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Nothing to celebrate on Workers’ Day

FROM a distance, one could mistake the gathering for a funeral where a few mourners were paying their last respects to their loved one.

Report by Musa Dube

The people looked haggard and exhausted.

Part of the dejected crowd that came to commerorate Worker's Day at white City Stadium in Bulawayo last week

Part of the dejected crowd that came to commerorate Worker’s Day at white City Stadium in Bulawayo last week

This is the scenario that greeted this reporter when he arrived at the White City stadium in Bulawayo on May 1 where people were commemorating the Workers’ Day.

The paltry crowd that braced the chilly morning weather was literally in a sombre mood.

Even the sexually stimulating and gyrating dance moves from popular musician Sandra Ndebele failed to change the mood that engulfed the entire stadium.

This year’s commemorations were different as they were held at a time when workers’ morale had reached an all-time low.

Most of the workers had nothing to celebrate as working conditions and remuneration at the few companies still operating were deteriorating.

The 15 000-seater White City stadium was virtually empty as only a few people turned up.

Most of the workers in the second largest city are going for several months without getting their full salaries.

Big companies such as the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) are reportedly failing to pay their workers resulting in morale going down.

Employers fail to pay for services rendered

Workers told harrowing tales of how they were struggling to make ends meets in the wake of company closures.


An NRZ worker, who identified himself as Dube, said they were living in abject poverty despite waking up every day to work.

“My brother, we are in big trouble. Imagine we have gone for several months without receiving our full salaries. I can’t look after myself, let alone my family, as my employer is failing to pay me even though I am working hard,” said Dube.

The majority of workers, not only in Bulawayo but countrywide, earn below the poverty datum line, currently pegged at US$506.

The plight of workers in Bulawayo has been worsened by the massive de-industrialisation that led to many workers losing their jobs.

The city used to be the country’s industrial hub but owing to economic constraints prevailing, most of the companies have since shut down.

Big companies such as the National Blankets, Zeco and clothing companies such as Archer, Security Mills and Merlin have closed down or have relocated, leaving more than 25 000 workers jobless.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, who organised the Workers’ Day celebrations in Bulawayo, only had the schoolchildren and vendors who made the bulk of the paltry crowd, to thank for attending.

ZCTU Western Regional Chairperson Reason Ngwenya bemoaned the poor crowd.

“This stadium used to be full of workers celebrating this day but today it’s empty,” said Ngwenya.

Ngwenya appealed to the government to revive Bulawayo’s industry so that it could regain its former glory.

“The government and members of parliament, I beg you to revive the Bulawayo industry and create jobs for the people,” said Ngwenya.

most companies in Bulawayo remained operational on Workers’ Day,.

A survey carried out revealed that it was business as usual as some companies, shops and supermarkets were opened in the city centre.

Only government offices and banks were closed for the holiday.

Most businesspeople said they would not take a break to join in the celebrations because they wanted to remain in business.

“We are not closing down because if we are to do that, we will be out of business,” said Q-Pay Investments marketing manager Zandile Maphosa.

Another businessperson echoed the same sentiments, saying they would struggle to pay monthly bills if they were to take a break.

“If we are to close even for a day we would be out of business. We would not be able to pay rentals, utility bills and workers. The time for us to go on holiday is long gone,” she said.

Due to the economic crisis, it has become the norm that most businesses in Bulawayo and beyond no longer pay much attention to the significance of national or public holidays. In the past it was only the bars, beerhalls and other entertainment sports that remained open.

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GNU on deathbed, says President Mugabe

May 5, 2013 in Local, News

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said yesterday the life of the inclusive government
would come to an end on June 29, vowing that no negotiation for an extension
could be entertained by Zanu PF.


The move is set to draw sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
who has been on a regional sojourn to press African leaders to insist on the
completion of reforms before the holding of the make-or-break Zimbabwean

Addressing the 92nd Ordinary Session of the Zanu PF’s central committee at
the party’s headquarters in Harare, Mugabe said the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) would expire on June 29.

“The clock is ticking. This is May and by the end of June, whether anyone
likes it or not, nguva inenge yakwana [time will be ripe].

The sun will set for the creature called global [political] agreement,”
Mugabe said to thunderous applause from delegates.

Zanu PF has been insisting that elections should be held on or before June
29 when the life of the current Parliament expires.

The National Constitutional Assembly has also supported the move, arguing
that it would be illegal to have the executive running the country without
Parliament whose life automatically ends in June.

The two MDC formations say elections would be disputed without first
completing reforms espoused in the GPA. Some of the reforms include making
the security sector professional and reforming the media, among others.

Some security chiefs have been making political statements insisting they
would not salute Tsvangirai in the event that he wins elections, a move
MDC-T said was tantamount to a coup.

