Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zim's education system on its knees

At a time when Zimbabwe is reeling in political and economic mess, the education system cannot help it but crumble. Currently the country is experiencing massive industrial action by all the government teachers. All government schools have been shut down since the beginning of the week resulting from this strike.

All the problems currently being experienced in Zimbabwe today are a result of a military style land grab from white farmers orchestrated by President Mugabe hiding behind liberation war veterans in 2000. This was followed by gross human rights abuses and violation of the rule of law hence the sanctions that were imposed on the country by European union and other western countries.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Zanu PF turns to spirit mediums for problems bedeviling Zim

Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe turns to spirit mediums for help following a galloping inflation rate, an economy in shambles, dwindling foreign currency reserves, widespread corruption, a thriving parallel market and massive civil and political unrest in the country. To sum it up, a country in dire straits.

As if that is is not enough for the Zimbos, Mugabe’s theatric politics of patronage is at play again as he has sanctioned the carrying out of traditional ceremonies around the country in order to allow the country’s ancestors to appease the nation and its woes. On Wednesday 26 September 2007, the acting President Joyce Mujuru received, we assume on the President’s orders, a program of the ceremonies from traditional chiefs in her offices in Harare.
Meanwhile, the President is attending the 62nd United Nations annual general assembly where he lambasted the United States, its president George Bush and the superpowers for putting Zimbabwe in the current political and economic mess.
During the same summit he praised South African president Thabo Mbeki for facilitating dialogue between the ruling party and MDC. Mbeki is on record saying Zimbabweans can only solve the problems in Zimbabwe yet the people are helpless in the hands of the ruling Zanu PF and President Mugabe.
Mbeki has also refused to comment on the sanctions slapped on Zim by the West. Zimbabwe was slapped with political and economic sanctions following gross human rights abuses, lack of rule of law, dictatorial rule by the President among other things.

The call for traditional ceremonies just serves to show how the ruling Party has lost control and also clear evidence of how low it can sink in the midst of a starving nation. After imposing massive price cuts which left most shops virtually empty, the ruling is trying to do damage control ahead of the so-called “harmonized elections” in March 2008.

African female journalists: who writes their rights

The press in all forms and in healthy democracies, is the public watchdog. It is the one that uncovers those stories about corruption, human rights abuses and political scandals and thus may even force governments, corporations and individuals alike to be accountable for their actions or inactions.

The press takes huge risks in order to expose such stories. Risks that may even threaten the existence the involved publications. Yet there is one story that the press has chosen to ignore. An untold story that is happening right there in front of the press itself.
It’s the story of female journalists and their ordeal in male dominated newsrooms.

Being a journalist and a female for that matter myself, I have worked in different newsrooms and media organizations for the past seven years of my life. During all this time I have written stories that document how female journalists are subjected to gross human rights abuse either in the media institutions or in the field during practice. More often than not the stories ended up in the trash, the ones that made their way into the publication would either be totally changed or the headline would be highly misleading and irrelevant to the story itself.

A good example of how male editors can manipulate female journalists views on the issue in question is a story that I did while working for the PARADE magazine in Harare in May 2003. The story covered most of the issues outlined above. It looked on how female journalists felt about sexual harassment by male colleagues and bosses. All the female journalists that I spoke to didn’t hesitate to speak their minds out. In fact they were glad I had provided a platform of which to talk about their experiences without interference from their employers.

