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Prospective voters turned away

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Local

HUNDREDS of prospective voters in Bulawayo are failing to register for the
forthcoming harmonised elections, after being turned away for failing to
meet the stringent requirements.

BY MUSA DUBE

The Standard last week visited some mobile centres and met frustrated
residents who criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for
demanding “unnecessary” documents before one can be registered as a voter.

Prospective voters are required to produce various documents that include
national identity cards or passports and proof of residencebefore they can
get registered.

Tenants are also required to produce a confirmation letter from the owner of
the house in addition to other documents such as their IDs, electricity and
water bills.

However, the requirements did not go down well with many tenants, as they
made up the bulk of those that were turned away.

“This is purely rigging. How can they demand proof of residence that bears
our name when they know that the majority of us are lodgers and do not own
houses? This is just a ploy to make sure that some of us in the urban areas
do not vote during the elections,” complained Philemon Mhlanga of Mpopoma
high-density suburb.

Mary Moyo of Magwegwe, said she was disappointed that her constitutional
right to vote was shattered after being turned away from voting on similar
grounds.

“I am just coming from Magwegwe Hall to register but I failed because they
wanted proof of residence and a letter from my landlord. My landlord is in
South Africa,” said Moyo.

On Friday, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau reportedly met political
parties where she announced that ZEC has waived voter registration
requirements for those without documentary proof of residence.


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Tsvangirai challenges election date

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Politics

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader Welshman Ncube have
dismissed President Robert Mugabe’s threats to unilaterally announce
election dates this week saying it is impossible to do so under the current
laws.

By Moses Chibaya

Mugabe announced in Mutare on Friday that he was likely to announce election
dates this week once the Senate approves the new constitution as expected.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said as far as the premier was
concerned, it would be null and void if Mugabe were to attempt to go it
alone constitution as expected.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said as far as the premier was
concerned, it would be null and void if Mugabe were to attempt to go it
alone.

“No one GNU principal or party has power or latitude to unilaterally
announce the date for the election. It is senseless to say the least.
It is senseless because the principals will have a collective position,
there is no way Mugabe can go somewhere else and pronounce unilaterally a
position,” he said.

Tamborinyoka said people should ignore Mugabe’s statement and remain calm.

“It is part of our society for old people to be senile. It’s a condition
that comes at old age and its acceptable but his pronunciation has no
bearing to what is going to happen,” he said.

Tamborinyoka said Mugabe lost elections in 2008 and was president courtesy
of the negotiated Global Political Agreement (GPA).
“He cannot wake up one morning and say to hell with the GPA which made him
president, despite him having lesser votes than those of Tsvangirai,” said
the PM spokesperson.

“He can pronounce an election date but it does not mean anything; the people
of Zimbabwe should remain calm.”

MDC leader, Welshman Ncube said the constitution would stop Mugabe from
announcing election dates this week.

“If he gazettes the constitution next [this] week, by law he must wait as
that same constitution prohibits him from declaring the election date until
there has been 30 days of voter registration,” he said.

“Whether Mugabe likes it or not, if he is going to obey the laws of Zimbabwe
he cannot call an election before the middle of August unless he wants to do
it unlawfully. I have no doubt in my mind that he is not going to call an
unlawful election, therefore the earliest we are going to have an election
is middle of August.”

Ncube, a constitutional law expert, added that if Mugabe wanted to proclaim
a date before June 29, the prime minister must agree to that in terms of the
current constitution.

“We know that the PM won’t agree and therefore the earliest that Mugabe can
unilaterally pronounce an election on his own will be on the first of July,”
he said.

But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said Mugabe would go ahead and
pronounce the election dates this week.

“Don’t worry yourself with that, wait and see what will happen after the
constitutional bill has been passed. They said they were not going to pass
the amendment bill but they did,” he said.

Mugabe has been threatening to unilaterally call elections since last year.
The MDCs supported by Sadc have been resisting Mugabe’s attempts. However,
this year elections are inevitable, as the life of the current Parliament
ends on June 29.


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Mujuru faction gains ground in Manicaland

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Politics

MUTARE — The Zanu PF faction loyal to Vice-President Joice Mujuru appears to
have gained ground in Manicaland, following the appointment of a new
provincial executive.

BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

The appointment of the provincial executive has also seen women’s league
boss, Oppah Muchinguri by welcoming the new leaders.

Muchinguri, who pledged to bury her differences with embattled secretary for
administration, Didymus Mutasa, is allegedly aligned to the faction led by
Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe Ambassador to Cuba, John Mvundura is the new provincial
chairperson, with retired Lieutenant General Mike Nyambuya as his deputy.
The two are believed to be aligned to the Mujuru camp.

They replaced suspended chairman, Mike Madiro and his deputy Dorothy Mabika,
who are linked to the Mnangagwa faction and are currently facing charges of
stealing calves donated to President Robert Mugabe for his birthday.

The new provincial leadership convened an urgent meeting in Mutare last week
that drew all politburo and central committee members from the province.

Nyambuya, a former Manicaland governor, said the first priority of the new
executive was to unite the faction-riddled province.
“As a province, we have a great history and it is high time we took our
rightful place. We hope that we will solve the problems rocking Manicaland
amicably,” he said.

Nyambuya said the executive would ensure that Zanu PF was “thoroughly”
prepared for the forthcoming elections.

“We want to recover all the lost seats that were taken by MDC-T and this can
only happen if we are united,” he said.

Muchinguri welcomed the new leadership and underscored the need for unity in
the province.

“What I can say is that the new leadership comprises sober people. It is
time for reconciliation. It carries people with experience in diplomacy and
conflict management. People must now bury their political differences and
move forward,” she said.

Muchinguri said there was need for party members to change their attitudes.

“People must mature as we want to focus on winning elections,” she said.

Mutasa expressed confidence in the new team, saying he had worked well with
Nyambuya when he was governor and resident minister for Manicaland.
He added that he had good working relations with Mvundura dating back to the
liberation struggle.

Zanu PF only managed six seats out of 26 in Manicaland after it lost ground
to the MDC-T in the 2008 elections.

The loss has been attributed to unnecessary divisions and the self-defeating
“bhora musango’’ by disgruntled party members.
Mutasa recently came under fire from a group of petitioners allegedly led by
Muchinguri and Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa who wanted Mugabe to rein
in the veteran politician accusing him of dictatorship and causing divisions
in Manicaland.

But despite the pledges by the rival factions in Manicaland to bury the
hatchet, events on the ground prove otherwise.

The on-going trial of Mabika at the Mutare magistrates’ court showed the
deep seated factionalism in Zanu PF.

Mabika, who made sensational allegations that Mutasa wanted to have sexual
relations with her, also blamed her current woes to her refusal to join the
camp aligned to Mujuru.

Mutasa said if Mabika knew that she was being dragged into the power
struggles within the party in the province, then she should have been
vigilant.

“If she is saying she is being dragged into the power struggles then she was
supposed to be alert. She was supposed to be prepared for such outcomes
because when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers and in this case,
she is the grass that is now suffering,” he said.

The Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions are battling to position themselves for
the succession of 89 year old Mugabe who has been in power for the past 33
years.


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Mutasa defends partisan army

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Politics

MUTARE — Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa has said
service chiefs have a right to openly support Zanu PF and President Robert
Mugabe because they fought together in the liberation struggle.

BY OUR CORRESPONDENT

Mutasa told journalists in Mutare recently that nothing was wrong in service
chiefs being partisan.

“The fact that they fought the war under Zanu PF means that they belong to
Zanu PF and they have a duty to protect a leader of their choice and in this
case, it is President Robert Mugabe,” he said.
Mutasa said service chiefs and Mugabe were together in the trenches during
the war of liberation.

He said security sector reforms being called for by the two MDCs were meant
to weaken the armed forces.

Mutasa said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had no right to call for
security sector reforms, claiming that he had done nothing tangible for the
country.

“He never went to war and he does not know anything about the liberation
struggle, but he is calling for the reform of the security sector,” he said.
“We know that the MDC-T is an agent of the West. We will not dance to the
tune of America and Britain that is calling for the reformation of the
security sector.”

Tsvangirai is insisting that elections should not be held before the
implementation of security sector reforms. He was recently on a regional
offensive meant to garner support for a special Sadc summit to deal with the
Zimbabwean crisis.

But Zanu PF has insisted that security sector reforms would not be
entertained. Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa and State Security
minister Sydney Sekeramayi recently claimed that parties pushing for reforms
were driven by regime change motives.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga recently
told the state media that Tsvangirai was a “psychiatric case”, vowing that
service chiefs would never hold private meetings with the PM.

Service chiefs have in the past vowed that they would not salute Tsvangirai,
even if he wins a Presidential election.


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Madzore’s candidature in Dzivarasekwa raises discord in MDC-T

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Politics

MDC-T parliamentary aspirants for Dzivaresekwa have accused the party
leadership of trying to impose youth leader Solomon Madzore as the candidate
for the constituency ahead of the forthcoming elections.

BY CHRISTOPHER MAHOVE

Party national youth spokesperson, Clifford Hlatshwayo, told supporters at a
rally in Dzivaresekwa last Sunday that the national executive had resolved
that Madzore should stand uncontested in the constituency currently held by
Evelyn Masaiti.

“As to who will stand in Dzivaresekwa is a national resolution. The youth
are the eyes of the party and we agreed as a party. As the spokesperson of
the party, I am simply announcing the resolution. Who are you kupikisa Save,
who are you kupikisa ziso remusangano?” (Who are you to go against
Tsvangirai?) he said.

Madzore is in Bindura remand prison after he was recently arrested on
allegations of calling President Robert Mugabe a “limping donkey”.

The Bindura magistrate Elisha Chingono on Monday last week granted Madzore
US$100 bail, but prosecutor Munyaradzi Mataranyika blocked his release by
invoking a controversial law which allows suspects to be held for up to
seven more days while the State appeals against the granting of bail at the
High Court.

Hlatshwayo said Masaiti had left the constituency to make way for Madzore
and there was no reason to have any primaries in the area. He said resources
meant for the primary elections in Dzivaresekwa should instead be channelled
to other constituencies.

“We want to thank Masaiti, who said she had played her part and was now
handing over to Solo. You know as the MDC, we pass on the baton. Who are you
to want to stop a mother from passing on the baton to her son?

“We are not going to waste party resources holding primaries here. We want
those resources to be used elsewhere. Take them to Uzumba and Dotito, we are
done with Dzivaresekwa,” he said.

Hlatshwayo’s statement has riled other aspiring candidates in the
constituency, who felt this was a direct attack on the party’s principles of
democracy.

