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Vigil Diary Archive May 2008 PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 10 August 2016 21:02
Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 31 st May 2008

There was anxious discussion at the Vigil of the xenophobic violence in South Africa . At a meeting afterwards it was agreed that we would ask the police for permission to stage a protest outside the South African High Commission in London from noon to 2 pm on Thursday, 12 th June.

We will ask the High Commissioner to pass the following petition to President Mbeki: “Following the recent attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals in South Africa we, the undersigned, call on President Mbeki to take action to ensure the safety of these endangered people and bring the perpetrators to justice. We urge President Mbeki to end his support of President Mugabe, allowing a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis and the return home of exiled Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean blood is at your door.”

Many of our supporters have requested a prayer vigil. We have had many pastors visiting the Vigil in the past few years and we are pursuing this proposal.

Also discussed was the possibility of setting up a fund to support victims of the election violence in Zimbabwe . It was pointed out that our partner Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe) had already contributed substantial money to support victims of violence, most notably helping to pay for Tonderai Ndira's funeral and providing Tichanzii Gandanga with the means to leave Zimbabwe to get treatment in South Africa . It was agreed that it would be duplication to set up a separate fund and that we should channel any money through ROHR. Thanks to one supporter who generously gave £100 as a contribution Mr Gandanga's medical expenses.

We were distressed to hear that the parents of Chengetai Mupara, a founding member of the Vigil, were beaten up by Zanu PF. What made this worse was that they were betrayed by Chengetai's cousin Grace Mvududu who stood as a Zanu PF candidate in the council elections and lost to the MDC. What is happening in Mugabeland that families are turned against each other?

As the election run-off approaches there is no sign of a let up in the violence. ROHR's leader Sten says it's too dangerous to sleep in your own home. It is safer to bed down with the homeless at the railway station.

Thanks to David McAllister who provided us and the Glasgow Vigil with arresting posters of the violence. These can be seen in two short videos which have been posted on the Vigil photo site.

FOR THE RECORD: 143 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Fridays, 10.30 am – 4 pm . Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre at T he Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Come and share a traditional lunch of sadza, nyama and relish. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park . For more information, contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

•  Saturday, 7 th June 2008 , 2 – 6 pm . Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 and Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.

•  Thursday, 12 th June, 12 noon – 2 pm. Protest about the xenophobic killings in South Africa outside the South African High Commission, Trafalgar Square .

•  Friday, 27 th June – Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off. More details as plans firm up.

 

29 th May 2008

STATEMENT from Restoration of human rights in ZIMBABWE (ROHR) – 25 MAY 2008

STATE OF THE NATION ON AFRICA DAY – ZIMBABWE UNDER SEIGE (shorter version)

Zimbabweans joined the whole continent in commemorating Africa day although they have nothing much to celebrate. Africa day comes as a sad reminder of the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe , exacerbated by the political violence unleashed on the citizenry by Zanu PF after the March 29 election as a reprisal for voting for the opposition.

BACKGROUND

The ceaseless attacks on opposition members and human rights activists are consistent with the warnings Mugabe gave well before the elections, that Zanu PF would never be removed through the ballot. The service chiefs also indicated that they will go back to the bush if any other political party won the elections. Many people dismissed these statements as mere threats. The sincerity of the threats is now surfacing. There are systematic arrests, detentions, heavy torture by police and daily kidnappings of opposition and human rights activists, and murder by heavily funded Zanu PF operatives.

POST ELECTION VIOLENCE AND THE REALITY ON THE GROUND

Now the nation is bracing for a very painful presidential runoff, at a time when the nation is drowning in rivers of blood being shed by Zanu PF's network of war veterans, youth militia and state organs such as the army, CIO and police.

In the Zanu PF campaign known as ‘ Operation Mavhotera papi?' (Who did you vote for?)' military bases have mushroomed from which where war veterans, youth militia and the army are terrorising people in the rural areas. To date more than 50 people from the MDC have been killed. Thousands have fled from their homes in the rural areas and reports of Internally Displaced People (IDP) are still coming in. Hundreds have broken arms and legs, many rendered crippled for the rest of their lives. There are volumes of graphic pictures showing people who have been assaulted severely by Zanu PF supporters who are under specific instructions to intimidate people into voting for Robert Mugabe in the June 27 presidential runoff. Medical institutions are failing to cope.

THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS – Effects of an Early Winter

Countrywide there are reports that people have fled their homes and are now living in the open. Many people interviewed in Masvingo have been sleeping in the mountains for more than a month now because their houses have either been burnt or they received credible threats to their lives from Zanu PF supporters. Winter has come at a time when thousands of people are not living at home. Most of the victims do not have blankets as they were burnt.

Churches have been housing people since the beginning of the reprisal against opposition supporters and have been mobilising communities to assist the victims with food, clothes, blankets and other necessities, albeit not enough to abate the humanitarian crisis. The government has not spared the churches either. Church pastors and ministers in Harare and Bulawayo are being victimised for keeping the victims in ‘safe houses'.

Although the MDC has had the primary responsibility of providing for the welfare of the people, they do not have enough resources. Some civic organisations are helping out but what can be done by organisations with limited funding in the face of a national onslaught by the State?

ABDUCTIONS AND KILLINGS IN ZANU PF BASES

Reports of abductions are coming in daily and the trend so far is proving that once a person is abducted, the chances of them coming back alive are very slim. The past few days speak volumes. On 21 May the nation buried Cain Nyeve and Godfrey Kauzani in Harare , who were abducted and killed in cold blood, their eyes gouged out and tongues cut out. On 17 May 2008 , the MDC buried Better Chokururama who was killed by the same people. On 22 May 2008 , Tonderai Ndira was confirmed dead after he was kidnapped in full view of his family in Mabvuku. He was found dumped in Goromonzi a week afterwards, his body already decomposed. His eyes and tongue were also removed. On 24 May the senatorial candidate of MDC in Murewa North, Shepherd Jani, who had been kidnapped from his office, was reported dead, killed by suspected state secret agents. Last Friday two men and one female were found dead in Uzumba, Mashonaland East, although their identity is not yet verified.

ZANU PF STRATEGY OF ELIMINATION AND INTIMIDATION AHEAD OF PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF

The Zanu PF strategy to win elections is multi-layered. Firstly it is apparent that displacing opposition supporters or anyone suspected to have voted for MDC from their home areas is aimed at disenfranchising the populace of their right to vote. The logic is simple. To date thousands and thousands of people have fled from their homes because they have either been beaten or had their houses burnt.

The strategy is quite effective in the rural areas because, with the geographical arrangement of rural settlements, people know each other and in most cases their political orientation is known. Since the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced that the Presidential runoff will be ward based, MDC will be robbed of hundreds of thousands of votes of people who fled from their constituencies who will constitutionally not be able to vote in their temporary residence where they are sheltered.

Secondly, MDC might fail to launch an effective campaign in hot areas such as Mash East, Mash West and Central. In areas like Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe, Mt Darwin, Mutoko, Mudzi, Murewa etc, there is no illusion that MDC will succeed in sending people to campaign let alone send in polling agents on the day of elections. They have been informally declared MDC no-go-areas.

The abductions and killings are not only aimed at intimidating people, but at paralysing the opposition, destabilising its structures and even weeding out its influential leadership.

ROHR Zimbabwe national coordinator Tichanzii Gandanga, who is also the provincial director of elections in MDC, is a case in point. He was abducted from his office in Harare and found three days later, having been stripped naked by more than 12 men in the middle of the night at some place in Mash East, beaten heavily by sticks and his legs run over by a 4x4 truck more than six times. Having been left for dead, Tichanzii Gandanga was lucky to be alive and is still struggling with his legs. He's in hiding and is no longer performing duties effectively. His wife is being tracked by unknown men and has since gone into hiding.