Surprisingly enough, a story that had nothing to do with female journalists’ competence came out in the magazine with a screaming headline; Are women journalists worth their salt? I couldn’t even relate the story that I had written with the headline. It was totally misleading. I took the issue with the then editor of the magazine who promised to do something about it. I wasn’t sure what that something was going to be but then the something never happened anyway.
“Men are scared of women who are educated and successful. They always want women to be underdogs, which we will not be. At least we will fight it to the bitter end. Thus they label us derogatory names and subject us to abuse. We become victims of our own success”, Victoria Munyoro then working for Thomson Publications said at the time.
“…the big problem is that of male colleagues who find a pleasure to take female reporters for a ride since they are the lowest in the ranks. After all they have their own families and a life to live after all”, observed Violet Mufori who was then working for the Sunday Mail in Harare.
She later phoned me after the story came out to say that she wished she had not said that because her male colleagues were not really pleased with the comment.
From the two quotes above you can tell the story had nothing to do with competence or professionalism yet my editor chose to distort it by a putting a headline that was, if anything, parallel to the story itself.
The question then at the end of the day is, is it just inherited social oppression or it is mere ignorance? And why have female journalists chosen to sweep this thing under the carpet. To protect their jobs or they are just too busy to let it get in their way? The most likely reason would be fear of further harassment.
It could have been a pure act of sabotage, maybe the editor was trying to say female journalists are incompetent and thus sell their bodies in order to gain privileges within the newsroom.
These are not just real life experiences that the female journalists go through but live testimonies that the world needs to wake up from its deliberate slumber and pay attention to.

Today many other female journalists worldwide will bear witness to the fact that women are subjected to sexual harassment and other violations of passion in and outside the newsroom. This is despite the emergence of numerous Non Governmental Organizations that barrage us with human rights, gender equality and equity nonsense. Hence the management structures of various media houses are in the hands of men.
This means female journalists often find themselves with chauvinistic male bosses who will either throw out that story which tackles women’s abuse or will ignore any sexual abuse complaints by a female employee.
During practice female journalists have to do stories that may involve interviewing sources like powerful politicians who may subject the journalist to sexual abuse that is usually difficult to prove in a court of law and one that your male editor will ask you to ignore. A sexually suggestive remark on your dressing for instance. My former editor (male) at a certain monthly publication used to remind me all the time that “it comes with your job”!

This is mere killing of freedom of expression while promoting it at the same time. What kind of freedom of expression is this if the very ambassadors of it cannot enjoy it? If accorded the opportunity female journalists have a chance to create something new, to be both architects and builders of a new generation of the media fraternity. One that provides enough space for women journalist practitioners to not just be a voice for others but to also have a voice themselves. To give them a chance to tell their story without fear of victimization or having to account for it to someone else. There is nothing as painful as having to account to someone who violated your rights why you spoke out.

One senior journo who could not be named on request said, “ women ask for it by dressing in figure hugging and highly exposing clothes. When a man sees this he cannot help it even if the woman is a journalist or colleague or whatever for that matter. Men will always be men, girl”
Female journalists are abused professionally and sexually in the newsrooms. According to the Southern African Research Documentation Centre (SARDC) in 2000, only 6% women were in management positions in the media industry in the entire region in 1994. This poses serious barriers to their freedom of expression when it comes to issues that affect them which involve their bosses.
This puts the female journalist in a vulnerable position so much hence it is much more comfortable to suffer in silence than to lose your job that takes care of your bills at the end of the month.
So much for the profession that promotes freedom of expression.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mugabe’s law enforcement agents grab basic commodities

Following the recent price cuts by the ruling party ZANU PF and government, which have left shop shelves empty, Mugabe’s law enforcement agents have been grabbing basic commodities from the shops since the exercise began.
Police, militia and other law enforcement agents are authorised to inspect if shops are withholding basic commodities and if so order them to sell the products. However, in instances where these agents catch retailers withholding basic commodities instead of them ordering the shops to sell to the general public they then grab these products and later sell them at black market.
A galloping inflation rate has seen the prices of basic commodities skyrocketing to unbearable levels by the majority. This prompted a dictatorial damage control masquerading as a price control exercise that has left many people stranded more than before.
Moore often than not law enforcement agents are always conveniently present at all times whenever there is a shop with precious basic commodities.
On the other hand police officers have blamed outrageously low salaries as the main reason why they are capitalizing on the price controls.
“We get very low salaries so much so that we couldn’t afford the basic commodities before the price cuts so now we have a chance to stock up our pantries. Its true that we when we find shops hiding these goods we buy in bulk and after that we let the owner sell the remaining goods to he public. You have to understand that being a policeman does not mean that I am not a human being. I also need to survive”, said a police officer in one of Harare’s high density suburbs (name and station withheld for security reasons)
This has since become the norm in Zimbabwe today where profiteering, selfishness and greedy have become the order of the day.

