Friday, April 11, 2008

Politics of change and change of politics: Zim elections '08

I finally got the chance to put down my views on recent developments in post for Pajamas Media. Here's an excerpt.

Zimbabweans are on edge because maybe, just maybe, the crisis of sorts that has riddled the nation could very well be over. The hunger, poverty, displacement, and disenfranchisement could all end. And that hope, that glimmer of an end, is all the more reason to be on edge because the status quo is beyond untenable.

How did we get here? President Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF miscalculated and they miscalculated badly.

First, they misjudged when they assumed that the legislative concessions they granted in the Mbeki mediated pre-election talks would not come back to haunt them. Prior to the elections, Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, agreed to curtail the despotic extremes of three pieces of legislation: the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the Electoral Act (EA).

AIPPA was amended to make it easier for foreign journalists and Zimbabweans working for foreign entities to operate. The change to POSA — that political parties only had to notify the police as opposed to request their sanction before the held rallies — proved to be pivotal in the MDC’s ability to broadcast their message.

The EA changed in two important ways that proved to be ZANU-PF’s unraveling. First, the act created an autonomous electoral commission — the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Not only was ZEC created, but many brave Zimbabweans who served the commission disposed of their mission impartially and stood up to ZANU-PF in keeping with their constitutional mandate, something for which they are now being persecuted. Further, changes to the EA compelled that results from each polling station be posted publicly as soon as they had been counted.

Second, ZANU-PF grossly underestimated the opposition’s ability to get organized and offer stiff competition. The MDC mobilized a campaign that featured candidates in most of the contested council, parliamentary, and senate seats nationwide and, of course, Tsvangirai — the bane of Mugabe’s despotism. They were also able to deploy a massive amount of polling officers to over 9,000 polling stations, They not only observed the process, but vitally recorded and archived the results before relaying them back to party’s central command. This made cheating very difficult and is the reason the MDC beat ZEC to the ball when it came time to announce results.

But third and most importantly, ZANU-PF underestimated the people’s discontent with the party. They expected the Zimbabwean people to carry their load one too many times. They relied on their decade-old denigration of the opposition as stooges of the west just a little too much. And all of a sudden, the very people whose subjugation ZANU had come to expect turned their backs on the party, leaving them exposed. ZANU has no one else to blame for this but themselves. The MDC has persistently increased their electoral winnings each time they have contested an election. ZANU’s strategists should have paid this widely apparent trend more attention, but they didn’t.

So here we are.

Read the rest here.

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  • Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Up on Global Voices

    Zimbabwe's bloggers have a wealth of information on the week that was in the troubled southern African country. There are reports of more arrests and torture, an emergency monetary policy statement, and an indepth look at the myopic bigotry of some in the west with regard to Mugabe. First however, a look at how South Africa's increasingly complicit role in Zimbabwe's crisis came back under the spotlight last week. (more....)

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  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Mugabe, the West, and "servile" Zimbabweans

    I've always found it baffling when people (particularly westerners,) discover with shock and a degree of condescension that Mugabe has, and dare I say it, remains deeply beloved by many a Zimbabwean. Fact; the quality of life of the majority of my countrymen downright plummeted during and since our colonization by the British. Oh please, you really want to tell me you believe that hogwash about how colonization brought the three C's (civilization, commerce, and Christianity) to us in 1890? My ancestors, first the Munhumutapa, and then the Ndebele andRozvi empires did more foreign trade (mainly with Arab merchants and other empires) before colonization than they did since. We've always been deeply religious (much more so than we are now--thanks to Western Christendom for creating a schism between our way of life and faith). As for civilization, I'm not even going to address that; it's nothing but anti-African propaganda, enough said.

    No, don't get me wrong, I'm not going on a blame me everything on West rant. I see major blind spots in many westerners opinions about Zimbabwe, I'm just pointing them out.
    Read more »
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  • Monday, April 16, 2007

    Up on Global Voices

    Please check out the redesigned Global Voices site. It is also where I have put up my latest post:

    As the poor get poorer, the rich are only going to get richer in Zimbabwe. In this post, Mugabe Makaipa describes how Zimbabwe’s stock market has grown 12,000% over last year as it has become chief among the few safe places that people can hedge against inflation. With inflation skyrocketing, unemployment reaching 80%, the local bourse has simultaneously become a boon to the capitalist intentions of the few that are willing to make the risky investment in Zimbabwean stock too. Sadly, the economically elite are the only beneficiaries of the reeling economy that is in Zimbabwe.
    In Zimbabwe, they are very few and far between.

