By Tonderai Kwenda, Deputy News Editor Saturday,
26 November 2011 11:05
HARARE - Finance minister Tendai Biti says it
is almost impossible to hold an election next year as demanded by President
Robert Mugabe because the political environment is still uneven.
told business leaders at a post-budget seminar yesterday that even if
Zimbabwe sourced enough money to hold early polls, the slow pace of
democratic reforms agreed to under a power-sharing deal would make the
prospect of a 2012 election far-fetched.
Biti, who deliberately
omitted mentioning elections in his 2012 budget statement presented to
Parliament on Tuesday, said the issue was more political than
The MDC secretary-general and a member of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) negotiating team said elections were dependent on the
fulfillment of the provisions of the agreement.
The GPA is the
founding accord of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s fragile coalition government.
“The issue of elections is not
about resources or whether we have a budget for that. The issue is about
commitment to what the principals themselves have agreed on.
have to agree on a road-map first to those elections,” said Biti while
answering questions on whether there will be elections next
Mugabe has repeatedly said the country will hold elections early
next year, telling his supporters to start campaigning.
officials, led by chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, have been traversing the
country canvassing for political support.
But Biti told business leaders
that the country should not be rushed into an election whose outcome would
He said coalition government partners should not worry about
the availability of money to run elections but work towards making sure the
environment is conducive for elections.
Although Zanu PF has been
angling towards an early election and already indicated that it will launch
its campaign soon after its conference next month, Tsvangirai’s MDC party
has stated that it will boycott elections held under current
The premier was forced to pull out of a presidential election
runoff in June 2008 citing sustained attacks on his supporters.
had won first round voting.
Mugabe proceeded with the election as a solo
candidate but the African Union rejected the results and mandated Sadc to
lead negotiations for a coalition government between Mugabe and
Biti said failure to implement reforms agreed to under the
GPA was the major impediment to early elections.
roadmap has sign posts and such sign posts include the constitution-making
process with signatures of people, a new voters’ roll with signatures of the
“Those things are in black and white in the Global Political
Agreement,” said Biti.
South African president and chairperson of the
Sadc troika on politics, defence and security cooperation Jacob Zuma is
supervising the drafting of an electoral roadmap which will lead to
The roadmap has so far stalled with the MDC insisting on
security sector reforms which Zanu PF has described as a no go
Biti said once the political party principals agreed on an election
date, he would organise the resources even if it meant doing so in just a
“What Zimbabweans are saying is that we are going to have an
election but we cannot have an election like the June 2008,” said
“They want to know if the Electoral Act is up to scratch, if we are
going to have a physical copy of the voters’ roll not the Thomas Mapfumo CD
that we got the last time,” he said.
Soldiers living in army camps are not allowed to read
private newspapers or tune into private radio stations, a senior army
officer has confirmed. 24.11.1112:11pm by Staff Reporter
army official, who cannot be named, said soldiers were only allowed to read
state newspapers and tune to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio and
Foreign television channels have been criticized
by Zanu (PF) party as anti-Robert Mugabe. Radio stations such as Studio 7
broadcast through the Short Wave from Voice of America, or SW Radio Africa
from South Africa, are also banned.
Local private newspapers
including ***The Zimbabwean, The Newsday, The Daily News, The Independent
and The Standard newspapers have also been labelled pro-MDC.
who read private newspapers will read them outside the camps and in hiding
because if they are caught they are labelled as MDC supporters. That is why
you see most of the soldiers do not have satellite dishes because they fear
being victimized,” said the official.
He said there were private officers
from the Military Police who were assigned to monitor the situation in
various army camps throughout the country.
A junior soldier said:
“This is unfair and absolute cowardice. There is need for media reform in
this country. We are denied access to information and entertainment. Why
should we pay for radio licenses when they deny us the right to hear what we
want? They want to force us to listen to Zanu (PF) propaganda songs.
Zimbabwe is a changed country and no one will ever listen to these Zanu (PF)
propaganda songs anymore.”
The soldiers confirmed that they were reading
private newspapers in hiding and watching foreign television channels in
bars or at friends’ houses.
