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Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe: What has changed?



Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe: What has changed?

An atmosphere of fear still reigns in Zimbabwe, five years after the overthrow of the ruler Robert Mugabe. As the country celebrates this milestone, few are willing to speak openly about whether the government that came to power has delivered on its promise of change, whether it be improving living standards or guaranteeing human rights.

“I mind my own business,” one of the street vendors, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC. “People who speak their minds, some go to jail. So I keep it all to myself and do what I have to do to survive.”

In this sense, little has changed since the departure of President Mugabe. Many ordinary people and critics still face arrest for insulting the president, human rights lawyers say.

Tendai (not his real name) sells groceries straight from the trunk of a car: neatly stacked washing powder, deodorant, snacks and cooking oil. Despite being a college graduate and double majoring in marketing and human resources, he says that working as a traveling salesman is the only way he can make a living because there are no jobs available.

“Since Robert Mugabe left, everything has been the same or worse. But while it may seem far-fetched, I still have hope for the future,” he adds.

Current inflation is 268%, many times higher than when Mugabe left office, according to Zimbabwe’s national statistics office. Meanwhile, the proportion of Zimbabweans living in extreme poverty has nearly doubled from 30% in 2017 to 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank notes.

This drove more people to despair.

Harare is teeming with informal traders, including more and more middle-class people selling goods from their cars. A woman sells fresh meat in plastic containers out of her truck to customers who come on foot or by car to buy fewer and fewer servings of meat. Some pay as little as $0.50 (£0.42) at a time.

“Personally, I was not one of those who was happy when Mugabe left. People didn’t know they were celebrating an impending disaster,” a meat vendor tells the BBC.

“They thought that after he left they would have bread with margarine and jam, eggs and milk, but this did not happen.”

praise and promises
The streets of Harare erupted as people celebrated Mugabe’s resignation on November 21, 2017. A week earlier, tanks swarmed the streets of the capital as the military seized a public broadcaster and placed the 93-year-old president under arrest. domiciliary.

Mugabe’s former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has become a hero against the enforcer. He promised to end toxic and polarizing domestic politics, turn around the economy and repair broken relations with Western nations.

However, skeptics have noted that he worked closely with Mugabe for years and has been accused of being instrumental in some of the worst atrocities of the Mugabe era, and wondered if he was really the person who made the change. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party remained in power.

“I came into government because I loved my country, not the coup,” award-winning writer and lawyer Petina Gappa said during an online discussion organized by the SAPES Trust think tank to review the post-coup era.

She was hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an adviser for the resumption of international activities, but she only worked there for 18 months. She says that she left with sadness, not with anger and disappointment, not with bitterness.

“Some leaders called it a miracle, we had a feeling something new was coming, unfortunately it didn’t happen,” he said.

A visit last week by a Commonwealth delegation considering Zimbabwe’s readmission suggests there has been a positive development since President Mugabe left. Previously, such a visit would have been unthinkable.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the organization in 2003, blaming what it called “an ungodly Anglo-Saxon alliance against Zimbabwe.” A year earlier, Zimbabwe was suspended for human rights abuses, including the forcible seizure of white-owned farms and the persecution of members of the opposition.

Analysts told Gappah that Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth will be a symbolic victory for President Mnangagwa’s government, a sign that its land dispute with Britain is over.

The main opposition party, the Civic Coalition for Change (CCC), wants Zimbabwe to set preconditions before it can rejoin, citing ongoing harassment from its members, journalists and other critics of the government.

In a week of Commonwealth visits, 15 CCC members, including MP Godfrey Sithole, were finally released on bail after spending five months in prison for allegedly inciting public violence during clashes with government supporters in Nyatsima, south of Harare, who say they are politicians. motivated Job Sikhala, another MP, remains behind bars on the same charges.

While a Commonwealth delegation led by Deputy Secretary-General Luis Franceschi said Zimbabwe has made “very impressive progress” in meeting the conditions, member countries will need to consider whether economic, human rights and electoral reforms are enough. for readmissions.

At this time, the Zimbabwean government remains hopeful. “We have done everything we can to readmit – there are countries in the Commonwealth comparable to us,” says Zanu-PF spokesman Nick Mangwana.

Sensitive to big companies
However, some companies say there has been a positive change. GDP rose from $17.5bn (£14.8bn) in 2017 to $20.2bn last year.

“This government is more sensitive to business needs. They could have done more, but you can’t compare it to the previous government,” says Kurai Matsheza, chairman of the industry lobby at the Zimbabwe Confederation of Industry.

He says there are fewer businesses closing than during the Mugabe era, adding that “the policy is changing, price controls are no longer at the level they used to be.”

