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GNU cracks widen

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:59

THE MDC-T is demanding drastic action against Zanu PF youths who last week
threatened Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with unspecified repercussions
for not  advocating for the removal of sanctions imposed by western

The demand, made after Zanu PF youths marched through the streets of Harare
on Wednesday is set to further widen the gulf between the two parties in the
unity government.

The youths gave Tsvangirai a March 24 ultimatum to call for the removal of
the sanctions.

The latest spat comes at a time when Zanu PF and MDC-T are already trading
accusations over political violence in Epworth, which left several people
injured last weekend.

The parties are also sharply divided over the recently gazetted
indigenisation law.

The parties wrote to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee
(Jomic) accusing each other of engineering the violence  betraying the
deepening divisions in the unity government.

The MDC-T also called on Sadc, the guarantor of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) to intervene following the threats against Tsvangirai.

"The MDC-T takes these threats seriously as several attempts have been made
on the life of the Prime Minister," said the party in a statement.

"History is littered with serious attempts to eliminate him which have not
been not been taken seriously by the police."

A decade ago some unidentified people tried to throw Tsvangirai out of his
highrise office window while he was still the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) secretary general.

In March 2007, he was "almost" killed by police officers who brutally
assaulted him at Machipisa Police Station.

"It is immoral, un-African and inhuman to make the threats a week before the
memorial service of his wife, who was killed in a suspicious accident which
may well have been an attempt on his life," it said.

The party also called on the police to arrest the Zanu PF youths saying the
case was a litmus test for the impartiality of the country's security
forces, accused of being biased towards President Robert Mugabe's party.

Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF spokesperson, youth secretary Absolom Sikhosana and
his deputy Edwin Chakanyuka addressed the demonstrators.

The trio told the youths to intensify their demonstrations against the

Chakanyuka said: "Kana zvikaramba tinoita zvaJune 2008 (If the
demonstrations don't work we will do what we did in June 2008."

MDC-T says hundreds of its supporters were killed by Zanu PF militias during
the violence ahead of the presidential election run-off on June 27, 2008.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesperson yesterday said Tsvangirai had not
received the ultimatum.
"We have not received it," said Chamisa. "But our message to our colleagues
in Zanu PF is; let's build not destroy. Such reckless talk is not helpful at

"Instead of plotting and scheming let's plan, the focus really should be on
rebuilding the country. No stomach has ever been fed by threats."

Chamisa also had a word for the police: "What is good for the goose should
be good for the gander."

Jomic spokesperson Joram Nyathi said the committee will visit Epworth this
week to conduct further investigations and interview witnesses to establish
the real cause of last week's political violence.

"Real cases of physical violence have gone down but there are several cases
where people are threatened or intimidated," he said.

The unity government hangs by a thread after talks between the three
governing parties to resolve outstanding issues from the GPA collapsed with
Zanu PF refusing to make further concessions until sanctions against the
country are removed.


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Tsvangirai snubs Mugabe’s lavish birthday feast

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:52

BULAWAYO — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his two deputies yesterday
stayed away from President Robert Mugabe’s lavish 86th birthday party where
the organisers splashed thousands of dollars on exotic food.

Mugabe’s actual birthday was last Sunday but Zanu PF’s communist styled 21st
February Movement organised an all-night music gala on Friday and the feast

Organisers estimated the budget at around US$500 000, which was spent on,
among other things, bringing top Jamaican reggae artist, Sizzla and South
Africa’s Soul Brothers as well as other goodies for the annual party.

The more than 5 000 guests who thronged the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair Grounds were treated to expensive cuisine at Bulawayo’s hotels.

Sources at Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office said invitations for
the celebrations held amid concerns over looming starvation in Matabeleland
arrived at his office on Friday.

But it appears there were no takers as it was only ministers from Zanu PF
who turned up.

It had become routine before the formation of the unity government for
ministers to attend the celebrations to show their loyalty to Mugabe.

MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa said they did not attend because it was a
“Zanu PF event, not a national event”.

“We only converge with Zanu PF at national events,” he said. “We should
spend our energy on more useful things.”

Mugabe used the celebrations to defend the controversial new regulations to
give locals majority shareholding in big corporations, which come into
effect on March 1.

“I have to state it clearly that we are not nationalising foreign-owned
companies,” he said.
“What we want is to broaden the ownership structures of these companies so
as to also involve our own citizens.

“We do not need to force companies to follow the regulations. They should
just follow them without coercion.”

He told the guests, mostly school children that he owed his long life to God
and the security forces.

“Along the way to this day, there have been attempts on my life,” Mugabe

“Several people wanted my life. They tried the use of parcel bombs and other
means, but they all missed me.

“I had vigilant people around me, the security forces, the Chimurenga allies
and many others ensured my safety.”

Zanu PF has defended the extravagant parties it organises annually for
Mugabe saying it is time to reflect on the contributions made by its
long-serving leader.

Top South African poet Mziwakhe Mbuli was scheduled to take part at the
event, but he pulled out in unclear circumstances.

The birthday gala at the ZITF was turned into a flesh-peddling market by sex

The women said the bash had given them an opportunity to make “a killing”.


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Govt wants stiffer empowerment laws

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:50

BULAWAYO - Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Savior
Kasukuwere says the empowerment law that has rattled investors is only the
beginning of legal interventions his ministry will undertake as it seeks to
indigenise the economy. Last month, Kasukuwere's ministry attracted
widespread criticism as he revived the Indigenisation and Economic
Empowerment Act of 2008 which seeks to dilute the shareholding of foreign

The law, which directs foreign companies to provide details of their
indigenisation plans by March 1, was revived a year after the formation of a
unity government.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai led the criticism of the regulations
describing them as "null and void" because they were passed without

The Council of Ministers chaired by Tsvangirai directed Kasukuwere to
consult stakeholders on the new law with a view to reviewing the regulations
following an outcry from investors.

But Kasukuwere on Friday told the business community in Bulawayo "the debate
around indigenisation is dead".

"We are not about to re-open the debate. It is law now," he said, in what
appears to be a complete disregard of Tsvangirai's directive.

"There is a lot of emotionalism flying around. People who have not read the
regulations are being emotional about them. We are not about to destroy the

However, he said companies that failed to submit their empowerment proposals
within 45 days from March 1 would be given more time to do so.

The regulations, which seek to force foreign-owned companies to cede 51% of
their shareholding to locals, have unsettled local businesses.

Last week the Business Council of Zimbabwe (BCZ), an umbrella body for nine
business organisations, wrote to Tsvangirai imploring government to reverse
the regulations saying they exposed "lack of co-ordination and sensitivity
to the needs of our fragile economy".

BCZ brings together the Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe, Chamber of Mines
of Zimbabwe, Commercial Farmers' Union, Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries, Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers' Union, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism, Zimbabwe Farmers' Union and
the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce.

But in remarks that might further alarm organised business, Kasukuwere said:
"While there is this outcry over the recently gazetted regulations, it is my
ministry's view that we have not reached a stage where we can safely say the
indigenisation drive has gathered its full momentum.
"We have found that there are 13 other laws that have relations with
indigenisation that have affected our efforts.

"In this regard, my ministry, through consultation, will embark on a process
that is endeavoured to see the revision of these 13 laws or their total

Stakeholders drawn from various sectors of the economy said they were
"alarmed" by the negative signals the unity government was sending to
investors through the regulations.

Some said they came too soon after the disastrous land reform programme
where mostly Zanu PF officials invaded and seized the most productive farms,
which they are under-utilising.

The land invasions have been cited as one of the major factors behind the
spectacular collapse of Zimbabwe's once vibrant agriculture sector.


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Tsvangirai back at work

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:49

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will return to work tomorrow to address
issues threatening the fragile unity government after successfully
undergoing surgery in South Africa, his office confirmed yesterday.
Gorden Moyo, the Minister of State in Prime Minister's office, said
Tsvangirai would be seized with several issues threatening cohesion in the
unity government.
They include the controversial Indigenisation and Empowerment Regulations,
which Zanu PF has stubbornly foisted on the country's already ailing
"I can confirm that the Prime Minister will be back in the office on Monday
after one week's rest," Moyo said. "He was recuperating after a successful
operation to correct damage to a bone in his nose that was causing him
breathing difficulties."
The damage has been linked to the savage beating Tsvangirai received at the
hands of police in 2007 after he was arrested for trying to attend a Save
Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting.
Moyo said on his return Tsvangirai would have to deal with the
indigenisation laws and the finalization of the government's work programme
for 2010.
The PM is also likely to attend the traditional meeting of the principals in
the inclusive government where he together with President Robert Mugabe and
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara would seek to address the impasse in
the talks between the three governing parties.
"He will also be dealing with the issues of the Global Political Agreement
where talks are currently stalled," Moyo said.
Meanwhile, sources said the controversy over the indigenisation law had the
potential to torpedo the inclusive government and Tsvangirai would be under
pressure from his party to take a principled stand.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the party was not disputing the
shared destination of empowerment but was disagreeing on the journey to its
"We have issues around the form, content and motivation of the proposed law.
"To the best of our understanding the matter is still being discussed within
the context of the inclusive government. . .," he said.
"If it is an inclusive government, the policy formulation and implementation
has to be inclusive."