Low income earners who have been on the housing
waiting list for years said it would take a ‘miracle’ for them to ever own a
house. 25.11.1104:37pm by Talent Bhachi
applications years ago and have long since given up hope of something
“I applied for a stand in 1993 and since then I have
been waiting, but nothing has materialized. We applied when we were newly
weds, but our family has grown and we are still tenants, almost twenty years
down the line,” said Grace Nzvimbo.
Some people accused the housing
department of corruption and helping others to ‘jump’ the queue.
have been on the waiting list since 1998 and I thought I would get a house
under the Garikai/Hlangani Kule housing scheme, but after I inquired, I
found the recipients
had paid the authorities or were aligned to a
certain political party. It’s not fair because we were all affected by the
clean up exercise instigated by the government in 2005,” said Brian
Not in his lifetime
There are also reports that some people
on the waiting list did not live to see their dream of owning a house come
“My father was on the city’s housing waiting list for years and
every time he talked about it, he beamed with happiness. Due to ill health,
he never owned a house and he died a tenant,” said another Harare
House seekers have been duped by bogus housing cooperatives
countrywide. In 2005, more than 30 housing cooperatives exploited the
country's haphazard land reform programme to swindle thousands of home
seekers billions of dollars by allocating them stands on unserviced
government or council farms. Their structures were later demolished under
the clean up exercise.
The City of Harare’s Housing Department revealed
that the housing backlog currently stands at a whopping 500 000 residents,
with 200-220 housing cooperatives not yet short-listed for any residential
stands. Zimbabwe’s housing backlog stands at a staggering 1,2 million
applicants, a figure the government says could soar if a proper survey was
National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Giles Mutsekwa
revealed the statistics in response to questions from MPs in the House of
Assembly who wanted to know what the government was doing to alleviate
housing problems in the country.
“The government alone will not be
able to satisfy the housing needs of the population,” he said, adding that
reducing the housing backlog was a top priority for his ministry.
will strongly recommend that housing becomes the third most urgent matter
after health and education,” he said.
NSSA – get
Mutsekwa said it was time the National Social Security Authority
and conglomerates like Old Mutual played a part in addressing the housing
Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga asked Mutsekwa what would be
done to help MPs secure housing, as most of them did not have own
“The housing problem also affects ministers. The policy is
that, for every project, we reserve 20% for civil servants and these also
include MPs. For those not in government service, we will demand $10 000
deposit, and for government employees we will demand $3 600 deposit while
the rest will be paid over five years,” Mutsekwa said.
warned those settling in undesignated areas that they would be removed. “We
will displace you, but my ministry has a policy that we will not displace a
person and fail to find a replacement for them,” Mutsekwa said.
Now, 351 children
have a brand new school with the luxury of an actual classroom to learn in,
textbooks and qualified teachers. This has all been made possible by the
dedication of a handful of ex-teachers who set up a charity in the UK to raise
money to improve the educational prospects of children in deprived rural areas.
In the past 10 years, the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Development Programme, has
raised more than £117,000, which has been invested in seven rural schools across
the country, helping more than 1,000 children gain a vital
beginnings, the charity now aspires to raise more than £50,000 a year to invest
in Zimbabwe's most deprived rural schools. As well as providing vital text books
and organising donations of computers through corporate sponsorship, the charity
also focuses on providing schools with proper infrastructure so children have a
good learning environment.
The ZRSDP has been
involved in a number of projects, including helping rebuild Mpane Primary School
near Bulawayo which was completely destroyed by a vicious storm in 2008. They
are also working with another charity to provide funds to Mpumelelo secondary
school which is 150km outside of Bulawayo and in desperate need of rebuilding
and text books. But, the biggest project the charity has been involved in is
building a new school in Makowe, 300km North West of Harare.
One of the
committee members, Justin Hess, visits the projects often with his wife Nikki to
make sure they are staying on track.
