By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
27 January 2014
A Zimbabwean business delegation, expected in London to lobby against the targeted sanctions imposed on President Mugabe and his cronies, will this week be met with demonstrations from human rights campaigners.
The Zimbabwe Vigil has announced that its members will on Tuesday and Wednesday demonstrate outside Chatham House, where the delegation will be appealing for international investment and the removal of the EU penalties.
The ZANU PF lobby against the targeted sanctions comes a few weeks before the EU meets in February to review the measures imposed in 2002 due to human rights violations.
A statement from the London-based protest group said the Zim delegation will be led by Charles Msipa, who is President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and Managing Director of Schweppes Zimbabwe. According to the Vigil Msipa is said to be a member of a secret committee of ZANU PF for which he mobilizes funds. The statement further says that Msipa played a role in the farm invasions and is also a friend to former mines minister Obert Mpofu, who is described as ‘looter in chief of state diamonds.’
This week’s protests will be in line with the Vigil’s stance against Chatham House which has of late been hosting Mugabe’s allies. In November 2013 the Vigil staged a demonstration against Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi. The Vigil argues that it is improper for Chatham House to entertain Mugabe’s inner circle in the aftermath of last year’s disputed election and in the face of continuing human rights violations and corruption.
The Vigil statement refers to the ‘once respected Chatham House’ and goes on to say the think tank has ‘bent over backwards in recent years to sanitize Mugabe.’
On this week’s event the Vigil says it is informed that the invitation to the select few refers to ‘five consecutive years of positive growth’ in Zimbabwe and the ‘dust’ from the election periods is ‘settling.’
The protest group argues that it is wrong for the think tank to hold these views because ‘well known people in Zimbabwe’ report that there can be no meaningful progress without the rule of law and respect for property rights. The Vigil quoted the numerous company closures and capital flight in Zimbabwe, amongst other things, all occasioned by corruption and low business confidence.
Vigil coordinator Dennis Benton told SW Radio Africa Monday that they were unhappy that Chatham House ‘continues to provide a platform for Mugabe’s people to campaign against the targeted sanctions.’ Benton said the Vigil will not cease its activities of campaigning against human rights violations and corruption in Zimbabwe. He vowed that they will ‘hound Mugabe’s cronies whereever we find them.’
The Vigil has been demonstrating outside Zimbabwe House in London every weekend for the last 12 years, campaigning for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.