Zimbabweans in the UK join in mourning the passing of the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died only a couple of months short of his 100th birthday. We know he took a great interest in Africa and was particularly concerned about wild life issues – one thing on which he was allowed to express his opinions without diplomatic constraint!
The Duke was also a strong supporter of the Commonwealth, which Zimbabwe is aspiring to rejoin after President Mugabe walked out after the condemnation of the violent land seizures. The Vigil would be happy to see Zimbabwe back in the Commonwealth, which embraces many of our neighbours in Africa. Together we would surely be stronger.
But one of the aims of the Commonwealth is the promotion of human rights and Zimbabwe may well be regarded as suspect in this. Zimbabwean human rights activist Tony Reeler says in an article in the Daily Maverick: ‘Increasing human rights violations and corruption demonstrate that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is unable to undertake the kinds of reforms that would allow the country to re-enter the international arena, and most importantly find a way to solve the major obstacle to obtaining international finance — paying off its debts.
‘It is clear that until Zimbabwe pays its debts there will be no substantial economic re-engagement. Yet the country will be unable to do this without reforms that guarantee human rights, the rule of law and an end to rampant corruption.’
Reeler says the MDC Alliance must regain the status of a mass movement and recruit civil society as a partner ‘winning the streets’. This did not necessarily mean protests and demonstrations, but rather making clear, articulate and consistent demands.
‘The only coherent end goal must be a transitional arrangement that will undertake the kinds of reforms that arrest the decline, reform the state, create the conditions for an eventual election whose result cannot be contested by the loser if it is found to be acceptable regionally and internationally.’
Reeler continued: ‘It is definitely time for opposition political parties and civil society to come up with a national response to a national crisis: the ordinary, deeply suffering citizens of Zimbabwe deserve no less.It is also time for the region and the international community to unite in a cohesive push for a mediated settlement. This needs to be supported by SADC, which also needs to admit that Zimbabwe is patently not adhering to the SADC Treaty.’ (See: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-04-06-zimbabwe-can-recover-but-the-opposition-and-the-region-particularly-south-africa-will-have-to-step-up-to-the-plate/.)
- Two articles in the UK Times deal with the question of African debt. One of the articles reports a petition from Kenyan citizens against a US$2.34 billion government bailout from the IMF. They say the money ends up in corrupt pockets (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1131-dont-give-us-s2bn-loan-kenyans-tell-imf).
- The other article points to the punitive implications of Chinese loans to African countries (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1132-debt-will-be-a-devastating-legacy-of-covid-for-africa).
- Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157718958776530. Our virtual Vigil activists today were Michael Tinarwo and Rudo Takiya who both kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
- 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.
- 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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