Interesting times – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary
There is apparently an old Chinese warning against living in ‘interesting times’ . . . interesting meaning dangerous, troubled, violent, precarious, unstable etc: In brief, all the ‘interesting’ conditions that now prevail in Zimbabwe.
So hard luck to us after a week which saw the unveiling of Joice Mujuru’s People First Party and the suspension from Zanu PF of War Veterans’ Minister Chris Mutsvangwa. Both events were overshadowed by the government’s chaotic seizure of the Chiadzwa diamond mines owned by Mugabe’s pals.
‘We wuz robbed,’ claimed Mugabe. ‘Where has all the money gone?’ feigning not to have noticed the diamonds on the soles of the feet of his well-shod wife and well-heeled cronies and all-weather friends.
Chief friend Comrade China says it is offended and hopes it’s all been a mistake. ‘We hope that the Zimbabwean side would earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese companies and employees, according to the local laws and the ‘Agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between China and Zimbabwe,’ Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said.
Laws? Agreement? It appears the Chinese were born yesterday.
But anyway it must mean farewell to the long-promised ‘mega deals’ which we were told would usher in the promised land.
Zimbabwe is floundering with little sign of meaningful reform and sustainable, broad-based recovery says the International Crisis Group. ‘Upbeat economic projections by international institutions are predicated on government rhetoric about new policy commitments and belief in the country’s potential, but there are growing doubts that ZANU PF can “walk the talk” of reform. Conditions are likely to deteriorate further due to insolvency, drought and growing food insecurity,’ it says.
One a cold rainy day, the Vigil welcomed human rights activist Ben Freeth on a brief visit to the UK. He went on to speak at the Zimbabwe Action Forum held after the Vigil and was encouraging about our work.
He said the situation at home was dreadful and remarked that he recently went back to see his stolen farm and found there were no crops, the irrigation system had been destroyed and his former workers were unemployed and impoverished. He warned that Zanu PF would be looking to control people by exploiting British and American food aid for party-political purposes. ‘The British tax payer will be paying to keep Mugabe in power’.
Ben said he was skeptical about the sudden conversion to enlightened democrat of die-hard Zanu PF thieving functionary Joice Mujuru. He recalled how she and her murdered husband General Solomon Mujuru had deceived and stolen their farm from its previous owner who had been forced to flee the country with only one suitcase.
He was critical of the European diplomats living in what he called the ‘Harare bubble’ and said how difficult it was to get any of them to go out and see things for themselves. He said he will join the prayers in Africa Unity Square on the anniversary of the murder of the Vigil’s friend Itai Dzamara who was abducted by military intelligence in Harare on 9th March last year.
The Vigil will mark the anniversary next Saturday when we will be joined by MDC UK Youth. Ben’s comments about the diplomatic community prompted us to recall that the French Ambassador in Harare Laurent Delahousse was recently reprimanded by Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi about his confrontational approach over Dzamara. Mr Delahousse said afterwards he was changing his ‘strategy’. Presumably this means instead of joining the mourners in Africa Unity Square he will be diplomatically licking boots in State House.
Play: ‘After Independence’. 4th – 28th May at the Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL. The play is by May Sumbwanyambe and tackles the issues of independence and government in Zimbabwe.
More information is available here: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/after-independence/2016-05-04/. The producer has contacted the Vigil for our input and plans to visit us in April to discuss this.
We note that ‘useful idiot’ Matthew Parris, the columnist and former Conservative MP, has written another love letter to Mugabe in the UK Times.
Like his predecessors, such as Stalin’s admirer George Bernard Shaw, he didn’t look at the terror and says of his trip ‘I have never felt safer or more welcome’. We await his gushing travel article which will no doubt follow covering his expenses.
Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Tafadzwa Buka, Nelson Dauramanzi, Isabell Gwatidzo, Etines Kapiya, Vimbayi Karumbidza, Maxwell Kudita, Fungayi Mabhunu, Anna Mafunga, Phillip Mahlahla, Innocent Maya, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Marlon Nyamakanga, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Newman Lee Richard, Michael Sirewu, Portiah Tobaiwa and Elector Zvorwadza.
Thanks to Roseline and Vimbayi for looking after the front table and to Chipo and Isabell for taking care of the lucky dip which, along with food sales, raised useful money for ROHR by the Central London branch. Thanks to Philip Mahlahla who led the team (Nelson, Maxwell, Innocent, Marlon, Newman and Michael) which put up the high banners and tarpaulin.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
FOR THE RECORD: 48 signed the register.