The petition reads: The countdown to next year’s elections in Zimbabwe has begun but no electoral reforms have been made and we fear the elections will once again be rigged. The increasingly incapacitated nonagenarian Robert Mugabe has already been nominated to stand for another five year term as Zimbabwe President while the country faces mass starvation and a collapsed economy with astronomic unemployment. We appeal to the Southern African Development Community to insist that SADC election principles are observed to ensure a level playing field for all political parties. Furthermore, we call on SADC election observers to be free from political pressure to rubberstamp a rigged poll.
The Vigil hopes that SADC will have learned from the example set by the West African Economic Community, which recently acted decisively to ensure that the will of the Gambian people was respected. We remind SADC that its election principles adopted in 2015 defines fair as ‘Electoral processes that are conducted in conformity with established rules and regulations, managed by an impartial, non-partisan professional and competent Electoral Management Body (EMB); in an atmosphere characterised by respect for the rule of law; guaranteed rights of protection for citizens through the electoral law and the constitution and reasonable opportunities for voters to transmit and receive voter information; defined by equitable access to financial and material resources for all political parties and independent candidates in accordance with the national laws; and where there is no violence, intimidation or discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religious or other considerations specified in these SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.’
Mugabe himself, in the form of Fungayi Mabhunu in our mask, was at the Vigil in his wheelchair. Wearing a superman bib, he sank a Beelzebub of birthday wine and tucked into his birthday cake while dissidents demanded he retire immediately and rest next to Rhodes in the Matopos.
Mugabe was scornful about our petition, saying he believed his disciples in SADC would support Grace’s proposal that, even if he died before the election, his name should still be on the ballot form because he was so popular that people would feel cheated if they could not re-elect him.
- On Friday more than 40 demonstrators from the Vigil, ROHR and the MDC gathered outside the Embassy when the trial of Pastor Evan Mawarire was scheduled to start. The protest was in support of all human rights activists in Zimbabwe being harassed by the authorities in defiance of their constitutional rights. Thanks to Daizy Fabian and the ROHR central London branch for organising this.
- At the Zimbabwe Action Forum after the Vigil it was decided to take a stand on Grace Mugabe’s insane utterances that Zimbabweans love dictator Robert Mugabe so much that they will vote for his corpse should God decide that he should die before the 2018 elections. Members expressed revulsion and anger at the arrogance and madness as this was taken to mean Zimbabweans are only as good as dead people. Members resolved to challenge this by staging a protest on Friday 24th February from 11 am – 1 pm outside the Embassy. This was also to pinnacle ROHR’s ‘7 days of mourning’ campaign to highlight the misery, destruction, suffering and hopelessness characterising Zimbabwe today under the lavish lifestyle of Mugabe and his cronies while the people are brutally suppressed. The 7 days of mourning are the days between Mugabe’s birthday visit to the Vigil today and Mugabe’s birthday feast in Masvingo on Saturday 25th February.
- Sister Bev Mutandiro has asked us to publicise an all-night prayer vigil on Friday 24th February starting at 10 pm and ending at 5 am. The theme is Psalms 10.17: ‘O Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble and oppressed; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to hear.’ For details see ‘Events and Notices’.
- Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Rashiwe Bayisayi, Vimbayi Chambara, Abigail Chidavayenzi, Mavis Chisvo, Vimbai Karumbidza, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phillip Mahlahla, Alice Majola, Nancy Makurira, Theodora Mandishaya, Rosemary Maponga, Benjamin Molife, Eunice Mucherechedzo, Roseline Mukucha, Patience Muyeye, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Sipho Ndlovu, Edward Ndlovu, Tsitsi Ndoro and Sibusiso Ngwenya. Thanks to Roseline, Patience, Vimbai K and Philip Maponga for looking after the front table, to Abigail and Nancy for handing out flyers and selling wristbands, to Phillip, Mduduzi, Sipho, Vimbai C, Benjamin and Sibusiso for putting up the banners, to Deborah Harry, Easther Munyira, Mercy Bayipayi and Cephas Maswoswa for Mugabe’s birthday cake and to Cephas for bringing Mugabe’s wheelchair.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.
FOR THE RECORD: 56 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- ‘No votes for corpses’ protest. Friday 24th February from 11 am – 1 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. This protest will also mark the end of ‘7 days of mourning’ for the failures of the Mugabe regime. The 7 days of mourning are the days between Mugabe’s birthday visit to the Vigil on the 18th February and Mugabe’s birthday feast in Masvingo on Saturday 25th February. For more information check the ROHR Zimbabwe International facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/.
- All-night prayer vigil. From 10 pm on Friday 24th February to 5 am on Saturday 25th February. Venue 10 Midlands Road, Luton LU2 0HR. Transport is available from Uxbridge and London. Contact Bev Mutandiro 07412053415.
- Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 4th March from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- Monthly Itai Dzamara protest. Saturday 11th March from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. The protest is to mark two years since Itai’s abduction by intelligence agents.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
- Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2016 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/843-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2016. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2016 Highlights page.
Facebook pages:ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/