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Exposed: the horror Zimbabwe is hiding behind a news blackout PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 20 January 2019 12:47

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/exposed-the-horror-zimbabwe-is-hiding-behind-a-news-blackout-pf7dw3m9b

Exposed: the horror Zimbabwe is hiding behind a news blackout

Mugabe’s successors beat and kill in a brutal betrayal of the hopes raised by his downfall — and try to stop the world seeing

Christina Lamb 20/01/2019, The Sunday Times

Hundreds of people, including children as young as 10, have been killed or beaten in Zimbabwe in recent days in a crackdown the regime has tried to hide by shutting down the internet and deporting foreign journalists.

The violence comes as the country’s president heads to the economic summit in Davos by private jet tomorrow to brush shoulders with the rich and powerful in his quest for international recognition and investment in his bankrupt nation.

Last week civil society groups, led by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, wrote to the EU accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of using “murder of unarmed civilians as a tool to retain power”.

They demanded that he be barred from entering Switzerland unless he “immediately cease the ongoing human rights violations”.

The government has admitted only to three deaths and 300 detentions, but in the past few days The Sunday Times has secretly met hundreds of people in safe houses, hospitals and courts who have been beaten or had dogs set on them by masked police or soldiers.

Among them were a 15-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.

The closure of the internet for periods since Tuesday, on government orders, has made information difficult to obtain, but a doctor at Harare’s biggest hospital said the morgue was full. One western diplomat said they had heard of as many as 200 deaths, certainly 50.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said they had treated 72 people for gunshot wounds.

Hundreds of people have been detained and denied bail by magistrates who seem to be acting on government orders.

When diplomats demanded a meeting with the government, they were given what one described as “a command briefing” by Cain Mathema, the acting foreign minister. No questions were allowed.

The crackdown followed a more than doubling of fuel prices, with petrol costing $3.31 (£2.57) a litre, the most expensive in the world. It prompted a nationwide shutdown on Monday as well as protests and looting.

The midnight abductions and widespread beatings across the country that followed represent another dashing of hopes for Zimbabweans who believed things would change with the removal of long-time dictator Robert Mugabe, 94, whose authoritarian 37-year rule ended in November 2017.

Last August six people were shot in front of foreign journalists during protests against the election of Mnangagwa, who had been Mugabe’s deputy and right-hand man for decades but has tried to sell himself internationally as something new.

“This is worse than Mugabe,” said Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, yesterday. “These are old wolves in new clothing, using the same old methods of human rights abuses and internal displacement. They are telling the world they are open for business when they are selling a dummy.”

He spoke after attending the funeral of Kelvin Tinashe Choto, 22, a talented footballer and captain of the team in his township of Chitungwiza, who was one of those shot.

Chamisa paid tribute to “a young man with a bright future who was not politically involved in any way, yet was so badly shot his skull could not be reconstructed”.

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London Protest at Zimbabwe Repression PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 January 2019 23:04

Zimbabwe Vigil press release – 17th January 2019

London Protest at Zimbabwe Repression

Britain has condemned the brutal repression of anti-government protesters in Zimbabwe and called for restraint by security forces.

The Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin said the use of live ammunition was ‘deeply concerning and disproportionate’. She added that the Zimbabwean government must learn lessons from the post-election violence last year and implement the recommendations of the subsequent commission of inquiry.

Zimbabwean exiles are to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday, 19th January, in protest at the violence during a three-day work stayaway following an announcement by President Mnangagwa last weekend that fuel prices were being more than doubled.

Details of the widespread violence have leaked out despite internet and social media accounts being blocked. Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications company Econet told customers it had shut off internet access at the government’s request.

Amnesty International said eight civilians are believed to have been shot dead in clashes with the security forces and a doctors’ group said it had treated 68 people for gunshot wounds and many others for injuries from beatings.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said hundreds of people had been arrested, including Pastor Evan Mawarire, leader of the #ThisFlag movement, who was accused of inciting violence.

The MDC said Zanu PF supporters had thrown petrol bombs at its Harare headquarters. In Bulawayo the Mthwakazi Republic Party said that its secretary was in a critical condition after being shot in the head in front of his children after accusing security officials of heavy-handedness in the protests.

For his part, President Mnangagwa, who is continuing another tour overseas trying to raise money, said: ‘What we have witnessed is violence and vandalism instead of peaceful protests’.