Tsvangirai has been on the diplomatic offensive appraising regional leaders
on the situation obtaining on the ground.

In reference to Tsvangirai’s regional sojourns, Mugabe said one does not
have to run to African and European countries “to prevent the day when the
sun sets on the 29th of June”.

He said on that day, the GPA would die a natural death and “we will not
negotiate another, never, ever”.

Mugabe said yesterday’s central committee meeting might be the last before
elections, though there could be another one if the need arose to gauge the
party’s preparedness for elections.

He said any party candidate who plans violence would be “rewarded” through
violence “because violence begets violence”.

Mugabe said Parliament would this week debate the draft Constitution and
expressed the hope MPs would okay it.

He said the draft was “a political draft that still requires some changes”.

Mugabe said if the draft was not passed “we will go back to the Lancaster
which is there” and has been used in the past 32 years.

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‘Zim headed for another GNU’

May 5, 2013 in Local, News

ZIMBABWE is headed for a prolonged transition if elections are to be held
within the next two months before the full implementation of necessary
reforms, The Zimbabwe Transition Barometer has warned.


The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Cizc) barometer treks the progress of the
inclusive government and provides researched analysis to give a better
understanding of the transition.

The country scored lowly on almost all the six focus areas that have an
impact on both the transitional process and the building and consolidation
of democracy. These are rule of law, implementation of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA), clearly defined election dates and Sadc’s role. The
barometer only gave high marks to the recent constitutional referendum.

The barometer’s researcher, Phillan Zamchiya said whereas there were
positive democratic reforms attained in the country, Mugabe and his Zanu PF
are still in a position to manipulate state institutions and electoral
systems in order to retain power.

“In this context, the incumbent will find it difficult to gain political
legitimacy due to the fact that Sadc, other political parties, civil society
and the independent media keep trekking the transition to expose Zanu PF’s
election manipulation strategies, subtle or overt,” he said.

Zamchiya said this would mean that if elections were to be held on or before
June 30, Mugabe would need co-operation of protagonists (MDCs) post the
general elections, which would further prolong the current transition.

Under a prolonged transition, Zamchiya said, the incumbent is faced with two
options to gain legitimacy. The first is to form a government of national
unity with the protagonists for an effective government. The second option
would be for the incumbent to be bold enough to dump the opposition, and
seek legitimacy through committing to advance the democratic gains that were
made during the transition.

The barometer said Zimbabwe was likely to proceed to elections without an
early election observation mechanism in place. The Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee (Jomic) would continue to be restricted with
sub-national issues of the violation of the GPA without having oversight
over the conduct of political leaders.

“Sadc employees to Jomic may join the institution late and have minimal
effect in addressing environmental deviations to election guidelines,” reads
the barometer. “This will likely allow for political violence and
intimidation to prevail, although not at the same levels as in 2008 but to a
significant extent that will shape the election process and outcome.”

Zamchiya said the failure to rigorously monitor and push for the
implementation of the electoral roadmap may lead to a sham election.

He said there was need to build institutions and ensure transparency and
accountability by reducing chances of electoral fraud. It has been observed
that one of the strategies being used by Zanu PF is maintaining the
“infrastructure of error” to enable it to manipulate the electoral process.

“This infrastructure of error has manifested itself through concealed and
selective voter registration exercise and the unfettered access of, and use
of Zanu PF to state institutions.

Furthermore, the conflation of voter registration and inspection with the
process of aligning laws with the new constitution, there is potential
continuation of concealed and selective implementation of that process to
the advantage of Zanu PF,” reads the barometer.

The researcher said while it was now reported that there is an agreement
between the parties for the GPA on coming up with a time frame for the
elections and proclaiming the date, there is a high possibility of Zanu PF
dragging its feet on certain key reforms.

It says Zanu PF has persistently used this strategy to duck certain reforms
that are inimical to its interests such as the reconstitution of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and security sector reforms.

executive could rule by decree after june 29

Zamchiya said the uncertainty over the election date and ambiguity on the
status of Parliament after June 29 presented a scenario whereby the
executive would form a government without legislative control, thus rule by

He said the limited time frame and failure to resolve the tenure of
Parliament post June 29 until the holding of elections could see some of the
outstanding reforms failing to happen particularly around institutions
directly or indirectly related to the electoral process.

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‘Zimbabwe needs God fearing leadership’

May 5, 2013 in Community News, Politics

DEPUTY Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has urged churches in Zimbabwe to call
on politicians and get them to understand the importance of being
God-fearing leaders for the good of the nation.


Speaking at a regional workshop hosted by the Catholic Professionals Network
of Zimbabwe (CPNZ) in collaboration with the African Forum for Catholic
Social Teaching (AFCAST) in Harare recently, Khupe said peace could only be
realised with God-fearing leadership.

