Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for August, 2011

Misadventures of a wannabe baker

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 by Tina Rolfe

My friends, and cheeky acquaintances who can be bothered, moved by pity, often feel the need to slip me their “fool-proof” cake recipes (on folded small, grubby pieces of paper) casually dropped into my hand, with a whispered “try this it will work”, like a bad spy movie). They are inevitably exasperated by the results.  My oven, the blame must be laid somewhere, manages to produce baked things. I was going to say “goodies”, but obviously not, that even the dog turns his nose up at, despite my concentration in measuring out the ingredients.  We might also lay some blame on my rudimentary measuring tools – which consist of a series of cups (1 cup, ½ cup, ¾ cup – you get the idea), a fridge magnet conversion chart (ounces to grams and vice versa) and a measuring jug inherited from my dad (in pints) – the resulting mathematical mismatch is much to blame for my culinary cock-ups (no roosters involved), or rather my baking bloopers. I am fine with starters and main courses.  I cook with my fingertips (a pinch of this …) and my tongue (oooh, needs a bit of salt …), which obviously is not the best battle strategy when it comes to baking.  Some blame, in proportion to their size, may also be directed to my two happy helpers.  A large percentage of each ingredient lands on the floor, on the counter, lovingly shared with the dogs, tasted, spat out, or happily sieved into the sink.

I do my best to get out of the cake sales at school avoiding embarrassing my children with having to carry in my suspect offerings, sliding off the plate. Always the last to go on the day of the sale, at reduced rates!  But we bake at home despite my shortcomings, because the mess is fun, and pressing the flour and marg and sugar together and then eating it from under your fingernails (oh be quiet – you all do it!), and decorating the cake – watching it subside under the sheer weight of tiny multi-coloured hundreds-and-thousands, cleaning the bowl with your fingers afterwards, licking dough off your elbows – well, it’s all part of life’s journey, isn’t it?

I think Confuscius said, even the hardest journey (life – my opinion) begins with the first step.  Don’t really know what that has to do with anything, but it was in a book I was reading, and I wanted to get it down somewhere, before I forget it altogether, may as well share it.

NGO job vacancies in Zimbabwe

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 by Bev Clark

Work in and for Zimbabwe. Help grow our nation. Check out the vacancies below. If you’d like to receive this sort of information, as well as civic and human rights updates, by email each week drop us a note saying “subscribe” to info [at] kubatana [dot] net
Please note that the job vacancies we carry are related to the NGO and civil society sectors only.

Four (4) positions: Africare
Deadline: 2 September 2011

Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant x 3
Provide M & E support to the Smallholder Agricultural Markets Project (SAMP) Support AGRITEX officers and lead farmers on the administration of quarterly and monthly data collection tools.

Qualifications and experience:
At least a BSc degree in agriculture, social sciences, development studies, statistics or related field. At least 1 year experience in monitoring agricultural livelihoods interventions

Agribusiness Officer

Facilitating and setting up on goat auction system and providing agribusiness training to smallholder farmers.

Qualifications and experience:
At least BSc in agricultural economics or economics and or marketing.

Applications with detailed CVs and contactable referees should be sent by email to info [at] africare [dot] co [dot] zw and lmlotshwa [at] africare [dot] co [dot] zw
Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Programme Head/Country Representative: Zimbabwe Maternal and Newborn Survival Improvement Programme: Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)
Deadline: 2 September 2011

Location: Harare, Zimbabwe
Salary package: A competitive package will be offered
Starting Date: As soon as possible
Reference: ARK-PH-ZIM

Absolute Return for KIDS (ARK)
ARK is an international children’s charity whose purpose is to transform children’s lives. Founded in 2002, ARK delivers high social returns on philanthropic investment.  ARK brings together passionate experts with the best talent from business to deliver its vision on the ground under the leadership of its Board of Trustees. Employing c. 1,200 staff directly and through partners, ARK’s programmes are currently focused on strategic themes of Health (Mozambique, Zambia), Education (UK, India, Uganda) and Children in Care (Eastern Europe).

