At the same time, Zanu PF in the UK has invited people to join anniversary celebrations they are holding in the small town of Aylesbury some 50 miles from London. They seem to have plenty of money as they are offering ‘free entry, free food, free parking, free entertainment’. Noticeably, they describe themselves as ‘UK based Zimbabweans’; it is only hidden away in small print that the hosts are Zanu PF UK.
Zanu PF have become increasingly emboldened in the UK by the recognition they have been given by the British government, which has allowed blood-stained Zanu PF leaders from Zimbabwe to visit Britain while turning away opposition activists. The reason it gives is that activists don’t have much money and might not return home. Zanu PF ministers, on the other hand, can travel with the resources of the state behind them.
The Vigil is hoping to be joined by South Africans in London, who last week held a big protest against President Zuma outside their Embassy, around the corner from the Vigil.
South Africans are increasingly finding themselves in the same position as Zimbabweans – victims of rapacious and corrupt political elites subverting democracy. We often get South Africans dropping by at the Vigil and look forward to working together with them to deal with our common problems.
It gives us no satisfaction to point out that the Vigil has spent years warning South Africa that if they did not help resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, the problem would increasingly affect them too. If they wish to see their future they need only look to Zimbabwe.
- Our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) wants to make it clear that it is not involved with a UK group calling itself Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation which has hijacked the ROHR name and says it is to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy on 18th April. The real ROHR will be joining the Vigil on Saturday.
- ROHR in Zimbabwe is taking a leading role in a new initiative, a ‘peace bandwagon’, to prevent violence and make space for democracy – the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ Platform (ZimPAP). The initiative has moved on considerably since it was started in December last year. ZimPAP will be launched in Mashonaland East province on 17th April with a peace soccer tournament and registration of volunteer civilian friends for peace. Here in the UK, ROHR has been actively fundraising for ZimPAP, notably ROHR Reading and ROHR Central London branches.
- One of the comments we received about last week’s diary was from a Muslim in Zimbabwe who shared our scepticism about plans for Muslim schools announced by Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora. The message said: ‘My friends among the small Muslim community here in Mbare must be bemused by Dokora’s antics. The first time I joined them for the prayers at the opening of Ramadan, I arrived early and found myself in a waiting room with a few young men watching TV until they were ready for prayers. One of them worked for the Nigerian embassy and was collecting funds to help victims of Boko Haram. Another Muslim friend, untrained imam of a small community in Hurungwe / Tengwe, has been trying for years to raise funds to build a mosque. When he was invited to meet Saudi donors in Chinhoyi, he called on me as soon as he got back to say they’d offered him the money. I started congratulating him; he replied “but I refused it. I didn’t like the abusive way they spoke about other believers.” Dokora’s agenda is, of course, his attempt to prop up Mugabe and Mnangagwa. Fundamentalist Islam is even less hospitable to critical thinking than are the profit ministries. One of our local zany leaders claims to be the biggest local drug supplier; the more intelligent of his colleagues are developing a market for “Broncho for the spirit” which Marx called “opium of the people” and Lenin “a cheap kind of spiritual vodka”.’
- We were interested to see a story on the Zimeye website about the plight of Zimbabweans in the diaspora trying to satisfy the demands made on them by people at home. Much of the story is nonsense but we can confirm from London that many exiled Zimbabweans are feeling this pressure. It has resulted in marriage breakups and even suicides as people try to show they have ‘made it’ here and are asked to provide not only basic needs but even luxuries. The Vigil thinks that Zimbabweans are developing a culture of dependency which stops them trying to solve themselves the problems they are facing.
- Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Mavis Chisvo, Zondiwe Gumede, Fungayi Mabhunu, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Barnie Mandimika, Nyarai Masvosva, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Margaret Munenge, Virginia Mutyambizi, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Sipho Ndlovu, Rumbidzayi Sambana and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Roseline, Mavis and Daizy Fabian for looking after the front table, to Abigail and Nyarai for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Mduduzi, Alfredy, Barnie, Heather and Chido. for putting up the banners. Thanks also to Abigail for bringing cakes and Lucia Mudzimu for bringing snacks.
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: 28 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 22nd April rom 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: 4th floor, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
- 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.
- Protest at Zanu PF misrule. Saturday 22nd April outside the Zimbabwe Embassy London from 2 – 6 pm.
- Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 29th April from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 6th May from 11 am. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.
- 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.
- 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:ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/