Mnangagwa must be honest about genocide – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 10th February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 February 2018 16:07
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The Vigil has launched a new petition calling on President Mnangagwa’s government to account properly for Gukurahundi. The petition reads: Zimbabwe has reportedly been encouraged by the UK Government to apply to rejoin the Commonwealth. Zimbabweans in exile in the UK, and supporters, urge the UK not to support readmission until the ruling Zanu PF satisfactorily addresses the genocide of some 20000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. A simple apology would be a start but we believe an independent truth and reconciliation process offers the best hope of healing the still bleeding wounds. 

The Vigil believes the steps taken so far by the Zimbabwean government will not adequately address the genocide, during which children were made to watch their parents being burnt alive in their homes, their remains thrown down abandoned mineshafts. The truth needs to be made public and those involved must express contrition, with reparations made to those wronged.


The new petition, which will also be posted online, joins another one we are running that calls on the British government to withhold any support for the new regime until there are free and fair internationally monitored elections. The petition to UK Africa Minister Harriett Baldwin reads: Zimbabwean exiles and supporters welcome your visit to Zimbabwe and believe the UK has much to contribute to the country. The euphoria over the removal of the Mugabes has given way to realisation that nothing else has changed. The new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke of democracy but also made clear his overriding allegiance to Zanu PF, which has repeatedly shown it does not believe in democracy. We urge you to insist on free and fair elections in Zimbabwe to determine the will of the people before the UK offers support to Mnangagwa. In particular, we stress the importance of the following: New voters’ roll and an independent election commission, Diaspora vote, Participation of Western election observers, Opposition access to state radio and television, Police reform and the disbanding of the Central Intelligence Organisation.


The British government appears to be enthusiastically embracing Mnangagwa’s government but reports suggest that other European Union countries are taking a more cautious approach, insisting on firm evidence that Zimbabwe is on the road to reform (see: https://www.theindependent.co.zw/2018/02/09/britain-eu-divided-zim-funding/).


The Vigil believes that Zimbabwe will be helped on this road by the elevation of Cyril Ramaphosa to the South African Presidency as soon as disgraced President Zuma can be dragged out of office. Reports quote a close ally of Ramaphosa as describing Zuma as a ‘monster’ who ‘does not care about his country, not even its people’ (see: https://city-press.news24.com/News/no-immunity-for-zuma-the-monster-but-ramaphosa-needs-to-avoid-bloodshed-20180208).


Other points

  • The South African High Court has begun hearing a case against President Zuma for his role in closing down the SADC Tribunal which dealt with human rights. Zimbabwean human rights campaigner Ben Freeth, who had successfully taken Mugabe to the Tribunal over farm seizures, reports that the hearing went well and a judgment is expected in the next three weeks (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/918-newsletter-from-the-mike-campbellc-foundation-sadc-tribunal-court-hearing-6-february-2018).
  • The Vigil would like to pay tribute to our friend Father Ted Rogers who died recently at the age of 93. The Times newspaper in the UK has carried an obituary which recalls him saying when he retired to England: ‘After 51 years in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe I have left with three pairs of trousers, five shirts, two pairs of shoes, a four-year-old laptop and a camera,’ he said. ‘I am not just resigned, but peaceful and happy.’ We were always happy when he joined us at the Vigil (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/919-obituary-father-ted-rogers).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up and stayed to the end to pack up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Viola Chihota, Edward Ndlovu, Soneni Sibanda, Peter Sidindi, Namatirai Sithole and Ephraim Tapa. Special thanks to Edward, Peter and Ephraim for putting up the tarpaulin at the start of yet another wet, cold Vigil. Thanks also to Abigail and Soneni for taking care of the front table and to Namatirai, Faith Ndhlovu and Debra Ncube 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. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.


FOR THE RECORD: 18 signed the register.