State media descends on Pius Ncube

The state media is working tirelessly in bludgeoning President Mugabe’s number one critic, Archbishop Pius Ncube who is facing allegations of adultery.
The Archbishop is on record calling for the resignation of President Mugabe to pave way for a new and democratic government. He is also on record saying Mugabe is a hypocrite after the President ordered operation Murambatsvina that displaced many people from their homes in 2005.
All this was before the nation woke up one July morning to the shocking pictures of the Archbishop in bed with a woman identified as Rosemary Sibanda. The story has since divided the nation into two; one group that sympathizes with the Bishop while the other is of Mugabe sympathizers.
State media broke the story.
Ncube’s sympathizers feel that this is merely a smear campaign orchestrated by state agents in a bid to discredit the bishop. And the way the state media has handled this issue has compounded this feeling. This is given the way it has been on the forefront releasing crude pictures of the Archbishop in bed with the woman in question. Sate media has spearheaded an anti Ncube crusade and this has left many people questing the relevance of such.
“The matter in question is between Pius Ncube, the courts and God”, said Loughty Dube, Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa- Zimbabwe chapter.
The state media has virtually tried and convicted Ncube before the court has even done so. However, people are now questioning whether the courts are going to do justice without the interference of the government given the breakdown of the rule of law in the country.
This follows the fact that the adultery summons were served to the Archbishop in what looked more like a state media press conference. The unsuspecting Pius Ncube was given the summons in the presence editors and reporters from state media who were waiting to break the story.

This goes to show that there is no more objective, fair and unbiased media in Zimbabwe to act as a public watchdog much to the satisfaction of the government after it closed down almost all independent media save for a few that is operating under the hawk eye of state agents.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Price blitz takes its toll on ordinary Zimbabweans

The recent price hikes by President Mugabe have taken heavy toll on the ordinary Zimbabweans. When president Mugabe and the ruling Zanu Pf party embarked on a price blitz, little did they know how businessman and suppliers would retaliate?Two weeks down the line since the price blitz begun, virtually almost all the shelves in Zim’s retail and wholesale shops have gone empty.

This has left ordinary Zimbos who do not have money to travel to neighboring countries to purchase groceries stranded with no food on their tables.As if that is not enough, President Mugabe is on record threatening to seize all the trading licenses of the shops that have withdrawn goods from the shelves. The reason why retailers and wholesalers have withdrawn all the basic commodities is because they bought these products at ten times the price they are being asked to sell them by Mugabe.

Since the year 2000 the ruling party and President Mugabe has been playing politics of patronage after he fell out with the masses because of the brutal land reforms and repressive press laws. He has developed a tendency of trying to do damage control in vain. After starving the masses he would then start “giving food” in order to alleviate them from the hunger caused by Tony Blair and George Bush!

Since 1980 when he first came to power, Mugabe has never faced the toughest opposition as the Movement for Democratic change (MDC), and this has prompted him to devise various strategies ranging from arresting opposition leaders, torturing journalists and feeding the nation with the Tony Blair and George Bush hogwash. in the country’s urban areas he has totally lost support of the people because that is where the majority of educated Zimbabweans reside. And these are the same people who bear the brunt of Mugabe’s brutal regime.

Mugabe using Zim Electoral Commission to garner support in rural areas

In the latest of President Mugabe’s numerous ways of stifling the opposition MDC’s efforts of winning the upcoming presidential elections in 2008, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is being used to campaign for Zanu Pf in the rural areas.

