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

United Nations Accused of Cholera Outbreak Coverup

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 23:41 p.m. EDT, 4 March 2013

Zimbabwe, Children Carrying Water, Photo Courtesy of IRIN NewsOn March 1, 2013, Aljazeera reported that the United Nations (UN) was accused of covering up the 2008 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. The UN dispute tribunal in Nairobi, Kenya, found that the UN did not inform the Robert Mugabe government of the potential for a cholera outbreak.

Aljazeera further reported that George Tadonki, the then head of the UN humanitarian office in Zimbabwe, warned his superiors of the potential outbreak, but no actions were taken.

Tadonki claims that he was fired in January 2009 in part because he “sounded the alarm about the cholera crisis.” Supposedly, the UN did not want to upset the government of Robert Mugabe, therefore did not warn the government of the upcoming outbreak. Tadonki pursued the issue, and the UN dispute tribunal in Nairobi ruled that he was unjustifiably removed from his job.

The UN dispute tribunal concluded that there should be disciplinary action taken against four senior UN officials, including the former humanitarian chief of the UN, John Holmes. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Aljazeera that they intend to appeal the judgment.

Upon reading reports of this incident, I embarked on an effort to verify the Aljazeera news report. I was unable to located independent verification of Tadonki's assertions on any news sources. This seemed inconsistent and smacked of a coverup given the magnitude of this story both in terms of the adverse health impact, as well as the political ramifications of an organization as high-profile as the UN failure to live up to one of its core tenets.

I finally found the original report, Tadonki v. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Case number NDT/NBI/2009/36, on the United Nations Dispute Tribunal website. Published on February 26, 2013, the report suggested that the failure of the UNCHA to renew Tadonki’s contract was “unlawful,” and that the UNCHA ignored humanitarian values in their dealings with Tadonki. Further, the UN report said on page 304 of their report, the Applicant being Tadonki:

308. Even ASG [Assistant Secretary-General] Bragg had testified that there were problems with the RC/HC and Mr. Mukhtar and that the UNCT was weak so that by January 2009 deaths from cholera had reached the thousands. In spite of this, the Tribunal finds that whenever something went wrong in Zimbabwe at the material time, the blame was laid at the door of the Applicant. It appeared that while he achieved some positive results no credit was given to him. In fact, ASG Bragg told the Tribunal that the achievements made by the Applicant in Zimbabwe were nothing extraordinary because it was his job. Management listened to rumours from all quarters instead of objectively assessing the situation and the performance of the Applicant.

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Published: 4 March 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

309. The matter of the Applicant’s said interpersonal relationships with some of those in the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe at the material time and the criticisms of him by these people or groups constituted the singular issue that informed his removal by OCHA. The critical question is: what was the Applicant doing wrong? Principal among his wrongdoing is that by the time he had spent one month in the country, he had published an early warning ˗ suggesting that the UNCT, which had been operating before he came on the scene was ill prepared for an impending humanitarian crisis. In spite of the fact that no one could successfully counter his prediction, he appeared to have stepped on some big toes by stating the obvious. Thus the Applicant, a new-comer, had attempted to upset the applecart in a situation where, clearly, humanitarian considerations only played second fiddle to political issues.

There are several inconsistencies in the initial two paragraphs alone. First of all, this is unlike any UN report I’ve ever read. As a previous member of Model UN, we read several UN reports, none of which were this informal.

Second, the tribunal in Nairobi claims, “whenever something went wrong in Zimbabwe at the material time, the blame was laid at the door of the Applicant.” Ignoring informalities, the suggestion that “whenever something went wrong” is extremely ambiguous, and the tribunal could hence claim that the UN blamed Tandonki for anything including actions he had no control over.

Third, the report leaves me unclear to why the UN didn’t want to upset the corrupt government of Mugabe. Mugabe is responsible for a multitude of human rights violations during the time that Mr. Tandoki was stationed there. If the UN was attempting to cover up the outbreak, then we have an example of a serious violation of human rights.

This an ultimate lack of transparency for the UN, which was established in part to encourage transparency. Further, this suggests that the UN is in collusion with Mugabe. One can speculate that the UN nations did not want to upset Mugabe because they wanted to remain in Zimbabwe to continue humanitarian operations. Hence, attempting to move Tadonki to the OCHA Regional Office in Johannesburg to take the position of Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer in order to cover up the cholera outbreak. Further, if the UN was ill prepared as this report suggested, then what exactly is our money doing?

This leaves me at another set of problems. Was the government of Kenya involved in the tribunal’s decision to find the UN guilty of covering up a cholera outbreak? Kenya and Zimbabwe have a long history of conflict, and further considering the strangely informal wording of the report, I am left suspicious. Further, I was unable to find any concrete information about the Nairobi dispute tribunal itself.

Perhaps this is just the tale of the disgruntled employee. Angry that the OCHA was not going to renew his contract, Tadonki made up the tale that the UN was covering up the cholera outbreak. When the tribunal in Kenya caught wind of this story, Kenya was eager to find a reason to prosecute their long-term enemy, and thus produced this report.

Ultimately, I am unable to ascertain what really happened in Zimbabwe in 2008. Is the UN caught up in a conspiracy of colluding with a corrupt government to cover up a cholera outbreak warning? Is Tadonki just upset that he got fired, and Kenya wanted to find a chance to stick it to their enemy? These are all questions that should have been asked in advance of publicizing this story, but regardless of the internal machinations of this organization, the internecine intrigue between Kenya and Zimbabwe, the ultimate victims are the Zimbabwean people who continue to suffer from lack of access to basic necessities such as clean water.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki
 
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Sources: Aljazeera; Tadonki v. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Case number NDT/NBI/2009/36

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

Rosh Hashana 5772 | L'Shana Tova

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This year Rosh Hashana commenced on the evening of 28 September 2011 which is actually the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar in the year 5772. Rosh Hashana (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, literally means "head of the year," and is commonly referred to as the "Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays or Yamim Noraim ("Days of Awe"), or Asseret Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance that conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur.Source: Wikipedia

As Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe begin, Jews around the world will celebrate a joyous New Year before entering a penitential state of fasting and reflection. שנה טובה ומבורכת , שנת בטחון וללא פיגועים !!! to all my Jewish friends, family and readers.

Blood Diamonds | Naomi Campbell

Blood Diamonds | Naomi Campbell

In the ongoing trial at The Hague of war criminal Charles Taylor, a cadre of international elites have been called upon to testify. Among them, the famed or rather infamous supermodel Naomi Campbell. She testified that she did not know that the diamonds Mr. Taylor gave her at a lavish party were 'blood diamonds,' a statement which has been contradicted by several witness including Ms. Campbell's former agent who has "described how the supermodel 'flirted' with the African warlord over dinner but was then disappointed that his gift of uncut 'blood diamonds' were not 'shiny enough.'"

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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."