“If this constitution is adhered to, mark my words, the people of Zimbabwe
will live in peace and harmony. They will have a better life. We are
fortunate in that we have voted for a new constitution resoundingly and this
constitution contains very important things; rights of children, women, of
the elderly, of the workers, and of the disabled,” she said.

The DPM implored the church to impress it upon politicians that the
positions they held were not theirs, but God-given for the betterment and
good of the country and the people they represent.

Khupe said the country faced a problem with its non-investor friendly
policies and policy inconsistency and pointed out the importance of
empowering every person in the country.

“For the creation of jobs, we must bring in new money. We must bring in
investors into the country, that’s the best way to create jobs, let’s take
advantage of the resources. After this election we are going to create jobs,
without any doubt,” she said.

CPNZ aims to achieve social transformation through active participation in
matters that affect people’s lives. The network is also committed to
building a culture of justice and peace, protection of vulnerable groups, as
well as safeguarding human rights.

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference parliamentary liaison officer Edward
Ndete said employment creation for young people was imperative for the
development of the country.

“If a state cannot look after it’s people, let it go. Young people need to
be engaged and must be employed,” said Ndete.

He also pointed out that the church was constantly calling on politicians to
be orderly and said the church constantly corrected and talked to the

South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference parliamentary liaison office
director, Peter Pearson said there was need for politcians to exercise power
in ways that bring new possibilities to the people.

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Mutasa blasts Mnangagwa

May 5, 2013 in Local, News, Politics

MUTARE — Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa has blasted a
faction loyal to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa accusing some of its
members of being “sell-outs”.


Mutasa said it was clear that Vice-President Joice Mujuru was second in line
for Zanu PF after President Robert Mugabe.

He said it was agreed at the party congress in 2004 that Mujuru be elevated
to the post of Vice-President ahead of Mnangagwa.

“We all agreed unanimously. Now we are surprised that there are some people
like Mnangagwa who are now leading another faction claiming that they want
to take over the party. Anyone who objects the legitimacy of Mai Mujuru as
the Vice-President of the party, then that person does not belong to Zanu
PF,” said Mutasa.

Mutasa, currently on the spotlight after Zanu PF big wigs in Manicaland
recently wrote a petition to Mugabe accusing him of dictatorship and causing
divisions, said no one had dared openly challenge Mujuru in the past

“In all those congresses those that are against Mai Mujuru would be quiet.
Now some other people are now causing divisions, is it because she is a
woman?” he asked.

“Zanu PF is a strong party and Mai Mujuru was put in that position because
of her sound track record and good deeds in the party and no one should
object that.  She is our leader. Those that are fanning factionalism are
sell-outs and they are perpetuating the destruction of the party.”

Mutasa revealed that more big names from Zanu PF have been implicated in
illegal diamond dealing, prejudicing the country of millions of dollars.

He said the recent suspension of provincial chairman, Mike Madiro, youth
chairman, Tawanda Mukodza and three others on allegations that they
defrauded diamond mining companies was just “a tip of the iceberg”.

“I have received a petition from concerned party members who were
implicating very big names from Zanu PF who are illegally dealing in
diamonds from Chiadzwa. This is going to expose some very senior party
officials who have been extorting money from diamond mining companies and
allegedly converting the money to their own use,” he said.

He said the likes of Madiro and Mukodza were “just small fish, but there are
bigger fish that have been implicated”.

Mutasa said investigations were in progress, warning that the names of those
implicated would soon be made public.

He said Mugabe was aware of all the illegal diamond deals and would soon act
against the suspects.

Mutasa said he was “baffled” that people from Manicaland were not
benefitting from the diamond proceeds yet they were the owners of the
precious mineral resource.

“I am very concerned and at the same time surprised thatpeople in Manicaland
are not benefitting from their resources. Now and again diamonds in Chiadzwa
are benefitting influential people outside Manicaland.

“It is not a secret that the people of Manicaland are the bona fide
beneficiaries of the resources,” said the under-fire politician.

He said he was not happy that headquarters and all chairpersons of diamond
mining companies in Manicaland were based in Harare.

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Committee seeks Mugabe’s help in Chisumbanje row

May 5, 2013 in Local, News

A committee tasked with ensuring communication between the local community
and the developers of the Chisumbanje ethanol project wants President Robert
Mugabe to intervene so that the multi-million dollar venture could be


The project stopped operations in 2011 after it reached its storage capacity
as there was no local uptake of the commodity.

The District Ethanol Project Implementation Committee (Depic) wrote to
Mugabe on Thursday requesting a meeting with him, his deputy Joice Mujuru,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy PMs Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani
Khupe and the investor Billy Rautenbach. The meeting would discuss how the
plant would get back on track.

