Voice of British Caribbeans ‘ashamed of Mugabe’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 4th June 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 15 August 2011 09:44

One of Britain’s best-known poets Benjamin Zephaniah joined us at the Vigil and condemned Mugabe and his betrayal of Africa. Zephaniah, born and brought up in the UK of West Indian parents, spoke to us of his disillusionment with Mugabe. He said ‘I remember when he was seen as a liberator. Bob Marley sang in Harare to celebrate a new dawn. I feel let down – to see how low he has sunk. All he wants to do is to cling to power at all costs. He has brought shame on Africa. I had a picture of him on my wall together with a picture of Mandela. I ripped Mugabe down. I am friends with Mandela. I have only seen him angry once and that was about Mugabe when he spoke about failure of leadership in Africa.’  

(The Vigil remembers the occasion well because Mandela’s comment followed a campaign by the Vigil and others to urge him to reject Mugabe when he visited London to celebrate his 90th birthday.) 

The Vigil welcomes Zephaniah’s support particularly highly because we have had such difficulty getting our message over to our Caribbean brothers. It has been difficult to disabuse them of the dream we all shared and convince them that Mugabe the liberator has turned into Mugabe the monster.  

Unfortunately the message has not yet been taken seriously by the African Union which has appointed Zimbabwe as the chair of its Peace and Security Council. The move is a slap in the face to human rights campaigners, coming as 12 MDC supporters were dragged into court in Harare with obvious signs of torture. The police in Zimbabwe no longer even attempt to conceal their abuse of prisoners.  

The Vigil is alarmed that even the opposition has been co-opted into this police state. Despite the MDC having a majority of MPs, Parliament ratified spending $98 million on a giant spy centre being built by the Chinese in Harare. MDC Chief Whip Innocent Gonese said ‘we can’t oppose something from government when we are part of government’. Innocent indeed . . . not to say stupid. Who are they going to spy on? People who can’t even afford a decent meal.  

But the real question facing Zimbabwe is not whether the MDC is confused about its role or whether the AU is fit for purpose – it is whether SADC will continue to stand up to Mugabe’s bluster at its meeting in Johannesburg at the weekend. The Vigil was encouraged by remarks by the former SADC Executive Secretary Prega Ramsamy. He said he was convinced that the new leadership in SADC had opened a new chapter in handling issues within the bloc, particularly taking into account events in North Africa and the Middle East. ‘It is obviously clear that SADC is no longer in the mood of solidarity at any cost’, he said. Let’s hope Mr Ramsamy is right. But the signs are not good: a bird sitting in our maple tree defecated on our petitions . . . 

Other Points
·         It was great to have Vigil team member Patson Muzuwa with us again with a party from Leicester. He was most appreciative of the support Vigil members gave him on the recent death of his mother. But we were alarmed to hear that her funeral was invaded by two truckloads of Zanu PF who disrupted the proceedings. We understand  this was a direct result of Patson’s involvement with the Vigil.  The incident was separately reported by Vigil supporter Jonathan Kariwoh whose mother attended the funeral.
·         We were glad to be visited again by our Jesuit friend Father Bernard.
·         Grateful thanks to David McAllister who spent long hours sorting out our website when our webhost omitted to tell us they were upgrading the system which resulted in all sorts of formatting problems.
·         Thanks to ROHR members (Shoriwa Mutandiro, Georgina Makaza, Brighton Manhansva, Collin Chitekwe, Paradzai Mapfumo) who once again supplied soft drinks for thirsty Vigil supporters. 

For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website. For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check    

FOR THE RECORD: 99 signed the register.  

·         The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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.
·         ZBN News. The Vigil management team wish to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News. 
·         The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: and to watch the video check:
·        Lecture: A Shadow of Its Former Self: Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe's Education System. Thursday 9th June 6 pm. Venue: Alumni Theatre, New Academic Building, Lower Ground Floor (LG.09), London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. The speaker is Peter Godwin, award-winning foreign correspondent, author, documentary-maker and screen writer. Chaired by Baroness Bonham Carter. The event is organized by Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) and the LSE Africa Initiative. The lecture is followed by a reception (7.30pm - 9.00pm): NAB 8th Floor. RSVP: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Admission free but donations welcomed on the door towards CARA's work supporting Zimbabwean academics and the re-building of the country's higher education system.
·         ROHR National Fundraising Event. Saturday 25th June from 12 noon till late. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. Come and enjoy African dishes and music while donating to a good cause.  Admission fee £8 includes a plate of food and a soft drink. Raffle tickets on sale @ £1. Contact: Peter Nkomo 07817096594, V J Mujeyi 07403446696, Tsvakai Marambi 07915065171, Solomon L Matshoba 07733741065, P Chibanguza 07908406069, R Chifungo 07795070609 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070
·         Free film screening of 'Hear Us'. Saturday 25th June from 7 - 9 pm. Venue: The Frontline Club, 13, Norfolk Place, London, W2 1QJ. ‘Hear Us’ is a film from inside Zimbabwe about political violence against women. Kudakwashe Chitsike of the Research and Advocacy Unit will introduce the film and take your questions. For more information contact: the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, tel: +44 (0)20 7065 0945 or check:
·         Service of Solidarity with Zimbabwe’s torture victims: Sunday 26th June from 2 – 4 pm. Venue: Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission, 49 City Road, London EC1Y 1AU (nearest tube: Old Street). The event is organized by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum ( Speakers are Irene Petras, Director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Kudakwashe Chitsike, Lawyer in the Women’s Department of the Research and Advocacy Unit (Zimbabwe). Vigil supporters will be providing the music in the form of Zimbabwean hymns.
·         Stop the violence in Zimbabwe: Vigil for democracy and rights. Monday 27th June from 1 – 2 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2R 0JR. This protest marks the anniversary of the fateful 2008 presidential ‘run off’ election when Zanu PF ran a brutal campaign of violence including mass rape in a bid to retain power.  Zimbabwe may have elections within the year. We cannot let the violence happen again. The protest is organised by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. ACTSA will be presenting hundreds of stop the violence cards to the Embassy. To get copies of the card or to let ACTSA know you’ll be attending, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
·         Vigil Facebook page:
·         Vigil Myspace page:
·         ‘Through the Darkness’, Judith Todd’s acclaimed account of the rise of Mugabe.  To receive a copy by post in the UK please email confirmation of your order and postal address to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and send a cheque for £10 payable to “Budiriro Trust” to Emily Chadburn, 15 Burners Close, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0QA. All proceeds go to the Budiriro Trust which provides bursaries to needy A Level students in Zimbabwe.
·         Workshops aiming to engage African men on HIV testing and other sexual health issues. Organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust ( Please contact the co-ordinator Takudzwa Mukiwa ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) if you are interested in taking part.


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