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Mugabe won’t step down and Grace won’t step up, says nephew

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President Robert Mugabe’s nephew and cabinet minister, who is hiding in fear of his life in South Africa, has said the 93-year-old head of state will not step down because of the letter of the Constitution, despite a military takeover and massed marches against him in Harare. He also claims Grace Mugabe has no interest in becoming president.

Patrick Zhuwawo, who has been Minister of Public Services and Social Welfare for the last two years, is the son of Mugabe’s sister Sabina, who died in 2010. He is said to be one of the supporter of his aunt’s bid to succeed Mugabe, although he denies this.

Zhuwawo had been in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attending a conference on child labor, when the military went in. As he checked in for a flight home at OR Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg, he took a call from his family in Harare begging him to stay put.

“They told me that my house had been vandalized and I was on a wanted list. The also informed me that a number of people had died in this illegal coup and more than 200 were in detention,” says Zhuwawo.

READ MORE: Mnangagwa and the military may mean more bad news for Zimbabwe

When will President Mugabe step down? I said, asking the question on everyone’s lips on the day as thousands marched in Harare calling from him to go.

“Because he has a mandate given to him by an electoral process. More importantly stepping down because of a coup is dangerous, it is evil we can never allow military weapons to determine democratic processes… he is not going to step down,” says Zhuwawo.

“This coup is now being window dressed to look like a popular uprising.”

Zhuwawo claims that military chiefs are using protestors to cover what he alleges is looting from multi-million-dollar agricultural funds.

READ MORE: What next for embattled Zimbabwe?

Zhuwawo also claimed he was not a member of the so-called G40 group of young MPs backing his aunt Grace to succeed his uncle.

“No, that is not the issue and she has no intention of being the next president. The people of Zimbabwe must choose the next president,” he says.

What about President Mugabe’s age and infirmity. When I saw him at the World Economic Forum in Durban in May he moved painfully – isn’t it time, I asked?

“One of the things in our constitution is that there must be no discrimination on race or sex or age… If you were Zimbabwean you are breaking the Constitution … What we do not want to go back to is the day of Nazi Germany when they were euthanizing old people,” he says.

After 37 years in power, the last 20  presiding over a crumbling economy, surely Mugabe and his comrades had failed and should go anyway to make way for new ideas?

“You will not divert me here, I am talking about a coup,” he says.

If only Mugabe, Zhuwawo and company had diverted the economy towards growth and prosperity 20 years ago there may not be tanks and protestors on the streets now.

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How Employers Are Recruiting And Retaining Gen Z

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With growing numbers of recruit entering the workforce, we look at what employers are doing to recruit and retain this next generation that values benefits beyond the paycheck.

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Twists And Turns Of Nigeria’s Election Campaign Trail

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The political atmosphere in Nigeria leading up to the February polls is tense. Challenging the status quo are new and younger contenders promising hope and change.


As the 2019 elections draw close in February in Africa’s most populous country, Atiku Abubakar has emerged the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while President Muhammadu Buhari has been affirmed for the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) ticket.

Abubakar, a former vice president of Nigeria, has begun his campaign against president Buhari by highlighting the popular frustration of Nigerians over the rise in unemployment and poverty (two of the biggest voter concerns) on Buhari’s watch,as well as growing insecurity in central Nigeria.

Nigeria was recently voted the world’s poverty capital by the Brookings Institution. Consequently, the handling of the economy has already emerged as a major issue at the start of the election cycle.

In 2016, the country entered its first recession in 25 years due to a slump in oil prices and attacks in the Niger Delta oil-producing region. Although emerging out of recession in 2017, growth still remains tardy and inflation is just above the central bank’s single-digit target range.

Investor sentiment in the country is also low especially with leading telco giant MTN Nigeria being ordered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to return $8.1 billion to the country claiming it was illegally repatriated from Nigeria.

