By Alex Bell
8 February 2013
The fight for control of the Renco Mine in the Masvingo province has led to
the closure of the mine, with government leaders being urged to intervene.
The RioZim run mine has been the site of a labour dispute for several weeks,
a dispute that turned political when ZANU PF MP Irvine Dzingirai took over
as the manager. He had threatened staff that they had to work under him or
face dismissal. He also threatened RioZim directors.
This was revealed by RioZim in a statement last week, which also implicated
Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi as the instigator of the ZANU PF take over.
“Minister Mzembi arrived at the mine… He called a public meeting and
announced that RioZim had not complied with the indigenisation obligations
of the country and hence they were taking over Renco,” RioZim said in a
statement last week.
The mining firm has since approached the High Court in a bid to secure their
rights to their mine, but the court on Wednesday reserved judgement on the
matter, leaving the mine in limbo. Renco Mine manager Cyprian Kachisa
reportedly told the NewsDay newspaper on Thursday that they had ceased all
operations and ordered the 2,000 workers to go back home until the issue had
The MDC-T’s spokesperson for Masvingo Province, Harrison Mudzuri, told SW
Radio Africa that this situation is further damaging Zimbabwe’s abilities to
repair its economy by encouraging new investments.
“We are disturbed by these developments and we feel sorry for the workers. A
prolonged shut down of the mine will cause serious problems for employees,
for the mine, for Zimbabwe’s future. We call on the leaders in government to
intervene and solve this crisis,” Mudzuri said.
Minister Mzembi has denied RioZim’s accusations, saying he only became
involved with the mine when Renco workers lobbied him, as their local MP, to
intervene in a pay dispute.
Criticising the RioZim statements he said: “That’s political slander. I’m
surprised by their statement, which seeks to politicise what is a dispute
between them and their workers,” he told Reuters.
He has since retaliated, publicly accusing RioZim of offering him a
US$100,000 bribe. He was quoted by the state run Herald newspaper as saying:
“They tried to buy me out of this case, with a US$100,000 brown envelope
which I turned down, preferring to advance community and worker issues which
they have blatantly violated over the past 40 years.”
Mzembi has also threatened to sue RioZim for ‘defamation’, revealing that he
was challenged on the Renco Mine situation during a meeting with the UN
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Secretariat. Zimbabwe is set to host a
UNTWO meeting in Victoria Falls in August, and Mzembi has been busy trying
to convince the world body that there will be no problems.
He revealed in an affidavit filed at the High Court this week that the UNWTO
Secretariat questioned him on the Renco situation while he was with them in
Spain last week. The group is understood to have asked why the Minister was
taking over the mine, after media reports on the situation surfaced.
This caused Mzembi to lash out in anger, saying in his court affidavit: “The
allegations made against me are malicious, scandalous and defamatory.”
He added: “They are intended to insult me in my personal capacity, ZANU PF,
the government and people in my constituency who voted for me that I am a
wrong minister who has no respect for rule of law.”
SW Radio Africa was unable to contact RioZim on Friday. Minister Mzembi’s
phone also went unanswered.
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 February 2013
Do you support this constitution?
This is the question Zimbabwean voters will likely be required to answer
during the forthcoming referendum, according to COPAC co-chairman Douglas
The MDC-T spokesman told SW Radio Africa on Friday that voters will then be
required to either tick Yes or No, during the referendum expected at the end
of March or early April.
‘We don’t want to complicate things; we want a simple question where
everyone will then answer Yes or No. As COPAC we will meet next week under
the guidance of the minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs
(Eric Matinenga) to finalize the phrasing of the question,’ Mwonzora said.
COPAC is also expected to announce the symbols that will be used to identify
the Yes and No answers. In search of the appropriate symbols to be used
COPAC will engage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to make proposals
of symbols for consideration.
In Kenya, the Independent Electoral Commission that supervised the
referendum last year settled for two colours, green for Yes and red for No
to the referendum question. It is not clear why just using the words Yes or
No isn’t sufficient.
The question has also been raised as to what people should do if they don’t
approve of this new constitution, but also don’t like the old one. According
to observers it appears their only option when voting will be to ‘spoil’
Mwonzora said the draft is currently being translated into 12 languages and
will be done by next week Thursday. He explained that COPAC and ZEC will
embark on a civic education campaign to explain the details of the proposed
constitution and has urged Zimbabweans to support it, saying it would
strengthen democracy in the country.
He reiterated that the proposed constitution provides for an overhaul of the
executive, legislature and judiciary, together with a measure of devolution
to the regions.
Mwonzora made it clear the country will still be ruled by an executive
president, but said that person would be constrained by checks and balances.
February 08, 2013
JOHANNESBURG — Debate is raging both inside and outside Zimbabwe about the
country's proposed new constitution.
The document’s framers say the draft contains several advances, but
acknowledge it is the result of a political compromise.
Opponents say they think the process was flawed and the new law still gives
too much power to the already authoritarian president. Zimbabweans on both
sides of the issue met in Johannesburg to debate.
Mugabe at heart of debate
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (R) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
address a media conference at State House in Harare, January 17, 2013.
Zimbabwe’s draft constitution is really a preview for the actual
heavyweight bout: the general election that President Robert Mugabe wants to
hold this year.
Mugabe, who turns 89 this month, is planning to run for office again. He
has led the nation since independence in 1980. But before the election,
Zimbabweans must approve a new constitution, as outlined under a
power-sharing agreement made in the aftermath of the violent 2008 elections.
The nation is expected to vote on the draft in coming months.
Not a perfect document
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a minister and secretary-general of the
Movement for Democratic Change party, says the document she helped write is
not perfect. But, she says, it is an improvement on the current
She says the draft gives women more rights and limits presidential powers.
She also says that while the process of writing the document was not
perfect, it started something that cannot be stopped.
“That opening up, I don’t think you can reverse it. It is a process which
you can’t put a cost to it, you can’t put money to it. But it was something
that was crucial, that was important for the people of Zimbabwe to have,"
The draft introduces presidential term limits of two five-year terms.
However, the law is not retroactive, so President Mugabe - who is already
the oldest serving head of government in the world - could serve another two
terms before having to step down at the age of 99.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga lauded that as one of the best provisions in the new
"The message that it sends to the people of Zimbabwe is that you are never
going to have another situation where you are going to have another Mugabe,"
she said. "I think that was a big score in terms of the conversations that
we had in this constitution."
The proposed charter also appears to limit the president’s powers somewhat,
and brings the previously unmonitored Central Intelligence Organization
under government oversight.
The draft does not change positions on same-sex marriage - still banned -
and the death penalty, which is still allowed. The capital punishment
provisions have been somewhat relaxed, though, and now exempt women, the
young and the elderly.
New York-based Human Rights Watch says the referendum plans do not mean the
ruling ZANU-PF party will cease its repressive practices. The party and its
followers have been repeatedly and widely accused of intimidation,
oppression, unfair arrests and violence.
HRW has urged the European Union to maintain targeted sanctions on Mr.
Mugabe and his inner circle until the nation carries out real reforms.
There is a subtext to all of this debate: a constitution is only as strong
as the government that upholds it. And while Zimbabwean officials and
activists say the constitution-writing process has raised hopes for greater
democracy, all discussion seems to eventually return to one point: Mugabe.
Opponents voice objections
Constitutional opponent Lovemore Madhuku says this is one of his two reasons
for voting against the draft. The other, he says, is that the process was
flawed and that average Zimbabweans should have had more say instead of
accepting a document from on high.
Madhuku, who leads the National Constitutional Assembly, a coalition of
pro-democracy groups, has little confidence in the presidency.
"Our major problem in Zimbabwe has been the concentration of power in the
president," he said. "If there’s any one reason why we thought that there
should be constitutional reform in Zimbabwe, that reason would have been
clearly that 'Look, we are giving too much power to one person, too much
power to the president.' But if you have a very powerful president who is
not restrained by law, just restrained by their own good heart, the law
would be simply allowing them to go on and on and so forth. We create a
problem for our country. That problem has not been solved by the current
But Misihairabwi-Mushonga urged the draft’s opponents to be realistic. The
writing of this constitution has been a long, labored and expensive process.
