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Madiro probe sends jitters within Zanu PF

February 10, 2013 in Politics

The suspension of Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson, Mike Madiro
over allegations of fraud and corruption has sent jitters within the party
amid revelations that President Robert Mugabe has authorised the
investigation of more bigwigs over graft charges.

Madiro and four others were suspended last week over allegations that they
converted to personal use nearly US$1 million they had sourced from diamond
mining firms in Manicaland on the pretext that it was meant for party

There are also reports that the provincial leaders allegedly looted an
unspecified number of cattle meant for last year’s 21st February celebration
held to mark Mugabe’s birthday.

The Manicaland provincial chairman was on Thursday spotted at State House,
where he was said to have been grilled by Mugabe and his top lieutenants
before being handed a letter of suspension.

Madiro emerged from the “grilling” carrying an envelope which he later
opened in his vehicle, sources in the party said.

But the sources said despite Madiro’s suspension, Zanu PF was in a quandary
over how to proceed with the case as more bigwigs among its cabinet
ministers and politburo members have been implicated in similar corrupt

“There are fears that those arrested will spill the beans. They know of
other senior party official who have also fleeced diamond mining firms in
Marange,” said a senior Zanu PF official.

“The party is now in a dilemma over what to do because if Madiro is
arrested, then two or three cabinet ministers also have to face the music.”

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Party to weed out senoir corrupt officials: Mutasa

February 10, 2013 in Politics

But Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa yesterday vowed
that the party would weed out cabinet ministers and senior officials
implicated in corruption, as it seeks to portray a “clean” image ahead of
this year’s watershed elections.


Mutasa told The Standard that in line with what Mugabe pledged at the Zanu
PF annual national people’s conference in Gweru last year, all cabinet
ministers and senior officials implicated in corruption would soon be
investigated by the police.

“All of us in the party must be straightforward in our dealings,” he said.

“All those implicated in corruption, no matter what rank they hold, be it
cabinet minister, will be investigated.”

Mutasa said police investigations should reveal if there were ministers and
other top officials involved in the nearly US$1 million scam which led to
Madiro’s suspension.

He described as misplaced, comments by Madiro that he was being targeted by
his political opponents within Zanu PF, who wanted to destroy him.

“Madiro should not complain that the allegations are a creation of certain
individuals,” Mutasa said.

“It is the police and not Zanu PF who alerted us of these allegations. The
police wrote to the presidium [Zanu PF] detailing the allegations. The
President [Mugabe] then said the police should go ahead with their

He said Zanu PF would not collapse in Manicaland because of the suspension
of its chairman.

“The party does not depend on one individual, but on all its members whose
interests it is always fighting for,” he said.

Sources in Zanu PF said renewed threats to arrest corrupt officials were an
election gimmick.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has been investigating
several bigwigs implicated in corrupt deals, but no headway has been made,
as Mugabe was yet to authorise the arrest of the suspects.

Mugabe at his party’s conference in December last year, revealed that some
of his cabinet ministers were corrupt to the core, demanding bribes of up to
US$10 million from prospective foreign investors. He admitted that some of
the cabinet ministers were using his name to hoodwink the unsuspecting
investors, some of whom had complained to former South African President
Thabo Mbeki.

Mugabe’s threats to fire the implicated ministers have yet to materialise.

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Referendum dates to be ‘fixed’ this week

February 10, 2013 in Politics

DATES for the referendum on the proposed new constitution will be “fixed”
this week, paving the way for the stepping up of preparations for this year’s
elections, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.


Chinamasa told The Standard yesterday that following the tabling and
adoption of the Copac draft charter in the two houses of Parliament last
week, the Global Political Agreement principals would now go ahead and fix
the exact dates for the referendum.

He said fixing of the dates would be done despite the fact that the
government had not yet secured the estimated US$250 million required to hold
both the referendum and elections.

“That’s not our headache,” Chinamasa said. “What we know is that a
referendum and elections are going to take place soon.”

President Robert Mugabe has reportedly set June 29 as the date for the
elections, but a faction within his party loyal to vice- President Joice
Mujuru is said to be lobbying for the postponement of polls fearing Zanu PF
was not yet ready.

The MDC led by Industry and Commerce minister, Welshman Ncube has also
prefers elections at the end of September when all the electoral and other
reforms have been implemented.

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Referendum attracts mixed feelings

February 10, 2013 in Local

ZIMBABWE will soon be going to a referendum to decide on the fate of the
draft constitution, but if recent events are anything to go by, the
plebiscite would be nothing more than a rubber stamping exercise.


With memories of the last referendum still lingering, many would have
expected a contest between those who support the Copac draft and those
against it.

But the prospects of a real battle are fast diminishing.

This is because Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC, who between them
have a majority of supporters in the country, are endorsing the draft.

The three parties are likely to whip their members to vote for the draft
constitution, rendering any opposition to it futile.

The question, therefore, is whether the referendum could be of any use or
would just turn out to be a further strain on the country’s delicate

A fortnight ago, Finance minister Tendai Biti said he had only US$217 in the
national coffers but the country needed at least US$85 million to hold the

Political analyst, Trevor Maisiri contends the referendum will be a platform
for consensus from the three parties and there will be no contestation.

He however maintains that it ought to be held.

“I think it is part of the democratic process to allow the draft to go
through to the referendum as not everyone is Zanu PF or part of the two
MDCs,” Maisiri, a senior analyst for southern Africa at the International
Crisis Group, said.

He said even if people opposed to the draft were a minority, they deserved
to be given a chance to be heard.

“Even if there are people who belong to minority political parties or
groupings that do not agree to the draft, it is their democratic right to
express their views through a referendum,” Maisiri said.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a faction of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and a number of organisations have already
aired their discontent at the draft, vowing to oppose it.

Maisiri conceded that the constitution-making exercise was supposed to be
“people-driven”, but had been usurped by the political parties.

“This is precisely what happens when we try to adopt democratic processes
under a weak democratic culture,” he explained.
“Even the outreach process was not people-driven, as political parties
hijacked the process and only political party positions were given room for

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Draft constitution must be contested: NCA

February 10, 2013 in Local

NCA official, Blessing Vava said it was folly to assume that since the three
parties had assented to the draft, the public would also accept it.

“I do not think everyone is endorsing it. Only leaders of political parties
are happy” he said. “If you look at our critiques of the draft, you will
realise that we are raising fundamental issues.”

Vava said the NCA was mobilising its supporters and partners to campaign
against the draft, which he described as a negotiated settlement, rather
than people- driven.

NCA leader, Lovemore Madhuku has also strongly rejected the draft, saying he
was opposing it on matters of principle. He told a meeting in South Africa
last week that all voices must be heard to promote plurality.

“A yes campaign by all promotes a wrong precedent,” he said, adding that it
was better to invest in a proper process. “The issue is not about whether
‘no’ vote wins, it is about principle to allow all voices and promote

But supporters of the draft constitution say this will be Zimbabwe’s real
chance of entrenching constitutionalism, where the authority of the
government is derived from the people.

Constitutionalism entails institutionalised mechanisms of power control for
the protection of the interests and liberties of all citizens, including
those that may be in the minority.

“This process gives Zimbabweans an opportunity to decide their fate,” MDC
secretary general, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga told an Open Society
Initiative of Southern Africa meeting on Friday.

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Residents turn to bucket latrines

February 10, 2013 in Local

Most people living in flats in Mbare have resorted to using the bucket
toilet system when nature calls because they have not had running water for
the past three weeks.

Report by Jairos Saunyama

Each morning, the residents empty buckets full of human waste into Mukuvisi
River and other open spaces because their toilets have since blocked due to
a shortage of water.

This has exposed not only residents of Mbare to diseases such as cholera and
typhoid, but all the people who live downstream. This is also affecting
residents of Harare and Chitungwiza, who drink poorly treated water from
Lake Chivero.

When The Standard crew visited the populous suburb last week, residents said
they defecated in buckets in their homes and threw the waste into Mukuvisi
River during the night or in the early morning hours.

Most toilet chambers in flats like Nenyere, Matapi, Tagarika and other areas
of Mbare were last week overflowing with human waste.

Some of the desperate residents wrap their faeces and throw them into the
street or any open space available. Human waste could be seen spattered on
toilet floors where the residents do their laundry, using heavily-polluted
water from Mukuvisi River and storm drains.

“We have resorted to these desperate and shameful ways since the sewer
system has stopped functioning because of water problems,” said one woman
who identified herself as Mai Sean of Tagarika Flats.
“We have not been using real toilets since last week.”

