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Neither up nor down – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

Like the Grand Old Duke of York, Morgan Tsvangirai marched his men up to the top of the hill on Wednesday. And, as goes the English nursery rhyme, he promptly marched them down again.

‘Circumstances dictate the situation and today is not the day to stage street protests’, he told supporters in Harare campaigning for electoral reforms. But, the Vigil asks, if not now, when? Yes, the police had predictably placed last minute obstacles in the way of the protest. Can anyone see the day coming when they won’t?

Seen from afar, it looks like the protestors simply bottled out. But what right do those of us safely in the diaspora have to criticise activists at home? After all, according to the French Ambassador in Harare, we are just helping to spread a negative portrayal of Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Richard Boidin has been in Zimbabwe for a couple of months so he thinks he knows what’s what. He reportedly told the Herald ‘the reality of Zimbabwe is very different from what you have when you are outside’. The Ambassador was speaking after paying a courtesy call on Senate President Comrade Edna Madzongwe with members of a French parliamentary Zimbabwe friendship association.

Boidin continued: ‘For example, the two members of the association have been here since yesterday and what they have seen here they have not seen in the media outside’ (see: http://www.herald.co.zw/envoy-slams-medias-negative-portrayal-of-zim/).

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Pretty smart, the French. Barely a day in Harare and the delegation has concluded that the Zimbabwean independent media and the international press are producing ‘fake news’ about the situation.

Envoys like Boidin call into question why about a dozen European Union countries have embassies in Zimbabwe and another half dozen are represented by consulates. To crown it all there is even an embassy of the European Union itself.

What can they possibly be doing, apart from enjoying the sunshine? The Vigil thinks they need to break free from the incestuous Harare diplomatic cocktail round and get out a bit more and see how Zimbabweans not belonging to the Zanu PF metropolitan elite are suffering under the repressive and corrupt Mugabe dictatorship.

It’s not the media that’s fake, Mr Boidin. It’s self-satisfied, time-serving, patronising functionaries who are ‘neither up nor down’.

Other points

  • The Vigil’s condolences were expressed for Jonathan Kariwo (ROHR Treasurer) who lost his brother this week. A collection was made for Jonathan. Thanks to Isabell Gwatidzo for collecting the money.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Zodwa Bhebhe, Vimbayi Chambara, Daizy Fabian, Isabell Gwatidzo, Elizabeth Hlebayi, Etines Kapiya, Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Cephas Maswoswa, Hildah Mudzinganyama, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Margaret Munenge, Arthur Muponda, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Benjamin Semwayo, Ephraim Tapa and Portiah Tobaiwa. Thanks to Roseline, and Alice for looking after the front table, to Rosemary and Rumbidzayi for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Cephas, Mduduzi, Arthur and Vimbayi for putting up the banners. Thanks also to Lucia Mudzimu who brought savoury snacks for the Vigil to share.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 38 signed the register.


  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 18th February from 6.30 pm. Venue: 4th Floor, Green Side, The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. We will move to the RFH at the end of the Vigil at 6 pm.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 1st April from10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 1st April 2017 from 11 am. Venue: Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.

    ROHR Fundraising Dinner. Saturday 8th April from 6 pm to midnight. Venue: Braunstone Civic Centre, Kingsway, Braunstone Town, Leicester LE3 2PP. Tickets: adults – £25, children under 12 – £5, Children 12-17 – £10. To book tickets contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707, Yvonne Makombe 07453909247 and Moline Nyabonda 07961250525.

  • ROHR Nottingham meeting: Saturday 15th April from 2.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, The Sycamore Centre, 33a Hungerhill Road, Nottingham NG3 4NB.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization 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 us.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2016 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/843-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2016. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2016 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/

ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515

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.