It was originally supposed to be ready in 2010.
"Because we had to negotiate, it can’t be a 100 percent document," she said.
"But is it indeed so bad that you think that it has not moved us forward?”
That’s something Zimbabwe’s voters will have to decide.
by Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE has appealed to the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and
other donors to help raise the US$250 million needed for a constitutional
referendum and general elections later this year.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who along with Finance counterpart
Tendai Biti were charged by the coalition administration to find the money,
confirmed the appeal Thursday.
“I can confirm that we wrote a joint letter with the Finance Minister Tendai
Biti to that effect,” Chinamasa told NewZimbabwe.com.
“What I can also say is that we have not factored in the money needed by the
police for security provision, and authorities are interrogating the figures
to come out with the exact figure required for the two processes.”
Biti, who recently revealed that the government was left with just over
US$200 in its accounts after paying civil servants last month, says Zimbabwe
does not the capacity to fund the referendum and the elections.
The top MDC-T official recently said it was "too much" for any government to
fund a census, a referendum and elections within a short period of time.
Zimbabwe held its population census late last year at a reported cost of
President Robert Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai agree fresh elections
are needed to end their power-sharing government which they say is no longer
workable due to policy differences between their respective parties.
A new constitution, part of a raft of reforms expected to lead to new
elections, was this week endorsed by Parliament and is expected to be put to
a national referendum at the end of next month.
New elections are expected before year end although Mugabe wants the polls
held in June.
By: Natasha Odendaal
8th February 2013
It would take several years and at least $15-billion to bring Zimbabwe’s
basic infrastructure back to an acceptable level, said Frost & Sullivan
environmental and building technologies research analyst Derrick Chikanga.
Speaking to Engineering News Online, he said the infrastructure in the
country had endured a decade of neglect and was in urgent need of
refurbishment, but funding for infrastructure development projects remained
elusive as the country attempted to revive its economy.
The economic difficulties between 1999 and 2009 had a severe impact on the
overall quality of the country’s infrastructure, with the transport and
energy sectors worst hit.
A recent report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) noted that coverage
and quality of infrastructure had fallen from being the best in the Southern
African region in the early 1990s, to in line with that of its peer
countries by 2009.
The AfDB estimated that focusing on infrastructure development could see the
country gain 7% growth, with a jump in gross domestic product from
$4.7-billion to $9.5-billion in the next eight years.
Further, by 2020, Zimbabwe could ensure that over 80% of the roads were in a
good condition, 100% urban and 80% rural areas had sufficient water supply
and sanitation coverage and about 15-million tons of road freight shifted
The 391 000 km2 country, with a population of 13-million, had seen signs of
improvement in recent years as the government attempted to set aside 13% of
its total yearly budget for infrastructure development projects.
However, the country faced a shortfall in its attempt to inject $430-million
into infrastructure projects last year, further emphasising the fact that
the country would not be able to develop sufficient infrastructure without
external support, said Chikanga.
The government needed to partner with external funders to obtain strong
financial assistance for projects, after which the country should be able to
position itself to maintain and further improve on the assets once in place.
The formation of public–private partnerships would be critical in ensuring
reasonable infrastructure development in the country, he commented.
Zimbabwe established the Zim-Fund in 2010 to lobby for development finance
from major European and Asian countries and secured commitments of about
$100-million from seven countries.
Further, several development banks, including the AfDB and the Development
Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), had directed funds to Zimbabwe.
ROAD AND RAIL
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's 88 133 km road network was in a dire state as over
ten-million tons of rail freight had shifted to roads over the past decade.
In the mid-1990s, the AfDB said, rail carried about 14-million tons of
freight, but this fell to 2.7-million tons – 15% of the design capacity – in
2009, owing to limited available locomotive and rolling stock capacity, as
well as deterioration in the quality of the rail network.
Chikanga commented that, currently, only about 50% to 60% of the rail
network was currently functional and only 40% to 50% of the locomotives were
The 3 109 km rail network, which was supposed to be the backbone of the
country’s economy, was expected to take about $4.5-billion to revamp over
the next ten years – excluding locomotives and wagons.
Earlier reports indicated that $200-million was required for road
maintenance in 2012, but only $35-million was allocated, while only
$209-million was set aside for a $2-billion road rehabilitation programme.
That development banks, such as the DBSA or AfDB, were increasingly looking
to Zimbabwe for infrastructure development projects, was a positive sign,
Last year, the DBSA had granted a R1.4-billion loan to Infralink, a 70:30
joint venture between the Zimbabwe National Road Administration and South
Africa-based construction firm Group Five, for the rehabilitation and
implementation of tolling on a 801 km national road network linking Harare
and Bulawayo, as well as Mutare, near the Mozambique border, and Plumtree,
on the Botswana border.
Last week, the Department of Roads in Zimbabwe commissioned Royal
HaskoningDHV to undertake a feasibility study determining the viability of
construction and tolling to improve the road between Harare and the
Beitbridge border post.
The cost of rehabilitating and improving the 580-km-long single carriageway
was estimated to be in excess of $600-million.
Meanwhile, the development of Zimbabwe’s energy sector had been hampered as
uncertainty surrounding the country’s 51% in-local-hands indigenisation
legislation restricted investment.
Chikanga said there was no clear indication of how the legislation would be
enforced and how it would apply to energy producers.
Many of the current licensed independent power producers, which were
expected to play a key role in increasing the country's energy generation
capacity, had halted many projects until this became clear.
The indigenisation law, while finding its feet – with difficulty – in the
mining sector, created uncertainty in the energy sector, he said.
The past few months have seen TSX- and Aim-listed Caledonia Mining’s
Zimbabwe-based Blanket gold mine, as well as Anglo American Platinum’s Unki
mine and Impala Platinum’s Zimbabwe subsidiary Zimplats, concluding
indigenisation deals with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Empowerment.
Mining Weekly earlier reported that the Zimbabwe Investment Authority
recorded a fall in approved new investments in all industries, falling to
$930-million in 2012, from $6.6-billion in 2011, on the back of uncertainty
arising from the indigenisation programme.
Zimbabwe had approved 172 projects in 2012, a decrease from the 227 projects
approved in 2011.
8 February 2013
Last week Finance Minister Tendai Biti got into trouble for saying there was
only US$217 in Zimbabwe’s coffers. Many observers questioned why there was
so much criticism of the statement, when ZANU PF has also been saying the
government is broke.
The reason was revealed on Thursday, when Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi
said Biti’s statements almost ruined Zimbabwe’s chances of hosting the
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly this
The state controlled media had described his ‘reckless’ comments as a
serious ‘breach of confidentiality’, which exposed the nation.
The backlash resulted in Biti making a u-turn blaming ‘mischievous and
malicious’ journalists who ‘quoted him out of context’ when he was merely
trying to dramatise the point that government doesn’t have funds to finance
the forthcoming referendum and elections.
Mzembi, who was in Spain last week for meetings with co-host Zambia and
UNWTO officials, told reporters after a feedback meeting with Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, that Biti’s statements caused ‘anxiety’ and ‘despondency’
at the meeting.
“The Minister (Biti) announced that the country was reeling on the brink of
bankruptcy with only US$217 in the account and the UNWTO team sought to
understand how we could host a general assembly with just $217 in the
account,” the minister said.
Critics say it would appear that ZANU PF is on a publicity and credibility
blitz, trying to draw international events into the country, after years of
isolation, and that is why ‘they panicked’ when Biti disclosed the country’s
balance, even though he may have been joking about the exact amount.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, told SW Radio
Africa that ZANU PF wants to use the tourism symposium to ‘cleanse its bad
image and to give an impression that there is law and order as Zimbabwe
prepares for crucial elections.
Mzembi said he advised the United Nations officials to dismiss Biti’s
statement as it could have been taken out of context. He said: “I can’t
stand in his defense but I was just highlighting that going forward we
should restrain ourselves on pronouncing issues that may cause despondency
with other parties who are looking very keenly on us as a destination
especially with regards to the hosting of the general assembly.”