Another resident, Ariel Shumba from Matapi Flats said it was a health hazard
to use toilets which had become home to maggots and flies.

“The toilet is just a mess and no one can attempt to go inside. The
situation is unbearable and we don’t know what to do,” said Shumba.
“People are now disposing their waste during the night or in the early hours
of the morning. We are now exposed to cholera and other diseases.”

The Standard news crew could see some children playing soccer barefoot on a
pitch dotted with human waste, oblivious of the danger they were exposed to.

“It is by God’s grace that our children have not yet contracted diseases
because they play on this dirty pitch every day,” said Mai Sean.

The City of Harare has been struggling to supply adequate and clean drinking
water to residents for the past couple of years.
Several suburbs in the capital have their taps running only two days a week
while eastern suburbs such as Glen Lorne, Borrowdale and Greendale have
experienced water woes for years. This has forced many residents to drill
boreholes on their properties.

Low-income suburbs such as Budiriro, Mufakose, Kuwadzana, Glen View and
Kambuzuma also face serious water problems.
In most cases, the residents are seen queuing at boreholes sunk by Unicef,
some of which are contaminated, making the water unfit for domestic use.

Over 4 000 people have succumbed to cholera and typhoid since 2008.
This has been attributed mainly to the water crisis in Harare’s
high-density, low-income areas.

Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi recently said water problems in Harare
were a structural problem that required huge amounts of money to resolve.

“That is a universal problem. The areas in question are those that once went
for years without water and it requires millions of dollars to sort out the
problems. We do not have that kind of money, but we are trying our best to
improve the situation,” said Gwindi.

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Cop’s arrest signals the worst to come

February 10, 2013 in Local, News

THE recent detention of a police officer for reported involvement in
politics could be a precedent that the force will be hard-pressed to follow.


Assistant Inspector Collen Musorowegomo was recently imprisoned for 12 days
for his involvement in politics after he wrote a report critical of the
police force ahead of the 2008 elections.
His lawyer, John Mugogo said his client had been charged “for violating the
Police Act by actively participating in politics”.

However, the police have their work cut out, as there are a number of senior
police officers who are openly dabbling in politics.

This has led to observers calling for security sector reforms, as the police
are often seen to be partisan, particularly supporting Zanu PF.

Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri has come out openly declaring
his links to Zanu PF, with critics claiming that because of this, he could
not perform his duties professionally.

“We are part and parcel of the revolution. We cannot be divorced from that
revolution. those who are thinking of leading this country without
respecting those who fought for it must stop dreaming,” Chihuri was quoted
as saying.

In 2011, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai fought a losing battle as he tried
to stop President Robert Mugabe from re-appointing Chihuri because of
alleged partisanship.

Police spokesman, Oliver Mandipaka is also reportedly eyeing a seat in
Buhera, while a Superintendent Muponora is also reported to covet a seat in
Mount Darwin.

But observers doubt that the police will be able to also clamp down on these
officers who are openly engaging in politics, saying since they were on the
Zanu PF side, they were likely to remain untouched.

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Chiefs set to get new cars

February 10, 2013 in Local

TRADITIONAL chiefs are set to receive new cars under the chiefs’ vehicle
revolving fund, which has been largely dormant in the past few years


Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo announced the scheme in the
latest Government Gazette saying it would be backdated to September 2004.

According to the regulations, each chief will pay back the full cost of the
vehicle they would have been allocated.
The minister will determine the interest.

Critics have often accused Zanu PF of using trinkets to buy the loyalty of
chiefs, but the government insists there is nothing untoward about the

They have also questioned the timing of the vehicle offer considering that
elections are supposed to be held later this year.

But Chiefs’ council leader, Fortune Charumbira said there was nothing new
about the scheme. He also said that all chiefs had paid the government back
for the vehicles they had received in the past.

“It is the same as the parliamentary vehicle loan scheme. we have always
been paying back,” he said. “I can assure you, no chief owes the government
anything for those cars.”

Charumbira said chiefs were supposed to receive cars every five years and
paying back over a corresponding period.
“We received poor quality Mazdas which cannot last five years in rural
areas. as I speak, most of those cars broke down in less than three years,”
he said.

He added that it was actually the government that owed chiefs, not the other
way round.

Charumbira said since the setting up of the inclusive government, chiefs had
not received cars, meaning that traditional leaders who received vehicles in
2004 were yet to receive replacements.

