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MPs expected to rubber stamp draft constitution

February 3, 2013 in Politics

LEGISLATORS are not expected to debate the proposed new charter when it is
tabled before Parliament on Tuesday, it has emerged.


Last week, Copac completed compiling a report which will accompany the draft
constitution when it goes for presentation to Parliament.
Copac co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora said the report outlining how the
constitution-making process went on for the past four years was completed
and adopted on Friday.

This was a day after the draft charter was formally endorsed by the
constitution select committee.

He said the report was the only document the Parliamentarians were expected
to debate on. Mwonzora said the legislators had no mandate to debate the
contents of the draft constitution despite the document being tabled before

“There is no need for MPs to purport to debate the new constitution because
they are not going to either adopt or reject the document,” he said. “They
cannot debate what the people are going to debate. It is only the Copac
report that they will debate on.”

Mwonzora said MPs would only debate the draft constitution after the
referendum set to take place soon.

“MPs represent people. If the people vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, the debate
in Parliament is going to be academic because MPs cannot substitute what the
people said,” said Mwonzora.

Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana also said Parliament
had no power to change “what came from the people.”
He said while the draft was expected to be tabled before Parliament on
Tuesday, the Copac report would be presented on Wednesday, with its debate
and immediate adoption set for Thursday.

“The MPs as representatives of the people cannot query what the people
said,” Mangwana said “The people will make the final decision when the
constitution goes for a referendum.”

Mangwana said merely noting receipt of the draft and not giving MPs an
opportunity to debate was not tantamount to Parliament merely rubberstamping
the document.

“You cannot say this is rubberstamping because rubberstamping is just
endorsing without thinking,” he said.

The three Global Political Agreement principals — President Robert Mugabe,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC leader, Welshman Ncube — recently
cleared some of the sticky issues in the draft charter after four years of

This paved the way for last week’s formal adoption of the draft by Copac.

The parties are already campaigning for a “Yes” vote after agreeing to
further compromise on issues such as executive powers, devolution,
presidential running mates and the establishment of an independent
prosecuting authority and constitutional court.
But Copac critics among them Professor Lovemore Madhuku, who heads the
National Constitutional Assembly are campaigning for a “NO” vote.

They are arguing that that the constitution-making process was driven by
“principals” instead of being “people” driven.

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No Zanu PF membership card, no flea market stall

February 3, 2013 in Politics

CHITUNGWIZA — Flea market operators in Chitungwiza’s Unit O suburb are being
forced to buy Zanu PF party cards before they are allowed to operate stalls.


The party is on a massive recruitment drive ahead of this year’s national

Traders who spoke to The Standard last week said they were being ordered to
support the former ruling party and buy membership cards before being
allowed to operate stalls at Unit O shopping centre.

One trader, who refused to be named for the fear of victimisation, said they
have been forced to dance to the Zanu PF tune for a long time.

“This madness must stop, we are tired of being victimised by the youths who
harass us every time,” he said.

“This place does not belong to Zanu PF and it will never stop us from voting
for whoever we want even if they continue to intimidate us.”

Apart from being forced to buy Zanu PF cards, the traders are also coerced
to attend the party’s meetings and burial of heroes and heroines.

Another trader, who asked not to be named, said they were also being forced
to register as voters and to notify the party after doing so.

“We were advised to go and register as voters after that one is required to
visit the local Zanu PF offices with a paper that serves as a proof that you
have registered and they record you in their book,” said the trader. “The
process is cumbersome.”

In the past few years, flea markets and bus termini in Zimbabwe’s urban
areas have become cash cows for financially-struggling Zanu PF.
In Harare, flea market and other small-scale business operators in Mbare’s
Magaba, Green market, Mupedzanhamo and Siya-so are always forced to fund
Zanu PF activities or to attend the party’s meetings or heroes day

Those who fail to attend such events risk losing their stalls, which are a
source of livelihood for most people.

With the general elections expected this year, most traders feared losing
their stalls to Zanu PF supporters as has been the case in previous polls.

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson were fruitless last week
but the party has in the past distanced itself from any form of political
violence, coercion or intimidation.

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Masunda promises improved water supply

February 3, 2013 in Local

HARARE residents are likely to start enjoying clean and improved water
supply next month, according to Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda.


Masunda told The Standard yesterday that following technical advice from
officials from South Africa’s Ethekwini municipality, the city will soon
procure pressure reducing valves (PRVs) to minimise water losses.

“If everything goes according to plan, we should start seeing considerable
improvement in the provision of potable water from March onwards,” Masunda
said. “The guys from Ethekwini will help us install the PRVs on certain
points in the system to reduce the water pressure and in the process reduce

Masunda said council expected to spend about US$2 million on the exercise
which will reduce the pressure which he said was currently too high.

“Our pipes are too old, some of them dating back to the mid-1970s, so you
can imagine what this pressure which is high enough to kill a person does to
them,” Masunda said.

He added that council urgently needed US$14 million for the procurement of
pipes totalling 150 kilometres for the extension of the pipe replacement
programme to other areas in greater Harare.
Masunda said leakages were no longer that common in the city centre
following a similar programme financed at US$17,1 million three years ago.

“Another priority area is to eliminate non-revenue water which is water
which is stolen or gets lost along the way,” Masunda said. “A lot of
consumers are not being billed so we are busy replacing meters which do not
work and also intend to install new ones so that every water point has a
meter for proper billing.”

In a document on the status of Harare water dated January 2013, the city’s
director of water, Christopher Zvobgo indicated that losses accounted for
40% of Harare’s treated water.

He said there were about 70 000 unregistered connections in the city while
50% of customer meters are not working.

Masunda said Harare should be like Ethekwini where 98% of consumers paid for
their water.

