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Vigil Diary Archive Jun - July 2007 PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 01 June 2007 00:00
28 th July 2007

The Vigil is getting bigger and bigger. Visitors from far and wide joined the regulars this week. Among them was Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe . She arrived wearing her Vigil t-shirt so she fitted in well when she took a turn on the drums . . . not to mention joining in with the singing and dancing. Being a campaigner, she was happy to stand on the pavement handing out our flyers.

A German supporter, Jenny Kuhlmann, said how impressed she was that such a senior politician had shown such solidarity with us and taken part in all our activities. Ms Kuhlmann is doing a PhD in African Studies in Leipzig and came over to join us after following our activities on the internet.

Supporters were angry at the latest outrageous behaviour by the Zimbabwe police. The attack on NCA activists was widely reported here. What appalled everyone was that mothers were separated from their babies to make it easier for the police to beat the women.

The Vigil was very busy. Many thanks to Chipo Chaya, who with her usual efficiency, took care of sales of Vigil t-shirts – much in demand. Thanks also to another member of the organizing team, Luka Phiri, for overseeing the signing of the Vigil letters to Mbeki asking him to insist on votes for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. Ancilla and Patson were tireless in leading the singing and dancing.

Among the dancers were a group of 10 young Christian Canadian street dancers. You will find among our pictures one showing a dancer balanced on one hand. They performed a dance on the theme of freedom, escaping from handcuffs. They were brought to the Vigil by the Rev Ray Pountney of the West Hill Baptist Church in East Putney . He used to be with the Baptist church in Bulawayo and worked closely with Ray Motsi.

Ray Pountney was not the only minister with us. We were happy to be joined by our long-term supporter the Rev Dr Maritime Stemerick, who has been working tirelessly for the suffering people in Zimbabwe and has visited Zimbabwe many times. She is now in charge of four churches in the Southend area but nevertheless keeps in close touch with developments at home. She said what was happening was “genocide by star vation”.

It was great to see people from the early days of the Vigil. Albert Weidemann from North Yorkshire came down. He gives talks to raise awareness of the situation in Zimbabwe , the next one in September. Sue Shaw and Andy Hope-Hall were other old friends from early days – they also live far from London .

A Zimbabwean musician, Lucky Moyo, left his CD “I have got issues” with us. His songs are focused on the struggle. A quote from the track “Silent Diplomacy” : “In the name of Pan Africanism when you see a country mistreating its own people keeping silent is not an option”. He was on his was to a music festival in Islington which was raising money for Zimbabwe women and children. He helped form the well-known band Black Umfolozi. Lucky promised to come back to the Vigil and get more involved with us.

FOR THE RECORD: 125 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 30 th July 2007 , 7.30 pm , Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Lois Davis of WOZA Solidarity UK will be updating us on WOZA's recent activities. Also to be discussed iour invitation to be involved in the Worldwide Reading for Zimbabwe on 9 th September – check: www.literaturfestival.com for more information. 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).

 

21 st July 2007

A wet Vigil. As you may know there have been storms all over the UK with torrential downpours causing widespread flooding. We outside the Zimbabwe Embassy were fortunately spared the worst of it but one deluge drenched the lens of our digital camera so the quality of the pictures this week is not as good as normal and not all the photos we took came out. Despite the weather there was another very good turnout including many “first timers” joining us under our tarpaulin. Everyone got soaked once or twice but the warm sunshine dried us out. It was heartening the number of bus drivers who hooted in support of us as we struggled with our tarpaulin.

Unfortunately the bad weather prevented us handing out letters for signature written by the Zimbabwe Forum asking Mbeki to ensure that Zimbabweans in the diaspora have the right to vote in next March's elections. They will be handed out next week. In the meantime Julius Mutyambizi -Dewa, Secretary of the MDC UK, told us the MDC were making strong representations on this issue.

We have also agreed to collect signatures for a petition “Strangers into Citizens” campaigning to allow immigrants without papers to work in the UK .

For most of the afternoon we were filmed by an Iranian-based television company PressTV. They interviewed many of us as background material for a programme ‘The Agenda' discussing Mugabe and Zimbabwe . Participants will include Julius and Wilf Mbanga of the Zimbabwean. It's good to know that the Iranians are taking a serious interest in Zimbabwe . The programme will be broadcast within the next week – check: www.presstv.com .

The Vigil has been asked to help with a world-wide event in support of democracy and media freedom in Zimbabwe organised by a German organisation. It will involve appropriate readings, including poems by Chenjerai Hove and others ,on 9 th September. More on this later.

