UK – On the shortest Saturday of the year, with darkness falling before 4 pm, and floods reported from many parts of the UK, we gathered in the rain to sing and dance outside the South African High Commission to petition President Zuma for tough action against Mugabe.
The demonstration was part of the 21st Movement Global Protest launched in January which has seen monthly demonstrations by the diaspora under the banner ‘Reclaim Zimbabwe’.
The coloured lights on our portable Christmas tree illuminated posters such as ‘Festivities here – bleak Christmas for Zimbabweans’ and ‘Deploy UN, AU and SADC election monitors right away to prevent further bloodshed’.
The petition had been signed by 5,000 people who have stopped at the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in recent months. A glance at one page of the petition showed people from Norway, Azerbaijan, Canada, USA, Italy, Slovenia etc; we are spreading the word about Zimbabwe.
The petition was accompanied by a letter congratulating President Zuma on his re-election as ANC leader and appealing to him to intervene to force Zanu PF to comply with the Global Political Agreement that they signed up to in 2008.
The letter warned: ‘More than three million Zimbabweans have been forced from our country. Many of them are in South Africa. We long to return home but can do so only after free and fair elections have freed us from bondage.
To go to elections without reforms will be a disaster for Zimbabwe and South Africa and the region as a whole. We will end up another Equatorial Guinea.’
The Vigil notes that Mugabe has been in Equatorial Guinea this month for talks with his fellow dictator Teodoro Obiang. Mugabe said the two countries were working together and were very close.
Zimbabwe was even training ‘security officials’ from Equatorial Guinea (see: Zimbabwe’s Cordial Relations with Equatorial Guinea Grows – CLICK HERE).
The two dictators certainly have a lot in common: both have been in power for more than 30 years and they rule countries which are potentially very rich while the people live in abject poverty. Yes, Presidents Mugabe and Obiang have a lot to discuss — mainly how to stay in power.
The BBC carried an interesting programme the other day on Equatorial Guinea, which it described as ‘one of the fastest growing economies in the world but dogged by endemic poverty, corruption and political repression (CLICK HERE).
The French authorities this year seized property there owned by Obiang’s son (who like many of the family is a minister in the Equatorial Guinea government) on the grounds that state money had been embezzled.
Among the property seized was a $2 million wine collection in a vast Paris house thought to be worth as much as $180 million. The building has 101 rooms, a Turkish bath, a hair salon, two gym clubs, a night club and a cinema.
It had furniture worth as much as $50 million and an art collection including pieces by Degas and Rodin and cars including a Rolls-Royce, a Maserati and various Ferraris . . . the average income in Equatorial Guinea is similar to that in Zimbabwe, little more than one dollar a day.