Africa Minister Baldwin expressed her concern to the Zimbabwean Ambassador and said Britain would continue to put pressure on Zimbabwe to uphold the rule of law and human rights.

Zimbabwe Vigil activists will be outside the Embassy from 12 noon to 6 pm in solidarity with victims of violence and to draw attention to the worsening situation in Zimbabwe.

For more information: Ephraim Tapa 07940793090, Rose Benton 07970996003 and Patricia Masamba 07708116625.

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Zimbabwe: the silencing of our voices PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 January 2019 20:53

From Cathy Buckle 18/09/2019

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been one of the worst weeks in Zimbabwe for many years and has left us shocked, frightened and very uncertain about what is happening  and what lies ahead for us  in the coming days and weeks. I am writing this letter from Zimbabwe during a brief window in which a court order has just been granted to re-open access to the internet but not to social media sites and communication Apps. We all know this window to the world will not last 

It has been almost impossible to follow what has been going on for most of this week. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday it was mostly too dangerous for people to venture out of their homes. A three day stayaway called by the Congress of Trade Unions and other civic groups rapidly spiralled out of control on Monday: violent protests, burning vehicles and buildings, looting shops, barricaded roads and vigilante groups running riot in our towns and cities. Many people reported hearing gun shots, helicopters hovering and pillars of black smoke rising. On Monday and early on Tuesday many thousands of messages about what was going on and what people were seeing, flooded social media, along with  horrific pictures and videos showing  destruction, looting, injured and dead people and a massive crackdown by police and soldiers. By about 9.00 am on Tuesday morning the government ordered the internet to be shut down and then we were in the dark about what was going on, and so was the world. The silence of our phones and computers was very frightening. We had no way of knowing who was in trouble, who needed help, if it was safe to go out, if we’d be able to get back home if we did venture out; if our children at school were OK, if our friends in other parts of the country were OK.  

By Wednesday we heard that over 600 people had been arrested including Pastor Evan Mawarire  who led the This Flag movement in 2017. We still don’t know officially how many people have died in the past few days. We have heard that doctors handled 68 gunshot wounds and over 170 injuries. There are thousands of stories and eye witness accounts that cannot be told now.

On Thursday and Friday people have ventured out, restocked as many groceries as they can find and afford and about 50% of shops are still closed. In my home town today there are riot police and armed soldiers on the streets, outside the supermarkets that are open and at the road blocks out of town. The sight of armed soldiers in our towns is very un-nerving. There are big gaps on supermarket shelves where goods have not been restocked because delivery trucks have not been coming from Harare. Vegetables and perishable goods are in short supply, there is no bread and we have not had water for a week.  During ongoing internet blackouts we are unable to use our bank cards at many outlets as they require internet connections; we cannot pay for essential services, cannot pay wages, cannot contact our families, cannot keep up with national development.

We do not know what next week holds for us, we do not know what tomorrow holds; we do not even know if the internet will still be on by tomorrow morning.  The silencing of our voices is very chilling. Please keep Zimbabwe in your hearts, thoughts and prayers in this very frightening time in our country.
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Rats’ Alley – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 12th January 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 January 2019 16:48

A car drives past a seemingly endless queue of vehicles waiting for fuel in Harare. Some have no one in them. Then a presidential motorcade speeds past in the opposite direction.

Take a look at the video recorded by the passing car (see: https://www.facebook.com/david.coltart/videos/10156194388327613/?eid=ARAbwh_ej8-_Va8y8_l9FuxplPC_OVvot4aYP_Tinp-tOs00buRKB3gYLOXZqdQRKrzlFXuEs_TFUarF). Does this show a Zimbabwe open for business? And can President Mnangagwa’s latest travels in a hired luxury airliner really deliver this business? Many people wouldn’t put Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan at the top of any list except for corruption.

Mnangagwa will wind up his tour by dropping in at the annual Davos ‘movers and shakers’ party in Switzerland. He attracted some interest there last year as a kind of Christmas novelty popping out of the military cracker. But his trademark Zimbabwe scarf is now a bit bedraggled.

If he gets to see anyone but self-important rats they will ask what he has achieved in the past year, what he has done with the ‘influx’ of foreign investment continually hyped by the Herald.

They will acknowledge that his regime is less repressive than Mugabe’s but will be critical of his failure to restore monetary credibility. And they will wonder if anything different can ever be achieved by an irredeemably autocratic Zanu PF government . . .

