Education International
Education International

UK: Unionists back Zimbabwe Vigil

published 21 April 2011 updated 10 May 2011

The UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) has supported the lunchtime Vigil organised by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, UK.

On 18 April, Zimbabwe's Independance Day, some 150 people gathered to protest against increasing violence by Mugabe's regime. Vigil's founder member, Ephraim Tapa, summed up the mood on the 31st anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence by stating: “we have nothing to celebrate.”

Started in October 2002, this vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

ACTSA Director, Tony Dykes, delivered an anniversary card to the Zimbabwean Embassy calling for an immediate end to the violence, free and fair elections and justice for Zimbabwe's people.

The TUC joined the ACTSA in its call, noting that “the 18th April should be a celebration of 31 years of independence, but with many reports of political arrests, mob attacks and death threats, many are warning of a bloodbath similar to the 2008 presidential runoff.”

In a letter sent to the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, on 20 April, Vigil further stressed that “exiled Zimbabweans in the UK represented by the Zimbabwe Vigil wish to express their disappointment that the Zimbabwean Ambassador, Gabriel Machinga, has been invited to attend the Royal Wedding,” due to take place next week.

Concerning the on-going human and trade union rights’ violations in Zimbabwe, Education International (EI) General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, has also declared: “We cannot allow the atrocities of 2008 to be repeated, join us to send a clear message to the Zimbabwean Government: The violence must stop, democracy and rights now!”

An article in the latest edition of EI's flagship magazine, Worlds of education, echoes the serious concerns of teachers worldwide about the violence in Zimbabwe. It quotes the President of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Majongwe, who has expressed dismay at reports of teachers being victimised and threatened with extreme violence since President Robert Mugabe announced elections would take place in 2011.

EI calls on affiliates and activists to join the vigil taking place every Saturday from 2 to 6pm outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London, UK, to protest against gross human and trade union rights' violations by the current regime in Zimbabwe.