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Commonwealth to save Zimbabwe? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 21st April 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 22 April 2018 15:20
Mnangagwa lookalikes

The Commonwealth is reported to have agreed to a rescue mission for Zimbabwe at its meeting in London this week during the visit by Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo.

The London weekly newsletter Zimbabwe Confidential says Commonwealth countries hosting exiled Zimbabweans have agreed to organize airlifts back to Zimbabwe to allow them to vote in the elections, expected in July or August.

The decision follows General Moyo’s announcement that, although no date has yet been announced for the elections, it was too late to organize voting in the diaspora as Zimbabwe’s diplomatic missions are hardly ever open and staff had not been approved by the Israeli Nikuv company which traditionally arranges Zimbabwe’s elections.

The UK’s ‘fly to vote’ operation is expected to be funded by its foreign aid budget and the new Zimbabwe Airways, apparently connected to the Mugabe family, will provide planes. All travel arrangements are in the hands of Vice-President General Chiwenga’s wife Mary and the diaspora will cast their ballots at a special polling station set up by the military on the Agriculture Rural Development Authority seed farm she recently seized near Harare.

The Vigil has done exhaustive research and is sorry to say that this is all fake news, or what we used to call Herald or ZBC news. We are particularly sorry because this scenario is the only way we can see that the millions of people in the diaspora will be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote and because it reflects our skepticism about the running of the elections.

With only three months or so to go before the polls, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network says it is dismayed at the lack of progress in implementing electoral reforms (see: https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2018/04/19/reforms-delay-jeopardises-polls). And now we learn of an MDC T activist being assaulted  by soldiers and kidnapped in Bindura on Independence Day (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-133628.html).

We at the Vigil have been busy following General Moyo’s visit to London (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/press-releases/934-zimbabwe-vigil-media-release-19th-april-2018-). As we gathered outside the Embassy today there was an unusual amount of activity at the normally recumbent Embassy and we were told that Moyo was there and that it had been suggested that he should come out and speak to us. He didn’t appear. We questioned those coming out and learned that it was an open meeting for the diaspora but when our activists tried to get in they were turned away. So much for ‘open meeting’. It was open for Zanu PF supporters only.

Other points

  • After a bitterly cold early Spring, we are experiencing a mid-April heatwave and would advise General Moyo and his coterie that it looks ridiculous in London to wear a woolly scarf in this weather – even it’s only in slavish imitation of President Mnangagwa who seems to have adopted the custom of wearing a scarf in Zimbabwean colours.
  • Vigil activists will be outside the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House on Monday when General Moyo is to speak. Check ‘Events and Notices’ for details.
  • Check: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/20/boris-johnson-says-britain-will-support-zimbabwe-return-commonwealth/amp/ for a comment from one of our activists Salani (Sally) Mutseyami on the premature nature of Boris Johnson’s comments that Britain would back a Zimbabwean bid to rejoin Commonwealth if presidential elections go smoothly.
  • Thanks to those who attended our weekday protests: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Chido Makawa, Daizy Fabian, Dennis Benton, Dumi Tutani, Eletha Mpofu, Heather Makawa, Martin Chinyanga, Mary Ndoro, Michelle Makoni, Rose Benton, Rosemary Maponga and Sipho Ndlovu on Wednesday outside the Zimbabwe Embassy and Abigail Chidavayenzi, Michelle Makoni, Rose Benton and Tozonziani Musanhi on Thursday in support of the Swazi protest outside the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Daizy Fabian, Isabell Gwatidzo, Heath Jiri, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Kennedy Makonese, Lucia Mudzimu, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Maria Mwaruwari, Morella Nhau, Ulibile Nkwate, Simon Nyanhi and Innocent Zvihwati. Thanks to Esther, Abigail, Ulibile and Chido for looking after the front table, to Isabell, Ulibile, Abigail, Maria, Heath, Simon, Heather and Chido for handing out flyers and to Daizy, Margaret, Abigail, Morella, Maria, Ulibile and Heath for putting up the banners. Thanks to Heather for taking photographs.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 21 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Protest outside Chatham House. Monday 23rd April from 4 pm. Venue: 10 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE. Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Moyo is speaking from 4.30 – 5.30. Vigil supporters will be outside to once again press our message for reforms to ensure truly free and fair elections. For more information check: https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/zimbabwe-s-international-re-engagement-and-socio-economic-recovery.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 19th May from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR Reading Fifth Anniversary celebration. Saturday 26th May from 2 pm till late. Venue: Pakistani Community Hall, London Road, Reading West RG1 3PA. There will be food, drinks, music, games, prizes and raffle and ROHR Reading will be presenting food donations to local food banks. Contact: Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806 and Deborah 07578894896.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Facebook pages:
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Zimbabwe Vigil Media Release: 19th April 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 April 2018 18:33

