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Archive for the 'Activism' Category

Report water leaks and burst pipes to Harare Water

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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

One of my pet peeves in Harare is water leaks. I hate seeing a burst pipe sending precious water into the verge or down the road – particularly when just meters away you can see people queuing to get water from a neighbour’s borehole, struggling to push a wheelbarrow full of water drums up the road, or straining with a container full of water on their heads.

Many Harare suburbs rarely or never receive municipal water supplies, and it is likely to be a very long time before the city supplies all households with water regularly. In the meantime, help make sure that what little municipal water there is makes it into your and your neigbhours’ taps.

Report water leaks and burst pipes to Harare water:  Phone 04-700087 / 791101 / 772453 & ask them to fix it.

Me a tribalist?

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Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Marko Phiri

Zimbabwe’s politics, history has recorded, is mapped by ethnic and tribal loyalties, and it’s just something that refuses to be ignored despite all pretense by some that this is fomented by architects of anti-statehood.

Even Mugabe has over the years lashed out at perceived tribalists despite himself being fingered for criticism by some historians who contend he did not hide his leanings even before the Gukurahundi was unleashed.

The perceptive have observed that Zanu PF officials from Matabeleland address supporters in Shona when in Mashonaland but party officials from Mashonaland “insist” on addressing supporters in Shona during their Matabeleland rallies.

You only have to read through online bulletin boards to get a pulse of the rabid tribalism Zimbabweans harbour, never mind the usual “I’m not tribalist, some of my friends are Shona/Ndebele” casuistry.

There is so much anger out there you even wonder whether its posted in jest or not, yet if you have met folks who claim they have been aggrieved by one tribe or another, you get the sense that indeed these posts are the real deal.

That is why I found it the apex of hypocrisy when Thokozani Khuphe was accused of blocking a Shona-speaking fellow from being elevated to the post of Bulawayo deputy mayor.

Anyone who is a native of Zimbabwe’s second city is aware of the ages-old complaint about how Zanu PF abandoned Matabeleland to the periphery of economic development solely on tribal and ethnic considerations.

That is exactly why the region has over the decades seen a proliferation of political outfits and pressure groups dedicating their cause to devolution and even cessation.

Amid all the militancy, it would be strange then to have a Shona-speaking senior city official when the people from the region know damn well there are capable locals to fill that post.

That is precisely why many have accused Zanu PF of unbridled arrogance, recalling of course that there have been sentiments from senior party officials that no Ndebele will ever rule this country.

Zimbabwe is for all Zimbabweans some are fond of saying, yet take a walk around the city of Bulawayo and eavesdrop on conversations and the anger of exclusion is just too palpable.

I hear all the time complaints about how government offices in Bulawayo now have Shona as the language of business where Ndebele speaking folks have trouble getting assistance in their own region!

Try speaking Ndebele in Harare government offices!

No one is addressing these issues, yet you have the Herald jumping to point accusatory fingers at Thokozani Khuphe as if what she allegedly said is something new.

It is the same Herald that hauled Tendai Biti over the coals for his “de-Zezuruisation of the state” sentiments where he pointed to the domination of the state by one group of people.

Obviously the argument would be that sentiments like that are not expected from a person of Khuphe’s status – whatever it is now that she is no longer deputy PM – yet her comments, if true, only expose her own frustration about how the people of Matabeleland find themselves pushed out of public office and apparently have no say in the running of their own affairs.

We heard the same accusation levelled at political parties who pushed the Matabeleland agenda during the July 31 where these parties were accused of tribalism simply because their manifesto made the development of Matabeleland their rallying cry.

People who complain about marginalisation obviously know what they are talking about and merely dismissing them as tribalist fucks does not solve matters.

Someone in fact commented that is it even imaginable to have a Ndebele-speaking Harare mayor.

That is the country we live in where we have seen that issues of the territorial integrity rhetoric so loved by Zanu PF find even louder resonance in Matabeleland.

