Friday, December 4, 2015

Deconstructing gender and racial implications of Oscar Pistorius murder conviction on appeal

The Supreme court of appeal in South Africa found world famous paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius guilty of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar shot through a locked bathroom door of his house four times on valentine's day in 2013. 

The conviction, however, is an overturning of the earlier ruling by High court Judge Thokozile Masipa who had convicted Oscar on a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

In simple terms, Judge Masipa had ruled that Oscar had not intended to kill Reeva. She felt the evidence which had been presented was not enough to convict Oscar dolus eventualis  - intent which is present when the perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences.

Judge Masipa said,'' This court... found that the accused cannot be guilty of murder dolus eventualis..., on the basis that from his belief and his conduct, it could not be said that he foresaw that either the deceased or anyone else, for that matter, might be killed when he fired the shots at the toilet door. It also cannot be said that he accepted that possibility into the bargain.''

But the Supreme court said it could not support her''finding.''

Supreme court Justice Eric Leach said,''in the light of the nature of the firearm and the ammunition used and the extremely limited space into which the shots were fired... I have no doubt that in firing the fatal shots the accused must have foreseen, and therefore did foresee, that whoever was behind the toilet door might die, but reconciled himself to that event occurring and gambled with that person’s life. This constituted dolus eventualis on his part, and the identity of his victim is irrelevant to his guilt''

It is both interesting and important to note that Justice Leach made referrence  to common sense in one part of his ruling. Something (the common sense) which all of us commoners used to see that Oscar must have known who was behind the door and as a person with sufficient knowledge on guns he also knew that four shots from a high calibre firearm would kill the person behind that door. 

Now, most people who applauded the Supreme court ruling said it was an indictment on Judge Masipa's trial ruling. 

But for me, the overturning of Judge Masipa's ruling was an indictment on women and black people. There are serious gender and racial implications from the fact that a black woman judge made such a glaring error in such a high profile case. 

Judge Masipa's 'error' has definitely brought into question the ability of women to perform 'adequately' at the same level as men and of course those who have always believed women are not as capable as men will definitely make gendered inferences as a result. In other words, the outcome of the supreme court ruling is a blow for women in general.

The racial implications are that the overturning of Judge Masipa's ruling has also dealt a blow on the ability of black people to perform high level jobs such as, in this case, being a judge. This would not be a problem if we were talking about any other country and not South Africa where white supremacy is still an issue of contention. 

As already mentioned, there is rampant perception of black people's intellectual (in)capabilities as informed by apartheid in South Africa. 

Furthermore, some people could say that white supremacy won the day over a black judge who was raised in an impoverished black town during apartheid and was too sub-consciously aware of the position of black people in South Africa - and was afraid to convict a rich white man of murder and therefore chose to take a much safer route in the middle.

One could easily assume that in convicting Oscar of a lesser charge, Judge Masipa wanted to appease at least two groups of people- the group that wanted Oscar to go to jail- which is the majority in my opinion - and the group which did not want Oscar to go to jail. 

Or, did this black judge who grew up in an impoverished black township where gun violence is rampant fail to interpret the law because of her own numbness because she is used to seeing (black) women die everyday at the hands of gunmen?  

From this viewpoint, we can try to explore the fact that Judge Masipa did not feel the 'wrath' which was needed to hand down the appropriate conviction. Many people feel she could have examined more, Oscar Pistorius's inconsistent and unreliable version of why he fired four shots into a locked bathroom door without even ascertaining if the person behind the door was capable of bringing harm to him.

What exactly made Thokozile Masipa, an inspirational woman who rose from being a maid, to make such an 'error?'

It is also not possible to try and deconstruct Masipa's finding without examining gender implications thereof. 

As a woman, she is expected by society to be compassionate and therefore she chose to show compassion- which women are obliged to give. As a result she gave Oscar a lesser conviction and therefore in doing so also gave him a second chance - something any mother would do. Or could it be that Thokozile Masipa was easily emotionally trapped (because she is a woman) into feeling sorry for a scared, double amputee who shot through a door without 'thinking' because he does ''not have legs?''

Women, in all societies, are labelled weak emotionally and physically and thus are socialised to think more of being mothers and carers. The result is why we have more women in compassion related jobs such as nursing. Therefore one can argue that these gender related qualities which are inculcated into women from a tender age could have played a role in Judge Masipa ruling that Oscar had not intended to murder Reeva Steenkamp.

There are so many questions to be asked and many classes of oppression to be examined using the Oscar Pistorius case. 

This case will definitely go down in history as one of the most prominent cases which could even shape the South African judiciary going forward.