Depic is composed of Chief Garahwa, MP Meki Makuyana, local headmen,
district administrator, councillors, police, members of the President’s
office and community representatives, among others.

“We believe that meeting with all the concerned parties at once will
facilitate prompt and decisive action to ensure that the Chisumbanje Ethanol
Plant is reopened immediately,” reads part the letter.
“The 13 members of Depic shall be arriving on Sunday [today] and shall be
available at your convenience.”

Cabinet recently approved a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the ownership
of the Chisumbanje ethanol and it now awaits scrutiny from the Attorney
General’s office.

The MOA would effectively give government a 51% shareholding in the ethanol
plant with the remainder owned by Billy Rautenbach’s companies.

Initially, the project was a 20-year Build, Operate and Transfer between the
Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) and Rautenbach’s Ratings and

Government recently introduced a 5% mandatory blending for petrol which
analysts say would save US$2 million monthly in imports. The country imports
at least 30 million litres of petrol per month.

But Depic say the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has to issue the
blending licence for the exercise to take place at 10% and not 5%.


Claris Madhuku, Depic spokesperson, said the idea of seeking Mugabe’s help
came as a resolution of Thursday’s meeting.

“It was agreed that the solution lies in high offices as all other offices
are politicking.

“We are convinced that the issue will be solved once and for all. A team
from Depic will be in Harare on Sunday [today] and return to Chisumbanje
once the case is solved,” Madhuku said yesterday.

Depic was formed in December last year by the inter-ministerial taskforce on
Chisumbanje and have a mandate to resolve any problems the project may face.

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Tongogara’s brother dies, Zanu PF snubs funeral

May 5, 2013 in Local, News

MICHAEL, the elder brother of the late Zanla chief and national hero, Josiah
Magama Tongogara died in Mt Darwin last week, but Zanu PF snubbed his burial
yesterday, it has emerged.


By yesterday evening, Zanu PF officials were yet to pay their condolences to
the Tongogara family. Family spokesperson and one of Josiah Tongogara’s
sons, Granger said his uncle succumbed to hypertension and died on Tuesday
last week at the age of 75.

He said the Tongogara family had lost a pillar of strength.

“Mike shall be remembered as a husband, father, brother, grandfather,
unifier and a comrade to many,” said Granger. “Mike played a father figure
to all of Josiah Tongogara’s children. He is survived by his wife, several
children and grandchildren.”

Michael had recently told The Standard that he was still an active Zanu PF
member although he did not hold a position anymore. He was based in Zambia
during the liberation struggle and used to house many senior Zanu PF
officials at his residence in Chingolo.

The late Michael died a bitter man complaining that his party, President
Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru and others who used to be close
to Tongogara had neglected the late hero’s 10 children, most of whom were
struggling to make ends meet.

Recently he showed The Standard several letters from Tongogara asking him to
take care of his children in the event that he died.

In one of the letters, dated December 4 1978, Tongogara wrote from
Mozambique to his elder brother outlining his war trials and his concern for
Zimbabwe and his family.

Michael had written to his young brother explaining how he had been
“tortured” by the Zambian authorities as the fallout between Zanu PF leaders
and Kenneth Kaunda’s government continued well after Tongogara and others
had been exonerated by the courts for the death of Hebert Chitepo. The late
Zanu chairman was killed in Lusaka in 1975 in a car bomb which the former
liberation movement blamed on Rhodesian agents.

Michael also told The Standard that he was still in the dark regarding the
death of Tongogara in a mysterious car accident on December 26 1979 saying
the family still longed for answers.

Granger said while some senior government and military officials were
recently seen supporting a distant relative of one of Tongogara’s family
members who had died; the same treatment had not been accorded to Michael.

“They provided security and cars [name withheld] playing a divide and rule
game to the family,” said another relative.

Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Dickson Mafios yesterday
said he was not aware of Michael’s death.

“We have not been informed yet,” Mafios said. “Maybe we will be informed at
today’s (yesterday) central committee meeting which we are rushing to now,”
he said.

Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he could not answer any questions as he
was in a meeting while Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha said he did
not know Michael.

“One of the family members called telling me about it [the death] but I did
not confirm,”

Dinha said. “The problem is I have not been around as I am studying thus,
have to frequently take days off.

“I had to rush down here for the burial of Chief Chiweshe and I also had two
funerals within my own family.”

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New shopping mall to give Hwange a face-lift

May 5, 2013 in Community News

Hwange Local Board is set to construct a US$700 000 shopping mall, a move
that is set to give the coal mining town a face-lift.


Town secretary Ndumiso Mdlalose was optimistic that the project would
generate employment and lure investors to Hwange.

If completed, the shopping mall will house financial institutions, large
retail shops and offices.

“We are very confident that the project will see the light of day.

This project will also bring the much-needed development of Hwange and
Matabeleland North province.