It was only a few years ago that former Bulawayo Joshua Malinga got into trouble with the law after not taking too kindly to being addressed in Shona by a cop in Bulawayo.

While Malinga raised what he felt was necessary noise, it was easy for some to dismiss him as a tribalist, yet no one cared to look into what has essentially become a decades-old problem where civil servants are deployed to regions where they have no grasp of the local languages.

Many a time we read of cops addressing Tonga-speaking villagers deep in Binga in Shona, and the fact that these cops see nothing wrong with that is exactly what feeds the anti-Shona sentiment, and that’s a fact that must be accepted if relations are to improve.

It is public knowledge for example that for a long time the Bulawayo municipality and even the local opaque beer manufacturers never hired people from outside the “region,” whether this is or was official policy is neither here nor there, what remains indisputable is that as long as that existed “policy” it pointed to efforts to maintain some kind of identity and claim something as their own.

There is also a strong anti-Shona sentiment concerning the National University of Science and Technology that goes back to former governor the late Welshman Mabhena who did not see any sense why “outsiders” were offered places ahead of local students.

From as far back as the 1970s – and even further during the nascent years of nationalism fervor if you read Terrance Ranger -  (Wilfred Mhanda writes in his memoirs about “Shona-speaking” Zapu fighters defecting to Zanu. If tribal/ethnic considerations were not at play, why would Mhanda prefix the Zapu members with “Shona-speaking”? ) when manifestos were allegedly written about the systematic dilution of the Ndebele presence in Matabeleland, locals remember these things and to pretend otherwise is just another political expediency ploy that has made sure tribalist sentiments do not go away.

In any case, one only has to attend a soccer match pitting Highlanders and Dynamos at BF to get out of their one-big-happy-family reverie.

It’s time to shame the Zimbabwe Republic Police

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Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Fungayi Mukosera

Police corruption is the base definition of corruption in our country because it has a direct impact on the day-to-day lives and freedoms of our folks. Failure of the GNU and current parliament to recognise this is a sign to me that our politics has lost touch with its citizens and in the larger context they’re in conscious denial of the things that impact on our daily livelihoods. The Harare City Council is now advocating to add salt to our already nerve twitching wounds by advocating for street spot fines under the guise of keeping abreast with the international trends. The town clerk Tendai Mahachi is even making lame efforts to try and convince us that the South African standard is the International standard and that this is not about theft of our monies, as fast money for their men on the street and his starved coffers, but to bring sanity in the city. They have been promising for more than 5 years now that they are going to build commuter ranks outside the CBD but surprisingly the fault is never theirs but rather the commuters and the people.

In a rampant police corrupted country where even the commissioner of police is always on the defence that his forces are the cleanest and incorruptible, I think there has to be specific ways in which the people take things into their own hands and restore their own dignity. If we fail to defend our hard earned monies, these good for nothing lazies will continue with their malicious looting.
Commuters and all motorists have got to start investing in voice recorders and dashboard cameras to bring to book and shame this disease that is eating us everyday. This sounds ambitious and potentially expensive but for a minimum of R400, one can make sure that every road block is as it is supposed to be and when making complaints about illicit police dealing, the evidence through recording the incident will be enough. Shaming these corruptors by exposing them via social media is also a very effective way to curb this scourge.

In a case where all arms the state has failed to protect us, we should step in as our own protectors. There was a time when we could trust the state to secure our dignity through the police and the judiciary; the era is fast petering away from us and the only way left is to take a stand as a people and claim our dignity.

WOZA members arrested in Harare demonstration

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Thursday, September 19th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

“Leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise  (WOZA) have been arrested in Harare where they were marching to Parliament building to deliver a list of demands to the Clerk of Parliament,” Radio Dialogue reports.

According to Radio Dialogue:

Magodonga Mahlangu, one of the leaders of the group, in a brief interview with Radio Dialogue, confirmed that she had been arrested and was being taken to Harare Central Police station.

“I am in Harare, I’m under arrest and i am going to Harare central police station. I was beaten as i was climbing into the vehicle. I was thrown in and beaten. I am battered and bruised. It is only the voice that is there,” she said before the telephone call was terminated.

