Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Donald Trump’s Victory has laid bare Western Hypocrisy

Donald Trump pulled what has been described as one of the most stunning upsets in the US political history. Against all odds, from opinion polls and experts, the business tycoon who has never held any political position defeated his long time friend-cum-nemesis, Hillary Clinton with 306 of the Electoral College votes compared to Clinton’s 232.

The results did not only come to shock the world but have also, in their weirdness, revealed the hypocritical nature of the West, a civilization that has considered itself a master of democracy – dispensing it throughout the world, even at a point of a gun and an irreversible social upheaval.

Trump won on a strong xenophobic, anti-immigration stance, and outright sexism, racism and Islamophobia. Drawing from his campaign, Trump intends to ban Muslims from flying into the US ‘because they are terrorist and ISIS sympathizers’. He is also against women’s rights to choice over their lives. He preaches against homosexuality, a stance taken by other leaders in Africa such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

The US President-elect also plans to build a 2000-miles wall running from the West to the East Cost on the US-Mexico border because he considers ‘Mexicans who migrate to the US as rapists, drug dealers and criminals’. His position on Black people is unflattering as it is heartbreaking.

With all these promises, a ‘Love Trumps Hate’ slogan was adopted. UK politicians came close to banning him following a petition signed by 570,000 people. Despite not voting on the motion, UKparliamentarians denounced and described him as a 'buffoon, demagogue and wazzock'.

But after gaining more electoral votes to win the nomination, politicians from around the world are now biting their lips, rescinding their threats by congratulating the president-elect for his victory and a ‘hard fought campaign’.

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, who had previously criticized Trump by calling his views as nonsense, congratulated Mr. Trump and assured him that Britain and the US will continue in their "enduring and special relationship" under his presidency.

She said: "I look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump, building on these ties to ensure the security and prosperity of our nations in the years ahead.".
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who had previously said that "the only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump", also tweeted his congratulations saying he was "much looking forward to working with Trumps administration”.

Likewise, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, offered the US president-elect a “close cooperation” in a phone call immediately following Trump's election victory.  Unlike May, Merkel clarified that her support is on the basis of “democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and the dignity of men, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender or sexual orientation” which she said links the two countries.

President Francois Hollande of France promised to engage “without delay” the new American administration in the fight against terrorism and on economic relations. These are the main issues.

Several other politicians congratulated Trump for his victory, committing to a stronger partnership with the US during his term in office. While the trans-Atlantic Alliance militia bloc, NATO, announced this week that it is "looking forward" to working with the Trump administration.

The message these politicians are sending to Trump is that nothing will change in the manner the US and Western countries operate even with a renowned sexist, racist and bigot (just to mention a few appalling accolades he has to his name) at the helm of leadership.

Now, reverse the tables and imagine Trump as leader of a country in Africa, say Zimbabwe’s Mugabe or Sudan’s al Bashir considering that he also plans to bomb other Muslim countries to defeat countries which is likely to result in millions of civilians annihilated. . There is no doubt that aid could have been suspended; and indiscriminate sanctions implemented.

Malawi experienced the wrath of the West when two gay men were jailed for 14 years (I am pro-gay and I personally believe no country should have laws that sets how adults have sex). When Zimbabwe ordered White people to leave Zimbabwe, he paid a hefty price, that he has survived this long is a miracle and very few understand.

The biggest question is why are these Western Countries not putting in place sanctions against the US?

It is clear that he won because of his campaign promises and the 60 million people who voted for him expect the promises to be fulfilled. Is it Racism or Colonialism, that Western countries find it okay to work with a Robert Mugabe, even a worst evil, as long as he is White?

This same question can be raised against Brexit, a vote that saw the UK leave the EU so it could take control of its borders and stop ‘muslims’ as well as take control of its laws.

Compare the reaction of the West and other International Organizations on African countries that are leaving the ICC so as to settle their issues in-house. How will the West respond in a few months or years from now when other politicians in other countries adopt a Trump/Brexit stance that: xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia are a winning card?

Surely, such politicians will expect relationships with the West not to be affected. They would expect congratulatory messages and phone calls. A Trump victory will have other governments ponder whether it is important to invest in climate change or renewable energy?

Clearly what is happening in the West should revitalize people, particularly in Africa, to oppose the West, either for double standards or showing that it is just okay to hate and staple on values of social justice. We need to stand up and guard human rights; and if it means Africa leading in this fight, then be it for the so-called world leaders have illustrated that they can’t be entrusted as before.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Giving Mutharika a news blackout is retrogressive: Mount Soche Declaration is a threat to Malawi’s democracy and press freedom

The mainstream private media in Malawi have threatened to give President Peter Mutharika a “news blackout” unless press freedom is guaranteed by his administration. The media made this declaration following a meeting convened last week at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.

Representatives from the media houses also agreed to “boycott” press conferences by the Head of State and cabinet ministers in recognition of what was described as “the highly belligerent attitude that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Government has taken against the private media to silence it from telling Malawians the truth”.

