Hunger Strike Day 15: Global Solidarity at the African Union

Feb 04, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

I keep reminding myself that there are people in Zimbabwe who have had to get used to living for more than ten days without food.

My energy is beginning to wane -- and my concentration is erratic. Yet, the messages of support I have received from all over the globe have helped me push on with the campaign, day-to-day. It is solidarity -- with the Zimbabwean people, and with those supporters around the world -- that is helping me go on.

I sat and read all of the messages posted on the Avaaz website one night while I was at the African Union Summit -- I was moved and inspired by how much this campaign has touched people everywhere. I thank all of you for this. I can only hope that we are able to provide this same support to those in Zimbabwe -- those for whom hunger is not a privilege of choice, but an everyday reality.

I spent last weekend in Addis Ababa at the African Union Summit desperately attempting to gain access to our continent's leaders. This was the first time I set foot in Ethiopia since my friends Daniel and Netsanet were set free in 2008 -- two human rights campaigners who had previously been confined to a prison cell. CIVICUS and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) have worked with many partners within the country to help lift the repressive legislation that govern the voices and actions of NGOs.

This recently-passed legislation made it difficult for us even to display our Save Zimbabwe Now! banners in the AU Summit venue. In the end, the African leaders attending the summit were caught up in closed-door meetings, surrounded by crowds of security, and had little interest to engage with civil society - an unfortunate truth, given the role of civil society in amplifying the voices of their people, their constituents.

While I was on the plane to Addis, probably somewhere over Uganda, the MDC announced its intention to join the Government of National Unity proposed by SADC. In practical terms, this means that the MDC would enter into a government with Mugabe's ZANU-PF, with Morgan Tsvangirai being sworn in as Prime Minister on February 11th, the last day of my 21-day hunger strike.

However, the political agreement does not mean that the humanitarian and political crises have been resolved. Ultimately, responsibility still lies with all individuals to continue to call for justice in Zimbabwe. We must continue to demand that human rights violators are sanctioned and, most of all, we must continue to demand that African leaders take an active role in bring change to the people of Zimbabwe.

This is why over 35,000 people fasted on Sunday to show their solidarity. The world knows that despite the new agreement, our campaign must continue. The power that we harnessed on Sunday by joining together from over 190 countries is something that we must use to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are given their basic rights and freedoms - political machinations aside.