With Covid 19 infections threatening to blight the holiday season in the UK, many people are clinging to the hope that vaccines will deliver us from this plague in a Happy New Year.
Injections are already being given in the UK but social media in the Zimbabwean diaspora here is full of scare stories about the vaccine. Is not only Zimbabweans who are suspicious; a surprising number of people fear it is part of some foul plot . . .
Zimbabweans should be reassured by the fact that one of our own people was part of the team which developed the Pfizer vaccine – the first to be approved. Dr Tatenda Shopera is a senior scientist working for Pfizer and was part of the team that developed the vaccine, which he proudly described as ‘a great Christmas present to the world’.
Dr Shopera, who was born in Masvingo, grew up in Mbare, attending Harare High School. He said: ‘I have always believed that life is not just about an individual but the impact an individual has on the community. That’s what makes life worth living’ (see: https://www.chronicle.co.zw/zim-scientist-in-covid-19-vaccine-breakthrough/).
A ‘life worth living’ is still the challenge in Zimbabwe. The government claims progress in delivering this in 2020, but former finance minister Tendai Biti, says that, on the contrary, for ordinary people this was one of the worst years in living memory.
President Mnangagwa, at the last cabinet meeting of the year, applauded ministers’ ‘commitment to duty and excellent performance’, trumpeting a turnaround in the country’s economic fortunes. But Biti, Vice-President of the MDC Alliance, said the government was ‘drunk on self-delusion’. He said that at least 10 million people faced a humanitarian crisis and the collapse of social services.
He went on: ‘On the human rights front, there was massive closure of political space. There was an increase in abductions, torture and abuse of human rights. The arrests of journalists and activists was a huge indictment. The attacks on the democratic movement were unprecedented and pathological.’ (See: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/mnangagwa-drunk-on-self-delusion-biti/).
The World Food Programme said it was deeply concerned about the situation and appealed for an extra US$204 million to support 4 million of the most insecure of Zimbabweans for the next 6 months (see: https://www.thezimbabwean.co/2020/12/wfp-urgently-seeks-funds-to-support-millions-of-zimbabweans-facing-hunger-season/).
- The 300 or so boys abducted by Islamist terrorists in North Western Nigeria have been released. The incident has again focused attention on the threat of Islamist extremism in Africa. There are reports that SADC is preparing for military intervention against the Islamist insurgency in Northern Mozambique. But it is argued that the insurgency is driven by resentment at neglect by the ruling class and that SADC will have to address this (see: https://dailynews.co.zw/bandits-threaten-regional-security-as-sadc-moves-to-counter-mozambique-insurgency/).
- 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/72157717419085066. Our virtual Vigil activist today was Deborah Harry who 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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