ZEC has now deviated from its mandate of ensuring the smooth flow of elections in a neutral way and has been going around in the rural areas giving identity documents to the rural masses encouraging them to vote for the ruling party Zanu Pf.
A galloping inflation rate, runaway prices and dwindling forex reserves has seen the ruling party and the president losing support in the urban areas and therefore his strength now lies in the rural areas.

On the 15th of June 2007 ZEC donning Zanu Pf regalia gathered people in Zvimba area and encouraged them to acquire identity documents in order to enable them to register for voting. According to a 37-year-old man (name supplied and withheld for security reasons), the officials registered him without any documentation that is required in order for one to vote. According to the Registrar of Births and deaths Tobaiwa Mudede, a person is supposed to be a citizen of Zimbabwe and must hold a valid Birth certificate in order for them to be able to get an identity document.
But for ZEC officials sent by Mugabe these stipulated requirements can be bypassed at any given time in order for President Mugabe to win elections.This man who has not held an identity document all his life was given one in minutes.“When I got to the registering official I told him that I did not have a birth certificate but he didn’t say anything. Instead he started issuing my id”, said Mr. Tembo (not his real name)

Since 2000 Civic organizations have been pressing for measures that ensure a conducive environment for a free and fair election so as to minimize Mugabe’s chances of rigging. This has seen the emergence for several government related arms such as ZEC, which are being, use to thwart these initiatives.

Tsvangirai- you were betrayed

For the past three months I have been away from home. During this short time, a lot happened in the country that I call home.Bread price rose way above the biggest denomination of money. The price of small candles now cost four times the price of bread. And electricity blackouts are the order of the day.I am talking about a country that was known as the Bread basket of Southern Africa; Zimbabwe.But, that is not all. Morgan Tsvangirai, the name that is synonymous with opposition politics in Zimbabwe, suffered a major setback in his quest to deliver the people from Robert Mugabe. It is well known that some high ranking members of the his party broke away last year in a bid to contest in the senatorial elections.And, now the pro Senate faction has elected some Professor, Aurthur Mutambara, to the post of President. They just fished someone from the diaspora who has not set foot in his homeland for a long time and blessed him with powers to, for instance, lead the people of Zimbabwe.Personally, I have never trusted Welshman Ncube for a long time. I still don't anyway.This is sheer betrayal for Morgan. He is the name that sticks to the MDC label. He is the one who was charged with treason. The one who was called all sorts of names by the state media. And is he not the one who was confined within the borders of Zimbabwe for more that three years? During all this time Authur was probably wining and dining with his friends out there in the diaspora.So Aurthur, why didn't you come during that time. Why didn't Welshman and company call you then? You waited until Zanu Pf had weakened the MDC through wholesale election rigging, a brutal police force and a military back up. Then you emerged from hibernation or from no where. The question is, to do what?To me and many other Zimbabweans, Morgan is the face of the struggle for democracy.And when all is said and done, Zimbabweans cannot be fooled by Welshman or anyone else for that matter. Morgan, aluta continua.Well, I was just thinking about all this because I am now going back home.

Cartoon violence was unwarranted

Four months ago the world saw an eruption of anger, violence and hatred. Anger triggered off by the publication of the muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper. But, the big question is why were the Muslims seeking vengeance for Muhammad?Following the whole cartoon debacle, the general conclusion was that the Muslims had far much bigger agenda than the cartoons. In a morden world where human rights are the song of the day, any attempts to gag the press are unwarranted.
Undoubtedly, no one has a right to ridicule Muhammad in any way. In a free world, everyone is entitled to their religion and there is no question about that. But, why apparent violation of human rights would be regarded as the absolute way to seek vengeance for the prophet, the mind bogglesBut, causing multiple deaths, alarm and despondency in the name of religion is totally uncalled for.In order for the Muslims to make a strong case, there is need for tolerance and rationale. This way people will bear with them instead of condenming them.It is in this vein that the Muslims should pray for all those who are persecuting Muhammad to be punished accordingly. By him.