SECURITY CONCERNS FOR OPPOSITION MEMBERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

All the remaining human rights activists, journalists and politicians are on high alert because Zimbabwe is now dangerous terrain and that fact can never be over-emphasised. There comes a time when one has to think about one's own security. Once a member is taken, there is no more that organisations can do for their members except to pray and hope that he or she will be found alive. The police are either apathetic or actively participating in the operation.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As Africa commemorates Africa day, serious thought should be given towards the plight of Zimbabweans who seem to have been left at the mercy of a marauding leader who is committing human rights crimes under the guise that it is a necessary measure to ensure that the gains of the revolution are protected. It is imperative, in the light of the current ongoing onslaught on the opposition and human rights groups, that there be a massive movement that calls for immediate International Intervention.

The African Union and United Nations must step in decisively and deal with Zanu PF, which has lost all credibility and legitimacy so that life can be preserved.

We categorically state that Zimbabwe can no longer afford to be held ransom by the illusion that Thabo Mbeki's purported SADC mandate to mediate will deliver anything meaningful for Zimbabwe .

In the face of overwhelming evidence exposing the Zanu PF terror campaign, the victims languishing in hospitals and people being buried in shallow graves in the rural areas, Mr. Mbeki says ‘there is no crisis in Zimbabwe' and that Zimbabwe can solve its own problems. The President of MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai was in exile, but SADC was comfortable with the notion.

Thabo Mbeki recently admitted that he cannot solve the Zimbabwean problem. It is probably so because South Africa is even failing to restrain its own people to stop the xenophobic attacks on foreigners currently spreading around the country like a veld fire claiming more than 50 lives in the process.

CONCLUSION

Zimbabwe is probably at its darkest moment since the Gukurahundi massacre of Ndebele people in the mid 80s. The environment is not conducive to the holding of a free and fair runoff and we call for an end to the terrorism on the citizenry and the creation of a free environment where freedom of speech, expression and association are respected. We call for immediate international intervention to stop the killings and elimination of opposition members and human rights activists. The people of Zimbabwe can only hope that SADC, AU and UN will star t acting and send observers to quickly deal with the crisis.

 

28 th May 2008

Below is a report of the burial of Tonderai Ndira from our partner organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR).

hero's farewell for tonderai ndira

More than 1000 people from across Zimbabwe gathered at the Warren Hills cemetery to pay their last respects to Tonderai Ndira who was murdered on 14 th May. Ndira will ever be remembered for his heroic activism in the struggle for the democratisation and restoration of people's freedoms in Zimbabwe . The funeral was attended by Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC's top leadership, civic society members, MDC youths, friends and relatives. They all gathered to give Ndira a hero's farewell. He was killed by Zanu PF after he was kidnapped at his home in Mabvuku a fortnight ago. His body was found in Goromonzi and signs of brutal torture were visible.

The untimely death of Tonderai Ndira comes at a time when Zimbabwe is going through a politically motivated human rights crisis which has so far claimed more than 60 people, 3000 internally displaced from their homes and hundreds of casualties. Morgan Tsvangirai urged youths not to be used by Zanu PF to engage in violence for money. Tonderai Ndira's father appealed to the MDC and the mourners present for assistance with the welfare and upkeep of the children who have been robbed of their father and breadwinner. Tonderai Ndira has left behind a wife and two children.

TICHANZII GANDANGA

As a result of his deteriorating condition, ROHR Zimbabwe national coordinator who is also the director of elections in MDC, Mr Tichanzii Gandanga is scheduled to go abroad to receive medical attention. Tichanzii Gandanga was lucky to survive a Zanu PF assassination attempt after he was abducted on 18 April this year by 6 members of the CIO, beaten severely, legs run over by a twin cab truck about 6 times and left for dead in Chihota . We wish him a speedy recovery.

 

26 th May 2008

Updates from the Zimbabwe Vigil

We received the following text from Stendrick (in Zimbabwe ) of our partner organization, ROHR: “We are ready for a ‘stop the killing' demo. Our boys are determined to defy the killings. We are not safe at all. We are not staying at home. Please request churches to pray for us. We need prayers. Our eyes are full of tears for our fallen heroes, Better, Cain and Godfrey. Mugabe can only delay freedom but he cannot block it. I am finding it difficult to accept the death of our three heroes. I can't express it but I am in pain for their deaths.”

ROHR and the Vigil took a collection on Saturday 24 th May for the funeral expenses of Tonderai Ndira and raised over £200.

