Monday, April 28, 2008

Click It

Everyone knows I’m an armchair radical but I can also be an armchair activist. Besides being involved with Getup, which focuses on lobbying the government on policy issues, I’ve also been tinkering with Avaaz. Now don’t panic, I’m not going to preach - just raise a little awareness. It's painless and costs nothing but a 'click'. My friend Absolute Vanilla in South Africa has a Zimbabwean housekeeper, her child and her parents are at the coal face. She doesn't know what's happening there because she's in SA trying to eek a living. Australia is embracing white Zimabwean farmers deposed by this vicious regime and the world stands by: is a new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want. I like the idea that global citizens can support and effect change via the internet. How successful this type of action might be, I can only guess.

Last week, a Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, carrying 77 tonnes of Zimbabwe-bound weapons and ammunition docked in Durban, South Africa--but, refusing to aid Mugabe's crackdown, the dockworkers would not unload it. Unions, churches, and legal groups throughout Southern Africa quickly mobilized; the ship was forced to leave the harbour, and other ports in the region are vowing to block the weapons as well.

Even as the Zimbabwe crisis worsens, an extraordinary solidarity movement has taken hold across Southern Africa. As ports refuse to unload it’s deadly cargo. Now, as pressure builds, China is publicly wavering--and might decide to bring the arms home.

Three weeks has passed since general elections in Zimbabwe. Official results have still not been released. Fear of reprisals by the opposing parties have led to reports of a "human wave" of refugees fleeing to South Africa and other neighbouring countries. Mogabe continues to tell the world that this is a racial conflict and that this is at the root of the problem, my friend tells me otherwise: "The irony of the Zimbabwean genocide is that although he's (Mogabe) tried to make it racially motivated - trying to pit the Shona against the Ndebele - there is in fact no tribal division between the two peoples."

As the grassroots outcry has grown, political officials have begun to press their case. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa urged other African leaders not to allow the weapons to reach Zimbabwe. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former UNSG Kofi Annan have called for democracy. And more and more other leaders in Africa and worldwide are joining in. The Chinese arms ship is now sailing up the Western coast of Africa looking for somewhere to unload. It’s a good time for a strong global outcry with China in the news in relation to the Olympics and keen to promote it’s friendly image.

The crisis in Zimbabwe has many layers, and raises issues that range from the legacy of colonialism to the uncontrolled international arms trade. I won’t even attempt to understand them all, just suffice to say the country has gone down the toilet and the human cost is enormous. The people of Zimbabwe took their stand in the voting booth. The dockworkers of South Africa took their stand at the harbour. Now, even if we can only offer a click, it is time to do our part as well.

There is more sobering information here but it is not for the feinthearted!

Oh and a more local cause for the week: Getup are asking everyone to purchase this for $1.69 . . In the spirit of our recent apology, proceeds will go to the Getup Reconciliation Fund which will assist the following charity organisations:

  • Link Up - assisting Indigenous people who have been fostered, adopted or raised in institutions to find their way home.
  • Mums and Bubs Program in Townsville (Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service QLD)
  • Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).

Here’s the song:

Get up are hoping to history, and take their message of hope to an audience of millions by encouraging Australians to buy the song for a mere $1.67 and push it up the charts, thereby fostering awareness. Ok granted it's a pretty woeful song song but it's heart's in the right place!


Thriftcriminal said...

Yep, I've been involved in Avaaz since the get go. I'm not quite sure how though, I think I supported the refusenik students in Israel and thence got onto the Avaaz mailing list when it was set up. Another good left source of info is

Nick said...

It's good that so many people are refusing to allow the arms to be unloaded and sent to Zimbabwe. Ordinary folks seem to be taking more practical action than other African leaders who're sitting on their hands and letting Mugabe do what he wants.

ian said...

Ordinary people can make a difference.

In Ireland in 1984 a 21 year old checkout operator refused to check out South African fruit - it led to a strike and a huge surge of support for the ant-apartheid movement.

Babysis said...

MMMmmm those nasty Chinese! Guess another answer for Australian's is dont buy chinese products. Buy Australian....I know its hard to do these days as everything seems to be made in china. But I'm trying.

