Several days ago as editor of this website, I had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to publicise and expose allegations that human rights group Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) and its sister organisation the Zimbabwe Vigil were exploiting desperate Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the United Kingdom.
In the end we decided it was in the public interest that these issues be raised and tackled. A few months ago Rose Benton who leads the Zimbabwe Vigil wrote to me thanking us for publicising their weekly diary. A perusal of our archives shows that we have covered Zim Vigil activities for over 3 years since this website was set up in June 2006.
It was therefore a cheap blow to see Benton describing us as a ‘loud mouthed Zimbabwean exile website’ that is trying to destabilize the Vigil and ROHR. Such rank hypocrisy is amazing! A few months ago we were the best thing since sliced bread all because we were giving them good coverage. But all of a sudden we have challenged them on transparency and accountability we have become vicious spinners of lies.
For the benefit of those who missed the first series of articles here is a summary. ROHR is accused of making aspiring members pay £120 subscription fees (£10 per month) in return for letters of support for asylum claims. These letters are no longer worth the paper they are written on, but the organisation continues to mislead aspiring members that they will get their asylum status using these.
The Zim Vigil in trying to defend this outrage issued a statement on the 27th of June 2009 exposing their own exploitation of asylum seekers.
In the statement Benton says, ‘we do not have membership fees. We do not make any charge to committed supporters of the Vigil for letters. To people who have come less than 10 times but more than 5 (out of 350!) there is a fee of £10 to cover administration expenses for a detailed letter. To those who have come less than 6 times we are reluctant to say they are supporters but will write a one-line letter confirming they have attended. We charge £20 to discourage this.’
You do not need to be very educated to spot the contradiction in her statement. She claims they do not have membership fees and do not charge committed members of the Vigil for letters, however she admits the not so committed pay from £10 to £20 for the letters. What sort of excuse is this, that they charge people to discourage them from asking for letters? This means our stories are spot on. The ZimVigil avoided commenting on the £120 ROHR ‘subscriptions’.
We at Nehanda Radio stand by the expose written by Brilliant Pongo and note that apart from being called all sorts of names, the issues raised have not been answered by the two organisations ROHR and the Zim Vigil. May I take this opportunity to announce that we will be running a series of follow up articles based on submissions from our readers, some of whom were exploited by the two organisations.
If Benton and Tapa think they can hide behind a mere ‘Mugabe Must Go’ slogan and pull the wool over the Zimbabwean community in the UK then they are in for a shock.