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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 11th July 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 12 July 2009 13:23

The fruits of Obama’s election to the US Presidency may be stranger than imagined. As we hastily set up the Vigil in anticipation of rain, one of our first visitors was an Afro-American political activist from Atlanta who showed great interest in our protest. He spoke to Fungayi Mabhunu of the Vigil management team about our demands for free and fair elections, restoration of the rule of law and liberty of the press and constitutional progress.   

There has somehow been an expectation that Obama would side with the African elite. His visit to Ghana and the appointments to his African diplomatic team make clear, however, that he will be an even tougher proposition than Mr Bush for recidivists such as Mugabe.  

He appears to be a man with genuine compassion for the suffering of ordinary people  and the Vigil was happy when he refused to receive a minister from Zanu-PF who tried to insinuate himself into the White House on the back of Morgan Tsvangirai. We trust President Obama will put pressure on SADC to enforce the GPA which is now due for review.  Five months into the Unity Government the agreement has still not been observed: no free media, no rule of law, no end to the lies and now the military refusing to relinquish their bloody grip on the Marange diamonds.  

And what do we get from our friends in South Africa? An old Zimbabwean woman – blind and deaf – is arrested in Johannesburg and thrown into jail for loitering. She was sleeping on the pavement.  God forgive you South Africa and your Home Affairs spokesman who blames Zimbabwe’s problems on ‘sanctions’.  

We look to President Obama to see through these lies and special pleading and insist that all partners to the GPA – including SADC – live up to their obligations.  

The management team met after the Vigil to discuss how we should send home the money we have collected for education in Zimbabwe. As many of you know we have received more than £800 raised by a sponsored run in the London Marathon by Steve Garvey, a teacher at the Dolphin School in South London, and other projects by his pupils. It was decided to spend the money on stationery and sports equipment for schools in Zimbabwe. It was felt that the money would go further if equipment was purchased in the UK. We will keep you informed of progress on this. 

It was good to see a lot of old friends including Jennifer Hukura who has attended 33 times in the last year.  We value her consistent support.  Thanks also to Kelvin Kamupira for helping the team to manage the register and to Fungayi who went miles out his way to deliver the Vigil camera so pictures could be put on the internet. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:  158 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday, 18th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR President, Executive and a well known lawyer present. Invited guest Cllr Simon Hackett. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         ROHR South East London general meeting. Saturday, 18th July from 1.00 – 5.00 pm. Venue: 18 Sydenham Road, London SE26 5QW. Contact Priscilla Chitsinde 07804696328, Wellington Rupere 07838153217 or Courage Chiromo 07894586005.
·         Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
·         ROHR Brighton general meeting. Saturday, 25th July from 2.00 – 4.00 pm. Venue:The Community Base, Queens Road, Brighton. Contact Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Sehlaphi Mpofu 07786164808, Wellington Mamvura 07956870547 or Phylis Chibanguza 07908406069.
·         ROHR Stoke-On-Trent general meeting. Saturday 1st August 2009 2 00 – 5 00 pm. Venue: Mandela Club Restaurant, 66-68 Piccadilly Street, Hanley, Stoke-On-Trent ST1 1HX. Contact: Pauline Mutema 07850462301, Joana Zhira 07845896347and Farirai Muchibwa 07746628397.
·         ROHR Hayes and Northolt launch meeting. Saturday 8th August from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes UB4 0PL. ROHR President and a well known lawyer present. Contact Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Juliet Musandiriri 07551319522, Rodah Kuhlengisa 07958205544 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         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 – 4th July 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 15:02

Another baking hot Vigil, this time enlivened by a passing parade of drag queens from the annual Gay Pride march.  Despite Mugabe’s close interest in gays, they were more interested in their gorgeous plumage than Zimbabwean human rights abuses. 

As always, there were many newcomers to the Vigil and much discussion of the situation back home. Supporters are worried at suggestions that the timescale for new elections may be pushed back. This comes not only from Zanu-PF. The rationale is that the country is not ready and there may be violence etc.  The Vigil insists that the timescale envisaged in the GPA be honoured. This provided for a new constitution within 18 months followed by elections.   

