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Melantrys’ Page » Blog Archive » A global post

A global post


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Zimbabwe

I have been closely following this year’s elections in Zimbabwe, southern Africa.
It was an all-in-one election: on March 29th the people of Zimbabwe went out to vote on the president, the House of Assembly and the senate.

For those of you who don’t know, the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, ruling for 28 years now, and his Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party have been rigging the last few elections and have been in the habit of killing, beating, torturing and displacing the poor, people of and people supporting the opposition party MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and white farmers.

A combination of blatant mismanagement, bad timing (raiding farms and killing and displacing farmers during harvest times) and nepotism (giving the farms seized from the hated “colonial white farmers” to his cronies instead of people who know about farming) and a lot of other things I am surely missing, has led the country into ruin.
At the time of the election Zimbabwe had an inflation rate of 100,000% (One hundred thousand percent!); the unemployment rate is at 80%, the most basic food is either unavailable or too expensive for people to buy and the rampant number of HIV infections and an appalling sanitary/hygiene situation have led to the incredible life expectancy of around 34 years for women.

If this country and its people are to survive, Mugabe has to go - the sooner, the better.

Voting proved to be difficult, in some cases impossible. Voters were turned away from polling stations for various reasons, ranging from alleged additional nationalities which would (unlawfully) exclude them from voting to not being on the list for the polling station they’d been going to all their lives. Some of the voters with the latter problem managed to vote at other stations.
The stations themselves were often hidden away from view, as were the posters pointing to them.
If you had managed to find a polling station and were on their list of registered voters, you might still have found yourself in the company of a good many intimidating police officers who were present at polling stations “to assist disabled or illiterate people to cast their votes”.

After two days of suspence and rumours of Mugabe having fled the country to varying destinations, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started releasing results for the House of Assembly votes in a slow and irregular trickle, strangely enough always with ZANU-PF being one or two seats in the lead.
By April 2nd the official results for the House of Assembly votes were released:
94 seats went to ZANU-PF,
98 seats went to MDC Tsvangirai, and
7 seats went to MDC Mutambara (not a wise choice to split the MDC if you ask me…).


© 2008 by Zapiro

As of today the other results have not been officially released.
Yet Mugabe accuses the MDC and even members of the ZEC (a ZANU-PF controlled institution after all) of vote rigging and has contested part of the House of Assemby votes and the presidential vote.
Not only the people of Zimbabwe wonder how he can contest numbers that nobody knows.


© 2008 by Zapiro

Some ZEC officials have been arrested.
MDC party members and people of the regions that very strongly voted for MDC have been beaten and burned.
Houses have been destroyed, more white farmers threatened.
Do I have to mention that harvests have been destroyed?

For the first time ever the ballots were counted at each polling station right after the elections and the results publicly displayed.
Indepentent observers and MDC members photographed those results and counted voters.
There are variations in the House of Assembly results but all in all the numbers tally - ZANU-PF votes due to “helpful police officers aiding the disabled and illiterate” notwithstanding.

The Independent Results Center webpage of the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) has long since published the results of the presidential vote as well, unofficially declaring Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC the winner with 50.3% of the votes.

The people of Zimbabwe know the results of this year’s elections. Oh, they knew them last time as well, but last time there was no proof. This time there is.
The Zimbabweans are desperate and have had enough.
I am afraid that if Mugabe doesn’t decide to go of his own free will after all, there will be a bloody and probably long civil war. Just what this struggling country needs…

The High Court in Zimbabwe rejected the MDC’s demand for an immediate release of the vote count on April 14th.
By now a recount (read: rigging) in 23 of the 210 constituencies has begun.
Violence, lies (Tsvangirai a puppet of the old colonial masters) and threats have been stepped up.

The last time I saw the inflation rate mentioned it was at 164,800%.

.

South Africa

As in the past during the bouts of violence and oppression following elections in Zimbabwe the South African president Thabo Mbeki stood close to his buddy Mugabe, denying there being any crisis in Zimbabwe, while government spokesman Themba Maseko called the situation dire.

When Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa called for an extraordinary summit of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) in Lusaka, Zambia, on the 13th Mbeki made a short detour to Zimbabwe, amiably joked with Mugabe, and then went on to Lusaka to tell everyone there to wait for election results.

Although he had first said he would, Mugabe did not grace the summit with his presence but sent his foreign minister instead.
Oh, and 27 busses filled with people paid to cheer for him at the summit…

Despite the host’s urging the SADC to take action the SADC let themselves be convinced by Mbeki to do nothing.


Mbeki (left) & Mugabe (right)

.

China

I’ve been wondering for quite some time now why the Olympics are going to happen in China.
There were certain conditions that the Chinese government was supposed to stick to in return for the honours, right?
Like, paying a bit more attention to human rights and freedom of the press.

