Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for October, 2006

Save Zimbabwe Campaign

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, October 13th, 2006 by Bev Clark

I had dinner with a couple of foreign visitors on Monday night. They were in Zimbabwe to check out the state of civil society and take the political temperature. I have to say that my jaw dropped (almost into my bowl of Thai noodles) when they said they were upbeat about the new Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

One thing that civil society is good at is re-inventing itself into coalitions or alliances by a variety of names. Brian Kagoro said in a recent interview on SW Radio Africa, that he felt it was unfair to say that civil society coalitions hadn’t really worked in Zimbabwe. But one has to wonder what the difference is between the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, for example? Has this been clearly articulated? Because if it has, I haven’t read the analysis.

When I heard about the formation of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign my first thought was that it sounded all too familiar. Hadn’t we been there and done that? And indeed a Save Zimbabwe Campaign was formed in 2002 with the Movement for Democratic Change being a key participant in its formation. The 2002 Save Zimbabwe Campaign has either fizzled out or become moribund.

Is this going to be the fate of the 2006 Save Zimbabwe Campaign?

The 2006 Save Zimbabwe Campaign claims to have brought together all opposition political parties and major civil society organisations – one would imagine that the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is participating as well. So, where was the 2006 Save Zimbabwe Campaign on September 13th during the ZCTU protest in Harare?

As one visitor to our offices said on September 13th, “I went looking for the revolution but couldn’t find it.”

Will the Save Zimbabwe Campaign actually materialise, and Do Something, or will it continue to be little more than references in the press?

Free speech for some

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, October 12th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Its been interesting to observe how defensively some Zimbabwean men have reacted to the Protest March organised by the Women’s Coalition which took place on Tuesday in response to Timothy Mubawu’s comments about the Domestic Violence Bill and women.

And Now To The Notebook, a column in the Financial Gazette, vigorously supports Mubawu’s right to freely express his opinion in Parliament. Do you remember what happened to former Movement for Democratic Change MP for Highfield Munyaradzi Gwisai when he freely expressed his opinion on the MDC having “right wing tendencies”? He was promptly expelled.

Domestic violence kills

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Kubatana.net has been tracking the progress of the Domestic Violence Bill through Parliament.

All hell broke loose recently when Movement for Democratic Change, Member of Parliament, Timothy Mubawu stated that:

“It is against God’s principles that men and women are equal”.

He went on to say that the Domestic Violence Bill should address the proper dressing by women because:

“some of the dressing by women is too inviting”.

In reaction to his comments, the Women’s Coalition organised a protest march on Tuesday, 10th October. Apparently when the Women’s Coalition asked the police for permission to march, Inspector Mutizira at Harare Central Police Station asked members of the Women’s Coalition why they wanted to “litter the streets” with their demonstration.

Meanwhile, after Kubatana.net published Timothy Mubawu’s comments and news of the Protest March one of our subscribers wrote to us and said:

Women naturally are trouble causers and I find it difficult why they want to hide behind their fingers. Women go arround sleeping with their garden boys and who is writing laws to protect the innocent men who is not going to deliver enough love to his wife after servicing the offlayer with sexual greed. Give a woman a lift in your car and start seeing the video of enticing you.Yes, you might ague that men use money to lure women but the bottom line is that the fish goes willingly for the worm, thus we shud not backtrack and allow women to yoke us when we work very hard for them to have a decent living.

Camfed alerted us to an anonymous advertisement placed in the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper on the 8th October 2006. The advertisement reads:

Plea to Honourable Members of Parliament and Senators
The passage of the domestic violence bill can make or break marriage as an institution in Zimbabwe. Do not rush it. Take it to the people. Present it to them in their own languages. And let them decide for thmeselves in a referendum because its their future and heritage. Do not let western influence kill our culture!

The person or organisation that placed this advertisement didn’t have the courage to identify themselves, preferring to sign themselves, Proudly Zimbabwean.

Black and bling

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, October 9th, 2006 by Bev Clark

In South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper, Jeremy Cronin (South Africa Communist Party deputy secretary general) poses the question:”At what point does a black multimillionaire cease to be historically disadvantaged?”

Patrolled borders, closed doors

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, October 9th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Kubatana.net recently received a press release from the United States Embassy in Harare containing information on Electronic Visa Application Forms (EVAFs). Please click here to read the text of the press release.

And we got this response from one of our subscribers:

The long and the short of it is that the US Embassy now requires all people wishing to travel to the US to complete an EVAF online. They say that hand written applications will no longer be accepted. They claim that this will “speed up and simplify” the US visa application process. And that the new system will “improve efficiency and customer service.”

Doubtless, it has the potential to do exactly that. For those foreign citizens who have access to a computer and the internet, with a connection speed that doesn’t time out at some point as they fill in the application’s 41 questions, that has Adobe Acrobat reader installed, and which is attached to a laser or ink jet printer.

For them, the new requirements will certainly speed up the process.

But how many Zimbabweans have access to all of this technology? How many Zimbabweans know how to use the Internet, much less fill in an online form? With Tel-One’s non-payment of its debts, how many Zimbabwean ISPs are still even able to dial up? How long does the average connection stay on line before it times out and you have to start again?

And what about all of those citizens in other countries that are even less technologically advanced than Zimbabwe?

Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” is engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the iconic symbol of America’s status as a nation of immigrants, a safe haven for the persecuted and prosperous alike. It says, in part:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Are the “wretched refuse” supposed to stop by the Internet cafe en route to the Embassy? It’s one thing to introduce a new procedure to make the process more efficient for those for whom it’s relevant, useful, or indeed easier. It’s another thing to require it for everyone, full knowing that Internet access, and skill, are not universally available.

Not that the new requirements mark a radical change in the US visa policies that have developed over the past fifty years. The American government already has a legion of restrictions to hold back the rising tide of “huddled masses.” Applicants are required to prove “sufficient funds” and “compelling social and economic ties” in their home country, not to mention a USD 100 processing fee – forfeited whether you get your visa or not. These are all powerful measures which already limit the number of visa applications the US government has to process each year. Quotas further restrict the number of visas that can be granted to citizens from any given country. And it’s an open secret that the quotas are lower for poorer countries than for wealthier ones.

The introduction of the EVAF might well be just another tactic in pre-selecting the “type” of person who is an acceptable visitor to the United States.

Maybe it’s time to scrub off the pedestal on the Statue of Liberty. And rewrite it.

Give me your wealthy, your comfortable,
Your educated elite yearning to spend money,
The select technocrats who can fill out our forms.
Send these, the privileged, fortunate few to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!