We were happy to be joined at the close by a Mexican sympathiser who brought his own drum. When he left he gave us an interesting metal resonator to fix to one of our drums.

FOR THE RECORD: 104 signed the register.

•  FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 23 rd July 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum will discuss action in support of students and youth in Zimbabwe . 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, 28th July, 2 – 10 pm . Fourth World Music presents “GET UP STAND UP”. Venue: Union Chapel, Compton Avenue , London N1 2XD . Benefit festival to help raise funds for charities working with women and children in Zimbabwe affected by the economic crisis. Performers: Coco Mbassi, Celloman, Thabani, Anna Mudeka, Claudia Massera, London City Groove, Dudu Saar, Begotten Sun, DKR, The Wells, Tha Tha Ensemble, DJ Dece, Boogie Brothers. Tickets: £10.00 from Ticketweb (Tel: 08700 600 100 or book online at www.ticketweb.co.uk ). Nearest station: Highbury and Islington. Bus routes: 4, 19, 30, 43, 271, 277and 279. For more information, contact: 07914 697 694 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

19 th July 2007

BRITISH MPS CALL FOR STRONGER ACTION ON ZIMBABWE

HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATE ON ZIMBABWE – 19 th July 2007

About a dozen Vigil supporters attended a House of Commons four-hour debate on Zimbabwe on Thursday. There were some well-informed speeches from both sides of the House. One question addressed by several speakers was the possibility of Mugabe attending the EU / AU Summit in Lisbon in December. The speakers referred to a Sunday newspaper report that the Prime Minister had said he would refuse to attend the summit if Mugabe was there. The government declined to confirm this report, saying that invitations had not yet been sent out. The former Conservative Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, demanded an assurance that the United Kingdom would object to Mugabe attending and demand an EU vote on the matter. It should make it clear right away that the UK would not attend the Summit if Mugabe took part. “If the AU will not champion the people of Zimbabwe , the EU must.” Sir Malcolm said there had been no AU / EU Summit for seven years because of the Zimbabwe issue and, if necessary, this situation could continue for a few more years. It would be Africa 's loss.

During the debate President Mbeki came in for strong criticism for what was seen as his years of inaction over Zimbabwe . The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe , Kate Hoey, said Zimbabwe 's neighbours were turning a blind eye to the humanitarian disaster if they were not actually cheerleaders. She and several other MPs supported the possible suspension of government to government aid to Southern African countries supporting Mugabe (along the lines of our current petition: “A PETITION TO EUROPEAN UNION GOVERNMENTS. 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”).

MPs welcomed a recent American move to ban children of Zanu-PF bigwigs from studying or visiting the United States and urged that Britain and the European Union should do the same. As one MP said “It is essential that Zanu-PF star t to feel personally the cost of their actions”. The MPs said that the Zimbabwe Central Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, should be added to the list of people refused entry to the European Union. The government said he would not be welcome if he tried to visit the UK .

There was strong support during the debate for the decision of the Australian Prime Minister to order a cricket boycott of Zimbabwe . The general message was that African leaders were acting shamefully in not facing up to the Zimbabwe problem and that pressure must be stepped up to oust Mugabe. But while some MPs urged a deal to allow for Mugabe's departure others insisted that he face trial before an international court.

 

14 th July 2007

Threats of thunderstorms today but we were miraculously spared. Some passers-by were reduced to tears when they heard Patson from Leicester leading the singing of the hymn “Hakuna wakaita sa Jesu. Ndamhanya kwese kwese.” (There is none like Jesus. I have run round everywhere.) Most of us knew the hymn as we sang it at a torture day service recently. Great to see Patson's sons, Wilfred and David, among the many children at the Vigil. They arrived in this country a year ago and it's striking how integrated they are into the English school system.

It was a pretty massive Vigil. Well over 100 people attended. We report every week on how many people sign the register. But there are many who don't. We were pleased to be visited by a couple from Brisbane in Australia who want to set up a Zimbabwe Vigil in Australia . We suggested they contact the invaluable www.zimbabwesituation.com managed from Australia which over the years has provided such comprehensive news coverage of Zimbabwe . Another couple who dropped by said they had recently visited the Victoria Falls and said how eerie it was to stay in an empty hotel. The mother of one of our supporters, just over from Bulawayo , broke down when she described how things were there. There has been a lot of coverage in the media here of the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe but it was good to briefed by a former reporter from the banned Daily News. A Zimbabwean pastor, Shepherd, now living in Southampton , led us in prayers for Zimbabwe .

When not singing and dancing people at the Vigil were busy signing a letter to the Portuguese Ambassador in London over the possibility that Mugabe might be invited to an EU/AU summit in Lisbon in December. There was strong criticism of the South Africans for threatening a boycott if Mugabe was not invited. There was some talk of cutting off the nose to spite the face because, as far as we are aware, the European Union do not plan to use the summit to beg for aid and investment from Africa . (For text of letter see below – readers are welcome to adapt this letter if they wish to write to the Portuguese on this matter).

“HE Mr Antonio Nunes de Carvalho Santana Carlos

Head of Mission , Portuguese Embassy

11 Belgrave Square

London SW1X 8PP

Your Excellency

RE: INVITATION OF PRESIDENT MUGABE TO THE AU/EU SUMMIT IN PORTUGAL IN DECEMBER

We, the Zimbabwe Forum and the Zimbabwe Vigil, wish to express our concern at the possibility that your government may invite Mugabe to Portugal for the sake of appeasing African governments. While we agree that the EU should not in principle be seen to determine the composition of the African delegation, we find it imperative that you continue to voice your disapproval of electoral fraud and disrespect of human rights which prompted the targeted sanctions against Mugabe – Decision 2002/148/EC.

Any failure to apply the targeted sanctions will legitimise Mugabe's government, betray the suffering masses of Zimbabwe and make you accomplices to the human rights abuses In Zimbabwe. We therefore call upon the EU to beg South Africa and the SADC region to take concrete steps to ensure that Zimbabwe reforms itself and adheres to internationally acceptable standards as a condition for its inclusion at the EU/AU Summit.

Yours sincerely – Zimbabwe Vigil Activist.”

FOR THE RECORD: 95 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 16 th July 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum will discuss action ahead of the SADC Summit to be held in Lusaka in August and possible demonstrations to demand a diaspora vote for Zimbabweans. NB: OUR USUAL VENUE IS NOT AVAILABLE – meet at first floor, main bar, Strand Continental Hotel, 143 The Strand WC2R 15A. From the Vigil, a 10 minute walk along the Strand away from Trafalgar Square after Waterloo Bridge but before Somerset House. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn (Piccadilly and Central lines).

 

7 th July 2007

07/07/07 . A lovely sunny day after weeks of wet weather. We were able to offer some sun-kisssed singing, dancing and drumming to the hundreds of thousands of people thronging central London for the launch of the Tour de France cycle race – the first time the race has star ted from London . We were glad to welcome Jean-Francois, our long-term French supporter, now based in South Africa . It was appropriate that he joined us at the same time as the Tour de France. Jean-Francois helped in our campaign to prevent Mugabe's visit to the Franco-African summit in the south of France in February. His elegant translation of the Vigil's letter to President Chirac may have helped sway the French decision. (Part of his translation was adopted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe in their letter to France .)

We now have a battle with the Portuguese over the planned AU-EU summit in December. Despite the current talks underway in Pretoria , the South Africans are insisting that Mugabe be invited and the Portuguese have indicated they might well give in. The Vigil is putting the case against this in a letter to the Portuguese government. We are hoping to find a Portuguese Jean-Francois. Just in case, we are advising supporters to get their travel papers in order to mount a protest in Lisbon – perhaps another attempt at a citizen's arrest for what the Sunday Times calls “a hidden genocide”.

Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi, who recently won the right to stay in the UK , is not through the woods yet. He is trying to get a national insurance number to allow him to work but the Home Office has lost all his paperwork! Many of our asylum seekers report similar experiences. We despair of the Home Office.

There was anxious discussion at the Vigil about the shopping collapse in Zimbabwe . Just about everyone here is sending money home to help family but we know nothing we do can be enough. Not a good time to be told by a passer-by “Why are you f…ing here. Go back to your f…ing own country.” Considering the large number of immigrants coming to the UK we get very few racist comments from the British. In our experience much more racist invective comes from Afro-Caribbean supporters of Mugabe. Today however was an exception – perhaps fuelled by the recent attempted terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow ?

FOR THE RECORD: 86 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 9 th July 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum will discuss the campaign to stop the Portuguese inviting Mugabe to the AU-EU summit in Lisbon in December. 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)

•  Friday, 17 th August 2007 , 12:00 – 14:30 . The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign (ZSC) in Belfast plans to hold a Vigil outside City Hall, Belfast . All supporters welcome. The ZSC has agreed with Ian Paisley Jnr that they will present their petition to Stormont on 10 th September – more information to follow.