As nothing seemed to be happening in that direction people started to call for a boykott of the Olympics.
“No, no, we can’t do that,” came the answer from both politicians and Olympic committee members. “The Olympics are a unifying sporting event and should not be politicised!”

Then the Chinese were paying a lot of attention to human rights and to the freedom of the press by sending all reporters out of the region on the anniversary of the occupation of Tibet and stamping out every bit of protest by brutal force, but I somehow doubt that was quite what the international community had had in mind…

So - naturally, in my opinion - more and more people were calling for a boykott of the Olympics.
“No, we still can’t do that, but maybe, possibly, we could skip the party events. But we should really think about this some more before we do that. We definitely can’t boykott the Olympics. See, by letting the Chinese government host such a big international event, we are getting levers in to put pressure on them to change things.”

Um. But the Chinese just did everything they weren’t supposed to do. Isn’t the idea of such levers that if “the evil state” doesn’t comply, there will be consequences?
Where are the consequences? You can’t just make a press statement condemning what they did and let them go on as they please.

Everyone should withdraw from this year’s Olympics. And I don’t just mean politicians attending the event.
The athletes should not show up. Or show up, but do no sports and protest.
Anything but pretending that some stupid global sports event is more important than human rights.

“Ok, very valid reasoning,” you will be saying, “but what is this doing in a post about southern Africa?” Ah, let me enlighten you.

On April 14th a Chinese ship, the “An Yue Jiang”, arrived at the port of Durban, South Africa, carrying a shipment of arms for Zimbabwe.

On April 15th the presence of Chinese soldiers was reported from Mutare, Zimbabwe.

It seems human rights abuses on their own soil aren’t enough to keep them occupied anymore…

.

South Africa - again

As I said, the “An Yue Jiang” arrived at Durban on the 14th.

According to the SA Explosives Unit in Durban “There was a problem with the documents they submitted and we have directed the matter to the Chief Inspector of Explosives in Pretoria, Senior Superintendent van Sittert and it may take days for them to get clearance”

On April 16th Transnet and National ports authority of South Africa cleared the ship to begin the offloading of arms and ammunition.

On April 17th the general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), Randall Howard, made a public statement, announcing that they did not agree with the South African government’s position and that their members employed at Durban Container Terminal “will not unload this cargo neither will any of our members in the truck driving sector move this cargo by road.” He suggested the ship should return to China. (my source via)

On April 18th the Anglican bishop Rubin Phillips with the backing of the SA Litigation Centre (SALC) went to the Durban High Court which granted an interim order stating that the shipment of the “An Yue Jiang” would be placed under the curatorship of the Sheriff of the Court, meaning that the court would seize the cargo the moment the ship docked.

The world should applaud the SATAWU, the bishop, the SALC and the High Court in Durban for standing up against the official position of their country’s politicians, or - more correctly - the position of Thabo Mbeki.

.

the end

Sadly, the ship is either on its way to Mozambique or Angola now, although it has been registered as a casualty today. Everyone is wondering if it really is in trouble or just pretending - or chancing - to be adrift without fuel in order to force being refuelled.

.

sources

Main source for my information for this article - apart from the news - was the “This is Zimbabwe” blog I am linking to in my blogroll as well.
That’s also where I found the pictures I used in this post. There was no source given for the photo, but the cartoon I put in the first South Africa bit seems to be a Sokwanele creation and people are encouraged to use it as an ecard.
I wrote to Sokwanele, but I suppose they have more important things on their mind right now than weird German bloggers asking about using their stuff.
Until I hear otherwise I will consider this blog post my ecard to you then. ;)

The two cartoons I added in the Zimbabwe bit I was allowed to use with kind permission of Zapiro, or rather of the person who answers his emails. ;)
The cartoons are perfect for describing the situation regarding the vote counts, so I am truly thankful I was granted permission to use them.

23 Responses to “A global post”

  1. PH Says:

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    “Until I hear otherwise I will consider this blog post my ecard to you then. ;)”

    Ohh thanks .

    Nice round up, seems like the mid-east is peaceful :rofl: . ( sorry I couldn’t help it :P )

    salaam and its good to read a long post again :) .

  2. PH Says:

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    What a coincidence that I just read this. I think , if confirmed, it would be a first.

  3. Melantrys Says:

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    Well, China has always been a good friend of Mugabe…

  4. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    The terrible thing about Zimbabwe, is that before Mugabe I believe they were doing quite well. And it’s not a good time now for any country on the edge, considering the huge global run up in food prices.

    I hope it doesn’t slide into civil war. Somalia and the Sudan are bad enough.

