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Archive for the 'Zimbabwe News' Category

Mourning the death of an icon

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Friday, December 6th, 2013 by Lenard Kamwendo

APTOPIX South Africa Mandela

Photo credit: New York Times

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Nelson Mandela

Today the world mourns the death of an anti-apartheid icon and former president of South Africa. A man who tirelessly dedicated his life to the struggle so that the nation of South Africa could be liberated from racial oppression. Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela the first black president of South Africa is now at peace. The man who was once considered by the apartheid government to be the number one terrorist in South Africa in the 1950s has left behind a legacy of peace.

Mandela fought for a democratic, non-racial South Africa where both black and white people could live in harmony. After spending 27 years in prison, in part on Robben Island, Mandela served a five-year presidential term and then he retired from politics when the world was still expecting a lot from him.

Many African liberation icons have failed to emulate this feat. Mandela’s death comes at time when the African continent is not at peace as many people have lost lives through civil wars.

Mandela lived a lifetime of struggle which inspired a generation of activists and his has been an inspiration to all who are oppressed.

Dance for Madiba

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Friday, December 6th, 2013 by Bev Clark

new yorker mandela cover

Above, how the New Yorker chose to depict Mandela.

And below, From Africa Is A Country.

Songs for Mandela

This is the South African edition of our selection of Songs for Nelson Mandela. Last night we posted the international edition and many of our readers asked if we’d forgotten about the many South African musicians who’d written music about him. We didn’t. Here is a selection of South African music about Madiba or in tribute to him. It’s a bumper playlist, and in no particular order. Of course, we couldn’t include everything from the vast and varied music inspired by Mandela and the liberation struggle. Enjoy and feel free to post your own favourites in the comments. More

Show us some respect, City of Harare

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Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

This morning, I attended a seminar at which Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Samuel Undenge, said that information in the public interest should be available to the public, across every area of government.

This statement in itself is refreshing, given Zimbabwe’s tendency to make even public information inaccessible to people (take the recent examples of polling stations and local government election results). And his comments came at a discussion on ZimAsset, which explicitly lists ICT and e-Governance (including getting the Registrar General’s office online by this month!) as one of its goals.

This afternoon, my experience showed just how far Zimbabwe has to go to honour this pledge, if indeed government is sincere in offering it.

The City of Harare 2014 Budget is currently under review, and the proposed tariffs for 2014 are available for public inspection. The idea is that, since it’s residents who will have to pay the fees, residents should be able to inspect the fees before they are finalized, and also should be able to register any complaints about them. Residents have one month to do this, and this year the complaints submission phase ends at close of business on 11 December 2013. (If you’re a super keen outraged resident type, find more details about how to do this on the tariff document.)

So this afternoon, I went to my district office and asked to see the income and expenditure budget. “You want to see it here?” The receptionist asked me. Yes, I told her, and she handed me a 37 page document. She could not photocopy it for me, and I was not allowed to take it away to make a copy of it and return it. So instead, I took a picture of each page, and pasted these into a PDF document.

This is a ridiculously inefficient way to do things. The City of Harare 2014 Budget is available on their website. Why not make the tariff schedule available there too? And, what about a completely radical suggestion – Make the documents spreadsheet friendly and easily computer readable, so that people can actually analyse the data more easily, not just consume it. The way it stands, you can’t even readily tell if the tariffs they are referring to are monthly, quarterly, annual, or what.

Even more worryingly, the tariff schedule is a tiny fraction of what someone would need to know to assess concerns with the city budget. It lists what will be charged for city services – but not how many people might consume them, or how often. And it tells you nothing about expenditure. Even the budget speech, which is publicly available, is vague on detail particularly when it comes to expenditure.

When I phoned the city council to try and get more information, it was not readily available. I was referred to the health department, if I wanted more detail on the health licensing fees, and I was told to go to Cleveland House in person to ask any questions about advertising charges (the woman at Town House told me their phones don’t work). If I wanted more detail on the actual budget estimates for income and expenditure, I could come to the Chamber Secretary’s office, again in person, in the hopes that maybe they could help me.

In Section 288, the Urban Councils Act requires a city’s Finance Committee to “draw up and present for the approval of the council estimates in such detail as the council may require of the income and expenditure on revenue and capital accounts of the council for the next succeeding financial year.”

The same section also states that “Copies of the estimates approved in terms of subsection (1) shall be available for purchase by any person at such charge as may be fixed by the council: Provided that the charge fixed by the council shall not exceed such amount, if any, as may be prescribed.”

