A regular human rights vigil that gathers every Saturday outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London marked its third anniversary this week. MP Kate Hoey, the chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe, was present – along with civil rights and church activists.
Among those who have taken part in the vigil is Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, whose outspoken denunciations of Robert Mugabe’s regime have led to threats against him by the government.
This weekend the vigil focussed on the issue of Zimbabwean refugees, ahead of a major UK tribunal on 5 October 2005 which will decide whether failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers should be deported.
The day was supported by the Refugee Council. Participants have been keen to raise public awareness about the hearing and the dangers of refugees from the Mugabe regime being sent back to Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year Kate Hoey MP visited the country and saw for herself, first-hand, the devastation caused by the government’s Operation Murambatsvina.
The remorseless slum clearance programme, denounced by the United Nations, the international community and the churches, has involved the widespread destruction of the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor.
On Saturday 8 October 2005, Patson Mzuwa, a key figure in the regular vigil, is also taking part in Full Frontal Theatre's production of the play ‘Qabuka’ at the Soho Theatre in London.
Based on true-life testimonies of Zimbabweans-in-exile, the play has been described as a “postcard from the edge which tells their compelling stories with song, dance, humour and mischief”, reports Independent Catholic News. For more information and bookings, call the theatre on 0870 429 6883.
The human rights vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place each Saturday from 2-6pm.
An urgent call to the British Government to get Zimbabwe discussed at the United Nations came from the prominent British MP Kate Hoey at the Vigil today. Kate is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe and recently made a clandestine visit to see at first hand the devastation caused by Mugabe’s “Operation Murambatsvina”. She said she couldn’t believe how much the situation had deteriorated in the two years since her previous visit. She said pressure should be kept up on South Africa to use its influence over Zimbabwe and paid tribute to lawyers who had put so much work into helping asylum seekers. She commiserated with the Vigil on its third anniversary – but said it had succeeded in keeping Zimbabwe in the spotlight at times when this was difficult. Kate was presented with a Vigil t-shirt in gratitude for her long-standing support – it went well with the WOZA scarf she was already wearing.
Other speakers at the Vigil included Tim Finch of the Refugee Council, which supported this special vigil to raise awareness of the plight of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers. (Next week (from 5th – 7th October) a panel of immigration judges sitting in London will rule on whether it is safe to send people back to Zimbabwe in a special “guidance” case.) Tim said it beggared belief that people could be sent back to Zimbabwe in such a situation. The speakers were introduced by drummer and singer-in-chief Patson, who said no Zimbabwean should be returned until Mugabe goes. On behalf of the Vigil, Dumi thanked Kate Hoey, the Refugee Council and supporters for helping to make such a powerful statement about Zimbabwe.
Kate Hoey was happy to renew acquaintance with several of the asylum seekers whose hunger strike while in detention prompted the test case: Crispen Kulinji, Tafara Nhengu, Mqhubeli Timbha and Harris Nyatsanza. Their commitment to the Vigil has given it new vitality. By good fortune it was Crispen’s birthday so he had 100 people to share the cake with. The Vigil baby, Tinotenda Vigil Muzuwa, was introduced to Kate Hoey by mother Bernita shortly before the clouds opened. But we had many hands to help raise our tarpaulin in record time. The hands included those of Geoff Hill, already well-exercised by signing copies of his latest book, now out in paperback, “What happens after Mugabe?” Geoff will be speaking about his book at the Africa Book Centre, 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JT on Friday, 7th October from 6.30 pm.
FOR THE RECORD: at least 100 supporters came today (thanks to the Refugee Council for their support).
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 by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
9/29/2005 9:42:35 AM (GMT +2)
EDITOR - I would like to express my shock at some of the things ZANU PF claims to have done for the people. I do not think that a sane person will deny the fact that people are starving in the country. This is a crime againist the same people they are claiming to have liberated from colonial rule.
We are constantly reminded about
the past yet this is a developing country.
9/29/2005 9:42:05 AM (GMT +2)
EDITOR - Hats off to your quality and well researched reports.
After reading your informative
report on "potatoes"' and there being "enough fuel" and having seen the pathetic
situation in your country during my recent visit, I can only say that your
government is full of notorious, shameless liars.
9/29/2005 9:43:05 AM (GMT +2)
EDITOR - "Harare Municipality buying fuel on black market" screamed a headline in The Herald of September 14 2005. The article surprised most people for the following reasons:
--- Who authorises the black market
purchases of fuel ?
9/29/2005 8:23:42 AM (GMT +2)
An observant friend of mine has alerted me to a phenomenon through which cash-strapped customers could unknowingly be losing millions to till operators, especially in supermarkets. How so, you might ask.
Well, as you know, in the
environment of hyper inflation prevailing in Zimbabwe, the customer has become
an endangered species.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
September 29, 2005
Posted to the web September 29, 2005
ZIMBABWE has seen one of the world's sharpest drops in the quality of life in recent years and most of its citizens do not expect to live past 40, a new United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report has said.
Zimbabwe has dropped 23 places to 145th position in the world in terms of human development between 1990 and 2003, and is at the bottom of a list of countries grouped in the "medium human development" category, according to the latest UN Human Development Index (HDI). Norway is ranked first while Niger is at the bottom, at position 177.
The UNDP report says 66 percent of Zimbabweans do not expect to reach the age of 40, attributing their alarming pessimism to deepening poverty and HIV/AIDS. The report puts life expectancy in Zimbabwe at 36.9 years.
