Posts Tagged ‘Power’

Politics

Politics… this word actually sucks the life right out of me. Maybe that’s because I grew up in Apartheid and post Apartheid in South Africa; maybe it’s because my grandfather felt that the only way to keep his daughters safe is by leaving their country of birth [Zimbabwe]; maybe it’s because I have flash backs of high school debates or even because it seems like ‘politics’ is not just a word reserved for governments.

If you’ve browsed any news site lately or even just flicked through the channels on your TV, you would have noticed that Tunisia and Egypt have been highly discussed. Egypt has united in protests and marches that have been going on for weeks; they want their president to step down. Obviously he refuses and the people are infuriated at his arrogance. How can you call yourself democratic if you refuse to listen to your people?

The South African President Jacob Zuma had his State of Nation Address last night and all in all, it wasn’t that bed. He didn’t have any of those misfortunate statements that plagued him while he was in charge of the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign a few years ago. He focused mainly on job shortages and his plan to implement job creation incentives. As far as job creation is concerned, a few are worried that his plan will only benefit international investors and not really the small business he was trying to focus on. He also mentioned that a government company will manage “strategic minerals”. That statement sounds a bit dodgy to me and it sort of resembles nationalizing mines, so I’d like to know who will be monitoring this company and ensuring that the money rendered gets ploughed back into the countries people and not just into the pockets of ministers. Obviously I’m glad that Zuma realized that unemployment is just a symptom and not the actual cause of our nation’s problems. He is focusing strongly on education and as long as he does this fairly and equally, I’ll applaud him. If you educate [including incentives for trade skills] and you give incentives for job creation then you can end up with a highly motivated and skilled work force. If you broaden the recruitment i.e. to under developed areas then you will have less unemployment which leads to less poverty and crime. President Zuma seems to have stumbled onto the root of a long standing problem… if he manages to do what he says, and then once again I’m standing by him.

I have a slight concern about the healthcare he brought up and I’m waiting for further information before I condemn it. My problem again is with the implementation and how impartial the process would be. Our elderly are seriously struggling! Partially because of our economy and exchange rate but also because inflation has increased at a rate they could not have predicted when they originally retired. Also, they are living longer than they thought they would when they retired… If Zuma can get affordable quality healthcare for our elderly, then I’ll do everything in my power to support him. Something president Zuma said that made me laugh with frustration is that he is appointing people with healthcare experience to manage the healthcare system. To me this is sort of a duh-moment. There really is a need for people who understand the system and the people it serves to be in charge and if Zuma can make that happen then I’m all for it!

Just to get back to the mining thing for a second: most of the foreign investors ~ especially in the mining industry~ are from the Orient, combine this with the new coalition that Zuma has with the Chinese government and you end up with a situation that could spell disaster for the little people who actually have to make a living in South Africa. All things considered, our president handled it pretty well…

If Zuma manages to turn his promises into real actions, then our country stands a pretty good chance of moving forward. He just needs to remember that corruption is the first thing that comes to mind when any African leader is mentioned, so he has to make sure he takes extra precautions to guarantee that his ideas are above board.

I have to admit that I am disappointed he didn’t touch on Zimbabwe at all. I understand that his priorities were with the South African condition but Zim is so close to SA that everything that happens here automatically affects his country too. Plus, he is the main representative on the committee designated to ensuring equality and the legality of all things Zim. You’d think he would use any opportunity to bring about discussions and keep Zimbabwe in the eye of the world, similar to how PETA manages to wiggle their way into promotion through anything!

Which brings me to the Zim situation: an MP from the opposition party has been voted out and within the last few days the new one wanted to fire the old one and the old one wanted to fire the new one and eventually the new one Mutambara has won and is staying in charge and Mugabe is all for it. As odd as it sounds, this really is just a normal day in the life of Zimbabwe-politics. With elections loaming in the air, these things will only start sounding crazier and crazier. For a start the opposition part is still fighting among themselves and thereby loosing most of their supporters. But here’s the funny thing about Zim voters: instead of choosing to vote for someone else, they’re simply choosing not to vote. Partially this is because they still have a sense of loyalty to their party even though the actual candidate has disappointed them and therefore they cannot imagine voting for anyone else and partially because they don’t really have anyone else to vote for… Very few people are still happy with the current government but as Hitler once said: “It is dangerous to be right on matters which the current power is wrong on.” So raising your voice is a really risky choice.

