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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 12th September 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 September 2009 17:55

Africa demands western aid for Mugabe to spend at Harrods’. This is the essence of the message from the SADC summit in Kinshasa this week – and the message we will be driving home at the Zimbabwe Vigil in London. To us at the Vigil the SADC outcome came as no surprise; as readers of this diary will know we have never had any faith in this mafia.   

Today we relaunched our petition challenging SADC: ‘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 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 starving in Zimbabwe.’ 

This petition was initiated two years ago and a first tranche of many thousands of signatures was submitted to the EU on our 6th anniversary last year.  We suspended it when the ‘unity government’ was established to give SADC an opportunity to meet its obligations to Zimbabwe following the Global Political Agreement; a waste of time, of course.   

The Vigil plans to present the petition again with thousands more signatures to an EU representative at the Vigil on 10th October when we will be marking our 7th anniversary of campaigning outside Zimbabwe House for human rights.  

On that day we will have Mugabe and ‘first shopper’ Grace (or actors impersonating them) photographed outside Harrods and subsequently taking their newly-bought handbags and heels to the Embassy. SADC High Commissioners in London will be invited to witness the shopping expedition and kiss the shoes and stick their hands into the bags. 

On a lovely late summer day, bright and warm, the Vigil gave a thunderous answer to SADC ‘To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must go’.  

Some other points:
1.       The Vigil’s congratulations to Governor Gono on taking occupation of his 112 room Harare mansion with its 3 helipads. Amazing what they pay civil servants in Zimbabwe
.
2.      
Our views on SADC echo those of Cathy Buckle and Tanonoka Whande (http://www1.zimbabwesituation.com/sep13_2009.html#Z14, http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/heart100909.htm).          
3.       We were glad to see Cloudy Muhamba. He had been coming to the Vigil and suddenly disappeared. We later heard he had been imprisoned for working illegally. 
4.       The Vigil is often asked to support this or that cause. We want to state here again that our mission is to promote human rights in Zimbabwe and we cannot be deflected from this.
5.      
Following last week’s diary in which we mentioned being given a wad of Zimbabwean 100 trillion dollar notes we have had a request from The Zimbabwean newspaper to collect as many as we can for them to use for promotional purposes.  So we have stopped selling them and if anyone can give us more the Zimbabwean will use them to good effect.
6.       Thanks to Phakama Simozo and Priscilla Kwembeya who were first at the Vigil to set up. They helped throughout and were there at the end to help clear up. The Vigil is dependent on this type of support to keep going. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:   127 signed the register. 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:
·         ROHR (Anniversary) National Fundraising Party. Saturday 26th September from 12 noon to late. Venue: The Portland Pavilion, 241 Portland Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B17 8LS. Admission: £10 (includes food). Contacts: V J Mujeye 07534 034 594, Abigail Nzimba 07838 073 111, Diane Mutendereki 07502 478 591. For information on directions: 0121 434 5130. ROHR is looking for male and female models with their own African clothing for a fashion show at this fundraiser.  All ages and sizes welcome. Those interested please contact: Pamela Dunduru 07553253639, Diana Mtendereki 07502478591, Pauline Makuwere 07533332306, Martha Jiya 07727016098, Abigail Nzimba 07838073111 or Paradzai Mapfumo
07915926323-07932216070. Event poster: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/3907390469/sizes/o/
·         Zimbabwe Worship Service. Sunday 27th September from 10.30 – 12.00 followed by Zimbabwean food from 12 – 3 pm. Venue: Elim Christian Centre, Dews Road, Salisbury SP2 7SN. Zimbabwean speaker. Contact: Adrian Smale, 01722 770024, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www.elimsalisbury.org.uk.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil – 7th Anniversary. Saturday 10th October at 6.30 pm.  The Vigil started on 12th October 2002 and we are marking this anniversary on the nearest Saturday to that date.  There will be a social gathering after the Vigil, downstairs at the 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 West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 31st October from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall
Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR Executive and a well known lawyer present. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 0793221607
·         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).
·         From Liberator to Dictator by Mike Auret. This is a personal account of the unravelling of Zimbabwe, written by an insider who was prepared to keep faith with Robert Mugabe until it was almost too late. Michael Auret served for many years on Zimbabwe's respected Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace, which worked tirelessly to defend human rights in that country. In this memoir, he traces his involvement in the politics of his country, from his days as an opposition MP in Ian Smith's Rhodesia
to his involvement with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and his election as MP for Harare Central in the brutal election of 2000. http://www.newafricabooks.co.za/books_detail.asp?ID=499. 
·         Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. Further information: http://www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk/pages/Strategic.html or contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 5th September 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 06 September 2009 16:07

