A thousand years ago the Danish ruler Cnut became King of England. He is remembered today for sitting on a throne on the seashore, surrounded by courtiers, and ordering the tide to retreat.
King Canute, as he is better known, was not mad. He was making the point that – however powerful he was – some things were beyond him. In the words of his first biographer he was showing ‘how empty and worthless is the power of kings’. He was not deluded like Mugabe, who believes he can stop the clock and avoid change.
Some foreign diplomats and MDC politicians have reported that Mugabe can apparently be ‘charming’. You could even, after his ‘resurrection’ remark last week, say there is an embryonic sense of humour. But it is clear that he does not have an imagination.
Mugabe’s rebuke to the judiciary for allowing demonstrations against his misrule illustrated his belief that the constitution is his to interpret. He is the law. He is the state. His powers are unlimited.
The Vigil waits with interest to see how he reacts when he wakes up and hears about Chinamasa’s sacking of 25,000 state workers, cuts in pay and allowances – and even scrapping the sacred bonuses. Last year Mugabe ordered the tide to retreat – and Chinamasa duly complied and restored bonuses. This year there simply isn’t the money to do this again.
Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu who appeared at the Vigil in Mugabe mask and judge’s wig to demonstrate with the help of a ‘button stick’ the reality of power in Zimbabwe. He was surrounded by Vigil supporters carrying posters saying: ‘Chief Injustice Mugabe’, ‘Mugabe says protest is treason’ and ‘Mugabe: I am the law’.
- Today we marked 18 months since the human rights activist Itai Dzamara was abducted. We also called for the release of ROHR member Linda Masarira who has been incarcerated for over two months on trumped-up charges relating to protests. At the Vigil we received some disturbing news about Linda. She has been accused of fanning riots in the female section of Chikurubi prison and transferred to solitary confinement in the male section where she will be in considerable danger. Rebecca Mafikeni, another activist, who was held in these cells, fell very ill and later died. People at the Vigil were angry at this spiteful persecution.
- On Friday 16th September there will be a ‘Mugabe must go’ demonstration outside the Embassy from 11 am – 2 pm. This has been organised by Zimbabweans from many different groups, including the Vigil.
- Next Saturday 17th September the Vigil will be showing solidarity with Zimbabweans in the United States who are planning a protest to coincide with Mugabe’s scheduled visit to the UN. For more information check ‘Events and Notices’.
- The Vigil was saddened to hear of the sudden death of Alan Wilkinson. Alan helped start the Vigil and was a tireless human rights campaigner for Zimbabwe, gay rights and other causes. Fellow campaigner Peter Tatchell writes: ‘I remember Alan as a great friend and human rights colleague. We worked together, and with you and many others, for democracy in Zimbabwe – doing protests at the 14-year-long Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Alan was also a much-valued trustee of the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. His support for our human rights work was wonderful.’ Alan’s funeral is at 3 pm on Thursday 15th September at the Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London NW11 7NL (nearest station: Golders Green). There will be a wake for Alan at 5.30pm at the People’s Tavern, 360 Victoria Park Road E9 7BT. For information, check: https://www.facebook.com/events/1078641972213120/1079340645476586/?notif_t=like¬if_id=1473239534881291.
- The Mike Campbell Foundation is celebrating its fifth anniversary this October in London. The event ‘Taking Effective Steps to Fight Dictatorship — Restoring Justice, Restoring People’ will be held at the Royal Geographical Society. Speakers will include MCF Executive Director Ben Freeth MBE, alongside Bishop Ancelimo Magaya and Gift Konjana who are flying in from Zimbabwe for the event. Ben and his father-in-law Mike Campbell rose to prominence when they successfully sued the Mugabe regime in an international court of law after they were abducted, tortured, and nearly killed in Zimbabwe over the right to their farm. For details see ‘Events and Notices’.
- Thanks to those who came early today to help set up: Rashiwe Bayisayi, Benjamin Chigamba, Audrey Chihoho, Mavis Chisvo, Flemming Diza, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Prosper Karuru, Jean Kawara, Nancy Makurira, Cephas Maswoswa, Gladys Meck, Sharon Moyo, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Simbarashe Mutero, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Anna Pfende, Tawanda Rusape and Emmaculate Tshuma. Thanks to Roseline and Sharon for looking after the front table, to Chipo P and Simbarashe for selling ‘Mugabe must go’ wristbands and to Isaac Chawasarira for handing out flyers. It rained all afternoon so it was good that there were many helpers to put up the tarpaulin and banners. Thanks to Alfredy, Mduduzi, Phillip Mahlahla, Benjamin, Simbarashe, Flemming and Tawanda for this.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. For videos of Vigils and other events, check the ROHR facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos?fref=photo.
FOR THE RECORD: 49 signed the register.