By Paul Ndiho,
On a South African airliner, much like this one, Shaka and I left from Dulles international airport outside Washington DC on the evening July 17th. It was a tremendously exciting, rewarding, productive and tiring trip.
We started out in Zimbabwe, where Shaka moderated the hugely successful and widely attended first ever presidential debate — in a post-Robert Mugabe era. The television, radio and internet broadcast was co-produced by the voice of America and the rising zimpapers television network.
We covered political rallies for both the leading opposition party – mdc alliance and the ruling party zanu pf. The general elections to elect the president and members of both houses of parliament were held on July 30th. On Election Day, Shaka visited different polling stations to witness the voting process which was mostly peaceful. Journalists and observers were granted access to all polling stations.
However, deadly protests broke out after supporters of the opposition felt that preliminary election results announced by the Zimbabwe electoral commission did not reflect their own exit poll tallying. But the final official election results showed that incumbent Emerson Mnangagwa won last month’s presidential election with 50.8% of the vote, while Nelson Chamisa of the m-d-c alliance trailed with 44.3%. The opposition alleges that the figures were manipulated.
I met with “citizen’s manifesto”, a non-partisan coalition of young Zimbabweans representing various constituencies; civil society, faith-based organizations, students, youth and women who want to see a better Zimbabwe.
My next stop was “impact hub Harare”, a co-working space where change makers, social disrupters, impact innovators, and entrepreneurs interested in solving everyday problems gather to see their start-ups launched.
From Zimbabwe, Shaka traveled to Malawi and his first stop was a meeting Malawian journalists — and a meeting with the former official hostess of the late Malawian president Kamuzu Banda.
Shaka also had a one-on-one with former president, Bakili Muluzi, in Blantyre. Muluzi served as the first freely elected president of Malawi from 1994 to 2004. As Shaka would say — Muluzi is retired but not tired, he is involved with many charitable organizations.
Shaka also conducted an exclusive interview with Malawi’s vice president Saulos Chilima, who has expressed interest in running for president in next year’s elections. Chilima, 45, a former chief executive officer of the mobile-network operator “Airtel Malawi limited” left the ruling democratic progressive party last month, saying corruption in the government is at an all-time high. We’ll have more of Shaka’s interview with Chilima on an upcoming episode of straight talk Africa.