CANVAS Weekly Update – August 20th, 2021


August 20, 2021

Dear Friends,


CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, new internet regulations in Cuba, protests in Thailand, democratic crackdowns in Hong Kong, and the global COVID-19 situation.


Conflict Update:

Since May, Taliban forces have been seizing road posts and small cities across Afghanistan, gaining power through the forfeiture of posts by reportedly starving Afghan forces. On August 15th, hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the Taliban took power. Seizing the capital Kabul, photos of Taliban fighters in the presidential office circulated as panicked frenzies of citizens swarmed banks, visa offices, and the airport. A reported 17,000 Northern Afghans attempting to escape the Taliban forces fled to Kabul for safety just last week and are now stranded outdoors without sustenance as violent conflict continues in the city. From Kunduz, a reported 60,000 have fled. No medical assistance has been provided for those in the camps. The US Defense Secretary reports that there have been no violent confrontations between US service members and Taliban forces during the installment of the new regime as the US continues to evacuate ambassadors, citizens, and some afghans seeking refuge. The airport is flooded with people seeking escape, some clinging onto moving US cargo planes. Taliban forces have set up checkpoints outside the airport, using batons and firing into crowds to keep people from fleeing. Reportedly 8,000 total have been evacuated from the Kabul Airport, with the bulk of them flying to the US, but reports vary. Many attribute the quick takeover of the Taliban to the withdrawal of US forces, whose military equipment and biometric tracking devices have now been seized by the Taliban. As of Thursday, in the city of Khost, the Taliban will set a curfew indefinitely, prohibiting all movement in reaction to the hundreds strong anti-Taliban protests that took place on Wednesday. Similar protests in Jalalabad occurred on Wednesday, with demonstrators removing the Taliban flag and replacing it with the Afghan flag, leading to a violent response where protestors were beaten, and shots fired into the crowd, with one confirmed death and six injuries. On Thursday, in Asadabad as a result of the Taliban firing at a group waving the Afghan Flag at an Independence Day celebration, there were 2 dead and 6 injured. On Thursday in Kabul, a group of cars carried banners with the colors of the Afghan flag near the airport. In Nangarhar, during a protest on Thursday, a video circulated of a protestor with a gunshot wound being carried away. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that anti-Taliban forces are gathering in the Panjshir Valley, the last remaining territory to not be overtaken by the Taliban, led by vice president Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a well-known anti-Taliban fighter. There have reportedly been talks of an armed resistance movement under the banner of the Northern Alliance, a group of mujahadeen militias that allied with the US during the invasion, corroborated by Ahmad Massoud article in the Washington Post, asking for weapons, ammunition, and supplies to fight the Taliban. The Taliban have claimed to offer amnesty to people who had worked with Afghan or foreign governments, and maintained that their forces would not disrupt businesses or enter homes. A UN document has claimed, contrary to Taliban reports, that the group is escalating it’s search for previous NATO and US collaborators, with priority lists of individuals to arrest, and targeting those who will not surrender and their families according to Sharia law. They have also encouraged women to join the government, saying “The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims”, and are “committed to the rights of women within the framework of Sharia”. A harsh break from the politics of the prior Taliban, in which women were barred from employment, education, and kept covered and in the home. As such, many Afghans do not believe the more tolerant views espoused by Enamullah Samangani, part of the Taliban’s cultural commission. In his press conference, Samangani encourages Afghans to rejoice at expelling the foreign military forces and embrace the Taliban as legitimate in comparison to Ghani’s propped up, foreign run government. He has claimed that the Taliban will not seek revenge, and that all embassies will receive complete security. As of right now, only China, Iran, and Russia’s embassies remain in Afghanistan. The Taliban have requested the international community recognize international boundaries and request the right to act on religious and cultural principles.


