President Robert Mugabe was symbolically put on trial at the Zimbabwe Vigil in London and ordered to leave office for crimes against the people and economy of Zimbabwe. He had earlier been arrested by human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who had unsuccessfully tried to make a citizen’s arrest of Mugabe in London in 1999 and Brussels in 2001.
Mugabe was brought to the Vigil along with first lady Grace and the governor of the Reserve Bank John Mangudya from the south coast resort of Brighton, where the three had gone incognito to get treatment under the National Health Service and apply for state benefits.
A valiant group of Vigil / ROHR supporters and other exiled Zimbabweans left Brighton for London with the prisoners on Friday and walked 30 miles before camping overnight on a farm in Edenbridge. Grace was struggling in her Jimmy Choo shoes, Mangudya was trying to count each step while Mugabe had fallen six times, claiming he was pushed.
On Saturday they continued for a further ten miles, singing Zimbabwean songs as they passed the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street before joining the Vigil, where Mugabe was handed over to a judge outside the Zimbabwe Embassy.
He was found guilty of treason and offered a pistol so he could make an honourable exit. But, cunning as always, he collapsed against the Embassy door to claim diplomatic immunity.
The Vigil has alerted the British authorities to examine all Zimbabwean diplomatic baggage very carefully, looking particularly for a 92 year old with corns and blisters from a long walk. Thanks to Alfredy Mukuvare and Fungayi Mabhunu who acted as Mugabe and to Phillip Mahlahla who played the judge.
The judge released Grace and Mangudya to the local social services. It is understood that both have applied for asylum on the grounds of diminished responsibility caused by stupidity. Latest word is that Grace has asked the UK immigration authorities for training as a typist and Mangudya has asked for a UK government loan to study arithmetic and economics at O level.
Congratulations to the walkers: Rashiwe Bayisayi (route planner and originator of the idea), John Burke (route planner and navigator), Arthur Molife (the oldest walker at 70 years), Muchineripi (Ebson) Chigwedere, Arnold Dube, Mary Pollizzi and her niece Teresa Esterhuizen (who flew over from Ireland for the walk, Teresa bringing a golf club as a walking aid), Isabell Gwatidzo, Etines Kapiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phillip Mahlahla (who helped the stragglers), Rosemary Maponga, Bianca Mpawaenda (who despite falling and injuring herself continued walking), Eletha Mpofu, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Chipo Parirenyatwa and Alice Shimika.
- The walkers started at Brighton Pier and trekked over the scenic South Downs via paths to avoid detection by Zanu PF agents. Anna Pfende dashed all the way from Northampton to Brighton to make sure Mugabe was under arrest and then returned home happy.
- The walkers arrived at the campsite at 10.30 pm struggling to find their way in near darkness in the woodlands. They found the camp had been set up and food prepared. Thanks to Sarah Bayisayi who had picked up the food by car and had taken Chipo, Rosemary and Etines to Chipo’s home near the route to cook. Thanks to Rosemary and Etines who set up camp and Fungayi who made the beds. Thanks to John Burke for organising the campsite. Mugabe and co were locked in the toilet block to keep them secure – and also because of their complaints about poor facilities, claiming ‘we don’t get this sort of treatment in Singapore’.
- Saturday morning breakfast was at Deep Blue fish and chips in Oxted which opened early to feed the walkers. The Reverend Wendy Harvey of St Mary’s Church, Oxted, chanced upon the walkers having their breakfast and stopped with them to bless their food and pray for them.
- A large contingent joined the walkers outside East Croydon rail station.
- They arrived at the Vigil to a heroes’ welcome. People were in tears.