On the eve of a visit to London, the human rights activist Patson Dzamara was arrested for – as he put it – ‘sitting in a public park’.
Patson – brother of abducted Itai Dzamara – was chatting in Harare Gardens with a few others wearing the Endgame tshirts. One of the others was Linda Masarira of ROHR, mother of five, only recently released from jail for taking part in protests.
They were all bundled into a truck by police officers. When they demanded to know the charge, the police were apparently clueless saying only that it was an ‘instruction from above’.
Patson messaged later: ‘For sitting in a public park we have been charged with disorderly conduct and are spending the night in cells. We are not going to cower until we get our country back.’
Latest word was that the group of six were released on bail on Saturday to stand trial on Monday. Prosecutors accused them of abusing and insulting some law enforcement agents by likening them to dogs and puppets.
Vigil supporters in the UK who have received invitations to attend a meeting in the UK Parliament on Wednesday to be addressed by Patson wonder whether this is a clumsy effort to stop him travelling to London. Or is it just routine intimidation? The Mugabe regime is now so paranoid that it has given up any pretence of observing the constitution. Waving the flag or even wearing clothes in the national colours is an offence.
But when it comes to brazen corruption by the elite the police are suddenly powerless. An attempt to arrest higher education minister Jonathan Moyo for stealing public funds was halted by Mugabe himself. So much for the fight against corruption . . .
In the UK we are disappointed by the refusal of the government here to recognise how bad things are in Zimbabwe. The UK government seems to be determined to send home several of our supporters who are failed asylum seekers. Latest news is that Humphrey Dube was only saved because the plane had problems and couldn’t take off.
The ‘country guidance’ for Zimbabwe used by the Home Office is based on the last years of the government of national unity. The situation has now worsened and the Vigil supports the following petition:
‘The country guidance for Zimbabwe last updated in 2013 currently being used by Home Office to determine asylum cases is outdated. The case law that states that Zimbabwe is a safe destination for failed asylum seekers needs to be revisited as recent atrocities tell a different story.’ To sign the petition, visit: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168401.
- Vigil supporters brought two magnificent cakes to mark the fourteenth anniversary of the Vigil. Thanks to Chipo Parirenyatwa, Deborah Harry and Cephas Maswoswa for the cakes and to Rashiwe Bayisayi for her banana bread. We put all the goodies on the front table and everyone gathered round holding posters reading: ‘Zimbabwe Vigil Fourteenth Anniversary’, ‘Fourteen years campaigning for human rights in Zimbabwe’ and ‘Fourteen years campaigning for democracy in Zimbabwe’.
- Twenty or so members from our sister organisation ROHR walked 11.5 miles from East Croydon to the Vigil to raise funds. Highlights were singing outside Brixton market and the Odeon cinema at Streatham Common.
- We ended the Vigil in pouring rain and were approached by the Who is Hussain? Muslim charity which runs, in the space outside the Embassy, a weekly food handout for the homeless immediately the Vigil ends. They asked if we could leave our tarpaulin up for them to which we agreed. They returned the tarpaulin and supporting rope to the home of the Vigil co-ordinator later in the evening. We are glad to have come to an arrangement that will help them on wet evenings.
- Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Isaac Chawasarira, Benjamin Chigamba, Deborah Harry, Josephine Jombe, Jonathan Kariwo, Prosper Karuru, Emmanuel Magarira, Marian Mangani, Shailet Manyange, Sharon Moyo, Tracy Mupeti, Douglas Tavengwa, Maureen Tavengwa and Elector Zvorwadza. Thanks to Sharon, Josephine, Roseline Mukucha and Cathrine Musa for looking after the front table, to Benjamin, Isaac, Prosper, Deborah, Maureen, Douglas, Tracey and Shailet for putting up the banners and to Phillip Mahlahla and Alfredy Mukuvare for putting up the tarpaulin later in the afternoon, to Isaac, Leslyn Kamba and Marian for handing out flyers, to Chipo Parirenyatwa for selling ‘Mugabe must go / has gone’ wristbands and to Elector for providing teabags, milk and sugar for tea to go with the cake.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. For videos of Vigils and other events, check the ROHR facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/www.rohrzimbabwe.org/videos?fref=photo.
FOR THE RECORD: 57 signed the register.