Category Archives: Features

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen nominated Labour Baroness

View of the House of Lords Chamber in the Pala...

View of the House of Lords Chamber in the Palace of Westminster, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doreen Lawrence gets Labour peerage in the House of Lords to recognise her twenty-year long fight to bring her son’s murderers to account.

Doreen whose son Stephen died in a racist attack in 1993, gets recommendation by the Labour party for a seat in the House of Lords to acknowledge her campaign against racism and injustice.

Stephen Lawrence was a Black British teenager from Eltham, South East London, who died in a racist attack as he waited for a bus on 22 April 1993.

Doreen Lawrence, 60, will become a baroness and would be on Labour’s benches in the Upper House.

Ed Miliband, the Labour Leader approved the recommendation which was then forwarded to Number 10 Downing Street.

A new peerages list is out Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Doreen championed a campaign that exposed botched police investigations into her teenage son’s murder.

As a result of her resolve to bring justice, a public inquiry was held in 1998, led by Sir William Macpherson.

After examining the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) investigation, the inquiry concluded that the force was “institutionally racist.”  Jack Straw the then Home Secretary in a statement in 2012 said ordering the inquiry was “the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary”.

In 2010 the case became “one of the highest-profile unsolved racially motivated murders” in the United Kingdom.

Formerly a special education needs tutor; Doreen also founded “Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust” in honour of her late son and to promote a positive community legacy.

Doreen received an OBE in 2003 for her community relations efforts.

List of suspicious deaths linked to Mugabe’s Regime and Central Intelligence Organisation

Demonstration against Robert Mugabe's regime n...

Demonstration against Robert Mugabe’s regime, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward Chindori-Chininga 19/06/2013. He was murdered by Zanu PF for exposing massive looting of diamond in Marange. Ed died in a mysterious car accident on his way from Raffingora to Guruve.

Herbert Chitepo (1975), ZANU leader, killed by car bomb in exile in Lusaka

Josiah Tongogara (1979), ZANLA leader, died in a car accident in Mozambique during return from exile.

Charles Tazvishaya (aka Lovemore Mawisa) (1986), personal private secretary to Prime Minister Mugabe, survived a gunshot wound to the head and then died in Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare, a fortnight later, after his medical drip was detached from the source medication.

Rashiwe Guzha was a secretary in the Zimbabwean central intelligence office. She disappeared in the early 1990s and has not been found. An inquiry was set up by the Zimbabwean government but results of the inquiry were never made public.

Maurice Nyagumbo (1989), Minister for Mines, died from ingesting pesticide. It is allegedly claimed to be a looting deal involving the thief residing at State House that went wrong.

Enos “Mvuu” Chikoore alleged to have committed suicide following forced resignation due to massive looting at NICOZIM and the National Housing Scheme during his tenure a Minister of Transport and Minister of Energy and Public Construction and National Housing respectively. The looting was sanctioned by the man currently renting at State House.

Border Gezi (2001), Minister for Gender, Youth and Employment, died in a car accident.

Moven Mahachi (2001), Minister of Defence, died in a car accident.

Elliot Manyika (2008), Minister Without Portfolio and National Political Commissar for ZANU-PF, died in a car accident.

Susan Tsvangirai (2009), wife of Morgan Tsvangirai, the new Prime Minister in the Government of National Unity, died in a car accident.

General Solomon Mujuru (aka Rex Nhongo) (August 2011), first post-Independence Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Armed Forces and husband of Vice President Joice Mujuru, died in a house fire which destroyed his farmhouse near Beatrice.

Lookout Masuku jailed together with Dumiso Dabengwa by the notoriuos Mugabe. He died in suspicious circumstances a few weeks after his release from prison

William Ndangana — a leader of the war of liberation and senior Zanu PF member — died near Nyazura in a car accident on 27 June 1989. He was buried at the National Heroes Acre.

Sydney “Donald” Malunga a political activist, civic leader and outspoken Member of Parliament for Bulawayo’s Mpopoma constituency died on August 28, 1994 in a car accident. He was buried at the national shrine on September 3 of the same year.

