January 11, 2013 in Politics
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has flexed his muscles, ordering the
Finance ministry to immediately release about US$30 million for the roll-out
of the delayed mobile voter-registration exercise.
Report by Brian Chitemba
A fuming Tsvangirai yesterday convened a tense 45-minute meeting attended by
acting Finance minister Theresa Makone, Justice and Legal Affairs minister
Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chairperson
Joyce Kazembe and Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede to seek an
explanation for the delays in commencing the crucial voter-registration
process ahead of polls expected this year.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson William Bango said Tsvangirai was furious over
delays of the voter-registration exercise that should have kicked-off on
“The PM is greatly concerned about voter-registration delays and the meeting
was meant to fast-track the exercise,” said Bango.
Tsvangirai instructed Makone to ensure funds for voter-registration are
released without delay. This prompted Makone to also summon senior Finance
ministry officials for an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon to ensure
the required funds are disbursed to Zec and the RG’s office.
Makone, who is Home Affairs co-minister, said the US$30 million required for
voter-registration was available as Finance minister Tendai Biti told
Tsvangirai Treasury had the funds before he went on leave.
“We agreed the process (voter-registration) should start as soon as possible
and initial funding will be released immediately,” said Makone. “We are
looking at US$30 million and the money is available.”
Zec, Kazembe said, requires US$8 million while the RG’s office budgeted
US$13,1 million to conduct the mobile voter-registration.
Prior to the exercise, Kazembe revealed Zec would require another US$1
million for an outreach programme to create awareness among Zimbabweans a
week before the registration exercise is rolled out.
The RG’s office has stated there are 5,5 million voters on the register and
the voter-registration programme would give Zimbabweans a chance to
“clean-up” the voters’ roll by removing the dead from the list of eligible
Zec says US$220 million is required to successfully hold a referendum and
“We are frustrated because we require money to do the outreach exercise
before the rolling out of the voter-registration exercise,” said Kazembe.
“As Zec, we are ready and all we want is the money.”
Voter-registration is an on-going exercise throughout the year, but with
polls expected this year, political parties want to ensure their supporters
The RG’s office will conduct voter-registration under the supervision of Zec
as provided for by law.
January 11, 2013 in Politics
THE MDC-T would be closely monitoring the behaviour of securocrats in the
run-up to the next elections and during the subsequent transfer of power
should the party win the polls, with a view to determining how to deal with
elements implicated in past human rights violations.
Report by Owen Gagare
It has also emerged Sadc, the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) — precursor to Zimbabwe’s unity government — is also closely
monitoring the military’s behaviour and recently reminded securocrats to
remain professional and not meddle in politics.
The message was delivered on the sidelines of the South Africa/Zimbabwe 7th
Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security held at the Mount Nelson
Hotel in Cape Town from November 21-23 last year.
State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi led the Zimbabwean delegation
which included Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, director-general of the
Central Intelligence Organisation Happyton Bonyongwe, and top military
Although the official communiqué said the commission “noted that the
political and security situation in the two countries remains stable” and
“commended the progress made in the implementation of the GPA”, the South
Africans are keen on full implementation of the GPA and are wary of
statements made by senior military officers last year, among them
Major-Generals Douglas Nyikayaramba, Trust Mugoba and Martin Chedondo, who
openly declared their loyalty to Zanu PF.
South Africa urged its Zimbabwean counterparts to be professional and not
“They were told not to interfere with the electoral process and ensure
smooth transfer of power should Zanu PF lose,” said a source. “Apart from
the fact that (President Jacob) Zuma is mediating in Zimbabwe, South Africa
has always been concerned about the security situation in the country
because any instability has a huge effect across the Limpopo,” the source
Millions of Zimbabweans crossed into South Africa, among other neighbouring
and regional countries, most of them illegally, at the height of Zimbabwe’s
The military has had a hands-on approach in Zimbabwean politics and came to
the aid of President Robert Mugabe after he lost the first round of the
presidential poll to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in March 2008. It
embarked on a bloody campaign resulting in Tsvangirai pulling out of the
June 27 run-off citing widespread violence and intimidation of his
supporters, among other glaring irregularities.
Statements by generals and the involvement of the military in Zanu PF
activities have given credence to fears that the security forces may once
again play a major role in the upcoming elections.
The military has also been involved in several other high-profile human
rights violations, including the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and
the Midlands in the early 1980s, but the perpetrators have never been
brought to justice.
The top military brass, which has accumulated great wealth, is keen to keep
Mugabe in power and has been involved in the Zanu PF restructuring exercise,
especially in Manicaland which has been identified as a key province for the
party to win. There are also reports of the military already campaigning for
Zanu PF in several provinces.
A senior and influential MDC-T official told the Zimbabwe Independent that
while Tsvangirai recently told this paper he would balance the fears of
those implicated in human rights abuses with the interests of those crying
out for justice as well as the need for stability, the behaviour of the
military during the election period would be key in determining the approach
the party would take.
“Obviously, if they embark on a violent campaign like they did in 2008 and
if they prevent the smooth transfer of power in the event we win the
election, we will be forced to be heavy-handed with them as well,” said the
“So the ball is in their court really and they know this. You will recall
that in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections the generals issued a
statement saying the Office of the President is a straitjacket and they will
never salute anyone without war credentials. It is clear that some of them
still harbour those feelings, so we will be watching them closely.”
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the next election would be
crucial in determining his party’s approach if it wins the polls.
“We want to have a good relationship with the armed forces,” said Mwonzora.
“We want a relationship predicated upon mutual respect. They must respect
our right to exist and organise. We are Zimbabweans and have every right to
rule the country.
“They must be bound by the constitution … so how they behave in the
forthcoming elections will indeed determine how we treat them.”
Another MDC-T official said over the years his party had been engaging the
securocrats through the late Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, who had links with many
senior military, intelligence and police officers.
The official said some of the officers had softened their stance although
quite a number remained “stubborn”.
He, however, said the party was hopeful the military would not stop his
party from assuming power given Sadc’s keen interest in the election and
that the feelings of some of the top commanders were not shared by the rank
January 11, 2013 in Politics
SADC-APPOINTED facilitator to the Zimbabwe political dialogue, South African
President Jacob Zuma has expressed concern that negotiations aimed at
delivering free and credible elections among parties in the inclusive
government are weak, raising fears over the country’s readiness to hold
polls any time soon.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
Zuma’s international relations advisor Lindiwe Zulu told the Zimbabwe
Independent on Wednesday that problems and challenges affecting the full
implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) are just too many to
be successfully concluded in a short space of time.
Zulu said: “President Zuma will be happy when the whole facilitation process
ends successfully. The challenges during this process are many. They include
delay in the constitution process, strengthening the negotiations to deliver
on elections, finalising the (election) roadmap, creating a conducive
environment for the elections and implementation of outstanding issues in
Zulu said the facilitation team remains fully committed and hopes to work
with more vigour this year to facilitate a lasting breakthrough. She said
her team monitors developments whenever negotiators raise issues and when
Speculation has been rife that a progress report on Zimbabwe would be tabled
at the 20th (AU) summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from January
21-28 under the theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”.
Deputy head of communication and information of the AU Commission Wynne
Musabayana said she was not sure Zimbabwe would be discussed at the summit
as the final programme of the summit was still being prepared.
However, Zulu said Zimbabwe was not on the AU agenda, unless requested by
the continental body.
The summit would start with a meeting of the Permanent Representative
Committee of Ambassadors from January 21-22, the 22nd Ordinary Session of
the Executive Council from January 24-25 and the 20th Ordinary Session of
the Assembly of Heads of State and Government from January 27-28.
January 11, 2013 in News
HUMAN rights lawyers representing a group of HIV-positive Zimbabweans
incarcerated in Botswana are set to file papers in the Gaborone High Court
later this month to force the state to provide anti-retroviral treatment to
Report by Tendai Marima
The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/Aids (Bonela), which advocates
for the rights of people living with the disease, says the Zimbabwean
detainees have gone without this essential medication for years because
imprisoned foreigners are not allowed access to HIV treatment.
In the class action representing four men and a woman, Bonela wants the
court to order the Botswana government to provide the life-saving drugs to
all foreign prisoners.
One of the prisoners, George Vingaso, was extradited from South Africa’s
North West province and convicted of car theft in Botswana where he is now
serving a 10-year sentence at Gaborone Central Prison.
Vingaso tested positive after being arrested in South Africa where he was
put on ARV therapy, but the treatment stopped after his extradition and
subsequent imprisonment in Botswana.
Without drugs, Vingaso’s CD4 count dropped and his health is said to have
Doctors who first examined him in Botswana in 2010 discovered he had
developed boils, swollen legs and breathing problems. Bonela then filed a
court application requesting government to comply with a previous court
order to supply Vingaso with ARVs, but that was ignored.
Human rights lawyers said government’s inaction was risky as Vingaso’s low
CD4 count exposed him to deadly opportunistic infections such as
tuberculosis, a common disease in overcrowded and poorly sanitised Botswana
prisons such as Gaborone Central Prison.
Bonela executive director Uyapo Ndadi said the prisoners’ state of health
was serious with Vingaso’s condition being the worst.
“All of them are sick and their situation is dire,” said Ndadi in a
telephone interview. “Their CD4 counts are low and this makes them
vulnerable, but they are not yet sick. The other prisoner (Vingaso) has a
very low CD4 count and he has been struggling with the illness for about
three years now,” he said.
Ndadi said Vingaso was not receiving ARVs, despite a 2008 court ruling by
the Village Magistrates Court ordering the government of Botswana to provide
the necessary treatment. “The government has ignored the order,” said Ndadi.
In 2010, Vingaso’s court application requesting the ministry of health to
provide ARVs was successful, but the ministry refused to comply claiming it
is too expensive to provide free ARVs for foreign prisoners.
Botswana’s locally manufactured ARVs are provided free only to Batswana;
foreign nationals have to pay for them.
A month-long supply of drugs retails for P180 (about US$22,90), slightly
cheaper than in Zimbabwe where ARVs cost US$30.
Bonela argues that denying anyone ARVs constitutes inhuman treatment and
discrimination under Sections 7 and 15 (3) of Botswana’s Constitution, and
intends to present medical evidence to show how going without ARVs has
affected terminally ill prisoners.
“We have spent about a year compiling affidavits and obtaining medical
tests,” Ndadi said. “We are preparing to file our papers and if there is a
material dispute then the matter will go to trial,” he said.
Ndadi said he was hopeful of Bonela’s chances of success this time.
According to defence and security expert, Martin Rupiya of the
Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, many African governments have
responded to the HIV pandemic in prisons like “ostriches with their heads
buried in the sand”. Speaking at an AU conference in South Africa in
November last year, Rupiya said African governments had failed to
effectively curb the HIV scourge.
He said ignoring infected foreign prisoners was risky as foreigners
sometimes carry different or more complex strains of the HIV virus which can
undermine a government’s efforts to fight the disease.
“The hosting of foreign nationals sometimes brings different strains of the
viruses that effectively challenge national programmes and existing drug
protocols,” Rupiya said.
“The result is the creation of a constituency within communities that
remains excluded and therefore immune from the various public health
campaigns, including the most recent ARV treatment and increased access
campaigns,” he said.
Challenging the right to access ARV treatment and protesting poor prison
conditions appear to be a growing trend in southern Africa.
Beyond Botswana and a historic victory in 2006 by South African Aids
activists, courts in Zambia and Zimbabwe are due to hear cases of imprisoned
HIV patients claiming denial of ARVs constitutes an infringement of the
right to health.
January 11, 2013 in News
THE Zimbabwean government is expected to lift the ban on chrome ore exports
in April, exactly a year after it was reinstated following protracted
negotiations with industry stakeholders, the Zimbabwe Independent can
Report by Taurai Mangudhla
The move is among a raft of reforms anticipated in the extractive industry
which hopes for a downward review of government’s 2011 increase in mining
fees and ground rentals by as much as 5 000%.
Highly placed sources in the mining industry said the Ministry of Mines had
already approved the decision which now awaits implementation.
“The Ministry of Mines has already agreed to allow miners to export chrome
on condition that weighbridges are built on Chikwalakwala and Nyamapanda
borders where chrome was being shipped through,” said a source.
Chrome miners were using these two entry points to smuggle chrome into
It is alleged most companies deliberately underweighted the exports by, for
example, labelling 1,3 tonnes of chrome as one tonne because of the absence
of a weighbridge.
The ministry is also understood to be investigating concerns of the
industry, particularly low prices. Chrome miners claim the market is
flooded.The lifting of the ban, which is also meant to protect small-scale
chrome miners most of whom are indigenous, comes with a tax on sales to
facilitate local beneficiation which is currently too low to warrant the
The nature of the tax is yet to be specified and analysts say it would be a
further barrier to the viability of the battered industry, especially given
the low prices of raw chromium which closed the year between US$165 and
US$185 per tonne, from a peak of US$230 per tonne in May.
However, the industry has argued the decision to lift the ban on raw chrome
ore exports would not be enough to save chrome mining, as the industry
teeters on the brink of collapse due to deepening viability challenges.
Local mining expert and immediate past president of the Chamber of Mines of
Zimbabwe, Victor Gapare, said any additional levies on chrome exports would
make chrome mining unviable and ultimately defeat the purpose of exporting
January 11, 2013 in News
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is yet to set up the statutory
election observation and monitoring committee despite indications
make-or-break polls are likely to be held this year.
Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu
Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu confirmed recently the committee has not
yet been set up and his party was worried about impartiality considering the
current composition of Zec and that the executive would have a significant
say in nominating officials.
“Zec has not yet established the election observation and monitoring
committee,” said Gutu. “Of course, the idea of having the said committee is
a noble one provided our partners in the GNU (Government of National Unity)
are honest and sincere.”
Gutu added that “past experience has taught us that you can only trust Zanu
PF at your peril”. Section 40H (1) of the Electoral Act spells out the
composition of the committee.
“The chairperson of the commission, who shall be the chairperson of the
committee, deputy chairperson of the commission, one member of the
commission designated by the commission, one person nominated by the Office
of the President and Cabinet, one nominated by the minister (Justice and
Legal Affairs), one person nominated by the minister responsible for foreign
affairs and one person nominated by the minister responsible for immigration
(Home Affairs),” the Act reads.
In the current set up, President Robert Mugabe, Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Home Affairs
co-ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone would be responsible for
nominating the committee’s officials. Gutu further bemoaned the prolonged
absence of the Zec chairperson from duty at a critical point.
“Simpson Mtambanengwe is presently not available at this very crucial
juncture of the referendum and election preparations. To me, his continued
absence raises more questions than answers,” Gutu said.
Observers to the Zimbabwean elections since 2000 have been limited to
selected local, regional and continental organisations who usually endorsed
the polls as free and fair even when political violence was rife.
The previous Zanu PF government declared it would not invite poll observers
from the European Union and United States as they had imposed sanctions on
The Act was amended in fulfillment of the 2008 Global Political Agreement
that called for reforms to include the setting up of independent bodies to
run the country’s elections, and uphold human rights as well as investigate
The government has since set up four commissions: The Human Rights,Media,
Electoral and Anti-Corruption Commissions.
January 11, 2013 in News
THE old adage that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” has come to
haunt Zanu PF politburo member and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo
as his ex-wife, Marian, has thrown her hat into the political ring in the
Zanu PF primary elections for the Zvimba North constituency, currently held
Report by Staff Writer
Marian’s candidature turns Zvimba North primaries into a dramatic and
unpredictable three-horse race as Edwin Matibiri and Chombo are already
vigorously campaigning to represent the party in general elections expected
later this year.
Zanu PF insiders in Zvimba North confirmed Marian and Matibiri were
attempting to break Chombo’s 18-year stranglehold on the constituency.
Chombo first won the right to represent the seat uncontested in 1995 and has
gone on to be re-elected in 2000, 2005 and 2008. He never faced primary
elections in the previous four polls, but that has changed this year.
“Marian has entered the race to challenge Chombo,” said a party source. “She
has set up a team which started moving around the constituency campaigning
for support for her ahead of primaries widely expected in February.”
Marian was married to Chombo for about 20 years until they acrimoniously
divorced last year.
The divorce papers which became a major talking point after being carried in
the media, gave a glimpse of Chombo’s fabulous wealth, much of it
accumulated after he became a government minister in the 1990s. Before that
he was a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. The couple finally decided
on an out of court settlement to avoid further revelations of their vast
Under the settlement Marian walked away with properties including the 1
200-hectare New Allan Grange Farm in Raffingora and all farming implements,
as well as an unspecified number of vehicles.
The farm is at the centre of Zvimba North constituency, giving Marian easy
access to the area.
Both Marian and Chombo were not readily available for comment with Chombo
said to be on his annual holiday in Dubai. However, an insider said Marian
and Matibiri are receiving much support from some of the party’s Mashonaland
West provincial executive members. The provincial executive is deeply
divided along factional lines which once resulted in chairman John Mafa
being suspended for two years before his re-election in 2012.
“Both Chombo’s challengers are receiving support from some senior party
members and we are likely to see a drawn-out battle among the three,” the
January 11, 2013 in News
INDIGENISATION minister Saviour Kasukuwere says companies would soon be
required to have a 25% youth representation of those under 35 years on their
boards of directors in line with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Report by Taurai Mangudhla
This follows a 2012 cabinet decision to reserve a 25% quota of all economic,
indigenisation and empowerment facilities across the economy for the country’s
Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent indicates youths would be
independent board directors.
Kasukuwere said his ministry would apply the new quota system to all
companies that have recently complied with the empowerment law as they are
all expected to announce new boards soon.
“This is a way to empower our youths and we want to ensure full compliance,”
said Kasukuwere in Mt Darwin last Friday.
“I have noticed that the youths have a tendency to assume (that) sitting on
the boards of big companies is a preserve for the older generation and by so
doing they are discriminating against themselves,” he said.
Kasukuwere said the mining sector was almost in full compliance with the
Indigenisation Act, which compels all foreign-owned companies to relinquish
51% shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans.
According to his ministry’s statistics, 120 mining companies had complied
with the indigenisation law with 400 Employee Share Ownership Trusts created
at the end of November 2012.
Compliant extractive firms include Mimosa Platinum Mine, Pretoria Portland
Cement and Unki Platinum.
Kasukuwere said government had appointed young lawyer Psychology Maziwisa as
one of the new Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation board members in line
with the new requirement.
This is also in line with his ministry’s target to enable youths to
participate in the mainstream economy and contribute to economic growth and
He said the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, or the
sovereign wealth fund, stood at US$4 billion as at December last year and is
expected to top US$5 billion by June this year.
January 11, 2013 in News
THE inter-ministerial committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara to resolve the controversial Save Conservancy saga after the
conservancy was invaded by Zanu PF bigwigs last year is still to present its
findings to cabinet.
Report by Herbert Moyo
Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter Mzembi said “it is better to delay
the presentation of the findings than to rush into making a decision that
will live with us and indict us for good”.
Mzembi said the committee had already met twice in the past month and
Mutambara appreciates the need to consult widely so that the taskforce can
present a very democratic position to cabinet.
Mzembi said the invasions were counter-productive and would dent the country’s
image ahead of this year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation general
“What l said last year on the matter remains indelibly printed on the minds
of Zimbabweans and my position will not be changed by anybody,” Mzembi said.