 Atiku Abubakar.  Picture: Pius Utomi/ AFP/Getty Images

“If the fine is found to be unjustly imposed, it would have a negative implication on the image of Nigeria as a destination for foreign investors. Investors only invest in environments that have laws that protect them. If people are punished when they have not done anything wrong, that destroys investor confidence,” says Bismarck Rewane, CEO of Financial Derivatives, an economic think tank in Lagos.

This will be the fourth attempt by Abubakar to win a presidential election mirroring Buhari’s 2015 elections win. He defected from the ruling APC party and re-joined PDP to win the presidential ticket. In a speech in London, Abubakar unveiled his plans to offer a matching grant of $250 million each to the 36 states of the federation to challenge them to enhance their internally generated revenue (IGR).

Meanwhile,just as the election was shaping up to be a contest between two male political veterans, Obiageli Ezekwesili, a woman with a strong track record in economic leadership has announced her presidential candidacy for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).

Ezekwesili,who is the co-founder of the #bringbackourgirls movement, is perhaps the most prominent woman to challenge for the top job.

Her campaign for the return of the 276 Chibok girls kidnapped in northern Nigeriain 2014 by Boko Haram sparked worldwide support and led to the return of more than 100 girls to their families.

Ezekwesili also served as the country’s education minister and Vice-President of the World Bank. In a speech to her party, Ezekwesili said the two men she faces represent a “mediocre political class that bumbles from one crisis to another”. Her campaign strategy is to position herself as the candidate bringing hope back to Nigeria by challenging the status quo.

Also as part of her strategy, Ezekwesili, 55, is trying to appeal to Nigeria’s youth by highlighting the lack of understanding of technological advances happening in the country by her challengers, Buhari, 75, and Abubakar, 71.

However, in spite of her immense appeal, perhaps the youth might just need a candidate of their own who understands their needs and can speak for a nation where more than 50% are under the age of 30.

They may just have their wish. A welcome development to this election is the reduction of the age by which Nigerians can contest the election for public office.

The bill, popularly referred to as the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill, reduces the age qualification for president from 40 to 35; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.

Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, a 27-year-old entrepreneur and an up-and-coming political leader, has taken advantage of this new window to register his own political party, Modern Democratic Party. The party is putting education at the top of its agenda and calling for the youth of Nigeria to stand together and have a unified voice.


Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi. Picture: Supplied

“We offer hope. Ours is a generation that is young, bold and open to possibilities. We believe that if hope can be returned to the heart of the common man/woman, they may once again start to believe in things becoming better. Right now, a lot of parties sing the word ‘hope’ and yet their internal democracy itself is hopeless,” he says.

“The masses are not blind. They see the internal wrangling in these political parties on the pages of newspapers. How then can they truly believe in a message of hope by these same people? Our youthfulness and firm grasp of the complexities and blistering pace of the world we live in today, easily make us,in our opinion, fit to lead. We understand the power of flexibility and we understand what ‘change’ really means. The world needs the youth right now, and we are finally ready to step up.”

He says his party is committed to building a structure capable of winning elections across all political spheres and levels with a resolution to put a spotlight on the downtrodden in society, a society that, according to Olateru-Olagbeji, is in critical need of deliverance from bad leadership.

“As a party, we hope to correct the present for the sake of the future; we hope to harness the mental and resources of my generation with fresh ideas and innovation because this generation is not tied to the prejudices and biases of the ones before us, we don’t see tribe, religion and even gender; we are united in our hunger for success. We hope to inspire a generation of young Nigerians and Africans to work at building our nation and continent, community by community, till we become the leading and ruling party,” he says.

The political atmosphere leading up to February is extremely tense.

No matter who is contending for the top job, one thing is certain,Nigerians need a new economy, one that provides them with opportunities for growth and prosperity, and they need that, yesterday.

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‘Mandela My Life’ Is A Welcome Tribute To A Hero, But Avoids Difficult Questions

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Review: Mandela My Life, Melbourne Museum.


What is the role of commemorative exhibitions that focus on the life of a single change agent I asked myself, as I viewed Melbourne Museum’s latest blockbuster, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition.