However, despite questioning Masipa's application of dolus eventualis, Justice Leach offered an olive branch in closing his ruling by saying the overturning of Masipa's ruling should not be seen as an ''adverse comment upon her competence and ability.'' 

He emphasized that Masipa 'conducted the hearing with a degree of dignity and patience that is a credit to the judiciary.'

Even though Justice Leach vindicated Masipa in words only, the Supreme court of appeal's ruling that Oscar Pistorius murdered Reeva Steenkamp is a serious indictment on women and above all black people.

But on the other hand, 
I think the appeal offered a reasonable explanation that Masipa did not need to base her judgement on the fact that Oscar did not know that it was Reeva specifically who was behind the door because the fact of the matter is that the identity of the person behind the door was irrelevant. I think it's a win for us black people if you ask me because it's the impoverished black people who end up as burglars in South Africa (the imaginary burglar that Oscar Pistorius wanted to bring to his demise so vehemently he fired four shots at his own bathroom door- if we are to believe him).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why I am cheering on Joice Mujuru

Joice Mujuru. photo: Getty images
Ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru has bounced back into politics and not many people are happy with that. On her shoulders, she still bears all the human rights violations that Zanu Pf committed against the people of Zimbabwe for the past thirty five years. No doubt her hands are not the cleanest and of course she is not a saint. Lets not get that twisted.

But, I have been waiting eagerly for something like this to happen. I have many reasons why. Firstly, she is the second major woman opponent after Margaret Dongo to challenge Robert Mugabe since independence. I am a woman and as the late great American author Maya Angelou said, ''it would not make sense to not be on my own side''. Therefore, the woman in me wants this to happen; a meaningful threat to Robert Mugabe from a woman.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Grace Mugabe's stance on child marriages is both simplistic and dangerous

Grace Mugabe. pic
First lady Grace Mugabe's lambasting of child rapists and recommending them to seek sex workers since sex work is now ''legal'', boggles the mind. It is mind boggling that Grace Mugabe, who is expected to champion women's empowerment, could loudly proclaim the legalisation of sex work as if it is something to be proud of. It is devastatingly obvious that (if) sex work had to be legalised it is because of the high numbers of women who have nothing to make a survival from except their own bodies. Therefore for Grace to add insult to injury by forwarding rapists to them is surely in direct conflict with the empower and employ mantra that Zanu Pf has been selling since the last election. Grace Mugabe made these proclamations at a rally in Binga as was reported by Newsday, a local paper.

A rapist is a rapist period. He is not going to abandon his rapist ways just because he is with a commercial sex worker. There are many cases of sex workers who get raped and denied payment and if only the police could really protect sex workers many of these culprits could be brought to book. If Grace Mugabe truly cares about girls she can start by advocating for their parents not to be chased out of their profitable vending areas to useless out of the city designated points. That is where we expect the First lady to show her muscle. In meaningful issues of survival. Otherwise, the girls will continue being raped if their parents return home late because they are trying to salvage what few customers they can get late into the night at those in-the-wilderness vending points that were introduced by government.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Beauty Pageants: Parading, showcasing and judging women's bodies is not empowerment

Beautiful and elegant Emily Kachote 
pic credit Chronicle

''Exhibiting women's bodies for commercial purposes is the height of oppression''

One morning I browsed my news feed and it was awash with sad comments about Emily Kachote who had been crowned Miss Zimbabwe earlier on. The remarks in lifestyle and entertainment news articles were sad and unfortunate. Some mischievous and misguided Zimbabweans thought she is ''not beautiful and classy enough''. My reaction to the stories was obvious. I frowned and cursed. Which I rarely do unless I am highly irritated.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Civil servants are a key pawn in the politics of Zimbabwe

H.E. Mugabe. photo credit
I had hoped to write about women's issues this week but unfortunately the discord between President Mugabe and his ministers just sucks. And it sucked me in too.
The executive government of Zimbabwe, meaning the president and his ministers, has unequivocally been relegated to a chicken and egg debate. Which is which?

How is it that the President was not informed about the now reversed temporary scrapping of civil servants bonuses? Is he not supposed to sanction such high level decisions first? My mind is littered with questions. And I am also embarrassed.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In his quest for peace, Nelson Mandela helped gate-keep apartheid legacies in South Africa

Madiba. photo credit SABC
South Africa is burning at the moment. Strife and instability in their universities while foreigners are being burnt alive. Black South Africans are at the moment a melting pot of seething anger, bitterness and desperation. They want answers. They are desperate to blame someone, something for their woes. Foreigners are an easy target to terrorize and take out their anger on.

