HARARE – ANOTHER innocent life was lost in the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare following the unsuccessful attempt by a commuter omnibus driver to flee from traffic police on Tuesday afternoon, April 22.

 

A commuter omnibus driver reportedly fleeing from police in a movie style-chase – now a familiar, unnerving sight on the streets – ran overthe boy at the intersection of Chinhoyi Street and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.

 

Civil society condemned police’s law enforcement tactics which have rendered the CBD of Harare an increasingly dangerous place for the public.

 

 

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Chairperson Simbarashe Moyo on Wednesday April 23, 2014 alleged that the bid by police to exact bribes was the reason for the high-speed chases through the crowded streets, resulting in the growing form of street carnage.

“This is not the first time that this is happening to us,” said Moyo.

“It is something that has happened for a long time now all in a bid to get bribes.

“You don’t chase a kombi in the Central Business District because it puts the lives of innocent people on the roads, in the kombi, and on pavements at risk.

“As residents associations, we are saying enough is enough.”

 

Two people were killed in February 2014 when two commuter omnibuses were involved in accidents during police chases along Simon Mazorodze Avenue and Gleendale Avenue respectively.

 

An elderly woman was knocked down near Copacabana in April 2013.

 

A war veteran died at corner Chinhoyi Street and Bank Street in December 2013.

 

A father was knocked down while trying to shield his son from a kombi reversing in high speed in Harare in 2013.

 

And 16 people were injured when a kombi overturned in Bulawayo in 2013, among other similar incidences.

 

The fatal incidents often leave bereaved families with no one to console them as all parties avoid responsibility let alone,compensating the families.

 

Often police reportedly flee from such incidents, despite their claim that they will be enforcing the law.

 

Moyo recalled that municipal police strangled a taxi driver Goliath Dick to death in January 2014, showing that much of the chaos is caused by the law enforcement agents.

 

The death led to a street demonstration by taxi drivers, who paraded his coffin.

Moyo added: “How can a normal law enforcement process lead to the loss of innocent lives.

“They are up to collecting bribes that’s why they are not following the normal channel of law enforcement, which involves taking car registration numbers of those who flee from police.

“There is a corrupt underlying element to all these cases.”

 

Zimbabwe is ranked 157 out of 177 countries according to the Transparency International Corruption Perception index, and according to the index number 1 is the country least perceived as corrupt.

 

Parliament in December 2013 questioned the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs ZiyambiZiyambi over the unorthodox tactics of law enforcement agents, but the government official accused commuter transport operators of employing under age drivers, using road unworthy cars and evading licensing.

 

City of Harare’s Deputy Mayor Musarurwa Thomas Muzuva recently accused the police of corruption and indiscipline.

 

He said even when police caught kombi crews after such dangerous chases they inexplicably released them.

“The behaviour of the police leaves a lot to be desired.

“When the arrests are done, because of corruption the culprits are released immediately,” said Muzuva.

 

Greater Harare Association of Commuter Omnibus Operators (GHACO) revealed to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport that 50% of the minibuses in the city were owned by police officers.

 

A transport operator who refused to be named said police officers targeted omnibuses which did not belong to their fellows.

 

However, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba in February 2013 appeared unfazed by the criticism and defended the chases, saying the police were merely doing their work.

In the event that police chase commuter omnibus drivers who fail to comply with a lawful order to stop, police have a constitutional mandate to execute their duty.

“In any case, if they are chasing a car with criminals on board, it is a ZRP constitutional mandate to do so,” she said.

 

CHRA chairperson, Moyo, insisted that police had to rely on car registration numbers rather than chases which endanger lives.

“So why do we have a vehicle registration department, if it can not play its role?” he queried.

MUTARE – A NATURAL resource extraction and community rights watchdog has called upon the government to empower families relocated for diamond mining in Marange, Manicaland province.

 

Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) in a report, “Marange Relocations lead to new poverty,” released in April 2014 said the relocation of families from Marange that started when diamond mining commenced in 2009 could lead to abject poverty among the families if not handled with care.

CNRG urged the government, mining companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to empower the families.

