It’s been an extraordinary week in the UK with the country plunged into deep mourning following the passing of much-loved Queen Elizabeth. Her death came as a hammer blow coming only two days after she had a meeting with the country’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss. The Queen was 96 and had been reigning for 70 years – so long that people seemed to assume she would last forever.
The whole world seems to be mourning Elizabeth II. US President Biden has ordered flags to be flown at half mast. Even President Putin of Russia and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping have expressed their condolences. Commonwealth countries are sharing the grief of the British people.
The Queen learnt that she had succeeded to the throne in 1952 when she and her husband were staying in a safari lodge, Treetops, perched in a tree in a Kenyan national park. Amos Ndegwa, whose father cooked for the Queen during her visit, said that he was lighting a candle to join the world in mourning. ‘She was very good, she was very kind. She was very welcoming and very humble.’ (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1240-a-candle-burns-at-treetops-where-princess-became-a-queen.)
Although Zimbabwe was pulled out of the Commonwealth by Robert Mugabe, President Mnangagwa was one of the first leaders to offer his ‘deepest condolences’. Mnangagwa has made it clear that he would like Zimbabwe to rejoin the Commonwealth. This could be further encouraged by the new cabinet announced by Truss.
For the first time the 4 leading positions in the cabinet do not include a white man. In fact, apart from Truss herself, the other 3 positions, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister), Home Secretary (Interior Minister) and the Foreign Minister are taken by people of immigrant backgrounds. Apart from them, there are a number of other non-white people in the cabinet with origins in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Although the Vigil would of course celebrate Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth, we would hope to have guarantees first that the Zanu PF government would allow free and fair elections. Unfortunately there is no indication that these would be forthcoming.
Human rights activists are calling for mass protests against the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. They complain of a clampdown on the opposition and the pretrial incarceration of political activists such as the CCC’s Job Sikhala (see: https://newsday.co.zw/local-news/article/200000182/fresh-bid-to-revive-mass-protests).
Prison officials are accused of poisoning Sikhala. At a brief hearing in court on Monday Sikhala shouted: ‘You wanted to kill me on Saturday. I won’t die, God will protect me until I liberate this country from Zanu PF.’ (See: https://newsday.co.zw/local-news/article/200000103/prison-staff-fingered-in-sikhala-poisoning.)
- Following last week’s diary ‘Mounting Pressure for Change’, in which we reported comments by veteran opposition politician Welshman Ncube, a strong Vigil supporter in the UK, Wilbert Mukori, has written to us expressing his reservations. He said: ‘Professor Welshman Ncube is not being open and truthful otherwise he would have admitted CCC was only paying lip service to the call for reforms. He and his colleagues failed to implement reforms during the 2008 to 2013 GNU when it was in their power, not Zanu PF, to implement reforms. They did not implement even one reform because Robert Mugabe bribed them with the trappings of high office, the same bribes enticing them to participate in the flawed elections. CCC was hell bent on participating in these elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process got and it is that knowledge that is giving Zanu PF the confidence to ignore all calls for reforms. David Coltart admitted in his book that the opposition were participating in the flawed elections out of greed and that they were giving legitimacy to Zanu PF by participating. Professor Ncube is being economic with the truth, to say the least, by pretending CCC is being forced to participate much less expect to win blatantly rigged elections! The real challenge before us is that the truth must be told; that Zanu PF is blatantly rigging the elections and CCC are participating out of greed to give Zanu legitimacy. By telling the truth we hope to pressure SADC leaders to stop rubber stamping rigged Zanu PF elections and giving the regime legitimacy.’
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
- Next Vigil meeting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Saturday 15th October from 2 – 5 pm when we will mark the 20th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Vigil. Until then we will continue with the virtual Vigil.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation 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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