ARK in Zimbabwe
ARK is working with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MOHCW) and other key stakeholders (UNICEF, University of Zimbabwe, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Chitungwiza Hospital) to implement a comprehensive 3 year programme to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity, by initiating a programme to improve the training and capacity of existing front line health workers at the district level.  The programme in Zimbabwe contains three core elements:
1. Revitalisation and scaling up of training of clinic officers and nurse anaesthetists
2. Implementation of New born corners pilot in 20 district hospitals
3. In-service training nationally to improve EMONC through Life Saving Skills

About this Position
ARK has exclusively retained Mission Talent in searching for an accomplished and strategic leader in the public health sector in Zimbabwe to lead the programme and also act as ARK’s key representative in Zimbabwe.  This person should have a track record of successful programme delivery, an excellent network within Zimbabwe, and good relations with both MOHCW and other key stakeholders in the health sector.  The candidate should be a creative, solutions focussed thinker. The position offers an exciting opportunity to play a leading role in the development and execution of this new programme area of ARK.

This position reports directly to ARK’s Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, with a dotted line to the Health Programme Director at ARK’s HQ in London.  The post holder will work collaboratively with ARK, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, University of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders.

Overall Responsibilities
The Programme Head will be responsible for the successful implementation of this maternal and newborn survival programme.  The person will provide leadership, guidance and strategic direction.  S/he will also be responsible for developing the programme Strategic and implementation plans, ensuring ARK’s successful registration in Zimbabwe, delivering program objectives, building and managing the implementation team and stakeholder relationships in Zimbabwe including the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, UNICEF Zimbabwe and DFID amongst others.  The successful incumbent will oversee and be accountable for budget management and expenditure.

Specific Responsibilities

1. Strategic planning
-Develop Strategic Plan in conjunction the regional office, ARK London and the local implementing partners
-Liaise with partners to develop concrete implementation plans including implementation processes, clear targets, timelines, resources, roles and responsibilities and M&E.

2. Programme implementation planning and design
-Develop annual programme implementation plans in line with the strategic plan
-Conduct planning sessions with internal and external stakeholders to agree on targets, assumptions, resources and resource allocation and budgets
-Design and align partners to a mutually acceptable programme review process
-Ensure alignment of MOHCW and other implementing partners’ to the implementation and strategic plans

3. Policy and Advocacy
-Develop an influencing and advocacy strategy to support the delivery of programme objectives including appropriate communication with international stakeholders, bilateral and NGOs working in Zimbabwe
-Assist international fund raising and advocacy efforts, specifically to support the prioritisation of maternal and newborn health in broader allocation decisions by public and private funders
-Align partners to the advocacy strategy and targets
-Represent ARK and the program at key country level policy initiatives and discussions

4. Programme monitoring, evaluation and reporting
-Work with the ARK M&E function and partners to design and implement M&E plans
-Align partners behind a quarterly monitoring and evaluation reporting process outlining clear expectations of this process
-Align partners to programme objectives, expectations and reporting timelines
-Ensure reports are designed to meet both structural and content specifications

5. Budget development & financial planning
-Work closely with regional and ARK HQ teams to develop a comprehensive and accurate budget
-Ensure programmatic compliance to stipulated Financial SOPs
-Monitor internal and external expenditures ensuring compliance with defined internal and external reporting expectations and standards
-Ensure Programmatic compliance to ARK’s business planning cycle and process
-Review and approve project expenses
-In conjunction with the steering team, adjust budget requirements as necessary

6. Support programme Communications and PR
-Facilitate effective communication, pre and post launch, with international and local stakeholders in liaison with the Regional office and ARK HQ
-Work with ARK’s Communications and PR department to design an appropriate communication plan
-Provide local context to all programme communication and PR initiatives

7. Manage programme Administrative matters
-Ensure timely programme progress reporting
-Follow through on ARK’s MOU approval process with the MOH
-Locate offices for ARK in Harare
-Ensure the operation is set up in compliance to local laws and regulations
-Facilitate renewal of existing MOUs and create new MOUs with partners as necessary

