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Vigil Diary Archive June 2008 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 01 June 2008 00:00
Mourning the Death of Democracy – 27 th June 2008

Zimbabweans in the UK marked Election Run-off day with anger and anguish. Some 150 people gathered outside the Zimbabwe Embassy to protest against the death of democracy in Zimbabwe . The centrepiece of the demonstration was a black-draped coffin which was presented to the nearby South African High Commission, containing a petition calling on President Mbeki to stop supporting former President Mugabe. The South Africans would not allow our nominated person to present the petition because he was wearing our Mugabe mask so it was presented instead by his dear wife Grace dressed from top-to-toe in Harrods. The crowd outside the High Commission shouted “Mbeki must go, Mbeki out, out, out” with the encouragement of the well-known South African documentary maker Paul Yule.

Vigil supporters had walked from the Zimbabwe Embassy to the South African High Commission behind the coffin. They carried placards reading “Died for Democracy in Zimbabwe ” then the name of one of the many victims of the madness since the first round of elections, followed by “How many more have to die. Speak out.” Among the throng outside South Africa House were several elderly British war veterans wearing their medals.

A few snapshots:

•  The grief could not be contained when the coffin was laid down in front of the South African High Commission. People knelt by the coffin weeping and praying with anguished faces and patting the coffin.

•  The police outside the High Commission fell over with laughter when they saw the old war veterans toyi-toying. The veterans were in Trafalgar Square for a concert in honour of Veterans' Day.

•  Veterans at the Trafalgar Square concert were seen with their hands over their ears to protect them from the loud music of their own concert. We asked the person in charge to turn the amplification down for a few minutes while our friend from St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Reverend Richard Carter, said a prayer for Zimbabwe at 1.45 pm . The military fellow said “Absolutely not. We have a schedule and we are the Ministry of Defence. This is for veterans.” Our representative replied “Well, we are the Zimbabwe Vigil and we are for dead people”.

•  Although Mugabe was not allowed to present the petition, his good lady Grace was allowed to present it. So now we know that even Grace doesn't support Mugabe.

•  The clouds burst just at the time when our petition was handed over to the South Africans. The world weeps for Zimbabwe .

•  A man from the Embassy came and complained to one of our white supporters “There are not any white names on these posters”. He was referring to the posters naming the victims of the Zanu-PF onslaught since the first round of the elections. He seemed to assume that it was OK for black Africans to kill each other.

•  At the end of the day we tied the 100 placards in the bright colours of the Zimbabwe flag with the names of those who have died since the first round of the elections around the metal barriers that enclose our protest. We also left the black-draped, coffin-shaped ballot box propped up against the Embassy door with a cartoon showing Mbeki and Mugabe laughing “Crisis, what crisis” against a background of burning xenophobic violence.

•  Thanks to our mock Mugabe and Grace, Fungayi Mabhunu and Gugu Ndloviu Tutani, and to her husband Dumi Tutani who led the music with the help of Jenatry Muranganwa Thanks so much to our young supporters who helped to make this demonstration possible: Felix and Winny for the coffin and Hazel, Rowan, Annie and Rebecca for the posters. Thanks also to David who was responsible for the brilliant artwork of the placards and to Patty who galvanized everyone to make this possible. .

•  Jack Cooper took pains to join us. He now lives in Guatemala … an exile like so many..

 

26 th June 2008

We had a wonderful encounter with Nelson Mandela today. Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu joined human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell at Mr Mandela's hotel in London . They were there to alert people who might have pitched up for the planned picket cancelled because of Mr Mandela's welcome comments on the Zimbabwe situation on Wednesday night. Fungayi, speaking in hastily-learned Xhosa, said how pleased he was that Mr Mandela had spoken out about Zimbabwe and asked him to continue speaking out. A surprised Mr Mandela said OK.

The Vigil had planned to picket the concert for Mr Mandela's 90 th birthday in Hyde Park on Friday but in view of his support any message that we will give will be one of gratitude that he has spoken out.

