Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa: Conspiring with Robert Mugabe?

1 Jul

Seth: Hopefully, you are aware of the news coming out of Zimbabwe. I didn’t realize how grave the situation was there until I listened to a reporter who had been on the ground in that African nation.

Thus far, I’vebeen familiar with the initial election, and the tension between the ruling party and the opposition. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, but did not win a majority of votes. Mr. Mugabe has been president since 1987, and the country’s only leader since independence was won and free elections held for the first time in 1980. Elections were held on March 29th, and by all accounts Mr. Tsvangiraiwon, but only his party’s tally (but neither the official or an independent estimate) had him with a majority. I was aware that election results were held an unusually and extremely long time, and that there was much suspicion of fraud surrounding the election. However, I did not know that Mr. Tsvangiraiwas prevented from campaigning in much of the country, or holding rallies or running commercials on television leading up to the run-off election; he was arrested several times in the interim period; the leader of his party (Movement for Democratic Change) was arrested and charged with treason; or there has been vicious attacks on suspected MDC supporters before and after the run-off election. If you aren’t aware of these beatings, rapings, and murders, then do a little research; what you’ll find is quite disheartening.

The African Union met recently and some leaders, including the Vice-President of neighboring Botswana have criticized the election results. Vice-President Merfahe said the election couldn’t be considered legitimate because of the violence that was going on. The rest of the AU was a bit softer, instead calling for a coalition of ruling and opposition leaders to run the government. Mr. Mugabe’s spokesperson rejected the idea saying the situation will be resolved “the Zimbabwean way.” This brings us to South Africa.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner. Zimbabwe clearly needs their neighbor to the south, given their wrecked economy (also thanks to Mr. Mugabe). Right now, South Africa is serving their two-year rotation on the Security Council and has shown opposition to any sanctions against Zimbabwe. Russia and China, also, are unwilling to have the U.N. get involved (just as they were strongly opposed to sanctions for Sudan). South Africa needs to join the West in demanding action from Mr. Mugabe or nothing will happen. A while ago I wrote about a movie that depicted South Africa’s struggle against apartheid; I wonder how South African President Thabo Mbeki could forget what it felt like to struggle for freedom from corrupt government. He claims to be currently working on a power-sharing agreement between the two parties, and says he has assurance from them to talk further. The MDC denies this strongly:

It’s almost an elite pact between the leaderships. It doesn’t mean anything to the people. We want a transition that is going to work on a new constitution, demilitarise the institutions of Zanu-PF, reform them, and then have elections. – Mr. Tsvangirai

And this:

Press Statement from Hon Tendai Biti, MP, MDC Secretary-General:

There are recent widespread reports that Zanu PF and MDC are talking and are about to conclude an agreement to form a Government of National Unity (GNU).

Nothing can be as malicious and as further from the truth.

As a matter of fact, there are no talks or discussions taking place between the two parties and most importantly, there is no agreement in the offing.

Whilst the MDC pursued dialogue in a bid to establish a Government of National Healing before the 12th June 2008, the sham and catalyptic election on 27 June 2008 totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement.

It is now the firm view of the MDC that those who claim they have got a mandate to govern should govern.

Whatever the case, action needs to be taken to stop the killing and make progress in this much-maligned country.

A Glance at The Republic of Zimbabwe

  • Population: 12,382,920
  • Life Expectancy: 39.73 Years
  • Adult Literacy rate: 90.7%
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence rate: 24.6%
  • Unemployment rate: 80%
  • Internet Users: 1,220,000

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A Look At Apartheid’s Past & Present

31 May

Recently I watched Cry Freedom, a 1987 film about South African Black Consciousness leader Steven Biko and the white newspaper editor who risks his being to get his story out. In America, many of us know about the persecution and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, but we don’t know the stories of many of the other soldiers in the fight for racial equality in South Africa. This is one such story. What I find especially stimulating about the movie is its relevance to present-day America.

“It’s a miracle a child survives here at all…If you do survive, you grow up in these streets, these houses. Your parents try, but in the end you only get the education the white man will give you. Then you go to the city to work, shop, and you see their streets, their cars, their houses and you begin to feel there is something not quite right about yourself, about your humanity: something to do with your blackness. Because no matter how dumb or smart a white child is he’s born to that world. But you, the black child, smart or dumb you are born into this, and smart or dumb you’ll die in it.” –Bilko on the state of the areas Black South Africans were confined to in the nation.

“I’m talking about the indirect violence you get from starvation in the townships, I’m talking about the hopelessness, the desolation of the transient camp. Now I think that, that put together, that constitutes more terrorism than these men have spoken here but they stand charged and white society is not charged.” –Bilko on other Black Consciousness leaders accused of terroristic acts by speaking publicly against apartheid.

When watching this film, keep an open ear and mind and compare this to the struggles of African-Americans in this country, past and present. As an African-American, I also feel a special connection to the suffering of Blacks in Africa, although this is empathy all human beings should be able to identify with. Also, be prepared to be impressed with an excellent portrayall of Steven Bilko by Denzel Washington.

Seth’s Rating: Cry Freedom: 3½ Brains