We have heard from our friends in Bristol that their protest in April went ahead successfully. It was organised in co-ordination with Bristol Zimbabwe Association, the Bristol branch of ACTSA and the Bristol MDC and attended by two local MPs, a local councillor and a Zimbabwean preacher who gave some very moving and uplifting prayers.  Music was provided by the local Ambling band and Zimbabwean protesters who performed in their unique style.  It was gorgeous weather and the day worked very well.  They are still holding monthly vigils and their latest last Saturday was well supported by the public. The Glasgow Vigil also reports a successful Vigil last Saturday.

 

24 th May 2008

People across the world are demonstrating their solidarity with victims of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe .

The ‘stand up for Zimbabwe' campaign organised by a coalition of African civil society organizations is calling on people across the world to press the Southern African Development Community,  African Union and the United Nations to act decisively to end systematic political violence in Zimbabwe and  resolve the country's long-standing  political crisis. The global day of action on 25 th May, a day traditionally used to celebrate the establishment of the African Union, is the star t of a series of campaign events planned to press African and other world leaders to take effective action to resolve Zimbabwe 's crisis.

The Zimbabwe Vigil embraces this campaign and held a ‘Stand up for Zimbabwe ' event at their regular Vigil on Saturday, 24 th May. More than 200 people joined us. First we held a mass 'lie down' as a way of graphically illustrating how many more people might die if the crisis isn't resolved. So many people wanted to take part that we had 3 waves of people lying down (see photos above). They were carrying placards saying “Zimbabwe Vigil mass ‘lie down' – How many more must die in Zimbabwe '.

Our ‘stand up' event took place at the end of the Vigil with supporters gathering for a group photo carrying placards saying ‘Stand up for Zimbabwe ', ‘Stand up for Justice' ‘Stand up for the end to violence' etc. They then joined hands to form a large circle to sing ‘Ishe Komberera / Nkosi Sileleli Africa' still carrying their placards. This is the Vigil's traditional end of day and as always many passers-by stopped to watch and were visibly moved.

We celebrated the birthdays of 3 of the Vigil management team: Luka Phiri, Addley Nyamutaka and Chipo Chaya.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Fridays, 10.30 am – 4 pm . Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre at T he Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Come and share a traditional lunch of sadza, nyama and relish. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park . For more information, contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

•  Saturday, 7 th June 2008 , 2 – 6 pm . Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 and Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471 .  

•  Friday, 27 th June – Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off. More details as plans firm up.

 

23 RD mAY 2008

mORE REPORTS FROM rESTORATION OF hUMAN rIGHTS IN ZIMBABWE (rohr)

zanu pf thugs stone mourners

21 MAY 2008

There was drama and pandemonium at Warren Hills cemetery yesterday noon at the burial of Cain Nyeve and Godfrey Kauzani, the two activists who were abducted and killed in cold blood in Mashonaland East. The relatives and friends were heavily shaken and confused after a mob of more than 100 Zanu PF thugs attacked the mourners with stones and sticks, effectively scuttling everyone in every direction, leaving behind the two coffins in uncovered graves.

Zanu PF thugs hijacked a local funeral procession to the cemetery and star ted chanting songs of war, whilst approaching the mourners. Upon reaching the graves, they star ted throwing stones and beating people. The burial was turned into a battlefield as the few MDC activists present tried to defend themselves with shovels and throwing stones back at the thugs. Unfortunately most of the people present were elderly men and women who were too grieved to fight. Everyone present ran for the thick bushes nearby, others tripping and falling on top of each other in the stampede. No one was left to cover the graves. It is a shame that, while the two young men had relatives and friends, they had to be buried like prisoners city council workers two hours later.

The burial ceremony was held at around 1100 hrs in Warren Park on 21 May 2008 . It was attended by relatives, friends, MDC activists, journalists and members from the civic society. Speeches were given by the fathers of the respective victims, Member of parliament for Glen View Paul Madzore, Sten Zvorwadza from ROHR Zimbabwe, Clever Bere from Zinasu, Machisa from Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and many others who lambasted the inhumane treatment of Robert Mugabe and his instruments of violence who have claimed the lives of two young men prematurely. They all took a swipe at the disgraceful conduct of the men who were paid miserable money to kill, whose figure do not correspond or justify the loss of human life.