I'm not much of a protestor, unfortunately, I'm one of those passives that lets everyone else do the hard work.

I'm not proud of it, but am starting to take a stand in my own little way. We try not to buy things "Made in China" - We dont support the olympic games being held in China. I am a huge fan of the olympics, but wont be watching this year. I know its miniscule, but its a start.

And Africa - oh my god where do you start? Hopefully the elections will see the end to Mugabe - but remember, when he first started he was a freedom fighter - just became greedy somewhere down the line!

Anonymous said...

I'm back Baino and finding this post heavy because brain still in holiday mode (more than usual). I like the notion of closing "the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want." That song IS woeful, why the American accents? Like the visuals though ;)

Baino said...

Thanks folks. Like I said, I didn't want to be preachy here but these are two lobby groups that I feel I can support without being a raving flag-waving lunatic. The Mogabe issue was really brought home to me through a sincere email from a friend of a friend encouraging me to pass it on to all I knew but her request that it be circulated concerned me that it might just become another 'chain' letter so I signed the petition and bought a song instead.

I guess it's more about awareness and letting people know that there are avenues for protest beyond rent a crowd and if there are over 5 million people talking on Skype at any one minute, surely it isn't that hard to get 5 million signatures on a protest petition.

Damn this soap box is getting a bit rickety!

Thanks Thrifty and Ian for the links to the other organisations.

Nick: African leadership is far too tenuous in their own countries to be bothering with interference in another's. The superpowers don't want to know so who is left? The ordinary people, the Church missionaries, Habitat for Humanity, The UN and various NGO's. They need all the help we can afford them.

Ian, same here, fruit and even fish is now labelled as to it's origin to help buyers make better purchasing decisions. I like to believe in the power of one . . .from little acorns and all that.

Babysis, you keep up the fight. I must admit, my financial condition means I go for cheap rather than Aussie but I try. I'm not sure about the Olympics, I'm not a fan of it at the best of times and the reporting is so biased we never get to see anyone else win or compete. . .I blame organising committees for allowing these events in highly contentious countries. The money spent on the opening ceremony alone would admonish an entire African country's debt! Its obscene.

Anony: Sorry to bring you down after your drizzlefest, you soggy bird . . . We all need a cause . . you have your wildlife, I have my petitions. Can't be funny all the time! I'll chirp up tonight.

Funny, whenever I post something serious, I get the 'usual suspects' and the conspicuous absences! mmmm . ..

Brian Damage said...

Isn't it odd that when you try to make a stand by writing a decent post on something topical, like for example, Mugabe clutching onto power, it actually draws less comments than one on, say, a film you watched last night?

While I don't agree with Mugabe and his policies (though to be fair some are exactly what the whites did only inverted) I think it'll be interesting to see how he manages to hold onto power this time.

'That election didn't count! See, it was National Love Mugabe Day!'

Baino said...

Briand: there is hope for you yet!

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Thanks for posting this, Baino. Angela came to work today with no clue where her daughter or parents are. The child did not turn up for school yesterday, the phone is not being answered. They are in rural Zim where much of Mugabe's killing takes place.
The Chinese ship has now docked in Angola - purportedly it may only offload supplies for Angola but not the ammunition - but who knows where a palm may be greased.

The recount reveals Mugabe has definitely lost, but will his generals keep him in power despite the fact that the MDC and it's partners have control of parliament. Who's to know, if Mugabe won't relinquish power, if he won't have Morgan Tsangarai killed. As Angela says, it's the kind of thing he'd do.

Perhaps the best hope lies in a military coup from those ranks in the army below the well-padded generals who live the high life and whose wives go shopping in Paris - as does Mrs Mugabe, who is said to go to gay Paree once a week. Rumour also has it that she is Thabo Mbeki's cousin - which explains a lot...

Caoimhin said...

That's a great idea Baino! Thanks for the headsup and the link! :)

Baino said...

AV: Small gesture I know but I feel like I can contribute even if it's just a name on a petition

Caiohmin: G'day . . your welcome. Click it and sign it! Every little bit helps.