Obituary: Father Ted Rogers PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 February 2018 12:50


Liverpudlian priest who ignored death threats to train black social workers in the townships of pre–independence Rhodesia

When Father Ted Rogers set up a school in what was then Rhodesia to train young black people to become social workers his photograph was spat on, he was called a “kaffir-boetie” (lover of blacks) and told that he could be made to “disappear”.

His Jesuit superiors sent him to southern Africa in 1960 and charged him to do “social work” in the townships. Ignoring threats, the working class Liverpudlian decided it would be better to train young black people to do it instead and founded what is now the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Social Work in a disused school in Salisbury (now Harare) in 1964.

Although at that point he had no training in social work, Rogers instinctively realised the need to train students in community work that tied in with African social and family structures. In his later work in HIV/Aids he saw western medicine’s emphasis on confidentiality as a barrier because in traditional African society, the whole family would rally around an ill relative and help.

At the same time, Rogers was one of the first to speak publicly against the segregationist land acts of the prime minister Ian Smith and tracked atrocities against blacks by government forces. Priestly colleagues were deported or imprisoned under Smith’s white government and some priests were abducted and allegedly murdered by the nationalist opposition. Rogers remained as a witness to all the unrest that has broiled the nation ever since; a month before his death he published Missionary Martyrs of Rhodesia and Zimbabwe 1976-1988.

He also worked with drought victims, refugees displaced by the civil war and the families of political prisoners. With the coming of independence in 1980 and the end of civil war, Rogers was approached by the then president Canaan Banana to help in establishing training that would allow former combatants to return to civilian life and complete their education.

Rogers started the Kushinga-Phikelela Agricultural Institute and he also helped to reopen rural schools and missions. He worked with the Justice and Peace Commission, which exposed the deaths of 20,000 Ndebele civilians in Matabeleland by Robert Mugabe’s army in the 1980s.

Edward Rogers was born in Liverpool in 1924, the third of the nine children of Edward and Ellen, devout working-class Catholics. He was educated by the Christian Brothers and joined the wartime Merchant Navy at the age of 17. On his first voyage the ship was torpedoed and he spent four days, with 120 others, in blazing sun on two overcrowded lifeboats off the African coast.

That close encounter with death prompted him to ask what he could do with his life. The answer was to enter the priesthood. He trained as a Jesuit and worked with the Apostleship of the Sea in east London. He was ordained in 1958 and sent to Rhodesia in 1960.

Rogers retired as principal of the School of Social Work in 1985, but a year later he was asked by Zimbabwe’s bishops to create an Aids programme in the face of denial, ignorance and lack of public understanding about the disease. The counselling, training, public information and education for young people that he set up in Zimbabwe rivalled anything in Britain. While deaths from Aids were running at 3,000 a week, infection rates dropped from about 30 per cent in 2000 to 17 per cent a decade later. His work on Aids expanded when he acted as director of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa for several years.

He returned to the UK in 2011 because of ill health and spent his retirement at the Corpus Christi Jesuit Community in Boscombe, Dorset, where increasing frailty never dampened his jollity and humour.

“After 51 years in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe I have left with three pairs of trousers, five shirts, two pairs of shoes, a four-year-old laptop and a camera,” he said. “I am not just resigned, but peaceful and happy.”

Father Ted Rogers SJ, Catholic priest and social activist, was born 9 November, 1924. He died on December 30, 2017, aged 93

Newsletter from the Mike CampbellC Foundation SADC Tribunal court hearing 6 February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 11 February 2018 12:43

We would like to thank everyone who prayed for our Court Case this week against President Jacob Zuma in the Pretoria High Court for his role in unilaterally closing down southern Africa's regional court, the SADC Tribunal, in 2012.

The hearing went extremely well. We were before three High Court Judges, including the Judge President. Our advocate, Jeremy Gauntlett QC SC, gave the main argument. There were also three other advocates arguing against President Zuma. They were acting for the Law Society of South Africa, who initiated the case, and other human rights organisations. Another advocate argued for President Zuma.

