Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for October, 2006

Nice on the outside, but inside it’s rotten

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, October 31st, 2006 by Bev Clark

I’m keeping tabs on the anonymous advertisements about the Domestic Violence Bill being placed in the state-controlled press in Zimbabwe by opponents of the Bill. Yesterday, I saw this advert in The Herald


KUNZE: very nice because it sells itself as fighting against wife battering and child rape.

Mukati masvosve

1. It promotes infidelity by refusing husbands the right to confront nor to reprimand even the most wayward wife.
2. It promotes sex before marriage and AIDS by fighting against virginity testing.
3. It allows for the destruction of clans by opposing appeasements of avenging spirits (Ngozi).
4. It puts rape and the most minor dispute at par and in the hands of police and the courts.
5. It deliberately ignores the cause of domestic violence.
6. It does not condemn n’angas who recommend child rape as “prescription” for AIDS and riches.
7. It introduces NGOs as the new extension of families by appointing them counselors and complainant’s representative replacing relative and elders.
8. It undermines the capacity and dignity of adult women by bringing in complainant’s representative without their consent.
9. It was made in Europe for Africans.
10. Only NGOs were consulted and are familiar with its contents as opposed to ordinary Zimbabweans.
11. It out dates the Bible (1 Timothy 2 vs 11-13 and Mathew 18 vs 15-17)

“Iguyu – refers to something that looks nice on the outside, but inside it’s rotten.

Engage The Editor of The Herald about these advertisements by writing to theherald@zimpapers.co.zw

All black people look alike

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, October 30th, 2006 by Bev Clark

Something to write home about is a book to buy.

It’s a compilation of reflections and stories from journalists covering Africa published by Jacana in South Africa. Many famous journalists contributed their work free of charge, donating all royalties to two special funds: The Miguel Gil Moreno Foundation and the Kerem Lawton Fund. Contributors include CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the BBC’s Fergal Keane and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Greg Marinovich.

Alexander Joe, a Zimbabwean-born photographer who is now based in South Africa is also a contributor to Something to write home about. Below is an excerpt from Alexander Joe’s story called All black people look alike:

During the Rwandan genocide, the Red Cross invited the media to accompany them in a convoy carrying food into Rwanda from Burundi. Two French women journalists and myself, a black photographer, accepted their offer.

When we got to the Red Cross in Bujumbura they refused me permission to accompany them. I was told by a white Red Cross worker that it was too dangerous for me as a black person to enter Rwanda.

“If the Tutsis don’t kill you, then the Hutus will,” he said. In his eyes all black people look alike, despite the fact that I come from Zimbabwe. A Rwandan or a Burundian black person could see from a mile away that I don’t come from the same region.

So the two women and I decided to go into Rwanda on our own. At the first check point of Hutu militia we came across, they immediately started shouting “Belgium! Belgium!” at my two white colleagues.

It was quite ironic for me that now to black people “all white people looked alike” to the Hutu militia during the genocide all white people were the Belgian enemy, and if it weren’t for me, my white friends would have had a hard time. The Hutus could see I was from a different part of the continent without me even having to say a word.

Sadza time in communal Zimbabwe

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Friday, October 27th, 2006 by Taurai Maduna

Sadza timeIn March this year, I attended the commissioning of equipment by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) at Chikuku Vocational Training Centre in the Bikita area in Masvingo Province. It was great to see male students from the Centre prepare the sadza – this is the staple diet for the people in Zimbabwe. It is the mixture of maize meal, cooked with hot water until it becomes a thick porridge. It is often served with vegetables.

Joining us for sadza in communal Zimbabwe was the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Roxanne Dube.

Harare’s litterbug and condom campaign

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, October 26th, 2006 by Taurai Maduna

What the smart bins are wearingThere are some garbage bins in Harare that display colorful adverts for Protector Plus condoms. Part of the advert reads, “What the smart guys are wearing”: a great message but what a pity that most of the bins are overflowing with garbage that hasn’t been collected for days. Just the other day, NewZimbabwe.com ran a story about the City of Harare failing to collect refuse in some areas. An official with the council attributed this to the poor tractors being used. Apparently they don’t have sufficient horsepower to pull the trailers that collect the refuse.

In an effort to clean up the City, the council in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the police have said that it’s a crime for people to litter the streets. Anyone caught by the EMA will be taken to the nearest police station where they will have to pay a fine of Z$250. If a police officer has a receipt book then the offender can pay a spot fine.

While I think this is a noble idea, I have some reservations.

Surely the council should have first collected all the refuse in the city and placed refuse bins in as many places as possible before punishing people who do not place their refuse in the bins? And I’d also recommend that the authorities demand that commuter bus operators remove their bright bold stickers that read marara panze (which means throw your rubbish outside).

The Herald reported that 21 “litterbugs” had been arrested on October 19. I remember seeing some of the arrested people on the main news of our one and only national TV channel. The “litterbugs” all said they did not know that such a law was even in place. This suggests that the city should have carried out a nationwide educational campaign before ambushing people with laws that are signed and stored in their filing cabinets.

I notice that the Harare city authorities have put up numerous public notices indicating the clamping and towing zones but I guess “litter bugs” don’t bring in much revenue compared to those who just park their cars anywhere.

At the end of the day I think that we all agree that it’s time the smart bins stopped flowing with refuse and the smart guys wore the condoms.

What is in it for you women without husbands?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, October 25th, 2006 by Bev Clark

There’s been another anonymous advertisement placed in the state-controlled Herald newspaper regarding the Domestic Violence Bill. This time it was signed Christ’s advocate and it reads


Domestic issues cannot be solved by the police and the criminal courts. They can be solved by the father! [1 Timothy 2 verse 11-23 and Colossians 3 vs 8]

If there are differences between husband and wife, solve them through dialogue. If dialogue fails, consult an aunt, an uncle, a friend or involve a pastor, a village head or a chief. [Matthew 18 vs 15-17]

Getting your partner arrested? No! It breaks families.

What about murder and rape of women and children?

Now these are cases for the police.

And what is in it for you women without husbands?

Clearly some Zimbabwean men are running scared, terrified that the violence that they perpetrate with impunity in the home might finally catch up with them.

One of the most articulate contributions to the debate on the Domestic Violence Bill came recently from Amy. Amongst other issues, she comments on a point I raised in my last post – the indivisibility of human rights. Amy says

It is crucial that we keep domestic violence in perspective and resist the temptation of according it secondary importance when compared to state violence. Both are abominable but more significantly we miss the point when we fail to realise that the majority of women experience physical violence NOT at the hands of state actors but at the hands of private actors. Indeed there are parallels between the torture that is meted out by state actors and that which we have allowed men to get away with in the private sphere. It is the beliefs that people hold about violence in the private sphere that lead them to commit violence in the public sphere. Of concern regarding Mubhawu’s statement as an opposition legislator is that he gives a bad name to those who truly stand for alternative justice. If it is indeed the case that those who shout democracy, democracy, human rights, human rights, have a selective view of it, then it is absolutely correct that the electorate should not be fooled into voting for such candidates. Domestic violence has become such a scourge in our society that it is vital that we get people to appreciate that charity does indeed begin at home. We are justified in demanding the highest standards on gender issues from all politicians regardless of their affiliation. Whether Mubhawu’s comments are shared by the majority is not the point. HE has put himself forward as an advocate of people’s rights and we have the right to demand that those who do so are up to the job. The Hansard Reports will be able to give us an accurate account of who harbours misogynistic beliefs on this vital issue of combating domestic violence. Women’s groups will indeed be amiss if they do not ensure that they are not represented by misogynistic cave men. Let us not waiver in being exacting in our standards.

Following the protest by the Women’s Coalition and widespread condemantion in the media, Movement for Democratic Change MP Timothy Mubhawu was recently suspended from the party due to his anti-female comments.

We are you

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 by Bev Clark

There’s this thing going on in Zimbabwe at the moment where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been, for reasons best known to itself, brokering meetings between civil society organisations and the Government of Zimbabwe to discuss the establishment of a Zimbabwe National Human Rights Commission.

In response to this initiative, a few civic and human rights organisations have asked, “are you mad?” – you want us to speak with a Government that brutally suppresses freedom of assembly and expression? A Government that displaced 700 000 people during a mass eviction campaign in 2005.

And a Government that, as recently as September 2006, sanctioned the brutal assault of trade union and political activists in Harare. You can watch footage of these assaults here.

And adding insult to already massive injury, the Government of Zimbabwe refused to meet with civil society for these discussions on the establishment of a national human rights commission if the national Gay and Lesbian organisation (GALZ) participated. But instead of civil society taking a united stand and demanding full inclusion, some civil society organisations still believe it reasonable and strategic to meet with the Government of Zimbabwe and the UNDP to discuss “human rights”.

The issue of the establishment of a national human rights commission is being debated on an email discussion list. My fellow civic activists didn’t feel that my last contribution was worthy of response. I said

I agree that not all civil society organisations/NGOs will necessarily sing from the same hymn book. However I do believe that there are some issues which need a very solid and common position. For example, the rejection of GALZ cannot be accepted or condoned. Surely civil society must speak with a single voice, especially on the issue of who gets the “nod” to participate in deliberations on the establishment of a national human rights commission: human rights are indivisible. If the Government doesn’t like GALZ, where does the rot stop? What if they don’t like MMPZ, or a commercial sex worker group or WOZA?

And this reminds me of a passage in the book Fences and Windows by Naomi Klein where Subcomandante Marcos says that a Zapatista is anyone anywhere fighting injustice, that “we are you”. He told a reporter that

Marcos is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gyspy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10 p.m., a peasant without land, a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a Zapatista in the mountains.