“Contrary to assertions that we want to protect white men’s interests, we
are trying to come up with a model which will empower communities while
preserving wildlife for posterity. It is important that we don’t replace
whites with a bourgeois black class that has already been empowered
Save Conservancy general manager David Goosen said they met Mutambara
together with local chiefs to submit their presentation in November last
Goosen said the white entrepreneurs had proposed a business model where they
could get into partnership with the local community.
“We want the conservancy to be run as a company where the local community
will have shares in a trust represented by their chiefs,” said Goosen. “We
know there is so much potential in the wildlife sector so we welcome
Save Conservancy is the country’s richest and largest private wildlife
sanctuary in the world. It hit the headlines last year after it was invaded
by Zanu PF bigwigs and army commanders, particularly from Masvingo province.
They parcelled it out among themselves before embarking on an orgy of
wildlife hunting, sparking local and international outrage.
January 11, 2013 in News
A NEW study on the safety of Bulawayo’s fresh food supply has revealed a
worrying outcome with results showing high levels of heavy metals and
pesticide residue in the city’s vegetables and poultry.
Report by Tendai Marima
The findings of the investigations titled A Study to Assess the Food Safety
of Vegetables and Poultry Available in the Market in Bulawayo presented to
the Agricultural Cluster Working Group (ACWG) in November last year suggests
the majority of vegetables and poultry being sold in Bulawayo have
Escherichia coli or E coli and above-normal metal content.
The group is a forum headed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
and includes officials from the Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation
Development ministry, Agritex and stakeholders from local non-governmental
organisations, research institutes and the private sector.
E coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of humans and
animals, which can cause severe food poisoning. Some types of E coli
bacteria can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death.
The study surveyed 58 farms in and around Bulawayo where 53 poultry samples
were taken and sent for laboratory testing and microbiological analysis.
Fifty vegetable samples were collected for heavy metal analysis and a
further 44 vegetable specimen were collected from the open-air markets
around the city centre.
The study found the overwhelming majority of the tested poultry samples from
the farms had E coli. Staphylococcus aureus or S aureus bacteria that can
also cause food poisoning as well as skin and respiratory infections.
Most of the open market’s tested vegetable samples contained cadmium, a
silvery-bluish metal which, in instances where blood contains high levels of
cadmium, can result in chills, respiratory problems and kidney damage.
“Microbiology results for poultry revealed that 90,6% of the samples had E
coli and 98,1% had S aureus. These pathogens are capable of causing food
poisoning,” reads part of the study.
“One hundred percent of the tomatoes sampled exceeded the cadmium World
Health Organisation/FAO maximum level. Ninety-seven percent of the
choumoellier samples had cadmium levels greater than the WHO/FAO maximum
limit. Ninety-two percent of the (vegetable) samples exceeded the maximum
level set for lead,” stated the results.
Although the research carried out among 208 vendors, 129 retailers and 58
farms does not suggest an imminent outbreak of disease or death as a result,
it emphasises the levels of bacterial bugs and metal presence in food is
On pesticide residue, results were more positive as less than 10% of
choumoellier and tomato samples exceeded the acceptable daily intake of
“The vegetables were generally safe in terms of pesticides residues, though
there is need for caution. Drug residues were within acceptable levels.”
The study also raises concern over the rise in illegal abattoirs and the
sale of poultry at unlicensed premises and recommends Bulawayo City Council
encourages the use of registered slaughter houses, and monitor heavy metal
presence in vegetables.
Illegal meat trade is a persistent problem and in a bid to clamp down on
illegal meat trade last year, police launched a nationwide campaign dubbed
Operation Inyama uyithethephi/Operation Nyama yabvepi (Where did you get the
meat?) between June 18 and 26.
During the blitz, authorities shut down an estimated 140 butcheries and 110
restaurants suspected of illegal meat and poultry trading.
Police claimed unlicensed sellers were selling contaminated meat and this
unregulated trade posed a health risk.
More than 800kgs of meat was destroyed and 1 070 arrests were effected for
livestock theft and cattle rustling.
January 11, 2013 in News
THE flow of urine down her legs and soiled pants have become a ‘normal’ part
of life for seven-year-old Mitchell since the brutal rape last year by a
45-year old man entrusted to protect her. Mitchell is now incontinent (she
has little or no voluntary control over urination or defecation) after the
rape left her with a ruptured anus and genitalia which affects the way she
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
The pain accompanied by acute embarrassment is unbearable, as people stare
at her wondering why a seven-year-old continues to soil her pants.
She often sheds the tears of a helpless young girl desperate for help, who
feels a stranger among her peers due to matters she has no control over.
With the help of the Victim Friendly Court Zimbabwe (VFCZ), Mitchell is
receiving medical, psychological, and rehabilitative support and appears to
While she might eventually recover, her innocence violently stolen from her
will never be restored.
This is just one case of child sexual abuse that is on the increase in
Zimbabwe, and fears are high that it could get worse as the country heads
for a referendum and elections this year.
Rape, murder, emotional, verbal, psychological and economic abuse,
intimidation and harassment have largely become synonymous with Zimbabwean
elections and women and children in most cases are the victims.
Nor is the boy child also immune as there is an increase in the number of
young boys being sodomised.
Last week in Buhera, Manicaland Province, a six-year old boy was sodomised
after his family offered shelter to a stranger drenched in the pouring rain.
The family allowed him to share a hut with their six-year old son, only for
him to sodomise the minor.
A report was made at Murambinda Police Station but before the police could
launch their investigation, the man committed suicide. His body was found
hanging from a tree the following day.
In a report released in December 2012, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim
Friendly Unit said more than 2 400 children under the age of 18 were victims
of rape between January and October 2012. There were 3 421 sexual abuse
cases of minors reported during that period.
The report says neighbours accounted for 41% of perpetrators, while
relatives left in care of children were culpable for 27%.
VFCZ national coordinator Iden Magonga said sexual abuse of children was not
about satisfying sexual urge but was instead an issue of power over a
weaker, vulnerable group.
Magonga said: “Sexual abuse of children is usually committed not for sexual
gratification but it’s a power mentality and those who commit this crime are
often cowards who cannot face up to their own match, but feel powerful by
abusing the vulnerable groups.”
He said cases of sodomy were worringly on the increase.
Magonga said his organisation faced problems in dealing with child marriages
in the Marange Apostolic sect.
“The Apostolic sect is a closed community that has a culture of not
accommodating outsiders. We have had incidences where we would go there,
approach a certain family after tipoffs of sexual abuse. However, when we
get there and talk to the girl child she would deny ever being raped,
instead saying she was being well looked after; the law is then
Rape cases have been on the increase globally with the latest shocking
incident being the brutal gang rape of a 23-year old trainee physiotherapist
by six youths in India.
The rape sparked an international outcry and massive demonstrations in the
country resulting in police reacting swiftly to arrest the six suspects.
Unfortunately the female student died from complications caused by the
callousness of the rape.
According to the Preliminary Report of the National Baseline Survey on the
Life Experiences of Adolescents in Zimbabwe released by the government in
2012, approximately one third of girls experience sexual violence before
their 18th birthday and only 2% of these seek care and support, while
approximately one in 10 males aged between 18-24 experienced sexual abuses
Unicef chief of communications Victor Chinyama said: “We do not know if
there is an increase in incidences as these prevalence surveys are unique,
particularly looking at sexual violence amongst children. Statistics also
only reflect cases reported, and we know sexual violence is always
under-reported due to fear by survivors due to shame, stigma and
The issue of sexual abuse has sparked debate on social networks with people
calling for steeper penalties against those committing the heinous acts.
Social commentator Beatrice Tonhodzayi-Ngondo wrote on her Facebook wall:
“The next time I read of a girl being raped in this country I am going to
scream. Surely, has this become normal? What’s even sadder is that in most
of these cases, the girls are being raped by close family or friends and
they are also getting infected with HIV. What kind of people will do this to
their own children? How does one salivate over a two-year old? We need to
make noise and make noise now for this to change and get the attention it
Last December the government launched the Protocol on the Multi-sectoral
Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence through Judicial Services Commission
(JSC), which provides a guideline for survivors of sexual abuse and
violence, and their advocates, on seeking professional help at rural,
district and provincial levels. At the launch, Judicial Services Commission
secretary Justice Rita Makarau pledged to ensure magistrates complete
hearing cases related to sexual abuse and violence within three days of
being brought to court
“I have promised on behalf of the Chief Magistrate that all trials of sexual
nature shall, once commenced, be disposed of in three days,” said Makarau.
“This assumes that the police would have completed the docket within seven
days; that the probation officer’s report or the social welfare report will
be prepared within seven days.”
“Sadly, sexual violence sometimes is used as a weapon in conflicts. As we go
towards elections now, there is something that we should bear in mind that
sometimes sexual abuse and violence are used as weapons of power. To me
sexual abuse and violence are a power game and an abuse of power by whoever
believes that they have got power over the next person,” Makarau said.
January 11, 2013 in Business
THE National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund (NIEEF) has
received a US$1 billion windfall following the conclusion of an empowerment
transaction expected to be signed in the capital soon.
Report by Clive Mphambela
Well-placed sources told businessdigest this week platinum giant ––
Zimplats –– has finally resolved to comply fully with Zimbabwe’s
indigenisation laws, culminating in the company signing over a 51% stake to
The latest plan will see NIEEF taking up 31% equity while employees and
management will get a 10% share, with the remaining 10% reserved for the
community share ownership scheme.
According to sources, signing of the new scheme was postponed from last
month after the parties to the agreement sought to clear outstanding issues.
NIEEF has to date concluded transactions worth over US$750 million at
current market prices. The deals which have been concluded include a 16%
stake in Blanket Mine worth US$20 million, 9,7% stake in Pretoria Portland
Cement valued at US$13 million, a 21% stake in Unki Platinum agreed at
US$162 million as well as a 31% stake in Mimosa Platinum at US$355 million.