The Vigil choir sang at the annual service in support of Zimbabwean victims of torture at St Paul 's Church, Covent Garden , organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. It was very moving to hear the accounts of the suffering of people at home. Flowers were laid at the Embassy after the Service.

We look forward to seeing you all on Friday for the mother of all non-elections. We will be joined by members of the MDC UK and expect a large turnout. The highlight of the day will be our protest from 1 – 2 pm outside the South African High Commission. Mugabe and Grace (or people looking like them) will be accompanying a coffin with our petition asking President Mbeki to stop supporting Mugabe. The South African High Commission have agreed to accept the petition which reads: “A 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 at your door.”

Our friends in Belfast also have an event tomorrow. The Bristol Vigil will hold an anti-election demo tomorrow to express their disgust.

 

25 th June 2008

MANDELA SPEAK OUT

Several Vigil supporters were among about a dozen demonstrators who gathered at Hyde Park on Wednesday evening as Nelson Mandela arrived for a dinner with leaders including Gordon Brown and former President Bill Clinton. They held up a banner saying "Mandela ignores Mugabe's terror. Shame", "Mandela speak out. Support a free Zimbabwe ". They were pleased when Mr Mandela waved at them.

The protest was organised by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who is organising another demonstration tomorrow (Thursday) outside the London hotel in which Mandela is staying.

Message below from Peter about tomorrow's protest.

Mandela protest on Thursday 26 June at 10am

URGENT ACTION

Call on Nelson Mandela to speak out against Mugabe's terror in Zimbabwe . If he spoke out it would have a huge impact in Zimbabwe and on African leaders. Nelson Mandela is in London all this week. He is staying at the Dorchester Hotel.

Protest:

10am Thursday morning 26 June The Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane , London W1. We will meet on the pavement outside the hotel at 10am sharp.

The Dorchester Hotel is in Park Lane between South Street and Deanery Street, just north of the Hilton Hotel (nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner). See this map: http:// www .google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Dorchester+Hotel+London&btnG=Search&meta=

Some placards will be organised by me, but people can also make and bring their own placards on the theme of: "Mandela, Speak out" and "Mandela – Help save Zimbabwe " Note: Placard slogans should be written in large, thick dark coloured letters on a light or white background (these photograph best).

THERE ARE RUMOURS MANDELA MAY SPEAK OUT TONIGHT - IF HE DOES TOMORROW'S PROTEST WILL BE CANCELLED.

 

24 th June 2008  

Stand up and be counted in Zimbabwe 's hour of need – mailout to supporters

Dear friends

Herewith the press release we have sent out about our activities on Friday. As you would expect there has been a lot of media interest.

You will see that we will be calling on Nelson Mandela to speak out about Zimbabwe . Many people think that a comment from him could help avert the unfolding tragedy.

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has always supported our cause, is organising two extra events to try to get Mr Mandela to say something. He asks for our support for the following:

•  Wednesday night (25/6) at 6.15pm in Hyde Park as Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton and world leaders arrive for a dinner in honour of Mandela (which he will also attend). This dinner will have guaranteed worldwide media coverage. We will meet at 6pm sharp inside Marble Arch tube station by the ticket office.

•  Thursday morning at 10 am outside the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane , where Mandela is staying. We will meet on the pavement outside the hotel at 10am sharp.

Peter is anxious there should be a good representation of black Zimbabweans. He is organising some placards, but people might like to help by bringing their own on the theme of: "Mandela, Speak out" and "Mandela – Help save Zimbabwe". Note: Placard slogans should be written in large, thick dark coloured letters on a light or white background (these photograph best).

We all know this is a crucial time and the fate of our families hangs in the balance so it's vital we all make an extra effort to be active for Zimbabwe . But please obey police instructions. They have been very supportive of the Vigil.

