You must hand it to the Mugabes – they know how to party. No expense spared. No distance too far to travel. No diamond ring too big. No guilt. No conscience. In fact, no hypocrisy because they don’t understand the word. To them it’s entitlement.
It was the sense of entitlement that reeked more than the smell of mbanje from the luxury apartment in the affluent Sandton area of Johannesburg from which Mugabe’s party-loving sons Robert Jnr and Chatunga Bellarmine were evicted after a late night brawl over women which left one of their guards with a broken leg and shattered arm and the apartment trashed with cigarette burns, whisky, champagne and red wine-soiled carpets.
One source quoted by the Zimbabwe Independent said the boys lived ‘a carefree life of luxury, partying and over-indulgence. Their driver would wait dutifully on call in one of the luxury vehicles, often sleeping there, awaiting a command to drive them to wherever they wanted. It was rarely the case that Robert Jnr emerged for morning lectures which he was supposed to attend at the University of Johannesburg’.
Money never seems to be a problem with the lucky Mugabe family. Zimbabwe may be rated poor by some misguided Western critics but for the Mugabes it has always been a land of milk and honey. The President himself, continuing his neurotic attempts to escape the country, spent $4,588,990 on travel in January, $ 4,250,630 in February and $4,119,638 in March – $13 million in the last 3 months for which data is available (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit-m-chefs-blow-14m-in-three-months/). Not bad for a 93 year-old who can hardly walk.
Where does the money come from? One well-informed observer says the diaspora provides as much as a third of Zimbabwe’s income, with minerals and tobacco providing the rest. So Mugabe and his grotesque family are basically having a non-stop party at the diaspora’s expense.
The Constitutional Court’s refusal this week to recognise the diaspora vote provided for in the yet-to-be implemented 2013 Constitution and the massive irregularities exposed in last week’s Chiwundura by-election confront the diaspora with an uncomfortable challenge. Should we choke off what amounts to our funding of the regime?
As the Zimbabwean diaspora becomes acculturated in their new countries, bonds with home will inevitably weaken. One instance: it used to be routine at the Vigil to collect money to help pay for the repatriation of the bodies of Zimbabweans who had died in the UK. Now more and more people are being buried here instead – their new homeland, where their children are going to school.
Another sign of change is the mounting impatience with the insatiable demands being made on the diaspora by their families back home. It’s no longer just money for food, medicine and school fees: it’s computers and high end telephones when most Zimbabweans in the diaspora work long hours just to survive themselves – perhaps giving a too positive view of their situation to loved ones back in Zimbabwe. And, as a pastor in the Bulawayo area tells us, there is widespread jealousy of people who receive support from abroad (see: http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/870-interview-with-matabeleland-pastor).
We at the Vigil expect Zanu PF to manipulate the elections next year and we expect the bogus results to be endorsed by Africa and the outside world as usual. So what do we do next: can we cut we cut off diaspora funding for Mugabe’s non-stop party? What alternative is there if we are to save Zimbabwe from Zanu PF?
Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Flemming Diza, Sibongile Gumbo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Deborah Harry, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Fungayi Mabhunu, Shiella Matiza, Erica Mukosha, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Margaret Munenge, Richard Munyama, Charles Mupawose, Patience Muyeye and Benjamin Semwayo.
Thanks to Roseline, Josephine and Patience for looking after the front table, to Abigail, Deborah and Bianca for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Jonathan, Charles, Flemming, Ndodana Maphosa and Fungayi for putting up the banners. Thanks also to Isabell Gwatidzo for selling tickets for the ROHR Slough branch fundraiser dinner in aid of ZimPAP.
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: 32 signed the register.