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Archive for July, 2011

Zimbabwean youth are politicians puppets

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Friday, July 22nd, 2011 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Charles Ray failed to address a group of youths after Zanu (PF) hooligans besieged the Kwekwe Theatre, the venue of the meeting carrying placards denouncing the envoy. The Midlands Youth Dialogue, organised by a non-governmental organisation, Zimbabwe Organisation for the Youth in Politics (ZOYP), is a platform where youths from across the political divide can engage and deliberate on issues that affect Zimbabwean youths.

It is high Zimbabwean youth desist from violence of any sort that is politically inclined. Many youths are unemployed even the educated ones with degrees, but never has there been a day that they have took this to streets to call for jobs. Rather as youths we tend to divert our efforts to political fights and cause violence on behalf of our political leaders whom we follow. We forget that they have had their share of life and this is our share too and we should enjoy it together in unity and not spoil it by being violent.

It makes no sense in reality to be given beer and some cash to sustain you for a day so you can go and cause violence and yet for the remaining days you go with nothing. We don’t need to be used by those in power If they need to fight let them do so. Rather as youths we should focus more on pressing developmental issues.

As youth we should spend time working on realising our own dreams come to being and be torchbearers of the kind of future we hope to see in Zimbabwe. Being violent for whatever reason does not help us in any way, it leads to loss of life and focus.

Gukurahundi still a very open chapter Cde. Minister

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Friday, July 22nd, 2011 by Marko Phiri

On Monday 18 July, Chronicle newspaper reported that Defence Minister “Munagagwa” [that’s how his name was spelled right there in the front page] had declared that the Gukurahundi debate was a closed chapter, accusing “the private media and leaders of other political parties” of “engaging in cheap politics” and “trying to reverse efforts by the national healing organ by opening the Gukurahundi wounds.”

Predictably perhaps, the minister said the Unity Accord signed by President Mugabe and the late VeePee Nkomo “brought the nation together, bringing an end to the sorry chapter of Gukurahundi.”  Then on Thursday 21 July the same paper (Chronicle) carried a story with the headline “Gukurahundi issue sparks fierce debate.” The report was based on a public hearing convened by the Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, and members of the public spoke their mind about the “Gukurahundi killings.” You have to ask the Minister what his opinion is about this seeing Gukurahundi obviously remains a very open chapter, and it was not the private media nor was it “other political parties” that opened the Gukurahundi book. It was “ordinary” residents who “demanded that the committees should review the political disturbances of the 1980s, popularly known as the Gukurahundi episode,” Chronicle reported.

We know “Munagagwa’s” government colleague Moses Mzila-Ndlovu still has a lot to say about these ’80 atrocities and is not about to let the matter die a natural death. But then that’s Zanu PF’s idea of government of the people, for the people, by the people. Zanu PF speaks and you listen, never the reverse.

Looks like the Gukurahundi chapter remains very open and will not wished away mate. But then the minister’s insistence is perhaps understandable because activists here have fingered him as one of the architects. Sorry Cde. Minister.

The real definition of poor by the ANC Youth President

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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by Lenard Kamwendo

According to Julius Malema being poor means not being able to own means of production. He made these comments in an interview on SABC after a public outcry over the ANC Youth League President’s 16 million rand house he is building in Sandton, South Africa. Among Malema’s properties in South Africa includes a mansion in Limpopo province and he drives C63 Mercedes-Benz AMG. Not so bad for a poor man! Malema claims he has acquired these assets using his monthly salary from the ANC. And he is a representative of the poor people?

According to the Oxford dictionary poor means “lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society” … so one wonders whether Julius’s society consider him to be poor with this kind of a lavish lifestyle. If Malema’s definition of poor is true then, for South Africans, what it means is that Mzansi has poor rich people living in mansions.

Please turn off the music

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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by Marko Phiri

We all love it when technology makes our lives exciting, that is perhaps why mobile phones have been changing in shapes and sizes with stunning speed ever since these wonder gadgets were introduced to us back in the day. You can easily recall the “bricks” we used when Strive was granted his licence after “Father Zimbabwe” intervened. It’s kinda laughable now if you think of it. It wasn’t long of course before funky handsets became the vogue and them who had the bricks became very self-conscious about answering their phones in public as they feared ridicule from those who felt they were keeping up with cell phone technology.

One can list all kinds of phones that had their very fleeting 15 minutes of fame, the razors, the flip phones, and one can even recall some folks who seemed to think they were up the ladder of funky because of the ringing tone of their mobile! The “camera phone” became for some a “must have” as folks became fascinated with the whole idea of snapping away on your phone and sharing the pictures with the world. Then came this whole thing about 3G-enabled phones and some considered it the zenith of cool and are “Facebooking” in public as testimony to others that they are Zuckerberg-types therefore the definition of savvy.

