|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
A child dies of an HIV/AIDS- related illness every 15 minutes in Zimbabwe
BEITBRIDGE, 5 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - Five years ago, the residents
of Majini village, about 90 km from the southern border town of Beitbridge,
Zimbabwe, were reluctant to talk about HIV/AIDS - now they are planning a
vegetable garden to support AIDS orphans and other families affected by the
"The growing number of AIDS orphans in the area made the villagers sit up and look for solutions," said Reverend Musa Makulubane at the local church, which has been proactive in trying to get residents to adopt a more responsive stance to HIV/AIDS.
In a village with a population of just over 5,000 there are about 50 AIDS orphans that the local clinic is aware of, said Tiwejuliet Mpofu, a nurse who helps run the HIV/AIDS unit. But according to villagers, the number of children affected by the disease runs into at least a thousand.
"You can see it in the school and the churches - there are many, many children living by themselves. Some of them have old grandparents, but many are by themselves," said Cynthia Gwamure, a resident who helps families affected by HIV/AIDS.
"Every week we bury someone we know - the disease is clearly among us," said Peter Sithole, whose friend died of an AIDS-related illness last month.
Another villager, Joyce Ndou, commented, "Things changed when all of us realised all us of knew someone who had the illness."
Zimbabwe has the world's fourth highest rate of HIV infection, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that a child dies of an AIDS-related illness every 15 minutes.
The church, supported by the Lutheran Mission, has been training volunteer home-based caregivers in the village and also tries to raise funds to provide food, clothing and other support to families made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.
"The villagers are poor themselves, but they try to help however they can. They always want to know about new ways to help families living with HIV/AIDS. We make collections at the church every week - it is not a lot, but people will still give," said Makulubane. Most of the residents in arid Majini are small-scale ranchers, while a few are employed on commercial farms in the neighbourhood.
Most households have a kitchen garden, which ensures that people have access to well-balanced meals, and the villagers had planned a larger garden to support at least 100 families in the area. "We have the land - we have even got a pump to draw the water out of a borehole because there is no water, but we cannot afford fuel," explained Makulubane.
The only river near the village has dried up, so people have to rely on taps or boreholes for water.
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis with serious fuel and food shortages due to recurring droughts and the government's fast-track land redistribution programme, which have disrupted agricultural production and slashed export earnings.
Comfort, 14, lost his parents about three years ago, after they had been ill for a long time. His grandmother now looks after him and his two siblings, and earns a living from her few chickens and selling vegetables from her garden when she can.
"Now they don't let her sell anymore," said Comfort, referring to the Zimbabwean government's clampdown on informal trade - part of a national cleanup campaign that began on 19 May. Since then she has tried to sell vegetables or fruits to passers-by on the highway - some 10 km from their house.
"The villagers try to help us," he added, acknowledging their support.
Because most people in the area are ranchers, their homes are far apart, which often proves problematic for home-based caregivers. "At times it takes us days to hear [that someone needs assistance]. We wish we had a vehicle, but then, maybe not," said Makulubane, remembering that although he has a motorcycle, the costs of keeping it operational are prohibitive.
Instead, the villagers make do with donkey carts and lifts from passers-by to access more remote households.
Majini has seen "tremendous change," in the past few years, said a relief worker with a local NGO working in the Beitbridge district in Matabeleland South Province.
"Their attitude towards HIV/AIDS is exceptional in the area. They always want more information on the illness; about programmes they can get involved in. Unfortunately most of the villagers do not have access to free antiretroviral therapy. There is little we can do there."
JOHANNESBURG, 5 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe government has
extended the deadline for the completion of its Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle
(Stay Well) housing programme to December, due to the slow pace of
Acting information minister Chen Chimutengwende told IRIN the extension beyond the original 31 August deadline had been necessitated by building delays due to shortages of fuel and construction materials.
"Government has extended the programme to ensure that all work is done by the end of the year. We cannot fail to meet the new target," said Chimutengwende.
In July the government announced it had allocated Zim $3 trillion (US $120 million) to the reconstruction programme, the successor to Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out Filth'), a slum demolition drive the United Nations estimated had affected over 700,000 people.
In a mid-term policy review statement in August, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa cut the government's commitment to $1 trillion ($40 million) for housing construction and assisting small- and medium-scale enterprises - half of which would be raised through the financial market.