2nd July 2007

The Israeli Intelligence Agency Mossad has been accused of rigging elections for Zimbabwe 's President Robert Mugabe. The University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe told a meeting in London that if the MDC is to win the next election it will be necessary to get Mossad out of the country; they were operating a computer company in Harare as a front and would rig any election for money. Dr Makumbe added that he didn't know if the Israeli government was involved but observers say it is known that Israel has supplied Mugabe with military equipment and a man with Mossad connections was involved in the attempted treason frame-up of the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Dr Makumbe is a member of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, the umbrella organisation from which the political opposition, the church and civic bodies in Zimbabwe are working for change. He was asked to address the Central London Zimbabwe Forum about the split in the MDC. “The split is quite understandable”, he said. “Diplomats are desperate to get the two groups together. I am not.” He said that with the help of Zanu-PF the two factions were going in different directions. Dr Makumbe added that, in his view, the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai was the strongest political party in Ziimbabwe. Zanu-PF itself was split into five factions.

As for the current discussions through South Africa 's President Mbeki, Dr Makumbe said that Mugabe was going through the motions. He said he believed Mr Mbeki was serious about getting rid of Mugabe but didn't want to see the ousting of Zanu-PF, a liberation movement. He cautioned that the latest constitutional amendment would allow Mugabe to stay in power until 2010 and said Zimbabweans should not be surprised if the elections next year were cancelled. Dr Makumbe said that, since 2010 was the Football World Cup year, the South Africans would be anxious to avoid this.

For pictures of the meeting, please see the link in the updates column. For archive diary

 

30 th June 2007

Two old Mugabe themes at the Vigil – gays and cricket. Despite the attempted mass murders in London on Friday, life went on more or less as normal today. Some roads were closed in the search for more bombs, but the annual Gay Pride march went ahead as planned, although somewhat dampened by the edges of a weather front which has flooded people to the North. We are always pleased that so many of the people on the march sign our petitions and express such concern for Zimbabwe .

Vigil supporters were also pleased at the outcome of the cricket meeting in London . The International Cricket Council has launched an investigation into the finances of cricket in Zimbabwe because of the looting by the current bosses. We were going to hold a protest at the meeting at the request of Free-Zim Youth, but they suddenly made an about-turn and called for everyone to accept the Zanu PF case (see http://www.zimdaily.com/news/117/ARTICLE/1797/2007-06-27.html# ). We are puzzled as to why Free-Zim Youth feel that giving the Zimbabwean cricket authorities more money will help cricket on the ground in Zimbabwe . Surely they know it will just go into the pockets of Zanu-PF cronies?

Vigil supporters were happy that our Caribbean brothers have called off their cricket tour to Zimbabwe . We are encouraged by their support, which shows that, despite their sympathy for Zimbabwe 's freedom struggle, they are no longer taken in by the Mugabe propaganda.

Now that Free-Zim Youth are safely in the UK they have identified “the real enemy “. They say, in the above mentioned article in Zi md aily, " We have a crisis here of Zimbabweans in diaspora who have to face hard life with no legal status, no accommodation, no access to health, young Zimbabweans subjected to all forms of abuse and cannot obvious reasons yet we have a host nation that says its so much concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, well charity begins at home” (sic) . . . . sounds like they would be better off there.

You may be wondering what happens to all the videos people take at the Vigil. Doubt and Patson have posted some of theirs on the youtube website. Check: http://www.youtube.com/46664dehwa to see if you feature. We are putting a permanent link to this site in the updates column on the right of this page. You might catch pictures of Ancilla dancing and singing with some of the many people who stopped to join us. Ancilla has started raising money for the women's wing of MDC Central London Branch by selling peanuts and has already raised more than peanuts - £20 to be exact.

FOR THE RECORD: 53 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 2 nd July 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. The speaker will be leading political analyst and senior lecturer in UZ's Faculty of Political Science Dr John Makumbe. Dr Makumbe will talk about the prospects of the two MDC factions uniting to fight the 2008 elections together. There is varied speculation in the media on the chances of unity between the MDCs. This only confirms how crucial this subject is in Zimbabwe today. Being a member of the steering committees of both the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and Christian Alliance, which first brought Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara together, Dr Makumbe is well-placed to address this subject.  This week's forum presents a chance you should not miss. Come and enjoy Dr Makumbe's sharp humour and critical analysis. He will also answer your questions from the floor after his speech. 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)

•  Friday, 17 th August 2007 , 12:00 – 14:30 . The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign in Belfast plans to hold a Vigil outside City Hall, Belfast . All supporters welcome.

