via Boycott EU / AU meeting – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 15th February 2014 February 16, 2014 at 10:18pm
The Vigil is writing to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the EU / AU Summit in Brussels on 2 / 3 April if Mugabe attends. We think he should follow the example of his predecessor Gordon Brown who refused to attend an EU / AU Summit in Lisbon in 2007.
A large group from the Vigil stood in for Mr Brown in Lisbon, drawing attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by Mugabe, who was reduced to hiring prostitutes from a local brothel to bulk up a counter demonstration led by the UK-based Zimbabwean ‘academic’ George Shiri (see our diaries of December 2007: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/diary-archive/115-vigil-diary-archive-dec-2007).
Another Zanu PF apologist, Blessing-Miles Tendi of Oxford University, now says in an article in (predictably) the UK Guardian newspaper that boycotting would be ‘both hypocritical and silly’. The Vigil believes that, on the contrary, a boycott would be both principled and sensible (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/02/11/britain-urged-boycott-mugabe/ – Britain urged to boycott Mugabe).
Mr Tendi thinks that Britain needs to mend fences with Mugabe: perhaps grovel a bit, apologise, invite him to Buckingham Palace again, restore his Harrods card, or better still rename Jermyn Street after him . . . The Vigil thinks it is the other way round. Mugabe needs to mend fences with the UK.
But Mugabe is not the sprightly nonagenarian portrayed by Mr Tendi. He may perhaps be able to stay awake long enough in Brussels to spew vitriol at the West for keeping Zimbabweans alive but his regime is simply beyond redemption. It has shown that it is incapable of changing course. All it can do is engorge itself until it bursts – like a broiler chicken.
Mr Tendi seems to think that because other African leaders invited to the Summit are murderers and thieves Mugabe must be acceptable. The Vigil does not buy this. The so-called sanctions were imposed on Mugabe and on his cronies because of human rights abuses. There is overwhelming evidence that last July’s elections were stolen so his regime is illegitimate. Why then should sanctions be lifted?
The UK remains the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. it has made it clear it would do more to help our country but Mugabe’s destructive policies and the rampant corruption of the Zanu PF regime make this impossible – not sanctions. To embrace Mugabe now would be to condone his odious rule which has reduced Zimbabwe from being one of the most prosperous countries in Africa to one of the poorest. For all their faults, you can’t say this about Angola’s Dos Santos, Swaziland’s Mswati III etc.
As for monsters like Dos Santos and Mswati masquerading as African leaders at the Brussels summit: we wish they would be treated in the same way as we would wish the EU to treat Mugabe. That’s not hypocrisy, it’s principle; it’s not silly, it’s sensible – if Africa is ever to more forward to democracy.
Here’s our letter to Mr Cameron:
Seven years’ ago your predecessor Gordon Brown judged it unacceptable to sit at a table with Robert Mugabe at an EU / AU Summit in Lisbon. We understand Mugabe has been invited to a similar summit in Brussels in April. Exiled Zimbabweans believe you should follow Mr Brown’s example.
We ask: what has changed since Mr Brown took his stand? We believe the situation has even deteriorated with stolen elections in 2008 and stolen elections last year. Recent revelations in the official media in Zimbabwe confirm how totally corrupt the Mugabe regime is. Our view is that no dialogue is possible with Mugabe’s Zanu PF and EU countries are deluded if they think they can do deals with a corrupt regime.
- The bi-monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum met after the Vigil and agreed to stage a protest in Brussels if Mugabe attends the EU / AU summit. The meeting was pleased to note that a lawyer in Zimbabwe has launched a legal challenge to the rigged July elections (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_electoral-voters-roll-should-be-a-public-document/ – Electoral voters roll should be a public document). This saves us the task we set ourselves mandated by the Restore Zimbabwe Conference last year.
