A much-hyped Zimbabwean investment conference in London this week had to be radically changed at the last minute after a number of Zimbabwean government ministers were unable to get British visas.
The conference was organised by an organisation called Consolidated Africa Services (CAS), which initially listed Finance Minister Chinamasa as among the speakers, along with Industry Minister Mike Bimha, Foreign Afffairs Minister Leiutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo, Agriculture Minister Air Chief Marshall Perence Shiri, Mines Minister Winston Chitando and Tourism Minister Priscah Mupfumira, as well as Central Bank Governor John Mangudya and his predecessor Gideon Gono, now the Chairman of the Special Economic Zones Authority.
Mention of some of these delegates was later dropped from CAS’s website and when Vigil activists gathered early on Thursday outside the conference at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society we were unsure which of them, if any, would turn up. Representatives of the organisers appeared equally unsure when we asked them which ministers would attend.
The usual po-faced executive-type people bustled past a sculpture set into the wall of the building showing David Livingstone (‘discoverer’ of the Victoria Falls). They didn’t give it a glance but they couldn’t miss the Vigil’s banner adorned with posters reading: ‘Reforms before investment in Zimbabwe’, ‘Free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe’ and ‘End corruption and state looting in Zimbabwe’. Most people accepted our flyers, one of which read:
‘Beware Zimdaba 2018: Exiled Zimbabweans welcomed the ousting of Robert Mugabe in the military coup last November. But the Zimbabwe Vigil cautions against prematurely embracing the new regime represented here at Zimdaba 2018. They are out for your money because they have destroyed the economy. ‘We are open for business,’ they say. But so far it’s all words. No repressive laws have yet been repealed.
Apart from the addition of a few generals, an air chief marshall etc, the cabinet is made up of the same corrupt Marxist Zanu PF politburo. You do not have to hire ‘experts’ to look into the background of the delegates: simply google them yourselves. You will find, for instance, that the Chairman of the Special Economic Zones Authority, Gideon Gono, was the Governor of the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank when the Zimbabwe dollar was destroyed by record-breaking inflation.
Elections are due by August. Before you consider investing in Zimbabwe, you would be wise to see whether they are judged free, fair and credible. For further information about the situation in Zimbabwe see our book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’, available from Amazon. It features some of the bogus ‘comrades’ you will be meeting at the conference.’
We noticed that, among the people attending the conference, was the former Labour government minister Lord Hain, who in his youth was a notable anti-apartheid activist. The South African newspaper Mail and Guardian has accused him of hypocrisy over his business interests in Zimbabwe (see: http://amabhungane.co.za/article/2018-03-16-lord-hains-zimbabwe-hypocrisy). Lord Hain left the meeting early.
- Thanks to our activists who got up early to attend the Vigil demonstration outside the Royal Geographical Society: Abigail Chidavayenzi, Babula Gwatiringa, Brian Chitate, Cephas Maswoswa, Chido Makawa, Daizy Fabian, Dennis Benton, Elector Zvorwadza, Esther Munyira, Heather Makawa Chitate, Matthew Mpepo, Patience Muyeye, Rose Benton, Rosemary Maponga, Sunit Bagree and Tafadzwa Musekiwa. There were a couple of valiant journeys: Abigail left Glasgow the night before the demo and messaged us at 7.45 am from the venue – she was to return home in the evening. Elector caught the coach at 3 am from Nottingham to join us. It was good to have with us Sunit Bagree from Action for Southern Africa (previously the Anti-Apartheid Movement). We will be joining him in a protest he has organised against the human rights abuses of King Mswati of Swaziland on 19th April. Check ‘Events and Notices’ for details.
- Thanks to the small band who gathered at the Vigil today, particularly: Joseph Chivayo, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa Chitate, Matthew Mpepo, Margaret Munenge and Ephraim Tapa who set up the Vigil, took care of the front table and packed up at the end. It was snowing when we arrived and still snowing when we left. We had half expected some signs of life in the Embassy given all the people over for the investment conference. They must have decided to stay in bed.
- Mugabe’s bleating to the international press about being illegally deposed confirmed our belief that he is delusional, since he blatantly ignored the law when he was in power. His most potent comment came in an interview with the AU representative earlier in which he said there was no possibility of fair elections because the army was in charge.
- Mnangagwa was equally silly for declaring Mugabe a National Holiday. While we welcome the new president’s promises of change and reform in his New York Time article, we are alarmed by his comment reported elsewhere that there would be no opening up of the airwaves before the elections.
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: 8 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- ROHR general members’ meeting. Saturday 31st March from 11 am – 1.45 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Agenda: adoption of the ROHR 2018 programme of action and completion of appointments to the ROHR National Executive Committee.
- ROHR fundraising dinner for ZimPAP. Saturday 7th April from 6 pm till late. Venue: Zaza’s Restaurant, 108a Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JE. Come and share an all-you-can-eat buffet. Tickets: £25. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Heather Makawa 07716391800. All proceeds will go to the Zimbabwe Peace Actors’ platform which aims to raise money to train civilian peace keepers in Zimbabwe to educate people in their local communities on their constitutional rights as well as overcoming fear and intimidation during and after the 2018 elections.
- ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 21st April from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
- 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.
- Swaziland Protest. Thursday 19th April from 11.30 – 1.30 pm. Venue: outside the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. King Mswati III is likely to be in the UK for the Commonwealth Summit (19th April is Mswati’s 50th birthday). It is an opportunity to protest about human rights problems in Swaziland and the Commonwealth’s failings when it comes to dealing with the country. The protest is organized by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and they ask that members of the Zimbabwe and Swaziland Vigils join them.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
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