Coronavirus Update:

The CDC announced on Wednesday the creation of a disease forecasting center to assess emerging health threats and help guide public health decisions around the globe. This follows concerns regarding the high infection rate of the Delta variant of Covid-19 along with declines in testing and lack of granular data about hospitalizations in vulnerable communities. This lack of consistent new data over a year into the pandemic has made it difficult to make effective public health decisions. The new disease forecasting center will help focus public attention on infectious disease risks, which is especially important with many reopening plans steadily approaching. The W.H.O.’s African Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, has publicly criticized the choice of many countries to begin administering “booster shots” to fully vaccinated members of their population, claiming it “makes a mockery of vaccine equity” when the African continent is still struggling to get any vaccine supplies. With only 2 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and with many of its poor countries having been ravaged by the virus, Dr. Moeti pushes rich countries to give priority to poor nations, and that they “threaten the promise of a brighter tomorrow for Africa” by hoarding vaccine doses. Scientists at the University of Oxford have conducted a study finding that a fully vaccinated person who contracts the Delta variant of Covid-19 carries a similar amount of the coronavirus as unvaccinated people who also contract the variant. UK survey data suggest that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections still pose the risk of infection for those who are unvaccinated, and while data has not yet shown this trend with the Delta variant, the strong virality of the variant suggests it would behave similarly. Researchers continue to stress the importance of vaccination as protection against catching the virus at all, getting seriously ill, and preventing hospitalization to avoid overcrowding. Israel, known for having high vaccination rates following a swift and sweeping vaccine campaign in spring, now has one of the highest infection rates in the world with the daily rate of confirmed new virus cases more than doubling in the past two weeks, with the Delta variant being the primary form of the virus in Israel. This has brought up questions regarding the efficacy of the vaccine for some, especially against the Delta variant. Following China’s refusal to cooperate with the WHO on a request for a renewed probe into the origins of Covid-19 earlier in August, the WHO now reports that China will be willing to cooperate with the effort. The WHO seeks to update the previous investigation earlier in 2021 that was criticized, especially by the United States, for lack of transparency and for lack of thorough examination of the controversial lab leak theory. The WHO is also requesting for China to share raw data on early Covid-19 cases in the country.



Myanmar’s military junta is targeting the ousted NLD (National League for Democracy), including leader Aung San Suu Kyi and its lawmakers in an attempt to remove the party from politics through disbandment to secure the junta’s power. Since February 1st, the military have arrested 324 NLD members, 98 being members of parliament, and some members have died in custody. According to human rights group Fortify Rights, commanders of the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO) admitted that their security forces detained and killed 25 men in June by Myanmar’s border with Thailand, placing responsibility for the massacre on their men. Activist group Assistance Association of Political Prisoners have figures showing that, on Wednesday, the death toll in Myanmar since the Feb. 1st coup has topped 1,000. Covid-19 is spreading mainly in the country’s prisons. With a heightened number of prisoners admitted since the escalation of arrests following the military coup on February 1st, prisons have been overcrowded and the virus has spread quickly in such unsanitary conditions. Numbers are difficult to estimate due to little information being shared by the military junta. With only 3% of the country vaccinated, the United Kingdom has called for a pause in conflict to enable the vaccine effort to get further underway. The conflict has greatly weakened Myanmar’s health system and put a stopper on the country’s vaccine plan.


The United States:

On Tuesday, New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo abruptly announced that he would resign in the face of sexual harassment allegations. An extensive report released last week by the state attorney general’s office found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. Although Cuomo had previously defied calls to resign, it is almost certain that he would have faced impeachment and removal in the state Legislature had he attempted to stay in office. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take power in Cuomo’s place, making her the first female governor of New York. Although many see Cuomo’s resignation as a first step to justice, he ultimately did not express guilt or remorse for his behavior. Cuomo instead framed his resignation as a means to avoid the divisiveness and inefficiencies that an impeachment proceeding would undoubtedly have brought. Another sweltering heat wave swept North America this week, with 150 million people in the United States under a heat alert. Power outages across the Midwest last week have left hundreds of thousands of people facing the current heat wave without electricity or air conditioning. Wildfires continue to rage in the western US with especially devastating blazes burning in California and Montana. In other news, Florida braces for heavy rains and wind on Saturday as Tropical Storm Fred approaches.



