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Biti casts doubt over election

http://www.dailynews.co.zw

By Tonderai Kwenda, Deputy News Editor
Saturday, 26 November 2011 11:05

HARARE - Finance minister Tendai Biti says it is almost impossible to hold
an election next year as demanded by President Robert Mugabe because the
political environment is still uneven.

He told business leaders at a post-budget seminar yesterday that even if
Zimbabwe sourced enough money to hold early polls, the slow pace of
democratic reforms agreed to under a power-sharing deal would make the
prospect of a 2012 election far-fetched.

Biti, who deliberately omitted mentioning elections in his 2012 budget
statement presented to Parliament on Tuesday, said the issue was more
political than budgetary.

The MDC secretary-general and a member of the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) negotiating team said elections were dependent on the fulfillment of
the provisions of the agreement.

The GPA is the founding accord of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai’s fragile coalition government.

“The issue of elections is not about resources or whether we have a budget
for that. The issue is about commitment to what the principals themselves
have agreed on.

“They have to agree on a road-map first to those elections,” said Biti while
answering questions on whether there will be elections next year.

Mugabe has repeatedly said the country will hold elections early next year,
telling his supporters to start campaigning.

His party officials, led by chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, have been traversing
the country canvassing for political support.

But Biti told business leaders that the country should not be rushed into an
election whose outcome would be disputed.

He said coalition government partners should not worry about the
availability of money to run elections but work towards making sure the
environment is conducive for elections.

Although Zanu PF has been angling towards an early election and already
indicated that it will launch its campaign soon after its conference next
month, Tsvangirai’s MDC party has stated that it will boycott elections held
under current conditions.

The premier was forced to pull out of a presidential election runoff in June
2008 citing sustained attacks on his supporters.

He had won first round voting.

Mugabe proceeded with the election as a solo candidate but the African Union
rejected the results and mandated Sadc to lead negotiations for a coalition
government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Biti said failure to implement reforms agreed to under the GPA was the major
impediment to early elections.

“The electoral roadmap has sign posts and such sign posts include the
constitution-making process with signatures of people, a new voters’ roll
with signatures of the people.

“Those things are in black and white in the Global Political Agreement,”
said Biti.

South African president and chairperson of the Sadc troika on politics,
defence and security cooperation Jacob Zuma is supervising the drafting of
an electoral roadmap which will lead to elections.

The roadmap has so far stalled with the MDC insisting on security sector
reforms which Zanu PF has described as a no go area.

Biti said once the political party principals agreed on an election date, he
would organise the resources even if it meant doing so in just a day.

“What Zimbabweans are saying is that we are going to have an election but we
cannot have an election like the June 2008,” said Biti.

“They want to know if the Electoral Act is up to scratch, if we are going to
have a physical copy of the voters’ roll not the Thomas Mapfumo CD that we
got the last time,” he said.


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Soldiers kept in the dark

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Soldiers living in army camps are not allowed to read private newspapers or
tune into private radio stations, a senior army officer has confirmed.
24.11.1112:11pm
by Staff Reporter

The army official, who cannot be named, said soldiers were only allowed to
read state newspapers and tune to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio
and television programmes.

Foreign television channels have been criticized by Zanu (PF) party as
anti-Robert Mugabe. Radio stations such as Studio 7 broadcast through the
Short Wave from Voice of America, or SW Radio Africa from South Africa, are
also banned.

Local private newspapers including ***The Zimbabwean, The Newsday, The Daily
News, The Independent and The Standard newspapers have also been labelled
pro-MDC.

“Those who read private newspapers will read them outside the camps and in
hiding because if they are caught they are labelled as MDC supporters. That
is why you see most of the soldiers do not have satellite dishes because
they fear being victimized,” said the official.

He said there were private officers from the Military Police who were
assigned to monitor the situation in various army camps throughout the
country.

A junior soldier said: “This is unfair and absolute cowardice. There is need
for media reform in this country. We are denied access to information and
entertainment. Why should we pay for radio licenses when they deny us the
right to hear what we want? They want to force us to listen to Zanu (PF)
propaganda songs. Zimbabwe is a changed country and no one will ever listen
to these Zanu (PF) propaganda songs anymore.”

The soldiers confirmed that they were reading private newspapers in hiding
and watching foreign television channels in bars or at friends’ houses.