One aspiring candidate who was elbowed out of the primaries race said he
would appeal to the party leadership against his disqualification and hinted
he might consider running on an independent ticket.
Party supporters are divided over the candidature of the youth league
president, with others saying they would prefer a local candidate to
represent them in parliament.

Only one out of the five MPs who have represented the area since
independence in 1980, Edson Wadyehwata, was resident in the area.

Masaiti could not be reached for comment yesterday. It was not clear whether
she was opting to contest a seat in her home province of Masvingo or is
earmarked to benefit from the 60 seats reserved for women under the new
constitution.


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MDC-T meets to strategise on elections

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Politics

THE MDC-T will this week hold a policy conference which will inform its
election manifesto and vision, in the event that the party wins the
forthcoming elections.

BY OUR STAFF

Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora last week said 2 000 delegates from
across the country would gather in Harare between Friday and Sunday to
discuss various policies that have been developed by the party’s policy
secretary.

Some of the policies to be discussed relate to social, education, welfare
and health issues.

Also to be discussed are economic policies, including those on economic
revival and employment.

“The delegates will develop the policies contrary to claims by some sections
of the media that our policies will be crafted by foreigners,” Mwonzora
said. “We are proud of the intellectual depth we have within the party and
we are confident in our capabilities.

“The policies will inform our election manifesto and they will also
represent our vision for Zimbabwe when we start to govern.”


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Chinese mining activities in Gwayi area spark uproar

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Local

GOVERNMENT should revisit the decision to grant Chinese companies mining
concessions in the Gwayi conservancy, as their activities are likely to
affect neighbouring countries’ water bodies and spark a row, an official has
said.

BY MUSA DUBE

There are several companies that were controversially awarded Special Grants
to explore and extract coal and coal-bed methane in the Matabeleland North
province’s Hwange and Gwaai areas.

The chairperson of the Gwayi Sub-Catchment Council, Langton Masunda said
mining in the Gwayi conservancy were going to affect both local and regional
water bodies.

“Any mining activity in the area would produce pollutants like zinc, tar,
sulphate and ammonia which would all go into the rivers, namely Gwayi and
Shangani, that are in the area. Our relations with regional countries are
going to be badly affected because Gwayi and Shangani rivers flow into the
Zambezi and downstream, they will pollute the Mozambique water bodies,” said
Masunda in Bulawayo last week.

He said the proposed Gwayi- Shangani dam would be futile if mining starts to
take place, as most Chinese companies are going to operate within the
valley, where the dam is going to be constructed.

“All the concessions of companies operating in the area are all within the
valley where Gwayi and Shangani rivers are. So whatever mining activities
will pollute the water. The dream to draw water from Gwayi/Shangani rivers
would be over,” Masunda said.

“Questioning what project is better than the other is not being
anti-government, but we will just be enlightening each other to revisit this
particular idea.”

‘Foreign investors are after money’

Masunda said locals should take it upon themselves to protect the
environment, as foreign investors were after making money regardless of the
damages to the environment.

“Foreign investors are going to dig and go home because an investor is like
a prostitute who is just after money. So let’s protect our resources so that
the next generation will be proud us,” said Masunda.

The Gwayi Conservancy area is located on the periphery of Hwange National
Park, the country’s flagship game reserve.

Hwange National Park is home to an estimated 45 000 elephants and various
wildlife species.

Masunda said that mining activities would also destroy the wildlife habitat
and socio-economic activities going on in the area, such as hunting.

“Zimbabwe and Botswana are countries with no fences and we can’t fence off
our elephants. We are sharing a population of animals and there is a
movement of animals between both countries.

“Zimbabwe stands to lose through any mining activities in the Gwayi area,
because the animals will move away because of mining sound pollution,
intensified poaching and this would have a negative impact on the tourism
industry,” Masunda said.

He said some Chinese companies had so far caused an environmental disaster
in Hwange.

“Those who have travelled to Hwange saw how those companies have polluted
the area. At the exploration stage two aquifers were damaged and they can’t
be repaired,” he said.

Masunda said the mining activities had also led to the destruction of some
endangered species.

“It would be a mistake to issue out a licence to do mining as that will be
detrimental to the environment. Mining cannot co-exist with wildlife. In the
past 12 years we have never lost a rhino but since they [Chinese] have come,
we have lost two of them,” he said.

The Gwayi Conservancy area is also home to the presidential herd of
elephants, which President Mugabe made a decree in 1990 to protect in an
effort to discourage poaching.

Some Chinese firms have been fined by the Environmental Management Agency
for illegally mining coal in the Gwayi Valley area.


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Raw sewer overflows in Chiredzi town

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Community News

SEWER bursts are now a common sight in Chiredzi town, with the high-density
suburb of Tshovani overflowing with raw waste, exposing residents to
diseases, it has emerged.

Report by Phyllis Mbanje

According to council officials, the town’s sewer system is being strained by
the increased number of people flocking to the small town in search of
opportunities.

Chiredzi town lies in cholera prone zone with outbreaks being recorded in
the town every year.

But council officials said Chiredzi’s dilapidated sewer system was set for a
major revamp after the town council partnered Unicef for the upgrading of
old pipes.

Speaking to stakeholders who participated in a recent tour of the sugar-cane
town organised by the Ratepayers Association, council director of Housing,
Gerazimos Bambazha said the project was expected to start in a few months.

This followed submissions the council made to Unicef detailing the town’s
water and reticulation plans.

Bambazha said the water and sewer lines were designed years ago to
accommodate 7 000 people, but the town’s population now stood at
35 000.

