London: Zimbabwe exiles to hold anniversary vigil

Zimbabwean exiles and their supporters are to lay 30 candles outside the South African High Commission in London on Saturday 17 April to mark the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe's Independence.

The demonstrators will carry the candles from the nearby Zimbabwe Embassy to symbolise their hopes for South African help in achieving true independence.

South Africa's President Zuma is the mediator appointed by the regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to try to resolve the deadlock in Zimbabwe between the two partners in the coalition government, President Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

After his last visit to Harare in March President Zuma said that both sides had agreed on the way forward but it has emerged that President Mugabe has once again reneged on his promises and there has been no progress.

Leading Zimbabwean activist Ephraim Tapa said it was time to call an end to the charade and new elections should be held. Mr Tapa said Mugabe would undoubtedly employ violence again and an international peace-keeping force was essential to ensure that this was prevented.  He added that all surveys had shown that Mugabe's Zanu-PF would be roundly defeated in fair elections and there was no point in delaying them since Mugabe had no intention of abiding by any agreements he had made.

The demonstration has been organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been protesting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London for the past eight years in support of demands for free and fair elections.

The Vigil expects to be joined by Lovemore Matombo - President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Irene Petras - Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and Gabriel Shumba - Executive Director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

The gathering will take place from Saturday 2 - 6 pm. From 4 pm ten groups of three people each carrying a candle will leave the Zimbabwe Embassy at three minute intervals to walk to the nearby South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square.

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