Hashtag trends: #democracyfailed

This year has been an enlightening one. First with Brexit and now Trump. The ‘popular’ view conceded to the majority view and people have been left wondering how this could happen. There are two answers: first, to the Brexiteers delight there were people who voted in their favour but did not believe their vote could count. These individuals were surprised that their vote would actually cause the disintegration of EU relations and kill free travel to Ibiza. Second, there are people who wanted to make Britain great again, reminiscent of imperial days where the EU did not meddle in it’s affairs. In both instances, views represented the values of the majority through a democratic process. Perhaps there are strong parallels in the US election result. Did democracy fail?

According the Stanford University democracy is:

  1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
  1. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
  1. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
  1. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Looking at both the US and British cases, Democracy did what it is meant to. The majority chose Trump. I believe democracy has been given a burden that is too great for it to bear. Democracy is meant to do the “right thing”. Democracy is meant to sustain what elites might view as the correct order of things and it is meant to fix the problems in other nations. Democracy is meant to confirm the populist view and keep all opposing views at bay. Democracy should serve people who are “always right” and continue to keep those on the “margin” disenfranchised. This incredibly clique-ish democracy is a tool for personal interests and not to serve citizens in a stable democracy.

Coming from an African perspective, higher up the social order, democracy is a goal and a condition for development. It is meant to influence growth and ensure the rights of the people are upheld. Democracy and modernity are bedfellows, which is the ideal. There is an inference that democracy should mean the world to all those who have yet to achieve a stable democracy. We should want it bad enough to fight for it but democracy has a different face in different places.

Trevor Noah on Trump

There have been some great presidents but democracy has delivered some duds I must say. Democracy has been disappointing. Yes there is election rigging that is no fault of democracy. However, there is vote buying, black market trading of the vote. In some parts it means very little to be able to have your voice heard through the vote. Some people do not have that romantic view of democracy. It is just another part of the system they have to adopt, another language they have to learn.

Democracy has not failed those who hold that view either. It has not delivered the optimum results because of the conditions it has to operate in.

Stanford University highlights these requirements and even still, these do not guarantee democracy can perform the job it has been asked to do.

We are asking too much of democracy.

  1. We want it work for our views and our values (only)
  2. (We want it to work for our country and make everything better
  3. We want it to work for other countries and make them more like us
  4. We want it to produce only the best candidates (according to us) for democratic elections
  5. We want it to not allow people to sell their vote for essentials or campaign promises
  6. We want it to perform miracles
  7. We want it to be perfect

There is more we ask of democracy that I don’t think alone it can deliver. Democracy is working perfectly fine, we just have to fix our view of it.

 

Feature Image: http://almostfearless.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/IMG_5642_sm.jpg

 

Hashtag Trends: #LSESAfrica #ThisFlag

The LSE’s Institute of Public Affairs and the Africa Centre organised a public lecture to explore the views of leader of the South Africa opposition on “Protecting South Africa’s Fragile Democracy”. #LSESAfrica was trending according to several sites with top tweets coming from accounts like the @AudienceNet (engaging in the Millennial Dialogue), @alechogg (prominent editor and publisher) and @AfricaInsights (progressive independent not-for-profit think tank) just to mention a few.

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#LSEAfrica continued to populate timelines because the leader of the Democratic Alliance (@our_DA), Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) fortifeid the importance of strong institutions for effective democratic process. He challenged the continued protracted liberation rhetoric, and the need for Africa to be “liberated from the Liberators”. He spoke of how he aims to professionalise the public service, keeping in mind the voter is the principle in this contract.

 

What took the Vetkoek for me was his ideas on leadership (I hope you enjoyed the South African reference). His ideals embodied leadership, African leadership that the continent is hungry for. Mmusi spoke eloqunetly on the value of quality leadership. Leadership that welcomes and expects contraints to ensure effectiveness. This struck a chord personally because as a young African I question my idea of leadership.

As a Master of Public Administration candidate, I am on a course full of leaders. I was personally over-joyed to learn that Mmusi Maimane is himself a Master of Public Administration, it shows. LSE has plenty of opportunities to nurture leaders but the greatest opportunity must be the Programme for African Leaders (PfAL) from the LSE Africa Centre. Its rigor and collaborative nature shapes African leaders that will pave the way for a more democratic Africa.

Another surprising fact about Mmusi is his role as a pastor in South Africa and how that feeds into his political career. After the lecture I asked him about the road from the pulpit to the podium #ThisFlag (the other hashtag trending) that promted me to ask that question. This trend exemplifying voter-led protest, is still trending on all social media platforms and the story was picked up by the Guardian. A pastor’s conviction of the value of his Zimbabwean flag and his question for the government pertinent issues like the then proposed issuing of bond notes into the Zimbabwean economy.

Catch the full heated controversial interview between Evan Mawarire (@PastorEvanLive, leader of the #ThisFlag, and Tafadzwa Musarara, a Zanu-PF loyalist.

Tafadzwa’s main point was how #ThisFalg was highlighting issues and not offering solutions to the problems in Zimbabwe (supported view from Zanu-PF Youths). Evan Mawarire in his rebuttal highlighted that the government has been elected to serve the people of Zimbabwe, they are ther to provide the solutions. As a voter he is merely holding them accountable.

Then the Twitter wars ensued…

 

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Zanu-PF officials hurled insults and even created a counter hashtag #OurFlag to try divert the agency-led momentum but it failed to take hold. #OurFlag even used to share some Union-Jack/#Brexit love on Twitter.

Since then the dialogue has begun and the electorate had a opportunity to address the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on his plans to issue bond notes to the ease liquidity crisis.

From the interview, it seemed Evan Mawarire being a pastor was used to discredit him and I was curious to know Mmusi’s struggles in fostering confidence as the people’s politician when his views can be seen as ‘tainted’ or ‘deminished’ by religion.”It takes personal conviction” Mmusi said to me, after admiting how much it was not easy. I see that strong personal conviction in the #thisflag creator. Both working hard for change, one using opposition-led protest and the other electorate-led protest. Either way, I hope both Evan Mawarire and Mmusi Maimane continue to pave the way for the new breed of leadership to walk the African soil.

More on #LSESAfrica – Protecting South Africa’s Fragile Democracy

Politics in Africa should not be a contestation of people

but a contestation of ideas and ideals

Mmusi touched on why nations fail from his perspective and he stressed the negative impact of public protectors, appointed through ‘cadre employment’, who serve the agenda of the incumbent. He urged the importance of the private sector in the process of nation building, whether it is supporting BEE or land reform. Business can lead the way in solving the problem of inequality. Yes, BEE came up during Q&A and after slight accusations hon DA being vague on the subject, I believe he was direct in outlining their strategies to ensure broad-based economic empowerment. His party’s idea of score-cards will distrupt the patronage practises rife in BEE efforts.

Mmusi Maimane has a firm grip on what he thinks politicians owe the voter. Dr Katie Orkin from Merton College Oxford presented how for voters need politicians to, “build the conviction that their vote matters”. It is the old faithful “mi-trust of politicians”, not just the young, the rural folk, various individuals from various demographics had a dimished trust in the opposition. How could they trust the new kid on the block, since independence results have only ever come from the incumbent party – the ANC.

Dr Orin challenged him on his strategies for targetting rural voters. I believe he was right that the complexity of entrenched patronage newtorks in rural areas makes it difficult to manoevre in the sparsely populated rural towns. He did stick up for the rural youth, saying they are just as politically engaged as any youth from town. (*dancing lady emoji for the gains of the spread of mobile tech to all places in Africa). So for now he will work with the space has been given in the rural space – schools and social media. He prides himself in using his own Twitter handle for more authentic engagement with the electorate.

He had so many wisdom nuggets for enthusiasts and critics alike.. here are some of my favourite (loosely paraphrased) quotes:

~ As a leader, Subject yourself to institutional democracy

~ Democracy should be a transformative process and not a transactive one

~ Property rights require policy posture

I still have questions on crime in South Africa and question how well the DA’s manifesto proposes to address this problem and I wonder about Xenophobia’s rating on the attention scale.

He speaks today at Chatham House: “South Africa’s Opposition: Fostering Debate, Accountability and Good Governance”, my questions will hopefully be addressed and I look forward to joining the debate.

Dalia Deals: Housemaid Horrors, still necessary?

There is currently a search for baby Annabel who was kidnapped by a housemaid in Kenya.

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The horror stories continue after the shocking footage of the Ugandan nanny, ironically named Jolly Tumuhiirwe, tortured a 18 month old baby girl. The video is too shocking to share. These are the stories we know about, there are more heartbreaking episodes that make me wonder should the era of the housemaid stop??

I was brought up by one ‘aunty’ who has lasted the years. Many people are shocked because it’s unheard of. A household could go through up to 6 maids a year because various reasons mainly to do with their personal lives of the workload.

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Captioned – Modern Day Slavery

My mom tells me this story about how her intuition saved the lives of my brother. One brother got burned by the maid by hot porridge. Mum noticed her baby was different and decided to bath her child only to discover burn marks. That maid got fired and mum then decided to wash her baby everyday when she came from work to inspect her child.

These are typical stories with very young children who can’t defend themselves. There are more from children who can speak up for themselves but few know about. I have heard stories of maids trying on teenage girls clothes including underwear but the most damage is done to our young boys.