Cuba has introduced new restrictive internet regulations aimed at quelling dissent following protests in July. Under the new laws, any social media posts or media that aim to alter the “public order,” “spread fake news,” or “hurt the image of the state” are illegal. To enforce this, the government is ordering internet providers to cut the internet of anyone who breaks these regulations. Additionally, Jose Daniel Ferrer, the “leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), one of the Communist-run country’s largest and most active opposition groups,” was arrested and sentenced to 4 years in prison. In reaction to the continued crackdown on dissent, the United States continues its hardline stance by announcing new sanctions on Cuba, the fourth of many more expected rounds of sanctions. American Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with Cuban Americans on Tuesday regarding Biden’s foreign policy towards Cuba. Covid continues to ravage the country, destabilizing the country’s national health care system, which is “long a source of national pride.” More than 9,700 cases were reported on Monday, which is 6 times the levels from two months ago. Cuba’s prime minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, blamed doctors for the failure of health care in a speech last week. Doctors, in retaliation, responded by denying these claims. One doctor publicly declared “that doctors are not to blame for the collapse of the public health system.” A lack of medicine, oxygen, and doctors continues to worsen the situation.



As Nicaragua prepares for a general election in November, 3-term sitting President Ortega has been cracking down on dissenting voices and opposition to his power. This week the oppression continues, as a 2020 anti-treason law is being used to arrest 30 political critics, with six of them being presidential candidates. The persecution of activists and journalists is also widespread, with up to 140 current political prisoners in jail. Last week, an opposition newspaper was raided by Nicaraguan police on a charge of “customs fraud and money laundering.”  As a result of the crackdown, many Nicaraguans are applying for asylum in Costa Rica in huge numbers, the highest since 2018. The Nicaraguan government has also cancelled operating permits for six NGOs in the country, following sanctions from the United States and EU last month as a result of human rights and freedom of speech violations. This is following a larger crackdown last month, when 24 NGO’s were shut down. Rodriguez accused the NGOs of having “undertaken activities outside the law and thus acted against the existing laws.” Many of the NGOs targeted were medical NGOs who critiqued the regime in its handling of the pandemic.



Ex-Interim President Jeanine Áñez, infamous for gaining power through a military coup, was found by the Organization of American States (OAS) review this week to have used “systematic torture” and “summary executions” carried out by security forces to punish political opponents after Evo Morales’ resignation in 2019. The report also notes excessive force used by police, including using lethal ammunition against unarmed Morales supporters in the streets. Such events are strongly characterized in the report as massacres, with security forces killing 20 people in two separate incidents, under the approval of Áñez, who “guarantee[d] amnesty for those working to reestablish public order.” In effect, Áñez’s security forces were barred from any and all criminal responsibility. In total, 38 people were killed as a result of massacres and other acts of violence, including executions, around the country, with hundreds seriously injured. The report has also found evidence of sexual and racial abuse carried out largely against young indigenous detainees, mostly women. Religion and racial motivations were behind many attacks. It is possible that these attacks were aided by illegal shipments of weapons, ammunition, harassment gas, and more anti-riot materials for the express purpose of repressing protests in November 2019, after the resignation and departure of Evo Morales. This claim has been revealed in the judicial complaint against former Argentine President Mauricio Macri. The smuggled materials arrived in La Paz only one day after Áñez assumed power.While the report does not definitely state whether Jeanine Áñez’s presidency was a result of a coup Áñez arrest on the charges of sedition and terrorism in March (charges which she once brought against her opponent Evo Morales), has been criticized by US President Joe Biden as politically motivated. Other US officials have criticized both Luis Arce and Evo Morales’ rules as undemocratic, but have had no such criticism for Áñez’s right-wing, coup-installed, brutal regime. Opponent Evo Morales, who was running for a fourth term in 2019, has claimed this week “I resigned so that no one was killed. Not a single death by bullet happened during my administration.”



In a striking diplomatic action against the United States, Belarus announced on Wednesday that it would deny permission for the American ambassador’s appointment in Minsk. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry also called for the US to reduce its embassy staff to only five diplomats. The announcements from the Foreign Ministry came after American President Biden marked the one-year anniversary of Belarus’ fraudulent presidential election with a fresh round of sanctions  against the Lukashenko regime. Widespread protests broke out in Belarus last summer when Belarus’ longtime dictator claimed victory in the disputed election. In the year since the election, Lukashenko’s regime has undertaken a targeted campaign of assaults on civil society and restrictions on civil rights. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry blamed the US for the deterioration of US-Belarus relations this week, calling the sanctions “hostile.”