I find it hard to believe that the 2014 Budget Speech, which is available on the City of Harare website, represents the “council estimates in such detail as the council may require.” The document is readable, but it’s not detailed. Someone applying for a bank loan or developing a business plan would provide more detail on where their income would be coming from and how it would be spent.

So why does the City of Harare not treat its residents (read its revenue base) with the same respect?

Gaza Primary overcharging for school trips

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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

We got this report from a subscriber about overcharging for school trips at Gaza Primary in Chipinge. Maybe some creative fundraising by the school board?

How daring this Gaza Primary School in Chipinge has become, milking us of our cash.  Students last week were told to ask parents for $20 for a trip to Mutare by plane, thus we paid happily. Two days before the trip, students were told its no longer a trip to Mutare but above Chipinge in a plane, well as such. Later, we were refunded $10 and it was now said it an educational trip to see a landed plane. It didn’t go down well with us parents so we complained, and asked for our monies back. Some were refunded but some were told to go hang. We let them be. They went on to hire an 18 seater combi to carry our kids to the aerodrome 2 and a half kilometers away to see three 2-seater gliders that had landed, and to be told lies about planes by the riders. No child ever touched the gliders let alone boarding it and this cost us $10 per child.

Charges against Beatrice Mtetwa dropped

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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum shares this statement about the charges against Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa being dropped today:

In a week that shall always be remembered as consequential for the vindication of  Zimbabwean human rights defenders and civil society organisations, on 26 November,  Harare Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa delivered a verdict of not guilty in the Beatrice Mtetwa  trial where charges of contravening Section 184 (1) (g) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The Prosecution had alleged that Mtetwa, a fiery and prominent human rights lawyer, had defeated or obstructed the course of justice. She was arrested on 17 March 2013 and had been defending the matter  in court since  10 June 2013.

According to the Forum’s Court Report, The Magistrate gave reasons for her judgment saying that  Mtetwa had done nothing to interfere with the investigations the police were conducting. She cited that the police testimony was contradictory and it did nothing to put the Mtetwa to her defence.

The inspection in loco conducted at the premises where the arrest was effected also served to cast the State’s case in doubt and bad light as it was established that there was no way Mtetwa could have interfered with what was going on in an area of the house where she could not see what was happening; whilst guarded and  in handcuffs  in a vehicle outside the premises.

The Magistrate castigated the police for presenting contradictory testaments when they are professionals whose work relies on observation. She also made it clear that it is not an offence to take photographs and in any case after forensic examination, Mtetwa’s phone was found without any evidence that photographs of the scene had been taken. The Magistrate found that there is no evidence that  Mtetwa stopped or interfered with the search and returned a verdict of not guilty.

In addition to the Mtetwa case, on 22 November the same Magistrates Court acquitted Abel Chikomo, the Forum’s Director on charges of running an ‘illegal’ organisation. The details of the case and our analysis can be accessed here.

Both the Mtetwa and Chikomo cases  are reminiscent of the infamous Glen View 29 case, in which Justice Bhunu chided police officers for their unprofessional conduct in arresting human rights campaigner Cynthia Manjoro and MDC-T youth assembly president Solomon Madzore and other activists as they did not have credible evidence linking them to the commission of the offence. In that case the judge said the police had arrested Manjoro as an inducement for her boyfriend to surrender himself to the police in connection with the commission of the offence. The Judge made these remarks  on 19 September when he passed a not guilty verdict on 21 of the Glen View 29 activists who include Cynthia Manjoro, Solomon Madzore, Stanford Maengahama, and others.

Given this pattern where the police arrest human rights defenders and the judiciary takes a different stance, albeit, very late, could this be the beginning of a new era in the Zimbabwean Judiciary? The jury is still out on this. There is more to be said about Zimbabwe’s justice delivery system.

Desperately seeking Harare Water solutions

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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 by Amanda Atwood


In the office block where we work, there are about 30 offices, each with maybe 4 employees. So that’s about 120 workers, plus their various visitors, clients and passers through at the café and hair salon downstairs.

For the past ten days, there has not been municipal water. The borehole which the owners sunk for the building last year is dry. For a few days, the pump to the water tanks was broken. The building manager ordered a water delivery which lasted for about three days. Meanwhile, he’s struggling to get another delivery, and the water companies he phones tells him there is a backlog. No one has municipal water, and everyone is trying to order some.

Where does the bulk water we order come from? Some comes from legitimate sources, but some is pumped out of residential boreholes and city water recharge sources, further compromising the city’s water supply.

Like the recent Human Rights Watch video and report say – Never mind the quality of Harare’s water, even the supply is in crisis. Signs like this one at the toilet in our office block are the order of the day. We know there isn’t any water. We know to use it sparingly. But what we don’t know is when that’s going to change, and how.