No African Country is Immune to The Call for Change Sweeping Across The Continent, Not Even South Africa
Africans and people of the Middle East have spoken; and in their loud and clear voices, they have unambiguously made it clear to their governments that cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and any abuse of state resources and public power for the benefit of the few will no longer be tolerated. At present, demands for political reforms are mounting in Libya despite deadly threats from the current regime, and the people of Yemen, Bahrain, and Jordan are continuing with their struggle for freedom. As expected Zimbabwe’s security apparatus is on high alert and no one doubts its readiness to use whatever means available to crush the people’s demands for true democracy and to keep President Mugabe in power. Today, the first of March is Everybody Hates Bob Day (#EverybodyHatesBob on Twitter) and anti –Mugabe protests have been planned for Harare, Bulawayo and there will also be a demonstration outside South Africa’s National Parliament in Capetown. This demonstration is in response to the arrests of 45 Zimbabweans for watching uprisings footage. The arrested pro-democracy activists have since been charged with treason. Without doubt, only a fearful, paranoid and desperate regimes will respond with such stupidity to a normal act of watching uprisings footage. Unfortunately, this incident and many other instances of violent abuse, intimidation and repression against ordinary Zimbabweans happen under the watch of SADC. Perhaps it is time for SADC to realise that whatever it is trying to do in Zimbabwe is not working and the grabbing of foreign companies as Mugabe launches his “anti sanctions campaign” tomorrow as part of his election campaign clearly shows that he has little regard whatsoever for the regional bloc.
Tunisia’s wave of change currently spreading like wildfire throughout North Africa and the Middle East harshly reminds the entire African leadership that people will no longer accept anything less from them. The revolution is further proof that the people have had enough of bad governance. Going forward, it can not be business as usual and leaders need to vigorously assess the impact the revolts will have in their own countries. Long-serving leaders many of whom have poor service delivery records and dictatorship tendencies need to go back to the boardroom. They need to realise that there is nothing they can do about the present situation. People want freedom and they want it now. Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, playwright once said “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. This quote captures the mood of Africans at this point in time.
Democratic South Africa was recently forced to engage with the implications of Tunisia’s revolt. In response to a prediction by Moeletsi Mbeki, political analyst and brother of former President Thabo Mbeki that South Africa’s Tunisia Day will be in 2020, the President’s response was “I can tell you there will never be a Tunisia in South Africa. We have a constitutional democracy here. No-one is being repressed; everyone has the right to say what he wants and to vote.” “It is impossible. I use the word again: It is impossible.”
One thing that the protests have taught us is that anything is possible. South Africans through violent service delivery protests have strongly made it clear to the government and the ruling party that constitutional democracy has to deliver on socio economic rights and it has to make it possible for all to live a dignified life with access to basic services like water, electricity, sanitation, health care, and so on. There is widespread acknowledgement that substantial progress has been made in the delivery of basic services to South Africans, however, much more needs to be done. The youth who are behind many of the current protests in North Africa are, for example, the main victims of the unemployment crisis in South Africa. Statistics show that about 50% of young people below the age of 25 are unemployed and have no chance at all of finding a job. Many hope the youth wage subsidy starting in 1 April 2012 will help soften the crisis, but it remains to be seen what its impacts will be. At the launch of the ANC‘s Election Manifesto for the 2011 local government elections to be held before May, the President of the ANC Youth League Mr Julius Malema correctly echoed the sentiments of many including the youth when he said that “this democracy is not a democracy of families; this is a democracy of the people of the South Africa”… “When families are exploiting the resources of this country and are enriching themselves in the name of freedom, when those in political office abuse their power to benefit friends, the youth must rise in defence of the ANC.” This statement comes at a time when there is a strong perception that members of the President’s family especially his 28 year old son Duduzane and the President’s close friends the Gupta family are getting state contracts worth billions of money. Surely it is stories like these that have brought out the wrath of the Tunisian and Egyptian people.
Whether the perception is real or not, what matters is that it exists and it was a contributing factor in the uprisings in North of Africa. South Africa despite its strong democratic institutions and a somewhat better service delivery record is not immune at all to what is happening around it.
By Nkosana Dlamini, Harare
Zimbabwe‘s defence minister has said the army will crush any Egyptian-style uprising led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The latter said last week that there is nothing wrong with people demanding their rights, including in Zimbabwe.