Unlike in Egypt where the military and police have sided with the people of their country, in Zimbabwe the military is so intertwined with the government that it’s hard to tell them apart. If you stand that close to someone it is hard not to paint them with the same brush… So if you stand up against the government, you are in essence also confronting the entire military, including the war veterans who still have a strong hold on most communities. One example of the way the current government is subtly enforcing its grip strong hold on the people is with this “law” that all Zimbabweans should have their flag flying in their vehicles… It may not seem like much and some may even confuse it for a sense of national pride but when your government is taking away your choices and you live in uncertainty then your flag starts to represent your failing government instead of your national pride…

It’s easy to say, we need to stand up and take responsibility for our own countries problems and fight for our freedom but since the world, including president Zuma, is hell bent on focusing elsewhere… Zimbabweans have little choice but to bide their time and cling to their hope. Unlike Egypt, there are no news networks willing to step up and report! Even a medium like Twitter and Facebook is based on internet access and that is a problem under normal circumstances, so once you have been labelled as a ‘trouble maker’ you will seldom have access to those. The government has a record of all phones and who owns them, including their ID’s. Speaking out is hard and if you are not careful, you’d only end up harming the people whose freedom you are fighting for. If that makes me sound like a coward, then I probably am but at the moment on the scale of violence vs. freedom, violence is heavily out weighing everything!

If you check out any Zim news site, they will show you pictures of the growing violence in Zimbabwe, especially the capital Harare. Politics are crazy and governments are less honourable than we wish them to be. The only safety we have is by keeping discussions alive and when the time is, I hope we will have the courage to act!

AM

If you happen to be in London this Saturday, please join the protest in Trafalgar Square in aid of Egypt from 12:00-14:00.

And if you get there a bit early, please walk past the Zimbabwean embassy and sign the petition to remove Mugabe from power. They have vowed to continue their fight for freedom from there until Zimbabwe has a president they can once again be proud of… they have been there since 2004.

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The Power Is Yours

I’ve been watching a lot of old Captain Planet episodes lately. That program was truly ahead of its time: environmental hazards and global warning, 20 years ago… But as a kid the phrase that got stuck in my head was always: “The power is yours!”

I was raised to believe that I can do absolutely anything and that I can change the world in whatever way I choose. Now I’m sitting here in Zim talking to guys my age or even guys 30years older than me and they are only just realizing that the power is theirs. Something I’ve known since I was 3years old it has taken them an entire lifetime to figure out…

Yes, I have always been very fortunate and my parents seemed to have done everything right when it came to raising me but even if we don’t compare these guys to me and my perfect little life, only realizing that the choice is yours when you are 45 is pretty rough! It’s definitely not like these guys are thick or something, it’s just part of their culture. You can say a lot of bad things about Robert Mugabe but one thing you have to credit him with is the fact that he has given a lot of young farmers their power back. Actually he’s given a lot of career farmers a choice for the first time in their 60year existence…

See, when you’re born as a farmer’s son, it is expected of you to take over the farm. If you were of the female persuasion, you were expected to marry a farmer who could take over the family farm and continue the tradition. Even if you have older brothers the farm is still ultimately your responsibility too and that’s it. That is your whole life planned out before you even learn how to say your own name. No choice; no options and no power… The strangest thing is that most of these farmers never even realized just how trapped they were until the government took their farm and all of a sudden they had options and a chance to do whatever they wanted.

Yeah, they have absolutely nothing in the monetary compartment and the home they’ve grown up with is no longer theirs but for the first time in most of their lives, the power is actually theirs. This land redistribution bill has a lot of downsides but nothing is without a silver lining! Zimbabweans who would never have considered leaving their country before have managed to scrape up the courage to go explore the rest of the world, something they would never have done if it wasn’t for the unintended push from their government… A quarter of this countries office workers and IT admins would have stayed on a farm even though they knew deep in their hearts that it wasn’t meant for them simply because they had no choice in the matter. No power to say no!

Having your entire life planned out before you’ve learned how to walk isn’t always a bad thing but when you can’t say no to the plan and you are powerless in your own life, it’s not much of a life. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely NOT defending the hectically enforced redistribution bill but I’m not blind to the accidental upside that came as a consequence either. It’s amazing to see a 50year old who has been struggling on a farm with very little resources and practically no rain his entire life, wake up the morning after his farm has been repossessed and actually breathe a sigh of relief because for once he doesn’t have the weight of his entire family heritage on his shoulders. To see a man who has been conformed to walk in his father’s footsteps realize that he has the right to walk on a different path. When you no longer have a farm to be responsible for or an entire legacy to uphold, you get a shot at freedom and a shot at dreaming again. Actually having the power to say: “I’d like to be a doctor” or “I’d like to live in Brazil” or “I want to manage a mine” or whatever!

Most of us take the fact that we can dream for granted but when you have never had the power to dream, it’s like discovering a whole new spark. My friends and I have this saying we live by: “People who don’t dare to dream, scare me” It really is that simple… If you’re afraid of dreaming you don’t have much to live for. While you’re busy wasting your life too scared to dream, remember that there are people out there who simply don’t have the luxury of believing that The Power Is Yours!

Sharing my view,

AM