“Government, NGOs and mining companies should initiate livelihood activities such as irrigation schemes and gold mining cooperatives at ArdaTransau, particularly for youths and women,” the report recommends.

“All mining companies must be forced to invest into empowering the relocated villagers not give them food handouts.

“There is also need for the Zimunya-Marange Share Ownership Scheme to be fully funded so that relocated villagers can also benefit from the scheme.

“Currently the funds which were promised to the scheme have not yet been availed and there is need for companies to fulfill their pledges.”

 

The report recommends the government to come up with a clear policy to guide relocations for mining activities in the country.

Government should come up with a clear policy on mining induced displacements and relocations.

“All mining contracts should be clear on relocations and these should satisfy the provisions of the Vancouver Declaration on human settlements,” the report reads.

 

CNRG also urged the government to create dialogue with the affected families as a way of finding a lasting solution to their plight.

Apart from their daily struggles, there is an aura of fear and insecurity among the relocated Marange community.

“What is clearly lacking is open dialogue about what happened, how it happened and what can be done to rectify the situation.

“Government should set up an interministerial task force to urgently deal with the problems confronting the relocated families in Marange.”

 

The report identified these problems: malnutrition and overdependence on infrequent food handouts from mining companies; lack of adequate health, education and housing facilities; and shortage of farming land.

 

The report said while Mbada Diamond Company had started a poultry project for the relocated villagers there was need for other companies to follow suit by implementing projects such as piggery, cattle fattening and horticulture.

 

CNRG urged the government to draw water from Osborne Dam, which is being used for the irrigation of the Middle Sabi in Chipinge to also help families at ArdaTransau.

 

According to the report, while Anjin Investments had completed building 474 housing units for the families, Mbada had completed 100 out of 487, and Diamond Mining Company (DMC) 30 out of 114, Marange resources 184 out of 350, Jinan Investments 110 out of 350 and the new company, Rera Diamonds none.

 

CNRG said: “However Arda Transau can hold about 1867 families and the government is still to identify more land to relocate the affected families.

“And with the haphazardness which characterized the first phase of the relocation exercise, there is need to come up with a proper plan before villagers are relocated.”

 

Some of the relocations which reportedly took place in October and November 2010 coincided with an examination period in the country’s education calendar, affecting school children.

 

By June 2013, an estimated 1000 families had been relocated to ArdaTransau, which measures 12000 hectares, while 4300 families were still to be relocated.

 

CNRG recommended that a new land audit should be carried out to build on the Charles Utete, Flora Bhuka and SIRDIC-Ministry of Land and Rural Resettlement interim land audits so that those who own multiple farms in Manicaland could cede land to the internally displaced people.

CIVIL society has called on the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Housing Dr. Ignatious Chombo to stop “harassing” victims of the Tokwe-Mukosi floods, who are housed at Chingwizi camp.

 

This comes after the Minister on April 10 accompanied by a ministerial committee visited the sprawling camp of tents supplied by humanitarian organisations and reportedly urged the internally displaced people to vacate to new plots.

 

He said they should agree to start building shelter without government disbursing $US 8.9 million it owes them, or they would not be given food.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Chairperson Dewa Mavhinga said this week that the government official should be “sensitive”.

Chombo as a representative of government should be sensitive to the plight of the displaced people currently housed at Chingwizi camp, instead of harassing these victims of the national disaster,” he said.

He should urge government to adopt a rights-based approach to ensure that they provide adequate alternative housing, land and compensation to support their livelihoods.

“It is only an uncaring and insensitive government that will insult people in such circumstances.”

 

The internally displaced people are reportedly refusing to vacate the camp after also initially refusing to vacate their homes in the Tokwe-Mukosi flood basin, before they were uprooted by floods in early February, because the government owes them $ 8.9 million for relocation purposes.

 

While reporting on the Minister’s visit to the camp with a ministerial committee, The Herald of April 12 suggested that the camp residents were refusing to leave the camp because they were feeling “comfortable” with getting food handouts.

This [the order by Chombo] was after revelations that some of the flood victims were now comfortable in the camp where they get free food handouts,” the paper reported.

