The Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF), gathering after the Vigil, offered support to people at home seeking a new political path as the situation there continues to worsen. The meeting follows recent talks in Harare that Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa had with some leading politicians.
During a lively debate, it was noted that the Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition originally included the MDC but under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai the MDC withdrew its support because we were critical of some of its decisions. For our part, we believe that in a democracy you have an obligation to be critical when you disagree.
The following resolution was passed: ‘The Vigil notes with great interest the developments in MDC-T. The Vigil will work with any organisation whose aims are compatible with our mission statement to secure free and fair elections and end human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, while maintaining our own identity.’
A second resolution was also approved expressing concern at the growing number of Zimbabwean failed asylum seekers being sent home at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is collapsing.
It was decided that the next ZAF meeting on 3rd May will discuss sending a delegation to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to present a petition on the asylum issue. It would also form a steering committee to carry forward the diaspora’s engagement with the emerging new political force in Zimbabwe.
Our approach to this engagement would be along the lines of the resolutions passed at our Restore Zimbabwe conference in London on 24th October last year as follows: ‘The conference:
- Rejects the 31st July elections as rigged
2. Calls on the diaspora to unite in demanding new elections
3. Condemns SADC for not ensuring the GPA was implemented
4. Appeals to the AU to revisit its approach the Zimbabwe crisis
5. Urges South Africa not to support the Mugabe regime
6. Advises the EU to continue the targeted sanctions against Mugabe and to expand them to include judges and officials of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission who have demonstrated bias for Zanu PF
7. Demands the Zimbabwean opposition resist Mugabe at every step
8. Asks the UK government not to send home failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers.’
The British government has expressed concern at the corruption in Zimbabwe. Their comment came in a letter to the Vigil in reply to one we had written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to boycott the recent EU / Africa Summit in Brussels because Mugabe had been invited (for text of the letter see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/578-text-of-letter-from-fco-742014).
In the event neither man went to the meeting. Mugabe stayed away, saying it was because Grace was refused a visa. Mr Cameron was represented by his Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The letter to the Vigil from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the UK was supporting efforts to tackle corruption in Zimbabwe through a number of initiatives run by the Department for International Development, including supporting access to independent media ‘to facilitate public demand for transparency, accountability and integrity in Zimbabwean society’. The Vigil hopes that this could include support for SW Radio Africa which has been a beacon for people in Zimbabwe deprived of objective news and which is facing funding problems.
The FCO letter also spoke of serious concern ‘about the significant weaknesses identified during the 2013 elections and the lack of transparency identified by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU), and domestic observation missions, which call into doubt the credibility of the elections’. It continued ‘We believe that significant improvements in the electoral process are required along the lines proposed by international and domestic observers, if future elections are to be both credible and transparent’.
The FCO letter makes clear that the situation in Zimbabwe is unacceptable yet the UK Home Office seems to be stepping up the deportation of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers. How can there be so little communication between two government ministries? This is a point that we plan to make to the Home Office.
Thanks to Bridget Zhakata, Nobukhosi Moyo and Patricia Masamba who arrived early to help set up the Vigil.
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: 40 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
- Zimbabwe Yes We Can Meeting – Saturday 19th April at 12 noon. The Theodore Bullfrog, 26-30 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HL.
- Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 19th April from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
- Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 3rd May from 6.15 pm. NB: this forum has been moved forward a week to continue important discussions of the 5/04/2014 ZAF. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. 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.
- ‘The Rain that Washes’ national tour: 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 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.
- Facebook pages:
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:/www.zimvigil.co.uk.