Harare -- CIVIL society and eminent economists have concurred that the deepening economic downfall that has persisted for more than a decade can only be halted by a paradigm shift from the government through better policies and a reformed governance culture.

 

Speakers at an Economy and Restrictive measures/Targeted Sanctions Think Tank meeting held by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Harare on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 emphasised the need for the country’s leadership to shift their priorities and chart a better future for the nation.

 

Dr, Godfrey Kanyenze of Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) aligned think-tank, said the country was currently reeling from the effects of profound leadership shortcomings that made successive economic blueprints flop and Zimbabwe lag behind other African nations.

(Dr G.Kanyenze)

He said the national challenges widely manifest through industrial collapse, poor social services, and extreme levels of unemployment.

We must not be ashamed to interrogate the nature of leadership we have,” said Dr. Kanyenze.

We need a visionary leadership that looks beyond today.

“If you look since 1980, we have not been short on economic plans. I want to hazard that we haven’t looked at the nature of the state. Zimbabwe has been captured by political and military elites.

“Whenever there are resources we have seen the case of state capture.”

 

Economist and businessman, Moses Chundu said the ZimAsset economic blueprint was limited as it incorrectly defined the country’s challenges which have been there since the 1990’s as result of Western countries and the US government’s restrictive measures on selected government officials.

 

Chundu said honesty and the correct definition of the cause of the national problems was important in resolving them.

 

Chundu said the whole economy needed to be resuscitated through attracting investment because the economic blueprint ZimAsset was facing a funding dilemma and the country was being let down by corrupt officials.

You need to make the whole country a special economic zone otherwise nothing will move. We simply need to attract investment,” he said.

Zimbabwe is facing a governance crisis. I can live with water cuts but I cannot live with the tax that continues to be exerted upon us by corruption.”

He urged the present government to “respect the basic principles of economic management and avoid the populist trap as it has always backfired.”

 

Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES) Director Dr.Ibbo Mandaza said the government has been consistently coming up with new “policy statements to cover up for the challenges we have.”

He added: “We need new leadership in the country.”

 

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Member of Parliament for Warren Park, Elias Mudzuri said: “I think we have a leadership crisis. No matter what we put into the system the last man at the helm of the institution, the last man at the helm of government matters.

How do you bring confidence without a proper leadership?”

 

Meanwhile, contrary to calls to reform of hostile policies Zanu-PF member Patrick Zhuwao clarified that the government was reviewing the indigenization laws, one of the things that have been blamed for lack of investment.

I think to a large extent we may be misguided by what comes in the newspapers,” said Zhuwao.

I will wait to hear the changes coming from the relevant authorities…”

 

Harare -- THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) hosted a think tank meeting on the economy and reengagement between Zimbabwe and the international community on Tuesday, June 17 2014.

 

Speaking at the think tank, which was attended by civil society, academics and political actors, CiZC Chairperson Dewa Mavhinga said civil society was ready to reactivate platforms for critical analysis and discussion as the country grapples with leadership crisis.

At a time when political leaders across the spectrum appear disoriented and clueless regarding the way forward, while the region and the international community look to Zimbabweans for answers, it is up to civil society to step up to the pace and cover the leadership gap,” he said. 

At a time such as this, civil society has the perfect opportunity to showcase its Think Tank-based solutions in unpacking complex situations for the country, the region and the international community.

“This is a complex environment, which is different from any other post electoral environment because the various stakeholders are developing fatigue over the Zimbabwean question.

“In essence the question needs to be redefined and a shared meaning developed.

 

Mavhinga said civil society was not attempting to chew what it cannot swallow, but merely play its role in society. 

We do not seek to provide answers to all of Zimbabwe’s political questions; what we seek to do is to provide a platform to provoke deeper analysis and interrogation of our situation as well as to pave the way for innovative thinking, agenda-setting and national dialogue,” said Mavhinga.

 

We do not seek to shift our focus on democracy, good governance and human rights; we seek to sharpen our analysis tools to enable us to interpret economic developments and relate them to the broader governance picture.

 

“We seek, through the assistance of various experts whose key function is to simplify things for mere mortals, to connect the dots and present a compelling picture and shape the future of Zimbabwe. Ours is a generational mandate. We must rise to the challenge.”

 

 

Crisis Coalition Acting Coordinator, Joy Mabenge said the organisation will continue to create platforms for civil society to provide thought leadership on critical matters in the country.

 

 

According to participants, the think-tank was timely and by and large a success and closing the meeting Blessing Gorejena of Human Rights NGO Forum called on the Coalition to convene more meetings of the nature.

 

 

Masvingo -- FOUR residents in the city have taken their council to court over water disconnections in bold defense of their constitutional rights, the Crisis Report (CR) has learnt.

 

Two applications, one by Winfreda Chipfakacha and Anna Maduna and a second one by Nyeve Chiduza and Henry Chimandamba, the four residents from Mucheke High Density Suburb, were filed against Masvingo City Council on June 4.

(File Photo :  Water queues)

Section 77 (a) the new Constitution says that water is a right and the arbitrary disconnections are unconstitutional.

 

The court battle comes at a time when a series of meetings allegedly facilitated by Masvingo Residents Trust (MRT) between the management of the city council and the many affected residents failed to yield any fruitful and amicable resolution.

 

The residents, who are members of Masvingo Residents Trust (MRT) which is fully backing them, filed the application for spoliation for reconnection of water supplies, citing Masvingo City Council as the respondent.

 

The residents are represented in their legal bid for reconnection of water supplies by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) through Advocate Shumba of Shumba and Mutendi Legal Practitioners, in matter that will be heard at Masvingo Magistrates Court on July 3.

 

Masvingo Residents Trust vowed to protect the constitutional rights of the city’s residents.

“Access to clean and safe water is a universal right of every citizen and it is enshrined in the new constitution of Zimbabwe,” boldly declared Masvingo Residents Trust.

“What irks the residents most is the fact that the city fathers are disconnecting water for very insignificant amounts while on the contrary the government departments in Masvingo owe the council more than half a million, but water is never disconnected.”

 

The latest development comes after residents recently won a High Court application against disconnection of water supplies in Harare.

 
Friday, 13 June 2014 12:18

‘Zimbabwe lied to UNESCO’

Harare -- GOVERNMENT lied that it has introduced civic education in schools, to fake a democratic face to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), a teachers’ union has revealed.

 

The revelations could call into question the authenticity of human rights reports that the government presents to the international community.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General, Raymond Majongwe said government presented an official falsified report to the 48th Session of UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education in Geneva in November 2008 in a dishonest bid to show that it is democratizing educational institutions.

 

Majongwe said he had recently learnt of the existence of the report from a Ghanaian friend.

 

The report allegedly painted the picture, which is not true that government had introduced civic education as well as guidance and counseling, and holiday camps for girls to study Mathematics and Science, according to the PTUZ Secretary General.

“Government presented a report which was a lie to UNESCO,” said Majongwe.

They said we have introduced to two subjects, civil education [and] guidance and counseling.

“They wanted to say we have gone the democracy route, and then funding will come.

 

Majongwe revealed the alleged government dishonesty at a public meeting hosted by PTUZ under the topic, “Whither our education system”, in Harare on Wednesday, June 11.

 

The country’s educationists also lambasted the Minister of Primary Education Dr. Lazarus Donora for ringing disastrous changes in the country’s ailing sector.

 

They were furious at the Minister for allegedly implementing controversial sections of the Nziramasanga Commission report of 1999.

 

Majongwe said Dokora was cherry picking only those recommendations from the report that seemed punitive to teachers.

“The Ministry of Education under Minister Dokora has made sweeping changes to the education sector.

“We are not happy at the swift way changes are coming; speed and direction are not the same thing,” he said.

 

Majongwe particularly criticized the circulars that have banned extra-lessons, as well as incentives, and ruled that sporting activities will be done only on weekends.

 

The PTUZ Secretary General however said that government was omitting positive recommendations that were made in the report such as the role of teachers unions, urgent need for remuneration in line with private sector and regional standards, as well as incentives like housing loans.

Majongwe said: “We are going with this report to Minister Dokora and say can you implement the rest.”

 

A parent at the meeting said the high teacher-to-pupil ratio was contributing to the need for extra lessons, arguing that the ban on extra lessons affected children in low-ranking schools, while government officials sent their children to less congested schools, which another teacher alleged perpetuated “a knowledge dynasty”.

 

College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe (COLAZ) President David Dzatsunga said the introduction of new subjects to teacher training courses was overloading trainee teachers.

Some of these knee-jerk decisions will take us down.

“It is such as a stressful course, but not rewarding,” said Dzatsunga.

 

Senator Nyamayabo Mashavakure said there was need for stakeholders in the education sector to have dialogue since some of the issues in the Nziramasanga Commission have been there for a long time, and continue to bedevil the sector, such as the bias to academic content ahead of practical subjects.

