Monday 14 October 2019

Protest hindered by another protest

ZHRO 9 October 2019 Planned Peaceful Vigil

Protest Hindered by another Protest 😰

Group photo by Tapiwa Muskwe 2019 October 9

The ZHRO (Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation) planned weekly peaceful vigil protest at 429, The Strand London, was held on Wednesday 9th October 2019.  It was a sombre and worrying day for all.  Firstly, the continued Doctors strike in Zimbabwe was making all extremely worried for those in Zimbabwe who now also do not have full access to a basic human right (Right to Health Care), among other Human Rights that are already missing and are being impinged by the so called Zimbabwe Government.  Secondly the Extinction Rebellion Climate Change Protest had blocked roads leading into Central London, thus affecting all driving into London, especially in this case, those driving to the Zimbabwe Embassy, with the drums and colourful banners and leaflets.

Those gathered were also lamenting the latest crazy but real, threat of the ZANU PF Regime, that they (ZANU PF) were likely going to soon pass a law to arrest some internet commentators, thus putting all who comment on the internet, through Facebook and WhatsApp, potentially in grave danger, especially those in Zimbabwe.  Fortunately, for those in the UK, they are free to express themselves, as free speech and speaking truth to power is encouraged. 

Some in Zimbabwe who have already been gagged using the State apparatus by ZANU PF are the Zimbabwe 7.  George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo’s, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa and Rita Nyamping.  It is reported by Human Rights Watch that all 7 were arrested on their return from a workshop in the Maldives.  The workshop was hosted by the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies and focused on peaceful resistance.  The charge sheets against the activists specified the meeting and its training in civil disobedience.  It is thus felt by most in ZHRO, that this new law, will be used to target those who comment online in the same way the Zimbabwe 7 have been targeted.

After arrival, it became obvious to all, that the Drums and other instruments that are usually used had not yet arrived with Rashiwe and Sarah Bayisayi.  The two courageous and bold sisters travel all the way from the South coast of England weekly and have become an integral part of ZHRO weekly Vigil Protest.  The delay was due in a large part to the road closures that were caused by Extinction Rebellion, Climate Change Protest. 

The Strand and other roads that lead onto Trafalgar Square were closed, thus making it extremely difficult for Rashiwe and Sarah Bayisayi to arrive on time.  They are usually amongst the first to arrive, so to be over an hour late, was out of the ordinary.  There were some tourists who looked like they were American.  They stopped to watch the protesters and enjoyed what they saw, they smiled and clapped after every song.

At around 12:30, it was becoming more and more apparent that they were not going to able to make it by 12:40.  The concern was now if they would make it at all, furthermore without the drums other instruments and the banners, the singing was not as lively as folk are used to, thus folk felt the cold, much more than usual.  Some of those gathered decided to make their way home, with just a handful remaining to take videos and chat about other administrative matters.  Rashiwe and Sarah Bayisayi finally arrived some minutes after 12:40 and participated in some of the administrative matters being discussed.  They were and understandably and obviously upset with the whole siuation, however, they did a very good job of putting on happy faces for the camera.

As much as it is important for all to have the right to protest, the question of sometimes overplaying ones hand and over protesting, to an extent that authorities end up banning certain types of protest is a risk that the Extinction Rebellion leaders need to consider.  This right to peaceful protest has been hard won in the UK, especially including the right to block roads and conduct sit inns.  The great question, undoubtedly in the U.K. is likely going to be, “how much disruption is too much disruption?”

Special thank you goes to Chigika Lifa Phiri who led most of the singing, along with Molly Ngavaimbe.  Philip Mahlahla who took most of the photos as the ZHRO Designated camera man.  All who attended, as without them, the day would not have happened.  More announcements were made regarding the planned march from Zimbabwe Embassy in London to, the planned peaceful protest outside the Tanzanian High Commission in London near Bond Street Underground Station on the 25th of October 2019.  

The next ZHRO peaceful Vigil planned protest will be on Wednesday 16th October 2019, at 429 the Strand London.  To find out more, join ZHRO, attend one the weekly protest vigils or other events and to offer your support please contact.

Kingstone Jambawo                      079 0486 1744
Sarah Bayisayi                               078 7728 7869
Phillip Mahlahla                             074 5282 8229
Thabo Makuyana                            079 4459 0970


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