MAY 2005

  • News White People like to read about Africans
  •                             Joh Domingo

    Like many African expatriates, I am sick and tired of the brainless reporting from afar that characterizes most news reporting on Africa, which consist primarily of cant dressed as informed comment. Mostly it is the propaganda press releases of their handlers, quoting compromised sellouts playing to a gallery. It is the kind of news White people like to read about Africa: an affirmation of their own political impotence and compensation for the lack of political influence the average western person has in the political affairs in their own countries. Western people believe they have control of their own political destiny, if they pretend that Africans are incapable of political maturity. They are pre-disposed to swallow anything negative about Africa, and like hogs, gulp down the shovel loads of swill fed to them by the masters of discourse.

    If you are living in the West, the past few years have consisted of a trickle diet of news about David Livingstone’s savages in Rhodesia, and their diabolical, sooty tyrant. Occasionally it would become a spurt, when an uncontaminated white democratic politician blasts some or other maniacal incantation they claimed had been inflicted on the hapless opposition; in what for most of them is deepest, darkest Africa. Starting a few weeks ago, we have been subjected to an account of a litany of sins that was being perpetrated on the defenders of democracy in landlocked Zimbabwe, in preparation for a farcical election. The story rear ended reality last Thursday as Zimbabweans peacefully, and apathetically, discarded the charade of a nation divided against itself; as it dumped on the rudderless Movement for Democratic Reform and its policy-free international campaign. Nevertheless, old habits die hard, and rather than investigate seriously, the Western News Distribution Networks continue to publish MDC press releases as if it were news.

    The WOW! factor of other recent chromatic revolutions in Georgia, The Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan was curiously absent, as Morgan Tsvangirai grappled with the intricacies of fermenting revolt in the wake of a superlative number crunching campaign by the Ruling ZapuPF Government that targeted the wafer thin majorities in MDC held electorates. An electoral analysis in the Zimbabwean Herald crunches the electoral statistics, and reveals the mechanics of how the popular vote translated into electoral seats. The outcome reflects the situation where the ruling party fought an election, while the opposition merely fought, for the sake of it, and provided scant indication of their policy direction in the unlikely event they were to win the popular vote.

    MDC pays for myopia

    By Caesar Zvayi
    The Herald on-line

    AN American writer, Norman Thomas once said the best form of protest is not to burn the flag but to wash it.

    Various stakeholders have given this advice to the MDC over the past five years adding that an opposition party should complement government efforts to improve the lives of the people, it should never oppose for the sake of opposing.

    The advice, much like pearls before swine, always fell on deaf ears as the MDC clearly fought to destroy independent Zimbabwe in the hope of building a so-called "new Zimbabwe."

    The MDC travelled all over the world calling for sanctions and colluding with white industrialists to sabotage the economy through "mass" actions and job "stay-aways."

    These foreign road shows did not benefit the electorate because; firstly, the constituents were neglected as all the attention was dedicated to the demonisation campaign; whilst the sanctions the opposition called for worsened the lot of the people. Surprisingly, the MDC leaders’ mistakenly thought that the electorate was not watching.

    This myopia accounts for the MDC’s dismal showing in the general election. The opposition party is apparently set to go the way all opposition parties have gone in Zimbabwe; to the dustbins of history after losing the just ended poll to Zanu-PF by a massive 37 seats, compared to the five that separated the two parties in June 2000.

    The ruling party garnered 78 seats, to the MDC’s 41.

    Like many countries, the rural vote is favorably weighted in Zimbabwe, and has a pronounced "what’s in it for me?" bias. ZapuPF campaigned vigorously on land reform in these areas, since land reform benefited rural voters most. The MDC on the other hand preferred to campaign in the capitals of Europe, whose governments and NGO’s were disenfranchised in a wicked last-minute anti-colonial maneuver by the Ruling ZapuPF government. They decided that 700 accredited electoral observers and 500 Journalist were quite enough for such a small country.

    They were gleefully complying with a compact agreed to by the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) last year, to implement Principles and Guidelines for elections. These guidelines seeks to align the electoral laws of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mauritius, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Angola, in order to minimize foreign interference in their elections.

    Zimbabwe is the first of this group to hold general elections since the compact. With an unbroken tradition of holding regular elections, it was important that these elections set an example by being free and fair. Africans were determined to hobble attempts to interfere, by the self-appointed western agitators who believed they had the moral capital to undermine political processes around the globe.

