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A warm welcome for Mugabe’s cronies – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

Londoners welcomed Olympic visitors from all over the world. And being in the centre of the capital we at the Vigil saw people from many different nationalities as they passed on their way to see the end of the cycling road race in The Mall, less than a mile from us. Many expressed interest in our cause and signed our petitions.

A protestor wearing a mask which resembles the face of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe stands outside Harrods retail store in London on October 10, 2009.

The Vigil promises an even warmer welcome for the Zanu PF people delisted from  targeted sanctions under the EU’s promise to suspend some of the measures if the constitution referendum is held satisfactorily. (Even if it is rejected?) As we expected, Zanu PF has spat on the EU’s offer. Their spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: ‘It’s all nonsense . . .  their decision on sanctions makes no difference’ (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul26_2012.html#Z25 – The Lifting of Zim Sanctions and the Shape of Politics to Come). So much for the damage caused by sanctions!

The UK government may think these rogues are acceptable but we don’t and will try to give them a suitable reception if they come here, as we have done recently for President Sata of Zambia and King Mswati III of Swaziland. We will follow them wherever they go, broadcasting their crimes. Indeed, we are exploring ways of getting them arrested on human rights charges. THE VIGIL WILL BE GRATEFUL TO BE INFORMED OF ANY FORTHCOMING VISITS BY THESE NEW FRIENDS OF THE EU.

As far as the proposed new constitution goes, we’ve received the following email from Vigil supporter Wilbert Mukori asking our position on this: ‘ Zimvigil is an important opinion  maker and many people will be looking to it to help them decide what to make of the new constitution.

In my view this new constitution is not going to do anything to stop the scourge of political violence that has become an integral part of Zimbabwe political life. Zanu PF forced through all the key changes they wanted.

MDC desperately need to see this constitution approved not because they think it has any good things but they need something to show for their four years in this GNU. It would be folly to vote for this constitution just to save Tsvangirai from the blushes for his blundering failures.   What is Zimvigil’s position as regards the new constitution?’

Here is the reply we sent him: “In our weekly diary, the Vigil has always described the Constitutional Outreach Programme as the Constitutional Outrage Programme, reflecting our view that it has been a time-wasting, self-enrichment fraud by politicians and their lackeys, including some elements in the NGOs.

The 3.5 year programme could have been concluded in 3.5 months so that more attention could have been given to the real business: a cleaned-up electoral roll and reformed electoral processes. A check of our supporters could not come up with anyone who had yet read the 168 page constitution – still, no doubt, to be revised – but we have followed the debate about it.

The constitution will no doubt be dumped after the elections and to us it is only as good as the will to respect it. We have no confidence that Zanu PF will do anything but subvert the law for its own purposes as it always has done. One sure way to get rich in Zimbabwe – apart from being a politician – is to bet that the election will be stolen.”

An impassioned response to the draft constitution has come from the dispossessed farmer Ben Freeth in an open letter to the parliamentarians Senator David Coltart and Eddie Cross MP. He says the constitution legitimizes land seizures and racial discrimination.

Senator Coltart replied that he does not like many aspects of the draft constitution but it is the best the MDC can get (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/427-ben-freeths-letter for this correspondence).  The Zimbabwean economist Dale Dore challenges this argument head on and said Zimbabweans must not be blackmailed into accepting the unacceptable (see: What is David Coltart saying? –http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul29_2012.html#Z13).

For her part, Cathy Buckle in her latest letter from Zimbabwe, warns that the proposed constitution could lead to a new land grab as it legitimizes those in possession when the constitution comes in to force (see: Cathy Buckle’s Letter from Zimbabwe: Another land grab inevitable – http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul28_2012.html#Z24).