Cain Nyeve's father bemoaned the death of his son, and pleaded with the CIOs, police and army not to victimize him. He expressed disappointment with the international community which is taking the situation in Zimbabwe lightly and failing to view the Zimbabwean crisis in the right context.

Sten Zvorwadza of ROHR Zimbabwe was direct about his message. He reassured the crowd that Mugabe would one day have to answer to the murder of the deceased, and all the other humanitarian crimes he has committed against the citizenry. He urged all the activists present to be resolved and take a bold stance in confronting the Zanu PF regime. He encouraged them to be bold and heed his call for mass protests to put pressure on the Governments to stop the arrests and detentions, abductions, torture, killings and disband all military bases in the rural areas.

Fazila Mahomed, a journalist with VOA news and Clever Bere, the president of Zinasu, were injured during the attacks. Both have since received medical treatment and are recovering at their homes.

tonderai ndira found dead

21- May 2008

ROHR Zimbabwe has learnt with shock the murder of Tonderai Ndira (33) one of its members who was abducted from his Mabvuku home on Wednesday 14 May 2008 by 9 heavily armed police. Tonderai Ndira was also the provincial secretary for security in MDC-T. His decomposing body was found in Goromonzi where he is believed to have been brutally murdered at an established Zanu PF base.

The news of Ndira's death was received in Harare yesterday after weeklong failed attempts to establish his whereabouts. Family sources said they were denied to see the body at the Harare Parirenyatwa mortuary. As of yesterday ( Wed 21-04-08 ) access to Tonderai's body was still difficult and MDC activists who tried to get his body fled from the hospital after noticing suspicious attempts by men manning the body to identify and apprehend them.

The disheartening news come barely two days after Godfrey Kauzani and Cain Nyeve, who had been abducted in Murewa and went missing for three days, were found dead dumped in the same area. Godfrey Kauzani and Cain Nyeve had their eyes plucked off and tongue removed alive.

So far more than 40 people from the Zimbabwe 's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been killed in the post election political violence.

 

  Press Release – 22 nd May 2008

Stand up for Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean exiles in the UK are to “Stand Up for Zimbabwe ” on Saturday, 24 th May. The event is part of an international event to commemorate Africa Day during the week of 25 th May. It is organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been standing up for Zimbabwe every Saturday afternoon for the last six years.

We will be standing up for Zimbabwe at 6 pm at the end the Vigil by forming a large circle and singing the African anthem ‘Nkosi Sikelele / Ishe Komberera Africa' in Ndebele and Shona. This is how we end the Vigil every week. We are often joined by passers-by who are visibly moved by our singing.

Depending on the weather, we are planning a mass 'lie down' as a way of graphically illustrating how many more people might die if the crisis isn't resolved.

We will also be asking supporters to ask their churches and community groups around the UK to organise ‘Stand up for Zimbabwe ' events on Sunday, 25 th May.

The international event is gathering momentum with regional events planned in several African countries – check: www.standupforzimbabwe.org .

Event: ‘Stand Up for Zimbabwe '

Venue: Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand , London WC2

Date / time: 2 pm – 6 pm , Saturday, 24 th May 2008 with singing of ‘Nkosi Sikelele / Ishe Komberera Africa' in Ndebele and Shona at 6 pm .

Photo Opportunities: Zimbabwean singing, dancing and drumming.

Interview Opportunities: Political activists, torture and rape victims.

Further information: Contact Vigil Co-ordinators Rose Benton (07970 996 003) and Dumi Tutani (07960 039 775)

 

20 th May 2008

A report received from our partner organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe .

TWO ROHR ACTIVISTS KILLED IN COLD BLOOD

18 th May 2008

Godfrey Kauzani and Cain Nyeve, who were abducted by the notorious state security agents and went missing last week, have been found dead in Goromonzi. The two bodies were already rotting in the bush when they were found on Sunday. Both were ROHR activists who participated actively in ROHR activism and demonstrations against the vagaries of the now defunct Zanu PF rule. They were visiting in Murehwa together with their colleague Tedius Chimedza and Better Chokururama who was their driver.

