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Archive for April, 2010

Tune in Daily during HIFA to the FABULOUS Gavin Peters

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Bev Clark

gavin-hifa-gif-for-blogThe Harare International festival of the Arts (HIFA) is a six day annual festival and workshop programme that showcases the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre, dance, music, circus, street performance, spoken word and visual arts.

During this year’s festival Kubatana have been inspiring people to get involved and support the arts in Zimbabwe by sharing information about the festival over mobile phone. Working with the actor Gavin Peters, Kubatana is running a daily information service . . .

Tune in Daily during HIFA to the FABULOUS Gavin Peters

It’s all about the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) at the moment folks so make sure to . . .

Listen to Gavin talk about what’s hot, what’s not. And, if you’re lucky you might get some saucy festival gossip as well.

Liberate your ears for a daily dose of fun.

Gavin would also like to hear your festival feedback, so Leave him a Message!

Phone 0914 186255 up to 8 NOW and during the run of the festival.

Catch the HIFA fever!

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Zanele Manhenga


I’m Kubatana’s roving reporter for this year’s HIFA and it’s promising to be an experience I wish every one could have. I am ready to drink from a pool of entertainment and mind opening performances. Stay tuned and see HIFA through my eyes!

Zimbabwe needs better political representatives

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Bev Clark

A recent report from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) mentioned that the Mayor of Gweru has recently bought himself a spiffy new car, presumably with council funds. With political representatives like this who needs a government?

The residents of Gweru have raised an outcry at the insensitivity and lack of prioritisation that has been displayed by the City Council in purchasing a top of the range Toyota Prado for use by the Mayor. Residents have said that the Gweru City Council had been crying foul about its bankruptcy and yet they have managed to buy an expensive car while service delivery suffers. Gweru has been hit by acute water shortages and during the few days that residents get water, the water is usually not clean. Council has attributed the poor water quality to lack of money to buy water treatment chemicals. The roads in the city have become a nightmare and death traps to motorists as they are infested with deep potholes.

Shame on you South Africa

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Read this article on slum clearance South Africa-style written by Dan McDougall.

Red Ants beat residents of Alexandra Township with crowbars

WAVING iron bars and pickaxes, the Red Ants, a rented mob of thugs in bright red overalls and crimson helmets, used the half-light of dawn for cover as they marched into the slum. Stamping out the first cooking fires of the day with heavy boots, they spread out in a long line. Then they attacked.

Bleary immigrant women dropped plastic water containers and ran in panic towards their corrugated iron homes. “Grab the children,” they screamed.

By sunrise their shacks on the outskirts of Johannesburg had been razed. They were forced to watch as their few possessions were burnt.

The Red Ants, described as state-sponsored mercenaries by their critics, have become a growing force in the past few months as South African cities have begun a campaign of “beautification” before the World Cup begins in June. This means clearing away unsightly immigrant squatter camps.

This month, more than 100 Zimbabweans were beaten and evicted by Red Ants from a derelict building on the main road to Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, one of the football tournament’s main venues.

It followed a series of Red Ant evictions ordered by the provincial department of public transport along main roads within a mile of the stadium, which will host five matches. Hundreds more Zimbabweans were forcibly evicted from properties in central Johannesburg.

Red Ants also flattened more than 100 shacks within a two-mile radius of the Mbombela stadium, near the Kruger national park. Most of those evicted were Zimbabwean.

Human rights groups are warning of a return to xenophobic violence that led to the deaths of scores of immigrants during township riots in 2008.

According to Braam Hanekom, chairman of Passop, a refugee rights charity based in Cape Town, the Red Ants are doing the government’s dirty work. “They are essentially a militia that ruthlessly and forcefully displaces people from their shelters under government instructions,” he said. “They are notorious for their brutal and violent approach towards the poor.”

The ruling African National Congress regards beautification as a policy that extends beyond the building of new stadiums, roads and airports. It sees the World Cup as an opportunity to showcase its achievements since it came to power 16 years ago.

Attacks have increased on immigrants drawn to South Africa by the hope of work on projects for the tournament. And the onslaught may intensify after the World Cup. Unemployment, already at 27%, is expected to rise as thousands of construction jobs disappear. In the run-up to local elections next year, many politicians are expected to exploit fears that immigrants are “stealing” jobs.

The South African commission for human rights said it had been bombarded by claims from immigrants that they had been warned they would be “dealt with” after the tournament.

Lawrence Mushwana, the commission’s chairman, said: “African foreigners living in South Africa must brace themselves for a new wave of xenophobic attacks after the World Cup is over.”

Walter Da Costa, chairman of a migrant support group in Johannesburg, believes local authorities bear responsibility for much of the violence. Council agents pay the Red Ants and give them their distinctive uniform on a casual basis, he said.

“As they are recruited from the bottom rung of the ladder, is it surprising that their actions usually amount to little more than intimidation and terrible violence?”

Many Red Ants are drawn from vigilante groups in townships in Durban and Johannesburg which are already intent on ridding the country of immigrants. They routinely refer to migrant families as “parasites” and “cockroaches”.

“We will not stop beating them until our work is done, until they leave this land forever,” a Red Ant member in Soweto told The Sunday Times.

“It’s our land and we have the right to help the authorities move them on. If the municipality asks us to destroy these cockroaches then we’ll do that and flatten their homes to dust.”

Attacks by the Red Ants and a growing number of vigilante groups are nationwide. In the Breede Valley, in the Western Cape, more than 1,200 Zimbabwean refugees struggle to survive in a camp built on a rugby field. Many are victims of Red Ant raids in the north; others have been burnt out of their homes by hate mobs.

“I was among a few hundred Zimbabwean refugees taking shelter in the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg when the Red Ants came and sprayed us with brown sewage water,” said Chenzera Ndbele, 14. “When we moved to a local slum with my mother they came back with pickaxes. When they forced us out they made us watch as they burnt our belongings.”

Dorcas Chinomera, 17, a refugee from Zimbabwe, recalled the day when a mob arrived outside her shanty home in De Doorns, two hours’ drive from Cape Town. “They were screaming ‘kweri kweri’ [parasites] at us. They spat in our faces and stole our furniture and burnt our home to the ground as the police looked on.”

Zimbabwe’s best arts festival

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Yesterday was the first day of HIFA and somehow I managed to squeeze in 5 shows which is impressive seeing as I have a day job.

First up was Kupenga Kwa Hamlet with the really, really fabulous Denton Chikura and Tonderai Munyevu. Their performance at the Standard Theatre was electric and the capacity crowd enjoyed every minute of it, especially the surprising end. Go see it!

Next was The Juggler, Mark Nizer. Mark is a great performer and had the audience eating out of his hands, both when he had hands full of juggling balls AND when they were empty! Part of the joy of Mark’s performance was his humour and friendliness. He said how much he loves coming to Zimbabwe and praised Zimbabweans for being real can do people. Mark encountered a host of challenges during his first show mainly brought on by the fact that his lap top died during his travels and he had to do as well as he could without it.

Hero at 6pm in the Standard Theatre is a wonderful production performed by Craig Morris and directed by Andrew Buckland. Last year I saw Blood Orange and decided that I’ll see Anything that Andrew has been involved in.

From Hero we went on to Carmina Burana, the opening show. On our way in we bought a bucket of ice and a bottle of chardonnay and found our friends in the throng of folk who had turned out for what is usually the highlight of HIFA. I loved the singing which was rousing and beautiful but I was left disappointed by the performance and the visuals surrounding the singing. I got a text message from a friend late last night saying that she had gotten bored by the show. My boredom was kept at bay by the incredibly beautiful Zimbabwean night sky and the group of people I was with. I have to say though that we spent a lot of time talking amongst ourselves and listening to the music rather than watching the show.

It was a case of leaving the very best to last. A friend persuaded me to drop by Reps Theatre in Avondale to see Jutro, a South Africa production brought to Zimbabwe by the Embassy of Israel. It’s the story of a singer in a rundown night club during World War II. HIFA has only been going for a day but so far, if you see anything, see Jutro!

Turn up the volume for violence-free and fair elections in Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Bev Clark

Dale Dore writing for the Voice of Democracy takes Graca Machel in his sights after she suggested that Britain should keep quiet on the situation in Zimbabwe. The “situation” by the way is actually a crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans need food aid, the formal employment sector is crippled leaving the majority of Zimbabweans with no hope of finding a job, while power and water supplies are erratic. The list of ZANU PF made ills that plagues Zimbabwe is endless. Dale Dore reckons that countries like Britain, with their helping hand of over 1 billion in aid, should be given the freedom to criticise and comment on countries that, amongst other things, consistently put their citizens on the bottom of the list when it comes to treating them right.

Here’s Dale for you:

Ignore Machel: Turn up the volume for violence-free and fair elections

On behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable people of Zimbabwe, the Voice for Democracy applauds and says a big ‘thank you’ to Britain. Despite every provocation and insult from the Zimbabwean government, and because of Mugabe’s utter disregard for his own people, the British government has given Zimbabwe over $100 million in humanitarian assistance last year: from health care and education to providing water, food aid, seed and fertilisers to the poorest households. Since Independence in 1980, Britain has given Zimbabwe over $1 billion in aid.

Yet Britain continues to be unfairly censured from a most unexpected quarter. The Elder’s Graça Machel has told Britain to ‘keep quiet’ and let SADC deal with Zimbabwe (The Guardian, 16 April 2009). We ask Machel: What has SADC, and South Africa in particular, done for the Zimbabwean people? It has kept quiet. For a whole decade it has refused to restrain a brutal and dictatorial regime that has bought nothing but violence, ruin and misery to its own people. In one election after another, SADC and South Africa have sanctioned violence-stained and rigged elections that have maintained Robert Mugabe in power. South Africa has taken an obtuse pleasure in defending Mugabe’s malevolent government while Britain and its allies in the United Nations were trying to isolate and restrain it.

Let the truth be told. If Britain has acted as ‘big brother’ – as Machel avers – it has been to care for and feed Zimbabwe’s hungry and destitute. It has been to protect the people of Zimbabwe against its bullying leader by supporting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. And what have SADC and South Africa done? They have sided with the bully. They allowed Robert Mugabe to sit at the high table of Presidents even when they did not recognise his election to office in June 2008. It was SADC and South Africa that pushed through an undemocratic inclusive government that handed back power to their despotic ally to continue his gruesome handiwork. It is they that have insisted that Zimbabwe must sort out its own problems, knowing full well that Mugabe’s only methods of negotiation is with an iron bar and through the barrel of a gun.

If anything, the Voice for Democracy believes that Britain has been too soft on those SADC countries which it supplies with huge amounts of aid. Britain and its allies in the European Union and the United States should be exerting much more diplomatic pressure on SADC and South Africa to ensure that violence-free and fair elections bring about a democratic transition in Zimbabwe. If Machel wants Britain to keep quiet then SADC and South Africa must bring an end to the brewing state-sponsored violence that will inevitably erupt during the run-up to elections. We are watching and waiting.