Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 9th October 2010

Robert Mugabe drinking coffee out of an MDC mug and pouring in spoonfuls of salt was the centrepiece of our 8th anniversary Vigil – until he fell asleep. ‘Is salt sweet enough?’ read our posters.

The tableau seemed to say something about our upside down country. Featuring our well-used Mugabe mask, it was prompted by a report that Mugabe hadn’t been able to taste the difference between sugar and salt at a recent reception for diplomats in Harare – and a picture of him fast asleep at the UN (along with some of his 79 companions!). (http://zimdiaspora.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4135:mugabe-losing-his-mind-restrained-after-childish-gaffe&catid=38:travel-tips&Itemid=18).

Mugabe may have lost his sense of taste but he hasn’t lost his determination to stay in power, as Morgan Tsvangirai has belatedly admitted. Tsvangirai says he has now had enough and that the MDC will not recognise Mugabe’s unilateral appointments.

The Vigil welcomes his stand and trusts it means a more robust approach to Zanu PF’s arrogance. We believe Tsvangirai could usefully have a chat with MDC ministers such as Gift Chimanikire, Deputy Mines Minister, who says in true Zanu PF style ‘America can go to hell’. (US can ‘go to hell’ on diamond sales – Chimanikire: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/oct9a_2010.html#Z7) Mr Chimanikire could be one of the reasons that Zimbabwe is 51 out 53 countries in Africa graded by quality of governance.

We gathered under simple posters proclaiming ‘Zimbabwe Vigil – 8th Anniversary’, wearing black bandanas or armbands in mourning because we have not achieved our objective of free and fair elections.

If truth be told, not many of us have much hope of having free elections given the failure of SADC to show any concern for the blatant human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Supporters gathered after the Vigil at the nearby Bell and Compass pub to discuss the way forward. Our discussions were informally chaired by Ephraim Tapa, founder member of the Vigil and President of ROHR. One subject discussed was the suggestion by the influential UK weekly The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/

17199904?story_id=17199904) that targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his gang should be suspended if they agree to allow international monitors to supervise the promised elections. A reasonable idea, except that no one believed that Mugabe would stick to any promises he gave.

However there was a suggestion that something along these lines could be offered to the three goons (Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Rupiah Banda of Zambia and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia) when they come to the US and the EU to argue for the lifting of sanctions – even though the suggestion will, of course, be rejected by Mugabe.

Also discussed was the idea that the MDC’s policy of non-violence had crippled efforts to achieve liberation. This was not supported.

Several supporters expressed their grateful thanks to the Vigil for helping them during difficult times.

Other points
· We were pleased to receive an encouraging card for our 8th Anniversary from long-term supporter Andy Hope-Hall. It featured one of our supporters in the Mugabe mask.
· Thanks to Patrick Nyamwanza for once again taking on the role of Mugabe.
· Thanks also to Iline Manhunzi, Spiwe Gladys Dube, Elizabeth Ndewere and Sekai Nyaradzo of ROHR Hayes branch for bringing bottled water and cool drinks for Vigil supporters.
· And also to Pearl Shambare for stepping in to help at the Vigil front table in the absence of some Vigil team members.
· We were pleased to receive a £10 postal order from an anonymous donor postmarked Tonbridge in Kent.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check the link at the top of the home page of our website.

FOR THE RECORD: 216 signed the register.

· The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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.
· ROHR Stevenage general meeting. Saturday 16th October. Venue: Poplars Bandley Hill Community Centre, Magpie Crescent, Stevenage, Herts SG2 9RZ from 1.30 – 5.30. ROHR Executive present. Contact Jemitas Mare 07570191705, K Mashonganyika 07962383872 or P Mapfumo 07915926323, 07932216070
· ROHR Yorkshire general meeting. Saturday 23rd October from 2 – 4 pm. Venue: The White Rails, 2 Burlington Street, Upperthorpe, Sheffield S6 3DY. Contact: Chinofunga Ndoga 07877993826, Prosper Mudamvanji 07897594874, Wonder Mubaiwa 07958758568,Donna Mugoni 07748828913 or R Chifungo 07795070609
· ROHR Wolverhampton relaunch meeting. Saturday 30th October. Venue: Heath Town Community Centre, 208 Chevril Rise, Wolverhampton WV10 0HP. It’s time for you to join in the Struggle for Peace, Justice and Freedom for Zimbabwe. Contact P Chibanguza 07908406069, P Nkomo 07817096594, P Dunduru 07958386718, D Mtendereki 07771708800 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070.
· Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
· Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
· ‘Through the Darkness’, Judith Todd’s acclaimed account of the rise of Mugabe. To receive a copy by post in the UK please email confirmation of your order and postal address to [email protected] and send a cheque for £10 payable to “Budiriro Trust” to Emily Chadburn, 15 Burners Close, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 0QA. All proceeds go to the Budiriro Trust which provides bursaries to needy A Level students in Zimbabwe
· Workshops aiming to engage African men on HIV testing and other sexual health issues. Organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust (www.tht.org.uk). Please contact the co-ordinator Takudzwa Mukiwa ([email protected]) if you are interested in taking part.

Vigil Co-ordinators
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.

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