A very enlightened young man highlighted the point that teenage boys are being taught about sexuality by our housemaids. They learn unhealthy dynamics of relationships from the young housegirls we let into our houses where they are ultimately the boss. For some boys these are the first sexual experiences that both parties are not in a hurry to tell parents. These stories are shared at school and at times shared with fathers who may express pride in their son “growing up”. Is this right? It is inherently child abuse, or paedophilia but there has been no whistle-blowing to date. Then we wonder why society suffers unhealthy relationships, it starts in our homes. How many households are dealing with extramarital affairs with maids? How many sons have impregnated maids?

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The house girl issue is reaching mainstream media.

The impossible housemaid – Kansiime Anne – watch here

The many stories of maids putting juju in the food of their employers or specifically the mother of the house. That strained relationship between ‘madame’ and ‘sisi’ which I believe spurs the violence and misconduct. Some maids are dehumanised and feel somewhat abused by the activities they are asked to do with the amount they get paid. I am especially interested in this housemaid situation because I wrote my dissertarion on the well being of child domestice workers in Egypt, apart of the Gender lens working groups for the 2011 EADI conference, read more here. There is more to the story to those criminalised in the housemaid world. Was Jolly the Ugandan nanny acting out of frustration? Jolly, dubbed the monster maid, was given a chance to say her side of the story..
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She says she was beaten by the dad till she bled… was that called for? More on the story here

Some maids come from backgrounds of difficult circumsaltances, could they actually need some sort of counselling? Does this house girl culture perpetuate poverty? Does it lead to the destruction of society? Should it stop?

Please share your views about this issue that is so close to home for most of us.

Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

Hashtag Trends – #ObamaSpeech

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How could #ObamaSpeech / #SOTU not trend on social media after that ‘mic drop’ moment he presented to us in broad daylight. He is not perfect but he is the man.

President Obama neutralised all haterade when he calmly stated that he has no more campaigns to run because he run both of them. Wait I’m not capturing the moment…

Mic Drop

I do not think we will ever be so inspired by an American president even if he didn’t save the world as he promised. He disappointed us with swagger and we love him for it.

Obama Generation
I have had many conversations with young men today and I realised many of them want to be president of their respective countries in Africa (okay specifically Zimbabwe). It is a confession that I greet with acceptance and suspicion. Why do you want to be president? I have been accused of being a future Zimbabwe State House candidate on numerous occasions but I deny any interest of being Madame President. Not failing in ambition or capability but I recognise where I’m needed most and politics is not the place.

These young men have placed it on their hearts to be the next big man in Zimbabwe and I want to understand their motivation. Do they realise they are not the only potential president elects plotting for the podium? What are your views on this?

Look out for more on this topic – Generation President
Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)

Modern Day Slavery and Modern Day Egypt

The two top stories in the news agenda have encouraged me to write about my experience and research into those two aspects, these comments are entirely my own. I was in Cairo during the protests against Mubarak and subsequently wrote my final year dissertation on child domestic workers in Egypt.

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Egyptian Arab Spring and Modern Day Slavery

In 2011, both modern day situations were foreign to me but I found myself immersed in their dialogue and urged to participate in varying ways. I barely knew Mubarak but after 3 weeks of being in the country my passion for his removal grew. I witnessed abject poverty and wondered how a growing economy could have such destitution. So much so, families would send their little girls (usually) to work as child domestic workers. I did my semester abroad at the American University of Cairo where the wealthiest send their children for tertiary education. I carried out a survey and a sizeable number of participants either had, knew someone who had a child domestic worker. Their little hands indentured in labour difficult for a person much older at the expense of their education. I visited a centre for street children and they all could not understand English but could understand the value an of an education. Their rights trampled on for the sake of survival, many children (more than anyone can count) are clandestine victims of a poor social system.

I had a dissertation to write because of Mubarak’s actions, or lack thereof. I heard many heart-wrenching stories about little girls facing exploitation and sexual abuse because it was ingrained in Egypt’s formal institution that it was lawful to allow children to work. It was the government’s fault why children found themselves in this situation so the government had to go. People were frustrated so they took to the streets, some lost their lives fighting what they believed in. Massacred for starting a movement in favour of the removal of injustice. Those were lost in vain, Egyptian Judicial system has shown that injustice remains. So for those who still have strength to unite in Tahrir Square will fight once more, in a country where dying for justice holds no weight and perpertrators can be released with blood on their hands and not be held accountable.

The UK and Modern Day Slavery

I used “I am Slave” for my dissertation because it portrayed what modern day slavery in societies such as Britain would look like. It was reported today by the home office that it is more common than expected. I have heard stories of Zimbabweans who have had their passports seized and forced to work in terrible constraining conditions. This problem is not unique to the African context but is widespread. This revelation has been met with backlash at David Cameron’s plans to being stringent to European immigrants. Anti-slavery charities have warned that such measures will result in an increase of slavery.