YOUR SUPPORT IN ZIMBABWE 'S HOUR OF NEED COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

 

23 rd June 2008

PRESS NOTICE FROM THE ZIMBABWE VIGIL

Zimbabweans in London mourn the Death of Democracy

Zimbabwean exiles are to stage demonstrations in London on Friday 27 th June outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, the South African High Commission and the Mandela concert in Hyde Park . The demonstrations follow the decision by the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of Friday's Presidential run-off because of the violence and vote rigging by the Mugabe regime.

The London demonstrators will mark the death of democracy in Zimbabwe with a ballot box in the shape of a coffin on display outside the Embassy. The coffin will be carried to the nearby South African High Commission containing a petition calling on President Mbeki to stop supporting Mugabe. The petition has been signed by many hundreds of people from all over the world passing by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been protesting outside the Embassy in London for the past six years in support of democracy in Zimbabwe .

Zimbabwean demonstrators will also be present at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park on Friday to urge Nelson Mandela to speak out about the situation in Zimbabwe . Mr Mandela will be attending a concert at the Parade Ground in Hyde Park to mark his 90 th Birthday.

•  Protest outside Zimbabwe Embassy – Friday 27 th June from 10 am to 4 pm. Ex-President Mugabe or someone looking very much like him will be there.

•  South African High Commission from 1-2 pm – presentation of the following petition: “A 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 at your door.”

•  After the Embassy demonstration we will move to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park to ask Mandela to speak out against Mugabe. The concert star ts at 6.30 pm .

•  For further information, contact: Rose Benton (07970 996 003, 07932 193 467), Dumi Tutani (07960 039 775) and Ephraim Tapa (07940 793 090).

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 21 st June 2008

The suffering in Zimbabwe as Friday's run-off election approaches has touched the whole world. Certainly, no one in the UK can miss the media coverage. There is a lot of anger too. One elderly gentleman signing our petitions said “I would like to sign Mugabe's death certificate and I'm a doctor, you know”.

Supporters had asked us to dedicate this Saturday as a prayer vigil and no one could fail to be moved by the outpouring of sorrow. Many thanks to Sally Sakala, a gospel musician and worshipper at God Solution Centre who led the impassioned prayers and hymn singing. We were happy to be joined by the Reverend Richard Carter of our local church, St Martin-in-the-Fields. We contacted him after attending a service there last week addressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Reverend Carter quoted Desmond Tutu: “Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death, victory is ours through him who loves us”. He said St Martin 's had always stood by the struggles of the peoples of Zimbabwe and South Africa and he believed that Jesus Christ was present in the suffering of his people in Zimbabwe . He prayed “Stop the violence, stop the oppression, stop the rule of hatred, begin the rule of justice and peace.” Everyone was heartened by the spirit of togetherness as we prayed in unity at this pivotal moment in the history of our country.

Zimbabweans are in every corner of the world. Walking along a canal in Brittany, supporters on holiday there saw a large banner on a house “Viva Zimbabwe ”. Zimbabwean John Knight and his French wife Cecile are living there and were delighted to welcome our supporters. John was the cartoonist Alpha Zulu whose work appeared in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

Thanks to Lynnette who kindly brought us food and drink. Thanks also to Chipo Chaya who did an excellent job of repairing one of our dilapidated old banners in readiness for our next decade of protest!

There was a big demonstration in Trafalgar Square by people opposed to the right wing British National Party and many of them signed our petitions as they passed. See below for details of our future events but our main focus is Friday when we hold a mock presidential run-off. We are outside the Zimbabwe Embassy from 10 am to 4 pm and have also booked a space outside the South African High Commission from 1 - 2 pm on that day. Our ballot box will be a coffin symbolizing the death of democracy in Zimbabwe . The coffin will be taken to the South African High Commission along with our petition: “A 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 at your door.”