But in reality, (poor) South Africans have only one man to blame. The late Nelson Mandela. In my opinion Mandela, in his quest for peace, helped reinforce and gate-keep apartheid legacies in South Africa. My opinion is derived from both my intellectual wealth but also a close look at Nelson Mandela before and after prison.
Before he is sent to prison we see an outspoken, vibrant and energetic young man who is prepared to dislodge apartheid at all cost. He begins his journey with peaceful citizens meetings and demonstrations. But the apartheid government does not budge and ignore all these efforts by black South Africans to engage peacefully.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reforms to prevent electoral theft critical before MDCT can take part in any Zim election

Edinah Masanga writes
her personal capacity.
The past weeks have seen nothing but turmoil in Zimbabwe; political activist Itai Dzamara was abducted ,street demonstrations rocked Harare city centre, university lecturers downed tools, students took to the streets, University of Zimbabwe closed and reopened, there was a dramatic jailbreak at Chikurubi, bank closures, deepening and irreversible factionalism in Zanu Pf, and lastly the big one, the decision to honour MDCT request to expel Biti and company formerly MDCT parliamentarians from parliament. 

The major question which has the political community talking is whether or not MDCT should participate in the by elections. Of course me being me I have to add my voice to the diverse opinions and theories doing rounds.

All things being equal you would think the current situation in the country would secure the opposition parties victory, what with the economy screaming, public servants going many months without pay, industries closing and the economy plummeting further down. Obviously what sustained the current regime in 2008 will not today because the economy doesn't have local currency. Gono can't print more money. These are turnaround factors and the MDCT would be blind not to consider them when deciding to or not to participate in by-elections.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Zimbabwe politics nothing but a man made disaster

Zimbabwe Flag. Where is Zim pride
February was an intriguing month in Zimbabwean politics. President's Mugabe's much talked about birthday was abound, as usual, on the Zimbabwean February calendar and was celebrated in pomp and fanfare. As expected. Now, I know many will agree with me that the President has a right to celebrate his birthday just like anyone else. Well, except he is not just anyone else. He is the President of Zimbabwe. He leads that country. In principle, in policy and of course by example. Now having said that, its only natural that as citizens we look up to the President for good practice in everything.

The President cannot say don't emulate this, emulate that. He took an oath to serve and everything he does is looked upon by Zimbabweans as exemplary. Now I know that it is illegal to kill wild animals for the purposes of consumption in Zimbabwe. Well at least for most of the ordinary Zimbabweans who cannot afford to acquire hunting concessions from the government. Most people who live in the rural areas do not own livestock and live far below the poverty datum line. Therefore sometimes they have to rely on hunting game animals for meat. But they get hunted by the wildlife and parks police and if caught they face severe fines or jail. Mostly jail. Well, I am trying to paint a picture for you to see here. If an ordinary person (read starving person) kills any form of wild animal for consumption they get in serious trouble. But these are people in genuine need for food. Starving and undernourished folks who do need the meat.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Lunatic and Confrontational Approach Will Not Help South Africa

The events unfolding in South Africa are somewhat unfortunate and I would like to add my voice to the people who are calling on Julius Malema and his EFF to stop contributing more chaos to an already chaotic political situation in that country.

I had just finished my supper last night when I took a sneak peek at my social networks news feeds and the first headline that stared at me from a South African news site was ''fist fights in parliament''. South African politics, even though they have really tried to push democracy forward, they have really been struggling with an undemocratic approach to administration by Jacob Zuma and his cronies. Underline the word cronies. And here is my suggestion, if JZ is interested in democracy at all then he should just answer the questions being tabled to him by Malema and EFF. What is so difficult about that? Unless there is something to hide.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Significance of Martin Luther King Jr's Story to Africa in Particular and Humanity in General

Image Courtesy of Us Embassy Harare Facebook page
The life of Martin Luther King Jr should inspire Africans if not humanity as a whole. The period in which it is set, the plot in which it plays out and the outcome all tell a story-line of struggle, hope and defiance but above all faith and courage. All which the humanity of today needs.

