Voices from Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes

Zimbabwe: This is Zimbabwe is involved in a battle of semantics with Eddie cross after the former published this post which questioned some of the numbers put forth by the latter in this post after the MDC congress in Harare. Said Eddie Cross in response to the criticism,

We are well aware of the fact that if we are to be taken seriously as an alternative government in waiting, that events like the Congress must be well run and managed. I think we demonstrated that to all who were there and in addition, we again demonstrated that we do have real structures in all parts of Zimbabwe. Stronger in some parts than others, but there are no “no go” areas in Zimbabwe as far as the MDC is concerned.

But This is Zimbabwe still wants to know,

why did only 5000 people vote if 15,000 were duly accredited delegates?

Zimpundit announces the forthcoming debut of Zimbabwe's “first super blog,Enough is Enough. Modelled loosely on Global Voices Online, Enough is Enough is designed to act as a blog aggregator, an information exchange for concerned Zimbabweans within the country, and a “bridge blog” to carry the news in that country (now completely devoid of an independent press) to the outside world.

Harare Diary blogs about “pythons, politics, and prostitutes.” It's worth a read; funny yet deeply incriminating.

D.R.C:Sahara Sarah writes about her move to Lubumbashi where she arrives and feels like she's in,

…a different country but can't put my finger on why I feel this way. The temperature is nice – in the upper 70s and lower 80s. The city has an open feel to it and lacks the grit and dirt that defines Kinshasa.

And in many ways, this is a different country. It's definitely tried to be, with successionist attempts that were actually supported by Belgium troops right after independence (later US and european troops were sent to quell a rebellion attempt). Now there is still the issue that the vast mineral wealth of Katanga province is perceived as being channeled to Kinshasa.

Malawi: Mike of Hacktivate shares some of the discussions he has been having on Malawi's ITMalawi mailing list.

Rwanda: At the end of his time in Rwanda and on the verge of seeing the project he has been working on, Village Phones come to fruition, George Conard has a moving post here. In it he describes his unmasked emotion when he watched the movie Shooting Dogs

It would be a difficult film to watch under any circumstances, but seeing it here, in Rwanda, on the anniversary of the genocide, among people (both expats and Rwandan nationals) who live here was particularly intense – sufficiently so that I don't think I've got the word chops to describe the feeling. We're all here, in Rwanda, with genocide survivors sitting next to us. This wasn't some documentary about something terrible that happened to someone sometime in a place we've never been; it happened a few kilometers down the road, to the guy sitting next to me, and to his family and friends that didn't survive….

…I have friends who are extremely informed and passionate about human rights and development and stopping future atrocities who have never lived outside the US, and a lot of the time they do get it. I also have friends who often can't deal with some of the horrors in the world; they can't watch the movies and can't read the books and sometimes can't even talk about it in casual conversation – it's just too much for them to handle. And that's probably OK; it's exceptionally unfortunate, but it's OK.

When it's not OK is when people move from “I can't think about this” to “it's OK for us to ignore things like this”, and it's a very subtle line. Last night the introduction to the film was given by a man named Bonaventure who survived the genocide in 1994. He talked about shared responsibility and how that rightly starts with Rwandans but extends to the rest of the planet as well – to the UN, the US, Belgium, France, and everyone else who could have stopped the killing but didn't. It's sometimes easy to play the hindsight game – although in this case, from what I know, saying that we could have stopped the genocide is a little more than just hindsight but was, in fact, painfully feasible – but the underlying point is absolutely essential: we must recognize and avow that the wholesale slaughter of human beings based on their ethnic identity is fundamentally inhuman and must not be allowed.

That means calling bullshit when we hear “it's an internal matter for that country to handle” or “we don't have a national interest there”. It means calling bullshit when massacred Africans are ignored but Europeans being slaughtered get air support and a massive EU response. And it means calling bullshit when we start changing the rules of the game by saying that, “well, the 1948 Genocide Convention doesn't really require action if we know genocide is taking place… it only allows us to take action.”

Uganda:Degstar is frustrated at his company's new policy for employee internet access.

Jay rants after the recent launch of Dunhill Cigarettes in Uganda,

Personally I hope the brand does not gain any popularity, but probably not for the reasons you think.

I am pissed off that they have the audacity to introduce other brands to Uganda after shafting us and closing down the manufacturing plant in Jinja. They send all the employment to Kenya and they still want our dimes.

You might wonder why I am not going on about the grand conspiracy to have tobacco kill off the African through increased cigarette production in Africa after deep slumps in sales in other parts of the world. Or how cigarette smoking is bad for the health etc.

First, I won’t be telling anybody anything new. Second, seeing how I have been smoking for 11years it wouldn’t seat right with me. So I am looking at this purely as a smoker and a pissed off Ugandan one at that.

For all its sins BAT Uganda (BATU) was until last year putting a paycheck in the hands of hundreds of Ugandans employed at its cigarette manufacturing plant In Jinja. They were also paying the Uganda Revenue Authority a hefty paycheck after selling said cigarettes. But last year they did some restructuring and shut down the Jinja plant and decided that it made better economic sense to produce all the cigarettes for the Ugandan market in Kenya (all that is left here is a leaf processing plant and administrators). Obviously many jobs were lost and the shillings paid to the national coffers are less .

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