FOR THE RECORD: 154 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Demonstration for democracy, rights and freedom for Zimbabwe . Monday 23 June 2008 , 12.30 – 2 pm organised by the TUC and ACTSA and supported by the Vigil. Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. On 23 June Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary of ZCTU are due in court to face charges of spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state. As part of their bail conditions they are not allowed to address political or public gatherings. For full details check www.actsa.org .

•  Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe , Thursday 26 th June 4 – 5.30 pm on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum supported by the Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off . Friday 27 th June 10 am – 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy + protest outside the South African High Commission from 1 – 2 pm .

•  Mandela 90 th Birthday Concert . Friday 27 th June, 4 pm in Hyde Park . Vigil supporters to attend the event with banners reading “Speak out Mandela” and “What about Zimbabwe ?”

•  Next Bristol Vigil . Saturday, June 28th in Gloucester Road , opposite Amnesty Bookshop

•  Next Glasgow Vigil . Saturday 5 th July, 2 – 6 pm .. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.

•  Shona / Ndebele Mass in Southwark. Sunday. 13 July at 6.30pm , Southwark Cathedral will be holding a special Eucharist for the Zimbabwean community in the Shona and Ndebele languages with a Zimbabwean choir.

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

 

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 14 th June 2008

Great foreboding at the Vigil. Everyone is worried about the atrocities in Zimbabwe . We fear for the safety of Tendai Biti and others in the forefront of the struggle. We were joined by Lovemore Mukeyani who spoke about the violence his family had suffered both in Zimbabwe and South Africa . The family in Zimbabwe had been targeted because Lovemore has been involved in protests in the UK . Also with us was Greshel Alibinu. She has been in and out of hospital in Southend for the past two months and was finally allowed by the hospital to come and visit us. We were encouraged by her dedication.

It's been a busy week for the Vigil and it looks like there will be no let up. For many of us it was our third demo of the week, after our meeting with Archbishop Tutu on Monday and the presentation of our petition to the South African High Commission on Thursday. A Zimbabwean lady told us at the Thursday event that she had been charged £80 by the Zimbabwean Embassy for a (free) passport application form. She was given a receipt! She still has to pay £200 US dollars for the passport. We are thinking of setting up a little business at the Vigil selling the application forms for, say, £1, if someone will send us a supply.

At the meeting on Monday with Archbishop Tutu we made contact with the clergy at St Martin-in-the-Fields and they have readily agreed to take part in our prayer vigil for Zimbabwe next Saturday. For details see below. We hope that a number of Zimbabawean pastors will attend and we have been informed that Southwark Cathedral in south London , which has a long association with Zimbabwe , is offering a mass in Shona and Ndelbele on Sunday, 13 th July at 6.30 pm .

More immediately, the Vigil is to take part in a demonstration outside the Embassy on Monday, 23 rd June organised by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor organization to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and the Trades Union Congress in support of beleaguered Zimbabwe trade union leaders. For more information, check for your diary below.

Prominent African civil society leaders have united to call for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and an end to the violence in the run up to the June 27 presidential election run-off. The signatories include a host of respected African leaders, renowned African artists and influential figures including Desmond Tutu. Civil society groups and individual citizens are invited to sign their letter at a dedicated website which can be found at www.zimbabwe-27June.com . We were disappointed that Nelson Mandela's name wasn't among the signatories.

PS a sign of hope. The pigeons are nesting in one of our maple trees. Five years ago Westminster Council told us not to attach anything to the trees for fear of damaging them. We have not been able to comply but the trees have thrived nevertheless.

FOR THE RECORD: 151 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Eucharist for Bernard Mizeki. Wednesday 18th June 2008 , 6.30 at Southwark Cathedral. The Zimbabwean Christian Fellowship Choir will sing.

•  Zimbabwe Association Refugee Day . Thursday, 19 th June 2008 , 10.30 am – 3 pm. Venue: Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent , London N5 1PF. ‘Different Pasts, Shared Future.' Addressed by Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Mayor of Islington and others. Performances of dance, drama and music alongside health and well-being sessions run by City and Islington College.

