Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for September, 2013

Prospects and hopes for freedom of expression in all media in Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 by Lenard Kamwendo

Prospects of seeing a better Zimbabwe where people can freely express themselves as guaranteed in the new Constitution are not yet certain as the new government gets down to business. Before we set high expectations we just have to go down memory lane and dwell a lot on the legacy of the government, which has just regained power. The love-hate relationship between the ZANU-PF lead government and the media dates back to the time when a litany of bad laws were crafted to criminalize freedom of expression and the return of the chief architect of some these laws to head the Media and Information ministry has sent a strong signal of what to expect in the next five years especially his recent comments in the media. During the tenure of the re-appointed Minister of Information we saw a plethora of bad laws, which curtailed and inhibited freedom of expression at same time also criminalizing the journalism profession.

Laws such as POSA, AIPPA, BAZ, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Official Secrets Act have been used in the past to criminalize the profession of journalism and most of these laws where crafted during the time when ZANU-PF felt threatened by the rising popularity of the opposition parties. A record increase in the use of insult targeting opposition supporters was recorded during the recently held 2013 harmonized election campaigns. Excessive monitoring has also spread to cover areas such the cyber-space.
Meanwhile Zimbabweans have come up with various and alternative ways of expressing themselves; the sprouting up of graffiti on walls, blogs, radio and television stations broadcasting from outside the country.

Media experts weighed in on the “Prospects for freedom of expression in all media” under the new government at a discussion hosted by Zimbabwe Democracy Institute. One of the panelists from the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe asked, “since recent the election saw ZANU-PF sweeping to a two-thirds majority in Parliament but is the threat gone that warrants the removal of bad laws, which makes it easy to charge someone with defamation or insult?” To a large extent the existence of a biased state broadcaster ensures that not every one is heard but only a selected few voices. Prospects could be high to see the licensing of community radio stations, television and the transformation of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) from being a state broadcaster to a public broadcaster and the lack of it will just result in an increase in the number of people getting arrested for seeking alternatives to freely express themselves.
But since this is a party on the road to mend relations maybe some media reforms could be on the cards as the ZANU-PF lead government embarks on a rebranding exercise.

It comes down to deciding to live life in the moment

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Friday, September 20th, 2013 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

A short interview with Tom Soper

In your last interview with Kubatana you were recovering from a serious, life altering accident. Share with us your hospital experience.
It was really terrifying particularly at the outset because I was supposedly unconscious for two weeks. But actually even though I was unconscious it was a different kind of consciousness. There were a lot of nightmares in it. It was a gradual awareness of the changes that were coming with physical disability. It was reshaping my life. This was an opportunity to come back with a different perspective on day-to-day activities, things I had taken for granted, getting back on the spiritual path and being able to inspire others.

Can you share with us what has inspired you lately, or what inspires you in general?
I am inspired by the sheer wonder of life. I am inspired by the night sky. I am inspired by the sheer extent of space and time. I am inspired by the infinite detail of what’s around us. I am inspired by people’s courage, goodness and potential. Some people who go about using their potential like yourselves at Kubatana; Bev and Amanda inspire me.

What are your views on the key ingredients for the future of a successful Zimbabwe?
With my background in finance the straightforward answer is that we need some liquidity in this economy. That basically means direct foreign investment. We do not have the industry that is adding value to create that internal ability to get back on track. If we are exporting one or two billion dollars of goods every year and importing 7 billion there is a gap there that needs to be filled with simple economics. That can be filled by direct foreign investment and therefore there should be a platform to attract that investment … which comes down to politics.

What advice would you give yourself if you were starting all over again?
The rules I work on now are the generic rules like no matter how bad things may seem, they could always be quite a lot worse for others. To get stuck in your own problems is really not helpful at all. If you sit back and look at your own problems and then think of other people’s problems they tend to get smaller quite quickly. So in terms of philosophy, nothing is permanent. If nothing is permanent, it means problems will go away, but it’s up to you to take note of how much you want to suffer until that point. It takes patience, strength and the knowledge that life is full of injustices.

The other advice I try and reflect on every morning is to try and not take too much for granted. Also to look at time and perspective; a Buddhist perspective that says the past is gone and you can’t change it leaves you with a clean slate of the present. A lot of people are caught up in the past and do not realise how much influence they really have over their way of being.

In your own view should anything be labeled wrong or right?
I think the question of right or wrong is quite subjective because society has set certain rules that say this is right or wrong which is a basis for the law and a moral system. But I think society has gone a little bit too far – in particular education and religious systems – they are not as flexible as they might be.

What is your present state of mind?
I am in a good space. I am developing the ability to take a step back and have a look around me without getting caught up in my distractions. Whilst I see things that may be painful, I am more okay with that, than I used to be. I wouldn’t say positive, but I would say open.

The renowned poet Seamus Heaney died recently. He wrote: “The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life.” What comes up for you when you reflect on his words?
I think that for me, it comes down to deciding to live life in the moment. I know it’s a cliché as if there is no tomorrow! You can either be bold and go for things that you are passionate about, or you can live in a shell – thinking that it’s probably a safer place. When I heard those words they reminded me of the quote I have in my office, “Life begins at the outer edge of your comfort zone,” and I would equate that to the bold in the poem. That is really where life does begin; if you are not bold about looking for and accepting new things, you will probably reach your deathbed with quite a lot of regrets.

Years that ask questions

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Friday, September 20th, 2013 by Bev Clark

years that ask questions

I am an African writer: NoViolet Bulawayo

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Friday, September 20th, 2013 by Bev Clark


Smeeta Mahanti; Reagan Arthur Books

From The Atlantic:

In an interview with The Guardian, fellow Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah, often referred to as “the voice of Zimbabwe,” rejected the role. “I get irritated by the term ‘African writer,’” she said, “because it doesn’t mean anything to me. Africa is so big.” In her essay “What Makes a ‘Real African?’” Ethiopian writer Maaza Mengiste expressed a similar sentiment: “The question is problematic,” she wrote. “It assumes a static and compressed definition of Africa. But Africa is a continent of 55 recognized states, with a population of over one billion and more than 2,000 languages. There are so many possible responses.”

Bulawayo, by contrast, embraces her role as an “African writer” and, as her novel reveals, doesn’t let expectations circumscribe her. “For me, I always insist that I am an African writer because it is true,” she said. “I am an African. If I deny that label, my work will scream otherwise.”


What’s next after elections: The way forward for young women

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Friday, September 20th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

A recent report from the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) discusses some of the challenges facing young women in Zimbabwe today, including their vulnerabilities in the present economic environment.

In their recommendations, they say:

There is a need for civil society to push for the recognition of the informal sector as a source of livelihood for young women and these should therefore set up mechanisms of advocacy both at policy level and economically. For example this can be done by setting up markets like Mupedzanhamo for young women to sell their goods without fear of harassment and intimidation. Secondly, by creating platforms to encourage young women to desist and resist entering risky relationships of exchange through introducing various mentorship programs by either the relevant ministries or non-governmental organizations. Thirdly, by including policies that take into consideration historical gender imbalances for example the current indigenization policy, these policies should also consider gender protocol and enforce gender budgeting to ensure young women claim their space in empowerment. Lastly, the media has an important role to play in helping to address these issues young women face daily because of the current economic environment. It should act as an education tool rather than objectify women; it should be gender sensitive and create platforms for young women to air their views as well as inform them of the various opportunities open to them from various organizations.

Read more

Repair kit

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Friday, September 20th, 2013 by Bev Clark

karma repair kit

Via poetfire