Vigil Diary 25-10-08 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 25 October 2008 00:00

There was little expectation at the Vigil that the visit to Harare by the SADC troika would produce any relief for the desperate people of Zimbabwe. None of us could recall Angola and Swaziland, or even Mozambique, standing up for human rights in Zimbabwe – let alone face to face with Mugabe. But there was a feeling that at least it might expose the SADC troika to the realities of life in Zimbabwe – that is, if their delegations left their five star hotels for long enough to notice the collapse of the country . . . the queues at the banks, the barren shops, the streams of stinking sewage in the high-density suburbs, the erratic electricity and water supplies, the run-down hospitals, the empty schools, the starving people . . .

We are gloomy that the Vigil demands for free and fair elections and an end to human rights abuses will be met any time soon unless South Africa under its new leadership takes a firmer line with Mugabe.

The Vigil has now sent our petition to the European Union urging it to freeze government to government aid to SADC countries unless SADC upholds its obligations to the people of Zimbabwe rather than supports Mugabe and his fat cats. A copy of our representations has been sent to the SADC Secretariat suggesting that Zimbabwe be suspended from membership of SADC and that the Mugabe regime should be denied visas for SADC countries and have their assets frozen. A copy has also been sent to the AU Chairman, President Kikwete of Tanzania, and it is to him that the Vigil is now looking to apply greater pressure.

On a happier note, the Vigil celebrated with a cake the birthday of Fungayi Mabhunu of the Vigil management team, who joins us every week come rain or shine.

During the week, six Vigil members (Jenatry Muranganwa, Dumi Tutani, Anges Zengeya, Moses Kandiyawo, Kelvin Kamipura and Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani) participated in a Black History event at City and Islington College in London. Over the years we have forged a close relationship with the College who invite us back for our singing and dancing each year. Some good links were formed with staff, students and local groups.

As we mentioned last week, the Vigil was approached by Caribbean Labour Solidarity who wanted a Zimbabwean speaker. We are pleased that one of regular supporters, Simon Mambongo, will be representing us and he would welcome support. See ‘for your diary’ for details of the meeting. We notice that many people who used to support Mugabe as a liberator are reappraising their position. There are more and more articles critical of Mugabe in newspapers in the formerly supportive Afro-Caribbean world.

For latest Vigil pictures see the link in the updates column.

FOR THE RECORD: 136 signed the register.

* Central London Zimbabwe Forum.
Monday, 27th October, at 7.30 pm. Postponed from last week, Trudy Stevenson, Secretary for Policy and Research of Mutambara MDC, will update the forum about the elections, the appointment of the Speaker and the power sharing talks. Venue: The Fabian Society, 11 Dartmouth St, London SW1H 9BN (020 7227 4900). Nearest station: St. James’ Park.
* ROHR meeeting in Manchester. Saturday, 1st November 2008, 12.00 – 4.00 pm. Venue: Afewe Pub, Royce Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5TR. For information call Moses Nyagotsi on 07778 547 971 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07932 216 070 or 07533 831 617.
* ROHR meeeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Sunday, 2nd November 2008, 12.00 – 4.00 pm. Venue: Chervron Community Centre, Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE4 2HQ. For information call T Musariri on 07765 055 095, T Mauwa 07832 354 304 or P Mapfumo 07533 831 617 or 07932 216 070.
8 Caribbean Labour Solidarity meeting. Sunday, 2nd November at 12 noon. The speaker is Simon Mambongo of the Vigil who will talk about developing conditions in Zimbabwe. Venue: HCD, 62 Beechwood Road, Hackney London E8 (off Dalston Lane E8) Station; Dalston Kingsland, Buses: 28, 30, 38, 242, 277, 149, 243.
* Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday, 8th November 2008, 2 – 6 pm. Venue: Argyle Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724 137.
* 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).
Government-to-Government aid EU Petition PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 24 October 2008 11:45
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
Vigil Diary 18-10-08 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 18 October 2008 00:00

Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 18 th October 2008

The Vigil's petition to the EU has drawn much interest at a time when SADC has been asked to break the political deadlock. The petition calls on the EU to suspend government-to-government aid to SADC countries because of their dereliction over Zimbabwe . We have even had a detailed enquiry from a Malawian journalist.

There was little confidence at the Vigil that the SADC security troika of Swaziland , Angola and Mozambique would suddenly change their allegiance and stand up to Mugabe.

We were joined by a Zimbabwean journalist based in South Africa who said he'd been inspired by our petition to research the possibility of sueing SADC. The organisation has already admitted it acted too hastily in recognising the Mugabe regime after elections SADC's own observers said were seriously flawed.

People at the Vigil felt that pressure must be maintained on SADC until it suspends Zimbabwe 's membership and denies the Mugabe regime visas and freezes their bank accounts.

Sixth Anniversary of the Vigil PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 11 October 2008 00:00

Sixth Anniversary of the Vigil – 11 th October 2008

Friends from times past joined us in brilliant sunshine for the Vigil to launch our 7 th year outside the Embassy. Unfortunately Glenys Kinnock MEP was unable to be with us to receive our petition to the EU so we sending it to Brussels by post (see letter below).

Our partner organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe is foremost in our thoughts at the moment. They are trying to expand democratic space in Zimbabwe and you may have seen in the media how their struggle has been going (see our last entry). Ephraim Tapa, the ROHR President and a Vigil founder member, was with us to brief us on the organisation's bold protest in Harare on Friday. It is a new dimension for their campaign for justice and democracy. They are demanding free and fair elections within the next two years.

With the world financial crisis dominating the news, the Zimbabwe situation has inevitably slipped from the headlines. We were asked by several passers-by: “Why are you still demonstrating?” We regard it as an important part of our mission to make people aware of the situation when media attention is elsewhere.

With a large turnout singing and dancing on the Strand we certainly got noticed. Afterwards it was off to our local pub the Theodore Bullfrog for an anniversary party. Grateful thanks to Chipo Chaya and Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani for working so hard all day to provide very tasty sadza and stew for Vigil supporters. They were helped by Moses Kandiyawo and Dumi Tutani. Thanks also to Arnold Kuwewa who. in the absence of our chefs, had many extra duties. We were touched by the generosity of three ladies from the Zimbabwe Exiled Women's Association (Florence Matongo, Pauline Mutema and Ekiwa Chimedza) who unexpected provided soft drinks for the Vigil.

ROHR offices raided after demonstration PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 10 October 2008 00:00

Report from SW Radio Africa on the protest for justice and democracy in Zimbabwe by our partners, ROHR Rights group offices raided after demonstration - By Lance Gum

The offices of a human rights pressure group were raided by police on Friday, immediately after the group held a demonstration around 11am. About 200 members of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) took to the streets of Harare marking what they called a campaign for democracy and justice in Zimbabwe. The demonstration itself was without incident as the police were taken by surprise and only deployed after it had ended. According to ROHR Information Director Edgar Chikuvire, riot police patrolled the Harare city centre before some of the officers raided their Alexandra Park offices, looking for the leaders who organized the march. Chikuvire spoke to Newsreel while in hiding and says several other members of the group have also gone underground. ROHR feels the power sharing accord signed by the MDC and ZANU PF sets a very bad precedence for human rights in the country because people are being denied the chance to get a government of their own choosing. ‘Our hopes are underpinned in the need for people to embrace and feel passionately for the need to be ruled by a government that will be accountable to them simply because they chose it into power,’ ROHR said in a statement. The group also pointed out that despite the deal being signed the country’s crisis, ‘continued unabated.’ The group further argues that, ‘Zanu-PF is making frantic efforts to retain the power that it lost to Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC during the March 29 election, a situation that is a direct assault on the people's power and constitutional right to choose the leader they want.’ ROHR says it’s campaign will encourage Zimbabweans to demand free and fair elections, whose outcome will reflect the people’s will. ROHR is led by the former MDC Chairman for the UK province, Ephraim Tapa. Several activists run the Zimbabwe office. Last month it sponsored a High Court application by Rodgers Chigwededza, Tinashe Gotora, Jackson Mabota, and Precious Mateyeni, demanding that the central bank scrap cash withdrawal limits. Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled the case was not urgent and had to wait in line like all the other court cases. ROHR slammed the decision saying, ‘in other words we are supposed to join another queue to stop the cash queues.’

Another report on the protest can be found on this link: http://www.zimeye.com/article0111111008.html

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