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The Constitution is not about Regime Change

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Friday, May 11th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

We can no longer deny that the hopes and aspirations of the Zimbabwean people have been usurped by politicians. Neither ZANU PF nor MDC may claim innocence in illegally seizing what was supposed to be a ‘people driven’ constitution making process and manipulating it for their own political ends.  In truth neither party has the people’s wishes at heart.

In  Pambazuka, Maxwell V Madzikanga writes that the process has become a ‘tokenistic exercise for the rich corrupt and powerful’:

A national constitution is not a political and partisan document and thus all political and non-political actors in Zimbabwe were expected to unite around this very noble cause. This did not happen as politicians from the major political parties selfishly and parochially promoted their partisan position at the expense of national virtues, ethos, rationality and reason.

The constitution is not about regime change. The constitution-making phase was not supposed to be a stone-throwing, political space expansion exercise, sovereignty-induced visitations to the rural areas. The forums were supposed to be focus group reflections, listening tours and detailed discussions of fundamental, all and cross-generational ethos, virtues, values and thinking. The consultations were supposed to dialogical, discursive, give and take clinics and memorable encounters in the life and history of a republic in general and all stakeholders in particular. Sadly, this was not the case. A process that could have been harnessed to promote national unity and reconciliation ended up being hijacked by political heavy weights that stubbornly postured and arrogantly promoted their partisan agendas.

Read the full article here

That’s not journalism

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Thursday, May 10th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Being too tired (and too full) to move last night, I found myself watching last night’s 8 ‘O’ Clock news broadcast on ZBC. For the most part I try to avoid watching the news, it long ago abandoned its analytical, investigative and informational functions, and now merely serves to justify ZANU PFs existing position.

In an in-depth report, the bulletin featured unabashed condemnation, badly disguised as analysis, of the Pretoria High Court Ruling passed on Tuesday obliging South Africa to investigate Zimbabwean torture allegations. It then moved on to discuss the issue of the lack of coin change from retailers, a cold news item that had been publicly discussed last year; and as a coup de grace a feature report on the lack of innovation in the tourism sector.  I quite doubt that the programmes producers appreciate the irony of their levelling this charge when they are lacking in innovation themselves. Chris Mutsvangwa ZBC’s newly favourite public intellectual was quoted in at least three stories, in his multiple capacities as a legal expert, economic analyst and government representative. One might assume that he was the only person in all of Zimbabwe with any kind of education or opinion.

There’s an hour of my life that I will never get back. The entire bulletin was poorly constructed and superficial in it’s coverage. Zimbabweans are not stupid, their response has been to access paid and free to air channels from South Africa. It’s no wonder that the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey has consistently reported a decline in viewership. I wonder how Zimbabwe Broadcasting holdings management can doggedly continue to create programming that few can access and even fewer care to watch. Surely they cannot be so deluded as to call what I witnessed last night journalism? Thankfully ZBC’s reception is limited to an 80km radius around Harare, leaving the rest of the nation unaffected. I can’t say it’s a loss to Zimbabwe’s media-scape.

Where are the uncompromising lobby groups?

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Thursday, May 10th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

From yesterday’s editorial in the Zimbabwean:

Zimbabweans are renowned for choosing to skirt hurdles instead of removing them. But this need not be so. Faced with the injustices perpetrated by public service institutions like Zesa and municipalities, we need to organise ourselves into vibrant and uncompromising lobby groups that fight for our civil rights.

These groups, divorced from political affiliation-for there is no water or ZESA with a Zanu (PF) or MDC colour-should strive to confront the authorities.

Strange, I thought that was the purpose of the civic society organisations operating in Zimbabwe. The real issues, water, power, education, health and poverty seem to have been lost in the tug of war between MDC and ZANU PF. Where are the lobby groups who are in the so-called grassroots fighting these battles with our legislators? Instead we are all preoccupied with a constitution that may never see the light of day and elections that have already been stolen.

Clearly, we are not doing enough.

Poetry, let’s speak

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Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Godobori recited his Shona translation of Khalil Gibran’s the Prophet at the Poetry Cafe during HIFA.

Laying it on

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Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Lots of different people make HIFA happen.

The Global Quarter

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Monday, May 7th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa