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Middleburgh - A Call to Action

Bona Mugabe, daughter of Robert Mugabe

In the matter of the "First Shopper of Zimbabwe"aka Grace Mugabe, and her daughter Bona:

The following, in italics, is a composite of various articles from the web:

A freelance photographer, Richard Jones 42, was allegedly assaulted on 15 January 2009 in Hong Kong outside a shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui (a prime tourist district) by President Mugabe's wife Grace. Mr. Jones on assignment to the Sunday Times was waiting to photograph Mrs. Mugabe, who was on an Asian holiday that included a stay on the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi and a visit to Hong Kong, where her daughter Bona is believed to be studying. 43-year-old Mrs. Mugabe flew into a rage when she was spotted last week leaving the exclusive Shangri-La hotel where she had been staying there with herentourage at a cost of £2,000.

Holding a Jimmy Choo-style bag estimated to be worth at least £2,000, and hiding behind Cavalli rhine-stone-framed glasses with a red cashmere shawl over her head, she ordered her bodyguard to attack the photographer. While the guard tried to wrestle away Jones's camera, she joined in the assault."The man held him while she hit him again and again in the face with her fists. She was screaming, completely crazy" said Werner Zapletal, a tourist from Austria who witnessed the incident.

Jones suffered nine cuts, abrasions and bruises to the face and head caused by the heavy, diamond-encrusted rings Mugabe was wearing, according to a medical report by Dr Raymond Ng, a general practitioner in Hong Kong. During the assault more burly bodyguards came running from the hotel but were intercepted by security men from a nearby commercial building.

Mugabe and her female companion fled around a corner seeking to hide their faces, only to run straight into a second photographer, Tim O'Rourke. He snapped a few pictures before she flew at him with her fists flying, pulled his hair and tried to smash his camera. She then hurried back to her five-star refuge. The Hong Kong police, who were called to the scene, detained the bodyguard. He was allowed to go after questioning. The police also took statements from Jones and O'Rourke, and subsequently issued only a brief statement, saying that an "assault occasioning actual bodily harm" had occurred. No arrests had been made. The case was still under investigation and officers at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station are believed to have taken possession of CCTV footage showing the incident. In Hong Kong a decision to prosecute is taken by the Secretary for Justice, who considers whether there is sufficient evidence and whether a prosecution is in the public interest. Lawyers said Mugabe, who left Hong Kong hours after the attack, may not enjoy diplomatic immunity and could be questioned by police if she returns.

The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club said on Friday it is dismayed by the ‘disgraceful attack’ inflicted on one of its members. This is an influential and respected club for the media, business and diplomatic community in Hong Kong. It welcomed the ongoing investigations by the police and said: “We look forward to the widespread publication of its results, regardless of whether any of the parties involved are protected by diplomatic immunity. In a city where the rule of law prevails and media freedom is respected, no person - no matter his or her rank or status - can expect such a matter to be swept under the carpet.”

Apparently before she embarked on her Far East holiday at the beginning of January, Mugabe withdrew US$92,000 from the central bank in Harare, Zimbabwean sources said. Accompanied by her children, she stayed first at the Malaysian island resort of Langkawi. She then moved on to Singapore where she was joined by her husband for a few days. She flew to Hong Kong on January 9 and installed herself in the £600-a-night Harbour suite on the 18th floor of the Shangri-La where she played hostess to the couple's daughter, Bona, who studies in the city, and to a stream of relatives and friends. She rarely went out but other members of the party were ferried around in black limousines costing £60 an hour.

It is regrettable that the Chinese Central Government has not signed up to the travel sanctions being applied by other countries against leading members of the Zimbabwe regime. It is to be hoped that the Hong Kong authorities will under the one country two systems policy review their decision to grant entry visas to the Mugabe's.