“We are going to strategically locate this shopping mall, where everyone
passing through Hwange can have access to the services offered at this
shopping mall,” said Mdlalose.

He said the current set-up of the Hwange Central Business District was not
in good order, as retail shops and other service providers were scattered.

“The current set-up of Hwange is not very good, the businesses are
scattered, which is not good for people,” he said.

He attributed this to the fact that companies operating in Hwange were in
charge of the large chunk of infrastructure, especially properties rented to
the business community.

Hwange Colliery Company and Zimbabwe Power Company own most of the
properties being rented out.

Mdlalose said the projects by the local authority aim to boost tourism in
Hwange and surrounding areas.

“Mining has a time limit yet tourism is continuous, hence our thrust on
converting this town into another tourism spot like Victoria Falls,” said

Hwange Local Board chairman, Cosmos Ndlovu said the actual planning of the
shopping mall project has already been done and council now awaited the
physical planning team to finalise it before construction started.

He said construction of the main road at the proposed shopping mall project
was underway having been made possible through funding from the Zimbabwe
National Roads Administration.

The council has also sourced 52 000 litres of bitumen to resurface the roads
around the proposed project site.

The shopping mall project is one of the many projects the local board is
undertaking this year, having completed the rehabilitation of the sewer
reticulation system which had been a problem for the local authority for the
past six years.

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Battle between kombi drivers, police still on

May 5, 2013 in Community News

COMMUTER omnibus drivers have vowed to continue playing the cat-and-mouse
games with the police, despite putting the lives of travellers at risk.


Recently, a woman died after she was hit by a commuter omnibus that was
fleeing police officers. The woman died while she was disembarking a kombi
that had just parked at Copacabana bus terminus. In another case, one person
was killed and six others were injured when they were run over by another
commuter omnibus that was fleeing police officers.

A commuter omnibus driver, Gift Kasambwa said they had no choice but to flee
from police officers, who always demanded bribes.

“Since there isn’t enough space at the terminus, we are forced to park on
Chinhoyi Street and when we do this, the police pounce on us and demand
bribes ranging from US$5 to US$10, which we cannot afford,” he said.

In an effort to decongest the central business district, the City of Harare
has ordered commuter omnibus operators to use designated ranks, but the
drivers insist that these are too small to accommodate Harare’s growing
kombi population.

“City fathers always speak of constructing new ranks for us, but this has
not happened. They have never used public transport, as they drive so they
cannot understand the congestion that these ranks are experiencing” said

Alex Pahwana complained about police raids on streets that feed into Copa
Cabana rank saying the officers should know the terminus cannot accommodate
all the commuter omnibuses.

“When commuters alight on Chinhoyi Street, the police count the number of
alighting passengers and demand US$4 per person from us,” he lamented. “It’s
as if they want to make US$200 each.”

It is estimated that there are 5 000 commuter omnibuses in Harare and the
city’s termini have proved too small for these.

In search of space and passengers, kombis have spilled into town, triggering
clashes with police and the Harare municipal officers, who accuse them of
congesting the CBD. Harare municipal police throw spikes on fleeing kombis
to puncture their tyres. This puts the lives of commuters aboard at risk.

The drivers also accused the police of smashing their windscreens, saying
this was why they fled each time they were stopped by officers.

Recently police spokesperson, Charity Charamba said it was illegal for the
police to smash windscreens.

“The ZRP [Zimbabwe Republic Police] does not condone such behaviour and has
no policy with regards to hitting windscreens and rear mirrors,” she said.
“Any officer caught smashing windscreens is subject to a police disciplinary

Efforts to get a comment from Harare City Council spokesman, Leslie Gwindi
were fruitless.

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Patients warned against stock-piling ARVs

May 5, 2013 in Health & Fitness, Local, News

Patients on anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy have been warned against double
dipping as a measure to safeguard themselves following reports that there
were imminent shortages of ARVs.


Many patients, acting on the rumours, registered in different programmes and
areas, in a bid to ensure that they get a supply of the life-saving drugs.

This scenario has resulted in other deserving patients being left out or
trailing at the bottom of the list. Speaking during the National AIDS
Council HIV and Aids update in Chinhoyi, Rangarirai Chiteure of the Country
Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) said there were adequate supplies and CCM had
proposed to cover the procurement of ARVs for the last two quarters of 2014
using savings realised from the Global Fund in the 2012-13 round.

“Patients on anti-retroviral therapy should not panic or engage in double
dipping as stocks are adequate.

The country was recently availed with US$32,2 million to fight HIV, TB and
malaria for the year 2014 from the Global Fund.

Also speaking at the same meeting, the MOHCW and TB unit director Owen
Mugurungi said the country indeed had enough drugs to last up to 2014.