A close analysis at Kings story will reveal an unimaginable tale of a strong human being who was able to rise above the prevailing situation and the propensity with which the situation was at that time was not easy and so for him to rise within that context must not only inspire Africans but also teach humanity a lesson. That which you believe in you must stand up for. I was personally inspired by Luther early on in life because having read the history of America and the tales of the slave trade and then reading about a young man standing up in that realm to find a voice and speak out against injustice is the most inspirational and selfless a human being can do for humanity. I am convinced that at that time with what was going on to black people he would have known the risks involved and the perilous outcome of his activism would have been one that he must have thought about and envisaged but that did not deter him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Can African Leaders March for Girls in Africa: Girls Lives are Human Lives and Need Urgent Attention Too

This is one of the posts I have had to write with tears in my eyes. Its a post in which I am recounting the lives of girls being lost in Africa everyday. The blood being spilled without restraint and not one single African leader stepping up to highlight why they need to march for girls in Africa. All lives are worthy aren't they? The march for freedom of expression by so called world leaders in Paris in solidarity with the French people following the shooting to death of satirical cartoonists got me thinking. Deeply. Can African leaders not actually march for girls lives? Small helpless girls with bombs being strapped around their necks? Can none of them actually stand up and march for girls lives being lost in that brutal way everyday in our motherland.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Is Charlie Hebdo Attack Only a Tragedy to Free Expression OR Evidence of The Thin Line Between Satire and Offence

In the wake of the tragedy in Paris, France where the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked and its journalists and cartoonists killed in a military style for publishing cartoons that depicted the Islamic Prophet in a way that incensed Muslims, I ask myself as journalists where do we draw the line between whats satirical and whats offensive? Is freedom expression enough justification to offend other people and keep offending even if they have expressed offence? Is it everyone that appreciates satire and actually ''gets it''?

Dissociation from Regime Change Agenda by Zim Civil Society Akin to Betrayal, Hypocrisy and Deceit

So I read my colleagues in the civil society in Zimbabwe are falling over themselves to deny being part of the regime change agenda. Very interesting! The civil society in Zimbabwe, in my opinion has always been part of a regime change agenda.  One way or the other, directly, indirectly, by default,  by design, by association or by ripple effect. If the civil society in Zimbabwe is denying having been part of a regime change Agenda then this is the kind of hypocrisy that gets us nowhere. What is it that the civil society is so ashamed off?

These denials come after the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute led by Dr Pedzisayi Ruhanya published a policy paper “Priorities for civil society-donors engagement in Zimbabwe.” in which it points out that  civil society in Zimbabwe has been pursuing a regime change agenda.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Random, Sporadic Incidences of Men Being ill Treated by Women Cannot Be Classified as Violence Against Men Nor Equated to Violence Against Women

Women experience more violence than men
photo credit Edinah Masanga
...Lets get that right. One social media conversation caught my eye in which the discussion was about "domestic violence against men by women" and  I was like seriously? My natural reaction at first was to laugh of course. Forgive my ignorance.  I did follow the discussion though and read of men being beaten, men being thrown out of homes and mmm what else? Nothing actually. I didn't see anywhere about men being raped, beaten to death with the same propensity as women.

So, we get random, sporadic incidences of men having responsibility issues and all of a sudden there is violence against men.

Sinking migrants in the Mediterranean sea and questions not being asked

Water, giving and taking life in the 
Mediterranean sea
photo credit Edinah Masanga
Thousands of migrants are sinking in the Mediterranean sea while trying to sail to Europe in search of one or all; peace, security, better lives, fleeing war and persecution. These migrants mostly Africans from countries like Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and now also from countries like Syria and Iraqi, take the perilous journey across the sea regardless of the danger of sinking to the bottom of the sea.

Their transporters, pirates, are using livestock freighters, cargo ships and other unworthy and creaky boats to overload precious human cargo in exchange for thousands of dollars per head in fares. Reminds me of the movie Pirates of the Carribean. Except in this case the pirates are not hunting for treasure, there is no Hollywood involved, no stars on set, no take two or take three or cut! when things go wrong. It's a matter of life or death.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Swaziland's retrogressive and primitive cultural practices harming fight to end child marriages

King Mswati III. Reuters file photo
Swaziland is one of the countries where human rights are a burning issue. Press freedom is scarce and its cultural traditions are retrogressive especially for girls rights. Case in point being the reed dance which is performed annually in which King Mswati chooses a ''virgin'' as his next wife. Currently, he has fifteen wives.
The reed dance is one of the most dangerous practices which not only exposes girls to abuse but diminishes their value as anything more than sex objects. The parading of girls like commodities is a medieval practice which needs to be ditched in this era of civilisation.

Open Letter to the Zimbabwean Government from a bruised, battered and torn woman

2015 arrived three days ago. A whole new year. Its supposed to be a new beginning right? But as a woman and as a citizen of Zimbabwe I ask myself is there anything new about 2015, especially for us the low class? Is there even a beginning to talk about?

When the new year arrived we were in foreign lands as is "new