It is also to be hoped that the board of Shangri-La Asia Limited give due consideration as to whether they want their Brand tarnished by association with the Mugabe's. Perhaps their investors should be invited to raise the matter at the next shareholders meeting. It would be interesting to know whether the company or any investors have any moral or ethical issues taking money which probably belongs to the People of Zimbabwe. (I have included names in this post of the directors and the location of the share register in case anyone is motivated to express their views directly (and politely) to them) Bona Mugabe currently a student at university of Hong Kong

This brings us to the question of Bona's education:

Senior Hong Kong legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing has called on the Hong Kong government to review a decision to allow the daughter of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe live and study in the city. Bona Mugabe - whose father is banned from travelling to Britain, the US and Europe - has apparently been studying at the University of Hong Kong under an alias since the autumn. "Because there is (currently) no policy, obviously anybody can come to study in Hong Kong. Nobody has ever raised this issue."If a regime is so atrocious and responsible for the deaths and suffering of so many people every day, maybe there should be a way for us in Hong Kong to show our repugnance. Many people find Zimbabwe a very, very obnoxious regime."

And Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Director, Law Yuk-kai, said the government should confirm a newspaper report that Bona Mugabe is studying at the University of Hong Kong, and if it is accurate, examine her finances. He said: "A child who has not done anything wrong should not be asked to take the burden of the wrongs of their parents - and in accordance with international human rights, the interests of the child should be our first principle." But he added: "If the money she is spending was siphoned off the ordinary people, there is a problem. Just like other members of the international community, Hong Kong should do its part in imposing sanctions.” The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Mugabe’s ruling clique, including asset freezes and travel bans."

Australia last year deported eight students whose parents were senior members of the Mugabe regime, saying it wanted to prevent those involved in human rights abuses giving their children education denied to ordinary Zimbabweans. Australia has banned the children of members of Mugabe’s administration from studying there.

Bona Mugabe with her father Robert MugabeAsked about Miss Mugabe's admission, a University of Hong Kong spokesman said: "We believe that education should be above politics and young people should not be denied the right to education because of their family background or what their parents have done."A university official, who asked not to be named, said most students were unaware of the presence of Miss Mugabe, who has gone to Zimbabwe for the Chinese New Year holiday. When she returns to Hong Kong, the university would "keep a watchful eye more from a student life perspective", the official said. However, the source added: "We are aware of the impact and significance of this. After all, he is a dictator, no one will deny this - but education, frankly, is above politics."

She also denied there had been any negative reaction from fellow students to the presence of Ms Mugabe, who is aged around 20, saying: "We are not aware of any reactions relating to the case you refer to. "We believe that many of our students will share our belief of right of education for everybody and our view that people should not be responsible for what other members of their family have done."

On this point I have mixed views: In principle I agree that a child should not be penalized because of the sins of their parents especially when it comes to tertiary education for a daughter (This is an issue which personally resonates with me !!). Because you are the child of Nazi doesn't mean you are a Nazi and because your parent is universally recognized as an evil monster by everyone else doesn't mean that you, their child must reject them (only their actions!!).

Bona Mugabe supporting her father in June 2008 before coming to Hong Kong to studySo one question is: has Bona publically repudiated the actions of her father, mother and Zanu PF; It doesn't look good that she attended her father's final "election” rally in Chitungwiza, Thursday, June 26, 2008 (but then again she could have been coerced?). Someone could always ask her - she apparently has a facebook account and I am sure that if no one asks through that she will be asked if and when she returns to Hong Kong .

Another question is: was Bona the "female companion" who fled around the corner with Grace Mugabe after the alleged assault on Robert Jones. And if so is she going to be interviewed by the police and could it affect her visa status??

But perhaps the most important point arising relates to the astounding statement made by the university spokesman who allegedly said "education, frankly, is above politics."

TELL that to the Zimbabwean teachers who have just gone on strike

TELL that to the Zimbabwean school children who have and are being deprived of an education and worse

I trust that the vice chancellor of Hong Kong University will be initiating appropriate counseling sessions for his PR department.It was quoted in one source that the reason that Bona was enrolled under an alias was that "other student might refuse to be in same class as her."