He said about 180 of the 227 chiefs countrywide were yet to receive cars.

“As you can see, that is a serious backlog,” he said.

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Govt owes traditional leaders: Zvidzai

February 10, 2013 in Local

Local Government Deputy minister, Sesel Zvidzai confirmed that chiefs were
paying for the vehicles that they received from the government.

“They have been paying,” he said. “But as you know, some of the payments
became meaningless because of the inflationary environment around 2008.”

Zvidzai, like Charumbira, said the chiefs’ vehicle scheme was similar to the
parliamentary one and there was nothing new about it. He confirmed that
chiefs were owed vehicles, saying the government was failing to keep pace
with replacements.

“In the past four years they have been receiving their cars in dribs and
drabs and this is not enough for them,” Zvidzai said.

He said it was government’s desire to ensure the “decorum of chieftainship
is enhanced”, as they were the custodians of culture.

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Community caregivers get further training

February 10, 2013 in Community News

A local non-governmental organisation has started a programme of training
community caregivers and people living with wheelchair-confined relatives on
ways of assisting the disabled, so that they do not develop secondary


The Health Promotion Clinic Trust (HPCT) director, Bigboy Madzivanzira said
training caregivers at the grassroots level was key towards improving the
lives of persons with disabilities in the country.

“HPCT has realised that there is poor supervision of individuals living with
mobility disabilities, resulting in premature death due to pressure sores,
urinary tract infections and other related conditions, hence our coming up
with such a programme. It will educate people in different communities on
how best they be handled,” said Madzivanzira.

He said in most cases, people with disabilities were neglected not because
relatives did not care, but because they lacked knowledge on how to look
after them.

“This programme encompasses basic disability management and wheel-chair
handling skills for those individuals,” he added.
Madzivanzira said the organisation would decentralise the training programme
to other towns.

“We realised that most of the training is done in the capital [Harare]. most
people cannot afford bus fares and other expenses,” he said.

“This is mainly an adult learning course. most of the participants need time
to do other activities after training, so we decided to follow them into
their communities.”

The organisation is also involved in training nurse aides in Harare’s
suburbs of Kuwadzana Extension, Dzivaresekwa, Waterfalls, Glendale and
Chitungwiza, among others.

The World Health Organistion (WHO) estimates that 1,3 million people have
disabilities in the country, which is about 10% of the total population.

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Security of tenure imperative in reviving agriculture sector

February 10, 2013 in Business

SECURITY of land tenure and opening-up of new markets are key imperatives in
reviving Zimbabwe’s faltering agricultural sector, Finance minister Tendai
Biti has said.


Speaking at a recent Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) symposium in
Harare recently, Biti said the land audit remained an important step towards
addressing the land question and reviving the economy.

“With regard to the land question, let’s have the land audit that we agreed
to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA). We agreed, we signed on for
them, let’s have the audits,” said Biti. “The function of the audit is not
to delegitimise people; it’s actually to legitimise. There are genuine
farmers out there, so you want to protect that individual so that he or she
has peace of mind.”

Biti said the absence of a land market was depriving many citizens of
Zimbabwe the opportunity to purchase land and use it productively.

He said that the result of not carrying out the audit and failure to
democratise the land reform, was the creation of generations of Zimbabweans
who wanted to own land but could not do so because there was no land market.

Biti said up to the year 1999, 74% of bank lending was channelled towards
agriculture but following the land reform and the attendant destruction of
mortgage finance, Zimbabwe was in a “calamitous” situation where 7% of bank
lending was going to agriculture and 22% to consumption by individuals.

The idea behind the land audit espoused in the GPA is to identify
under-utilised land in order to reposition the agricultural sector’s
erstwhile substantial contribution to the GDP.

Zimbabwe embarked on a fast track land reform programme in 2000 to redress
colonial imbalances.

However, the manner in which it was carried out led to international
condemnation, as commercial farmers were ejected from the farms and in the
process decimating production as the new farmers had neither the skills nor
access to financing.

Biti said the government has to put an end to continued acquisitions to deal
with security of tenure.

His calls come at a time when privately-owned conservancies around the
country are being invaded despite the existence of Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements.

An estimated 66% of Zimbabwe’s land is under communal farmers with experts
saying the small holder farmer plays a critical role in agricultural
production and food security. Independent estimates for 2012 indicate the
agricultural sector contributed 20,3% to GDP, while industry and services
sectors contributed 25,1% and 54,6% respectively.