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No hope for new house

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Low income earners who have been on the housing waiting list for years said
it would take a ‘miracle’ for them to ever own a house.
25.11.1104:37pm
by Talent Bhachi

Many submitted applications years ago and have long since given up hope of
something becoming available.

“I applied for a stand in 1993 and since then I have been waiting, but
nothing has materialized. We applied when we were newly weds, but our family
has grown and we are still tenants, almost twenty years down the line,” said
Grace Nzvimbo.

Some people accused the housing department of corruption and helping others
to ‘jump’ the queue.

“I have been on the waiting list since 1998 and I thought I would get a
house under the Garikai/Hlangani Kule housing scheme, but after I inquired,
I found the recipients

had paid the authorities or were aligned to a certain political party. It’s
not fair because we were all affected by the clean up exercise instigated by
the government in 2005,” said Brian Gukwe.

Not in his lifetime

There are also reports that some people on the waiting list did not live to
see their dream of owning a house come true.

“My father was on the city’s housing waiting list for years and every time
he talked about it, he beamed with happiness. Due to ill health, he never
owned a house and he died a tenant,” said another Harare resident.

House seekers have been duped by bogus housing cooperatives countrywide. In
2005, more than 30 housing cooperatives exploited the country's haphazard
land reform programme to swindle thousands of home seekers billions of
dollars by allocating them stands on unserviced government or council farms.
Their structures were later demolished under the clean up exercise.

The City of Harare’s Housing Department revealed that the housing backlog
currently stands at a whopping 500 000 residents, with 200-220 housing
cooperatives not yet short-listed for any residential stands. Zimbabwe’s
housing backlog stands at a staggering 1,2 million applicants, a figure the
government says could soar if a proper survey was conducted.

National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mutsekwa revealed the
statistics in response to questions from MPs in the House of Assembly who
wanted to know what the government was doing to alleviate housing problems
in the country.

“The government alone will not be able to satisfy the housing needs of the
population,” he said, adding that reducing the housing backlog was a top
priority for his ministry.

“I will strongly recommend that housing becomes the third most urgent matter
after health and education,” he said.

NSSA – get involved

Mutsekwa said it was time the National Social Security Authority and
conglomerates like Old Mutual played a part in addressing the housing
crisis.

Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga asked Mutsekwa what would be done to help MPs
secure housing, as most of them did not have own accommodation.

“The housing problem also affects ministers. The policy is that, for every
project, we reserve 20% for civil servants and these also include MPs. For
those not in government service, we will demand $10 000 deposit, and for
government employees we will demand $3 600 deposit while the rest will be
paid over five years,” Mutsekwa said.

The minister warned those settling in undesignated areas that they would be
removed. “We will displace you, but my ministry has a policy that we will
not displace a person and fail to find a replacement for them,” Mutsekwa
said.


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Rural schools get lease of life

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

Four years ago children in the Chidamoyo rural area spent their days foraging for food or struggling to make the 30km round trip to the nearest school in the area to learn how to read and write.

New desks provided by the ZRSDP.
New desks provided by the ZRSDP.

Now, 351 children have a brand new school with the luxury of an actual classroom to learn in, textbooks and qualified teachers. This has all been made possible by the dedication of a handful of ex-teachers who set up a charity in the UK to raise money to improve the educational prospects of children in deprived rural areas. In the past 10 years, the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Development Programme, has raised more than 117,000, which has been invested in seven rural schools across the country, helping more than 1,000 children gain a vital education.

From humble beginnings, the charity now aspires to raise more than 50,000 a year to invest in Zimbabwe's most deprived rural schools. As well as providing vital text books and organising donations of computers through corporate sponsorship, the charity also focuses on providing schools with proper infrastructure so children have a good learning environment.

Diverse projects

The ZRSDP has been involved in a number of projects, including helping rebuild Mpane Primary School near Bulawayo which was completely destroyed by a vicious storm in 2008. They are also working with another charity to provide funds to Mpumelelo secondary school which is 150km outside of Bulawayo and in desperate need of rebuilding and text books. But, the biggest project the charity has been involved in is building a new school in Makowe, 300km North West of Harare.

One of the committee members, Justin Hess, visits the projects often with his wife Nikki to make sure they are staying on track.

“When we started working with that community, there was no school there. The parents were desperate. Some of the children were walking to a school 30km away, which is outrageous.”

