On Saturday 1st July 2017, activists from Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHRZ) UK chapter and the Zimbabwe Vigil held a 15-mile peace pilgrimage to fundraise for the Zimbabwe Peace Action Platform (ZimPAP) project. The walk began at 8:30am from Ilford (East London) and went through various points until finish at 2pm Zimbabwe House, The Strand (London).
ROHR, the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, Heal Zimbabwe and other civil organisations involved in peace building in Zimbabwe, with support from Amnesty International, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 14th December 2016 to collaborate in preventing violence and to work together in peace building under The ZimPAP initiative. ZimPAP aims to raise money to train 100,000 civilian peace keepers in Zimbabwe to educate people in their local communities on their constitutional rights as well as overcoming fear and intimidation during and after 2018 elections. The peacekeepers will also monitor incidents of violence and intimidation.
At least thirty people took part in the walk waving posters: ‘Mugabe must go to save Zimbabwe’, ‘No to violence’, ‘No to intimidation’ and ‘No frog march to rallies’ and singing solidarity songs as they walked.. The walk organiser Daizy Fabian ensured members were well fed and hydrated as they went. Bianca Mpawaenda donated water to drink. Sipho Hobane Ndlovu was there to direct activists along the correct route. Maxmus Savanhu, Charles Mararirakwenda, Fungai Mabhunu, Cephas Maswoswa, Xoliso Sithole and Rumbidzayi Sambana were the marshals. Chido Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Fungisayi Mupandira, Patricia Masamba and Michelle Makoni were first aiders ready to take charge if anyone felt unwell. Sally Mutseyami and her team were there to inform and publicise the event as it progressed. There was a long list of helpers for the walk as everyone felt they had to do something for Zimbabwe for change for the better.
The President of ROHR Ephraim Tapa also participated and gave a speech saying ‘The people of Zimbabwe want a free and fair election. They want legitimacy of government. They want a situation where they can express their political choices freely. What has been in the way of that all along has been the fear that has been instilled in all the people of Zimbabwe by the Robert Mugabe regime . . . We want to raise 100,000 peacekeepers that are to be locally based, that are to monitor and to provide surveillance on political action on the ground. We are saying, no to those who perpetrate human rights abuses against the people of Zimbabwe as part of the fear initiative! They will be caught out because we are going to have people this time around . . . the walk is actually aimed at raising money for this project.’
He went on: ‘Come 2018 we, the Restoration of Human Rights, and other organisations are on the side of the suffering people . . . We are their voice, we want to amplify that voice. The time to suffer silently is gone . . . so we are going there and Robert Mugabe please beware that you and your proxies will be held to account and the time will come when we will have to hold everyone to account. And everyone has to answer for their actions and this peace initiative is going to answer that.’
The activists arrived at the Vigil shortly after 2 pm singing and jiving as they were joined by those waiting to receive them at the Vigil. There were no incidents reported throughout the journey but everyone was tired and needed rest. There were also thanksgiving speeches various people and Mr Tapa presented certificates to members who participated in the walk. On sale was delicious Zimbabwean food, well prepared by two activists: Deborah Harry and Mercy Bayipayi. The proceeds from the sales were also donated to the ZimPAP project. The Vigil continued until close at 6pm.
Here is the full list of people who participated in the walk.
Ephraim Tapa, Xoliso Sithole, Michael Sirewu, Maxmus Savanhu, George Chinamora, Enniah Dube, Daisy Fabian, Joshua Kahari, Etines Kapiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Gloria Mabika, Alice Majola, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Michelle Makoni, Rosemary Maponga, Charles Mararirakwenda, Patricia Masamba, Nyarai Masango, Nyarai Masvosva, Cephas Maswoswa, Margaret Munenge (and baby Ethan), Esther Munyira, Fungisai Mupandira, Charles Mupawose, Sally Mutseyami, Faith Ndhlovu, Sipho Ndlovu, Rumbidzayi Sambana.
ROHR Reading Publicity Officer & ROHR UK Information and Training Department