Witness Rukarwa who became Governer of Mashonaland West died under dubious circumstances. He was involved in a serious accident and the car was all mashed up in the front but he who was a passenger in the back died but his driver survived

Peter Pamire died in a car crash in 1996. In July 1996 an operative of Mugabe’s dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation shot Pamire while he was driving from Harare International airport.

Edson Zvobgo (2004) – The Harvard trained lawyer and longtime ally of Mugabe started criticising Mugabe’s autocratic rule in the early 1990’s. In 1996, he survived a car accident along Harare-Masvingo road. Both his legs were broken. Soon after the accident he was dropped from cabinet and this accident was considered suspicious by many. He had described the sweeping media laws as “the most serious assault on our constitutional liberties since independence”. He refused to campaign for Mugabe in 2002.

Zororo Duri (1996) Car Accident (Killed on the same spot as Ndangana)

Brigadier General Paul Armstrong Gunda: Railroad Accident

Winston Changara (2007) – The longtime bodyguard of Robert Mugabe was accused of meddling in the private affairs of the first family, especially Grace. It all started when Grace refused to go with him on a trip abroad alleging sexual overtures from the assistant commissioner bodyguard. Grace wanted to do away with him because she had seen him to potentially spill the beans about the First lady’s infidelity. Changara died in a road car accident.

Rwizi Ziyenge died on January 11, 1990 in a fake car accident near Marondera.

Nleya (1989) Captain Nleya’s body was found on a hillside in Hwange, two months after he disappeared in suspicious circumstances from an Infantry Battalion in Hwange.

Army lieutenant Shepard Chisango died in custody in 1991, after also threatening to expose ‘smuggling’ activities in Mozambique. He was arrested after trying to obstruct an army lorry which was carrying what were believed to be smuggled goods from Mozambique.

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Bulawayo based Journalist killed in car accident

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, atte...

Robert Mugabe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A  Zimbabwean journalist, Busani Ncube died in a car accident Sunday, July 28, 2013; when his car was hit by another car on Bach Street in Bulawayo.

Busani was a political activist working for Welshman Ncube led MDC campaign team. He died on the spot while other party supporters travelling with him including journalist Nkululeko Sibanda were seriously injured.

Welshman Ncube’s MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T go heads-on against Mugabe’s 33-year rule in national elections this week.

According to The Zimbabwean newspaper; ‘The MDC chairperson for Bulawayo province, Oscar Ncube confirmed the accident.’

Speaking to The Zimbabwean while at the United Bulawayo Hospital where he visited the injured party supporters he said:

“Yes I can confirm that Busani died in the accident .Some of the injured are admitted at the hospital including Sibanda.”

Zimbabweans head to the polls in presidential, senate, national assembly and local government elections on July 31, 2013.

Many politicians opposed to Mugabe’s regime have died in mysterious road accidents in the past. The country has since independence in 1980 witnessed scores of deaths of politicians who met their fate in car accidents, leaving unanswered questions about the suspicious circumstances.

In June of this year an outspoken Zimbabwean member of parliament  investigating the ties between the ruling party and the country’s diamond industry died in a car accident under what some call ‘suspicious circumstances’.

Edward Chindori-Chininga died on June 19, 2013 after his car reportedly failed to stop and rammed into a tree.

Chindori-Chininga, who was a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy and former minister, was concerned about the plundering of the country’s diamonds by members of  Robert Mugabe-led ZANU (PF).

Just a week before his death, Chininga released a report exposing ZANU PF officials ‘corrupt practices within the diamond industry.

The maverick politician dubbed ‘Zimbabwe’s own whistleblower’ campaigned against murky business practices by officials in Mugabe’s party at the Marange Diamond fields.

Egypt: More than 100 killed in army offensive

English: Omar El-Telmesani The 3rd leader of M...

Omar El-Telmesani The 3rd leader of Muslim Brotherhood Organization العربية: عمر التلمساني المرشد الثالث لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 100 people died during an army offensive that left thousands injured in Cairo following protests organised by Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian army killed more than 100 demonstrators in a pre-dawn crackdown on protests by supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Saturday, July 27; 2013. The ongoing violence leaves chances of peaceful political transition uncertain in the increasingly fragile and troubled North African country.

The widely condemned incident happened during protest organised by supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Morsi was ousted by the army on 3 July 2013 following nationwide demonstrations against his rule.

Both Pro and anti-Morsi demonstrators held a wave of protests Friday night which turned deadly as security forces unleashed live fire against civilians. The latest outburst of violence and its aftermath is the worst since Mubarak fell from power during the 2011 Arab Spring revolution.

Eyewitnesses and members of The Muslim Brotherhood claim the army resorted to live ammunition to quell the waves of protests.

Reports by Al Jazeera’s television say at least 120 people died and some 4,500 left injured near the capital’s Rabaa al-Adawia mosque during clashes with security forces.

‘They are not shooting to wound, they are shooting to kill,’ said pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad El-Haddad.

The army and the police, who back the new authorities in Egypt, take the blame for using brutal force against Pro Morsi protesters.

According to Human Rights Watch ‘many of the at least 74 pro-Morsy protesters killed in clashes with Egypt’s riot police and plain clothed men who stood alongside were shot in the head or chest.

Human Rights Watch say ‘medical staff who spoke to the rights group judged some of the deaths to be targeted killings because the position of the shots would likely result in death.’

The violence came hours after Interim President Adly Mansour announced, “the state has to impose order by all force and decisiveness.” The same day, Interior Minister Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim warned that security forces would be clearing pro-Morsy sit-ins from Rabaa and Nahda squares “soon.”
The Ministry of Health announced that at least 74 civilians died in the morning’s violence on Saturday.

At a press conference earlier that day, the minister of interior insisted that “We never, as police, pointed any firearms at the chest of any demonstrator.”

“The use of deadly fire on such a scale so soon after the interim president announced the need to impose order by force suggests a shocking willingness by the police and by certain politicians to ratchet up violence against pro-Morsy protesters,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“It is almost impossible to imagine that so many killings would take place without an intention to kill, or at least a criminal disregard for people’s lives,” he added.

Reports say Muslim Brotherhood Organisation is calling on the international community to intervene.

There are signs that sectarian violence in Egypt and the heavy-handedness of the security forces will get worse unless the international community through the United Nations intervenes.

Clashes and counter-clashes between Pro and Ant-Morse may push this beleaguered country towards another coup d’état in as many weeks.

Malala Yousafzai: ‘women should be independent and fight for themselves’

The UN headquarters in New York

The UN headquarters in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations Youth Assembly on ‘Malala Day’, her 16th birthday where she called on all governments to invest in education, and the rights for women and children.

Malala, the Pakistani teenage  girl who got shot by the Taliban while on her way to school in October last year,  marked  her 16th birthday with a speech  to the UN youth assembly New York  last week, Friday.

At the special UN session on July 12, 2013, on what is now known as  “Malala Day“, she called for free and compulsory education for  children worldwide.

The teenage girl, already an advocate for children’s education and women’s empowerment around the world, believes governments should focus more on women’s rights and girls’ education because they suffer the most.

“There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But this time we will do it by ourselves,” she said.

She was quick however, to mention that while men should not ‘to step away from speaking for women’s rights’, women should stand up for themselves, independent and able to fight for their rights.

Her speech touched in-depth on children and women’s rights; and called for a campaign to educate millions of children who are out of school due to poverty or political conflicts.

She urged governments and world leaders to help the more than 50 million children who today cannot go to school due to difficult circumstances.

“So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights.

“A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable,” Malala warned.

Malala also had a message for the Taliban. The attempted murder had not silenced her; instead it made her ambitions stronger.

“They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said.

She added that she doesn’t seek revenge against the Taliban, and that she’s against no one.

“I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child.

“I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists, especially the Taliban,” she said.

Malala fled to the United Kingdom with her family after an attempted assassination by the Taliban in Pakistan. Her treatment and recovery took months; and it included reconstructive surgery to restore her disfigured face.

Full text of Malala’s speech

UNESCO: Fifty percent of all out-of-school children live in conflict affected countries

Nearly 50 million children are out of education in many poorer countries due to armed conflicts that leave institutions  of learning such as schools non-existent.

In these countries armed conflict destroys not only school infrastructure, but also education for a whole generation of children. Millions of these children are denied an education; hopes, ambitions and aspirations in life.