Six Georgians were evacuated from Afghanistan this week, reports Georgia’s foreign ministry. The Georgian citizens were employees of a U.S. company based in Afghanistan but had been trying to leave the country since the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15. The six have already safely arrived in Tbilisi, but sixteen other Georgians remain in Afghanistan. The Georgian foreign ministry has stated they’re doing everything they can to bring them home but say that extracting the 16 is an extremely difficult task due to the chaos in Afghanistan’s airports. Former member of parliament and Olympic champion, Zurab Zviadauri, has been arrested and charged with premediated murder. The charges are based on Zviadauri’s shooting of three others, one of whom was Zviadauri’s own brother.  Zviadauri claims he was acting out of necessity and that the killings were not premeditated. Nonetheless, the former gold medalist has been denied bail. Starting on Wednesday, masks became mandatory both indoors and outdoors in Georgia. This new mandate responds to the rising cases that started in July. Additionally, Georgia’s ministry of health announced they are opening a mass vaccination center on the territory of the Georgian National University.



China recently passed a major data protection law to protect personal data. Going into effect on November 1st, the law “states that companies must have a valid interest in obtaining personal information and that the use of the data should be restricted to the minimum scope necessary to achieve the goals of handling.” Additionally, consent must be acquired from an individual before using their data and includes regulations for data being moved outside of China’s borders; the punishment for breaking these rules is a fine. The law is “one of the world’s toughest on personal data security” and it will make it much more difficult for China’s firms to access information from consumers. These laws are being ushered in the context of a great trend of strict regulation from the Chinese government towards tech companies over the past few months. The three-child policy has finally been officially passed into law. Announced back in May, couples may officially have up to 3 children now, a huge shift from the historically famous one-child policy that existed in China for many decades. A “social-maintenance fee” has been cancelled, which is a penalty for having more children than legally allowed, and additional funds have been funneled towards childcare and women’s employment rights. Claims that the one-child policy “has prevented over 400 million births” and the national birth rate has been declining has led to these recent reforms. Additionally, couples are claiming that it is too difficult and expensive to have a child, which is why the 2-child policy in 2015 wasn’t as successful as initially anticipated.


Hong Kong:

Following the latest crackdown by Hong Kong national security police, four student union leaders at the University of Hong Kong were arrested on Wednesday, charged with “advocating terrorism” following a moment of silence held for a man who stabbed a police officer and then killed himself. The four were denied bail due to a national security law imposed by Beijing last year. Global banks and other financial institutions are investigating details of China’s planned imposition of an anti-sanctions law on the city. In June, Beijing adopted a law under which involvement in discriminatory measures against Chinese citizens or entities can put one on a government anti-sanctions list. Financial firms are closely monitoring the situation and this week’s meeting with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee will help them see how and when similar legislation will be introduced in Hong Kong. The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a pro-democracy group that organizes mass demonstrations in Hong Kong, disbanded earlier this week due to pressure from the government. In a statement, the group claims that “the government has continued to use the epidemic as an excuse to reject demonstrations’ applications from CHRF and other groups. Member groups have been suppressed, and civil society has faced unprecedented severe challenges.” This disbandment follows the dissolution of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, Hong Kong’s largest single-profession union, in late July, following the crushing of pro-democratic unions in the city by the government. Hong Kong has decided to tighten entry restrictions from 16 countries, including the United States, Malaysia, Thailand, France, and the Netherlands, by extending the required Covid-19 quarantine period for arrivals to 21 days. These countries have been included in these strict restrictions due to high rates of transmission of the delta variant and therefore being classified as high-risk. This change was catalyzed following the return to Hong Kong of a domestic worker from a visit to the U.S. who then tested positive for Covid-19, despite receiving two shots of vaccine and testing positive for antibodies.