During his visit to London Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to the diaspora to return home.  The Vigil believes there is little prospect of this until an MDC government is in power. We think that the longer it takes to get rid of Mugabe the less likely it is that Zimbabweans will return home in any numbers.  The reason is that people are putting down roots in their new countries: children are at school etc.  

The Vigil has received a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to our request to the Foreign Secretary not to grant visas to Zimbabwe ministers on the EU travel ban list.  The letter says the EU allowed exemptions to attend intergovernmental meetings for political dialogue which promotes democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The Vigil believes this must include free and fair elections – our one and only demand.   

Attendance was a bit down this week but we notice that our partner organisation ROHR was having no less than six meetings today around the UK: Bedford, Wolverhampton, Woking, Bournemouth, Liverpool and Manchester. In the first half of this year 2,040 people came to the Vigil at least once.  This approaches the figure for the whole of last year (2,421). 

You will be pleased to hear that Sue Toft’s eye operation seems to have been a success though she has been unable to rejoin us as yet.  Thanks to her daughter Francesca for standing in for her and also to Caroline who comes all the way from Exeter to help us out.  Thanks also to Cleopas Tapambwa, a faithful supporter, who lends a hand everywhere and lends two hands to the drumming. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:  137 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·        
ROHR Hatfield general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 1.30 – 6 pm. Venue: Lord William Cecil Memorial Hall, 1 French Horn Lane
, Hatfield, Herts AL10 8AQ. Present ROHR President, Executiveand a well- known lawyer: Special guests Hatfield & Welwyn MP Mr Grant Shapp and Mr Geoffrey Van Orden Europe MP. A substantive committee to be elected. Contact: Paradzai Mapfumo on 07915926323 / 07932216070, Clarkson Shumbanhete 07958550506, Mary Muradzikwa 07920170620, Rewai Chikungwa 07862246960 or Emilia Muradzikwa 07861712566
·         ROHR Coventry general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 3 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Paynes Lane, Coventry CV1 5LJ. Contact: E Nyakudya
07876796129, M Sibanda(Nashe) 07788560068, P Makuwerere 07599401559 or V J Mujeyi 07534034594
·         ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday, 18th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. ROHR President, Executive and a well known lawyer present, invited guest: Cllr Simon Hackett. Contact Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         ROHR Hayes and Northolt launch meeting
. Saturday 25th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Brookside Community Centre, Hayes UB4 0PL. ROHR President and a well- known lawyer present. Contact Snodia Chihowa 07852921523, Juliet Musandiriri 07551319522 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.  
·         Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London
WC2N 6HL.
·         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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Tsvangirai says all is well? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 29 June 2009 22:31

Re the Southwark message from the diaspora that all is not well.  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYsf9dsNIjM

Statement from the Information & Publicity Department, MDC Pressroom – 29th June 2009. (http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/khyupe290609.pdf) 

Full text of Acting President, Hon Thokozani Khupe’s speech after MDC Ministers walked out of Mugabe’s “Cabinet” meeting 

"For a long time the MDC has made issue of the unequivocal lack of paradigm shift on the part of ZANU PF as an actor in the Transitional government. For a long time we have remained the polite and subservient Upholders of the GPA against clear evidence of the absence of a reliable & honest partner. 

At the epicenter of our disappointment has been the unwillingness of ZANU PF to timeously resolve the unfinished issues of the inclusive government under the GPA. In particular, despite five months of endless meetings amongst the Principals ,the central issues of the Reserve Bank Governor, The Attorney General, the Provincial Governors, the swearing in of Roy Bennett and the appointment of ambassadors remain unresolved as such the inclusive government is yet to be fully constituted. 

These issues continue to affect the health of the GPA. They are structural issues that are at the root of the GPA. Any breach of the same and any failure to resolve the same is fundamental .Part of the problem lies in the fact that ZANU PF has not woken up to the reality of the MDC as an equal partner in the agreement following the March 29 result .More importantly they have not accepted that in the constitution, the GPA, Mr Mugabe and President Tsvangirai are placed on par and that the former cannot do anything without the latter. 