 

Chombo is also reported to have said: “Why should we continue to provide food to families who insist on staying in the camp when their plots to build permanent structures are ready?

“We should make it clear that food assistance will only be given to those families who agree to move to their permanent plots because, we need to de-congest Chingwizi temporary camp.’’

 

The families had their crops washed away by water in Tokwe-Mukosi in early February, just before they were ripe for harvesting.

 

Mavhinga said that civil society should scale up efforts to pressure the government to meet the needs of the flood victims.

“It is important that civil society takes up its role of pressing government for transparency and accountability with regards to the needs of the people at Chingwizi.

“Civil society should collectively investigate and expose government failings at Chingwizi camp and demand corrective action to ensure there are no rights violations for the concerned people,” he said.

 

Mavhinga dismissed state media insinuations last week that it was the duty of civil society to cater for the camp residents.

This is first and foremost the domain of the government and therefore the failings are exclusively those of the government in this regard,” said Mavhinga.

ZIMBABWEANS are struggling to give meaning to independence due to the myriad challenges they face everyday, civil society has said.

(Dewa Mavhinga)

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Chairperson Dewa Mavhinga said on the eve of the 34th anniversary of independence that Zimbabweans were beset with many challenges in their day-to-day lives.

In the face of a virtually collapsed economy, massive unemployment, and rampant corruption, ordinary Zimbabweans are struggling to give meaning to independence celebrations,” said Mavhinga.

The Zanu-Pf government has failed to restore the core values of national independence.

“For the vast majority of Zimbabweans, the words independence, sovereignty, and freedom are cliques, they ring hollow.

“They are empty because most people still live in abject poverty and daily face harassment and violation of their human rights.”

 

This year’s Independence Day comes as the country grapples with high unemployment among the youths, industrial closures and deflationary pressures on the economy, which threatens to perpetuate over a decade of economic challenges starting in the late 1990’s.

 

Women’s Coalition Chairperson, Virginia Muwanigwa, said women celebrated few victories such as the new constitution, but they continued to yearn for more strides in terms of gender equality.

We celebrate as women of Zimbabwe the gains we have had particularly through the constitution some of the laws that promote gender equality,” said Muwanigwa.

We continue to pray with each passing year after independence that gender equality becomes a reality in practice for women, men, boys and girls.

“What we celebrate particularly through the new constitution is that we are now full citizens through the new constitution.”

 

 

Women may have been the foremost beneficiaries of the past decades of independence after several laws, including the new Constitution (Amendment 20) were passed to enhance their status both in the domestic and public space.

 

 

However, they have had to contend with lack of behavioural change to support the new laws with things such as domestic violence and rape still high, as well as exclusion in decision making.

 

 

In recent months, women’s groups have been particularly angry with the government after President Robert Mugabe appointed a 26-member cabinet with only three women despite the constitution stipulating that there should be parity.

 

CIVIL society organisations last Thursday castigated the reinvention of provisions that they have previously condemned in electoral laws, when they debated the new Electoral Amendment Bill with representatives of political parties.

 

The meeting where civil society rapped the authorities, including the Ministry of Justice, took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Harare on April 10, and was organized by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).

 

Speaking at the meeting, Election Resource Centre (ERC) Director Tawanda Chimhini said the appointment of the Minister of Justice to decide on where Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would get funds could compromise the body’s independence, thus violating the new constitution.

“…if people don’t want these institutions to be independent, then they must simply amend the constitution,” Chimhini retorted.

 

However, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Emmerson Mnangagwa has since allayed fears that the Bill which was gazetted on January 3 and brought before Parliament in April will not be railroaded without consultation, after civil society had complained about exclusion from determining the new contents of the electoral law.

(Tawanda Chimhini)

Chimhini said the constitution allows full public participation around the provisions of the electoral bill.

 

The major concern, he said, was that there was little time allowed for public participation and engagement with the bill prior to it being brought before parliament.

We are concerned that there was very little time for public interrogation concerning this bill,” he said.

 

He also said the bill was silent on the right to vote with respect to people in the Diaspora, stating that the constitution gave every Zimbabwean a right to vote.