The Vigil felt vindicated at the announcement this week that the Zimbabwe regime has agreed an amnesty for some 1,500 prisoners. We are often asked by passers-by what we hope to achieve.  A group of former Zimbabweans came past and asked us this very question today. Well, we think that by our amnesty campaign alone we have saved some lives.  We launched our campaign on Independence Day (18/04/09) following an SABC television report on the horrific conditions in Zimbabwean jails. Our proposal was initially derided by the regime and we are glad that they have now seen the light.  We continue to demand that Zimbabwe imprisons only the number of people it can cope with humanely.   

Ahead of the SADC summit in Kinshasha, the Vigil sent two petitions to the organisation’s Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão, with a request that he draw them to the attention of SADC leaders. The petitions, signed by thousands of people, were:
1.       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.
2.       We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing government – to put pressure on President Mugabe to honour the agreement.  More than six months into the unity government, Mugabe is still resisting a return to the rule of law, deterring essential foreign development aid and investment. 

As for hopes that SADC would act honourably on Zimbabwe, we are not optimistic. We were particularly offended by the patronizing tone of South Africa’s  Director-General of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, who said ‘Congo will struggle (as the new chair of SADC) – but it could benefit from the experience’. Great! So much for Zimbabwe – a toy for the Congolese to practice on.   

We were encouraged  that a former senior British diplomat to Zimbabwe dropped by and signed the following petition: ‘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.’ 

We were joined at the Vigil by two human rights campaigners, one English and the other American.  One topic of conversation was the possibility of a citizen’s arrest should the European Union again allow entrance to someone on the targeted sanctions list.  We were unhappy that Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengengwi was allowed in on Tsvangirai’s visit and do not want to allow this to go unchallenged in future.  

One reason we all come to the Vigil is because of the warm support we get from passers-by. An American came by and gave us a wad of one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000,000) Zimbabwean dollar notes. We decided to sell them at one pound each but we were so successful we will, in true Zimbabwe inflationary style, raise the price to £5 next week.  

Another visitor was our friend Steve Garvey, a teacher at Dolphin School in South London. He raised money for the Vigil by running the London marathon and together with efforts by his pupils gave us some £900. Today he brought along another contribution from one of his pupils, Ben Fletcher, who single-handedly raised £56.  We took the opportunity to discuss with Steve how we are using this money – we are in the process of buying sports equipment and stationery for Zimbabwean schools. 

It was good to hear from Mike Auret this week. He told us about his new book due to be published this month. See ‘Events and Notices’ section for details. (This replaces our ‘For your Diary’ section so that we can include notices and not just diary items.) 

We were pleased that our attendance held up despite two rival attractions – Zimfest and an MDC UK meeting on the 10th anniversary of the MDC called to discuss missing funds.  

