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May 27, 2004

Regarding Mugabe

Brian, at Black Star Journal, has much more to say about the man. Anyone who been watching the car wreck that is Mugabe's recent politcal and diplomatic moves will find themselves nodding in agreement.

Posted by zombyboy at 03:39 PM | Comments (1)

The War on Terror

One of the interesting side effects of the war on terror will be the relocation of terrorists and training camps to those African nations that are in disarray politically. If Afghanistan is no longer hospitable, then a place like Somalia might start looking attractive. Ultimately, the war on terror will probably be forced to focus on those nations.

Surprising to me, though, is this report from South Africa:

Several people with "evil intentions" were arrested in South Africa five days before the elections last month, leading to the arrests of al-Qaeda suspects internationally, a daily Johannesburg newspaper reported.

Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi told the National Assembly's safety and security committee on Wednesday: "We arrested some people who had evil intentions against this country - we did not tell anybody - five days before the election. We got these people to leave."

It's good to see these little victories agains the terrorists, though; every cut reduces their abilities somewhat and every arrest helps avert an attack.

Read the rest.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

Is Mugabe Growing Senile?

I'm not asking that question in a completely rhetorical manner? Mugabe, who started his political career as the embodiment of the international community's hope for a new model of African leader--a man who would help lead his nation away from its racist roots and to a prosperous reconciliation where blacks were an equal and respected part of the political systems. He was the moderate who was polite and kind and willing to listen.

Frankly, I never liked him. He's an unrepentant socialist, and, from the beginning, it was clear that he would end up practicing the nasty forms of racism typical to the region--both tribalism and targeted anti-white discrimination that would cost the nation dearly.

But, for so long, his worst behavior was always tempered by his PR acumen. Over the last few years, his PR skills have been nowhere near enough to compensate for his increasingly heavy hand. I had credited that to his true colors simply seeping out for all to see; not that he was so much getting worse, but that his transgressions had become so common that they were harder to hide.

What he said about Desmond Tutu, though, makes me wonder if Mugabe is slipping a few cogs here and there.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, clearly chafing at criticism over his regime's human rights and democratic abuses, has hit out at South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In an interview broadcast on Monday, Mugabe dismissed the Nobel peace laureate, saying: "He is an angry, evil and embittered little bishop".

Between insulting one of South Africa's most respected figures and his insistence that his country won't need food aid, I began to wonder just what world Mugabe is living in, because it bears little resemblance to the real world.

He continues to hint, as the article notes, that he will retire after his current term in office. Is he now working hard to do the most possible damage before he leaves the public eye? Is he working to make sure that he leaves behind a legacy of racial hatred, starving families, and a ruined economy?

The man who was once Zimbabwe's hope became her tormentor. Now he seems focused on tearing away the last shreds of Zimbabwe's future.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:01 PM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2004

Feel Good Story of the Day

If the health, social, and cultural problems facing the nations of Africa were to be seen as an ocean, then this story is simply about one of the millions of drops that are needed to fill that ocean.

Good is to be celebrated where you find it, though.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday announced a new five-year $34 million Health Transformation Programme to improve health in southern Sudan.

The programme would enhance health by improving maternal and child health through routine immunisations, polio eradication, growth monitoring, and diarrhoea and pneumonia care, said a press release. Core activities would include the rehabilitation of health worker training institutes, training of county medical officers and community based health workers, the provision of high quality drugs and other medical interventions, the expansion of routine immunisation, and access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

The money that goes toward clean water, better sanitation, and training for health care profesionals will be especially well spent. Hopefully it truly does make a real change for the people living in squalor and poverty. Sadly, while $34 million sounds like a huge amount of money, it's really just scratching the surface.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

Hunger as a Weapon

Mugabe is looking to refuse international food aid, saying that his country's crops will be more than enough to feed his nation through the coming year. This is one Bishop's response:

Archbishop Pius Ncube told the BBC's Network Africa programme: "There's so much land lying fallow, some of the best farms are not even cultivated."

