Zimbabwe Ambassador at Vigil – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

The Vigil marked its 16th anniversary and – to our surprise – we were joined by the new Ambassador Christian M Katsande and his deputy.

Gift Kunjona, Chief Ndiweni, Ben Freeth, Archbishop John Sentamu, Kate Hoey

He invited us to have a meeting with him and we are happy to accept the invitation. This is the first time in 16 years that the Embassy has chosen to engage with us. The Ambassador bought a copy of the Vigil book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ for which we gave him a receipt at his request.

Zimbabwean Ambassador Christian Katsande with Vigil activists

Zimbabwe House has been an unfriendly place for years. It is closed on Saturdays when the Vigil protests but when we  tried to communicate with them during the week it has always gone into panic mode, calling the police (right next door) to get us out of the building.

We want to ask them why things haven’t changed in Zimbabwe in the 16 years we have been protesting outside the Embassy. The Vigil believes that the problem is Zanu PF’s controlling mindset. Despite the ousting of Mugabe by Mnangagwa, this hasn’t changed. It’s got worse. Even as the economy collapses Zanu PF refuses to accept responsibility, now blaming the situation on enemies spreading panic and confusion. Stop the money dealers, they say, stop the vendors (see: https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/zanu-pf-appeals-to-government-to-allow-imports-17419832). These ‘enemy agents’ have replaced ‘sanctions’ as the cause of the country’s troubles.

The EU report on the elections reinforces the view from Harare North that the UK has backed the wrong horse in Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF-lite (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/10/zim-election-results-murky-eu/). The UK will probably facilitate a financial bail out for Zimbabwe but we at the Vigil have little confidence that even a big loan will end our problems. Ten months into the new regime and how many of the corrupt Zanu PF elite are in jail? How many bankrupt parastatals have been reformed? Meanwhile, the economist Godfrey Kanyenze, a former board member of the reserve bank, says the Mnangagwa regime has already run up a debt of over $4.5 billion since last November (see: http://www.mikecampbellfoundationresources.com/page/debt-rises-dramatically). 

Other points

  • After the visit of the Ambassador those at the Vigil were asked what we should require from the Embassy. It was suggested that we should challenge the Embassy on the reported co-operation with the Home Office to facilitate deportation of Zimbabweans back home. We should also make the case for the diaspora vote.
  • A Zimbabwean passer-by who appeared to be involved with an EU project on wild life in Zimbabwe talked to one of our key activists. He asked what were we achieving by our protest and suggested that if he came back to Zimbabwe he would ensure he got a farm!
  • Chief Felix Ndiweni says one of Zimbabwe’s problems is that traditional leaders have been politicised by Zanu PF. Chief Ndiweni had worked in the UK for 34 years before going home to Matabeleland to succeed his father who had been chief for 71 years. He came back to London to address a meeting on Zimbabwe at the Royal Geographical Society on Tuesday. He told the meeting, arranged by the Mike Campbell Foundation, that the youth were angry and needed to be taken seriously. Another speaker at the meeting was MDC Alliance politician Gift Kunjona, who has been imprisoned 44 times for his political activism. He spoke about Zanu PF impunity.  The human rights activist Ben Freeth said he had no doubt that the July elections were rigged and was sad at the muted response by the then UK Ambassador Catriona Laing. Prayers for Zimbabwe were led by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who famously cut up his clerical collar on TV in protest at Mugabe. He spoke of a need for justice in Zimbabwe.
  • Vigil activists attending the Mike Campbell event were: Bianca Mpawaenda. Chido Makawa, Daizy Fabian, Ephraim Tapa, Esther Munyira, Faith Ndhlovu,Heather Makawa, Josephine Jombe, Margaret Munenge, Michelle Makoni, Netsayi Makarichi, Nyarai Masvosva, Patience Muyeye, Patricia Masamba, Rose Benton and Rosemary Maponga.
  • Congratulations to Patricia Masamba who has been made a Vigil co-ordinator because of her commitment to the Vigil. She is one of the team who ensures the Vigil keeps running by bringing the Vigil table, banners, posters and other paraphernalia to the Embassy on a Saturday.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Linda Dodzo, Miriam Gasho, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Tapiwa Muskwe, Minienhle Sibanda and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks also to Minienhle, Linda, Miriam and Joyce for looking after the front table and handing out flyers and to Minienhle and Grace Nyaume for taking extra photos.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 13 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 20th October from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • ROHR Reading branch general meeting and outreach. Saturday 20th October. General meeting from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Contact: Joshua Kahari (branch information and publicity) 07877246251, Nicodimus Muganhu (branch chairperson) 07877386792, Shylette Chipangura (branch vice secretary) 07828929806.
  • ROHR Slough fundraising dinner. Saturday 20th October 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: Patricia Masamba 07708116625, Esther Munyira 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 http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • ACTSA Conference 2018 – Zimbabwe: More of the same? Saturday 27th October from 2 – 4 pm at Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Rd, London, WC1X 8TN – nearest tubes are Holborn and Russell Square. Following Zimbabwe’s highly controversial national elections and the post-election repression, what does the future look like for human rights, equality and sustainable development in the country? Speakers include Daizy Fabian (Restoration of Human Rights / Zimbabwe Vigil), Hugo Knoppert (Zimbabwe Europe Network) and Glanis Changachirere (Institute for Young Women Development).This is a free event but please register by emailing [email protected] to confirm your place. And please share with your colleagues and networks: https://actsa.org/actsa-conference-2018-zimbabwe-more-of-the-same/.
  • 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.
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