Campaign News
Next step: electoral reforms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 21 May 2022 10:38

Next step: electoral reforms

By Deborah Harry 21/05/2022


The recent by-elections have shown us that we are still a long way from a free and fair election. Days and weeks before the actual election itself, there were several reports of CCC supporters being attacked, intimidated, and arrested on false criminal charges. Even more tragic news was the killing  of a man from CCC in Kwekwe by Zanu supporters. Weeks after the by election,  we continue to receive news of CCC campaigners being rounded up by police and arrested for campaigning. This is not right. This leopard doesn’t seem to have changed its spots. Electoral reforms are needed.


Rigging an election is an act that shows just how much a government does not care about its people’s views, preferences or needs. It is one thing that proves without a doubt that we are not a democracy. We, the people want democracy,  that is obvious; but the few men in charge and their clans are opposed to democracy the way evil is repelled by good. Since we are the only ones who want democracy, we should campaign for electoral  reforms because our lives depend on this.


As people we need to all start talking about electoral reforms in a big and consistent way. The strong CCC MPs in parliamentary will definitely raise the issue, and I think we should support them by putting light on the issue on social media and via demos around the world so that the international  community can see for themselves that Zanu are doing their best to rig elections again.  Its simple. The more we talk about the need for electoral  reforms  especially on social media, the more likely the international community will get to know about our problems. Not only that, but we also need to expose the things that Zanu are doing right now towards rigging the election. All the culprits involved in vote rigging should be named and shamed in public.


The 2023 general election is not far away. We are all fed up of the situation in Zimbabwe. But we can’t just keep saying we are fed up, we have to do something  about it, starting with the small things like raising awareness of problems to the world and pushing for solutions.

Zimbabwe wants to sell ivory stash to fund elephant conservation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 21 May 2022 10:27

Zimbabwe wants to sell ivory stash to fund elephant conservation

Jane Flanagan 18/05/2022


Zimbabwe has opened vaults containing 135 tonnes of ivory and rhino horn as it called for the guarded stockpile to be sold to fund the conservation of its growing and “dangerous” elephant population.


A “one-off sale” of the cache, seized from smugglers and poachers, and harvested from carcasses found in the country’s national parks, would raise £500 million, and all of the proceeds would go towards wildlife management, the government said.


The sale of ivory has been banned since 1989 by Cites, the international body that monitors endangered species.

The Zimbabwean government has warned that it may resort to culling its 100,000-strong elephant population, which it claimed is double the capacity of its overwhelmed parks.


“Where do we get the money to look after the resources?” asked Fulton Mangwanya, head of the parks and wildlife agency, as he showed the towering piles of ivory to a group of visiting ambassadors. He told them there was a “great market” for the ivory.


Lockdowns during the pandemic and bans on international travel have hammered Zimbabwe’s tourism industry, the parks chief said, leaving little budget for anti-poaching costs and supporting communities “bearing the brunt” of living near destructive elephants.


“We need assistance. These elephants are multiplying at a dangerous rate: 5 per cent per annum,” Mangwanya said, attempting to convince diplomats from Britain and Europe to back an easing of restrictions. He added that each adult elephant eats about 300lb of fruit, grasses and bark a day, and the burgeoning population was making it harder for other animals to find food.


Zimbabwe will host an “elephant summit” for officials from 14 African countries, as well as China and Japan, this month to discuss strategies to manage wildlife and lobby for continental support to make money from ivory stocks.

Its neighbour Botswana, where elephant tusk trophy hunters were recently allowed to return, has also argued that it is overpopulated with elephants and selling its ivory stocks is necessary for conservation. The two countries are home to 230,000 elephants — more than half of Africa’s total population.


Despite the bans, the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn continues, mostly driven by demand in Asia, where tusks are turned into trinkets and rhino horn is used in a range of remedies. The criminal trade is responsible for the slaughter of an estimated 50 elephants a day. Rising poverty and a loss of tourism jobs and income has made it easier for international smuggling gangs to recruit local poachers, conservationists say.


A previous attempt to overturn the Cites trade ban failed, exposing differences in opinion between Africa’s elephant-holding states. Gabon, Mali and Kenya were among many of the continent’s dissenters and Kenya’s decision in 2016 to burn stockpiles of ivory and horn, gathered from 6,000 elephants and 343 rhinos, was its attempt to show that only tusks carried by a living elephant had any value.

