Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 20th October 2007

It's been another busy week for Vigil supporters.  A group was invited to take part in a Black History event at City and Islington College (Dumi Tutani, Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani, Agnes Zengeya, Chipo Chaya, Simon Mambongo, Maria Semu and Moses Kandiyawo).  They were the stars of the show, particularly Dumi who engaged the audience with his exuberant high-stepping dancing.  College students jumped up and joined in the dancing.


We were encouraged at the world-wide publicity given to our fifth anniversary and there has been no let up in media interest in the Vigil. We were surprised to see an opinion article in the Zimbabwe Herald about last week’s Vigil.  We were amused to be described as being led by Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, to whom we presented our petition, and as an arm of the Gordon Brown government.  We must be doing something right to be attacked by the Herald.   The Herald seems to be particularly upset that we support Brown’s decision not to attend the AU / EU summit in Portugal in December if Mugabe goes.  The Vigil’s has send the following letter to the Portuguese Presidency of the EU:

Dear Prime Minister,

The Zimbabwe Vigil, which is campaigning for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, respectfully submits to you the following petition: “A PETITION TO EUROPEAN UNION GOVERNMENTS: We record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at their time of trial.  We urge the UK government, and the European Union in general, to suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the region.”  The petition has been signed by thousands of people passing by the Vigil, which is held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday. We must explain that the aid we are discussing is not humanitarian or food aid but balance of payments support, which is all to often misappropriated.  We would like all the money saved to go to help the starving people of Zimbabwe.  

We regret to note that Portugal – Africa’s oldest colonial partner – is still to meet its promised aid commitments and seems intent on inviting Mr Mugabe to attend the EU / AU summit in Lisbon in December. We believe there is no justification in lifting the EU travel ban on Mr Mugabe and cannot see how either Europe or Africa would benefit from the embarrassing spectacle of this old fool strutting on the world stage and blaming everyone else for the catastrophic situation in his country.  

We ask Portugal to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Africa and not with leaders who abuse human rights. Tell Mugabe to stay at home and mend his ways. If other African leaders choose to rally behind this tyrant they will further expose themselves to shame.

Earlier this year the Vigil interceded with the French government when it proposed to invite Mugabe to a Franco-African summit in Cannes. We are glad to say that President Chirac decided in the end not to invite Mr Mugabe and African leaders did not go ahead with their threat to boycott the meeting.  We do not expect them to pass up on a free trip to your lovely capital on this occasion.  To update you on the suffering in Zimbabwe, we enclose “Fact Sheet – The Zimbabwean Crisis” (also on: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/oct9_2007.html#Z34.)

For this week’s Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/

FOR THE RECORD:  106 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY:     Sunday, 28th October 2007, 1 – 5 pm. Zimbabwe Association AGM. Refreshments will be provided. Venue: Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT, tel: 020 7549 0355, email: [email protected]

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