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Buy Zimbabwe campaign, a fabulous ill-timed event

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Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Dydimus Zengenene

Reading through The Zimbabwean as part of my daily morning dosage, the story of the Buy Zimbabwe Campaign by Ngoni Chanakira caught my eye. A ‘”Chief Executive’s Walk” across Harare to Africa Unity Square’ … the campaign is meant to encourage Zimbabweans to buy local goods as opposed to the cheap imports that currently flood the market. A noble idea, right? But this is utter hogwash.

The stupidity manifests from two angles. First, is it really feasible at this point to ask a Zimbabwean to stop buying imports, and second, who is doing the campaign?

If there are executives in the campaign I hope there is no one coming from the retail industry because all of what they are selling is mostly, if not all, imported goods. I am not even sure if there is any sector that has recovered enough to supply the market with at least half their demands. I wonder which Zimbabwean goods they would encourage us to by?

If Zimbabwean goods can be found their cost is far higher than the average worker’s pocket can afford. Media has been running awash with debates of pay increases for civil servants, which is now more of a political issue than life and death. Assuming that Gibbs Dube report has some elements of truth, it emerges that civil servants have had their salaries increased by about $90 or lets say $100 dollars to be polite. Now they earn within the region of $300. Given the high costs of rentals, utilities and food, how much will be left for the worker to buy expensive imported products. Yes as a worker, I want to promote my country, but where are the goods? The few products on the market are just too expensive to afford. We buy Chinese products, Japanese second hand cars and the like. But everyone knows that the Chinese products on the market are not as durable as we want. We just buy them as a matter of convenience or to at least keep ourselves going. We are desperately waiting for that day when our businesses are back to full swing. Unfortunately the day is taking forever to come.

It would be absurd for one to waste time and effort to search for a Japanese car on the Internet if a new car was reasonably affordable at Willowvale. The losses that local companies are making are not because people are not buying their products as such but mainly because they are not manufacturing enough, or that the spirit of over pricing products is still haunting them. It is true that the cost of production could still be too high for now, but it would not be possible to buy a shoe that costs half my salary simply because it has been manufactured in Zimbabwe. Yet Mr Jiang has a weak Beijing brand of the same shoe costing $5. I better buy 13 pairs of his shoes. Perhaps they might even last longer.

When executives march to encourage people to buy local goods, it’s not bad if they too sell local goods at a price that we can afford, or at least with the payment conditions that are flexible enough for the poor worker.

That brings me to the second point. Today these executives are blaming the end consumer for being unpatriotic. Are they not the same executives who tasted prisons for what we called unethical business practices which fueled inflation? I even remember Econet selling its 0913 sim card for a $100, which was unjustified profiteering. They now sell this product for $2. Are they not the same business people who trebled their prices whenever the worker got an increment? What it points to is the fact that we do not trust the business people any more or at least we were made not to. They do not happen to have the very same patriotism, which they want customers to have when it comes to buying their goods, do they? History shows otherwise. Responding to their call is like a group of sheep that responds positively to a jackal’s call for a meeting.

I encourage Mr. Muyaradzi Hwengwere to go ahead and organise a meeting of executives on the 3rd of August. It is allowed for executives to walk together, share ideas, and even bask in the Africa Unity Square sun, enjoying the green lawn and that flamboyant fountain if it is still works. However making noise about that event, claiming to be having a purpose of making us buy their local goods is just a fallacy. Discouraging the buying of foreign goods is not bad for an economy with some threads to function on its own. Our dear country heavily relies on imported products both directly or indirectly. Stuff as basic as food, soap etc are all imports. Of late there have been talks to ban second hand car imports from Japan. Do we ever bother to know how much ZIMRA is making out of that process? The popular toll gates are all harvesting from the cheap cars around here, and the poor transport system is being supplemented, illegally though, by those cars.

The Buy Zimbabwe Campaign is a brilliant idea at the wrong time by the wrong people.

Women – the symbol of humanity

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Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Dydimus Zengenene

A century has lapsed since the first celebration of the remarkable international day when scores of women took to the streets demanding their economic and social right in the abusively male dominated world. The world is reflecting on the past and pondering on the fate of women’s future.

Speaking at a women’s suffrage convention in 1868, citing sternness, selfishness, love of war among other qualities, which she said have seen a record of blood and cruelty in the male led world, Elizabeth Candy concluded that “the male element is a destructive force”. Women are full of love for peace, harmony and order. It is only sad that this heart has not yet been placed fully at the centre stage of development.

Now I need to challenge men to start thinking of a single normal day. Have we ever stopped to think how many women die daily while giving birth, how much a woman takes the family on her shoulders in the midst of difficulties, how many innocent ladies we abuse on the prostitution market today, how all children in the world seek the love and protection of a mother. And then stop to think how many women have been raped today, how many women are crying because of violence now. Yet they never stop to love and smile. The very same people at the sacrificial altar for the continuity of the human race today still cry for recognition in society. Look at a newly born girl child, a poor young lady in the remotest part of a war tone country today and know for sure that she is a symbol of this endurance, this suffering in this world into which we all come in the same means for the same life.