 

And thus there was supposed to be a provision in the bill that emphasizes that right, he said.

 

Tsitsi Mhlanga of Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) said their hope was that the bill, once passed, will entrench the principles of gender equality as provided for in the constitution.

As women in politics, our hope is that this bill, once passed, will entrench the important principles of gender equality as in accordance to the constitutional provisions, ”Mhlanga said.

 

Douglas Mwonzora, the spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said his party was worried by the attempt by government officials to side-step civil society and the non-restriction of security forces from the electoral process in the Bill.

As the MDC-T we are worried that this bill is a departure from the constitution.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 08:58

Civil society welcomes media inquiry

CIVIL society has welcomed the setting up of a panel of inquiry with the view to upgrade media practice in Zimbabwe, but cautioned that it was not the panacea to all the issues that negatively affect the sector and free expression.

 

Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe) Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya welcomed the establishment of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) chaired by veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota, as the panel started its nationwide consultations to gather views from stakeholders on Monday.

What we cannot deny is that it is an opportunity we can use to the engage the government in a process of trying to address the problems that face media and freedom of expression,” said Ngwenya.

What we will do is, to take advantage of its existence to engage the panel of inquiry on what we would want it to deal with in terms of our long held positions.”

(Nhlanhla Ngwenya)

However, the MISA-Zimbabwe Director said some of the issues which impacted on the media came in the bigger ambit of society, including the problem of what Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Prof. Jonathan Moyo recently termed “positional journalism.”

We would know that IMPI has been subdivided into themes, which include depolarization of the sector,” said Ngwenya.

It would be a wrong diagnosis that will require a wrong prescription – because the polarization of the media reflects a widespread polarization of society.

“I do not see how best they can handle it if society is not changed; the media reflects what is already there because they are also the children of that society.

“IMPI should be part and parcel of a full scale effort to depolarize Zimbabwe.

“I think the substance of our politics should change, and the politicians should lead by example.”

 

There has been a perception that the Zimbabwean society, including media has been characterized by a deep rift, informed by political persuasion to the extent of sacrificing the truthful reporting of events in the national interest.

 

International observers to the July elections held last year also pointed out this polarization in Zimbabwean media.

 

Equally, institutions such as the army, the police, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have widely been accused of being politically biased, instead of serving all Zimbabweans.

 

Ngwenya raised concerns that the IMPI had solely been idealized, and those who sit on it appointed, by the Minister Prof. Moyo with little input from other stakeholders.

Appointments and the terms of reference of the IMPI were drawn up by the Minister with little input from other stakeholders.

“It has been a unilateral process where the motion, implementation and we think the conclusion is solely driven by the Minister of Information,” said Ngwenya.

 

On perceptions that the current Minister Prof. Moyo was a media tyrant, Ngwenya said: “We are seeing a relatively changed Moyo, whether it is sincere or there is an underlying strategy to it.

As MISA we have since invited him to one of our meetings; he has asked us as civil society to present our views to the IMPI.”

 

The IMPI started consultations on Monday in Marondera and Rusape, Mutare on Tuesday, and will be in Chimanimani on Wednesday and Masvingo on Thursday.

MORE people could end up without homes this coming winter season if the Zimbabwean government lives up to its sustained threats to demolish their shelter.

On April 10, 2014, Local Government, Public Works and Housing Minister Dr. Ignatius Chombo gave about 4 000 families in Chitungwiza urban and Manyame rural areas, a 3-week ultimatum to demolish their own homes, or they would face sterner measures from the government.

 

The latest plan is reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina, carried out by government in the winter of 2005, which was labeled a gross violation of human rights by then United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Human Settlements Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka.

 

As government gathers momentum for the latest version of urban “clean up” exercise, Dr. Chombo on April 10 in Chitungwiza said human rights defenders were “out of order” for initiating a court bid to stop the demolition of homes in the two areas.

 

The court application by Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in February resulted in a temporary halt on demolitions, pending a final determination.

What human rights are there when people settle and are exposed to dangers as those masquerading as human rights activists want us to believe.