Ethekwini, which serves 4,2 million people, produces 850 megalitres of water
per day, compared to Harare’s 620 megalitres per day.
Harare caters for a population of just above two million including residents
of Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Epworth.

Masunda said he was counting on council debtors especially government
ministries and departments, which owed the city a total of US$66 million.

“Of that amount, we need US$16 million immediately for us to be able to do
these projects,” he said.

Harare’s total water budget for 2013 stands at US$52 million.

For a couple of years now, most suburbs in Harare have not been getting
clean running water. This has contributed significantly to the outbreak of
water-borne diseases in the city.

Over 4 000 people have died in Harare since 2008 following the outbreak of
cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

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Chinese firms spread tentacles in Zim

February 3, 2013 in Local

CHINA has spread its tentacles over most of Zimbabwe’s productive sectors in
recent years, raising the spectre of re-colonisation.


The Far East country is involved in mining, agriculture and construction
among other sectors, but critics are sceptical at China’s involvement in the
Zimbabwean economy.

Like a colossus, Chinese firms have a grip on every aspect of the economy,
with Tien Ze having sway in agriculture.

Anjin has spread its wings from mining to construction, while Sino-Zimbabwe
Industrial Development Corporation is spearheading investments in different
sectors like steel manufacturing and cement production.

Often accused of corruption and neglect of Zimbabwe’s labour laws, most
Chinese firms continue working as if oblivious to the growing criticism and

For example despite loud protests, Anjin, a Chinese company went ahead
constructing a mall and a hotel on a designated wetland, with
environmentalists lamenting that this could have an effect on Harare’s
future water supplies.

Probably the height of the nationalist and anti-China sentiment was at the
beginning of the last decade where stickers and posters were all over the
show, decrying the entrance of the Chinese into the Zimbabwean economy.

“Ipovo siyalile, ithi phansi ngama zhing-zhong, Povo yaramba irikuti pasi
nemazhing-zhong” (ordinary people are rejecting poor-quality Chinese
products), the stickers read.

As if it to illustrate their aversion to Chinese goods, Zimbabweans have
coined names for them such as fong kong and zhing zhong, but the Orientals
are unfazed and instead are deepening their investments in Zimbabwe.

Despite the resentment, China’s Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Han Bing
maintains the negative perception of China in Zimbabwe was due to a media
onslaught on the country.

‘western media perpetuating lies’

China’s Economic and Commercial Counsellor Han Bing said, “There is a lot of
misinformation. The media is not fact-checking and there are sustained waves
of attack on us.

”The idea of recolonisation is particularly being perpetuated by the Western
media. They concentrate on the negative side and totally ignore the good
that we have done.”

Bing pointed out the positives that China had brought to Zimbabwe, arguing
that since the country got involved in agriculture, the price of tobacco had
kept rising.

The price of tobacco this year was the highest in recent memory, he said.

‘The country’s economy is being disregarded’
The Economic and Commercial Counsellor (ECC) said between 2008 and 2010
China invested between US$35 million and US$45 million but in 2011 alone the
country invested US$460 million, thanks to Anjin.

But the question remains, whether this capital injection is any good for

The government was recently involved in a stand-off with a Chinese firm over
the construction of a hotel and conference centre in Victoria Falls. The
company wanted to bring all materials from China, while the government
insisted that construction materials should be sourced from Zimbabwe to
create jobs and boost the economy.

Due to the stand-off, the hotel and conference centre were not built, with
critics pointing out that this was evidence of China’s disregard for the
Zimbabwean economy.

A recent book by the Southern African Resource Watch (SARW), Win-Win
Partnership? points out that Chinese companies in Zimbabwe violated the
country’s labour laws with impunity because they are protected by the
country’s leadership.

An economist, Itai Zimunya is quoted saying: “At the heart of Chinese
investment in the country is not Zimbabwe’s but Chinese development, with
benefits of infrastructure and employment being peripheral benefits”.

Last year in a report titled A preliminary mapping of China-Africa knowledge
networks, Tatiana Carayannis and Nathaniel Olin argued that there was a
dearth of knowledge on China’s involvement in Africa and probably this
explained the resentment.

“Due in part to a research policy gap and in part to economic and political
disparities, Africa has limited capacity to define its China strategy and
position itself to take maximum advantage of Chinese growth,” they wrote.

“Given the dearth of knowledge in much of Africa and elsewhere about China —
its history, culture, its foreign and domestic policy drivers — the
conversation at best ends there, or at worst, continues with a series of
truisms and clichés, either of the drawbacks or the promises of Chinese
engagement in Africa.”

In conclusion, Bing said Chinese involvement in Zimbabwe was still very
nascent, compared to Botswana, South Africa, Zambia or Mozambique.

“China entered Zimbabwe quite late,” he said. “We increased our involvement
mainly after 2007.”

Bing said there was a huge cultural gap between Zimbabwe and China and this
was often a cause of conflict. He however, urged Chinese firms to respect
local customs and laws.

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‘Nkomo was hurt by Gukurahundi’

February 3, 2013 in Politics

BULAWAYO — The late Vice-President, John Nkomo, was deeply hurt and angered
by the Gukurahundi massacres that left thousands of people dead in
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, his young brother has disclosed.


Sam Nkomo (71) told The Standard what hurt the late Vice President most was
that he was “powerless” to stop the massacre, which also affected his rural
home, Tsholotsho.

Nkomo, who died last month, was a deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and
later a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office during Gukurahundi.

“He (The late VP) was deeply affected by the Gukurahundi massacres,” said
Sam. “He could not hide his anger and hurt about the massacres.”
He added: “He could not hide that what angered him more was that he could
not stop the Gukurahundi that affected Matabeleland, especially in view of
the fact that he comes from the region.”