8. Stakeholder management
-Facilitate appropriate communication with stakeholders
-Represent ARK and the programme at different level stakeholder meetings as required
-Grow and nurture the appropriate relationships and networks to support effective programme design, implementation and sustainability
-    Identify and follow up on potential donors and partners

9. Human resource management
-Assess current and future human resource requirements as per implementation plan and build a team in Zimbabwe to effectively implement the programme
-Facilitate staff development plans including mentoring and coaching
-Carry out appropriate disciplinary procedures if necessary
-Ensure performance management processes across the program implementation team are implemented effectively
-Ensure effective internal communication of ARK’s policies

Qualifications and Personal Attributes:

-Medical officer with experience and/or qualifications in maternal and newborn health in the public sector
-Experience with training and/or continuous medical education
-At least 5 years senior management experience in public health and or MNCH programming
-A strong minded, capable and results orientated individual who is able to develop and execute plans
-Proven track record of effective programme design and implementation
-Ability to effectively and rapidly build strong relationships

How to Apply:
To apply for this position, kindly send your CV, clearly affirming your – for this position – relevant experiences to: applications [at] missiontalent [dot] com
Please state ARK-PH-ZIM is the subject line of this email.
Thank you for applying. Please understand that Mission Talent can only contact candidates who have been short-listed.

Nutrition Specialist (Infant and Young Child Feeding – IYCF) – UNICEF
Deadline: 4 September 2011

Vacancy Notice No. 2011:20
NO-C Level

UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s rights organization, has an opening for passionate and committed professionals who want to make a lasting difference for children in Zimbabwe. We are seeking people with a commitment for women and children, high drive for results, demonstrable embracing of diversity, integrity, demonstrable teamwork, good self-awareness and self-regulation.

Purpose of the post:
The successful candidate will report to the Nutrition Manager, and will be accountable for the formulation, design, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of IYCF Nutrition project(s) to ensure overall efficiency and effectiveness of the project management, delivery and accomplishment of project goals and objectives. The role also also enhances effective project, sectoral and inter-sectoral planning, development and management by leading, guiding, coordinating and supporting the timely completion of the Situational Analysis.

The person will be responsible for exchanging of knowledge, information, experience or lessons learned; provides solid technical recommendations on major programme directions and on introduction of new initiatives in the country. He or she will be fundamental in promoting rights-based IYCF Nutrition projects and programmes through participation in the formulation of programme/project goals, strategies and approaches, especially those that increase gender equality. This includes ensuring the appropriateness of financial, administrative and supply documentation verifying that Nutrition project expenditures are within allotments set guidelines.

The successful candidate will participate in major evaluation exercises, programme reviews and annual sector review meetings with government counterparts, ensuring that quantitative and qualitative lessons learned in gender equality in nutrition are included as a standard feature. He or she will also ensure the preparation of Annual Nutrition sector status reports.

Minimum Qualifications and Experience Required:
- Advanced university degree in following disciplines: Public Health & Nutrition, Health Sciences, International Health & Nutrition, Family Health & Nutrition, Nutritional Epidemiology, Health & Nutrition Education, Health & Nutrition Promotion and Disease Prevention, Public Health, Health Emergency Preparedness, or other relevant discipline(s).
- Training in gender and in nutrition programmes that promote gender equality an asset.
- At least 5 years of professional work experience in the UN or other international development organization/ private sector, national government or field work experience.
If you have experience of working in a similar capacity, meet the above profile and want to make an active and lasting contribution to build a better world for children, send your application quoting vacancy notice number to the following address.

HR Specialist
(Vacancy Notice No. Zim2011/20)
UNICEF, 6 Fairbridge Avenue,
P O Box 1250
Belgravia, Harare

Or email: hararevacancies [at] gmail [dot] com

Applications should be received by 4 September 2011. Only short listed candidates will be contacted.