“There shall be no gaps and shortages this year and even in 2014,” Mugurungi

Early this year the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare announced they were
only left with two months’ supply of drugs and appealed to the Global Fund
for assistance. The country then received U$32,2 million for the year 2014.

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Churches take over Byo company premises

May 5, 2013 in Business

CHURCH organisations are converting Bulawayo industrial pre-mises into
churches, as efforts to revive the city’s industry fail to bear fruits.

Report by Musa Dube

The city’s Central Business District (CBD) is also littered with Pentecostal
church groups that are taking over most of the vacant premises left by shut
down companies and converting them into places of worship, much to the
chagrin of the unemployed residents.

Self-proclaimed prophet, Emmanuel Makandiwa’s Ufic church attracted the ire
of many residents after they took over Mills Textile company premises in the
city and converted part of it into a church.

The company used to employ over 1 000 workers but now employs less than 200
owing to lack of capital coupled by the poor economic environment.

A drive to the industrial sites reveals a grim scenario where posters of big
companies have been pulled down and replaced by those belonging to churches.

Director of Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Reverend Useni Sibanda blasted some
church organisations saying they were worsening the economic situation by
taking over industrial premises and converting them into churches.

“Instead of churches taking over industries, they should actually be working
on reviving the industry because church service cannot substitute production
of labour,” said Sibanda in his solidarity message at the Workers Day
commemorations in Bulawayo.

“We believe that when God created man, he created labour and labour is part
of the means of production.

“Many people, especially in Bulawayo, are not able to sustain their
families. The church’s goal should be to make sure that people survive,”
said Sibanda.

“Part of churches’ role is to help revive industry and we cannot help people
by taking over the empty buildings. By taking and filling them with people,
we are actually worsening the situation.

“They must instead build their own premises where they do church business.

“How do people survive if we are to take over all the buildings,” he said.

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Zimbabweans starved of vital information

May 5, 2013 in Opinion

Zimbabwe is suffering from confidence crisis as can be witnessed by the
extent to which citizens approach the different public bodies for
information. This is so especially because there is little and no honest
communication between the state and citizens, which results in citizens
having to speculate and gossip in order for them to make important


In a community where there is no communication between the citizenry and the
state, both exhibit lack of trust in each other and engage in activities
that are meant to protect and promote personal gain at the expense of
national interest. On the part of government, there has not been any efforts
to ensure that the citizens have unfettered access to public offices,
particularly those that deal with critical information. Oftentimes, what
comes from the direction of the state are orders and instructions where
citizens are expected to conform without proper progressive engagements,
while from the citizenry it is usually the complains on positions and
policies which they feel are improper.

In a big way, the government has used different legal instruments which
curtail free access to information for citizens such as Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Official Secrets Act,
Broadcasting Services Act, Censorship Act, Public Order and Security Act
(Posa) and Interception of Communications Act.

These tools have been used to create a gap between citizens and the state
which has given rise to the confidence crisis that this country is grappling
with at the moment with by-products manifesting as polarisation and
diminishing trust. It has created a buffer so that the people cannot access
their government. The government seems to be afraid of its people while the
people seem to be both suspicious and afraid of their government. In a
situation as is obtaining, the nation suffers lack of consensus and
fragmentation where there is no area of commonality or rallying point for us

Oftentimes, when bodies such as Zinara attempt to appraise citizens on its
work, for instance how much it has collected through toll gates, citizens
frown at it as an expression of disapproval and lack of trust in both the
communicator and the information itself. This is the case with other bodies
that are linked to the state including National Aids Council (NAC), Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority (Zimra), Zesa, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Zimbabwe
Investment Authority (ZIA), Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and
Broadcasting Authority (BAZ). They have lost credibility and the citizenry
have no confidence in them.

Having said this, it is then terribly important for the government to open
up channels of communication by promoting and enhancing media freedom so
that media practitioners can access information sources for reliable
information, whether negative or positive. The propensity to block the free
flow of information should not be allowed in this era. The harnessing of
ICTs and social media should be one of the critical areas that this
government should embrace in order to build this confidence and enhance
interaction between the state and citizens. The e-government concept which
Communications minister Nelson Chamisa mentions sometimes should be the way
to go.

But all this requires political will and preparedness to account on those
who hold public office in whatever capacity.

For as long as there is no relationship between the governed and the
governors, there will be no development in this country and any other
country for that matter. And needless to say, this relationship is
established and sustained through communication.

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Hope resides in people’s resilience

May 5, 2013 in Editorial, Opinion

Many Zimbabweans have begun to ask if there is a way, or ways, to move the
country forward regardless of the bad politics. In asking this question,
they are expressing their sense of helplessness resulting from the failure
of the country’s leadership to guide the country in its quest for stability
and prosperity.


