The body of Protais Mpiranya, the former commander of the Rwandan presidential guard, was discovered under a stone slab in the overgrown Granville Cemetery on the southern outskirts of Harare. The slab carried a false name but the body was exhumed at the request of UN investigators and his identity confirmed by DNA analysis on Tuesday.
Serge Brammertz, the UN chief prosecutor who led the hunt, said Mpiranya was the last of the major fugitives and finding his body ‘provides the solace of knowing that he cannot cause further harm’.
Mpiranya, who was in charge of the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of members of Rwanda’s minority Tutsi clan, died in Harare in October 2006 of a heart attack brought on by tuberculosis, at the age of 50. He had been living in Zimbabwe under a false identity, despite the Mugabe government’s insistence that he was not in the country.
The UN investigation found he had arrived on a Zimbabwean military aircraft and had frequent meetings with the Mugabe regime. He was a valued ally from the second Congo war of 1998 – 2003 (see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/twenty-year-search-for-rwanda-genocide-suspect-ends-in-zimbabwe-grave).
Another notorious fugitive from justice is believed to be still living in Zimbabwe. He is Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former leader of Ethiopia, whose administration is estimated to have killed about half a million people including the last emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie.
Mengistu fled the country in 1991 and was given a residence permit by Mugabe, who apparently refused a request to extradite him even though he had been convicted of genocide (see: https://www.dw.com/en/quest-to-extradite-ethiopias-dictator-mengistu-as-mugabe-departs/a-41719005).
Both Mugabe and his successor President Mnangagwa have themselves been accused of genocide for the massacre of thousands of minority Ndebeles in the 1980s. It remains an open sore in Zimbabwe with the government refusing to acknowledge its guilt.
- The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has called on the Anti-Corruption Commission and the police to investigate the abuse of US$89 million Covid-19 relief funds by government officials. The committee criticised ministries for failing to provide required information. The money was supposed to be paid to help small and medium-size enterprises and vulnerable people (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/05/mps-demand-action-on-stolen-covid-19-funds/).
- The Christian Aid organisation in the UK las launched a new appeal for funds to help families such as Jessica Mwedzi’s in rural Zimbabwe affected by drought. She said a bowl of porridge is sometimes all her family have to eat in a day. ‘It pains me to send them to bed hungry’, she said (see: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week).
- Our virtual Vigil activists today were Simbarashe Jingo, Chido Makawa, Philip Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Richard Munyama and Esther Munyira who all kindly contributed to Vigil funds. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720298954625 for today’s photos.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
- Next ROHR Meeting. Saturday 21st May at 11 am. Contacts: Margaret Munenge, Joyce Mbairatsunga and Simbarashe Jingo.
- Next Vigil meeting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Saturday 21st May from 2 – 5 pm. We will continue meeting on the first and third Saturdays of every month. On other Saturdays we will continue the virtual Vigil.
- ROHR Fundraising Walk. Saturday 18th June. More information as plans develop.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded 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. All proceeds 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.
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