Thanks to Sue Toft who brought ‘Mugabe Must Go’ wristbands which proved very popular. Thanks also to Josephine Zhuga and George Mapanda who were waiting ahead of the start of the Vigil to help set up. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:  97 signed the register. 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:
·         ROHR Northampton and Kettering general meeting. Saturday 12th September from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Mary's Church, Abbey Road, Northampton, NN4 8EZ. ROHR UK Executive present.  Contact: Norian Chindowa 07954379426, A Chimimba 07799855806, Willard Mudonzvo 07591686724, Marshall Rusike 07884246888, Hazvineyi Masuka 07795164664. P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·         ROHR Birmingham general meeting. Saturday 12th September at 2 pm. Venue: Bishop Latimer Church, 28 Handsworth New Road, Birmingham B18 4PT. Contact: Adrey Marere 07788797365,Tsiti Mavhura 07932477842, Morris Mutanga 07882602249, P Mapfumo 07915926323 or Des Parayiwa 07815565335
·         Zimbabwe Worship Service. Sunday 27th September from 10.30 – 12.00 followed by Zimbabwean food from 12 – 3 pm. Venue: Elim Christian Centre, Dews Road, Salisbury SP2 7SN. Zimbabwean speaker. Contact: Adrian Smale, 01722 770024, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www.elimsalisbury.org.uk.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil – 7th Anniversary. Saturday 10th October at 6.30 pm.  The Vigil started on 12th October 2002 and we are marking this anniversary on the nearest Saturday to that date.  There will be a social gathering after the Vigil, downstairs at the 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 West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 31st October from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR Executive and a well known lawyer present. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 0793221607
·         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).
·         From Liberator to Dictator by Mike Auret. This is a personal account of the unravelling of Zimbabwe, written by an insider who was prepared to keep faith with Robert Mugabe until it was almost too late. Michael Auret served for many years on Zimbabwe's respected Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace, which worked tirelessly to defend human rights in that country. In this absorbing memoir, he traces his involvement in the politics of his country, from his days as an opposition MP in Ian Smith's Rhodesia to his involvement with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and his election as MP for Harare Central in the brutal election of 2000. http://www.newafricabooks.co.za/books_detail.asp?ID=499. 
·         Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. Further information: http://www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk/pages/Strategic.html or contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 29th August 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 August 2009 17:23

Despite the upbeat reaction, Vigil supporters were pessimistic about the outcome of Zuma’s visit to Zimbabwe. South Africa has clearly dropped its ‘Crisis – what crisis?’ blinkers – but Zuma doesn’t seem to have grasped that the crisis is not just economic.   There was nothing in his public statements to suggest that he understood the gravity of the situation or was prepared to do anything about it.  

For instance, Zuma could start by stopping the supply of SA ammunition to Mugabe. John Huruva, one of the early MDC people in the UK, is convinced that this ammunition is to be used against the Zimbabwean people. Vigil supporters discussed an article he had written in which he says ’we have seen the same kind of scenario in Rwanda where almost a million civilians were massacred’. 

What kind of scenario is John talking about? Zanu-PF’s strategy, he says, is to hold on to power at all costs. As its popularity wanes it relies more and more on state brutality driven by the desire to protect their loot, the fear of facing justice and the realisation that their party will not win a free and fair election. Huruva believes that beatings etc as a strategy for ‘winning’ the next elections have already started in remote rural areas.  ‘What is almost certain,’ he says, ‘is that the killings are coming.’  

Mr Huruva has agreed to come along to the next Vigil to discuss his article, which you can see via this link: http://www1.zimbabwesituation.com/aug29_2009.html#Z15 

Some early comments by people at the Vigil:
·        
‘One thing about Zanu-PF: they have always made clear their murderous intentions. People must take them at their word.’
·        
‘Hate speech is getting worse again. You can see from the way the government reported Zuma’s remarks that nothing has changed.’
·        
‘Zanu-PF doesn’t care about aid to rebuild the country. They are OK.’
·         ‘The SADC meeting in DRC will only thank Kabila for flying Chinese arms to Mugabe.’ 

Given all the talk about the economy, the Vigil was surprised that one announcement seems to have escaped attention. Dun & Bradstreet has rated Zimbabwe as the worst place in the world to invest in – along with Afghanistan. D & B’s credit ratings are used by banks and businesses throughout the world.   

Discussion of the situation at home kept us busy on an otherwise (for us) rather quiet Vigil – not surprising as it was the start of the late summer long weekend holiday.   

We were joined at the Vigil by David Adelstein, who is making a film about Zimbabweans in the UK based around the Vigil, called Vura Nzita – ‘Open the Road’. David said he was invited to show part of the film to an MDC meeting in Oxford but when the organizers found out it would show Tsvangirai being booed at Southwark Cathedral they pulled the plug.  When people asked why the film was not being shown, the organizers said there wasn’t time for it. The large audience was pretty unhappy about this so David says they can contact him on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if they want him to show the film. 

Thanks to Constance and Takunda Manyimani who were at the Vigil ahead of the start to help unload and set up the Vigil. Thanks also to Edwick Office and Gladys Mapanda who helped on the front and back tables throughout the Vigil.  

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

FOR THE RECORD:  115 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         ROHR Coventry party. Saturday 5th September from 4 pm till midnight. Venue: St Paul's Church, Foleshill Road, Coventry CV6 5AJ. Food, drinks, ne Doro available. Admission £3.50. Contact (Chairman) E. Nyakudya
07876796129, (Secretary) Pauline Makuwere 07533332306, (Organizer) Matambanashe Sibanda 07886660392, (Treasurer) V.J Mujeye 07534034594.
·         ROHR Northampton and Kettering general meeting. Saturday 12th September from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Mary's Church Abbey Road, Northampton, NN4 8EZ. ROHR UK Executive present.  Contact: Norian Chindowa 07954379426, A Chimimba 07799855806, Willard Mudonzvo 07591686724, Marshall Rusike 07884246888, Hazvineyi Masuka 07795164664. P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil – 7th Anniversary. Saturday, 10th October at 6.30 pm.  The Vigil started on 12th October 2002 and we are marking this anniversary on the nearest Saturday to that date.  There will be a social gathering after the Vigil, downstairs at the 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 West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 31st October from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall
Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR Executive and a well known lawyer present. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 0793221607
·         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 – 22nd August 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 23 August 2009 14:08

An alarming picture of life under the ‘unity’ government has emerged in the wake of a mention in the Vigil diary about ‘people’s poet’ Brian Sibanda. We reported (see diary of 1st August) how he had brought along a banner expressing skepticism about the ‘3 days of national healing’. His take was ‘3 days peace. On day 4 bullet sent via post’ – a reference to the bullet sent to Tendai Biti.  Brian says that within days of our report (accompanied by a picture of him) appearing in the Zimbabwean, his family home in Zimbabwe was raided by 3 policemen. They compared photographs of him there with his picture in the newspaper (6-12 August) and spoke angrily about Zimbabweans in the UK.   

Here is the text of an email that was sent to Brian: ‘Bhudi Tha.i hope i find you well.ndoda things arent happening doen this side.your picture appeared on one of our local newspapers this week and it has caused commotion in Lobengula even uDube usaBen saw it. Izolo emini 3 policemen were at home again yesterday. They were asking questions about our family most of them about you. They searched the house and took the copy of your Birth and also isithupha sako sezenge. They wanted to know where u stay in UK, what you do there and when your next visit diwn this side wa scheduled, and a whole lot more. They took a look at your pictures around our living room, and the post cards u sent last. Kadekusethuisa bhudi. They were saying bad things about zimboz living in the Britain. Ngiya koNjabu call me on his landline I will tell yoi more. Take care bra and uzinanzelele.’ 

On a lighter note, the Vigil was amused to see long-term supporter Priscilla Chakanyaka arrive in a London rickshaw.     We had a good attendance despite rival factions of the MDC UK calling meetings today in Oxford and Midlands North.  Most of the people who attend the Vigil are MDC supporters but we try to maintain a non-party political stand, concentrating on fighting for human rights in Zimbabwe 

Talking about human rights, today we launched a new petition aimed at the SADC meeting in Kinshasha next month which is due to review the Global Political Agreement: ‘A petition to Zimbabwe’s neighbours: We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing government – to put pressure on President Mugabe to honour the agreement.  More than six months into the unity government, Mugabe is still resisting a return to the rule of law, deterring essential foreign development aid and investment.’  

We will be sending it to SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão along with a petition on the prison holocaust. ‘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.’   

We are not holding our breath. Dr Salomão has never acknowledged anything we have sent to him and we have no illusions that Mugabe’s SADC cronies will ever do anything to help the people of Zimbabwe. What matters is that – at a time when Zimbabwe has dropped from the headlines – we continue to attract the attention of the thousands of people who pass by the Vigil. Many of them express their support by signing our petitions – which include one to the UK Government: ‘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 has been going for nearly 7 years and we will be marking our anniversary on 10th October – see below ‘For your Diary’ for details. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:  166 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         ROHR Chelmsford general meeting. Saturday 29th August, 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Springfield Parish Hall, Chelmsford, CM1 6GX
. Transport from train station to the venue provided.  Contact: Faith Benesi 07958650670, Tobokwa Malikongwa 07533660621, Robert Mafigo 07944815190, Christina Zanji 07535791464, Matha A Magwaza 07748644911.
·         ROHR Brighton general meeting. Saturday 29th August from 2 – 4 pm. Venue: The Community Base, Queens Road, Brighton (5mins walk from Brighton train station). Contact: Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Sehlaphi Mpofu 07786164808, Wellington Mamvura 07956870547 or Phylis Chibanguza 07534626040 / 07535936460.
·         ROHR Coventry party. Saturday 5th September from 4 pm till midnight. Venue: St Paul's Church, Foleshill Road, Coventry CV6 5AJ. Food, drinks, ne Doro available. Admission £3.50. Contact (Chairman) E. Nyakudya
07876796129, (Secretary) Pauline Makuwere 07533332306, (Organizer) Matambanashe Sibanda 07886660392, (Treasurer) V.J Mujeye 07534034594.
·         ROHR Northampton and Kettering general meeting. Saturday 12th September from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Mary's Church Abbey Road, Northampton, NN4 8EZ. ROHR UK Executive present.  Contact: Norian Chindowa 07954379426, A Chimimba 07799855806, Willard Mudonzvo 07591686724, Marshall Rusike 07884246888, Hazvineyi Masuka 07795164664. P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil – 7th Anniversary. Saturday, 10th October at 6.30 pm.  The Vigil started on 12th October 2002 and we are marking this anniversary on the nearest Saturday to that date.  There will be a social gathering after the Vigil, downstairs at the 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 West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 31st October from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall
Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR Executive and a well known lawyer present. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 0793221607.
·         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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Letter to Zimbabwe Vigil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tichanzii Gandanga   
Friday, 21 August 2009 17:20

The board, staff and members of ROHR Zimbabwe wishes to extend a hand of appreciation for the immeasurable support Zimbabwe Vigil has tendered to the people of Zimbabwe in their fight for justice and freedom from the oppressive rule of Robert Mugabe and Zanu Pf. As an organization we would not have made it this far had it not been for your unwavering support which varies from international lobbying and advocacy to financial resources and moral reinforcement in the fight for the restoration of fundamental basic human rights and freedoms in Zimbabwe .  Through your conserted efforts you have stood side by side with us, provided us with the fuel to keep our hopes alive and as the board and staff of ROHR Zimbabwe we remain fully committed to the vision of seeing a prosperous, free and just national future which is conscious of and respects human rights.  

Our partnership has been shaped by the shared interest of seeing peace, justice and freedom prevailing among Zimbabweans like in the case of other inhabitants of the human family in different parts of the world. As your partner in this regard we have benefitted immensely from the funding that you have made available to us. Funding remains one of the greatest challenges which threaten the existence of not only our organization but many progressive forces that are working towards the democratization of Zimbabwe. 

Among other things, through your upkeep, we have been able to carry out street protests like the one in which we recently mobilized people to protest against the shadow peace days declared by Robert Mugabe as a way of forging a blanket of amnesty on the people who were responsible for the violence, torture, rape and killings of innocent people during the period preceeding last year’s June elections.  We are also in the process of creating networks in the communities through Capacity Building and Leadership development meetings in the country’s ten provinces. We believe that for a people to effectively champion the cause of defending and championing their rights it has to start from a well organized structure at community level. We are proud to announce that through your support as a partner we have so far managed to do six workshops to cover six provinces, that is Midlands, Bulawayo, Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland central and Masvingo respectively. As we speak there are structures in these provinces with likeminded people who are committed to the cause of fighting for a culture that respects human rights. 