Public Health Technical Advisor: CESVI
Deadline: 7 September 2011

Location: Harare, Zimbabwe

Work Context
Cesvi is a non-governmental, international humanitarian organization, which is working in 30 countries throughout the world. Cesvi is dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of poverty in the world’s poorest countries through the mobilisation and active participation of the recipients of aid.  Cesvi has been operating in Zimbabwe since 1998 in three key areas: Environment, Health and the Social sector.  Our strategic goals for Health development in Zimbabwe focus on Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission of HIV; strengthening community health systems for HIV responses; Malaria; Nutrition; food security and health system strengthening. The work is being implemented across Zimbabwe.  The institution adopts sector policies, plans single projects on a long-term basis and aims at addressing social determinants of health towards the reduction of poverty and improved health outcomes

Job Summary
The collaboration will start as soon as possible. The Public Health technical advisor will have the following responsibilities:

-Provide technical assistance for health activities in the implementation of current projects by identifying problems and in developing long-term solutions in line with CESVI Zimbabwe strategic goals.
-Participate in project reviews and support proposal development, acquisition of funding and monitoring and evaluation.
-Actively explore cross-sectoral linkages between health programming and other development sectors.
-Assist country programs with their strategic plans for health, fostering innovation in programme implementation and strengthening cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
-Assist programs in the development of quantitative and qualitative assessments including baseline surveys, participatory rural assessments and analysis of results.
-Assist in the design of program implementation plans.
-Network with appropriate organizations and build alliances that further strategic objectives.
-Develop and maintain strong linkages with international partners. Obtain external funding for country program strategies.

-Post graduate degree in public health, population health, nutrition or relevant health-related postgraduate degree.
-Minimum of 5 years experience in international health development either as a technical advisor or health program manager, preferably vast work experience in Zimbabwe and in other African Countries.
-Experience in program design/management, program quality and performance assessment as part of ongoing efforts to improve aid effectiveness.
-Good M&E, research and fundraising skills.
-Strong analytical skills, sound judgment and the capacity to think and plan strategically, including the ability to produce high quality policy/visibility materials and advice for development implementation.
-High-level English oral and written communication skills, including representation and liaison skills.
-Excellent interpersonal, coordination, networking and negotiation skills, including in a cross-cultural context as a team player.
-Experience collaborating with local NGOs, liaison with Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, National AIDS Council and other strategic platforms is preferred.
-Strong knowledge and experience in programme budgeting is preferred. Previous experience in managing EU budgets/projects is an added advantage.
-Be familiar with donor strategies for health

The public health technical advisor will work on a 6 months contract. The contract may be part time or performance based.

Interested suitably qualified and experienced persons should submit their applications with CV and motivation letter (maximum 1 page) to:
Cvavassori [at] cesvioverseas [dot] org
The email shall bear the header “PHTA vacancy”
Please note: Only short listed candidates will be contacted.

Vehicle Fleet Manager: ICRC
Deadline: 9 September 2011

The International Committee of the Red Cross Regional delegation, Harare (Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) invites applicants from qualified Zimbabwean nationals for the position of Vehicle Fleet Manager.

Key responsibilities

Fleet Management
-Maximize fleet efficiency and effectiveness through planned resource allocation in accordance with guidelines issued.
-Decide on vehicle requirements and allocations in accordance with utilization and needs.
-Provide and ensure professional training of all drivers, both national and expatriate in accordance with security regulations and technical guidelines.
-Ensure that all vehicles are in compliance with ICRC HQ and national rules concerning insurance.
-Follow up on Insurance claims through ICRC database until settled.
-Ensure yearly vehicle inspection is carried out according to legal requirements.
-Ensure proper truck planning in co-operation with dispatch, warehouse and requester.
-Make driving tests for new members of staff, both National staff and Expatriates prior to approval to drive ICRC vehicles.