    In response to the suggestion that International observers ‘lend more credibility’ to regional elections; Pumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South African Minister for Minerals and Energy, who also heads the 68 member SADC observer Mission said: "I think the SADC countries know what they are doing, and they don’t need anybody chaperoning them on how to conduct elections,"

    Zimbabwe has a well-established routine for national elections and has had general elections every five years since liberation. It is the first of the group of SADC countries to implement the compact by enacting laws establishing a triumvirate consisting of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to Administer Elections, the Delimitation Commission to mark constituency boundaries, and the Electoral Supervisory Commission charged with supervising the elections, voter registration, and the conduct of the elections.

    The SADC has provided the recent elections with a clean bill of Health and is encouraged by its success. A view endorsed by the African Union, the Iranian Observer team, the Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a Zimbabwean NGO.

    Two unidentified the British Embassy officials stated after observing the election: "Voting went on peacefully in all the areas we visited and it would be unfair to judge the polls otherwise." It is a contrast to the harangue of the British Foreign Minister:

    Elections show Zim’s maturity — UK officials

    Herald Reporter
    THE just-ended parliamentary elections confirm Zimbabwe’s maturity in holding electoral processes, two British Embassy officials who observed the poll have said. Speaking to The Herald soon after witnessing the endorsement of the poll results by the winning Zanu-PF candidate for Zaka East Cde Tinos Rusere, the two officials said they were satisfied with the whole electoral process in most areas in the country.

    "Voting went on peacefully in all the areas we visited and it would be unfair to judge the polls otherwise. "We have just witnessed one of the major strides Zimbabwe has made in creating a democratic platform for elections since these elections were peaceful, smooth and blood-free," said one of the officials preferring anonymity. They said this after visiting 25 polling stations in Zaka East constituency in Masvingo Province during voting last Thursday. The British officials join other observers, both local and foreign who have hailed the poll as one that was conducted professionally, amid peace and tolerance from the contesting parties.

    Their observation was in contrast to the British government’s criticism of the election as "fundamentally flawed".

    The two British embassy officials said the decision by opposition MDC candidate’s chief election agent for Zaka not to sign the endorsement form was "unfortunate but expected" from the defeated lot. Mr Mujere Nusoso, who was the chief election agent of Mr Misheck Marava declined to endorse the poll results saying he was not "impressed" with the performance of his party.
    However, fellow MDC election agents from the 61 polling stations in Zaka East endorsed the results from their respective polling sta-tions.

    "Zimbabwe’s 2005 parliamentary elections were fundamentally flawed…," Mr Straw said.

    Most of this will be greeted with incredulity by those that have been subjected to the unrelenting negative reporting about Zimbabwe over the past few years. Especially so, from the White nationalist dissidents accustomed to a diet of inimical opinion about Africa that is reflexively regurgitated in the Western Media. They should ask themselves: does the media distort reality only when it relates to your pet causes? Can they provide any substantiation for any of the charges that relate to the recent Zimbabwe elections? Perhaps not. Perhaps it is just a case of them not caring enough to take the trouble to do so. Let me help by examining the charges.

    1. The lead up to the election was fraught with intimidation and violence.

      This well worn slogan has been revealed as empty rhetoric. National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku circulated a report two weeks ago, to the media and diplomatic missions in Harare alleging that the elections could not be free and fair due to widespread ‘human Rights Abuses’ and ‘Violence’ perpetrated by ZapuPF supporters and uniformed officers of the Police Force in the lead up period. Police convened a Press Briefing to which Madhuku was invited to present his evidence of abuses and incidents of violence. When he did not show, they invited him to present it at his earliest convenience and pledged to take action against anyone who was implicated. He never showed.

      The Daily Mirror Reporter
      issue date :2005-Mar-22

      NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku yesterday failed to turn up at the Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) in Harare to provide evidence on alleged political violence contained in a report published by his organisation last week.
      Yesterday, Madhuku said the NCA had no obligation to provide police with the information.
      “We do not have any legal obligation to provide them with the information they need… If they think we committed a crime why don’t they prefer charges against us. They have a number of laws that deal with publishing falsehoods they can use, if they think we committed a crime,” Madhuku told The Daily Mirror last night.
      NCA published a report circulated to the media and diplomatic mission in the capital claiming that the March 31 parliamentary polls would not be free and fair due to widespread human rights abuses by uniformed forces and Zanu PF supporters.
      Chief police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday confirmed that the constitutional law expert did not report to the police as he had earlier on been agreed upon.
      “Contrary to what he told you (as reported in our lead story yesterday) he has not proved anything at all. He promised to provide the details today (yesterday) but he has not done so. I phoned him today (yesterday) and he said he was sorting out a few details and would bring the evidence, but he has not done so,” .
    2. The results obviously undermine the will of the people.