 

INFORMATION, Media, and Broadcasting Minister Prof. Jonathan Moyo will visit Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant in Chipinge on Friday, June 13, the Crisis Report (CR) has learnt.

 

In an unrelated development, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) and Platform for Youth Development Trust (PYD) had a consultative meeting with angry and frustrated villagers in Chisumbanje, who expressed their displeasure with Green Fuel, owners of the Ethanol Plant, on Saturday, June 7.


(Chisumbanje Villagers at a Crisis Coalition meeting this month)

The Chisumbanje villagers, who were engaged by civil society at their behest, live near the ethanol project which is controversial due to unresolved issues with the community, and its undue influence on national fuel blending policies.

 

The community engagement by civil society last weekend revealed deep-seated grievances of villagers with owners of the Ethanol Plant.

 

The villagers complained about the alleged appropriation of their land by Green Fuel since 2008.

 

Meanwhile, PYD says the government should work to revive the District Ethanol Plant Committee (DEPIC) so as to ensure dialogue between the company, local politicians, civil society and the villagers to resolve the grievances.

 

Although the finer reasons of his tour are not clear, Prof. Moyo’s visit will likely inform government policy and publicity about the flamboyant ethanol project, which has largely driven Zimbabwean government policy around the 15% fuel blending threshold, amid a flurry of protest from motorists.

 

Nevertheless, Prof. Moyo will not be the first government minister to tour the project.

 

Notably, former Deputy Prime Minister Prof. Aurthur Mutambara constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee in 2009 on the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant during the erstwhile Inclusive Government.

 

The Inter-Ministerial Committee and most of its deliverables such as the DEPIC have since crumbled allegedly due to neglect and sabotage, leaving the hapless community to fight bare-handedly with the company for their basic rights.

 

The Chisumbanje community is fighting for such things as land, corporate social responsibility in the form of employment among other things, and compensation for related loses incurred due to the sprawling project’s seismic effect on their communal life.

 

Thus, the visit for many stakeholders including civil society presents a rare opportunity for government through the Minister Moyo to meet villagers and hear their concerns so as to poise its attention towards amicably addressing them.

 
Thursday, 12 June 2014 13:08

Ex-COPAC Co-chair speaks out

Harare --FORMER Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson and ex-Zanu-PF legislator for Chivi Central, Paul Mangwana, said the disbanding of COPAC left a constitutional reform gap.

 

He said the gap necessitated increased efforts by civil society if the new Constitution is to be implemented.

 

Mangwana was speaking at a conference organized by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in Harare on Thursday, June 5, 2014, where he made an impassioned plea to civil society to quickly fill the gap left by COPAC.

 

He said the adoption of a new Constitution was a beginning not an end.

 

When I look at COPAC, I would say what other mandate did, COPAC have other than coming up with the new Constitution?” said Mangwana.

 

“There were gaps which had been seen to require change through a new Constitution, there were laws which required amendment, and there was a bill of rights which was seen as inadequate.

 

“Was the new Constitution supposed to be the end or the beginning of the journey?”

(Paul Mangwana)

Mangwana said that the disbanding of COPAC and the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs had been premature as it left the executive with too much power, or work to derail the important process.

“But who would drive if the drivers are retired, who is going to be the policemen?” said Mangwana.

 

Whose powers were curtailed by the new Constitution?

 

“If it is the executive, will they be willing to implement the new Constitution to have their powers curtailed?

 

“I think there is a gap.

 

“We did not learn from Kenya, they put a body to make sure the Constitution is implemented.”

 

Mangwana said the absence of a committee to enforce implementation of the new Constitution was a mistake which necessitated that civil society comes up with initiatives to cover for that omission.

The mistake we made is not to have a committee that makes sure this Constitution is implemented,” said Mangwana.

 

We are at the mercy of the executive to do their work.

 

“This is the truth.

 

“You do no expect that these bills will come to the Minister without anyone bringing them.

 

“The drivers of the Constitution have been retired, if you do not drive it, who will do it?”

 

Haron Ndubi, the executive director of Haki Focus of Kenya said Kenya had managed to set up a constitutional committee that would guarantee implementation of the new Constitution when the country adopted its new Constitution.

 

He urged government to liaise with civil society on the implementation of the new Constitution, saying presence of government officials at the civil society conference was commendable.

 

“It is important that this relationship be nurtured further,” he said.

 

Deputy Minister of Justice Hon. Fortune Chasi said he liked the idea of “a guarantor” for the Constitution to spearhead implementation, which had been adopted by the Kenyans.

 

He added: “I think we have learnt a lot, and we will try to see how we can implement the ideas from your constitution making process.”