“When we started
working with that community, there was no school there. The parents were
desperate. Some of the children were walking to a school 30km away, which is
Since 2008, the
charity has built one classroom block, accommodation for teachers and it is just
about to finish the second classroom block. At first there were 50 children
attending the school. There are now 351. It costs $20,000 to build and kit out a
classroom block. To minimise costs, the charity makes sure the local community
are fully involved in planning the project and helping construct the
In Makowe, the
villagers all pitched in to make bricks, transport sand to the building site and
help out with their time and labour.
“When my wife and
I visited the school we were blown away by how much having it there meant to the
community. Every single parent and child came to the school to see us to say
thank you. Just one classroom block made a phenomenal difference. For the first
time, these kids had a roof over their heads and could learn off a chalkboard
with text books. Before this, they were using rocks to draw on the ground, there
was no running water and teachers would only stay for a term because there was
nowhere for them to sleep. We realised there was so much more that we could
As well as fixing
the water pump and building teachers’ accommodation, the charity has started a
teacher training programme to attract better qualified teachers to the
“We are looking at
getting five teachers from every school and putting them into a week-long course
to give them skills they can use in the classrooms and pass along to their
colleagues,” explained Hess.
In addition, the
charity are also giving the local communities skills to help them in the future.
When the charity visited Makowe in September 2009, they realised that one of the
biggest problems preventing the children from getting to school was hunger.
Their parents did not have enough food for more than one meal a day and many of
the children spent their time foraging for food. The charity organised enough
maize to be delivered to the community to see them through to the next harvest.
They also arranged for three days of specialised training for the subsistence
farmers to help them maximise their yields.
More than 300
people turned up at the specialised training provided by the charity Foundation
for Farming. The overwhelmed community donated much of their extra harvest that
year to the local hospital in gratitude and are now able to feed themselves and
their children, as well as sell extra produce to get an
The charity is
also now focusing on making all of their projects sustainable so, eventually,
the local communities will be responsible for supporting the schools in their
information, or to donate, go to www.zrsdp.org
In recognition of William’s relentless
engagement in advocating for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, the
French President decided, on recommendation of the French Embassy, to award
the activist the National Order of Merit at a ceremony in Harare on Friday
evening. 24.11.1101:51pm by Rejoice Ndlovu
In her acceptance
speech, Williams paid tribute to the other women of WOZA who have made
sacrifices in the pursuit of peace.
“When I formed WOZA with late Sheba
Dube I never imagined we would grow into the movement that WOZA is today and
I could not have done it without the support and sacrifice of my family and
my comrades, Magodonga Mahlangu and many others.
I wish to take this
opportunity to thank them for their support and commitment. To be a member
of WOZA is to be one amongst many fearlessly brave and determined women and
men - I am proud that they count me as their sister and
Williams went on to say that it was not too late for the
political leadership to return to the promises of the liberation
“Enough blood has been spilt in a violent war for these ideals. WOZA
members fight tirelessly, but this time non-violently so that we can see,
feel and enjoy those promises.”
She accepted the award in recognition
of the thousands of community activists who championed for change in the
“This award will also help to lift the profile of these
champions and protect them from abuse and torture and may even save their
lives.” In conclusion, Williams drew attention to the 16 Days Campaign that
began on Friday.
“Recently the Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that
124 women were raped in 11 days. In this harsh economic climate, there is no
peace in our homes and women are the punching bag. It is said that sexual
harassment is experienced by up to 70 % of
women and I am one of the
70%. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than
from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. This year the theme is ‘From
Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End
Violence Against Women’. The time has come for a code RED against rape of
women and girls.”
November 26, 2011 – Eight civil society leaders were arrested Friday in
Bikita for attending a restructuring exercise.
The eight arrested
are being held by at the police cells at Nyika Growth point.
civil leaders were arrested after the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
officers gate-crushed into the meeting organised by the Community Tolerance
Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD).
In a statement, COTRAD
executive said the meeting was aimed at widening the consciousness of the
youth in national issues.
The meeting also aimed at rejuvenating the
need for youths to take leading role of youths in nation building in light
of the forthcoming referendum and much awaited decisive general
Some of the people arrested include COTRAD programs officer
Brighton Ramusi, Gamuchirai Mukura, Faith Chinooneka and five others whose
names are still yet to be confirmed.