I have heard from people who rushed to purchase what they back then considered expensive phones now claiming they do not need those phones after all: a phone that can receive calls and send messages will do just fine and you wonder what changed. Maybe they just got broke and can’t afford the smart phones of 2011. Yet there is a trend that has emerged rather with lightning speed that is pushing the boundaries of social and cell phone etiquette. And this is not the kind that speaks at the top of their voices in kombis about some phony multi-million dollar deal they are negotiating. But of course many users have obviously welcomed the advancement of mobile technology that has enabled these to be multi-media devices where you can record and also store music, movies, pictures etc. and they are using these utilises to the fullest.

However, it is the music part that pisses me off. These gadgets have given wannabe entrepreneurs immense business selling “memory cards” and this has become some kind of godsend for “music lovers.” Without consideration to other people’s space, this music is being blasted from mobile phones in all kinds of places you can imagine. I have seen and heard some of these people play music from their cell phones while in a kombi ride full of passengers. That these things come with earphones is of no consequence to these people. Looks like the logic is: the louder the better. Imagine sitting in a long kombi ride next to someone playing their favourite sounds, and I saw the other day a young woman actually singing along in kombi full of passengers! Boy was I pissed off. But what can you do? Tell the clown to turn that thing off? You can imagine the response. I remember when there was this excitement about “people’s radio,” you know, those walkie talkie-like wireless radios some chaps carried around with them everywhere, beer halls and even soccer matches where they would listen to the commentary of the match they were watching! It was just irritating, but those radios somehow disappeared from our faces and now we have these cell phones. OMG!

I imagine I am not the only one terribly irritated by this. We all love mobile technology but do we have to shove it in other people’s faces? You just have to recall those situations where people “refuse” to switch off their mobiles during a funeral or church service. It just is the definition of uncool. Around 2001 just the time the cell phone craze was gripping the nation, I recall a friend telling me his girlfriend actually asked him to call her during class so everyone could drool when they saw her phone as she answered it! You see she was doing some course whose classes were after hours so it presented an irresistible opportunity to show other working types just what she was made of. Yes my friend, there are people like that there. But puuuuuleeeeez, turn off the music!

Commercial radio licenses – beware of wolves in sheeps skins

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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by Bev Clark

Tabani Moyo makes some important points in this article on media freedom, or rather the lack of it in Zimbabwe. His final comments are particularly pertinent when he says that Zimbabweans are simply “asking for their right to speak and freely express themselves thus fulfilling the founding aspirations of the liberation struggle which the current government is collectively failing to uphold.”

On 27 May 2011 the improperly constituted Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) called for applications for two free- to- air national commercial radio broadcasting services. A national free- to- air national commercial licence refers to a profit making broadcasting entity that transmits an un-encoded signal throughout Zimbabwe.

Notwithstanding the fact that the legality of the board which called for these licenses is heavily disputed, one also needs to examine the wide reaching nature and effect of this call for licenses.

Due to the non-transparent manner in the management of the broadcasting signal administered in this country, chances are high that the smokescreen call for the licenses will become an extension of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)’s monopoly.

For example the Zimpapers stable applied for a license in line with the permanent secretary George Charamba’s advice at the organisation’s strategic retreat held in Nyanga early this year. If Zimpapers is granted the licence, it will fit well into the propaganda manufacturing mills of Zanu PF ahead of the elections which will augur well with the government’s intention to maintain state monopoly of the airwaves.

Given that scenario the BAZ’s impartiality and sincerity will be put to severe test considering that Radio Voice of the People (VOP) which was bombed by ‘unknown persons’ on 29 August 2002, is also among the applicants for the two commercial radio licenses. As for the other applicants, it can be anybody’s guess as to who their sponsors are.

The euphoria and excitement that accompanied the call for the applications in question might at this stage be premature.

be wary

On 6 July 2011, the infamous duo of Tafataona Mahoso and Obert Muganyura who are the BAZ chairperson and chief executive officer respectively, painted a misleading picture on the state of incapacity to regulate the prospective new players in the broadcasting sector.

The duo was quizzed on why BAZ had opted for only two licenses in the category of commercial broadcasting contrary to its submissions to parliament in 2009 that the regulator was going to give priority to community radio stations. Muganyura claimed that the regulator had conducted a survey in 38 centres in Zimbabwe and that those surveyed had said BAZ should prioritise commercial radio stations ahead of community radio broadcasters.

