Zimbabwe Vigil welcomes new path
The Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF), gathering after the Vigil, offered support to people at home seeking a new political path as the situation there continues to worsen. The meeting follows recent talks in Harare that Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa had with some leading politicians.
During a lively debate, it was noted that the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition originally included the MDC but under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai the MDC withdrew its support because we were critical of some of its decisions. For our part, we believe that in a democracy you have an obligation to be critical when you disagree.
The following resolution was passed: ‘The Vigil notes with great interest the developments in MDC-T. The Vigil will work with any organisation whose aims are compatible with our mission statement to secure free and fair elections and end human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, while maintaining our own identity.’
A second resolution was also approved expressing concern at the growing number of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers being sent home at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is collapsing.
It was decided that the next ZAF meeting on 3rd May will discuss sending a delegation to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to present a petition on the asylum issue. It would also form a steering committee to carry forward the diaspora’s engagement with the emerging new political force in Zimbabwe.
Our approach to this engagement would be along the lines of the resolutions passed at our Restore Zimbabwe conference in London on 24th October last year as follows: ‘The conference:
1. Rejects the 31st July elections as rigged
2. Calls on the diaspora to unite in demanding new elections
3. Condemns SADC for not ensuring the GPA was implemented
4. Appeals to the AU to revisit its approach the Zimbabwe crisis
5. Urges South Africa not to support the Mugabe regime
6. Advises the EU to continue the targeted sanctions against Mugabe and to expand them to include judges and officials of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission who have demonstrated bias for Zanu PF
7. Demands the Zimbabwean opposition resist Mugabe at every step
8. Asks the UK government not to send home failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers.’
The British government has expressed concern at the corruption in Zimbabwe. Their comment came in a letter to the Vigil in reply to one we had written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the recent EU / Africa Summit in Brussels because Mugabe had been invited (for text of the letter see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/578-text-of-letter-from-fco-742014).
In the event neither man went to the meeting. Mugabe stayed away, saying it was because Grace was refused a visa. Mr Cameron was represented by his Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The letter to the Vigil from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the UK was supporting efforts to tackle corruption in Zimbabwe through a number of initiatives run by the Department for International Development, including supporting access to independent media ‘to facilitate public demand for transparency, accountability and integrity in Zimbabwean society’. The Vigil hopes that this could include support for SW Radio Africa which has been a beacon for people in Zimbabwe deprived of objective news and which is facing funding problems.
The FCO letter also spoke of serious concern ‘about the significant weaknesses identified during the 2013 elections and the lack of transparency identified by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU), and domestic observation missions, which call into doubt the credibility of the elections’. It continued ‘We believe that significant improvements in the electoral process are required along the lines proposed by international and domestic observers, if future elections are to be both credible and transparent’.
The FCO letter makes clear that the situation in Zimbabwe is unacceptable yet the UK Home Office seems to be stepping up the deportation of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers. How can there be so little communication between two government ministries? This is a point that we plan to make to the Home Office.
Thanks to Bridget Zhakata, Nobukhosi Moyo and Patricia Masamba who arrived early to help set up the Vigil.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
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.