Since 2008, the charity has built one classroom block, accommodation for teachers and it is just about to finish the second classroom block. At first there were 50 children attending the school. There are now 351. It costs $20,000 to build and kit out a classroom block. To minimise costs, the charity makes sure the local community are fully involved in planning the project and helping construct the buildings.

The charity aims to involve members of the local community in all aspects of the building work.
The charity aims to involve members of the local community in all aspects of the building work.

In Makowe, the villagers all pitched in to make bricks, transport sand to the building site and help out with their time and labour.

“When my wife and I visited the school we were blown away by how much having it there meant to the community. Every single parent and child came to the school to see us to say thank you. Just one classroom block made a phenomenal difference. For the first time, these kids had a roof over their heads and could learn off a chalkboard with text books. Before this, they were using rocks to draw on the ground, there was no running water and teachers would only stay for a term because there was nowhere for them to sleep. We realised there was so much more that we could do.”

Teacher training

As well as fixing the water pump and building teachers’ accommodation, the charity has started a teacher training programme to attract better qualified teachers to the area.

“We are looking at getting five teachers from every school and putting them into a week-long course to give them skills they can use in the classrooms and pass along to their colleagues,” explained Hess.

In addition, the charity are also giving the local communities skills to help them in the future. When the charity visited Makowe in September 2009, they realised that one of the biggest problems preventing the children from getting to school was hunger. Their parents did not have enough food for more than one meal a day and many of the children spent their time foraging for food. The charity organised enough maize to be delivered to the community to see them through to the next harvest. They also arranged for three days of specialised training for the subsistence farmers to help them maximise their yields.

More than 300 people turned up at the specialised training provided by the charity Foundation for Farming. The overwhelmed community donated much of their extra harvest that year to the local hospital in gratitude and are now able to feed themselves and their children, as well as sell extra produce to get an income.

The charity is also now focusing on making all of their projects sustainable so, eventually, the local communities will be responsible for supporting the schools in their areas.

For more information, or to donate, go to www.zrsdp.org


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Order of Merit for WOZA leader

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

In recognition of William’s relentless engagement in advocating for
democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, the French President decided, on
recommendation of the French Embassy, to award the activist the National
Order of Merit at a ceremony in Harare on Friday evening.
24.11.1101:51pm
by Rejoice Ndlovu

In her acceptance speech, Williams paid tribute to the other women of WOZA
who have made sacrifices in the pursuit of peace.

“When I formed WOZA with late Sheba Dube I never imagined we would grow into
the movement that WOZA is today and I could not have done it without the
support and sacrifice of my family and my comrades, Magodonga Mahlangu and
many others.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and
commitment. To be a member of WOZA is to be one amongst many fearlessly
brave and determined women and men - I am proud that they count me as their
sister and mother.”

Williams went on to say that it was not too late for the political
leadership to return to the promises of the liberation war.

“Enough blood has been spilt in a violent war for these ideals. WOZA members
fight tirelessly, but this time non-violently so that we can see, feel and
enjoy those promises.”

She accepted the award in recognition of the thousands of community
activists who championed for change in the country.

“This award will also help to lift the profile of these champions and
protect them from abuse and torture and may even save their lives.” In
conclusion, Williams drew attention to the 16 Days Campaign that began on
Friday.

“Recently the Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that 124 women were raped in
11 days. In this harsh economic climate, there is no peace in our homes and
women are the punching bag. It is said that sexual harassment is experienced
by up to 70 % of

women and I am one of the 70%. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape
and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria.
This year the theme is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's
Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’. The time has come for
a code RED against rape of women and girls.”


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Eight Activists Arrested As Onslaught Escalates In Masvingo

http://www.radiovop.com

Bikita, November 26, 2011 – Eight civil society leaders were arrested Friday
in Bikita for attending a restructuring exercise.

The eight arrested are being held by at the police cells at Nyika Growth
point.

The civil leaders were arrested after the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
officers gate-crushed into the meeting organised by the Community Tolerance
Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD).

In a statement, COTRAD executive said the meeting was aimed at widening the
consciousness of the youth in national issues.

The meeting also aimed at rejuvenating the need for youths to take leading
role of youths in nation building in light of the forthcoming referendum and
much awaited decisive general election.

Some of the people arrested include COTRAD programs officer Brighton Ramusi,
Gamuchirai Mukura, Faith Chinooneka and five others whose names are still
yet to be confirmed.

No formal charges have been pressed yet.

Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake said he needed time to
communicate with his officers in Bikita in order to get finer details of
what exactly happened.

