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Interesting times – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 5th March 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 06 March 2016 15:39

There is apparently an old Chinese warning against living in ‘interesting times’ . . . interesting meaning dangerous, troubled, violent, precarious, unstable etc:  In brief, all the ‘interesting’ conditions that now prevail in Zimbabwe.

 

So hard luck to us after a week which saw the unveiling of Joice Mujuru’s People First Party and the suspension from Zanu PF of War Veterans’ Minister Mutsvangwa. Both events were overshadowed by the government’s chaotic seizure of the Chiadzwa diamond mines owned by Mugabe’s pals.

 

‘We wuz robbed,’ claimed Mugabe. ‘Where has all the money gone?’ feigning not to have noticed the diamonds on the soles of the feet of his well-shod wife and well-heeled cronies and all-weather friends.

 

Chief friend Comrade China says it is offended and hopes it’s all been a mistake. ‘We hope that the Zimbabwean side would earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese companies and employees, according to the local laws and the ‘Agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between China and Zimbabwe,’ Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said. Laws? Agreement? It appears the Chinese were born yesterday. But anyway it must mean farewell to the long-promised ‘mega deals’ which we were told would usher in the promised land (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/china-warns-zim-over-mine-grabs-dailynews-live/).

 

Zimbabwe is floundering with little sign of meaningful reform and sustainable, broad-based recovery says the International Crisis Group. Upbeat economic projections by international institutions are predicated on government rhetoric about new policy commitments and belief in the country’s potential, but there are growing doubts that ZANU PF can “walk the talk” of reform. Conditions are likely to deteriorate further due to insolvency, drought and growing food insecurity,’ it says (see: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/southern-africa/zimbabwe/b118-zimbabwe-stranded-in-stasis.aspx).

 

One a cold rainy day, the Vigil welcomed human rights activist Ben Freeth on a brief visit to the UK. He went on to speak at the Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil and was encouraging about our work.

 

He said the situation at home was dreadful and remarked that he recently went back to see his stolen farm and found there were no crops, the irrigation system had been destroyed and his former workers were unemployed and impoverished. He warned that Zanu PF would be looking to control people by exploiting British and American food aid for party-political purposes. ‘The British tax payer will be paying to keep Mugabe in power’.

 

Ben said he was skeptical about the sudden conversion to enlightened democrat of die-hard Zanu PF thieving functionary Joice Mujuru. He recalled how she and her murdered husband General Solomon Mujuru had deceived and stolen their farm from its previous owner who had been forced to flee the country with only one suitcase.

 

He was critical of the European diplomats living in what he called the ‘Harare bubble’ and said how difficult it was to get any of them to go out and see things for themselves. He said he will join the prayers in Africa Unity Square on the anniversary of the murder of the Vigil’s friend Itai Dzamara who was abducted by military intelligence in Harare on 9th March last year.

 

The Vigil will mark the anniversary next Saturday when we will be joined by MDC UK Youth. Ben’s comments about the diplomatic community prompted us to recall that the French Ambassador in Harare Laurent Delahousse was recently reprimanded by Foreign Affairs Minister        Mumbengegwi about his confrontational approach over Dzamara. Mr Delahousse said afterwards he was changing his ‘strategy’. Presumably this means instead of joining the mourners in Africa Unity Square he will be diplomatically licking boots in State House (see: http://www.thezimbabwean.co/2016/02/dzamara-france-says-changing-tack/.)

 

Other points

·       Play: ‘After Independence’. 4th – 28th May at the Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL. The play is by May Sumbwanyambe and tackles the issues of independence and government in Zimbabwe. More information is available here: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/after-independence/2016-05-04/. The producer has contacted the Vigil for our input and plans to visit us in April to discuss this.

·       We note that ‘useful idiot’ Matthew Parris, the columnist and former Conservative MP, has written another love letter to Mugabe in the UK Times. Like his predecessors, such as Stalin’s admirer George Bernard Shaw, he didn’t look at the terror and says of his trip ‘I have never felt safer or more welcome’. We await his gushing travel article which will no doubt follow covering his expenses.

·       Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Tafadzwa Buka, Nelson Dauramanzi, Isabell Gwatidzo, Etines Kapiya, Vimbayi Karumbidza, Maxwell Kudita, Fungayi Mabhunu, Anna Mafunga, Phillip Mahlahla, Innocent Maya, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Marlon Nyamakanga, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Newman Lee Richard, Michael Sirewu, Portiah Tobaiwa and Elector Zvorwadza. Thanks to Roseline and Vimbayi for looking after the front table, to Chipo and Isabell for taking care of the lucky dip and to Rashiwe, Mavis and Vimbayi for selling the delicious food cooked by Fungayi. The food and lucky dip provided by the Central London branch raised useful money for ROHR. Thanks also to Philip Mahlahla who led the team (Nelson, Maxwell, Innocent, Marlon, Newman and Michael) which put up the high banners and tarpaulin. 

 

 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

FOR THE RECORD: 48 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       Discussion: ‘Corruption in Zimbabwe’. Wednesday 9th March. Venue: Impact Hub King's Cross - 34b York Way London N1 9AB from 6 – 8 pm. The speaker is Mary-Jane Ncube, Executive Director Transparency International Zimbabwe. The event is free. For more information and tickets: http://www.transparency.org.uk/events/fighting-corruption-in-zimbabwe/.

·       Protest to mark anniversary of the disappearance of Itai Dzamara. Saturday 12th March from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark one year since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents. We will be joined by MDC UK Youth.

·       ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 12th March from 12 noon – 2 pm. Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.Contact: Fungayi Mabhunu 07907089899, Esther Nyambi 07446210391, Mavis Chisvo 07944612944.

·       ROHR Leicester street campaign and branch meeting. Saturday 12th March. Street campaign from 1-2 pm at Narborough Road. Meeting from 2-4 pm at the Salvation Army, Kildare Street, Leicester LE1 3FY. Directions: Opposite Peking Chinese Restaurant, City Centre. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707, Yvonne Makombe 07453909247 and Moline Nyabonda 07961250525.

·       ROHR Reading branch community outreach and general meeting. Saturday 19th March. Community outreach from 12 noon – 1.30 pm: Venue: Broad Street. Awareness campaign on deteriorating human rights in Zimbabwe. General meeting from 2 – 5 pm:  Venue: RISC 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. For further enquiries contact: Nicodimus Muganhu 07877386792, Charles Mararirakwenda 07964731721, Joshua Kahari 07877246251, Shylette Chipangura 07828929806.

·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 19th March from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 16th April from 11 am to 1.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 16th April from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It's between a newsagent and an optician. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

·       Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Kick out Zanu PF – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 27th February 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 28 February 2016 17:05

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/25193639711/sizes/m/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/24682962294/sizes/m/

 

Two of the UK’s main newspapers published lengthy articles today on the Nottingham doctor, Sylvester Nyatsuro, who has seized a farm in Zimbabwe. The articles coincided with the presentation of the Vigil’s petition to 10 Downing Street calling on the UK to revoke Dr Nyatsuro’s British citizenship.

What prompted the two papers to revisit the story was the emergence of photographs which showed Dr Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica socialising with Grace Mugabe. As the Daily Mail put it ‘Grinning with Mrs Mugabe, GP who was handed white couple’s farm’. The photograph was seen as disproving the Nyatsuros’ denial that nepotism had played a part in the allocation of the farm to someone who has become a British citizen and lived in the UK for the past 15 years.

 

The mass circulation Daily Mail has been assiduously digging away at the scandal. For their latest report see: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3465233/Black-British-doctor-seized-farm-white-Zimbabwean-couple-personally-knows-Mugabe-family-extraordinary-picture-reveals.html. That it has been joined so enthusiastically by the upmarket Daily Telegraph perhaps reflects the Telegraph’s irritation at the Nyatsuros earlier blustering legal threats against the paper which prompted it to drop a previous story from their website. For the latest Telegraph story see:   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/12175491/Photograph-emerges-of-Zimbabwe-land-grab-British-doctor-with-Grace-Mugabe.html.

 

The same Zanu PF bullying tactics were made against the Vigil but we have not been deterred from demonstrating outside their Nottingham clinic 130 miles north of London to show their patients what sort hypocrites the Nyatsuros are. Our latest protest yesterday was attended by 50 from as far afield as Edinburgh and Portsmouth.

 

A Daily Mail journalist interviewed us there. She then tried to ask Veronica Nyatsuro some questions, only to be pushed angrily away. But fortunately in the UK we can stand up to Zanu PF’s bullying. Our demonstration was addressed by Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa who said the Nyatsuros were part of last days Zanu PF looting frenzy, which has also seen other farm seizures and chaos in Marange.

 

Many of the Nottingham demonstrators turned up to support the presentation of the Vigil petition addressed Prime Minister Cameron which was handed in by: Enniah Dube, Sharon Moyo, Cathrine Musa, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Roseline Mukucha and Vinbai Karumbidza. The petition reads:  Zimbabwean exiles in the United Kingdom and sympathisers are appalled by the behaviour of Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica who run the Willows Medical Centre in Nottingham. Dr Nyatsuro is a British citizen, long resident in this country, yet he has illegally seized a farm in Zimbabwe owned by a white Zimbabwean farmer, Mr Phillip Rankin, who bought it with the approval of the Mugabe government. Dr Nyatsuro and his wife are reported to be connected to Grace Mugabe. We are puzzled why a British doctor should want a farm in Zimbabwe since he and his wife are apparently in full-time employment here and have no known farming expertise in a country facing starvation. We ask your government to consider revoking Dr Nyatsuro’s citizenship on the grounds that ‘it was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact’ (see: Deprivation of British citizenship and withdrawal of passport facilities – file:///Users/GG/Downloads/SN06820%20(1).pdf: House of Commons Library). We also question his suitability to run an NHS clinic in Nottingham while farming in Zimbabwe.

 

It was accompanied by this letter:  Dear Prime Minister: Zimbabwean exiles in the United Kingdom and supporters ask your government to look at the case of Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro, a GP running a clinic in Nottingham with his wife Veronica. Dr Nyatsuro is from Zimbabwe but has live in the UK for the past 15 years and is now a British citizen. The Sunday Times says he came here as an asylum seeker but this has not stopped him from violently seizing a farm in Zimbabwe owned by a Zimbabwean citizen, Phillip Rankin and his family. We are not aware that Dr Nyatsuro has any farming knowledge or whether he intends to relinquish his Nottingham practice so we wonder what justification he has to take over one of the last remaining white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, beyond being given the go ahead by the Mugabes with whom he and his wife are reported to have connections. The Zimbabwe Vigil draws your attention to the starvation threatening millions of Zimbabweans and the urgent need to resuscitate agriculture and asks you whether ‘slimming expert’ Dr Nyatsuro is a person likely to further this goal. We believe that he and his wife are Mugabe predators and Dr Nyatsuro’s citizenship should be revoked because we believe it must have been obtained under false pretences. We enclose a petition signed by people from around the world who have passed by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London for more than thirteen years. The petition has also received more than 7,000 online signatures.

 

Other points

·       Thanks to those who attended the Nottingham protest: Alice Shimika, Audrey Chihoho, Catherine Musa, Cathrine Mashinge, Cephas Maswoswa, Chamunorwa Chisuko, Chipo Kamhunga, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Clever Manjoro, Danny Kadiki, Deborah Harry, Dennis Benton, Edna Mdoka, Edward Murota, Elector Zvorwadza, Ellah Mhere, Enniah Dube, Ephraim Tapa, Esther Munyira, Esther Nyambi, Fungayi Mabhunu, Hellena Gusinyu, Irvine Huni, Jestina Jenami, John Burke, Jolene Staal, Lazarus Matiyenga, Maqhawe Manana, Mary Ndoro, Mercy Bayipayi, Moline Nyabonda, Nelson Dauramanzi, Nicodimus Muganhu, Percy Dube, Phillip Mahlahla, Phylis Magejo, Portiah Tobaiwa, Praxedes Mungwari, Rashiwe Bayisayi, Rose Benton, Roseline Mukucha, Simba Chengeta, Sipiwe Dube, Tafadzwa Madzivadondo, Tawanda Rusape,Tino Mashonganyika, Xoliso Sithole, Yvonne Makombe and Yvonne Ndlovu.