      Such a charge presupposes that the people share the opposition’s hatred for Mugabe. It discounts completely, the impact that policies and campaigning have on the outcome of elections. Despite contesting three elections over the past five years, the MDC is yet to present any policy documents or platform, aside from its consistent campaign to demonize Robert Mugabe. It has almost exclusively indulged itself in soft media coverage from outside the country. This lack of a political platform has led to the steady erosion of support, even from those that despise ZapuPF. MDC insiders said as much in the lead up to the election. Trevor Ncube, owner of the Mail & Guardian Media and strong MDC advocate, expressed the view that:

      "Never since independence has Zimbabwe desperately needed President Robert Mugabe as much as it does now. The country, the ruling party and the opposition are all in chaos and only he can get the nation out of this hole. Zimbabwe faces an acute leadership crisis that only Mugabe has the capacity to resolve, if he so decides."

      Munyaradzi Gwisai, the former MDC MP said that the MDC would be slaughtered by Zanu-PF in the just ended poll mainly because most ordinary people were disillusioned by the MDC’s inept leadership (Daily Mirror March 16 2004)

    3. The vote counts were fraudulent.
  • This can be divided into three main categories of allegations:
      • That 20% of voters were turned away at the polls.
  • It has been observed by several observer missions that many voters were turned away at the polls. The African Union and the ECF observer missions noted this in their report, but also observed that it was a failure in voter education rather than a deliberate attempt to deprive the opposition of votes. Most were turned away because they were in the wrong constituency, had no identification, or had not registered. The suggestion that it the number affected was 20% is ridiculous, as are most of the unsubstantiated and wild accusations of the opposition.
      • The votes do not tally with the number of voters.
  • The opposition seems to base this allegation on a half-hearted attempt to provide running totals in some constituencies. When the final totals were certified, it was claimed that the "numbers do not tally with the number of votes." i.e. The final tallies were significantly higher than the preliminary running totals. Well … duh!

    It has to be noted that the final totals were not announced until after the various candidates had certified the results. The opposition claims that fraud occurred in 31 constituencies. The SADC observer mission head noted that while the MDC has made numerous complaints, it has yet to respond to requests for substantiation.

    "We operate on facts. As late as last night (Saturday) we were still chasing (the MDC for evidence). Unfortunately up to now it (fraud allegation) has not been backed up. We urge them to make a formal complaint to ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission). Up to the time we were involved we are happy with the situation,"

      • The Electoral registration roll contained the names of One million dead voters.
  • The new Delimitation Commission conducted a massive voters registration drive in May/June of 2004. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission conducted an auditing process, and put the rolls out for public inspection in January of this year. Mr Theophilus Gambe, of the Electoral Supervisory Commission issued a statement that the purging of dead voters was problematic because:
      • Voters did not choose the timing of their death.
      • The requirement for a death certificate in order to purge a voter from the roll.
      • It was not a problem peculiar to Zimbabwe, but common across the board in elections.
      • The charge of ‘millions’ was ridiculous, and that even ‘tens of thousands’ could not be confirmed. It was an insignificant, but undetermined number, compatible with estimates in any election, anywhere.
  • A study conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that the voter rolls in six States (New Mexico, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota ) had 181,000 dead people registered as voters.
  • 4. Mugabe appoints 30 members, so the election is structurally rigged.

  • Zimbabwe’s Parliament is made up of 120 elected members, 10 chiefs chosen by their colleagues, 12 non-constituency MPs appointed by President Mugabe and eight Provincial Governors. 18 of these thirty seats are elected, and thereafter in compliance with the constitution, that reflects the heterogeneous nature of Zimbabwe society. 12 are appointed by the ruling party and are could be said to be undemocratically appointed. Despite this handicap, the MDC has never managed to win a majority of the remaining 120 seats. The appointment of 12 non-constituency members is a matter for a constitutional committee, and is quite irrelevant in the context of this election.
  • 5. Mugabe was seeking a two-thirds majority in order to overall the constitution.

    President Mugabe has said one of the major constitutional amendments that Zanu-PF would push for after winning the two-thirds majority was the re-introduction of the Senate.

    Zimbabwe had a bicameral parliamentary system, comprising an Upper House (the Senate) and a Lower House (House of Assembly — equivalent to the current Parliament) soon after independence, but later abolished it.