    As for China and the Olympics, I don’t know. Part of me says a boycott would be the right thing to do, but on the other hand, I’m not sure if it would really move China to change its policies. I get the impression they can be rather petty, so it may just cause them to dig in their heels.

    They have reformatted their country to a more capitalist economy without the democratic freedoms. It’s possible they may see more of what they are seeing in Tibet, but in other parts of the country. If that’s the case they may see their house of cards fall. Which, given their economic role in the world economy, would not go unnoticed by the rest of the world. It’s a tightrope that world leaders walk. Glad I’m not one.

    Good post, Mel. :)

  5. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    Just read this this morning:

    Germany carries out country-wide raids for Muslim radicals
    Posted: 05:56 AM ET
    BERLIN, Germany (CNN) — German police conducted a series of raids across the country Wednesday as part of its investigation into nine citizens suspected of systematically trying to convert others to radical Islam.

    Anton Winkler, spokesman for the Munich state prosecutor, said the suspects range in age from 27 and 47. None have been identified.

    More than 130 officers fanned out across several cities, including Berlin and Bonn, searching houses and looking for illegal “Jihadist” propaganda.

    Prosecutors said the suspects have ties to an Islamic center in Neu-Ulm, a small township in southern Germany.

  6. Flo Says:

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    I love your blog.

  7. Melantrys Says:

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    @ Lynnette: They were doing very well. The bread basket of Africa, it used to be called.
    And now….

    I heard those news yesterday while being distracted. If I am not mistaken they said that all the ppl they had arrested were released again.
    As this was a Bavarian based operation I’ll reserve any opinion until someone publishes solid proof of there being Islamists involved.
    Bavaria is even more Jihadist paranoid than the rest of Germany.

    @ Flo: Welcome to my blog. You almost got deleted. :P
    Didn’t anyone tell you that only spambots leave comments like “I love your blog.”?
    And as I told Axonn just now, a lot of the spam and/or porn sites leaving spam comments are on Romanian servers.
    Well, glad he is sending you links that are to your liking. ;)

  8. David Says:

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    You have pretty decent journalistic skills Mel. Does your village have a rag that you could do some writing for?

    The situation in Zimbabwe seems pretty dire! I certainly agree that Mugabe must go, but how to force him to do so? I’m not surprised that Mbeki is doing nothing constructive to help the situation. From what I hear, he is not very smart. Last I heard he still thinks that HIV infection is not the cause of AIDS.

    Regarding China, I don’t think that boycotting the Olympics is a solution to Tibet’s problems. I sympathize with the athletes who have devoted years of their life to preparing to compete at the Olympics. They don’t care who the host is, all they want is a chance to do their best and be recognized for all their hard work. Back when Carter was President of the U.S., he decided to boycott the Olympics in Moscow. It accomplished nothing and had a major negative impact on U.S. athletes. The next Olympics in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Russians to protest the previous boycott. Again more stupid posturing and nothing accomplished.

    I really do sympathize with Tibet’s people and I want them to be free from Chinese tyranny. China needs the world to buy its goods. If the world really pressured the Chinese government, I think that things could change for the better in Tibet. However, the world is full of greedy people who would like to continue to profit off of cheap Chinese labor. So, talking about pressure and actually doing something about it are very different things. I guess I’m not exactly innocent either. I buy some stuff that is made in China. The quality is good and the price is low. If I was rich, I would be happy to only buy stuff made in free and democratic countries.

  9. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    David,

    It’s hard to get around buying stuff from China nowadays. It seems everything is made there. But even they are subjuct to the trials and tribulations of the free market. The United States has been on a buying binge for a long time now and China has reaped the benefits. But now we seem to be suffering from a massive hang over, so that may be at an end.

    Mel,

    Those kinds of stories (my link) seem to fade away under closer scrutiny.

  10. David Says:

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    I read last night that the Chinese government has agreed to send a delegation to meet with the Dali Lama’s representative. I wouldn’t expect much, but it is a small positive gesture. Hopefully, it will lead to more small positive steps.

  11. 13 Says:

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    Indeed. this whole Tibet thing has to end, one way or another. i would understand China hanging on to Taiwan, but what is there that’s so important in Tibet?

    excellent post!

    am reading Sourcery right now!

  12. lelly Says:

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    Really good post Mel. Does anyone know whats happened to the ship now?

    The terrible thing about Zimbabwe, is that before Mugabe I believe they were doing quite well

    Erm..do you mean when they were a white supremist state? Or before that when they were ruled by the Brits?
    Economically they were “the bread basket of Africa” but there was mass oppression of majority by minority.
    Poor Zim. Its never really had it that easy. :(

  13. Melantrys Says:

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    @ others: answers later

    @ Lelly: According to German news I heard last week or so it’s on its way back to China; according to posts and comments (relying on spottings and local news) on This is Zimbabwe it is still cruising around the general African region trying to get the weapons to Zim.