A chilling lesson in the fragility of democracy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 12 February 2022 20:53

From the Times UK 10/02/2022

A chilling lesson in the fragility of democracy

TV Review of ‘President’ by Carol Midgley


If you were in the mood to become enraged last night, Camilla Nielsson’s excellent documentary ‘President’ was just the ticket. It followed Zimbabwe’s 2018 election after Robert Mugabe’s removal by military coup and was filmed from within the heart of the MDC Alliance, the opposition party led by the popular young lawyer Nelson Chamisa. Chamisa was challenging acting president and former Mugabe man Emmerson Mnangagwa and promising to root out corruption. What transpired was a lengthy demonstration of how to steal an election – crudely. As MDC’s outraged executives said, to paraphrase: ‘At least Mugabe was sophisticated as a fraudster.’


Some off the tricks seemed spoof-worthy, such as claiming Mnangagwa had polled more votes in a certain province than there were people. Some 16 polling station returned identical results. But horrifically, a polling agent and her husband were both raped. Citizens were offered food for votes.


When the public protested, the army was deployed and six people were killed. Nielsson had remarkable access to Chamisa’s campaign. The film showed, in real time, democracy being violated in plain sight. It showed people desperate for change, who were impotent in the face of a inscrutable government machine. If you wanted a lesson in how fragile democracy is and how easily it can be trampled on, this is it.

How long before a vaccine protects us against the Omicron Covid variant? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 27 November 2021 19:45


How long before a vaccine protects us against the Omicron Covid variant?


This may yet prove the pandemic’s final scare. But if we need to tailor a jab to a new variant it will take 100 days. Here’s how it could happen.


Tom Whipple 26/11/2021


We will need 100 days. From the moment a decision is taken that a tweaked vaccine is necessary, that is how long Albert Bourla, the chief executive of Pfizer, has said it will take for the first regulatory-approved needle to get into the first waiting arm. And that decision — to tailor a vaccine to a new variant — is now looking more likely than ever. Of all the mutations in the variant discovered in South Africa, it is the ones that threaten immunity that worry government scientists the most. There are many, many unknowns. This could yet prove to be nothing more than the pandemic’s final scare. But if there is a possibility this variant can find a chink in the immune armour built up at such cost, we now have a way to get ahead of it.


Making the decision

Virology moves fast these days. On Tuesday morning this week, no one in the world knew about this variant. By Wednesday lunchtime it was being discussed at the highest levels in South Africa. By Thursday afternoon, Britain was shutting down travel and asking for samples. Some things cannot be rushed, though. It takes time to culture a virus, and South African laboratories will need at least a week to make enough to share with foreign partners. Of course, it’s possible that South Africa has already sent some unwittingly, kept incubated in a passenger on a long-haul flight. If so, we might just get some a little sooner. When we do, it will go to the laboratory at Porton Down. Here, it will be tested against blood from vaccinated people. How will the blood respond? How will the antibodies bind? Pfizer worked on a vaccine specific to the Delta variant, then decided it was not necessary — the original vaccine was good enough. But if the immunity evasion of Omicron is as big as some fear, this time the decision might be different.


Day 0

The Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford jabs are less a vaccine than a chassis, into which we can slot the engine of our choice. We already know the genetic code of the virus — all we have to do is tweak it out and a laboratory will have made a prototype vaccine. That we can do this is a miracle of technology; it is also only the beginning. The challenge is not making one vaccine but making a billion, and getting it approved. While this is going on, we will be racing against time. If the variant is worrying enough to merit a new vaccine then the corollary is we cannot keep it out for long. While laboratory work is going on, the first cases will inevitably appear in the UK. The purpose of the travel ban is to buy time, in part to boost as fast as we can: reduced immunity is still a lot better than no immunity. But we will still be facing a new wave of infections.


Day 33

There is a point in the manufacturing process that is less like a production line, more like animal husbandry. You have to coax cells to respond. Biologists talk about making them “happy” or “comfortable”. For the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in particular, this became fiendishly complex. There were times in the pandemic where one factory had double the output of another apparently identical set-up, simply because the cells were responding better. Pfizer and Moderna are easier. They might get easier still. One of the trickiest parts of making the vaccines involves constructing a DNA “template” from which their crucial RNA is made. This has been largely done using a biological process. During the pandemic Touchlight, a billion-dollar British biotech start-up, built a factory that promises to make synthetic DNA at scale, doing away with the vagaries of biology. It is just one new asset the country has gained. Quietly, Britain has become a vaccine-producing nation. Three years ago, we had almost zero bulk vaccine manufacturing capacity. During the pandemic, that has changed dramatically — vaccines have gone from being part of the globalised capitalist market to a matter of national security. If necessary, we can now make the vaccine here. In Darlington, at the Centre for Process Innovation, we can use the DNA templates to make RNA. In Leek in Staffordshire, we have a factory that can make the little globules of fat in which it is transported. There is now a choice of places where we can fill and finish, putting the two together, all under the aegis and expertise of Pfizer. Its guidance is not all we will need big pharma for. The variant may undermine the vaccines but it does nothing to blunt the effectiveness of antivirals. As, inevitably, a winter wave grows, the two drugs the UK has bought could be critical in keeping people out of hospital.