    Therefore, all of the rich people, government officials, and banks are putting their money into stocks so that it doesn’t lose value. Demand is high, so the price is too.

    The everyday people of Zimbabwe don’t see any benefit to this, though. Their masters may not see it for much longer either. Stock prices on the index are obviously inflated and unsustainable. It’s only a matter of time before it comes crashing down, taking down many in its spiral.

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  • Monday, April 09, 2007

    Conflicted: need some feedback

    An online newspaper, Zimdaily, has apparently launched a campaign to out the children top ZANU-PF politicians. The idea is to encourage western host governments to expel these children back to Zimbabwe because of their parents purported anti-western politics.
    if reality is anything to go by, Mugabe and his crooks in government favour western standards of 'everything' compared to Zimbabwe, a country they have reduced to a basket case.

    ZimDaily has established that Mugabe and his colleagues in ZANU PF have over 300 kids studying in either US, UK and Australian universities and they are fears that these kids are being funded by tax payers in Zimbabwe.

    This comes amid reports that Bona Mugabe, Mugabe's daughter is attending the prestigious London School of Economics in England. The school has since refuted the claims.

    The British government is also mulling plans to ban ZANU PF officials kids from attending educational institutions in the UK.

    Take a look at this.

    A fierce debate has erupted about this campaign. I'm conflicted about this. What do you think? Should this be thing that we as Zimbabweans be working at? Or do we have better tihngs invest our energies into?

    Here are some of the people they have outed already; here, here, here, here, and here.

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  • Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Need I say more?...

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  • Monday, March 26, 2007

    Life in Zimbabwe

    In Zimbabwe, a nation dominated by government owned media, keeping up with the political realities is an impossible and risky undertaking. Media in Zimbabwe is dominated by a state owned daily newspaper, and state owned radio and television. All reports carried by state media are unsurprisingly partial to the government. There’s a vacuum for balanced reportage on the country. Western media on the hand, seem too eager to demonize the Mugabe regime. They seem to always go back to their all too old mantra of showing our nation and our people as undercivilized meanwhile ignoring our unprecedent fortitude.

    The best opportunity to escape the barrage of propaganda is available to those who live in the cities. Urban residents, because they can receive text messages on their cell phones with news the government represses, are somewhat better off than their rural counterparts . Further, if you have the money you can also go to an internet café in. The second best thing is attempting to tune into foreign radio broadcasts which are dodgy at best. Other than that, word of mouth is the next best way to keep a finger on what is really going in the country. Cell phones and email have been a boon in this regard.

    In the last two weeks, life in Zimbabwe has taken a turn for the worse . In publicly attacking MDC activiscts, I am sure the government was displaying they can and will brutally crush any threats to their rule. Sadly, the result is a deeply divided nation living in mutual suspicion. There are two opposed groups; if you are pro-government, people suspect you are a member of the feared Central Intelligence Organization (CIO). And if you complain about the status quo like most Zimbabweans do, the dreaded CIO place you on surveillance under suspicion of stoking up violence and baying for the regime change. Once labelled thus, one quickly becomes known a western stooge. Families have been torn apart by these suspicions.

    Each morning we wake up and are faced with the myth of uncertainty. The average Zimbabwean’s life is full of uncertainty. We don’t know if we’re going to have to work because businesses are closing. If your job is not jeopardy, circumstances militate against that reality too. Nowadays, if we wake up too early and go looking for public transportation to get to work, you can be arrested under suspicion of convening an unsanctioned meeting. If you escape that unwarranted suspicion, constant fuel shortages ensure that the transportation does not run on a predictable schedule.

    With runaway inflation life in Zimbabwe is unaffordable. We work hard, we are frugal, but never seem to have enough to afford the basic necessities. Our salaries are the only things that are not increasing.

    Most disturbing though is the inescapable tension enveloping the entire nation. There is talk of a crack military squad from Angola coming. Bloodshed is almost a certainty before things improve. There rumors of war but there is nothing we can do to stop it. We used to pride ourselves about being one of the few nations in Africa that have successfully avoided civil unrest, not anymore.

    The violence, brutality and general harship in life would quickly fuel the flame if the country ignites. I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that.

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