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Archive for March, 2012

Ndeipi iyi?

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Monday, March 26th, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

During my kombi days I often heard whindi’s and drivers complaining about how police officers refused to pay kombi fare, but at roadblocks the same officers would ask them for bribes, or when they were arrested would beat them badly. Personally, I’ve never really trusted the police, and given a choice I’d pick a soldier over a policeman. Outside of the repeated harassment at roadblocks, I’ve found members of the police to be undisciplined, bureaucratically inefficient and at times just plain unwilling to do their job.  So given an opportunity where I am not compelled by law to cooperate with the police, I won’t.

Recently I had occasion to add ‘entitled’ to my list of grievances against the police. On Friday afternoon, as I was leaving the British Embassy a police officer approached my car and attempted to get in. Finding both passenger doors closed, he looked perplexed, then finally asked me which way I was going, although it didn’t quite sound like a request:

Policeman: Murikuenda nekuextension handiti? (You’re going through second street extension right?)
Me: Aiwa, handisi. (No, I’m not)

I started my car and left.

There had been two other cars besides mine leaving the embassy at the same time, one with an old British couple, and another with a man by himself. The policeman hadn’t approached either of these. Did he really think it more likely that he would get a ride from a woman driving on her own?

What made me angry was the presumption on his part that he had any right at all to attempt to get into the car without asking my permission first. It was still my car.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this, and perhaps I am making mountains out of molehills. Should I be angry that a policeman in uniform tried to get into my car without asking me first? Is it because he is a policeman and thought himself entitled to a free ride like other officers do with kombis? Or is it because he’s a policeman and, being I woman I appeared weaker and couldn’t say no?

Why is the city bent on destroying itself?

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Monday, March 26th, 2012 by Michael Laban

This just in – the Macdonald Park Pool (Avondale’s city/public pool) has changed it’s opening times. It will be closed Sunday, and only open 0800 to 1200 Saturday. It will also be shut at 1600 everyday, not the 1800 it used to shut. But it will be available to hire for functions on those days. No reason has been given. This is city wide, directive from above.

I ‘understand’ things, since I have been involved in getting the Mac Park Pool rehabilitated and opened.

The first thing I know is that it was rented for functions at $300 a time. Weddings usually. And the area residents complained non-stop about the noise involved.

The second thing I know, on a warm weekend day, the pool would take in over $300 in gate proceeds. In a day! And, or course, the residents generally work on the weekdays, so can only swim on the weekends.

Conclusion. The City of Harare has decided to stop getting up to $500 (two and a half days’ income) and instead rent it out for $300. The City of Harare is trying to NOT make money. The City of Harare is trying to keep the citizens of Harare out of their pool.

Another thing known – The City of Harare takes all the gate takings. Banked straight to them. And rental of the place as a venue means the money goes to the pool, which then takes what it needs for chemicals and upkeep, and banks the remainder to the City of Harare. The City of Harare, however, never gives or pays for any chemicals or pool maintenance. So, the only way to keep the pool running is to shut it to the public, rent it to a private function, and use that money to keep it running for the public.

Is this not short-term policy to long-term disaster?

Please can we have the City of Harare run the pool for the Harare Public and make money?

Fix this.please

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Bev Clark

Blocked drains in Glenview; Zimbabweans get involved in Kubatana’s Fix this.please campaign.

Thanks to Priviledge from Glenview.

Looking for work

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Jane Chivere

Education is a very powerful tool in life. We all seek and need education with the hope that we would find employment. Countless people are not been given the opportunity to utilize this powerful resource because of the deprived economy in Zimbabwe. Thousands of graduates and postgraduates are seated in their homes with nothing to do. Where are the jobs? Jobs must be created.

There are so many universities in Zimbabwe. But can Zimbabwe’s economy sustain this? It’s like adding harm to injury. It is a fact that Zimbabwe is one of the best countries in Africa in quality of education. I for one agree with that because I am a result of this good edification. Despite lack of resources, Zimbabwe still maintains that standard. What worries me is whether being educated is still worth it in our country anymore. The rate of unemployment is so high and keeps soaring. I was amused when I read an article in the Herald about auditions for a radio talk show where thousands of people turned up in hope. The director of this radio talk show insinuated that people were enthusiastic about the auditions. I should think that these were just unemployed people with a hope of just getting a job and being able to earn a living. The next batch of graduates are yet to be released adding to the already high rate of unemployment.

Economists with their jargon talk about the demand and supply curve. It does not tally at all. There are not enough jobs to meet the number of educated people in this country. Thus people resort to leaving the country to what they have termed “greener pastures”. But is it all green and rosy out there? I know of many Zimbabweans who would die to come back home, but to what?  They would rather sacrifice to be out there to earn the little they can and send some back home, with their professional and academic certificates safely tucked away in the hope that one day an opportunity will arise that would best suit their qualifications. Hoping that the dust would not have settled on them too…

I do wish that our economy will one day improve, and if possible the sooner the better. People cannot hustle forever, and if hustling wont work then what? Crime?

To those graduating this year and the years to come, I say brace yourselves for the reality, they call the Industry.

Young Voices Network launches manifesto on ending homelessness

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Young Voices Network yesterday launched their “Seven Point Manifesto On Ending Homelessness” at their offices. In doing this Young Voices Network, hopes to enrich the public debate about Operation Restore Order with considered recommendations sourced from those Zimbabweans who were directly affected. Young Voices Network also hopes to engage with policy makers on the issues that affect you in Hatcliffe and Hatcliffe extension and influence the political and policy reform processes.