“We in Zanu PF (Mugabe’s party, ed.) are determined to make sure that there is peace,” defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said to military commanders in the weekend.
“Those who may want to emulate what happened in Tunisia or what is happening in Egypt will regret it because we will not allow any chaos in this country,” Mnangagwa said.
Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party (MDC) currently in a transitional government with Zanu-PF, riled his opponents last week when he said street protests were genuine methods of dislodging dictators.
“To me, when people take their rights, and start demanding more rights, there is nothing wrong with that, including in Zimbabwe. That was the whole purpose of our struggle for the last 10 years,” he told FoxNews in Davos last week.
In the past decade, Tsvangirai organised several mass protests against Mugabe’s rule.
But the protests, which were mainly concentrated in the country’s cities, were ruthlessly crushed by the country’s security forces which have voiced open support for Zimbabwe’s strongman.
Widespread political violence mostly blamed on Mugabe’s militant supporters has resurfaced countrywide. This follows Mugabe’s announcement that Zimbabwe is heading for fresh polls later this year.
Agitated by police’s inaction, youths from Tsvangirai’s party have vowed revenge. “They must be prepared to receive as much as they dish out if this lawlessness continues,” youth leader Thamsanqa Mahlangu said last week.
Although organised protests are seen as a remote possibility in Zimbabwe at the moment due to perceived fear and poor technological infrastructure to fire the protests, authorities fear the threats can provide a spark among crisis-weary Zimbabweans.
Mugabe, who does not hesitate to unleash the military to defend his rule, has put his trust in his long time military advisor Mnangagwa to handle this matter.
A veteran of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation, Mnangagwa has been in Mugabe’s cabinet for almost three decades. As security minister, he was among security chiefs who crushed the 1982 uprisings in the country’s western provinces of Matabeleland where 20 000 civilians from the ethnic Ndebele were killed.
Matabeleland was then a stronghold for the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu party which merged with Mugabe’s party in 1987.
Mnangagwa is also accused of having masterminded in 2008 the killing of over 200 Tsvangirai supporters during a violent military operation that sought to restore Mugabe’s rule.
Mugabe was outpolled by Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe’s inconclusive first round poll. Last year, Mnangagwa vowed that Tsvangirai will never rule the country even if he wins elections.
“If you don’t vote for us in the next election, this country is huge, we will rule even if you don’t want it,” he said.
Although Mugabe has deliberately not been grooming any successor for fear of dividing his party, Mnangagwa is seen as one of the top contenders for his job.
Johannesburg (South Africa) – The year is only 34 days old and already it has seen the absolute demise of one dictatorship (Tunisia), the near collapse of another (Egypt), the rattling of a third (Jordan), the likely ruin of a fourth (Yemen) and the possible failure of a fifth (Algeria). That, by any measure, is a good start to what may be the most fundamental political change in the Middle East since 1948, when the state of Israel was founded.
The drama of the past 34 days was enhanced by the fact that two of the dictatorships either to fall (Tunisia) or flirt with downfall (Egypt) were, until recently, considered, especially by the US government, the most stable and least likely to fall.
In fact, US strategy in the Middle East has rested largely on an expensive peace between Egypt and Israel bankrolled by the US. It is largely because of this peace, brokered by former US president Jimmy Carter back when he occupied the White House, that Egypt is one of the top three recipients of military and other aid from the US, after Israel. The peace rested on a firm understanding between the Americans, Israelis and Egyptians, whose state is the largest and most politically significant in the Middle East, that the other Arab-led dictatorships in the Middle East posed little existential threat to Israel so long as Egypt honoured its side of the Camp David agreement.
But Egypt now looks likely to fall, meaning Egypt as we know it could change dramatically as Egyptians, fed up with corruption, neglected by a statistically impressive but empirically hopeless economy, and fed up with a leader, Hosni Mubarak, who seemed to think he was fated by history to rule, take to the streets to demand his ousting.
But it is not only Mubarak’s Egypt that is likely to go into the proverbial dustbin of history. The US policy of making nice with Mubarak while ignoring his brutality against his political opponents and, occasionally, using Mubarak’s apparatus of repression for the “rendition” and torture of enemy combatants, will also have to change.