Workshop management
-Ensure quality and efficiency through regular control of the outsourced workshop used for ICRC vehicle service.
-Ensure fleet service schedules are adhered to and carried out in an optimized approach.
-Ensure that an optimized stock is kept in order to facilitate repairs at the best price.
-Ensure monthly/yearly inventories are maintained as per ICRC standard.
-Ensure that mechanics are conducting proper repairs, services and repairs, as per ICRC standard.

Administrative responsibilities
-Handle, supervise and monitor all fleet administrative issues.
-Validate and forward all invoices for payment to Finance Department.
-Provide reports from Fleet wave to Geneva and superior as required.
-Participate in the recruitment of staff for the fleet unit and supervise the team.

Qualifications and skills
-University degree in Transport Management or CILT UK Diploma
-2 – 6 years’ experience in a similar field
-Good command of written and spoken English
-Very good analytical skills
-Good management skills
-Good sense of priority
-Ability to lead a team and take initiative
- Good computer skills, fleet management software an added advantage
-Driver’s Licence a must

Complete applications (CV, letter of motivation, copies of diplomas and certificates, references) should be submitted to: The Administrator, 9 Downie Avenue, Belgravia, Harare, clearly marked “Vehicle Fleet Manager” before end of business on Friday, 9th September, 2011.

Country Director Zimbabwe: ActionAid
Deadline: 10 September 2011

Based in Harare, Zimbabwe
Salary: £40,289 per annum

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together.

ActionAid International Zimbabwe is looking for a committed and inspirational leader to lead, guide and strengthen our work with poor and excluded people and communities so as to advance their rights, entitlements, and social justice in Zimbabwe.

ActionAid has had a presence in Zimbabwe since 1999 and became a full country programme in 2005 and is part of ActionAid International, a federation of national organizations working in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Americas and Europe regions.

ActionAid International works in partnership with communities, community based organizations, civil society, social movements, and governments, across the world, to fight and eradicate poverty, injustice and exclusion. We work with and support poor and excluded people in their struggles to demand and claim their rights. ActionAid’s work is focused around women’s rights, right to basic education, food rights, and access and control of natural resources, harnessing the potential of youth to promote just and democratic governance, human security in emergencies and alternative economic livelihoods for women.

The candidate must have a proven track record in leading and managing large development programs in national and international organizations, and have experience of either being part of social movements or being an active member of the civil society. S/He will adopt empowering management practices to expand and deepen our partnerships, programmes and accountability in Zimbabwe. Actively committed to women’s rights and gender equity, the Country Director will also be value driven and a team player/organizer possessing high level of people related skills as well as strong financial management and control skills. S/He will have the perspectives and competencies for rights-based programme and policy advocacy work; fundraising and donor relations; regional and international linkages and a sound basis of organizational development. Courage of conviction in taking public stands against issues of injustice and experience of dealing with governance issues would be an asset. This is a senior position based in Harare with frequent travel to the field and internationally. The candidate must have excellent written and verbal communication skills in the English language.

To apply submit your curriculum vitae with a motivation letter to Vacancies.Africa [at] actionaid [dot] org While we value all applications, we can only respond to short listed candidates. Whilst all applicants will be assessed strictly on their individual merits, qualified women are especially encouraged to apply.

Sifting through the propaganda

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 by Michael Laban

First stunning thing this week. Information that the Zimbabwe government may deport the Libyan Ambassador for flying the rebel flag.


I mean, denial is a wonderful place. I go there often. ‘In denial’ is usually the note that goes with my blank stare and far away look. However, I think this really takes the cake for life with your head up your ass! They are almost as ‘lost in space’ as Gadaffi himself, the man of the HUGE floor mural that people are now pissing on in Tripoli! And who issues radio statements that he is going to fight to the last against the cockroaches, and die in Libya, and … he is nowhere to be found. Even the cockroaches do not know where he is. But he is defiant! From some safe hole where he is doing his Saddam/Gbago impersonation. While he lets others die for him. And it appears he let others kill, (in great numbers) for him too.

Now there is a real man for you!