Turning to this day, consider how much we celebrate the turn of the New Year, how much we honour one fallen hero in your country versus how we honour mothers who die giving birth for instance. Do not we get to feel that it is not enough just to celebrate this day doing our daily duties behind our office desks? Do not we also feel that it is not enough to show love respect and honour to women during only one out of 365 days of the year.

All the same, turn to a lady next to you, yes you see that symbol, think of your mother, your own sister your neighbor, perhaps you are lady yourself, yes your are the symbol of humanity, love, care, life above all of this endurance. Your struggle is not a mere demand, its not a political exercise, not a fallacy but goes beyond measurable terms. As weak as you may seem physically, the power of sustaining life is in inherently in your being. For those of you who believe the Bible, consider that, when God wanted to serve the world He neither sought for a powerful King, nor a strongest man of the clan, but a woman in the name of Mary”

I salute you women.

Liberation heroes

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Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

According to the Herald of the Friday, 1 October 2010, President Mugabe clarified a position that people have for long been struggling to understand. He made it clear that the idea of the National Hero’s Acre has every link to the liberation war and nowhere else.

Quoting the herald, the president said,

“…Nharaunda ino… inharaunda yevanenge vakaone-kwa kuti ava ndivo vakaisvogonesesa pahu-tungamiriri hwavo, pabasa ravo reChimurenga, rekurwira nyika. Saka inharaunda yevarwi veChimurenga….Haisi nharaunda yevanhu vanongonzi vatsvene. Vakawanda vatsvene, vakawandisisa vanobatsira vanhu . . . Asi pano patiri panodiwa veChimurenga saka kana tava kuda vatsvene vamwe vanogona zvakatikuti, tada magamba orudzi urworwo totsvagawo rimwe gomo ndipo potoisawo vatsvene verudzi irworwo. Pano ndepevemutupo weChimurenga ndozvatakaitira nzvimbo ino.”

Translated, the above quotation means,

“This place is a place of those that will have been proved to have done well in their leadership during the liberation struggle, so it is a place for the freedom fighters. This is not a place of any other people, there are so many good people who help others…But on this place we need people of the Liberation struggle, so if we want any other forms of heroes we have to choose another hill to lay such people. This place is for those of the Chimurenga totem.”

Over the past thirty years, this clarification was only enshrined in the closed quarters of the politburo, which deliberates on who to call a hero. This might mean that there are several day-to-day words and questions, at the political front whose definitions and answers are yet to be made public. Such words might include: ·    Who should be the president of the country? ·    Who should contribute to the constitution making process? ·    Who should get the largest share of land or part of the national cake?

Just as has been the case with that term “hero”, people attach some general meanings yet events position these questions in some predictable contexts, and no public clarification has been or will ever be issued.

It is therefore essential for political players and the public to be aware that some meanings that we reluctantly attach to some words and phrases in the political sphere are not necessarily the same as ones held by those in power.

Lunch time in Harare

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Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

Whereas it is common among people who work for the same organizations to share lunch hours together, a group of men working around Newlands shopping center have crafted it differently. Men from different organisations, including some vendors, gather under a tree close to the Caltex Service Station, eating and chatting.

Stories that make people laugh range from political jokes, social issues and the general teasing of each other.

Surprisingly, very few people know each other by name but the regular gatherings have developed enough trust to share information and lend each other a dollar or two. Sometimes strangers appear and their presence influences the type, and depth of stories and jokes of the day.

It is difficult to know how such a group came to be. No one really controls it. Sometimes two men just stand around and some start joining in sharing stories to while away the lunch hour. Usually people stay as long as possible not wanting to be robbed of any fun. In the end we all have to rush to our duties.

It is in these informal groups that one hears the deeper analytical thoughts of those who are usually not heard – those who are usually looked down upon in society, for example airtime vendors, and others who informally sell foot balls and fruits. Last week’s burning issue was polygamy. There was a polygamous man in the group defending his position in the face of criticism.

To understand poverty it is necessary to be among the poor and share with them thoughts and different ways of life, because in turn they open the pages of their lives to you. I am pleased to have joined this group because my perception of how people live has widened.

Zimbabwe rural farmers adding value to traditional foods

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Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

In past agricultural shows in Zimbabwe exhibitors have showcased raw agricultural products straight from the farm. However very few of us ever knew that there are amazing value addition initiatives taking place in the remote rural places like Lower Guruve, Murehwa, Mutoko and others. The Processed Products Fair, the first of its kind held at the Harare Show Grounds on the 14th of July 2010 opened a new page in history. With traditional mbira music playing in the background, people mingled looking at the traditional goods that were on sale.

The show was organized by Zimbabwe Adding Value to Sustainable Produce (ZAVSAP), a coalition of nine Local Non Governmental Organizations that spearhead the introduction and training of value addition initiatives in the rural parts of Zimbabwe. Some of the organizations that showcased brilliant products include the Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Lower Guruve Development Association (LGDA), Caritas Zimbabwe, and Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS) among others.

