Stop Mugabe’s war plans – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 21st July 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 22 July 2012 20:30

Russian diplomats peeping out from behind the curtains of their London Embassy must have been surprised to see President Mugabe at a demonstration against Moscow’s reported plans to supply helicopter gunships in return for Zimbabwean platinum deposits.


Mugabe – in the form of Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu wearing our Mugabe mask – was there carrying a poster reading ‘I want a Russian helicopter’.


He cut a doleful figure, surrounded by dozens of exiled Zimbabweans with placards bearing a different message: ‘No helicopters for Mugabe, ‘Russia don’t kill Zimbabweans’, ‘Zimbabwe exiles protest against arms sales’, ‘Zimbabwe blood on Russia’s hands’ and ‘ One gunship costs 10 schools’ etc.


The demonstration was part of the seventh monthly Free Zimbabwe Global Protest which this time targeted arms supplies to Zimbabwe. While the EU prepares to ease sanctions, we went to the Russian Embassy to underline the need to prevent Mugabe using violence to steal another election.


The demonstration, in which we were joined by many MDC supporters, caused quite a security stir as the Embassy is in a sensitive location near Kensington Palace. There was a heavy police presence with appropriately enough a helicopter overhead. For a video of the protest, check:


We are grateful to the 50 or so people who kept the Vigil going in our absence. Particular thanks to Josephine Zhuga, Ellen Gonyora and Jonathan Kariwoh who were in charge.


To turn to another matter, it is with great sadness that the Vigil reports the death of Bernard Hukwa, a faithful supporter who was also a member of our sister organization ROHR and the MDC. We were horrified to hear his body was found in the Thames. Bernard was a gentle, thoughtful and caring person and all who knew him are grieving at the loss of such a good friend. He was living on his own in accommodation provided by the Home Office while his asylum case was being processed and we know he was worried about being unable to support his family in Zimbabwe. We hope to have more information later but at the next Vigil we will take a collection towards the cost of repatriating his body to Zimbabwe. Vigil leaders Ephraim Tapa, Fungayi Mabhunu and Rose Benton all concurred in saying that what they found most distressing about Bernard’s death was that he did not talk about his problems to the organizations that could have supported him: Vigil, Zimbabwe Association, ROHR and MDC. It was important that people shared their difficulties with others before they became really desperate.


Other points

·        We were glad to see coverage in the British press this week about Zimbabwe, with a parliamentary debate covering the looting of diamonds and the move to suspend some of the targeted sanctions (see Hansard: Zimbabwe (Blood Diamonds) Debate

·        So little is reported about Zimbabwe that we are not surprised by misapprehensions. For instance, Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph talks about the Zimbabwean economy ‘powering ahead’ (despite sanctions?) (see: – We must have the courage to bring Zimbabwe in from the cold).As for the ‘powering ahead’, Mr Biti’s latest financial statement paints a different picture.

·        The funeral service for Khama Matambandzo, Chairman for South East District of the MDC UK & Ireland, will be held on 25th July 2012 at Haymill Community Centre, 112 Burnham Lane, Slough SL1 6LZ

·        Check: for photos of the Vigil taken by freelance photographer Joe Carpenter on 30th June.

·        Apologies – our Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) of 28th July has been cancelled because the venue double-booked. Our next ZAF meeting is on Saturday 1st September.

·        Sanctions do not seem to have prevented the murdered General Mujuru from accumulating an estate worth some $9 billion (see: – Mujuru’s estate valued at $9 billion). What about the others?

·        The Vigil was also surprised to see that indigenization is not going to apply to new investments in Zimbabwe. Even non-Chinese? (see: – Sinosteel seek Zimasco equity exemption).

·        People planning to do business in Zimbabwe should keep an eye on the reports of corruption (see: Shocking levels of ZRP corruption on the Byo – Beitbridge road –


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 RECORD: 94 signed the register.



·        Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 28th July from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria.

·        Relaunch of ROHR Nottingham Branch: Saturday 4th August from 3 pm. A fundraising do will follow till late. Venue: St Saviour's Church, 6 Waldron Close, Nottingham NG2 2JU. Zimbabwe traditional food, music and dance. Contact: Chamu 07832 927 609, Nobuqe 07766 927 229, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For flyer with more information, check:

·        Olympics Here; Oppression There features Zimbabwe musicians and writers and is hosted by Vigil supporters Hasani Hasani and Handsen Chikowore. Monday 6th August at 7.30 pm. Venue: Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. For more information, check:

·        ROHR North East Fundraising Event. Saturday 18th August from 2 – 7 pm. Venue: Longbenton Methodist Church Hall, Chesters Avenue, Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8QP. Directions: from Four Lane Ends Metro Station, start out on Benton Road.  At roundabout take the first exit onto West Farm Avenue. Turn left onto Chesters Avenue. For more information contact Tapiwa Merrymore Semwayo on 07412236229, Catherine Tshezi on 07428189705 and Susan Ndhlovu on 07767024586.

·        Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 1st September from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. 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 big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn. Future special ZAF meetings: Saturday 13th October when we mark the 10th anniversary of the Vigil and Saturday 10th November when our special guest will be Ben Freeth.  These two meetings will take the place of the regular ZAF meetings in October and November. Both events at 6.30 pm at Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see entry above.

·      The Rain that Washes showing at The Lounge, Leicester Square Theatre, from Monday 17th September – Saturday 6th October at 7 pm. Check: or phone the booking line: 08448733433 for specific dates and to book tickets. ‘Instantly plunged into a young man’s compelling story of growing up in turbulent Zimbabwe, we live and breathe his extraordinary journey from innocence to escape, finally returning to his homeland to witness the greatest betrayal of all . . . Inspired by a series of interviews between Zimbabwean Christopher Maphosa and writer Dave Carey, The Rain That Washes is a true story that is poignant, political and, most of all, personal’. 

·        Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link:  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.

·        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. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

·        ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes 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: To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: and

·        Vigil Facebook page:

·        Vigil Myspace page:

·        Useful websites: which reports on Zanu PF abuses and where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.


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The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.