But the Herald says salvation is at hand. It says a South African company has offered to invest more than $300 million in ‘waste management’ in Zimbabwe. A company spokesman said it wanted to ‘clean Zimbabwe’. Apparently the company had talks with Mnangagwa at the Davos forum last year. Our suspicions at the time have been confirmed: Mnangagwa really was talking rubbish at the meeting (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/sa-waste-management-firm-keen-to-invest-in-zim/).

A hundred years ago the poem ‘The Waste Land’ made the name of Nobel Laureate T S Elliot. He wrote: ‘I think we are in rats’ alley where the dead men lost their bones . . . Do you know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing?’

Other points

  • Bare bones are all that’s left for 1,400 families evicted from their homes near Bulawayo by police with a support unit who went on to demolish everything. Some of the residents took up spears and knobkerries to defend their property and were reminded by the commander of the support unit of what happened in Harare following the disputed elections last year when the army opened fire. The residents were not even permitted to remove their belongings (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/987-apartheid-style-evictions-in-zimbabwe).
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Enniah Dube, Marian Machekanyanga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Patricia Masamba, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Marian, Esther and Patricia for looking after the front table, to Margaret and Enniah for handing out flyers and to Esther for extra photos. Thanks also to Patricia, Margaret, Charles, Marian, Enniah and Ephraim for agreeing to contribute to the cost of new banners and posters for the Vigil.
  • 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: 9 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 19th January from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • 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.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Facebook pages:
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Apartheid style evictions in Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 13 January 2019 12:48

11 January 2019 

 

News is breaking of the violent eviction of a whole community living close to Bulawayo. Yesterday (10 January) residents of what is known locally as the McDonald Bricks site, some 20 miles east of the city, found themselves faced with three truck loads of ZRP (Police) and a support unit which had come with orders to destroy their homes forthwith.

 

Approximately 1,400 families live in this community.  Some of these have been living here for a lifetime, though their number has been increased in recent years by others drawn to the site, which has no water or other amenities, by the opportunity to avoid municipal charges they cannot afford. Together they comprise an impoverished community which, without any help from the State, has been forced to fend for itself under the harshest conditions. Their very survival is a mark of their resilience.

Shocked and surprised by the arrival of a large police contingent and the demand they should step aside to allow their cherished homes to be demolished, the residents responded angrily. An ugly scene was developing between, on the one hand, the police and their support unit, brandishing batons and guns, and on the other, the residents, some of whom seized spears and knobkerries to defend their property.  At this point, eyewitnesses report, the Commander of the support unit addressed the people. He reminded them of what had happened in Harare following the disputed elections last year, when the army opened fire on unarmed civilians already in flight, killing six and wounding many others. He said the people should remember the army’s reputation and not stand in their way.

 

Bulldozers then moved in and the brutal destruction of the dwellings followed, accompanied by the wailing of distraught women. Some of the structures were flimsy but others were more substantial. Many had been constructed of quality building material, including the occasional tiled roof here and there. The demolitions proceeded relentlessly, while the residents could only stand by, scarcely believing their eyes, as they watched their only security in life being trashed.  A local pastor was one of those who witnessed the unbelievable cruelty. He has ministered to these people for over 20 years and was in shock.

 

Not only is this a moral outrage but the legality of it is, to say the least, questionable. The ownership of the land on which the “McDonald Bricks” community lives is disputed.  An attempt a few years ago by a would-be developer to establish ownership of the freehold of the site was rejected by the Court on the evidence of a surveyor called in to interpret the only available maps. That decision was appealed to the High Court, but the matter was not then resolved. As far as the residents were concerned, pending any further application to the Courts, they were entitled to remain in occupation of their properties.   

 

The residents were not even permitted to remove their belongings. This the police did in their own fashion, later dumping items seized from the dwellings along the Old Gwanda Road. No compensation was offered to those evicted, nor any assistance with relocation.

 

The distraught evictees have no reserves of food or cash for transport. A few have been offered temporary lodging by Christian friends but most are now sleeping in the open. Without shelter, food or the most basic facilities, all – and particularly little children and the frail elderly – must be considered at great risk.

 

The exercise of such brute power in the name of the State against poor, defenceless citizens must surely invite comparison with some of the worst atrocities committed by the Apartheid regime against some of the long-settled communities in South Africa that were perceived to stand in the way of that regime’s racist ideology.

 

Graham Shaw
Zimbabwe Victims' Support Fund 

 
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