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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 18th April 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 April 2009 16:57
ZimVigil protest at the abuse suffered in Zimbabwe prisonsThere was considerable media interest in our Independence Day protest about the conditions in Zimbabwean prisons. TV and press photographers vied for the best shots. Public attention was grabbed by graphic pictures of starving prisoners and bodies piled high in Mugabe’s hell-holes. Many passers-by stopped to add their names to a special petition to SADC: “A petition to Zimbabwe’s neighbours: We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement – to put pressure on the new Zimbabwean government of national unity to stop the blatant abuse of human rights of prisoners in Zimbabwe who are dying of starvation, disease and torture.” Our protest was given added urgency by a report that cholera has begun to spread in prison.  

Patson Muzuwa of the Vigil management team explained the Vigil’s demand that the prison population be reduced to a level where those incarcerated could be properly fed and housed. Otherwise we were looking at a genocide. Patson, who has been imprisoned several times for his activism, described the abuses of a gulag system in which innocent people could be completely lost to the outside world.  Batson Chapata also talked of his horrific experiences in Zimbabwean prisons – going naked because clothes were not provided, having to eat food not fit for human consumption to stay alive and not being allowed to respond to calls of nature with the resultant filth in the cells. Batson was imprisoned for political activities in 1998 and prison conditions have deteriorated even further since then. 

Ephraim Tapa, another member of the management team and Founder and President of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), put our protest in the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He pointed to the Jewish Holocaust and said that in a way it could be compared to what was happening in Zimbabwe.  Our poster “Holocaust conditions in Zimbabwe’s prisons” will continue to feature in future Vigils until something is done about this crime against humanity. Ephraim went on to say “they can’t feed them, clothe them . . . . they are treated worse than pigs or dogs. Whoever – Mugabe or Tsvangirai – is in power we must have our human rights.” The Vigil was calling for an amnesty because prisoners were in most cases suffering far more than their crimes deserved.  

On another matter, our petition about aid to Zimbabwe has been amended to take in some suggestions and now reads “A petition to the UK government: We welcome the UK’s humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe but call on the UK government to withhold development aid until it is confident that the money will benefit the people rather than the corrupt Mugabe regime.” The Vigil management team met after the Vigil and agreed to hold a monthly forum on the last Saturday of every month starting on 31st May (subject to venue availability).  The team wants the opportunity to get to know supporters better and find out what skills and resources people have to offer.  Another decision was to form a stewardship group to make new supporters welcome. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

FOR THE RECORD: 362 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 20th April at 7.30 pm. Political analyst, blogger and writer Musekiwa Makwanya will speak about the future of the GNU.  Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·         Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.
·         ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday, 2nd May from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·         ‘Strangers into Citizens’ Rally. Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square.  Meet in Tothill Street SW1 at 11.30 for walk to Trafalgar Square. The event is preceded by services in  several churches including Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret’s, Parliament Square and Central Hall, Westminster. For more information: www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
·         First Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Proposed date: Saturday, 31st May. Date to be confirmed once venue secured.
·         Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
·         Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The 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).
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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 11th April 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 12 April 2009 17:38

The Vigil discussed plans for Independence Day on Saturday 18th April and agreed to mark the occasion by calling for an amnesty for prisoners in Zimbabwe.  The Zanu-MDC government has done nothing – despite the worldwide revulsion – to address the horrendous prison conditions shown in the recent SABC television report.   

Starvation, disease, filthy overcrowding – to add to the routine brutality and torture: prison in Zimbabwe can be a death sentence.   

The Vigil believes that the Zimbabwean government must only imprison the number of people it can cope with humanely according to generally agreed standards. Others can be given non-custodial penalties. After all, most of those released from prison will be saints compared to Zanu-PF’s murderous thugs still causing havoc in Zimbabwe. 

We will take a collection on Independence Day to help pay for food for those starving in prison.  

There was an enormous turnout despite the Easter holidays. Many people phoned to ask whether there was going to be a Vigil because it was Easter.  We said human rights abuses don’t take a holiday in Zimbabwe. 

The Vigil also discussed plans to lobby the UK government against allowing in the Zanu-PF Foreign Minister Mudenge. He has been proposed as part of a Zimbabwean delegation to come to Europe to ask for money.  We will point out that the delegation does not need a Zanu-PF representative – especially one subject to targeted sanctions – as the begging function has been devolved to the MDC in the unity government. 

Some other points:
·        Vigil supporters were sorry to hear that long-term supporter Geraldine Takundwa was seriously ill with a stomach ulcer.  We took a collection which a group took to her after the Vigil. 
·        A supporter from Northampton was distraught when she found she had lost her return ticket – happily she was rescued by Patson who found a group who had space in their car to take her back to Northampton (75 miles away). 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

FOR THE RECORD: 277 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·        Central London Zimbabwe Forum. No forum on Monday 13th April because it’s a public holiday.
·        ROHR Coventry fundraising event. Saturday 18th April. Time and venue to be advised.  Contact: E Nyakudya on 07876796129, M Sibanda 07788560068, P Makuwere 07533332306 or M Vijay on 07957907616
·        ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 25th April from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·        Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.
·        ‘Strangers into Citizens’ Rally. Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square.  Meet in Tothill Street SW1 at 11.30 for walk to Trafalgar Square. The event is preceded by services in a several churches including Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret’s, Parliament Square and Central Hall, Westminster. For more information: www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
·        Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
·        Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The 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).

