Monday, 6 February 2017

2016 songs that tell the Zimbabwean political story

Zimbabwe is a nation on the cusp. Some say we are reaching the boiling point but from the looks of it, we are already in a boiling pot. From massive scandals like the disappearance of $15billion to the cash crisis that’s seen people spending more time at bank queues and the unfortunate herald of the return of the Bond note to the recent Bicycle-gate mixed with shutdowns and protests in and outside the country, the future of the republic is uncertain.

Citizens are always on the alert for the next teargas moment (or the Choppies moment) whilst republican police have made the baton (button sticks) and helmets part of their uniform. Catching thieves, pickpockets, murderers or burglars is the last on ZRP duty list. If they aren’t on the roads looking for money to fund endless trips by those ‘above’ then they are polishing teargas canisters (smoke machines) ready to kick butts.

Artists whom we have criticized for turning a blind eye to the unravelling situation have this year made commendable efforts to say something with the limited freedom of expression. We are not sure how much this is affecting them but we applaud their attempts at speaking truth to power. So whilst Tambaoga and crew continue with their bootlicking, ‘serious’ artists are now talking serious issues. Here are some:

Winky D – 25

It’s a tale of broken dreams. At some point in our teenage lives, we envisaged a better future and had laid out plans depending on our understanding of success. In 25, Winky who says he’s well into his 30s believed that at 25 he would have it all (a mansion like Kasukuwere’s, yellowbone for a wife, Jaguars & Phantoms). To date the only youth who can boast of having achieved that (except a wife) is Wicknell. In today’s Zimbabwe, youths are going beyond 25 before they get a decent job or sustainable source of income.  Today’s young are having to work harder but earning less.

Hosiah Chipanga – Kana nyika yakanaka (In a normal economy)

He went from gospel singer to regime bootlicker then had his damascene moment. The Mutare-based veteran artist who has released several albums that are critical of the system released another government critique this year. A track known as Kana nyika yakanaka laments how ZRP have turned into Ben 10s as they concentrate on fundraising at the expense of crime solving. He goes points out that people are gainfully employed professionals in a normal economy but everyone has been turned into a vendor by abnormal situation. The message is directed at those ‘above’ who are still in denial. Our situation is dire and in immediate need of redress.

Alick Macheso – Tinorarama nenyasha (We live by grace)

After years of silence characterized by personal and family issues that threatened to leave the Sungura maestro down and out, Macheso rebounded with a new album. The standard and quality remains a topic for another day. There’s a track that highlights how Zimbabweans are surviving each day. In a cash-less society, Zimbos have been forced to adopt plastic money rapidly (EcoCash being the biggest gainer) amidst talk of the imminent bond note. In the song Kurarama inyasha Alick points out how our continued existence in Zimbabwe has to do with more than just our wit but some form of divine intervention. It’s the grace of God that’s seen us live thus far otherwise ZimASSET has totally failed.

Killer T – Takangodaro (We are who we are)

Although not as poignant, Takangodaro shifts the republic’s focus from the glitz of north Samora to the grim reality of ghetto life. The release talks of how in the life of lack and disappointment, ghetto youths manage to keep their heads high. In the message, the youth is proud of his situation and exclaims they will not let ‘the haves’ dictate to them.  The ghetto massive are finally realizing that there exists a class, clique or kleptocracy (Biti’s word) that enjoys using their privilidged position in our nation to judge, demean and control the masses…but hatiregere kuita hunhu hweghetto.

Jnr Brown – Tongogara

The rapper laments the problems of the youths. The song highlights the struggles of students to get standard education as parents fail to pay fees. With broken families & broken dreams, girls are left vulnerable to sexual exploitation by blessers (proverbial sugar daddies) leading to unwanted pregnancies. Jnr Brown points to growing gap between the rich & the poor as the poor stay poor even when they try. Drug abuse is brought into the spotlight as desperate youths turn to medication (bronco) as a cheap alternative for alcohol. In closing, he urges youths to unite ‘ngatibatanei tiite zibigger team’. At the end of the struggle, General Tongogara is heard pronouncing the goals of the liberation struggle which seemingly have been betrayed by those ‘above’.

On a punny note… Jah Prayzah – Mdhara Vachauya
We are not sure which mdhara he refers to but this could be the year when ‘Ngwena’ finally bites.
Could 2016 be the year when musicians finally wake up to compose the music for the people’s struggle? Will this be the moment when our arts sector will finally brave the scrutiny, persecution and censorship that comes with #FreedomOfExpression in Zimbabwe? Are these fluke releases or this will become the norm?

For the good of the Republic!

