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When operation Mavhotera Papi? finds its way into US!

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We are five days from the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

Opinion by Tapiwa Gomo

The campaign takes places every year in what looks like the most heavily-campaign-congested period.

It starts from November 25 with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to 10 December with International Human Rights Day, but the period also includes Universal Children’s Day and World Aids Day.

This is not what I intend to write about this week, but a friend of mine and a Newsday reader, Roy Rego is of the view that a lot of work still needs to be done in this area.

He challenged the media to write more about gender violence even after I reminded him that a lot of work has already been done by the media and civil society in Zimbabwe.

Rego thinks the way campaigns on gender violence have been conducted over the years is problematic, where it is portrayed as if violence against men by men or women is not at par with violation of women by men. While this is an interesting idea, I will leave it for others to pursue as I finish the American election business.

We are into the second week after United States elections and those two weeks have been full of capitalist anger about President Barak Obama’s re-election. I wrote a lot much about the self destructive palpitative behaviour of the American capitalists after the US voters made their choice.

I don’t deny that I am an ardent follower, but not an admirer, of American politics for a number of reasons one of which is that their policies tend to find their way into our own policies.

Their democracy represents an ideal democracy. Sometimes when they sneeze, the world catches a cold.

When their Wall Street goes to the dogs, the entire world falls prey. During the campaign, debates, including elections, most people stayed over the night just to watch the proceedings. Hate them or like them, they are somewhat trendsetters.

Of course while watching the American election proceedings, you cannot resist the tempting urge to draw comparisons with our own systems, or sometimes wish we could do the same.

In fact, it makes our own electoral system look like mockery of the real thing, but it is real. It creates office bearers and lawmakers despite its shambolic nature.

However, despite what seems to be the best organised and efficient electoral system, it is almost impossible to imagine cases of vote buying, manipulation, or election violence.

It all looks smooth if you decide not to look at Florida. But wait a minute.

There have been disturbing reports or rather interestingly rare cases – cases that resonate with our context.

While there may be few or not get the same media coverage as ours here, but there are there. I am talking about cases where workers are reported to have been victimised by their employers for voting for Obama. The first case involves a Las Vegas businessman who fired his worker for supposedly voting for Obama.

He told a local radio station that elections have consequences and that “I’ve done my share of educating my employees” about who to vote for. Yes, he told them who to vote for or lose their jobs.

He went on to explain that “if Obama gets in office, that the regulations for Obamacare are gonna hurt our business, and I explained that to them and I said you do what you feel like in your heart you need to do, but I’m just letting you know as a warning these are things that I have to think of as a business owner”.

Another coal company whose owner is linked to the Mitt Romney camp is reported to have laid off 102 workers in the wake of election day.

These dismissals were believed to be effective immediately.
The coal company used Romney’s campaign line that Obama was waging a war on coal and therefore, in voting Obama, the worker had to be taught some “few lessons about how capitalism works”.

Of course, the “Obama war on coal”, has so far remained a campaign platitude with little or no substance. The coal industry hit a 15-time high last November during Obama’s time than any other President in recent times.

Perhaps, to demonstrate why these developments have affinities with our context, which has attracted US sanctions over the years, the same chief executive officer who laid off workers, is believed to have dragged his staff to attend and donate towards a Romney campaign.

These are just few of the many cases of companies that threatened their workers with dismissal if they vote for Obama.

In case you are wondering why I am writing this, let me refresh your memory a bit. After the controversial 2008 elections in Zimbabwe, the international community condemned what was believed to be an organised violence campaign against those who had voted for the then opposition.

lTapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa

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