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Archive for September, 2010

Media under siege in South Africa

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Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Leigh Worswick

I recently attended a press conference held in Grahamstown in which the topic was the proposed Protection of Information Bill and Media tribunal. The question being addressed “is  the media under siege?” There was a panel made up of various authorities including a member of the ANC  regional executive Mabhuti Matyunza.

Many people perceive that the ANC is putting a “squeeze on the media” and the introduction of the Protection of Information Bill would enable the government to prevent corruption from being exposed.

One of the panellists convincingly argued that that the things we want to keep secret are those things we are ashamed of, not the things we are proud of. He further argued that the government are in fact our employees. They are spending our money; they are elected by us to represent us. “I hope you like your ministers cars coz you pay for them!”

Many of the panellists agreed that the Protection of Information Bill would be taking South Africa back to the apartheid era. I completely agree with this argument as the Promotion of Information Act that was implemented post apartheid was put in place to prevent government from being corrupt. It was put in place in order to prevent and expose corruption. With the introduction of this Bill it will become almost impossible to expose corruption.

Another panellist commented that what you need for a “Healthy Public Sphere” is an opinionated society. We see the importance of this when we look at Zimbabwe where many ministers are able to get away with corruption because there is no freedom of expression. Does South Africa want to head down the same road as Zimbabwe where they will live under the complete control of government?

I was shocked at the attitudes of the ANC in response to the outcry against the proposed Protection Of Information Bill. President Jacob Zuma said something along the lines of we are the people who brought media freedom to this country you cannot tell us about media freedom. This statement sounds remarkably similar to the ideology Mugabe expresses when he argues that ZANU-PF liberated Zimbabwe and therefore they can do as they wish. Mabhuti Mtyunza the ANC regional executive seemed to avoid the issue being discussed and continued with his own agenda of how the ANC has done so much for the country. He argued that the media is “denting” and “destroying the country” and “working for the opposition” and as a result needs to be “monitored and guided”.

Does South Africa not realise that the platform of democracy is freedom of the press and freedom of expression. South Africa seems to have failed to learn from Zimbabwe’s mistakes, once there is no freedom of press corruption thrives and ministers are able to exploit resources as well as people.

Urban accommodation woes

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Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by Natasha Msonza

Landlords, I will be most reliable when it comes to paying rent. I promise to pay rentals on or before the 26th of every month. I am looking for a one/two bed flat in the avenues and would want to pay $250-$300. So please just text me I will call you back if you have one. I will be very reliable and smart and will make sure your flat is kept nicely. Also note that my family is too small it’s just me and my beautiful, smart wife.

Dips please help me, Eddie.

No joke, the above is an advert that appeared on Dipleague Vol 27, Issue 123 of yesterday. For those who are not on it or do not know it, it is an email based community platform, originally tailored for those in the ‘Diplomatic’ and NGO community to post adverts for goods and services offered or requested, among other things.

When I saw the advert above, I couldn’t control my laughter for at least 2 minutes. That’s because I have been at that level of desperation where you’ll say anything, including the ridiculous – to make your case stand out among the throngs of other desperate home seekers mushrooming in Zimbabwe’s capital. After moving into a beautiful flat in April this year, I was gutted when a few weeks later I discovered that the ceiling has cracks that frequently leak water onto my floor and property from the flat above. It is such a nightmare because both my neighbor upstairs and absentee landlord does not seem to give a rat’s ass about it.

I found Eddie’s email particularly fascinating because it symbolizes the desperation of the condition of those of us who are home seeking, are of no fixed abode and not yet at a stage of affording one’s own property. Trying to capture the sympathy of prospective landlords is the one thing we all have in common and many a times, I have come across things like: young married couple with no children, looking for accommodation…or, mature white lady seeks flat to rent in town or Avondale, or young single man working for NGO seeking flat.

It is that bad, and what it means is that this has astronomically pushed up rentals, which is likely to worsen the urban accommodation crisis. What also contributes significantly to the problem is that today’s young working class prefer to live in areas closer to the central business district for the convenience they offer in terms of transport and availability of utilities like water and electricity.

Although the dollarized economy has created a new caliber of noveau riche, this is also ironically a time when the young middle and working class earn the greenback but cannot build homes for themselves because just getting a stand (and in the right area) is next to impossible; the banks simply aren’t up to lending (especially without collateral outside one’s salary) or it is just too expensive to build. The only other option is to rent and this has ultimately left tenants at the mercy of landlords.

Those who have been fortunate enough to own property at a very young age I guess will just never know what it feels like to live a nomadic life.

Being among this working class, I have constantly found myself thinking about the future and wondering if, like my parents, I will ever own a place of my own. Seeking to understand what is different now from the time they were young and home seeking too reveals that if anything, they earned far less than what we earn today. I realize now that it was about systems that worked; banks that lent, with low interest rates and gave you many years to pay back and most importantly – a government preoccupied with and committed to alleviating the housing problems faced by its citizens. That is what changed.

A great farewell to an amazing woman

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Sunday, September 26th, 2010 by Brenda Burrell
Funeral programme

Funeral programme

Dr Monica Glenshaw, a friend for many years, died on Monday September 20th, weeks shy of her 69th birthday. When I heard the news, a day after her death, I felt the wind knocked out of me. I knew Monica was battling cancer but didn’t vaguely have a measure of how aggressive her adversary was. These past few days I’ve realised that there are a lot of things I didn’t know about Monica. She was a private and self-deprecating woman who kept the different areas of her life distinct from each other. Medical, family and social lives seldom intersected. But given that Monica was happy to answer direct questions directly, there are perhaps other reasons why I found myself so uninformed of her Amazing Achievements.

When she was in town, I think Monica was happy to put the responsibility and challenges of her rural hospital life out of her mind for a few days of R&R. She didn’t deflect questions about herself, she just seemed to slip her own in first. She was curious and interested in what we were doing in our personal and work lives, and would soon have me prattling away about my concerns and passions. I frequently made the mistake of not reversing the roles. Happily colleagues at Kubatana got her to answer one of their Inside/Out questionnaires in 2009, so we can go back and read a little about Monica, in her own words.

I met with some of Monica’s closest friends on Tuesday night. We were miserable but couldn’t help but spend quite a lot of the time laughing about Monica’s quirky side. She was a woman who travelled extremely light – partly because she needed very little and partly because she trusted others to deal with logistics when she wasn’t at work. On one occasion Monica arrived at an airport in Canada, visiting from Zimbabwe – all she had brought with her for the visit, was a clean pair of knickers and a gift for her friend!

On Wednesday afternoon I went to a memorial mass for Monica at the Lady of the Wayside Church in Mt Pleasant, Harare. We were an eclectic mix of family, artists, doctors, nuns, gay men, lesbians, human rights activists and many others. Monica’s brother Mike Glenshaw and her friend John Miller shared details of her life – some of it amusing, much of it illuminating.

I learned that Monica’s distinctive way of speaking was courtesy of a cleft palate, and that she had been hard of hearing since childhood. She wanted to be a vet but didn’t have good enough grades to pursue that dream. Instead she studied agriculture, and worked for a time as a dairy manager – or dairy maid as she liked to joke. After some years she realised that fulfillment lay elsewhere, and enrolled to study medicine at Wits University in Johannesburg. Appalled by the politics of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Monica moved to Zambia in the ’70s to practice medicine there. In 1985, a few years after Zimbabwe’s independence, she accepted a position as Medical Superintendent at Murambinda Mission Hospital, where she settled in for the long haul. Some years later she was appointed District Medical Officer for Buhera, and thereafter took on a workload meant for two.

That evening we gathered with more of Monica’s friends to have a few drinks and share how our lives had been enriched by hers. She loved a party and more than a few drinks, unwinding and socialising with her friends. Those of us who saw more of the off-duty Monica could be forgiven for overlooking the Fabulousness of her doctoring work. For some of her family it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about another side of Monica.

The following morning a group of us drove the 3+ hours down to Murambinda Hospital for her funeral and burial. It was to be a memorable experience for all of us.



The turnout was amazing. The emotion and respect expressed by colleagues and friends from the medical side of her life was inspiring. Looking around at the school children who arrived to join the service after school ended, I wondered how many of them Monica had delivered, immunised, medicated or patched up during her 25 years at the hospital.

Present at the funeral were many hundreds of people, including hospital board members, nursing staff, mission staff, NGO partners, district police, friends, family, clergy, nuns, local business owners, community residents, the local chief, the District Administrator and Eric Matinenga, MP for Buhera. Speakers drawn from this assembly spoke of their huge respect for the enormous contribution Monica had made to the hospitals and clinics in her district, and the innovative public health initiatives she pioneered or supported. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health shared that practitioners from a variety of fields visited Murambinda to learn from the systems and methods in practise here. Speakers described Monica as a committed team player, mentor, visionary and leader in the field of rural medicine; as rigorous, forthright, brave,determined and tireless.

Dancers graveside

Dancers graveside

Monica lived in a simple, neat home on the hospital grounds and kept her personal possessions to a minimum. She had a famously limited wardrobe – as a friend recalled, the only thing to change over the years he knew her, was the colour of her fleecy.

Monica loved animals and became very attached to her dogs. A few years ago she was given a Jack Russell pup and the two quickly became inseparable. If Monica was coming to stay, so was Nutu – it was not negotiable. Monica must have had great peace of mind knowing that Nutu was going on to live with one of her closest friends.

There’s no doubt than many of us have been marked by Monica’s life and death. She had strong close bonds with colleagues, friends and family and all will sorely miss her company in the days ahead.

For more images from the funeral, follow this link.

Also, a lovely aggregation of Monica pics here.


Community gets involved in cleaning up Newlands Shopping Centre

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Monday, September 20th, 2010 by Vanessa Evershed
Sweeping the streets in Newlands

Sweeping the streets in Newlands

The Newlands area in Harare was a hive of activity on Friday with many of the local companies pulling together in true proud community spirit to clean up the unpleasant and polluted streets in the shopping centre.

There was a buzz in the air that made me feel proud to be Zimbabwean. One man helping with the clearing up operation bellowed out to his colleagues “come on Harare, let’s go”.

Staff from companies like Deloittes, Rio Tinto and AA Zimbabwe could be seen wearing their company T-shirts, sweeping the streets, repainting faded curbs and street markings. The City of Harare had been persuaded to deliver a bright orange skip into which volunteers dumped mounds of waste. At the Newlands Post Office an employee of Deloittes was overheard asking the Post Master if he had remembered to bring in 200lts of water so that they could wash their walls with a power cleaner.

It was obviously Newlands lucky day, because a City of Harare refuse truck was also seen collecting rubbish from our office block.

We hope this effort from the local community will energise the City of Harare to continue where the volunteers left off. Especially since their website claims that the Department’s mission is to “To prevent ill-health among the population of Zimbabwe through community education and regulatory mechanisms, to promote a health living and working environment, and to safeguard community health and quality of life.”

We at Kubatana say “Thanks, well done and keep the community spirit going!”

City of Harare refuse trucks do exist!

City of Harare refuse trucks do exist!

Mixed opinion on treatment of pregnant schoolgirls

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Friday, September 17th, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

Following on from the discussion of the Minsitry of Education’s treatment of pregnant school goers, we sent our SMS subscribers the following message:

Kubatana! Should pregnant schoolgirls be excluded from school or supported to return? Email your views to Min of Ed – moesaczw [at] gmail [dot] com and cc us info [at] kubatana [dot] net

We wondered if people would support the return to stricter measures towards pregnant schoolgirls, or if they would have preferred that the Ministry kept to its August policy.

We received over 50 responses via email and SMS, across a range of opinions from punitive to supportive, with some advocating for special counselling to help young parents adjust to their new lifestyle and responsibilities.

We share their responses below:

  • As a mother I feel that pregnant schoolgirls should be supported to return to school and complete their education, we are human and all make mistakes in life and learn from that.  We must remember our children are the future and education is very important. In past cases when a schoolgirl was impregnated by a schoolboy he was allowed to continue with his education while the schoolgirl was not – not fair – as it takes two – he too should have been excluded from school with her. When a single working man/married man/sugar daddy impregnates a schoolgirl he should be made through the courts to pay for the education of the schoolgirl plus maintain the child until it attains the age of 18 years.
  • They should be supported and counselled.
  • Expelling pregnant schoolgirls is not a wise solution. They need REAL counseling & send back to school. If one puts off fire with fire, ashes will be the remains. After our independence, pregnant mothers & girls went back to school & some of them are now professionals in various fields. Yes the schoolgirl is wrong by indulging in sex, but we can’t correct wrong with wrong.
  • Should not be excluded from school but supported to return after matenity leave.
  • I think pregnant schoolgirl must be excluded becoz once we consider them its like we are promoting sexual plesure.
  • Ministry of Education should not exclude them because if they do so we promote abortion and child dumping.
  • They should be suppoted to return to maintain the high literacy we have. If you educate a woman you educate the whole world.
  • They shld b supported to return.
  • She must go back to schöol
  • Yes they must return to school for the benefit of their child’s future
  • i write concerning school girls who should continue with school cause that is the only way they can have a better life with the siblings or else it will be worse if they drop out of school cause most these girls will have no one to look after them unless if you want to introduce what is in South Africa were the governement keeps the children until they are mature enough to look after themselves so my own option is that they should go back to school since it is a right for every child to have basic education
  • Pregnant schoolgirls should not be seen even near schools because once they are allowed to attend school they will spoil other school children.The only good thing they should be given second chance after removing the child from breast feeding.
  • pregnant school girls should not be allowed to go back to school ,by doing so it sends wrong message to other girls , and it will be difficult for them to be displined and whats going to happen when her due date concides with o or a level exams
  • Why should we exclude pregnant girls? the gvmnt must prosecute boys who did this to girls because most the girls are being forced sex by man. Also to add on that if she continue with school may be she gonna pass the examinations and might get a better job to care of the child. Therefore to exclude pregnant girls from school does not pay good living to these girls.
  • Pregnant students shloud be expelled
  • They must be supported, continue with schoolwork in order to support their offspring as well as getting better employment hence being pregnant doesn’t mean the end of life.
  • I   think pregnant school girls  should be excluded from school and return after she has deliver, if the boy who is responsible for the pregnant is still at school he should also be excluded until his girl has deliver, it will be fair that way
  • Schoolgirls must be given  their right to learn if need arises after giving brith
  • They must be supported to return.
  • Pregnant skul girls shld be allowed 2 continue with their education.n.b, 2 educate a woman is educating the whle nation bt a man only one persn
  • Must get support to complete school and again the gvt must have laws to protect them and their rights
  • No!pregnant girls should not go back to school. the reason is that,”they wil influence other girls to get through such bad roles.”
  • Definately be excluded from school.
  • No they must not be allowed to school when pregnant
  • School girl kana achinge ane pregnant ngaadzingwe pachikoro ipapo  kwete kuti ngaadzokere kuchikoro apo ndaramba zvachose
  • They should be given second chance for their future back to school
  • Pregnant school girls must return to school after giving birth
  • Supported to return
  • Support them
  • They should return after giving birth
  • They should be expelled if not that will be encouraging others and big daddies in particular
  • They shouldn’t be excluded from school, but legal measures be upon the one who impregnated her.
  • Pregnant schoolgirls must permited to cameback
  • They should join adult shools because they are adults
  • Shld be back to school after delivering sumtimes they are cheated shld attend night school
  • Yes pregnant school girls should be supported to finish school not to be expelled from school because education is for all.
  • No they shld be given another chance
  • They should be excluded from school because their line of thought, social responsibilities will now be diffent from those not pregnant. They must attend adult classes.
  • They must do night school because they can spoil other girls
  • Pregnant Girls shldnt be allowed back to sch coz that wil promote more pregnancies.
  • Pregnant students shloud be expelled
  • Pregnart schoolgrils must return to school
  • Shld supported to return cz every one how wants to lean has got the right.
  • The pregnant scholars  should be supported to return  to school , but we should educate ,control and monitor  their behaviour thoroughry  so that they can have a better life.
  • Yes.But night schooll 4 if we pour a cup of urine in a drum full of milk all milk is dirty.I know galz early mature & easily traped by visibl things.Falling is not wrong need counselling rather than 2 abort.
  • Pregnant girls shd be xcluded frm sch as wel as the one responsible bcoz skools are not maternity hospitals,educ first bfo parenthood.
  • No the pregnant school children should not be expelled from school because their are young and innocent also their are beings the same we also make mistakes
  • Schoolgirls who are  pregnat should  exculded  from school.
  • Supported 2 return
  • children should be given their right to education including pregnant girls
  • I think the girls should be allowed to return to school, but only after delivery, and the person responsible should also be made to leave, if its a teacher, he should be banned from teaching forever.
  • They should be counselled and supported to go back to school after delivery
  • The right thing is to support preg sch girls to come back to sch. They need to go thru counselling and rehabilitation becoz heavy psychological trauma in the process. She’s now a mother learning with girls. Will she swallow this easily? There is need for family counselling in order for parents concerned to accept this circumstance. The sch/mates. What will be their reaction? Isolation(social bulling) is most probable. It is easy to say lets support the girl back but are we aware of what it takes. It’s high time the gvt has to employ sch chaplains and counsellors at each sch. Otherwise nyadzi dzinokunda rufu. The girl will not want to come back in the face of all maner of support. Do we force her? I think prevention is cheaper than reconstruction of a damaged personality of such girls.

Little hope for the future if we don’t stop repeating the past

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Thursday, September 16th, 2010 by Amanda Atwood

The Economist Group today held a one-day conference on “The Future of Zimbabwe.” The high power meeting brought together business leaders, economists and political analysts to explore the question “When will Zimbabwe see a real recovery.”

One of the panel sessions was on Agriculture and food security, and the panelists included Sam Moyo of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies, and John Worsley-Worswick of Justice for Agriculture.

Ironically, the conference was held just two days after the farm house on Twyford Farm in Chegutu was burnt down. According to a report from the farm:

This farm is protected by a French BIPPA and a High Court order in my favour from 2007 and despite all that, I was ordered on the 18th March 2010 to pack all my belongings and fined $200 for illegally occupying the farm. Since then, my home has not been occupied by Jamaya Muduvuri who has an Offer Letter on Twyford. In February last year 30 thugs, led by Muduvuri, occupied the farm and Muduvuri proceeded to steal all my crops, farming equipment and vehicles. Yesterday he finished gutting the farm completely by burning the main homestead. It has taken one year for my profitable farm to become a totally abandoned land where no crop has been planted and the home has been destroyed. Furthermore, Muduvuri already has 4 farms to his name and mine was the 5th one.

What happened on my farm has NOTHING to do with any kind of land reform: the land has not been utilized, the equipment and crops have been stolen, all my animal stock has been slaughtered and finally my home has been burnt.

I look forward to hearing what the conference concluded. But surely we can’t have much hope in the future if we keep on reliving the past?