English: Madame Graça Machel at the Sports for...

Madame Graça Machel (Credit: Wikipedia)

A new paper by UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report (EFA  GMR) says 28.5 million primary school age children not in education are  in conflict-affected countries.

The paper, “Children still battling to go to school” shows that of the 69 million children of lower secondary school age who were not in school in 2011, 20 million of them lived in conflict-affected countries, of which 11 million were female.

 Released in partnership with Save the Children to mark the 16th birthday on 12 July of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban on her way from in 2012, the paper calls for urgent action to bring schools to  the 28.5 million primary school age children who lack access to an education due to conflict.

Many of these children are in poorer countries and come from low-income families. According to the report; of the 28.5 million primary school age children out of school due to conflict, 12.6 million live in sub-Saharan Africa, 5.3 million live in South and West Asia, and 4 million live in the Arab States.

Girls, who make up 55% of the total, are the worst affected, as they are often victims of rape and other sexual violence that accompanies armed conflicts.

When governments signed the Dakar Framework for Action 2000 they identified conflict as a major barrier towards getting children to school. They acknowledged that children in conflict zones are robbed of an education, not only because schools are closed and teachers absent, but also because they experience widespread rape; sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other abuses.

In most trouble countries such as Sudan, Somalia and the DR Congo school-going-age children are often enlisted as child soldiers.

In a 1996 UNICEF commissioned report ‘Impact of Armed Conflict on Children’ Graca Machel said: “The physical, sexual and emotional violence to which they [children] are exposed shatters their world. War undermines the very foundations of children’s lives, destroying their homes, splintering their communities and breaking down their trust in adults.”

This also means they stop going to school because they are no schools to go to anymore. In most cases these children are displaced from their homes, and as a result they find themselves in refugee camps that are ill-equipped to give essential services such as education.

UNESCO says children make up 46% of people displaced by armed conflict.  This is a staggering figure. These young people’s learning process gets disrupted at a very critical stage of their development, risking a lifetime disadvantage on career choice.

 

Egypt: Mobs Sexually Assault Female Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square

English: An Egyptian army M1 Abrams tank place...

An Egyptian army M1 Abrams tank placed near Tahrir Square during the 2011 Egyptian protests. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The protests that started in June and led to the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by the military, did not only reveal the complex nature of Egyptian politics,  but also exposed  the plight of women protesters who are regularly assaulted and raped  by mobs during such political events.

Egyptian women actively participate in politics including protests that saw the overthrow of presidents such as Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011; and of course the latest Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.

However what the world had not known till then or had not been told is the story of scores of women assaulted and raped by mobs during protests.

In a recent report titled ‘Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence’, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square during the recent protests.

According to the rights group ‘at least 91 women were mob raped in Tahrir Square, over four days of protests that began June 30, 2013, in circumstances  it calls ‘ climate of impunity’ on the part of perpetrators.

Condemnation

HRW calls on all leaders to condemn and take measures to address sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said: “The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces .

“These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development,” he added.

In disturbing accounts reported on video by HRW scores of women gave harrowing accounts of sexual assaults and rape perpetrated by mobs.

In one account a woman said as she took pictures of the square and the crowds during the protest, she had no idea what would happen to her in the seconds that followed.

“They made a tight circle around me.  They started moving their hands every inch of my body. They violated every inch of my body. I was so much traumatised I was only screaming at the moment. I was just screaming at the moment. I could not speak. I could not cry for help. I was just screaming. I could not speak,” she recounted.

The woman believes it is difficult to get justice and expressed her mistrust of the legal system in the country. She bemoans the state’s lack of support for women victims.

“I don’t have so much confidence in the legal system, in the judiciary system in Egypt because it goes in a very strange and ambiguous way,” she said.

Police failure

These sentiments are widely shared. Civic groups say often, when women are assaulted, no one comes to help; and the police for their part, are nowhere to be seen.

Azza Soliman, Founder of Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance says there are bad relations between citizens and the state police. As a result the general public cannot trust the police.

“We have a history of oppression and bad relationships with the police. Men and women fear going to the police,” she observed.

In a video a young woman who chose to remain anonymous told HRW that she has been assaulted many times but could not do anything because of fear.