Speaking at the launch Young Voices Network Co-ordinator Tayiona Sanagurai said that the Manifesto was a culmination of a theatre for development dialogue. The process involved the youth in Hatcliffe creating a drama, which was performed for residents of their community, followed by an open discussion. Mr Sanangurai cautioned however, that the Manifesto was not a panacea for ending homelessness.

“We are trying to get people to look at homelessness” he said, “[the Manifesto] provides pointers to policymakers.”

Included in the presenting panel were two outspoken youths, Brave and Patience, from Hatcliffe extension. Amidst several contributions from members of the audience that the youths should ‘find projects to generate income and occupy their time’, Brave detailed why this was not possible. He recounted how he and a colleague had managed to start a potato cultivation project, but when they needed to acquire funding from CBZ to grow their business, they were rejected, as they were unable to supply proof of residence.

“There are no water or electricity services where we live. So we don’t have the bills.”

While Hatcliffe Extension residents have been issued lease agreements by the government, banks refuse to recognise these as legal documents. Thus youths in Hatcliffe are unable to open bank accounts or obtain loans.

Mr. Sanagurai elaborated on the difficult situation of Hatcliffe Extension residents, adding that several municipalities, including Harare City Council and Ministry of Local Government claimed jurisdiction of the area. This state of contention left residents without any proper representation of their interests. “Government uses uncoordinated and inconsistent policies, which leads to a lack of accountability,” he said.

The Manifesto asks the government to create a policy environment that guarantees the rights of citizens to housing, health services, and the benefits of full citizenship. It asks that policymakers commit to the goal of addressing the after effects of Operation Murambatsvina, and ensure that government departments at all levels work together effectively, and with the voluntary sector to prevent homelessness.

Do you have the PHD Syndrome?

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012 by Bev Clark

A new report from the Research Advocacy Unit (RAU):

Do you have the PHD Syndrome?
By Kudakwashe Chitsike

“Unless and until we get rid of PHD, women will not go far in any field.” In this context a PHD is not a doctorate degree, it is an acronym that stands for Pull Her Down. The Pull Her Down Syndrome is sadly one that most women suffer from regardless of status in society. Upon hearing the term for the first time I was shocked as it seemed in the group there were a few of us who had never heard of the PHD, I knew what it was but I hadn’t realised that the behaviour had its own acronym! The syndrome is based on an inferiority complex, “We look down upon each other and ourselves by saying we are not able to do it, let the men do it.”

The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) held 11 focus group discussions with women from different parts of the country to talk about politically motivated violence against women. The focus group discussions also explored what women are likely to face as we draw closer to elections, looking at what happened in past elections and what efforts are being made to protect women from violence.

Inevitably these discussions also brought about the issue of encouraging women to participate in national processes and aspire to hold positions of authority. It is within this context that we established that the PHD is holding women back as women do not support other women to occupy leadership positions. W “We grew up being told that men should be the ones’ to lead so we still have that mentality and letting it go is a bit difficult.” It was stated repeatedly that when a woman is standing for a political position, she has to struggle for acceptance from her peers as petty jealousies based mainly on gossip rear their ugly heads. The main reason for women selling out other women is seldom for their political affiliations but mostly because of the PHD syndrome; politics provides a perfect cover for women to settle scores that have accumulated over years.

Another issue that features in the political PHD syndrome is marital status; if a woman is single, involved in politics and successful the most common misconception is that she used unscrupulous mainly immoral means to get to the top.”A married woman is said to be more honourable than one who is not married so when an unmarried woman runs for office she is judged harshly.” If she is married then she doesn’t have a strong husband who can bring her to order as politics and marriage do not mix, never mind that men have been doing it for time immemorial.

A woman involved in politics, as with women in other male dominated fields has to work twice as hard to gain respect and ironically the people she has to impress the most are other women. Women would rather nominate a man than another woman for a political position, as “men are more educated and politically astute”, but when we asked how the women will ever become educated and astute if we do not give them opportunities, the women had no response.

The women in the focus groups acknowledged that women need to be given the opportunities to learn on the job but stated that there is a need for a total change in mindset, so that we accept that women can do the same as men in politics and any other fields considered to be male domain. The way to address this is by having confidence building sessions for women, which should start with confidence in the home before addressing what happens in the public arena. The inferiority complex results in “women not standing up for what they want so if someone says that we are unable to do something then we start to doubt ourselves and believe that we will fail and thus we fail before we even begin.”

For there to be a change in mindset it is important to look at cultural and religious beliefs that perpetuate the myth that women are below men and they are overstepping their bounds when they participate in politics. It is important to involve the men and older women, as they are the custodians of the beliefs that oppress women. Women’s organisations have to take on a much bigger role and increase visibility particularly in the rural areas where cultural and religious beliefs, which discriminate against women, are deeply rooted.

It has been said often enough by women in high political positions that it is an uphill journey to the top for a woman to stand against a man for a position. They have to contend with sexual harassment and or sexual violence, superiority complexes from their male counterparts without having to deal with the PHD from women. Instead of supporting the efforts of those who are brave enough to say ‘bring it on’ to the men, other women are scheming to find ways to bring her down. The women stated that many times when a woman is elected, she stops behaving and thinking like a woman and takes on a ruthless male persona, where she has forgotten the struggles she endured as a woman to get there, she forgets about the women left behind in the struggle.

Women in these discussions varied in age, geographical locations, backgrounds and political affiliation but their responses were very similar with regard to PHD, “we women are our own worst enemies as we don’t want to see our peers succeed.” The PHD syndrome however is not confined to the political realm it appears in every aspect of every woman’s life. It is about undermining the efforts of another for usually very superficial reasons. As women we should implement programmes that encourage women and girls to grab equal opportunities with men as well as support each other in whatever areas we decide to venture into.