Grotesque Charade in London 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/26676653847/sizes/m/

Zimbabwe’s military regime was embraced in the UK while back home Vice-President General Chiwenga sacked all nurses in government hospitals for demanding a living wage. See: https://zwnews.com/vp-chiwenga-pointing-at-ed-mnagagwa-independence-day/.

Vigil activists were outside the Embassy in London on Independence Day when the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister General Sibusiso Moyo was present at a reception. The Embassy called the police who were happy to let our protest continue as long as we didn’t block the Embassy doorway.

The Vigil distributed the following leaflet: 

‘Lipstick on a pig’

 Exiled Zimbabweans welcomed the ousting of Robert Mugabe in the military coup last November. But the Zimbabwe Vigil cautions against prematurely embracing the new regime represented here by Lieutenant General Moyo, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

General Moyo is fresh from what the regime’s newspaper calls ‘a charm offensive’ in New York, where he parroted President Mnangagwa’s mantra that Zimbabwe is ‘open for business’. General Moyo said that, apart from economic reforms, the regime is undertaking ‘serious agreed political reforms’.

The Vigil has seen no sign of these and suggests that you would be wise to see whether the forthcoming elections are accepted as free, fair and credible.

Here’s what the Zimbabwean academic Dr Nkululeko Sibanda, Professor of International Relations at the University of Huddersfield, has to say: ‘No country develops out of putting a begging bowl for the rest of the world to donate to. He must develop the conditions of the economy on the ground, the fundamentals of the economy. In terms of the elections, I think it’s a serious challenge and it would seem as though the government is trying to put lipstick on a pig and hoping that it will look like something beautiful to marry. It is not.

'If they are serious about free and fair elections, they must forthwith make available a voters’ roll that can be inspected by any member of the public, at any particular moment, either for a fee or no fee at all. Failure of that, the election is just going to be a joke and will only be believed by those who are desperate to believe the ED (Mnangagwa) government.’

In our 16th year of protesting outside the Embassy it was interesting to see several of our former supporters joining the queue for the Embassy reception. 

Vigil supporters were on the street again today, Thursday, to support Action for Southern Africa’s protest against oppression in Swaziland outside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Pall Mall.

Pall Mall was alive with activity – 4 other protests were going on at the same time:  for Biafra, Barbuda and Sri Lanka as well as an LGBT group demanding that anti-LGBT laws should be abolished in the Commonwealth.

For photos of the protests, check: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157667947920628 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157695111977404.  

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The ‘new’ Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 14th April 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 15 April 2018 14:46

Murky dealings surrounding bankrupt Air Zimbabwe and the newly created Zimbabwe Airways have shone a light on the corruption and deceit at the heart of the Zanu PF government.

The fiasco was brought to a head on Wednesday when a secondhand Boeing 777 arrived at Robert Mugabe International Airport from Malaysia, apparently one of four planes bought for what some reports say was $70 million.

Transport minister Joram Gumbo said the plane belonged to Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company owned by Zimbabwe Airways, which is linked to the Mugabe family through the deposed president’s son-in-law Simba Chikore, former boss of Air Zimbabwe. Gumbo said the money had come from the diaspora.

But a totally different picture was given by finance minister Patrick Chinamasa who was at the airport for the arrival of the 12-year-old plane. He said it had been paid for by the government. ‘We kept the deal under wraps to avoid the trap of sanctions’, he claimed, although Malaysia has never imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Reports say President Mnangagwa ordered that the plane be parked with Air Zimbabwe’s fleet while the matter is investigated. Certainly, a lot needs to be clarified. It was interesting that Mugabe’s daughter Bona was at the ceremony with her husband, who was wearing the uniform of a airline captain. They are presently building a mansion on the top of a hill in northern Harare on land originally owned by the government, which had planned to build a school there.

Of course, no one expects any important Zanu PF figure to end up in jail, whatever they have done. The extraordinary indulgence shown towards former police commissioner general Solomon Chihuri proves this.

A parliamentary hearing was told this week that Chihuri had ordered the seizure of a safe containing diamonds worth millions of dollars belonging to a company which had been forced to enter a partnership with the police to mine the Chiadzwa fields. Of course, all the people in positions of responsibility at the time deny that they knew anything about the matter. Some seem to suggest they didn’t know what a diamond is and they had never heard of Chihuri or the police. Of course Chihuri himself didn’t turn up at the hearing.

Now we hear of an unfolding scandal about former army commander Vice President General Chiwenga’s wife Mary. It appears that she will be a busy lady, having been awarded a multi-million dollar contract ‘to provide travel arrangements for the office of the president and cabinet’. Since Mnangagwa has adopted the non-stop travel agenda set by Mugabe, she will have little time left to visit the farm she recently seized from the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority, which was meant to help meet the country’s demand for seeds.

 Other points

  • If you are interested in reading more about the mismanagement, corruption and incompetence which has brought down Zimbabwe Airways here’s an article from the Zimbabwe Independent on Friday: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/how-airzim-was-plundered-by-chefs/.
  • Vigil supporters will have a busy time over the next week. The Zimbabwean Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo will be at a reception at the Zimbabwe Embassy at 6 pm on Wednesday 18th April to mark Zimbabwe Independence Day. Vigil supporters will be outside the Embassy from 5.30 pm to press our message for reforms to ensure truly free and fair elections.
  • Vigil supporters will also be present at a protest outside the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Pall Mall at 11.30 am on Thursday 19th April. We understand Foreign Minister Moyo will be attending as an observer. We will be joining Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) who are organising a protest about human rights problems in Swaziland. See ‘Events and Notices’ for full details.
  • Moyo is speaking at the Chatham House think tank, 10 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE from 4.30 – 5.30 pm on Monday 23rd April. Vigil supporters will be outside from 4 pm to once again press our message for reforms to ensure truly free and fair elections. For more information check: https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/zimbabwe-s-international-re-engagement-and-socio-economic-recovery.
  • Thanks to those who came today and put up and took down the banners and posters, looked after the front table and handed out flyers to the passing public: Junior Madzimure, Michelle Makoni, Barnie Mandimika, Debra Ncube, Faith Ndhlovu and Sipho Ndlovu.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 8 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Protest at Zimbabwe House reception. Wednesday 18th April from 5.30 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The Embassy is hosting a reception for Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo from 6 – 8.30 pm and we will pressing for reforms to ensure truly free and fair elections.
  • Protest outside CHOGM. Thursday 19th April from 11.30 – 1.30 pm. Venue: outside the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. King Mswati III is likely to be there for the Commonwealth Summit. (19th April is also Mswati’s 50th birthday.) It is an opportunity to protest about human rights problems in Swaziland and the Commonwealth’s failings when it comes to dealing with the country. The protest is organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and they ask that members of the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Vigils join them. For more information, check: http://actsa.org/actsa-takes-action-at-chogm-protest-on-swaziland-19th-april-2018/. Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Moyo is also attending and we will press our message for elections reforms in Zimbabwe.
  • Protest outside Chatham House. Monday 23rd April from 4 pm. Venue: Chatham House, 10 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE. Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Moyo is speaking from 4.30 – 5.30. Vigil supporters will be outside to once again press our message for reforms to ensure truly free and fair elections. For more information check: https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/zimbabwe-s-international-re-engagement-and-socio-economic-recovery.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 21st April from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 21st April. Community outreach from 11:30-1:30pm. Venue: Broad Street, Reading. Awareness campaign on human rights in Zimbabwe, General meeting from 2-5pm: Venue: The RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS.Contact Josh 07877246251, Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806.
  • ROHR Reading Fifth Anniversary celebration. Saturday 26th May from 2 pm till late. Venue: Pakistani Community Hall, London Road, Reading West RG1 3PA. There will be food, drinks, music, games, prizes and raffle and ROHR Reading will be presenting food donations to local food banks. Contact: Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806 and Deborah 07578894896.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Facebook pages:
    Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil
    ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/
    ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515
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Britain changes Zimbabwe policy? – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 7th April 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 April 2018 07:09