On Thursday, the chief of staff for the Indonesian Army announced that the army would end the practice of requiring “virginity tests” for female cadets. These invasive vaginal exams have long been criticized by rights groups as intrusive, unscientific, discriminatory and a form of gender-based sexual violence. The army previously used these tests to determine if female cadets had prior sexual intercourse and therefore to judge their morality. Although organizations such as the National Commission on Violence Against Women welcomed the announcement, they called for evidence that the practice had been abolished. As COVID-19 pandemic continues in Indonesia and hospitals fill with patients, authorities have searched for creative solutions to slow the spread of the virus. Off of the Indonesian port city of Makassar, the passenger ship the KM Umsini has been turned into a floating isolation facility for mild cases of the coronavirus. Patients on the ship spend ten days in isolation, with routine medical checkups and the opportunity to exercise on the deck and even fish off of the side of the ship. Town authorities report that the project has been successful in keeping sick people out of densely populated areas.



Protesters in Bangkok are demanding the resignation of military-backed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha due to unaddressed economic and social-political crises of the pandemic. Thai police have been reported firing rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters, injuring several. Police have also been accused of firing live rounds at young protestors, with a 15-year-old protestor in comatose with what is believed to be live ammunition lodged in his brain. According to the Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee, the Baht has dropped over 10% in value this year amidst the outbreak. Foreign investors, foreseeing no positive outlook for growth, have collectively pulled out a net of $3.34 billion of Thailand’s stocks, and the country’s GDP is likely to drop this year. Earlier this week, Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput called for 1 trillion baht in additional government spending to aid the economy. On Friday, it was reported that Thailand has surpassed 1 million total Covid-19 cases, 97% of which have been reported only in the last 5 months. Pressure is therefore being put on the Thai vaccine effort which so far has only treated 8.3% of the population. The government has restricted travel to and from the island of Phuket to control the spread of the virus. The vaccine effort has currently been experimenting with intradermal injections to try and conserve a limited supply, as these use 25% of what a muscular injection does. Should trials prove effective, Thailand could vaccinate four or five times more people with the same amount of vaccine. The government is also pursuing a “mix and match” approach for vaccine shots, by following up locally produced Astra-Zeneca shots with imported Sinovac shots.



Reports of Iran speeding up uranium metal and enriched uranium production have caused the UK, Germany, and France to express worry, and warn for the necessity of a new Iranian nuclear agreement soon, as the talks in Vienna have been halted for two months with no set date for resumption. Iran has also reported finding a large gas deposit in their territory under the Iranian region of the Caspian Sea named “Chalous”. If estimates are correct, this deposit can supply for 20% of European gas consumption. However, the technology and trade of this gas will likely tie Iran further to Russia, as the two countries share a 20 year agreement giving Russia control over the pricing and buyers of the gas Iran sells. Iran is one of the few countries whose embassy has remained open and fully operational in Kabul. Tehran has made ties with the Taliban, with President Raisi saying “ The military defeat and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should offer an opportunity to restore life, security, and lasting peace in that country”, possibly out of the worry of the Taliban adopting anti-Iran policies. As a bordering nation, Iran holds already 3 million Afghans, some of whom participated in anti-Taliban protests in the city of Isfahan from Sunday to Tuesday. Protests were also held in Tehran, Mashhad, and Qom, with many blaming Pakistani aid to the Taliban for the group’s newfound resurgence. In Qom, the protests were broken up by Iranian security forces, possibly in order to reinforce the ties between the Iranian government and the Taliban. This allyship was made possibly because of the more progressive claims of the new Taliban, including statements that the Taliban are no longer targeting Shia for genocide. Groups such as the National Front of Iran have criticized the state for trusting Taliban leadership and whitewashing the historical atrocities they have committed. It’s been claimed that Iranian authorities have even instructed media outlets to soften Taliban criticism, telling them to not use words like “brutality, crime, atrocity” in reference to the group.



On Tuesday, five were killed and an unconfirmed amount of injuries sustained as a result of a Turkish airstrike on a makeshift hospital in the Sinjar region, populated mainly by the persecuted Yazidi minority. Victims were both civilians, and members of the Yazidi militia “Sinjar Resistance Units” (YBS), trained by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during the Islamic State’s (IS) genocide of Yazidi in 2014.  The day before, a Turkish drone strike was carried out killing senior YBS official Said Hasan Said, and two other YBS members, as well as causing three civilian injuries in Kocho, Sinjar. The following hospital attack is thought to have been in effort to further wound injured fighters receiving treatment, as it was the only medical facility in the region. The YBS claim that Turkey aims to continue the previous genocide of Yazidis carried out by the IS, and accuse the state of collaborating with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the three main groups who hold control over Sinjar, in opposition to the PKK and YBS, and the Iran backed Popular Mobilization Units(PMU). The PKK is a designated terrorist group in Turkey, but the closely affiliated group YBS is subsidized by the Iraqi government by money allocated for PMU’s, as they oppose KDP gaining power in the region. The KDP works with Turkey in order to weaken the YBS in order to gain power over Sinjar. It is believed that the attacks were a result of a larger Turkish opposition campaign to the PKK, as the PKK’s position in the Sinjar mountains is a favorable transfer point for fighters and weapons into northeast Syria, a region whose administration is backed by the US, and linked to the PKK. The attacks raise questions of Iraqi sovereignty over the disputed region, as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chose to not mention Turkey in his condemnation of military action, but instead only condemned the military strikes in the region. Turkey has been accused of war crimes in their onslaught against the PKK, driving upwards of 1,500 Kurds from their homes, and the use of chemical weapons.



The heavy rains reported in 11 of Sudan’s 18 states have destroyed 6,270 homes, and damaged 3,380 others. The flooding has also caused more than 6 deaths in Sudan’s River Nile state just in the past few days and killed countless amounts of livestock. As of Wednesday, a total of 55,000 Sudanese citizens had been affected by the rains. On Sunday, a group of armed men attacked a paramilitary vehicle, killing one officer and wounding three others. The victims were part of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the military set up under the now overthrown Omar al-Bashir regime. Since the transitional government was put in place, the RSF have operated alongside the Sudan Armed Forces. The motivation for this attack is unknown. In other news, following an armed looting incident that resulted in one death, protests erupted in a village west of South Kordofan’s capital. Protestors voiced their frustration with the continued violence and insecurity in the area.



This week Uganda suspended over fifty civic groups and NGOs. Uganda’s Non-Governmental Organization Bureau defended the suspension by alleging the organizations were not complying with certain regulations. The suspended groups, which include rights watchdog and women rights organizations, previously helped thousands of Ugandans who will now be without their aid. In response to the worsening situation in Afghanistan, Uganda has pledged to take in 2,000 Afghan refugees. The U.S. reportedly asked Uganda to take in these refugees and has promised to cover the costs of testing the refugees for Covid-19. The first group of 500 Afghan refugees were supposed to arrive on Tuesday. Uganda has a long history of accepting refugees, and now has the largest refugee population in Africa. Uganda’s ministry of health confirmed a polio outbreak in the country. The virus strain is suspected to have been circulating through the population for two years, raising questions about the efficacy of Uganda’s polio surveillance. In response, the government has promised to increase and improve surveillance, and to start immunizations in October.



Zimbabwean officials have charged a man, Hatirarami Momberume, with rape chargers after a 15 year old girl, Anna Machaya, dies from childbirth. Outrage has been expressed around the world from the incident and the bigger systemic issue of child marriages in the country. One in three girls under 18 get married, despite a ban on child marriages. Children’s and women’s rights organization have called for swift action to confront sexual predators as an online petition, #justiceformemory, is trending on twitter with over 92,000 signatures already. ​​Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, African Union goodwill ambassador on ending child marriage, says that “I am angry and outraged because child rape and child marriage should have no place in our modern society. We have all the laws, and the knowledge to prevent [it]. It’s so painful that as a country, we have left this practice to fester unchecked.” Anna’s parents have also been arrested, as they were “accused of lying about her age and also pledging their nine-year-old daughter to the same man”. Capital city Harare aborted city council on Friday, as there have been disputes over who has mayoral power and jurisdiction. People are unsure whether to report to suspended mayor Jacob Mafume or acting Mayor Musarurwa Mutizwa, leading to a deadlock. Mufame, who claims his suspension is over because his case is still pending in courts, was accused of bribery and stealing funds last year. The council will attempt to reconvene again next week, pending the “finalization of the mayoral issue.”