Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for February, 2008

Voting blindly is not an option

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Monday, February 18th, 2008 by Brenda Burrell

This tired election – so dishonestly called the 2008 ‘harmonised’ elections – is suddenly the source of great interest and speculation. Just 4 weeks ago it was a dead in the water, one horse race. Mugabe versus the masses. Results already printed, factotums paid in advance for services to be rendered.

Apathy looked likely to be the real winner and then along came Simba. And suddenly everyone in the cities wanted to be registered to vote.

What makes Simba Makoni such an obvious choice for the urban voter? The easy answer is this: he’s neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai. Fine, it’s clear then who he isn’t – but isn’t it time we voted FOR something rather than against something? I don’t want to vote NO. I want to vote YES. And Simba has a lot of explaining to do before election day on March 29. Voting blindly is not an option. I’d rather spoil my ballot.

Now here’s the thing. How do we do anything positive around this election? The candidates we have to choose from are either dangerous to our health (Mugabe), stale (Tsvangirai), not transparent (Simba), self-serving (most of the rest), fabulous (too few to count) or unknown (way too many).

From my experience, the only time a politician will give you the time of day is in the weeks before the election. So fellow Zimbabweans – this is our moment. Insist that you will NOT vote for a candidate unless they:

  • speak at a venue near you
  • answer your questions
  • have a positive vision for the future
  • can practically implement a majority of the promises they make
  • believe in women’s advancement

This is OUR time. Make them work for our votes.

L is for Learner

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Monday, February 18th, 2008 by Natasha Msonza

So, Hillary Clinton deems it the best political move to sack her campaign manager and replace her with a black one after losing some caucuses and primaries. Don’t know if that’s gonna help her muscle her way through to landing her the majority of the black vote, but how crude.

Speaking of muscling one’s way – have you ever noticed how most experienced drivers are extremely unkind to ‘newbies’. It’s really hard to be a learner driver on Harare’s streets. Yesterday while driving in a clearly marked learner’s vehicle together with my instructor beside me, I found myself the target for a loud honk from a silver Toyota Hilux behind us. Ok, so I had suddenly stepped on the brakes to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of me. But, like he hadn’t had to learn to drive as well as make mistakes himself? As if that wasn’t enough, no sooner had the robot turned green than the silver Hilux overtook us in such an intimidating way, almost blowing me off the road. I was quite shaken afterward. It felt almost like I had no right to be on the road, like the car I was driving was so inferior as to be a nuisance.

These days you notice similar behavior on the Zimbabwean political playing field – how ‘newbies’ are being treated. It is almost like they have no right to contest longstanding authority. They face intimidation, threats and the like. Sometimes, they are even disowned, more like discarded from their affiliated parties. I kind of feel sorry for the way Dr Makoni is being treated, simply for wanting to take a shot at leadership.

Valentine’s day, Vaginas and the Voters roll

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Thursday, February 14th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Yesterday I pulled on my faded blue pin striped jeans that I picked up in Australia what seems like decades ago. Put on my bright yellow Brazilian soul t-shirt and trundled down to Courteney Selous School to see if my name was on the voters roll. Not surprisingly there was a queue. I mean where won’t you find a queue in Zimbabwe. So I sat on an old wooden school bench waiting my turn. I wanted to see if I’d been disappeared. After what seemed like an age and much flicking through of piles of pages, there my name was in its very simple glory.

But not so for Bella Matambanadzo whose very different V Day experience I share with you below.

An unorthodox update on Zimbabwe’s voters roll

I dressed for the occasion.
Put my cute fanny in lace nickers,
Gave my breasts some serious gravity (EJ Win always
says wear new, matching underwear on important days,
that’s why she got me stuff from Bravissimo).

I was already sizzling
Rainbows around my waist, beads, and beads, and beads
of them from Codou and Roses in Dakar.
She’s also sent me incense. Intoxication is critical.
I wasn’t just sizzling, I was leaving a most musky trail.

Layering: Vanila bath what what from Sisonke, coconut
oil something wafting.

Slipped my pink pedicured feet into slinky sandals.
Shells on the rim.
A trade we did with Alice from Rwanda in Zanzibar,
plotting Feminism

Needed some bling. Hooked in amber and silver earrings,
Muthoni Wanyeki style. Off of Biashara
street in Nairobi, necklace from Hope Chigudu, a
talisman from Thailand — Awid, Bangkok, Massage – Men
in our movements, masquerading comradeship, turning our
voice to footnotes.

Pulled back the dreadlocks. One side like Sylvia.
Now the war paint. Eyes the way Jessica Horn taught me -
intense, serious, sparkling. Mac to the Lips – pout,
shimmer, shine: Pat Made put this in my purse (need
to text Thoko Matshe to stop by the counter next time
she’s in London – I got to have another one).

Stand tall like Bisi, this is an election year after

But my name was not there: Not on the voters roll,
where it had been 5 years ago. Vanished. Disappeared.
My name was not there.

Who took my name? I hollered, vagina twitching with
rage. I said – who took my name? Ziii no answer other
than stares of intimidation from some twobit cop
representative of rigging. Txt message to Teresa
Mugadza – most kicking lawyer in Town. Woman wrote
Domestic Violence Legislation surely this is a
piece of cake for her!

Someone took my name Tere I howl, mad as ever. So get
it back girl, she croons. Get it back. You know you
got to vote. Right?

Zimbabwe: hurting and burning. Rage.
Straight up. I am taking it back. And today I am going
back. War clothes and all. This V is my Day.

Love in the streets of Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 by Amanda Atwood

Power of loveThe power of love will overcome the love of power, claims Zimbabwean activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). In what has become an annual event, an estimated 800 members of WOZA members (and their male counterparts in MOZA) marched through the streets of Bulawayo in an early Valentine’s Day protest. The theme of the event was to urge Zimbabweans to stand up for their children. Demonstrators passed out red roses and Valentine cards to spectators. Even though the demonstration only covered four city blocks, police still tried to stop protesters, and urged them to disperse quickly. For once, there were no arrests.

Read WOZA’s statement about their Bulwayao event, or view more images.

Britain gags on human rights

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Monday, February 11th, 2008 by Bev Clark

In January I wrote critically of England’s intention to ban the Zimbabwe cricket team from touring that country in 2008. I’m again completely astounded at the hypocrisy of the British government when it comes to sport and politics. Get your head around this – Britain wants to bar the Zimbabwean cricket team in an effort to send a strong message of rejection and criticism to Mugabe’s totalitarian regime. On the other hand the British Olympic Committee will insist that British athletes sign a gagging order prohibiting them on speaking out on political issues whilst participating in the Olympic Games so that they don’t offend the Chinese government’s sensibilities. Globally there is widespread condemnation of China’s poor human rights record. Olympic Watch cites several key areas of concern including freedom of speech, democratic opposition and torture/death penalty. Both the Zimbabwean and the Chinese regime are subject to strong criticism in these areas. Again, spot the difference. The British government stands accused of out and out hypocrisy and should be held accountable for their fair weather concern for justice. Clearly its a case of trade before fair play when it comes to the Olympic Games in China. Makes you wonder – if Zimbabwe was a strong trading partner of Britain whether Flash Gordon would be kissing Bob’s bum?

Democracy. What democracy?

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Monday, February 11th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Fellow blogger Dewa Mavhinga has discussed Zimbabwe’s unfair electoral environment in his latest postings. Unfair is possibly the wrong word – let’s rather call it completely flawed. Kubatana will be running an SMS Election Information Service during Zimbabwe’s March 2008 election in an effort to keep citizens both informed and inspired. I’ve just been told that both The Herald and The Sunday Mail newspapers have rejected Kubatana’s classified advertisement publicising this service to Zimbabweans. This is just one example of how Zimbabweans access to information is being curtailed.

If this makes you feel agitated and outraged than please email the editors of these two Mugabe mouth pieces and criticise their behaviour. You can reach The Herald at theherald@zimpapers.co.zw and The Sunday Mail at sundaymail@zimpapers.co.zw and to make sure that we record their abuse of power please send a copy to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on: press [at] zlhr [dot] org [dot] zw

Further evidence of the completely flawed electoral process is illustrated in this recent ZLHR communication which I received today.

The administration of elections in Zimbabwe continues to be a monumental joke and the whole process is buried under a mountain of red tape. After we ran an advert in the local press for persons who have been denied access to registration or inspection of voters roll we have been inundated with distress calls from persons who want to inspect/register but denied the right to do so. For most prospective voters, trying to access the voters roll is an adventure whose success is not guaranteed. Even nominees in the forthcoming elections have been denied access and ZLHR have approached the courts for relief. Such developments in our view testify against the conscience of democracy and rule of law.