Zimbabweans have realised that politics have kept the country in the mud for
far too long and the space the country is in now is not a good one and will
likely remain so for another generation or so.

When the political crisis began around the turn of the millennium, many
believed the political leadership would rise to the occasion quickly enough
and solve their differences. The majority of the people also believed they
would play their role by exercising their democratic right to choose the
leadership they wished to lead them.

But after more than 10 years, in which they went to the polls five times,
they have come to believe their vote counts for nothing in the dog-eat-dog
politics where cabals rule the roost.

Among lots of Zimbabweans fatalism has now crept in — they have now adopted
the anything-goes approach, hence they walk about as if nothing is amiss.
The cabal that controls the country is very happy about this for this
creates just the right atmosphere for their politics of personal

When the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was signed in 2008, many saw a ray
of hope; they hoped that the political leadership was sincere and would, at
last, use the life-span of the agreement to transition from the politics of
hate to the politics of building bridges. But the GPA has become even more
divisive as groups with vested interests in the status quo refuse to budge.

Security sector reform has become the most divisive element of the GPA,
everyone is aware of that. But not a single protagonist in this drama wants
to rise above the whole lot and say, “For the sake of the country, I am

As an African proverb says, to keep someone in the mud, one also has to be
in the mud. All those people keeping the country in this perpetual state of
crisis don’t realise they too are deep, if not deeper, in the crisis.

But where lies Zimbabwe’s hope, for there should be hope somewhere?
There are people who have shown that Zimbabwe can be moved forward in spite
of the intractable political mess. On the large stage, I would like to
mention the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) which ends in
the capital today. In spite of the crisis, the festival has successfully
celebrated its 11th anniversary; it is almost as old as the country’s
political-economic crisis.

It has not been smooth sailing for the Hifa team. Year in, year out, the
team describes its frustration with bureaucratic red tape.

Each year they have to struggle to bring in foreign artistes and their
equipment because those running the bureaucracy want a bite of the cherry,
even when the cherry is non-existent.

Above everything else, Hifa has shown the world what Zimbabweans working
together as a non-racial, apolitical team are capable of achieving. Compare
Hifa with the forthcoming UNWTO summit which the country will co-host with
Zambia in August. See how the dirty politics threaten to scupper the event
as groups fight for space.

But even more inspiring than the Hifa success, is the way the common people
are surviving the crisis. Recently I bought a pair of shoes from the street.
I couldn’t resist it because of the workmanship on display. Talking to the
vendors of the footwear, I was warmed in the heart by the spirit of
entrepreneurship in the face of adversity.

The young men who make the hand-made shoes are a new breed of youth that
have seen the futility of expecting a dysfunctional government to provide
jobs. Unemployment in Zimbabwe is still estimated to be as high as 80% and
the system is unlikely to correct that any time soon. The young shoemakers
have realised this and have decided to move their lives forward.

They meet many challenges which they have decided to take head-on.

For example, the legality of their enterprise is questionable since they
threaten to outdo established shoe manufacturers and traders.

But these have already seen their business decimated by cheap Chinese
imports. In a guerrilla economy such as ours, where more business is
happening in the informal economy than in the shops, anything goes.

The informal shoemakers are just one example of the spirit that has enabled
ordinary Zimbabweans to survive when they have been let down by their
government. Our music industry is another such enterprise that has seen
hoards of young people survive well when the formal economy has let them
down. There is the tendency to look down upon this industry and
underestimate the role it’s playing in keeping our children off the streets.
But government has again let down this sector as it makes no firm commitment
to fighting piracy.

On every street corner one cannot help but see people selling pirated music
while the police look on or make half-hearted attempts to arrest the
culprits. In the end the young people who toil every day to produce the
music cannot survive on the fruits of their labour.

Every morning in Harare one can see women of all ages perched precariously
on decrepit vans carrying various vegetables from Mbare Musika to their
stalls in the low-income suburbs. They can’t be making that much money, but
one can see and feel their will to survive. It is this spirit that will save
this country.

In the script Zimbabwe Rising, it is these ordinary Zimbabweans who will be
the chief protagonists, not the politicians. The country’s crisis of
leadership might as well be solved by these people in the coming generation.
We have read stories from around the world of billionaires who started by
selling cigarettes or some such wares on the street who have now risen to
lead their countries.

There is, therefore, no reason for fatalism and helplessness in the face of
our political crisis; there are many ways of moving this country forward
without the ugly politics.

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Media freedom: Politics is the problem

May 5, 2013 in Editorial, Opinion

While as a human rights activist of more than five years now I could not
agree more with the wise statement that human beings are inherently
political animals, I think as Zimbabweans, there is more politics in us than
anything else, which shows why we are an unbalanced society.