But, Chimutengwende insisted, "Enough money has been allocated to keep the programme running, even with problems like the shortage of fuel and building materials."
Progress has been painfully slow across the country, with reports that only 97 of the 10,000 housing units planned for the Whitecliffe settlement in the capital, Harare, have been built.
Less than 400 housing units were under construction in the Harare suburb of Hatcliffe, where a total of 15,000 units are planned. In Manicaland province in the east, less than 100 houses have been completed out of the 960 earmarked for the current construction phase. The programme was reportedly inching along in Bulawayo and Gwanda in the south, and Victoria Falls in the west of the country.
Besides the delays it has emerged that the majority of people affected by the demolition programme may not meet the criteria for ownership of the new houses.
Gwanda mayor Thandeko Mnkandla said the programme was no longer specific to the poor and vulnerable, who make up the majority of the squatters evicted by Operation Murambatsvina.
"The government has effectively handed over the allocation of the stands to municipal authorities. To qualify, one has to earn above a specified salary category, be on the municipal [housing] waiting list and be able to afford the deposit and monthly installments," Mnkandla told IRIN.
"Many people who were affected are squatters who have never been employed - they cannot afford any of the requirements. The houses will only be available to the gainfully employed, and one has to be well paid to afford the installments," he explained.
Chimutengwende countered that it was up to the responsible authorities to define the allocation criteria.
"To require that people meet certain criteria does not necessarily mean they remain out," he maintained. "Government knows those who were affected and will help them accordingly, in conjunction with local authorities. This programme was planned two years ago, and it is people-specific."
|G8 leaders must help African science help itself|
1 July 2005
Many African leaders now accept that science and technology have key roles to play in achieving their development goals. The industrialised world must support their efforts to translate this insight into action, says John Mugabe.
Africa entered the new millennium with renewed determination to secure its sustainable development. After many decades of economic marginalisation, political instability, and overdependence on the rest of the world for knowledge and finance, the continent and its people are now determined to eradicate poverty and become fully integrated into the global knowledge economy.
To achieve this, African leaders and their people have committed themselves to a set of ambitious but realisable goals. Many of these are embodied in the new socio-economic development framework of the African Union (AU), known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
The creation and evolution of NEPAD demonstrates the determination of African leaders to institute measures designed to meet the needs of the continent. These include efforts to increase agricultural production and food security, to stem environmental degradation, to improve infrastructure and communications, to combat diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, to end conflicts and wars, and to increase industrial production.
In other words, NEPAD is Africa's framework of programmes for achieving its human development goals. In addition, African countries have drawn up Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRPs), and committed themselves to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In doing so, it has become clear that achieving the objectives of NEPAD, the PRPs and the MDGs will require increased national, continental and international support for Africa's capacity to harness, develop and apply science and technology for development.
At present, the continent's scientific and technological base is too weak to stimulate and sustain economic change and sustainable development. It is characterised by low public expenditure on research and development (R&D), weak links between research institutions and industry, low (and falling) enrolment in science and engineering courses at tertiary education levels, and outdated science and technology policies and institutions.
Addressing these shortcomings requires leadership and commitment at the highest political levels in Africa. It also needs concerted international support.
Commitments and actions by Africa
Many African leaders have already recognised
explicitly that their countries must build a strong science and technology base
— both collectively and individually — if they are to achieve the objectives of
NEPAD, as well as the MDGs. This recognition is expressed in the NEPAD framework
documents, as well as in the decisions — and actions — that the countries have
taken over the past few years.
The above commitments and actions are already being taken to ensure that African countries develop sound foundations for their science and technology. But there is much more that these countries need to do.
With this in mind, the ministerial council is currently drawing up a long-term plan for science and technology. As a result, a comprehensive NEPAD/AU strategic plan for science and technology will be proposed at its second meeting, which takes place in Dakar, Senegal in September 2005.
Future actions are likely to include the setting up by the AU of a 'presidential forum' on science and technology, as well as the creation of regional financial mechanisms for R&D.
The G8 and Commission for Africa
The support of the international community is likely to be a key factor in determining the success of the activities described above. In this context, leaders of the G8 nations, as well as the recent report of the Commission for Africa, have each outlined commitments and actions that the international community — particularly the industrialised countries — should take to support Africa's efforts to achieve scientific and technological development.
Three years ago, for example, the G8 summit held in Kananaskis, Canada, adopted an Africa Action Plan that focused on supporting the implementation of NEPAD. The action plan contains commitments on promoting peace and security; strengthening institutions and governance; fostering trade, economic growth and sustainable development; implementing debt relief; expanding knowledge; improving health and confronting HIV/AIDS; increasing agricultural productivity; and improving water resource management.
There is growing awareness that most of these commitments cannot be realised without the application of science and technology. It was with this in mind that at the following year's summit meeting, held in Evian, France, that the G8 countries endorsed a new action plan concerned with science and technology for sustainable development. This contains specific commitments to help developing countries — particularly in Africa — strengthen their capacities for scientific research and technological innovation.
The same themes have emerged in the report published earlier this year by the Commission for Africa. Set up by British prime minister Tony Blair, this acknowledges that Africa's economic transformation and sustainable development cannot be achieved without the development and application of science and technology
The report contains a number of recommendations on ways of unlocking Africa's potential for generating and applying the science and related technological innovations needed to reduce poverty, accelerate economic growth, and enter the global economy.
In particular, the Commission for Africa proposes that rich countries should agree to provide a total of US$500 million a year over a ten-year period to strengthen African universities, and US$3 billion over ten years to develop centres of excellence in science and technology. Identifying specific research priorities for — and mechanisms of — establishing such centres would, the commission suggests, be carried out by NEPAD and the AU, in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
As indicated above, African countries have already started to develop research and innovation programmes based on specific common priorities. They are also creating networks of centres of excellence in specific research areas.
Translating the recommendations of the Commission for Africa into concrete actions — and in particular ensuring that the necessary financial resources are allocated and utilised efficiently to strengthen Africa's science and technology base — will go a long way towards enabling the continent both to attain the MDGs, and integrate itself into the global knowledge economy.
Both steps will provide a stronger foundation for the international community's efforts to end conflict, eradicate corruption and promote democracy in Africa.
Pulling together for our common future
But all of this will only work if Africa provides overall leadership for the implementation of the science and technology programmes that it is designing under NEPAD and the AU.
To do this, its heads of state and government need to continue to demonstrate that they are prepared to increase their efforts to move from statements of intent to concrete actions. In particular, they need to help generate international support for well-designed programmes for building science institutions and skills in the region.
Such programmes should be developed by African themselves, and be based on existing capabilities, in particular existing infrastructure, human resources and experiences. They do not need to involve creating new institutes for science and technology; much can be achieved by mobilising and transforming those that already exist.
Above all, the recommendations of the Commission for Africa should be adopted both by the G8 at its summit meeting in Gleneagles later this week, and by the United Nations General Assembly, when it meets in New York in September to address progress towards achieving the MDGS.
The international community now needs to take bold steps to support Africa's own efforts to create a continent-wide programme for building science and technology capacity.
The author is advisor on science and technology to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and helped to set up its Forum on Science and Technology for Development.
|Former Zim finance minister's trial resumes|
|Top Zimbabwe Official Sues Colleague over Land Use|
05 September 2005
One of President Robert Mugabe's closest aides has gone to court against a more junior political colleague in what has become a front-page legal brawl over the use of land expropriated from white farmers. The case is symptomatic of increasing arguments over land tenure.
John Nkomo is national chairman of ruling ZANU-PF party. He is also speaker of parliament, and is tipped by many to become a vice president. In a headline-making move last Friday, he sued a fellow ruling party member for squatting on land the state expropriated from a white owner and Mr. Nkomo awarded to himself. Mr. Nkomo is claiming damages for his rival's use of the land and a safari lodge built on it.
When he was minister of lands, Mr. Nkomo allocated himself some 6,000 hectares of land in a wildlife conservation area in southern Zimbabwe. The property belonged to a white farmer, who was forced off the land three years ago.
Almost 11 million hectares of land have been expropriated by the government from white farmers over the past six years. Only members of the ruling ZANU-PF party have been given the land. Agricultural analysts say Zimbabwe's land reform program has thrown land ownership into chaos, sparking disputes over vast tracts of land. The spokesman for the independent lobby group, Justice for Agriculture, John Worswick, said the lawsuit by Mr. Nkomo is only the most visible tip of a huge iceberg.
President Robert Mugabe, who instituted the land redistribution program, has repeatedly complained that many members of his party have acted against his orders, and took more than one commercial farm.
Mr. Worswick says the uncertainty over land ownership is partly to blame for Zimbabwe's plummeting agricultural production. He says some of the country's most productive land is not being used, because it is mired in legal wrangling.
Just days before Mr. Nkomo filed his lawsuit, Zimbabwe's parliament passed a constitutional amendment barring courts from adjudicating any land disputes. But the amendment, which nationalized all agricultural land, is yet to be signed by President Mugabe into law.
Mutual's Zim connection may not kill Swiss dealSeptember 05, 2005, 14:00
Old Mutual is facing a grilling about its stake in ZimPapers, Zimbabwe's
media group, which is widely seen as a government's mouthpiece. Old Mutual wants
to buy Skandia, a Swedish insurer, but first needs to convince the Swedes, a
country that prides itself on ethical dealings.
Old Mutual holds about 16% of the shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Diana Ganes, a director of Africa at Work, does not believe that Old Mutual's involvement in Zimbabwe is enough to hinder the deal with Sweden. Ganes says if Old Mutual's withdraws its investment it would send out the wrong political message.
She says in the past companies turned a blind eye to a country's humanitarian crimes and made matters worse by bribing governments, but that companies are now increasingly at the political climate before getting involved in countries.
Ganes says she thinks the shareholders in Skandia will in any case be more interested in returns than politics. - edited by Matona Fatman
Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute on Monday defended their controversial policy of issuing new contracts to their professional players based on performance in terms of runs, wickets and fielding.Senior players Heath Streak, Tatenda Taibu and Andy Blignaut have already met the criteria but more than 20 others will be assessed by a panel including national team manager Babu Meman and coach Kevin Curran. "This is and will be a detailed assessment, on the basis of past, current and perceived future results and performance," said Bvute. He said the 24 remaining "Level One" (lower rated) players had been offered basic salaries and expenses. This new policy lies at the root of the current dispute with the players. Stuart Carlisle, Barney Rogers and Neil Ferreira, had demanded a minimum contractual income and had not been offered any contract at all, Bvute said. "If I wanted a 737 Boeing aircraft parked at Harare airport, that would be unreasonable, not a negotiating position," he said, replying to a question about their position perhaps being one for negotiation. "What I'm saying is that as far as those three are concerned there is no room for any negotiating position now." But Bvute insisted: "We are not in a crisis." Talks between Zimbabwe Cricket and players' representative Clive Field are expected to resume later this week. Field warned that the dispute, which blew up last Thursday, "could become a major issue detrimental to Zimbabwe and indeed to international cricket". "Some players have said it could become as destructive an issue as last year's strike, which had been triggered by senior player accusations of national team selections based on race, and I think they could be right. This is a cause for real concern," Field told AFP. That acrimonious dispute began in April 2004 with the subsequent strike of 15 players and departure from the country of several others for careers abroad. Field said: "The ball concerning this issue is now in the court of Zimbabwe Cricket to review their stance and position. "The players have decided they will still be making themselves available for selection to matches remaining on the India tour (two Tests and a warm-up game) on the basis of them keeping the high moral ground. "We have reached a situation where trust is paramount. We are told the contracts will now be re-presented on September 14 rather than the original date of September 30."
Sep. 5, 2005 at 5:49PM
A Zimbabwean government official charges the CIA created the Hollywood movie
"The Interpreter" to discredit President Robert Mugabe.
The Sydney Pollack-directed film starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn recently came out on DVD.
Zimbabwe's Acting Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende said the movie -- which stars Kidman as United Nations interpreter who overhears a plot to kill an African leader -- proves "Zimbabwe's enemies do not rest," the BBC reported Monday.
"The film talks about an African president going to the United Nations and our president is going to the (United Nations) next week, so the connection is so obvious," Chimutengwende said. "It is part of a CIA-sponsored fight ... but we will defeat them and we will defeat neo-colonialism. We have defeated a powerful enemy before which was colonialism."