 

 
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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 4th April 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 05 April 2009 16:33

Much talk at the Vigil about the plight of Zimbabwean prisoners. Most of us knew about the dreadful conditions in Zimbabwean prisons – some because we had experienced them ourselves. But such is the power of television that we were all shocked by the SABC report exposing the holocaust. We were sickened to hear Justice Minister Chinamasa say that the SABC pictures couldn’t have shown the situation in Zimbabwean prisons because cameras are not allowed in and the pictures must have been from some other country.  The only encouraging thing was that the SABC has finally cast aside its blinkers and decided to show what the situation in Zimbabwe is really like. 

The feeling at the Vigil was that something must be done immediately to save these poor devils starving to death. We despair of the new government. How can the MDC allow this situation to continue when so many of their own people are incarcerated?  

We noticed that Finance Minister Biti is now bleating about sanctions. What is he talking about? Has he been hypnotized? Has he not taken aboard the message that the West is not going to give money to Mugabe? People at the Vigil commented that the MDC ministers are beginning to sound and behave more and more like Zanu-PF. We were appalled that they were so keen to grab their new Mercedes instead of taking the opportunity to make a telling point to the world by refusing them.   

A lady from Botswana came past the Vigil and said she didn’t like our petition. Here it is: “A Petition to the UK Government:  In the light of the Zimbabwean power-sharing agreement, we call upon the UK government to withhold government aid to Zimbabwe until they can ensure that any aid will benefit the people rather than the corrupt Mugabe regime.” We can’t understand her complaint. Is the West expected to keep Zanu PF in power? Let SADC pay. 

It was an unusual Vigil because the Water Board had invaded our space and caged off two of our trees and one of our lampposts.  Renewal of sewerage they said – pretty appropriate for Zimbabwe!  We made the most of the barriers to display our posters showing the tortured and beaten. Despite the unity government we are told that there is still a lot of fear. Newly arrived Zimbabwean children are apparently too scared to come to the Vigil because of possible repercussions back home. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

FOR THE RECORD: 310 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 6th April at 7.30 pm. Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.       
·        ROHR Liverpool general meeting. Saturday, 11th April. Venue: Prescot Lodge, 52-56 Prescot Road, Fairfield, Liverpool L7 0JA.  Contact: D Chimuka on 07917733711 or P Mapfumo on 07932216070   
·        ROHR Chelmsford general meeting. Saturday 18th April from1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Springfield Parish Hall Centre, CM1 6GX. Sadza, Mazondo, neMaguru plus Zim music zviri jahwi. Remember it's Independence Day in Zimbabwe what do you say, are you free? Contact: Billy R Machekano 07908332724
/07765459538, Robert Mafigo 07944815190, Tendai Gwanzura 07961702832 or Faith Benesi 07958650670.
·        ROHR Coventry fashion show. Saturday 18th April from 3 pm – 2 am. Venue:  Stoke Aldermoor Community Centre, 3 Acorn Street, Stoke Aldermoor CV3 1DP. Contact: V J Mujeye 07534034594, Pauline Makuwerere 07533332306, Nash 07886660392, Christine Katsande 07958560094
·        ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday, 25th April from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·         Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday, 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.
·         Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The 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).
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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 28th March 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 29 March 2009 15:55

 The Vigil met as dark clouds swept past, spitting rain. When the skies brightened we took down our tarpaulin but within two minutes we were pelted by hail stones.  The weather failed to deter demonstrators who took to the streets of London in a protest ahead of the G20 summit meeting. There is a lot of anger at the greed of bankers and the negligence of the financial authorities which have precipitated the global economic recession.   

The Vigil engages every week with people passing by the Embassy, strategically situated near Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square.  By and large they are very supportive but we get the impression, certainly in the current economic climate, that it is unrealistic to expect tax payers here to bail out Zimbabwe when, instead of law and order, all they get from Harare is the threadbare rhetoric of entitlement from people who have made the country the poorest in the world (according to Forbes / Transparency International). Certainly, no one at the Vigil is making plans to return home and the word is that there has been a marked increase by Zimbabweans here applying for political asylum. 

People at the Vigil happily sponsored a London teacher, Steve Garvey, who is running in the London Marathon next month to raise money for the Vigil. 

Our sympathies to Luka Phiri of the Vigil management team.  It’s not Luka’s year. After being nearly deported to Malawi he has now caught chickenpox! Luka asked us to pass on his condolences to one of the Deputy Prime Ministers, Thokozani Khupe, whose mother died recently. ‘I knew her mum and her loss is my loss too’ he says.  

For latest Vigil pictures checkour pictures page. 

