Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for April, 2010

Men falsely accused of soliciting for prostitution in Zimbabwe

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Friday, April 30th, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

Prostitution is a profession as old as the human race. It has always been a wrong act, abominable in society. Today we cannot say the same in some countries where prostitutes are legally licensed to operate. Whether prostitutes should be allowed or not is not my subject for debate, at least for now.

It is wrong to punish John for Peter’s crime. In that regard, I wish to enquire if the police in Zimbabwe have tangible evidence against men whom they allege to be loitering for the sake of prostitution. It is now common knowledge to city men that during the evening some places have to be avoided for fear of being arrested. At the end of the day it automatically becomes a crime to walk through these places at night.

When one gets arrested he is automatically accused of loitering for the purpose of prostitution and I wonder how the police arrive at these conclusions just automatically. The police make men pay fines. However, when the men do not have money they spend nights in custody or are sent to court later. Considering that prostitution is a commercial practice – we even call the prostitutes “commercial sex workers” – is it not common sense that whoever is soliciting would have money for that purpose? If that person does not have cash at hand how would he have hired the service?

The courts prosecute poor people who do not have cash at hand, and who might not even have succeeded in the endeavor even if they wished to, because they have no money. Surely no man can intend to engage commercial sex workers without cash? In fact the real culprits come with their cars, pick up prostitutes and go. There is little ability to arrest such people since most of the police involved usually move around on bicycles. Surely the poor are paying for the wrong they never did, and the rich are guilty and yet go free?

Unity through theatre

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Friday, April 30th, 2010 by Zanele Manhenga

My morning yesterday at HIFA was filled with a sense of awe when I attended a play titled “The Woman Who Didn’t Belong To A Political Party”. I absolutely loved this play. It is really about what Mbuya Nehanda went through and that she gave birth to a spirit of resistance that ushered in a new Zimbabwe. I must honestly say that being born in Bulawayo I have always seen her as a Shona people heroine more than an Ndebele people one. But I changed that view now that I know that her selfless act was for all Zimbabweans young or old, black or white who now live together as one. What made me see things differently in this play is that it is done by cast members from Bulawayo.This made me really realize that Mbuya Nehanda’s story is relevant to all Zimbabweans at large. Its a pity that their show is now finished because I would have really loved the young people of this generation to see it and maybe they would see things differently . . . that its ok to do good; praises can still be sung about you long after you are gone.

Harare is Alive

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Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Zanele Manhenga

I knew that HIFA opening nights don’t disappoint – the same for this year! I was there and I don’t know about you but I was not disappointed; HIFA always finds something untamed for the opening. However as much as I saw the effort and time it took for the production to take place I did not get it. Maybe its because I am not a classical music person or something. On Tuesday not only did I get to watch international and local artists, I had the privilege of speaking with the people that make HIFA what it is. It was my understanding from these conversations that people are hungry for entertainment and HIFA is just the remedy. In particular I think people got their medication all right with Prudence and the Liyana band brewing up a storm. I felt challenged, I was in a stupor, and I just did not know what to do they were So Good. As if that was not enough for the music lovers, after Prudence performed there was a Bira held at the Global Stage. All the Bira lovers rushed there and I a reliable source told me that it ended at 3am in the morning! And it was still packed up. Harare is ALIVE. To all of those who have not put a foot on the HIFA grounds, you are missing out so go there and enjoy. There are still four days of entertainment.

Kubatana goes Inside/Out with Mary Robinson

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Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Bev Clark

A few years ago Kubatana started our series of Inside/Out interviews. The interviews are short and sharp and are based on a set of random questions, some flippant, like what’s in your pockets right now, to more serious stuff like, who inspires you?

Quite often people tell us that they Love these interviews because they allow for a different perspective on people; that they both amuse and give pause for reflection.

A few people that we’ve approached for an Inside/Out interview have point blank refused. Is it a case of over sized NGO egos refusing to slip their suits for awhile I’ve wondered?

In any case, our information assistant Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa recently had the pleasure of interviewing the completely fabulous and amazing Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997) and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002). Mary and six international women leaders are visiting Zimbabwe to support and strengthen women’s role in governance and in the constitutional review process.

Apparently when Mary was asked to have some fun with our Inside/Out questions she was more than willing! Here’s what Upenyu had to say about her experience of interviewing Mary:

I had heard of Mary Robinson spoken of in lofty intellectual tones, as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Ireland and an intellectual. While conducting research in preparation for my interview, the image I had formed of a stern staid woman who took herself seriously was cemented in my mind. With her considerable academic and political achievements, I thought, how could she not be? The Mary Robinson I interviewed was none of these things. She was earnest and forthright in her answers, taking time to think carefully about what I asked her before she answered.  I found her to be warm, and a person who truly believed in what she was doing, and in the women with whom she is working. The Inside/Out interview reminded me that she was just as human as I was, sharing the same fears, like the loss of family members, as many of my other interviewees.

Kubatana will be publishing a full interview with Mary soon but in the meantime here we go Inside/Out with her.

Inside/Out with Mary Robinson
28 April 2010

Describe yourself in five words?
I am an activist.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of good advice – I didn’t always take it. I think it’s to develop my whole potential.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
I once went to a party of an American friend, disguised in a wig and a big bosom. I got away with it for the whole evening.

What is your most treasured possession?
This ring that my husband gave me on our fifteenth wedding anniversary and we are now in our fortieth year. It is very old and its a flower. If you are free you have it the other way around. It dates from 1770; we were married in 1970. He’s a very sentimental man, my husband, I’m glad to say.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I think the invisibility of people who are suffering terribly, whether they are suffering because of poverty or they are torture victims.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
I like walking; when I’m in Ireland I walk a lot in the woods around my family home.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My hair. I don’t have good African hair; I have to keep putting curlers in it.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m not a great shopper, so my greatest extravagance is books. Right now I’m reading a novel about the Spanish civil war.

What have you got in your fridge?
That’s my weakness. You see it’s my husband who knows more about what’s in the fridge.

What is your greatest fear?
That something terrible could happen to an immediate member of my family. I’m a grandmother and I have four grandchildren. Family is very precious.

What have you got in your pockets right now?

What is your favourite journey?
Going home. Crossing Ireland to County Mayo, my mood instantly lifts. I’ve been outside Ireland now for five years in Geneva, working for the United Nations, and seven years in New York. At the end of this year I go home. I’m looking forward to that. I have very strong local agricultural reference points, and that’s very important when you’re trying to understand land issues. Being Irish I have a particular understanding of land issues because we had to fight the colonial power, which was Britain, and assert our Land Rights.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Like many people its Nelson Mandela. Being one of his Elders I’m part of a group that he brought together. He’s an extraordinary man. Archbishop Tutu is another favourite of mine. Also a lot of women that I’m encountering, including Nyaradzai, I’ve learnt so much from her.

When and where were you happiest?
I am happiest in my own home with my family.

What’s your biggest vice?
I would say the preoccupation with self. If somebody is in political life, they have an ego.

What were you like at school?
I was a tomboy with my brothers. I was very active in school; I wanted to be involved in things.

What are you doing next?
I am going back to Ireland and I will be creating a foundation on Climate Justice.

We don’t need another buzzword

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Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Empowerment. Gender Equity. Gender mainstreaming. Youth agenda. These have all become buzzwords without a real meaning. They represent lofty paper ideals but seldom translate into any qualitative or quantitative transformation. Zimbabwe, like Africa is faced by a multitude of problems, none of which can be solved by catchy slogans and high visibility, low output awareness campaigns. When the dust of the road shows has settled and the last echo of the slogan has faded away, we find that the problems have not gone away.

I feel that our biggest problem as a nation is that we won’t allow ourselves to think beyond a certain point. In the eighties and nineties, education was all the rage. Before the present educational crisis, we boasted of having one of the highest literacy rates on the continent. Yet, we are at the very bottom of the heap socially, economically and politically. It is very clear that education alone does not solve problems. It seems that we have become a nation that is too educated to take risks. When the economy was plagued with hyperinflation and subject to the whim of the Reserve Bank Governor, the educated fled and became another buzzword, economic migrants.

A new millennium brought with it new buzzwords like globalisation, and development. Now, Aid has become big business. I would wager any amount that the non-governmental sector rivals any government in being the biggest single employer. NGOs do work that is often necessary. They fill in the gaps that governments so often miss, because of corruption and mismanagement. Regardless, they are founded on the principle of giving without requiring the receiver to do any work. Aid creates dependency, nowhere else is that more obvious than right here at home. It has been almost ten years; Zimbabwe has had a healthy NGO sector for longer than that, yet we are no closer to our development goals than when we started.

In truth, our problem from the beginning has been a lack of creativity and innovation. Yes we have a large skill set, yes we are highly educated, but without creativity and innovation we are a nation of donor dependent employees, not proud self-sufficient employers. Solutions must come from us, not via Western Union money gram or another donor funded feeding scheme.

HIFA daily audio blog

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Thursday, April 29th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Listen to Gavin Peter’s daily brief audio blog on happenings at HIFA. Click here!