Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 18th November 2006

LONDON - "Dead by 34." This was the front-page splash in the Independent last Friday (see: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article1990401.ece). It read: "This is the fate of women in Zimbabwe where they now

have the world’s lowest life expectancy after 26 years of Mugabe”. At the same time British television showed a harrowing account of life under Mugabe with prostrate people being beaten by the thugs of the ruling regime. In addition we had Al-Jezeera, the new international television channel, in its inaugural broadcast showing the desperate plight of Zimbabweans.

Vic Falls vigil
Vigil supporters were surprised at a new poster in the Embassy window “Go to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s true wonder is back”. We all wondered where the Victoria Falls had been – perhaps flooding into South Africa. The window was adorned with a copy of the Independent front page “Dead by 34” and a picture of Mugabe with Dracula teeth saying “Who said the devil has no son, well now he has.”

Many Vigil supporters signed letters to the President of the ANC Youth League condemning his recent pro-Mugabe public statement. We were shocked at his ill-informed comments. Thanks to Chipo for co-ordinating this.
The dancing today was mainly backwards. Vigil co-ordinator, Dumi, introduced a new song about moving forward with the MDC but decided that dancing backward reflected the reality for Zimbabwe. Passers-by were engrossed wondering when they would fall over …much like the rest of the world watching the Zanu (PF) regime.
The Vigil is moving in the international arena. Two of our supporters, Ephraim and Wiz, are going to Munich on 30th November at the invitation of the Harare-Munich partnership to help them in setting up a Vigil. As the holocaust in Zimbabwe becomes more widely known, a way forward in pressing for action is to have Vigils world-wide outside Zimbabwe Embassies.
Some statistics from the Independent article:
-4 million the amount the population is thought to have fallen since the last population census in 2002. Current estimates put it at 8 million.
-50% the amount Zimbabwe’s economy has shrunk since 1999.
-73 million, the size of Zimbabwe’s tobacco output in millions of tons. In 2000 it was 734 million.
-Infant mortality has doubled since the 1990s.
-An estimated 3,500 people are dying every week – the figure is more than those dying in Iraq, Darfur or Lebanon.
-Life expectancy for women is 34. It was 65 just over a decade ago. It is much lower than in neighbouring countries: in Zambia, life expectancy for women is 40; in Mozambique, 46; in Botswana, 40; in South Africa, 49. Even in Afghanistan women can expect to live until 40.
These figures were distressful to our supporters and Dumi led them in singing the Shona rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” which translates to “We’ll meet again in Heaven”. Tendayi drew us all together to pray for those suffering back home. For this week’s Vigil pictures: http://uk.msnusers.com/ZimbabweVigil/shoebox.msnw.
FOR THE RECORD: 58 signed the register.

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