·       Thanks also to those who came to the Vigil early to help set up: Angeline Huni, Anna Mafunga, Barbara Kachidza, Benjamin Semwayo, Catherine Musa, Charles Mararirakwenda, Elton Mzezewa, Fungisai Mupandira, Humphrey Dube, Isabell Gwatidzo, Jacob Mandipira, Joshua Kahari. Julius Tanyaradzwa Matera, Kevin Gondo, Linda Mariyacha, Maxwell Kudita, Patricia Masamba, Roseline Mukucha, Sally Mutseyami, Sidumiso Nyoni, Tafadzwa Buka, Tatenga Gutah and Vimbai Karumbidza. Thanks to Isabell, Roseline and Vimbai for looking after the front table and to Humphrey and Julius for putting up the banners. A special thank you to those who stayed behind to look after the Vigil when everyone else went to 10 Downing Street: Ben Chigamba, Esther Nyambi, Patricia Masamba and Kevin Gondo.

·        

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

FOR THE RECORD: 77 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 5th March from 11 am to 1.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 5th March from 6.15 pm. The Zimbabwe human rights campaigner  Ben Freeth hopes to join us. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It's between a newsagent and an optician. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 5th March from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       Protest to mark anniversary of the disappearance of Itai Dzamara. Saturday 12th March from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark one year since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

·       Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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Zimbabwe Vigil Press Release – 23rd February 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 23 February 2016 14:10

Zimbabweans in new protest at looting British GP

 

On Friday 26th February Zimbabwean exiles in the UK are to stage another protest outside a clinic in Nottingham run by a Zimbabwean immigrant doctor who has seized one of the last white-owned farms in Zimbabwe.

 

Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro, a British citizen, claims that the Mugabe regime told him he could have the farm although he has been resident in England for more than 15 years. His wife, Veronica, is apparently connected to Mugabe’s wife Grace.

 

The farm was besieged by hired thugs for months before armed police forced their way in exactly four weeks ago on Friday and took away the owner Zimbabwean-born Phillip Rankin who was about to harvest a crop worth up to £240,000.

 

The demonstrations outside Dr Nyatsuro’s clinic have been organized by the Zimbabwe Vigil  which has been protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday since October 2002 in support of human rights in Zimbabwe.

 

Date and time: Friday 26th February from 12 noon – 3 pm.

Venue: The Willows Medical Centre, Church Street, Carlton, Nottingham NG4 1BJ.

For directions, check: http://www.nhs.uk/Services/GP/MapsAndDirections/DefaultView.aspx?id=38275

Contact: Chamunorwa Chisuko 07832927609, Enniah Dube 07403439707, Sally Mutseyami 07448730581, Fungayi Mabhunu 07907089899, Rose Benton 07970996003.

 

 

Zimbabweans to present petition to 10 Downing Street

 

At 4 pm on Saturday 27th February the Vigil will present a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for Dr Nyatsuro’s British citizenship to be revoked. The petition to Prime Minister David Cameron reads:

 

