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Archive for the 'Activism' Category

Demolitions in Zimbabwe – The Ministry’s perspective

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Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

I phoned the Ministry of Local Government this afternoon to try and find out more about the plans to demolish illegal structures, and the reports from Ruwa that this has already begun. According to the person I spoke with (didn’t ask his name), the action currently taking place in Ruwa is targeting only tuck shops and is operating independently from the national government programme. He also said that the national government programme was actually aimed at protecting people, who were being taken advantage of by others who were manipulating the system. Hopefully, that protection for people includes providing them with alternative accommodation, or giving them a chance to register their home before it is summarily torn down as happened in 2005.

If you are in doubt about your structure, make sure it is registered with your municipal authority, e.g. Ruwa Local Board. If your address is registered with the board and you are receiving bills from your local authority at that address, he says, your home should be safe. However, if your property is not registered or you have concerns about whether your home will be destroyed, contact The Ministry of Local Government on: +263 712 804 880 or +263 4 791287.

Destruction of homes begins in Zimbabwe

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Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

In a move reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, Zimbabwe’s government has threatened to destroy “illegal structures,” including homes and tuck shops.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo said last week that a national programme to demolish these structures would take place.

According to one of our subscribers:

The demolition of structures went into the second day today in Ruwa. An operation which some critics like me have dubbed Operation Murambavanhu. Councillors have refused to come out in the open to discourage this Operation, fearing victimization from Chombo. Their answer to disgruntled victims is that “there is little we can do. It is a national program championed by the central government.”

News sources confirm that demolitions have begun in Ruwa, with houses and tuck shops being torn down.

If demolitions begin in your area, or you have eye-witness reports or photographs please share them with us via WhatsApp on +263 772 452201 or via email to info [at] kubatana [dot] net.

Also, VOA Zimbabwe says “The public is advised to approach the Ministry of Local Government for more details on mobile number +263 712 804 880 or +263 4 791287.” If the Councillors won’t speak up for us, we need to speak up for ourselves. Get in touch with the Ministry of Local Government and tell them what you think.

Harare water crisis

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Monday, November 4th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

I went to the public dialogue on the Harare water crisis organised by the Wetlands Survival Forum last week.

I found the meeting, and the conversations I had with participants afterwards, both illuminating and infuriating.

Harare’s water situation is in a crisis. It was good to hear Mayor Manyenyeni acknowledge that, but as he also noted we are at least five years away from a solution – And a lot longer if the behaviour of both Harare residents and leadership doesn’t change.

Issues of urban cultivation, litter, development on wetlands, watering of lawns, the city’s decrepit infrastructure of pipes, siltation in Lake Chivero, the proliferation of boreholes and bulk water abstraction are all contributing to a dire water situation for Harare. According to one person I spoke with after the meeting, Harare’s water system will collapse within the next ten years unless large scale changes are made. It simply won’t be able to keep up with the growing demand and the steadily reducing supply.

There are some very basic things each of us can do to make a difference, like

  • Don’t water your lawn, and speak with your neighbours, workplace and others about the negative impact a green lawn has on all of us
  • Shower into a bucket and use that “grey water” to then fill your toilet cistern
  • Place bricks wrapped in plastic (so they don’t crumble) or 500mL plastic water bottles in your toilet’s cistern so it uses less water with each flush (especially for older toilets, which typically had larger tanks)
  • If it’s just urine, don’t bother to flush – Every flush of the toilet wastes a lot of water
  • Don’t litter. The plastic you throw out on the road will likely get taken into a storm drain in the rains, and make its way to Lake Chivero, where it adds to the pollution choking the city’s filtration system
  • Look into rain water harvesting. At a large or small scale, effectively capturing the rain water that does fall and bringing it back into the household for use would reduce the demand on both boreholes and the city’s water supply

But in addition to individual actions, there is a massive need for collective action. Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Mutizwa (Ward 9) said that local government’s concerns about some wetlands development projects had been overruled by national government, despite legislation like the Environmental Management Act which protects wetlands. In order to change Harare’s water situation, local and national government needs to be engaged. The Wetlands Survival Forum was set up to try and coordinate groups around the water issue – so support its efforts and get involved with it where you can. You can like them on Facebook to follow their activities, or email wetlandssurvivalforum [at] gmail [dot] com to get involved.

Public meeting on Harare water crisis

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Thursday, October 24th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

We’re going to be there . . . Are you?


Activism as a way of life

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 by Lenard Kamwendo

Some people become activists through passion while some find themselves on the streets because they are just tired of getting screwed by the system. When Martin Luther King took to the streets he wanted to share his dream of a society where race was not an issue. The general socio-economic and political conditions we now live in demand action and solutions to our day to day needs. Every time we turn on news channels its about protests and uprisings as more and more people continue to demand solutions to contemporary problems affecting them.

South Africa was recently dubbed “the protest capital of the world” as the streets have become permanent homes for activists. Living in a world faced with a lot of injustice and inequality mainly driven by greed, profiteering and ignorance, calls for a collective effort from everybody. Activism is about affecting social change and championing a cause whether big or small. Small things like a change of mindset won’t even require government or big donor funding for a start and that’s the reason why we often read about the great works by Wangari Mathaai of Kenya who managed to share knowledge on environment conservation with rural communities. A young girl from Pakistan almost lost her life because she wanted other young girls in her country to have access to education. Even the young school children of South Africa became active in 1979 demanding better education. Artists as role models for the young generation have also become heavily involved in activism especially towards raising awareness on behavior change targeting drug abuse and safe sex.

Activism comes with its own challenges with many activists the world over being persecuted for championing people’s rights. Zimbabwe is one such country where activists and social movement groups have been labeled enemies of the state. A crack down on dissenting voices has resulted in many people shying away from being active in the community on issues that affect them due to fear.

One of Zimbabwe’s aspiring activists Wadzanai Motsi was awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and she conducted research on youth’s contributions to activism. At a Food for Thought session hosted by US Embassy Public Affairs section, Wadzanai and Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa shared their experiences on various forms of activism and the different ways each person can contribute to make the society we live in a better place.

Social / protest movements

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 by Bev Clark

Sociologist/movement theorist, Zeynep Tufekci, suggests we stop looking so much at outputs of social media fueled protests and start looking instead at their role in capacity building. More on Ethan Zuckerman’s blog