“It has happened to me several times but I don’t always react, because I’m afraid of the reaction from the guy in front of me. And I am afraid the people around me won’t back me up,” said the victim.

Heba Morayef, Director of Human Rights Watch Egypt tells of an increase in mob assaults against women in the last two years.

“They have happened against female protesters in Tahrir Square and central Cairo,” she says.

According to Morayef assaults against women are perpetrated by a large number of men often leading to rape.

“Sexual harassment is part of a woman’s daily life in the Egypt Street,”   Morayef adds.

Morayef says mobs attack women with impunity because they know they will not be held to account.

She however says as a result of the state’s failure and lack of accountability; activists and civil society have taken it upon themselves to provide protection for women.

Men say women are attacked in this way because of the way they walk or dress.

A man who spoke to HRW on condition of anonymity said: “It’s not a good habit, it’s wrong, but they lead us to do this. From the way they dress. From the way they walk. Everything. They push Egyptian men to do this.”

Awareness and hope

Despite the failure of the majority of victims to come forward due to fear, there are signs that things are changing. Many more women become bolder. For example, access to social media has encouraged women especially those who are scared or embarrassed to report their cases.

Soliman says people are beginning to talk about these issues especially women and girls.

She believes the more people hear about these women the more they are likely to behave differently.

An end to assaults against Egyptian women depends very much on the authorities; politicians and religious accepting that there is a deep-seated problem. They should commit not only themselves but also resources to stamping out sexual assault against women. The wider society should also acknowledge that women play a pivotal role within the political fabric of Egypt; and that they are free to express themselves without fear of assault or violence.

Morayef said: “Our only hope for ending future mob assaults is political will on the part of the government to handle this issue not only the criminal side, and holding perpetrators accountable but looking into the role of the media, educational institutions and religious institutions and coordination between the ministries and national strategy to implement all these recommendations in the coming years.

“Otherwise we’ll have victims of sexual assault and harassment again and again,” she concludes.

Zimbabwe’s political future hangs in the balance

Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Ch...

Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY GWINYAYI DZINESA, JULY 11 2013, 07:43

ZIMBABWE’s Constitutional Court last Thursday unanimously rejected a request to delay the general election set for July 31, despite a raft of appeals from the likes of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to delay the polls.

The appeals had been lodged following a June 15 Southern African Development Community (Sadc) extraordinary summit resolution “on the need for the government of Zimbabwe to engage the Constitutional Court to seek more time beyond July 31 deadline for holding the harmonised elections”.

This was meant to give Zimbabwe room to lay the ground for a credible vote.

Significantly, Sadc and the African Union (AU), guarantors of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, both acknowledged the May 31 Constitutional Court ruling on the election date, and are bound to respect the latest decision upholding the July 31 deadline.

The judgment in effect moves the struggle for power between Zimbabwe’s three coalition government parties, Zanu (PF) led by Mr Mugabe, and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the MDC-T led by Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC-N led by Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, into a new phase. Zimbabweans will head to the polls on July 31 in the hope of ending the shaky coalition government that both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have conceded to be dysfunctional. The two leaders, putting aside any notion that they were already in election mode, officially launched their parties’ campaigns at the past weekend.

There are concerns the democratic structures provided for in the new constitution, such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Media Commission, have not been strengthened and may not be used correctly to ensure the credibility of the electoral process. The ZEC coped relatively well with the logistical challenges of conducting the referendum less than a month after the starting gun was fired. However, the elections will be considerably more complex than the referendum, which offered only two choices — yes or no — and a single ballot.

The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government has to ensure the belated availability of resources for the ZEC to prepare effectively and run the forthcoming elections.

Yet the Zimbabwe government’s official request to the Sadc and the United Nations for assistance in mobilising resources for the election is fraught with uncertainty.

Were Sadc to fund the poll, this would place the regional body in unfamiliar territory.

Further, Sadc may have to field questions about potentially financing an election that might not be in full accordance with the principles and guidelines governing democratic elections in the region. In any case, Zimbabwe has been broke for over a decade, but elections have still been held.