“The sewer system is very old and the town experiences daily sewer bursts.

“The system is being strained by the rapid increase of the town’s
population, which the current system can no longer contain,” he said.
The council has for years watch- ed as most parts of Tshovani flowed with
sewer effluent, making some parts inhabitable.

Houses commonly termed midhadhadha were the worst affected as they house
many people although they have only one or two ablution facilities.

Most local authorities in the country are operating on a shoe-string budget
that has resulted in their failure to provide adequate services to
residents.


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Patients flock to Karanda hospital

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Community News

Mount Darwin — Patients from all corners of the country are swamping Karanda
Mission hospital in Mt Darwin, seeking affordable and better medical
services offered by the Evangelical Church of Zimbabwe-run institution.

Report by Moses Chibaya

Renowned medical doctor, Paul Thistle is now at Karanda after he was booted
out of Howard Mission Hospital in Chiweshe.

Thistle, of Canadian origin, was ordered by the Salvation Army to go back to
Canada in August last year after spending 17 years working at Howard
hospital.

Standardcommunity recently visited Karanda hospital and talked to a number
of people who had come to seek medical attention.

Godfrey Mutevera from Harare said he was forced to come to Karanda Mission
Hospital, as services offered were far better than those offered at
government hospitals in the capital.

“I was involved in a car accident, so I am having some problems with my leg.
I came here because I was told that there are better services,” he said.

“I came here this morning and everything that I wanted done has been done.
This is different from government hospitals in Harare where you are told to
‘come back tomorrow’. You go back five times without proper attention and
end up losing a lot of money. The service here is good.”

Another woman from Chitungwiza, Taizivei Mudimu, said she was forced to come
to Karanda hospital because of the affordable charges.
“The hospitals that I was initially referred to are charging up to US$2 300
to attend to my particular problem which I could not afford, hence I decided
to come here,” he said.

Thistle confirmed that patients from many parts of the country were coming
to Karanda.

“Karanda might get busier than what it was a year or two years ago because
of the combination of the team work. I think it’s more than one or two
people that make a difference, from the medical superintendent, to the nurse
aides, cooking and cleaning staff that make a hospital function,” he said.

Thistle could not say whether the situation at Howard hospital had
deteriorated since he left.

He said it was unfortunate that there was a disagreement between him and the
Salvation army over his forced transfer.

“We could have discussed the problems and found a solution. At the end of
the day, they thought it was better that Thistle left,” he said.

Karanda Mission Hospital is a 130-bed hospital which oversees 2 000 births
every year. It also carries out an average 3 500 surgeries annually and
treats between 200-300 outpatients daily.


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HIV wreaks havoc in prisons

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Community News

THE HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe prisons stands at 27%, a figure almost
double the national prevalence rate, a health official revealed.

Report by Moses Chibaya

Aids and TB Unit director in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Owen
Mugurungi, said women prisoners were the worst affected by HIV.

“The prevalence rate for prisons was found to be double the national
prevalence. It was around 27%, but when you look at gender, women were more
affected at around 39%,” Mugurungi said.

The Zimbabwe Prisons Services is on record saying that they would not allow
HIV and Aids preventative measures such as condoms, claiming this was
tantamount to legalising illicit behaviour. This is despite the known
existence of homosexuality in jails.

According to the Prisons Act, homosexuality is viewed as sodomy and if there
are witnesses to the act, the offenders would be punished.
According to the 2010-11 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS), the
HIV prevalence rate in the country is now 15%, down from 18% in 2006.

HIV prevalence continues to be higher among women than men; 18% of women are
HIV-positive compared to 12% of men.

Mugurungi said the ministry of health was cooperating with prison officials
to come up with strategies to strengthen both prevention and treatment of
HIV patients.

“I must say that this is not just for prisoners but also prison workers and
communities living around prisons,” he said.

Mugurungi added that the ministry together with prison authorities, trained
staff to work within prisons, so that they could start providing
anti-retroviral therapy within the correctional facilities.

“But the decision of where and when is really within the ambit of prison
authorities. We as ministry can only train them and capacitate them,” he
said


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Electioneering taking toll on business—ZNCC

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Business

THE prevailing liquidity crunch and inability of most manufacturing sector
companies to access external lines of credit due to negative country
perceptions are hampering production,the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC) has said.

BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

Zimbabwe cannot access lines of credit from multilateral institutions such
as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank due to the country’s
US$10,7 billion external debt.

Local banks can access offshore lines of credit, but at a huge cost due to
policy inconsistencies and politicking in the inclusive government. This has
had a trickle-down effect on the country’s manufacturing sector, as the
country heads for elections expected later this year.

ZNCC Vice-President David Norupiri said in the first quarter of 2013, the
manufacturing sector has already been seriously affected by this scenario
which was likely to persist.

“As long as we are still in the electioneering mode, it will be very
difficult for companies to plan the way forward, so it’s really affecting
business because no one is willing or prepared to spend money,” said
Norupiri.

He noted a “disturbing trend”, where the manufacturing sector companies
continued to close and scale down operations.

Companies based in Gweru, Mutare and Bulawayo are seriously affected by the
strenuous business environment with some of them forced to relocate to
Harare.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a growth trajectory since 2009 and the
chamber contends that the country needs to sort out its internal problems
which include a high risk country profile, dependence on foreign aid and raw
exports as well as examine its competitiveness.

