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The great demise – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

There is growing concern in the diaspora about the well-being of Zimbabweans when Mugabe goes. People in the know have already accepted that one day Mugabe will leave us.

Robert Mugabe sleeping on the podium in Japan
Robert Mugabe sleeping on the podium in Japan

They have prepared themselves – made a plan as it were. But the people the Vigil worry most about are those who have been led to believe that Mugabe is semi-divine. And it is clear there are many of them. For them the loss will be cataclysmic.

Mugabe has gone to see his doctors in Singapore twice in the last few weeks so it is clear that he is about to take leave of us. We must be brave.

Others have gone through similar trauma. We remember the mass hysteria in North Korea at the departure of the Great Leader Kim Jong Il, whose people had been led to believe that he could never get ill. Scenes of public grief were broadcast around the world. Zimbabweans must show we are made of sterner stuff.

We expect Harare to come to even more of a halt when the great transition occurs. So outside help will be urgently required to minimise grief-related suicides and post-traumatic stress disorders.

To do our bit, we in the diaspora are appealing to the United Nations to prepare to send teams of bereavement counsellors who could fan out across the country. Para-psychotherapists could even be air-dropped in remote areas.

The Vigil’s approach is two-pronged. We have also written to the American Ambassador in London urging the US to oppose any IMF / World Bank loans to Zimbabwe until the situation is clarified. Surely no-one wants the money to end up in the wrong hands?

Here is our letter: 

Dear Ambassador Barzun 

With the Mugabe regime nearing its end, Zimbabwean exiles in the UK wish to convey our reservations about the apparent readiness of the International Monetary Fund to advance new loans to Zimbabwe. 

We ask what purpose this financial injection will serve when there is no clear idea of who will receive the money? We draw your attention to the latest index of economic freedom which concludes that Zimbabwe remains one of the most repressed economies in the world due to rampant corruption and government mismanagement.

We urge the United States to take the advice of Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who called on President Obama to prevent new lending to Zimbabwe unless there is meaningful progress to restore the rule of law and improve human rights (see: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/chair/release/corker-no-new-lending-to-zimbabwe-without-meaningful-reform).

We draw your attention to the recent report by the International Crisis Group which expresses doubts that the ruling Zanu PF party can ‘walk the talk’ of reform.

The Vigil believes that any financial help to prop up the odious Zanu PF regime will simply prolong the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.

Other points

We were alarmed to receive a phone call from Vigil supporter Victor Gatsi. He was in detention and booked on a Kenyan Airways flight back to Zimbabwe on 2nd April. We started a phone campaign against the airline and with a timely legal intervention by his lawyer we are pleased to say that his deportation has been stayed. A special thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu for his tireless work on this. Michael Sirewu led prayers for Victor at the Vigil.

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) the successor organization to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, has made a submission to the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Zimbabwe 26th Session of the UPR Working Group. ACTSA calls for an independent commission of enquiry into the case of Itai Dzamara who was abducted last March.

It also calls for election observers from all foreign governments and international institutions to be allowed to monitor elections and calls on the Harare authorities to enforce the rule of law (see: http://www.actsa.org/newsroom/2016/04/actsa-calls-on-un-to-tackle-human-rights-abuses-in-zimbabwe/).

Thanks to those who came early to help set up on a sunny Vigil: Philip Mahlahla, Jacob Mandipira, Isaac Chavasarira, Michael and Lisa Sirewu, Roseline Mukucha, Audrey Chihoho, Tatonga Gutah, Tafadzwa Buka, Sharon Moyo, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Fungayi Mabhunu, Michelle Makoni, Sharon Moyo, Eletha Mpofu, Catherine Musa, Sidumiso Nyoni and Newman Richard. Thanks to Audrey, Roseline and Sharon for looking after the front table.

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:  36 signed the register.