He said the government had failed to distribute seed and fertiliser, and that the rains had come two months late in some parts.

"So I fear - for instance in western Zimbabwe - many people will have enough food for three or four months, after which they will need food aid."

Pinching off food distribution is a wonderful way to control the citizens of a hungry nation, and an even better way to strip power from any opposition political powers.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 01:20 PM | Comments (2)

May 12, 2004

Of Arguments and Arguments...

In some countries arguments are tidy little affairs with raised voices and hurt feelings. In other countries arguments might involve high explosives and lost limbs.

For the record, I'm glad I live in the former.

Three days of clashes between rival gunmen have left at least 20 people dead in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses said heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti- aircraft missiles were being used.

The clashes began on Monday after an argument between armed hotel guards and militiamen loyal to a businessman and is not a battle between rival factions.

The article also talks about attempts at a "mediated ceasefire."

All I know is I'm not staying at that hotel.

Posted by zombyboy at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2004

Knuckling Under (Updated)

The Zimbabwe school "crisis" ended when the schools were bullied into allowing the government to, essentially, set their fees. I don't blame the schools for knuckling under--what other course of action was open to them after the government started arresting teachers?

It really just plays as another act in the tragicomedy that is Zimbabwe.

The schools have "seen the wisdom of seeking an accommodation with the government in order to allow them to re-open," the minister said.

Private schools must seek permission to increase fees by more than 10%. Annual inflation is currently more than 580%.

Mr Chigwedere had accused the schools of massively increasing fees to keep out black pupils.

"We are dealing with racist schools. They are all former white schools, all racist."

Schools have seen the wisdom of seeking an accommodation with the government in order to allow them to re-open

The South African Press Agency reports that most of those who attend the private schools are now black.

Well, there is some bit of equity in this. I mean, if the government can destroy the public schools, why shouldn't they be able to destroy the private ones as well?

Read the story.

Update: I came across the Beeb article that addresses the decline of schooling in Zimbabwe.

By the 1990s, Zimbabwe had the highest literacy rates in Africa and it remains high at 89% of the adult population.

But the economic crisis, compounded by the HIV/Aids pandemic, means that school enrolment has fallen to 59%.

Education is one of those things that ripples throughout an entire society. AIDs and HIV rates fall in those countries with better eduction, economic outlook usually improves for countries with higher literacy rates (literacy being a good indicator of a broader look at education). A low school enrollment rate--especially in a country that was, just fifteen years ago, used to a much higher enrolment rate--combined with no plan for rectifying the situation is simply a plan for failure.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2004

Scary Headmasters

In a follow up to my last Zim post, the schools are no longer just being closed, but some of the teachers are being arrested.

Police in Zimbabwe have detained several head teachers after the recent closure of 45 private schools.

The teachers were arrested during overnight raids across the country, including in the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulawayo.

Police were deployed to the schools on Tuesday to prevent them re-opening for the new term in a row over fee hikes.

Predictably, Mugabe's government is blaming the arrests, the closures, and the demands for lowered fees on racism. And, again, instead of solving the problems in the public schools and the economy, Mugabe is simply finding the most convenient scapegoat possible.

It's far easier to continue to work at fragmenting the country than it is to actually fix any of its problems.

Read the rest.

Posted by zombyboy at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2004

More Mugabe

Robert Mugabe continues to work to consolidate the government's position as the head of all legal activity in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government on Tuesday closed most private schools after ordering them to slash their fees, in a move that stopped about 30 000 children attending school on the first day of the new term.

Outside the Christian Gateway junior school, parents stared on Tuesday at a sign reading: "School closed until further notice."

A police officer was on guard and the nearby high school refused teachers and staff entry until the headmaster produced a letter from a senior police officer authorising their entry.

It's classist politics designed to divert attention from the real problems: Zimbabwe's schools and economy. Once again, I find a story that would probably be funny if it weren't so tragically typical.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)
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