Hostile reception for Mnangagwa – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

President Mnangagwa managed to evade a confrontation with a group of angry Zimbabweans waiting for him at the John F Kennedy International Airport when he arrived for the UN General Assembly.

Among them was Zvaringeni Samuel Chasi, leader of the People’s Patriotic Party, who said the protest was to spur the international community to intervene and arrest Mnangagwa for gross human rights violations, including genocide, abductions, torture and rape (see:

Mnangagwa’s visit comes as the World Bank announced that Zimbabwe has again come top in food price inflation. At 353% it has overtaken shattered Lebanon with 38% of rural households said to be food insecure (see:

But it is not food that will be on Mnangagwa’s mind. As usual donors will come to the rescue. No, it’s the reliable old complaint that sanctions are the cause of Zimbabwe’s problems. Recently the US updated sanctions against some Zimbabwean individuals and entities it said were responsible for grave human rights abuses, undermining democracy or contributing to corruption on a massive scale. Mnangagwa will not even bother to respond to these accusations: he has only one song – that sanctions are responsible for all Zimbabwe’s woes. After all these years he knows this claptrap works. Even President Ramaphosa spouts it out.

Commentator Michelle Gavin, senior fellow for Africa Studies at the US Council on Foreign Relations, observes that: ‘Nearly two decades on, the sanctions regime has succeeded in inconveniencing some of the most odious actors in Zimbabwe. But it has not stopped Zimbabwe’s seemingly endless descent into dictatorship and despair, in which a small circle of elites enrich themselves and protect their access to power while the rest of the country suffers. At the same time, sanctions serve as a handy scapegoat for those elites, who often mischaracterize them as a blanket ban on trade and investment in Zimbabwe and assert that these restrictions, rather than their own mismanagement, are to blame for the country’s troubles.’

Gavin continues: ‘As the 2023 elections draw closer in Zimbabwe, the situation in the country seems to be getting worse. Opposition parliamentarians Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole languish in detention on dubious charges, while their family members find themselves targeted by security services. Political activists have good reason to fear even worse treatment. An eyebrow-raising report about the state’s recent harassment of visiting U.S. congressional staffers suggests that the Zimbabwean authorities have no interest in even affecting a façade for outsiders. They want the sanctions lifted, but also openly intend to continue down a path of violent, repressive, ultimately ruinous governance.’ (See: (see:

Another correspondent for the international press Farai Mutsaka sums up the situation: ‘Opposition politicians languishing in prison. Journalists and government critics harassed and arrested. Public meetings banned. Zimbabwe’s general election is several months away but many opposition figures say they are already battling intense government repression similar to the iron-fisted rule of Robert Mugabe.’ (See:

Associated Press quotes Alexander Rusero, a Harare-based academic and political commentator as saying: ‘There was never a genuine transformation of the liberation movement of ZANU-PF into a political party suiting democratic dictates of the 21st century. Liberation politics is informed by scepticism and binary characterization of citizens as either friends or enemies. ZANU-PF continues to classify opposition parties and civil society activists as stooges of the West. It will continue to use its power to crush them, just like what happened during Mugabe’s time.’ (See:

Other points

Events and Notices:

  • Next Vigil meeting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Saturday 15th October from 2 – 5 pm when we will mark the 20th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Vigil. Until then we will continue with the virtual Vigil.
  • 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 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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