By chance Thursday was the day when the Zimbabwe situation was to be discussed by the UN Security Council. Unsurprisingly, South Africa insisted that only the humanitarian situation be discussed: the political situation (murders and tortures) was not important enough.
The same attitude was reflected by the Hugh Commission, which initially refused to accept our petition. It all had to be arranged in advance they said. Like the outcome of the Presidential Run-off? It was pointed out to them what bad public relations this was, and we would simply put the petition through the letter box. There is no letter box, they pointed out. Well we would go round the corner to the Post Office and send it by registered post. Then they changed their mind and allowed one person to take the petition in to reception. Let's hope Mbeki changes his mind as well.
To remind everyone, the wording of the petition: A Petition to Thabo Mbeki: Following the recent attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals in South Africa we, the undersigned, call on President Mbeki to take action to ensure the safety of these endangered people and bring the perpetrators to justice. We urge President Mbeki to end his support of President Mugabe, allowing a resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis and the return home of exiled Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean blood is at your door.
Accompanying it was the following letter to President Mbeki: We have been horrified by the recent xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans and other foreigners in South Africa and enclose a petition signed on Saturday 7th June by people passing by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, London, every Saturday for the past 6 years The situation can only get worse if Zanu PF is allowed to cling to power. More and more Zimbabweans will have no choice but to flee. We believe there is a crisis in Zimbabwe and that you can help resolve it. We pray to God you will rise to this challenge.
The idea for the demonstration came from the ground of the Zimbabwe Vigil and it was good to see people making such sacrifices to be with us. The singing and drumming made a strong impression on a Thursday lunch hour in Trafalgar Square. People going past saw our banners: No to Mugabe, No to Starvation, End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe and Mbeki: Zimbabwean blood on your hands. The photographs of the recent atrocities made a great impact. When we explained what had happened in one incident a gentleman broke down in tears. The demonstration perhaps reached its height when, singing and dancing, all fingers were pointed at the South African High Commission. Without your help what hope have we?
We estimate that some 40 came to the Vigil but these are the people who signed the register: Doreen Mushowo, Dumi Tutani, Emmah Nyakurerwa, Enock Dzonga, Evelyn Mhande, Francesca Toft, Fungayi Mabhunu, Geraldine Takundwa, Gilbert Kandido, Jerry Mtotela, Josephine Kazembe, Khama Mutambanadzo, Lovemore Mukeyani, Luka Phiri, Masimba K Chikore, Mildred Mwakwami, Molly Ngawaimbe, Molly Denga, Nancy Chitiyo, Nancy Muparanga, Newton Chikwaina, Paradzai Mapfumo, Patson Muzuwa, Prosper Kasilika, Rose Benton, Roseline Motsi, Rudo Munhapa, Sue Toft, Teela Mukanhaira, Tirzah Loewenstein, Dennis Benton.