Report by Vivid Gwede

It seems as if we don’t have other lives where we indulge in other things
which are completely different, like loving our spouses, or going to church
to confess how our human lot has failed to rise above sin in our daily

The public is not allowed media platforms to discuss mundane and recurrent
human issues — such as when a pastor fancies a married mother of three who
is God-fearing. We need to profoundly talk about the drought which has
become a permanent feature of our food insecurities. Even the discussion
about same-sex indulgences is equally important without the politics — but
everything politics touches goes to waste.

We go about as if there is no one actually riding a shaky and squeaky
bicycle carrying an ill family member to a distant rural clinic under the
unforgiving sun above him. Such stories, which can be captured by a
community radio and radically change the lives of many by showing the
urgency, seem to go unnoticed.

Our major problem is that we are now obsessed with politics to the point of
being fanatics who think inside that always self indulgent, non-objective,
non-rational and unpopular political box. Who does not know that politics
has the highest concentration of haters and liars per congregation?

So why can’t we forsake it at times in discussions which do not require it
and which would otherwise be interesting without that monstrosity?

It was really unsettling when I recently attended a public discussion on the
need for press freedom. For me, people who talked sense and sounded educated
said we needed media houses and broadcast entities to proliferate in
Zimbabwe. Political fairness and plurality in media coverage mean more or
less the same.

It is unbelievable that the whole media discussion has been reduced to a
political tussle as narrow as whether party A should open the media space to
party B.

Clearly, why should party A think it has all the power to adjudicate on the
reasons and rights of those people who want to hear out party B? Is that the
reason the media has degenerated to be about politics and nothing else?

We know some forlorn and heart broken dude wants to talk about love on
radio. I think I need a radio show to talk about why I am a politician who
is anti-politics. That could be a more interesting and brain-teasing
discussion than the consistent and dreary discussion about political
thuggery—whether ideologically justified or not — guns and blood during the
liberation struggle which came to pass three decades ago.

Someone might want to listen to Mbakumba and Muchongoyo on a community radio
in the heart of a rural area. They do not always think national. The
question of whether it is their right or not, to think and live communal
rather than national is irrelevant.

Why should media broadcasts be all about ZBC’s obsession with the Harare’s
political mazes where they ludicrously think that Zanu PF is the centre of

The only real merits of the media discussion will be seen in its rational
context. We need the discussion to be national in scope.

Politicians have become self-indulgent, they want to protect their interests
at the expense of the majority.

They believe every man and woman is obsessed with politics in the same way
they are, yet people have other urgent needs to take care of. They think
every one’s life should revolve around their politics-inclined minds. They
do not see the common man for whom politics is just part and not the
entirety of every day life.

Politicians do not seem to want to engage the electorate, to hear their
views and to work on policies that are for the people. Media reforms should
not be about politicians, but about the people and their right to access

Life is all about choices and that is what press freedom should be about.
What the politicians signed in the Global Political Agreement is just their
understanding of why they need press freedom. There are other groups whose
needs are still to be catered for.

Press freedom and the licensing of community radio stations should not be
tied to the inefficient wheels of politics. Politics is self-serving, but
there are voices waiting to be heard and subjects still to be tackled when
access to media is availed.

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Press freedom still a mirage

May 5, 2013 in Editorial, Opinion

Zimbabwe on Friday joined other countries in marking World Press Freedom Day
but there was little to cheer for local journalists. The day was set aside
20 years ago by the United Nations to raise awareness on the importance of
press freedom.

Journalists and media-friendly organisations on May 3 each year reflect on
the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from
attacks on its independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost
their lives in the line of duty.

In Zimbabwe, there is need to do more for the cause of press freedom which
is in the doldrums. Little has changed for journalists who endured a torrid
time between 2000 to 2005 when journalists were harassed, beaten up,
arrested and newspapers closed down.

While a number of independent publications have been granted permission to
hit the streets, the environment remains unfavourable to the growth and
vibrancy of the independent press. Webster Shamu, the Information minister
continues to threaten journalists.

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is yet to license community radio
stations and new independent television stations, preferring to permit only
two commercial radio stations, Zi-FM stereo and Star FM.

Repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) are still in

Criminal defamation remains a weapon that is constantly used by enemies of a
free press.

The state-owned ZBC still maintains its monopoly on the airwaves, shutting
out divergent views.

The broadcaster continues to churn out hate speech, especially towards MDC
formations, now that the country is moving towards the holding of elections.

While journalists have been clamouring for self-regulation, the new
constitution, largely a product of negotiations between the main political
parties, has maintained the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission.

Clearly, the inclusive government, which has been in existence for four
years, is not prioritising media reforms, yet a free media is the
cornerstone of any democratic state.

We urge GNU principals to implement media reforms urgently in order to do
away with undue restrictions on press freedom.

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