Zimbabwean exiles in the United Kingdom and sympathisers are appalled by the behaviour of Dr Sylvester Nyatsuro and his wife Veronica who run the Willows Medical Centre in Nottingham. Dr Nyatsuro is a British citizen, long resident in this country, yet he has illegally seized a farm in Zimbabwe owned by a white Zimbabwean farmer, Mr Phillip Rankin, who bought it with the approval of the Mugabe government. Dr Nyatsuro and his wife are reported to be connected to Grace Mugabe. We are puzzled why a British doctor should want a farm in Zimbabwe since he and his wife are apparently in full-time employment here and have no known farming expertise in a country facing starvation. We ask your government to consider revoking Dr Nyatsuro’s citizenship on the grounds that ‘it was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact’ (see: Deprivation of British citizenship and withdrawal of passport facilities – file:///Users/GG/Downloads/SN06820%20(1).pdf: House of Commons Library). We also question his suitability to run an NHS clinic in Nottingham while farming in Zimbabwe.

 

The petition has been signed by hundreds of people who have passed by the Vigil on Saturdays. More than 7,000 others have signed the petition online.

 

Date: Saturday 27th February

Times:

3.30 pm move from the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR

4 pm outside 10 Downing Street, SW1A 2AA.

 

 

Ban Zanu PF petition

The Vigil has been asked to draw attention to an online petition asking the British government to ban Zanu PF in the UK (see: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/120585).

 
‘No one listens to him. What a backward man.’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 21 February 2016 20:23

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/article1668655.ece

 


 

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Times, Robert Mugabe’s former vice-president announces her bid for power in Zimbabwe

 

Christina Lamb Published: 21 February 2016

 

It sounds like something penned by Shakespeare on acid. An evil tyrant rules over his people for decades, owing his power to his military commander, who then perishes in a mysterious fire. That man’s widow, Joice Mujuru — widely known as Comrade Spill Blood — then sees herself as the rightful successor to the ageing tyrant, only to find that the latter’s wife has other ideas.

 

Today, as Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, turns 92, he will get a most unwelcome birthday present. He faces his first challenge from within his innermost circle — a gauntlet thrown down by his former vice-president, the woman who used to call him Father. Joice Mujuru has chosen today to launch her own opposition party, People First.

 

When I meet her in her house in Zimbabwe, she is understandably nervous. Resplendent in a scarlet jacket, with golden boots dangling from her ears, she fusses about where to sit. Taking on one of the world’s last totalitarian regimes is a risky business — especially from someone who was embedded at the very heart of it. For years, Mugabe has retained power by playing potential rivals in his Zanu-PF party off against each other. But recently something has changed. There is a sense that Zimbabwe is in the dying days of empire.

 

“I think this is pointing to the end,” says Mujuru. “He no longer has the energy to tell them to stop, and no one listens to him. He has no respect now — from anybody. It’s painful.” According to Mujuru, Mugabe often falls asleep in cabinet meetings. “He would speak for 15 minutes then nod off and I would then chair the meeting, with everyone ignoring the fact he was asleep.”

 

Making this challenge is not something Mujuru, 60, has done lightly. For almost 35 years, she was at Mugabe’s side. She was the youngest minister in his first cabinet, while her husband was his army chief. For 10 years she was his vice-president, widely seen as his heiress apparent. But then Mugabe’s own wife, Grace, 50, began to nurture political ambitions of her own. Known as Gucci Grace or the First Shopper — she is said to have once spent £75,000 on a single spree in Paris — she was apparently worried about securing her future and that of her four children. In September 2014 she launched her own campaign. “They say I want to be president,” she told one rally. “Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?”

 

Mugabe has long been thought to be suffering from ill health. Last month he was rumoured to be on the verge of death in a clinic in the Far East, yet he still insisted he had no plans to retire, saying: “I will be there until God says come.” Some believe that Grace is already running things. “Her power only lasts as long as he is there,” says Mujuru. “She said she will buy him a wheelchair that will make him speak even when he’s dead.”

 

One of Grace Mugabe’s main targets is Joice Mujuru. “She saw me as a threat — they both did,” says Mujuru. Grace went on state TV to denounce Mujuru, accusing her of wanting to kill Mugabe and of having consulted witch doctors to bring about his death. Is that true? “I’m a Christian and a member of the Salvation Army,” Mujuru retorts. “I have never used magic. A head of state using his platform to lie and believing stories about frogs being kept in a calabash, and if one dies then he will die? I said to myself, ‘What a backward man.’” Appeals to the president got her nowhere. After one cabinet meeting, she asked Mugabe if he really believed she wanted to kill him. “I am hearing it from the ministry of intelligence,” he replied.