The vehicle they were travelling in was intercepted by two Toyota Hilux cars that had no registration numbers. The cars blocked the road in the front and back and armed men in civilian clothes jumped off their vehicles and kidnapped them in broad day light. Tedius Chimedza by some miracle managed to escape but Better was brutally murdered on the spot. He was stabbed several times until he passed out. Better was buried at Warren Hills in Harare , a funeral that was attended by ROHR members and other members of the civic society. Godfrey Kauzani and Cain Nyeve went missing for some days until their bodies were found on Sunday in the Goromonzi area in Mashonaland East. Cain Nyeve's eyes are missing, strong evidence suggesting that he was brutally tortured and had his eyes maliciously skinned out alive.

19 th May 2008

In a bizarre twist, a day after the recovery of Kauzani and Nyeve's bodies, the wives of both victims were abducted last night from their homes in Domboshava by suspected state security agencies. Their whereabouts is still shrouded in mystery and fears are growing that they might be murdered. Mrs kauzani was abducted in her home in Domboshava, although Mrs Nyeve's place of kidnapping is still to be verified.

Reports that have just been received confirm that the funeral of both Kauzani and Nyeve that was supposed to be held in Domboshava has been moved to Mabelreign where activists will attend the funeral since relatives in Domboshava have refused to gather there because of fear for their lives.

Tedius Chimedza, the only survivor, is in hiding and reports suggest he has sought asylum out of the country.

Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe members and staff express their shock and dismay and convey our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. We pray that the Mrs Kauzani and Mrs Nyeve will be found alive very soon. We mourn and at the same time celebrate their lives, which is a testimony of true heroes who dedicated their lives to the struggle for the people's rights and freedoms. May their souls rest in peace.

 

17 th May 2008

Vigil supporters were in shock to hear that three of our friends from the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) had been killed. They were apparently shot at point-blank range at a road block. We are distraught. Sketchy details were given by Ephraim Tapa, one of the Vigil founders, who reported on his recent visit to South Africa to promote ROHR. He made contact with a large number of Zimbabwean exiles and told us of the difficulties of their lives there. People without papers are constantly stopped by the authorities and money is demanded. In the case of women who have no money they are forced to go off in a car with the police officer and are raped. For Zimbabwean women the formula is: no papers + no money = rape. Zimbabweans in South Africa were very keen to star t a ROHR protest group (see last diary item).

More bad news: Elliot Pfebve , who came with us to Lisbon, reports that his elderly parents were kidnapped and taken to a torture camp – he has no definite news about them but has been told to expect the worst. Other members of his family were attacked, their houses raised and property looted. The Vigil's thoughts and prayers are with Elliot at this time.

Otherwise, on an unseasonably cold and wet Saturday, we had a remarkably good attendance. Some supporters came across two Zimbabweans down in London from Stoke-on-Trent who had apparently phoned the Zimbabwean Embassy to check if the Vigil was on! We didn't hear what their response was.

So the Presidential run-off is to take place on 27 th June. Of course we will be outside the Embassy on that day to run another mock election. We invite all Zimbabweans and supporters to join us. We must stand together.

FOR THE RECORD: 145 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Fridays, 10.30 am – 4 pm . Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre at T he Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Come and share a traditional lunch of sadza, nyama and relish. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park . For more information, contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

•  Saturday, 24 th May 2008 , 2 – 6 pm . Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 and Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471 .  

•  Friday, 27 th June – Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off. More details as plans firm up.

 

16 th May 2008

Zimbabweans look to ROHR for freedom

Founding member of the Vigil, Ephraim Tapa, has just returned from a trip to South Africa .  He was invited by Zimbabwean activists who were keen to participate in the on-the-ground protests of the Vigil and its partner ROHR (Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe ). His plan was to identify ordinary Zimbabwean activists and place them at the heart of the human rights campaign spearheaded by ROHR with the strong backing of the Zimbabwe Vigil. It is encouraging to learn that ROHR is now operational in three nations: UK , South Africa and Zimbabwe .