- We are sorry to say we are having to write to the British government again about the dysfunctional UK Border Agency. Their incompetence never ceases to amaze us. Vigil supporter Joseph Chivayo received a document from the Home Office about his asylum case which included the following paragraph: ‘Regard is given to the letter from Rose Benton dated 14/09/2014,the Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinator stating that you have been particularly helpful in coming on time to help set up the vigil. Objective evidence raised public awareness that the Zimbabwe vigil was exploiting asylum seekers in the UK and would on the payment of a fee issue a letter to state attendance at the vigil (www.nehandaradio.com/2009/06/30/rohr-zimvigil-exploiting-asylum-seekers). Therefore no weight is attached to the production of this letter.’ The Vigil would like to remind the UK Border Agency that three years ago they apologized to use for this libel. We are writing to the Border Agency demanding a full investigation into this cut and paste job (for the UKBA letter, see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/323-text-of-letter-from-ukba-to-the-zimbabwe-vigil). The UKBA incompetence is further illustrated by their detention of one of our most committed supporters Trymore Mahachi. No doubt he also bought a letter from the Vigil Co-ordinator . . . (see Vigil diaries: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/315-home-office-a-disgrace-objective-evidence-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-25th-june-2011 and http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/324-uk-border-agency-says-sorry-to-vigil-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-23rd-july-2011).
- We were glad to be joined by a large group of Kurdish cyclists campaigning for the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan from prison in Turkey. We are always pleased to make contact with fellow human rights activists.
- Thanks to Joseph Chivayo, Helen Rukambiro and Fungayi Mabhunu who were there at the start to help set up. Thanks also to Beverly Mutandiro for her heartfelt prayers for the work of the Vigil. She said we should trust in the Lord and referred us to Jeremiah 39, verses 15 – 18.
- We were also glad to be visited by an ambassador from the Northbank, a new initiative set up to represent the area north of the Thames from Trafalgar Square to Chancery Lane (see their website: www.thenorthbank.org).
- For the thoughts of our supporter Wilbert Mukori on the EU / African Summit and the corruption scandal see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/567-articles-by-wilbert-mukori.
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: 37 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 22nd February from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- ROHR Slough Branch general meeting. Saturday 22nd February 2014 from 11.30 am – 2 pm. Venue: Upton Lea Community Hall, Wexham Road, Slough Sl2 5JW. For further details contact Patricia Masamba, Vice Chair 07708116625 or Grace Nyaumwe, Chair 07850284506.
- ROHR Leicester branch meeting. Saturday 22nd February from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: 32 Darley Street, Leicester LE2 0GA. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403 439 707, Hilda Gwesele 07939 127 819, Bryne Mashonganyika 07450 547 313. The last hour is a fundraising tea party – charge £5 per head.
- ‘The Rain that Washes’ national tour: Fri 28 February – The Cut, New Cut, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8BY; Fri 4 April – Seven Arts, 31A Harrogate Road, Leeds LS7 3PD; Sat 5 April – Selby Town Hall, York Street, Selby, North Yorkshire,YO8 4AJ; Sat 24, Sun 25 & Mon 26 May – Brighton Fringe Festival, Marlborough Theatre, 4 Princes Street, Brighton BN2 1RD. Booking details can be found at www.chickenshed.org.uk/whatsson.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 1st March from 6.15 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. For directions see ZAF entry above. The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a sign at street level. It’s between a newsagent and Pizza Express. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can meeting. Saturday 15th March from 12 noon. Venue: to be advised.
- ROHR Reading Branch general meeting. Saturday 15th March from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: RISC 35-39 London St, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS. For further enquiries contact: Nicodimus Muganhu (Chairman) 07877386792, Charles D Ndlovu (Organising Secretary) 07413879590, Mary Eluwasi (Vice Organising Secretary) 07888310582.
- Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2013 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/560-vigil-highlights-2013. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2013 Highlights page.
- 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 the views and opinions of ROHR.
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds monthly meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
- Facebook pages:
- Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). For more information about this organisation, check: www.zunde.org.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http:/hgh/www.zimvigil.co.uk.