FOR THE RECORD: 285 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·       Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 30th March at 7.30 pm. Tor Hugne Olsen of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO speaks about the current state of human rights in Zimbabwe. Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·        ROHR Bedford launch meeting. Saturday, 4th April from1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 145-151 Midland Road, Bedford, MK40 1DW . Contact: Daniel Manyanga 07944176335 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/ 07932216070
·        ROHR Woking general meeting. Saturday, 4th April from1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 1 Elmdene Court, Constitution Hill, Woking, GU22 7SA. Contact: Thandi Mabodoko on 07886619780, Sithokozile Hlokana 07886203113, Siduduzile Sibanyoni 07588745353 or I Mudzamiri 07774044873
·        ROHR Manchester general meeting. Saturday, 4th April from1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: The Salvation Army Citadel, 71 Grosvenor Road, Manchester M13 9UB. Contact: Secretary on 07905371005 or Chair 07778547971 
·        ROHR Liverpool general meeting. Saturday, 11th April. Time and venue to be advised.  Contact: I Ndoro on 07872008846, D Chimuka on 07917733711 or P Mapfumo on 07915926323/07932216070
·        ROHR Coventry fundraising event. Saturday 18th April. Time and venue to be advised.  Contact: E Nyakudya on 07876796129, M Sibanda 07788560068, P Makuwere 07533332306 or M Vijay on 07957907616  
·        ROHR Leeds General meeting. Saturday, 25th April from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·        Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday, 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.
·        Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The 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). 

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 21st March 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 22 March 2009 15:27

The Vigil was not surprised that Mugabe’s appeal for a little help from his ‘friends’ has fallen on deaf ears. China, North Korea, Iran etc have, in effect, joined the AU and SADC in imposing ‘illegal sanctions’ (illegal sanctions being defined by Mugabe as not giving him what he demands).  

Vigil supporters turned out in great numbers in the spring sunshine. They expressed resignation at the hypocrisy of ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ South Africa. Suddenly Finance Minister Manuel is pleading poverty when the dysfunctional coalition government imposed by South Africa begs for start-up help. ‘Ask the donors’ he says, after having always insisted that these countries must keep their noses out of Africa.   

The Vigil noted that Manuel went on to bleat ‘We need to get farmers to produce . . .’  Well the Vigil wishes to remind him that SADC has an obligation to ensure the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Isn’t this what they guaranteed? Only then can there be a future for the coalition government it has promoted.   

Vigil team member Fungayi Mabhunu spoke about conditions in Zimbabwe during a visit to the Dolphin School in Battersea, south London, on Friday at the invitation of teacher Steve Garvey.  We are being sent pictures later in the week which will be posted on our Flickr web page.  Steve Garvey reports as follows: 

"33 children from Year 3 and 4 at Dolphin School in Battersea had the privilege of learning more about the plight of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe last Friday. They were able to ask questions and find out for themselves at first hand the suffering millions of people have to go through on a daily basis. This was due to a personal visit to the school by Fungayi from the Zimbabwe Vigil.  

The children had researched the country for the last few months and were up to date with events, but were not expecting to hear such harrowing stories. They were told how in one school twenty children had to share just two pens. They were amazed to hear that some children only got to school for eighteen days last year. Many were dismayed to hear that exam papers from two years ago had still to be marked. Fungayi shared his own personal story with them and ensured an accurate picture was established. What amazed them most of all was the fact that one pound could help feed one family for up to thirty days. One boy offered the small amount of money he had in his pocket to his class teacher there and then. 

The Year 4s have decided to take part in a sponsored event next month with all the proceeds going directly to one or two schools in Zimbabwe who desperately need it. This would allow them to buy pens and books, resources which British children take for granted. The Year 4 teacher Mr Garvey has also decided to raise money by running the London Marathon next month on behalf of the Zimbabwe Vigil (more details later). The event takes place on Sunday 26 April, so if you would like to sponsor him, please contact us. 

Fungayi was a great communicator and extremely informed. The children went away clearly moved by what they had heard and ready to do their part to help ease the suffering of the millions of Zimbabweans facing an uncertain future.” 

An indication of the scale of the Zimbabwean diaspora came at a reunion lunch in London today of Chisipite old girls born in the 1940s, attended by Vigil Co-ordinator, Rose Benton. About 30 people gathered from around the UK and one from the south of France. Several joined us at the Vigil afterwards. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/ 

FOR THE RECORD: 337 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 23rd March at 7.30 pm. Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·         Gravesend ROHR launch meeting. Saturday 28th March from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Gravesend Veterans Club, 19 Clarence Place, Gravesend DA12 1LB. Contact: Robson Makotsa 07927 900 558, David Masvodza 07765 645 418, Paul Makuchete 07967 837 862 or P Mapfumo 07915 962 323 / 07932 216 070.
·         ROHR Wolverhamton general meeting. Saturday 28th March from 1 – 4 pm. Venue 186 Chervil Rise, Heath Town, Wolverhampton WV10 0HZ. Contact: Colleen Maredza 07733 394 648 Veronica Chakeredza 07853 752 085 and Ivy Takawira 07796 234 060.  
·         Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday, 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of Zimbabwe Vigil.
·         Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The 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). 

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