And the second stunning bit from that same information. The GNU has ‘unified’ and come to a decision to deport someone! This must be a first – a government decision! But I suspect someone gave out the wrong information. Who actually said this? I really do not think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Prime Minister, (the government) made any statement. Some ignorant hack in the President’s office (living in denial, and in the past, with his head up his ass), or some other executive type person (army or police), may have said something, but not ‘the government’.

First off, the government is the majority party in parliament, headed by the Prime Minister. They make the laws of Zimbabwe. And I suspect they made no law about deporting ambassadors. The President is the head of the Executive, the chief civil servant. And the Executive is the body of people that implement, or carry out, the laws of Zimbabwe. They do not make them. They are bound by them, and must do what the Government tells them to do. They must enforce the law. (Or be lawless, undisciplined, warlords.) And they do not make policy. Let alone ‘deport’ other people’s ambassador’s.

Then, more stunning (but ‘slow burn’) information. 100 prominent South Africans sign some letter protesting NATO’s bombing of Libyan killers (tanks, and other mechanisms of ‘civilian’ control). Why? Who are they (and don’t tell me the names, I can find that myself)? They cannot sign any letter 10 years ago to say, “please help the people suffering under this evil murdering dictator most foul”. But now they can sign a letter against the ‘will bomb for oil’ boys. So who are these people who can only see what they want to see? But seem quite incapable of looking around and calling out evil wherever they see it. The can only look around and call out evil when it suits them. So who are they, and why should we listen to them? Seems their ‘values’ are a bit suspect.

And the Africa Union (that organisation founded and consisting of Heads of State and Government) wonders why it has been ‘marginalised’? Well, what did happen to the peer review mechanism? Are you also unable to see and deal with evil? Except when it suits you. Or are you really only a body to represent African heads of State, and have nothing to do with African people.

Dear AU. You are marginalised because you only deal with marginal issues, and even then, at the margins. If you took a stance, had some values, and pursued them, you would not be a marginal (holiday trip) body.

On doublespeak, I hear on the BBC, interviews with foreigners in Libya and Tripoli, wanting to get out. Why? The new power in Libya is killing Africans (or might kill) people who are suspected as being Gadaffi mercenaries. But hang on, Libyans are Africans! After all, Libya is in Africa, and Gadaffi is one of the main founders/movers of the African Union. Oh, does the BBC mean ‘blacks’? It seems quite clear that all blacks are not Africans, and all Africans are not black. So why can we not speak properly?

And Zapiro’s cartoon also had me laughing and smiling for some time. His, “Signs of Libya”. NATO planes over head with banners, ‘Will bomb for oil concessions’. His Zuma character on the street corner with the sign, ‘No coherent foreign policy, Please help’, and the wall poster behind him ‘lost, road map’ and to contact the AU.

And now, big (but not really) scandal on Shell Oil spills in the Niger delta. Over the past 20 years, or more. Compare this to the small spill, over months, in the Gulf of Mexico. I have no desire to go back to my earlier blog on the USA, their gross oil over consumption, and how their backyard contrasts with our backyard. And the one response I got, “fuck you”. But I would like to ask, “was I right?”, or “was I right?”. The ‘will bomb for oil boys’ are, without doubt, a bad bunch. But where does the buck stop? At producers, or consumers? They will bomb for oil, and poison whole nations of people, but not in their back yard.

What social media does for people power

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

Rather than arguing about what social media can’t do, focus on what it can, urges Aaron Bady writing for MIT’s Technology Review this week. He looks at the role of tools like Twitter and Facebook in the Egyptian revolution, and without giving credit to them for “starting” the revolution, or even “causing” the revolution, he makes a thoughtful, reasoned argument for appreciating what they can do. He counters arguments from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, that social media organising revolves around ‘weak ties,’ by suggesting that sometimes weak ties are exactly what you need to keep people working together – and not getting bogged down in disagreements over the detail.

Read more here – It’s worth it.