A 2012 Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Manufacturing Sector Survey
revealed that capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector declined from
57,2% to 44,2%.

The best performing sub-sector was the battery line driven by the
importation of second-hand Japanese cars flooding the Zimbabwean market.

“But a number of companies have come up with their own strategies whereby
they create 90 day facilities with individual companies that supply them
with raw materials, giving them a short- term reprieve in the process,”
Norupiri said.

He said such innovation was assisting companies to survive as compared to
the expensive facilities accessed locally.

“Quite a number of companies have managed to re-align themselves to ensure
that they produce products which match international standards because we
are competing with products from China and South Africa therefore you cannot
survive if you do not meet the standards,” Norupiri said.

The chamber argues that there is an urgent need for policy re-alignment as
the present policies assume that the country is still a manufacturing hub.

The trade policy assumes that Zimbabwe still has its traditional markets in
place and there is need to redefine this, he said.


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Accounts committee lacks depth— MP

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Business

THE parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Accounts lacks competency,
logistical support and manpower to verify reports made by the Controller and
Auditor-General, according to its chairperson Webber Chinyadza.

Report by Moses Chibaya

Speaking at a Public Accounts committee workshop on public finance oversight
recently, Chinyadza said the situation was also exacerbated by political
interest.

“Knowledge, skills and experience is lacking among many MPs. It takes time
for MPs to speed up issues and by the time they do, their term of office
would be over,” he said.

Chinyadza said that under normal circumstances, the choice as to which
committee one would sit in “is not always based on your profession or
experience, you are just allocated to a particular portfolio committee”.

This has seen legislators being placed in committees that they don’t have
knowledge of. This compromises the work of that committee.
A baseline survey on sector specific building requirements for committees of
parliament launched last year revealed a 70% skills gap in committees’
capacity to analyse legislation.

“Members of this committee were asked to what extent they were conversant
with key statutes governing public finance management such as the
Constitution, Public Finance Management Act and Audit Office Act. The
majority of the respondents said they were not fully familiar with the
statutes,” reads part of the report.

Chinyadza said the inherent weaknesses of parliament in the performance of
their duties, as provided for in the Constitution, was that ministers were
also appointed from MPs. The “practice has actually compromised most MPs as
they may also aspire to be ministers, as a result the extent to which they
can openly criticise or investigate their ministers who are in most cases
seniors in their parties is very limited”.

The chairperson said when MPs are allocated to certain committees, they
start from scratch learning “the auditing language”.
He also bemoaned the lack of funds, adding that by the time they received
the funds, their term of office would be over.

“They have resource con-straints and because of that, most of the time they
[legislators], are unable to do audits outside the main centre which is
Harare and this actually constraints their activities,” the MDC-T legislator
for Makoni West said.

He appealed to civil society to complement their work instead of competing
with them.


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Mobile money accelerates financial inclusion

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Business

MOBILE money is making huge waves in Zimbabwe, providing an opportunity for
the country’s largely unbanked population to engage in simple yet fast and
efficient financial transactions.

By Masimba Biriwasha for Young Nation

The volatile economic environment which has prevailed in Zimbabwe over the
past decade largely contributed to the failure of telecoms and banking
institutions to adopt mobile banking.

But over the past year there has been a foray by telecommunication and
banking institutions to establish mobile banking platforms.

Examples of mobile banking products that have been launched include: Kingdom
Bank’s Cellcard, Tetrad’s eMali, Econet Wireless’ Ecocash; Cabs Bank’s
Textacash, Interfin Bank’s Cybercash and CBZ Bank’s mobile banking, among
others.

The rapid spread of mobile phone penetration, as opposed to bank outreach,
has created a fertile ground for mobile money to grow in Zimbabwe. Mobile
banking could be the platform for rapid financial inclusion of people that
now only need mobile phones to access a certain range of essential financial
services they never used to get.

Ecocash, which is by far the country’s leading mobile money transfer
service, launched barely a year ago and currently has approximately 1,5
million subscribers. Of these, 270 000, that is, approximately 18%, actively
use the service. Ecocash is ranked as one of the eight fastest growing on
the continent.

While M-Pesa, launched in 2007 by Safaricom of Kenya is the most successful
example of mobile money in the world with nearly seven million users for a
country of 38 million people, Zimbabwe’s 1,5 million is not bad for a
country of 12 million people.

The growth has been so phenomenal it prompted the country’s deputy prime
minister, Arthur Mutambara to predict that the mobile money platform has the
potential to become the biggest banking platform in Zimbabwe, mainly due to
its appeal to low-end subscribers.

Ecocash is owned by the country’s biggest mobile services firm, Econet,
which has over six million subscribers — a ready catchment for further
growth.

The mobile money transfer service has approximately 1 400 agents across the
country which represents a ratio of 193 active customers per agent.

Ecocash has also forged partnerships with about 200 post offices across
Zimbabwe, further making it easily accessible to most of the population,
unlike traditional banks which are located only in urban areas.

An Econet media statement at the time of the launch read:
“With Ecocash from Econet Wireless, you can now send and receive money
quickly and easily from mobile phone to mobile phone. It is a service that
is so secure; you would not have to worry about the safety of your money.
Receiving money is just as easy,” it added.

Mobile money brings security, convenience
The mobile money service is accelerating the availability of affordable
financial services that provide safety, security and convenience to the
large majority of the unbanked in the country.
According to the GSMA’s Mobile Money for the Unbanked blog innovative
marketing investments have been key to driving growth in mobile money in
Zimbabwe.