 

Horrified, Mujuru told him: “Father, if you are my shed and protecting me from the sun, how can I take an axe and destroy that shed? I’d be a mad person. I am only banking on you to look after me.” She left that meeting in fear. “My mouth was completely dry,” she recalls. In December 2014, Mujuru found herself unceremoniously sacked as vice-president. “It was the shock of my life,” she says.

 

Today, she describes herself as a “grandmother and a chicken farmer”. She has 10 grandchildren and 135,000 chickens on a farm seized at gunpoint from a white farmer as part of Mugabe’s landgrab. Mujuru may be out in the cold, but she still lives the life of a Zanu-PF apparatchik, dividing her time between the farm and a vast house in the northern suburbs of Harare, complete with tennis court, large empty swimming pool, gazebo and black-marble fountain gushing water — despite the country’s worst drought and famine in decades.

 

For someone who left school to join the bush war at 18, and who rose to No 2 in the regime, she seems tense. She is not used to speaking to western journalists — for years, we were banned. She knows the risks of speaking out. Throughout the interview, she never uses Mugabe’s name, referring instead to “He”, as if he were a deity.

 

We begin by talking about her childhood as the daughter of subsistence farmers in Mount Darwin, in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia. Like most black children at the time, Joice found herself at schools that taught carpentry, agriculture and domestic science rather than academic studies. “African children were expected to go into stereotype jobs,” she says. “Girls would be nurses or schoolteachers and males policemen or land agents.”

 

She was saved by the Salvation Army, which arranged her a scholarship at a high school. She was starting her O-levels when guerrillas came to her village in November 1973 to recruit for the bush war against the white regime. “They explained why this war was being carried out. I was one of the only girls in my village who had gone to high school, and they gave my example as someone who could have completed my education if I hadn’t been derailed into the African schools.”

 

She signed up. She was given a semi-automatic rifle and rudimentary training, and in February 1974, aged 18, she shot down a Rhodesian helicopter. “We’d been told, ‘If you see a helicopter, count as if you are measuring three unseen helicopters in front of it, and keep shooting at that point, and the shot will meet the real helicopter.’ I don’t know how it happened, but the bullet hit the helicopter and I saw it catching fire and the soldiers all disappearing, then it came down 2 or 3km away and I heard the sound of it dropping. Then I ran.

 

“If they had captured me, I would have been killed. But heavy rain came, which saved me from the dogs and horses the whites sent after me, and I followed the drains, which were full of water, so the dogs couldn’t get my trail.” Later, she fell ill with cerebral malaria.

 

While she was recuperating, Joice met her future husband, Solomon Mujuru. “I didn’t then expect us to become long-lasting partners, but he was a likeable person, and when I realised the war would be long and I was growing up and needed a partner, and he did, too, we decided to formalise it.” She says Solomon helped cement Mugabe’s power base. “My husband used to risk his life to go and talk to [Mugabe]… then come back and talk to the other commanders to accept him. [Mugabe] owed a lot to him and the family.”

 

When independence from Britain came in 1980, it was “very exciting… it was about rebuilding the country and uniting the society. We were working with the white people who tried to kill us, but when you talk to each other, you realised human beings were all the same. We didn’t want to kill, we wanted to change the system.”

 

She describes Mugabe’s inaugural speech on independence (“This is now time to beat our swords into ploughshares”) as a model of reconciliation. “I don’t know if he was just stage-managing or really believed it then,” she says.

Aged 24, and by then the mother of two girls, Mujuru had become the youngest minister, in charge of sports and culture. “It was very difficult juggling being a mother, a student, doing a job you don’t understand,” she says. “I don’t know how I did it, only God knows.”