The last thing the US wants is to, again, find itself backing the wrong side in the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East. The US made that mistake by backing a coup against a democratically elected government in Iran in the 1950s, supporting Saddam Hussein and even plying him with arms in the 1980s while he fought against the hated ayatollahs of Iran, and abandoning, in Afghanistan, the mujahedeen, who had helped the US give the hapless Soviets a taste of Vietnam. That is why the US has been treading gingerly on this. That is why US President Barack Obama has been frantically trying to sound allied to both prodemocracy protesters and Mubarak at the same time. Obama wants to be able to claim some credit should Egypt be delivered finally from dictatorship.
But what is the lesson of the recent events for southern Africa? In particular, what lessons does the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East have for Zimbabweans?
The most important lesson to come out of Egypt and Tunisia, it seems to me, is that revolutions cannot be outsourced. There has been something rather obscene about the ways in which some human rights activists, Zimbabwean and non-Zimbabwean, have presented the problems in Zimbabwe as if they are entirely SA’s or, to be exact, Thabo Mbeki ’s. One got the impression sometimes that these activists wanted Mbeki and South Africans in general to march on Harare. Some even suggested SA invade Zimbabwe.
What these hysterical calls did was absolve the prodemocracy movement in Zimbabwe of the responsibility to take the lead in the fight against Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship. Why is it, for example, that none of us who want to see Mugabe out of office and on trial for all sorts of crimes have bothered to ask why the Movement for Democratic Change, whose roots are supposedly in Zimbabwe’s labour movement, has yet to organise a successful strike, stayaway or other form of popular protest?
None of this is to ignore the brave men and women, journalists, lawyers, farmers and ordinary citizens who have protested against Mugabe’s rule and paid with everything from their lives to their limbs and property. The actions of these people must be recognised and honoured. But they cannot and should not be the exception.
Zimbabweans cannot outsource their revolution. They cannot leave the fight for their freedom to others. Sure, they need support, solidarity and the knowledge that the rest of the world is on their side. But they cannot expect the fight to be led by outsiders. That, for me, is what the Egyptians and the Tunisians have taught us.
Mubarak has one of the most formidable repressive machineries in the world but that has proved worthless in the face of popular protest. Voting with their feet, as the millions of Zimbabweans have done by moving to SA, Zambia, Botswana, Canada, Australia, the US and the UK, must have been a difficult thing to do. But it is by no means courageous. Courage is staring down a dictator, telling him to go and standing your ground. That is what the North Africans have done. Let us hope Zimbabweans learn from them.
*Jacob Dlamini is a South African writer.
A report from a study vividly describes politically motivated sexual violence against women in Zimbabwe. The violence against the women takes many forms including
- extreme violence,
- gang rape and
- insertion of objects (bottles and sticks) into the vagina.
The aim of the study was to provide a valid and reliable description of cases of politically motivated rape and other violence against women in the African country. It is the first vivid description to come out of Zimbabwe detailing instances of politically motivated rape
Over three-quarters of the women studied were victims of multiple rape, with an average of three rapists per incident. One woman reported a total of 13 perpetrators, and 14 women reported 3 or more perpetrators to their rape. One woman reported 3 separate rape incidences in June 2008 by a total of 13 perpetrators.
Women in the study exhibited high levels of sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, and hopelessness. A third of the women reported these symptoms, which are commonly associated with experiences of trauma. For some, flashbacks are triggered by large gatherings, particularly where political slogans were being chanted while others had recurring nightmares during which they relived the rapes. Traumatic memories may continue for extended periods of time.
The tragedy that has become Cote d’Ivoire is unfortunately one of those déjà vu situations that continue to haunt the African continent. We have been here before, in Zimbabwe, in Kenya, in Zanzibar, and in many other places where stoic societies suffer without exploding.
We reported here that Mr. Munyaradzi Chidzonga who lost out to Uti in the Big Brother reality show received a 300,000-dollar cheque from President Robert Mugabe, $100, 000 more than the winner. Well, another another Zimbabwean contestant, busty Makosi Musambasi, is not having is so rosy.
Read on (from newsdzezimbabwe)
£10,000 fee for starring in Big Brother snatched by debt collectors.
And the money men want another £20,000 from her, it has been revealed. Zimbabwe-born Makosi, 30, landed herself with a huge legal bill during a battle to stay in Britain four years ago.