“Let me announce that we’re giving all those improperly settled three weeks to vacate,” he said.

 

Civil society has responded to Chombo’s utterances, calling the Minister’s verbal attack on human rights defenders “unjustified”.

This is mostly so considering that this was done during a consultative meeting where stakeholders of Chitungwiza were supposed to discuss the best way forward for the town...,” CHITREST said.

 

Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said Chombo was “putting the horse before the cart”, and could increase the number of internally displaced people by demanding that families demolish their homes with no alternative shelter amid indications of a particularly cold winter season.

Where does he expect them to go, has he considered the plight of children that are going to school?” Heal Zimbabwe queried.

Has he considered the fast approaching winter season?

“Has he considered the housing problems in Zimbabwe and Chitungwiza to be specific?

The Government is currently grappling with flood victims at Chingwizi camp, those evicted in Mazowe and the Murambatsvina victims still wallow in poverty and here [ we see] a whole Minister wanting to create another group of internally displaced people.”

 

Government is failing to provide basic amenities to over 3000 families at Chingwizi transit camp, who were displaced by water when the Tokwe-Mukosi dam, built by government in their former villages, flooded their homesteads in February.

 

About 300 families are reported to have been evicted by government from Spelenken Farm in Mazowe in March.

 

Meanwhile, analysts say an estimated 700 000 people, who were displaced by government under Operation Murambatsvina in June 2005 were largely never given alternative accommodation; and most of them are believed to be still affected by homelessness.

Harare – CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE COALITION Director McDonald Lewanika in collaboration with a former employee has released a book on the July 31 polls, centered on ordinary people’s experiences and reactions to the plebiscite.

 

The compendium of 31 narrations by Zimbabweans, whose identities have been omitted, entitled “We the People” which was compiled by Lewanika and Delta Milayo Ndou, a former Information Officer at Crisis Coalition, was launched before a full house at the Book Cafe in Harare on Tuesday, April 2.

 

Lewanika said the book was meant to give a voice to people who would otherwise not be heard; after local politicians, civil society, and big institutions such as the SADC and AU observer missions gave their verdict of the plebiscite last year as well as European and Asia-Pacific countries.

He added that in essence the authors had not “written” the book, but it had emerged of its own as people shared their personal views in the aftermath of the harmonized elections basing on their unique experiences across the country.

The book wrote itself.

“We tried to mute the authorial voice,” Lewanika said

 

A development practitioner, Arnold Chamunogwa, gave a brief review to the book.

I would like to thank the authors for giving a voice to the voiceless,” Chamunogwa said.

It gives you an account of how Zanu-PF “won” or “stole” the elections, depending on your choice of words.

“You get a sense of both the perspectives of the spectators and participants.”

 

Chamunorwa said the book had many positives, but pointed out the dominance of voices, which discredited the elections. Of the 31 narrations, only three show a mood of celebration.

 

Chamunorwa said he did not understand whether it was by design of the authors, or it revealed the actual distribution of a sense of disappointment among Zimbabweans.

 

Goodson Nguni, a Zanu-Pf activist dismissed the book as a “fabrication”.

I do believe that the book is a fabrication by the authors, that’s why the people they interviewed are faceless,” Nguni said.

I do not doubt in my mind that the book was written by people who are anti-Zanu Pf to discredit its election victory.

“I think the authors wrote it themselves, they did not compile it.

“That’s the view of many people in Zanu-PF, but we respect people’s right to write what they want without hiding.”

 

Lewanika has a response to this view in the foreword:

Now, will this anthology be able to stand intellectual rigour and scrutiny?

Our answer is that it can, but is doesn’t have to. This anthology stakes no claim to authority.

“It is an attempt to give voice and share truths of some ordinary people around the elections as they saw it.

“It is their truth, and we believe that there is some value in presenting it as a repository or even reference for those who may want to carry out a finer ingrained analysis of what took place in Zimbabwe during that election.”

 

The writers thanked staff at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and several independent consultants for assisting in the compilation process, and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) for also facilitating the launch.

 

The book will be available at the Book Café and Crisis Coalition offices for sale to the public.

Page 5 of 29

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