Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How to Help Zimbabwe

I'm sure you look at the Zimbabwean election and think, what on earth can be done? Well, it seems now that there IS something we can do. This site is an independent, non-partisan organisation whose sole purpose is to protect the voters of Zimbabwe on and around election day. They will be providing the transport, the food and the cameras that will make it as hard as humanly possible for Mugabe to steal the presidential run-off vote on 27 June.

I'm going to donate and I urge you - if you do nothing else altruistic this year - to give as much as you can to this wonderful cause. Thousands of people are being assaulted and driven from their homes in a dictator's death-throe desperation to cling to power. We MUST take this chance to stop him.

People are literally being murdered to stop them voting. Mugabe cannot be allowed to get away with it again. This is not an election campaign - it is a deliberate policy of Electoral Cleansing - The question is, what will Britain do to stop it?

If you have a blog would you be willing to promote the website www.friendsofzim.com on it, or promote it to everyone on your email list?

I reckon that many of the world's media, the UN and so many others are ignoring much what is going on there. There are 150 election observers currently in the country but there are 210 constituencies and thousands of polling places to monitor. The situation deteriorates daily as opposition supporters are threatened and attacked. Latest reports are that over 70 people are now dead, with hundreds missing, thousands injured and tens of thousands dispossessed. Mugabe's thugs must not be allowed to get away with this.

Inflation is 1,000,000%, unemployment is over 85% and food production in what was once the "bread basket of Africa" is almost non-existent. Please donate if you can and pass on to anyone who you think might help.

Also, for a bit of light relief on Zim (if that's possible!), see THIS utter, subversive genius.

UPDATE Wed 9.30am: I'm astonished at some of the comments. I wouldn't have posted this if I didn't KNOW it was a legitimate operation. Please bear in mind that I cannot tell you the names of the people behind this because they are in Zimbabwe at the moment and it might put their lives at risk. One of them is a name known to many readers of this blog. I can't say anymore, I'm afraid until ater the 27th.


JH said...

Iain are you absolutely sure this is not a fake organisation? I see that over at coffee house Stephen Pollard believes it is legit (though does not say why). I've got my reservations. Isn't the site a little lean? And descriptions of what will be done with the money are totally lacking. Is renting cars and brazenly driving around in front of Bob's thugs also not just a little unrealistic? I have yet to find a single website invovled in Zim that links to it. Most concerningly, the site's mission statement is word to word identical to that of 'Zimbabwe Democracy Now': http://zimbabwedemocracynow.com/ (scroll down for statement). As that site does not ask for donations, as far as I can see, I feel awfully uncomfortable about the friends of zim. I'd be delighted to find my unease is misplaced, of course, yet I hope you won't be offended by my asking whether and why you are certain the site is for real.

Apologies if in my brief web-searching I've missed some obvious evidence!

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain, your link to friendsofzim.com is broken.

One thing absent from your post and absent from the friendsofzim.com site itself is any information about who it is run by and how they propose to get the money to where it is needed in the little time available (not to mention what they will do with anything unspent).

Can you give us more information please? Hopefully it is someone reputable and who can credibly expect to do as they intend, but you never know with these things - it might be c/o 419 I'll-be-Avenue, Lagos, Nigeria, for all we know!

Thank you.

P.S. The Paypal donate page is in the name of 'Nicholas A Mele' and 'Protect the vote', in case this means anything to anyone.

Iain Dale said...

Trust me on this one. I cant tell you who told me about it as their life is already in enough danger just by being in the country.

JH said...


well guess I'd better crack out the plastic then!

Here's hoping people like your friend get the result they deserve.

Manfarang said...

And how to help Burma

Anonymous said...


No disrespect to yourself, Joe Trippi or anybody else mentioning Friends of Zim, but before I could donate I would need to know who was behind the organisation, and to see a track record of delivery on the ground; a one month old website made up mainly of reposted news articles is just not enough on its own - especially as they do not appear to have any links from other Zimbabwe Human Rights organisations.

Are they, for example, set up as a charity to make my donation go further?

How are they going to make a difference in a couple of weeks?

There are a number of established organisations in country who have been doing this work for years - such as Sokwanele.com (who maintain a record of incidents and many other projects), wozazimbabwe.org and the Zim Human Rights Forum hrforumzim.com.

If it was a matter of donating in this country, I'd probably spend my £100 on 5 guest subscriptions to The Zimbabwean Newspaper for schools in Zim. www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

These may be better options at this point.

And a British blog/podcast tracking Zimbabwe:


Savonarola said...

I have looked at the website. I am not convinced. No names of trustees. No address.

How can £ be sent to Zim. Not possible.

I already donate via individuals but in last three weeks has not been possible because of exchange rates changing by minute.

You need to post further and better particulars of this group.

Anonymous said...

How do you know this is legit? Most of the money given to help people there never makes it to the intended recipient. Hope you are 100% sure about this website?

Anonymous said...

I have checked this myself - Nicholas A Mele is a guy in the States who is collecting the money and passing it on. He does a simular job for the UN World Food Programme and is a Harvard Fellow.

He is doing this because if a Zimbabwean was doing it he would probably be killed!

Guys this one is totally legit -lets remember Mugabes thugs have killed 65 election workers in a month - how much detail would you be giving if you were them?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

It appear the more we try to help the stronger it makes their position. It souncds cruel but if we just walked away then the African leaders woudl have sorted him out a year ago. You can't keep Africa wrapped in cotton wool.

It's just like the aid situation. You're not giving the African leaders any space to grow. Sometimes a crisis is the best way forward in the long run. Its naive to belive that (like water) the future is alway downhill.

