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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 9th May 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 10 May 2009 18:44

On the day when Jacob Zuma was sworn into office the Vigil’s best wishes were for our friends in South Africa. We appreciate their latest visa moves and we trust that under President Zuma’s guidance, South Africa will no longer prop up Mugabe – though we were dismayed that Mugabe was given a standing ovation when he arrived at the inauguration. 

The Vigil notes that the ‘elders’ have urged the West to pour money into Zimbabwe. We have always called for as much humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe as possible but it is unrealistic to expect Western governments to hand over other funds to Zimbabwe without assurance that this money will be used properly. Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it respects the rule of law.   

Take for instance the case of Mr Gandhi Mudzingwa. Some of us know him and we are appalled that this tortured elderly man should be held hostage. We know that big issues are at stake, but is nothing a matter of principle? The Vigil is convinced that there can be no progress until the inclusive government acts on what it agreed.  

The longer this situation drags out the more difficult it will be to get people in the diaspora to go back to Zimbabwe because they will be putting down deep roots in their new countries. In other words Zimbabwe could be a permanent basket case. 

Our partners Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) are issuing regular statements which you can read on their website: www.rohrzimbabwe.org.  It is useful to have a commentary from inside Zimbabwe on current issues. There have been recent pieces on the need for a human rights commission, the state of the prisons, the harassment of human rights activists, the Harare International Festival of the Arts’ exposure of the murderers during last year’s elections and naming and shaming of ‘new farmers’. 

Other points:
·        Vigil team member Luka Phiri addressed a recent weekend meeting of the Trades Union Congress. He spoke about the failures of the new unity government but his main contribution was to help conduct a seminar on immigration and asylum.
·        We were joined by a bagpiper, Ben Buckland nan Cameron, in full regalia who was lifted shoulder high (with his bagpipes) when he accompanied our singing. He also accompanied the national anthem at the end of the Vigil.  We were very surprised to find out he was a relative (third cousin) of Ian Smith, the UDI Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He was travelling on a bus when he saw us and decided to join in.
·        Many thanks to our extra helpers this week: Reginald Gwasira, Rebecca Rutsito and Patience Madjgara.
·        Our thoughts are with Vigil team member Sue Toft who is recuperating from an eye operation. We wish her a speedy recovery.   

For latest Vigil pictures checkour pictures page.

FOR THE RECORD: 264 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·        Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 11th May. Dr Patrick Musami will talk about the health service in Zimbabwe. Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·        ROHR Cambridge general meeting. Saturday 16th May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Arbury Community Centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD. Substantive committee to be elected. The ROHR President and his executive and a well known lawyer will be present. Get advice and learn more about your rights. Contact: Josephart Hapazari 07782398725, Maggie Jenkins 07894064600, A Mubaiwa 07846170094 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·        ROHR Milton Keynes launch meeting. Saturday 23rd May. Venue: The Old Bath House, 205 Stratford Road, Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5RL. Contact Martha Jiya 07727016098, Josephine Sibongile Phiri 07853572982 / 07930276126, P Mandere 07946717754 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         First Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 23rd May at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
·    Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more information, visit: http://www.hrforumzim.com 
·        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 – 2nd May 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 03 May 2009 15:02
A warm, sunny day – a promise of summer – cheered us up despite the frustrating news: no money for Zimbabwe and no real prospect of any while Mugabe remains in charge. Big surprise! 

Three months into the ‘unity’ government and there is still no agreement on crucial matters which should have been resolved at the beginning. People at the Vigil say SADC must intervene and ensure compliance with the global political agreement. 

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says the IMF estimates it will take 45 billion US dollars and five years to restore Zimbabwe to its position in 1995! Unless an immediate start is made even this target could be beyond hope.  

The Vigil believes SADC is responsible for allowing this situation to develop and must now follow up on its guarantee of the agreement. We accept Southern African countries do not have the financial resources to rescue Zimbabwe but recent comments by Zambia’s President Banda suggest they don’t have the understanding either.  Still, let’s see what Zuma will do before we lose all hope. 

Other points:
1.       The Vigil is encouraged that more organizations are taking up the humanitarian question of Zimbabwean jails. We salute Roy Bennett, Deputy Agriculture Minister-designate for calling for an amnesty for minor offenders to relieve congestion. We are also heartened to hear that the Red Cross is going in to Zimbabwean prisons to report on conditions.
2.       A British woman of Caribbean descent expressed amazement when she saw our photographs of conditions in Zimbabwe. She said ‘Mugabe must be mad’ – a further indication that support for Mugabe is fading.
3.       Vigil management member Patson Muzuwa reminded supporters of the ‘Strangers into Citizens’ rally on bank holiday Monday – see for your diary below for details. 
4.       Another reminder to supporters of the Mbira concert at SOAS next week – see below for details.
5.      
We have been contacted by the International Organisation for Migration in London about a programme to help bring back on a short-term basis Zimbabwean health professionals and lecturers to support health institutions and the University Of Zimbabwe College Of Health Sciences. For more information check: http://www.iomlondon.org/zim/zim.html. 

For latest Vigil pictures checkour pictures page.

FOR THE RECORD: 272 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         Central London Zimbabwe
Forum. Monday 4th May. No forum because it’s a public holiday.
·         Strangers into Citizens’ Rally. Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square.  Meet in Tothill Street SW1 at 11.30 for walk to Trafalgar Square. The event is preceded by services in several churches including Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret’s, Parliament Square, and Central Hall, Westminster. For more information: www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
·         Mbira Seminar and Concert: Friday and Saturday 8th and 9th May. Seminar on Friday from 3-6 pm in the Khalili Lecture Theatre. Concert on Saturday at 7 pm in the Brunei Gallery. Entrance free. Address: School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. Features Professor Paul Berliner (Duke University) and Zimbabwean mbira dzaVadimu master Cosmas Magaya.
·         ROHR Derby launch meeting. Saturday 9th May from 1 – 6 pm. Venue: The Community Block, Pear Tree Community Junior School, Pear Tree Street, Derby DE23 8PN. Free parking. Contact: Tsitsi Razawe 07853508681, Chipo Nhandara 07767335586 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         ROHR Cambridge general meeting. Saturday 16th May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Arbury Community centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD. Substantive committee to be elected. The ROHR President and his executive and a well known lawyer will be present. Get advice and learn more about your rights. Contact: Josephart Hapazari 07782398725, Maggie Jenkins 07894064600, A Mubaiwa 07846170094 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·         ROHR Milton Keynes launch meeting. Saturday 23rd May. Venue: The Old Bath House, 205 Stratford Road, Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5RL. Contact Martha Jiya  07727016098, Josephine Sibongile Phiri 07853572982 / 07930276126, P Mandere 07946717754 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         First Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 23rd May at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
·         Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more information, visit: http://www.hrforumzim.com.
·         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 – 25th April 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 26 April 2009 17:17
Another big turnout. Our average attendance for the first four months of the year was 279. The average for the same period last year was 198. We remember the days when we were happy to get 30. People come hundreds of miles to join us in our weekly protest – some undoubtedly because they believe that being a ‘Vigil Activist’ will help their asylum claim.  But that doesn’t explain why people still keep coming even when their asylum status has been resolved. They share our belief expressed in one of our banners ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’.  

We expect a smaller turnout next week because the Vigil coincides with a meeting in Peterborough (some 85 miles from London) at which Tendai Biti is to address MDC supporters. 

We hope they ask him what he wants them to do: is it to continue their financial contributions to the party and keep quiet about the failure to establish the rule of law and respect for human rights?  Is it to return home to this situation? Is it to pressure Western governments to finance a bloated Zimbabwean civil service payroll including Green Bombers and Zanu-PF thugs? The Vigil hopes that, while we wave the flag for Zimbabwe in London, people attending Mr Biti’s meeting in Peterborough will ask him why the MDC has been silent about the SABC’s revelations of barbaric prison conditions in Zimbabwe and remind him there is such a thing as quiet complicity. They might also ask him to explain exactly why the UK should ever lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his murderous gang? We say ‘No to Mugabe (and thanks largely to the US and the EU) No to Starvation’.  

There was much talk at the Vigil about the South African elections and many were hopeful that President Zuma would be better for Zimbabwe than the disastrous Mbeki.  

Several other points:
·        We have booked the upstairs room at the Theodore Bullfrog on Saturday 23rd May at 6.30 pm
until late for a Vigil forum. This is the first of our monthly forums to enable us to get to know each other better and offer input about the way forward for the Vigil.
·       
Through illness and other commitments the Vigil management team were scarce on the ground today. Many thanks to Reginald Gwasura, Linda Hopkins, Tafadzwa Madjgara and Batson Chapata who stepped in to help with the Vigil register, the sale of t-shirts and general running of the Vigil.
·        We were joined by a group of schoolchildren from St Malo in France over in London
for a few days. They joined enthusiastically in the dancing.
·       
We were happy to have back with us David McAllister who has been working as an IT manager on a round-the-world cruise liner but still managed to maintain our websites which he set up.
·        After our Independence Day protest last week, Batson Chapata and Fungayi Manhunu were interviewed by BBC Three Counties radio.  They spoke about prison conditions in Zimbabwe
.
·        We urge everyone to support a musical initiative by the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. On Friday 8th May from 3-6 pm in the Khalili Lecture Theatre they are holding a seminar with Professor Paul Berliner (Duke University) and Zimbabwean mbira dzaVadimu master Cosmas Magaya. The seminar will focus on their 35-year endeavour to document the music and performance contexts of the mbira, and will include plenty of playing! All welcome and those who play mbira are invited to bring along their instruments. On Saturday 9th May at 7pm Paul and Cosmas will perform in a concert featuring a combination of performance and storytelling. ‘This concert will be at once a tribute to the mbira greats that have passed away and a poignant exposition of the intersection between human rights and music in Zimbabwe’.  The concert will take place in the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Russell Square campus.  Entrance to both events is free! Vigil supporter Kudaushe Matimba, a former member of the Bhundu Boys and a postgraduate student at SOAS, is involved in this concert. 

For latest Vigil pictures checkour pictures page 

FOR THE RECORD: 270 signed the register.  

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·        Central London Zimbabwe Forum.Monday 27th April at 7.30 pm. Dr Alex Magaisa will talk about the chances of Zimbabwe's recovery plan working.Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·        ROHR South East London launch meeting. Saturday 2nd May from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Wessex House, 375 Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, London SE1 5JQ. For info contact Priscilla Chitsinde 07853199722, R Zvomuya 07961418715 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
·        ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 2nd May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds
LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·        ROHR Bournemouth general meeting. Saturday 2nd May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: East Cliff Reformed Church, Holdenhurst Road, BH8 8AW. Contact: Mike Mhene 07774521837, Abigail Nzimba 07917458873 or Gift Pfupa 07909831158.
·        ROHR Harlow general meeting. Saturday 2nd May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue St James & St Luke's Church, Perry Road, Harlow CM18 7NP
. Speakers from the executive and others. Contact: Kuda C Sabau 07853205523, L Kashangura 07506481334 or Grace Kachingwe 07785017858
Strangers into Citizens’ Rally. Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square.  Meet in Tothill Street SW1 at 11.30 for walk to Trafalgar Square. The event is preceded by services in  several churches including Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret’s, Parliament Square and Central Hall, Westminster. For more information: www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
·        Mbira Seminar and Concert: Friday and Saturday 8th and 9th May. Seminar on Friday from 3-6 pm in the Khalili Lecture Theatre. Concert on Saturday at 7 pmin the Brunei Gallery. Entrance free. Address: Scholl of Oriental and African Studies,Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG. Features Professor Paul Berliner (Duke University)and Zimbabwean mbira dzaVadimu master Cosmas Magaya.
·        ROHR Cambridge general meeting.
Saturday 16th May from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Arbury Community centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD. Substantive committee to be elected. The ROHR President and his executive and a well known lawyer will be present. Get advice and learn more about your rights. Contact: Josephart Hapazari 07782398725, Maggie Jenkins 07894064600, A Mubaiwa 07846170094 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
·       First Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 23rd May at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
·        Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. For more information, visit: http://www.hrforumzim.com.
·        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 – 18th April 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 April 2009 16:57
ZimVigil protest at the abuse suffered in Zimbabwe prisonsThere was considerable media interest in our Independence Day protest about the conditions in Zimbabwean prisons. TV and press photographers vied for the best shots. Public attention was grabbed by graphic pictures of starving prisoners and bodies piled high in Mugabe’s hell-holes. Many passers-by stopped to add their names to a special petition to SADC: “A petition to Zimbabwe’s neighbours: We call upon the Southern African Development Community – as guarantors of the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement – to put pressure on the new Zimbabwean government of national unity to stop the blatant abuse of human rights of prisoners in Zimbabwe who are dying of starvation, disease and torture.” Our protest was given added urgency by a report that cholera has begun to spread in prison.  

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

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

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

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

FOR THE RECORD: 362 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Monday 20th April at 7.30 pm. Political analyst, blogger and writer Musekiwa Makwanya will speak about the future of the GNU.  Venue: Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of Villiers Street and John Adam Street.
·         Fundraising for the Vigil at the London Marathon. Sunday 26th April.  Steve Garvey, teacher at the Dolphin School, Battersea, is running in the London Marathon to raise money on behalf of the Vigil.
·         ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday, 2nd May from 1.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Dock Green Inn, Leeds LS9 7AB. Contact: Wonder M Mubaiwa 07958758568, Donna Mugoni 07533259373 or B Sikosana 07940181761
·         ‘Strangers into Citizens’ Rally. Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at 12 noon in Trafalgar Square.  Meet in Tothill Street SW1 at 11.30 for walk to Trafalgar Square. The event is preceded by services in  several churches including Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret’s, Parliament Square and Central Hall, Westminster. For more information: www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk.
·         First Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Proposed date: Saturday, 31st May. Date to be confirmed once venue secured.
·         Service of solidarity with the torture survivors of Zimbabwe.  Friday 26th June from 7 – 8 pm. Venue: Southwark Cathedral. This is the 8th year the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has marked UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
·         Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
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The Zimbabwe Vigil demands amnesty for starving Zimbabwean prisoners PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 13:17

Media notice, 14th April 2009 

The Zimbabwe Vigil demands amnesty for starving Zimbabwean prisoners 

Zimbabwean exiles in the UK are to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday 18th April to demand an amnesty for prisoners in Zimbabwe.  The occasion is Zimbabwe’s Independence Day.   

The Zanu-MDC government has done nothing – despite the worldwide revulsion – to address the horrendous prison conditions shown in a recent South African television report. Starvation, disease, filthy overcrowding – to add to the routine brutality and torture: prison in Zimbabwe can be a death sentence.  For more information, check:http://www.sokwanele.com/articles/sokwanele/zimbabwesprisonsaredeathtraps_31march_310309

 The demonstration is organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been protesting outside the Embassy every Saturday for nearly seven years in support of fair elections. 

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

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

 Programme:
·        2 – 6 pm Zimbabwean protest including singing, drumming, dancing.
·        Available for interview: torture victims and former inmates of Zimbabwean prisons.  

For more Information, contact: Fungayi Mabhunu 07743 662 046, Ephraim Tapa 07877 153 659, 07940 793 090 and Dumi Tutani 07960 039 775. 

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk 

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