People who settled on Arnold farm in Mazowe back in 2000 thought they were protected by the rule of law when Grace Mugabe started sniffing around the land she coveted to expand her business empire.
When armed police arrived with officials from the Land Ministry and started demolishing their homes they took recourse to the High Court, where a judge granted an application to prevent their eviction. Vindicated, they went back to the farm with the court order – only for the police to brush it aside, saying they took their orders only from their superiors. In other words, the court order counted for nothing.
Residents were forced onto trucks and dumped some 40 kilometres away, without food or water, their crops and livestock abandoned and far from their children’s schools.
The dispossessed residents went on to appeal for intervention by the Southern African Development Community, meeting in Swaziland under the chairmanship of King Mswati, asking it to compel the Zimbabwean government to respect the rule of law.
The Vigil is sorry for these poor people. Sorry because they have been badly treated. Sorry because there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe when it comes to the interests of the elite. Sorry because Mswati is an acolyte of Mugabe. And even sorrier because SADC is an irredeemable joke. A joke at which no one laughs.
- At the regular forum after the Vigil, supporters were reminded to be vigilant against elements seeking to undermine the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe. They try to mimic us for their own purposes and have set up various bogus websites and exploit social media pages, undermining our struggle against Mugabe. Supporters should look to our weekly diary for reliable information on meetings etc and rely only on information from people they trust. The bogus websites hijack pictures of the Vigil and if you appear in one you have a right to demand it is removed from the website. Apart from shadowy political reasons, the purpose of these groups is to exploit asylum seekers. Beware of being fleeced by them and the dodgy Zimbabwean lawyers that they recommend.
- The Vigil notes that the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, has come under fierce criticism in the government press for questioning the handling of the biometric vote issue. It described her remarks as reckless and unsubstantiated. We believe that Ms Laing has every justification for expressing doubts on this key issue affecting the legitimacy of next year’s elections. If Mugabe doesn’t like it why doesn’t he kick her out and tell the British to take their ‘filthy’ aid with them?
- Zimbabwe was raised in Parliament on Tuesday when MPs asked questions about whether the Zimbabwean elections could be free and fair. The first questions were put by our friend Kate Hoey, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe. We were able to provide her with evidence that rigging is already underway. To listen check: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08kzd0r/house-of-commons-live-foreign-and-commonwealth-office-questions (first six minutes).
- ROHR Central London branch had a successful fundraising day by providing delicious sadza nemazondo and by raffling hampers of wine and soft drinks. Thanks to those who provided the food: Daizy Fabian Etines Kapiya, Cephas Maswoswa, Portiah Tobaiwa, Nyarai Masango and Lucia Mudzimu. Thanks also to Patience Muyeye for providing the raffle prizes and to Michael Sirewu, Delline Mutendi and Etines Kapiya for contributing to the cost. Tarisai Matambanadzo and Ben Semwayo were the lucky winners.
- Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Rashiwe Bayisayi, Patrick Chatukuta, Abigail Chidavayenzi, Benjamin Chigamba, Patricia Chinyoka, Deborah Harry, Jean Kawara, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phillip Mahlahla, Alice Majola, Theodora Mandishaya, Patricia Masamba, Cephas Maswoswa, Sharon Moyo, Rudo Moyo, Michael Moyo, Eletha Mpofu, Lloyd Mudzengerere, Roseline Mukucha, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Clemence Munyukwi, Fungisai Mupandira, Simbarashe Mutero, Sally Mutseyami, Farai Mutumburi, Patience Muyeye, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Sipho Ndlovu, Sibusiso Ngwenya, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Maxmus Savanhu, Benjamin Semwayo, Farai Tanyanyiwa and Portiah Tobaiwa. Thanks to Roseline, Patience and Esther for looking after the front table, to Chipo, Deborah and Abigail for handing out flyers and selling wristbands and to Phillip, Mduduzi, Maxmus, Deborah, Abigail, Lloyd, Sipho and Theodora for putting up the banners and tarpaulin.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.
FOR THE RECORD: 55 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- ROHR Fundraising Dinner. Saturday 8th April from 6 pm to midnight. Venue: Braunstone Civic Centre, Kingsway, Braunstone Town, Leicester LE3 2PP. Tickets: adults – £25, children under 12 – £5, Children 12-17 – £10. To book tickets contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707, Yvonne Makombe 07453909247 and Moline Nyabonda 07961250525.
- ROHR Nottingham meeting: Saturday 15th April from 2.30 – 5 pm. Venue: Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, The Sycamore Centre, 33a Hungerhill Road, Nottingham NG3 4NB.
- 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.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 15th April from 6.30 pm. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. We will move to the RFH at the end of the Vigil at 6 pm.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
- Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 15th April from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 22nd April from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: 4th floor, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. Contact: Daisy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
- ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 6th May from 11 am. Venue: The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
- Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2016 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/843-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2016. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2016 Highlights page.