”.

At the end of the demonstration the police asked us to pass on a message to say how impressed they were at the co-operation and good behaviour of our group.

We were happy to have with us Sally Keeble, the MP for Northampton North. She has visited Zimbabwe and knows of the suffering of our people. She spoke about her support for our struggle and said this is shared by other Parliamentarians. The Chair of the MDC UK, Ephraim Tapa, said “We are now on our way back to Zimbabwe . What is the way? This is the way. We are saying Mugabe must go. You are the problem. Your time is up. Enough is enough. We want to go back home.” One of the Vigil Co-ordinators, Rose, welcomed activists to the Vigil space and urged them to come back next week when hopefully there will be an even bigger demonstration in support of Freedom and Dignity in Zimbabwe. The demonstration will be held in T rafalgar Square from 1 – 4 pm on Saturday, 10th March. It is organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa , the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement) and is supported by British trade unions.  We need to make it truly Zimbabwean.  It is an opportunity to thrust the Zimbabwean tragedy before the eyes of the world. We don't want Mugabe to portray this as a British protest – he needs to feel the anger of all the displaced Zimbabweans in the diaspora.  The rally which marks intermational women's day has a particular focus is on women in Zimbabwe – wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to us all.  Their plight symbolises the plight of all in Zimbabwe .   The Vigil will still be manned during the two hours the rally overlaps with the Vigil and a mass toyi-toyi from Trafalgar Square  to the Vigil is planned for the end of the rally.  For more information, check: http://www.actsa.org/Pages/Page.php?pID=1109&title=Rally%20for%20Dignity .  It is very enc ouraging that organisations such as ACTSA and British trade unions have embraced our cause.

We don't know how we would have managed without the help of Chipo, Fortunate and Irene selling t-shirts and stuff, James and Maria in managing the long queues for signing the Vigil register, Sue for fronting the Vigil table all afternoon and Doubt and Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi for leading the singing and dancing.

We are pleased to hear that another Zimbabwe Vigil is star ting in the UK . The new Vigil will be in Belfast outside the gates of City Hall. It will be inaugurated on Saturday, 24 th March, and will run from 14.00 – 17.00. Their second Vigil will be on Wednesday, 18 th April, to mark Zimbabwean Independence Day. The organisers, Marcella and Mark Marais, see it as a stepping stone to getting more Vigils in other cities in Ireland such as Dublin . We welcome them to the Vigil family. A REMINDER: the next Bristol Vigil will be held on Saturday, 31 st March.

Like so much about Zimbabwe , we end on a sad note. Most Vigil supporters know of the still-birth of Addley and Julius's baby. We wish to express our great sadness and support for them in their grief. This was a much-wanted baby and we are desolate.

For latest Vigil pictures, please see the link in the updates column on the right of this page.

FOR THE RECORD: a quick tot-up of the register points to an attendance of around 350. When we have finished entering all the information on our database we will have a more accurate figure.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 5 th March 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Kathryn Llewellly, Head of Campaigns for ACTSA will speak about the forthcoming rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday. Kathryn will also brief us on ACTSA's campaigns and actions in support of  Zimbabwe 's pro-democracy struggle.  Our usual venue is not available to us. We will meet on the first floor - main bar, Strand Continental Hotel , 143 The Strand , WC2R 15A. From the Vigil it's about a 10 minute walk away from Trafalgar Square . It is after Waterloo Bridge but before Somerset House. Nearest underground: Temple (district and Circle lines) and Holborn.

•  Saturday, 10 th March, 1-4 pm – ACTSA rally for Zimbabwe in Trafalgar Square . The Vigil will still be manned during the two hours the rally overlaps with the Vigil. Mass toyi-toyi to the Vigil planned at the end of the rally.