The result of an international collaboration between Museums Victoria, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and IEG exhibitions, the exhibition is billed as a major international event that “will commemorate, illuminate and most importantly share Nelson Mandela’s living legacy with the world” on the centenary of his birth.

At first glance I doubted that these aims could be achieved. The tone of the exhibition could be accused of being hagiographic, given the ostensible reason for the exhibition – to celebrate the centenary of Mandela’s birth – as well as its narrative structures, which blended Mandela’s own words with the editorializing of the Mandela Foundation. This lent support to the claim that this exhibition was the “official” version of how to interpret the meaning of Mandela’s life.

Organised chronologically, the exhibition follows Mandela’s life. It begins with his birth in the Transkei region of South Africa, where he was initiated into his tribe’s traditional cultural practices and knowledge systems and attended a mission school.

The exhibition then follows him as he decides to leave his homeland for Johannesburg, where his experiences under apartheid radicalized him, leading on towards his role as a leader in the African National Congress, and his eventual imprisonment. His resilience while in prison and his leadership of the new post-apartheid South Africa led him to become the revered figure he is today.

This simple chronological narrative is given emotive force by three elements that come into play.

The first of these is the sound of Mandela’s voice at key moments. These include his famous Rivonia Trial speech in which he stated that he was prepared to die for the anti-apartheid movement.

Others are his memories of his childhood in the Transkei, his reflections on his time in prison, and his speech when he was freed, where his conciliatory approach to ending apartheid set the tone for what was to follow. Mandela’s voice guides us through the exhibition, supported by a rich display of personal photographs, letters and personal objects carefully preserved by the Mandela Foundation.

These are then contrasted with the evidence of apartheid from material borrowed or reproduced from other collections and media organisations, which provides the second element. The role of these sources is to lend authority to the human rights claim that apartheid was an unjust system – they are the evidence of what goes wrong when equality between humans is not respected.

The third element is the visitor – a visitor who already knows the end of the story and believes in its righteousness. Mandela was on the right side of history.

None of this is wrong of course. But the desire to eulogize, as often appears to be the case in this exhibition, does not allow space for questions that might allow for a fuller explication of the nature of Mandela’s legacy and its relevance beyond South Africa.

For instance, the final gallery shows a series of 16 paintings by John Myer, retelling Mandela’s life story and giving body to South African’s pride in the achievements of this extraordinary man. This could have been the moment, however, when his legacy could have been broadened out and key themes explored and thus gone beyond the outpouring of grief on his death, captured by the 95 messages of condolence, one for each year of his life – available in the penultimate gallery via a table full of telephone handsets.

Beyond the obvious answer – he was a hero who fought apartheid and won – what is it that those fighting for human rights can learn? What are the difficult questions his activism raises for those fighting on behalf of the oppressed? And, finally, are there other contexts in which his life might have meaning?

In an Australian context, some of the answers were alluded to in the speeches on opening night, which pointed to the relevance of Mandela’s activism for Australians fighting for Indigenous rights. Such speeches go some way towards explaining why the Melbourne Museum, which is aligned with human rights museums and whose First Peoples Gallery is an eloquent articulation of the need for treaty, is host to this exhibition.

But I would also argue that Mandela’s life is relevant to all of us at this particular juncture in time – a time when we need to hang on to the hope that change is both necessary and possible and that the actions of ordinary, everyday people can bring it about. This is as true for situations of unequal power relations as for other complex problems, such as what to do about climate change.

Mandela was an extraordinary man – but he was also supported by many others, both within and outside South Africa, all of whom believed in the necessity of change. Mandela is important because we need to have figures who show us that hope, resilience and leadership is still possible when those values are valued by all of us.

The exhibition does not make these points itself – but perhaps it is enough that such points can be made by those who visit it and reflect upon it. Even so, I wish there was less emphasis on the authorized, official nature of the exhibition, which, for me, closed down the potential for some really interesting discussions on the nature of change and how to achieve it.

  • Andrea Witcomb: Professor, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Deakin University
  • Mandela My Life is being exhibited at the Melbourne Museum until March 3 2019.

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