“We strongly condemn the continuous suffocation and persecution of activists
by the members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” reads part of the statement
from COTRAD.

The past two weeks have seen an upsurge in arrest of journalists and civil
society leaders a situation similar to the post March 2008 polls. Analysts
accuse the former ruling party Zanu-PF for these arrests alleging that the
President Robert Mugabe’s in the campaign mode.


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Climate change hits Africa's poorest farmers



By GILLIAN GOTORA, Associated Press – 2 hours ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — As she surveys her small, bare plot in Zimbabwe's
capital, farmer Janet Vambe knows something serious is happening, even if
she has never heard of climate change.

"Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains started," the
72-year-old said. Nowadays, "we have to gamble with the rains. If you plant
early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We are at a loss
of what to do."

Paramu Mafongoya, a University of Zimbabwe agronomist, says Vambe's worries
and those of millions of other poor farmers — most of them women — across
Africa are a clear sign of the impact of climate change on a continent
already struggling to feed itself. Changes have been noted in the timing and
the distribution of rainfall on the continent. Zimbabweans say the rainy
season has become shorter and more unpredictable, Mafongoya said.

Climate change "is a serious threat to human life," Mafongoya said. "It
affects agriculture and food security everywhere."

International climate change negotiators meet in the South African coastal
city of Durban starting Monday. Their agenda includes how to get African and
other developing countries the technology and knowledge to ensure that
people like Vambe can keep feeding their families without looking for
emergency food aid.

A Green Climate Fund that would give $100 billion a year by 2020 to
developing countries to help them fight climate change and its effects was
agreed on at last year's climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. Durban negotiators
hope to make progress on addressing questions such as where the money will
come from and how will it be managed.

Climate change specialist Rashmi Mistry said her anti-hunger group Oxfam
will be in Durban lobbying to ensure that women have a voice in managing the
Green Fund, and that their needs are addressed when its money is spent. Most
small-scale farmers in Africa are women, and they also are the ones shopping
for the family's food. But tradition often keeps them out of policymaking
roles.

Mistry said when yields are low and market prices are high, women are the
first to suffer.

"She's the one usually who will feed her husband first and feed her children
first, and she will go hungry," Mistry said.

Across Africa, said Andrew Steer, the World Bank's special envoy on climate
change, farmers need to triple production by 2050 to meet growing needs.

"At the same time, you've got climate change lowering average yields by
what's expected to be 28 percent," Steer said. He called for more investment
in such areas as agricultural research and water management.

Experts already are working on solutions. For example, Africa Harvest, a
think tank that uses science and technology to address poverty and improve
livelihoods among some of the poorest people in Africa, is working with
farmers in an arid stretch in eastern Kenya who were finding it harder and
harder to grow their usual crops of corn and beans. Africa Harvest got
farmers to switch to sorghum. They have seen bumper harvests as a result
because they are focusing on the right crop and the right practices for the
climate, said Moctar Toure, chairman of Africa Harvest, who will be in
Durban for the talks.

"The way we do agricultural development has to change," Toure told The
Associated Press. "We need to balance the need to increase farm productivity
with environmental conservation. We will also work towards broad policy
changes in our target countries in order to address endemic problems
(affecting women) such as land right security, access to credit and
knowledge."

Experts worry that one consequence of resources becoming scarcer will be
more frequent conflict. Already, Zimbabwe has seen aid used as a political
weapon. Those who can prove their loyalty to longtime President Robert
Mugabe's party have been seen to be favored when it comes time to hand out
seeds or food.

Modern techniques of growing drought-resistant crops like sorghum and
millet, staggering planting programs, irrigation and harvesting rain and
river water in dams help minimize the risk to farmers. But Zimbabwe's modern
agricultural infrastructure has been disrupted by a decade of political and
economic turmoil.

Acute food shortages eased after Zimbabwe adopted the U.S. dollar to end
world-record inflation in 2009, but local farm production continues to
decline. This month, the U.N. food agency said more than 1 million
Zimbabweans needed food aid and poor families, especially households with
orphans and vulnerable children, can't afford much of the food that is
available. Most of that food is imported.

Climate change, like the political problems linked to poverty in Zimbabwe,
is manmade, though over a longer term.

Scientists say the accumulation of carbon dioxide traps the Earth's heat,
and is causing dramatic changes in weather patterns, agricultural conditions
and heightened risks of devastating sea-level rise. Industrialized nations
bear the bulk of the blame, since they have been pumping carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere for 200 years.

Africa emits only about 3 percent of the total greenhouse gases per year,
but its fragile systems and impoverished people are hardest hit by the
consequences.

Weather experts say Zimbabwe's average rainfall has decreased over the
decade and October temperatures this year soared to above 40 Celsius (104
Fahrenheit), the highest since 1962.

Harare meteorologist Jephias Mugumbate said rains in January and February —
crucial for the ripening of crops — can no longer be relied on.

It was often said drought in southern Africa recurred every 10 years.

"But now it has become more frequent and intensified. Temperatures show an
upward trend and instead of being cooler our nights are becoming hotter,"
Mugumbate said

Like Vambe, tens of millions of Africans rely on rain-fed agriculture.

Vambe's corn crop has supported her family for more than five decades. But
her yields have been steadily falling.

She walks at daybreak to her nearly bare field 10 miles (15 kilometers) from
her home in the impoverished western Harare township of Highfield. She has
finished planting her seed with the help of her two grandchildren. The dusty
brown soil beckons for rain.

Maize, the nation's staple food, needs 60 days of moisture to reach
maturity.

"The rains have become erratic. We can no longer rely on the seasons," Vambe
said.

She has had to replant on several occasions because of a "false start" to
the rainy season.

"This is what has been affecting our yields since 2000. We are no longer
getting good yields because the rain comes and goes away," she said.

In the past, the growing season ended in March and harvests were gathered
through April.

"Today, nothing is definite. You get rain in April then our maize rots in
the fields," Vambe said. "If we are not respecting our spirits and if they
are angry, there will be no rain."


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Beit Bridge Border post

via Justice for Agriculture<justiceforagriculture@zol.co.zw>;

Clive Stockil of Save Valley Conservancy has recently been appointed to the
Board of ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority). His first personal target is to
change the situation at Beitbridge Border Post which we all know can put off
SA visitors to Zimbabwe for life....literally, people vow never to return.
Let alone us who have endured the situation interminably.

He is requesting that anyone who has had a negative experience at the border
please email him with a letter in document form that he can print off and
put on the desks of the ministers concerned. So please encourage your
visitors who visit over the festive season to do this and indeed any of you
who are traveling over the holidays.

What a joy it would be to not have to dread the border crossing!

Clive's email is clives@senuko.com


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Plum coloured Starling


Dear Family and Friends,
The saying it never rains but it pours, was never more true than this
week. After another round of scorching temperatures, punishing water
shortages and bone dry days, a storm brewed up very rapidly early one
evening. Very strong winds were followed by a spectacular half hour of
continuous sheet and forked lightning and then the heavens opened.
Fifty millimetres (two inches) of rain pounded down in an hour and a
half over areas of Mashonaland East and left us like drowned rats
floating on the detritus. Areas of Harare had eighty millimetres in an
hour and huge pine trees fell like matchsticks in many places.

I thought I’d had it bad when about two litres of rain streamed in
through a hole in my roof soaking everything in its splash range
below. It was nothing compared to a neighbour whose roof leak caught
twenty litres of rain – it was like someone left the tap running he
said. We both laughed at the insanity of that comparison because our
taps only ever have water for a couple of hours a day if we’re lucky
as our town continues to suffocate in a never ending water crisis.
It’s a crisis that has crippled most towns and cities around the
country despite donors providing all the water treatment chemicals and
almost three years of opposition control of town councils. The
municipalities give more excuses than you can shake a stick at, none
of which help alleviate the toil of finding, collecting and carrying
water all the time, or reducing the fear of disease. A number of
people in my immediate neighbourhood have been collecting water for
weeks from an open and unprotected shallow well they have dug in a
patch of open ground near a local cemetery. They had their water
supplies disconnected by the local municipality because they
couldn’t afford to pay large backdated accounts which went back to
early 2009 when we converted to trading in US dollars. The amounts
owing by residential households range from fifty to five hundred US
dollars and leave people with no choice but to risk disease and
collect water wherever they find it.

The last water-borne disease tragedy to hit Zimbabwe was an horrific
cholera epidemic in 2008 which killed over four thousand people. This
year the disease fear is typhoid. The Harare City Council this week
said they were “talking numbers in excess of 500 cases” in the
capital alone. Their spokesman said shallow wells and boreholes in
unsuitable places were the main carriers of typhoid. Messages are
being sent out by one mobile phone service provider alerting people to
the spread of typhoid through contaminated food and water and advising
people with fever, stomach pains and diarrhoea to get medical
treatment immediately.

The morning after the storm the roads in my neighbourhood had been
scoured. Thick beds of sand blanketed corners, dips and the bottoms of
hills. Potholes and gullies not filled or patched, let alone even
inspected for over five years, tripled in size and depth overnight.
What should have been simple, routine road maintenance has been
ignored for so many years that it will now need heavy machinery and
vast amounts of money to restore basic suburban roads.

Closer to home casualties of the rain storm lay in the form of carpets
of flying ants’, countless drowned earth worms and curled up, water-
logged sausage flies. A veritable explosion of Tsongololos
(millipedes) emerged from underground. Flooded out of their hiding
places, they were drying out on rocks, logs and sandy patches
everywhere. Hard at work were numerous birds whose nests had been
damaged in the storm. Weavers, Flycatchers and Manikins worked
tirelessly, flitting backwards and forwards with strips of grass,
fluffy seeds and strands of papyrus. The best sight was that of a
gorgeous Plum-coloured Starling carrying bunches of soft green Musasa
leaves to re-line its nest in a toilet stack pipe. Such beauty in such
an ugly venue, a familiar Zimbabwean contrast.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy 26 November 2011.
Copyright � Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com


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Masuku speaks to ZIP... John Makumbe

http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/masuku-speaks-zip-john-makumbe
Published on : 25 November 2011 - 2:47pm | By John Masuku

In the last decade very few people have stood up to openly criticize President Robert Mugabe ‘s style of governance. University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe is one such fearless commentator.

Zimbabwean professor John Makumbe is known for his hard hitting political analyses on radio and in the press, especially during the political and economic meltdown that almost brought the country to its knees before the formation of a government of national unity in 2009. It makes him one of the very few people who openly criticize President Robert Mugabe, who has held the country in a firm grip for more than 30 years now. Mukambe: “The reason why I am critical and almost radical is because I am patriotic. And I never allow fear to rule me.”

Stigmatised
Growing up as a stigmatized young boy because of his albinism, Makumbe had to fight for his own rights. “I had a tough time growing up,” he says. “I was insulted, harassed and tortured by my peers at school and during play. But I fought back. When I became a Christian in 1969 I began to forgive all those who tormented me because of my God-given condition. I realized that I can’t change myself and I now joke and laugh about being an albino.”

Albino rights
Makumbe is an advocate for albino rights. “I started the Zimbabwe Albino Association, which has 14,000 members all over the country. We get support from local donors. We use it to buy sunscreens, hats and lotions. Currently we’re focusing on school going children. We also have advocacy programmes that help us fight the stigmatisation albinos face.”

Former ZANU(PF) supporter
Over the years Makumbe has been closely associated with opposition leaders like Margaret Dongo, the late Edgar Tekere and Morgan Tsvangirai, whose adviser he was. A former staunch supporter of ZANU(PF), he felt betrayed when he found that the then sole ruling party was working towards a one party state and was also suspected of rigging elections. He strongly urges opposition parties to unite in order to topple Mugabe’s party.

Aspiring politician
Makumbe has now publicly declared his interest in running for office on an MDC-T ticket. As an independent commentator he strongly criticises the party whenever it slacks on direction and decisiveness. “If I were to be part of the current national unity government I would immediately call for the impeachment of President Mugabe because he is now too old to rule,” says Makumbe. “He in power, but he is not governing. In reality, the Joint Operation Command (JOC) of the army, the air force, the state security and the police is running the country.”

Fighting dictatorship
Makumbe says he is “cross about the trampling of people’s rights. I can’t stand dictatorship. I very strongly hate any human rights violations. ZANU (PF) is a major perpetrator of human rights violations. They use power to subdue those who disagree with them and that’s unacceptable in a democracy.”

  • John Makumbe and John Masuku (seen right)<br>&copy; Photo: Charles Saki  - http://www.rnw.nl/africaJohn Makumbe and John Masuku (seen right)
    Photo: Charles Saki - http://www.rnw.nl/africa
  • John Makumbe and John Masuku (seen right)<br>&copy; Photo: Charles Saki  - http://www.rnw.nl/africaJohn Makumbe and John Masuku (seen right)
    Photo: Charles Saki - http://www.rnw.nl/africa

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