Further evidence of the lack of a paradigm shift, is the deliberate refusal to convene the National Security council. The National Security Council became law in February 2009 and demands that the Security council meets once every month. Four months later, it has not met simply because a few elite securocrats do not recognise the authority of the new order. 

The lack of recognition of the fundamental principle of equality has given rise to a persistent and corrosive culture of unilateralism. That unilateralism includes unlawful redefinition of the mandate of ministries, executive appointments and a pervasive reproduction of a business-of-the old order mentality. The same unilateralism is being reflected in the nascent constitution making process where suddenly and contrary to the provisions of the GPA, the Kariba draft constitution is now being sought to be imposed lock stoke and barrel on the people of Zimbabwe. 

Over and above this we have protested at the persistent abuse of the rule of law, the cynical disrespect of the countrys’ laws and flagrant insensitivity to the multiplier effect of all acts of lawlessness. We remain concerned about the persistent victimization, arrest and violence against our MPs, activists, civil society members, and members of staff. We have remained abhorred by the continuous incidents of farm invasions and virile prosecution of farmers. We have remained abhorred at the selective application of the rule of law. Equally of concern is our disenchantment at the continued frustration of the democratisation agenda by ZANU-PF. Media reforms remain aborted whilst state media, in particular the Herald and ZBC continue to churn out vitriol and propaganda. Equally, there is no movement on key legislation on fundamental issues such as the promotion of freedom of speech, assembly and expression. 

This morning, we were advised that Cabinet had been shifted from its mandated day of Tuesday to Monday at 10am. Innocent and innocuous as this decision may be, the fact of the matter is that it underpins everything wrong about the present agreement. The decision seeks to deny the recognition of the Prime Minister as chair of Cabinet when the President is away. Mr Mugabe has indicated that he will not be present on Tuesday and hence the unilateral decision to move Cabinet forward to today. This reflects unilateralism, disrespect, contempt and refusal to recognise reality and the letter and spirit of the GPA, the reality of 29 March 2009 and the reality of now to the extent that Cabinet is held on Tuesday, we will not attend an informal unilateral meeting. 

However whilst we remain fundamentally committed to the GPA in the interests of our people, it is our constitutional right to consider disengagement. It is time that for Christ’s sake toxicity and insanity are removed from the GPA. It is time that the irreversibility of our change became a living reality not just to ZANU-PF but to the people of Zimbabwe at large.

Thank you"

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Press Statement from ROHR ZIMBABWE – 24th June 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 25 June 2009 13:26

Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe is deeply disturbed by a vicious, hate-fuelled and well-orchestrated campaign by some UK-based Zimbabwean online newsites aimed at discrediting ROHR Zimbabwe as an organisation and the personal integrity of Ephraim Tapa, its President. Chief among these are Nehanda Radio, Zimdaily and ZimEye. Articles on these newsites have accused ROHR Zimbabwe and its President of masterminding a spontaneous response from Zimbabweans to the Zimbabwe Prime Minister, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s call for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to ‘come back home’. ROHR Zimbabwe and its leadership wants to disassociate itself from these malicious accusations as they are baseless and outright falsehoods. We also want to state categorically that at no time did the organisation agree, let alone set an agenda to ridicule or disrupt the Southwark Cathedral meeting. Mr Tapa was not even at the meeting. We therefore dismiss the accusations with the contempt they deserve. 

Why did the people boo the Prime Minister? Watching the online video clips, it is clear to see that the PM is loudly applauded at one point followed by a somewhat subdued reaction as he continues his speech, finally to be greeted by a spontaneous, deafening chorus of ‘Chinja!, Chinja! Mugabe must go!’ Truly this was not the work of Mr Ephraim Tapa or ROHR Zimbabwe and neither was it the work of its sister organisation, the Zimbabwe Vigil. To suggest so is to pour contempt on the conscience of the people of Zimbabwe whom we so respect. To launch this campaign on so little evidence mean that elements in the Zimbabwean UK Diaspora must feel very threatened by us as our message continues to reasonate with not only those in the Diaspora but also the wider constituency within Zimbabwe.  The issue is that Zimbabwe is still not safe to return for those who fled persecution and are in need of international protection. ROHR Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Vigil does not apologise to anyone for our principled stance that ‘Mugabe Must Go’, our demand for democracy and justice, respect for the rule of law and the Restoration of Human Rights. It is interesting that groups like the Vigil and ROHR who are kept busy by real activism don’t have the time or inclination to decampaign other groups.  

