Not open for business – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

Zimbabwe’s biggest food processing company has closed its wheat mills because of the foreign currency shortage. Lack of foreign exchange means we have perennial fuel shortages. One can’t buy medicines from pharmacies without US dollars. But if you try to get dollars from money changers you could go to jail. 

Zimbabwe is desperate for investment so it is sobering to learn that it is neglecting the opportunity to get billions of dollars under China’s Belt and Road initiative. This programme and its accompanying Forum for China/Africa Co-operation involves a planned trillion dollars to build railways, ports and other infrastructure on three continents.

The acting Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Baogang, told a media briefing in Harare that he was surprised that an ally as desperate for investment as Zimbabwe had not applied for some of this money. ‘Abundant resources are there and they are just waiting for you’, he said, adding that every time he engaged Zimbabwean officials about the matter they had not read the relevant documents. ‘I just give my constructive proposals and sincerely wish that everyone will come and read them’, he said. ‘If you don’t you will not come up with very good projects’. (See:

Criticism of Zimbabwean representatives also appeared in an opinion piece by Gary Kleiman, founder of Kleiman International, specialists in global financial emerging markets, published today in the London Financial Times. He criticised  a recent Zimbabwean delegation as ‘inexperienced at global investor gatherings’ and described their presentation as poor. Mr Kleiman suggested a joint foreign and domestic taskforce could help to clear a path to financial stability (see:

Against this background it is not surprising to read of the difficulties facing new finance minister Mthuli Ncube. One observer, the Zimbabwean journalist Blessing Vava, says the minister had been put on a ‘tight leash’ and is being forced to take decisions on political and not economic grounds.

Mr Vava says the dilemma facing President Mnangagwa is that serious reform would jeopardise his own position. He concludes: ‘The Zanu PF government knows what needs to be done but it is unwilling to undermine its own political interests.’ (See:

Other points

  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Simbarashe Jingo, Jane Kaphuwa, Jonathan Kariwo, Rosemary Maponga, Bianca Mpawaenda, Faith Ndhlovu and Bigboy Sibanda. Thanks to Bianca, Rosemary and Joyce Mbairatsunga for looking after the front table, to Faith, Bigboy, Simbarashe and Jane for handing out flyers and to Jonathan for taking photos.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 15 signed the register.


  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 15th December from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy 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 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.
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