•  Prayer Vigil . Saturday 21 st June from 3.30 – 5 30 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy 429 Strand , London WC2. This will take place within the normal Vigil which runs from 2 – 6 pm .

•  Next Glasgow Vigil . Saturday 21 st June, 2 – 6 pm .. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.

•  Zimbabwe Day. Sat 21st June: 12 noon – 12 midnight Bristol Zimbabwe Association invites you to 12 hours of celebration: music, food & gumboot dance, plus Lois Davis' film “Women of Zimbabwe Arise”, and book launch of Nontobeko Moyo's “Trampled No More: Voices from Bulawayo” Venue: Pierian Centre, 27 Portland Square, St. Paul's, Bristol BS2 8SA. The event is part of Refugee Week at the Pierian Centre

•  Demonstration for democracy, rights and freedom for Zimbabwe . Monday 23 June 2008 , 12.30 – 2 pm organised by the TUC and ACTSA and supported by the Vigil. Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. On 23 June Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary of ZCTU are due in court to face charges of spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state. As part of their bail conditions they are not allowed to address political or public gatherings. For full details check www.actsa.org .

•  Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe , Thursday 26 th June 4 – 5.30 pm on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum supported by the Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Zimbabwe Vigil's Mock Presidential Run-off . Friday 27 th June 10 am – 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Mandela 90 th Birthday Concert . Friday 27 th June, 4 pm in Hyde Park . Vigil supporters to attend the event with banners reading “Speak out Mandela” and “What about Zimbabwe ?”

•  Next Bristol Vigil . Saturday, June 28th in Gloucester Road , opposite Amnesty Bookshop

•  Shona / Ndebele Mass in Southwark. Sunday. 13 July At 6.30pm , Southwark Cathedral will be holding a special Eucharist for the Zimbabwean community in the Shona and Ndebele languages with a Zimbabwean choir.

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

 

Zimbabwe Vigil's Protest outside the South Africa High Commission, London – 12 th June 2008

It was appropriate that the Zimbabwe Vigil's demonstration outside the South African High Commission in London took place on Thursday 12 th June. By chance Thursday was the day when the Zimbabwe situation was to be discussed by the UN Security Council. Unsurprisingly, South Africa insisted that only the humanitarian situation be discussed: the political situation (murders and tortures) was not important enough.

The same attitude was reflected by the Hugh Commission, which initially refused to accept our petition. It all had to be arranged in advance they said. Like the outcome of the Presidential Run-off? It was pointed out to them what bad public relations this was, and we would simply put the petition through the letter box. There is no letter box, they pointed out. Well we would go round the corner to the Post Office and send it by registered post. Then they changed their mind and allowed one person to take the petition in to reception. Let's hope Mbeki changes his mind as well.

To remind everyone , the wording of the petition: “ A Petition to Thabo 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.”

Accompanying it was the following letter to President Mbeki: “We have been horrified by the recent xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreigners in South Africa and enclose a petition signed on Saturday 7 th June by people passing by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London, every Saturday for the past 6 years The situation can only get worse if Zanu PF is allowed to cling to power. More and more Zimbabweans will have no choice but to flee. We believe there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and that you can help resolve it. We pray to God you will rise to this challenge.”

The idea for the demonstration came from the ground of the Zimbabwe Vigil and it was good to see people making such sacrifices to be with us. The singing and drumming made a strong impression on a Thursday lunch hour in Trafalgar Square . People going past saw our banners: “No to Mugabe, No to Starvation”, “End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe ” and “Mbeki: Zimbabwean blood on your hands”. The photographs of the recent atrocities made a great impact. When we explained what had happened in one incident a gentleman broke down in tears. The demonstration perhaps reached its height when, singing and dancing, all fingers were pointed at the South African High Commission. Without your help what hope have we?