    I was merely talking economically. So it shouldn’t have been too difficult for Mugabe to keep it that way. He received a gift in taking over the country. He threw it away…

  14. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    lelly,

    Erm..do you mean when they were a white supremist state?

    Hardly. My meaning is the same as Mel’s.

    Economically they were “the bread basket of Africa” but there was mass oppression of majority by minority.

    Given my stance on Iraq, I am surprised you would think I support that.

  15. David Says:

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    I finally finished Night Watch. That was a truly excellent book! :)

  16. 13 Says:

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    Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel Mel

    WHHHHHHHEERRRRE ARE YOU?!

    Nightwatch IS the best! :D

    Currently reading Wyrd Sisters! am on my Big Pratchett Read, going in sequence!

  17. lelly Says:

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    Mel,
    Thanks. I’m lazy. ;)
    Yeah,if only Mugabe had kept the economy that way. Instead his government chose to fuck that up as well as have a policy of oppression. *sigh*

    Lynnette,

    Erm..do you mean when they were a white supremist state?

    Hardly. My meaning is the same as Mel’s.

    OK. My answer to her is the same to you then. ;)

    Economically they were “the bread basket of Africa” but there was mass oppression of majority by minority.

    Given my stance on Iraq, I am surprised you would think I support that.

    I don’t!
    I don’t think mass oppression under brutal minority rule can be counted as doing quite well even if the economy is booming.
    To be honest such a view is one very popular under expats from Zimbabwe and South Africa. I know cos a large part of my family are such people.
    But in no way do I think you support any such thing.

  18. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    Lelly,

    But in no way do I think you support any such thing.

    Thank you, Lelly. :)

    I have always been a firm believer in democracy and the will of the people. Come November, whoever is elected president in my country will be my president. Whether I voted for him/her or not. I will give him/her a chance to make improvements. And if I don’t agree with his/her policies I will vote accordingly in the next election.

    I hope that the will of the people of Zimbabwe will be heard and Mugabe will step down. I have heard that part of the problem is with the security forces there. They seem to be intent on holding onto power even if Mugabe were to be removed. That does not bode well at all.

    I don’t think mass oppression under brutal minority rule can be counted as doing quite well even if the economy is booming.
    To be honest such a view is one very popular under expats from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

    It sometimes seems as if we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Those who did so well with the economy in Zimbabwe were also those who were part of the repression there. How to get rid of one without screwing up the other? Mugabe obviously didn’t have a clue, or didn’t care that he might throw out the baby with the bath water with some of his policies.

  19. 13 Says:

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    Mel? hello? CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS, ATTENTION!

    erm.. where are you?

  20. Melantrys Says:

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    @ David: You have pretty decent journalistic skills Mel. Does your village have a rag that you could do some writing for?

    Only when I want to, only when I want to…
    We have two regional newspapers, but, nah…..

    @ Lynnette: Hm, there have been no further news on that story you linked to. If they had found anything I’m sure it’d have been all over the news: “Another glorious defeat of evil terrorist plans!” etc, etc, etc.

    @ 13: Thank you for the praise. I wish angry posts could change the world… :?

    But no dabbling in the magical arts, eh?
    How come you’re reading such an early book so late? Did no-one give you the publishing dates of the books? :P

    @ Lelly: Hm, were you addressing me or Lynnette…. :think:

    @ David: Yes, I’d rank Night Watch among the best by him. Better than Sourcery anyway. ;)

    13, you old spammer. Do I have to block you again? ;)

    Ah, ok, I take back the question about the publishing dates…

    “When shall we three meet again…?”
    “Well, I can do next Tuesday.”

    And to show off a little:

    When shall we three meet again
    In thunder, lightning or in rain
    When the hurly-burly’s done
    When the battle’s lost and won
    That will be e’re the set of sun

    *pats Lelly*

    @ 13: Attention? Pffffft. If you knew anything about the (former) City Guard of Gae you’d know they’re quite…. free thinkers… who certainly wouldn’t take orders from some random camel driver. :P

    I was being busy and lazy.
    Conundrum? No.
    I was busy weeding in the garden and shovelling soil in the greenhouse, and that excessive activity made me lazy when I finally collapsed in front of the pc late in the evenings with stiff and blistered fingers.

  21. Melantrys Says:

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    Seems the weapons might have reached their destination after all….

  22. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    *sigh*

    It’s never that easy to get rid of a Mugabe.

  23. formula newmans own organics Says:

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    Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading
    this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always
    kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.

    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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