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Harare councillors feel the heat

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:45

UNDER-FIRE Harare councillors have accused residents' associations of using
donor funds to decampaign them instead of helping to improve service
delivery. The charges, raised at a full council meeting on Thursday, were a
culmination of the war of words between the MDC-T councillors and the
associations over service delivery.

Residents' associations have scaled up criticism of the councillors'

Councillor Herbert Gomba of Glen Norah said residents' associations were
wasting donors' money on newspaper statements, condemning them.

"The money they are using to vilify us in the media can be used to buy such
things as compactors and other equipment to benefit the same residents they
allege to have at heart," Gomba said.

"We are reliably informed that one association representative has six
vehicles but continues to attack council to get more."

Councillor Thomas Muzuva of Kambuzuma said representatives of residents'
associations should know that at the end of the day councillors and
associations' officials had a stake in the affairs of the city.

"We are all residents," Muzuva said. "Let us assist each other in doing some
of these things.

"If someone sees that a house they live in is dirty, do they go about
maligning others who live in the same house or they take a broom and sweep
the house?"

Others said the current council deserved praise, claiming that they have
done better than any other council since Ian Smith's time.

While efforts to get a comment from the Combined Harare Residents'
Association were futile, the Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) dismissed the
councillors' claims saying it was not their duty to manage the city's

"Residents are paying too much to local authorities and it is being wasted
on buying flashy cars at the expense of service delivery," HRT board of
trustees chair Emilia Chakatsva said.

"There are even areas like Mabvuku which have gone for long periods without
water but residents there continue to pay rates and one wonders what that
money is being used for if it cannot be channelled towards improving

"The councillors cannot ask us to give them money given to us by donors as
that is specifically meant for association activities like capacitating
residents through training them on leadership and their rights."

Chakatsva said associations were already doing enough as they conduct
periodic clean up campaigns and have also as filled potholes and repaired

Residents' associations have in the past complained about local authorities'
poor service delivery, high rates and what they have described as skewed



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Eviction for ‘Zimcopter inventor’

Saturday, 27 February 2010 20:43

HARARE City Council last week resolved to forcibly remove controversial
“inventor” Daniel Chingoma’s “helicopters” following concerns that he had
set up illegal “aerodromes”. A full council meeting on Thursday endorsed the
decision to remove Chingoma’s helicopters from an area near the City Sports
Centre and Snake Park, along the Bulawayo-Harare highway.

The part-time musician dumped the “helicopters” in March last year after he
was evicted from Harare Showgrounds for failing to pay rentals.

Council’s environment management committee had recommended that the director
of Urban Planning Services, Psychology Chiwanga, be given the task to remove
the dysfunctional inventions.

“The committee expressed concern regarding an illegal aerodrome for Chingoma’s
helicopters,” read the committee’s minutes for a meeting held recently.

“Some had been dumped in the open space near the City Sports Centre whilst
another was on display along Bulawayo Road near the Snake Park.”

Chingoma first came into the spotlight in 2003 when he launched his
home-made “helicopter”, named the Zimcopter.

He was not available for comment on the latest developments.

Zimbabweans received the self-styled engineer’s inventions with mixed
feelings, with some saying he could help improve the country’s aviation

Others said he was out to fleece people of their hard-earned cash as he
charged a fee to those viewing his “invention”.

The musician who claims to be a natural engineer never studied aviation,
engineering or anything remotely linked to helicopters.

Condemned as not flight-worthy, his inventions are made from scrap metal and
car engines among other things.

But Chingoma’s creations may remain at their current locations a little
longer, as the city has no means of removing them.

The minutes say a shortage of transport and manpower slowed down enforcement
programmes, leading to failure to take action against the sprouting illegal
structures in the greater Harare area.


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Paralysed ex-convict relives prison ordeal

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:54

LIBERTY Mudyiwa sits miserably throughout the day watching his ailing
parents going about their daily chores. In pain, he also watches his
siblings loitering around at a time when their peers are at school.

Mudyiwa, who is now confined to Witchhood Bulk M Farm in Mutorashanga,
wishes he could help.

The 22-year-old, who recently returned from Hwahwa Young Offenders' Prison
near Gweru, has been "imprisoned" forever.

Amid intermittent sobs, he tells the sad story of how his time in jail
changed his life for the worst.

His is a story of how prisoners are abused in Zimbabwe's jails by officers
who are never punished for their crimes against prisoners.

"I left home on my two feet, hoping that after serving my sentence, I would
come back to assist my parents in caring for my siblings," Mudyiwa says.

"I never thought I would be punished beyond the sentence given to me by the

In 2004 a Bindura magistrate convicted Mudyiwa, then 17, for rape and
sentenced him to 10 years' imprisonment.

The then Grade VII pupil at Caesar Mine Primary School in Mutorashanga was
relieved when the sentence was reduced to eight years.

But the relief was short-lived. While serving at Hwahwa, Mudyiwa was
allegedly forced to carry a heavy log which led to his paralysis.

"We had just finished working in the garden when the Principal Prison
Officer told us to go and clean tanks used for preserving the officers'
beer," he recalls.

He alleges that the officer he identified then forced him and another inmate
to carry a heavy log.

"I told him that the log was too heavy for me but he threatened to beat me
so I carried it," he said. "As we walked, I felt sharp pain from the
shoulder down to the back."

The officer ignored him when Mudyiwa complained to him about the pain. "On
dropping the log, I also fell down and my whole body went numb. I later
learnt that I had been paralysed and my joints had dislocated."

X-rays conducted at Thornhill Airbase and Gweru General Hospital confirmed
Mudyiwa's hip had been dislocated and his spinal cord damaged.

He was advised to urgently go to Parirenyatwa Hospital for an operation. In
both cases, he was taken back to prison.

"Officers gave me sleeping tablets so I could sleep all day," Mudyiwa said.

When he was taken into a Harare-bound prison truck on January 15, 2008,
Mudyiwa thought he was finally being taken to Parirenyatwa.

Instead he was transferred to Harare Central Prison. Another prison doctor
attended to him. He was given more sleeping tablets.

The prison doctor ignored Mudyiwa's questions on why he was not being taken
to Parirenyatwa.

Prison officers Mudyiwa had befriended at Harare Central helped inform
relatives and parents about his condition.

They came after 12 days. Mudyiwa's parents were told there was no ambulance.
Their offer of using their own transport was turned down.

He was finally taken to Parirenyatwa on February 6, 2008 in a prison

All appeared on track at Parirenyatwa after doctors ordered him not to eat
in preparation for an operation the following morning. The operation did not
take place because the ZPS had not paid the doctors' fees.

His parents sold all their livestock to raise the money, but were told not
to bother because the ZPS would pay.

"My father wept because he had sold all his livestock thinking he could do
something to help me," Mudyiwa explained.

He was taken back to Hwahwa.

Attempts by some doctors to secure his release hit a brick wall after his
prison documents "disappeared".

He was moved to Harare in February last year.

From May 2009 up to his release on February 6, 2010, Mudyiwa was confined to
a small cell.

Now confined to a wheelchair at home, he is battling a lot of problems.

His mother suffered a stroke while his father broke his rib in an accident.

The only assistance he got was a wheelchair from St George's College in
Harare. Last week the wheelchair broke down.

The Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the
Offender is aware of Mudyiwa's plight.

When Mudyiwa was released from prison, the organisation wanted to take him
home but they were blocked by the prison officers who attempted to keep
everything under wraps.

The prison officers took him home instead, raising suspicions.

ZPS acting spokesperson Priscilla Mutembu last month confirmed Mudyiwa was
injured in their custody.
Last week she asked questions to be faxed to her, but she had not responded
by the time of going to press.

Zacro chief executive Edson Chihota said: "The ZPS must honour its promise
to help him. He does not have anyone to assist him."


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Sanctions not hurting economy, says US envoy

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:52

A senior United States diplomat, James Garry says the sanctions imposed on
Zimbabwe have no significant effect on the country's macro-economic
policies. Garry, the US embassy economic advisor was addressing journalists
on the implications of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s recent
decision to restore Zimbabwe's voting rights.

He said the IMF decision had nothing to do with US policy towards Zimbabwe
and that it was an indication the embargo did not affect the country's
relations with major lenders.

"ZDERA (The Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Recovery Act) was passed in
December 2001," Garry said. "Already by February 2000 Zimbabwe had arrears
to the IMF, Zimbabwe was already ineligible for any kind of loans way before
ZDERA became any law."

"ZDERA has never been a binding constraint on Zimbabwe . . . it has never
been an obstacle to anything.

"So the noise made about ZDERA in the press, especially in the official
press, there is no relationship whatsoever with its actual practical
significance to Zimbabwe because it has never blocked any kind of access to
financing from multilateral lenders."