No formal charges have been
Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake
said he needed time to communicate with his officers in Bikita in order to
get finer details of what exactly happened.
“We strongly condemn
the continuous suffocation and persecution of activists by the members of
the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” reads part of the statement from
The past two weeks have seen an upsurge in arrest of
journalists and civil society leaders a situation similar to the post March
2008 polls. Analysts accuse the former ruling party Zanu-PF for these
arrests alleging that the President Robert Mugabe’s in the campaign
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — As she surveys her
small, bare plot in Zimbabwe's capital, farmer Janet Vambe knows something
serious is happening, even if she has never heard of climate
"Long ago, I could set my calendar with the date the rains
started," the 72-year-old said. Nowadays, "we have to gamble with the rains.
If you plant early you might lose and if you plant late you might win. We
are at a loss of what to do."
Paramu Mafongoya, a University of
Zimbabwe agronomist, says Vambe's worries and those of millions of other
poor farmers — most of them women — across Africa are a clear sign of the
impact of climate change on a continent already struggling to feed itself.
Changes have been noted in the timing and the distribution of rainfall on
the continent. Zimbabweans say the rainy season has become shorter and more
unpredictable, Mafongoya said.
Climate change "is a serious threat to
human life," Mafongoya said. "It affects agriculture and food security
International climate change negotiators meet in the South
African coastal city of Durban starting Monday. Their agenda includes how to
get African and other developing countries the technology and knowledge to
ensure that people like Vambe can keep feeding their families without
looking for emergency food aid.
A Green Climate Fund that would give
$100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries to help them fight
climate change and its effects was agreed on at last year's climate talks in
Cancun, Mexico. Durban negotiators hope to make progress on addressing
questions such as where the money will come from and how will it be
Climate change specialist Rashmi Mistry said her anti-hunger
group Oxfam will be in Durban lobbying to ensure that women have a voice in
managing the Green Fund, and that their needs are addressed when its money
is spent. Most small-scale farmers in Africa are women, and they also are
the ones shopping for the family's food. But tradition often keeps them out
of policymaking roles.
Mistry said when yields are low and market
prices are high, women are the first to suffer.
"She's the one
usually who will feed her husband first and feed her children first, and she
will go hungry," Mistry said.
Across Africa, said Andrew Steer, the World
Bank's special envoy on climate change, farmers need to triple production by
2050 to meet growing needs.
"At the same time, you've got climate change
lowering average yields by what's expected to be 28 percent," Steer said. He
called for more investment in such areas as agricultural research and water
Experts already are working on solutions. For example, Africa
Harvest, a think tank that uses science and technology to address poverty
and improve livelihoods among some of the poorest people in Africa, is
working with farmers in an arid stretch in eastern Kenya who were finding it
harder and harder to grow their usual crops of corn and beans. Africa
Harvest got farmers to switch to sorghum. They have seen bumper harvests as
a result because they are focusing on the right crop and the right practices
for the climate, said Moctar Toure, chairman of Africa Harvest, who will be
in Durban for the talks.
"The way we do agricultural development has
to change," Toure told The Associated Press. "We need to balance the need to
increase farm productivity with environmental conservation. We will also
work towards broad policy changes in our target countries in order to
address endemic problems (affecting women) such as land right security,
access to credit and knowledge."
Experts worry that one consequence
of resources becoming scarcer will be more frequent conflict. Already,
Zimbabwe has seen aid used as a political weapon. Those who can prove their
loyalty to longtime President Robert Mugabe's party have been seen to be
favored when it comes time to hand out seeds or food.
techniques of growing drought-resistant crops like sorghum and millet,
staggering planting programs, irrigation and harvesting rain and river water
in dams help minimize the risk to farmers. But Zimbabwe's modern
agricultural infrastructure has been disrupted by a decade of political and
Acute food shortages eased after Zimbabwe adopted
the U.S. dollar to end world-record inflation in 2009, but local farm
production continues to decline. This month, the U.N. food agency said more
than 1 million Zimbabweans needed food aid and poor families, especially
households with orphans and vulnerable children, can't afford much of the
food that is available. Most of that food is imported.
change, like the political problems linked to poverty in Zimbabwe, is
manmade, though over a longer term.