We estimate that some 40 came to the Vigil but these are the people who signed the register: Doreen Mushowo, Dumi Tutani, Emmah Nyakurerwa, Enock Dzonga, Evelyn Mhande, Francesca Toft, Fungayi Mabhunu, Geraldine Takundwa, Gilbert Kandido, Jerry Mtotela, Josephine Kazembe, Khama Mutambanadzo, Lovemore Mukeyani, Luka Phiri, Masimba K Chikore, Mildred Mwakwami, Molly Ngawaimbe, Molly Denga, Nancy Chitiyo, Nancy Muparanga, Newton Chikwaina, Paradzai Mapfumo, Patson Muzuwa, Prosper Kasilika, Rose Benton, Roseline Motsi, Rudo Munhapa, Sue Toft, Teela Mukanhaira, Tirzah Loewenstein, Dennis Benton.

 

PRESS RELEASE – 10 th June 2008

Zimbabweans appeal to South Africa

Exiled Zimbabweans are to demonstrate outside the South African High Commission in London on Thursday 12 th June in protest at the South African government's policy on Zimbabwe . They will present a petition expressing horror at the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa in which more than 60 foreigners were killed and thousands chased out of South Africa .

A copy of the petition was handed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel peace laureate, at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London on Monday 9 th June. Archbishop Tutu described the situation in Zimbabwe as a nightmare and asked forgiveness on behalf of the people of South Africa for the violence against foreigners.

The petition reads: “ A Petition to Thabo 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.”

The petition was signed by people passing by the Zimbabwe Vigil on Saturday 7 th June and by people attending the St Martin-in-the-Fields church gathering attended by Archbishop Tutu.

The text of the letter to Thabo Mbeki reads: “We have been horrified by the recent xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreigners in South Africa and enclose a petition signed on Saturday 7 th June by people passing by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London, every Saturday for the past 6 years The situation can only get worse if Zanu PF is allowed to cling to power. More and more Zimbabweans will have no choice but to flee. We believe there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and that you can help resolve it. We pray to God you will rise to this challenge.”

Event: Protest against South African government's policy on Zimbabwe

Venue: Outside the South African High Commission, Trafalgar Square , London

Date / time: 12 noon – 2 pm, Thursday 12 th June 2008

Photo Opportunities: Zimbabwean singing and drumming

Further information: Contact Rose Benton (07970 996 003, 07932 193 467) and Dumi Tutani (07960 039 775)

As well as the Saturday Vigils, the Zimbabwe Vigil's plans include.

•  Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe , Thursday 26 th June 4 – 5.30 pm on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum supported by the Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Zimbabwe Vigil's mock Presidential Run-off . Friday 27 th June 10 am – 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Mandela 90 th Birthday Concert . Friday 27 th June, 4 pm in Hyde Park . Vigil supporters to attend the event with banners reading “Speak out Mandela” and “What about Zimbabwe ?”

 

9 th June 2008

Zimbabwe a nightmare says Tutu

The former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has asked for forgiveness on behalf of South Africa for the recent xenophobic violence against foreigners. He was speaking on Monday, 9 th June, at St Martin in the Fields, the famous London church on Trafalgar Square , where he blessed three Zimbabwean sculptures which have been positioned near a room named in his honour. Archbishop Tutu recalled that South Africans had taken refuge in other African countries during the apartheid years and said the attacks on foreigners were unacceptable. But on the positive side, South Africans had been horrified and many had been wonderful in offering help to the victims. Turning to Zimbabwe , Archbishop Tutu said it used to be a showpiece in Africa : “It has now turned into the most horrendous nightmare”. He called for a peacekeeping force to be sent to Zimbabawe and advised Mugabe: “How about stepping down? Oppression will not have the last word. Freedom will come to Zimbabwe .” Archbishop Tutu accepted a copy of a petition from the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy every Saturday for the past 6 years. The petition calls on President Mbeki of South Africa to stop supporting Mugabe and allow a change of government in Zimbabwe so Zimbabwean exiles can return home. The petition was presented by Chipo Chaya and Arnold Kuwewa of the Vigil management team. The pettion proper is to be presented to the South African High Commission at a demonstration by the Zimbabwe Vigil on Thursday 12 th June from 12 noon to 2 pm . The Archbishop was introduced to the crowded assembly by the Reverend Nicholas Holtam who recalled the days when there was a vigil outside South Africa House against the apartheid regime. Now, he said, it had been replaced by the Vigil outside Zimbabwe House.