 

26 th June 2007

LONDON SERVICE OF SOLIDARITY WITH TORTURE SURVIVORS OF ZIMBABWE

“Mugabe must pay for his sins” said the Zimbabwean academic and human rights campaigner John Makumbe at a church service in London in solidarity with torture victims in Zimbabwe . Mr Makumbe told the gathering in the historic St Paul 's Church in Covent Garden that the Zimbabwean regime had invented new forms of torture, new methods of inflicting pain. He went on: “There is a price to pay for freedom and Zimbabweans are paying the price”. Mr Makumbe said that one day soon there would be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission under which those who had committed atrocities would be called to account, with justice.

The service, organised by Wiz Bishop of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, marked the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It was conducted by the Rev Graham Shaw, a Methodist Minister formerly from Bulawayo now in Cumbria , who said torture is now considered routine in Zimbabwe but there would be a day of accounting. He said by our mere presence at the service we had shown that the suffering in Zimbabwe had not gone unnoticed and that another Zimbabwe was possible.

Brita Sydhoff, the Secretary General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture, said that in the past six years 25,000 human rights violations in Zimbabwe have been documented and the situation is worsening. Ms Sydhoff said she wanted to record her respect for the dignity and courage of those suffering in Zimbabwe .

The Zimbabwean poet and writer, Chenjerai Hove, said he had cried when he had seen pictures of the brutality meted out to opposition activists.

The congregation joined in lighting candles in solidarity with torture victims, accompanied by the vibrant singing of the Zimbabwe Association / Zimbabwe Vigil Choir accompanied by Sam and Fungayi on saxophone and Harriet on piano.

After the service, the congregation sang their way in procession to the Zimbabwe Embassy to lay flowers on the doorstep in tribute to the bravery of Zimbabwean torture victims.

 

23 rd June 2007

An hour into the Vigil there were only 3 people there, including Vigil co-ordinators Dumi and Rose. It was testimony to Morgan Tsvangirai's pulling power. The MDC leader (together with Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly) was addressing a meeting in Luton some 35 miles north of London and Vigil supporters understandably absented themselves. They were keen to hear what Mr Tsvangirai had to say about this crucial time in Zimbabwe , with the economy in freefall and talks underway aimed at breaking the political impasse.

Although we knew support would be thin on the ground we couldn't scrap the Vigil and break our record for consistency built up over four and a half years. We were joined by three other supporters as the afternoon wore on and were kept busy fielding questions from interested passers-by, including a number of South Africans, who expressed strong support. “Why don't you hold your demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embasssy?” one asked, not noticing the building next to us. Surprisingly another person asked the same question only moments later! With less than half an hour of the Vigil to go we were joined by two carloads of supporters from the Luton meeting. Among them was Patson from Leicester and we are so pleased he and his friends went out of their way to join us even for such a short time. Patson said that Mr Tsvangirai had told the Luton gathering that people must come to the Vigil if they want to help liberate Zimbabwe . He said the meeting was packed and some couldn't get in.

We caught up with supporters Alex and Angie Guinness this week. They were responsible for designing and ordering the first batch of Vigil t-shirts and put a lot of effort into updating and producing the new “Mugabe wanted for murder” poster. They are now living and working in Budapest with five-year-old Callum (who attended the Vigil on several occasions) and one-year-old Elin. They subscribe to the Zimbabwean to keep up-to-date with what is going on at home. They are longing to go back to Zimbabwe like so many other Zimbabweans scattered around the world.

FOR THE RECORD: 16 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 25 th June 2007 , 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).

•  Tuesday, 26 th June, 6 – 7.30 pm. SERVICE OF SOLIDARITY WITH TORTURE SURVIVORS OF ZIMBABWE on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Redress, International Bar Association, International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Association and of course the Zimbabwe Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . Main speakers: Chenjerai Hove, John Makumbe. All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.  The service will mirror similar services in Zimbabwe and South Africa .  Between January and March this year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum documented 254 cases of torture in Zimbabwe . For archive diary

 

16 th June 2007

Thunder and lightning after a sunny “Trooping the Colour”, the annual military parade and march-past for the Queen's official birthday, which is held close to the Vigil. So there were even more visitors about than usual while the weather over London became more threatening. But we put up our tarpaulin and a day of sudden weather changes ended brightly. Vigil supporters were buoyed up by a general feeling drawn from contacts at home that the situation in Zimbabwe is reaching a resolution.

