Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 22nd July 2006

LONDON - The ladies took centre stage at a vibrant Vigil attended by chairwomen of MDC UK branches. They were introduced by Suzeet Kwenda-Ruwona, Women's Chair of the MDC UK Executive. She said how sad it was that so many Zimbabweans in the UK were in denial: they would try and pass them

selves off as South Africans or even West Indians. She said “Our dignity has been taken away from us by Mugabe. What is our country coming to?”
Another speaker was Adella Chiminya whose husband was burned to death in 2000 by Zanu (PF). She said women must take a leading role to change Zimbabwe and urged more people to come to the Vigil, which she said was making an impact back home. We were so glad to have these lively MDC ladies with us: they entered whole-heartedly into the spirit of the Vigil.
The speakers were introduced by Ephraim Tapa, Chair of MDC Central London Branch. We were all inspired by his presence. This week he learned that his younger brother had died in Harare – a victim of the failing Zimbabwean health service.
Ephraim’s brother collapsed while doing the family shopping and for three hours there was no help. The police were called but said they had no petrol. An ambulance passed by but wouldn’t take him because he had no money. When he got to hospital the doctors were on strike. Ephraim managed to contact a family friend, a doctor, who rushed to the hospital to help but it was all too late. This man could have lived if treated in time. He had five children and was also looking after three children of a deceased sister. Ephraim, himself a torture victim, is the sole surviving sibling of four and the only person this family can look to. Ephraim said the tragedy would reinforce his commitment to the struggle for change.
People in Africa have no idea how hot it can get here. After a baking, humid week, we were relieved to have a little rain. We were astonished to see a Masai warrior pass by in full regalia. He explained he didn’t speak English very well, but was happy to join our Vigil. We were briefly joined also by people from Afghanistan and Iraq who know how a country can be taken over by evil.
Supporters came from all over England today: Leeds, Liverpool, Derby, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and many places closer to London. The youngest was seven months old and spent the afternoon jiggling on her mother’s back to the singing and dancing. On a sad note, three supporters from Liverpool, Netsai, Fungai and Dorcas, had a nightmare journey home. Netsai, who is seven months pregnant, put her swollen feet up on a seat and was ordered off the coach. They spent the night in the bus station waiting for the next coach.
For this week’s Vigil pictures: http://uk.msnusers.com/ZimbabweVigil/shoebox.msnw.
FOR THE RECORD: 76 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY: Friday, July 28, Protest outside 10 Downing Street. Meet at the Zimbabwe Embassy at 12.30, then proceed to 10 Downing Street where a letter will be presented to the Prime Minister’s Office at 2 pm. Monday July 31, 7.30 pm, Zimbabwe Forum. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2

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