 

In that first decade, Mujuru says they were intent on improving the country. “At that time I didn’t see anything wrong or amiss, as I was focusing on my job.” She now describes the regime as “a full dictatorship”. But how can people trust someone who was part of the system for so long and shared in its spoils? “It’s difficult to pick a good sheep among the bad,” she replies. “But people will vouch they saw me doing good things and never heard me giving a hate speech or encouraging others to kill or beat each other.”

 

In August 2011, Joice was woken by a phone call from a maid on the farm, saying the house was on fire and her husband was inside. Solomon Mujuru had retired from the military and politics in the 1990s and was busy mining diamonds, but remained in the politburo and was seen as the only person who would stand up to Mugabe. Still in her pyjamas, Joice drove to the farm, arriving around 1.30am. “Harare fire brigade was there, but had no water,” she recalls, “so we had to use the farm bowsers, and we tried to pour water on his body. There was a blue, blue flame, almost 1½ to 2 metres high, not normal at all. It seemed to me there was some kind of accelerant.”

 

That wasn’t all that was strange. Solomon seemed to have made no effort to escape. The carpet underneath his body was not burnt. Joice believes he had been shot first. A local white farmer who rushed to the scene said he believed a white phosphorus grenade was used to burn the body. “I can’t say who did it, but they know, the people in power. It will come out,” says Joice. “Mugabe?” I ask. She purses her lips.

 

Even so, she stayed in the cabinet and campaigned for Mugabe in the 2013 elections. He won an unexpected landslide. Was it rigged? “I never saw the rigging… I am sure it was a very small clique that was doing it.”

 

After her husband’s death she took over the farm, taking a £1.7m bank loan to expand. “I love farming,” she says. She insists that when she was informed (by letter) that she had been sacked, she intended to retire. “It was the people who came and asked me, ‘Comrade Teurai Ropa [Spill Blood], we want you to lead us, we want someone who can listen to us.’ So I agreed. I will lead them.”

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Internal contradictions – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 20th February 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 21 February 2016 20:03

Photolinks:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/24530556623/sizes/m/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/24526803874/sizes/m/

 

With Dr Grace now openly described as a witchdoctor, it came as no surprise that Mugabe was magically transported to London to materialise at the Vigil to try to raise some of the $800,000 apparently wanted for his birthday bash with its 92 kg cake.

 

That the party is being held at the Zimbabwe Ruins is entirely appropriate. What may seem less appropriate to donors is spending so much feeding Mugabe at a time when Zimbabwe is appealing for $1.5 billion to help the starving.

 

The birthday boy – played by Fungayi Mabhunu in our Mugabe mask – turned up sleepily at the Vigil holding upside down one of our posters ‘Where is Itai Dzamara?’ He was presented with several cakes and a colourful birthday painting showing the name Mugabe drowning in a tide of blood. Pinned to the painting were Zimbabwean hundred trillion dollar notes worth two quadrillion, five hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Surely enough for anyone’s party.

 

Mugabe was surrounded by Vigil supporters carrying posters: ‘Pay Mugabe in his own currency’, ‘Let Mugabe eat cake’, ‘Emergency appeal for Mugabe's birthday party’, ‘While Zimbabwe starves, Mugabe feasts’ and ‘Mugabe parties while Zimbabwe starves’.

 

Mugabe was fresh from making a televised address in Harare to appeal for an end to factionalism in Zanu PF following clashes in Harare between war veterans and riot police. Perhaps with Grace in mind, he spoke of the need ‘for a whip of discipline’ – perhaps to be applied by Vice President Mnangagwa who was with him for the address (along with 5 star nonentity Mphoko).

