Diaspora must work together says Vigil

As President Robert Mugabe made his eleventh visit to Beijing, his famously enigmatic hosts must have found it Chinese torture to keep a straight face at the sight of the ancient cartoon dictator. A 21-gun salute for the empty vessel must have been the final straw, especially knowing they were expected to fill it with gold.

Vigil members in London on Saturday.
Vigil members in London on Saturday.

The Chinese, as well as being smart business people, have a long memory. They will remember that when Mugabe came to power in 1980 Zimbabwe’s annual gross national product was rather more than theirs at US$1,295 per head compared to China’s US$1,061. They will have observed in awe how he has managed to completely ruin the country so that in 2013 the GDP figures were: Zimbabwe US$446 and China US$3,583.

Like clockwork, Mugabe trotted out the tired cold war rhetoric: ‘”own with colonialism, imperialism and capitalism” which must have seemed rather quaint to his welcoming group of Chinese capitalists, colonialists and imperialists. If Mugabe had expected them to join his chorus he must now realise that they no longer zhing from the same zhong sheet.

We are fortunate in the diaspora to have ready access to a broad range of news than is not easily available at home and the Vigil thinks it has a responsibility not only to show the outside world what Zimbabwe is suffering but also to show people at home how misguided they would be to rely on Zanu PF’s empty promises of a better tomorrow.

What prompts these reflections was an eloquent article last week in The Zimbabwean by the economist and author Vince Musewe pleading for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to become more politically active. Trying to create a coalition for change has been the Vigil’s aim from its beginning 12 years ago. We are sad to say we have met with only limited success.

There are many reasons for this but the chief one could be called the fissiparous tendency. Just as every Zimbabwean has a new constitution under their mattress so when two Zimbabweans gather together they will each soon want to form their own party.

The Vigil organised a conference last October reaching out to all diaspora groups to work together. But even on the most basic objective – free and fair elections – support has been disappointing. Every Zimbabwean wants to be the leader and every leader wants to be the leader forever. But Vince is surely right that the diaspora has an important role to play – and not just by the remittances of US$412 million – probably an underestimate – sent home in the first half of this year. But if Zimbabwe is to be really helped from abroad, the diaspora must learn to work together.

All we can do at the moment is offer support. But, given the fissiparous tendency, support for what? The MDC renewal team’s only achievement so far seems to have been to choose a party colour!

What the Vigil would like to know is if it’s true as reported that they think the 2013 election results were ok? For our part, the Vigil is convinced the elections were rigged. We are also puzzled by their offer to work for Zanu (PF). In the meantime, we applaud the brave youths who took to the streets for a second week to be beaten for their legitimate demand that the Mugabe regime keep its promises. And we are happy that the MDC T now agrees with us that the opposition should not to take part in elections until there are reforms.

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