Walking down the street in Johannesburg Ephraim came across a large gathering of Zimbabweans and found they were part of the Zimbabwean community supported by Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church .  When he introduced himself he found that he was already well-known. He learnt that most Zimbabwean exiles in South Africa keep a close eye on the internet and the Vigil website among others.  Ephraim had a number of meetings with sections of the Zimbabwean community and was welcomed as a guest of honour and invited to speak to a 1000-plus group. He received overwhelming support for what ROHR aims to achieve for Zimbabwe . Overwhelmed by the level of support and the people's commitment to set themselves free, he established an interim committee to spearhead efforts to mobilise the Zimbabwean community in South Africa for the restoration of their rights. ROHR in South Africa and elsewhere is devoted the promotion of human rights through non violent protests.

While in SA he met many people with stories of the horrors of what was happening: an elderly man with his arm in plaster who had fled from the recent atrocities, a member of ROHR in Zimbabwe who had fled after sustaining broken ribs and being left for dead, 15-year-old girls turned prostitutes, victims in South Africa of xenophobic attacks including women and children now encamped in the bush for fear of more violence, angry former soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army and more.  Ephraim also visited the Home Affairs Departments in both Pretoria and Johannesburg where thousands of Zimbabweans spend countless days and nights waiting in a futile attempt to get papers. Zimbabwean refugees are desperate to become active and can bring a vital impetus to the struggle to restore human rights across the Limpopo ,

Shortly after Ephraim left South Africa , he was pained to hear about the monstrous xenophobic attacks on Zimbabwean and other refugees in the Joburg townships, which resulted in several deaths.

 

10 th May 2008

Free Palestine , Free Burma , Free Tibet . . . . Free Zimbabwe . It was a crowded agenda facing the passing public in London on a sunny Saturday.

With Palestinian supporters flocking to a rally in Trafalgar Square , it was the drumming, singing and dancing which drew attention to us. Some people question whether the singing and dancing is appropriate and we explain it is part of our culture. Just because we are singing doesn't mean we are happy at the awful situation at home.

The anger of the Palestinians, the determination of the Tibetans and the anxiety of the Burmese are shared by our anger, determination and anxiety.

We are increasingly contacted by people in other troubled parts of the world. Two Congolese exiles dropped by the Vigil and were keen to work with us. More support from the DRC came by email: "We are Congolese people. We support you against Mugabe. Africa is suffering with men like Mugabe, Kabila”. We are also in regular contact with Dr Tayeb, an activist for the suffering people in Cabinda . We met him during our protest in Lisbon last December.

We were pleased to have with us the musician John Law, a stalwart of the Zimbabwean rock scene of the 1980s and 1990s. His latest CD features tributes to Zimbabwe .

A welcome feature this week was the sadza and stew brought by supporters of our partner organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe . Last Sunday, ROHR activists held a protest outside the Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham and were given an audience with Archbishop Nichols who expressed his support. They are planning another protest in Slough , we will keep you informed as plans firm up.

Patson Muzuwa addressed the Vigil about the work of our coalition partner, the Zimbabwe Association (ZA), a support group for Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers. ZA has opened a women's weekly drop-in centre in Finsbury Park , North London on Fridays (see ‘For Your Diary' below for details).

We have heard from our friends in Glasgow that they had another successful Vigil. Their efforts are a great encouragement to us all.

Vigil supporters Sue and Francesca Toft have interceded with the TUC over the detention of the President and Secretary General of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions, Lovemore Matambo and Wellington Chibhebhe. Lovemore's niece, Mercy Mwakipesile, is a regular attender at the Vigil. The TUC has written to the Zimbabwean Ambassador in London expressing its deep concern.

FOR THE RECORD: 165 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Fridays, 10.30 am – 4 pm . Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre at T he Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Come and share a traditional lunch of sadza, nyama and relish. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park . For more information, contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

•  Saturday, 24 th May 2008 , 2 – 6 pm . Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137, Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471 .  

 

6 th May 2008

In view of the latest developments we have revised the flyer we hand out to the public on Saturdays. Here is the latest version (front and back).

WAKE UP WORLD! ZIMBABWE IS DYING!

