Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for June, 2007

Small houses and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

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Friday, June 22nd, 2007 by Bev Clark

Lois Chingandu from SafAIDS recently wrote a very interesting paper entitled Multiple Concurrent Partnerships: The story of Zimbabwe – Are small houses a key driver? which we’ve just published on Kubatana. The phrase “small house” refers to a mistress.

Here’s an excerpt from the paper and we urge you to go and read the whole thing:

The high levels of AIDS-related deaths in Zimbabwe have forced men to acknowledge that AIDS is indeed a problem that they can no longer afford to ignore and demands that they find new ways of doing business. The message of abstinence, faithfulness and condom use (ABC) is well known to all. However the desire for multiple sexual partners has convinced men that small houses could be a safer way of continuing to enjoy sex with multiple partners, rather than choosing monogamy and faithfulness, which are widely viewed as western ideals not applicable to Africans.

According to most of the men in the focus group discussions, they are pushed by their wives to start small houses. Using their own words, “wives are nagging, there is no time to rest or have peace in your own home without the wife asking for money for this and that or complaining about what has not been done or paid by the husband.” “Once they are married women tend to relax and take so many things for granted, they stop pampering their husband and are always moody, complaining or shouting.” “Most wives use sex deprivation as a tool to punish the husband when they are not happy.” “Before small houses we would stay in the beer hall until late, have a bit of casual sex and get home when I know she will be asleep. But now with HIV/AIDS casual sex is now a no go area. In contrast the small house is a house of peace where I can rest mentally and physically while being treated as a king. My responsibility is to pay the rent and buy food. When I do buy the woman anything she is very grateful whereas my wife and children at the big house feel it is their right and might not see the need to appreciate what I do. Sexually I can do at the small house that which I do not necessarily do in my house (oral and anal sex) because my wife sees it as embarrassing and unacceptable. The small house is really my wife the only difference is that there is no legal certificate or rings.”

Silent stares back home

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Monday, June 18th, 2007 by Natasha Msonza

Conversation with a colleague last week left me feeling relieved and consoled just a tad. She still hadn’t found a job. Many will wonder why that is good news. Well, I am jobless too and so are most of my former classmates from University. The fact that so many of us cannot find employment makes one feel that it is not because of not enough effort, but that the jobs just aren’t there.

I will not plunge into “the day in a life of a job seeker” kind of narration, but I tell you, no one has it tougher. With the unemployment rate running riot at 80% and companies continuing to relocate and scale down, what hope is there?

Armed with your Degree, you no longer wait to scrounge for newspapers to seek out job adverts and apply. Instead, you visit any and every organization you can find, press your CV into their hands and bug them for a job. Any job, even voluntary because you just can’t bear the silent stares back home anymore.

Sometimes you are lucky to be offered a job as a shelf cleaner in a small downtown supermarket, and if your gods smile down on you, you might find yourself at the highly esteemed position of till operator. But then your conscience just won’t allow you to do this kind of work after four years of starvation and hard work at the University. You lose your job the same day because you just aren’t motivated enough.

A visit to another organization looks hopeful – for a while. Until the interviewer starts making apparent innuendoes about having sex with you before you get the job. You think to yourself, so that’s how so and so got their job . . .

On your unlucky day, you will probably meet Jack, rolling in a white BMW blaring loud gangster music. He was one of the dullest and most idiotic people in class back in college; got himself a repeat. But then again, his father is a prominent business man or Minister. And isn’t that Jill, wearing expensive clothes? She opened up her legs for the right people, as they used to say back at Uni.

Tired, hungry and disappointed, you make slow progress towards the expectant faces back home. You dread getting there, but it really is getting late and last time, your phone was snatched right off you in these streets, in broad day light too. Will you ever make a living innocently in this place? The idea of joining the rest of the bandwagon in South Africa is highly tempting. But all those stories of xenophobia and general abuse of Zimbabweans, keep me here.

Amma wondering . . .

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Monday, June 18th, 2007 by Amanda Atwood

One of the recurring trends I encounter as a pedestrian, runner and cyclist in Harare is the whistling, heckling, and unwanted comments from men. The other day, I’d Finally Had Enough. The “Hey baby” shouted at me as I cycled through the shopping centre car park was the last straw. I took several deep breaths to fight back the urgent desire to turn my bike around and plough directly into the man who’d just called after me. And decided instead to turn to dialogue, in lieu of violence.

Back in the office, I made these small flyers, which I’ve been handing out to men whose behaviour warrants it.

Asi chii?!

The act of turning to the man who’s calling after me, handing them a flyer, and then carrying on along my way seems to completely disarm them.


On making them, I had braced myself for the unwelcome emails and text messages I thought I might receive. Interestingly, I’ve had not one reply. But if any of you blog readers in cyberspace have some thoughts, feel free to share them.

Zimbabwe’s endangered human species

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Monday, June 18th, 2007 by Taurai Maduna

For the past two weeks there has been a conference on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in The Hague. Whenever CITES meets, the issue of ivory trade grabs the headlines.

Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment and Tourism has been attending the two week conference. He is calling on CITES to allow Zimbabwe permission to sell it’s ivory from stock piles. Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are in support with Zimbabwe on this one!

However, the Dutch-based NGO ZimbabweWatch feels otherwise. ZimbabweWatch staged a demonstration this week drawing Nhema’s attention to the many endagered species in Zimbabwe. Pascal Richard, ZimbabweWatch co-ordinator said in a statement,

“How can Nhema talk of protecting elephants when he fails to protect or even acknowledge the basic rights of his fellow human beings? Endangered species in present-day Zimbabwe are  journalists, trade unionists, members of the opposition, human rights activists, student leaders, lawyers and clergymen, to name but a few.”

Have a look at the Endangered Species in Zimbabwe poster produced by ZimbabweWatch here.

While CITES can protect animals as endagered species, who is going to protect Zimbabwe’s endangered human species?

Hope and oppression

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Saturday, June 9th, 2007 by Bev Reeler

Saturday was a day of despair

7 years . . .
hanging heavy on my bones
dragging weary at my feet
7 years
watching destruction without respite

Saturday was a day of anger
‘how dare they ruin the lives of millions
without repent’

They? – the enemy?
do not come from another tribe or religion or ethnic group
is this him?
sitting there on the other side of the table
a father dressed in a police uniform that years ago
he wore with pride
now the badge of violence and oppression
-our father/uncle/brother/daughter
their side chosen?

does not come dressed in a dark suit
the banker who will sort the economy,
or a in a uniform
to protect our rights

does not arrive with a group of election monitors
- for we have learned they cannot see
nor does it come with a group of African leaders
presented with lists of violations of our rights
- for we have learned the compromise of their positions

does not arrive grasped in the hands of a saving hero

but in filtering light of the early morning
distilled through leaf shadows
a message echoed at dawn
as birds claim their voice in individual song

Hope may only arrive in the realization
that the real enemy is our own despair

Grassroots voices need a place at the table

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Friday, June 8th, 2007 by Brenda Burrell

WOZA woman slapped in the face by riot poicemanZimbabwe’s security forces – police, army and militia – are rather fond of raising their fists to settle disputes and differences of opinion. So, predictably, injuries were the order of the day when the riot police descended upon the WOZA/MOZA members who peacefully marched through Bulawayo on June 06. The marchers were determined to insert their grassroots voices into the current SADC efforts to mediate in Zimbabwe’s crisis.

Some of their questions of the SADC process include “we would like to know exactly what South African President Thabo Mbeki, Tanzanian President Kikwete and our SADC brothers and sisters want to achieve by their mediation. Is their role to bring about a new government without any political, economic and social reform? Or is their objective something more meaningful?”

Their concerns are justified as the international community seems increasingly likely to follow the path of least resistance and assist in the installation of the next Big Man once Mugabe is persuaded or agrees to “go”. Is that the change we have all worked so hard for over the last 10 years? I don’t think so. Prosperity at any cost has a hollow ring. Of course the majority of Zimbabweans want jobs and education and opportunity but many have come to realise that we need a prosperous and just society that future generations can build on and benefit from. Quick fixes just won’t do it anymore.

Well done to the Women and Men of Zimbabwe who continue to raise their voices in a country that pretends it has the needs of the people at heart, but far too often prefers to shoot the messengers who bring a wisdom that should have been welcomed years ago.