Tuesday 5th July 2016

By: Mandulo Pasichigar

Just a day after the beleaguered duo of Zimbabwean Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa and the governor of The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, John Mangudya were besieged by Zimbabwean activists at Chatham House, London, they were in for a rude awakening on Tuesday 5th July, 2016 when an even bigger crowd of Zimbabwean protesters awaited them at DLA Piper UK LLP, 3 Noble Street, London EC2V 7EE in London.

The more than sixty drumbeating and vociferous protesters, mainly from The Zimbabwe Vigil, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) International, MZYWC (MaZimbabweans Yes We Can), MDC-T, MDC –N and Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU) descended on the venue early in the morning with placards and started distributing pamphlets denouncing Chinamasa and crew’s visit to delegates, observers and passers- by.

When Chinamasa and Mangudya eventually arrived, they were greeted with deafening jeers.  Metropolitan Police officers struggled to clear a passageway for Chinamasa and crew as the angry protesters advanced from all directions jostling to get close to the beleaguered Zimbabwean delegation. The shouting of words like “Murders, Thieves” rose to a crescendo as the visibly shaken Chinamasa and Mangudya finally managed to squeeze past the blockaded entrance with the assistance of Police Officers, whimpering and “with tails between their legs”.

The protesters maintained a vigil outside the venue and continued their song and dance denouncing Chinamasa and the entire government of Zimbabwe as thieves and murderers. The protesters drew a large crowd of onlookers and spent most of the time distributing pamphlets and waving placards which carried the underlying message that the world should not listen to Chinamasa and Mangudya, the epitome of the kleptocracy that the ruling elite of Zimbabwe is. They were on a mission to beg for aid that would only benefit an oligarchy. Neither the country nor the ordinary Zimbabwean citizen would benefit, alleged the demonstrators.

The original team would have included Patrick Chinamasa (Finance Minister), Obert Mpofu (Minister of Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion and unaccountably one of the richest men in Zimbabwe, Mike Bimha (Minister of Industry and Commerce, infamous for the recent banning of imperative imports) and John Mangudya (the Governor of The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and architect of the worthless bond notes). However, Obert Mpofu and Mike Bimha failed to travel because they were denied visas by the British authorities.

Patrick Chinamasa and John Mangudya spent the rest of the morning holed up in the conference, one of a series billed “Zimbabwe Conference 2016 ‘Rebooting and Rebuilding’”

Courtesy of the demonstrators, the infamous duo’s collective reputation had preceded them into the conference. Their hosts and potential benefactors must have viewed them with commensurate disgust and the conference could not possibly have yielded the intended results for the mission.

As if that was not enough, on their way out from the conference venue for the lunch break, Chinamasa and Mangudya were faced with a now more agitated crowd. The demonstrators mobbed the car in which Chinamasa had got into and hurled more insults. Some threw raw eggs, one or two of which landed inside the car before the driver could wind up the windows. Two of the demonstrators, Arnold Dube and Nkosiphathise Cakes Vundhla, both of ZAPU, lay on the ground in front of the car. Most of the demonstrators followed suit, thereby effectively immobilising the car.  The crowd loved it, with their quary in sight, with only the window glass separating them, they took turns to make their point. A visibly shaken Chinamasa could only sit still, ashen faced, as he absorbed the ire of the crowd.

It was not until more than an hour and a half later, when the Metropolitan Police brought in some much-needed reinforcement that they managed to haul the ZAPU duo out of the way and chaperoned “Chinamasa’s car” away from the angry demonstrators.

Chinamasa and his Mangudya were supposed to return for the afternoon session, but quite understandably they never did, at least not as a team. Only John Mangudya turned up, probably sent to communicate apologies to the conference, but still, he failed to make it into the conference room. The entrance was completely barricaded by combative demonstrators and he had to turn back to the duo’s hotel rooms, wherever they were.

Adios John Mangudya, adios Patrick Chinamasa, – mission aborted.

Viva the demonstrators, viva the right to demonstrate, viva the rule of law.

Notable Quotes and milestones from the demonstration; –

Pythias Makonese (ROHR Zimbabwe /MDC-T / MZYWC);- “The Diaspora is a constituency that the Zimbabwean government seems to underestimate. We are out of reach of the murderous Zimbabwean state machinery. We live in a democracy and we exercise our rights at will, in support of the suffering masses back home in Zimbabwe”.

David Kadzutu (MZYWC): – “It is very encouraging to see Zimbabweans of different political persuasions coming together for a common cause. This should be inspirational to people on the ground at home. United we stand, divided we fall”

Delina Mutyambizi (ROHR Zimbabwe):- “I am happy we have managed to expose the Zimbabwean government’s representatives for the hypocrites they are and that we stopped the conference. We will carry out similar demonstrations in future should the regime find the audacity to dispatch similar missions to the UK”

Mary Muteyerwa (MZYWC); – “The disingenuity of the Zimbabwean government is infuriating and shameful. They come here with a begging bowl as if they would put the money to good use if they were to get it. Yet we all know that they would share the loot. What happened to their look east policy anyway?

Saziso Zulu (MDC-T / ROHR International); – “These ministers are selfish. They looted until the economy ground to a halt. Now they are coming here to beg, yet the money that they corruptly accumulated in Zimbabwe could be enough to fund the immediate needs of the country.”

Fungai Mabhunu (Zimbabwe Vigil); – He was the first to spot Zim1, the ambassador’s car that brought Chinamasa to the conference. He immediately confronted Chinamasa demanding to know what Chinamasa had done with the $15bn that Robert Mugabe alleged to have disappeared from government coffers. He set the tone for what was to be a nightmarish day for Patrick Chinamasa and John Mangudya.

For pictures and videos taken and recorded at the scene click here or follow the link