ZDERA prohibits US companies from doing business with some Zimbabwean
companies and also imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on President Robert
Mugabe and his close associates.

Garry said if ZDERA was to be repealed today, Zimbabwe would still not be
able to access loans because of its arrears to the multilateral lenders.

"There is a widespread misapprehension that the US has some kind of veto at
the IMF. It is not true," he said.

"The IMF, for example, makes most of its decisions by majority vote, and
voting strength is assigned essentially according to the country's financial
interest in the fund.

"The US has just 16.77% of the voting power at the IMF, and it is not in a
position to veto IMF decisions."

Zimbabwe still has an opportunity to re-establish sound relations with the
international donor community if it takes advantage of the political
developments, he said.

"People who are interested in restoring the government's finances and
getting the economy growing again in a sustainable fashion should focus on
other things rather than worrying about sanctions; they aren't really an
issue when it comes down to the economy," Garry said.

Zanu PF youths last week held a protest outside the US embassy in Harare
calling for the lifting of the sanctions.


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War veterans’ squabbles escalate

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:47

GETRUDE Hambira, an activist for farm workers, has gone into hiding after
she was threatened by members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) over her
role in exposing the widespread violation of workers’ rights on commercial
farms being seized by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters. JOC is an outfit
made up of security, military, prisons and police officers and senior Zanu
PF officials loyal to Mugabe.

On Wednesday Hambira went into hiding after five men and a woman who
identified themselves as officers from the Criminal Investigation Department
(CID) raided offices of the General Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe
(Gapwuz), where she is secretary-general.

Before the raid she was hauled before an Assistant Police Commissioner
identified only as Mthombeni.

After that meeting, Hambira was summoned to the Police General Headquarters
(PGHQ) where she was interrogated by 17 high-ranking security officials from
the Police, Army, Air Force and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
and the prisons service who threatened she would rot “behind bars”.

During the interrogation the panel stated that a recent Gapwuz report and
documentary exposing the rampant human rights violations contained “very
serious” allegations for which Hambira must be detained.

Hambira, who was accompanied by the union’s assistant information officer
Ndai Kamoto to PGHQ, was grilled for nearly two hours.

She was eventually dismissed but not before the panel warned they would call
on her again.

“She was interrogated for nearly two hours,” said Gapwuz information officer
Tapiwa Zivira.

“They wanted to know who was behind the report, who funds the organisation
and who was writing press statements about the farm invasions.”

The controversial report, If Something is Wrong, is an account of the
violations committed during the state-driven, chaotic land reform programme
since 2000.

It has farm workers’ testimonies of murder, torture, and violence
perpetrated by state agents.

Even after Hambira had gone into hiding, police have continued to stalk the
organisation’s staff.

“Some of staff members have received anonymous calls from people threatening
them with unspecified action if Hambira does not come out of hiding,” said

On Friday, the police summoned two staff members to their headquarters for
further questioning.

Two others are expected to go for interrogation tomorrow.

“The police are currently interrogating every member of staff, and it is
feared that they are likely to target the information department because
they perceive it holds all the information about the organisation,” said
Zivira, who is also in hiding.

Meanwhile, human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) has called on
the government to end harassment and intimidation of the union members.

“The Zimbabwean police must immediately stop the harassment of human rights
defenders including Getrude Hambira,” said Veronique Aubert, deputy director
of Amnesty International’s Africa programme.

“These actions are the latest in a series of persistent human rights
violations that have continued despite formation of the government of
national unity in February 2009.”

AI said persecution of human rights defenders for their legitimate
activities is a contravention of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples’ Rights.

Deputy Chief Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said he was not aware of
Hambira’s case and would investigate.

“I am not aware of that case. I will have to find out from the police
officers involved,” he said.

Last year Hambira escaped what she called a kidnap attempt at her house in
Harare after she had successfully launched the If Something is Wrong DVD in
the United States.

The would-be abductors missed her by a few minutes as she arrived home late
from a US trip where she had presented the documentary at a high-profile
seminar held at Syracuse  University in upstate New York.

The 26-minute long video entitled The House of Justice, contains evidence of
people who were beaten up, harassed and sometimes shot at by Mugabe’s
militia under the guise of redistribution of arable land previously in the
hands of white Zimbabwean commercial farmers.

Fresh farm disturbances have reportedly rendered more than 4 000 farm
workers homeless since the formation of the unity government by Mugabe and
the two MDC formations in February last year.


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JOC hounds unionist into hiding over exposé

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:44

GETRUDE Hambira, an activist for farm workers, has gone into hiding after
she was threatened by members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) over her
role in exposing the widespread violation of workers' rights on commercial
farms being seized by President Robert Mugabe's supporters. JOC is an outfit
made up of security, military, prisons and police officers and senior Zanu
PF officials loyal to Mugabe.

On Wednesday Hambira went into hiding after five men and a woman who
identified themselves as officers from the Criminal Investigation Department
(CID) raided offices of the General Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe
(Gapwuz), where she is secretary-general.

Before the raid she was hauled before an Assistant Police Commissioner
identified only as Mthombeni.

After that meeting, Hambira was summoned to the Police General Headquarters
(PGHQ) where she was interrogated by 17 high-ranking security officials from
the Police, Army, Air Force and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
and the prisons service who threatened she would rot "behind bars".

During the interrogation the panel stated that a recent Gapwuz report and
documentary exposing the rampant human rights violations contained "very
serious" allegations for which Hambira must be detained.

Hambira, who was accompanied by the union's assistant information officer
Ndai Kamoto to PGHQ, was grilled for nearly two hours.

She was eventually dismissed but not before the panel warned they would call
on her again.

"She was interrogated for nearly two hours," said Gapwuz information officer
Tapiwa Zivira.

"They wanted to know who was behind the report, who funds the organisation
and who was writing press statements about the farm invasions."

The controversial report, If Something is Wrong, is an account of the
violations committed during the state-driven, chaotic land reform programme
since 2000.

It has farm workers' testimonies of murder, torture, and violence
perpetrated by state agents.

Even after Hambira had gone into hiding, police have continued to stalk the
organisation's staff.

"Some of staff members have received anonymous calls from people threatening
them with unspecified action if Hambira does not come out of hiding," said

On Friday, the police summoned two staff members to their headquarters for
further questioning.
Two others are expected to go for interrogation tomorrow.

"The police are currently interrogating every member of staff, and it is
feared that they are likely to target the information department because
they perceive it holds all the information about the organisation," said
Zivira, who is also in hiding.

Meanwhile, human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) has called on
the government to end harassment and intimidation of the union members.

"The Zimbabwean police must immediately stop the harassment of human rights
defenders including Getrude Hambira," said Veronique Aubert, deputy director
of Amnesty International's Africa programme.

"These actions are the latest in a series of persistent human rights
violations that have continued despite formation of the government of
national unity in February 2009."

AI said persecution of human rights defenders for their legitimate
activities is a contravention of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights.

Deputy Chief Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said he was not aware of
Hambira's case and would investigate.

"I am not aware of that case. I will have to find out from the police
officers involved," he said.

Last year Hambira escaped what she called a kidnap attempt at her house in
Harare after she had successfully launched the If Something is Wrong DVD in
the United States.

The would-be abductors missed her by a few minutes as she arrived home late
from a US trip where she had presented the documentary at a high-profile
seminar held at Syracuse  University in upstate New York.

The 26-minute long video entitled The House of Justice, contains evidence of
people who were beaten up, harassed and sometimes shot at by Mugabe's
militia under the guise of redistribution of arable land previously in the
hands of white Zimbabwean commercial farmers.

Fresh farm disturbances have reportedly rendered more than 4 000 farm
workers homeless since the formation of the unity government by Mugabe and
the two MDC formations in February last year.


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Govt debt cripples Bulawayo council

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:12

BULAWAYO - Council has blamed its deteriorating service delivery on failure
by government departments to settle more than US$3.7 million in arrears.
Thaba Moyo, the mayor said they had since resorted to approaching individual
ministers to encourage the departments to honour their debts, some dating
back to last year.

Attempts by council to arm-twist the departments by cutting water supplies
over the ballooning debt were met with stiff resistance especially at police
camps where municipal workers were barred.

"As a council, we have resolved to meet ministers individually in order to
push them to direct their departments to settle their debts," Moyo said on

According to a recent report of the council's finance committee, although
residents and the business community are not paying their bills on time, the
government debt was the highest.

In January, council was forced to cut water supplies to the Bulawayo Prison
Complex, popularly known as Grey Street Prison and Western Commonage
magistrates' courts, over unpaid water bills of amounting to more than
US$700 000.

Meanwhile, the BCC has also resolved to sue parents and guardians of pupils
who completed their Grade VII at its schools last year to force them to
settle outstanding fees.

Council says it is owed about US$800 000 by the former pupils. "Schools were
requested to submit lists of fee defaulters for all Grade VII pupils.

"Summons would be issued to recover monies owed to council.

