Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for March, 2010

I am an activist not a trouble maker

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

We have just received this comment from SFM broadcaster Soneni Gwizi. She hopes that her speaking out will also encourage other communicators to keep to values of telling and writing the truth. Speak out!

I am a news maker not a gossiper
I am a story teller not an entertainer
I am an activist not a trouble maker
I am a communicator, i write what i have heard, seen and what is to come.
I am a broadcaster not a commentor
I speak factual realistic issues not biased,
I am a friend not an enemy

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe speaks out

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum today co-hosted a press conference about the anti-gay statements in The Herald last week. Here is the press statement they released today:

Open letter to the principals in the GNU

We the undersigned individuals and organisations committed to the development of a positive rights discourse in Zimbabwe, are very concerned at recent statements made as part of International Women’s Day celebrations in Chitungwiza, where the theme was “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.”

The statements, which make reference to attempts to include gay rights in the Constitution, undermine public tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Issues of sexuality impact on the dignity, privacy, identity and freedom of people. We urge you not to undermine the dignity of these individuals by making such homophobic statements.

We call on the principals to desist from making statements likely to promote hate and prejudice. Zimbabwe is going through a transition from a period characterised by hate, violence and economic suffering and moving towards national healing.

As Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said in his weekly newsletter today:

There can be no place in the new Zimbabwe for hate speech or the persecution of any sector of our population based on race, gender, tribe, culture, sexual orientation or political affiliation. All of us are entitled to our own opinions on certain values and beliefs, but in order to move our nation forward and achieve national reconciliation and healing, we have to uphold and foster the fundamental principle of tolerance, including tolerance of people that have chosen to live, believe and vote differently from ourselves. For too long, many of you, my fellow Zimbabweans, have not had the freedom of choice. Our new constitution shall be the cornerstone of a new society that embraces this particular freedom of choice and tolerance of both majority and minority views.

We support a Constitution that protects Zimbabweans against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, just as it prevents discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.

The immediate challenge the nation is facing is overcoming social deprivations in areas such as hunger, health, education, unemployment and violence against women and children and above all the functionality of the GNU. These are the areas in which the Principals in the GNU should be providing leadership; rather than fostering antipathy and intolerance.


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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Bev Clark

I don’t care about the colour* of the foot pressing on my neck – I just want to remove it.
- Wole Soyinka

* gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation (fill in the blank)

Leaning, trusting, calling

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Bev Clark

You said to lean on your arm
And I am leaning
You said to trust in your love
And I am trusting
You said to call on your name
And I am calling
I’m stepping out on your word
~ Maya Angelou

Don’t get left out of the Constitution

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Zanele Manhenga

There are not so many women besides Mbuya Nhenda and a few women mentioned in our history. Allow me to introduce you toVenia Magaya. This woman should not only   be put in history books but she should be given hero status in the community and the country at large. She led to the reformation of our inheritance laws that stipulated that only a male heir is entitled to his fathers property even if there is an eldest child who is a girl.

Based on our culture, the section 23 of the inheritance law says a girl child cannot inherit her father’s estate because she is a woman. Only in the absence of a male child can she be an heiress. However this section was amended after Venia lost a case against her younger brother who later sold the house thereby leaving her destitute.

Venia’s father died in 1999 and was a polygamous man with two wives of whom Venia was the eldest from the first wife and her brother the eldest from the second wife. Venia was recognized as the heiress in the community court by virtue of being the first child but the provisional court refused her the right to have her father’s estate. Yes that’s right it became a human rights issue because it was her right to be the heir.

And as such I would encourage people yet again to make sure during the constitution making process that we get to make sure that there is a clause that will say that no customary law is above a person’s human rights. This heroine died penniless and homeless. Had it not been for her to push the matter forward to the Supreme Court such loopholes in our governance structure could not have been realized and thus the inheritance law was amended from saying that only the male child is allowed to inherit.

This however is not the end of the road because section 23 still exits and is still in play today. For us to make sure it is not put into practice and better still, it does not exist, we need to make sure to include that in the constitution. What made Venia lose the case before the Supreme Court is that it looked at what the supreme law of the land says about her situation? The constitution being the supreme law did not back her up at that time because it did not have a clause that says nothing takes precedence over any human rights.

Thank you Venia for at least being instrumental to some change in women’s lives. It is up to the living woman, man and every father to make sure their daughters are not discriminated against upon their death. And I urge all to seriously consider writing up wills to ensure the future of their children.

To Venia, I salute.

Coltart, cricket and Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 by Bev Clark

Kubatana recently received the following press statement from Voice of Democracy on the subject of the (alleged) forthcoming New Zealand cricket tour to Zimbabwe:

There is a fine line, as the international community knows full well, between supporting democratic change in Zimbabwe and collaborating with a dictator. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Sport, David Coltart, seems to believe that New Zealand has an obligation to play cricket in Zimbabwe (New Zealand Herald, 23 March 2010). We disagree. New Zealand should stick to its principles, ignore Coltart, and shun Zimbabwe’s dictatorship.

In his article, David Coltart repeats a claim he made in December 2008 that going into government with Robert Mugabe was the ‘only viable non-violent option’. This was untrue then – as it is now. As one commentator wrote, the MDC had a ‘fistful of options’ for peaceful democratic change which were squandered when they reinstalled Mugabe to the fullness of his abusive powers.

Coltart then adds insult to injury by making such disingenuous claims that Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government has “made remarkable progress in the last year” and that the political agreement “is gradually being implemented in its entirety.” This is not remotely true, which is why the European Union renewed its targeted sanctions against those members of Zimbabwe’s government accused of gross human rights abuses.

Indeed, if Coltart listened to himself he would be hard-pressed to recognise the lawyer who opposed human rights abuses in Zimbabwe for the last 27 years. It seems incredible that he now claims that there has been a “massive downturn in the number of human rights abuses” when ZANU(PF) is busy reestablishing the very bases in rural areas that unleashed such horrific violence during the June 2008 presidential elections.

He claims that maladministration and racism in cricket is being addressed, when the same top officials who were responsible for that corruption, racism and abuse of power remain firmly in place. It is all the more painful when he lauds cricket’s collaborator-in-chief, Heath Streak. Our heroes are Andy Flower and Henry Olonga who forfeited their cricket careers because they took a principled stand against the dictatorship.

Coltart is right in one respect: if the New Zealand team decides to come to Zimbabwe they will be welcomed with remarkable warmth and friendliness by our patron of Cricket Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe! Dictator 1: New Zealand 0.