It was argued that President Zuma, by signing the Protocol which took away the rights of Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens to go to the SADC Tribunal on human rights issues, was not acting consistently with his constitutional duties. 

Advocate Gauntlett said that the President carries with him the Constitution of South Africa at all times. Conduct inconsistent with the Constitution was invalid.

He also argued that the SADC Tribunal's existence was an integral part of the SADC Treaty.

He went on to say that President Zuma acted in an irrational manner by not then going through the necessary steps to ratify his action through Parliament - and that there was no legitimate government objective in President Zuma's action. 

It was argued that President Zuma's signature - in removing access to the Tribunal for individual SADC citizens - ignored the vested rights of the 277 million citizens and was done in bad faith. 

It was pointed out that President Zuma had ignored the SADC Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General recommendations, as well as the World Trade Institute Advisors (WTIA) report.

Instead of taking steps against the perpetrator (Zimbabwe) he had taken steps against both the Judges and the victims of the perpetrator.

Advocate Gauntlett said "it was the jewel in the crown; the engine; the heart beat of the Tribunal to deal with human rights issues."

When SADC created the Tribunal, which was officially established in August 2005, it was created for human rights. This was the heart of it. There was also a Constitutional obligation to protect and advance human rights.

There was no explanation as to why the compensation case of Zimbabwean farmers Jarrett et al had not been allowed to continue. Zimbabwe violated the SADC Treaty so it is irrational that that this should not have been addressed. The closing of courts is contrary to international law and the SADC Treaty.

President Zuma operated at the highest level and had a Constitutional obligation to protect and advance human rights but did the opposite, also failing in his democratic obligations for a participatory process in lawmaking. 

If you take courts away, it is also contrary to the Constitution.

It was confirmed that Constitutional obligations are not trumped by comity (the need to act together with other states like Zimbabwe).

All arguments went well and they were completed in a single day, with excellent engagement from the Judges. We should be given a judgment in the next three weeks.

Many thanks again for your prayers and thank you to our amazing legal team, especially advocates Willie Spies, Jeremy Gauntlett and Frank Pelser.

Ben Freeth

Britain engages new Zimbabwe regime – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 3rd February 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 04 February 2018 20:59

The new British Africa minister, Harriett Baldwin, will have found her visit to Zimbabwe full of the promise of change – the latest being the decision announced by Air Chief Marshal (rtd) Perence Shiri, now Agriculture Minister, to give 99 year leases to white as well as black farmers.

Ms Baldwin will no doubt have been given a beaming welcome by Lieutenant General (rtd) Sibusiso Moyo, the new Foreign Minister, before her meeting with President Mnangagwa. She will have found a totally new face to Zanu PF, apart from the participation of the military. Gone is the bombastic aggression, replaced by an apparent eagerness to mend fences. ‘Apparent’ because Mnangagwa’s recent comment that Mugabe ‘never made any mistakes’ must cause some doubt.

Comrade Mnangagwa had blindly followed his master for 40 years before the military coup and is now busy reversing all Mugabe’s policies – and yet he maintains Mugabe was always right! It doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) understands it. A passer-by hurled a copy of the Party’s magazine Proletarian on the Vigil front table today. Its front page lead was ‘Tribute to Comrade Robert Mugabe’. The article started: ‘A sad end to an illustrious life in the service of the oppressed masses’ (see: http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=1339). The party is not to be confused with the Communist Party of Great Britain, Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), or Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) – as many factions as the MDC!

Ndebeles might be particularly interested in the article’s comment about Gukurahundi: ‘Nkomo staged a rebellion in Matabeleland, which was rightly crushed by the government. Instead of blaming Mugabe for the resultant bloodshed, as the imperialist media and politicians alike have done, the blame should be firmly placed on the shoulders of those who staged that provocation.’

Other points

  • Thanks to all those who helped out today: a special thanks to David Makuyana and Casper Nyamakura for their heroic efforts in putting up the tarpaulin at the third cold and wet Vigil in a row. They were helped by Edna Mdoka, Xoliso Sithole, Constance Mbiri, Phillip Mponga, Sharon Moyo and Benjamin Chigamba. Thanks also to Sharon, Edna, Margaret Munenge and Chido Makawa for looking after the front table, to Rosemary Maponga, Racqueline Changunda and Tawanda Chitate for handing out flyers and to Heather Makawa Chitate for taking extra photos.
  • Photos of today’s ROHR general members’ meeting can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157693033155775.

 For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

 FOR THE RECORD: 31 signed the register.


Internal contradictions – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 27th January 2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 28 January 2018 14:49

President Mnangagwa got a good hearing at the annual ‘movers and shakers’ jamboree at Davos in the Swiss Alps. People were curious to see whether he was another boring lunatic like his mentor Mugabe. They were quite reassured. 

Absent was the pseudo-Marxist ranting about colonial oppression and capitalist looting – always rather ironic given that the Great Man was adept at oppression and looting himself without any foreign assistance. (Just the help of the same type of tarted-up chancers who always appear at Davos.)

But the truth is that Mnangagwa can only be a disappointment. He promises miracles but the crucial things he can’t deliver. His problems were exposed in an interview with the BBC in Davos in which he was questioned about Gukurahundi. He made it clear that Zanu PF would not apologise or allow a real truth and reconciliation process as took place in South Africa. Of course, the circumstances there were different: the Whites in South Africa were out of power when they confessed their crimes in return for an amnesty. In Zimbabwe the perpetrators are still clinging to power and want to stay in control (see: https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/victims-relive-zimbabwe-massacres-that-taint-new-leader-20180126).

Zanu PF’s looting is another problem. A stream of virtue signals from Mnangagwa – top people must declare their assets etc – seem designed to reassure the until-now despised West. But he will not convince Zimbabweans that corruption has been dealt with while current cabinet members are contaminated by ill-gotten gains.

And then there is the question of Mugabe himself. Mnangagwa says he has not been given immunity from prosecution but what will he do about the flood of court cases which will engulf the Mugabe family? A private school is seeking to recover land in Borrowdale seized by Grace. According to reports Mugabe himself turned up to chase off the police  (see: https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/top-harare-school-in-bid-to-reclaim-prime-land-grabbed-by-grace-mugabe-20180124). Another court case against the family has been launched to recover a farm in Mazowe stolen by the Mugabes.

Is the country’s patron saint to be hounded in the courts until he dies? He is the god of Zanu PF not of Zimbabweans as a whole and, if Zimbabwe is to emerge as a new and free country, he will have to be disowned and dispatched into exile – perhaps to one of the African countries described so colourfully by President Trump.

Other points

  • We were pleased to find in our archives some photos of Roy and Heather Bennett’s visit to the Vigil on 6th August 2005. They are on our flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157691924334334.
  • It was good to have with us Jenatry Muranganwa, a stalwart from the early days of the Vigil. He enlivened the day with his energetic singing, dancing and drumming.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up and stayed till the end of the Vigil to help pack up: Eunice Mapunde, Margaret Munenge, Tsana May, Pearl Shambare and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks also to Margaret, Eunice and Tsana for looking after the front table and to Pearl, Enniah Dube, Yvonne Makombe, Margaret, Ephraim and Jennifer Senzere for putting up the banners and tarpaulin on a very wet and windy day. A special thank you to Pearl (her hands getting colder and colder) for climbing up and down our ladder to secure the tarpaulin. Thanks also to David Makuyana, Jenatry, Sipho Ndlovu and Jonathan Kariwo for helping to take down the banners and tarpaulin at the end.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 15 signed the register.


  • ROHR all members’ meeting: Saturday 3rd February from 10 am. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a ten minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 17th February from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. 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.
  • 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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