"The outcome of this action would be reviewed to see the effects and
possible interventions that could be done for the rest of the school
 pupils," the report said.

Meanwhile, the local authority says it has been forced to put on hold
several capital projects due to delays by the Ministry of Local Government
in approving its application for borrowing powers.

Council wants to borrow about US$89 million to finance various projects.

About US$20 million and US$10 000 is required respectively to rehabilitate
the city's sewer system and to purchase equipment for water treatment
plants."We are still waiting for the ministry to approve our application for
borrowing powers," Moyo said.

"The late approval of borrowing powers has severely affected many areas of
service delivery because the local authority has no funds."

Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo refused to comment on the matter
last week saying he was attending meetings.


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Face of a humanitarian crisis here

Saturday, 27 February 2010 19:06

NINETY-YEAR-OLD Filda Muchuchu struggles to prepare food in the huge black
pot for her 14 orphaned grandchildren. Thick varicose-like veins protrude
from her emaciated arms, as two grandchildren sit besides her looking hungry
and malnourished as they impatiently await their rations.

"I have to cook even though it's hard for me," Mbuya Muchuchu told The

"I cannot just look at them. I know they are hungry because they have not
eaten a meal since morning but its already past midday."

Mbuya Muchuchu cares for her orphaned grandchildren in Muchuchu Village in
Buhera District of Manicaland.

Here crops are a write-off and food is hard to come by. She suspects that
the children's parents died of HIV/Aids-related conditions.

"I think they succumbed to this dreadful disease that has wiped out people,"
she said, wiping sweat from her brow.

In a district where 90% of this season's crop has been declared a write-off,
providing food for her grandchildren is a major challenge for Mbuya

"I feel sorry for these children. They are growing up under very difficult
conditions. At times, they sleep on an empty stomach," she said.

The maize and sorghum crops in the small patch around her homestead have
wilted due to a prolonged dry spell that affected most parts of the country.

At night the children sleep in tiny rooms because of inadequate

The family's small granary recently collapsed after a heavy downpour.

Fortunately, Mbuya Muchuchu and her grandchildren aged between two and 16
are some of the beneficiaries of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS)'s
Orphans and other Vulnerable Children Programme.

Under the programme the society assists children orphaned by HIV/Aids and
other vulnerable people countrywide.

Had it not been for the society which has been supplying her with food,
Mbuya Muchuchu says her grandchildren would have starved to death.

The society also pays fees for the children who attend a nearby primary

"I am happy because the Red Cross pays the children's fees and gives us

"They also gave us two chickens and two goats to breed," she said.

Maud Kadzimu, who received small grains, seed and fertilizer from the
society last year, said despite the assistance she will not harvest anything
this season.

All her maize crop wilted in the scorching heat.

"I don't know how I will feed my children. I wasted my seed, fertiliser and
energy," said the 46-year-old mother of three, who is taking care of two
other orphaned children.

In an effort to overcome effects of the drought, some villagers have started
poultry and gardening projects.

Letwin Tokotore (24) last year teamed up with nine other villagers and
started a poultry project in a bid to raise money for food and schools fees
for their children.

They were not very fortunate. Their chickens died from fowl pox and a
parasitic disease.

"We are left with only 15 chickens," she said. "They died from fowl pox and
coccidiosis while others were eaten by wild cats."

ZRCS provincial food security and livelihood officer Onias Fukuzeya said the
society urges the people in Buhera and other dry areas to grow
drought-resistant crops such as sorghum and millet to ensure food self-

"We encourage people to grow small grains," he said. "But others resist
because they are used to growing maize."

In Manicaland, the society last year assisted 3 500 households with small
grains, seed and fertiliser.

Fukuzeya said areas most affected by drought in Manicaland are Marange,
Chipinge, Chimanimani and Buhera.

Another senior ZRCS official Tafadzwa Makata said there were indications
that the country might experience serious food shortages.

"We are going to conduct a post-harvest food assessment at the end of March
to get a clear indication of the situation but generally the picture does
not look good due to erratic rains and dry spells," Makata said.

The society last October assisted 25 000 households with fertiliser and seed
while over 210 000 people received food assistance.

Chief Chimwi Kandenga Nyashanu of Buhera described the food situation in his
area "as dire".

He fears that hundreds of people will die if they do not receive assistance
in time.

"This year is worse than last year," Chief Nyashanu said.

"There is no one here who will get enough food for his family. I fear some
people will die because of this hunger."

Villagers said they walk nearly 100km from Muchuchu village to Chivhu to
look for piece work in exchange for food.

The chief's Zunde ramambo (community granary) project has not been
successful because of recurrent droughts.

For the past decade Zimbabwe has experienced serious food shortages
precipitated mainly by the violent seizures of commercial farms which began
in 2000.

As a result an estimated five million people out of a population of 13.5
million people in the country were surviving on donor food handouts for the
greater part of this year.

The UN says 2.4 million people already need food aid.


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Unions seek to bring HIV matters to boardrooms

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:20

EMPLOYERS and workers' representatives in the energy and textile sectors
have come up with new policies in an attempt to foster debate around
HIV/Aids at the workplace. The unions want to make the debate part of the
"boardroom agenda" at executive meetings.

On Wednesday, the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) and Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) launched two HIV/Aids policies for the
energy and textile sectors as part of their new search for a lasting
solution to the problems caused by the epidemic at the workplace, and the
negative impact it has had on productivity.

The project was supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and
the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).

Speaking at the launch of the policies, chairperson of the Emcoz labour
committee, Edwin Murwira, said there was need to strengthen the
institutional capacity of the employers' and workers' organisations to
"coordinate workplace actions, lobby for action and leverage resources".

"Emcoz realised that to start at the beginning, there is a need to formulate
HIV and Aids policies at sector level," said Murwira, who is also the group
human resources director for CFI Holdings.

He said the policies had to be "ultimately reflected in better economic
performance for the benefit of the stakeholders".

To reduce employment-related stigma and discrimination against persons
living with HIV/Aids, Emcoz embarked on a campaign to raise awareness and
getting commitment at the highest corporate level, in a programme dubbed
"making HIV and Aids a Boardroom Agenda".

Murwira challenged other enterprises and sectors to come up with
comprehensive interventions at senior management level.

"Successful and comprehensive HIV and Aids intervention strategies will only
happen provided there is board buy in and support," said Murwira.

Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union (Zewu) president, Angeline Chitambo said
there was need for the government and employers to take issues of HIV/Aids

"HIV is now a topical workplace issue which cannot be ignored. We want the
government and employers to take and borrow what the policy says," said

Labour and Social Services Minister, Paurina Mpariwa said Zimbabwe remains
among countries that are most affected by HIV/Aids in the world.

She said the two sectors, textile and energy were among the most vulnerable.

"The energy sector is one of the most vulnerable, owing to the nature and
scope of the work within the industry. The energy sector offers fertile
ground for the spread of HIV," said Mpariwa.

In the textile sector, Mpariwa said the impact of HIV/Aids was being
compounded by such occupational diseases like tuberculosis, which spread
easily among employees because of dust from the spinning mills, dye house
chemicals and coal dust.

The policies highlight priorities and strategies for curbing HIV/Aids in the
two sectors, and guiding the implementation of a comprehensive response.


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Alarming results from infection study

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:19

BULAWAYO - About 50% of children and teenagers admitted to hospitals in
Zimbabwe are HIV positive, results of a research by a British institution
have revealed. The study whose results were released recently was conducted
by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) last month,
Sally Hall, the media manager of the LSHTM told Standardhealth.

Hall was responding to questions about the research which she said was led
by Rashida Ferrand, a lecturer in Clinical Epidemiology at LSHTM.

"Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
has shown that almost 50% of children and young adults admitted to hospitals
in Zimbabwe were HIV positive," she said.

"The patients, aged between 10 and 18 years of age, had gone to hospital
with various complaints unrelated to HIV and were tested as part of the

"This demonstrates the growing crisis of HIV infection acquired at birth in
children in the developing world.
"They were then given routine investigations, including HIV testing.

"Nearly half of participants were HIV-positive. . . they were also more
likely to have lost their mother to HIV, or to have an HIV-infected mother
than HIV-negative adolescents."

About 1.8 million Zimbabweans are said to be living positively with HIV,
according to United Nations estimates.

Out of the 1.8 million HIV-positive people, about 16 000 of them are on
anti-retroviral drugs in Zimbabwe, according to the World Health
Organisation (WHO).

Many people are however reportedly dying before they begin accessing the
drugs because of a shortage of CD4 count machines.

The shortage of the equipment that determines when one can access the ARVs
is slowing down government ARV rollout efforts and the fight against
HIV/Aids, according to the National Aids Council.

In Bulawayo for example, there are only two CD4 count machines - a situation
that has resulted in many patients failing to access the life-prolonging


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PMTCT records success but child infection remains high

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:15

When Cecilia Chimbga discovered she was pregnant five years ago she went to
an ante-natal clinic thinking it was just a routine visit. But little did
she know that it was going to be a life-changing experience.

She decided to enrol on the just introduced Prevention of Mother To Child
Transmission (PMTCT) programme out of curiosity.

"I was shocked when the result (HIV test) came back positive. When I went
back to my husband and shared the result with him he was furious and in
denial," Chimbga told a recent International Treatment Preparedness
Coalition (ITPC) breakfast meeting.

Chimbga was among HIV activists who shared their experience at the meeting
to discuss findings of an ITPC report: Missing the Target Failing Women,
Failing Children, HIV, Vertical Transmission and Women's Health 2009.

The report among other things notes that rates of mother to child
transmission of HIV remain high in developing countries.

"Although he refused to get tested I went ahead with the programme to
protect my child," she recounted.

When she was eight months pregnant she was given nevirapine, an ARV drug to
prevent mother to child transmission which she was advised to take at the
onset of labour.

Today Chimbga and her five-year-old daughter are living testimony of the
effectiveness of the PMTCT programme when done properly.

Her daughter is HIV negative.

Chimbga and her daughter are some of the few fortunate ones in Zimbabwe who
have managed to access PMTCT.

Research shows that for most women in the developing world PMTCT is still a
pipe dream.

According to the report, which profiles at least six countries including
Zimbabwe, over 900 new cases of HIV infections in babies in developing
countries occur everyday because of inefficiencies in the PMTCT programmes.

"Vertical transmission of HIV (commonly known as mother to child
transmission) has been virtually eliminated in the global North," said the

"This development - one of the rare, undeniable and ongoing success stories
in the global response to HIV/Aids over the past quarter century - is due to
most wealthier nations' ability and will to provide HIV positive women with
testing, counselling, comprehensive prevention and treatment, including the
best drug therapies."

However, the report says the situation is by far different for women and
families in poorer parts of the world.

"The vast majority of the 1.5 million women with HIV who become pregnant
each year in the developing world do not have access to all (or, often, any)
of these vital services," the researchers said.

"Only one third of them receive even the least effective drug regimen: a
single dose of the drug nevirapine for themselves and another for their
newly born, a therapy that has been shown to be at best just over 40 percent
effective in preventing vertical transmission."

It says most women in developing countries have no access or knowledge of
infant feeding guidance or support programmes designed to keep mothers and
infants alive and healthy even when such programmes exist in their

In Zimbabwe, the report noted that the PMTCT programme was one of the best
performing HIV interventions but years of economic and political turmoil had
led to the collapse of the health care system.

"There is a severe shortage of health care workers and frequent drug
stock-outs and an increasing number of women deliver their babies at home,
without antenatal services, post delivery support or follow up," added the

"Shortage of tra-ined staff also means many pregnant women do not receive
sufficient advice on infant feeding.

"Violence (domestic) against women has long been among the most significant
deterrents to uptake of HIV/Aids services for women."

Research on Zimbabwe for the report was done by Matilda Moyo (Pan African
HIV/Aids Treatment Action Movement), Caroline Mubaira (Community Working
Group of Health) and Martha Tholanah (Network of Zimbabwean Positive Women).

The report calls on governments and United Nations agencies to account for
their failure to meet their international commitments in the fight against
the pandemic.

In 2001 world leaders at the UNGASS agreed to a goal of reducing the
proportion of infants infected with HIV by 20% by 2005 and 50% by 2010.

This included ensuring that 80% of pregnant women accessing antenatal care
have information, counselling and other prevention services available to
them, said the report.


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Empowerment law threatens major SA investment

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:12

PLANS by South Africa's diversified mining group African Rainbow Minerals
(ARM) to invest in Zimbabwe's mining sector are facing resistance from
shareholders worried about the new indigenisation law. ARM chairman, Patrice
Motsepe who is one of the wealthiest black businessmen in the neighbouring
country has been championing the initiative to invest in Zimbabwe's world
class platinum group metals.

But Anglo-Rand Financial Services (ARFS), one of the investors in ARM is
objecting to the proposed venture citing the new law that comes into effect
tomorrow (Monday).

The law, which seeks to force foreign-owned firms to cede 51% of their
shareholding to locals within the next five years, has caused consternation
among investors.

Last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai appeared to be losing his battle
to have the regulations reversed after the Zanu PF politburo endorsed them.

ARFS portfolio manager, Louis Venter told Standardbusiness that none of his
investors will take their money to Zimbabwe.

Venter had also challenged Motsepe, at the presentation of ARM's company's
financial results early in the week after the chairman insisted on the
Zimbabwe investment.

"I am not interested in investing in Zimbabwe at the moment until things
normalise," he said.

"Neither will I hazard sending my investors to Zimbabwe under the current

"It is not proper to do so and it does not make business sense at all."

Venter said there was no way an investor would pour money into a venture
only to get minimum shareholding.

"We can come and invest in Zimbabwe on condition there is a free market.

"There is no way we can bring our money into a venture to aid the Zimbabwean
government and at the end of the day get 49%," Venter said from South

He said although there was a lot of interest in Zimbabwe by foreign
investors, the new regulations would see most of them developing cold feet.

"We believe that investors should get value for their investment," Venter

"In the case of Zimbabwe, getting the smaller shareholding is not what the
investors want.

"And they will not come there until the Zimbabwean government puts its house
in order."

ARM was one of the first foreign companies that expressed interest in
exploiting Zimbabwe's vast mineral wealth following the formation of the
inclusive government in February last year.

The unity government had brought with it a lot of promise that foreign
investors would flock back into Zimbabwe but incessant squabbles over policy
have severely dented the huge expectations.


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Strange twist to Telecel fraud scandal

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:11

TELECEL'S US$1.7 million fraud claims last week took a new twist with police
saying the mobile operator had not made any report despite a glut of public
statements on the matter. The fraud was reportedly detected by MD Aimable
Mpore, a DRC-born Canadian citizen who has since had his work permit
cancelled by Zimbabwean authorities.

The country's second biggest mobile operator had said it had detected the
fraud where some unnamed employees allegedly issued recharge cards and
starter packs using manual invoices, a method long banned by the company.

Last week, Telecel said it had convened a disciplinary hearing against staff
involved in the fraud and that police had been alerted. "The matter has been
handed over to the police for further investigations," the mobile operator
said in a statement.

"The company has taken the necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of such

But the police's Criminal Investigations Department (CID) last week said no
report had been made.

"As police detectives charged with the duty of investigating serious fraud
cases we have not yet received any report from Telecel involving the
fraudulent issuing of recharge cards and starter packs," said Augustine
Zimbili, the CID spokesperson.

"If they did report the matter to any police establishment we are yet to
have it referred to us."

Police spokesperson, Jessie Banda had referred Standardbusiness to the fraud
section for a comment.

Tobias Jack, Telecel's acting MD told Standardbusiness: "There is no comment
from our side."

Telecel is dogged by infighting over the control of the company pitting the
two shareholders - Telecel International and Empowerment Corporation.

Empowerment Corporation, a consortium of local business investors argues
that it should have a say in key appointments at the mobile operator.

Telecel is owned 60% by Telecel International and 40% by the Empowerment
Corporation of Zimbabwe.

Telecel International is in turn 100% owned by Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian
conglomerate listed on the Cairo and London stock exchanges.


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Succession plan for black family business: Myth or reality

Saturday, 27 February 2010 17:36

This is the second and last part of an article by Katazo C Mbetu, Executive
Dean at the Midlands State University on whether Zimbabwean black family
businesses plan for their future once the owner or founder is dead. SEVENTY
percent of the respondents indicated that the business owner had not planned
for the retirement and future of the business and self.

Only 40% scouted for a successor in or outside the family while 60%
indicated that they preferred their own family member to inherit the
business irrespective of having interest or not.

Sixty percent of the successors were hand-picked by the owner and given on
the job training while 40% had gone through a period of formal and
apprenticeship training in business succession. Stewardship was considered
the most essential quality of a good successor.

A majority of the respondents stated that they assumed an advisory role on

It took them between three and five years to adjust to a pending retirement,
let go of the business and fully develop external interests. Seventy percent
of the respondents kept advisor reports and documents for future reference.

While monthly progress reports were given sometimes, a quarter of the
respondents said that they saw no need of getting monthly reports once
advice had been given. Almost half of the respondents held a Board of
Directors meeting while over half consulted family members only when there
was need.

The black family business in Zimbabwe especially in the young generation
category is making great effort at succession planning. Failure to plan
succession is a recipe of failure to business continuity.

There is a possibility the owner might fail to retire when he/she is due.

The owner owes it to the family to create a realistic and workable
succession plan. Strengths and weaknesses of the successor must be
identified. Provision and development of skills is necessary.

Ownership and management transfers are conscious acts of intentions. A tough
and pragmatic decision as to which family member if any, can continue to run
the business successfully has to be made.

The successful continuation of a business requires objective decision-making
by all family members and a commitment to develop personal goals within the
family business structure.

Old generation business persons fear to disclose information about the
business operations, but the majority of the young and first generation
entrepreneurs have spurned the cultural belief that once you disclose
information about your riches then you are dead.

Lack of past experience in business management and ownership is fast being

Black family business owners are making a conscious effort to ensure that
they plan for succession in their businesses.

In order for family-owned businesses to be successful members must
communicate rationally and objectively. The characteristics of each family
or potential successor must be identified.

The qualities should include commitment to the business.

There should be constant dialogue between the advisor and the business.

Follow up strategies to obtain buy-in for family objectives must be made.

Accountability goals and task timeliness for all parties in the succession
process must be developed.

Failure to utilise family council may lead to delayed decision of who takes

That is devastating to the business-especially in the event of death, where
the business can end up in limbo due to probate.

The founder should meet and discuss with the family to determine who has the
desire, skills and vision warranting taking over the business. Ways to share
wealth and ensure ramification of extended family such as spouses should be
examined. - The African Executive.

* Katazo C Mbetu is Executive Dean, Midlands State University, Gweru,

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ICT Bill to be resuscitated

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:04

GOVERNMENT will this year finalise the Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs) regulations to provide the necessary legislation for the
growth of the sector. There have been a number of policies to drive the
sector but the regulations to anchor those policies are missing, ICT
Minister Nelson Chamisa said on Monday.

The new regulations would be a component of the strategic plan launched on
Monday designed to create an enabling environment for the growth of the

"We launched the ICT policy in 2007 but it was not anchored on a particular

"There is no regulation. . .we need regulation as of yesterday," Chamisa

"The ICT Bill has been finalised and we want to make sure it passes through
Cabinet soon so that it goes to Parliament."

The ICT Bill was withdrawn last year after it created tension in the
inclusive government as it extends to other ministries but it has been
revived in the new Strategic Plan 2010-2014.

The Bill seeks to establish a single authority that would regulate the
information and communication technology sector.

The ICT Bill will repeal the Broadcasting Services Act, Postal and
Telecommunications Act and amend some sections of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act.

At least 10 policies have been launched since independence to harness ICT
for social and economic development to alleviate poverty.

But the absence of a legislation to govern the industry has been the missing

Chamisa said the vision of the ministry is to see Zimbabwe attain a high
mobile penetration rate.
He said the sector should be driven by indigenous players.

"The ICT revolution is the only revolution being led by young people. All
revolutions have been led by the old," he said.

He said efforts were being made to tap into "catching them young so that we
don't lose the fruits and benefits of the ICT revolution".

The strategic plan aims to develop and expand cross border interconnection
and access to internet backbone.

The plan envisages the development of broad band optic fibre links to all
major cities by 2014.

Chamisa said by June, Zimbabwe should be connected to the undersea cable via
Mutare and Beitbridge.

The ambitious plan wants to tap into ICT human resources in the Diaspora and
increase their participation by at least 10% every year to nurture human
capital development in ICT skills.

ICTs will be made mandatory curricula at all schools and institutions of
higher learning by January 2011.

It also seeks to promote the use of electronic business services and
products to at least 20% of all services for public utilities by January
2013 and 30% by January 2014.

By December 2014, there should be at least 10 public private partnerships in
the ICT sector, according to the plan.

President Robert Mugabe has over the past few years been distributing
computers to schools in both rural and urban areas in order to boost IT
development in the country.

However, computerisation of schools, particularly in rural areas, has
remained hamstrung by shortages of electricity.


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Cash boost for Zim tourism sector

Saturday, 27 February 2010 17:47

THE African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has teamed up with a
pan-African housing finance company to provide funding for the country's
tourism industry. Gift Simwaka, Afreximbank's regional manager for Southern
Africa told Standardbusiness that Shelter Afrique is willing to finance
tourism projects in Zimbabwe.

"Our partnership leverages Shelter Afrique's long experience in construction
finance and ours in structured financial future flow pre-financing in
support of the tourism industry," he said.

"We refinance projects originally funded by Shelter Afrique, up to a maximum
tenure of seven years."

The move is set to renew the tourism which has suffered years of neglect
during the economic crisis of the past decade.

Players have been crying for capital injection to revive the industry.

With local banks offering short term credits it means that there is no money
for long term projects such as the building of new hotels.

Simwaka said the bank had set a specific amount but the cap on such
facilities would be determined by the country limit for Zimbabwe.

It is hoped that Afreximbank can support a wide spread of financing requests
based on their merits.

"We can also confirm that this is in line with our strategy wherein we seek
to expand our support to service export generative industries, an area which
has traditionally not received the attention it deserves as most trade
finance institutions have concentrated on supporting commodity exports,"
Simwaka said.

The growth of the industry is largely dependent on the support it receives
from enabling sectors as echoed by speakers at tourism summit last week.

The Pan African Tourism Investment Summit drew over 300 investors and was
held by the ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry in conjunction with
Africa Investor.

Funders told stakeholders that they were awash with cash but wanted to see
bankable projects.

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) deputy chief executive officer, Solomon
Asamoah, told stakeholders "there is no shortage of cash for good projects
in Africa".

"Infrastructure is relatively well known but a difficult sector because it
is long term so you need long term money," he said.

AFC's main thrust is in power, transport and infrastructure,
telecommunications and heavy industries.

All of AFC's main thrusts save for heavy industries are vital for the growth
of the tourism industry.

AFC will have a bilateral meeting with the ministry of Energy and Power
Development on how it can finance power generation, Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara said.

Kevin Teeroovengadum, a director with private equity firm, Actis, told
stakeholders the firm is looking at financing projects in the range of US$20
million to US$40 million.

He said the private equity firm can assist in adding on boards of
hospitality groups.

Actis can also help management to raise debt as it has partnerships with
developmental financial institutions.

He said the firm's experience in the hospitality sector was gained after
investing in Protea Hotels which allowed "us to understand how hospitality

Actis has interests in emerging markets.

Mbuyazwe Magagula who is in the Tourism Business Unit of South Africa's
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) said the South African firm is in
talks with a Zimbabwean operator.

Magagula says IDC sees opportunity in refurbishment, not on creating

But what do investors want to see in an environment before committing their

Asamoah says a stable political and economic environment sways investors
into a destination.

He says there is need for full partnership between government and private
sector and the partnership should be in action not words.

Catherine Namugala, Zambian Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources
Minister said ministries in charge of tourism should influence legislations
"so that by the end of the day we become facilitators of investments".

She said Zambia had reduced the number of licences that investors can get to
work in any sector.

"In some cases you have a hundred licences and this is a hassle for

"The core of business is to create wealth. When you do an audit you see that
many of them (licences) are unnecessary," she said.

The time it takes to invest in a destination is cited as a plus or hindrance
for investments.

Zimbabwe is simplifying the procedure and says it will create a one-stop
shop by June.

As Zimbabwe searches for investors, the gazetting of the Indigenisation
regulations has unnerved a number of interested parties.

But Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, said the
tourism industry is compliant with the Act and is looking for foreign

". . .80% of the tourism sector is already in indigenous hands and therefore
it has scope for greater external shareholding, as well as for other
innovative models that can give comfort to the external investor, than might
be the case in our other sectors," he said.


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Sunday View: Failure to pay workers worsened by bloated civil service

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:52

ZIMBABWE has witnessed its first strike of all civil servants.  Civil
servants have patiently waited for the Inclusive Government to recognise
their plight, as they struggle to survive on an average salary of US$150 a

Every month a civil servant has to choose between either feeding the family
or paying rent. Utilities cost at least US$90 a month. More often utilities
cost more than the whole month's salary. Telephones and medical help have
become unaffordable luxuries.

Civil servants have been offered salary increases of between US$2 and US$27
a month, on the grounds that the government is broke and cannot afford
anything better. Is this true?

The 2010 Budget totalled US$2 250 million, of which US$600 million
(excluding pensions) comprised salaries. More than a third of the total
budget - US$810 million, consists of donor funds.

The government has thus reserved 41.7% of its own funds of US$1 440 for
salaries. The 2009 salary budget was US$385.7 million (including pensions).

Thus there was an increase of US$214 million for salaries, a 55% increase.
If civil servants were given a 55% pay increase, this would come to an
average of US$225 a month, a low salary, but substantial enough for

It is therefore surprising that civil servants are being offered such dismal
pay increases.

They are to be given housing and transport allowances of US$9 each.  What
type of housing and what type of transport costs US$9 a month?

We are in the dark as to why the government cannot award civil servants the
pay package announced under the 2010 budget at the very least. There is need
for more transparency.

One reason may be that the government has decided to pay the armed forces
more than the rest of the civil service, as starving armed soldiers are very

We have not been informed about this, so it is in the field of conjecture.

We have, however, seen and heard sounds of disaffection from the armed
forces, such as the reported theft of RBZ Governor's chickens, attacks on
civilians accused of causing inflation, and the endemic requirement to pay a
US$5 bribe every time you are stopped by the police. These are minor
infractions, but they may grow if our armed forces remain underpaid.

Another reason may be an expansion of the size of the civil service.

We have already heard that the 13 000 plus Zanu PF militia illegally
appointed as "youth officers" are now having civil service posts created for
them or are being appointed into any vacant civil service post available.
The illegal militia will soon be a legal militia, and will be found in many
more ministries than before, despite the fact that the Public Service
Commission is under an MDC-T minister.

An increase in the size of the civil service will of course mean that there
is less to provide for the genuine long-serving civil servants. The only way
to approach this is for the Public Service Commission to declare a freeze on
additional post creation. This is not being done.

One clear reason for the shortage of funds is that the government is
over-bloated with 32 ministries, a cabinet of 36, and over 60 ministers and
deputy ministers.

A number of ministries are duplicates, for example with two ministries
sharing agriculture, two ministries sharing education, two ministries
sharing information, two ministries sharing foreign affairs, several
ministries sharing water development, etc., etc.

If ministries which received less than US$5 million as a budget in 2010 were
joined together with other related ministries, there would be fourteen fewer
ministries - 18 instead of 32 ministries!

This would be an enormous saving. Having fewer ministries would make the
government much more efficient, as well as saving lots of money. It would
enable ministers, deputy ministers and officials to work more co-operatively
rather than behaving as bitter and mutually destructive rivals.

However, the Global Political Agreement (GPA) is based on the concept of
sharing privileges, and the more ministries the better. This is definitely
costing Zimbabwe a lot in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, not to say
in paying the bloated civil service much too little.

Another way of solving this problem is to make savings by cutting out luxury
expenditures.  The Foreign Affairs budget has increased from US$28.7 million
to US$42.4 million, a 47.7% increase.

Foreign travel, which was US$28.6 million in 2009 needs to be drastically
cut, in line with the needed financial austerity measures.

Cutting the number of luxury vehicles, such as the much loved Mercedes Benz,
could bring about a major saving. And why should ministers now have two

Zimbabwe should follow the lead of other Sadc countries where ministers are
given generous loans to buy their own cars, and are paid for subsistence for
travelling on business.

Ministers are more likely to use their cars more carefully if they owned
them anyway.   Probably US$50 million could be saved to enable the
government to pay its civil servants more.

One way of solving this problem of having too many civil servants being paid
too little would be to increase the amount of money allocated for civil
service salaries from US$600 million to say US$650 million.

This will average US$2 826 a year or US$235 a month. This would increase the
wage bill from 41.2% to 45.1% of the 2010 Budget (excluding donor funds).

Is this a good idea?  Is this good for the economy, for example?  It may be
a good idea in that civil servants will be spending their money inside the
country, and their pay increase would in fact be an additional investment
into our economy.

The suspension of customs duties on "basic" commodities could provide more
income to the government, whilst at the same time helping to boost local

The government has decided to go against the business community in this
regard, but it may be that the business community knows better.

If the waiving of customs duty was retained for salt, sugar, maize, rice,
seeds and fertilizer, we might have a win-win situation of boosting local
productivity, whilst earning more money through customs duties.

In 2008, the latest figures published, there were 201  000 civil servants.
We know there has been a big increase since 2008.   In 1990 the figure was
181 402 civil servants.

This gives an additional 20 000 civil servants in two decades.  I think it
is generally recognised that the civil service was much more efficient in
the 1980s and 1990s than today.

The bloating of ministries has clearly led to more inefficiency, especially
in view of the fact that so little is left for infrastructure, equipment,
transport and materials which can allow civil servants to do their job more

Civil servants in 1990 averaged a pay of about US$500 a month, as compared
to the present US$150.  If the government were to return to a smaller and
more efficient number of civil servants, it will be possible to increase
their salaries more substantially.

Instead the civil service has been used as a form of patronage, but the
negative side of patronage is inefficient and underpaid civil servants.

Having 20 000 fewer civil servants would entail a saving of US$36 million
per annum (at a salary of US$150 a month).  Having 40 000 fewer civil
servants would entail a saving of US$72 million per annum!

Another approach is to separate civil servants into different commissions,
as has happened to Health and Security workers.

For example, education workers could be employed through an Education
Service Commission.  This would allow more flexibility.  Education staff
number about 100 000, the rest of the civil service another 100 000, whilst
the armed forces are estimated at 30 000.  Separate commissions will also
enable the different sectors to respond to the different professional needs.

In conclusion, civil servants deserve to be treated much better.  They are
as important to the health and survival of the nation as the armed forces.
By treating them badly we will ruin the country.


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Alex Magaisa: Using politics of labelling to undermine opponents

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:47

A woman in the community in which I experienced my formative years had an
unpleasant reputation. It was generally believed that she had certain
talents in the dark arts.

They said she was a witch. They said she was capable of many unkind deeds.
We all grew up believing her to be a witch. That is what we were told. Most
people accepted it to be the truth.

I do not know for sure if she was or if indeed, such dark arts exist at all.
But that is beside the point. The point is that she was labelled a witch and
that ugly label stuck with her all her life. I look back and wonder whether
this labelling was fair. It's an easy label to stick on someone but it's
hard to remove.

This woman's circumstance represents an every day image of what can be
observed in national politics.

You only have to stick a label on someone to discredit them and their views.
And there are many labels at the disposal of those who wish to employ them.
The trouble is that this labelling causes one and all to lose focus and
concentrate instead on peripheral matters.

More importantly, labelling has an exclusionary effect, causing those so
labelled or likely to be labelled to withdraw from national affairs.
Labelling is an easy tool to silence people; to bully them into submission.

I attempt here to illustrate a few of these labels that have been and can be
used to achieve these ends.

Mutengesi (A Sell-out): This is by far the most common label, easily
targeted at those who otherwise differ from the majority or senior

Notwithstanding the rhetoric on democracy when it comes to application on
the ground, people are generally sceptical of those who espouse different

They are perceived as agents trying to sell-out the "revolution". It is an
easy weapon, often employed to thwart rivals, often with tragic

A story is often told in my village how one elder met a cruel end during the
liberation struggle.

He owned a bicycle. In the humble circumstances of village life, a bicycle
was apparently, an item of status and prestige.

His ownership of a bicycle drew admirers as well jealous neighbours. It took
one unkind soul to label him a "sell-out" for the elder to lose his life. It's
fair to say many people lost their homes, broke limbs, indeed lost lives
simply because they were accused of being "sell-outs" before being tried
before Kangaroo courts where they could never stand a chance.

Those who have written about their experiences during the struggle, like Fay
Chung and Edgar Tekere in their recent autobiographies, talk about the
reckless way in which the "sell-out" label was deployed within the
movements. If you were an opponent or a perceived rival, you were simply
labelled a "sell-out" - mutengesi.

There can be no worse accusation in a struggle. That's because of the
ruthless manner in which so-called sell-outs are treated. There may indeed
have been sell-outs, as happens in war situations, but it's fair to say the
label was also misused and abused to settle personal scores or simply to
endear themselves to the leaders.

I read an account the other day about a West African leader who was
surrounded by a coterie of advisers who kept him busy with tales of complex
conspiracies that were allegedly being planned against him. They would tell
of how they had foiled the plots by the sell-outs. Not only did this make
the leader more paranoid and therefore power hungry, it also meant he came
to believe that these hangers-on were indispensable!

This label remains prevalent across and within political parties. It is
employed from time to time to create an exclusionary effect - to undermine
one's credibility and legitimacy. It works negatively to stifle otherwise
useful debate and democratic participation among ordinary people.

MuCIO (He's a CIO): The mention of Zimbabwe's dreaded Central Intelligence
Organisation sends shivers down many a spine.

It conjures up images of men in dark glasses who do bad things to people.
Whether or not this is a correct representation is neither here nor there.

The point here is that because of this negative reputation, if one is
labelled "muCIO", then you are more or less associated with the darker arts
and therefore your credibility is undermined.

And it's very easy for people to say, "muCIO uya hauzivi?" (Do you not know
that he is a CIO?). It is stated in a matter-of-fact fashion, soon everyone
nods in unison, agreeing that indeed, the person labelled is a CIO.

I remember the label being used very generously against certain students at
university. It continues to be used. It's a very cheap shot which is
designed to undermine an individual's standing and credibility.

MuRacist (He's racist): In Zimbabwe, it seems there are two qualifications
to attain the label of being a racist: you have to be white and take a
different opinion from the majority.

You can say something that could otherwise be said by a black person but
still be branded a racist! It's hard to deny that our country has a messy
history of racial discrimination.

A war was fought over this, among other concerns. So the feelings of
animosity, especially among the older generation run very deep.

They are so deep that in recent years, there have arguably, been forms of
reverse racism and any challenge on this ground is met by references to what
happened in the past - a vicious cycle. Yet, notwithstanding the genuine
need to deal with a dirty past and the continued existence of racist
elements, the racist label has often been abused for selfish motives.

It's not unusual for example, that when a white person expresses a different
view or tries to be critical, even in quasi-opposition circles
("quasi-opposition" because they are not really in opposition given the
GNU), there is a high likelihood that he will be labelled a racist bent on
promoting white supremacy.

To my mind drawing the race card on occasions of difference is not only
unfair but represents a sign a weakness.

In fact, it makes a mockery of all those people who have and continue to
suffer actual racism.
Yet the purpose of employing this label is very clear: it is designed to
silence. It doesn't matter that the accuser has no evidence to support the
labelling - drawing the race card serves the purpose of creating the
division between them and us and because of the messy historical past of
racial discrimination, the accused almost always has a mountain to climb to
clear his name.

The option for many is to withdraw from public life and say nothing hence
simply acquiescing to a situation that is otherwise untenable. These labels
have an unnecessary exclusionary effect, thereby diminishing the force of
citizen participation in national governance.

NdeweZanu (He's Zanu): This is a common one in quasi-opposition circles
particularly when someone expresses a view that appears to resonate with
Zanu PF rhetoric on national issues. It represents a failure to distinguish
the state from the party.

Zanu PF's roots run deep into the era of liberation politics and as a party
that led the struggle for independence, it is hardly surprising that its
rhetoric is couched in nationalist and anti-imperialist terms. The ideas
that it espouses centre on national sovereignty, empowerment, redressing
colonial imbalances etc.

Now in principle, all these issues are relevant and make sense to many
people. Where differences arise is in the methods of implementation.

So for example with regards to issues like the role of international
financial institutions like the IMF/World Bank, there may be good ground to
be critical of their prescriptions and methods in developing countries.
There may indeed be good reason to challenge certain things done or said by
the West.

However, because such views are likely to be shared by Zanu PF those in
quasi-opposition may feel the need to distance themselves from such critical

In the process what should be a national issue is relegated to party
political squabbles and anyone who espouses an otherwise credible view,
against sanctions, against exploitative structural adjustment programmes,
etc is labelled "ndewe Zanu" (He is Zanu). It's important to avoid this
obsession with petty labels relating to party politics because they stand in
the way of what is otherwise in the national interest.

One should be free to take a view and defend an idea without being labelled
along party political lines; without being named a racist, indeed without
being tagged a racist.

It is exactly this politics of labelling that dissuades many decent people
from espousing their views publicly and therefore reduces the scope of
citizen participation in national affairs.

A large part of repairing Zimbabwe's politics is dealing with the political

This politics of labelling is sadly, something that is part of this
retrogressive political culture and to be sure, it is one that is prevalent
within and across political parties.

Worse it is one that permeates the bulk of society. My friend and brother
Brian Kagoro called it the art of kusvibisa - techniques of soiling someone's

It has to change. Change of this nature is beyond the reach of the law. It's
about decency and common sense. It's about people being more critical of
those things that they are told.

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Comment: Time to demonstrate leadership

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:43

HOW does Zanu PF reconcile its commitment to the National Healing process
against threats by its youths during last Wednesday's demonstration in
Harare to "go back to June 2008"? Not one of the leaders at the Zanu PF
headquarters or those who marshalled the "anti-sanctions" march to the US
Embassy remonstrated against the youths' recourse to inflammatory language.

It is deplorable that such grandstanding against a party that is in
government could be tolerated. The violence of June 2008 is nothing to gloat
over. It remains a crime that should see the perpetrators being brought
before the International Criminal Court for gross human rights violations.

The June 2008 violence perpetrators must have their day in court because it
is only by punishing the culprits that we will bring some comfort to the
surviving victims and to the communities that were  traumatized.

More significantly, action against the perpetrators will deter future
criminals and bring nearer the day when no leader, political party or
organisation anywhere can continue to abuse the rights of others with

But it is a measure of the calibre of Zanu PF's leadership that they could
stand by while their youths fanned violence. Such leaders are committed to
an order that only promotes their interests, no matter the cost.

It is important to record the role and exhortations of these leaders because
one day they will have to account for these crimes. The geriatrics that fuel
these virulent outpourings will not be around much longer to protect their
pawns. And the ghosts of their victims will return to haunt them.

Zanu PF allowed its youths to threaten the Government of National Unity.
What is tragic is that the law-enforcement agents appear impotent in the
face of this threat to the fragile national stability.

It should not be difficult to identify the merchants of violence as they
were captured on state-controlled media.

If law-enforcement agencies respect the Global Political Agreement and the
Government of National Unity, let them demonstrate zero tolerance to
inflammatory statements that threaten and seek to undermine the gains
Zimbabwe has made during the past 12 months.

The threats last Wednesday came in the wake of inter-party violence in
Epworth. While the parties are engaged in blaming each other, surely the
three principals can ill-afford their loud silence? They must come out
against elements in their midst sowing seeds of division.

Zanu PF has profited from violence. It can sugar-coat itself when the
occasion commands but violence and Zanu PF are two sides of the same coin.
It is not just the violence of June 2008 that claimed the lives of more than
200 people while several thousand others were maimed. There are also scores
of lives lost in the wake of the MDC-T's shock electoral victory during the
2000 elections.

The government abandoned the Leadership Code, because there was no political
will. Right now there is ambivalence towards investigating allegations of
corruption of the Chiadzwa diamonds and there might never be a proper land
audit because of the rapacious nature of Zimbabwe's political elite.

The Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy should be allowed to carry
on with its work. Anyone who is found to have looted the diamonds should
face the music. The land audit must go ahead.

If there are multiple farm owners, they must know their time is up. Zimbabwe
cannot afford to continue to condone corruption while a handful of
acquisitive people benefit.

It is time the three principals to the GNU reined in their followers and
senior officials.

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Sunday Opinion: Why an International Women’s Day?

Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:38

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8, which falls on Monday
next week.  This year’s theme is Equal Rights, equal opportunities: progress
for all. Why does this matter?

Empowering women and promoting gender equality — one of eight United Nations’
Millennium Development Goals — is recognised as one of the world’s main
development challenges.

The United Kingdom has signed up to this. So too has Zimbabwe. Educating
girls is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty. Few would argue
with that and I have been impressed by Zimbabweans’ commitment to giving
their children the best education they can manage.

But education alone is not enough. We need to see more women in leading
positions in politics and business.

There are high-profile examples in both Britain and Zimbabwe — Margaret
Thatcher served as British Prime Minister for 11 years, while Joice Mujuru
has been Vice-President here since 2004. Many other talented women are
striving through politics and other routes to make a difference — but there
is more to do to make women’s participation the norm rather than the
exception. Women also need better access to health and other services, and
protection from violence.

How are we rising to the challenge? We are working with our partners in the
European Union to promote women’s rights. Harriet Harman, the UK’s Minister
for Women and Equality, and her Spanish counterpart, co-hosted the second
Women in Power Summit in Cadiz on February 3. The event championed gender
equality and called for more balanced representation in public life.

In the United Kingdom, we have focused on tackling hate crime against women
because of race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. We have tackled
women trafficking, providing support for victims. And we have targeted
domestic violence, introducing routine enquires for all pregnant women and
providing information about domestic violence support services.

The United Kingdom is also helping Zimbabwean women meet the challenges of
development. At a strategic level, our Department for International
Development’s (DFID) office in Harare, together with other donors, funded
the first ever National Women’s Economic Summit held from October 15-16,
2009 at the Celebration Centre in Harare.

The summit included a training workshop for women and led to the production
of a six-year National Women’s Economic Development Plan.  Further work is
being carried out through the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani
Khupe MP.

The United Kingdom is investing $100 million in Zimbabwe this year — our
largest ever programme —and a key element in that is an effort to make a
real difference to the lives of ordinary women.

In June 2009, DFID contributed almost $1.5 million to a three-year programme
aimed at gender support. The programme is managed by the United Nations
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and includes the European Commission and
Danish Aid.

More than 30 organisations have already benefited in areas ranging from
access to education, economic empowerment and improved access to health
care. DFID is also giving just under $2 million over five years to the
Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN). ZWRCN aims to empower
women, strengthen networking between organisations, and promote the women’s
movement in Zimbabwe.

A vital area for our support to women is HIV/Aids prevention and treatment
as 60% of people living with HIV in Zimbabwe are women and HIV/Aids is a
major cause of maternal mortality.

For example, DFID funding has helped Population Services International (PSI)
train hairdressers as peer educators, teaching them about PSI’s Care female
condom, common misperceptions about the disease, and how to answer questions
about HIV and HIV prevention.

Hairdressing salons across the world are known as places of straight-talking
advice. Thanks in part to hairdressers telling their customers about the
importance of safe sex, there has been a sharp drop in the number of new HIV
infections in Zimbabwe.

International Women’s Day is about celebrating these successes.

But it is also about looking to the future. As father to a young daughter,
and as employer of many intelligent and strong women, I am excited about the
prospects for women to play ever greater roles both in the United Kingdom
and Zimbabwe.

There remains much to do.  But in the meantime I congratulate women for what
they have already achieved and particularly for the work they do, much of it
unheralded and all too often unnoticed, without which the world would be a
much harsher and less rich place.

Mark Canning is the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

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