Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Author Archive

Elections sing the well-known song of violence in Zimbabwe

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, June 27th, 2013 by Emily Morris

On Monday the ZANU-PF primary elections were held, which in a way should have been an example of how the 31 July elections are going to be, and if this is true, we really are in for a rough ride.

The process was chaotic with ballot boxes and papers arriving late in many of the constituencies, and in some cases prospective voters left without having voted. This chaos was worsened as some constituencies, such as Mutare central, ran out of ballot papers before everyone had voted. There have also been reports of violence and voter discrimination.

This is seriously worrying as this is just inter-party competition. If there are already reports of arson and violence then what will happen when more intense opposition is brought in? Elections sing the well-known song of violence in Zimbabwe, and, unfortunately, the preaching of “peaceful voting” has a hollow ring to it.


del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 by Emily Morris

calvin and hobbes - voting

Where’s the respect?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, June 24th, 2013 by Emily Morris

This morning I went to get my national ID so, eventually, I can register to vote, however this is easier said than done. Outside Market Square there are long lines of people, some had been there since 9 o’clock the night before, sleeping on cardboard boxes outside the office – just to get basic documentation!

The actual process only takes about 5 minutes per person; they take a picture, your fingerprints, and ask you to sign some papers, then you are done! Yet you still have to queue the entire day for those few simple processes. It seems an unfair waste of people’s time and energy.

Possibly the hardest is for people trying to get birth certificates. There are dozens of women with new born babies tied to their backs, standing in these horrendously long queues just to get a simple piece of paper for their babies. It is not so bad for families who can support and help each other, but single mothers really have it hard. Opposite me were two mothers, both with tiny babies, they had a friend with them to help, but to sit in that queue, on the dirty benches for hours on end with a child that young is unfair and insulting to the new mothers. If anyone should get privileges, it should be the mothers with their children, who are already suffering from post maternal stress, and need to rest, rather than stand in the cold for the whole day.

Controlling our genes

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, June 24th, 2013 by Emily Morris

Recently, in Washington, it was ruled that human genes may not be patented. This is a huge step forward in genetic research, as it will disallow privatisation of information on important genetic studies. This court case was mainly concerned with the company Myriad Genetics, which in the 90s, won two patents on the human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which if varied can significantly increase breast and ovarian cancer risk. This patent allowed them to offer an exclusive test at high prices (over $3000). However, with the new court ruling, others will be allowed access to the information and therefore allow further research and cheaper tests for cancer risks.

Whilst this is a huge step forward for genetics research, it seems ridiculous that these large companies can have so much control over our very make up, and that they can control and sell important knowledge. It seem unfair how they claimed a patent on something they did not make (as it is natural human DNA) and then charge ludicrous prices for a test, especially as most of their data which allowed them to discover the genes came from the public database.

Yet the battle for the research is not over. Although the patent has been removed, there are still problems with access to the data as the company holds it as a trade secret. These kinds of closed policies in the pharmaceutical field are really slowing down valuable research, which could save lives, all for the need for profit.

Where does development start?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, May 24th, 2013 by Emily Morris

Usually when the word ‘developed’ is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is money, since surely you cannot develop without money, and therefore the logical assumption is that development results in money and therefore can be measured in it.

However, this is not always true, as in the case of Kerala.

Kerala is a small province in Southern India and is very poor with people living on between $298 and $350 a year. This is about one seventeenth of the income in the United States, and yet, demographically, Kerala is almost at the same level as the USA. A study was done to compare the 2 and it was discovered that:

- Kerala male life expectancy is about 70 years while the USA is about 72
- Kerala’s birth rate is about 18 per 1000 (and dropping) while the USA is about 16 per 1000
- And, possibly most shocking (or logical) is Kerala has 100% literacy!

This indicates that on one seventeenth of the money Kerala can achieve almost the same development as the USA (if development is not measured in money). Which brings to question why such a small place can do so much on such little money.

The answer can be found in education. Kerala had a huge drive in the late 1980s on education, which resulted in their 100% literacy. What was particularly focused on was female literacy. The idea was that if a woman is educated, she is far more likely to share her education with her children than a man. Therefore more people can benefit from one woman being educated rather than one man being educated. Although this did not improve the unemployment rate (which is still very high), it did create emancipation, which then trickled into other areas. With female emancipation, the birth rate dropped, aiding the problem of overpopulation and also reducing pressure on family incomes.

Kerala seems to be a huge success in terms of human development. Whether this is just a boom after a big push or a genuine, sustainable change in the people’s lives cannot be determined yet as it is still too recent. However, it can be said that not all development is reliant on money, and maybe other provinces in India and even other countries can learn from Kerala and its successes.

Where do you buy your vegetables?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, May 20th, 2013 by Emily Morris

On Friday I visited the Harare Children’s Home. The home is for children who were abandoned or abused. It also offers a safe place for newborn children. They try to train the children as much as possible so they can sustain themselves when they are older and have to leave the home. Boys can only stay to the age of 10 and girls to the age of 20.

When I arrived I was offered a tour around the home and was struck by the warm atmosphere in the home. I was shown all the various projects being carried out by the home, including one that particularly caught my attention, their garden project. The home grows vegetables in their garden, some of which are used in the kitchen for the children, but the rest are sold to the public, to raise some money for the home.

I was told it is a very successful project but the main problem is finding a market for the vegetables. People do go to the home and buy vegetables directly while the older girls at the home sell some on the side of the road.

So if you are looking for some delicious looking vegetables, grown with love and intention, then I recommend a visit to the children’s home, where you can find the vegetables you are looking for as well as help out a good cause.

Where? 2 Daventry Rd, Eastlea, Harare

Harare Childrens Home