The government has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, mainly in mining. Platinum giant Zimplats will invest $1.8 billion over the next 10 years after negotiations with the government. Meanwhile, the Chinese mining company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt will invest 300 million dollars in its lithium mine.

The steel project, stalled under Mugabe, has been revived. The horticultural industry, which collapsed, is now back thanks to investment in irrigation. Wheat production reached a 17-year high. Roads and dams are being repaired and built.

However, this is still not creating enough jobs to stop young Zimbabweans from going to great lengths to move elsewhere to earn a living.

So what is the government doing about it?

“Now 50% of the revenue goes to capital investment: to improve life, you need to improve outcomes, so the government had to introduce means of implementation, i.e. infrastructure,” says government spokesperson , Mr. Mangwana.

“The World Bank reports that the country has achieved middle-income country status, which means that incomes have improved. We haven’t reached our destination yet, what we have is work,” he adds.

But Ranga Mbury, editor of the business news website Newzwire, says more is needed. “While it’s good to talk about growth and investment in the mining industry, it’s what’s on the table and in people’s pockets that’s important.”

“Inflation is a big issue that people will judge [Mnangagwa] on,” she adds.

“The proof is that everything must be transferred to full stomachs. And this is a big test for Mr. Mnangagwa in 2023.”

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Xi on historic Saudi Arabia visit focussed on energy ties




Xi on historic Saudi Arabia visit focussed on energy ties

Xi on historic Saudi Arabia visit focussed on energy ties Chinese President Xi Jinping lands in Saudi Arabia for historic visitRIYADH/WASHINGTON: Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a historic visit that is likely to focus on energy ties but also follows months of tensions with the United States.

Xi, recently reanointed as leader of the world’s second biggest economy, arrived in the capital Riyadh, Chinese and Saudi state media said, for a three-day visit that will include talks with the Saudi rulers and other Arab leaders.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar were among those who welcomed Xi at the airport, where a ceremonial purple carpet was laid out from the steps of the plane.

On major roads in Riyadh, the red-and-gold Chinese flag alternated with the green Saudi emblem. China is the top customer for oil from Saudi Arabia, the leading exporter of crude, and both sides appear keen to expand their relationship at a time of economic turmoil and geopolitical realignment.

The trip — only Xi’s third overseas journey since the coronavirus pandemic began, and his first to Saudi Arabia since 2016 — comes after US President Joe Biden’s visit in July, when he pleaded in vain for higher oil production.

It will feature bilateral meetings with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as well as a summit with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and a wider China-Arab summit.

The programme represents the “largest-scale diplomatic activity between China and the Arab world since the founding of the PRC”, or People’s Republic of China, foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Wednesday.

The official Saudi Press Agency said the kingdom accounted for more than 20 percent of Chinese investment in the Arab world between 2005 and 2020, “making it the biggest Arab country to receive Chinese investments during that period”. Oil markets are expected to be a top agenda item for talks between China and Saudi Arabia, especially given the turbulence the markets have experienced since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The G7 and European Union on Friday agreed to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil in an attempt to deny the Kremlin war resources, injecting further uncertainty into the markets.

On Sunday, the OPEC+ oil cartel led jointly by Saudi Arabia and Russia opted to keep in place production cuts of two million barrels per day approved in October.

Saudi and Chinese officials have provided scant information about the agenda, though Ali Shihabi, a Saudi analyst close to the government, said he expected “a number of agreements to be signed”. Beyond energy, analysts say leaders from the two countries will likely discuss potential deals that could see Chinese firms become more deeply involved in mega-projects that are central to Prince Mohammed’s vision of diversifying the Saudi economy away from oil.

They include a futuristic $500 billion megacity known as NEOM, a so-called cognitive city that will depend heavily on facial recognition and surveillance technology.

The OPEC+ production cuts approved in October represented the latest blow to the longtime partnership between Saudi Arabia and the United States, which said they amounted to “aligning with Russia” on the war in Ukraine.

Xi’s visit is expected to be closely watched in Washington, which entered into what is often described as an oil-for-security partnership with Saudi Arabia towards the end of World War II.

While the Biden administration has smarted over the production cuts, Riyadh has at times accused the United States of failing to hold up the security end of the bargain, notably after strikes in September 2019 claimed by Yemen´s Huthi rebels temporarily halved the kingdom´s crude output.

China and Saudi Arabia already work together on arms sales and production. Yet analysts say Beijing cannot provide the same security assurances Washington does — nor does it wish to.

Nevertheless, if the Saudis are “looking to extract more security guarantees from the US — signalling that they have the opportunity of strengthening ties with China is something that suits them well,” said Torbjorn Soltvedt, of the risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft.