We were pleased to be able to display new copies of our tattered banners “No to Mugabe, No to Starvation” and “End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe ”. We are grateful to Addley for her painstaking work in making replacements for the banners that have been worn out in our 5 years of protest outside the Embassy.

Apart from these banners, passers-by would have seen posters with newspaper headlines “Prison Zimbabwe ” and “There is no Freedom without Sacrifice”. This last is a quotation from Morgan Tsvangirai who is to speak at a meeting in Luton next Saturday. Many Vigil supporters hope to attend but of course the Vigil will be held as usual.

Drawn by the thrilling music, we were joined by a Nigerian friend who said how much he wished to carry the passion of the Vigil back to his own country to show how Africans in the UK can campaign. We were pleased to have people from all over the place as usual: six from as far away as Glasgow, others from Huddersfield , Sheffield , Liverpool and Devon and big groups from Southampton , Crawley and Southend. There were 20 first timers today. Towards the end of the Vigil we were joined by people who had attended a Zimbabwe Youth Forum elsewhere in London . They reported a successful meeting.

After the Vigil, women supporters went on to hold a meeting to set up a women's group. There was a feeling that there are a lot of issues where women can make a crucial difference, such as raising funds to help those back home and destitute refugees in this country.

FOR THE RECORD: 92 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 18 th June 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. The speaker is Philip Chikwiramakomo, co-ordinator of WEZIMBABWE. Phillip will address the forum on the potential role of the diaspora in development in Zimbabwe . 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 23 rd June – Rally for MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. For venue and time see previous diary item.

•  Saturday, 23 rd June, 7 pm – 2 am (no admission after midnight ). ZIMARTS 2007, a charity music event organised by WEZIMBABWE featuring: Paul Lunga, Thabani, Hohodza, Tha Tha Ensemble, Harare , Henry Olonga and Ryan Koriya. Venue: Un iversity of London Union , Malet Street , London WC1E 7HY (to find the venue, check: http://www.ulu.co.uk/content/index.php?page=1302 ). For information on tickets: www.wezimbabwe.org .

•  Tuesday, 26 th June, 6 – 7 pm. SERVICE OF SOLIDARITY WITH TORTURE SURVIVORS OF ZIMBABWE on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Redress, International Bar Association, International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Association and of course the Zimbabwe Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . Main speakers: Chenjerai Hove, John Makumbe. All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.  The service will mirror similar services in Zimbabwe and South Africa .  Between January and March this year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum documented 254 cases of torture in Zimbabwe . For archive diary

 

16 th June 2007

CHANGE OF VENUE FOR TSVANGIRAI RALLY

Unfortunately, the management of Flamingo Park (our original venue) say they can no longer host this event so a new venue has had to be found. Details of the new venue follow:

Venue : Lewsey Community Centre, Landrace Road , Luton LU4 0SW

Date and time: Saturday, 23 rd June 2007 , 1– 4 pm

Directions

By car: Leave M1 at J11 and take A505 Dunstable Road to Luton , Dunstable. After three-quarters of a mile you will reach Poynters Road roundabout. Take 3 rd exit onto Poynters Road and after half a mile turn right into Leagrave High Street. Take the first turning left in to Amhurst Road . Turn right into Kirkwood Road at the T-junction, then first left into Abercorn Road . At the crossroads turn left into Brunel Road , then right into Thatch Close and immediately left into Haymarket Road . Turn right at the T-Junction with Landrace Road . Lewsey Community Centre is a short distance from the turning.

Nearest Rail Station : Luton

Bus: 38 is 2 minutes from Coach and Rail Station. Alight behind Arndale Shopping Centre.

For help with directions, contact: : Racheal Lupafya  07944 040 482, 07960 087 727.

 

15 th June 2007

LONDON RALLY FOR MDC PRESIDENT MORGAN TSVANGIRAI - Saturday, 23rd June, 10 am - 4 pm

The Movement for Democratic Change in the UK (MDC-UK) is hosting a rally from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday, 23 rd June for Morgan Tsvangirai. Morgan Tsvangirai will be in London from 21 st – 23 rd June. He is coming as part of a delegation from the Save Zimbabwe Campaign (SZC). Others in the delegation include MDC leader Arthur Mutambara, the Rev Levee Kadenge, convener of the Christian Alliance, Lovemore Madhuku, NCA (National Constitutional Assembly) Chair, Zapu leader Paul Siwela and the Zimbabwe Students' Union leader Promise Mkwananzi. From London they are travelling to Canada . The SZC is the umbrella organisation under which opposition forces in Zimbabwe are campaigning for change. The SZC organised the prayer meeting on 11 th March which resulted in the brutal assaults on many opposition activists including Mr Tsvangirai.