 

1 st March 2007

Press Notice

Zimbabweans to demonstrate in London

Supporters of the Zimbabwean Opposition Party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are to stage a demonstration in London on Saturday, 3 rd March in protest at the latest restrictions on political activity in Zimbabwe . Police in Harare disregarded a court order and prevented a rally which was to be addressed by the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvagirai on Sunday, 18 th February. The Rally was protest against President Mugabe's plans to postpone by Presidential Elections until 2010. The Mugabe regime has now banned political activity in Harare for three months as the country spirals into economic meltdown.

MDC supporters from throughout the UK are to gather in Trafalgar Square and then march to the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand at 2 pm to join the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Embassy every Saturday for more than 4 years against the human rights abuses and in support of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe .

The meeting will be addressed by the Chair of the MDC in the UK , Ephraim Tapa, and other leaders.

Interviews opportunities with Zimbabwean Activists and Refugees

Photo Opportunities: Dancing, Singing and Drumming

Contacts:

For MDC UK : Jason Matewu, 07816 619 788

For Zimbabwe Vigil: Rose Benton, 07970 996 003

24 th February 2007

The Vigil marked Mugabe's birthday celebrations with a performance by Zimbabwean protest singer Viomak, who sang several songs from her new album “Happy 83 rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)". Everyone joined in as she sang “Gono Bvisa Father Zero (Gono remove Father Zero [Mugabe])”. It came as no surprise that the Zimbabwean Embassy did not accept her invitation to attend the launch of the new album. Viomak generously bought pizzas and soft drinks for our supporters – in contrast to the celebrations in Gweru where there was food for the bigwigs while the ordinary people went away hungry. Unlike the obscene birthday feast for Mugabe we had a genuine celebration for Vigil Co-ordinator Rose, who turned 62 (bones of a 62 year old) today and was given a great pom-pom by Vigil supporters.

With a big demonstration in Trafalgar Square against proposals to modernise Britain 's nuclear deterrent we had many people stop by to sign our petition. Every cause under the sun seemed to be represented in Trafalgar Square , except, strangely enough, anything to do with Africa . There were the usua;l protests about Iraq , Iran , Kashmir , Palestine , Afghanistan . . . but no obvious reference to Darfur and Zimbabwe , or even Somalia . What is going on here? Is Africa just being airbrushed out of world problems?

The British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph (20/2/07) reports that Zimbabwe may gain the vice-presidency of the World Food Programme (WFP) with the support of all seven African countries presently on the WFP's 36-strong executive board. This makes us realise we have a lot more to do in spreading knowledge about Zimbabwe . Indeed we spent time today discussing the situation with a gentleman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who continued to proclaim his support of Mugabe.

Better news was a visit by a big group of interested girl guides from Speldhurst in Kent who have been alerted to the Zimbabwe situation by our English supporters, Sue, Alfred and Francesca Toft. A group from the Vigil had the pleasure of visiting St Mary's Church, Speldhurst to take part in a service for Zimbabwe a couple of weeks ago (see last Vigil Diary).

We are pleased to say that support is growing for ACTSA's Zimbabwean rally in Trafalgar Square on 10 th March – we urge everyone to come and make this a really big Zimbabwean event – for details, see: http://www.actsa.org/Pages/Page.php?pID=1109&title=Rally%20for%20Dignity . In the meantime next week (3 rd March) the MDC UK is joining us for a demonstration in solidarity with MDC activists back home who are receiving brutal treatment at the hands of the Zanu-PF Regime and against the postponement of the Zimbabwean Presidential Elections to 2010.

FOR THE RECORD: 70 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 26 th February, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

•  Saturday, 3 rd March, 2 – 4 pm – MDC UK Demonstration at the Vigil.

•  Saturday, 10 th March, 1-4 pm – ACTSA rally for Zimbabwe in Trafalgar Square . The Vigil will still be manned during the two hours the rally overlaps with the Vigil. Mass toyi-toyi to the Vigil planned at the end of the rally.

 

17 th February 2007

The Vigil was happy to host WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) in launching its people's charter in the UK . We had an enthusiastic turnout for the occasion and were blessed with benign weather. Among those with us was a new Nigerian friend, Tokunbo Oke of ALISC (African Liberation Support Campaign). He was full of praise for WOZA and said its type of action was a way forward for Africa . He added that what was happening in Zimbabwe epitomised the problems of Africa . Lois Davis, co-ordinator of WOZA Solidarity UK , outlined the aims of WOZA's people's charter ( http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/peoplescharter071206.htm ) , which was drawn up after consulting people in meetings throughout Zimbabwe . She updated everyone on the bravery of the WOZA activists, some of whom were again arrested in Zimbabwe this week. WOZA supporters in the diaspora inundated the Zimbabwean police with phone calls resulting in them giving up answering their phones. The Vigil offered two extra petitions to be signed: one for Zimbabweans subscribing to the Charter and another for passers-by supporting it. We had many signatures to both, drawn by the exuberant dancing and singing of our supporters.

Among them was the Vigil child, Tinotenda Muzuwa, brought down from Birmingham by her mother Bernita to mark her third birthday. Tinotenda's second name is Vigil. What a joy it was to see her again. Dumi was up again from Southampton – father of our second Vigil baby, Zizi. We also had Addley (sitting on a drum) and Julius with us – their baby is due on Thursday – Vigil baby number 3! With us also were people from Liverpool , Manchester , Leeds , Newcastle , Wolverhampton , Luton , Oxford , Stoke-on-Trent and many other places. We were a large crowd by the close and when we joined hands to sing the national anthem we spread far beyond our 4 maple trees.

The Vigil was pleased that the French government decided not to invite President Mugabe to the French / African summit in Cannes . We can now reveal that the French Embassy in London gave us assurances of this some months ago after our lobbying. We are happy that their assurances were genuine and that they are working with us in demanding democracy in Zimbabwe . We are already involved in engaging Portugal about their apparent intention to invite Mugabe to the AU / EU summit which we understand will be held in Lisbon in October (not April as one source suggests). With the support of our trade union friends – both in the UK and now in France – we have hopes of similar success. We know this is a small matter in the backdrop of the great tragedy unfolding in Zimbabwe but we feel it is one small way we can help to make the world aware of the Zimbabwean holocaust.

VIgil supporters were interested to hear that Zimbabwean diplomats have not been receiving their pay so we posted the following notice on the Embassy for them “Embassy Staff join the striking workers in Zimbabwe . Demand an end to crazed dictatorship. Mugabe must go.” They seem to have responded very quickly to our comments on their Victoria Falls poster (see Vigil Diary of 18/11/06 ). The poster has gone – the Victoria Falls are on holiday again. Are they hungry enough to join the Vigil? The Zimbabwean singer Viomak has offered to feed them next Saturday (see last diary item).

Last Sunday Vigil supporters attended a special service for Zimbabwe at the beautiful St Mary's Church in the pretty village of Speldhurst in Kent organised by our faithful English supporters, Sue and Francesca Toft. One of the speakers was Vigil leader Ephraim Tapa who spoke movingly of his awful experiences before he had to flee from Zimbabwe . He said “ Zimbabwe is a house on fire”. He certainly touched the hearts of the congregation who gave generously to a collection for Zimbabwean charities which raised in excess of £1,000.

PS We are all cheered to hear that Dorcas, our faithful supporter from Liverpool , has got her papers. It means so much, allowing people to work and giving them security.

FOR THE RECORD: 99 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 19 th February, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Lois Davies, WOZA Solidarity UK will be giving an update on WOZA action and show us a short film on the last demonstration. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

•  Saturday, 24 th February – Special Vigil to mark the release of Viomak's Album “Happy 83 rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)”.

•  Saturday, 24 th February – 11 am - 3 pm . The Bristol Vigil meets under the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

•  Saturday, 10 th March, 1-4 pm – ACTSA rally for Zimbabwe in Trafalgar Square . The Vigil will still be manned during the two hours the rally overlaps with the Vigil. Mass toyi-toyi to the Vigil planned at the end of the rally.

 

10 th February 2007

A special newcomer to the Vigil was Zizi, seven week old baby son of Vigil co-ordinator Dumi and his wife Gugu. Another cause for celebration was their recent marriage. Everyone made a great fuss of the young one and he didn't cry once. Zizi's first visit to the Vigil brought an improvement in the weather. London had snow on Thursday but it had all melted by today and the temperature was really quite mild.

First at the Vigil was Juliet from Manchester . She left home at 7 am for her long journey. She told us her asylum claim had been turned down. We are supporting an appeal. Her lawyer, Ana, who is based in London , also came to the Vigil kindly bearing cakes for our supporters. She said Juliet received unkind treatment from the judge who questioned her motive in coming to the Vigil. Well, you can't win. To our minds Juliet has been a faithful supporter and a genuine human rights activist, as well as a lovely person. It was disturbing to hear from Juliet that her 73 year old sister in Matabeleland is eating only once in two days. Her sister told her “If I get food today I won't eat tomorrow, I will save it for the day after”. Francesca, our English schoolgirl supporter, was also in touch with Zimbabwe this week. She was surprised when a friend in Zimbabwe mentioned the Vigil and asked him how he knew about it. His reply was “everyone knows about the Vigil.”

The Vigil has a busy time ahead. Next Saturday WOZA Solidarity UK is joining us and we are launching WOZA's people's charter in the UK . WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) consulted thousands of people in Zimbabwe at almost 300 meetings to find out what they want in a new Zimbabwe : the result is the people's charter. WOZA is now asking Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to sign up to this charter. The following Saturday, we have another launch. Viomak, the Zimbabwean protest singer, is releasing her second album “Happy 83 rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)”. She will be singing a song from the album “Mangwanani Baba”. Viomak has invited the Zimbabwean Ambassador, Mr Gabriel Machinga, to come to the Vigil to accept her birthday present to Mugabe. Watch this space! Vigil co-ordinator, Rose, said it was gratifying that the Vigil was being used as a launch vehicle for so many Zimbabwean initiatives. She went on to say we have been asked to support a Trafalgar Square rally organised by ACTSA (previously the anti-Apartheid Movement) on Saturday, 10 th March. The rally ties in with International Women's Day and is focusing on Zimbabwean women. It promises to be a big deal and the Vigil asks all its supporters to encourage everyone to come and make this a big day for Zimbabwe – a day of anguish from the diaspora.

Thanks to Chipo and Luka for all their help in keeping the Vigil running: Chipo for looking after the selling of our t-shirts and sweatshirts and to Luka for distributing information.

FOR THE RECORD: 65 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 12 th February, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum . The speakers are Washington Katema, National Coordinator of Zimbabwe National Students Union and McDonald Lewanika, the Coordinator of Students Solidarity Trust. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

•  Wednesday, 14 th February at 6 pm – an audio-visual presentation of WOZA in action in Bulawayo + speakers. Venue: Room G50, SOAS ( School of Oriental and African Studies) Main Building , Thornhaugh Street , Russell Square , London WC1H 0XG . Nearest tube: Russell Square .

•  Saturday, 17 th February – special Vigil with WOZA Solidarity UK to launch WOZA's People's Charter.

•  Saturday, 24 th February – Special Vigil to mark the release of Viomak's Album “Happy 83 rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)”.

•  Saturday, 10 th March, 1-4 pm – ACTSA rally for Zimbabwe in Trafalgar Square . The Vigil will be manned by a skeleton crew during the two hours the rally overlaps with the Vigil. Mass toyi-toyi to the Vigil planned at the end of the rally.

 

3 rd February 2007

Welcome back to Jeff. Only two weeks ago we began the diary with ‘welcome back to Caroline'. All too many Vigil supporters get locked up for problems with immigration, visas, passports etc. Anyway it was great to have Jeff back with us. He was released only yesterday after serving half of a nine month sentence for having a bogus passport. He looked better than ever and blamed this on the good food he'd had in Canterbury Jail. Jeff said the Archbishop of Canterbury came to visit the prisoners on Christmas Day. But life in jail had its down side. Jeff said he came across a number of prisoners who were seriously depressed. By all accounts Jeff seems to have been a great help to a number of Zimbabwean and other inmates.

It was a brilliantly sunny day which always lifts the spirits in mid-winter. It also brought a good crowd of supporters including people from Wolverhampton , Bradford , Leeds , Blackburn , Manchester , Birmingham , Sussex and Luton , and Catherine Feeny visiting us from the Bristol Vigil. People in London struggled with public transport today. It took Lynn 2 hours to reach Charing Cross from Golders Green because of delays on the Northern line – normally a journey of about half an hour. So we were pleased to have Luka at the Vigil so early especially as he had been at the French Embassy protest yesterday.

Everyone was kept busy either with the singing and dancing and drumming or with sending our “Make Mugabe History – Free Zimbabwe” postcards to Mugabe for his birthday. We posted a batch to him last week and we have even more to send him this week. Some of the messages: “Happy birthday, you are way past retirement age – go with grace! You are not our president you did not win a democratic election”, “Time is up. Can't you see the suffering masses?”, “Rob, it's time to admit you have failed us!! For our sake please leave office before your next birthday, (signed) hungry angry exile”.

Among the hundreds of people who passed by were many Scotsmen in rugby shirts and kilts – by the end of the day they were pouring into pubs to drown their sorrows as Scotland lost to England in the Six Nations rugby match.

FOR THE RECORD: 76 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Central London Zimbabwe Forum . Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub:

•  Monday, 5 th February , 7.30 pm – discussion about renewing EU targeted sanctions and the possibility of Mugabe being invited to the France/Africa summit in Cannes later this month. Report back on ACTSA protest outside the French Embassy on 2 nd February.

•  Monday, 12 th February, 7.30 pm . The speakers will be Promise Mkwananzi, President of ZINASU (Zimbabwe National Students Union) and Washington Katema, Co-ordinator of ZINASU. For archive diary

 

2 nd February 2007

FRANCE URGED TO TAKE STAND ON ZIMBABWE

Vigil supporters took part in a demonstration outside the French Embassy in London on Friday, 2 nd February, demanding that France stop sitting on the fence about Zimbabwe .

The demonstration was organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) to put pressure on the French government following suggestions that it might invite President Mugabe to the Franco-African Summit in Cannes from 14 – 16 th February. Euan Wilmshurst, the Director of ACTSA, which is the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, said he wanted an assurance that France supports the renewal of targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies. These prevent leading members of the regime travelling to the European Union.

The demonstration was attended by some 50 people, including Kate Hoey MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe . She said it was important that the sanctions were renewed when the matter came up again in Brussels later this month. The bulk of the demonstrators were trade unionists, including some prominent union leaders who expressed outrage at the brutal treatment of trade unionists in Zimbabwe . They carried banners reading “Respect Workers' Rights in Zimbabwe ”, “Drop Charges against Trade Unionists” and “Honour the EU Zimbabwe ban”.

27 th January 2007

Only a few of us for the beginning of the Vigil on the day the UN has designated as “Holocaust Memorial Day” marking the date on which the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviets in 1945. Mugabe is not, as far as we know, putting people in gas ovens but what is happening in Zimbabwe is a holocaust nevertheless. Common reckoning is that the death toll is worse than in Darfur , Iraq or Afqhanistan. Zanu-PF's Didymus Mutasa made it known some 3 or 4 years ago that they wanted a population of about 6 million “of our people”. They have been busy every since.

We were interested to have a thorough-going revolutionary with us and were energised by his arguments. We had to explain to him that we are in England and our weapons are tea and buns. (But once they are stale they become stones.)

With so many supporters away at a MDC meeting in Wolverhampton , it was brilliant to have the Zimbabwean singer Viomak all the way from Leeds to help us start up the Vigil. We played tracks from her new CD “Happy 83 rd Birthday Mr Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)”. She is working on a sensational coup to launch the CD and the Vigil Diary is following it closely….a “News of the World” scoop.

We were pleased to have a Chinese UN official who had just been to Zimbabwe talk to us. He said they are doing everything in their power to ensure that emergency humanitarian aid is not being abused.

We handed out our “Make Mugabe History – Free Zimbabwe” postcards to our supporters to write their own messages to Robert Mugabe for his birthday (yet another one!) next month. Most messages said something like “time to go”. Here are two messages: “Nobody wants anything to do with you any more. Do the right thing and go and herd goats and cattle. You are a disgrace to the human race. Zimbabwe is not your family business” and “May God really bless the last days of your life for judgment awaits you in hell”.

Vigil supporters were very pleased to hear from Jeff whom we've been worrying about for some time. It turns out he has been in jail for problems with his papers but is due to be released in the coming week. We are completely befuddled why Jeff should be blocking jail spaces for busy UK criminals.

It's great that ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa , successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement) is becoming so active on behalf of Zimbabwe . We were pleased to help them distribute their flyer “The Last King of Scotland: a modern day problem” in which they compare the brutal repression of Zimbabwe to the tyranny of Idi Amin in Uganda . They are asking people to flood cinema goers with this flyer to help raise awareness of the genocide in Zimbabwe . Check weblink: http://www.actsa.org/Pages/Page.php?pID=1024&title=PostColonialismZimbabwe

for ACTSA's Zimbabwe campaigns.

Good news from a long-term supporter, Ancilla. Her baby boy Prosper was born on Thursday. When Ancilla first came to the Vigil she was going through a very difficult time and it is wonderful to see where she has reached now. Her child comes as a great joy.

FOR THE RECORD: 36 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 29 th January, 7.30 pm , Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Another action forum to discuss current and future campaigns. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

 

20 th January 2007

Welcome back to Caroline who was freed last month after spending six months in prison for working with bogus papers. It was wonderful to see her with her small son Tenda, who had looked so subdued when his father brought him to the Vigil while she was locked up. We still can't understand how someone who is desperately trying to survive can be locked up with hardened criminals. Caroline's plight made us wonder about several others who have disappeared from the scene and we have discovered that another Vigil supporter is in jail and are trying to contact him. There is a useful website which can help you locate people who are in prison: http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/adviceandsupport/keepingintouch/locationservice/ . You can also email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information.

Other welcome visitors were Jude and Rosemary from the Bristol Vigil who joined enthusiastically in the singing and dancing. They brought some great postcards they had designed: “Make Mugabe History – Free Zimbabwe” is the message. We hope supporters will spread this message as widely as possible, especially into Zimbabwe . The Vigil is sending some to Mugabe himself for his birthday. The next Bristol Vigil is on Saturday – see below for details.

After the gales on Thursday, which caused widespread damage, we were fortunate that the wind had died down somewhat, and the Vigil was back to pre-Christmas numbers and vigour. Doubt brought a group from the Hatfield area and Edward and Eniya from West Sussex brought all their children – 3 teenage girls and a 22 month old boy. It was good to have Patson from Leicester leading the singing once again and Jenatry from Luton energetically leading the dancing. Their performances transfixed a young White Zimbabwean couple who had chanced by and stayed for the afternoon, joining in the singing and dancing.

FOR THE RECORD: 71 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 22 nd January, 7.30 pm , Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Sarah Harland of the Zimbabwe Association will discuss the issues involved in last week's landmark Zimbabwean asylum appeal. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub

•  Saturday, 27 th January, 11 am – 3 pm . The Bristol Vigil meets under the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

13 th January 2007

Lots of new people at the Vigil and they immediately threw themselves into our protest. They taught us dance steps we hadn't seen before – including a remarkable quick step when our tarpaulin was torn by the fierce wind from its anchoring trees. Perhaps it's the Murambatsvina legacy: all Zimbabweans seem to know how to control a rampant sheet of plastic. It was great to have new people with us as many of our regular supporters were attending other events, such as a young people's project “Let them Fly” organised by the Zimbabwe Women's Network-UK and a meeting of MDC UK Executive.