 

7 th June 2008

The Mugabe regime's decision to stop aid organisations feeding the star ving has led the news bulletins. Passers-by showed great sympathy, especially following Mugabe's cynical rhetoric at the world food conference in Rome . Many stopped to discuss the situation and also signed our special petition addressed to Mugabe's protector, 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.”

As we only ran this petition for one day there are not the thousands of signatures we normally collect but we want to give a copy to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who on Monday 9 th June is to visit St Martin in the Fields church in nearby Trafalgar Square to speak at a service for peace, including the blessing of three Zimbabwean sculptures. The Vigil has been invited to attend are hoping for a good turnout of Vigil supporters in our t-shirts distributing our leaflets explaining the situation in Zimbabwe .

On Thursday 12 th June we are to present the petition proper to the South African High Commission next door to St Martin in the Fields. The Vigil will be protesting there for two hours from 12 noon to 2 pm with blood-red banners reading “Mbeki, Zimbabwean blood on your hands”.

We intend asking the clergy at St Martin 's, famous for its international approach, to join us in a prayer Vigil on Saturday 21 st June along with Zimbabwean pastors and other ministers.

As you will know, Western governments are lost for a response to Mugabe's moves. The new leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third largest party in the UK , Nick Clegg, has called on governments to stop financial remittances to Zimbabwe . Obviously our supporters are disturbed at this (unworkable) suggestion. The diaspora knows that the money being sent back to Zimbabwe is helping keep Mugabe in power but do not think that star ving our relatives is an answer. The Vigil is to seek a meeting with Kate Hoey of the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe to suggest other options for securing change in Zimbabwe .

These include the action proposed in one of our petitions. “ 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. We suggest that the money should instead be used to feed the star ving in Zimbabwe ”. The money involved is quite substantial. The UK alone is the world's largest foreign aid donor after the US : among SADC countries it gave £75m to DRC, £61m to Zambia , £63m to Malawi , £56m to Mozambique etc etc in 2006/2007.

If SADC allows Mugabe to steal the Presidential Run-off on 27 th June we will ask Ms Hoey and others to press for this action to be taken against SADC and also launch a campaign to persuade FIFA to move the 2010 World Cup from South Africa. To underline the crucial role that South Africa plays in the Zimbabwe crisis we are seeking police permission to form a human chain from Zimbabwe House to South Africa House on election day, when we are holding another mock ballot outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.

The evening before, on Thursday 26 th June, the Vigil will be taking part in the annual service in support of Zimbabwean victims of torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. This year there will be even more horrifying pictures on display. See ‘For Your Diary.'

Nelson Mandela is visiting London to mark his 90 th birthday which is being commemorated at a concert in Hyde Park on the day of the Presidential Run-off. Some Vigil supporters will be going to Hyde Park with banners reading “Speak out Mandela” and “What about Zimbabwe ?”

We are having difficulty keeping one of our posters up to date. It reads “ Zimbabwe leads the World” then lists devastating statistics. First on the list is “Highest inflation”. We have had to cross out the March elections figure of 100,000% and change it to 2,000,000%! Further down the list is a statistic about documented torture cases – we have simply had to add “plus, plus, plus” at the end.

FOR THE RECORD: 155 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:

•  Archbishop Desmond Tutu in London . Monday 9 th June 6.30, St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square .   Archbishop Tutu will be at St Martin 's to speak at a short service for peace including the blessing of three Zimbabwean sculptures by the room that has been named after him. St Martin 's write ‘please come as this is a wonderful opportunity to meet Archbishop Tutu and all are very welcome'.

