27 June is the fifth anniversary of the Zimbabwe presidential election run off in 2008 in which there was great violence, including killings, disappearances and rape. Zimbabwe will hold elections again very soon.

Action for Southern Africa, the Trades Union Congress and the Zimbabwe Vigil are marking the anniversary of the 2008 presidential election run off with a protest and message, Never Again! to brutal violence in the run up to elections and to support the calls of Zimbabweans for free and fair elections.

The vigil was scheduled to take place outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, WC2 0RJ from 1-2pm.

The Constitutional Court has ordered elections by 31 July but the Southern African Development Community has called on the coalition government to ask for a delay so that security, media and other reforms can be made.

The protest was intended to call for: Zimbabweans to have the right to vote freely for whom they wish without fear or favour; An accurate and up to date voter roll; Fair access to and coverage by state controlled media; Impartiality by institutions of the state; Domestic election observers and truly independent external election observer missions in place well before the elections.

Following the protest, members of the Zimbabwean diaspora were going to carry a ‘Tree of hope’ to Southwark Cathedral. The tree will be covered with messages of hope for free and fair elections, written on red paper roses. Red roses are used as a symbol of peace in Zimbabwe by the women’s movement.

Tony Dykes, Director of Action for Southern Africa, said: “Five years after the terrible violence of 2008 we have seen very little of the essential reforms that are needed for free and fair elections. We are calling for Zimbabweans to have the right to elect their leaders without external interference and without internal repression, without the fear of violence, harassment or an electoral system that is rigged to favour one party over another.”

The TUC said: “The people of Zimbabwe should be allowed to exercise their democratic right to take part in the forthcoming elections without fear. It is the duty of the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure free and fair elections in a peaceful environment without violence and intimidation and in strict compliance with international standards. We do hope that the elections will usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and justice for all.”

Ephraim Tapa, Zimbabwe Vigil spokesperson, said: “As things stand free and fair elections are very unlikely because of intimidation and vote-rigging. We fear the election results will be cooked by Zanu-PF. The European Union must not allow its business ambitions to override the human rights of the Zimbabwean people.”

The Zimbabwe Vigil has protested outside London’s Zimbabwe Embassy for free and fair elections and an end to human rights violations since October 2002. 

Southwark Cathedral has a longstanding link with Zimbabwe. The Diocese of Southwark has ties with three Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe