HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said implementation of
the indigenisation law should not be as haphazard as President Robert
Mugabe’s chaotic land reform because this was increasing the country risk
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) May Day
celebration on Saturday, the former opposition leader who has wrangled with
Mugabe over how to share executive power since the two former foes agreed to
form a government of national unity last year, said the law should not
benefit people who want to seize what they did not invest in.
cannot invest where you did not put a cent," he said. "The programme should
not be chaotic like the land reform."
Zimbabwe has since 2000, when
Mugabe’s often violent land reforms began, relied on food imports and
handouts from international food agencies mainly due to failure by resettled
black peasants to maintain production on former white
Tsvangirai, who is a veteran trade unionist added: “The policy of
indigenisation is a global phenomenon, it is there in Kenya, South Africa,
Botswana and other countries. “But if the citizenship empowerment policy
seeks to expropriate and nationalise then it should stop.
talk about modalities and avoid the process degenerating into chaos, we
should be aware that Zimbabwe is not the last investment destination. We are
not going to be the last investment destination in the world. We should
encourage national investment. Zimbabwe's country risk profile is increasing
with policies that hurt the country's image."
The Prime Minister also
said foreign-owned firms embracing the law should take into account workers’
Tsvangirai – whose MDC party has publicly differed with
Mugabe’s ZANU PF over how to transfer control of the economy to local blacks
– has also said there was no consultation on policy formulation, while
policies implemented by the government had failed to create a predictable
environment for investors.
Under the empowerment regulations foreign
owned firms have until May 15 to submit plans of how they intend to transfer
51 percent stake to blacks.
The empowerment programme has split the
government with ZANU PF backing the plan while the MDC wants the scheme
stopped to allow for more consultation and drafting of new regulations that
will not scare away foreign investors, while allowing for economic
empowerment of the majority.
Mugabe and Indigenisation Minister Saviour
Kasukuwere accept the need for consultations to improve current
indigenisaton regulations but say empowerment should go ahead while
consultation is taking place.
According to Kasukuwere to date 400 firms
have submitted empowerment proposals to his ministry. However, some of the
firms such as South Africa's Standard Bank have asked to be given more
Government has identified mining, energy, agriculture and
agro-processing, transport and motor industry, telecommunications and ICT,
manufacturing, engineering and construction and financial services as some
of the sectors of the economy which will be targeted under the
Last month, Kasukuwere announced that the mining sector would be the
first industry targeted under the law.
Critics fear Mugabe and ZANU
PF want to press ahead with transferring majority ownership of foreign-owned
companies as part of a drive to reward party loyalists with thriving
businesses. – ZimOnline
HARARE - The government is working on amending the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA), a draconian piece of legislation which President Robert
Mugabe's administration has used to suppress the opposition and human rights
activists since its enactment almost a decade ago.
Labour and Social
Services Minister Paurina Mpariwa made the revelations in a letter she wrote
to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last month in response to the
international labour body's report on worker rights abuses in
"It should be noted that the Public Order and Security Act is
being amended in consideration of the inclusive government's affirmed
commitment to the principle of freedom of assembly and association," said
Mpariwa in her letter dated April 20.
"It is in this spirit of
engagement among the people of Zimbabwe that the Commission's
recommendations (ILO) are accepted by the government. Government wishes to
advise that the implementation of the recommendations, while already
ongoing, will be informed by the overall government targets."
responding to the ILO fact-finding mission report entitled: "'Commission of
Inquiry on the Observance of the Freedom of Association and the Protection
of the Right to Organise Convention and the Right to Organisation Colletive
The ILO, which last August dispatched a team of
labour experts to Harare to probe alleged worker rights abuses, has urged
the unity government to end anti-union practices by security forces and
other state agents.
The world workers' body also called on the government
to speed up creation of a human rights commission that is expected to defend
the rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans including workers.
told the ILO that the transitional government had created a national healing
organ to deal with past injustices and abuse.
But Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) at the weekend dismissed the government response saying
it did not address the issues which the ILO had raised.
information officer Khumbulani Ndlovu said Mpariwa's letter emphasised
creation of the inclusive government instead of going through the steps the
government is taking to ensure that workers' rights are not violated or that
the arrests, beatings and banning of meetings that happened in the past do
not happen again.
"The ZCTU is not excited by the work of the Organ
on National Healing that is mentioned in the government's response. This
organ is out of touch with reality or with real issues affecting victims of
state-sponsored violence. The ILO recommendations are very clear, among
other things, 'there is need to drop all cases against labour activists that
arose through POSA - this has not happened, activists are still appearing in
court charged under POSA'," said Ndlovu.
The labour union's
spokesperson said government should not talk about amending POSA but
"There is need to repeal POSA - currently discussions are
around amending POSA and not repealing it," Ndlovu said, adding that the
state must not interfere in trade union work.
"We have police writing
the ZCTU a letter telling them who should or should not speak at this year's
May Day commemorations."
The ILO commission of inquiry was prompted by
the alleged assault and torture of top ZCTU officials in September 2006
after state security agents foiled a workers' protest.
Matombo and secretary general Wellington Chibebe were among some of the
executives from the labour body who were assaulted and tortured by the
Matombo, Chibebe and 14 others later sued Home Affairs
Minister Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri and
several other police officers implicated in their alleged torture after
reports by independent medical doctors indicated that their injuries were
consistent with torture.
The ZCTU has previously criticised the
unity government for its failure to reform the police to instill
professionalism, calling last year for the immediate resignation of
co-ministers of home affairs Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa for failing to ensure
that police uphold the rule of the law. - ZimOnline
On World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty USA is calling attention
to fearless journalists fighting every day to tell the stories that matter
and remind us how fragile freedom of expression remains. Repression of
journalists, including imprisonment, violence and even death, continues
frequently in many places around the world. In Zimbabwe, media repression
opened significantly in the past year, with the government allowing foreign
reporters to return to the country. But the government continues to lock
down domestic reporting.
The only daily newspapers, radio and TV
stations in Zimbabwe are state run. The Global Political Agreement (GPA),
signed by Zimbabwe's three main political parties in September 2008,
provided for "the immediate processing of all applications for registration
in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act". Despite this, repressive
legislation restricting the ability of the independent media to operate
remains in place. More than a year since it was created, the new government
has failed to honour its commitment to issue licences.
is a non-profit community radio station consistently denied a licence by the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) since it's foundation in 2001. The
station aspires to broadcast to the community of Bulawayo and its
surrounding areas, engaging in discussions of political, social, cultural
and economic issues affecting the community. Their slogan 'Giving You a
Voice' expresses their aim to enable all sections of the community to engage
as a means of promoting tolerance, understanding and community
Radio Dialogue submitted its application to the BAZ in January
2005 along other broadcasting applicants. None of the applicants were issued
a licence. Over the past five years Radio Dialogue representatives have
repeatedly met with the government officials on the issue of obtaining a
broadcasting licence but to no avail. Radio Dialogue's staff have been
subject to harassment and intimidation by the Zimbabwean authorities
throughout their struggle for licensing. Journalists, publications and
public meetings are tightly controlled and closely monitored by state
The practice of journalism remains a dangerous occupation in
Zimbabwe and many journalists and other media workers have been harassed,
intimidated, arrested and detained since the political crisis began in
Zimbabwe in 2000. Many have been forced to abandon their chosen profession.
Those who struggle to continue their work remain at risk of being
arbitrarily arrested and detained. Despite harassment and intimidation by
state security agents, workers at Radio Dialogue have shown great courage in
going about their day to day work. Determined to exercise their right to
freedom of expression and to provide a medium for others to exercise this
right as well, the staff of Radio Dialogue defy the obstacles put in their
way by the state and give people in their community a voice by holding road
Join us in calling on the Zimbabwe authorities to license Radio
Ray Price is one of a number of players enticed back to
Zimbabwe from overseas. Photograph: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
No team in the World Twenty20 have
more to prove than Zimbabwe. They missed the 2009 edition in England after being
denied visas and have been blackballed by most of the top nations in
international cricket. Now they are powered by two potent forces: anger and
pride. Anger for what they regard as the hypocrisy and cowardice of the English,
Australian and New Zealand cricket boards, and pride at the work that has been
done to rebuild cricket in Zimbabwe from the ruins it was reduced to three years
ago, when first-class competition came to a complete halt.
Not everything has changed in Zimbabwe, but a lot has. Peter Chingoka and
Ozias Bvute are still the men at the top of Zimbabwe Cricket, but power and
financing has been devolved to five new regional franchise sides. The new
Education and Sports minister David Coltart, is a bright light from Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party. ZC have brought back a number
of the white players from both previous and current generations to run and play
Alan Butcher, the former Surrey manager, has joined as a foreign chief coach
and alongside him are a string of great former players. Heath Streak, whose
sacking as captain sparked the mass exodus of white Zimbabwean players in 2004,
is the bowling coach. Dave Houghton is the batting coach, though he will move
into the franchise system when Grant Flower returns from Essex and takes up the
job at the end of this season. The key appointment has been Alistair Campbell,
the former captain who is now chief selector and chairman.
"We have all got baggage, but you have got to put that aside if you want
something to work," says Campbell. "We had got to the point where we had to do
something or cricket was going to be dead and buried. That was not an option."
Campbell has made this argument many times, mainly when persuading back the
players who left to play county or club cricket in England.
The current squad includes Charles Coventry, Andy Blignaut, Greg Lamb and Ray
Price, all talked back to Zimbabwe from their lives overseas. "I told all the
guys that regardless of what the politicians do, we have to give this a fair
"The sad thing is we need the rest of the world to buy in. We need to play to
progress. What's the point of not giving the Zimbabwe cricket
"Who are you getting at? Who is suffering? Are you making a stand? Are you
achieving anything? No," continues Campbell. "Our domestic Twenty20 final had
10,000 people there. Harare Sports Club was full. For a domestic game. That's
what our people are starved of."
The scaremongering about security concerns infuriates Campbell. "Do you
honestly think we live in built-up compounds with security outside and bomb
barriers? Do you think we would all live there and send our kids to school there
if it was a war zone? I mean please! Let's be real about this. Just ask the
Australian ambassador. He lives here, does he report back home that he drives in
an armoured car and wears a bullet-proof vest? I mean, he's out playing golf
Campbell is furious with the England and Wales Cricket Board because they
refused to let Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire make pre-season
tours to Zimbabwe. "It is incredibly frustrating. You have these counties who
want to come out here and play but because of politics they are not allowed to.
They have to toe the line." His real ire though is reserved for the New Zealand
cricket board, who pulled out of a one-day tour last year citing concerns over a
cholera epidemic. The two teams play each other on Tuesday in a real grudge
match for Zimbabwe. "Blaming the health system? That's rubbish. Be honest: It
was a political issue.
"A little help from our friends wouldn't go astray. We are trying to rebuild
a broken country. The country and the economic situation? It's on the mend." The
cricket team are one clear and visible area where the balance between old and
new Zimbabwe, between black and white, seems to be working. They will surprise a
few in this competition. They field brilliantly and have two good spinners in
Prosper Utseya and Ray Price. But their most powerful weapon may be their sense
The president of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union(ZCTU), Lovemore Matombo Saturday urged
workers gathered at Dzivaresekwa Stadium, Harare, to commemorate Workers'
Day to stay vigilant as his organisation pushes the government for a salary
"We cannot rule out any form of industrial action but what we
are doing is to say let's give government opportunity and we have put across
our need to increase salaries for the Zimbabwean workers through the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum," he said.
Workers Day 'It may be
dawn;workers intensify the struggle'
Addressing the same event Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai made a u-turn on the government's decision to
freeze civil servants salaries as announced by Finance Minister and MDC
Secretary general Tendai Biti who has been on a collision course with the
"The government did not announce a wage freeze,"
Tsvangirai told scores of workers who gathered at Dzivarasekwa Stadium in
Harare to commemorate Workers Day.
o"There is no government policy on
wage freeze. If ever there is going to be such a policy, it must also take
into consideration the price freeze. There is no government policy I know of
on wage freeze." Tsvangirai was by Radio VOP
Earlier in the week in
an interview with SW RADIO Matombo had accused MDC of disengaging the labour
movement which he said has been the backbone to MDC rise to the political
The ZCTU on Wednesday criticized Finance Minister Biti after his
announcement that he wanted labour laws to be changed. The ZCTU felt the
changes favoured companies at the expense of workers and accused Biti of
'starting to sound more and more like those who have been in government for
the past 30 years'. (ZimEye, Zimbabwe)
Emphasizing this year's
Workers' Day theme 'It may be dawn; workers intensify your struggle',
Matombo said his organisation supports Zimbabwe's current government of
national unity but warned of repercussions if the government proceeded with
its decision to freeze civil servants pay as recently announced by Finance
Minister, Tendai Biti at a time ZCTU is negotiating a salary
"No one should freeze salaries. As workers we are not afraid
of anything, we are prepared to take into the streets. Right now we have
workers who earn less than US$30, these are people with families and
children who are supposed to go to school," said Matombo.
The Vigil marked May Day by
supporting an appeal from Amnesty International for the Zimbabwean authorities
to stop intimidating and harassing human rights activists. People at the Vigil
carried placards reading: ‘May Day Appeal - End Human Rights Abuses in
Zimbabwe’, ‘May Day Appeal - Protect Human Rights Activists in
Zimbabwe’ and ‘Vigil Supports Oppressed Trade Unionists in
Amnesty International official Shane Enright said: "It's so important that people
around the world stand in solidarity with the brave human rights and trade union
activists in Zimbabwe this May Day. Our message to the
police and security services is that we are watching you and will call you to
account, however long it takes."
It seems that it will take longer
than expected given South
Africa’s failure so far to get Mugabe to
comply with the GPA, and Arthur ‘dimwit’ Mutambara’s declared intention to avoid
any elections which will return him to academic obscurity.
May Day is traditionally a workers’
celebration and thousands of demonstrators converging on
Square passed by the Vigil. Some of them
shouted ‘Down with Mugabe’. It was a difficult Vigil because it flooded down
with rain half way through.We had to
act fast to stop our petitions being soaked. (By the way these are what our
current petitions say: ‘A petition to
the UK government: We welcome the UK’s humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe
but call on the UK government to withhold development aid until it is confident
that the money will benefit the people rather than the corrupt Mugabe regime’.
And ‘Petition to the UN Security
Council: We call on the Security Council to
ensure that the next elections in
Zimbabwe are free and fair. We
look to the United Nations to supervise the electoral process and the handover
of power to a new government and believe peace-keeping troops will need to be in
place before, during and after the polling.’)
because of the May Day demonstrations were a problem. The car carrying our
paraphernalia was forced on many detours back and forth across the
Thames and eventually could
get no closer than half a mile from the Embassy.A group of Vigilites had to go and fetch the
Vigil tables, posters, banners, tarpaulin, drums, merchandise (Vigil tshirts and
Zimbabwean flags), petitions, flags and Zimbabwean newspapers. Even though the
paraphernalia was delivered late the Vigil started on time because a big group
of supporters in their Vigil tshirts reading ‘Zimbabwe in our hands’ and
Vigil, Zimbabwe House,
London – Saturdays until freedom comes’ were there at 2 pm.
The May Day
demonstrations were mostly in support of labour solidarity around the world but
here is a random sample of flyers from other participants: ’European week of
action against the deportation machine’, ‘Why we need justice for domestic
workers’, ‘Support the revolution in Nepal’, ‘Oppose the crumbling British
imperialist state!’, etc.
A couple of points
·Despite the hubbub of
May Day, people at the Vigil could clearly hear a song bird in one of our maple
trees. We only saw one bird but we presume it is building a nest.
Makozhombwe of Motherland ENT has posted two new videos of the Vigil on
Youtube.Check our ‘Events and Notices’
Section for the links.
·London Citizens and Citizens
assembly with David
Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown. Monday 3rd May from 3 – 5 pm.
Venue: Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, Storey’s Gate,
London SW1H 9NH.On the agenda is the Sanctuary Pledge
(calling for an end to child detention and more support for people seeking
sanctuary), Strangers into Citizens and the Living Wage. For tickets contact
Eunita Masolo, email: email@example.com, phone: 07949 736 222. The organizers would
like a big turn-out of Zimbabweans.
Woking Branch 1st Anniversary
8th May from 3 – 10 pm. Venue: St Pauls Church Hall,
Road, Woking GU22 7BD. Raffle for two
hampers. Tickets £6 adults £3.00 kids which includes entry and meal. Contact:
Mr Mudzamiri 07774044873, Jermaine 07908522992, Sithokozile 07886203113 or P
8th May from 2 – 5 pm. Venue: Church Street (Outside Primark)
Centre. For details please contact: Desire Chimuka
Anywhere Mungoyo 07939913688,
Trywell Migeri 07956083758.
demonstration on Saturday 22nd May. Same venue and time.
·ROHR Brighton Zimbabwean Community Family Fun
8th May from 4 – 10.30 pm. Venue: Leonards Church
Hall, Glebe Villas, Hove. Nearest train station: Portslade. For directions please
contact Elizabeth Masoka 07545458436, Jane
Mugwagwa 07833301145, Wellington Mamvura 07956870547,
Patience Chiguta 07780667422 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/ 07932216070. Lots
of entertainment, food, raffle and disco – free entry.
·ROHR Harlow general meeting. Saturday 15th May from
1.30 – 5.30 pm. Venue: Perry Road, HarlowCM18
7NP. Substantive committee to be
elected and ROHR President and ROHR Executive present. Contact: L Kashangura
07506481334, Blessing Office 07759884633, Bothwell Nyemba 07725208657, Grace
Kachingwe 07529524965 or P Mapfumo 07915926323/07932216070
Cambridge fundraising event. Saturday 22nd May from
4 – 10 pm. Venue: Arbury Community Centre, Campkin Road, Cambridge CB4 2LD.
African music, food and drinks hobho. Entrance fee £10 including food. Contact:
Jospheth Hapazari 07782398725, Locadia Mugari 07501304116, Sibusisiwe Bafana
07765268622, Percy Marimba 07894670271 or P Mapfumo
May from . Venue: Tottenham Chances,
RoadLondon N17 6QN. Closest Tube -Seven
Sisters. From Seven Sisters towards Tottenham three stops on buses 123,149,256,349,341
ROHR Executive and Guest Speakers in attendance. Fundraising
raffle and draw. Contact
Bekithemba Nyahwa 07534905348, Nobuhle Ndlovu
07949588597, Wellington Chinombe 07529290157, Chipo Denenga 07960761122, P Mapfumo 07915926323.
Bromwich Branch fundraising event. Saturday 29th May from 1 – 11pm.
Venue: St Peters Church Hall, Whitehall Rd, West Bromwich B70 0HF.
Admission £8.00 including food and drink. Contact: Pamela Dunduru 07958386718,
Diana Mtendereki 07768682961, Peter Nkomo 07817096594, Godwin
Kativu 07576994816 or P Chibanguza 07908406069
·ROHR Northampton General
5th June at 2 pm. Venue: CareyMemorialBaptistChurch,
King Street, Kettering, Northants, NN16
8QL. ROHR Executive members present
and Guest Speakers. Contact: Marshall Rusike 07833787775,Wadzanayi
Mpandawana 07717795574, Gladys Milanzi 07846 448 711, Norian Chindowa 07954379426, Sherry Ngaseke 07869295544 Or P Mapfumo 07915 926 323 / 07932 216 070.
·OTIENO by Trevor Michael
contemporary reworking of Shakespeare's Othello, set against the continuing
deprivation of present-day Zimbabwe. From Tuesday 25th May –
Saturday 12th June at , matinees 3 pm. Venue: Southwark
Playhouse, Shipwright Yard (Corner of Tooley St. & Bermondsey St.),
London SE1 2TF. For tickets ring 020 7407 0234 or book online here.
·Swaziland Vigil. Saturdays from – 1 pm.
Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate,
London SW1E 6LB.Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest
stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. For more information check: www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
·Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s
Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue:
The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre,84 Mayton
London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest
underground: FinsburyPark. For more information contact the
Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355 (open Tuesdays and
outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from
14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in
Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October
2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are
held in Zimbabwe: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
event involving a 15 year old schoolboy and a fatal stabbing in a church,
has sent shivers down my spine. It should be ringing alarm bells both in and
outside Zimbabwe because this, more than any diplomatically worded political
speech, demonstrates just how tired Zimbabweans are of waiting for
accountability and justice.
The news came in a transcript from a
Voice of the People Radio report. A 15 year old schoolboy was attending a
service in the Zion Christian Church in Village 2 near Neshuro Growth Point
in the Mwenezi District. At some point in the service Nhamo Machacha,
described as a "well known Zanu PF terror master," and aide to the Zanu PF
MP for Mwenezi East, interrupted the church proceedings. The teenage boy got
up and stabbed Machacha twice in the stomach. Despite being rushed to
Neshuro hospital, Machacha died from excessive bleeding.
the radio transcript an eyewitness explained the history behind the
behaviour of the 15 year old boy:
"That boy's father Lameck Muripo
was killed by Zanu (PF) thugs in 2008. Their home was burnt and they were
left homeless but the children were still young. However, up to now the
culprits including the now deceased were walking free and this boy said he
wanted to revenge,"
The 15 year old school boy was taken into
Police custody and the Zanu PF MP for Mwenezi East, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti,
responded to the killing of his aide by saying:
""There is nothing to
hide here. MDC is a party of violence, they need violence and they have
provoked us today. How can I keep silent when they slapped us in the face
like this? They have started it and they must not cry tomorrow."
amazing statement from a Member of Parliament.
For ten years the
murderers, torturers and rapists spawned during a decade of violent
elections have been walking amongst us. For ten years reports have been made
to authorities but perpetrators have not been arrested, tried or convicted.
Everyone knows who the perpetrators of the crimes are. There are witnesses,
affidavits and documented reports and yet still nothing is
Writing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the
murders of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's election agent Tichaona Chiminya and
activist Talent Mabika, the MDC are also demanding that justice be done. The
men named in those killings continue to walk free, one even still in state
There are thousands of similar cases and thousands of
victims still waiting for justice in cities, towns and remote rural
villages. It is a ticking time bomb which apparently left a 15 year old
schoolboy unable to wait a day longer. A time bomb which should have
everyone shouting out for accountability, including MP's.
BORUNGO KHOLA, Bangladesh - A pinch of salt. A fistful of sugar. A
half liter of water.
It's a recipe 8-year-old Meem Akter recites
easily while squeezing and scooping her tiny fingers through the air with
precision, pretending to measure just the right amount of each
"You take the salt with three fingers," says the little girl
in a pink- and blue-ruffled dress, smiling shyly. "I learned it in school
Over the past 30 years, this simple 'poor man's Gatorade' has
become a cheap, trusted home remedy passed down to generations of
Bangladeshi moms nationwide. It is bought or whipped up and sipped down at
the first sign of diarrhea to stave off dehydration, which can drain a weak
child of life in just hours.
Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest
countries, is a leader in the fight against diarrhea, which is the number
two killer of children under age 5 worldwide after pneumonia. Diarrhea
claims 1.5 million kids annually - more than AIDS, malaria and measles
combined - and the United Nations has projected the number of deaths will
rise by 10 percent each year over the next decade.
"When I talk to
people in developed countries about diarrhea, they don't believe me when I
tell them it's killing children," says Dr. Olivier Fontaine, a diarrhea
expert at the World Health Organization in Geneva. "We have the magic
bullets, and now we need to apply them to make sure every kid has access.
What we need is money to implement what we have seen in
A pinch of salt. A fistful of sugar. A half
liter of water.
Rahima Begum, 45, was among the first to teach the
homemade recipe to mothers 26 years ago in Borungo Khola village, a bucolic
farming community down a dirt road about 40 kilometers outside the capital,
where little Akter is a neighbor. It was a time when parents had no idea
what to do when diarrhea struck. If there was no hospital nearby, many kids
"Spreading the message is very important," Begum says. "We
didn't know it, but now we do. Maybe people from Bangladesh can teach this
to other countries."
At first glance, the country would appear to be
an unlikely instructor. Bangladesh is a young democracy plagued by
corruption and natural disasters, where nearly half the population lives on
less than $1 a day. Yet the Muslim nation has vast experience beating back
diarrhea tied to annual monsoon flooding, unclean drinking water and poor
sanitation. Over the past two decades, its overall child death rate has
dropped threefold to 5 percent today.
Bangladesh is the birthplace of
ORS, the lifesaving oral rehydration salt-sugar solution. Today, the
concoction is so woven into the culture that it's not only mixed up or
purchased for pennies to treat diarrhea and tummy aches, but guzzled by
children and adults alike after working or playing outside in the sweltering
Bangladesh is also home to the International Center for Diarrheal
Disease Research, Bangladesh, which treats more than 100,000 patients a year
at its hospital filled with hundreds of brightly colored diarrhea cots with
holes in the middle opening to clear buckets beneath. Some 27,000 health
workers have trained here from about 70 countries, and WHO regularly calls
on its experts to assist with global outbreaks of cholera, a fast-spreading
"Almost everybody starts rehydration at home," says
Cathrine Costa, a nurse at the hospital where mothers, rich and poor, sit
beside one another in open wards shoveling spoonfuls of a special rice gruel
into the mouths of bare-bottomed babies, many malnourished. "If they don't,
the dehydration is much, much worse."
Oral rehydration solution was
first tested in the late 1960s in East Pakistan, which would later become
Bangladesh. But the real experiment came in 1971 during a cholera outbreak
in the refugee camps of West Bengal, India, which were crammed with families
who had fled the war between East and West Pakistan. With a scarce supply of
intravenous drips, doctors proved that by drinking the formula, the death
rate could be reduced to less than 5 percent.
"These people were not
getting drugs. They were not getting IVs. They were dying," recalls Dr.
Richard Cash, a Harvard University professor who conducted the first ORS
clinical trials at the diarrheal research center. "We were not looking at
failure. We were looking at measures of success."
Diarrhea is caused by
viruses, parasites, bacteria and toxins. Rotavirus, spread through
contaminated hands and surfaces, is the most common cause of diarrhea,
killing half a million children annually. A vaccine is now available in the
West, where the disease is a mere irritation, but it will not reach the poor
for several years. Measles is another vaccine-preventable disease that
causes severe diarrheal deaths.
The ORS solution helps the gut absorb
fluids and electrolytes that are rapidly being purged, bringing life back to
children's sunken eyes and dehydrated skin. The recent addition of zinc
further decreases the length and severity of the attack. Breast-feeding and
continuous eating are also encouraged.
The Bangladesh discovery was
hailed by The Lancet medical journal three decades ago as "potentially the
most important medical discovery of the 20th century." Some 800 million ORS
packets are produced worldwide today, saving more than an estimated 50
"You have a child that's almost dead, you give them ORS
and within a few hours they are running all over the place. It's really a
miracle," says WHO's Fontaine. "We don't find anyone who would come as a
champion for diarrhea. Many people are willing to go on TV and talk about
AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria but when it comes to diarrhea, no one is
A pinch of salt. A fistful of sugar. A half
liter of water.
Today Bangladesh has one of world's highest ORS packet
usage rates, with nearly 70 percent of children drinking the solution during
diarrhea. Yet WHO estimates the disease still kills more than 50,000 kids in
Bangladesh annually, where ORS still does not reach everyone and
malnutrition is rampant.
Globally, about 60 percent of children do
not have access to the formula. And in countries, mainly in Africa, where
bouts of diarrhea are common, that rate is even lower. Last year, Zimbabwe
experienced Africa's worst cholera outbreak in 15 years, killing more than
It's a statistic that makes Fazle Hasan Abed
As founder of Dhaka-based BRAC, one of the world's largest
non-governmental aid organizations, Abed trained a small army of women to
spread the ORS recipe to millions of households across Bangladesh in the
"I know of nobody else who's tried to do this. Everybody came here
and looked at the problem, and it was mind boggling for them to think that
one could go to every household and do it," says Abed, who was recently
knighted in England for his development work. "I think this could have a
similar kind of impact in Africa."
He says the method of teaching
mothers about ORS could be tried in a country like Uganda, where his
organization already has a presence. But he adds that Bangladesh does have
Roughly the size of Iowa, the low-lying nation is one of
the world's most densely populated countries - crammed with about 150
million people, or half of the entire U.S. population. That makes the task
of spreading a message from community to community easier and cheaper as
opposed to reaching sparse, spread-out villages dotting many African
Another obstacle in Africa to the community-based approach is
the belief in some places that only health workers can provide medical care.
WHO is working to distribute packets of ORS to every market in Tanzania, as
is done in countries such as Mexico. In many cases, the sachets are cheaper
than coveted sugar in African countries, making the pre-made pouches a
smarter choice than the homemade sugar-salt solutions, which can kill
children if too much salt is given.
In Bangladesh, mothers were
taught that the oral formula was not a cure, and if a child continued to
suffer severe diarrhea after a day of drinking the ORS, a trip to the
hospital was urgent. It's a message that has been retained and transferred
to even the youngest members of the village, where the sugary drink is
lapped up like Kool-Aid.
"My 7-year-old little boy was sick with diarrhea
one month ago," says Taslima Akter, 28, who demonstrated how to make ORS in
Borungo Khola village, where three generations know how. "I mixed it up at
home. It was not serious, just one day. I used to take it when I was a kid."
Bill Watch Special of 1st May 2010 [Parliamentary Committee Meetings 3rd to 7th May]
Assembly Portfolio Committees and Senate Thematic Committees: Open Meetings 3rd
to 7th May
are only three meetings open to members of the public, as observers only, not
as participants.[See note at the end of this bulletin on public
attendance and participation at different types of committee meetings.]
special interest to those in the mining sector is the meeting on Thursday
[see details below], of the Senate Thematic Committee on Indigenisation
and Empowerment to hear oral evidence from the Ministry of Mines and Mining
Development. Minister Mpofu has recently stated that his Ministry is
planning to provide for indigenisation of the mining sector in the forthcoming
Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
3rd May at 10 am
Committee: Mines and Energy
evidence from (i) Zimbabwe Power Company and
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company
Room No. 413
Hon Chindori-Chininga Clerk: Mr Manhivi
4th May at 10 am
Committee: Agriculture, Water, Lands and Resettlement
from Zimbabwe Agricultural Technicians Association
Room No. 4
Hon Jiri Clerk: Miss
6th May at 11 am
Committee: Indigenisation and Empowerment
evidence from Ministry of Mines and Mining Development
Hon Mutsvangwa Clerk: Mr Ratsakatika
Attendance at and Participation in Committee Meetings
and thematic committee meetings in which they are doing private business – e.g.
setting workplans, deliberating on reports and findings, or drafting reports for
Parliament, or when the committees make field visits – are not open to the
and thematic committee meetings where oral evidence is being heard are open to
the public to attend as observers only. Members of the public wishing to
attend a meeting should telephone Parliament first [on Harare 700181 or
252936-55], to check with the relevant committee clerk that the meeting has not
been cancelled. If you are attending, please use the Kwame Nkrumah Avenue
entrance to Parliament. IDs must be produced.
some committee meetings stakeholders [and those who notify Parliament that they
consider themselves stakeholders and are accepted as such] are invited to make
oral or written representations and ask questions. These meetings will be
highlighted in these notices.
committees call for public hearings, members of the public are free to submit
oral or written representations, ask questions and generally participate.
Veritas sends out separate notices of these public hearings.
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora can send in written submissions to stakeholders’
meetings if they consider themselves stakeholders, and to public hearings, by
emailing their submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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