A small Vigil. Although we had a break from the snow in London, transport was restricted because of the Christmas holidays and street life was subdued, despite the Christmas sales.
Many supporters had contacted us to say because of a lack of trains they were unable to join us. But being fewer in number gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better.
Among our first visitors were a Cameroonian lady and her husband who said things were even worse in her country. We agreed this may well be so but said that as Zimbabweans we had to fight for our own country.
Also Zimbabwe had shown that it could be a productive, prosperous country – unlike most African states – but had been wantonly destroyed. From being one of the richest countries in Africa it was now one of the poorest. She saw our point.
The messages put out by Morgan Tsvangirai do not give us much reason to cheer. What worries us is that no sooner does the MDC leadership demand that the GPA negotiations be wrapped up by 15th January than Tsvangirai joins hands with Mugabe and agrees that the deadline can be postponed.
The negotiators are apparently ‘fatigued’. Their occasional meetings must be exhausting given the jet-lag from their travels abroad and the demands of their farming activities etc. Asked about the closedown of Swiss-owned Nestle because of bullying by Zanu PF, Tsvangirai described it as ‘an overreaction’ – just as he had earlier dismissed farm invasions as ‘isolated incidents’.
Tsvangirai’s difficulties with reality give us little confidence that the MDC – which so many of us have supported since the beginning – is any longer the party people at the Vigil campaigned for.
Especially when Speaker Moyo throws a tantrum because he doesn’t like the official photograph he commissioned and wants a new one taken to display around the country.
To cheer him up we have a set of his portraits on our Flickr photo website (see link below) – only 20 not the 200 pictures he wants Parliament to pay for. We in the UK think that Moyo should pay for them himself. From our dealings with him we are well aware that he has been assiduous in securing his own financial position . . . .
Well we at the Vigil find it difficult to believe that the MDC is not being progressively swallowed by the Mugabe corruption and that perhaps Zimbabwe’s fate is that of benighted Cameroon.
Flickering in the Embassy windows night and day, taunting us, is a television display of life at home: the Victoria Falls, the game parks, smiling photos of Tsvangirai shaking hands with his friends Mugabe and Mutambara.
We could say that it doesn’t do Mugabe’s climate-change credentials any good having this television on 24 /7. But the main point is does Tsvangirai want to be the public voice of the fascist Zanu-PF regime?
We stood in the cold, flanked by our banners: ‘No to Mugabe, no to starvation’ and ‘End murder, rape and torture in Zimbabwe’ as we have done ever since we started more than 7 years ago. We see no reason to change these banners.
We could only agree with the latest commentary by the Botswana-based Zimbabwean journalist Tanonoka Joseph Whande: ‘Nothing on the ground indicates that there is any change, in real terms, because the horrors and nightmares that existed before still exist only that this time they are legitimized by the MDC’s presence in this so-called government of national unity’. (see: http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/heart241209.htm)
Thanks to Lungile Ncube and Godfrey Madzunga who arrived early and helped set up the Vigil and took charge of the merchandise and register. Lungile also made his own poster.
We were interested to be joined by Dora Mbuwayesango, a Zimbabwean living in North Carolina who is visiting the UK. The Pedzeni family from Bedford were all with us again and special thanks to June Pedzeni who helped look after the front table.
June tells us that they arrived at their local station to find there were no trains so all piled into their car and drove to the Vigil. They were relieved to find parking was free because it was a public holiday (you may be interested to know that parking local to the Vigil is £4.40 an hour!)
The music was particularly good thanks to the drumming and singing of Primrose Ratohwa. She and the rest of us were filmed by Mathias Makozhombwe and Nasiso Kashiri of Motherland ENT, a Zimbabwean music production outfit based in Coventry.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.
FOR THE RECORD: 45 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
· ROHR Woking Food Hamper Raffle Draw. Saturday 9th January from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: The Church House, Oriental Road, Woking GU22 7BD. Tickets: £5. 3 prizes: 1st prize £50 Zimbabwean food hamper, 2nd prize £25 of Zimbabwean groceries, 3rd prize ROHR T-Shirt worth £10. Prizes to be presented by Rodah Kuhlengisa (ROHR Hayes & National Fundraiser). For info contact Isaac Mudzamiri 07774044873, Sithokozile Hlokana 07886203113, Thandiwe Mabodoko 07552402416 or P Mapfumo 07932216070 / 07915926323.
· ROHR West Bromwich general meeting. Saturday 30th January from 1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Road, West Bromwich B70 0HF. Contact: Pamela Dunduru 07958386718, Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070.
· ROHR Brighton general meeting. Saturday 30th January from 1 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton BN13XG. ROHR Executive representative present. Contact Sinikiwe Dube 07824668763, Wellington Mamvura 07949595506 or P Mapfumo 07915926323 / 07932216070. Future meetings to be held on Saturdays 27th February and 27th March – same time and venue.
· Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays).
· Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. For information: http://www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk/pages/Strategic.html or contact: [email protected].
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.