Archive for the ‘Fanaparam-pahefana’ Category

Shocked …. the Malagasy were left on 25 January following the inaugurals.

The new president Hery Rajaonarimapianina was welcomed by a scandal. One that claimed the life of an innocent two years old and injured 37 other from a grenade explosion at a bus stop. It was reportedly initiated by a white man in a 4×4 or on foot. The facts are unclear. It happened 200 yards from the swearing in ceremony. Immediately following the blast it was still too early and too sensitive to jump into conclusion. However, with a few days to gain some perspective it is time to question, set the facts straight and investigate.

The innocent victims were rushed to the emergency.
Flowers were left in remembrance. Buzzes were launched in social media such as facebook and twitter. Eager to find out more, we have been closely monitoring the media. Surprisingly the news did not make the headlines the next day. Information are trickling down but nothing sufficiently clear to draw any conclusion. Needless to say such crime cannot be left unpunished. As it stand a serious investigation should be carried out. In fact it is an opportunity for the new government to demonstrate its commitment to end impunity. The media is already using powerful terms such as « Terrorism. » Isn’t that too extreme without clear investigation? Terrorism is defined as « the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. » Thus a political element must be proven. If it is politically related, one can only wonder what the verdict would be.

The press reported a 4×4 driven by military personnel visiting Antanimora, the capital’s prison, to free theirs friends. When asked whether they had a decision issued by the tribunal that would allow their action, they were unable to produce one. The situation was so confusing that following an emergency meeting chaired by the leaders in the military a number of military personnel and civilians were thrown back into prison. They were freed again later during the week. Apparently they negotiated between themselves so as to avoid any escalation of violence. Between the uncertainty of the investigation, the shock of the loss of a two year old’s life, the too many victims fighting for survival, the tragedy and the story continues to unfold with pieces of information in the media.

Whether politically motivated or other these victims deserve more than just flowers. The population need to be reassured that their newly elected President is truly committed to ending impunity for such crimes. Ceasing political episode which was led by savages abusing power and authority. Time ! It is time for real change. Where art thou Mr President ? Rendering justice to innocents is your first test.

Michaella

Image

Photo source: AFP

I am the winner 

Madagascar’s historically awaited 20th of december election day took place in a calm atmosphere. It was the day of the run off between the two candidates, Hery Rajaonarimampianina and Jean Louis Robinson. They are backed by the two titans of Malagasy politics President Andry Rajoelina and ousted former President Marc Ravalomanana.

There were reports of violence in the South, namely in Ikalamavony, Betroka and Midongy Atsimo. Dahalo, bandits, threatened a member of the CENIT and destroyed ballot boxes. Apart from a few incidents of violence the rest of the island was peaceful. The streets of the capital was deserted as citizens walked to their election point to cast their votes. In the evening, both candidates celebrated early victory when the first results were announced.

The suicidal debate

The last day of campaigning was concluded by a heated debate between the two candidates. At the time, Robinson was ahead by a few percentage not much but still ahead. Sadly, for Robinson he was attacked by a question leading him to reveal that he is a Free Mason. Thus committing political suicide. The majority of Malagasy have an unforgiving policy toward Freemasonry. The end of the debate left many focused on that one and only slip up, especially since Robinson benefited from a strong christian support. Many share the view that it was a setup. A fact we cannot confirm but only suspect.

The day following the elections were still peaceful, though presence of police and gendarme noticeably increased. International observers report a transparent elections yet rumors of pre-ticked ballots for the candidate Hery Rajaonarimanpianina worry many voters.

 In the name of transparency

 At present the real results of the presidential run-off remain unknown. Those of the legislatives are slowly revealed. The atmosphere remain calm but somewhat tense. Four days following the elections, Robinson, the candidate backed up by ousted former President Ravalomanana complained of election fraud. According to him and his political party they have won approximately 60%. A result he claims he can prove. He warned against illegal acts perpetrated by incumbent President Andry Rajoelina to influence the polls. He announced that they are manipulating the choice of the Malagasy people.

 The Independent National Electoral Commission of the Transition, CENIT, which is an independent electoral body funded by the United Nations supervised the 20 115 polling stations in the country. The Southern African Development Community, SADC deployed 256 observers dispatched in 22 regions of Madagascar. The EU Election Observation Mission, UE-EOM deployed 42 long-term observers and sent teams composed of their observers and national observers covering several regions including remote areas of the country.

 CENIT is in it

Robinson denounces that the CENIT is involved in the fraud and that he has proof of his victory. He threatens criminal prosecution of those who perpetrated the fraud. He requests the resignation of Beatrice Attalah head of the CENIT. In the alternative that she be assisted by a “co-head”. As for the rest of Robinson’s political party, they refuse to be inactive. Their headquarter continued to receive minutes of the results. On the 24th they reported 57,37 % to Robinson and 42,65% to Rajaonarimampianina. That been said the official results will be that communicated and counted by the CENIT to be validated by Madagascar’s Electoral Court, CES.

 The battle of the numbers continues. Once again the population feels manipulated by their own leaders. The elections were meant to be an exit, an end of political crisis not the spark of another one. Where are we heading if our next President comes to power through a malicious process?

In the hope that the choice of the people will be respected, that there were no such massive electoral fraud. The people voted, let their voices be seen through the true results. In spite of these rumours and worries; knowing the Malagasy population, christmas is a day of celebration and fihavanana.

 Merry Christmas and not Crisemafy Malagasy brothers and sisters ! 

 Michaella

Don’t hold on to the climate

The recent political turmoil and manipulation experienced in Madagascar led many of the ever so opinionated Malagasy to fear reprisal if they were to take on the streets and protest. Here is a valued aspect of advocacy and activism – there are many alternatives. One of which is slacktivism.

It has been repeatedly said around tables at home, in cafés and restaurants that “something” must be done for one cause or another. Poverty? Injustice? Political manipulation? Involvement of the international community in our politics?

Indeed, in the midst of this political unpredictability we must be careful not to contribute to the confusion. Yet, standing aside and leaving causes worth fighting for be reported to a later time is not an option. At a time when the majority of the population is attentive to Madagascar’s well being one must act, that time is now ! Manifest into actions those never ending criticisms. Enough heard already. Do something!

The-rise-of-the-Slacktivist


What is slacktivism?

Slacker ? Activist? Well guess what you can be both and still make an impact. If you don’t want to take the streets for whatever reason then be a slacktivist, it is ok !

Slacker and activism are the two little words to brand a new age “feel-good” measure of making an impact in your world. Slacktivism has become somewhat of a buzzword when it comes to demeaning the electronic versions of participation, may it be political of otherwise. Slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, joining a community organization, copying and pasting of social network statuses or messages.

You are not a lonely bowler

Skeptics have raised valuable arguments opposing this approach to advocacy. Namely the view that internet activities are ineffective, or that they lessen real life political participation or other forms of civic engagement. Robert Putnam, a political scientist and Harvard professor has argued that citizens are becoming “lonely bowlers” who no longer interact socially. As a result they are no longer willing to take part in political matters. May be so, but the beauty of the social dynamics of Madagascar renders it an ideal breeding ground for a mixture of both.

 The willingness is there, unfortunately so is the fear, the hesitation. Those who are well ingrained in their causes willing to lead should go ahead and do so. Giving others the opportunity to follow and support. Malagasy, we think we are lonely bowlers but give us an opportunity to gather and we will. This is when slacktivism comes into play. There are already some precedence: “liking” an NGO’s status, signing petitions to strengthen conservation projects, paypal donations to so and so charities. Let take it a step further !

Tools you need for your slacktivism

Social media and new technology are your essential tools. These are extremely versatile and adaptable means for civic engagement in the 21st century. They can be used for any purpose: to seem “cool”, to develop a business and lately for social change. Hence, it can be used to destroy or build depending on the purpose of its user.

Make sure your message is well researched, informative and tailored to your audience. That been said, I can already hear the typical excuse: “not all Malagasy have access to the internet”. Guess what? There are always alternatives: your mobile phones. Ilay foza-oran’e !

 In 2009, there were 4 835 000 mobile phone users hence 25 % of the Malagasy population. In fact, this number doubled in 2011 to 43% hence 8 665 000. Seen as at least 20% of us are literate, logically if you can read you are most likely to own a mobile phone.

 Social media is also on the rise. The facebook, twitter, instagram and you-tube fever continues. If you have not heard about one of these you may have lived in a cave for the past decade. The Malagasy’s limitless curiosity will only strengthen our internet presence. These are the tools you need for your slacktivism. Bear in mind the importance of being well informed so as to reinforce your impact.

58_Slacktivism_300x217

 Civic engagement through slacktivism, why not?

Noticing, an increasing number of groups using new technology and social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective actions in Madagascar is a breath of fresh air. We must continue opening up to the World. Continue informing our distant neighbors about Madagascar. Please let us talk about other topics and not just “the unique fauna and flora”. How cliché ! It is not the only cause that needs collective participation. How about: Political crisis? Democracy? Transparency? Upcoming elections? Or even our colonial history? And finally ! the ever growing consciousness and reactions on the manipulation of the “international community”.

We cannot all be chiefs

If we are so fearful to taken on the streets, then let’s be slackers. Instead share powerful messages, petitions or join organizations that stand up for our principles. See ! we cannot all be leaders. It is just the way it is. There will always be some chiefs and more indians.

If we were all intending to be chiefs of within a household, at church or for a social change organization, nothing will be achieved. Chiefs, elaborate that researched and targeted cause and spread it. Followers, show your support in a concerted effort.

We can criticize and moan all we want on national radio and we should, but let us aim for an even larger impact: the international community itself. The citizens of those countries who only view Malagasy as confused, powerless, manipulated population. Show them how mistaken they have been. I have never experienced such an opinionated and passionate population! We know it, but do others know?

 Andao ary i-slacktivist e!

Activism has taken on a new route and we, Malagasy cannot and should not fall behind, use it to our advantage. Let us be opportunistic. I have witnessed first hand the firing dedication inside us when it comes to our own politics. A spoken desire for change but also an apparent hesitation.

Well, social media and new technology is there as your companion. It can shield you from the prejudice of others and that “gaz lacrimogène” you so fear of. No one is judging you so long as you do something within your capacity.

 So fellow Malagasy once again here is a call to use the digital tool of today to shape your future. For those with an internet presence, use it ! Reach beyond borders and please enough talks about that one endemic flower. It is time to explain clearly, share information abroad so as to strengthen your initiative for change on the Malagasy territory.

Remember we can be supporters, faces and ambassadors to shape Madagascar’s new future as slacktivists.

The motto is : samy mitondra ny anjara birikiny e !

 

Reporting from London

Michaella 




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