An estimated 20 000 innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands
provinces were massacred in cold blood by the North Korean-trained Fifth
Brigade in an operation that President Robert Mugabe claimed was an assault
on dissidents.

The operation started in 1982 and was only halted five years later after the
signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 by President Mugabe and the late
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.

Sam said Nkomo was a man of few words who also never used to like talking
about his political life and Zimbabwean politics with family members
whenever he visited his rural home.

He attributed this to the fact that Nkomo, who was buried at the National
Heroes’ Acre, rarely visited Tsholotsho as he was “constantly tied up” in
Harare with government business.
For example, said Sam, the late VP never slept at his rural home since 1980.
“He was a busy man since he was a minister and later a VP . . . He rarely
was free to visit Tsholotsho. If I am not mistaken, I think he never slept
in Tsholotsho since 1980,” said Sam.

“When he visited Tsholotsho, he would come in the morning maybe around 9am
and spend a few hours and leave for Harare.”

He added: “During his visits, all the conversations were centred on our

“He was not a man fond of talking about his political life and Zimbabwean
politics whenever he was with us (family members).”
Nkomo held various ministerial posts since 1980 before he was appointed VP
in 2009.

He is survived by his mother, who other family members said is 110 years
old, and four children.

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Mugabe fighting to leave a legacy

February 3, 2013 in Politics

VERY few people believe President Robert Mugabe’s sincerity when he calls
for peace among Zimbabweans, especially as the nation prepares for national
elections later this year.


Since early last year, the 88-year-old leader has been consistent with his
message of peace and the people’s right to democratically choose a leader of
their choice.

Mugabe has even gone a step further.

A fortnight ago, Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy
Arthur Mutambara signed a political code of conduct that will see leaders of
parties being held accountable for their supporters’ violent behaviour.

During the signing ceremony, the three sang in unison: “Peace begins with
me: peace begins with you.”

This phrase was popularised by the late Vice-President John Nkomo, when he
was head of the organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, a
department tasked with promoting the rule of law and democratic governance.

The endorsement of the code comes in at a time when fears of political
violence are rising with the impending general elections slated for later
this year. Even at Nkomo’s burial a few weeks ago, Mugabe reiterated his
message for peace.

Listening to his voice and observing gestures, Mugabe seemed to be speaking
from his heart unless he was also deceiving his emotions.

Analysts said Mugabe could be resolute on leaving a legacy for himself like
the former Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who voluntarily left
office but continued to influence political direction of his party, Chama
Cha Mapinduza and mediating in African conflicts.

As a result, Nyerere became one of Africa’s most respected elder statesmen
in the mould of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Nyerere died
in 1999, but his legacy lives on.
Political science lecturer, Shakespeare Hamauswa said Mugabe could still
reconstruct and sanitise his battered political image to become a respected
elder statesman.

His image was tarnished by gross human rights violation during election
periods and Gukurahundi, where over 20 000 civilians were killed in
Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the early 1980s.
“If he (Mugabe) manages to translate his words into action, I don’t see why
he would not leave a legacy like that of any other African leader,” said

“What he needs to do is to act on corruption and stop political violence to
enable a free and fair election.”
Like Mugabe, Nyerere made great strides in health and education during his

However, Nyerere’s socialist policy of community-based farming collectives
(Ujamaa) proved disastrous for Tanzania’s economy just like Mugabe’s chaotic
land reform programme that destroyed Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, which
was the mainstay of the economy.

But they differed in that Nyerere ignored the trappings of power and knew
when to leave office while his dignity was intact.

Mugabe, who turns 89 this month, thinks he is still popular and wants to
hang on for another term.

Another political analyst, Ernest Mudzengi, believes Mugabe might still be
able leave a good legacy, but Zanu PF will definitely be more divided when
he is no longer there.

For several years, the 88-year-old leader has used threats on his colleagues
to keep the party “together”.

Mudzengi commended Mugabe for embracing the policy of reconciliation in 1980
as well as uniting of Zanu PF and Zapu in 1987, after years of internal
conflict, saying these were some of the plusses for him.
“He may leave a legacy,” said Mudzengi. “But will definitely leave Zanu PF
more disjointed because it is riddled with factionalism. Without him it will

Hamauswa said hardliners in Zanu PF were a threat to Mugabe’s peace
initiatives because they believed they cannot win elections without

“That is why we still have cases of political violence,” he said.
“There are some people who are resisting efforts to end violence.”
They also fear prosecution for crimes against humanity if there is a change
of government.

But one analyst said Mugabe was confident of winning elections after he
dished out shares of foreign-owned companies to locals, including villagers,
through a policy indigenisation.

But many people remain unconvinced that Mugabe has changed.
They said old habits die hard.

“Mugabe’s call for peace and political tolerance is not genuine because his
cronies continue to perpetrate violence against MDCs and he has shielded
them from prosecution,” said Phillip Pasirayi, a political analyst.

He said Mugabe must bring to justice all those who abducted, tortured and
raped MDC supporters in 2008 before he started preaching peace.
The MDC-T claims that at least 200 of its supporters were murdered by Zanu
PF activists and state security agents.

But Zanu PF has denied the allegations.

Pasirayi also called for electoral reforms to level the playing field.

“To expect the forthcoming elections to deliver democracy in the absence of
these reforms is like expecting apples from a thorny tree,” said Pasirayi.

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Experts slam proposed media reforms

February 3, 2013 in Local

MEDIA experts have bemoaned the retention of a statutory body regulating the
conduct of journalism despite constitutional guarantees for freedom of the
media in the draft charter.


Media reforms were one of the key reforms ahead of elections, but media
experts fear that the new constitution was giving with one hand while taking
with the other.

