On a bitterly cold day the Vigil kept warm by laughing at the reported remarks by Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, at a Zimbabwe investment conference here in London. ‘Reported’ remarks because we couldn’t afford to go to the meeting to hear for ourselves at a cost of £90 for the cheapest ticket.
Biti apparently said that Zimbabwe had become ‘a safe and lucrative place to come and invest in’ and was ‘pregnant with opportunities’.
The Minister was also quoted as saying Zimbabwe was on course to have a new constitution – oblivious to the irony that the latest meeting of the cabinet committee appointed to deal with the constitution deadlock had to be postponed because of his absence on one of the expensive overseas visits which he criticized his government colleagues for when he delivered his last budget.
His trip also took him to Canada where he pleaded unsuccessfully for the lifting of sanctions on Mugabe’s friends. If Biti wanted to justify the expense of his trip and the delay it occasioned to the never-ending constitution making process he should have gone to Germany to apologise for the seizure of German property in Zimbabwe in contravention of a bilateral protection agreement.
He might have got the Germans to withdraw their threat to boycott the tourism jamboree planned for the Victoria Falls in August. Better still he could have come and shivered with us at the Vigil where we tell all who pass by not to invest in Zimbabwe until Biti says something sensible about selective indigenization, rampant corruption and general institutional freeloading that has become the hallmark of the unity government.
If Biti had come he would at least have enjoyed the spectacular dancing of Consolata Ngwenya, a member of the Siyaya Arts Group which has been touring the UK with their show ‘Zambezi Express’. There are lots of videos on youtube of this group.
Away on his travels, Biti probably missed the article in the Zimbabwe Independent by the veteran journalist Iden Wetherell. He paints a rather different picture of the situation in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe, I am sorry to report at the beginning of 2013, is a mess’, he says. ‘It must be evident to even the most simple-minded observers that very little has changed on the ground. The farms audit remains a mirage, senior civil servants are still blatantly partisan, broadcasting is the fiefdom of the former ruling party as it attempts to claw back its electoral losses, while local government has sunk into a state of anarchy as Zanu PF supporters build wherever they like.
“In the midst of this chaos we have the sad prospect of a party hoping to win power that is asleep at the wheel. They are reluctant to tell us what they stand for, slow to respond to the mendacious claims of our erstwhile rulers, and only too keen to learn from their mistakes. Meanwhile their leader is pressing for a motorcade which is the last thing the motorists of Harare want to see on their roads”
• 26 Vigil supporters went on to a meeting of the Central London branch of our sister organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). The Chair, Fungayi Mabhunu said they must intensify their efforts for peace, justice and freedom. It was agreed that the branch would organize a demonstration to hand over ROHR’s petition to the UK Border Agency asking them to stop deportations until after the elections in Zimbabwe.
• Our first Zimbabwe Action Forum of 2013 will be next Saturday after the Vigil (see Events and Notices for details). We are holding these forums more frequently to focus more closely on our activism. Forums will now be held on the first and third Saturdays of every month.
• Round 13 of the Free Zimbabwe Global Campaign (FZGC) will take place next Saturday when we will demonstrate outside the South African High Commission to urge President Zuma take a more robust approach to Mugabe to ensure a level playing field for the coming elections (see Events and Notices for details).
• Today we conclude our summary of Vigil highlights of 2012, covering the second half of the year (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/465-vigil-highlights-july–december-2012). We note the Vigil diary of 1st September says: ‘We have Tendai Biti touring the world expressing his admiration for Mugabe and saying how the economy is poised to power ahead. Yet now he tells a luxurious conference at the Victoria Falls that Zimbabwe has a per capita annual income of about $320’.
• Vigil supporter, musician Kudaushe Matimba (formerly of the Bundu Boys), is performing in a concert ‘Mwalimu Express’ in London on Sunday 20th January. There will also be a showing of the film ‘Robert Mugabe . . . What happened?’ For details see Events and Notices.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. 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: 54 signed the register. Follow @nehandaradio