Quick Links – can the beauty take on the beast?

Human rights activists, Grace Kwinjeh has started a series of weekly summaries for the Center for Civil Society based at the University of KwaZulu Natal. This particular piece reports the violence against Women of Zimbabawe Arise ( WOZA). Violence that inlcudes

Political threats, insults by police officers, unlawful detention, and humiliating and degrading treatment were all reported with extremely high frequency, but assaults, psychological torture and physical torture were also very high. The women endured various forms of torture, including beatings with a variety of instruments, e.g. baton sticks, booted feet, wooden planks, being slapped, and falanga (beatings on the bottom of the feet). Some violations occurred in the street during arrest, whilst others took place in police vehicles and/or in police custody.
The forced removal of underwear when in custody is recorded separately as it implies threatened sexual violence. Other forms of degrading and humiliating treatment the women suffered included being forced to kneel or crouch for prolonged periods and being insulted and threatened by the police. Examples of insults include being called whores, or telling married women that they should stay at home and look after their husbands and that their husbands are not ‘real men’ as they leave their women to run amok in the city. Threats included death threats.

**Eyes on Zimbabwe is a new blog / online portal by the OSI (Open Society Institute)

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for individuals to learn about the crisis and to take action in support of the
people of Zimbabwe. The centerpiece of the effort is an arresting video
documenting the abuses of the government through the words and images of the
Zimbabwean people.

There is an online petition and readers can send letters to the UN Security Council asking them to investigate human rights abuses and monitor the forthcoming elections. The site is an excellent source for understanding the background to the current crisis in Zimbabwe and a timeline of events plus videocasts and podcasts. The OSI have also chosen to open the blog up to the African blogging community to provide input and advice on a range of human rights, the environment, democracy and global economics. There is also a FACEBOOK group

There are also a number of other groups and causes eg Get Rid of Mugabe Cause on FB

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** The Batonga Foundation is a World Education initiative girl’s education project fronted by Angelique Kidjo who is now UNICEF’s “Goodwill Ambassador” (some may remember UNICEF’S recent attempt at publicising the lack education in Africa which was eventually removed following complaints from bloggers over the racist nature of the adverts.) I have the utmost respect for Angelique Kidjo, but am still not totally convinced about anything UNICEF are involved with, not just because of the racism of their recent campaign but my experience are large organisations is that they are disconnected from the grassroots, over weighted with employees and overpaid bunch that really contribute very little in reality.

Again there is also a FACEBOOK site along with the website. Seems like every blog and website now comes with a Facebook group/page – maybe I should start a Black Looks Facebook group – no no I spend enough time already with my own personal facebook – sorry but it’s friends only access though I use the term “friends” rather loosely as at least half the people I have never actually met!

** Delusions of Power – an excellent essay by John Samuel on InfoChange Analysis. Samuel asks some poignant questions on why inspite of all the micro credit, empowerment programmes, civil society initiatives, have failed to make any dent whatsoever in the super structures of macro power and macro economics.

This is not to argue that micro politics or micro power is not important. On the contrary, micro power and micro politics are very crucial for individual empowerment and women’s empowerment at the level of family, community and local power relations. Indeed, transforming micro politics and the injustice that is embedded in gender relations and challenging feudal power structures and historical marginalisation require change in unjust and unequal relationships within the family and communities. However, the problem is that larger power structures, political forces and corporate interests are so organised in terms of their interests, networks and control over the institutions and interests of the military, market and media. The institutionalised power of macro politics can make the power of micro politics redundant in the larger power play. One of the key reasons for this is that micro politics is most of the time dispersed, disorganised and disoriented in the larger context of the political economy of power and institutions. Hence, micro politics do not translate into collective power that can challenge and change macro power and the institutions that control and reproduce such macro power and macro economies. The key reason for this is the hegemonic power paradigm that influences and shapes power relations

The point here is that unless the micro is organised in such a way as to form a circle or spider web of micros connecting to each other in many different ways then the super structures that control and oppress cannot be dismantled.

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