The government may mobilise local resources to finance the poll, just as it did with the preceding referendum. Zimbabwe’s political leaders have called repeatedly for national reconciliation and peaceful political activities, to prevent the violence and intimidation that have undermined democratic electoral processes in the past. However, there has been no agreement by the parties on a code of conduct to guide the behaviour of the security sector in the electoral process so that it conducts itself in a non-partisan manner, and enforces the political leaders’ calls.

With the security sector’s partisan involvement in the country’s politics, and threats by the security chiefs to veto the forthcoming election, there is a danger that security agents may abuse the rule of law during the poll instead of securing the vote. Meanwhile, the fact that many security personnel want to contest as Zanu (PF) MPs indicates the sector may be considering elected office as a way to protect its privileges rather than military force, which would be opposed regionally and internationally.

Significantly, the lack of regular and credible opinion polls makes establishing a political bellwether and predicting Zimbabwe’s election outcome a difficult task.

According to the Freedom House survey of 2012 — Change and “New” Politics in Zimbabwe — of the 53% of respondents who declared their political party preference, 20% said they would support the MDC-T (down from 38% in 2010) and 31% Zanu (PF) (up from 17% in 2010). The two parties are the major electoral contenders and would have derived lessons from the study, making the election campaign period critical. There are three probable trajectories that the expectedly closely contested poll can take.

First, Zanu (PF) could win, most likely by a small margin. The political old guard would continue to rule and the interests of the securocrats would be protected. The elected Zanu (PF) government would implement some reforms to shed its pariah status on the international stage.

The nature of the reforms would depend on the intraparty succession battles pitching hardliners against moderates. The international community would be expected to respect the outcome, remove all remaining targeted restrictive measures against Zimbabwe and assist the country on its path to socioeconomic recovery.

Second, the MDC-T-Mavambo-Khusile-Dawn (MKD)-Zanu-Ndonga coalition for change, which has endorsed Mr Tsvangirai for president, could win.

According to the 2008 presidential election results, only released more than a month after the poll, none of the four presidential contestants had acquired a large enough share of the vote — 50% plus one – to be declared the outright winner. Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T won 47.9%, Zanu (PF)’s Mr Mugabe 43.2%, Simba Makoni, who stood as an independent, won 8.3%, and a fourth candidate, Langton Towungana, 0.6%, which necessitated the run-off poll.

The united front among political leaders could, if Dr Makoni’s supporters are ready to follow his call to back Mr Tsvangirai, prevent the fragmentation of the vote and an associated inconclusive election outcome. Should the coalition win, Sadc and the AU may have to guarantee a peaceful transfer of political power amid possible reluctance by Zanu (PF) hardliners to accept the election results.

The security service chiefs and other Zanu (PF) officials are averse to an MDC-T-MKD-Zanu-Ndonga victory, which they fear would both efface the role of the liberation struggle in the birth of the country and immerse them in economic, legal and political uncertainty. Such a scenario could also raise concern among other former liberation movements that have assumed power in Southern Africa.

Third, if neither Zanu (PF) nor the MDC-T-MKD-Zanu-Ndonga coalition secures the votes necessary for a clear victory, the country may see a repeat of the 2008 process that could lead to the formation of yet another unwieldy coalition government. The role of the MDC-N and Zimbabwe African People’s Union coalition, if the two parties remain outside a mooted grand coalition, would be significant in determining the final outcome. Some analysts believe part of the votes won by Dr Makoni in 2008 necessitating the run-off poll were due to the fact the two parties did not field presidential candidates.

In this case there may be new power-sharing deals and a new Sadc mediation process — a scenario that sees Zimbabwe making no political progress at all.

• Dr Dzinesa is a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

Published by Business Day

White House threatens aid cut-off if Palestine joins the ICC

English: Philippe Kirsch, President of the Int...

English: Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


Franklin Lamb
June 28, 2013

B eirut — Fatou Bom Bensouda, the Gambian-born deputy prosecutor
of the International Criminal Court (ICC), was never Washington’s first
choice to succeed the inveterate self-promoting elitist ICC prosecutor
Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

And it is doubtful that key Obama administration officials have changed
their minds this week given Ms. Bensouda’s impassioned invitation
Thursday to Palestine, urging its accession to the Rome Statute and the ICC,
the former signed and ratified, as of this month, by 122 states with 31
more countries, including Russia, having signed with ratification
pending in their legislatures.