ROHR and its President have been accused of many other crimes in a campaign that dates back to 2007, when the MDC-UK & I Executive, then led by Ephraim Tapa, was dissolved unconstitutionally. At NO time was Mr Tapa ever EXPELLED from the MDC Chairmanship and for the record, he actually declined to stand the second time he was requested to do so. Then, the call was for the Party to uphold its founding principles – constitutional democracy, transparency, accountability and justice for all. The ROHR President continues to cherish those values and, unlike some who have started glorifying Mr Mugabe with the advent of the inclusive government, continues to fight for GENUINE CHANGE. Whilst engaged in this struggle for human rights and notwithstanding his right to do so, Mr Ephraim Tapa does not for now have plans to seek any political office within any political party. And contrary to misleading theories being peddled by those who seek to detract from him, Mr Tapa harbours no rancour or vendetta against anyone within the MDC family. 

The call NOW is for the inclusive government to address human rights concerns, uphold the rule of law and mete out justice to all those who perpetrated human rights abuses, including Robert Mugabe and his cronies. In its quest for these ideals, ROHR Zimbabwe has managed to create in three years a respectable national and international profile. Mindful of the suffering of Zimbabweans, ROHR Zimbabwe filed a lawsuit against Gono to remove cash withdrawal limits, mounted successful demonstrations in demand for justice and democracy, buried and cared for victims of the 2008 Mugabe terror campaign, provided basic necessities to vulnerable groups such as orphanages, the displaced, and disadvantaged school children, to name a few.  We have registered a prominent presence in defence of human rights as we continue to operate legally in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom. It seems ROHR Zimbabwe has become the victim of its success. 

ROHR Zimbabwe runs offices in Zimbabwe, employs staff, runs programmes and assists on humanitarian causes, and like any other organisation, it needs money to do this. As a membership based organisation, ROHR Zimbabwe depends mainly on the support of its membership. Monthly subscriptions are decided and managed as per its constitution and members reserve the right to vary this and determine the direction of the organisation. As an international organisation, ROHR Zimbabwe operates within the legal framework of host countries.  Membership is open to the willing and those who join do so of their free will. ROHR Zimbabwe is not a refugee or asylum organisation – it does not have the power to regularise anyone’s stay in any given country. We believe that those in need of international protection can only base their claims on their personal / activist profiles. We are however aware that ROHR Zimbabwe members, their staff, supporters and activists have been persecuted under the Mugabe regime and still continue to face persecution, along with other human rights defenders, under the inclusive government. Therefore, whilst membership of ROHR Zimbabwe or participation at the Zimbabwe Vigil may be helpful, it is important that those who join us do so for what we do: defending and restoring human rights in Zimbabwe and not otherwise.  

ROHR Zimbabwe will continue to stand by the people of Zimbabwe whatever it takes and will not allow itself to be distracted by hate-filled individuals hiding behind the facade of gutter journalism. ROHR Zimbabwe will never be silenced, especially not by merchants of hatred, jealousy and disunity. 

For SW Radio Africa’s broadcasts featuring the Vigil and ROHR’s position on what happened at the meeting at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday, 20th June, please check SW Radio’s Archives: Newsreel on Monday, 22nd June and Diaspora Diaries on Tuesday, 23rd June – www.swradioafrica.com.  (http://www.swradioafrica.com/news220609/zimuk220609.htm) 

From the Information Department of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe 

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 20th June 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 21 June 2009 15:16

An extraordinary day which saw Morgan Tsvangirai stomping out of a diaspora assembly in Southwark Cathedral in south London when his speech was booed. 

The Vigil was there to greet his convoy when it arrived. Displaying our banners ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ and ‘End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe’, we danced and drummed and sang ‘To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must go’.  The Prime Minister could not have failed to see our posters ‘Protect Human Rights Activists’, ‘Restore the Rule of Law’ and ‘End Farm Invasions’. 