“Econet has leveraged its lion’s share of the market, a substantial
investment in mobile money, and some innovative marketing tactics to rapidly
sign up 1,5 million mobile money customers. Kombis [public mini-buses]
carrying EcoCash advertising all over Harare and other urban centres
contribute immensely to Econet’s brand awareness,” reported the blog.

“Rural customers are targeted through radio talk shows, which are far more
popular than print and electronic media in those areas. EcoCash’s agent
network is motivated to register customers that are likely to be active, as
agents receive a commission — currently US$1 — whenever a customer who
registers with them makes cumulative transactions that reach US$50.”

A combination of factors, including a loss of confidence in the banking
system by Zimbabweans, a booming informal sector in the country and the ease
of mobile money transaction, have been cited as possible reasons for the
phenomenal growth of the mobile money transfer service.

The country’s decade-long political and economic fallout, coupled with
international isolation has had a negative impact on the banking sector.
Zimbabwe’s banking system has suffered severely over the past decade.
Several banks have been closed down, with depositors losing their
hard-earned savings. Consequently, confidence in the banking system is
generally low in the country.

To complicate matters more, most people in the country cannot meet demands
set by banks to open accounts. One of the key requirements is a proof of
salary, in a country where the unemployment rate is estimated to be 90%.

Moreover, most banks are in urban areas only yet 70% of the population lives
in the rural areas. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), 70% of
the country’s 12 million people have no bank accounts.

“At least US$2,5 billion is estimated to be circulating outside the formal
banking system due to low confidence in financial institutions triggered by
the 2004/2005 domestic financial crisis which resulted in the collapse of
more than 10 financial institutions,” a local weekly newspaper reported in
March.

In Zimbabwe, mobile money transfer services are not only benefitting the
country’s poorest, a cross section of the society including the middle class
and educated are using the services to overcome a poor banking system.

Without doubt, in rural areas, mobile phones are compensating for poor
banking services and enabling a large section of Zimbabwe’s population to
have access to financial transaction services in a way that has never been
experienced before. Rigid rules for formal banking have been superseded.


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Hunger erodes all hope for the future

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Opinion

Hunger remains rampant within our nation. However, the build-up to Zimbabwe’s
watershed elections has consumed local and foreign press.

Sunday View with Thandeka Mujati

Amidst the meticulous documentation of our political woes, people’s daily
struggles for food have been overshadowed. Last week the World Food Program
(WFP) report revealed, “Hunger is the world’s number one health risk.

Hunger kills more people every year than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis
combined”. In our fervent struggle to overcome diseases and political
struggles that have decimated our population, it feels as though we have
almost overlooked an even more dangerous killer that has taken more lives
and is dangerously prevalent on our continent, hunger.

Issues of hunger and famine are nothing new. Images of famine ravaged
countries have been sporadically sprawled across papers for decades. This
once prevalent coverage of famine has had a desensitising effect on many.

In the world’s case, hunger has become a ferocious beast that has multiplied
and killed millions of people.

Unicef revealed that under nutrition contributes to 2,6 million deaths of
children under five, every six seconds a child dies from hunger or a hunger
related disease. The WFP 2012 report revealed that 25 000 people die a day
from hunger. This distressing statistic is even more painfully accurate
within the African context.

Food production in Zimbabwe has been destroyed by the combination of our
economic and political instability. Over the years droughts, sporadic
floods, poor harvests and high unemployment have had disastrous results. In
2012, the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) estimated
that more than 1,6 million Zimbabweans will be unable to access sufficient
food during the peak hunger period of 2013. This marks the highest level of
food insecurity within Zimbabwe in the past three years.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) announced in 2012 that
only 11% of Zimbabweans are employed in the formal sector. Many Zimbabweans
don’t have the stability of a monthly pay cheque; they are struggling to
survive and living on a prayer because they have nothing left.

With our rapidly increasing unemployment rate, it is not surprising that
there are no long-term solutions to aid famine in our country. People are
consumed by planning what they will eat today. They do not have the luxury
of planning ahead when the present is so dire.

Hunger is a global problem, however, within our continent it has been an
alarmingly constant epidemic. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
announced that 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing
countries.

That’s a harrowing statistic, amidst the well-documented hoopla of politics;
detailed accounts of commuter omnibus incidents at the Copacabana rank and
thorough insights into religion and popular churches; which are all valid
news pieces.

They are not a true reflection of the current status quo of Zimbabwe in its
entirety. Hunger stories and deaths seldom make the front page, but that
does not mean they do not exist; they need to be discussed. Hunger’s
continuous presence in the media will ensure continuous dialogue on this
calamitous situation, that will hold the government accountable.

Our government needs to shift to a more pro-active preventative solution, as
opposed to this faulty band-aid system we have fallen into. Hunger stifles
development and creates a deadly cycle that produces the same devastating
results.

Simply put, when a family has sufficient food, parents can truly focus on
the future and shift from survival mode to truly improve their lives. When
the food runs out, so does hope for the future.


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Parties’ land policies: A comparative review

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Opinion

As the MDC policy conference is almost around the corner, it is important to
look at one of the most controversial issue of land and agricultural policy.

Sunday Opinion with Shakespear Hamauswa

This note provides a comparative analysis on the MDC policy against that of
Zanu PF.

Both policies acknowledge that the land question has been central in the
people’s struggles for independence, sovereignty and equality.

However, what differs is the interpretation given to the aforementioned
words. As such, the word independence according to Zanu PF’s perspective,
has been narrowly defined, to the extent of causing confusion to land
policies and other valuable resources in the country.

While this definition is not in black and white, it has been clear through
the manner in which the Zanu PF government has been dealing with the land
question, among other property rights.

Thus from Zanu PF’s perspective, independence implies the right to loot
resources including political power. Again, their view of equality is
reminiscent of the Animal Farm (by George Orwell) scenario where other
animals are more equal than others.

On the opposite side, the MDC policy proposal is based on the principles of
equality and equity. As such, the MDC government seeks to ensure that women
have access to land and other resources.

Customary laws that discriminated women when it comes to issues to do with
property rights in general and access to land in particular have guided Zanu
PF since 1980.

As is the case with Zanu PF, the MDC policy document to be discussed from
May 17 recognises the irreversibility of the Land Reform Programme. The
policy proposal states that, “the MDC recognises the irreversibility of the
land reform programme and that the land ownership pattern that existed
pre-2000 was unsustainable”.

However, unlike their Zanu PF counterparts the MDC correctly views the land
reform programme as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. This is
the reason why their land and agricultural policy is closely linked to
poverty alleviation.

As such, the MDC policy proposal seeks to ensure that: Zimbabwe’s total land
mass of 39 million hectares, 16 million hectares of which is under communal
areas, 10,8 million under the FTLRP, 3,7 million hectares under Old
Resettlement Areas, 2 hectares under commercial farms, 0,79 million hectares
under Conservatives, 0,15 million hectares under institutional ownership and
0,76 million hectares not formally unsettled, is made productive.

This is a clear and positive departure from the Zanu PF policy that is
always driven by political overtures. Giving people land basing on political
lines destroyed the agricultural productivity of this country, yet since
1980 Zimbabwe was the major exporter of agricultural products ranging from
beef products to flowers, as well as milk products.

It is now a shame that the country is importing tonnes of maize from
countries such as Zambia, that were well known for producing copper. The
most disgusting development is that those farmers who were chased away from
this country are the ones producing the maize to feed our dear nation.

What is only needed for the MDC is to live up to their word. They have to
remember that policy matters take a form of a cycle that goes beyond
formulation to the implementation and evaluation stage. In this regard, the
MDC needs to show its sincerity by accepting the criticism that delegates to
the policy conference will give to their document.

The MDC lands and agricultural policy is commendable in relation to the
issue of security of tenure. Through this policy proposal, the MDC is
pledging to ensure productivity in all agricultural lands through ensuring
security of tenure through issuance of title deeds. Zanu PF on the other
hand has not been prepared to give meaningful title deeds to the people.

This has again affected productivity of the agricultural sector in many
respects.

With the absence of real rights to agricultural land, the beneficiaries of
the Zanu PF-led discredited land reform programme are hesitant to develop
their land beyond extensive utilisation. As a result, environmental
degradation is not an issue to them, as they fear one day they will be
chased away from the farms.

The intrusion of the security sector into the political arena clearly shows
the inadequacies of the Zanu PF property rights. The major fear is not that
the country will be given back to the former colonial powers, but because
their rights to land derives from them being supporters of Zanu PF regime.

It is important for all Zimbabweans to understand that real property rights
should be protected by a regime of laws and not by a political regime in
office.

When people have political rights based on the laws of the land that are in
line with the constitution and other international standards, no one will be
worried about the future.


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New farmers short-change Zim

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Editorial

Zimbabwe is importing 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia in order to guard
against possible grain shortages.

The Standard Editorial

This government-to-government import deal however raises serious concerns
about lack of production on Zimbabwe’s farms, years after white farmers were
driven off the land.

The new farmers, mainly war veterans, Zanu PF supporters and the political
elite, have survived on handouts from government, some of these made
available through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s infamous quasi-fiscal
operations.

The farmers continued to receive support after the consummation of the
inclusive government.

In his 2013 National budget statement, Finance minister, Tendai Biti
revealed that the agricultural sector had received around US$2 billion over
the period 2009-2012 through government support, development partners and
banks, among other channels.

There is however little to show for the billions if the new farmers in their
thousands still can’t grow enough maize to feed the nation.
While they sit on the land, Treasury is forking out US$3 million to pay
Zambian maize producers.

To worsen matters, every month Zimbabwe is again spending US$65 million
importing chicken gizzards, livers, feet, heads and intestines.

The question that boggles the mind is: what are all these new farmers doing
on the land, when we have to depend on other countries for agricultural
supplies? Apart from tobacco growing, our farmers have abdicated their role
and are engaging in other mundane things in order to survive.

Many have turned to illegal gold panning, poaching and are also selling
firewood along the major highways. Others, who are well- connected to Zanu
PF or are senior party officials, rumoured to have 10 farms each, derive
satisfaction in holding onto multiple farms, that were once highly
productive under the previous white owners.

In light of these circumstances, we call on authorities to prioritise a land
audit that will expose multiple farm owners and those who are not utilising
their land. Land should be allocated to people who want to use it if
Zimbabwe is to regain its breadbasket status.


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Beyond Mugabe rule: Lessons from Tanzania

http://www.thestandard.co.zw

May 12, 2013 in Editorial

I have recently met many people — most unknown to me — who have stopped me
for a chat. Invariably the chat took a political turn.