As part of the Mimosa and Unki transactions NIEEF has also assumed
government’s US$57 million debt as well as a US$142 million cession of
claims loan which the Ministry of Mines owed to Unki.
According to sources, the latest deal will add almost US$1 billion to the
assets under management by NIEEF which will rise to about US$1,8 billion.
With net of the loans taken over at US$200 million, the transaction triples
the value of NIEEF to over US$1,550 billion.
To date over US$980 million has been raised via Notional Vendor Financing
(NVF) loan structures.
“The mining deals effectively place a real value of several billions to the
sovereign assets that have hitherto been seriously undervalued. Previously,
mining firms where only liable for meagre mining licence fees as well as
royalties,” the source said.
According to well-placed sources, Zimplats will transfer 10% to a community
share trust whilst 10% will accrue to workers and management. The balance of
31% will be transferred to the NIEEF to achieve the 51% local shareholding
Going forward, expected growth of the value of the NIEEF portfolio will be
driven by similar transactions which will be concluded soon.
Government is yet to account for deals with Tongaat Hullet and Old Mutual.
January 11, 2013 in Business
ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) has lashed out at banks for proposing
amendments to government’s banking reforms to include mobile money service
providers, saying it was a selfish attempt by a clique of individuals to
frustrate its operations.
Report by Taurai Mangudhla
Econet owns EoCash, a mobile payments service.
In his national budget statement Finance minister Tendai Biti said banks
should, effective this year, not levy fees on deposits of less than US$800
and give 4% interest on deposits of at least US$1 000 held over 30 days. He
also said banks should issue debit cards for free and scrap the deposit
protection fund cap.
Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) said they would, among other things,
incur huge losses as a result of the legal changes given that most of their
income came from tariffs. In a position paper, Baz argued mobile money
services should be bound by the same regulations in order to create a level
playing field while recent media reports indicate bankers are lobbying for
all mobile money services to be administered by a financial institution,
otherwise they become direct competition to conventional banking.
Econet has responded by saying regulators should not be swayed by selfish
interests of a minority group wishing to keep ordinary people from enjoying
the benefits of their mobile money technology, while offering no meaningful
alternative solutions or even willing to invest anything.
“Econet is aware there is a small number of individuals, mostly associated
with one foreign-owned financial institution, who have lobbied intensely
both before and after the introduction of this vital (EcoCash) service yet
this very same institution, motivated only by what we believe is
selfishness, has never shown any inclination whatsoever in its long
existence in Zimbabwe to develop services that are inclusive and serve the
majority of Zimbabweans,” said the country’s largest mobile network provider
in response to businessdigest’s questions.
“The so-called complaints of a small minority of banks are reminiscent of
the complaints of the then PTC management when Econet founder Strive
Masiyiwa was trying to introduce cellphones in Zimbabwe. If he had not
fought tenaciously, over 10 million people would today not have access to a
According to the mobile phone operator’s statistics, EcoCash has enabled
nearly two million Zimbabweans, the majority of who did not have bank
accounts, to have access to basic financial services.
Most of the EcoCash subscribers live in rural areas where there are no
banking facilities, making the facility their economic life line.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
NEWS that German ambassador Hans Gnodtke has warned his country might pull
out of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly due to
be held in Victoria Falls later this year if government does not guarantee
protection of its nationals must be a worrying development for Tourism
minister Walter Mzembi who has worked hard to make the event a success.
Candid Comment with Iden Wetherell
Gnodtke reminded the government it had invited Germans to invest in the
country under the terms of a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreement (Bippa) but this agreement had been ignored.
The ambassador said recent assurances by Lands and Resettlement minister
Herbert Murerwa that investments under Bippa would be spared remained just a
statement of intent until government acted.
The latest violation has witnessed powerful Zanu PF apparatchiks, who have
already benefited from land reform, hunting in the Save Conservancy.
Murerwa’s statement that there will be no more seizures of foreign-owned
farms has come too late for many. Investors from Mauritius and South Africa
have lost properties in the Lowveld. Sugar estates as well as game
conservancies have been seized while a large ostrich scheme in Matabeleland
has fallen victim to local predators.
It is against this background that Ambassador Gnodtke issued his warning.
Next month European Union governments will meet to discuss the sanctions
regime. Zanu PF likes to pretend sanctions were imposed as part of a
bilateral dispute with the UK.
In fact they were the product of political violence and electoral
manipulation as reported by an EU observer mission in 2002 headed by Pierre
Schori. The government found Schori’s report inconvenient so he was
Now Zimbabwe is demanding the lifting of the sanctions claiming to have
cleaned up its act, as reflected in Murerwa’s remarks.
But it must be evident to even the most simple-minded observers that very
little has changed on the ground.
The farms audit remains a mirage, senior civil servants are still blatantly
partisan, broadcasting is the fiefdom of the former ruling party as it
attempts to claw back its electoral losses, while local government has sunk
into a state of anarchy as Zanu PF supporters build wherever they like.
In the midst of this chaos we have the sad prospect of a party hoping to win
power that is asleep at the wheel.
They are reluctant to tell us what they stand for, slow to respond to the
mendacious claims of our erstwhile rulers, and only too keen to learn from
their mistakes. Meanwhile their leader is pressing for a motorcade which is
the last thing the motorists of Harare want to see on their roads.
Zimbabwe, I am sorry to report at the beginning of 2013, is a mess. For
those of us following events over the years, it is galling to have people
remind one that much of this was forecast by our detractors, to use a
One particularly vocal detractor, a former prime minister, was unrepentant
in his Belgravia exile. We joked that he didn’t need to give interviews to
his many press visitors. Instead a large banner across his driveway would be
sufficient bearing the inscription “Told You So”.
Let’s hope he was not entirely right!
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
TUESDAY was a day of anxiety in Zimbabwe as it ushered in the first day at
school for tens of thousands of children countrywide.
Opinion by Dingilizwe Ntuli
While the day was met with tears of joy and excitement, one cannot help but
shudder at the thought of these innocent kids being forced to embark on a
journey into the unknown.
Education has been relegated to the back burner by the powers that be and
most of these kids face the prospect of adding to the ranks of the
unemployed by the time they finish school as long as the status quo
Absolute power has suddenly become the only objective for political leaders
at the expense of service delivery.
Once upon a time we had one of the greatest education systems Africa had
Soon after Independence in 1980 the Zanu PF-led government made education
accessible and affordable to ensure a better life for all.
But after more than a decade in power and in a bid to hang on to it at all
costs, Zanu PF mercilessly bled the economy dry, leaving our once revered
education system in a shambles.
Suddenly one of the government’s key themes “education for all by the year
2000” was abandoned as Zanu PF devised ways of remaining in power by hook or
It was no wonder three years before the stated objective of providing
education for all, President Robert Mugabe moved to secure his political
position by appeasing self-styled veterans of the liberation war with huge
payouts to the detriment of budgetary constraints.
The Z$50 000 one-off payments to the estimated 50 000 veterans took Zimbabwe
off the rails and education bore the brunt of this miscalculation.
As we speak, Zimbabwe’s education system is in a comatose state.
The early promise of afordable, quality education has ebbed away and even
jeopardised the grand experiments of the very people who set up colleges and
Education is now a very expensive commodity, only available to the
financially well endowed. Besides, the infrastructure in many of our schools
is literally crumbling, giving our kids little room to succeed.
Thousands of schools in the country are now in an unfit condition to
accomodate pupils as the outdated buildings and equipment cannot cope with
the demands of the 21st century.
There are few functioning science laboratories. Most school buildings have
dilapidated structures and this affects the morale of teachers and children
as they feel undervalued.
There has been a paltry allocation in the capital spending budget for
schools in the past 15 years while our self-serving leaders wine and dine in
the Middle East and Asia.
Government seems to treat education as a political battleground, and not as
a national crisis that needs attention.
Our leaders have been paying lip service to the importance of education with
little being done in terms of policy and expenditure.
Worryingly, too many of our public schools have no running water or
Education has been receiving crumbs from the national budget yet government
seems to have unlimited millions to spend on politicians’ extravagant
Only political point-scoring is being invested in the future of the country’s
Teachers are paid peanuts, maybe because they refuse to toe the Zanu PF
line, but the resources of the country should be used for the benefit of
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
DOUBTS linger over whether elections will indeed be held this year as
insisted on by President Robert Mugabe owing to formidable hurdles along the
road to polls, but the general consensus is elections are this year.
Political parties are shifting up the gears in readiness for primaries to
determine candidates to represent them, with prospective MPs already wooing
the electorate through a variety of strategies including brazen vote-buying.
The stalled constitution-making exercise and outstanding Global Political
Agreement issues aside, there is a profound sense of déjà vu as the election
mode –– which Zanu PF, or rather Mugabe, has been stuck in since the
formation of the unity government –– takes firm grip.
Already there are the tell-tale signs of fly-by-night politicians and their
parties taking full advantage of Zimbabwe’s simple age and citizenship
requirements for presidential aspirants to peddle obscure if not sponsored
This lends credibility to long-held suspicions they are fronts for former
ruling party Zanu PF to split the opposition vote, while giving the
impression multi-party democracy is thriving in the country.
Of even greater interest, however, is the continued rancorous fragmentation
of the opposition into smaller units openly hostile to each other, a factor
likely to cripple their cause in the forthcoming plebiscite, but no doubt
sweet music to Zanu PF’s ears.
Since the MDC split into two formations headed by Morgan Tsvangirai and
Welshman Ncube over senate election participation in 2005 Job Sikhala broke
away from Ncube’s faction to form the MDC 99 in 2010. Ncube’s party further
split after Arthur Mutambara challenged the outcome of the party’s 2011
congress in court.
Since then there have been defections among the parties, further weakening
their profiles. Last week we carried a story in which sources revealed Ncube’s
MDC, Zapu and the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland had signed an agreement to
unite during the anticipated elections with the rather perplexing aim of,
wait for it, fighting the MDC-T and Zanu PF in Matabeleland and the
Midlands. What purpose this would serve is hard to fathom, but the
impression is that of a parochial regional outfit safeguarding regional
Zimbabweans have apparently failed to learn from Kenya where a multiplicity
of presidential candidates helped former president Daniel Arap Moi retain
power before he was defeated by Mwai Kibaki in 2002 after 24 years in power.
After learning its lesson, the opposition formed a strong coalition led by
Kibaki, eventually ousting Moi.
But chances of that happening in Zimbabwe in the next elections are
exceedingly remote, with Ncube’s party dismissing reports suggesting a
possible coalition with MDC-T as “wishful thinking”. The opposition parties
are trading barbs in self-serving yet ultimately futile attempts to prove
which formation resonates most with the electorate.
Throw in the damaging, lurid details of Tsvangirai’s love life splashed in
the media last year –– whose impact is yet to be fully determined –– and you
have all the makings of an opposition on the ropes.
Where does that leave Zanu PF? Laughing all the way to the polls!
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
Zanu PF has finally let the cat out of the bag with its controversial
presidential inputs scheme. The party had earlier claimed the scheme would
benefit all Zimbabweans, regardless of political affiliation. Agriculture
minister Joseph Made had even said the programme was “testimony to President
Mugabe’s passion for agriculture”.
“I am grateful that the president has once again supported agriculture this
year considering that the Ministry of Finance seems not to be interested in
availing inputs this season. We are expecting this scheme launched today to
assist at least 900 000 households,” said Made.
“The Presidential Well-wishers’ Special Agricultural Inputs Scheme is a
clear demonstration of His Excellency’s commitment to the goal of ensuring
that every household in Zimbabwe has enough safe and nutritious food,” Made
However, disingenuous Zanu PF officials let rip the party’s true strategy
vowing to deny non-party members access to the inputs.
The Daily News reports that Mukaradzi Zanu PF district chairman, Ernest
Marodza, declared only the party faithful would benefit from the scheme.
“No MDC (supporters) must benefit from our party,” he said. “What do you do
when your wife leaves you because of your flaws? Should you help her when
she comes back because she is desperate for assistance?” Marodza said.
Clearly Marodza knows nothing about wooing voters.
“These inputs are being financed by our leader, President Mugabe, through
what he gets from his connections,” gloated Marodza.
At least he was being honest, we will give him that!
Mohadi to the ‘rescue’
There was a funny story in the Herald on Tuesday which attempted to portray
the chaos at Beitbridge as South Africa’s responsibility. The article stated
that Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi had prevailed upon his South
African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, to deploy more immigration officers at
the border post.
The Zimbabwean intervention was designed “to arrest the volatile situation”,
we were told. A Herald news crew was arrested by South African police for
“peddling falsehoods about the situation on the ground”.
There was a picture alongside the article of Mohadi. What amuses us is the
heroic treatment given to Mohadi who is not usually identified with anything
too energetic! The Herald crew should have asked the motorists in the queues
which they told us stretched back for 10kms who they held responsible for
Stony faced approach
In a deft piece of reporting the Herald quoted Pandor as saying “they had
not anticipated the volume of traffic…” And what about the Zimbabwean
ministers and officials? Did they anticipate the volume of traffic? They
have had 32 years to get their act together but when the crunch comes they
blame it on the South Africans.
And how about this for gullible reporting?: “We are very hopeful that things
will improve for the better as the minister has assured us that they will
come up with a long-term solution to the problem hindering the flow of
traffic at Beitbridge,” an official commented referring to the “terrible
situation” at Beitbridge.
So where does the buck stop in this unhappy story? Well, there is that
Herald picture of Mohadi which we can get out next year when questions are
asked once again about why nothing has been done to improve the situation at
Meanwhile, the ZRP has promised to be “ruthless” with officers who engage in
Assistant Commissioner Kenny Mthombeni said
corruption had become endemic and a way of life among police officers,
especially those in the traffic department.
The police had suddenly come to this realisation following Mugabe’s remarks
castigating the traffic section for soliciting bribes.
They would soon engage in a lifestyle audit for traffic police, Mthombeni
Let’s hope this goes better than the farms audit!
Incidentally, the police recently re-launched the police service charter in
Harare which was first launched in 1995 setting standards of performance and
defining the minimum level of service the force must deliver to the
So far we have been getting the barest minimum!
Readers of this column may recall the very high regard Jeremy Gauntlett SC
is held in legal circles.
But he is not so well regarded by President Jacob Zuma who has overlooked
him for appointment to the bench. This has caused indignation throughout the
South African judiciary.
But just in case you thought it was a transformation problem it was useful
to have the comments of Smuts Ngonyama who served under presidents Mandela
and Mbeki with distinction.
“Any country that spurns excellence of the highest order is a country that
wilfully embraces mediocrity,” he said in a letter to BusinessDay.
“With mediocrity comes stagnation, chaos and confusion. I have no hesitation
in endorsing Gauntlett’s candidature for the bench because he has served the
cause of justice with distinction. What a tragedy he is being overlooked.
“We need plenty of transformation in the judiciary but not by sacrificing
excellence. We need more people of his calibre to grace the bench, serve
justice and develop our jurisprudence. Mr Gauntlett like every other citizen
is a son of the South African soil. He is also one of the stars that
sparkles in the judicial firmament. If others can get the nod, what rational
reason holds him back.”
Finally, Muckraker would welcome clarification of Ambassador Chris
Mutsvangwa’s account of the battle of Mavonde.
The battle was fought during the Lancaster House talks, we are told, and
Josiah Tongogara had trained an underground Zanla force to repel the
But the Rhodesians had “underestimated the military preparations of Cde
Tongogara so they attacked using both ground and airforces”.
It was a major encounter, Mutsvangwa claims, and as a result “the British
summoned General Peter Walls to Lancaster with his tail between his legs and
told him he could not win the War”.
Anybody familiar with this “battle” should contact us. In particular we
would be keen to know what aircraft constituted Zanla’s airforce.
The infamous red jacket
The fawning Kissnot Mukwazhi was at it again recently waxing lyrical about
President Mugabe’s call for peace and a corruption-free environment ahead of
the elections this year.
The MDC formations were working in cahoots with detractors to derail the
gains of Independence, Kissnot blustered donning his now trademark red
jacket, adding that “illegal” sanctions should be removed unconditionally.
He needs to liberate the now all-too-familiar jacket which seems to be sewn
onto his body.
The Justice Factor!
The Herald has spent much time and space of late telling us what a superior
brand it presides over. On Wednesday it carried a front-page story headed
“Reserve Bank wins court appeal” referring to a judgement by Deputy Chief
Justice Luke Malaba. Accompanying the story was a picture of South African
journalist Justice Malala.
We won’t gloat because it is all too easy to make mistakes of this kind. But
we will remember it when there is the next bombast from Herald House on the
Super Brand of the Year.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
LAST week I mooted the key New Year’s resolution required of President
Robert Mugabe, his ministers and all MPs and senators, as well as the public
service, was to take urgent and constructive actions to ensure Zimbabwe
attains economic recovery. These actions would also assure continuance of
the resultant recovered, vibrant economy.
Opinion by Eric Bloch
In amplifying this, the column detailed many of the necessary actions which
would bring about the desperately-needed recovery of the decimated economy,
and undertook to detail additional actions which are prerequisites to the
attainment of a robust economy.
Among the actions key to achieving comprehensive economic recovery, and to
assuring continuance of such a revitalised economy, are:
Pronounced containment widespread corruption in both the public and the
private sectors. Zimbabweans, with very few exceptions, are inherently
honest and law-abiding. But when their children are crying from hunger and
malnutrition, even the honest become dishonest if they can perceive no other
way of funding for their children’s needs. Moreover, when they witness that
some in government who clearly led humble lives prior to attaining high
office have become very wealthy, the assumption that such wealth
accumulation could only have been possible by corrupt practices is
inevitable, and perceived as a justification for the impoverished to resort
to similar actions.
The intensity of corruption in Zimbabwe has been, and continues to be, a
major hindrance to economic wellbeing. On the one hand, it is a major
contributant to the considerable ongoing deficits of government, resulting
in the fiscus raising direct and indirect taxes. On the other hand, it
erodes the state of the funding required for infrastructural development and
maintenance, and for the provision of essential services, including
education and health. It is also one of the several major deterrents to
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and corruption intensifies the operating
costs of businesses, stimulating losses and recurrent price increases.
Yet another essential, and most urgent, requirement for attainment of major
economic upturn is a categoric and strongly convincing government
reassurance that Zimbabwe will not reinstate its own currency, and that it
will continue the presently operational multi-currency system until such
time as there is indisputable and entrenched economic stability, recovery
and growth. Until such re-assurances are forthcoming, and so delivered as to
be convincing, a majority of the populace will, together with many
businesses, refrain from the utilisation of banking services, instead
hoarding their funds in their homes and their businesses. The result is a
very weakened banking sector, with minimal funding available for lending to
economic operations, thereby constraining the viability and operational
continuance of private sector enterprises, and being yet another deterrent
to FDI. At the very earliest, dependant upon the pace and continuance of
economic recovery, Zimbabwe cannot justify reversion to an own currency
until 2015, and this has to be stated convincingly by government.
Also necessary for comprehensive and secure economic recovery is that the
government works constructively towards achieving reconciliation with the
international community, instead of focusing exclusively on Far East and
some Middle Eastern countries. Such a reconciliation is a prerequisite to
attracting FDI, obtaining substantive lines of credit, rescheduling of
Zimbabwe’s national debt, a degree of debt-forgiveness and enhanced
international trade. Endless government castigation of Western countries for
allegedly “illegal” sanctions, and other negative criticisms and attacks
upon many Western countries not only hampers Zimbabwe’s greatly and
desperately needed economic recovery, but strongly hinders such recovery.
Concurrently, those repetitive castigatory attacks by Zimbabwe’s political
hierarchy also obstruct the populace from being aware of the real causes of
Zimbabwe’s economic ills occasioned by government, and therefore there is
little pressure by the electorate upon government to mend its
economically-destructive policies and actions. They also detract from
achieving the high demand for Zimbabwean exports which would otherwise
Another key issue that must be urgently addressed, as part of an array of
actions required to ensure economic recovery, is a constructive revision of
Zimbabwe’s presently one-sided (in favour of labour) labour laws, and
vigorous efforts to restore harmony and good labour relations between
employers and workers. Labour legislation is essential, but must be just and
fair for both the employers and labourers, instead of being pronouncedly
one-sided in favour of the latter.
The negative labour relations that prevail widely in the Zimbabwean economy
impact grievously upon productivity and upon product and service quality,
and hence cause recurrent price increases and, in many instances, business
failures. They also constitute a deterrent for many would-be employers from
increasing the numbers that they employ. The low levels of productivity also
impair enterprises’ ability to be competitive in export markets.
As stated in this column last week, one of the incontrovertible
prerequisites of a meaningful economic recovery is an unequivocal
demonstration to the populace and world at large, and especially to
potential foreign investors, that Zimbabwe has political stability and
absolute democracy. To such end, the forthcoming elections must be
irrefutably free and fair, and devoid of violence. Not only must that be so,
but it must be seen to be so, and therefore there must be major oversight of
the conduct of the elections by extensive international observers with
Preceding such elections, there needs to be transparent revision of the
voters’ roll, including reinstatement of voting entitlement of Zimbabweans
in the diaspora, with postal vote facilitation. And, importantly, there
should be no involvement in the elections by the army and police, save and
except for ensuring voter security.
Inevitably, many other actions and policies are needed to assure continuing
and substantial resurrection of the economy, those detailed in last week’s
column, and above, being only some of the key ones needed. If government
would, albeit belatedly, now implement a New Year’s resolution encompassing
all these policies and measures, Zimbabwe will progressively regain a
vibrant economy, and will markedly reduce the widespread poverty, hardships
and suffering of many Zimbabweans.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
ZIMBABWE’s ailing parastatals or state enterprises (SEPs) have often been in
the news for negative reasons ranging from corruption to outright corporate
governance incompetence as they continue to be an unsustainable burden on
Opinion by Herbert Moyo
Zanu PF has constantly made partisan appointments to SEPs boards based on
patronage instead of tapping into professionals with the expertise to steer
the companies to profitability.
When the coalition government was formed in 2009 many hoped Zimbabwe was on
the threshold of political and economic reform which would finally see SEPs
fulfilling their mandate of service provision while contributing
meaningfully to the national fiscus.
State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo launched the
Corporate Governance Framework (CGF) for adoption by line ministries in an
attempt to turn around the operations of SEPS.
The CGF provides step-by-step procedures, including consultations and
consensus among key stakeholders in the appointments of board members,
culminating in cabinet approval.
Moyo even claimed he had prepared a data base of competent Zimbabwean
professionals for consideration by line ministers for appointment to
executive and parastatals boards. However, judging by last week’s
appointments to the boards of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) by the Ministry
of Mines, it would appear Zanu PF has learnt nothing from its ruinous
The appointments of the likes of Supa Mandiwanzira, Christopher Mutsvangwa
and Tongai Muzenda to a mining sector already facing criticism for lack of
transparency and accountability will further entrench the widely held
perception that Zanu PF is tightening its control of the mining sector for,
among other self-serving motives, to create a war chest to fund party
activities as crucial elections loom.
According to Biti’s State of the Economy review released in November last
year, mining contributed US$2 billion to the fiscus in 2011. Fifty percent
of the country’s total exports came from the sector in 2012 and projections
are for a 16% contribution to GDP this year.
Biti has on several occasions complained bitterly about the low revenues
trickling into the fiscus from mining, especially the diamond sector where
shady deals involving the security sector have been alleged, despite strong
suggestions that Zimbabwe has reserves to supply 25% of the world’s diamond
SEPs, which have the potential to contribute 40% to the country’s Gross
Domestic Product, can only make a meaningful contribution when they are run
professionally and not the current shadowy approach where appointments are
made on partisan grounds.
Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association director Mutuso Dhliwayo said
although there was nothing legally amiss, international best practices
require consultation even if the line minister has the final say in the
appointment of board members.
“It would be important to establish whether the minister actually consulted
all stakeholders, including civil society organisations and the private
sector,” said Dhliwayo.” The question is did they get any input from all
these because they certainly did not consult with us?”
Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute believes that although
there is nothing “inherently wrong” with the appointment of Zanu PF
functionaries, “the problem is that the recent appointees like Mutsvangwa
have been part of the rot in our political administration under Zanu PF.
“It is therefore inconceivable that such characters would call for
transparency in the diamond mining sector given numerous allegations of
corruption and failure by some mining companies, especially in Marange, to
remit revenues to the state,” Ruhanya said.
Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe public policy and
governance manager Jabusile Shumba feels the appointments are part of Zanu
PF’s grand agenda of creating impervious structures in the mining sector for
patronage, with one eye firmly on the forthcoming elections.
“Mining is the centre-piece of economic recovery and yet again strategic in
the politics of patronage so crucial to Zanu PF’s retention of political
power,” said Shumba. “Mandiwanzira, Mutsvangwa and Muzenda have no strategic
entrepreneurship in them or even the mining background to promote
development in the sector,” he said.
Shumba views Zanu PF’s move to control the mining sector as a logical
development from its attempts to control all resources it started when it
introduced the controversial land reform programme in 2000 where more than 4
000 white commercial farmers lost their land to mainly Zanu PF-linked
“With the land reform, Zanu PF created winners and losers by expropriating
and parcelling out land in a partisan manner. It is not surprising that they
have now moved into the mining sector and with these appointments, they will
once again be able to determine the winners and losers to their own, rather
than the country’s benefit,” he said.
Blessing Vava of the National Constitutional Assembly concurred with Shumba,
adding that the “appointments confirm that they (Zanu PF) have personalised
the nation’s minerals for their own selfish ends”.
Indeed there appears to be substance to such arguments given that prior to
the coalition government, SEPs were used as sources of funding for Zanu PF.
For example, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) made a cash
donation to the party in 2006 at a time when the state had assumed the
transport company’s debt.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
FOR the past decade or so information and communication technologies (ICTs)
have been widely used as crucial platforms and tools to bring about social
change around the world, particularly in Africa, the Arab world and Eastern
Report by Pedzisai Ruhanya
Given the socio-economic and political problems that have bedevilled
Zimbabwe since Independence in 1980 but particularly after the chaotic land
invasions starting in 2000, and the crucial elections expected this year, it
is important to explore the potential capacity of new media platforms such
as Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones in the democratisation of Zimbabwe.
These portals have not been ineffective, but a new invigoration far beyond
the jokes carried by some of these platforms can turn them into serious
tools for democratic mobilisation for empirical political and quantitative
The argument that ICTs could be critical instruments for democratisation is
backed by concrete facts. The Arab revolutions, especially in Tunisia and
Egypt, are examples of how people were mobilised using ICTs, especially the
mobile phone short message service (SMS). This is not to say that what
happened in the Arab world can be replicated in Zimbabwe, but to acknowledge
the positive use of the new media for social and peaceful democratic
struggles during political transition in the country.
Strategic policy documents by reputable organisations such as Unesco, the
United Nations Development Programme and the World Trade Organisation
suggest ICTs can enhance the lives of citizens as well as empower them to
take part in social change programmes. In Zimbabwe, the development of ICTs
is no longer a new phenomenon. Their development has opened up new
opportunities for journalism and the ordinary people to practise citizen
journalism and with almost 100% mobile telephone coverage in the country,
new media can substantially enhance democratic participation. Most
importantly, ICTs have hugely empowered civil society and non-government
organisations and other change agents with unfettered platforms to freely
express themselves and to challenge sterile hegemonic political discourse
associated with the old and repressive political order in Zimbabwe.
The new and urgent challenge for the democratic contingent in Zimbabwe as
the country prepares for the next elections is to create organised multiple
media platforms, open up new spaces where change agents and activists and
public intellectuals can share messages, and strategies for democratic
political discourse and networking which makes it difficult for the
oppressive elements in government to crack down on them. This could be
possible because of the nationwide increase in ICT proliferation especially
the mobile phone across social strata. It is imperative to have these
linkages among civil and change agents because as Zimbabwe heads for
possible elections this year, the democratic space is likely to be shrunk as
Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe seek another term in office.
If properly organised, these ICTs spaces and platforms will provide
political parties and civil society organisations broader contra-movement
and private citizens legitimate democratic platforms to mediate the problems
associated with Zanu PF’s electoral shenanigans in order to ensure violence
is curbed and electoral fraud kept in check. But it is important for the
democratic forces to understand the critical roles that ICTs and the media
in general play in a democratic process such as the one Zimbabwe is
grappling with. Understanding these critical roles demands that change
agents appreciate the numerous negative factors working for and against
political change in Zimbabwe.
The growth of internet usage in Africa is predicated on the increased use of
the mobile phone to the extent of outnumbering landline phones, thereby
increasing the scope of the communication sector in Zimbabwe.
Citizens can be mobilised to vote through SMSs, report cases of electoral
fraud, political violence and circulate election results at polling centres
before they are possibly manipulated.
The platforms can be used to evade the draconian electoral law that
criminalises publication of results by anyone except the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission as pseudonyms and pseudo-accounts could be created. Electoral
information from mobile phones can be passed on to other platforms like
e-mail for wider circulation.
The adoption of mobile telephony in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular has
transcended class and economic organisation of society thus it brings social
change through sharing information necessary to mobilise the population for
robust social change, and not as platforms for light social exchanges and
The platforms can also provide citizens with alternative forms of citizen
interaction as physical gatherings are usually outlawed by authoritarian
regimes such as the one in Zimbabwe. This could prove to be critical for
citizens and those in the diaspora where they can meet in virtual space to
discuss ideas and strategies. The implications of new technologies are huge
and their influence for social change, development and the democratisation
process in oppressed and underdeveloped societies such as Zimbabwe are
important as they empower citizens to have control of democratic processes
without the state’s overbearing presence and regulation.
ICTs, as part of the democratised media that remains untapped for broader
social democratic struggles in Zimbabwe, are critical as the country
prepares for elections because they allow largely unregulated access for
citizens or voters to electoral participation, watch the activities of
political actors and expose electoral and human rights transgressions
without waiting for old media such as newspapers, radio and television that
are largely state-controlled.
Ruhanya is a PhD candidate and director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
I AM struck by how much our world has shrunk and how rapidly we are being
forced to think globally and act locally. Various factors are driving this
agenda — the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution which
shows no signs of slowing down. We can now carry in our pockets small
machines that operate on minute amounts of energy and yet give us instant
access to global information and an uncanny ability to communicate.
Opinion by Eddie Cross
We watch the extreme weather in all areas of the globe and are suddenly
aware that the talk of global warming and climate change is not a scientific
fantasy. We see the massive response in India to the death of a student
raped and beaten on a bus just because she was a woman and we suddenly
appreciate that we are all linked by common humanity and values.
If we just look at these three elements we can see how they are moulding the
world that we live in and are engineering our response. In the Middle East
the information revolution has initiated a political revolution that will,
in time, transform the political and economic lives of hundreds of millions
of people. Like the outpouring of anger in India, this process had been
founded in the growing education of the ordinary people and their access to
cheap means of communication. Against this tide, powerful ruling oligarchies
have found themselves helpless to oppose the demands imposed on them.
In Africa, the absolute poor have discovered they can communicate without
travel or beating drums. A cell phone in Zimbabwe can cost US$15 and a new
SIM card for as little as 50 US cents. Such a service even five years ago
was unthinkable. Now we have more than one cell phone per capita. My son has
a Kindle — instant access to the libraries of the whole world.
We watch the storms that are ravishing the United States. We see the drought
in parts of India and Africa and over large swathes of Australia. We monitor
the melting ice flows in the north and south, see open sea channels where
previously there was only ice and we ask ourselves what does it mean for us?
Then we are told that the rainfall in the Umzingwane catchment area where
five of our six dams are located has declined 15% over the past century and
run-off by 24%.
Suddenly the dams — built in the last century with an estimated sustainable
yield of 136 mega litres per day, can only supply 76 Ml/day. Our taps are
dry and something we have taken for granted for decades is no longer
available or affordable. We are in a crisis caused by others many thousands
of kilometers away.
I go into my constituency to speak to a meeting and find they have
automatically divided the men from the women. The men sitting on what chairs
are available and the women on the floor, no one thinks there is anything
strange about this arrangement. But their children are growing up in a
different world where women are being educated and informed of how women are
treated elsewhere in the world. The next generation will not accept such
In India where women are also treated as minors all their lives and are not
given certain rights, a new generation is emerging with university degrees
and smart clothes. Their new independence and libertarian values are deeply
resented by their male counterparts who see them as a threat. In many ways
it’s a form of racism.
In the era when racist politics dominated southern Africa I often observed
it was those who felt threatened by people of color with education and
ability, who adopted the most racist attitudes and were used by the
political parties to buttress their grip on power.
What is so fascinating about this whole process is that it is so
democratic — it is being translated into popular action that those in
political control are finding it difficult to control and manage. However,
the outcomes are often chaotic. Images of people rioting in Delhi, the
ongoing war in Syria, the paralysis in Egypt; but I see it as a hopeful
development for the world. Suddenly we are all part of a global whole, with
many common interests that transcend our local interests and concerns.
The key is how to translate these global concerns into forms of local
interest. We need to understand when the changes in the global climate mean
the southern regions of Zimbabwe become drier and many districts become
semi-desert, the blame does not only lie in the countries with belching
smoke stacks, but also here in the sweeping fire storms that rage across the
country every winter. These have become much worse since the destruction of
No one to cut or maintain fire breaks, no teams to respond to fires with
tractors and sprays; few cattle to eat the grass which now simply burns each
winter and serves to make us one of the great polluters. Anyone who doubts
the scale of this phenomenon just needs to witness the savage red sunsets of
our winter and see the scale of smoke pollution here where there are no
smokestacks or coal-fired power stations. When we protest the water
shortages we need to campaign for fire controls.
We need to use the simple cheap means of communications that we have today
to fight the tyranny of a regime that limits our freedoms and information
flows. We need to empower the poor so that when a military unit or the local
police abuse their rights, they can instantly communicate that to a watching
and caring world. Just watch the way the opposition in Syria is
communicating the activities of the regime on a daily basis. The regime bans
the media, closes down the internet but still the information comes out —
almost instantly. No longer can a regime abuse its people in secret.
Then finally the plight of women on a global basis; for some reason all
religions except Judaism and Christianity, suppress the rights of women. Now
across the world, driven by globalisation and the ICT revolution as well as
the continued emphasis on education, these changes are giving women the
means and the tools to fight back. I have watched our society trying to find
its feet on this issue for over 50 years. Little progress has been made in
all that time, now the global system is taking action on its own and we
either go with the flow or face the consequences down the road.
In my own life I have tried to be on the side of what I felt was the right —
somehow it has always felt like being always in opposition. But in the end
it is the right thing to do and being on the right side of history is what
it is all about.
Cross is MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South. This article first apppeared on his
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
AS Zimbabwe continues with the contentious constitution-making process which
continues to drag on three years behind schedule, it should be inspired and
draw some critical lessons from the Lancaster House Constitution which
remains the country’s governance charter. There is much that can be learnt
from both the Lancaster House Constitution, amended 19 times, and the
Lancaster House Conference of 1979 on the then Rhodesian conflict and it is
imperative that we take stock and chart the way forward. The on-going
political bickering and grandstanding, masquerading as constitution-making,
is failing to yield the desired results.
By Savious Hari
Concerned Zimbabweans are now sceptical the final product will vindicate the
time and resources invested in the process. This is because many deadlines
set for the finalisation of this process have come and gone with precious
little to show for the resources invested given that the country is
operating on a shoestring budget and its foreign and domestic debts continue
What the nation should realise is the rather glaring fact that the best that
can come out of the constitution-making effort is a compromise, just like
the Lancaster House Constitution. Being a compromise document, those pushing
for outright constitutional victory over the “dictatorship” in the country
or “regime change agenda” are not only daydreaming, but also fooling
themselves. The earlier we realise our limits in this compromise scenario
the better and negotiators will be in a position to set realistic goals
which are within parameters that allow progress. The Advanced English
Dictionary defines “compromise” as “middle way between two extremes”. At the
Lancaster House Conference there was a lot of compromising, and compromising
is of the essence in negotiating.
Furthermore, the moment the constitution-making process was entrusted into
the hands of politicians it meant a compromise document. The current
process, just like the one that produced the Lancaster House Constitution,
involves politicians coming from different and opposing political ideologies
or extremes. Without delving much into the intricacies of the differing and
conflicting political ideologies what goes without saying is that Zanu PF
came to the negotiating table trying to convince everyone it represents the
revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces, while the MDC formations would
like to be seen as a democratic and anti-dictatorship force. These
contrasting political positions are bound to clash on just about every
subject as each party tries to safeguard what it stands for, hence the
earlier argument that outright victory is unrealistic. The only way is to
compromise in the name of political progress
Equally striking in similarity is the fact that the Patriotic Front,
comprising PF Zapu and Zanu-PF, led by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe
respectively, was accused at the Lancaster House meeting of representing
external handlers in the form of communists/socialists. The
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government delegation claimed to represent the people and
their interests. Three decades on we have a similar scenario; the MDC
formations are being accused of being puppets of the West and Zanu PF is
claiming to be the representative of the people. Just like at the Lancaster
House Conference the current crop of politicians is only representing
themselves — it is all about protecting their political positions and
safeguarding their future.
There has also been misrepresentation or lack of sincerity regarding the
constitution-making process and the subsequent referendum by politicians and
academics alike, deliberate or otherwise.
There has been deafening silence on the crucial issue of harmonisation of
the country’s laws with the constitution after the referendum; people have
been led to assume that after the referendum the country will be ready for
elections. What must be emphasised is that there is need to harmonise our
laws with the constitution as most of them will be rendered unconstitutional
by the acceptance of the new constitution, if it comes to fruition.
Politicians and academics alike have a duty to prepare people for that
essential stage in constitution-making instead of remaining silent.
Another essential lesson that can be drawn from the Lancaster House
Constitution is that it did not give birth to our beloved Zimbabwe; equally
it can be argued that neither did the gun, but the electoral victory of Zanu
It must be appreciated that constitutions were never meant to replace
elections because they don’t have that capacity to do so, even the Roman
first codified constitution of 450 BC could not achieve that; neither will
the Copac constitution.
What is needed is an electoral victory, thus maintaining the status quo or
changing it altogether requires more than just a constitution, although it
is not misplaced to hope that a “good” constitution ensures a level playing
field — if there is anything like that.
Thus let us not fool ourselves into thinking that the constitution can be
used to achieve what can only be achieved through the ballot.
Savious Hari is a political analyst.