Media Institute of Southern Africa — Zimbabwe (Misa), director Nhlanhla
Ngwenya said while there were positives to draw out from the charter, the
entrenchment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) contradicted the spirit
of democracy.

“The entrenchment of a statutory media regulatory board, the Zimbabwe Media
Commission, posits contradictions to the spirit and letter of media freedom
and access to information, the draft seeks to promote,” he said.

Ngwenya said what was worrying was that the commission could “take
disciplinary” action against journalists it deemed to be errant.

“The commission retains the powers to take disciplinary action against
journalists deemed to have violated ethical conduct,” he said. “In a
democracy, the duty of a media regulator is not to discipline journalists or
media houses but to secure an environment that would promote free media

The Misa director said if the authorities thought there was need to have a
regulator, then the commission should be for the sole purpose of regulating
the broadcasting sector’s finite frequency spectrum.

Ngwenya said he was also worried that there was a perpetuation of state
ownership of the media, yet the charter says these outlets should be
independent of editorial control, impartial and present divergent views,
arguing that this was a contradiction in terms.

“Only a genuinely publicly-owned media whose governance structures are
transparently established; representative of the public; accountable to
parliament and adequately insulated from political control and manipulation
can fulfill the obligations spelt out [in that section],” he said.

Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) executive director, Takura
Zhangazha echoed similar sentiments, saying the provisions for ZMC were most

“It is not preferable to have such regulations,” he said. “Such provisions
criminalise the media.”

Zhangazha lamented that ZMC was a product of the much loathed Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and its retention was
cause for concern.

“We do not see the democratic rationale of such media provisions,” he said.
“The media should be free to express themselves.”
VMCZ is advocating for voluntary media regulation rather than a statutory
commission. The council said its board was yet to meet to come up with a
position on the draft.

Zimbabwe’s media laws have often been derided for being too harsh and
stifling free speech.

It is hoped that the new constitution will unshackle the media from the
clutches of the state and allow for journalists to carry out their jobs

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Satanism fear rocks Remand prison

February 3, 2013 in Local

PRISON authorities at Harare Central Remand Prison are in a quandary on what
to do with three foreigners, with refugees status, who claimed to practice


They are demanding that they be allowed to practice their religion freely.

The three, one from Rwanda and two from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
claim to be recruiting from within the walls of prison and now authorities
fear what influence these people may have on the rest of the prison

“We have thought of it, but we cannot confine them on their own, as we will
be accused of violating their human rights,” Harare Central Prison boss,
Billiot Chibaya said on Friday.

Now to prove that their religion is growing, the Satanists have written to
prison authorities demanding all sorts of paraphernalia so they can grow
their mission. Among the things that they have asked for are razor blades, a
red coffin and red candles, but prison authorities insist that they will not
grant them their wishes.

Initially, Zimbabwe thought of deporting the trio, who were arrested last
September at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, but it has since been
realised that they were granted refugee status and cannot be taken to their
respective countries.

The self-proclaimed Satanists are also accused of being in possession of a
substance that looked like human blood, but they insisted that they have
done nothing wrong and ought to be released.

“They are afraid to take us to court because they know we did nothing
wrong,” George Lungange, one of the devil worshippers said. “There is
freedom of worship in Zimbabwe, we should be freed.”

‘Religious belief not a crime’

Kucaca Phulu, a human rights lawyer, said the self-confessed Satanists had
been in remand prison for quite a long time and the case should be brought
to the courts to be finalised.

“If there are certain illegal acts like murder, then they must be
investigated,” he said. “If not then this looks like a case of religious

Phulu said Satanism was not a crime and urged authorities not to use the law
to placate fear of the unknown.

Despite the dominance of Christianity, Zimbabwe has freedom of religion
enshrined in the constitution. Even the new draft reinforces freedom of
conscience, which allows anyone to worship in a manner they chose.

“Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, which includes freedom
of thought, opinion, religion or belief and freedom to practice and
propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion, religion or belief,
whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others,”
reads the draft.

“Any religious community may establish institutions where religious
instruction may be given, even if the institution receives a subsidy or
other financial assistance from the state.”

Useni Sibanda, the head of the Christian Alliance, said the constitution
allowed for freedom of worship, but since the country was predominantly
Christian, Christian values and morality were likely to carry the day.

“If they infringe on other people’s rights then that will be a major
concern,” he said.

“As Christians we believe in only one God and any other form of worship is

Sibanda said this was a spiritual matter and might prove impossible for the
courts to deal with it.

“What is needed is co-operation between (Christian) church leadership and
the state so we can find a solution to this,” he said.
In a largely conservative state like Zimbabwe, Satanism is hugely frowned
upon and unacknowledged.

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Panners spark mayhem in Mat South

February 3, 2013 in Community News

BULAWAYO — Villagers in Mphoengs in Matabeleland South province are up in
arms with gold panners who have invaded their area, digging on their
homesteads and fields in search of the precious mineral.


The panners, who claim to be Zanu PF supporters, descended on the area a
fortnight ago following the discovery of gold deposits. Among the most
affected villages are Bhulu and Matsota.

Apart from digging on people’s homesteads and destroying their crops, their
activities may also result in siltation of rivers.

Some villagers claim to have been threatened with death by the panners if
they resisted vacating their premises.

However, the villagers have vowed to “die fighting for their homesteads” if
the police fail to stop the illegal gold diggers.
The panners are also accused of stealing livestock from locals, which they
slaughter during the night for food.

Village headman for Ward 5 in Mphoengs, Simon Mpofu, said the panners were
boasting that villagers would be forced to vacate the area because they had
protection from Zanu PF.

“This is terrible. We are so helpless because the gold panners are boasting
that they are untouchable,” said Mpofu. “They are saying it is only a matter
of time before they drive us out of the area to turn it into minefields.”