Our purpose was to welcome Tsvangirai but also to remind him of what people in the diaspora think needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to win the confidence of donors and investors and be a welcoming place for returning exiles.   

Tsvangirai was given a big ovation when he emerged in the cathedral after prayers and a reading from the Acts of the Apostles by Vigil management team member Gugu Tutani – ‘I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people’. 

But he was jeered by the audience when he called on them to return home.  As far as they were concerned he was telling them to go back to a place with no jobs or rule of law and continuing human rights abuses.  There were chants of ‘Mugabe must go’. The much-heralded meeting ended abruptly because of the challenging atmosphere. (see link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8110939.stm). Despite this distraction, the Vigil outside the Embassy took place as normal. We were not surprised that Tsvangirai did not stop by on his way to a £75 a head dinner for exiled Zimbabweans.  

Some comments from the many disappointed and angry Zimbabweans who came on from the Cathedral to the Vigil, many of them first-timers:
·         ‘When Morgan said “the schools have re-opened” everybody cheered. When Morgan said “the hospitals have re-opened” everybody was silent. When he said “there is peace in Zimbabwe
” everyone heckled and booed and you could taste the anger in the air. One lady asked the question “if there are goods in the shops and the schools have re-opened where will everyone get money to buy food and send their children to school” – this was not answered.’
·        
‘He was speaking like Mugabe. He is saying everything is now ok.’
·         ‘The MDC expects everyone to agree or they are treated as an enemy’.·        
‘We have been betrayed by Tsvangirai’.
·         ‘Today Tsvangirai was shot down in flames by Zimbabweans in the UK
diaspora.’
·         ‘How can Tsvangirai encourage people to go home when all his children are in the diaspora,’ 

Thanks to:
·        
Fungayi Mabhunu for leaving the cathedral meeting early to make sure he was on time to open the Vigil.
·        
Jenatry Muranganwa for his impassioned leading of the singing and dancing in the Vigil demonstration outside the cathedral.
·         Arnold Kuwewa for single-handedly looked after the merchandise and register until joined by others who had attended the Tsvangirai meeting. 

It was good to welcome back Geraldine Takundwa who has been seriously ill for a long time. 

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

FOR THE RECORD:  about 300 signed the register. 

FOR YOUR DIARY:
·         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 Vigil Forum. Saturday 27th June at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
·         ROHR Leeds general meeting. Saturday 27th June 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 Chelmsford general meeting. Saturday 27th June from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Springfield Parish Hall (centre), Chelmsford, CM1 6GX.  Transport from train station to the venue provided. Contact: Faith Benesi 07958650670, Tobokwa Malikongwa 07533660621, Richard Mupunga  07540807347, Christina Zanji 07535791464 or Nyasha Muzambi 07908429361 or Paradzai Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
·         ROHR Bedford general meeting. Saturday 4th July from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: 64 Magnolia Close, Kempstone, Bedford, MK42 7NR. ROHR President, executive and a well known Immigration lawyer present. Special Guest the MP for Bedford. Contact: Daniel Manyanga 07939184723, Sifelani Dziva 07936551476, Allen Gapara 07834231749, R Mwandira 07903434431 or Paradzai Mapfumo
07915926323 / 07932216070.
·         ROHR Hatfield general meeting. Saturday 11th July from 1.30 – 6 pm. Venue: Lord William Cecil Memorial Hall, 1 French Horn Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 8AQ. Present ROHR President, Executive, a well known lawyer: Special guests Hatfield & Welwyn MP Mr Grant Shapp and Mr Geofrey Van Orden, Europe MP. A substantive committee to be elected. Contact: Paradzai Mapfumo
on 07915926323 / 07932216070, Clarkson Shumbanhete 07958550506, Mary Muradzikwa 07920170620, Rewai Chikungwa 07862246960 or Emilia Muradzikwa 07861712566
·         Zimbabwe Vigil Forum. Saturday 25th July at 6.30 pm. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog, John Adam Street, London
WC2N 6HL.
·         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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