Mzembi said that he had the director for budgets from the Ministry of
Finance in his delegation, who helped to put Zimbabwe ‘back on track’ with
the UN after he confirmed “independently as to the veracity of the false
nature of the statement that had been issued by the minister.”
He said such negativity causes despondency as to whether Zimbabwe will be
able to co-host the global event with Zambia in August.
However Ruhanya pointed out that ZANU PF wants to hide the facts that
everybody knows – the country is bankrupt and is failing to pay its own
workers in the civil service. He said Biti’s basic message was that the
government is broke.
“I have a letter that was co-signed by the Minister of Finance and the
Minister of Justice, Mr. Chinamasa, in which they are asking the UNDP local
representative to give them $250 million for the purposes of administering
the election and the referendum.“We are even sub-contracting our
sovereignty, so I don’t understand the panic!”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is also set to host several other international events
this year, including the International Conference on Information Technology
for Africa this month and the 19th session of the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa in March.
Friday, 08 February 2013 11:51
HARARE - A pro-democracy group says it will take the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (Zec) to court if the body fails to give Zimbabweans ample time
to study the draft constitution before the referendum.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a broad alliance of opposition
parties, church groups, trade unions and civic organisations, said the
constitution-making process was a massive fraud.
Formed nearly 16 years ago to highlight what they believed to be the
shortcomings of the Lancaster House Constitution which has been amended 19
times, the NCA says President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai are fooling Zimbabweans.
Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA chairperson, warned that the fast-track process to
take the document to a referendum before the people understood its contents
was open to legal challenge.
The document, which sailed through Parliament in two days after Mugabe and
Tsvangirai whipped MPs into backing the project, is expected to be put to a
referendum by March.
Madhuku said Zec must exhibit impartiality and professionalism before,
during and after the referendum.
“Zec should give adequate period for the campaign to enable all voters to
have a full grasp of the provisions of the draft constitution before making
their choice,” Madhuku said.
“A minimum of two months is required. Our lawyers have been instructed to
make an urgent challenge in the Supreme Court should a shorter period be
The constitutional reform advocacy body demanded the implementation of a
raft of reforms before the referendum such as equal access to media by all
players and the suspension of provisions of harsh security laws.
When the government hurriedly set up a Constitution Select Committee (Copac)
in 2009, the NCA refused to participate and raised concern that Mugabe and
Tsvangirai would end up negotiating the document.
The NCA was vindicated when the two principals struck a deal on the draft
and forced Copac and Parliament to accept the negotiated draft.
Madhuku said the NCA will launch a door-to-door “no” campaign, dubbed “Take
The government says a “no” vote would mean sticking with the present
Constitution, with all its defects.
The NCA calls this “a scare tactic” and says a “no” vote would mean writing
a better document than the one currently on offer, which the NCA says is
worse than the rejected 2000 draft and the Kariba draft.
If approved, Mugabe insists that harmonised elections will be held soon
after the referendum. - Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Many Zimbabweans living outside the country have waited
anxiously for the past three years for the constitutional draft to be
completed hoping that dual citizenship would eventually be allowed under the
country’s supreme law.
The document, which has been adopted by the House of Assembly and Senate,
paves the way for a national referendum.
But it seems some of its provisions are unclear as Zimbabweans living in the
diaspora can have dual citizenship while their children born outside the
country have been left out.
According to the draft charter, persons are Zimbabwean citizens by birth,
descent and registration.
Under Chapter 3, Section 36 of the draft constitution, a citizen by birth is
a person born in Zimbabwe to citizen parents, or grandparents who are
citizens by birth or descent.
It grants the birth status to those born to Zimbabwean parents in a foreign
land on diplomatic missions or working for an international organization.
Section 37 of the draft document defines citizenship by descent as “persons
born outside of Zimbabwe with either of their parents or any of their
grandparents who is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent, or if their
parent is Zimbabwean by registration."
Citizenship by registration is defined as any person who has been married to
a Zimbabwe citizen, person lawfully living in the country for at least 10
years and satisfies the conditions of an Act of Parliament, or a child
adopted by a Zimbabwean citizen.
Critics argue that the draft charter is not very clear on citizenship with
an opinion by the Open Society for Southern Africa (OSISA) saying no major
changes have been implemented to the country’s weak citizenship clauses in
the draft constitution.
OSISA says: "If this draft is adopted - as seems likely – the opinion
continues, it means that Zimbabwe will still fail to fulfill its obligations
under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, to
guarantee the right to Zimbabwean citizenship of a child born in Zimbabwe,
who does not obtain, through his or her parents, the citizenship of any
other state at the time of birth."
For perspective, VOA spoke with COPAC Co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangawana
and chairman Lovemore Madhuku of National Constitutional Assembly
Mangawana explained the context of a dual citizenship under the draft
constitution which affords certain rights to some categories of Zimbabweans.
In an effort aimed at persons with one or more parent who is a citizen of a
neighboring Southern African Development Community (SADC), a new provision
recognizes that person born in Zimbabwe as a citizen by birth.
Critics like Madhuku said the document has afforded more rights to children
born of parents from SADC member states rather than to children born of
He said the provisions are flawed and should be rejected by Zimbabweans.
8 February 2013
This macabre recruitment is disturbing and suggests that Zimbabwe does not
want to join the global trend towards abolition...
Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.
Reports by Zimbabwean state media that a new hangman has been appointed
raises fears that the country may be preparing to start executions again
after a seven year hiatus, Amnesty International said today.
Zimbabwe hasn’t conducted any executions since 2005, the same year that the
country’s last hangman retired.
“This macabre recruitment is disturbing and suggests that Zimbabwe does not
want to join the global trend towards abolition of this cruel, inhuman and
degrading form of punishment,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s
southern Africa director.
“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life which is recognized
in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human
rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is a state party.”
Zimbabwe’s new draft Constitution, which will be put to referendum in the
next few months, exempts women, men under 21 at the time of the crime and
the over 70s from the death penalty. It also prohibits the imposition of the
death penalty as a mandatory punishment.
While these proposed limitations to the application of the death penalty are
welcome, Amnesty International calls for the death penalty to be abolished
fully in the new Constitution regardless of gender and the circumstances in
which a crime was committed.
“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the
premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state,” said
“We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of
the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method
used by the state to kill the prisoner.”
Amnesty International is aware of at least 76 people on death row in
Zimbabwe at present. Of these 76, only two are women. The practical impact
of the provisions under the current draft to exempt women would therefore
not significantly reduce the use of the death penalty.
Amnesty International has been campaigning for total abolition of the death
penalty in the context of the constitution-making process since 2009, and
for the recognition of economic, social and cultural rights in a new
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 February 2013
Dorcas Hove, the ZimRights Highfields chapter chairperson, was on Friday
granted bail by the High Court in Harare after spending almost two months in
The 42 year-old Hove and two other colleagues, Tanaka Chinaka and Farai
Bhani, are accused of trying to discredit the country’s voters’ roll by
manufacturing counterfeit copies of the certificate of registration as a
voter. Hove, Chinaka and Bhani were arrested on the same day and only the
Highfields chapter chairperson is out on bail. The duo’s bail application
will be heard next week.
They are also facing charges of publishing or communicating false statements
prejudicial to the State. Hove was released on $500 bail and told to report
to the police once a week between 6am and 6pm.
ZimRights programs manager Leo Chamahwinya, who was arrested just days after
the three, had his application for bail postponed to next week Tuesday.
Chamahwinya is being accused of involvement in ‘illegal voter registration’.
He was also charged with ‘conspiracy to commit fraud’.
There appears to be an increased police crackdown against pro-democracy
activists, with greater numbers being arrested lately.
Observers fear this is a ZANU PF effort to crush legitimate voter exercise
programs, ahead of crucial polls in a few months time.
Since late last year, dozens of human rights and pro-democracy activists
have been picked up, including those trying to carry out voter education
campaigns in rural areas. Some of the activists have been charged while
others have been released without charge after days and weeks of
Friday, 08 February 2013 16:03
HARARE - As divisions continue to rock civil society, Zimrights director
Okay Machisa has blasted his colleagues whom he said celebrated when he was
jailed for two weeks.