Anonymous said...

support the Zimbabwe opposition
support the Zimbabwe trade unions

in their struggle against tyranny

Patrick said...


For once I'm not with you.

The West does not own or lead the world any more. We have plenty enough of our own problems. We still seem to have a paternal instinct to save other countries from themselves - even where a terrible local outcome poses no threat to our own safety.

Maybe I'm hard hearted but I think that we should intervene overseas only where a failure to do so would bring risk to the UK (a nuclear capable Iran would be such an example).

We can't and shouldn't seek to involve ourselves in every minor local meltdown. Can we really police Africa? Why should we?

Zimbabwe is a tragedy unfolding but it's not our problem. It is going to be South Africa's problem - maybe they should intervene.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest getting verification from independant Zim news agency in ZA, www.zimonline.co.za. They should know or find out very rapidly if this is a kosher operation.

Multiple email enquiries from various people should speed the enquiries and answers.


Anonymous said...

Regrettably, I'm with Patrick. Untold billions, literally, have been thrown at Africa only to disappear like water in the sand.
What we see there is heartbreaking but the only folk capable of sorting it out are Africans. Wring our hands we must...experience should have shown that we should keep our distance.

Savonarola said...

OK. But I am not sure why you are astonished. The website needs an overhaul even if it cannot spell everything out. No disrespect but without your endorsement, this looks like a Nigerian scam.

On your guarantee of probity I am sending funds.

Urge your 'friends' to amend the website to give some degree of confidence.

Anonymous said...

Following up a little.

I've investigated a little, and I'm happy that it is being run by reputable people; but I still think that support is probably better sent via organisations with a long-term record on the ground, with a request that they be used to support work to "Protect the Vote".

There is no lack of such organisations and channels to make donations, and these organisations have more potential for strengthening civil society in Zimbabwe.

I have some options here:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Iain:

I don't know you personally so I can't call you a racist; however, what I can say is that the WEST should leave Zimbabwe alone to resolve their own issues. i'm black american and the more the WEST gets involved in Zimbabwe, the more I smell a rat. White countries should not dictate to black countries on who they should elect as their leaders. WHites are not the supreme leader of the human race? Who appointed them for this position?

Anonymous said...

Iain we need out OWN funds. I am a gagged, mugged, prisoner in my own home, due to this government- an imposed, unelected regime, holding people prisoner, denying fundamnetal freedoms and stealing children from people. I live sadly, in a tory borough Sir Rifkind. I hear David Davis has some new competition coming soon too..

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:48

That is a quite idiotic comment. This has nothing to do with whites telling blacks who to elect. This is about people of all races trying to help Zimbabwean's have the freedom to elect who ever they want in a free and fair election. Mugabe is tyrant who is making war against his own people. Those people are crying out to the rest of the world to aid them in their struggle.

Anonymous said...

Britain’s foreign policy is being undermined by an unwillingness to acknowledge the full force of an uncomfortable truth: Britain does not have the power to command the foreign policy outcomes that it considers desperately important. The primary baleful consequence is the default decision to continue to fight counter-insurgent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have adopted a policy of wait-and-see or occupy-and-hope, an aimless watching brief, whilst we wait for a deus ex machina to deliver us from our folly. The government’s hope of progress, of “success” is so inane because if one thinks imagines five years time, ten years, twenty – it isn’t clear how any of the fundamentals of the stalemate are going to have changed. Except the atrophy of the western will to maintain these occupations.

We remain in both countries because we don’t have the strength to accept that what we have been trying to do is impossible. We are there because things have not become bad enough, the enterprise has not worn itself out sufficiently, for us to admit that it is beyond us. Before we can conscience withdrawal we have to make sure that we have atoned for our hubris through noble suffering.

The second baleful consequence is a foreign policy that looks inward, not outwards – one which aims to assuage our howling consciences, rather than effecting desired outcomes. The combination of a collection of consciences quickened by the globalised media and British impotence reduces much of foreign policy discussion to the elaboration of empty pieties. Amongst this politics of the conscience-ache, realist discussions of power and national interest are completely absent; as is a clear-headed appraisal of the potentialities (as well as disadvantages) of American power.

Read more at my blog, just who the hell are we?, at:

The Remittance Man said...

Mr Anonymous @6:48

I trust you'll forgive me when I say you appear to know very little about the real situation in Zimbabwe. While I have not visited that country for the past few years now, I have several colleagues who are Zimbabwean citizens (all but one are black) and who have relatives still in that country.

Believe me when I say that they are incredibly anti-Mugabe for what he has done to their country. This isn't a colonialist vs oppressed native thing or a west vs east thing it's a people who want to lead descent lives in their own country vs a viscious tyrrant thing.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Iain:
The real reason the WEST wants to get involved in Zimbabwe is because of the land. They want to restore "white supremacy" in Zimbabwe. The land in Zimbabwe is for the black African; it was a gift from God. Europeans please take note: Stop interfering in other countries affairs. Mugabe has the support of black people worldwide. thanks. black american. Free Namibia and South Africa. Whites still own the land that they stole from the native black people of South Africa and Namibia. Land reform will happen in South Africa & Nambia through the gun barrel if whites don't learn to share the land. The land in Africa was a gift to the black man from God. Europeans want to dominate the world, this is not right. We are all God's children and no race is better than the other.

Anonymous said...

>Mugabe has the support of black people worldwide.

Apart, presumably, from the ones he is responsible for murdering, torturing, having beaten up etc etc etc.

I refer you to all the civil society organisations in Zim run by black people.