Mugabe, A Comparison of Current African Elections

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:50 a.m. DST, 21 August 2013

President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe, Photo by Abayomi Azikiwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Despite optimistic reviews and marks of approval from neighboring countries and multilateral institutions, democratic elections in modern day Africa still leave a lot left to be desired in several categories. A prime example of this can be seen with the current post-election situation in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe, who is 89 years old and has been the head of state since 1987, just received another electoral "win" after the country's elections that took place on July 31st.

International watchdogs held their breath as the voting process and results took place as the last Zimbabwean national election in 2008 ended in violence as opponent Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters were attacked. This forced Tsvangirai to back out of the race to avoid further damage to his supporters, but it didn't keep him from running again in this election.

Although the results announced Mugabe as the winner with the vast majority of the votes, post-election details are emerging that there may have been election rigging completed by his ZANU political party.

For example, there are some constituencies listed that have more recorded voters than actual residents which resulted in over 800,000 duplicated names on voter lists. This is a gross human rights violation as it rips citizens of their right to vote and have a voice in their government.

Having the nation's governing political party violate its duty to be transparent and accountable will no doubt leave a national feeling of resentment and anger with the governing coalition that will persist until there are truly fair elections.

However, Mugabe and his ZANU party are not the only ones to blame, and it is suggested that some foreign investors may also be behind the election scheme. Foreign organizations that have certain obligations and interests like European and Chinese investors, diamond mining firms, and neighboring countries may have also played a part behind the scenes in making sure that Mugabe could stay in power and continue to pursue their goals.

Although Zimbabwe is a staunch reminder of where elections and political systems in Africa need to improve upon, there are some glimmers of hopes in other countries on the continent. In the Mali elections that concluded in the past few days, the ex-Finance Minister Soumaila Cisse conceded to the Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Keita after the runoff. Originally, Cisse had some complaints about potential fraud in the electoral process, but he soon after made the decision to peacefully concede and even congratulate Keita on his victory. This peaceful example of transition is impressive as it required no violence or force in order to decide on a winner.

Because the elections were settled in a peaceful, smooth, and fair process, there has been a general national sentiment of the citizens being happy with how the election went and that the country is making steps towards a more stable and prosperous state of affairs. A European Union observe even said that from a democratic point of view, the election was a success. This brings hope to the country that Mali can create a new trajectory for itself after months of instability where rebels in the North seized parts of the country and eventually forced French troops to intervene. After several tumultuous and devastating months, the elections in Mali have thus far served as a beacon of hope and building block for a strong future.

In the coming years, it will be vital for African countries to institute and follow through with truly free and fair elections so that its citizens will be content and able to trust the government. Elections can prove to be a turning point in a country's history, and the trajectory of Zimbabwe and Mali from their current elections onward could prove to be a telling comparison on how elections and political transition are vital to a healthy country.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

The HIV Murders Club

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 18:11 PM EDT,  7 March 2012

Blood DropMASVINGO PROVINCE, Zimbabwe - Shocking news hit the internet six days ago when a 17-year-old HIV positive maid from Mupandawana, Gutu, was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for trying to infect her employer's four-year-old child with the HIV virus.

People deliberately infecting other people with the virus that causes AIDS is a very real problem both here and abroad. Perpetrators engage in this type of immoral behavior for a number of reasons including denial, anger and revenge.

In the case of Pelagia Mureya, originally from Choto Village in Chief Magonde area in Chinhoyi, she is purported to have sought revenge by putting menstrual blood in porridge which she prepared for her employer's child. She alleged that this was done in retaliation for the ill-treatment to which she was subjected at the hands of her employers. (For information on how HIV is transmitted visit the CDC website here.)

On 11 September 2011, the ABC News program 20/20 featured a report about Philippe Padieu, who was convicted in 2009 for infecting several women with HIV between the years 2004 to 2007. Padieu, actively pursued his victims, convinced them that he was HIV negative, psychologically manipulated them into engaging in unprotected sex with him, and then discarded them when his interest waned or the money ran out.

Padieu was subsequently convicted in a Texas court of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for infecting the women and sentenced to 45-years in prison.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3PA1x8JJkY] In featuring the Mureya case, we also presented Padieu's case to provide balance, because perpetrators of this crime come from all backgrounds. It was especially important to provide this juxtaposition because many of the comments that readers wrote on other sites that reported on Mureya's case were either outright racist or had racial overtones.