Scientists say the accumulation of
carbon dioxide traps the Earth's heat, and is causing dramatic changes in
weather patterns, agricultural conditions and heightened risks of
devastating sea-level rise. Industrialized nations bear the bulk of the
blame, since they have been pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for
Africa emits only about 3 percent of the total greenhouse
gases per year, but its fragile systems and impoverished people are hardest
hit by the consequences.
Weather experts say Zimbabwe's average
rainfall has decreased over the decade and October temperatures this year
soared to above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the highest since
Harare meteorologist Jephias Mugumbate said rains in January and
February — crucial for the ripening of crops — can no longer be relied
It was often said drought in southern Africa recurred every 10
"But now it has become more frequent and intensified. Temperatures
show an upward trend and instead of being cooler our nights are becoming
hotter," Mugumbate said
Like Vambe, tens of millions of Africans rely
on rain-fed agriculture.
Vambe's corn crop has supported her family for
more than five decades. But her yields have been steadily
She walks at daybreak to her nearly bare field 10 miles (15
kilometers) from her home in the impoverished western Harare township of
Highfield. She has finished planting her seed with the help of her two
grandchildren. The dusty brown soil beckons for rain.
nation's staple food, needs 60 days of moisture to reach
"The rains have become erratic. We can no longer rely on
the seasons," Vambe said.
She has had to replant on several occasions
because of a "false start" to the rainy season.
"This is what has
been affecting our yields since 2000. We are no longer getting good yields
because the rain comes and goes away," she said.
In the past, the growing
season ended in March and harvests were gathered through
"Today, nothing is definite. You get rain in April then our maize
rots in the fields," Vambe said. "If we are not respecting our spirits and
if they are angry, there will be no rain."
Clive Stockil of Save Valley Conservancy has recently
been appointed to the Board of ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority). His first
personal target is to change the situation at Beitbridge Border Post which we
all know can put off SA visitors to Zimbabwe for life....literally, people
vow never to return. Let alone us who have endured the situation
He is requesting that anyone who has had a negative
experience at the border please email him with a letter in document form that
he can print off and put on the desks of the ministers concerned. So please
encourage your visitors who visit over the festive season to do this and
indeed any of you who are traveling over the holidays.
What a joy it
would be to not have to dread the border crossing!
Dear Family and Friends, The saying it
never rains but it pours, was never more true than this week. After another
round of scorching temperatures, punishing water shortages and bone dry days,
a storm brewed up very rapidly early one evening. Very strong winds were
followed by a spectacular half hour of continuous sheet and forked lightning
and then the heavens opened. Fifty millimetres (two inches) of rain pounded
down in an hour and a half over areas of Mashonaland East and left us like
drowned rats floating on the detritus. Areas of Harare had eighty millimetres
in an hour and huge pine trees fell like matchsticks in many places.
thought I’d had it bad when about two litres of rain streamed in through a
hole in my roof soaking everything in its splash range below. It was nothing
compared to a neighbour whose roof leak caught twenty litres of rain – it was
like someone left the tap running he said. We both laughed at the insanity of
that comparison because our taps only ever have water for a couple of hours a
day if we’re lucky as our town continues to suffocate in a never ending water
crisis. It’s a crisis that has crippled most towns and cities around
the country despite donors providing all the water treatment chemicals
and almost three years of opposition control of town councils.
The municipalities give more excuses than you can shake a stick at,
none of which help alleviate the toil of finding, collecting and
carrying water all the time, or reducing the fear of disease. A number
of people in my immediate neighbourhood have been collecting water
for weeks from an open and unprotected shallow well they have dug in
a patch of open ground near a local cemetery. They had their
water supplies disconnected by the local municipality because
they couldn’t afford to pay large backdated accounts which went back
to early 2009 when we converted to trading in US dollars. The
amounts owing by residential households range from fifty to five hundred
US dollars and leave people with no choice but to risk disease and collect
water wherever they find it.