Like the Egyptian context, will there be a revolt of the Government and its stringent measures causing the common man to struggle to such lengths? Food banks are on the increase, child services have failed to protect their beneficiaries and poverty has become rife in modern day Britain. Charities that predominantly focussed on Third world development have reverted back to grass roots programmes to improve the quality of life of British children. The system has failed to protect the most vulnerable.

Many have called for #CameronMustGo which is slogan that was trending on Twitter. 575 683 tweets in the last 30 days stated many reasons and expressed various frustrations, frankly people have had enough of the current government’s aloof attitude to those who are finding it difficult to make ends meet on a day to day.

So should people just sit back while children with mental health issues fail to receive appropriate assistance? Is it acceptable to watch more & more programmes about child carers and children who live in poverty? I say a protests in Trafalgar Square are in order. For the nation’s children, for the Nation’s poor, for the failing system, for justice.

Lost and Found: True Story of an African Hansel and Gretel

“What would you have done if you never found us?” She closed her eyes and seemed to delve into memories of grief relieved. “My world would have been torn apart.”

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Photo: Me and my big brothers. Nathan holding my hand. We were around that age.

My mother and I was recollecting our version  of events of the life – changing events. I was two and some at the time and my older brother was 3. We loved car rides so when a car mechanic offered us one we hopped in the car.  My mother tells me the accident happened paMbudzi, commonly known as the unofficial goat market close to the tollgate leading out of the capital city Harare. I distinctly remember all the traffic lights at that intersection turning green at the same time. Cars flooded in anyway causing carnage and death at the scene. I specifically remember a car full of fully clad apostolic faith members was hit by our car, a fault the mechanic was arrested for. I peered over the door to witness the aftermath and all I could see was the police pulling the mechanic away from the car, that was left in the middle of the road.

A bystander must have seen us and took us out of the car in case another accident would sweep us away.  We were retrieved from the car in such a hurry I left my little Sandak shoe in the car. My brother and I were taken from the only security we had to join the thrall of people at that busy intersection. My brother grabbed my hand and we started walking. “Hande kumba Dali,” (let’s go home Dali) my brother said reassuringly so I followed him with a shoe on.

The sun disappeared as we walked along the streets. My mother tells me it should have been Glen Norah. I whined to my brother about my empty stomach and my tired feet. “Tokumbira chikafu,” (please give us food). My brother placed trust in a lady doing some work outside her house. She asked the obvious questions, “Who are you with? Where do you live?” She promptly took us to the police station so they could help us (My mother tells me it was Glen Norah police station).

The duty officers asked so many questions I did not even know. My brother was brave and was not afraid to answer even if most of the responses were ‘I don’t know’. After a barrage of questions he volunteered the most vital information. “Our telephone number is 304771,” that solved the case. All we could do was wait.

My mother told me her side of the story. That day my mother was being baptised at her church and it was a significant day to show her commitment to God. She came home to distressing news that her two youngest children were involved in an accident and no one knows where they were. She told she broke down for a few minutes and strengthened herself to go out and find her children. “I was looking in the reeds, thinking maybe that is where you were harmed and left to die.” She said she prayed while she was driving, “Lord I have been a good servant to you, I have dedicated my life to you. Please give me back my children.” She went to Waterfalls Police Station where she heard the news that they have been found and they are at Glen Norah police station. She began to make her way to us.

“Ndomuuraya!!!” (I will kill him!!). That woke us up from our sleep as we snuggled in the thin blankets usually given to inmates. “Ndinomupisa murume uyu!” (I will burn this man). I saw a man glistening from head to toe from paraffin, which I assumed was poured by the woman hurling threats. The yelling and fracas increased and I held onto my brother tighter. Not long after their entrance, was their exit. I do not know how it was resolved. We fell asleep again and woke up to my mom’s voice, “Vana vangu!!!” (My children). We struggled to emerge from the blankets so we can run to our mother. She looked us up and down, to check if we were ok, thanked the officers profusely and whisked us out of the station. She couldn’t hide the relief and pent up worry from her voice. All I remember from that is asking if we could still have our usual Saturday burgers and chips dinner because we were starving. “You can have anything that you want.”

“I did not realise how important teaching your children your home telephone number was,” She uttered with a grateful smile.

The End

I have never felt so choked up about telling the story as much as I do now. Much like a Hansel and Gretel tale it was spoken about alot and my brother’s memory was the breadcrumb that led us home. I always thought that we were brave but in actual fact it was my brother who was the rock. I am sure many people have times in their lives where they needed someone to hold them by the hand and guide them through the unknown. Sometimes that can be the change from death to life.

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Thank you for reading, lets get a-tweeting (@dali_lamah)