Time out on Kariba

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, August 29th, 2011 by Brenda Burrell

I downed tools a couple of weeks ago to take time out with my family on a houseboat on Lake Kariba.  My siblings and our families are split across 3 countries, so opportunities to reconnect are a celebration. This reunion was particularly celebratory as we were gathering for my brother’s imminent wedding in Nyanga.

The journey up to Kariba was unremarkable with the exception of the fabulous signs displayed on the roadside by worm sellers trying to attract the custom of fishermen and women headed for the lake. Reading the signs, there are clearly different varieties of worms to be had – connoisseurs can choose from ‘red worms of note’ and ‘puffadder worms’.

Pufadar worms ahead

Pufadar worms ahead

We enjoyed 6 days together, spending each of our 5 nights at a different mooring along the seemingly endless margin of this giant body of water. Every morning a few of us would wake before dawn to meditate and reflect on our beautiful environment. Shortly after sun up the rest of the family would rise for a quick cup of something hot before separating for a few hours to windsurf, paddle a canoe or head out in a tender boat to fish and game watch.  After a late breakfast we’d unmoor and slowly head back out into the deep water to enjoy another day in the sun, en route to our next berth. Because all around is national park, you’re not allowed to walk on the land unless you are accompanied by a park ranger. With so much fun to be had on and in the water, none of us were complaining.

Swallows on the mooring rope

Swallows on the mooring rope

Actually there was only one of our party competent to windsurf with hippo and crocs plentiful in the water all around us. The rest of us waited for a ‘nursery site’ later in the day – any deep water far offshore, somewhere on our daily journey between evening moorings.

In between swimming and eating we read books, played games and revelled in the warmth generally absent during the winter months in other parts of Zimbabwe.

We saw remarkably little traffic on the lake – a scattering of kapenta fishing rigs, a pair of yachts and a handful of other houseboats – all a clear sign of the decline in tourism to Zimbabwe. Also in less abundance was game. We saw plenty of hippo and crocs and some lovely sightings of elephant and impala – even one remarkable sighting of a rhino and its baby – but there were no buffalo to be seen at all. I expect this is largely as a result of the lake being incredibly full and grazing being in short supply.

Elephants - Kariba

Elephants - Kariba

I always have mixed feelings about the pleasure I derive from being on the lake. It is a magnificent expanse of water, but underneath lies a sunken world – once home to communities of people and a diverse variety of plants and animals – now displaced or lost forever.

Two cheers for two patriots?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, August 29th, 2011 by Marko Phiri

It was always going to be difficult to run with the hares and hunt with the dogs, and the indigenisation drive is just one of those things that show how this has become more than real if this metaphor is to be located in the country’s body politic. The fact that “a moderate” like Gono has attempted to steer Minister Kasukuwere away from a bank takeover drive that is a patently kamikaze-inspired policy but has still met the very obduracy that has landed the country in this mess ought to tell us something about the extent the Prime Minister’s MDC is emasculated.

We read the other day that Minister Biti was to meet Minister Kasukuwere over this bank takeover after some tough talk from Gono who himself has never found favour with Biti. It becomes a convoluted matrix of politics meets economics, and we can be sure that these power games have no ordinary Zimbabwean at the centre of indigenisation or economic reconstruction. It is dumb even to imagine that Gono would agree on anything with the MDC based on what we already know, and just what is it that can be read in the public spat with Kasukuwere? Are we seeing an overt emergence of moderates who have no place in the Zanu PF scheme of radicalism?

Zimbabweans have long been conditioned to read developments here in very emotive binaries because of the polarised politics of our post-independence history, and it will take some leap of faith for anyone to believe that “God’s banker” is reading from the same hymn sheet with men who have labelled him a terrorist. So are we now expected to see Gono and Biti punching from the same corner and cheer that indeed we have made that turn for the common good, or just dismiss this as another episode of the protracted battle for the control of the country’s resources by a group of people who still have to prove themselves that it is the Zimbabwean people who matter?  You just have to have your ear on the streets to understand how Zimbabweans think.