*Female voices in arts are seemingly silent on the developing situation and only they can speak on their behalf. There’s room for all.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

CyberCrimes Bill: Too many wrongs to ignore

The draft cyber crimes bill if enacted will give lot of room for law enforcement agents to harass the citizenry.  It’s another addition to their arsenal in these already dark times.  In its current state, the cyber space will be like First Street in a riot situation.  GOV is taking their anti-people brutality online and this piece of legislation (albeit plagiarized) is legalizing the beginning of ICT's Dark Ages in Zimbabwe.  

The bill is targeted at the people whilst seeking to protect the establishment from scrutiny. It’s nothing for the people, all for the regime. This is why it’s silent on important issues (for any modern civilisation) including sexism and gender-based hate language, it does not recognize the admissibility of evidence against authorities e.g. police brutality or corruption at roadblocks.  Interestingly, like any ZANU PF bill, it’s riddled with oversights leaving it open to abuse by the authorities.   

Here are several sections of the bill that will most likely be abused by our seemingly overzealous (and easily given to brutality) law enforcement agents.

Search and seizure
Section 29: (2) If a police officer that is undertaking a search based on Section 28(1) has grounds to believe that the data sought is stored in another computer system or part of it in its territory, and such data is lawfully accessible from or available to the initial system, he shall be able to expeditiously extend the search or similar accessing to the other system.

The bill bases the actions of the investigating officer on belief rather than evidence.  In this case, emotion, instinct, or intuition takes precedence over fact.  It will not be a surprise if Magaya or Makandiwa’s prophecies become basis for officers to extend their accessing to other systems (including your girlfriend’s phone, your mother’s WhatsApp groups). This gives them unfettered permission to harass anyone close to you.

Section 30: (1) Any person, who is not a suspect of a crime or otherwise excluded from an obligation to follow such order, but who has knowledge about the functioning of the computer system or measures applied to protect the computer data therein that is the subject of a search under section 28 must permit, and assist if reasonably required and requested by the person authorized to make the search by:

Whether its Desperation or outright insanity, we will determine with time. This clause suggests the regime has no experts with capacity to execute the heinous tasks.  Recruitment in the security sector over the years has been focused on thanking ZANU PF youthies for protecting the regime rather than intellectual capacity. That means ‘innocent’ geeks out there are now a target. Not the best time to be a computer whiz in Zim or is it?

Production and order
Section 31: If magistrate is satisfied on the basis of an application by a law enforcement officer or police officer that specified computer data, or a printout or other information, is reasonably required for the purpose of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings, the magistrate may order that:
(a)        a person in the territory of Zimbabwe in control of a computer system produce from the system specified computer data or a printout or other intelligible output of that data;  or
(b)        an Internet service provider in Zimbabwe to produce information about persons who subscribe to or otherwise use the service.

ISPs will become unwilling snitches. When the judiciary which is under heavy pressure to protect the interests of the executive finally gives in, we are likely to see permissions granted willy-nilly. Millions of warrants will be issued and GOV will (with an evil grin) keep a tab on every citizen who thinks right.  What will happen to the rate of abductions?

Partial disclosure of traffic data
Section 33: If a police officer is satisfied computer data is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation, the law enforcement or police officer may, by written notice given to a person in control of the computer system, require the person to disclose relevant traffic data about a specified communications to identify:
(a)        the Internet service providers; and/or
(b)        the path through which a communication was transmitted

Police officers are given too much power and given the brutal way they react to public protests, target institutions will be harassed left, right and centre.  This clause will allow the beleaguered regime to infiltrate and/or blackmail individuals, CSOs and companies. Where is the citizen protected in all this?

No monitoring obligations
Section 37 (1) An Internet service provider shall, subject to the provisions of any other written law, have no general obligation to monitor the data which it transmits or stores; or actively seek facts or circumstances indicating an unlawful activity.

Instead of disallowing ISPs from monitoring citizens’ private communications, the clause gives them the option to choose to do it when they want. It’s a bill that infringes on our rights to privacy.  The section further allows The Minister to prescribe procedures for service providers to report alleged illegal activities by recipients of their service. This will break the little trust that had existed between citizens and service providers.  We will no longer trust them especially with their bonus minutes, free SMS, mega bundles and promotions.
We implore this session of parliament to do the first honourable thing since the start of their mandate in 2013: reject the cybercrime bill.

For the good of the Republic!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

How social media has become a sustainable alternative

From harmless twitter hashtags to Social movements that have shaken the foundations of the establishment.

Not withstanding that twitter users in Zimbabwe are a paltry figure, it looked like delusions if one imagined a hashtag shaking a 36yo dictatorship.

Here's how

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