•  Protest against the xenophobic violence in South Africa . Thursday 12 th June 12 noon – 2 pm outside the South African High Commission, Trafalgar Square . We will ask the High Commissioner to pass on our special petition to President Mbeki.

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

•  ‘The Twilight Rainbow'. Until Sunday 15 th June. Theatre Under-Fire (TUF) Productions' dance and music production “The Twilight Rainbow” at the Warehouse Theatre, Dingwall Rd, CR0 2NF, Croydon, adjacent East Croydon station. Check: www.warehousetheatre.co.uk , 020 8680 4060 for more information and tickets or contact TUF Director, Peter Mutanda, on 07939 704 448. The performers are Zimbabwean refugees and asylum seekers.

•  Prayer Vigil . Saturday 21 st June from 3.30 – 5 30 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy 429 Strand , London WC2. This will take place within the normal Vigil which runs from 2 – 6 pm .

•  Next Glasgow Vigil . Saturday 21 st June 2 – 6 pm .. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Ancilla Chifamba , 07770 291 150, Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137 or Jonathan Chireka, 07504 724 471.

•  Service of Solidarity with Torture Survivors of Zimbabwe , Thursday 26 th June 4 – 5.30 pm on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum supported by the Vigil. Venue: St Paul 's Church, Bedford Street , Covent Garden WC2E 9ED . All welcome to join the service and post-service procession to lay flowers on the steps of the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Zimbabwe Vigil's mock Presidential Run-off . Friday 27 th June 10 am – 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.

•  Mandela 90 th Birthday Concert . Friday 27 th June, 4 pm in Hyde Park . Vigil supporters to attend the event with banners reading “Speak out Mandela” and “What about Zimbabwe ?”

 

4 th June 2008

A lot of protests and events are coming up – PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT.

Zimbabwe Vigil Protests

•  Protest against the xenophobic violence in South Africa . Thursday, 12 th June 2008 , 12 noon – 2 pm outside the South African High Commission, Trafalgar Square . 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.”

•  Zimbabwe Vigil's mock Presidential Run-off . Friday, 27 th June, 10 am – 4 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand , London WC2.

•  Prayer Vigil . 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.

Information needed

We are trying to establish which of the African governments applauded Mugabe at the Rome meeting. Please can anyone help us with information. The UK is the world's second largest foreign aid donor after the US : amongst SADC countries it gave £75m to DRC, £61m to Zambia . £63m to Malawi , £56 to Mozambique etc etc in 2006/2007. We want this money stopped from countries that applaud Mugabe and instead sent to the tortured and star ving people of Zimbabwe

Other protests

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

•  Belfast Vigil. Saturday, 7 th June 2008 , 1- 3 pm . The Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign will hold a vigil outside City Hall, Belfast to protest against the post-election violence.

Other Events

•  ‘The Twilight Rainbow'. Friday, 30 th May – Sunday, 15 th June 2008 . Theatre Under-Fire (TUF) Productions' dance and music production “The Twilight Rainbow” at the Warehouse Theatre, Dingwall Rd, CR0 2NF, Croydon, adjacent East Croydon station. Check: www.warehousetheatre.co.uk , 020 8680 4060 for more information and tickets or contact TUF Director, Peter Mutanda on 07939 704 448. the performers are Zimbabwean refugees and asylum

•  Archbishop Desmond Tutu in London . Monday, 9 th June, 6.30, St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square .   Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be coming to St Martin's to speak at a short service for peace including the blessing of three Zimbabwean sculptures, gathered around the light well in the new underground spaces, by the room that has been named after him, The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Room. This will be followed by a reception until 7.30 pm . Please come, as this is a wonderful opportunity to meet Archbishop Tutu and all are very welcome.
 

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.