Britain is reported to have adopted a radical new approach to Zimbabwe at odds with United States policy. A London-based fortnightly newsletter Africa Confidential says Britain is now promoting the idea of a write-off of Zimbabwe’s debts in exchange for a commitment to reform.

Until now Britain, like the United States, has insisted that new loans to Zimbabwe should be contingent on Zimbabwe settling overdue payments on its $9.4 billion debt to international financial institutions. This, however, is beyond Zimbabwe’s current means because of its massive government budget deficit.

Britain has been backing the so-called Lima plan as a way forward. This would involve new loans to Zimbabwe to repay the overdue money so that Zimbabwe would once again qualify for more loans. But for this to happen Zimbabwe would be required to make deep cuts in government expenditure, including the civil service payroll. President Mnangagwa has made only faltering movements in this direction and, with an election on the horizon, is unlikely to risk unpopularity, hence Britain’s reported support for a debt write-off.

It will probably be prepared to stump up a large part of this itself from the £14 billion (nearly $20 billion) a year it is currently distributing in foreign aid. But whether other donors would be willing to trust Mnangagwa’s promise of reform must be doubtful.

Africa Confidential says Britain’s proposal is not motivated solely by altruism. It says London would like to include Zimbabwe in plans to broker trade deals with African members of the Commonwealth when it leaves the European Union next year. It is encouraging Zimbabwe to rejoin the Commonwealth.

There has been no confirmation of the report from British government sources, which have denied accusations that Britain is biased towards President Mnangagwa.

For its part, the United States has taken a much more robust line towards Zimbabwe, extending sanctions and demanding extensive electoral reforms, including the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the prohibition of soldiers from campaigning for Zanu PF.

Other points

  • Last week a Chinese journalist came past the Vigil and took a video of us, check: https://www.pearvideo.com/detail_1313290?st=7.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Enniah Dube, Deborah Harry, Patricia Masamba, Sharon Moyo, Bianca Mpawaenda, Farai Mutumburi, Patience Muyeye and Tryness Ncube. Thanks to Bianca, Patience and Tryness for looking after the front table, to Rosemary Maponga, Farai and Nyarai Masvosva for handing out flyers and to Enniah, Patricia, Sharon, Bianca, Farai, Patience and Nyarai for putting up the banners.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 23 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Swaziland Protest. Thursday 19th April from 11.30 – 1.30 pm. Venue: outside the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. King Mswati III is likely to be in the UK for the Commonwealth Summit (19th April is Mswati’s 50th birthday). It is an opportunity to protest about human rights problems in Swaziland and the Commonwealth’s failings when it comes to dealing with the country. The protest is organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and they ask that members of the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Vigils join them. For more information, check: http://actsa.org/actsa-takes-action-at-chogm-protest-on-swaziland-19th-april-2018/.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 21st April from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR Reading branch outreach and general meeting. Saturday 21st April. Community outreach from 11:30-1:30pm. Venue: Broad Street, Reading. Awareness campaign on human rights in Zimbabwe, General meeting from 2-5pm: Venue: The RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS.Contact Josh 07877246251, Nicodimus 07877386792, Josephine 07455166668, Shylette 07828929806
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Facebook pages:
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Snivelling bullies – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 31st March 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 April 2018 17:46

It is debatable which was the most pathetic sight this week:

1.     Grace Mugabe complaining to the police that one of the invaders on one of her stolen farms had told her to piss off.

2.    Some of the most notorious thugs in international cricket bursting into tears when sent home to Australia in disgrace for cheating on the South African tour.