This does not excuse the heinous and disgusting manner with which Mureya tried to infect the infant in her care, and from a moral standpoint, both she and Padieu should be considered monsters.

It is alleged by the court and the parents of the 4-year old child that Mureya laced the porridge she was feeding the child with drops of her infected menstrual blood. Even the most callous individual would be incensed at the thought of such an unclean substance being ingested by an innocent and trusting child who is ill-equipped to protect themselves against harm.

This post does not defend Mureya's behavior, and in fact, we believe that the 10-year prison term to which she was sentenced was not harsh enough when a two-year reduction in sentence for good behavior is factored into the equation. Mureya's case would evoke a visceral response in almost anybody, and thus reports of this case have focused on the sensational aspect rather than the fact that a child was used by an adult to exact vengeance on another adult.

The Nahmias Cipher Report's primary mission is to attempt to bring balance in reporting about people of the Continent and in other Emerging Economies. This is why we chose to present an alternative perspective to this story, one that would make readers realize that the deliberate infection of healthy people with the HIV virus is more prevalent than one would think. To that end, though this case is sensational, it is not an isolated occurrence, nor is this crime a uniquely 'black,' 'African,' or 'impoverished people' problem. If you think you are safe, just ask the women assaulted by Padieu.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias</address

African Fractals | Ron Eglash

"Ethno-mathematician" Ron Eglash is the author of African Fractals, a book that examines the fractal patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa. By looking at aerial-view photos -- and then following up with detailed research on the ground -- Eglash discovered that many African villages are purposely laid out to form perfect fractals, with self-similar shapes repeated in the rooms of the house, and the house itself, and the clusters of houses in the village, in mathematically predictable patterns. As he puts it: "When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganized and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn't even discovered yet."

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Zimbabwean Jews Confirmed via DNA

Lemba Jews (Israelites) SA Malawi ZImbabwe Mozambique Israel, Photo by Phantom

Lemba Jews (Israelites) SA Malawi ZImbabwe Mozambique Israel, Photo by Phantom

ZIMBABWE - Tudor Parfitt's remarkable journey to introduce the Lemba tribe to the world began with a lecture in South Africa on the Jews of Ethiopia. After meeting with the tribe, observing their lives and listening to their oral history, he returned to England where he determined that "this would be a wonderful research project."

Thus began an intense relationship with the Lemba during which he lived with them, gained their acceptance and respect, and was finally able to secure their agreement to DNA testing.

Parfitt's scientific research generated a great amount of interest in this group of sub-Saharan Africans who claimed they are Jewish. Josh Bernstein, noted explorer, archeologist and Jew, decided to retrace the amazing journey that may have resulted in the Lemba settling in Zimbabwe.  During Josh's peregrinations he decided to try to decipher the reality between myth and fact regarding the Biblical Lost Tribes of Israel.

Josh encountered many groups around the world who claimed either direct or peripheral descent from the Biblical Jews.  However, it was the Lemba Tribe aka Lembaa, who live in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa,  who proved to be the most intriguing encounter in this quest.

Like the Bene Israel and Cochin Jews of India, the Lemba people did not fit neatly into most peoples' perceptions of "what Jews look like." Aspreviously discussed in this blog, the Jewish diaspora is as varied as the peoples of the earth.  However, in addition to anti-Semitism, racism plays a large part of the discomfort people have with the concept of Jews of Color. The identification of the Lemba as Jews would have probably passed largely unnoticed except for their sub-Saharan ancestry.

Today news sources around the world are loudly proclaiming and tacitly conferring upon the Lemba recognition of their heritage as direct descendants of Abraham because of the efficacy of DNA testing.  It is particularly poignant for me because this news was widely publicized in Israel via The Jerusalem Post, which I hope will begin to ameliorate some of the difficulties faced by Jews of Color in Israel.  Ethiopians in particular and others in general.

For me and other 'People of the Book,'  it is always satisfying when science lends credence to our beliefs.  It was prophesied to Abraham by G-d nearly three millennium ago in Bereshit 22:17 ~ "That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, as the sand which is upon the sea-shore."