 

The clashes prompted war vet leader Mutsvangwa to make an extraordinary attack on Grace who he suggested was under the influence of occult powers (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-moyo-now-president-grace-using-nangas/). Perhaps this was one of the things Mugabe had in mind when he spoke of ‘contradictions’ in Zanu PF,

 

A more obvious contradiction came in an answer given by Agriculture Ministry Secretary Ringson Chitsiko when he was questioned about the food situation by the parliamentary committee on agriculture, which asked why Zambia had surplus maize when it was also affected by El Nino weather conditions. The difference, Chitsiko said, was due to ‘serious farming in Zambia at commercial level’ (See: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-legislators-roast-agriculture-ministry-official-newsday-zimbabwe/). Who would have believed it?

 

The contradictions between the public and private faces of the ruling party have been shown in a new light by ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru in a lengthy interview with the UK Sunday Times. ‘I think this is pointing to the end’, said Mujuru. ‘He no longer has the energy to tell them to stop, and no one listens to him. He has no respect now – from anybody. It’s painful.’ According to Mujuru, Mugabe often falls asleep in cabinet meetings. ‘He would speak for 15 minutes then nod off and I would then chair the meeting, with everyone ignoring the fact he was asleep.’

 

Asked about Mugabe’s accusations that she had consulted witchdoctors about his death, she said: ‘I have never used magic. A head of state using his platform to lie and believing stories about frogs being kept in a calabash, and if one dies then he will die? I said to myself, “What a backward man.”’ (See our campaigns page for full article: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/757-no-one-listens-to-him-what-a-backward-man).

 

Other points

·       Vigil supporter Philip Mahlahla, in an article in the Zimbabwean called on Mugabe to divert his birthday money to victims of the drought (see: http://www.thezimbabwean.co/2016/02/now-is-the-time/).

·       A well-attended meeting of the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil discussed the deteriorating situation at home and how we could prepare for the fall of Mugabe. Preparations were made for our latest protest on Friday outside a clinic in Nottingham run by a Zimbabwean immigrant doctor who has seized one of the last white-owned farms in Zimbabwe. We intend to invite Dr Nyatsuro to join us next Saturday when we present a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for him to be stripped of his British citizenship. For details see ‘Events and Notices’.

·       Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Benjamin Chigamba, Humphrey Dube, Fungayi Mabhunu, Philip Mahlahla, Julius Matera, Sharon Moyo, Eletha Mpofu, Esther Munyira and Jennipher Sabe. Thanks to Benjamin, Humphrey, Philip and Fungayi for putting up the tarpaulin in the rain. Thanks to Sharon, Roseline Mukucha and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table. Thanks also to Deborah Harry and Sihle Sibanda of the ROHR Reading branch for bringing the cakes and making tea for everyone.

 

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

FOR THE RECORD: 43 signed the register.

 

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

·       Nottingham demonstration against farm looting Zimbabwean doctor. Friday 26th February from 12 noon – 3 pm. Venue: outside The Willows Medical Centre, Church Street, Carlton, Nottingham NG4 1RJ.

·       Submission of petition on Dr Nyatsuro to 10 Downing Street. Saturday 27th February at  4 pm. Please come to the Vigil in good time as we will walk from the Vigil to Downing Street.

·       ROHR Southampton branch meeting. Saturday 27th February from 12 noon – 2 pm. The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL. From 2pm branch members will go on to join the Zimbabwe Vigil activities. Contact: Sally Mutseyami (Chairperson) 07448730581, Grace Rukure (Secretary) 07462103397 and Edward Mukuze (Info & Publicity Officer) 07463975108.

·       ROHR Middlesbrough branch general meeting. Saturday 27th February from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: Teesside University, Student Centre, Clarendon Building, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA. New members most welcome. For more information please contact Ndumiso Ncube 07532080247, Xoliso Sithole 07455911728, Henrietta N Mlilo 079313110024 and Sharon Shoniwa 07534867127.

·       ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 5th March from 11 am to 1.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see below.

·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 5th March from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It's between a newsagent and an optician. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

·       Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.

·       Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 5th March from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.

·       Protest to mark anniversary of the disappearance of Itai Dzamara. Saturday 12th March from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. The protest is to mark one year since Dzamara’s abduction by intelligence agents.

·       Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.

·       Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.

·       Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835

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