Or

3.     Notorious ISIS beheaders held in Syria expressing outrage that Britain doesn’t want them back.

But you can read about these diversions elsewhere. The Vigil’s attention was captured instead by an article in today’s edition of the British weekly journal the Spectator under the headline ‘The democracy delusion’ by two academics Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas.

The article, basically an advertisement for their forthcoming book ‘How to rig an election’, argues that rigging an election to stay in power now beats not holding them at all.

They say they have criss-crossed the world ‘from Thailand to Tunisia, from Belarus to Zimbabwe’, learning the tricks of the election rigging trade. They conclude ‘the façade of democracy is being turned into a tool of oppression because an increasing number of leaders have worked out how to rig an election – or hire someone to do it for them’.

It cites as an example Azerbaijan’s 2013 elections, when President Ilham Aliyev sought to boost his democratic credentials by launching an iPhone app that enabled citizens to keep up to speed with the vote tallies as ballot counting took place. But those who were keen to try out the new technology were surprised to find that the results were posted on the app the day before the polls opened.

Or how about this wheeze: ‘In the 1998 mayoral election in St Petersburg, the authorities sought to neutralise a rising opposition figure named Oleg Sergeyev. To do this, they found a pensioner and a tram driver who were also named Oleg Sergeyev and stuck them both on the ballot next to the ‘real’ Oleg. Because no photographs appeared on the ballot papers, voters didn’t know which of the three to pick, so the vote got divided three ways, and all the Olegs lost.’

Or this one: ‘In the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, voters in opposition areas were given pens filled with disappearing ink. When officials went to count the ballots, they just found a bunch of blanks.’

Come to think of it, weren’t there suggestions that the disappearing ink trick was done in Zimbabwe in one of our elections?

The writers conclude that, even in the West. few governments consistently live up to their rhetorical commitment to promote democracy. ‘The imperative of striking arms or oil deals and staying in power is simply more compelling than dealing with the messy and murky reality of widespread election rigging.’ (See: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/how-to-rig-an-election/.)

We will have to wait until the book is published on 24th April before we see what they say about Zimbabwe. But the authors will no doubt be aware of President Mnangagwa’s alliance with the military to rig previous elections, using the notorious Israeli company Nikuv. Zanu PF appears untroubled by the popularity of rallies addressed by the MDC’s new leader Nelson Chamisa. Perhaps their confidence is based on knowledge that the elections are already in the bag.  

Certainly Mnangagwa has not allowed any real reforms to enable a credible election. Chiefs have been bought as usual, the army is deployed in the rural areas ‘to ensure order’, the electoral commission is supervised by the military, the electoral roll is still to be made available . . .

Mnngagwa’s aim is to present Zimbabwe as a newly liberated country ripe with opportunities for the outside world to exploit. The UK, for one, has shown itself to be a sucker for this. After all, people ask: is Zimbabwe any worse than most countries?

Thanks to those who arrived early to set up by putting up the banners and tarpaulin and who stayed to the end to pack up: Heath Simbarashe Jiri, Rosemary Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Bianca Monicah Mpawaenda, Ulibile Mdlongwa Nkwate and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Patricia, Rosemary and Bianca for looking after the front table and to Heath and Ulibile for handing out flyers.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 15 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR fundraising dinner for ZimPAP. Saturday 7th April from 6 pm till late. Venue: Zaza’s Restaurant, 108a Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JE. Come and share an all-you-can-eat buffet. Tickets: £25. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Heather Makawa 07716391800. All proceeds will go to the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform which aims to raise money to train civilian peace keepers to educate people in their local communities on their constitutional rights as well as overcoming fear and intimidation during and after the elections.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 21st April from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • Swaziland Protest. Thursday 19th April from 11.30 – 1.30 pm. Venue: outside the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. King Mswati III is likely to be in the UK for the Commonwealth Summit (19th April is Mswati’s 50th birthday). It is an opportunity to protest about human rights problems in Swaziland and the Commonwealth’s failings when it comes to dealing with the country. The protest is organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and they ask that members of the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Vigils join them.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  •  Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Facebook pages:
LAST_UPDATED2
 
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