The GCC-China summit will be held in Riyadh on Friday, the bloc said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday responded to the visit of President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia by warning that China´s attempt to spread influence worldwide is “not conducive” to international order.

Asked about the Xi visit, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Saudi Arabia remains a crucial US ally, but he issued a warning over China.

“We are mindful of the influence that China is trying to grow around the world. The Middle East is certainly one of those regions where they want to deepen their level of influence,” he said. “We believe that many of the things they’re trying to pursue and the manner in which they’re trying to pursue it are not conducive to preserving the international rules-based order.” President Joe Biden has made what he identifies as a global competition between democracies and autocracies a central theme of his presidency. “We are not asking nations to choose between the United States and China, but as the president has said many times we believe that in this strategic competition the United States is certainly well poised to lead,” Kirby said.

Washington has close commercial, diplomatic and military relations with Saudi Arabia. Ties were badly strained by the 2018 murder, blamed by the United States on Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman, of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident. New tensions erupted over a decision by the Saudi-led OPEC+ cartel to cut production in a bid to raise oil prices — a move seen by the Biden administration as potentially harming his Democratic party in this November’s midterm legislative elections. Kirby said Saudi Arabia had been a strategic US partner for some 80 years but noted that Biden has ordered a review of the ties.

“Yes in the wake of the OPEC+ decision a couple months ago we are reviewing that bilateral relationship and make sure that it best suits American national security interests. That work’s ongoing,” Kirby said.


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Jeff Blackburn Retires as Head of Amazon’s Global Entertainment Group




Jeff Blackburn Retires as Head of Amazon’s Global Entertainment Group

Jeff Blackburn Retires as Head of Amazon’s Global EntertainmentGroup The executive, who has been with the company for 20 years, will return from a one-year hiatus in May 2021.

The head of Amazon’s global entertainment group will leave the company in January after more than 20 years at the retail giant and streaming platform. The move was announced Friday via an internal memo from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and Blackburn himself.

The news comes after Blackburn returned from a sabbatical and returned to his new role as head of the company’s global entertainment group, which includes overall supervision of the company’s music, audio entertainment, gaming and video. company. half.

Blackburn’s decision to leave came after a busy week at Amazon. This week, the e-commerce giant fully integrated MGM into its management team after it acquired the famed studio for $8.5 billion in May. Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, will oversee MGM’s film and television division; SVP Mike Hopkins acquires Epix and unscripted content for Premium Cable Networks (via MGM’s Chris Brearton). With Blackburn’s retirement, Hopkins will report directly to Jussie. Salke, who won MGM’s film director’s award, reports to Hopkins.

Prior to her sabbatical, Blackburn acted as a key intermediary between Amazon headquarters, Amazon Studios, and director Jennifer Salke. Amazon Prime was competing with Netflix and the new Hollywood studios in the increasingly competitive streaming space.

With Blackburn’s retirement, Hopkins will continue to lead Prime Video, Amazon Studios and MGM, reporting directly to the CEO, Jassy said. Steve Boom adds Audible, Twitch, and Games, along with Amazon’s music team and podcasts, and also reports to Jassy.

Below are notes from Jassy and Blackburn.

We would like to share the news that Jeff Blackburn has decided to leave Amazon.

Jeff joined Amazon in 1998 after helping lead the company through its initial public offering at Deutsche Bank. Over the course of more than 20 years, he has helped build 3P marketplaces, advertising, Amazon Studios / Prime Video and music businesses, leading the A9 / Search and CorpDev & BusDev organizations and much more.

As you know, Jeff returned to Amazon last May to lead the media and entertainment business (Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, Twitch). Over the last year and a half, he has set us up for continued success in media and entertainment. To name a few hits, in its first season, Rings of Power broke all previous Prime Video records and had the most viewers. It also attracted more Prime Video subscriptions worldwide during its launch than any other content to date. The first season of Thursday Night Football on Prime has better overall viewership than last year’s linear TV results for TNF. This includes the key 18-34 demographic, where viewership was up 20% over last season. We recently completed and integrated our acquisition of MGM. Without Jeff, Amazon would not be the same company. I would like to thank him for his important contributions to the success of the company, past and future.

Use this time to make some leadership changes. Mike Hopkins, who runs Prime Video, Amazon Studios and MGM, will continue to lead these teams and will report to me. Steve Boom, who led the music and podcast teams, will also oversee Audible, Twitch and the gaming business, and will report to me. Both Mike and Steve are excellent, experienced leaders and I look forward to continuing to work with them (and their team).

This transition will take effect on January 1, but Jeff will remain with Amazon until early 2023 to ensure a smooth transition.

Feel free to share the news with your team if you’d like.


Team, today’s news:

I will be leaving Amazon in January after working closely with them for more than 25 years since going public in 1997. The last 18 months have been exciting. Together with GME, we have launched the biggest and most daring project in sports and entertainment history. However, I have decided to spend 2023 differently, give more time to my family and feel strongly that this is the right decision for me. Andy and I are working on a migration plan and will share those details soon.

The opportunities for Amazon in media, entertainment and sports have never been greater. I think it’s going to be an exciting time for all of you. As a fan, mentor, and ambassador for Amazon’s creative business, know that I’ll always be there for you. We are so grateful for all the close friendships we have had over the last 25 years and all the teams, studios, streaming services and businesses we have been able to build together.

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Global Democracy Weakens in 2022




Global Democracy Weakens in 2022

Half of the world’s democratic governments are in decline while authoritarian regimes deepen their repression.

Half of the world’s democratic governments are in decline while authoritarian regimes deepen their repression.

This press release is available in English.

French, French, Portuguese

A new report from the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Elections finds that half of the world’s democratic governments are in decline due to issues ranging from restrictions on free speech to mistrust in electoral legitimacy. . Support (international ideas). The decline comes as elected leaders face unprecedented challenges including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis, the looming global recession and climate change.

The number of backward countries with the most serious democratic breakdowns has peaked, including the well-established democracy of the United States, leading to political polarization, institutional dysfunction, and civil liberties. Globally, the number of countries moving towards authoritarianism is more than double the number of countries moving towards democracy.

Even countries that achieve moderate to high democratic standards have worrying patterns. Over the past five years, progress on the Global State of Democracy Index (GSoD Index) has stalled. In many cases, democratic performance has not improved since 1990.

The decline of global democracy includes undermining credible election results, restrictions on online freedoms and rights, youth disenchantment with political parties and contactless leaders, rampant corruption, and far-right political polarization, including the rise of the political parties.

GSoD indicators show that authoritarian regimes are deepening their repression, making 2021 the worst year on record. Today, more than two thirds of the world’s population lives in democratic retirement or in authoritarian and mixed regimes. Still, there are signs of progress. People are coming together in innovative ways to renegotiate the terms of the social contract and pressure governments to meet the demands of the 21st century, from the creation of community day care centers in Asia to reproductive freedom in Latin America. From protesting climate change to indigenous rights, people are successfully organizing outside of traditional party structures, especially among the youth. A new constitution and law are meant to raise the voices of marginalized groups, as young protesters risk their lives on the streets of Iran demanding basic freedoms.

These are the key findings of the “Global Democracy Weakens in 2022 : Forging Social Contracts in Times of Unrest”, published by International IDEA.

The global report will be launched at a global livestream event on November 30, 16:00-18:00 CET. This includes an opening message from Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships. Delia Ferreira, President of Transparency International. and Michael O’Flaherty, President of the European Office for Fundamental Rights.

“The world is facing many crises, from the cost of living to the risk of nuclear confrontation and an accelerating climate crisis. At the same time, we are seeing global Democracy Weakens in 2022

fade away. It’s a toxic mix,” said Kevin Casas Zamora , Executive Director of International IDEA. . “Never before have democratic nations needed to respond with such urgency and show their citizens that they can build new and innovative social contracts that unite people rather than divide them.”

Other important findings:

By the end of 2021, half of the 173 countries assessed by International IDEA are declining in at least one democracy sub-attribute.
In Europe, almost half of all democracies (17 in total) have eroded in the last five years. This decline affects 46% of successful democracies.
Authoritarianism is on the rise. Nearly half of all authoritarian regimes are getting worse. Significant declines were observed in Afghanistan, Belarus, Cambodia, Comoros, and Nicaragua.
Democracy does not seem to evolve in a way that reflects rapidly changing needs and priorities. Even moderate to high level democracies show little improvement.
In conclusion, the report presents a series of steps to strengthen global democratic renewal by embracing a more equitable and sustainable social contract, reforming existing political institutions, and strengthening defenses against democratic regression and authoritarian political action.


international ideas

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization of 34 member states whose sole mission is to support and promote democracy worldwide. International IDEA contributes to the public debate on democracy, focusing on the electoral process, the constitution, democratic evaluation, political participation and representation, and on the processes, reforms, institutions and relationships that build, promote and protect democracy. Gender and inclusion, conflict sensitivity and sustainable development are central to all of our work.

International IDEA is one of the most trusted global sources of data and analysis on the health of democracies around the world.

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