Date and time: Saturday, 23 rd June 2007 , 10 am – 4 pm

Venue : Flamingo Park , A20 Sidcup By Pass, Chislehurst , Kent BR7 6HL

Directions

By car:

- From Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach (A102) head onto Rochester Way Relief Road (A2), continue for 0.68 miles. Leave Rochester Way Relief Road (A2) and head onto Kidbrooke Park Road (A2213) for 0.81 miles. Leave Kidbrooke Park Road (A2213) and turn left into Sidcup Road (A20) for 5.22 miles to Sidcup By-Pass.

- From M25 leave at J3 direction Lewisham London SE on A20. Keep on the A20 until Sidcup By-Pass.

Nearest Station : New Eltham (trains from Charing Cross and London Bridge )

Buses from New Eltham Station (alight at County Gate ):

-         321 towards Foots Cray Tesco

-         233 towards Swanley / Beechenlea Lane

 

9 th June 2007

The Vigil celebrated the news that two supporters have been given their papers this week to stay in the UK . They are Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani and Fungayi Vincent Mabhumu. Dumi has been at the forefront of the Vigil's activities since it star ted five years ago and has been a great source of strength and determination. It is a scandal that it took so long for his asylum claim to be accepted by the authorities but now like Fungayi he will be able to work legitimately. One of our campaigns is to end the sad state of affairs that people awaiting a final determination of their status in this country are not allowed to work. This is a corrosive state of affairs for anyone. Refugees by and large desperately want to work and help their families back home.

While we were celebrating there was a lot happening in our area of London . Believe it or not some streets were closed to enable nude cyclists to ride past. We were disappointed that their route did not pass directly by the Vigil but we sent out some spies who reported many of them were wearing underclothes. However we did witness a big march past by demonstrators protesting on behalf of Palestinians. Our supporters plied them with fliers and many of them came to sign our petitions. Interestingly several passers-by commented on the massive support for this fashionable cause and wondered why we did not get the same support for our protest against horrific human rights abuse and lack of democracy in Zimbabwe.

Among our visitors was a lady from the Congo who told us of her suffering through her arrest and imprisonment in the Congo . It was apparent she found it difficult to speak of her experiences and she will send us an email account of what she went through. We agreed that it was important for the suffering people of Africa to unite in protest.

The MDC UK Chair, Ephraim Tapa, came to the Vigil to let us know that the party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is coming to London . The MDC is arranging a rally for him on Saturday, 23 rd June. June looks very busy – see “For Your Diary” below for events.

On a lovely summer day, the music was fantastic with Ancilla, Agnes, Doubt, Dumi and Mercy prominent in leading the singing and dancing with great drumming from Moses and Arnold.

FOR THE RECORD: 83 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 11 th June 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. This week the forum holds an action meeting to plan how the Zimbabwean diaspora can ensure they have a vote. 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, 16 th June, 11.30 – 5 pm . All African Youth Forum on Soweto Day / Africa Youth Day. Venue: School of Oriental&African Studies (SOAS), Vernon Square , , London WC1. Participants: Free-Zim Youth, MDC Youth Chair (Tsvangirai),  MDC Youth Chair( Mutambara), Young Communist League South Africa(YCLSA), SWAYOCO (Swaziland Youth Congress), Ajamu, Somali Civil Liberties and Human Rights Organisation, ALISC Network, Nigeria Pan-African Youth& Student Link,  Pan-African Youth Organisation (PAYO), Fraternite Guineene, Jamaican Youth and African Unity Movement. Refreshments available. For more information, contact: Free-Zim Youth – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Marceline Mutikori – 07769 850 058, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Bridgette Maphosa – 07784 111 755, Anesu – 07786 320 993, Chipo Chaya – 07904 395 496, Yeukai Taruvinga – 07940 437 496.

•  Saturday 23 rd June – London rally for MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. Venue and time to be advised as soon as possible.

•  Saturday, 23 rd June, 7 pm – 2 am (no admission after midnight ). ZIMARTS 2007, a charity music event organised by WEZIMBABWE featuring: Paul Lunga, Thabani, Hohodza, Tha Tha Ensemble, Harare , Henry Olonga and Ryan Koriya. Venue: Un iversity of London Union , Malet Street , London WC1E 7HY (to find the venue, check: http://www.ulu.co.uk/content/index.php?page=1302 ). For information on tickets: www.wezimbabwe.org .

