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Zimbabweans forced to reap the Zanu-PF whirlwind | News | Africa

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On Sunday, the eve of his five-nation trip to Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Switzerland, Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% fuel price hike that immediately sparked fury across the country.

In response to the second fuel increase since December, which makes petrol in Zimbabwe the most expensive in the world, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Union (ZCTU) called for a three-day stay-away to protest against the hike. On Monday and Tuesday, heeding the exhortation, young people went out on the streets; they barricaded highways, forced people out of cars, looted shops, burnt police cars, stormed a police station in Chitungwiza, a small town to the south east of Harare, and set it on fire.
On Monday, the acting president, retired general Constantino Chiwenga, deployed the army and police, who reportedly shot some 24 people; according to News Day, a daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, five people have reportedly died.

The latest conflagration is a culmination of a long-running crisis that began in 1997; even though the country is nominally under a new administration led by Mnangagwa, the crisis continues.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s closest lieutenant from the late 1970s until November 2017, when Mugabe fired him from his position as deputy president. The fall-out resulted in the November coup, masterminded by Chiwenga, which then brought Mnangagwa into office.

At the end of July last year, eight months after the coup, Zimbabwe held an election. Some new faces were introduced to the government — most prominent being finance minister Mthuli Ncube, a Cambridge University trained economist – but the core of grizzled, bloodied-hands military men remained. With this army elite still in charge, the conditions preceding the elections were naturally skewed in favour of Mnangagwa and Zanu PF; no chance, then, of a break with the excesses and contortions associated with Mugabe.

Army and media turn election enforcers

The army, ever so partisan, was involved in the elections effectively as Zanu’s election agents (not a surprise when Chiwenga, previously the head of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, is now Zanu PF’s and the country’s deputy president). Months before the elections, thousands of army officers were deployed to the rural hinterlands, as a reminder to the electorates to vote “responsibly”. Even though no one was assaulted or killed, as in previous elections, the prowling presence of the soldier was both an omen and a mnemonic: vote otherwise and we will go back to the old, blood-soaked ways. Since 2000, hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, have been killed by the army, veterans of the 1970s war against Ian Smith’s government and Zanu PF-aligned youth militias, as the ruling party fought off the popular Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

In the July election, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, which owns the only television station and several radio platforms, and Zimpapers, the biggest newspaper group in the country, tilted the media landscape against the opposition MDC. Following the coup, ZBC and Zimpapers, for long used to extolling the virtues of Mugabe, reset and recalibrated its settings, now in thrall to a new lord.  The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which is supposed to be nonpartisan, is staffed with former soldiers and others aligned to Zanu-PF.

About the polls, the European Union observer group said the results announced by the ZEC “contained numerous errors and lacked adequate traceability, transparency and verifiability”. Referring to the army’s killing of seven people in Harare’s CBD following the polls, the EU wrote that “the excessive use of force by security forces and abuses of human rights in the post-election period undermined the corresponding positive aspects during the pre-election campaign. As such, many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards.” Soon after the election, the United States just amended and updated the Zimbabwe Democracy Recovery Act (Zidera), the legal instrument under which American sanctions on Zimbabwe are applied.

Playing at reform

Following the coup, Mnangagwa and others in the regime recast themselves as reformers who had brought about the end of the Mugabe era, the hope being that biting economic and financial sanctions from the EU and US would end. However, following the disputed elections, the international community refused to be fooled by the manoeuvres of the people who were really Mugabe’s enforcers.

Ncube, the face of the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra that is espoused by the regime, has gone back on the measures he once championed – retrenchments of the bloated civil service and the decommissioning of the hated Bond note currency.

So, shunned by the EU and denied access to international finance because of sanctions and arrears the country owes to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the situation worsened in October when the currency, which had largely held its own, suddenly lost some 400% of its value. Zimbabwe’s industry has been decimated by years of decay, so the country imports more than it exports, resulting in a trade deficit.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the player at the centre of the financial firestorm, has been reduced to scrounging and doling out scarce foreign currency to keep the country afloat. But there isn’t enough foreign currency for everyone; so fuel queues have returned (significantly, Mnangagwa’s itinerary includes visits to several petroleum states); some companies, most prominently Delta Beverages – the manufacturers of Coca Cola and Castle, Zambezi and other beers – have been unable to meet demand for supplies, because of the foreign currency shortages. Over the Christmas holidays, most shops had no Coke, Castle, Zambezi and other beers on their shelves; this thirst seems to mirror the El Nino weather conditions that are certain to bring drought conditions.

At the beginning of the year, Delta Beverages put out a desperate statement in which it announced that it would not be accepting local currency for its products. Rattled, the government met with the managers of the company, and, after being promised foreign currency, Delta withdrew its statement. Last week another major player, Surface Wilmar, the country’s biggest cooking oil manufacturer, stopped its operations because of the foreign currency shortages.

Doctors working at public hospitals, who have been on strike since 1 December last year, ended their industrial action on 10 January. “Our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today as dialogue continues,” the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said in a statement. “Poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remain a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work daily.” Teachers and other civil servants have been grumbling about deteriorating standards and want to be paid in US Dollars, which the government doesn’t have.

The junta unmasks

As these fires spontaneously combust, the military junta has gone back to its old ways, peeling off the mask with which they have put on in their claim to be “a new dispensation”. Anecdotal reports emerging from Zimbabwe (the internet and phone system has been shut down) point to a brutal campaign to contain and snuff out the fires. But as long as the economic fundamentals remain wrong, these fires will burn, perhaps not as brightly as they did on Monday and Tuesday.

The current regime conducted its campaign to remove Mugabe and sideline his wife Grace under the self-entitled rubric of, “chinhu chedu ichi” or “chine vene vacho chinhu ichi” (this presidency is our thing). What chances, then, that they will reluctantly let the “thing” they got through the barrel of the gun slip away easily?

In The Fire Next Time, the sulphurous pocket-sized masterpiece by James Baldwin, the American wrote, “the most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds and thousands of Zimbabwean youth went out into the streets knowing fully well that the junta would launch a revanchist crackdown. Maybe Zimbabwe’s youth have had enough and have nothing left to lose. The past two decades has created hundreds of thousands of people like these.

Mugabe, the man who presided over this project that created successive lost generations, is bitter and alive, trapped at his gargantuan mansion in an endless cloistral autumn.

It’s only January but for Zimbabweans it seems that we have had enough already, that we are in October, the hottest and hardest month. — New Frame

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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