Supporters of Restoration of Human Rights gathered at the Vigil to give a send-off to ROHR activist Sipho Ndlovu who will be cycling through England for seven days to raise funds for the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP). Sipho will cover 324 miles from Nottingham to London, calling at Leicester, Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton, Reading and Slough.
ZimPAP was formed by ROHR International together with 18 other Zimbabwean civil society organisations, including Heal Zimbabwe, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and Amnesty International. Its aim is peace-building and the prevention of violence around next year’s elections.
ROHR President Ephraim Tapa was enthusiastic about the initiative, which he said would curb voter manipulation by encouraging co-operation across the political divide to overcome fear.
During the week Ephraim and others from the Vigil and ROHR had a meeting in London with visiting Senator Michael Carter of MDC T, which discussed ways of reassuring rural voters that they could safely support the party of their choice.
Senator Carter was impressed by the success of the ZimPAP programme in Mashonaland East and suggested that people from the urban areas should be sent to cover all rural polling stations, before, during and after the voting to counter intimidation.
Senator Carter, his wife Judy, as well as two sons and a grandson, joined us at the Vigil and were given a warm welcome, especially when they spoke Shona and joined in the singing and dancing.
Senator Carter was given a Vigil cap. He encouraged us to continue our work and said, though we had all been naïve about how difficult change was going to be, we should be confident that it would come. The problem was the fear in the rural areas which needed to be overcome. Judy Carter went on to say how important the diaspora had been and said ‘Don’t give up. You have kept your relatives alive.’
We all wished Sipho well as he set off on his bike to catch his train to Nottingham. To sponsor Sipho please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sipho-ndlovu and to follow his journey check the ROHR facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/.
- The Vigil was not surprised that Zanu PF wants to abolish dual citizenship which has been provided for in the vaunted ‘new’ constitution of 2013. Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said dual citizenship posed ‘security challenges’ and made it clear the government regards the constitution as a pick-and-choose document (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-govt-to-abolish-dual-citizenship/).
- Japanese expert on Zimbabwe, Ken Yamamoto, says that if Zimbabwe had proper leaders it could have been the Singapore or South Korea of Africa by now. It could have had a $100 billion economy instead of the current $4 billion one (see: http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-110217.html).
- Former Finance Minister and presidential candidate Simba Makoni dismissed Mugabe’s recent denial that Zimbabwe is a fragile state. Makoni said the economy was collapsing: ‘Government can’t pay its workers. Hospitals and schools are sustained by donors. We have the highest ratio of graduate informal traders in the world,’ Makoni tweeted. ‘Up to one third of the population are economic refugees. It is estimated that approximately three million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa, many of them illegally. Public infrastructure is decrepit and dysfunctional. National roads are pot-holed. For nearly 20 years, people who fed themselves before have survived on food aid. The economy shrank to 40 per cent of its size in 10 years,’ he said (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-mugabe-also-fearful-makoni/).
- Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Vimbayi Chambara, Muchineripi Chigwedere, Mavis Chisvo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Josephine Jombe, Fungayi Mabhunu, Thomas Machingauta, Alice Majola, Netsayi Makarichi, Heather Makawa, Theodora Mandishaya, Nyarai Masango, Rachel Mudzimba, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Charles Mupawose, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Tsitsi Ndoro, Casper Nyamakura, Tawanda Rusape, Rumbidzayi Sambana and Pearl Shambare. Thanks to Roseline, Mavis and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table, to Rumbidzayi, Sihle Sibanda, Esther Munyira, Isaac Chawasarira, Flemming Diza and Rosemary Maponga for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Vimbayi, Casper, Charles and Mduduzi for putting up the banners. Thanks also to Isabell for collecting for Sipho’s bike ride.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.
FOR THE RECORD: 50 signed the register.