Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for November, 2011

Local hand made wildlife

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Varaidzo Tagwireyi

Rooneys, the hiring specialists, are one of the many companies helping to keep Harare beautiful. This is a photograph of the traffic circle that they’re helping to maintain in Newlands. The giraffe are made by local artists.


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Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Michael Laban

We have the MacDonald Park pool (that is, the Avondale public pool) up and running. Took us (a small portion of the community) a lot of time and effort, and donations (thanks for the paint, Astra, the bins, Beta Bricks) but I am told it is the best pool in Harare now!

But it took us over a year. Draining, cleaning with hydrochloric acid, pump fixing, new sand, painting the walls… but now it is in use (over 100 people one day) and we are looking at the right trees to put in the parking lot. Definitely a success. In that over a year though, I often wondered – especially while doing the acid clean, that stuff really rips your lungs out – “why am I doing this?” After all, the post independence Rhodesian euphemism for blacks was ‘non–swimmers’. And while I can swim, I am also a ‘non-swimmer’. (And although white, I am definitely an African, NOT a European – 11th generation along some lines North American.)

So why am I cleaning this pool? Is it just a white thing? (And most of the volunteers were white, or the gardeners of the local whites sent to work for the day.) Why am I here, scrubbing and coughing my lungs out, or getting paint on my new shoes, or just baking in the sun? Why am I here? Is it really just to save the trees in the park around the pool from ‘development’ (the construction of 18 cluster homes)?

But, it is open now. And used. I suppose the hot weather helps but it is FULL! The parking lot is full. Mercedes and BMWs. On the weekends, you cannot park. Even on week days (I know I am unemployed, but the rest?) there are many people there. Kids, fitness freaks, pretty girls, teenagers, the lot. Over 100 people a day! They are all there, swimming. And they are all non-swimmers! Hard to spot a white, and I know we stand out!

So where did the idea come from that blacks are non-swimmers?

Where did the idea come from that the pools could be ‘let go’. Allowed to turn green? – it has produced over $2500 so far this year, in gate takings, since we opened in October.

Why did they (the CoH) think the staff could be laid off (it has gone from 7 employees to 3)? Who agreed to a deal, signed (by the appointed commission) to allow someone to ‘revamp’ the pool in exchange for the land around so they could build 18 cluster homes? Who appointed the business department of CoH who signed this deal?

Who works for who around here? Do we work for the government (at all levels),or does the government fail to work for us?

Perhaps the real question is not “why don’t I understand blacks?”, that is obvious – I don’t, because I am white and was raised in Rhodesia. But why doesn’t/didn’t the new government understand blacks? All this was done by the regime that followed the Smith regime. The new independence regime. All this was done by a black government in Harare, Zimbabwe. A regime that had mobilised the black masses to defeat and overthrow the white regime and change Salisbury, Rhodesia into Harare, Zimbabwe.

Or did they/ do they understand the blacks? Do they understand that they can do what they want, that the black community (as it was under the Rhodesians) does not have the voice to stand up and say, “give us our pool, and make it clean and working?”

But the main question – how come it is full of ‘non-swimmers’ swimming?

Okay, I admit I am a racist. I see someone, and I see black or white (or oriental). I do believe there is a difference, just as there is a difference between women and men. Old and young. (Not sure about gays and straight though). Military and civilians. Shooters and non-shooters. Bikers and people who drive cars. Cat lovers and dog lovers. The important thing, I tell myself, is not to discriminate based on race or anything else (although I am sure I do, but I try not to).

So, the question. How did blacks come to be called ‘non-swimmers’?

And secondary, why were most of the volunteers, who did the work, white? Or sent by whites to actually do the work? I know it is not a white community!

The other Sunday I went to see the Messiah (or hear actually – Handel’s composition). And it was, as usual, brilliant. One of the best bits of music out there – even compares favourably with The Stones and Van Morrison. But there I noticed too, the hall was solid white. Not a ‘non-swimmer’ to be seen (except on stage). I know blacks are Christians, in some cases, very Christian (and I am not). I know blacks sing, and make music. Again, in some cases, very well. So why not come to the Messiah? Door charge was $10, but again I know many blacks make more than I do (not difficult, I am unemployed).

I assume the Messiah (the music, not the dude) is a white social club, that they have managed to keep blacks out of, but why is swimming not a white social club that they have not managed to keep blacks out of? What is the difference?

But of high importance, thanks for using the pool. In such HUGE numbers. The thank you (by demonstration and not some words) hits me in the face so hard I have difficulty standing up.

How have you been forced to receive your change?

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Friday, November 25th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

The thing is, our change is our money. When a shop doesn’t have coins, and they give us credit notes, sweets, or other things, they take away our autonomy. If we give away our independence to our super markets, what hope is there of getting it back from our politicians?

So, how have shop keepers given you change?

survey solutions

The Legal Resource Foundation has recently published an opinion on the absence of coins for change. You can read it here

They point out that the primary reason for the absence of coins as change is the fact that most shops and customers transact in US dollars (notes), but the coins most readily available from the banks as change for shop keepers is in Rand.

Given the constantly changing Rand to Dollar exchange rate, it is difficult for shops to offer change to customers in a way that takes into account the rate at which they got the Rand coins from the bank, as compared with the Rand to US Dollar rate on the day the customer is at the shop.

To best address this, LRF suggests reminding the Minister of Finance about his pledge earlier this year to make US Dollar coins available to banks, and therefore to shops and customers.

Remind the Minister that we work hard for our money and that every cent counts. It is unfair and insulting to force people to buy items that they do not need. What people want is their change and their autonomy to buy what they want when they want.

Get involved! Tell the Ministry of Finance what you think of the absence of coins as change, and what you suggest he does about it.

Submit your comment on the Ministry of Finance website (and whilst you’re at it, maybe suggest that they add an email address for the ministry that’s not the webmaster).

Crowding out private media from the limited media space

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Friday, November 25th, 2011 by Lenard Kamwendo

The awarding of broadcasting radio licences to Zimpapers and Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications’ Zi Radio is another step in limiting media space to private broadcasting companies.

In today’s Daily News it is reported that:

“The two radio stations are owned by companies with links to Zanu PF.

Zimpapers has for long been accused by civil society and the two MDC parties of being biased towards Zanu PF and for promoting hate speech through its various newspaper titles.

On the other hand AB Communications owner, Mandiwanzira is a known Zanu PF member. He was recently introduced at a Zanu PF rally in Nyanga North as a potential parliamentary candidate for the party in forthcoming elections.”

2012 National Budget

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Friday, November 25th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

Interested in the Zimbabwe 2012 National Budget announced by the Ministry of Finance yesterday? Download it here (240 pages, Size 4MB) or find out more

“We Are Many” – Make it happen!

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Friday, November 25th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

Such an inspiring film trailer.

We Are Many is a documentary about the never-before-told story of the biggest protest in history, on 15 February 2003, and its legacy, through the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement. The day that saw an estimated 30 million people in over 700 cities around the world, gave birth to a new global social movement.

You could help it get to theatres in February 2013 . . . Find out more