Above all, the funding from the Zimbabwe Vigil has remained a pillar in so far as institutional funding is concerned. In the absence of any other funders we have managed to pay office rentals, remunerate staff, pay phone, electrical bills and sometimes acquired relevant equipment in carrying out our work.  Administration expenses are at the centre of any functional organization and you have oiled our engine in that regard. 

As an organization we are grateful of the publicity that has directly stemmed from our partnership. Alongside the publicity that you have enjoyed in your circles and networks you have carried our name and products to unimaginable heights especially through your well updated website and tireless innovative weekly vigils at the Zimbabwean embassy in the UK. The fruits of the impact that we have made through your assistance are evident in how our membership has soared in the United Kingdom which also interprets in a wider funding base from subscriber membership.  

Most importantly is the undeniable fact that you have kept the Zimbabwean crisis on the international scene and you have also remained resolute in your realization that for Zimbabwe to be saved Robert Mugabe must go. Human rights violations are still rampant even after the formation of the coalition government between Zanu Pf and the two MDC formations. The restrictive media laws AIPPA and POSA are still hindering freedom of the press, association and assembly. Journalists continue to be harassed at the hands of the state; dozens of prisoners are dying every day in state prisons due to preventable and curable diseases like Tuberculosis and Pellagra and thousands more are languishing in jails being denied their right to trial due to the mismanagement of the Zimbabwe Prison Society. 

Property rights are not guaranteed evident from the continued invasion of farms by Zanu Pf thugs, war veterans, youth militia and senior officials. The culture of impunity continues unabated not to mention the selective application of law thanks to the self proclaimed Zanu Pf attorney general Johannes Tomana.  

We also note with concern that Zanu Pf and Robert Mugabe remain unrepentant and pose a stumbling block to the people of Zimbabwe’s fight for democracy as shown by their sabotaging and throwing spanners at the All Stake Holders Constitutional Conference held in Harare in June 2009.Cognizant of your support, as an organization we will not tolerate any violation of human rights from the state organs hence our persistence on a national healing process that is based on truth, justice and compensation. It is our strong belief that the culture of impunity should be replaced by a system that guarantees justice for all and also that all perpetrators of human rights violations should be brought to trial. 

Since the beginning of the year 2009 we have held a number of protests. In the early stages we held weekly protests at the Rotten Row courts protesting against the continued detention of Jestina Mukoko, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Kisimusi Dhlamini and many other opposition and civic society activists who were being held for politically motivated persecution. We also intensified our grassroots based education with capacity building and leadership development workshops in Mashonaland Central, Midlands, Bulawayo, Manicaland, Masvingo and Harare. The workshops have been solely funded by the funds we have been receiving from the United Kingdom. We have since launched the demand for truth and justice campaign with the first demonstration having been held on the 25th of July 2009 in the streets of Harare. The demonstration was a response to the government’s ill timed peace days. 

We are currently running the Demand for Truth and Justice campaign where we intend to hold weekly protests (if resources permit) against the government-initiated forgive and forget position on national healing,  which is bent on awarding a blanket amnesty to the perpetrators of human rights violations. The protest will be held at the parliament building every week until the government abandons their campaign which is not people centered.  

We also intend to go around the country’s ten provinces engaging a thousand victims of political violence collating information to do with their needs, expectations and views on national healing through interviews. We also intend to produce DVDs and audio series of interviews with the victims of political violence. Congruent to our position on national healing, we believe that victims of political violence need to be accorded a chance to tell their ordeal/story to the general public as a way for them to heal emotionally and psychologically and also expose the gravity of the evil that characterizes a reign of anarchy. 

Conclusively we encourage you not to tire in your noble efforts. As a partner we reiterate our commitment to the relationship which we believe would go a long way in propelling forward the struggle for the democratization of Zimbabwe. The route to achieve democracy in Zimbabwe is hard and costly but we have a conviction that with endurance, perseverance and sacrifice we will achieve our vision. As ROHR Zimbabwe continues to grow not only in the United Kingdom but also in the country’s ten provinces,  so is the greater  demand for support in operations. As we stand today Zimbabwe remains in the chains and yoke of bondage under the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe and Zanu Pf. 

Tichanzii Gandanga
Secretary General – ROHR Zimbabwe

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