•  Tuesday, 26 th June, 6 – 7 pm. SERVICE OF SOLIDARITY WITH TORTURE SURVIVORS OF ZIMBABWE on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Amnesty International, Redress, International Bar Association, International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture, Zimbabwe Association. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . Main speakers: Chenjerai Hove, John Makumbe. All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.  The service will mirror similar services in Zimbabwe and South Africa .  Between January and March this year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum documented 254 cases of torture in Zimbabwe .

•  Saturday, 28 th July, 2 – 10 pm . Fourth World Music presents “GET UP STAND UP”. Venue: Union Chapel, Compton Avenue , London N1 2XD . Benefit festival to help raise funds for charities working with women and children in Zimbabwe affected by the economic crisis. Performers: Coco Mbassi, Celloman, Thabani, Anna Mudeka, Claudia Massera, London City Groove, Dudu Saar, Begotten Sun, DKR, The Wells, Tha Tha Ensemble, DJ Dece, Boogie Brothers. Tickets: £10.00 from Ticketweb (Tel: 08700 600 100 or book online at www.ticketweb.co.uk ). Nearest station: Highbury and Islington. Bus routes: 4, 19, 30, 43, 271, 277and 279. For more information, contact: 07914 697 694 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

7 th June 2007

POSTPONEMENT OF BELFAST MARCH – MESSAGE FROM ZIMBABWE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN

Dear Friends and Campaign Supporters,

ZIMBABWE : A CALL FOR THE UK GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION

I am delighted to say that following a successful meeting with Ian Paisley Jnr at Stormont last night that we have an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of our campaign.  Instead of presenting the petition on Monday 11th June, Ian Paisley Jnr is facilitating getting a session in the long gallery on a Monday afternoon later this month - date to be finalised asap.  The session will include the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign making a 15 minute presentation to MLA's and trying to get all 108 of them to sign the petition in the presence of the press etc.

This would be a massive boost as they would be signing a petition that effectively calls on the UK government to take unilateral action and a leading role in resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe !  A powerful message from all in power in Northern Ireland .

 I know that this means cancelling next Monday mornings march at short notice but believe it is for the long term good. We will keep you posted as things develop, please let me know if there is any way we can maximise this great opportunity. In the meantime, it is a good opportunity to get more people to sign the petition online ( http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ZSC02/petition.html ) - so please forward it to your friends if you haven;t done so already..

Mark & Marcella
ZIMBABWE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN

 

2 nd June 2006

We know now just how bad the situation is for the Mugabe regime on the international stage: a British Caribbean passer-by was spitting with impotent rage at our protest. “You are licking the arses of the whites”, he said. While African governments continue to pay lip service to solidarity with Mugabe it is clear they are embarrassed and the black press around the world is beginning to be outspokenly critical of his brutality and hypocrisy – including some newspapers in the West Indies . It has driven the head-in-the-sand diehards hysterical. They are so wedded to the image of Mugabe as the great liberator that they are in a state of deep denial and continue to swallow Zanu-PF propaganda however absurd. Mugabe is reported to have paid over US$1.6 million to the London-based magazine “New African” to counter bad publicity emanating from the 11 March beatings. We are sorry that this money has not gone towards desperately needed food and medical care in Zimbabwe . Our Caribbean critic was faced by Vigil supporters who have themselves been tortured and have had relatives killed by the regime. But he would not be shaken from his prejudice and neither will the man who drives the van for Global Foods who always hurls insults at us as he drives past. It is partly to stand against brain-washed people like these that we hold our demonstration every Saturday outside the Embassy.

Despite these incidents lots of Zimbabweans and South Africans were among people who stopped by to express their support on a beautiful, sunny, warm day. We were glad to be joined by a group of students from Reading University . They spent the whole afternoon with us. They were lucky to hear Patson, down from Leicester , doing his fabulous triple: dancing, singing and playing the drum all at the same time. Like many of our supporters, he has been using his exile to gain qualifications and has been absent for a few weeks writing exams.

FOR THE RECORD: 72 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Monday, 4 th June 2007 , 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. The speaker is the activist, Alois Mbawara, of Free-Zim Youth. 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, 11 th June – The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campai g n based in Belfast are presenting a petition: “ ZIMBABWE : A CALL FOR THE UK GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION” to Stormont (home of the Northern Ireland Assembly). Meet at the gates of Stormont at 10:45 am . From there the group will walk up to Parliament Buildings at 11:00 to present the petition at 11:30 .  Carmel Hanna of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has agreed to receive the petition.  To sign online, go to:  http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ZSC02/petition.html .
 

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.