According to a statement issued by WOZA before the march:

Over 400 members planned to march to Zimbabwe’s Parliament to hand over a list of demands. The protest was planned to ‘test’ new provisions in the constitution and to make the voice of women heard around the direction that local and national government should take as the take up their positions. The protest also marks the international day of peace commemorated throughout the world on 21st September 2013.

The theme selected by a consultation conducted is peace must deliver freedom and development for all. Seven thousand WOZA members consulted wanted a theme that spoke to the peace bragging rhetoric by politicians that has for the most part been meaningless chatter. Additionally as the UN convenes and President Mugabe plays his sad old song about removing sanctions, WOZA members also call for him to remove his sanctions on Zimbabweans enjoyment of human rights and freedoms.

The Kubatana Community

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Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 by Bev Clark

Word Cloud - Take 1

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The Naked Option: examples of activism

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Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

The Naked Option, Last Resort documentary was screened at the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) in Harare this week. The documentary is a bold inspiration to the many women’s groups and movements across Africa that have taken up protest as part of their activist campaigns. Directed by Candace Schermerhorn and set in Nigeria’s Delta region, which is very rich in oil, the documentary chronicles the challenges grassroots women, and the environment face at the hands of oil companies operating in this region.

The women were pushed to protest due to the high level of environmental degradation caused by oil companies in the Niger delta who flared out gas into the air, polluting water and land. As a result farming and fishing was no longer viable for the women. Another factor that brought outrage was the companies’ reluctance in employing their husbands, brothers and sons. In the documentary the women said that the only benefit they derived from Chevron’s operation in the community was the heat produced when they flared gas. They would dry their cassava using this heat; a process, which usually took days, using the sun’s heat, would only take 5 hours. To them, in as much as this flared gas was a major threat to their environment and health, they saw it as the only direct benefit to their community. However, there then came a time when they were not allowed to enter the oil company’s premises so they could dry or collect their cassava.

In South Africa they famously say ‘Wathintha umfazi wathintha imboko’ (you strike a rock you strike a woman). With all these misgivings about the oil company’s operations, the women took it upon themselves to protest at Chevron’s premises. They spent weeks on the site and disrupted the company’s operations. They gained the attention of the company when they resorted to stripping naked during the protests. In the documentary one of the activists said, “Naked I came to this world, naked I leave”, to show how they had removed the shyness of being naked in peoples eyes as well as their determination. In their tradition it is taboo to strip naked, especially an elderly woman. An example was given that if an elderly woman is offended and strips naked in front of their offender they would have cursed the offender. This group of women protesting comprised of women of all ages, and elderly women were also a part of the group. Thus them stripping naked brought the attention of local and international media and the oil companies too who agreed to sign MOUs with the women where they made ‘empty’ promises. Empty as in up to when the documentary was screened in 2011; none of those promises had been achieved.

This documentary shows the power of women coming together. It took a few minutes for those women to decide they were going to invade Chevron’s premises and then when they managed to stop the company’s operations the women would take 12 hour duties to guard and protest within the premises giving each other time to attend to their household chores.

The Naked Option is a great inspiration to women’s activism and to also question corporate responsibility. Often companies come to extract minerals within communities and concentrate on making the minimum operational costs at the expense of the community’s health, environment and development. My mind went to the families in Chiadzwa and I felt that Sheila Mutsenhu, the lady who stripped naked in front of the US Ambassador in Mutare earlier this year protesting against sanctions in Zimbabwe, should have better directed her efforts. Her being a citizen in the Manicaland province where Chiadzwa diamond mines are located, her zeal would be more beneficial if directed to the cause of women’s issues in the area. Maybe one day she will lead a group of the Manica women to protest demanding better living conditions.

This year is the 12th edition of the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) and it will run from the 23rd to the 31st of August in Harare. It will move to Bulawayo from the 5th to the 7th of September. You can download the programme here.