The last water-borne disease tragedy to hit
Zimbabwe was an horrific cholera epidemic in 2008 which killed over four
thousand people. This year the disease fear is typhoid. The Harare City
Council this week said they were “talking numbers in excess of 500 cases” in
the capital alone. Their spokesman said shallow wells and boreholes
in unsuitable places were the main carriers of typhoid. Messages are being
sent out by one mobile phone service provider alerting people to the spread
of typhoid through contaminated food and water and advising people with
fever, stomach pains and diarrhoea to get medical treatment
The morning after the storm the roads in my neighbourhood
had been scoured. Thick beds of sand blanketed corners, dips and the bottoms
of hills. Potholes and gullies not filled or patched, let alone
even inspected for over five years, tripled in size and depth
overnight. What should have been simple, routine road maintenance has
been ignored for so many years that it will now need heavy machinery
and vast amounts of money to restore basic suburban roads.
home casualties of the rain storm lay in the form of carpets of flying ants’,
countless drowned earth worms and curled up, water- logged sausage flies. A
veritable explosion of Tsongololos (millipedes) emerged from underground.
Flooded out of their hiding places, they were drying out on rocks, logs and
sandy patches everywhere. Hard at work were numerous birds whose nests had
been damaged in the storm. Weavers, Flycatchers and Manikins
worked tirelessly, flitting backwards and forwards with strips of
grass, fluffy seeds and strands of papyrus. The best sight was that of
a gorgeous Plum-coloured Starling carrying bunches of soft green
Musasa leaves to re-line its nest in a toilet stack pipe. Such beauty in
such an ugly venue, a familiar Zimbabwean contrast.
Until next time,
thanks for reading, love cathy 26 November 2011. Copyright � Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com
Published on : 25 November
2011 - 2:47pm | By John
last decade very few people have stood up to openly criticize President Robert
Mugabe ‘s style of governance. University of Zimbabwe political science
professor John Makumbe is one such fearless commentator.
professor John Makumbe is known for his hard hitting political analyses on radio
and in the press, especially during the political and economic meltdown that
almost brought the country to its knees before the formation of a government of
national unity in 2009. It makes him one of the very few people who openly
criticize President Robert Mugabe, who has held the country in a firm grip for
more than 30 years now. Mukambe: “The reason why I am critical and almost
radical is because I am patriotic. And I never allow fear to rule
Stigmatised Growing up as a stigmatized young boy because of his
albinism, Makumbe had to fight for his own rights. “I had a tough time growing
up,” he says. “I was insulted, harassed and tortured by my peers at school and
during play. But I fought back. When I became a Christian in 1969 I began to
forgive all those who tormented me because of my God-given condition. I realized
that I can’t change myself and I now joke and laugh about being an
rights Makumbe is an advocate for albino rights. “I started
the Zimbabwe Albino Association, which has 14,000 members all over the country.
We get support from local donors. We use it to buy sunscreens, hats and lotions.
Currently we’re focusing on school going children. We also have advocacy
programmes that help us fight the stigmatisation albinos
ZANU(PF) supporter Over the
years Makumbe has been closely associated with opposition leaders like Margaret
Dongo, the late Edgar Tekere and Morgan Tsvangirai, whose adviser he was. A
former staunch supporter of ZANU(PF), he felt betrayed when he found that the
then sole ruling party was working towards a one party state and was also
suspected of rigging elections. He strongly urges opposition parties to unite in
order to topple Mugabe’s party.
politician Makumbe has now
publicly declared his interest in running for office on an MDC-T ticket. As an
independent commentator he strongly criticises the party whenever it slacks on
direction and decisiveness. “If I were to be part of the current national unity
government I would immediately call for the impeachment of President Mugabe
because he is now too old to rule,” says Makumbe. “He in power, but he is not
governing. In reality, the Joint Operation Command (JOC) of the army, the air
force, the state security and the police is running the
dictatorship Makumbe says he is
“cross about the trampling of people’s rights. I can’t stand dictatorship. I
very strongly hate any human rights violations. ZANU (PF) is a major perpetrator
of human rights violations. They use power to subdue those who disagree with
them and that’s unacceptable in a democracy.”