The Zimbabwe Vigil star ted on 12 th October 2002 to draw public attention to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe . Since then it has met every week. The Observer newspaper describes it as the largest regular demonstration in London . It is not party political and welcomes supporters who agree with its mission statement: “The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London , will take place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe . The Vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe .” The Vigil has run various petitions – notably one to the UN calling on the Security Council to investigate gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe signed by some 100,000 passers-by. It has also lobbied Parliament and staged many demonstrations – including at the Africa / Europe Summit in Lisbon last December.

WAKE UP WORLD! ZIMBABWE IS DYING!

The Zimbabwe Vigil calls on the United Nations and the African Union to halt the violence in Zimbabwe . In the past decade a quarter of the population has fled the country. You see some of them here. At least half of those remaining face star vation. Any dissent is stamped on and all elections are rigged. Zimbabwe leads the world: highest inflation rate, lowest life expectancy, most orphans per capita, fastest shrinking economy. The Vigil urges President Mbeki of South Africa to end his support of the Mugabe regime.

Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.zimvigil.co.uk

Post: Zimbabwe Vigil, PO Box 49834 , London NW5 1UY

Vigil: Saturdays (14.00 – 18.00), Zimbabwe Embassy, Strand , London

 

3 rd May 2008

Zimbabwe is still very much in the news so we got a lot of media coverage of our demonstration in protest at Mugabe's post-election reign of terror. Fugayi Mabhunu gave three television and radio interviews while Stendrick Zvorwadza of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) was on the radio a couple of times. Others were also called on for media contributions.

ROHR activists were at the Vigil in force to express their abhorrence of the violence being inflicted on opposition supporters. Stendrick briefed the Vigil on ROHR's plans for actions on the ground in Zimbabwe . Ephraim Tapa, a founding member of the Vigil and also the founder of ROHR, is currently in Johannesburg at the invitation of South African activists who want to join up with the ROHR project.

To support our demonstration we displayed graphic images of the injuries inflicted by Mugabe's terrorists. They stopped passers-by in their tracks and people lingered to study cartoons about Mugabe's lunatic world.

The Vigil was galvanized by the singing of Ancilla Chifamba, now of the Glasgow Vigil. She had to relocate to Scotland and has helped launch a very successful Vigil in Glasgow . She came down with fellow Glasgow Vigil co-ordinator Patrick Dzimba and attended a Vigil team meeting to talk about the way forward.

FOR THE RECORD : 160 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY : Saturday, 10 th May 2008 , 2 – 6 pm . Next Glasgow Vigil. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information, contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150 and Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.  

 

PRESS RELEASE – 1 st May 2008

Protest against Mugabe's post-election reign of terror

Zimbabwean exiles and supporters are to stage a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday, 3 rd May, in protest at government instigated violence against supporters of the political opposition. The Africa Director of Human Rights Watch, Georgette Gagnon, said this week: ‘ The army and its allies – ‘war-veterans' and supporters of the ruling party ZANU-PF – are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way.'

The demonstration has been called by Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHRZim) in co-operation with its partner the Zimbabwe Vigil. Stendrick Zvorwadza of ROHR who is visiting London , will speak about the situation. His deputy in Zimbabwe , Tichanzii Gandanga, was abducted on 22 nd April and found in the bush 80 miles east of Harare two days later very badly injured.  Apparently he was forced to lie down on the road and then his abductors drove over his legs four times.  He is now receiving medical attention in secret in Harare , where the authorities are trying to track him down.

During the demonstration the following petition will be available for signature:

Petition to President Mbeki of South Africa

Exiled Zimbabweans and supporters urge you to stop supporting Mugabe and allow a peaceful transfer of power from the military regime to the Zimbabwean people. Our blood is on your door.

ROHR is an on-the-ground protest movement in Zimbabwe which was set up to give people the courage to stand up to oppression and fight for their human rights.

Event: Protest against Mugabe's post-election reign of terror

Venue: Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand , London WC2

Date / time: 2 pm – 6 pm , Saturday, 3 rd May 2008

Photo Opportunities: Zimbabwean singing, dancing and drumming.

Interview Opportunities: Political activists, torture and rape victims.
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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.