Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Author Archive

We are being punished for voting for Zanu PF!

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Marko Phiri

Sometimes the stuff Zimbabweans believe can blow you away, and some have opined that the nature of our politics has made this the land of wild conspiracy theories.

I was in Mbare over the weekend where I witnessed long queues of people waiting their turn to get water from water points scattered around the area near Rufaro Stadium.

I was told there hadn’t been water since Thursday last week, and one commented, and I am not sure whether it was innocuous banter or he meant it, that the people were being punished for voting for Zanu PF.

I looked him straight in the eye and couldn’t make anything of his expression whether he was “joking” yet in a place where Zanu PF won “resoundingly” I was persuaded take his word for it.

I didn’t ask him who was doing the punishing, but considering what Zanu PF has always peddled, there were no prizes for guessing, yet the fact that someone actually believed it was in itself telling about the kind of people we have become, the kind of politics we have embraced where people are apparently incapable of thinking for themselves and will believe all sorts of canards spun by the revolutionary party.

Somebody sure ain’t happy!

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Marko Phiri

“Amid reports of election rigging and continuing human rights abuses, Zimbabwe is the last country that should be legitimised by a UN summit of any kind. The notion that the UN should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination is, frankly, sickening.” Hillel Neuer, head of the Geneva-based group, UN Watch

Please go home

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, August 23rd, 2013 by Marko Phiri

Timeslive reader comment: “The tyrant is so frail that he can’t even hold his arm up anymore. Zimbabwe, like Africa, deserves what it gets. Now will all the Zimbos in South Africa please go home, you have had your free and fair elections absent of violence.”

Xenophobic attacks in the making?

It’s my party and I’ll swear if I want to

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, August 23rd, 2013 by Marko Phiri

Not many would have imagined that Mugabe would actually swear during his swearing in.

But then it has become customary fare that public events such as the inauguration always present a “too-good-to-be-true” opportunity to take jabs at anyone who does not find the old man’s politics likeable.

Yet it’s more than that: the inauguration, understandably boycotted by opponents who feel they were cheated, while appealing “So help me God,” was always going to be spliced with brickbats aimed at those Western countries who have condemned Zanu PF’s victory as a sham.

“As for the odd western nations which denounce our elections, we dismiss them as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mourn,” Mugabe charged, finding his element right there.

Even the Herald editorial, borrowing Biblical allegory with the headline “Desert is behind us, Canaan beckons,” could not resist that thread and commented: “We are fortunate in having the rest of the progressive world outside the evil Anglo-Saxon alliance of the US, Britain and its dominions Australia and Canada on our side.”

It’s the kind of stuff that gives you a hint of where we are going in our relations with the West, and we can expect more of that excoriation, yet of interest also is that even for ordinary Zimbabweans who feel cheated are invariably lumped with the West, and we already know how the MDC has been dealt with by the State media whom the MMPZ has accused of peddling hate speech.

But then, like a petulant child, the man could swear and get away with it, after all it was his party and no one could spoil it for him!

We know the exhortation that leadership comes with responsibility, and the next few months shall be watched closely as to where exactly we are going as a nation, and as the “new” president swore without any hint of irony: “The peasant who cast his vote on July 31 created my victory. I am at his service. I am his emissary and servant.”

Words are powerful constructs and we shall all be held to them.

Sexual stereotypes not helping Aids fight

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, August 23rd, 2013 by Marko Phiri

What many see as a sudden crackdown on women in Harare’s CBD by police accusing them of loitering for the purposes of prostitution actually dates back to as early as 1983 according to local researchers working on the link between prostitution and HIV/Aids.

In June 2, 1983, the police launched Operation Chinyanda/Scorpion, where hundreds of women were rounded up on allegations of prostitution.

After a long hiatus, another operation was launched on March 2, 2007 where the systematic arrest of women was intensified.

Four years later, Operation Keep Your Dignity was launched in January 2011, with the following year, in December 2012, seeing Operation Dyira Bonus Kumba where women became the target of a crackdown that was supposed to keep men in their homes to spend their end-of-year bonuses with their families not prostitutes!

Sounds silly, but researchers working with sex workers in Harare and Nyamapanda say the fact that this is an operation sanctioned at the highest level of law enforcement misses the point of addressing the core structural issues that have forced women to the streets in the first place, beyond even interrogating if those arrested in these operations are indeed prostitutes.

Yet the irrationality of these sweeps on women points to failed methodologies in understanding and addressing women’s economic imperatives and opportunities, researchers argue.

But not only that, an unapologetically patriarchal society has skewed the sexual power dynamics where men do the labeling, and every single or unmarried woman, becomes a prostitute because they are found in the CBD during hours when married women are in their homes!

A story was narrated about how cops swooped on a block of flats in Harare’s CBD arresting every female on site and barged into an apartment where a man and his wife were watching telly. The cops allegedly dragged the woman to the waiting Black Maria amid protests from the husband.

But because this is Zimbabwe where citizens have no recourse to litigate against the State, that was the end of the story. All the couple had was bitterness against the system after the wife was released.

It has become laughable how cops carry out their duties, and with the issue of arresting all women seen in the CBD after hours, it has raised yet another disturbing trend where women have become very open to abuse, local researchers allege.

After Operation No Loitering was launched in February this year, followed by Operation Amai Ngwenya in July, then Operation Zvanyanya now carried about by an all-female cops crack unit, complaints that emerged centred on the sexual abuse of these females (whether prostitutes or not) by arresting officers.

It is a good thing that the ZRP has acted on these reports, and it is just one of many reports seen across the world where police demand sex from prostitutes in exchange for their freedom.

And that is yet another HIV/Aids hotspot. Do these males in positions of power use condoms, are these females in any position (pardon the pun) to negotiate/demand condom use when it is their freedom at stake?

Yet in all these operations, researchers are asking: has this worked to curb the spread of HIV/Aids and succeeded in creating “a morally upright” society as the prudes would put it?

One female contributor put it bluntly and said prostitution will always be around whether we like it or not so get used it!

Yet despite that blunt truth, what remains obvious is that there remains very little being done to protect sex workers, be it from STIs or physical/sexual violence.

Small wonder then that there were gasps last year when one MP dared the prudes and called for legalizing the operations of what she rather stupidly called “pleasure engineers” which effectively stripped the debate of its gravity.

And with the UNTWO General Assembly almost here, it cannot be ignored that sex workers are seeing an opportunity of a lifetime, and while Walter Mzembi has said legalizing the profession is out of the question, truth is, some delegates will turn their sojourn into a sex tourism excursion of sorts.

Like one young lady suggested, instead of bashing these women with haughty claims of immorality, other countries are providing sexual health care for sex workers and in the process minimising the spread of HIV/Aids.

Perhaps instead of futile efforts to get them off the streets and encouraging them to sell tomatoes instead, the focus should move from throwing only them into filthy holding cells, but extending the crusade to clients who remain invisible in the whole narrative.

It takes two to screw right?

Anger management

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by Marko Phiri

Another death of a military man which in “normal” circumstances would pass unnoticed, yet a look at online bulletin boards Zimbabweans are once again on Speculation Avenue speeding with all sorts of conspiracy theories. When will this end? Are there no “natural deaths” or fatal accidents anymore in this country? And the fact that some are celebrating someone’s death paints a very disturbing picture about where we come from, what bred that anger, where we are going and how that anger will be dealt with.