 

Harare -- Civil society has embarked on a noble bid to convince government to let go of old laws in order to adhere to the new Constitution.

 

After Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in 2013, the new Supreme Law made many oppressive laws which do not conform to it redundant.

 

Yet the government has continued to use old laws, arguing that the public must give it enough time to expunge the obsolete laws from the statute books.

 

However, civil society has correctly advised government that the new Constitution is the Supreme Law and all laws that violate it are void.

 

Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Irene Petras told conference attended by government officials that the new Constitution was the supreme law of the land.

“Whether or not the laws are aligned which is the supreme law?” said Petras.

 

“I think we need to assert our rights that have been given to us by the new Constitution.

 

“Civil society must not be over involved in alignment to the extent of forgetting to assert the rights that are there.”

 

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Harare West Member of Parliament, Hon. Jessie Majome, supported this view.

“I do not subscribe to the view that we must live the new Constitution until the magic omnibus bill is brought to Parliament.

 

“It (the Constitution) doesn’t say it will become the supreme law when bills to align laws have been passed.

 

“It says ‘I am the Supreme Law’. It is the law today.

 

“It is a poor excuse to say that we are waiting for alignment.

 

“Right now, this minute every one must be upholding it.

 

“I am not saying the alignment is useless, but I think we are overrating it.”

(Haron Ndubi)

Haron Ndubi, the executive director of Haki Focus of Kenya, said the idea of alignment postponed the promise carried by the new Constitution.

 

“I wondered as we were using the term alignment, whether it’s a term used to postpone the promise.

 

“The new Constitution has been enacted, what is required is to implement and enforce it.”

 

Ndubi said when Kenya adopted a new Constitution, government departments immediately started acting in conformity with it.

 

Harare -- Civil society will form a mechanism to monitor, engage and partner government on aligning old laws and drafting new laws so as to speedily implement the new constitution, the Crisis Report (CR) can reveal.

A conference on Constitutionalism and Implementation of the new Constitution organized by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), attended by government officials, over 90 CSOs, and constitutional experts made the resolution in Harare on June 5, 2014.

 

The conference mooted the idea after a realization by the multi-sectoral stakeholders that there was an apparent omission after the adoption of a new Constitution in 2013, to institute a committee that would champion and safeguard its fulfillment.

 

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Justice Hon. Fortune Chasi said the government was open to engagement with civil society to implement the new Constitution.

 

We would want proposals from you in terms of areas that you want to be dealt with in your sector.

 

“We may agree to disagree, but we must be able to sit down at a table.

 

“Both government and NGOs need a paradigm shift in terms of cooperation in various areas, especially alignment of laws with the Constitution,” said Chasi, who took time to sit through the one-day conference.

 

The Deputy Minister was at pains to allay doubts about the government’s sincerity after it emerged that the ruling party recently railroaded the Electoral Amendment Bill through Parliament, without considering input from civil society, the public and the opposition.

 

Announcing the conference resolution, Coalition Chairperson, Dewa Mavhinga, said the mechanism will revive structures that were previously used to coordinate civil society and advocate for the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) under the Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM).

 

Mavhinga had said earlier in remarks to open the conference: “We are aware that we had a new Constitution last year, but its implementation has been fairly slow.

 

“The public has a role to safeguard the new Constitution.”

 

Mavhinga said there should be separation of powers to “keep the executive in check”, adding that individuals in government must be committed to the constitution as they could effectively safeguard it, as shown by the work of South African Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

CISOMM, which has also since commuted its previous monitoring function of the GPA, to the implementation of the new Constitution under the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) released a report on non-compliance with the new Constitution on the first Anniversary of the new Constitution on May 22.

 

The advocacy, coordinating and lobby mechanism under Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition will rally civil society and liaise with government as well as ensure adequate information dissemination, basing input from various sectors of civil society.

 

Chipinge -- RESIDENTS of Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa area under Chief Garahwa have called on the Government of Zimbabwe to review the terms of operations for Green Fuel Pvt Ltd, owners of the Chisumbanje ethanol plant.

 

The establishment of the plant and associated sugarcane farming activities resulted in 1794 families losing their ancestral farm land since 2008.

 

The call for the review of the government policywas expressed by villagers at a stakeholders’ consultative meeting organised by the Platform for Youth Development (PYD) and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC).

 

The consultative meeting was convened inMutumburi Village, Chipinge South Ward 26 under Headman Chisumbanje on Saturday June 7, 2014.

Claris Madhuku, the Director of PYD called on the community to use the constitution to defend their land.