Day 66

Normally, there is a process. You invent a vaccine, you trial the vaccine, then you make the vaccine. In the pandemic, we did all three together. The same will happen with variant vaccines. Even as the fill-finish order is being made, a more ad-hoc production process will be used to get the vaccine into trials. This time, though, we won’t need tens of thousands of people. Nor will we need to wait for enough to be infected to prove the vaccine efficacy. “Using an existing “platform” for a new vaccine would speed the regulatory process dramatically,” Stephen Evans, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said. It means the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be more confident on safety and on effectiveness — confident enough it can rely on proxy measures of effectiveness. How many T-cells do people make? How many antibodies? It could take four to eight weeks to get the data, says Evans — although in the past the MHRA has asked for two months of data after the second jab. Approval could, just, be squeezed into Bourla’s 100-day timescale.


Day 100

In an unassuming surgery, as happened over a year earlier with Margaret Keenan, a Briton is invited to become the first to receive a variant vaccine. Spring is here, and the third year of the pandemic is well under way. But inside their body updated antibodies are forming, against an updated threat. Once again, the nation watches in expectation and hope. This time, though, their audience is less triumphant, a little more cynical and a lot more tired.

Zimbabwe’s boozy Cop26 party doesn’t go down well at home PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 06 November 2021 12:03

Zimbabwe’s boozy Cop26 party doesn’t go down well at home

Benjamin Cooke 02/11/2021


While Boris Johnson struck a sombre note at the beginning of Cop26, saying the world is “one minute to midnight”, the Zimbabwean visitors to the conference were having a jollier time.


The country’s information minister, Nick Mangwana, posted a picture on Twitter of two men buying two trolleys of whisky, beer and crisps — supplies for a party to welcome the Zimbabwean president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to Britain. Two crates of Budweiser, six bottles of Glenfiddich, six bottles of Johnnie Walker and three bottles of Jamieson were among the haul.


“Tonight [Sunday] there is a massive welcome party held in honour of president Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Mangwana tweeted. “Glasgow is the place to be as Zimbabweans from all corners of the UK attend this shindig and welcome the president. The party will spill over to the streets tomorrow.”


Mangwana also shared a video of the men exiting Costco in Glasgow with the alcohol. One of the men said: “Cop26 we are ready.” In a second video shared by Mangwena, revellers wearing scarfs the colours of the Zimbabwean flag can be seen dancing on a beach.


Mangwana claimed that no delegates were involved in the party, and that it was arranged by Zimbabweans living in the UK. Yet his promotion of the party provoked the ire of fellow Zimbabweans.


Jessie Pineau, the Zimbabwean environmentalist and social activist, called it “extremely embarrassing”, while Pedzisai Ruhanya, the former news editor of the Zimbabwean independent paper Daily News, tweeted: “While millions wallow in a sea of poverty in Zimbabwe, varakashi [a slang term for the president’s supporters] enjoy whisky in Scotland. Rest assured they will be drunk and won’t know anything happening at the conference; it’s a boozing trip.”


In 2020 the average Zimbabwean weekly wage was £15.90, less than half the price of a 70cl bottle of Glenfiddich 12-year-old single malt. The Zimbabwean economy has been battered by high rates of inflation. On July 29 Mthuli Ncube, the country’s finance and economic development minister, announced that the year-on-year inflation rate stood at 56.37 per cent.


President Mnangagwa’s arrival in Scotland on Sunday evening was the first visit by a Zimbabwean head of state to Britain since Robert Mugabe met with Tony Blair in Edinburgh in 1997.


He took office in November 2017 after the resignation of Mugabe who, having been president since 1987, resigned as protests against him spread throughout Zimbabwe. The protests had begun when Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as deputy prime minister.


Known as the “crocodile” for his political cunning, Mnangagwa is known to have a taste for whisky. He fought in Zimbabwe’s war of independence in the 1960s and 1970s before taking charge of the country’s Central Intelligence Organisation as the country descended into civil war in the 1980s.


Zimbabwe has strengthened its climate commitments in advance of Cop26, pledging that its emissions in 2030 will be 40 per cent lower than they would be in a “business as usual” scenario. Nevertheless, this pledge would still see the country’s carbon emissions rise from 35.8 megatonnes in 2017 to 44.7 megatonnes in 2030.

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