One can only wonder as to whether the survey was ever conducted notwithstanding the methodology that was used during the so-called survey which was conducted in a veil of secrecy.  What criterion was used in determining the 38 centers surveyed and how reflective are they in terms of the nation’s preferences?

In the same meeting Muganyura confirmed that the country has capacity to license 56 community radio stations as per his position and plan submitted to the same Committee in 2009. Why then is Muganyura and his comrades in the Ministry of Information, permanent secretary George Charamba and Minister Webster Shamu reluctant to give the people of Zimbabwe their space to access and disseminate diverse views through their own community radio stations.

the ruse of broadcasting and state security

The paranoid Zanu PF personnel stationed at the Ministry of Information and those at the Zanu PF headquarters have been peddling misleading statements for too long that broadcasting is a state security concern hence the need to keep it tightly controlled as a monopoly. This is a misplaced notion because the people of Zimbabwe know better that broadcasting is a developmental agent which, if freed will positively contribute to our knowledge index and nation building.

Jonathan Moyo, George Charamba, Webster Shamu, Tafataona Mahoso and Obert Muganyura among others of like thinking, should sober up and realize that Zimbabwe is not their private entity but it belongs to its inhabitants. To this reality, they need to wake up and smell the coffee on what’s happening elsewhere – private broadcasters and community radio stations continue to mushroom and proliferate throughout the region and Africa as a whole save for Zimbabwe and Eritrea.

In 2008, for example, the DRC had 41 radio stations and 51 TV stations in Kinshasa alone out of a total of 381 radio stations and between 81 and 93 TV channels throughout the country. In 2006/7 Benin had 73 radio stations while Uganda has more than 120 and Mali 200. South Africa has an aggregate of more than 1000 TV and radio stations combined.

the monitoring incapacity myth

Muganyura argued that the regulator did not call for applications for more licenses because it does not have the capacity to monitor and control the new players in the country.

Everyone knows that this office has become an office of excuses on why it has been failing to issue licenses for new players since 2001. However it never occurred to me that it could one day fall this low and shallow in its deceptive tendencies.

If BAZ does not have capacity to monitor and control new players one will be quick to ask how the government managed to intercept and shut down Capitol Radio on 5 October 2000? How did the government intercept Radio VOP signals leading to the arrest of the radio station’s six trustees in 2006? It equally sobers one’s mind how the same government is intercepting and jamming external radio stations such as Voice of America’s Studio 7, SW Radio Africa and Radio VOP from broadcasting in Zimbabwe. That argument is pedestal.

Zimbabweans are not a gullible lot. All they are asking for is their right to speak and freely express themselves thus fulfilling the founding aspirations of the liberation struggle which the current government is collectively failing to uphold.

Tabani Moyo

Tabani Moyo can be contacted at rebeljournalist [at] yahoo [dot] com

Teaching vacancies in a land of unemployment

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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

A recent headline in The Herald caught my eye: 15,000 teaching posts vacant.

It brought to mind a recent post I’d seen on Twitter – despite the high levels of unemployment there, an IT company was struggling to fill 20 vacancies.

In Zimbabwe, unemployment is estimated at 90%, with the majority of Zimbabweans surviving in the informal sector, and with tremendous pressure on wage earners to support large extended family networks.

Meanwhile, many of the country’s brightest and proactive young people have left the country to pursue economic opportunities in South Africa, the UK and elsewhere. The brain drain included many of Zimbabwe’s qualified teachers, who left the careers they had planned and studied for to find better paying jobs outside of the country. Despite government initiatives to lure these qualified teachers back to the country, the teaching vacancies persist.

In a country with such massive unemployment, how can 15,000 posts go vacant?

As The Herald article points out: “Most teachers have been driven away by low remuneration and frustrating bureaucracy.”

Drawing on The Herald piece, a story from VOA Studio 7 quotes Education Minister David Coltart as saying that “the lack of respect for teachers in Zimbabwe, poor housing especially at rural schools and political intimidation of teachers have all contributed to high vacancies.”

Zimbabwe used to have one of the best education systems in Africa. Other posts on this blog have talked about the esteem in which teachers were held in their communities. But now Zimbabwe is in a bind. Without a robust economic engine of production, how does the country generate the revenue base to enable government to increase teachers’ salaries (and those of other civil servants)? In the meantime, what does it say for us as a country, if conditions for those in the teaching profession are so bad that our young people would rather leave the country – or start their own businesses – than contribute to educating the future of Zimbabwe.