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Zimbabwe: After the crackdown, the purge | News | Africa



Targeted abductions and detentions are dismantling opposition to President Mnangagwa’s government – just when Zimbabwe needs civil society more than ever.

When Emmerson Mnangagwa ousted Robert Mugabe in November 2017, the president and his allies were eager to draw a line under the abuses of the ancien regime. This was the new Zimbabwe, they said, and things were going to be different.
Political space was to be opened.
Criticism was to be welcomed. Civil society was to be engaged with.

For a while, there really was a glimmer of a new Zimbabwe. 

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, was allowed to campaign freely ahead of the July 2018 election. They held huge rallies in parts of the country where they had previously been denied access and experienced a dramatic decline in instances of intimidation. 

A generation of young Zimbabweans found their voice in print and on social media, as their fear of repercussions diminished. The regime received high profile endorsements from the likes of novelist Petina Gappah, Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry, and anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain.

READ MORE: Lord Hain’s Zimbabwe hypocrisy

But while repressive restrictions were briefly lifted, Zimbabwe’s security forces may have been taking notes — just in case things changes. “One of the narratives that came from the ‘new Zimbabwe’ is that it was more tolerant and open. This has given military intelligence time to identify potential threats. This has translated into the profiling and targeting we have seen,” said Piers Pigou, southern Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group.

Relations between the government and civil society organisations improved noticeably: while senior officials were not exactly embracing activists, there was a real effort to reach out to. 

“We thought we are going to engage the government in a different way. We were called by the Ministry of Health and discussed ways of cooperating. This was a first for us,” said Edgar Munatsi, a leader of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR). It didn’t last. “Things changed after the 1 August shooting. We published a report. The relationship switched to the previous relationship.”

On that day, a crowd of angry MDC supporters gathered in central Harare to demonstrate against the results of the election held just days before — an election won in controversial circumstances by the ruling party. The army was despatched to contain the protest, with fatal consequences. By the time the protest was contained, with the aid of tear gas and live ammunition, six people were dead and dozens more injured.

This was just a taste of what was to come.

Last week, soldiers were at the forefront of a brutal nationwide crackdown in response to a ‘national stayaway’ organised by a trade union movement. Under the cover of an internet shutdown, soldiers and plainclothes militias descended on towns and villages across the country, indiscriminately beating people on the streets and dragging people from their homes.

READ MORE: Vicious crackdown in Zimbabwe

By the end of the week, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum had recorded 844 human rights violations including 12 deaths, 78 gunshot injuries, 242 incidents of assault, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment; 46 incidents of vandalism and looting; and 466 arbitrary detentions.

But not all the violence was indiscriminate.

‘Terror tactics’

“We are seeing targeted attacks. They have a list of people they are looking for. At roadblocks they demand ID and then check names against the list,” said Norman Matara, a medical doctor and treasurer of (ZADHR). 

Both Munatsi and Mutara have fled Zimbabwe for a neighbouring country, fearing for their lives, and say that the purge has greatly compromised their organisation’s ability to deliver medical services to victims of political violence.

“Most civil society leaders and activists were abducted in the night and we still don’t know where they are,” said Munatsi.

“There does seem to be a concerted effort to wipe out civil society,” said one activist, whose name is withheld for his own safety. He, like hundreds of other civil society leaders, trade unionists and members of the political opposition, has gone into hiding or exile in the face of an unprecedented wave of abductions and detentions that may cripple popular resistance to Mnangagwa’s regime.

READ MORE: Wanton violence not the Zim way — Mnangagwa

As the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission observed: “The Commission received and verified reports that around the country, some Councillors and Members of Parliament of the MDC Alliance as well as civil society leaders in suburbs where the most damage to property occurred were either abducted or arrested from their homes.”

Examples include: Obert Masaraure, President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, who was allegedly kidnapped from his home on 18 January and has not been seen since; Rashid Mahiya, chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, whose brother and mother were allegedly abducted and tortured by armed men demanding to know his location; Japhet Moyo, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general, arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport; and Rusty Markham, MDC MP for Harare North, arrested and now detained at Harare Central police station.

According to a senior MDC official, most of the party’s senior leadership is in hiding, and “five or six MPs have been detained”. While party leader Nelson Chamisa is not officially in hiding, “he is sleeping in a different house every night”, according to the source.

Those that have been arrested are being fast-tracked through the judicial system with unprecedented haste, with some accused being tried and convicted within days of their arrest. “This is something that every lawyer across the country is saying, we have never seen it like this. This speed of trial is virtually unheard of in our criminal practice, and the procedure adopted across the country, of magistrates refusing to hear bail hearings and proceeding directly to trial, is absolutely absurd,” said one human rights lawyer.

“These are terror tactics. The impact has been to send people underground or out of the country. Many are now in hiding. Those that remain in Zimbabwe have gone completely underground, unable to do their work,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa cannot stay silent on Zimbabwe

‘A foretaste of what’s to come’

In the government’s own words, there is more trouble ahead. While President Mnangagwa was playing good cop, returning abruptly from his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos and calling for some kind of national dialogue to resolve the crisis, his spokesperson was threatening further violence. 

“[The] government will not stand by while such narrow interests play out so violently,” said George Charamba, the president’s spokesperson, speaking to the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper. “The response so far is just a foretaste of things to come.”

As the political crisis deepens, so too do the country’s economic woes. The periodic internet shutdowns over the last week have disrupted businesses and made it even more difficult for households to access food. 

In the longer term, the violence is likely to make it even more difficult for the government to access desperately-needed credit facilities from the likes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund — credit it needs to make up for an impending grain shortfall that will leave 2.4 million people, or 28% of the population, in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

To face this impending crisis, Zimbabwe needs leadership from the likes of trade unions, NGOs and political parties more than ever. But with so many of those leaders in detention or in hiding, how can the country confront the challenges to come?

Another activist, whose name is also withheld, said she fears that the ongoing purge could cripple further peaceful resistance to the regime. “You know what these guys have done is target people who could have taken the uprising to the next level. This breaks the spirit of people who would want to fight for freedom, because the price is too high. You know if you go to protests then people are going to die.”

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




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.

– 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

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

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

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

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”.

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

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

‘Protesting is a right’

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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




“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




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




Miss Universe Andrea Meza

Miss Universe Andrea Meza





1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru



1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil





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



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




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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