Development consultant Mandivamba Rukuni emphasised the importance of
establishing functional linkages between various sectors of the economy. “If
we continue with current policies, both agriculture and manufacturing will
be dead in less than five years,” he said. “There is need to re-establish
vibrant, diversified and strong functional linkages with agriculture,
mining, construction and the services industry.”

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Child protection is the duty of the state

February 10, 2013 in Opinion

A story carried in a daily newspaper recently failed to get the prominence
it deserves. Titled Maize seed kills three children, the story only managed
to make page 3 of the daily but it carries far-reaching implications on the
state of child protection in the country.


A Bikita woman “cleaned” treated seed maize, roasted it and fed it to her
three young sons who died as a result. She was convicted of culpable
homicide and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment wholly suspended.

Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on
the Rights and Welfare of the Child provide for “holistic” protection of
children by putting in place issues that need special consideration by state
parties so that children’s rights become real rights which every child can
enjoy for the benefit of their complete and holistic development. The
guiding principles forming such provisions include a child’s survival and
development, best interest of the child concept, non-discrimination, child
protection and child participation. The principles form the basis of
responsible citizenry and accountability by authorities.

In the case under discussion, it is very easy to blame the 37-year-old
mother for having “killed her children”. It is also easy to even blame the
father for having aided in the “killing”. That is the easy way out.
According to the newspaper report, the mother “was lucky to escape jail”.

The story demonstrates that child protection in the country is non-existent.
An analysis of the circumstances surrounding the children’s tragic death
paints a grim picture of the importance placed on children’s rights in the
country. The mother clearly had no other means of feeding her three minor
children. No one says how she had come to be in that dire state except that
she was not receiving assistance from the children’s father.

We are also not told why the father could not provide the so-called material
support. We are also not clear whether the mother and now convict had ever
made use of the justice delivery system to arm-twist the father in playing
his part.

It is sad that when life is lost scapegoats are created. The mother who lost
her children became one. Her vulnerability and desperation were never
objectively assessed so that solutions could be found to the real issues.
Prosecuting the poor woman is shifting blame and is not the solution to the
real issue of starving children. It only traumatises her further.

Does anyone have any conscience at all? Is it not time that every duty
bearer goes through introspection and “prosecute and convict” themselves? Is
there no clear abdication of responsibility in situations such as this one?
Who should assume the mantle of ultimate protection when it comes to
children? Surely not an individual; in this instance a poor woman staying in
a drought-stricken area!
The fear is that when everyone folds their hands and blames someone else,
then the most vulnerable members of society become even further exposed to
blatant violations. When duty bearers across the responsibility spectrum are
aware that someone will hold them accountable, then preventive rather than
reactive actions become the order of the day.

Child protection, in the absence of supporting structures, becomes so in
name only. For instance if one were to research and follow up on this issue
with the responsible authority, who would they approach? Is it the Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare? Is it the Ministry of Social Services? The
point is, there is no single authority that is responsible for the welfare
of children, so at the end of the day no one is responsible.

While the children’s human rights’ movement may celebrate the inclusion of
children’s rights in the constitution, there is no doubt that the real
battle is yet to be won. This battle is about providing the requisite
administrative and implementation framework that is well-informed and has
the in-put of children themselves. Having laws on one hand is one thing and
making the laws work for those that they are intended for becomes something

Making child protection really meaningful for children means providing for
safety nets for those children who fall into special categories; children
from difficult circumstances, children in child labour, children living with
disabilities, children in prison and those in conflict with the law,
neglected children and orphaned children. If this is not done, then the
press can happily report on heart-rending cases of children dying (because
the real issue of hunger has not been solved) and place the blame squarely
on the parents (in spite of their circumstances.) Blame-shifting in such a
manner can never solve the reality of the issue; that child protection is
not the responsibility of individuals but all interested players up to the
ultimate duty bearer, the state.

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MDCs, other parties should unite to topple Mugabe

February 10, 2013 in Opinion

With harmonised elections possibly set for later this year in Zimbabwe,
Morgan Tsvangirai, who is the country’s Prime Minister and MDC-T leader, may
be heading either for his Waterloo or bliss at State House.


The MDC-T’s plans to form a united front with other smaller political
formations against President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF seem to have failed,
having been foiled again prior to the 2008 elections.

Now it is the talk doing rounds around Matabeleland provinces that all the
voters are geared to rally behind Welshman Ncube’s MDC formation in the
impending plebiscite, a move which may spell disaster for Tsvangirai.

Ncube’s MDC is reportedly still willing to enter a marriage of convenience
with Tsvangirai aimed at ending Mugabe’s rule.

While, national spokesperson for the MDC-T, Douglas Mwonzora has once again
made calls for smaller parties “to unite under one banner, which is MDC-T
under Morgan Richard Tsvangirai” his boss has remained adamant that he may
not unite with Ncube.

Further reports have it that even the MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti
was warming up to the idea of uniting with Ncube’s MDC formation against
Mugabe in the coming elections.

Tsvangirai must not fool himself that this time around he may ever defeat
Mugabe single-handedly without the support of the splinter MDC faction and
other smaller political formations.

The MDC-T leader must not be hoodwinked and deceived by the teas he has with
Mugabe during their Monday meetings.

He must not be deceived by Mugabe to draw swords against Ncube because he
and Ncube are fighting the same enemy, who is Mugabe himself and he would
rather unite with Ncube than his archrival.

alienating Ncube makes no sense when all Tsvangirai has to do is to make
sure Mugabe loses any election that comes this time around by all means. And
the means are readily available: a united front with Ncube, Job Sikhala,
Simba Makoni and with whichever smaller political formation may be

One thing Tsvangirai has to know is that the people of Zimbabwe have placed
their entire hopes in him. The civil servants, though they may not be at
liberty to say so, have restrained themselves from engaging into violent
strikes for salary hikes with the hope that one day Tsvangirai will find his
way to State House and change the status quo. But it may be not very long
before they give up on him if the former trade unionist defies the common
sense of simply forging a united front.

While Tsvangirai and Mugabe forged a coalition government to avert a looming
national catastrophe in 2008, the MDC-T leader may still do the same after
the elections and forge yet another coalition government with all the
parties that may give in to unite now against Mugabe’s Zanu PF in this year’s
harmonised elections.

It may only be selfish if not arrogant for Tsvangirai to resist any moves to
unite with other political formations, for surely why would he refuse to
take victory being handed down to him on a silver platter against the world’s
oldest president?

To Tsvangirai, please allow common sense to jolt you into action before you
may lose this grand opportunity of realising your dream of leading the
people of Zimbabwe out of their Egypt. Take advice and with God’s help you
will see yourself arresting all the woes of this country and Zimbabweans
shall salute you.

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Education in free-fall

February 10, 2013 in Opinion

Revelations that the much publicised poor Ordinary Level pass rate is
actually the best in 12 years will do little to allay fears that Zimbabwe’s
education system is free-falling.

Education minister David Coltart on Friday released statistics that showed
students actually performed better last year than in the previous years, as
he sought to quell criticism that he is presiding over an education system
that is weakening.

The figures, provided by Zimsec, may be accurate but sadly, they won’t bring
any cheer except to illustrate the crisis that is inherent in Zimbabwe’s

An 18,4% pass rate is not something parents, educators and students can be
proud of. Rather, it is a wake-up call that an unacceptable number of
students who are sitting for the O-Level examinations are failing and
therefore, something urgently needs to be done to stop that trend.

That is the important task the government, which has been underfunding the
sector, should be seized with this year.
A simple examination of the learning institutions shows a lot of issues need
attention. The condition of service for teachers remains a sore issue.

It’s common cause that disgruntled teachers cannot give their best to
students when they are always planning strikes.

Schools lack adequate textbooks and qualified personnel after thousands of
teachers left the country between 2005 and 2008.
In the farms there is chaos. Thousands of new schools that were created
without planning following the land reform exercise lack the basics needed
to make learning possible.

Temporary teachers who mainly teach pupils there lack basic resources such
as chalk.

In towns and cities, there has been a proliferation of colleges offering
secondary level studies. Little learning takes place at some of these
institutions whose pupils are found roaming in the streets and cyber loafing
most of the time.

These colleges need to be monitored in order to ensure that they uphold
standards needed for proper learning to take place.

Instead of politicking and finger-pointing, responsible authorities should
explore ways to ensure the education system is revamped as a matter of

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0’Level results: Don’t blame the children

February 10, 2013 in Editorial

In spite of high-sounding noises to the contrary, governments don’t want
children to pass examinations! This is a disturbing fact that all parents
don’t know and have never been told. Governments use school-leaving
examinations to manipulate the minds of the parents and children in a way
that diverts their minds from the governments’ own failures
For parents in Zimbabwe, examinations — especially O’level — are the most
important landmark in their children’s education. They have invested lots of
resources in the 11 years of their child’s education and expect a good
reward. They expect that their child passes the exams. They hope if their
child passes it improves not only their child’s lot but that of the family
as well.


Imagine then the disappointment when this doesn’t happen? Poorer parents,
who are in the majority, are dismayed that their child’s chance of getting a
job are scuppered and therefore the family remains in the same position of
poverty they wished to escape. Those parents who wished to see their
children progress with their education are disappointed that they won’t be
able to do so. The failure of the child becomes the failure of the family.
They blame themselves and their children for the failure, when the blame
should lie elsewhere.

It was saddening to read and hear what parents had to say about their
children’s performances. Most blamed their children for the failure. A
typical accusation was: “The calibre of the students that are there these
days are not using their school time productively. They will be busy on
their phones, be it WhatsApp, or Facebook.” (Zimsec O’Level results
disappoint parents, NewsDay February 6, 2013).

But how many of us who were educated in the pre-internet age ask ourselves
what high grades we could have achieved if we had access to as much
information as our children have? Have teachers and schools taught their
pupils to harness all the information they can get on the internet and use
it positively? But cartoons were drawn and funny result slips created to
illustrate the evil of the internet.

But the truth of the matter is; this is exactly what the government wished
to happen. They wanted the children to fail and place all the blame on
themselves and their parents and of course the internet. Many readers still
on haven’t seen the logic of this argument.

Roughly 300 000 children sat for the O’Level examinations last year; the
same figure perhaps for each of the past 15 years. For argument’s sake, if
all of them passed, what would be the result? The result would be a
political crisis of unprecedented proportions; more than a quarter of a
million people thrown onto the job market every year when the country’s
unemployment figure rate sits at more than 80%. The truth is the government
is not creating even a tenth of the jobs it should create a year; therefore
it has no clue as to what to do with the school-leavers pouring onto the job
market. To safeguard itself, it has to ensure that most children fail and
blame themselves for not getting jobs instead of pointing a figure at the
government. This strategy is not unique to Zimbabwe, the British and the
Americans have used it and continue to do so especially at university level.

When the unemployed youths demand jobs from government, all government has
to say is: “We gave you your chance and you failed!” When the same youths
clamour for tertiary education places, they are told the same. Crestfallen,
tails between their legs, the unemployed youths, who cannot further their
education, blame themselves for the mess they are in, instead of blaming the
true culprit.

Governments set examinations and mark them. They determine the passing marks
and the failing marks. Often they use what is called bell-curve grading, a
method of assigning grades designed to yield a desired distribution of
grades among the students writing exams. Theoretically, if one was to pick
randomly a sample of say 100 people and gave them an examination their
performances would fall in what is called “normal distribution” in which
most would be average, a small number exceptionally good, another small
number exceptionally weak. When the results are plotted in a graph it
describes a bell.

The government, when it sets exams may have a bell-curve graph such as the
one at the bottom, which predetermines that 2% of all the candidates who sit
an exam should obtain an A grade, 14% B, 68% C, another 14% D while the last
2% get U. It can manipulate the figures depending on what percentage of the
candidates it can absorb into higher education or into employment. In
Zimbabwe at the moment precious few can ever hope to get jobs after O’level,
let alone when they have failed. Again, very few will get Advanced Level
places; forget about university places. It is called the bottleneck system
of education inherited from the colonial system.

Universities work in a similar manner. What government needs hundreds of
thousands of unemployed graduates on the streets? Educated people on the
street constitute a security threat, but if they have been “given their
chance and failed”, they are easier to manage.

Our education system is wrong because it is based on the assumption that the
job market can absorb all school-leavers, when we know it cannot. Instead we
should design a system that gives the children skills they can use to
survive. In spite of everything, the Vapositori have the best education
system, every one of their children is taught a skill such as metal work;
there are no failures. A typical mupositori child can make something and
market it by the time he/she becomes an adult — that’s a win-win scenario.

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