The thirty included Margaret Munenge’s toddler Ethan (who made his mother walk twice the distance) but excluded the twins expected by heavily pregnant Etines Kapiya, who also completed the walk.
Waving posters, they were singing as they came to join us down the Strand, conveniently closed to traffic by demonstrators complaining about financial ‘austerity’ in the UK.
Ephraim Tapa, President of the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, wondered ruefully whether the British protesters knew what austerity really was. He awarded certificates to those who completed the walk, which was organised by ROHR to help finance a joint civil society initiative to educate rural people on their constitutional rights and overcome fear and intimidation.
A graphic insight into Zimbabwean-style ‘austerity’ in the rural areas comes from a pastor in the Bulawayo area who is supported by members of the Vigil. Asked in an interview about the mood of the people, he said, ‘They are sad, very depressed. The only time they are happy is when they receive food from us.’
The pastor went on: ‘There is a lot of witchcraft going on around Zim as well as in the church. The reason is because of suffering due to the economy collapsing. Most businesses have closed down and people can’t get jobs so can’t get money to pay their bills, or buy food, or school fees, or get treated for their illnesses. There is a high level of corruption and as a result people seek the services of false prophets and nyangas.
‘There is a group of intercessors at Nkulumane. The pastor’s son (6) was stolen. The intercessors began to pray and alerted us to pray when the child had been missing for two days. The person who had kidnapped the child also stole three other children. On the third day he was travelling in his car, on the way to South Africa, when it broke down. He asked for help from three male passers-by and one of them (related to the pastor) recognized the missing child. They asked where the boy was going to and they became aggressive with the driver and even threatened to kill him. The driver pleaded with them to allow him to phone his boss in South Africa and the South African offered them USD20 000 if they promised not to report the case. However the men phoned the police, who came out and took the man in and towed the car to the police station. The number of the South African was also given to the police. The boys were all returned safely to their families. Sadly we cannot be sure the police will take action as they are greedy for money.
‘In the newspaper it was reported that a girl (15) was found in a state of decomposition with body parts missing. Four families came to claim the body hoping it was their child. Also in many churches leaders are focusing on miracles and healing for which the congregation have to pay.’
The pastor added: ‘Jealousy is widespread among families because they cannot meet their basic needs, especially if one part of the family has children supporting them from outside the country. Because the needs are so great people are just looking out for themselves and neglecting other relatives. Married couples are breaking up bitterly and often the children are deserted. I have many times tried to bring some new street kids back to the family but often the parents don’t even want them. The children say they are happier to be away from the relatives.
‘Very old people are also deserted by the family members who leave and never send anything for them. I have many grandparents now.
‘Another thing that is difficult for me is children dying from malnutrition; up to five a month. At the cemetery in Luveve the ground is spreading with children’s graves. According to traditional beliefs if a child is less than three months the women are expected to bury the child, especially very elderly women. This is very difficult to watch. These things keep us on our knees.’
We are withholding the name of the pastor for his own safety. For the full interview check our campaigns page: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/870-interview-with-matabeleland-pastor.
- Thanks to Daizy Fabian who organised the walk and to Sipho Ndlovu who worked out the route from Ilford to the Vigil. Sipho recently cycled 324 miles to raise funds for ZimPAP. Thanks to all the walkers: George Chinamora, Enniah Dube, Daizy Fabian, Joshua Kahari, Etines Kapiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Gloria Mabika, Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Michelle Makoni, Rosemary Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Patricia Masamba, Nyarai Masango, Nyarai Masvosva, Cephas Maswoswa, Margaret Munenge (and Ethan), Esther Munyira, Fungisai Mupandira, Charles Mupawose, Sally Mutseyami, Faith Ndhlovu, Sipho Ndlovu, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Maxmus Savanhu, Michael Sirewu, Xoliso Sithole and Ephraim Tapa. Special thanks from Daizy to: Bianca Mpawanenda for providing water, to Chido (head of first aiders) and the other first aiders: Rosemary, Fungisai, Patricia and Michelle. Thanks also to the marshals: Maxmus, Fungayi, Cephas, Xoliso, Rumbidzayi and Charles Marirakwenda and to the publicity team led by Sally (Salani). Photos and videos of the walk are posted on our facebook pages. Check the last item on ‘Events and Notices’ for links.
- Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Mavis Chisvo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Josephine Jombe, Barbara Kachidza, Jonathan Kariwo, Phillip Mahlahla, Nancy Makurira, Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Shiellah Mushunje, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Edmore Pedzisai, Jennipher Sabe, Benson Tsikwa and Ben Jnr Tsikwa. Thanks to Roseline, Josephine and Mavis for looking after the front table, to Nancy, Patience and Ben Tsikwa Jnr for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Alfredy, Phillip, Mduduzi, Jonathan and Edmore for putting up the banners.
- Special thanks to Deborah Harry and Mercy Bayipayi for bringing sadza and stew to fundraise for ZimPAP, to Patricia Masamba for providing sandwiches for the walkers, to Lucia Mudzimu for bringing fat cakes and nuts to share and to Barbara Kachidza who opened the Vigil with prayer.
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: 60 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 8th July from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 15th July from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: 4th floor, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
- ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 5th August from 11 am. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.
- 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 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.