He said the area had been badly destroyed and is in need of reclamation.

“I have never in my life seen such destruction. Their shafts, which they don’t
bother to fill up when they do not find the gold, are now like landmines, as
our livestock is dying after falling into them,” said Mpofu.

“We think that it is deliberate because besides [not filling up/fencing off
shafts] they are also stealing our goats.”
Kholisa Mlalazi, the Ward 5 chairman, said the villagers would soon mobilise
themselves to stop the panners from destroying their homes and fields.

“We feel we are being let down by the authorities. If the authorities want
to turn this area into a mining area, they should find us alternative
accommodation,” he said.

“Imagine you are having supper in your hut with your family and you suddenly
hear people making noise, busy digging in your yard searching for gold.”

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Journalists embark on humanitarian project

February 3, 2013 in Community News

EIGHT Harare-based journalists have embarked on a project to assist
vulnerable children after being touched by their plight which they witness
while executing their duties.


The journalists last week donated second-hand clothes to over 125
less-privileged children in Harare’s Kambuzuma high-density suburb.

The group’s representative, freelance journalist, Robert Tapfumaneyi, said
the project was still at its infancy but was hopeful that it would spread to
other parts of the country.

Under the “Journalists on a Special Assignment” banner, the scribes have
been collecting second-hand clothes and other items for donation to the
less-privileged since last year.

Gogo Letty Mhizha, who takes care of the 125 children, last week confirmed
receiving the donation.

“The journalists donated clothes which we gave to a number of the children,”
she said.

“Some of the clothes are too big for the kids, so we will alter them to

Tapfumaneyi said the scribes felt it was high time they did more than just
identifying people’s needs, and leaving it up to donors to assist.

“We felt that we should take a leading role in our communities by first
asking for donations from our colleagues and relatives rather than just
urging non-governmental organisations and companies to help,” said

“We are now in the process of raising funds to buy plates, cups and pots
because some of the cooking pots Gogo Mhizha is using are old.”
Gogo Mhizha was featured in The Standard sometime in 2010, detailing how a
“strange voice” nudged her into assisting orphans from her neighbourhood.

Mhizha said a strange voice kept talking to her in her sleep urging her to
take care of five children from her Methodist church.
The parents had died of HIV and Aids-related illness in 2009. With the help
of volunteers from her church, Gogo Mhizha started providing orphans and
other vulnerable children from the neighbourhood with lunch prepared at her

Some German visitors last year came to her rescue and bought her a house in
Kambuzuma Section 4, which is now the feeding point for the children.

“Our needs are however increasing with the numbers,” Mhizha said.
“We started a soccer team for the boys and we kindly appeal for uniforms.
Our pots are now old. many of them have holes, which makes cooking very

She added: “We would also want to conduct sewing, cooking and welding
lessons for the children, but we do not have materials and our space is very
small. we need more ground to operate from.”

Most of the children attend school in the neighbourhood after they were
assisted by Gogo Mhizha to enroll under the Basic Education Assistance
Module (Beam), where government pays their fees.

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Firm to offer free swimming lessons

February 3, 2013 in Community News

A local swimming pool company will start offering free swimming lessons and
other tips this month to minimise cases of drowning in the country.


The company, Pool Pump and Filter Centre, is targeting areas that are
frequently affected by floods, such as the Lowveld, Kariba and Muzarabani.

The company’s marketing officer, Shadreck Gumiremhete said they felt obliged
as a company to offer free lessons in flood-prone areas to reduce cases of

“We realised that cases of drowning are on the increase and as a company we
felt indebted. therefore we decided to conduct the campaign,” said

“We are targeting flood-prone places such as Muzarabani, Mwenezi and Kariba,
among others.”

He added: “We have identified some of the areas to do our campaign.
“We are looking forward to starting the campaign mid-February.”
The lessons will include first-aid skills and life-saving drills.

“We will be incorporating other important things such as teaching of safety
precautions during floods, life-savings drills in the event of a disaster
and basic first-aid skills,” he said.

The company, said Gumiremhete, has partnered with swimming associations in
the country, schools heads, traditional chiefs and health personnel to
ensure the programme succeeds.

“People must know how to prevent contracting water-borne diseases at this
time of the year. that is why we have decided to have health personnel as
part of our team,” he said.

Eighty-six people have drowned across the country since the beginning of the
rainy season.

The heavy rains have also destroyed 180 houses in Tsholotsho, leaving most
families homeless.

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Lazy minds follow myths: Mai Chisamba

February 3, 2013 in Community News

POPULAR television personality, Rebecca Chisamba has castigated the current
obsession with superstition among some Zimbabweans, which she said was
“saddening”, especially for a Christian nation.


The talk show presenter, popularly known as Mai Chisamba, was apparently
irked by reactions to the recent blast that occurred in Chitungwiza, which
some people blamed on “man-made lightning”.

Others peddled claims that the explosion, which killed five people including
a traditional healer and businessman, was caused by some supernatural powers
associated with “goblin manufacturing”.

But preliminary police investigations have so far indicated that the blast
could have been caused by a bomb or a landmine.

Mai Chisamba had no kind words for those who were linking the blast to

“All this talk is nonsense which is being done by idle minds.
“Our people should value praying, and they should know the difference
between praying and going to church,” said Mai Chisamba.

“The problem is that nowadays, we have too much mob psychology, whereby
thousands flock to churches but do not know what they are doing there.”

She was apparently referring to the proliferation of new churches where many
seem to flock to for miracles.

The church leaders also claim to possess powers to heal the sick, even those
suffering from cancer and Aids, as well as making barren women conceive.

Mai Chisamba, who hosts the popular Mai Chisamba Show on ZTV, said
superstition had destroyed love in many families and encouraged bad
practices like selfishness.

“I work with society and in some cases, you find someone with loads and
loads of clothes they are not using but cannot give these to others because
of fear they could be bewitched,” she said.

“People should know God first because those who go to church are the same
people who go to n’angas [traditional healers].”

She continued: “You find someone who is worth thousands of dollars
consulting someone who has neither a roof above his head nor shoes on his
feet for luck. I wonder if it ever occurs to such people that the people
they are consulting also need the luck.

“My heart bleeds on seeing such things because we are being brainwashed to
an extent that we are going back to the Stone Age.”

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Tourism draft plan finalised

February 3, 2013 in Business

MADRID — Zimbabwe has finalised the drafting of a Tourism Master Plan (TMP)
that is expected to double tourist arrivals and increase the sector’s
economic contribution by 2015, a United Nations World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO) official has said.


The draft follows wide consultations between UNWTO and the Zimbabwean
government, with the final document expected to be launched before the
country co-hosts the UNWTO general assembly with Zambia in August this year.

Harsh Varma, the UNWTO technical cooperation and services director, told
Standardbusiness after a closed door meeting with Tourism minister Walter
Mzembi in Madrid last week that Zimbabwe’s proposed TMP is expected to adopt
a fast-track strategy that would see arrivals grow to 5 million in 2015 from
the current 2,2 million.

“We also expect tourism to grow from 9,1% of gross domestic product in 2012
to more than 15% by 2015,” Varma said.

In terms of job creation, the Varma said, the sector should subsequently
create 150 000 new jobs and reach 450 000 jobs compared to the current 300

The TMP is expected to see Zimbabwe becoming a standalone and competitive
international tourism destination.

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Industry revival under threat from imports

February 3, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE imports more than it exports raising fears that the country is
accelerating its de-industrialisation, central bank governor Gideon Gono has


Gono’s warning comes at a time the country recorded a trade deficit of
US$3,6 billion last year as the economy recorded more imports than exports.

In a monetary policy statement presented last week, Gono said the recovery
of exports has remained weak reflecting limited foreign direct investment
(FDI) inflows as well as volatile international commodity prices for nickel,
platinum, copper and diamonds among others.

“Against this background, merchandise trade remained heavily inclined
towards imports of finished consumer goods and vehicles. Exports realised
over the period January to December 2012 amounted to US$3,88 billion, which
compares unfavourably with imports of US$7,5 billion,” said Gono.

He attributed the country’s increase in import dependence to the persistent
supply gaps occasioned by industrial under capacity utilisation.

Zimbabwe’s industrial capacity utilisation levels declined from 57% in 2011
to 44% in 2012,” he said. “It does not require rocket science to appreciate
the fact that where a country is relying more and more on importation on
finished products, particularly those that it can produce on its own, is on
a path of self-destruction and de-industrialisation.”

Gono said 65% of the imports were consumables.

“Unfortunately whereas one would have expected that there would be a
corresponding growth in duties and government inflow arising from taxation
from these imports, such a development is not in place,” he said.

He pointed out that the excessive reliance on imports, particularly of a
finished nature against subdued export performance has consequently resulted
in the incurrence of unsustainably high current account deficits.

Financing of the current account deficit has remained a challenge, as the
capital inflows have continued to remain inadequate to finance the
escalating current account deficit.

Gono said Zimbabwe was mainly reliant on non-concessional debt flows to
finance current account transactions, further worsening the country’s
external debt position.

The country is saddled with a US$10 billion debt, to the World Bank (US$1,2
billion), African Development Bank (US$500 million), International Monetary
Fund (US$200 million and US$3 billion to the Paris Club of Creditors among
other multilateral institutions.
The country’s overall balance of payments has also remained in deficit
estimated at US$498,1 million in 2012.

In his state of the economy report for December 2012, Finance minister
Tendai Biti said exports and imports during December 2012 stood at US$314,8
million and US$665,5 million respectively, bringing the total for the year
to US$3,88 billion and US$7,48 billion, respectively.

This scenario gave a trade deficit of about US$3,6 billion, reflecting
faster import growth during the period under review and to some extent
under-capturing of exports.

University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Economics professor, Tony Hawkins
said the balance of payments deficit was the mirror-image of excessive
consumption spending.

He said the economy had become skewed, characterised by excess consumption
spending by the private sector and the state, negligible savings and an
unsustainable balance of payments position.

“Inadequate investment is the consequence of negligible domestic savings,
resulting in a burgeoning foreign debt. Since 2008, we’ve borrowed US$6
billion,” said Hawkins. “The infrastructure deficit, a function of
insufficient investment and pervasive political interference in parastatal
management links directly to the country’s external debt problem and poor

Hawkins said consumption spending was rising as a percentage of gross
domestic product (GDP) to 123% in 2011 from 104% in 2009, while FDI
under-performed, forcing the country to both borrow excessively offshore and

“When viewed in this light, it is obvious that Zimbabwe’s economic problems
demand far-reaching, structural reforms that extend well beyond tinkering at
the edges of the issue by enhancing policy coordination and improved
implementation,” said Hawkins.

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Cheap imports must pay double premiums: Insurance expert

February 3, 2013 in Business

THE insurance industry should double the premiums levied on motor vehicles
imported from Asia to avoid losses in this class, an expert has warned.

Report by Ndamu Sandu

Motor is the dominant class with a contribution of 40% to Zimbabwe’s gross
insurance premium written in the nine months to September 30 2012.

The warning by Jephita Gwatipedza, ZEP-Re regional manager, comes at a time
Asian cars, particularly reconditioned vehicles from Japan, have been
popular with Zimbabweans as they are affordable compared to those assembled

Gwatipedza said that companies need to bring science into pricing of
insurance products to stem the hemorrhage in some assets classes.

“My view is that the price of insurance for these Japanese grey imports must
be twice the cost of other cars. More so, the industry needs to bring some
science into the pricing of motor insurance rather than the current thumb
suck approach because risk profiles are different,” Gwatipedza said.

Statistics from the Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) showed that
total short term insurance market closed at US$141 million for the nine
months to September 30 2012 and was expected to reach US$220 million in the
full year ended 2012.

Gwatipedza said very few companies are making money from motor insurance
mainly because of the cost and unavailability of spare parts “especially for
these cheap Japanese imported reconditioned cars which can easily be written
off because of minor damages”.

He said the grey imports had caused congestion on roads and this coupled
with many unlicenced and inexperienced drivers and the poor state of roads,
is a major contributing factor to the incidences of losses.

Gwatipedza said the short term insurance sector was sitting on a time bomb
in the property and engineering classes as businesses are relying on
antiquated equipment to produce goods and services — some of the technology
being used is over 50 years old.

“Some of the losses the industries are paying are normal wear and tear but
because of lack of skills, it is difficult for the market to isolate cases.
The general view is that the insurers run the risk of financing the
replacement of old and antiquated machinery and equipment through claims,”
he said.

Property and engineering contributed a combined 26% to gross premium

Bonds and guarantees contributed 4% of the gross premium and Gwatipedza said
that in distressed economies like Zimbabwe insurers run the risk of losing
money if they write these lines of business blindly.

“There have been facilities for tobacco farmers from farming inputs
suppliers which have been packaged under the guise of credit/bonds but the
long and short of this is that these are all financial guarantees and
insurers who have been duped to believe that these are normal insurance
products had their fingers burnt,” he said.

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Mystery feeds Zimbabweans’ belief in superstition

February 3, 2013 in Opinion

The world is still recovering from the gory explosion that shook the
sprawling town of Chitungwiza recently.

Sunday View by Justin T Makombe

Until only a few days ago, no plausible explanation had been offered for
what could have caused the explosion.

Like everywhere where a mystery unfolds, many non-empirical theories have
been bandied around as possible causes. Some people rushed to blame
lightning for the explosion but police have confirmed the sordid event was
ignited by an explosive device.

There has also been mention of the presence of red mercury at the
beleaguered house which is the source of the explosion. One traditional
healer unequivocally declared the explosion was triggered by a botched
tokoloshe ritual. In the underworld, followers are believed to use the
tokoloshe to seek or enhance riches.

In the absence of any logical explanation, everybody is bound to have their
own explanation depending on who they are. But none of all these accounts
are empirically validated and hence cannot be regarded as the reality of
what really happened.

Reasons abound too, as to why this has happened.

Christians are quick to conclude that the explosion is a tell-tale sign that
the world is coming to an end. This argument is reinforced by extraordinary
climatic changes which have seen reduced water levels, increased health
hazards, turbulent weather conditions characterised by flashfloods,
incessant rains, sweltering temperatures and huge, recurrent climatic

Traditionalists too have their own reasons, and they trust that the
ancestors are angry with something.
Whatever the cause, one thing for sure though is that Chitungwiza is not new
to such kind of mysteries. Going back in history, the sprawling town has had
its own fair share of mysteries or bizarre incidents.

Only recently, gold purportedly “rained” at Emmanuel Makandiwa’s church
ceremony near the Aquatic Complex.

Remember also the story of the pink house in St Mary’s township, one or two
years ago where it was reported that a maggot was minting money. Again, huge
crowds gathered to witness this bizarre spectacle but no one ever really saw
evidence of this incident.

Current affairs enthusiasts will also remember that in the 1990s, the
sprawling town hogged the limelight again, when a woman in Unit K reportedly
died mysteriously only to be seen “knitting doilies” at a neighbour’s house.
I remember vividly rushing there to catch a glimpse of this creepy
occurrence. For days on end, crowds of bystanders would not leave the
adjoining houses until their curiosities dissipated without being satiated.

Again, during the 1990s, a hippopotamus set tongues wagging when it strayed
into the town’s Unit M suburb in broad daylight. Hippos are naturally
nocturnal and rarely walk on the mainland let alone in day light. [It turned
out to be an elaborate Fool’s Day hoax by a clever newspaper photographer!]

Then the other year, there was a story of a talking baboon which got into a
house somewhere in St Mary’s township, sat on a sofa and chatted with kids
in the lounge before vanishing into thin air.
There is just no let-up to stories of mysteries in Chitungwiza. Is it about
the place or the people?

Elders in the town will tell you that mysteries are not peculiar to this
suburb and the latest strange incident is not the last we have seen of them.

One typical fixation about all these mysteries is that the story behind the
story or the truth of what could have really happened is sometimes never

Perhaps that is why they are called mysteries. The fact that no one can tell
what really took place makes these events mysterious.

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Another blast, more lives lost

February 3, 2013 in Opinion

Just when the country was returning to its sanity after the death of five
people following an explosion in Chitungwiza another blast has just killed
three people in Mount Hampden just outside Harare.

The Standard Editorial

The earlier blast had put the minds of the nation on fire as it seemed
impossible to explain. Responsible authorities were late in releasing
preliminary results resulting in all sorts of theories being thrown about to
explain it. The explanations ranged from the hilarious to the truly bizarre.

It turned out, according to experts, the blast was a result of an explosive
device from which the victims were trying to extract a fabled chemical.
Myths have been flying around that bombs contain a substance that can be
sold on the black market making instant riches for the leaders.

Experts have said the substance, which these pedlars of lies call red
mercury, doesn’t exist and people should know that bombs are made to explode
and kill people.

This is a basic truth which common sense should dictate. Only trained people
can defuse bombs and even when they do so, they don’t do it in residential
areas because it is a dangerous enterprise.

The second blast need not have happened at all. The making of boilers and
how they function is the subject of rudimentary science — something every
pupil learns in Form One Science lessons. The dangers are well known and
again only trained boilermakers have any business minding boilers or
repairing them.

But a lot of Zimbabweans believe in shortcuts, whether these are to riches
as in the Chitungwiza case or to workmanship, as in the Mt Hampden case.
Zimbabweans have coined a name for it — kukiyakiya.

This has grossly compromised occupational safety and health. Gone are the
days when workplaces were constant subjects of inspection; when workers’
qualifications for certain jobs were constantly monitored. Many
businesspeople only see the importance of such inspections when tragedy
occurs and compensation is required.

Employers and work places — especially on the newly-acquired farms and
factories — need to be monitored because the tendency is to engage the
cheapest labour with very tragic results.

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Chihuri’s vote calls undermine Mugabe

February 3, 2013 in Editorial

In December last year Police Commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri sent a
cable to all police stations urging all members of the force to register as
voters so they could vote in the crucial elections supposed to come sometime
this year.

From the Editor’s Desk with Nevanji Madanhire

Many commentators saw this call by the top policeman as going against the
Police Act that prohibits serving policemen from participating in politics.
However, Chihuri’s action was defended by analysts across the board
including, interestingly, one of the two ministers of Home Affairs and a
director of an election watchdog.

In his defence the commentators said policemen like all other citizens have
the right to vote and their commander was only encouraging them to exercise
this right.

“There is no need to make a lot of noise over their [police] registration as
voters because they have got that right … In fact, they are supposed to be
registered just like every Zimbabwean because they have that right. I do not
see any reasons for complaining,” said Theresa Makone, Home Affairs
co-minister in defending Chihuri’s call.

He was also backed by Zimbabwe Election Support Network national director,
Rindai Chipfunde Vava who praised him saying, “We can’t dismiss the
politicking element around the call, but the police officers are entitled to
vote as citizens of Zimbabwe.”
But other analysts had a premonition there was something sinister in Chihuri’s

Recent reports, which he has not denied, say that he has gone a step further
and urged police officers and their spouses not only to register to vote but
also to vote in a particular way, in this case to vote for Zanu PF. Now this
presents problems; lots of problems!

True, members of the police force have the freedom to support any political
organisation of their choice and to vote for it when the time comes. This is
based on various freedoms sanctified by the country’s Constitution.

And, like everyone else they are supposed to vote in secret, but what should
differentiate them from the rest of us is that they should not canvas openly
for the political party they support.
There are typical duties expected of a professional police force the world

Simply put these relate to keeping the peace, law enforcement, protection of
people and property, and the investigation of crimes.

When people say politics is dirty, they understate its dark nature. Among
the rank of politicians are few saints; most are thieves, murderers, thugs,
hooligans, sexual perverts and, the majority, idiots. An apt description of
politicians can be borrowed from Oliver Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels where
they are described as “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that
nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”

If you think this is too severe a description, just take a look at what
politicians have done to this country! Or, if you wish, take a look at what
they have done to the world. In Zimbabwe in the past few decades politicians
have broken the peace, rubbished the rule of law, killed civilians for no
good reason, wantonly destroyed private property and torn property rights to
pieces. It becomes obvious the police should keep out of politics.

Politicians are at their basest during election periods; that is before,
during and immediately after polls, more so in Zimbabwe which has in the
past 15 years experienced the darkest side of politics play out for the
entire world to see.

That is why this country, more than any other needs an apolitical police
force, if not to put checks and balances on the politicians, but at least to
protect civilians and their property which are increasingly at the mercy of
the politicians.

But the question on most people’s lips is: “Why is Chihuri so desperate?”

Why is he so flagrantly violating the Police Act of which, by virtue of his
position, he should be guardian?

He is shrill in his call for Zanu PF votes urging patriotism and a sense of
history. Is this because he has become the most patriotic Zimbabwean and the
main advocate for our sense of history? Or is he merely protecting his own

Most people in the police force are about the poorest members of our
society. They are civil servants and they know, like all civil servants
know, that politicians have kept them in that state so they can continue to
exploit them. Government workers do not enjoy the same rights that workers
in other sectors do, more so in the uniformed forces also known as the
disciplined forces. B

ut these disciplined forces — the police, the army and the prison services —
have seen how the system has continued to impoverish them while those at the
top have been enriched beyond measure. They know the call by their bosses
for “patriotism and to remember our history” are to keep them in their place
while they themselves [the commanders] continue to feed at the top table.

But the continued politicisation of the disciplined forces might turn out to
be an embarrassment to one of the principals of the government of national
unity (GNU) — President Robert Mugabe. In the past few weeks he has come
through as a patron keen to clean up his legacy and consolidate it.

He has begun to sing a new tune different from the one he used to sing
during the heyday of our national crisis. He desires peace and wishes to see
the coming watershed elections held in a free and fair atmosphere, at least
that is the impression the nation is getting from his speeches.

His recent actions, especially regarding the drafting of the new
constitution, also seem to suggest a new man. Zimbabweans, the region and
the whole of Africa are encouraged by this new path, but partisan calls by
the commanders of the uniformed forces might as well scuttle his efforts to
sanitise his legacy and also to bequeath a peaceful country to his people
and their offspring.

Chihuri’s calls therefore might backfire in more than one way; the police
rank and file will soon enough see through the self-serving nature of his
call and act contrary to his wishes, while President Mugabe might feel
undermined in his efforts to bring closure to the Zimbabwean crisis. His
peers in Sadc and the AU obviously must be watching developments in this
part of the world with renewed keenness. He cannot afford to have his
legitimacy questioned once again.

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