Threatened with a news blackout
In hindsight, the threats that the media have issued through what is now called the Mount Soche Declaration signed by Nation Publications Limited (NPL), Capital Radio Malawi Limited, Times Group, ZBS, MIJ FM Radio Station, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter and Media Council of Malawi (MCM), can be deemed as welcome and in good intention if Malawi is to safeguard press freedom and consolidate its democracy as stipulated by the country’s constitution.

However, after several attempts to make sense of the decree and reflecting on its threats, in both instances I end up with the same conclusion: the Mount Soche Declaration is a threat not only to the country’s democracy, but to both press freedom which the media seek its assurance as well as the public’s right to access information. The decree is outlandish and must be opposed.

With the Mount Soche Declaration, the media joins government in ganging up against the public in the attempt by the executive arm of government and the fourth estate to square their vendettas.

It is without debate that the media plays a crucial role in any democracy. As such, press freedom must be guarded jealously particularly against attempts by those in power (politicians and media owners alike) to stifle it.

It is when the environment is not conducive for the press to exercise its duty that the public needs the media most; to be informed of government’s undertakings so that the employers (the public) can hold accountable the employees (politicians and those in public positions). It is therefore surprising to learn that instead of playing its role, the media wants to run into some dark corner operating on a ‘see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing’ maxim.

Here are questions that the media needs to answer before the Mount Soche Declaration sees light of the day: what direction will the news blackout on Mutharika, the Cabinet and government arms take? Does this mean during the news-blackout period, the press will stop investigating Mutharika? If they find some ministers engaging in corruption, will the press remain mum, or is it simply about ‘black-outing’ on positive news for the regime? If the case is black-out on positive news, how then can people trust such a media that is preferring to walk a biased instead of a balanced news path?  

The news blackout is the best Christmas gift that the media can ever give the president and the cabinet to pillage public resources knowing there is no one watching over them; to blow the horn or offer the much needed checks. Through the decree, the media acknowledges that they have a duty to the public to serve as the Fourth Estate to provide checks and balance and provide information that could enable the People hold those in public offices accountable for their decisions but how will this be achieved if the media has locked itself inside a room darker than the ‘media blackout’?

It is for these reasons that I consider the Mount Soche Declaration a threat to democracy and press freedom. I am therefore pleased that Chanco Radio and TV have decided to not be associated with such a declaration. However, their reason for not being a private media to be part of the Mount Soche Declaration means that Malawi media have a long way to go to understand what the actual role of the press is.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

#USElections If it were the Western Media reporting results in an an African country

The drama on US elections continues to unfold. So far, reports by the US mainstream media reveal that Donald Trump is not guaranteed the presidency even after winning more than 270 Electoral College votes required to secure the presidential nominee. 

The New York Post outlined one possibility that a Trump-presidency could be derailed. According to the US Constitution, chosen electors of the Electoral College are the real people who vote for the president and often pick the candidate to whom they were bound by the popular vote. 

Depont Trump, one banner reads 
However, the paper revealed it is possible that some electors can chose a different candidate than they were bound to elect or abstain from casting the vote altogether. This, the paper claimed, is "the one scenario that could still get Hillary Clinton into the White House" on 19 December when electors will meet to cast their votes.

Observing all the drama through the lens of the media including the denial of a Trump presidency, there is a clear contrast in the way the Western media are reporting the US elections compared to how their coverage of elections in non-Western countries, say of countries in Africa.

Here is a common snippet of how the media could have reported the elections if the US were a country in Africa.

“Supporters of the incumbent, Mr. Barack Obama, whose party has lost to the opposition, are in the streets, protesting outcome of the results. Some are rioting, breaking shops even taking whatever they can lay their eyes on.

Much as the incumbent and his-would-be-successor, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, have conceded defeat, the smoke and smell of burning tires in the streets of 'New York' have a different message for the president-elect and soon to be the US ruling party.

So far, there are calls that the Electoral College, which will officially nominate the president on 19 December, should disregard the outcome by choosing Clinton whose endorsement came from both Republican and Democrats’ bigwigs. 

But how far can the protesters stay in the streets as cold nights of winter are fast approaching? We don't have an answer to that yet. Only time will tell us of their resilience.

Meanwhile, a majority of the mainstream media continue to demonise the president elect.  "The one scenario that could still get Hillary into the White House" reads the headline in the New York Post, detailing how a Trump victory could still be nullified despite President Obama setting on the ignition of transition of power which started with the meeting the two had on Thursday at the White House. 

'Not my president'
Over 2 million people have signed a petition backing the proposal outlined by the NY Post. The figure will sharply increase by the time the Electors meet in about 4 weeks time, a reminiscent of dissatisfied British citizens calling for a second #Brexit referendum because those backing the UK to leave the EU won the June referendum. So far, more than 80 MPs are plotting to stage a Parliamentary coup to stop Brexit. 

As for Trump in the US, it is therefore clear that should he survive the protest considering increasing calls for his assassination from several members of the opposition who talked to us strictly on condition of anonymity, he has a mountain to climb. As for the Democrats and those protesting, it is going to be a very long 4 year period...”

MwanaMwa's Take: So, the West and African countries are not different from each other after all. All our democracies are immature unless the dice spins in our favour. Personally, I cannot wait to see how everything pans out between now and 20 January as to who will be officially crowned the US president. Viva Democracy!