On Friday June 27, Zimbabwe went to the polls in the second round of its presidential election. This followed a first round in March. Concerned about the scale of state-directed violence against supporters, the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had withdrawn on Sunday June 22, making a victory by the incumbent Robert Mugabe inevitable.
In Nottingham, the election was marked by the recently formed Nottingham Zimbabwe Community network (NZCN) who held a protest against deportations to Zimbabwe in Old Market Square and organised a public meeting at the Sumac Centre to discuss the situation in the country.
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Links: Nottingham Zimbabwe Community Network | No Borders Nottingham | Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum | Nottingham Refugee Campaign Ground | National Coalition of Anti-Deportation campaigners | Notts Indymedia Migration topic page
The demonstration was a lively affair, with around 30 people in attendance and a mix of Zimbabweans and supporters. Some demonstrators expressed their support from Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), but the main focus was anger against Mugabe. Although relatively small, the protest attracted considerable interest from passers-by. Some looked bemused, but others were supportive.
After the demonstration the NZCN held a meeting at the Sumac Centre to elaborate further on what life is like in Zimbabwe today. Following food provdied by Small World Kitchen, five speakers recounted their own experiences, described their concerns about friends and family, sketched out the history of the opposition in Zimbabwe and talked about life as an asylum seeker in the UK. Tellingly, one of the intended speakers was not able to make it because he had just discovered that his brother had been murdered in Zimbabwe.
The meeting followed a successful film showing at the same venue just over a week earlier as part of Refugee Week. The NZCN had shown Flame, a film about one woman's experience during the country's liberation war and followed this by speakers.