Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for May, 2010

Don’t fly Air Zimbabwe

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Monday, May 31st, 2010 by Bev Clark

A while ago I was invited to go on a trip to Victoria Falls. A friend’s mother was visiting and the Falls is a Must See. So we booked a visit for Saturday through to Monday afternoon. We got to the airport in good time for the midday flight on Saturday and as soon as we sat down in the departure lounge an Air Zimbabwe representative sought us out to tell us that they had cancelled the return flight on Monday, so would we like to come back on Tuesday? Well, we have jobs, so Tuesday was pushing it a bit and we settled on Sunday afternoon, cutting an already short trip, even shorter.

The departure time of noon came and went. The plane was sitting on the tarmac outside the terminus in all its sooty glory, and much activity was happening onboard, but 1pm rolled around and we were still twiddling our thumbs waiting to go. At no point did an Air Zimbabwe representative tell us what was going on and why the flight was so delayed. Eventually, as our trip got even shorter we decided to re-book for the following weekend.

The majority of people waiting to board the flight were tourists presumably like us with activities planned in Vic Falls, which were being ballsed up by Air Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, my in-laws were booked on the 9am Air Zimbabwe flight to Gatwick. They got up at 5:30am to get to the airport for 6:30am. The plane finally left at midday because of technical difficulties.  Imagine the fatigue of these 80 year olds, and the missed connections and the buggared up pick-ups.

Sure, technical difficulties do occur but the majority of people flying Air Zimbabwe complain of delays.

The Zimbabwean authorities bemoan the lack of tourists visiting this country; and lately they’ve been cajoling 2010 football supporters to come sample Zimbabwe’s delightful tourist destinations, like Vic Falls. But the stark reality is that service organisations like Air Zimbabwe are not professional and deserve a major kick up the arse.

Ndeipi Msika – Zimbabwe’s vendors get information

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Monday, May 31st, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

The formal sector of Zimbabwe is struggling to revive. Many people are surviving through informal and largely illegal means. Vending is an activity that has kept poor families alive and their children in school. Despite this important contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of the Zimbabwean, vending has always been a risky business.

On Friday 28 May 2010, Kubatana.net launched a vendor-wrapping sheet called “Ndeipi Msika“. The aim of this paper is to have the vendor community made aware of social issues that affect them, their relatives and friends. The majority of vendors are women; it is therefore no accident that the first wrapper contains significant coverage of women issues.

Vendors took advantage of the opportunity of meeting us to air pertinent issues, which they want addressed by authorities.

The hottest issue was the affordability, availability and accessibility of vendor licenses. The current annual charge for licenses is about US$150. Vendors complain that this amount is too much for them to afford given that their products give them a turnover of less than US$20 on a good day.

One vendor suggested that a system be introduced where vendors pay for their licenses on a monthly basis rather than the hefty once off payment. She further complained that the geographical coverage of the licenses is too small for a viable vending business.  She suggested that there be introduced a vendor license which covers the whole country so that vendors can easily follow the geographical demand of the goods that they offer.

Other vendors complained about shop managers who chase them away from places where they have been vending for the past 14 years or more. The vendor described the managers as overzealous people who forget that whenever thieves’ loot from their shops, vendors always help by chasing and catching the shoplifters. She added that the vendors often cover the gap when shops run out of stock of a given commodity, and thus the shopping centre does not loose its customers to other shopping centres. She concluded by reminding the shop managers that in business even competitors need each other.

Vendors also complained about the police behaviour. There is the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on the one hand, and the Municipality police on the other. Of the two, licensed vendors prefer to deal with the municipality police whom they think understand them. They do not really understand the role of the ZRP in the vending business. They blame the ZRP for arresting, tormenting and demanding kickbacks. This, they said, puts unnecessary pressure on their business, which generally does not have a lot of profit.

The vendor wrapper was welcomed by a lot of vendors and they expressed hope that the wrapper will include information on their issues.

Women, Politics and the Zimbabwe Crisis

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Monday, May 31st, 2010 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

The Research and Advocacy Unit, in collaboration with IDASA (an African Democracy Institute), the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) recently launched a report titled Women, Politics and the Zimbabwe crisis.

The report was the first of a set of findings from a survey taken in November and December 2009. The poll was conducted throughout Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, and included 2158 individuals. Most of the women interviewed were from Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and West, with the average age of the women being 38. Some of the women polled were located in the Diaspora, which is Botswana and South Africa.

The purpose of the survey was to gauge the opinions of women regarding four issues, namely: what women thought about elections; what women thought about violence; what they thought about peace and finally their thoughts on the Inclusive Government.

In general women believe that they should participate in politics. In comparison with previous Afrobarometer reports, this report found that an increasing number of women are voting, however they are still fewer than the total number of women eligible to vote. A small percentage of women thought that women should be involved in politics at all, or that they should only be involved in politics with the permission of their husbands.

With regard to elections and violence, the majority of women believed that violence was caused by political intolerance and the struggle for power. 68% of women said that they did not feel safe during the 2008 election period; 52% reported having experienced violence. Surprisingly, 9% of women from across the political divide said that violence during elections was acceptable. It is distressing to note that a significant number of women believe that violence and elections are inseparable because of the violence they have personally experienced over the last decade.

The report state that, in general, there was a greater frequency of violations reported at the hands of non-state agents. This corroborates the findings of several human rights reports over the past decade. Violations at the hands of non-state agents were twice as frequent as those at the hands of state agents. 3% of women reported that they had been subjected to sexual violence. Interestingly, the witnessing of rape was much more frequently reported that the actual experience of rape. It may be concluded that women in Zimbabwe are reluctant to talk about their personal experiences of rape. Credence is lent to this theory by the fact that Zimbabwean women in the Diaspora were more willing to report incidences of personal rape during elections.

Women were asked for their views on the Inclusive Government. 71% stated that Zimbabweans should have been consulted about the formation of the Inclusive Government; 43% felt that the new government did not represent the interests of women. The results of the report suggest that Zimbabwean women have significantly declining faith in the Inclusive Government compared with a previous Afrobarometer report. Apart from food security, education and health, the majority of women sampled expressed distrust in the Inclusive Government’s ability to deliver change. Popular support as noted by previous Afrobarometer surveys has significantly declined over the last 20 years. This report found that only 9% of those sampled expressed support for ZANU PF as compared to the 51% that expressed support for MDC-T. A significant number of respondents did not want to say where their party affiliations lay, indicating conditions of fear and intimidation.

In the discussion following the presentation, a few members from the floor feel that more needs to be done to help alleviate the situation of women in the country. One woman pointed out that NGOs were not doing very much to bring justice to women, with the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation being largely felt to be redundant. It was also pointed out that very little research about the perpetrators of violence was being conducted by civic organisations, yet this information would be a necessary tool for addressing the root causes of violence. Among the criticisms of the report was that issues of patriarchy with regard to violence were not mentioned. It was noted that this is very critical in a culture that is buttressed by traditions that look at women as subordinate to men. Further, the report failed to identify the gender of the perpetrators, leading to the assumption that all the perpetrators were men. However, in some cases this was not so. It was reported during the discussion that women were also perpetrators of violence against women.

Press Freedom in Zimbabwe

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Monday, May 31st, 2010 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights recently held a poetry and discussion session with the theme Press Freedom at the US Embassy Public Affairs Section.

The session began with youth activist George Makoni, representing the Youth Alliance for Democracy, discussing media freedom in Zimbabwe since 1963. Mr. Makoni interrogated the notion of Press Freedom saying that it was ‘the ability of people to express themselves through media platforms’. He gave the audience a brief historical background of the issues of media freedoms in Zimbabwe, and examined the use of the media by the state for repression. He pointed out that the methods used by the colonial government had been made use of and extended by post independence government, during and after the 2000 election period. He also made note of the legislative tools used by the ZANU PF government such as POSA and AIPPA to repress media freedom.

Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights comprises talented spoken word artists and poets. Samuel Mahuntse was amongst the first poets to take the stage. His poem, recited in English, Ndebele and Shona was celebratory in tone. It invited the world to take advantage of the World Cup in South Africa and to come and see what the real Africa looks likes. Another poet, Gargamel recited his poem ‘Pull, Pull, Pull and Pass’. While short, I found the poem to be very witty. Gargamel evoked the traumas of Operation Murambatsvina, and examined the state of Zimbabwean youth whom he charged had become a ‘clownish cast’. Mutumwapavi, with his poem ‘Izwi’ spoke about the power of words. In ‘Chigaro’, he examined the power of position.

The gathering of young people who attended the session, while small, was enthusiastic and eager to share their ideas. Of the questions from the floor the most difficult to address was, “What is propaganda? And who determines what it is?’ Consensus was reached in the definition that propaganda is a message designed for political means. Participants also discussed the infringement of the right to information and freedom of expression. Debate arose over the right to freedom of expression insofar as it does not infringe on another persons rights. Poet Cynthia Flow Child, discussed patriotism with regard to propaganda. She stated that in Zimbabwe patriotism has come to mean an association with a certain political party.

GALZ staff released

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Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

Ellen Chadehama and Ignatious Muhambi, two staff members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) who were arrested last week Friday, have been released on bail. Police say they are “still investigating” the case, and the pair are to go back to court next month.

GALZ staff allege torture – ZLHR

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Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

According to a statement by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the two staff members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) who were arrested on Friday have been tortured by the police in their holding cells.

[Ignatius] Mhambi alleged that police used empty soft drinks bottles to assault him on his knees and forced him to “sit” in a position without a chair or any other tool for a long period. [Ellen] Chademana said the police also forced her to undertake the same action for a long period. Both detainees allege that they were subjected to assaults all over their bodies.

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