ROHR MANCHESTER VIGIL CELEBRATES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
By Lorraine Mudjgiwa – 27th November, 2011
ROHR MANCHESTER VIGIL CELEBRATES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
On 26th November, 2011 Manchester branch celebrated the first anniversary of ROHR Zimbabwe Manchester Vigil. The event kicked off with the chairperson Delina Mutyambizi introducing Manchester branch committee members who were present as well as ROHR board of trustees Chairperson, Ms Grace Mupfurutsa who in turn introduced Mr Bvumai Christopher Chimbumu, the National Executive Secretary of the UK Chapter of ROHR Zimbabwe.The national anthem followed. It was led by Linda Zvabva one of the 3 masters of ceremony, the other 2 being Lyle Mupinda and Tichaona Chikandamina. The opening prayer was led by Mr Pythias Makonese, the Vice Chairperson of Manchester branch of ROHR Zimbabwe.
Mr Panyika Karimanzira, Infomartion and Publicity Secretary for Manchester branch as well as for the UK Chapter of ROHR Zimbabwe, gave a brief history of the Manchester branch and Manchester Vigil. He said that, for a long time nothing seemed to be happening in Manchester in terms of ROHR Zimbabwe human rights activity. Most people from Manchester were attending meetings and events in Liverpool. This led to the idea of revamping the Manchester branch. On the 10th of July 2010, a meeting aiming to revamp the branch was convened. It was also attended by the National Executive Committee who went on to preside over the election of an interim branch committee.
On 11 September 2010, a substantive branch committee was set up. It included Delina Mutyambizi as Chairperson, Lorraine Mudjgiwa as Secretary, Panyika Karimanzira as Information and Publicity Secretary, Artwell Pfende as Treasurer, Chamunorwa Chihota as Organising Secretary and Llye Mupinda as activist. These members still hold these positions to date.
Among other things, the substantive branch committee made a diary of future meetings and events and as a result, things started to take shape. They then decided to start a vigil in Manchester, the whole idea being to speak on the plight of Zimbabweans in general and those back home, in particular, since they cannot do that freely.
Mr Panyika Karimanzira also spoke on some of the activities that the branch has been involved in. This included the clean up at the Salvation Army, clean up in Liverpool, Lancaster Anti-deportation campaign as well as anti-deportation campaigns on behalf of ROHR Zimbabwe members in the UK including Khetiwe Mashavave, Shamiso Kofi and recently Lovemore Muzadzi. He explained the distinction between ROHR Zimbabwe and its sister organisation, the Zimbabwe Vigil. He said that the Zimbabwe Vigil was there to campaign for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe whilst ROHR Zimbabwe was a human rights organisation which is there to see to it that everyone”s rights are not being trampled upon. He said ROHR Zimbabwe will continue to exist even if there is a change of government in Zimbabwe. He also said ROHR Zimbabwe had a very long fight ahead considering the many human rights abuses that affect women and children in Zimbabwe as well as other human rights abuses in general.
Grace Mupfurutsa representing ROHR Zimbabwe Board of Trustees praised the Manchester branch committee for organising this event. She also thanked the national executive members present. Ms Mupfurutsa said that people back in Zimbabwe appreciate those in the diaspora who speak their minds on the issues affecting Zimbabweans. She said ROHR Zimbabwe is a civic organisation which is fearless and its mandate is to see to it that everyone is free to be who they want to be, and to expose human right abuses. The funds that are raised here in the UK are used to run things in Zimbabwe, including to pay for bail for activists who are arrested and the day to day operations of ROHR Zimbabwe projetcs in Zimbabwe.
Ms Mupfurutsa also urged ROHR Zimbabwe members to engage in solidarity partnerships. She also stated that ROHR Zimbabwe is more concerned about the upholding of human rights than about who is in power. She urged members to befriend people who can help us to attain our goals as an organization. She emphasised the importance of use of technology and urged members to speak to relatives and friends and teach them the importance of being on the voter’s roll. She also encouraged those in the diaspora who are on the voter’s roll, who can go back home and vote, to do so. She said the strategy of the sanctions is not working and there is need to come up with new ideas so that ordinary Zimbabweans do not suffer. She said ROHR Zimbabwe in the UK was growing and now had 33 branches. She ended by congratulating ROHR Zimbabwe Manchester vigil on its first anniversary and said that she is proud of the Manchester branch.
The Honourable Tony Lloyd, MP for Manchester Central sent a message since he could not attend the event due to prior commitments. His message, which was read out by Lorraine Mudjgiwa, the branch secretary went thus; – ””The situation in Zimbabwe is a tragedy. What should be the bread basket of Southern Africa is being driven into the dust by Robert Mugabe and his cronies. People of good will all over the world should recognise the need to pressure for change and there is a special responsibility on Zimbabwe”s neighbours. Britain as the country which knows Zimbabwe best from the EU should be co-ordinating tough action within the EU to make sure that there is no hint of EU collaboration with the bankrupt Mugabe system. I wish all of you taking part in today”s vigil very best wishes””.
Lovemore Muzadzi was also present at the vigil and he thanked ROHR Zimbabwe for campaigning against his deportation. He urged ROHR Zimbabwe members to continue fighting against human rights abuses and to support each other in difficult times. He emphasised the need to take immediate action as soon as members know that one of them has been detained.
Vote of thanks from Mr Pythias Makonese went to everyone who had braved the harsh weather on this day to come to the vigil, the 3 masters of ceremony Linda Zvabva, Llye Mupinda and Tichaona Chikandamina who took it in turns to shout slogans and lead in songs and dances as the event progressed, Ms Grace Mupfurutsa, the national executive members present, Manchester ROHR Zimbabwe branch committee, Artwell Pfende and Mavu Chinyani for taking care of the fundraising during the event and everyone else present.
A closing prayer was said by Mary Mukorera.