Other points

  • The Vigil continued to grieve for our departed friend Bernard Hukwa.  People were invited to write their thoughts in a remembrance book for him. Some of the comments were:

–         Bernard, you suffered silently. Sorry I wasn’t there when you needed someone for support. Rest in peace. – Mai Zhuga (Josephine)

–         It is so sad to hear about your passing. We will miss you. – Hilda Gwesele and Esi Mbaluka from Coventry

–         MDC UK, The Vigil and the Zimbabwean diaspora are not going to be the same without you. So sad you went without saying goodbye. You will be greatly missed. RIP. – Kelvin Kamipura and Fran Toft

–         Bernard we will always cherish and love you. It’s all because of Mugabe. Rest in peace. – Ellen Gonyoa

–         Bernard may your soul rest in in peace. We really miss you at the Vigil. – Mary Muteyerwa

–         A great friend, you were an army commander against the regime. – Martin Chinyanga

–         Rest in peace brother. You will be greatly missed. – T Mahachi

–         Bernard you have left us speechless. Anywhere rest in peace – you will reach home. – Peter Lakatika

–         Lala kuhle qhawe. – Nokutula Bhebhe

A collection was started for his family to which people contributed very generously. We will continue the collection next week. Supporters want to hold a memorial service for him but it was agreed that we should await the Coroner’s Inquest before organizing this. We received an email advising us that memorial services were being held for him at two day care centres in Southwark where he volunteered. It said ‘So many people miss him and talk about him being gentle and kind.’

  • A new ruling by the UK Supreme Court appears to offer new hope to Zimbabwean asylum seekers. The ruling suggests that any Zimbabwean who has been in the UK for some time and who has claimed asylum should succeed because they will find it very hard to demonstrate that they are loyal to the Mugabe regime if they are returned home (for an analysis of the ruling, see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jul27_2012.html#Z10 – UK Supreme Court makes key Zimbabwe asylum ruling).
  • We were pleased to hear from Vigil management team member Moses Kandiyawo about his marriage to Nancy Makawa.  Nancy was recently in detention and Moses fought very hard to get her out.
  • We were joined by several Sudanese activists campaigning against the Khartoum government. They are studying how the Vigil works with the intention of having their own regular vigils outside the Sudanese Embassy.
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: 53 signed the register.


  • Relaunch of ROHR Nottingham Branch: Saturday 4th August from 3 pm. A fundraising do will follow till late. Venue: St Saviour’s Church, 6 Waldron Close, Nottingham NG2 2JU. Zimbabwe traditional food, music and dance. Contact: Chamu 07832 927 609, Nobuqe 07766 927 229, email:raychisuko@yahoo.com. For flyer with more information, check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/7577273812/sizes/l/in/set-72157630591518698/.
  • Olympics Here; Oppression There features Zimbabwe musicians and writers and is hosted by Vigil supporters Hasani Hasani and Handsen Chikowore. Monday 6th August at 7.30 pm. Venue: Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. For more information, check: http://www.exiledwriters.co.uk/cafe.shtml.
  • Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 11th August from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
  • ROHR North East Fundraising Event. Saturday 18th August from 2 – 7 pm. Venue: Longbenton Methodist Church Hall, Chesters Avenue, Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8QP. Directions: from Four Lane Ends Metro Station, start out on Benton Road.  At roundabout take the first exit onto West Farm Avenue. Turn left onto Chesters Avenue. For more information contact Tapiwa Merrymore Semwayo on 07412236229, Catherine Tshezi on 07428189705 and Susan Ndhlovu on 07767024586.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 1st September from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It’s next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn. Future special ZAF meetings: Saturday 13th October when we mark the 10th anniversary of the Vigil and Saturday 10th November when our special guest will be Ben Freeth.  These two meetings will take the place of the regular ZAF meetings in October and November. Both events at 6.30 pm at Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see entry above.
  • The Rain that Washes showing at The Lounge, Leicester Square Theatre, from Monday 17th September – Saturday 6th October at 7 pm. Check: http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/126523428/events or phone the booking line: 08448733433 for specific dates and to book tickets. ‘Instantly plunged into a young man’s compelling story of growing up in turbulent Zimbabwe, we live and breathe his extraordinary journey from innocence to escape, finally returning to his homeland to witness the greatest betrayal of all . . . Inspired by a series of interviews between Zimbabwean Christopher Maphosa and writer Dave Carey, The Rain That Washes is a true story that is poignant, political and, most of all, personal’.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/363-vigil-highlights-2011.  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
  • ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
  • The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
  • Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
  • Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
  • Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.

Vigil co-ordinators

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