Eh well yes ... but isn't that their decision!! The university has stated that it believes "that many of [their] students will share [their] belief of right of education for everybody etc”. Fair enough - perhaps the matter of whether Bona and all the other children in Zimbabwe have an equal right for education should be put to both the student body and members of faculty (who may also refuse to be in same class as her) to decide. Should anyone wish to canvas the opinions of the student body or members of faculty or simply voice their disgust at (or support for) the universities position I have included below (just to be helpful) contact details. Maybe educational establishments and their peers in Zimabwe and elsewhere could counsel the Vice Chancellor and his colleagues ?

    DIRECTORS: Shangri-La Asia Limited
  • Mr. KUOK Khoon Ean (Chairman) Ean@kuokgroup.com
  • Mr. KUOK Khoon Loong, Edward (President and Chief Executive Officer)
  • Mr. LUI Man Shing (Deputy Chairman)
  • Mr. Giovanni ANGELINI
  • Mr. Madhu Rama Chandra RAO
  • Madam KUOK Oon Kwong
  • Mr. HO Kian Guan
  • Mr. Roberto V. ONGPIN
  • Mr. Alexander Reid HAMILTON
  • Mr. WONG Kai Man
  • Mr. Timothy David DATTELS
  • Mr. Michael Wing-Nin CHIU
  • Mr. HO Kian Hock (Alternate to Mr. HO Kian Guan)
  • Branch Share Registrar in Hong Kong
    Tricor Abacus Limited
    26/F., Tesbury Centre
    28 Queen's Road East
    Hong Kong

And for those wondering were this all came from

When I looked back over 2008 I realized that apart from actively engaging in local elections and voting conscientiously like the good citizen that I am, I was about as politically engaged as "Dioon edule". I didn't even participate in the July 1 Democracy March (except in spirit), and I decided that there were two sides to the Tibet saga - and that the western media, with the exception of a Canadian news crew, who happened to be in Lhasa when it went down, appeared only to see one.

In my defense I was animated by four issues last year ... well sort of:

  • I contributed cash (albeit only a little) to the Sichuan earthquake victims and then watched in amazement as Chinese news reported that supplies eg tents etc bound for Sichuan had found their way into retail chops elsewhere in china.
  • I asked friends in China with babies as the Melamine scandal unfolded whether they needed any formula brought in from Hong Kong on my regular visits. As it happens all already had secure supplies of non Chinese milk powder (Wyeth appears to be a very popular in Shenzhen) LI>And as the year drew to a close I watched in total incredulity the coverage about Baby P. Although not resident in the UK I was outraged, and so when I read a post inviting people who felt strongly enough to email Sharon Shoesmith and ask her (politely) to resign, I felt compelled to do so. Although the email was restrained and to the point she didn't take the hint. The expected fob off that I received from the Haringey Council chief executive Dr Ita O'Donovan was about as worthless as a bottle of Bushmills to the Ayatollah Khomeini
  • By pure coincidence I was following up on a local story about a planning application to develop a golf course in Kowloon/New Territories which potentially would encroach on/disturb a butterfly breeding habitat and discovered that there was still time to lodge objections over the internet. So I did !!.... Well.. Hug a tree!! - I mean butterflies !!

    I duly received a letter confirming receipt of my objection and advising me of date for planning hearing which came and went. When I checked on the web I couldn't find any reference to the result in the minutes so I phoned and asked. Apparently there were in excess of 600 objections to the planning application (I have no idea if that is normal) and the application was withdrawn well before the hearing. The withdrawal was neither listed on the planning department's website (in fact the original item was still listed for hearing a week after the scheduled hearing date), nor was it noted in the meeting minutes as a withdrawn item. When I asked why not, I was told that written advice notes had been issued to objectors within 3 days of withdrawal - I pointed out that I had not received mine and asked if they could check when it was sent. It appears that notices weren't actually sent to everyone and I could not get a straight answer as to the service level targets that the department worked to in such cases.

    As it happens I wasn't sufficiently annoyed to go after them and make an issue of it although I did inadvertently (pressed Send button in error) sent an incomplete complaint to the government ombudsman that I had been idly drafting whilst I was waited on the phone for the planning department to get their act together. His office responded within minutes seeking a Digital Signature and confirmation of details. Awesome!!


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