From the Editor’s Desk with Nevanji Madanhire

These people, I noticed, come across the board — politicians, journalists,
school teachers, and businesspeople of all races, commercial farmers and
even ambassadors.

The topic they have discussed with me is Zimbabwe’s future after Robert
Mugabe.

“What do you think will happen when the Old Man is gone?” must now be the
most frequently asked question in Zimbabwe.

Two issues emerge when one examines the question. One is that there is an
apprehension in the minds of most people that President Mugabe’s exit from
the political scene will be followed by Armageddon. The second is that the
“Old Man” is seen as central to whatever will play out when he is gone.

The question, for all intents and purposes, implores Mugabe to do something
about Zimbabwe’s future in the immediate aftermath of his exit, whether
through incapacity or death.

The urgency in the question is palpable. You can sense it as the question is
posed; you can feel that people are overly aware of Mugabe’s mortality now
more than ever. He turned 89 in February. And, as in Nelson Mandela, the
spirit and sparkle, will also fade, as Mandela’s wife Graca Machel was
reported to have said of him last year.

Many people think of the worst case scenario: Mugabe’s exit will create a
power vacuum that will suck in the “baddest” characters, so to speak,
resulting in the situation getting much worse than it already is.

The question also shows that the people recognise that the Zanu PF edifice
is not going to collapse in one go as they had hoped; with Zanu PF, the
country is in for the long haul!

In my opinion, besides the worst case scenario, there are two other
scenarios that might emerge. Zimbabwe might go the way of the Ivory Coast
(Côte d’Ivoire), or the way of Tanzania.

The Ivory Coast was ruled for the first 33 years of its independence by
strongman Félix Houphouët-Boigny. In the beginning, as is always the case,
he was a good president but as the years wore on “the nation’s political
system was bound tightly to his myth, charisma, and political and economic
competence”.

When he eventually passed on in 1995, the nation was faced with stark
realities. For the first time the country was faced with the prospect of
free and fair elections without Houphouët-Boigny. Houphouët-Boigny had been
able in his long reign to suppress ethnic tensions.

The Ivory Coast’s population was made up of more than 25% foreigners mostly
from Burkina Faso, who had lived in the country for as much as two
generations, which entitled them to the vote. But as happens in most of
Africa when elections loom, ethnicity comes to the fore.

The founding president had managed, through his strong leadership, to
suppress these ethnic tensions but they erupted after his demise. The
situation was worsened by the economic downturn which hit when the global
economic crisis hit the price of cocoa resulting in the sharp rise in
unemployment.

The factionalism in Zanu PF can be attributed to ethnic tension. Zimbabwean
politics are dominated by ethnic consideration, hence the loud calls now for
devolution. In Zanu PF one can really feel the tension between the Zezuru
and the Karanga and the Manyika and the Ndebele.

Indeed, the faction leaders of the two dominant groupings are only as strong
as they represent their ethnic groups. Joice Mujuru is seen as the leader of
the Zezurus while Emmerson Mnangagwa is the leader of the Karangas. Add to
this, the huge Matabeleland Question which has already seen a war fought in
the early years of independence. By and large, Mugabe has managed to
suppress these tensions by right and by might. But, as in the Ivorian case,
when he is gone, no one single leader will be able to keep the tension under
control.

Mugabe is the huntsman who has kept his dogs on leash releasing them when
need be, but keeping them under his beck and call.

He is the falconer who can still be heard by the falcons but a time will
come when the falcons can no longer hear the falconer, which is when the
falconer is either dead or incapacitated. Then, things will fall apart, for
there won’t be any centre to hold them together, as happened in the Ivory
Coast.

Tanzania, after Julius Nyerere, has had an almost totally different story,
and that is because Nyerere noticed early the weakness of his rule. It is
often said — I searched for this but couldn’t find it anywhere on the
internet — Nyerere said that in creating his party Chama Cha Mapinduzi
(CCM), he didn’t know he had created a monster he couldn’t destroy.

A Frankenstein is something that destroys or harms the person or people who
created it. Nyerere realised CCM had become bad for Tanzania and had to be
destroyed or transformed.

Similarly, Zanu PF has become bad for Zimbabwe and Mugabe knows it.

That’s why at the party’s annual conference in Gweru he talked so strongly
against factionalism and corruption, the two most virulent cancers that
debilitate not only the party but the country as well. This is why the worst
case scenario becomes the default scenario in the minds of all Zimbabweans
who care for their country’s future.

For Nyerere, Tanzania is the stable country it is today. Elections are held
regularly and power transfers done smoothly.

The tension between Zanzibar and the mainland has been defused, hopefully
permanently. Nyerere saved both his country and his party from the monster
he had created. A more democratic CCM is still the dominant party in the
country and the situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

Houphouët-Boigny on the other hand created the recipe for the chaos that
later beset the Ivory Coast and died while it simmered underneath. Nyerere,
perhaps deriving lessons from the Ivorian situation, deliberately altered
the course of Tanzanian history.

Houphouët-Boigny or Julius Nye-rere, which one will Mugabe choose to be?
This question would be frivolous and vexatious if it wasn’t so urgent. It is
this question that’s vexing the mind of every Zimbabwean. When people talk
about the Zanu PF succession issue, they are interrogating the issue; they
are not being subversive or unpatriotic. On the contrary, they are thinking
about their future and the future of their children.

What will happen in Zimbabwe after Mugabe will depend on what he does in the
short time between now and when the “spirit and sparkle” fade.
l This article was first published here on December 16 2012.


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