As bloggers from across Africa write about the elections crisis in Zimbabwe, Malawian bloggers join in the condemnation of the delay in releasing the election results, with at least one blogger pointing to the one-sided nature of the discussions on the causes of Zimbabwe’s economic and political problems. Aside from Zimbabwe, Malawian bloggers also discuss the question of who has the constitutional power to convene parliament, which Malawi's president Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika has prevented from meeting for seven straight months. On the move, other Malawian bloggers update their readers on new developments in their lives.
Civil society and Zimbabwe
Collins Magalasi opens his post on the Zimbabwe situation with the words “Our governments in Africa have failed us, and they will prove their failure further on Zimbabwe. In this case I see the citizens and civil society as the only hope.” Magalasi, Head of Policy at ActionAid International Malawi, writes about a recent meeting of Zimbabwean civil society organizations, at which was agreed a campaign of nonviolent protests across the country:
Noting that the ongoing anxiety and uncertainty around election results is a breeding ground for civil unrest, Civil Society has launched a massive national campaign to call for peace and respect for the voices of the people. Communities from all over the country will from now on be encouraged to converge in their local areas to conduct different non violent social actions such as marches, prayer meetings and public meetings. The colour white will be used as a show of support for the campaign and citizens are encouraged to wear white ribbons, scarves and apparel as a sign of support for peace in Zimbabwe.
Magalasi says civil society groups in southern Africa are joining in the action, with a demonstration planned at the Zimbabwe High Commission in Lilongwe, Malawi, among others.
Ownership of the problem
Austin Madinga finds it puzzling that everyone seems to be denying ownership of the problem, starting with South African president Thabo Mbeki’s statement that the situation was not a crisis, asking “the rest of the world to butt out and let Africans resolve the problems in an African way.” Yet, Madinga wonders, the Southern African Development Community, SADC, has washed its hands over ownership of the problem, saying it is really a Zimbabwean problem to be solved by Zimbabweans themselves. Wonders Madinga:
So it’s not a world problem but an African one? But wait, at the SADC meeting in Lusaka the head of states said it was a Zimbabwean problem that would be resolved by Zimbabweans. So it’s a Zimbabwean problem now? But Morgan Tsvangirai has been lobbying regional leaders to help resolve the problem. So it would seem it’s not a Zimbabwean problem after all! It’s a problem that seem to lack ownership.
As a Malawian I am hurt by sweeping statements such as the declaration by Thabo Mbeki that there is “No crisis in Zimbabwe.” It hurts because the economic turmoil in Zimbabwe impacts negatively on Malawi but most importantly, Zimbabweans are like a family member. Our Malawian brothers and sisters settled in Zimbabwe for economic reasons and now consider themselves as Zimbabweans. We have also been at the mercy of some unspeakable dictatorial tendencies under Dr.Kamuzu Banda and no sane person would wish another country to go through the same hurt as we did.
Ng’ambi sees an eerie parallel with two other famously reported denials from Mbeki, first, the purported denial that the HIV virus causes AIDS, and second, the high rate of crime in South Africa:
Zimbabwe has gone through the worst economic period in history. The facts are there for everyone to see yet Thabo Mbeki deliberately chooses to wear blindfolds for the sake of personal relationship with Mugabe. As far as Mbeki is concerned nothing exists in his infinite wisdom. First, he denied that HIV/Aids existed, today, South Africa remains one of the highly ravaged nations with the epidemic. His persistent denials refused him the opportunity to institute HIV/Aids preventative programmes. Many children are now opharned and live in care. Second, he denied that crime rate is high in South Africa but the truth is that RSA is the worst country on armed robberies and gun crimes in the southern Africa. Today, he does not seem to appreciate that the situation in Zimbabwe is worth of a crisis.
Buckaroo Thandi makes a brief comment on some of the speculation as to why the election results have still not yet been released, alluding, without mentioning names, to criticisms about the Zimbabwe opposition’s deference to the West:
Some sources tell me it's for the best that Zimbabwe's results are not out yet. something about fear someone will be used as an instrument by the powers that be to effect certain purposes that will mostly only satisfy the powers that be. I say, prayer is the only answer here, too many pie eaters and only one pie.
Mugabe and the West both as root causes
Bennet Kankuzi sees the Zimbabwe issue a little differently, touting an article by Brendan O’Neill, editor of Sp!ked Online, as “a thought provoking and balanced view on the current contentious issue of Zimbabwe.” Without further editorializing, Kankuzi provides a link to O’Neill’s article, in which O’Neill does what has become characteristically rare in analyses on Zimbabwe; a detailed, documented description of how Western sanctions have crippled Zimbabwe’s economy.
Convening the Malawi parliament
Outside the views of Malawian bloggers on Zimbabwe, other Malawian bloggers focus on Malawi’s own political problems, as well as new developments in personal lives. On Malawi’s own political problems, new kid on the blog, Boniface Dulani, takes issue with President Bingu wa Mutharika’s claim that he is vested with the authority to convene the Malawi parliament.
The president prorogued parliament on September 7, 2007, before it had exhausted all its deliberations on pending bills. It has not met again since then, despite widespread concerns that another meeting was long overdue.
Dulani, a University of Malawi political scientist currently a Fulbright doctoral student at Michigan State University, uses a careful reading of Section 59 (1) of the Malawi constitution to point out that it is in fact the Speaker of Parliament who is vested with the power to convene parliament. The president can only serve a consultative role. Dulani points out that:
the president’s reading and interpretation of the Constitution is wrong. While he is correct to assert that he acted within his powers to have prorogued parliament after the passage of the Budget last year, he does not, contrary to his recent claims, have the power to decide when to convene Parliament. That authority belongs to the Speaker, with the president’s role limited to an advisory one upon being consulted by the Speaker.
Blogger moves to Japan
In recent blogger news, Clement Nthambazale writes about his move to Japan for his doctoral studies. Clement arrived in Japan in the first week of April, and has been getting acclimatized to scholarly life in Japan. He writes:
There are more than 25 students from more than 10 countries. Apart from Malawi, my nation and Japan, the host nation, other nations represented in this lab include Vietnam, China, Croatia, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Canada, Cuba, Brazil and Peru. I am so far the only member from Sub-Saharan Africa. But I have been informed that a Nigerian student will be joining us in October 2008. This is globalization at its best!