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Tsvangirai echoes go back home whilst his children are in diaspora

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image Vigil protesters

An extraordinary day which saw Morgan Tsvangirai stomping out of a diaspora assembly in Southwark Cathedral in south London when his speech was booed.

The Vigil was there to greet his convoy when it arrived. Displaying our banners ‘No to Mugabe, No to Starvation’ and ‘End Murder, Rape and Torture in Zimbabwe’, we danced and drummed and sang ‘To save Zimbabwe, Mugabe must go’.  The Prime Minister could not have failed to see our posters ‘Protect Human Rights Activists’, ‘Restore the Rule of Law’ and ‘End Farm Invasions’.

Our purpose was to welcome Tsvangirai but also to remind him of what people in the diaspora think needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to win the confidence of donors and investors and be a welcoming place for returning exiles.  

Tsvangirai was given a big ovation when he emerged in the cathedral after prayers and a reading from the Acts of the Apostles by Vigil management team member Gugu Tutani – ‘I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people’.

But he was jeered by the audience when he called on them to return home.  As far as they were concerned he was telling them to go back to a place with no jobs or rule of law and continuing human rights abuses.  There were chants of ‘Mugabe must go’. The much-heralded meeting ended abruptly because of the challenging atmosphere. (
see link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8110939.stm). Despite this distraction, the Vigil outside the Embassy took place as normal. We were not surprised that Tsvangirai did not stop by on his way to a £75 a head dinner for exiled Zimbabweans.

Some comments from the many disappointed and angry Zimbabweans who came on from the Cathedral to the Vigil, many of them first-timers:

·         ‘When Morgan said “
the schools have re-opened” everybody cheered. When Morgan said “the hospitals have re-opened” everybody was silent. When he said “there is peace in Zimbabwe” everyone heckled and booed and you could taste the anger in the air. One lady asked the question “if there are goods in the shops and the schools have re-opened where will everyone get money to buy food and send their children to school” – this was not answered.’

·         ‘He was speaking like Mugabe. He is saying everything is now ok.’

·         ‘The MDC expects everyone to agree or they are treated as an enemy’.

·         ‘We have been betrayed by Tsvangirai’.

·         ‘Today Tsvangirai was shot down in flames by Zimbabweans in the UK diaspora.’

·         ‘How can Tsvangirai encourage people to go home when all his children are in the diaspora,’

Thanks to:

·         Fungayi Mabhunu for leaving the cathedral meeting early to make sure he was on time to open the Vigil.

·         Jenatry Muranganwa for his impassioned leading of the singing and dancing in the Vigil demonstration outside the cathedral.

·         Arnold Kuwewa for single-handedly looked after the merchandise and register until joined by others who had attended the Tsvangirai meeting.

It was good to welcome back Geraldine Takundwa who has been seriously ill for a long time.

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