    But now people, including the opposition MDC, were of the view that the Senate should be reintroduced, President said last week while voting in Highfield.

    He said the MDC was agreeable to the reintroduction of the Senate, which was suggested during talks between the opposition party and Zanu-PF.

    President Mugabe also indicated last week that Zanu-PF was not gunning for a two-thirds majority in Parliament in order to amend the Constitution in preparation for his retirement.

    He said his retirement had nothing to do with the Constitution as it would come at its own time while the issue of his successor would be dealt with by the Zanu-PF congress.

    There had been wide unsubstantiated speculation that Zanu-PF needed the two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution in preparation for the President’s retirement.

    Cde Mugabe said Zanu-PF would also push for other necessary amendments to the Constitution as and when the need arose.
  • Mugabe has publicly stated that does not intend to overhaul the constitution. (see above.JB,editor)

    "We can’t overhaul the whole Constitution. In my opinion, it’s not proper for Parliament to overhaul the Constitution. Overhauling the Constitution needs going to the people,"

    He said he intends to push through much needed amendments to regularize the Parliamentary and Presidential elections, and to re-introduce a Senate, a move, he says, the opposition supports.

  • There are notable omissions in the Opposition rhetoric about the elections. The most notable is the complete absence of opinion polls to bolster their charges. It is not alleged that ZapuPF won after opinion polls had predicted a loss. This is not surprising since the opinion polls tend to confirm the eventual result. Recent independent polls prior to the election were predicting a rout for the opposition.

    Dr Kurebwa, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s department of political and administrative studies released results of a survey he conducted.

    The survey predicted that Zanu-PF would win at least 72 seats (60 percent of the constituencies) whilst the MDC was tipped to win 45 seats (37,5 percent of the constituencies).

    Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) poll predicted a 65.2 % vote for ZapuPF and a 34% vote for the MDC.

    A study in Aug 2004 conducted jointly by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, the Center for Democratic Development of Ghana and Michigan State University found that Mugabe's popularity has more than doubled in five years to 46 percent.

    "Brian Raftopoulos, head of the department of development studies at the University of Zimbabwe, says he is not surprised by the survey's results. He said in an analysis published Friday, both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, got an 18-percent approval rating, and civil rights activists, paid insufficient attention to constructing an alternative vision of Zimbabwe to that of the government."

    The report is highly critical of the Zimbabwean government; yet it findings underline the inevitability of the election results. There are simply no grounds for believing that the opposition could make electoral inroads given their lack of organization and political platform.

    His domestic popularity, as measured by the opinion poll, makes Mugabe the most popular domestic leader in Africa, exceeding the domestic popularity of South Africa’s President Mkbeki.

    Just how popular is Robert Mugabe? While the perception is that of a leader isolated from the international world and despised by Africans and Europeans alike, the evidence is that Africans are not buying the relentless demonization campaign being conducted against him.

    A survey by the British-based New African magazine, which conducted an online international survey to find the 100 Greatest Africans of all time between December 2003 to August 2004 ranked President Robert Mugabe as the third greatest African after former South African president Nelson Mandela and Ghana’s founding President Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

    The magazine said, "President Mugabe’s high score was particularly interesting given that in the last four years a high profile campaign in the (international) media has painted him in bad light.’’

    MDC Pays for Myopia:
    see table below:The Herald on-line

    Yet the MDC has been sabotaging all Government efforts aimed at improving the lives of the people in the hope that the resultant perpetual economic hardships would lead to an uprising that would usher them to power.
    This is why Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor (RBZ), Dr Gideon Gono has been declared MDC enemy number two; after President Mugabe since the RBZ monetary policy is bearing positive results.
    What the MDC should have been doing is to come up with shadow budgets and shadow policies such that when they criticise the Government they would have ready alternatives to offer for adoption in parliament.
    Even if the policies are rejected, the electorate would at least be able to judge each party’s mettle, and this would also give the opposition sufficient experience in policy making as a government in waiting.
    The opposition party could have gone a step further by ensuring that its so-called backing by white employers translated into the opening of new factories and creating jobs that it could claim credit for.
    It could have publicly negotiated for the lifting of sanctions and pouring in of direct foreign investment to prove its capability.
    We never saw this from the MDC, which has become indistinguishable from a student representative council executive at a tertiary institution.
    The party mistook its fluke performance in the June 2000 general election as a sign of popularity, and did not do much to win the people’s confidence over the years.
    It should be pointed out that any party, not necessarily the MDC, that would have fielded candidates in that general election would have garnered the 57 seats without breaking a sweat.

    Despite the obvious desire of the Western Elite to control socio/political outcomes in former colonies, they are not all-powerful in the face of the organized resistance and leadership from the people of former colonies. Zimbabwe is testament that neo-colonialism is not inevitable, and can be resisted in an organized manner. It is imperative that the requirement that the rulers of former colonies be saints, before the people enjoy the solidarity of progressive western activist, be discarded, because it is at heart racist and prejudiced. Mugabe is overwhelmingly well regarded by Africans, Asians, and South Americans, as the embodiment of resistance to neo-colonialism; it is time Western progressives recognize that reality.

    Joh Domingo
    Brisbane, Australia . Apr 2005

    Black, Dead and Invisible


    I once had a young black girl, whose brother had been murdered, tell me she was too old to dream. She was 12.

    I remember a teenager in South-Central Los Angeles a few years ago saying, in a discussion about his peers, "Some of us don't last too long."

    Don't bother cueing the violins. This is an old story. There's no shock value and hardly any news value in yet another black or brown kid going down for the count. Burying the young has long since become routine in poor black and Latino neighborhoods. Nobody gets real excited about it. I find that peculiar, but there's a lot about the world that I find peculiar.

    Tafare Berryman was born on Feb. 16, 1983, in Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. He debuted at 9 pounds 7 ounces. His mother said he was perfect, and she was still saying it this week as she prepared for his funeral. Tafare grew, as they say, prodigiously. When he was murdered early last Sunday morning, just five weeks short of his college graduation, he was six feet seven inches tall and weighed 240 pounds.

    His massive size was no defense against the bullet that came out of the predawn darkness. It was like an instant replay of all the bullets over all the years that have ended so many young lives for no good reason whatsoever.

    The fact that he had stayed out of trouble, and that his parents were strict, and that he'd graduated from high school in three years and was serious about his college work - none of that afforded him any protection, either. The fact that he was a popular basketball player at the C. W. Post campus of Long Island University, and that his classmates, teachers and coaches all swear he was a lovely person, counted for nothing. There are a lot of good kids who don't last
    too long.

    The shooting happened on a street in Nassau County on Long Island. There had been a fight at a club, and a friend of Tafare's suffered a knife wound to the head. The two young men left the club in a car, with the friend driving.

    After a couple of miles, they had to stop because the friend was bleeding profusely. As they were switching seats, with Tafare climbing into the driver's seat, a car approached. A shot was fired, maybe two shots, and Tafare's life was over. His friend was not hit. The police said they did not think that Tafare had been involved in the fight and that the gunman might have mistaken him for his friend, or someone else.

    Tafare's mother, Dawn Thompson, who lives in Brooklyn, got a call about 6 o'clock in the morning. All she was told was that her son had been shot. She and three carloads of relatives rushed to Long Island. In the town of Long Beach, the family was given directions to the morgue.

    "He was laid down with his eyes open and his mouth open, like he was saying, 'Oh, God!' " said Ms. Thompson. She began to sob. "He was just tall and stretched out. He's very tall, you know. And his eyes were open like he was looking for somebody. And I started crying. And I said: 'Yes, that's my son. That's my son. He's dead.' "

    When I was growing up, I didn't worry about getting shot or getting stabbed, and, frankly, I thought I would live forever. But there have been many cultural changes since then. I've talked to hundreds of youngsters over the years who have either witnessed homicides or been very close emotionally to young people who had died violently.

    Entertainers sing ecstatically of rape and homicide, and rappers like 50 Cent and The Game brag about the number of bullets their bodies have absorbed (at least 14 between them). Street gangs have spread from the cities to the suburbs and beyond, moving into those places in the hearts of young people that have been vacated by parents, especially fathers. Guns in some neighborhoods are easier to get than schoolbooks.

    None of this is new. Two days before Tafare Berryman was killed, a 17-year-old freshman named Sequoia Thomas was shot to death outside Jamaica High School in Queens, apparently by an acquaintance. Her last words were: "Help me. Help me."

    The big shots have other things on their minds. In New York there's a football stadium that the power brokers want to build. In Washington, the focus of presidents of the United States, past and present, has been on who would get to go to the pope's funeral. In Los Angeles the other day, the black celebrity elite turned out en masse to profile at Johnnie Cochran's funeral.

    Youngsters dead and dying? Nobody of importance is much interested in that.