The big stink – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary


Fresh from his ‘million man’ charade in Harare, Mugabe flew off on Air Mugabe to enjoy being the only President from the 79 members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States to attend a meeting in Papua New Guinea. Apparently not even the Papua New Guinea President was attending.

Papua New Guinea? If you consult the atlas you will find it is part of an island east of Indonesia and north of Australia. A spokesman for PNG (as it is known to those who have consulted the atlas) said his country was keen to raise its international profile because not many people knew where it was. ‘They think it is part of Africa’ he said.

Well, Air Mugabe knows where PNG is: conveniently close to Mugabe’s doctors in Singapore. It’s been more than a week since he last saw them so surely more injections are due – apart from changing the nappy of his grandson.

Mugabe was accompanied by the usual large delegation which included Grace of course, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. Permanent secretaries Ambassador Joey (yet another) Bimha and George Charamba, among the usual flunkies, helped fill the Air Mugabe plane.

The PNG is popular for its diving and other leisure facilities. But the Vigil is worried that Mugabe’s insatiable trips abroad are believed to have cost the country $80 million this year. How come he is squandering this money when thousands of hungry, deluded Zanu PF youth were left to make their own way home from the ‘million man’ march?

MDC T spokesman Obert Gutu said Mugabe never passed an opportunity to escape from the country. ‘Mugabe is wasting this money at a time half the country is facing starvation due to a severe drought’. He said.

mdcJacob Mafume, spokesman for Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, added: ‘Mugabe suffers from an excessive attention seeking sickness. He is like a man who messes up his own house with his waste and keeps leaving the house because the house smells.’ 

This struck a chord with us because an article has appeared in the London Times on this theme, even mentioning Mugabe. The article about dictators talked of the overpowering stench at the French King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.

The palace had 700 rooms but no functioning lavatories for nearly 200 years. Even then the soon to be executed Queen Marie Antoinette was said to have been drenched by the contents of a chamber pot emptied from an upper window.

The place apparently stank more than Chitungwiza. The writer of the article noted ‘eventually people cease to be awed by dictator display and start to laugh at it . . . beneath every showy dictatorship lies a secret cesspool. When the smell becomes overpowering the revolution starts’. Mugabe must be aware of the big stink at home.

While thousands of MDC T supporters in their red T-shirts protested in Bulawayo at Mugabe’s looting of Zimbabwe, we were joined by a large contingent of MDC members including many familiar faces. There was agreement that we need to work together for change in Zimbabwe.

At the same time, Dr Grace, in a message from Papua New Guinea to a ZimAsset Bulawayo conference, said  ‘Bulawayo is on a path to robust re-industrialisation, having survived the devastating effects of economic sanctions that led to the collapse of many companies and loss of jobs’. Fantasy sanctions and fantasy re-industrialisation!

On Wednesday 25th May – Africa Day – 17 people from the Vigil (Alfredy Mukuvare, Cephas Maswoswa, Chipo Kamhunga, Chipo Parirenyatwa, Dennis Benton, Eletha Mpofu, Fungayi Mabhunu, Fungisai Mupandira, John Burke, Mduduzi Ndlovu, Michelle Makoni, Nancy Makurira, Patricia Masamba, Rashiwe Bayisayi, Rose Benton, Rosemary Maponga and Sally Mutseyami) went to a performance of a play about Zimbabwe ‘After Independence’ at the Arcola Theatre in London.

The play examined the land question in Zimbabwe and the theatre was packed. Our group danced, sang and drummed afterwards to an appreciative audience in the theatre bar including members of the cast.

The producer Chris Foxon sent us this email afterwards:

‘Just a quick note to express an enormous thanks for joining us last night. It was a fabulous event and I hope it helped raise awareness of your work. Certainly the audience loved it, and ourcast were blown away. We plan to come down and visit the Vigil in a week ortwo, once the show is closed and settled.’

Thanks to those who came early to help set up: Isabell Gwatidzo, Deborah Harry, Etines Kapiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phillip Mahlahla. Mary Mandizha, Rosemary Maponga, Cephas Maswoswa, Nomsa Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Casper Nyamakura, Chipo Parirenyatwa and Eva Sanyahokwe.

Special thanks to: Roseline, Isabell and Etines for looking after the front table, Chipo for selling the wristbands and Alfredy, Cephas, Casper and Deborah for putting up the banners and posters.

ROHR Central London branch brought delicious food cooked by Fungayi, Rashiwe Bayisayi, Chipo and Rosemary and served by Rosemary, Sharon Moyo, Rashiwe, Nancy Makurira and Eletha Mpofu. Thanks to Etines for her £10 contribution to the food costs.


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