A Big Brother insider said: “It looks like Makosi has built herself a mountain of debt and not been able to deal with it.
“She stays at home all day and won’t answer the door for fear of legal papers being handed to her.
“Her legal battle not to be deported cost her £50,000 and over half of it is unpaid.”
A company chasing her for cash managed to arrange a third party order at Aylesbury County Court, Bucks, requiring Ultimate Big Brother bosses Endemol to hand over Makosi’s £10,000 fee.
Makosi’s money worries have baffled friends, who thought she had a wealthy boyfriend living in Africa who was taking care of her. The Big Brother source added: “Makosi has loads of other debts to be paid as well.
“She owes a garage about £7,000 for fixing her car. A lot of people think she hasn’t even picked up the car, which she left there in May.”
While in the Ultimate Big Brother house Makosi kept telling housemates about being charged a huge amount of money by an immigration lawyer.
She told host Davina McCall: “I still feel very, very blessed I was part of something so beautiful and something so huge.”
Makosi, from High Wycombe, Bucks, who was originally in Big Brother 6, won a battle to stay in the UK as a refugee in 2005.
She faced deportation after she quit her job as a cardiac nurse to appear on the Channel 4 show.
A London immigration tribunal was told she might face violent mobs in her native Zimbabwe because of her topless frolics in the Big Brother house.
Hours before her exit from Ultimate Big Brother Makosi was reunited with BB6 winner Anthony Hutton, 28.
The pair shared a drunken Jacuzzi romp during BB6, in which Makosi was third-last to be voted out of the house.
A United Nation multimedia radio reported on Tuesday October 25 that in Zimbabwe eight mothers die giving birth every day. Already infant mortality statistic is worrisome in the African country.
With the medical advances we have at this time in human history, this should not be acceptable.
After many years of reckless domestic and economic policies under Pres. Robert Mugabe, the heath care system of Zimbabwe is almost the worst that comes to mind. It is not difficult to understand why maternal death is that high in Zimbabwe. The economic situation almost excludes the likelihood of expecting mothers attending the hospital or clinic because they cannot afford to pay for the bills. Pregnant mothers in Zimbabwe go through their pregnancy term without any check ups. Last year, the Mugabe regime actually authorized hospitals and clinics to charge patients in foreign currency.
In some communities in Zimbabwe, it is luckiest of pregnant women who are able to obtain the services of community midwives. Even though some of the midwives are able to handle most common situations, they do not have the experience to handle the most challenging pregnancy complications, such as bacterial infection, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, obstetrical hemorrhage, and ectopic pregnancy. These require gynecologist and obstetricians.
The average Zimbabwean earns $1.50. It is therefore not unexpected that most of them depend on community midwives and are not able to see gynecologist. Approximately 100 children die daily in Zimbabwe daily due to easily preventable diseases.
Zimbabwe is among the top 6 countries in the world with the worse record on maternal mortality. In spite of this, President Mugabe doesn’t even pretend to have a clue or care. A few days ago, the president and the First Shopper spent $300,000 on a date with the loser of the reality show Big Brother Show. Consider this in the light of the standard of living in Zimbabwe and it may even appear pornographic.
The average Zimbabweans could live on this for 200,000 days! Even in the US with the highest cost of health care, the average cost to deliver at the hospital with a normal vaginal birth is about $15,000. This means the amount the president’s family spent with the Big Brother loser could handle 20 hospital births.
Maternal mortality and infant mortality is a big burden on African countries. The chance of a woman dying from complication of pregnancy or delivery is 1 in 15! in Africa; in North America it is 1 in 3750.
This is a fight that can be won, but it requires strong political will with multidisciplinary programs focusing on prevention and early management of complications. The figures are not good and so are those for malaria, but when was either of these a key manifesto in any election across the continent?
Uti Nwachukwu from Nigeria won the official 200,000-dollar prize from the show. The Big Brother reality show locks up contestants from around the continent in a house.
Munyaradzi Chidzonga just lost out to Uti received a 300,000-dollar cheque from President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday, $100, 000 more than the winner.
Mugabe, who probably did not watch the show, also declared the voting as ‘not free and fair’. Really?
Teachers and nurses are on strike every other week in Zimbabwe so one wonders whether this is not a misplaced priority.