Visiting Al Jalil UNWRA high school across from Shatila camp here in
Beirut recently, I was asked several questions by students and staff. The
most frequent inquiry, which came as no surprise, was why the Lebanese
government, including those who claim to support the Palestinian cause,
still have not acted to grant Palestinian refugees the same elementary
civil right to work and to own a home that every refugee everywhere,
even in Zionist occupied Palestine, have long enjoyed.

The second most commonly asked question did surprise me a bit. It was
why have the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah not joined the International
Criminal Court (ICC) in order to challenge the criminal, apartheid
regime in occupied Tel Aviv and hold it accountable under international
humanitarian law for crimes against Palestinians that are increasingly
being condemned internationally. This sentiment exists in all 54
Palestinian refugee schools in Lebanon.

The new ICC Prosecutor Bensouda is encouraging Palestinian leaders
to join the International Criminal Court, as she prepares for the cases that
are likely to be filed with the ICC in the coming months. Addressing this
week’s Arab World conference, she declared that her office believes
Palestine qualifies to join the ICC after the UN General Assembly voted
to admit Palestine as a non-member state last November.

The ICC prosecutor’s office is rumored in The Hague to be particularly
impassioned and focused on those areas in which Ms. Bensouda, has
particular international legal expertise. With the main area being
international crimes against humanity which arguably since 1948 have
been most egregiously committed by the last remnant of 19th century
colonial enterprises, Israel.

Prosecutor Bensouda and her ICC staff is reported to be particularly intent
on investigating continuing violations of basic humanitarian principles,
standards and rules, and has spoken about the case of Palestinian, Maysara
Abu Hamdiyeh, a cancer-sufferer who died in Israeli custody on June 25
after the Israeli government rejected repeated international calls and
protests for his release. This, even as its officials conceded that Mr. Abu
Hamidiyeh was no threat to society, and if allowed medical treatment for
his life threatening condition would likely have been successfully treated.
One ICC investigator, who asked for anonymity, stated that she and her
colleagues considered the actions of the Netanyahu government with
respect to the Hamidiyeh and similar cases, to be “sick!”

The White House and its allies are not pleased by prospects for an eventful
next few years at the ICC. What have particularly unnerved outgoing UN
Ambassador, Susan Rice and Israeli PM Netanyahu, are the May 23rd
comments of Ms. Bensouda during the 38th FIDH Congress in Istanbul
which celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Rome Statute which created
the ICC:

“Gone are the days when those who commit international crimes
could be cleansed of their atrocities through a mere hand shake and
a scribble of their initials on a piece of paper which purports to bind
them to conditions that they have no intention of ever observing.”

She added:

“My challenge is to consolidate what has been achieved, to build
on from it, and to answer victims’ calls for justice. That is the
promise made in Rome and that is the promise we cannot fail to
fulfill.”
One the several parting comments Ms. Rice made on cleaning out her
UN office on her way to become President Obama’s National Security
Adviser, was basically a reiteration of her livid expressions made
following last fall’s UN General Assembly vote giving Palestine its new
international statehood status. When asked if she considered the UN
vote a repudiation of the Obama administration and her personally,
Ms. Rice scolded:

“That resolution is not going to take them closer to statehood,
or to the ICC!  It may actually make the environment more difficult
for them and public references to the “State of Palestine” do not
make it a sovereign state. Any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’
in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of
Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the
term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation  do not reflect acquiescence
that ‘Palestine’ is a state.”

It may be recalled that in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of
the United Nations and the President of the UN Security Council
immediately following the General Assembly vote on 29 November
last year, the permanent UN observer of Palestine reiterated his
delegation’s position that:

“[A]ll Israeli settlement activities are illegal, constituting grave
breaches of article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus
constituting war crimes, as further determined in accordance with
article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court. Israel, the occupying Power, must be held
accountable for all of the war crimes it is committing against the
Palestinian people.”
This letter was cited by the most recent UN Human Rights Council
(UNHRC) report of February 2013, which also found Israel, as an
occupying power, [is] in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention for “transferring parts of its civilian population into territory
that it occupies.”

