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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 13:44 UK

'Why I booed Morgan Tsvangirai'

Exiled Zimbabweans protest at Southwark Cathedral, London
Mr Tsvangirai was forced to halt his speech after protesters chanted 'Mugabe must go'

Batson Chapata is a Zimbabwean refugee living in exile in Birmingham, UK.

On Saturday he travelled to London to express his frustration toward visiting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who was speaking at an event in Southwark Cathedral, London.

Mr Tsvangirai was booed after he told Zimbabwean exiles that they should return home to help rebuild the nation.

Mr Chapata, 36, is a regional co-ordinator for Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHR).


I am not pleased. Not after what we heard from Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday.

Morgan Tsvangirai's address was repeatedly interrupted by jeering and chanting

I've been talking to a lot of people and they are not happy.

They say Morgan Tsvangirai has sold them out. He has been sent here by Mugabe to beg for money.

For him to come here and use his visit to say all those good things about Mugabe and talk about "putting the past behind us".

I was really hurt by that. I was angry.

Torture victims

I am a victim of torture - and if I was to go back to Zimbabwe I have fears and nightmares of that happening to me again.

I think he's a hypocrite
Batson Chapata

I also lost my mother. She was beaten - she was very old.

Many other Zimbabweans have lost brothers and sisters.

The people who did this to our relatives - they are still free.

So for someone like Tsvangirai to say these things is very worrying.

I think he's a hypocrite.

After his visit, I don't think he's going to have any supporters in the UK.

I've spoken to many people in the UK who don't want anything to do with him. He has lost us.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Mr Tsvangirai urged exiled Zimbabweans to return
When power-sharing began we were happy - we were backing Tsvangirai all the way.

I attended rallies for the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) here in the UK.

But as for now, I'd say he is very poor, very disappointing.

If he was concerned about Zimbabweans living in the UK, he could have asked us how we feel instead of telling us to come home.

He should be open to our views because right now we are the people who can see what is happening in our country. The people in Zimbabwe cannot speak out.

Running away

When I was in Harare, I was imprisoned for one year.

You don't know what's happening to you.

People don't trust him now... it's going to be very hard for him
Batson Chapata

They torture you and force you to confess things you don't really know about.

They accuse you of theft, burglary.

There was no food. I saw three people dying in front of my face.

To me it was miracle of God that I was released.

That was early 1999. I left Zimbabwe in 2001. I had to find a way out.

I was running away from ill treatment. I applied for asylum here in the UK and I am now living in Birmingham.

Can I see myself returning to Zimbabwe?

I would if I could.

But no. Not while Zanu-PF are in power.

Protesters at an address in London by Morgan Tsvangirai
Zimbabweans had a clear message for their Prime Minister

Mr Tsvangirai knows that signing the power-sharing deal was wrong.

But now he's trying to pretend to the whole world that it is working. No chance.

The economy, the farming - the problems are still going on.

We don't know where Zimbabwe's going to end up. There are so many things that could happen.

Today I heard that Gordon Brown has donated an extra £5m in aid.

That's good, but will the money get there?

I fear the government is going to go to those aid agencies and ask for the money.

They are not in a position to say no. It has happened in the past.

I'd have been happier if Mr Tsvangirai had arranged for contractors to come and do development work and the aid money had been paid directly to them.

But I think he wants to control the money. That's not good enough.

Broken trust

Perhaps he thinks that if people from the UK and the US return to Zimbabwe, he can ask for money for them, to help them get jobs.

How can he win us back?

By not sharing power with Mugabe.

By really showing us that Zimbabwe has turned around.

But people don't trust him now.

It's going to be very hard for him.




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