Mr. Thomas Pouppwz, the ZAVSAP Communications Facilitator explained that his organization is a coalition of organizations that work largely in Mashonaland provinces to ensure food security. The network comes up with initiatives like workshops, training and scholarships. The network discovered that Zimbabwe has a lot of potential but its agricultural goods are being sold unprocessed.

He explained that the fair’s purpose is to show what is happening out in the rural areas, and market the products. One interesting move is the invitation of other NGOs and businessmen who might make deals with farmers so that the products may be sold on a larger scale.

Memory Rusike a farmer who works with CTDT expressed great interest in the project of producing traditional vegetables. She explained that these vegetable are very helpful to people that are living with AIDS. She confidently explained the process of drying the vegetables using a locally invented solar drier. Memory encouraged young children to stop looking down upon traditional vegetables, which she said, keep people healthy.

Ms. Muslin Fusire, one of the Programme Managers for CTDT, explained that the organization noticed that the traditional vegetables were fast becoming extinct despite their being more nutritious than the exotic ones. As a result the organization started to promote the production, utilization and commercialization of traditional vegetables. Ms Fusire feels encouraged that men are also coming aboard the venture, which is usually called “a women’s business”. Commenting on the impact that the project has had on people, she indicated that the benefits have been both economic and nutritional.

Mr. Sherperd Kamudyariwa, a bee farmer from Lower Guruve Developmemt Association, explained how he produces products from honey. His range of products include wax, mosquito repellent jelly as well as honey.

Lillian Machivenyika, from Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS) explained that her organization operates in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central. She said CADS works with community-based organizations in teaching farmers how to produce crops and further process them. CADS have also published a recipe book that contains all the information on how some products are produced and further processed.

In Zimbabwe today it is encouraging that rural people are getting this support to add value to their products. Of worry is the fact that the projects seem to be largely NGO driven. The government is called upon to intervene and cooperate in this endeavor, which has the potential to see the farmers of traditional foods making a mark on both the local and global market. It is our great hope that the Processed Product Fair will become an annual event and will also draw international attention.

Public apology

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Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Dydimus Zengenene

It takes some form of courage for one to admit having done something wrong especially in the face of the wronged. In religious circles, it is believed that it is difficult to please God, yet what he only needs is a mere admittance of having sinned followed by repentance. People are prepared to forego Heaven for the reason that they cannot admit having made a mistake. Today on behalf of all Zimbabweans, I have chosen to be different.

My memory sends me back to times when people from Malawi and Zambia were flocking to Zimbabwe in search of employment. They worked in mines and farms for a living. Most local Zimbabweans looked down upon these people and started calling them names, “mabwidi”, “mabudya”, “maburanyuchi” etc. All these names depicted a people who did not have much wisdom or property. Those who came from Malawi were called maBhurandaya, a term derived from the largest Malawian city called Blantyre. The word as nice as it is was used in contexts, which were usually demeaning and humiliating. Yes it was a source of pride to be Zimbabwean, we were glad to be us and some people envied us.

Then came the era that many people from Mozambique, usually men, illegally crossed through the Tete province into the Northern parts of Zimbabwe. Most of them had no documentation so they sought refuge in the communalities of Rushinga, Mr. Darwin and some came as far as Bindura on foot. They were looking for employment and all they could get were domestic jobs, looking after cattle and goats mostly in exchange for food, shelter and a little money. Many of them have gone back with accusations of theft and rape among other sins. The few fortunate ones got married in Zimbabwe and stayed as our sons in-law. Even though that was legal, the perception with which we looked at these in-laws was demeaning, as depicted in the novel “Akada wekure” where locals would apparently be against the foreigner. These people from distant, usually unknown places were not easily defined as part of our communities. Our sisters who chose to be married to them suffered the same fate. The resilient ones are now part of our communities even though some have since returned to Mozambique.

As events started to unfold, the wheel turned against the Zimbabwean locals. Because of their urban type of lifestyle, without communal homes and usually being employees of big companies, people from Malawi and Zambia are the majority of the first African urban house owners in Zimbabwe. Most of the time we knock on their doors looking for one or two rooms to rent.

The Zimbabwe we all loved turned sour. We started to look for exits out of our motherland to assume the same status that we used to afford our fellow neighbors. In what part of the world don’t you find us? Many of us have crossed to Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa in search of basic food commodities. Some have gone to work as housemaids, and farm laborers in neighboring countries. The word Zimbo has become popular to refer to Zimbabweans that are all over the world today. In South Africa, the term Makwerekwere is used to refer to foreigners, coincidentally the northern part of Zimbabwe comprises a Shona tribe called the Korekore tribe. It sounds like South Africans hate the Shona more than any other foreigners. Zimbabweans living in other countries face the fear of xenophobia.

I am really against the ill treatment of foreigners in countries. In that light I wish to publicly apologize for the demeaning perception that we had of our neighbors during our better days, apologize for the ill treatment that we might have done to some people who were in need. I hope the apology reaches the mailbox of the highest God and blessings will befall my country Zimbabwe.