Doubt from Hertfordshire led the singing, supported, among others, by 10 people from Liverpool . How encouraging that they made this long journey – about the equivalent of Bulawayo to Harare – to be with us to draw attention to the suffering in Zimbabwe . A new song was popular today “Bye-bye Mugabe”. The mere idea cheered everyone up.

We interfaced with thousands of people coming past the Embassy who had attended a “Russian Winter Festival” which took over Trafalgar Square . They understood our demand for freedom. Many stopped to look at our laminated full page article “ Zimbabwe , the land of the dying children.” from last week's UK Sunday Times ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2534805,00.html ). They were shocked to learn that Zimbabwe has been reduced to such an abysmal state. Other recent stories tell of women dying in childbirth because of hospital staff strikes and 3 illegal miners dying of exhaustion and starvation after being forced by police to work filling up trenches for six days without food.

We were happy to have Addley with us: her and Julius's baby is due next month and she looks wonderful. Great to have Ancilla bringing another pot and cooking stick to beat for Zimbabwe . You can get quite a tune out of these pots as people at home know: they all seem to say Bye-bye Mugabe.

FOR THE RECORD: 50 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 15 th January, 7.30 pm , Forum + MDC Central London Branch Assembly. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub.

 

6 th January 2007

The Zimbabwean singer Viomak was a welcome presence at the Vigil – in fact almost indispensable. What with one thing and another only a few people managed to get to the Embassy in time for the star t. The one thing being the persistent rain and the other being the delays on road and rail for our supporters. But Viomak, all the way from Leeds , managed to join us as we struggled to erect our tarpaulin. Her new CD is due to come out next month – “ Happy 83rd Birthday President R.G Mugabe (Zimbabwe Classics 2) Bones of a 30 Year Old.” We played it most of the afternoon. Viomak was glad to be at the Vigil with other activists and promised to come back. As she says on her website “A s long as we neglect the welfare of the Zimbabweans who are suffering under Mugabe's evil regime we remain as immoral as the perpetrators of our suffering” – ( http://www.viomakcharitymusic.com ).

We were pleased to welcome a group from Wolverhampton , who on this climatically- challenged day took over 4 hours to reach us. We applaud their dedication. We also had a group from Crawley and people from Leicester and Derby who had similar nightmare journeys. Watching the water cascading from the bulging tarpaulin, one of our supporters said “Zimbabwe's true wonder is back” referring to the rather strange new poster with that slogan advertising the Victoria Falls in the Embassy window (where did it go – Zambia, South Africa?). Despite the bad weather, it was encouraging that so many people stopped at the Vigil table to express their support. By the end we could hardly fit under our tattered tarpaulin but the drumming and dancing alleviated the gloom.

PS: one of supporters won £20, which she donated to the Vigil, by betting on a winning horse called Zimbabwe ( 1.50 pm , Exeter , New Year's Day). Is this a good omen for 2007?

PPS: we have done some research on Vigil attendance since we star ted keeping records in February 2004. Total number of supporters attending per annum has gone up from around 400 in 2004 to nearly 900 in 2006. Average attendance has increased from 31 people per Vigil in 2004 to 61 people per Vigil in 2006. The Vigil prize of sadza on toast goes to any mathematician who can calculate when Vigil attendance will go up to more Zimbabweans at the Vigil than in Zimbabwe .

FOR THE RECORD: 42 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: M onday , 8 th January, 7.30 pm , First Central London Zimbabwe Forum of 2007. Jenni Williams of WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) is the speaker. Monday, 15 th January, 7.30 pm , Forum + MDC Central London Branch Assembly. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street , London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street , turn right and you will see the pub).
 

How can you help?

The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.