An article on 5th December on nehandaradio.com (http://nehandaradio.com/2011/12/05/zimbabwe-vigil-should-consider-their-position/) repeated several malicious accusations against the Zimbabwe Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR). The article is a cut and paste job from discredited Nehanda Radio articles, some dating back two and a half years, when the Vigil was blamed for Tsvangirai being booed at Southwark Cathedral in London. The latest attack is in response to our diary of 3rd December suggesting that Tsvangirai should consider his position as leader of the MDC, partly because of his lack of political acumen in having a relationship with a woman with known Zanu PF connections. The Nehanda Radio article hardly addresses the issue brought up in our diary: it is just an excuse to have another go at the Vigil and ROHR.
Because misinformation like this may hurt our supporters seeking asylum here we feel the need to yet again set the record straight.
The Vigil has had a letter of apology from the UK Border Agency for misuse by its case workers of articles from the Nehanda Radio website as evidence that Vigil letters in support of asylum seekers are not reliable. For text of the UKBA letter check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/323-text-of-letter-from-ukba-to-the-zimbabwe-vigil and for the background to this situation check Vigil diaries of 25th June and 23rd July (http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/315-home-office-a-disgrace-objective-evidence-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-25th-june-2011 and http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/324-uk-border-agency-says-sorry-to-vigil-zimbabwe-vigil-diary-23rd-july-2011).
Most of the latest Nehanda Radio piece was directed at ROHR and they wish to set the record straight as follows:
- ROHR is a properly constituted organization formed to fight for human rights in Zimbabwe. Members complete a form on joining and commit to paying £10 a month membership subscription (normal for political parties and civil society organisations) to help fund ROHR’s administration costs (staff salaries, office rentals, utility bills, etc) and human rights campaigns in Zimbabwe.
- ROHR does not charge for letters in support of asylum claims. It will issue letters of support only to deserving members who have shown their commitment to opposing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. While members may from time to time be asked to contribute towards the administration cost, ROHR letters are strictly not for sale.
- Allegations of financial irregularities against ROHR President Ephraim Tapa were made by then suspended (now departed) members of the Board of Trustees (check: http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/Latest-News-from-ROHR-in-Zimbabwe/rohr-zimbabwe-public-notice.html). Mr Tapa commissioned an inquiry into ROHR financial matters by the UK National Executive. Checking of moneygram transfer vouchers to Zimbabwe, original bank statements and confirmations of receipts from ROHR head office in Harare in a long and assiduous process established that the allegations were not only false, but malicious and calculated to cause maximum damage to Mr Tapa and ROHR Zimbabwe as an organization. The inquiry noted that Mr Tapa used his personal funds for telephone bills transport costs and other expenses involved in running ROHR Chapters in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK. It was also established that Mr Tapa occasionally used his personal funds to subsidize ROHR operations in Harare. ROHR operates a transparent accounting system and its records are available for inspection by bona fide members through Head Office.
- The assertion that Mr Tapa was sacked by ROHR is laughable. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Tapa is still the President and Board Chairperson of ROHR Zimbabwe and is very much in control.
- Neither ROHR nor the Vigil initiated the Zimbabwe We Can (ZWC) movement. It was a global initiative involving a number of organisations, members of various political parties, prominent and ordinary Zimbabweans alike, and all lovers of a free, just and peaceful Zimbabwe. Ephraim Tapa was approached by many to lead the movement and was elected President at the first meeting. After that the Zimbabwe Vigil Management Team met and agreed to support ZWC. The ZWC continues to attract the attention of not only Zimbabweans abroad but also at home and all are welcome to come on board.