The report says the quality of life in Zimbabwe is worse than in countries such as Mongolia, Equatorial Guinea and Cambodia. The UNDP blames Zimbabwe's plunge down the index on the decline in the economy, weak investment in education and the impact of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
"In Sub-Saharan Africa, the lethal interaction of economic stagnation, slow progress in education and the spread of HIV/AIDS has produced a free-fall in HDI ranking," said the report.
However, because the latest findings are only based on research concluded in 2003, Zimbabwe's ranking may well be far lower due to the drastic decline in GDP growth since then.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has adjusted his 2005 growth forecasts to 2 percent from 3.5-5 percent, but economists expect negative growth of up to 8 percent this year. The economy has already shrunk by 30 percent in the past five years.
A February World Bank report showed that 70 percent of Zimbabweans were living below the poverty line, with bank president Paul Wolfowitz saying the speed of Zimbabwe's decline over the past six years is unprecedented for a country not at war.
The UN Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy and other factors for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being and has been used since 1993 by the UNDP in its annual report. Former Soviet and African countries have experienced the worst increases in poverty levels, the report said. South Africa, Africa's strongest economy, saw the broadest recession in HDI, losing 35 places to 120. Bot-swana is ranked 131st, while Mozambi-que is up three places to 168, although it remains in the bottom 10.
by STAFF EDITORS (10/1/2005)
Despite having legalized the use of U.S. dollars and other hard currencies to purchase fuel amidst critical shortages, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has stated his opposition to full dollarization of the national economy.
The government-controlled Herald newspaper reported that Mr. Gono spelled this out to a group of traders from the country's Asian community, explaining that making the dollar legal tender for fuel purchases was an exceptional measure.
The Herald quoted Gono as saying that "to extend (the policy) to other products and services would be tantamount to dollarization of the economy."
But the central bank's decision to authorize certain outlets to sell gasoline or diesel for dollars or South African rand - also in wide circulation along with the pound sterling - made the dollar the currency of choice among fuel sellers and accelerated the depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against the U.S. dollar.
Even government agencies are reported to have been obliged to acquire fuel on the parallel market, and official flows have further weighed on the local currency.
Currently the U.S. dollar is trading on the street at around Z$75,000, three times the official rate of $26,000 set by the central bank in its weekly forex auctions. This has heightened expectation of yet another official devaluation of the currency.
Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with analyst Dennis Mandudzo, a Zimbabwean now based in Stanford, California, who concludes that dollarization of the economy is already taking place and should be formalized.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
September 29, 2005
Posted to the web September 29, 2005
ZIMBABWE's business sector has called upon the central bank to scrap the
foreign currency auction market and move towards a market-determined
exchange rate if the deepening hard currency crisis is to be arrested.
Business leaders, who last week said the auction system-introduced in
January 2004- had lost its relevance in the foreign currency market, urged
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to consider another "system which pushes
towards a market-controlled system.'
Zimbabwe chamber of mines president Jack Murehwa said the foreign currency
auction market was no longer working.
His sentiments echoed industry-wide calls for the central bank to loosen its
grip on the foreign currency market to attract more currency into the
The country is reeling under a protracted foreign currency crunch with the
persistent shortages worsening during the past months due to competing
demands from fuel, food and electricity imports, which have resulted in
industry being crowded out of the market.
Demand at the foreign currency auction has shot up to more than US$200
million during the past weeks against a fixed allocation of US$12.5 million.
At the moment, Zimbabwe is getting very little in export earnings, a
situation, which has been compounded by the lack of balance of payment
support from multi-lateral financial institutions, analysts said.
Rates on the foreign currency parallel market have been rising dramatically
with business executives having been reduced to absolute scavengers of the
scarce hard currency.
The United States dollar is now fetching $80 000 on the parallel market
while the South African rand is hovering around $12 500.
Rates on the official market, where foreign currency is hardly available,
are around $26 000 to the US dollar and $4 098 for the rand.
"The auction market is no longer working, it is approaching the end of its
life span and the bank should consider a system where we move from this
market to another system which pushes us towards a greater market control,"
Industry has been crying foul over the disparity between the official and
the unofficial exchange rates and their failure to access foreign currency
on the official market.
The number of bids being rejected has shot up at the foreign currency
trading floors amid revelations that the accepted bids are not usually met
with the foreign currency applied for.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) chief executive Joseph Malaba
said the RBZ should timeously adjust ineffective policies.
"The foreign currency auction has ceased to be an auction and it should be
scrapped," Malaba said.
Timothy Mukahlera, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of parliament
for Gweru Urban, who chairs a Parliamentary committee on industry and
international trade, said the foreign currency parallel market is the 'real
"The law of supply and demand is a proven principle of how to control prices
and we do not need to re-invent the wheel," Mukahlera said.
"The parallel market is the real market and the central bank should let
market forces play a pivotal role in prices," Mukahlera said.
Calls from industry for the RBZ to scrap off the auction system coincide
with plans by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on budget, finance and
economic development to recommend to Parliament that government should
consider re-opening bureau de changes in a bid to create more official
channels of foreign currency.
Bureaux de Change were shut down in December 2002 amid allegations that they
were at the centre of illegal foreign currency deals.
"Re-opening them would at least ensure that the authorities know where the
foreign currency is, even if they will not be able to control the rates.
Right now we only talk of a parallel market, but we cannot even guess how
much money is in circulation and where," said a local analyst.