Mnangagwa’s deadly ‘festival’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

Britain’s unctuous policy towards Zimbabwe has been embarrassed by tanks on the streets of Harare and civilians randomly gunned down by soldiers.

Among the dead was Sylvia Matambo Maphosa, aunt of Vigil activist Daizy Fabian, shot in the back on her way home from work. Daizy was at the Vigil today to speak to the media. She will be among Vigil representatives at a meeting at the Foreign Office on Monday at which we will express our opposition to Mnangagwa’s military regime. 

At least Daizy can speak openly in London. says the family in Harare were visited by the military and told to keep quiet about it (see:

Mnangagwa described the elections as a ‘festival of unfettered freedom’ and a ‘celebration of democracy’. Some celebration . . . some democracy . . .

Apart, predictably from Zimbabwe’s compliant neighbours, most foreign observer missions, including the EU and Commonwealth, expressed reservations about the elections, which MDC President Chamisa described as a sham, although the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network stopped short of backing this up.

But it certainly jarred to hear the US State Department blithely exhorting Zimbabweans to ‘show magnanimity in victory and graciousness in defeat’. (See: The Vigil had always regarded the US as one of the more scrupulous critics of the Zanu PF regime. Are they now adopting Mnangagwa’s ‘forgive and forget’ mantra?

The big question for the MDC was why it repeatedly takes part in elections it cannot win. It keeps threatening to boycott them and then, buoyed by popular support, leads its valiant supporters to yet another rigged election.

Rallies by Chamisa were packed out while Mnangagwa had to rely on the security forces to stop people leaving his. But Mnangagwa remained confident despite his lack of appeal. We know why. And so does everyone who understands how tyranny works: fixing the vote is now a well-established international practice (see our diary of 31/03/2018:

How can you fight a party that has unlimited state funds, controls the state media, the electoral commission, the judiciary, the army and the police, which locks down people in the rural areas with intimidation, threats and bribes?

In last week’s diary we referred to an article by Zimbabwean political analyst Simukai Tinhu. He concluded: ‘If Chamsa takes part in the presidential election, he will have demonstrated that he has learnt nothing from his party’s previous bitter experiences.’ His article is worth another look (see:

But Mnangagwa now faces a bigger problem: how is he to convince the world that he and not the army is in charge. The Vigil thinks that rampaging soldiers in Harare have revealed the truth. No amount of flamboyant Zimbabwean scarves will help rebrand his regime.

Other points

  • We were greeted by BBC reporters when we arrived at the Vigil. They filmed our protest against army brutality and the rigging of the elections and interviewed Daizy about the death of her aunt. Daizy can be heard on this link: for the next 29 days. Her interview is 17.50 minutes into the recording.
  • It was good to have Vigil founder members Bonny Adams and Dumi Tutani with us.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up by setting up the table and putting up the banners: Daizy Fabian, Julian and Jamie Fischer, Babula Gwatiringa, Jonathan Kariwo, Patricia Masamba, Cephas Maswoswa, Bianca Mpawaenda and Margaret Munenge. Thanks also to Bianca, Patricia and Margaret for looking after the front table and to Babula, Tawanda Chitate, Casper Nyamakura, Rosemary Maponga, Heather Makawa and 7-year-old Victor Munenge for handing out flyers. Thanks also to Heather for printing Vigil flyers and taking extra photos.

For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 49 signed the register.


  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 18th August from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR beach barbecue. Monday, 27th August. Venue: Frinton Beach CO13 9DN. Food and transport provided. Bring your own drinks. Tickets: £20 adults, £5 children. For more information, contact: Daizy 07708653640, Max 07397809056 and Esther 07492058107.
  • 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 Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • 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.
  • Facebook pages:

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