Machisa, who is fresh from a remand prison stint, told the Daily News some
within the civil society movement are disturbed with the rise of ZimRights
in the past few years.
Along with members of his organisation, Machisa stands accused of
manufacturing fake voter registration certificates.
Last week the towering Machisa, who openly wept in court as he battled for
freedom, was freed on a $500 bail.
Touched by his plight Zimbabweans and even the international community
celebrated his release, but not everyone was pleased, apparently.
“There are certain family members that rejoice when a person like me is
“There are family members, certain individuals I work with, even friends
that I relate to in civil society who rejoiced, who were very happy that
Machisa has been arrested,” he said.
Machisa says the fact that he has hogged the limelight has caused
consternation among friends and even some of his close family members who
are jealous of him and his organisation.
“They are aware of how Zimrights is growing, how Machisa is pushing the
agenda of human rights in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The distinction between civil society and MDC has always been difficult to
make since the latter was born from the struggle for human rights and there
are some people now “who are brainwashed” to the extent that they believe
“Machisa is a card-carrying MDC member”, he said.
“Some (people) who are brainwashed rejoiced because they thought a member of
the MDC has been arrested.
“Let it be known that Machisa does not belong to any party,” he said, adding
that civil society risked being infiltrated because of divisions.
“I want to encourage human rights defenders to be united. Where we have
gaps, the enemy will attack, where we gossip, an enemy will attack, where
you play with an enemy, that enemy will infiltrate.
“It is time for us to unite and fight for the fundamental freedoms of people
of Zimbabwe. It is not time to fight Machisa. It is time to fight for the
democratisation of the country,” he said.
Human rights activist Okay Machisa. - Staff Writer
Friday, 08 February 2013 11:32
HARARE - In a bankrupt country — reportedly with a paltry $217 in its
coffers — a number of State-owned firms forked out nearly $160 000 on
Wednesday night to bankroll a football tournament as part of President
Robert Mugabe’s 89th birthday celebrations.
Those coaxed to foot the bill, include the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC), the Air Force of Zimbabwe and several other private
The fundraising dinner, held at the four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harare,
netted a cool $190 000 in a record 15 minutes during a fundraising gala for
the “Bob 89 Super Cup.”
Besides ZMDC’s $160 000 pledge, a slew of corporates including a leading
local bank, Jonathan Samkange’s Venturas and Samkange law firm, National Eye
Security, Brian Makwabarara’s Hammer & Tongues $200 000 raised forMugabe in
auctioneers, struggling bread maker Lobels and Goldtech Electronics among
others, contributed the difference.
Nyaradzo Funeral Services pledged two 75-seater buses to ferry players and
supporters to and from Bulawayo for the football tourney.
There was also a mini-auction of whiskeys, with a 40-year-old bottle of
Johnnie Walker Blue Label whiskey, being snapped up by the Airforce of
Zimbabwe for $1 000.
Diamond miner Marange Resources forked out $1 000 for double black whiskey
bottle, whilst a diplomat from Oman paid $500 for another bottle of whiskey.
ZMDC, which has been accused of failing to remit cash mined from the rich
Marange diamond fields to treasury, justified the hefty donation to the Bob
89 Super Cup football tournament, which will be played in two legs, the
first between Highlanders and Dynamos in Bulawayo this weekend and the final
“We have seen this as a worthy cause,” Godwills Masimirembwa, the ZMDC
Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu, who was the guest of
honour at the black tie event, said he had already received a couple of
phone calls from his colleagues doubling the $350 000 proposed budget.
Mpofu, who again called himself Mugabe’s “most obedient son”, urged the
guests to help bankroll the match between Zimbabwe’s most passionately
The fundraising committee is aiming to raise $600 000 in total for the whole
Organiser of the Bob 89 Super Cup fundraising dinner, Stan Kasukuwere,
showered praises on Mugabe, describing him as a “pinnacle” that has stood
the test of time.
The soccer match is one of three main events that will mark Mugabe’s 89th
birthday on February 21.
The big bash will be at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura on 23 February, where a
number of musicians have been lined up to perform.
All the festivities are being organised by the 21st February Movement - a
group named after the Zanu PF leader’s date of birth - which has been
frantically working to build a personality cult around the veteran leader.
Mugabe is the centre of an elaborate personality cult he has forged during
his three decades-plus in power.
He is often the centre of attention in Zimbabwe, with the 21st February
Movement working hard to whip up enthusiasm.
Mugabe’s birthday is like an important public holiday, marked by mass
celebrations enthusiastically attended by his ruling Zanu PF with a massive
party for children, loyalists and diplomats.
Some view the celebrations as a particularly perverse taunt given the common
place poverty engulfing the country.
Mugabe came into power in Zimbabwe in 1980 when he was 56 years old and has
remained in power since. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor
Friday, 08 February 2013 15:30
MASVINGO - Former freedom fighters here have warned their national leader,
Jabulani Sibanda, against setting foot in the province ahead of this year’s
They say the volatile war veterans chairperson could incite political
violence in the province.
Speaking to the Daily News, Masvingo war veterans provincial leader Isaiah
Muzenda said the province is pushing for a peaceful election campaign in
line with President Robert Mugabe’s message.
“We do not want to see him here and we urge him to stay where he is. We want
peace ahead of elections and that is exactly what President Mugabe is
calling for,” Muzenda said.
Sibanda faces accusations of camping in Masvingo in 2011 for nearly a year.
During his stay, Sibanda was forced to defend accusations of spearheading a
terror campaign against villagers perceived to be anti Zanu PF.
He was accused of moving around the seven districts of the province
threatening villagers who supported the MDC.
This resulted in clashes with fellow liberation struggle fighters who argued
that the aim of the war of independence was not to terrorise innocent
Muzenda said Sibanda’s presence in the province could ignite violence or
instil fear in villagers.
“Those from other provinces who have the tendency of coming to other people’s
provinces should be barred this year because they have nothing to lose if
they incite violence which affects our local villagers.
“We do not want to have the same problem like that of 2011 when Sibanda
camped here causing confusion in our party. In this election, President
Mugabe is clear on political violence. He said “No” and wants a peaceful
election, so those who run away from their rural homes to cause trouble
elsewhere are not welcome,” he said.
Sibanda has previously said he would defy such directives, arguing that his
campaign trail was peaceful and did not need the approval of the local
He says his meetings are meant to impart liberation war history to villagers
and drum-up support for Mugabe, who lost dismally to his rival, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, in the harmonised March general elections.
But villagers maintained that they were forced to attend meetings where they
were threatened with war if they failed to vote for Zanu PF and its leader
in the coming elections. - Godfrey Mtimba
by Pamenus Tuso
The multi-million-dollar ostrich and crocodile breeding Dollar Bubi (Pvt)
project in Matabeleland North is in danger following the recent the invasion
of the business. The Indonesian owners, who are covered by the Bilateral
Investment Protection Agreement, have abandoned the project following the
Dollar Bubi started operating in 1997 and owns Dollar Bubi Block farm in
Bubi and Mimosa farm in Nyamandlovu area. Both farms used to rear ostriches
and crocodiles, and had horticultural production as well as cattle ranching
before the land reform programme.
The company has a majority shareholding in PT Roya Ostrindo Zimbabwe, an
Export Processing Zone tannery that produces ostrich meat and skins for
export to the overseas market. Workers at the two farms claim the invaders
were led by a known war veteran - Jetro Sibanda.
No comment could be obtained from Sibanda, as his whereabouts were unknown,
or the owners of the farm. The company has already retrenched its entire
workforce of 52 at Mimosa while an undisclosed number of workers have met
the same fate at Dollar Bubi Block farm.
“We have all been served with retrenchment letters and the company is
winding up its operations. Recently the company engaged contract workers to
harvest the remaining horticultural produce,” said a worker who refused to
be named for fear of victimisation.
According to a letter written to the Retrenchment Board by the company’s
representative ,Francis Acantilado, the company and the employees have
agreed on a total retrenchment package of $156,493 including statutory
terminal benefits for the all the affected workers.
During its peak, Mimosa farm used to be home to more than 5,000 ostriches
with 12,000 to 15,000 being slaughtered at the Cold Storage Company and the
meat and skins being marketed locally and in Europe. The farm used to have
over 4,000 crocodiles.
08 FEB 2013 10:50 - RAY NDLOVU
The Chinese will not enjoy preferential treatment and will not be exempt
from Zimbabwe's indigenisation policy, says Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Zimbabwe's indigenisation policy requires that all foreign-owned companies
cede 51% of their shareholding to local Zimbabweans.
Kasukuwere, Zimbabwe's indigenisation and empowerment minister, said China
was a friend of Zimbabwe and had assisted Zimbabwe "since the liberation war
China and Russia, Kasukuwere said, came to Zimbabwe's rescue in 2008 when
they vetoed a decision made by other members of the United Nations Security
Council to take action against Zimbabwe using Chapter 7, which was used
But Kasukuwere said the historical ties did not mean that the Chinese were
exempt from the 51% indigenisation law.
He cited the 50-50 joint partnership in the Marange diamond fields between
the Chinese-owned Anjin and the Zimbabwe government as an example of
compliance with the indigenisation law.
"There may be individuals who might try to exploit the historical ties, but
that must not be allowed to happen and spoil everything", he said.
But political analyst Trevor Maisiri from the International Crisis Group
insisted that the Chinese had already been made exempt, either incidentally
or by design.
"This is why Mugabe announced during his opening speech at the Zanu-PF
conference held in Gweru last year that the Chinese now need to come on
similar terms like anybody else.
"It alludes to the fact that there could have been some exemptions for the
Chinese in the past."
Strict application of the law
Political observers this week said Mugabe's call for the application of the
indigenisation law to the Chinese may be an election tactic as his Zanu-PF
party feared a backlash from its supporters over the perceived shielding of
Kasukuwere denied this, however, maintaining that the law would be applied
"The law is the law and it must be applied as such. There is no special
treatment for anyone and no favours.
"No stone will be left unturned as the country pushes ahead with the agenda
of economic emancipation in our lifetime," said Kasukuwere.
Among locals, the Chinese have gained favour for bringing in affordable
products, especially clothing, but there is discontent in some circles as
they are accused of ignoring labour regulations and underpaying employees.
08 FEB 2013 10:09 - JASON MOYO
Large investment from state-owned firms may overwhelm Zimbabwe's traditional
trading partner, South Africa.
Zimbabwe imported $354.5-million worth of goods from China last year,
according to ZimStats, the official statistics agency, still lagging imports
from traditional trade partners South Africa and the United Kingdom.
South Africa remains Zimbabwe's largest trading partner, exporting
$3.207-billion worth of goods into Zimbabwe last year, followed by Britain
at $1.62-billion. Imports to South Africa reached $2.674-billion, according
to central bank data.
But trade with China may beat these figures within two years, according to
economist Ben Ndebele.
"As more Chinese investors open shop in Zimbabwe, we are going to see them
bring in more goods and equipment into the country and that will challenge
the figures from current source markets in South Africa and the UK."
Zimbabwe's trade with China stood at $800-million last year, double the
trade levels recorded in 2011, according to the Chinese embassy. The growth
in Zimbabwean exports to China is attributable mostly to minerals, among
Anjin Investments, the largest of the Chinese diamond investors, invested
$460-million in Zimbabwe in 2011. Data for 2012 is not yet available.
According to statistics given by the economic and commercial office of the
Chinese embassy late last year, there were about 5 000 Chinese nationals
living and working in Zimbabwe. But these are only those citizens the
Chinese embassy can account for.
Fifty-three Chinese companies were registered with the Chamber of Chinese
Enterprises in Zimbabwe last year, with more than 1 200 Chinese employees.
Most of the companies are privately run, reflecting the fact that private
Chinese citizens continue to make the trek to Zimbabwe to stake out their
However, it is the large state-owned companies that hog the limelight.
Anjin involves a joint venture between China and the Zimbabwe military in
the Marange diamond fields. Anjin won the most lucrative concessions in the
fields in exchange for funding construction of the army's National Defence
College in Harare.
Another state company, Sino-Zimbabwe, has investments in agriculture through
its Sino-Cotton and also runs chrome mines along the Great Dyke mineral
State-owned company Shandong Taishan Sunlight Group plans to invest up to
$2-billion to develop coal mines, coal-bed methane extraction and power
projects in a western province of Zimbabwe. A Sino-Zimbabwe joint-venture
agreement has been signed and it has secured a coal concession of 100 000
hectares in Matabeleland North, with reserves of more than two billion
tonnes of coal.
An open-cut mine is expected to be developed with a capacity of 3-billion
tonnes of coal a year from the project.
The construction of a 600MW/h coal-fired thermal power plant is scheduled
for commissioning in 2015. The project is also expected to have a coking
coal plant with production of 300 000 tonnes of coke annually.
China Development Bank last year reported that it planned $10-billion worth
of investment in Zimbabwe over the next five years, and Chinese merchant
Sinotex is involved in a $500-million cotton-production deal with more than
300 000 rural farmers.
08 FEB 2013 09:41 - JASON MOYO
A Chinese-language class at the University of Zimbabwe is attracting
everyone from government bureaucrats to small-time traders.
Five years ago, the Chinese-language class opened with two lecturers and
only a dozen students.
Today, it bears the lofty name "the Confucius Institute at the University of
Zimbabwe" and is virtually beating away applicants with a stick.
The institute now uses five classrooms for more than 700 students and
continues to field hundreds of applications.
"The institute is in the process of engaging the government to incorporate
Chinese in school syllabi," said director Pedzisai Mashiri.
So successful has the institute been that Mashiri said it was working at
getting students at Chinese universities to take up Shona as a foreign
Mashiri said 14 Zimbabwean students were studying for master's degrees in
Chinese at a university in China and seven Zimbabwean lecturers were on
one-year scholarships from the Chinese government and would graduate this
Students at the Confucius Institute learn subjects such as "Chinese for
tourism" and "Chinese for managers", essential subjects in a country whose
economy is increasingly tying its fortunes to Beijing's rising star.
Last year, academic Mandivamba Rukuni ran a popular seminar on "learning the
skills necessary to become an effective negotiator with the Chinese". The $1
000 fee did not deter participants.
When the lessons in the Chinese language began, they mostly served
government bureaucrats. Now businesspeople, from heads of large corporations
to small-time traders, want to learn the language.
"It is not only for my trips to Shanghai, but important for business here at
home. There are a lot of Chinese people here that we interact with," said
Jossie Dube, who enrolled at the school last year.
The language is not only being taught at university level.
Last week, first lady Grace Mugabe opened the Amai Mugabe Junior School in
Mazowe, where 100 students will learn Mandarin as one of their subjects.
Grace claims to speak and write Chinese. The school was built for her by the
Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company, the same enterprise that
constructed the Zimbabwe Defence College just outside Harare.
Growing Chinese influence
A boom in Chinese restaurants also points to China's growing economic
At the Great Wall Chinese restaurant in Harare's Belgravia suburb, getting a
table for lunch is tough.
The restaurant is popular among the Harare who's who.
Early this week a group of members of Parliament held a raucous lunch there
on the day it sat to debate the proposed new constitution.
Strikes at Chinese-owned companies are frequent and workers often complain
of low pay and allege physical abuse.
Han Bing, the head of the economic and commercial consul at the Chinese
embassy, admitted that the cultural gap between China and Zimbabwe was a
source of conflict between the newly arrived Chinese and locals. Yet some
aspects of the Chinese lifestyle have lots of takers, especially among the
At the end of a narrow and steep tree-lined avenue in Harare's wealthy Glen
Lorne area, a local woman runs a thriving exclusive spa for the rich,
hawking Chinese herbs, diet plans and therapeutic exercise.
She declined to have her name or the name of her spa published, arguing
that, "once too many people know, my clients will stop coming here".
For hundreds of dollars, rich people learn the ways of the qing dan diet and
tai chi. She imports herbs from China and employs two Chinese "acupuncture
"People come here to release tension. They are busy and sometimes they need
to bring their balance back," the proprietor said. She declined to say
whether her treatments were legal.
In Harare's Belvedere, soldiers - and large golden dragon sculptures - stand
guard over the entrance to the Long Cheng Plaza, a new mall being built by
Anjin, another Chinese company.
The mall is being built over marshland, angering environmentalists, who warn
that it would one day damage Harare's water supply.
The mall is owned by Anjin, whose joint venture with a Zimbabwe
military-affiliated company in the Marange diamond fields explains why
soldiers guard the complex.
The mall is having to delay its scheduled April opening after it was
flooded, and the state Environmental Management Authority said this
justified its opposition to the building.
But despite the controversy and rentals for some of the larger stores
reportedly reaching $3 000 a month, according to property agents, all the
shops have been taken up.
Agents say the bulk of the tenants are new arrivals from China.
08 FEB 2013 08:02 - INYASHA CHIVARA
Engineers say Zimbabwe's National Defence College, built by a Chinese
company, was allegedly 'a hurried job'.
Government's public works ministry engineers were kicked off the site of the
recently launched Zimbabwe National Defence College after they raised
concerns about perceived poor workmanship on the buildings.
Four ministry of public works engineers who spoke to the Mail & Guardian on
condition of anonymity confirmed they were forced off the property by
Chinese contractors and army soldiers during a routine inspection in July
after raising concerns about structural defects.
The college was built by Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction
Group at a cost of about $100-million. The money to build the college was a
loan the Zimbabwe government sourced from the Chinese government.
Government sources privy to the loan agreement said, as part of the loan
conditions, Zimbabwe agreed that the college would be built using Chinese
A senior inspector in the ministry told the M&G that the problems they
discovered related to the design of the buildings, the quality and quantity
of material used and issues to do with the foundation. He said the buildings
"told a story of a hurried job".
The defence college, situated along Harare's Mazowe Street, was opened by
President Robert Mugabe in September. He told journalists the college was
designed to improve the country's intelligence, security and defence
systems, and said expert military training for the college was going to be
sourced from Pakistan and China.
The complex was completed in two years and comprises lecture rooms, student
and lecturer accommodation, a gymnasium and sports fields.
Construction of public buildings is supervised by the ministry of public
works, which usually outsources private engineers to sign off buildings as
they reach specific stages.
Public Works Minister Joel Gabuza was not available for comment.
A source in the public works ministry said their Chinese counterparts "are
too powerful to control as they seem to have a network of powerful political
As part of the unity government agreement, public works is headed by the
opposition party Movement for Democratic Change.
One ministry engineer who was part of the team working on the site last year
said the contractors at the college were "very argumentative and
confrontational engineers who wouldn't take advice on anything". He said
they were "reminded" that the college was a "high security zone" before
being asked to leave.
"Procedures were flouted on the building of the defence college," said
another engineer who was part of the public ministry team. "It's
unprecedented that engineers engaged by the ministry of public works are
chased off a site for raising problems to do with professional compliance."
Ben Rafemoyo of the Engineering Council of Zimbabwe told the M&G it is a
requirement that foreign nationals working on public projects be registered
with his council, and be issued with "temporary practising certificates". He
said work permits, as opposed to practising certificates, are issued by the
department of immigration, and there may be cases in which some of the
engineers are not referred to them for registration after being granted
An Engineering Council member alleged that the council did not register any
of the engineers who worked on the college as required under the Engineering
"Our counterparts from Eastern countries are operating above the law because
they say they are part of government-to-government agreements," Rafemoyo
"It's possible there could be people practising without certificates," he
said, but added his organisation was "yet to receive complaints about poor
workmanship" by Chinese engineers on public sites.
The Engineering Council of Zimbabwe is a professional body of engineers set
up to register engineers and ensure compliance with best engineering
practices in the country.
The ministry engineers said similar defects were noted in the building of
the National Sports Stadium in the 1980s, leading to, they say, the cracks
and frequent repair work always being carried out on the stadium.
Enrolment at the college is only open to members of the Zimbabwe National
Army who hold the rank of colonel or group captain and above, or those with
similar rank in the police, intelligence or prison services. The college
also accepts students from the armies in the Southern African Development
Shopping mall and hotel project
Meanwhile, the construction of a $200-million shopping mall and a 300-room,
five-star hotel project by the Chinese in Harare's Belvedere suburb is
meeting stiff resistance from the Environmental Management Agency, which
argues that it will create serious ecological problems because it is being
built on a wetland. A leading environmentalist who spoke to the M&G said the
project is an ecological disaster for Harare as it "threatens the city's
future water supplies".
The Environmental Management Agency is a statutory body established to
ensure sustainable utilisation and protection of the environment.
The mall is being built by the same company that built the defence college.
The mall will comprise retail shops and a Chinese-style amusement park,
parking and accommodation.
The hotel project, reportedly being built at a cost of $150-million, will
begin next month.
Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group officials were not available to
respond to the environmental agency's concern that they are building on a
Mugabe toured the mall in September and spoke about the country's close
"friendship and ties" with China. He said the mall was "a real contribution
The chairperson of the construction group, Jiang Qingde, said the project is
"a monument of Sino-Zimbabwe corporation", but the environmental agency
insists the project is problematic.
"The environmental impact assessment of the project was done in retrospect,"
said the agency's communications officer Steady Kangata.
He said local authorities were treating environmental concerns "as
peripheral issues, and we are saying no to that".
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chairman Karikoga Kaseke weighed in on the
controversial mall and hotel buildings, saying the projects "met all
environmental requirements" and that the outcry was driven by "personal
hatred of the Chinese by certain sections of society".
By Enita Cherewo
Water problems have continued to worsen in Mbare amid fears of
water–borne diseases outbreak if the situation is not addressed.
When Talking Harare visited the sprawling suburb this week, Mbare presented
a sorry state as residents could be seen trying to draw water from disused
fire hydrants and other underground pipes. Others could be seen ferrying
buckets of water obtained from the nearby sewage–infested Mukuvisi River.
Residents told this publication that the situation has reached alarming
levels with others being forced to buy water from unscrupulous dealers.
‘The situation is so desperate as we have now gone for a week without water.
We resorted to fetching water from some boreholes in Graniteside but these
are overcrowded and now some people are now getting water from Mukuvisi,’
said Onesemo Gwapedza from Matererini Flats.
Chenai Makhaya said some residents were illegally fetching water from
dilapidated fire hydrants and underground pipes. ‘Some of us are drawing
water from underground pipes vandalised by desperate residents in the
evenings whilst others obtain water from disused fire hydrants but the major
fear is that this water is often mixed with flowing sewage and needs to be
boiled first and the fact that ZESA is not supplying us with electricity
worsens the situation,’ lamented Makhaya of Mbare National.
At Nenyere Flats where over thirty households share a single toilet, Talking
Harare was welcomed by a swarm of flies and a stench emanating from the
toilet. ‘We have had to live with this unpleasant smell from the toilet
since there is no water to flush away human waste and the fact that more
than thirty households share this toilet tells a story that requires urgent
response from council. Some water merchants are now also taking advantage of
the situation to sell water at $1 per 50litres and this is daylight robbery
,’ said Moses Chirenje who added council must not wait for disaster to
strike for it to respond.
Although efforts to get a comment from city’s Director of Water, Engineer
Christopher Zvobgo were not successful as his mobile phone went unanswered,
council sources said a burst pipe at Prince Edward Water Works was behind
the water problems being experienced in Mbare and other suburbs adding the
existing pipes were presenting numerous challenges due to old age.
For the past decade City of Harare has been struggling to consistently
supply clean water for its residents resulting in continued cholera and
By Gugulethu Nyazema, Staff Writer
Friday, 08 February 2013 10:27
HARARE - Condoms are subsidised and this should also apply to sanitary wear,
this is the new war cry by Zimbabwe’s poverty-stricken young girls.
Struggling with high sanitary wear prices, many girls are faced with
questions like ‘‘Should I miss school? Do I stay at home?’
These are choices no girl should have to make.
Men have the options to buy seemingly expensive Carex or Durex condoms
starting from $3.
Those with thinner pockets can grab the much cheaper Protector Plus or even
get them for free from hotels and health institutions.
The limited options for menstrual hygiene make it difficult for girls to
participate in school during their periods, despite the proven benefits
education can have for the health and development of girls, their families,
Rags, old towels, leaves, grass, school notebook paper and even cow dung are
some of the options some girls are resorting to.
The cost of sanitary products and access has left women and girls facing
serious health risks in Zimbabwe.
This basic commodity costs at least $2, for one to buy a packet of cheap
sanitary towels; a box of tampons comes in at a minimum of $3.
For young women it is an almost impossible cost.
When a family is barely able to put food on the table, sanitary wear is the
last priority in the household.
Some girls have resorted to transitional sex to buy sanitary wear.
One of the girls who identified herself as Danai, a student at a local
university, said cotton sanitary pads should come free.
“Latex is more expensive,” she said.
Another girl, Rumbie, uses tissues and rags for her menses and says she has
had serious bacterial infections as a result.
“I dread going on my periods because it is such an uncomfortable progress.
Using tissues is the worst experience because when the tissue gets soaked it
sort of gets stuck in unseen areas,” she said.
“Rags sometimes over flows on to the underwear and I spoil myself, when my
flow is heavy, it is just uncomfortable,” said the 15-year-old.
An estimated two percent of women in rural areas use sanitary towels; the
vast majority use unhygienic cow dung to deal with their periods.
Health expert, Elliot Manase, said such unhygienic items can cause
infections in the uterus leading to pelvis and urinary tract infections.
“Unhygienic practices could lead to ascending infections — bacteria entering
the urinary tract or uterus from outside and this could be one of the
contributing factors of the high numbers of women surviving from cervical
cancer,” said Manase.
Recent surveys by the Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods have shown that
thousands of young girls miss up to 24 weeks of school because of their
inability to control their menstrual flow — the reason being lack of access
to affordable and healthy sanitary wear.
The issue of sanitary pads has always been debatable and last year women set
up a petition and marched to Parliament calling on government leaders to act
on their appeals for dignity.
The women wanted the 2012 national budget to make provisions for towels and
tampons to be made available for free in schools and at community centres
or, at the minimum a plan to subsidise the products.
In Zimbabwe, women outnumber men, yet their pleas often fall on deaf and
Finance minister Tendai Biti is reported to have remarked that taxing
sanitary ware was necessary due to low cotton prices.
Due to low capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector, many companies
have not been finding it easy to venture into manufacturing following
Zimbabwe’s economic decline.
Gender activists said that such issues should be addressed through gender
sensitive budgeting in the fiscus. There is a call from women to scrap
taxation on sanitary products to make it more affordable to under-privileged
In 2006, women spearheaded the ‘‘Dignity Period’’ Campaign resulting in
sanitary products from well-wishers outside Zimbabwe being sent into the
country for distribution.
But this campaign has slowed down considerably.
More recently Cyan International funded a programme for women to make their
own reusable sanitary towels.
Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) Press Statement on Proposed
Government Exit Packages:
‘Say No to the Inclusive Government’s Politics of the Belly’
Issue Date: February 08 2013
The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) is gravely disappointed with the
departure lounge intentions of the inclusive government’s ministers and the
current Parliament to award themselves ‘exit’ packages in the form of luxury
vehicles and houses, as reported in the February 8-14 edition of the
Zimbabwe Independent. Such an intention is grossly hypocritical as well as
thoroughly unjustified and undeserved.
In a year where the country is facing a major drought as well as deplorable
social services where there is lack of clean drinking water, affordable
health care and a crisis in our education system, awarding these policy
makers these ridiculous exit packages would be the height of political
These leaders would do well to be reminded that being in government is a
service to the people of Zimbabwe and not a mechanism through which they
must seek to enrich themselves. Unfortunately this latest intention is only
but the latest indication of the warped thinking that informs the inclusive
government where and when it comes to matters of allowances and perks for
Against better advice, the inclusive government has over the last four years
had a ridiculously high foreign travel bill, a penchant for purchasing
luxury vehicles for ministers and their deputies while simultaneously
claiming that the country has a mere US$217,00 in its bank account. That MPs
and ministers now want ‘exit packages’ is akin to severance packages in a
country where unemployment is reportedly as high as 80%, can only be viewed
as a demonstration of utter contempt for the suffering of the ordinary
The CPC strongly advises the inclusive government and parliament to show
contrition and sensitivity to the people that elected them into office by
not seeking to loot the national purse for personal aggrandizement.
Zimbabwe is neither their personal tuck-shop nor theirs to treat as an
‘endgame takes all you can’ country. Where the inclusive government decides
to proceed with dishing out exit packages to itself, the CPC shall mobilize
all Zimbabweans against such extravagance.
This entry was posted on February 8th, 2013 at 2:44 pm by Bev Clark a
07 February 2013
Vince Musewe says for Africa to succeed it needs to shift away from the old
The paradigm shift Africans must make
Let us rather spend our energy and time organizing ourselves across the
borders so that we can create a new African Democratic Movement that creates
momentum towards change.
Last week I wrote on the issue of neocolonialism and how we black Africans,
must stop continually blaming it for our lack of progress. I mentioned that
it is critical that Zimbabwe and South Africa strengthen opposition
political parties because it is healthy for democracy. In addition, I am
totally against the alienation of white Africans because of the past.
From the points raised by my readers, I continue to be amused at some of the
arguments we make to defend the indefensible. The first thing we tend to do
is to shoot the messenger, a normal defense mechanism by politicians who are
under scrutiny. The second thing we assume is that, a black man who may
exhibit the same point of view that a white person might agree with is
labeled an "uncle tom" who supports a white point of view. In other words he
is a "sell-out".
I hear it all the time here in Zimbabwe. If you support the MDC you are a
sell-out. If you promote racial integration you are black man who thinks
like a white. If you insist of high standards of ethics and performance from
the politicians, they label you counterrevolutionary. In other words we must
all accept sub standard quality of life, keep quiet about it because our
brothers and sisters who fought the white man are now in power.
For me that is a tired old argument which indicates that we blacks still
have very far to go in creating constructive and self critical dialogue that
addresses the fundamental issue of accelerating economic development and
addressing poverty in Africa.
For the record, no sane person would support apartheid, colonialism,
imperialism or any system that oppresses others. No sane person must support
the dictatorship which we have in Zimbabwe and Angola for that matter, a
plutocracy as we now have in South Africa, or any political system that is
based on a group of politicians abusing state power and resources, failing
to address the pertinent issues of poverty alleviation but refusing to admit
their incompetence. That cannot be supported nor must it be acceptable to
any of us who are progressive in our thinking with regard to where Africa
ought to be in the future.
For the record, I have never positioned myself as having the universal
solutions to the complex socio political problems as we now have in Africa
where, despite the resources, the education and the human potential we must
still beg from the West and East.
However, I truly believe that unless we reconsider the way we think, unless
we begin to look at the socio-political system in Southern Africa for
example, as inextricably linked and therefore inextricably dependent, we
will continue with our silo mentality and recreate the very conditions that
got us where we are in the first place. We must shed old style thinking and
fears. We must begin to embrace white Africans as part of the solution to
developing our continent. We need a revolution in our minds first before we
can be architects of a new African society. We do not need liberation
struggle mentality in order to achieve that.
Poverty has increased in Zimbabwe and South Africa and many other African
countries, despite these countries having the resources. Education standards
have not improved as expected, despite having the resources and the human
capital. Corruption by black Africans is now a habit and there is rampant
abuse of resources by those in government in almost all African countries.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the white man or woman, but
everything to do with our incompetency to manage, plan and deploy resources;
In my opinion, on the root cause of Africa's failures is simple: we have
elected the wrong people into power. We have deployed the wrong people for
political leadership because our criteria of choosing them have been how
they were involved in waging a war against apartheid or against colonialism.
We assumed that the most vocal, the most radical and popular, the most
ruthless, the most revered blacks during our liberation struggles, are the
ones that are necessarily endowed with the capability to lead Africa after
independence. We were wrong and we must correct that.
We have had a very hard lesson here in Zimbabwe, and I do not wish it on
other Africans. If a country such as South Africa is to avoid that, it must
recognize those symptoms now so that conditions do not deteriorate. Let me
tell you something, social conditions deteriorate slowly on a day by day
basis and "normal" becomes characterized by oppression, poverty, political
bullying, black racism and the domination of the political space by a black
plutocracy that claims to be democratic and "defending the gains of
The behavior and motives of politicians are universal, and are hardly
dependent on climate, geography, or race. They will claim the right to rule
and will want to stay in power, even where they are clearly incompetent and
are not delivering. That is certainly the case in South Africa, Zimbabwe,
Angola, Nigeria and many other African countries. There will also be those
amongst us, who will support them blindly, because they detest whites
criticizing them. Not because the blacks that they are supporting are doing
the right thing but merely because of the past. That is insanity.
Zimbabwe must get its act right and South Africa has a vested interest in
that: It will create more opportunity for us to accelerate economic
integration, development and the fight against poverty within the region. It
will open up space in South Africa for increased employment opportunity and
create more jobs for all of us. The dictatorship in Angola is unacceptable
and we have an obligation to help our brothers and sisters there. Swaziland
is a joke that must now come to an end. Our brothers and sisters in Zambia
needs better leadership. The whole SADC region needs a political
We black Africans can certainly achieve much higher standards of living in
Africa than those expected by whites or the West or the East. We have
everything we need accept one thing; LEADERSHIP!
Let's now rather spend our energy and time organizing ourselves across the
borders so that we can create a new African Democratic Movement that creates
momentum towards the realization of Kwame Nkrumah's dream of Pan Africanism
with a modern face. Don't expect support from our current politicians or
their minions, they are all scared of becoming irrelevant.
Vince Musewe is an economic analyst based in Harare. You may contact him on
By Ed Cropley
JOHANNESBURG | Fri Feb 8, 2013 9:01am EST
Feb 7 (Reuters) - More than a decade after the chaotic and violent seizure
of white-run farms by allies of President Robert Mugabe, food production in
Zimbabwe is returning to 1990s levels as the new owners get to grips with
the job, according to a new book.
The farm takeovers led by pro-Mugabe independence war veterans from 2000
onwards are widely seen as the catalyst for an economic meltdown that
culminated in hyperinflation and an estimated 40 percent contraction in
output over eight years.
In his book "Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land", however, London School of
Economics researcher Joseph Hanlon argues that the seizures - while
delivering short-term economic trauma - were a radical form of land
redistribution that is starting to bear fruit.
Output from farms seized the previous decade has soared, particularly since
the hyperinflating Zimbabwe dollar was scrapped in 2009 and prices were
based on more stable rand and U.S. dollars.
Harvests are now nearing the years when the former British colony's 4,500
white-owned commercial farms towered over the sector, according to Hanlon.
"It really does take a generation for people to dominate a farm. That was
true for the white farmers in the 1950s. It was true with the 1980s land
reform, and it's true now. It takes two decades," Hanlon said.
"We're only halfway down the line, so we're not claiming Zimbabwe is El
Dorado, and we're not claiming even that you've done better than 2000. What
we are claiming is you're getting close to the 1990s average."
To support his view, Hanlon cites government figures that put 2009/10 and
2010/11 harvests of maize, the staple food, at 78 percent and 86 percent,
respectively, of the 1990s annual average.
In those two years, which admittedly enjoyed good rains, the International
Monetary Fund says the economy grew at nearly 10 percent.
With the exception of tobacco, the picture for cash crops is even more
promising, with the southern African nation producing more cotton, sugar and
tea in 2010/11 than in an average year prior to the farm takeovers,
according to the figures.
Furthermore, of all maize produced, Hanlon says half comes from farms taken
over since 2000 by Mugabe war veterans.
BREADBASKET OR BASKET-CASE?
With a figure as divisive as Mugabe, who has run the southern African nation
since independence in 1980 and has been accused of crushing opposition by
force, it is inevitable that Hanlon's findings do not meet with universal
The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents the 4,000 white
farmers who have lost their land in the last 10 years, publishes its own
crop figures that put maize production at less than two-thirds of the
The CFU also points to a United Nations appeal last month for $131 million
in aid for nearly 1.7 million people - more than 10 percent of the
population - who are facing hunger this year because of drought.
"It's an absolute joke," CFU President Charles Taffs said in an interview,
dismissing the official figures as "fictitious propaganda" from the Ministry
"It's a total and utter shambles here. If we were producing the maize the
government says we're producing, why are we every year appealing for food
Hanlon counters by saying that the perception of Zimbabwe was a regional
breadbasket after independence is a "white myth" and that one in three of
the new post-2000 farmers are now starting to produce on a significant
"There are a set that are in trouble; there are a set that are comfortable;
and about a third of them who are really serious farmers," Hanlon said.
February 8, 2013, 1:54 pm
It is depressing to hear yet again the dismally low pass rate in the Zimsec
exams. The truth is that ever since Zimsec was introduced in 2003 the pass
rate has never been higher than 25%. Now we hear that in 2012, 81% of
Zimbabwe’s state school students failed their Zimsec exams. We are not told
how the private schools performed though young Chatunga’s truancy exploits
from the exclusive St Georges College were widely reported!
‘Education is in crisis,’ admitted the Education Minister and went on to
list some of the factors contributing to the crisis: shortage of teachers,
shortage of text books and shortage of investment in the education sector
which consistently receives less in the annual budget than defence. The
Minister went on to relate how some 20.000 teachers had left the profession
in 2008 when there was a mass exodus of teachers from the country. A
breakdown of the exam results for 2012 shows that the pass rate for Shona
was 18% while there was a 20% pass rate for English and a mere 13% for
maths. For a country that once boasted of one of the best educated
populations in Africa, this is a sad reflection on the current state of
affairs. Perhaps it tells us that youngsters – or their parents - are no
longer as passionate about getting a good education as they once were but I
very much doubt that. As a former teacher-trainer in Zimbabwe, I think that
we must put the blame for this sad situation where it belongs and that is
with the quality of the teaching. The Minister of Education says nothing
about the vital subject of teacher training but it is in the training
colleges that trainee teachers are inculcated with the moral and social
values of their profession. Admission to these institutions has of recent
years been overly influenced by political considerations, instead of the
candidate’s suitability for the profession which should be the prime
consideration. As a consequence, the profession has been weakened and
demoralised. From being one of the most respected members in the community,
the teacher has become nothing more than an easy target, blamed for
everything that goes wrong in society. Zimbabwe is not alone in this change
in attitudes towards the teaching profession, it is the same in the
so-called developed world. In Zimbabwe, teachers themselves are often poorly
educated with inadequate knowledge of their subjects. As an example of this,
the 13% pass rate in Shona indicates that it is not enough to be a born
Shona speaker; language teaching requires training and a deep knowledge of
the technical aspects of the language.
In the matter of the curriculum, Zimbabwe suffers from a colonial hangover
which values academic subjects over and above practical subjects which lead
to manual jobs. Again, this is no different from the western world where a
plumber, even though he may earn high wages and possess much-valued skills,
is considered lower down the social scale than a ‘white collar’ worker. As a
result of this colonial mindset, students who would be much better suited to
practical subjects are pushed through the academic machine and emerge ill
equipped for life in the world of work.
These latest Zimsec exam results demonstrate very clearly that state
education is indeed in crisis and is failing our children. Too often, the
teaching profession is the last resort for youngsters who can think of
nothing else to do. To quote Bernard Shaw: “He who can, does. He who cannot
teaches.” In a country with 80-90% unemployment this may be a sad reality
but it does not make for highly qualified and motivated teachers. Without a
well-educated populace, democracy is the loser.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.