 

“Under the new constitution we have a right to shelter and a right to our ancestral land and as such we must remain resolute in our fight for justice,” said Madhuku.

 

Under the indigenization laws and the economic blue print ZimAsset, locals are supposed to be the prime beneficiaries of the exploitation of natural resources in their environs.

 

Among the participants at the consultative meeting were 21 traditional leaders including Headman Chisumbanje.

 

Fourteen other village heads from Chisumbanje and six from Chinyamukwaka graced the occasion.

 

Representatives of the settler farmers and Green Fuels employees attended the meeting.

 

Speaker after speaker castigated Green Fuel for doing business without taking into consideration the welfare of the community and the workers.

Green fuel was particularly chastised for using the political muscle of individuals within the ruling party to silence or buy the support of gullible traditional leaders who were branded “sell outs”.

 

The establishment of the ethanol producing plant through lease arrangements with ARDA saw Green fuel expand the area under its control, beyond the ARDA boundary into communal land.

 

This was done under the disguise of Rhodesian land appropriation acts and support of powerful politicians.

 

In the process, a source of livelihood for thousands was lost.

 

Headman Chisumbanje speaking in the vernacular Shona not mince his words and was firm.

 

“Ini zvangu handidi nemunda wangu, (Personally I don’t want with my land),” Headman Chisumbanje remarked.

 

Green fuel and ARDA entered into a 20 year BOT business model with ARDA where ARDA provided 5 112 hectares of land.

 

This business model was recommended to be updated to a Joint Venture (J.V) with government for the purposes of mandatory blending.

 

To date it remains shrouded in mystery which business model the company is operating under.

 

Despite the protests by the farmers, some of whom had their near-harvestcrops mercilessly ploughed down, nothing has been done to alleviate the situation.

 

The Investor has also made several unfulfilled promises that were announced through the vulnerable traditional leadership and the now defunct District Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee (DEPIC).

 

Contrary to community expectations, disposable income has greatly been reduced and only a few villagers have found employment opportunities within the company.

 

For the few who are doing manual jobs at the company, they get less than US $2 a day.

 

Some of those on contract have been going on for months without their salaries.

 

Green Fuels workers are not affiliated to any workers union and the management has barred them from joining any workers union for fear of being forced to abide by labour laws.

 

Mr Mapungwana who spoke on behalf of the workers called on the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) to intervene.

 

“Our colleagues were unprocedurally dismissed and those that are still going to work renew contracts on a monthly basis and have gone for three months without pay despite haulage trucks loading ethanol on a daily basis.

 

“Where is the revenue derived from the sale of ethanol going,” Mapungwana questioned.

 

Food security is under threat in the area since the local farmers are now being compelled to be sugarcane farmers at the expense of their traditional crops namely maize, sorghum and cotton.

 

A sizeable number of local farmers have relocated to Mozambique where they have been allocated land to carry out their farming activities to feed their families.

 

The settler farmers that initially had a working agreement with ARDA supplying sugar cane have also been short-changed.

 

“We were living normal lives before Macdom, now we have been reduced to paupers, for three consecutive seasons we have been delivering our sugar cane to the plant but we have not been paid since then.

 

“We are calling on human rights lawyers to come to our rescue, we are now prepared to take legal recours,” said Mr. Mahara, who spoke on behalf of the communal farmers.

 

The relations between Green fuels and the workers need to be urgently addressed as the simmering tensions between the two parties will soon reach a climax.

 

The recent burning of sugar cane plantations owned by Green Fuels by the alleged Chinyamukwaka community may just be the start of a protracted struggle for land and recognition by the community.

 

The following were agreed as resolutions of the stakeholders meeting:

  1. Encourage the government to review the operating conditions for Green Fuel with a view to ensure the local community is not disenfranchised by the investor and setting up a community ownership trust. The government of Zimbabwe has not been crystal clear in dealing with the dispute due to lack of clear policy on Chisumbanje ethanol project and political interference.

  2. The residents resolved to have a meeting with the local Member of Parliament, Hon. Enoch Porusingazi who has never held a single meeting with the affected residents since his election in 2013.Porusingazi has been accused of double standards where he speaks the language of the community in public and support the abuse of the same at formal meetings with the Green Fuels.

  3. Hold meetings between the leadership of Chisumbanje and government on the matter as a matter of urgency.There has been lack of advocacy to highlight the plight of workers,farmers and villagers.This lack of advocacy has worked in favour of the company whose derelict of responsibility and record of human rights abuses have gone under the radar of the media and the public for a long time.
 
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