January 11, 2013 in Opinion
As Africa basks in the glow of renewed optimism at the prospects of economic
ascendency, Zimbabwe’s recent economic growth and future prospects are
clouded by the dark shadows of the tenuous foundations of this growth. The
African Development Bank has forecasted Zimbabwe will grow by 5,5% in 2013
with the World Bank putting it at 6%. While ordinarily impressive this
forecasted off a low base.
Opinion by Kevin Msipha
A number of key economic, social and political turnstiles will act as
conditions precedent in the attainment of this expected growth. In 2012
multilateral institutions led by the IMF continued their cautious but
positive reengagement with Zimbabwe. While technical assistance has now been
approved, it would be an unhinged hope to expect the resumption of aid to
the economy in 2013. In other words, Zimbabwe can expect further positive
signaling without the capital support the economy needs badly.
With 2013 expected to be an election year and given the country’s history
with elections, uncertainty abounds. Although government has relinquished
its right to seignorage, it remains the biggest player on the economic
landscape through the use of its fiscal and legislative monopoly.
While the constraints of the last four years will feature prominently as a
function of any economic outcome, it is the impending elections that will
dictate government economic reform agenda or rather lack of it. Like a bull
on heat, political actors will be consumed by a single goal; ensuring
‘security of tenure’ for themselves.
The political rhetoric and rancor will increase with the consequence of
giving business a reason to adopt a wait and see attitude, thus postponing
key economic initiatives. It is difficult to see genuine economic programmes
receiving priority in 2013 as the politicians spend more time on party
activities to the detriment of their public service roles. The earlier the
elections, the better for the economy as this will free a lot of energies
and resources tied to this overhyped contest.
With everyone talking of a watershed election year, one can be forgiven for
missing the hushed whisperings, discernable only to the attentive ear coming
from the financial sector. The cocktail mix has the makings of a potent
brew. Throw in empowerment regulations, new legislation governing the
conduct and supervision of the sector, new capital requirements, interest
price fixing, uhuru banking, poor lending practices and persistent tight
monetary conditions and voila, you have an immutable mess. Against such a
background, a financial crisis in 2013 is a distinct possibility. Will the
era of the indigenous banks sign off in 2013? Will commercial banks meet the
US$100m capital requirement deadline? Will foreign banks comply with
indigenisation? What will the banking institutions new business model be,
following the sum of parts disguised nationalisation by government? In 2013,
in the absence of an exogenous solution, we are likely to learn just how bad
the non-performing loans rate is.
The government expects agriculture to grow by 6,4%. Agriculture has deep
linkages with the rest of the economy. It holds significant employment
opportunities and can form the basis of sustainable competitive growth for
the manufacturing sector. A scientific method of experiment and empirical
observation in this sector would lay bare the reasons for the contrasting
fortunes of tobacco and cotton crops when compared to the maize and wheat
crops. The answer portends a host of lessons that could assist policy-
makers in understanding what the ingredients of a successful agricultural
sector are and herald a new era in the sector. All farmers small, medium and
large, respond to economic incentives. Far from being tradition bound
peasants, farmers have shown that they share a rationality that far
outweighs differences in their social and ecological conditions. Suffice to
say, with increased rainfall, financing and migration to crops that have
minimal government interference, we shall see greater than expected growth
World mineral prices are expected to remain steady as the world economy
seeks a sustainable growth trajectory. Emerging economies will hold strong
sway over the fortunes of the extractive industry. Increased technology in
the extractive industry continues to reduce the downstream benefits
available from the industry to the rest of the economy. As noted from a
report by the World Bank, the mining sector ability to extricate the economy
from its present predicament is limited. That said, a growth averaging 30%
in the past four years, with the 2013 growth figure expected at around 17%
cannot be bad, given the circumstances. Any expectations of diamond revenue
coming to the rescue of a capital starved economy should have been soundly
doused by now, despite proclamations by the Mines minister to the contrary.
With the major mining companies having cleared preliminary empowerment
legislation, expect some decent growth.
Manufacturing continues to be the bed-ridden ailing child of the economy as
evidenced by the challenges faced by Suncrest, Karina Textiles and Cairns.
The sector is expected to grow by a low 3% in 2013, despite its low base.
Any resuscitation of the sector must occur with regard to the size of the
market, the capability of suppliers, the costs of production, the
distribution hurdles, the availability of technology, and the state of
competition. Service companies will grow on the back of low comparative
wages in the economy. That said, 2013 is unlikely to witness a notable
Other ancillary trends that could provide a positive fillip to the economy
include the diaspora element, business groupings reorganisation, private
equity or venture capital and the informal and formal sector.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora are returning home in increasing numbers. They
carry skills that have been horned in a global setting and a work ethic that
reminds one of the values of old.
Kevin Msipha is a Finalist of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
By Chumile Jamela
Friday, January 11, 2013
Maternal mortality has been on the rise in Zimbabwe for five years. Last
year, the government waived fees for women to give birth in public clinics
and hospitals, but the wavier doesn't cover childbirth complications such as
MANGWE DISTRICT, Zimbabwe (WOMENSENEWS)--Two years ago, deep in the rural
Mangwe district of Zimbabwe, Sabina Moyo had doubts she would survive after
giving birth to her baby at home.
"People say every pregnancy is different and the labor pains will not be the
same," Moyo says. "But I knew something was wrong when after hours of
excruciating pain, nothing had happened."
Her husband loaded her into a donkey-drawn cart and took her to the local
Plumtree Hospital more than 12 miles away. There, Moyo gave birth to a
stillborn baby. Soon after, she discovered she was leaking urine.
Nurses told her that her labor had led to an obstetric fistula, a medical
condition in which a hole develops between the vagina and either the rectum
or bladder. But the staff at the small, rural hospital said they had no
experience treating it.
Maternal mortality has increased in Zimbabwe, especially in rural areas
where trained maternal health care professionals are rare. Complications
from childbirth, such as obstetric fistula, are also on the rise in rural
Last year, the government waived fees for women to deliver in public
hospitals, but the policy doesn't extend to treatment for complications.
For two years, Moyo has suffered from constant incontinence from what's
known locally as the "urine curse." She must wash herself, her clothes and
her blankets continually but has limited access to water.
Once a respected woman in her community, she now survives on subsistence
farming and handouts from well-wishers.
"When I discovered I had the curse, I could never have predicted the amount
of prejudice I would have to deal with," Moyo says. "I was suddenly a
pariah. Friends stopped visiting, neighbors avoided me and little children
laughed at me and called me the smelly witch."
She says her husband left her under the guise of looking for work in
Rising Mortality Rates
Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe lamented in an April 2012
statement that the maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe had increased from
725 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2007 to 960 deaths for every
100,000 live births.
Dr. Rabson Dombo, an obstetrician based in Matebeleland South province,
where Moyo lives, says that poor access to water and proper sanitation has
exacerbated weak maternal health care.
"These women travel distances of more than two kilometers (1.2 miles)
carrying water buckets on their heads, some pregnant and some with babies
strapped on their backs," he says.
The distance to health centers also prevents women from obtaining maternal
"Distances to rural health centers are long," says one senior hospital
official, who asked to remain anonymous. "Ideally, they should be 10
kilometers (6.2 miles) and below, but it's much more."
Some also can't afford to deliver their babies at the hospital, the official
says. These challenges are perpetuating home deliveries without trained
assistance, advocates say.
"It is difficult to convince women with strong traditional and religious
beliefs about the need for adequate reproductive health, especially here in
rural areas," says Sibatshaziwe Khabo, a nurse and midwife at Plumtree
Between January and August 2011, there were 310 home deliveries in the
Mangwe district, 30 of which were stillbirths later brought to Plumtree
Hospital, according to hospital records. There were 21 early neonatal deaths
and seven maternal deaths in Mangwe district alone, which the hospital
official says is a microcosm of the health care crisis nationwide.
For each woman who dies, many more will suffer injuries, infections and
disabilities from pregnancy or childbirth complications, says Dr. Kudzai
Ndebele, an obstetrician in a private practice in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second largest city. This includes obstetric fistulas that develop as a
result of childbirth, obstructed labor or intense sexual violence, Ndebele
Growing Fistula Problem
Fistulas are on the increase in rural Matebeleland South, Dombo says. The
condition is notorious for leading to social isolation, as it did with Moyo.
"These women end up completely alone because of the unbearable smell," he
says. "They are continuously leaking urine or in some cases stool, so their
social exclusion is guaranteed."
Ndebele says obstetric fistula can be corrected, but few women come forward
because of the community's skewed perception of the condition.
"As long as they label it 'a curse,'" he says, "the women will suffer in
silence or go to traditional healers to try and remove the curse."
Dombo says treatment is limited in rural areas so he is forced to refer
fistula patients to United Bulawayo Hospitals, in the city of Bulawayo, in a
different province, for corrective surgery. But while delivery is free in
the public hospitals here, treatment of such complications is not.
Moyo says she can't afford to travel to Bulawayo for the corrective surgery,
let alone pay for the procedure. She would also be too embarrassed to travel
in a bus full of people with the stench of her incontinence.
In 2012, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare mandated hospital
officials to stop charging maternal fees to encourage more women to deliver
outside the home. Fees previously ranged from $50 to $200 depending on the
method of birth.
But this waiver doesn't extend to fees for treating complications from
childbirth, like fistulas, Dombo says.
"In as much as the scrapping of maternity fees is a positive move for these
women," he says, "it does no good for those with complications."
Meanwhile, Moyo says she is no longer hopeful for the future.
"I lie on my wet bedding every night and long for death with every fiber of
my body," she says, "and I'm always disappointed every morning when I wake
Adapted from original content published by the Global Press Institute. Read
the original article Maternal Mortality, Obstetric Fistula on the Rise in
Rural Zimbabwe. All shared content has been copyrighted by Global Press
Chumile Jamela reports for Global Press Institute's Zimbabwe News Desk on
issues ranging from health to business.