Adding to all its currents problems, is this week’s announcement that
President Obama’s “favorite general,” Ret. Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright,
will likely cause yet more serious problems for the administration when
details of his suspected leaks of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli
cyber-attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program, for which he
is expected to soon be arrested and indicted. Coming on the heels of
Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, Washington is said to have no patience
whatsoever, for Palestine making more problems and opening an ICC
Pandora’s box.

Ramallah is being flooded with threats this month from Middle East envoy,
Tony Blair, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, now on his 5th visit to the
Middle East in as many months, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and reportedly,
several others. The message for Mahmoud Abbas is that the Palestinian
Authority risks a cut-off of funds and US disengagement from any “peace
process” as well as the scrapping  of the rumored “mega economic &
development  package” which Kerry’s aides are currently finalizing, if
Palestine goes anywhere near the International Criminal Court.

It’s a tough call for President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters because
Hamas wants Palestine to immediately file cases against Israel at the ICC
and, it appears, so do a large majority of Palestinians in Lebanon and
internationally.

 

 

 

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Rights groups, trade unions mark Zimbabwe 2008 election run off anniversary

As Zimbabwe heads to the polls later this year, rights and civic groups in London unite in a  campaign for nonviolent, free and fair elections.

Original caption: President of Zimbabwe Robert...

President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Zimbabwe Vigil mark the 2008 presidential election run off anniversary with a protest against political violence on Thursday, 27 June 2013. The event takes place from 1pm till 2 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London.

The presidential election of 2008 was characterised by unprecedented violence that led to torture, killings and disappearances of those accused of supporting the opposition.

Following the indecisive  election in March 2008, ZANU (PF) carried out a brutal campaign of violence against innocent people prior to the June run-off for the presidency.  Hundreds of people got raped, beaten or tortured while  many more became refugees in their own country. Members of civic groups such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Sokwanele came under attacks through intimidation and harassment.

The 2008 elections were the bloodiest since Independence in 1980.

Today political tension heightens as security forces linked to Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF are unleashing terror on supporters of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC. According to media reports Zanu PF has deployed militia groups countrywide in order to thwart the MDC formations’ attempts to woo rural voters.

The Thursday protest by ACTSA, TUC and Zimbabwe Vigil carries the message, ‘Never Again!’ to brutal violence in the run up to elections. Organisers support the calls for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The protest demands for:

  • Zimbabweans to have the right to vote freely for whom they wish without fear or favour
  • An accurate and up to date voter roll
  • Fair access to and coverage by state controlled media
  • Impartiality by institutions of the state
  • Domestic election observers and truly independent external election observer missions in place well before the elections.

Zimbabweans over the years experienced brutal violence and intimidation in the run-up to elections. The worst political violence happened after the 2008 presidential elections. Members of President Mugabe’s ZANU (PF); the police, the army and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents commit acts of terror on innocent people with impunity.

Tony Dykes, Director of Action for Southern Africa, said: “Five years after the terrible violence of 2008 we have seen very little of the essential reforms that are needed for free and fair elections.

“We are calling for Zimbabweans to have the right to choose their leaders without external interference and without internal repression, without the fear of violence, harassment or a rigged electoral system that favours one party over another;” he added.

The TUC demands for an election where Zimbabweans vote freely without fear as their democratic right.

In a statement the TUC said: “It is the duty of the Government of Zimbabwe to make sure there are free and fair elections in a peaceful environment without violence and intimidation and in strict compliance with international standards.”

The TUC hopes that ‘the elections will usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and justice’ for all Zimbabweans.

Ephraim Tapa, Zimbabwe Vigil spokesperson, observed: “As things stand free and fair elections are very unlikely because of intimidation and vote-rigging. We fear the election results will be cooked by ZANU ( PF).”

Tapa believes the European Union’s business interests should not be at the expense of  Zimbabweans who struggle against all odds to make ends meet.

Organisers of the Thursday protest plan to carry a ‘Tree of hope’ to Southwark Cathedral. The tree bears messages of hope for free and fair elections.  Southwark Cathedral and Zimbabwe have strong links that date back to 1991. The Diocese of Southwark has ties with three Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe.