… says Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Acting Director Mabenge

 

Harare – PRE-OCCUPATION with power politics during the previous Inclusive Government leaves the fledging economy as the new centre of crisis five years after the now defunct Global Political Agreement (GPA) which was signed in February 2009.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Acting Executive Director Joy Mabenge shared this view at a public discussion held by the Zimbabwe United States Alumni Association (ZUSAA) in Harare on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.

 

Mabenge said the Government of National Unity (GNU), a power-sharing government of Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, had preoccupied itself with political fights to the detriment and almost total neglect of the economy and other societal challenges.

There was stampede to deal with the political reform process,” Mabenge said, “but there was no interest to deal with economic issues other than stabilising the economy.

“But how did we stabilise the economy as Zimbabweans? You phase out the Zim dollar and introduce the multi-currency regime.

“That automatically deals with hyperinflation, and that was the core business of the Inclusive Government in terms of the economic question.”

 

Mabenge said the neglect of the economic aspects of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediated interparty agreement was evident in the non-implementation of Article 3.1 (c).

 

The provision required the setting up of a fully-fledged, functioning National Economic Council (NEC) to deal with fundamental macro-economic issues.Whereas at the same time there was what looked like “a stampede” to form organs, which the politicians thought were of political value, Mabenge said.

 

These include the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), and Organ on National Healing Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI).

 

Mabenge said the misconception was that the GPA had been meant to address political issues, and perhaps no other issues.

 

As a result, he said, the constitution-making process led by the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) was wrongly taken to signify the fulfilment of the whole pact.

“Once constitutional question became ‘the reform’, March 16 transferred the political reform agenda into the new Constitution because we thought once we had a new Constitution, it was time to rush to new elections,” he said.

 

As a result of the very little attention paid to it, Mabenge said, the weak economy has become the new centre of crisis.

“I am saying this so that you understand why we have a new site of struggle in Zimbabwe today as the economy?” he said.

Why it is the new site of struggle today is because that issue was never resolved by the Global Political Agreement, and it returns today to haunt Zimbabweans.

“So it’s a new site of struggle not only for the citizens of Zimbabwe, but for civil society especially those who want to connect with the masses, and reconnect with livelihood issues.”

 

More than six months after the July 31 harmonised elections, which pulled the curtain on the Coalition Government established by the GPA, Zimbabwe continues to witness a lot of economic hardships.

 

They broadly range from high unemployment, industry closures, below 40% industrial capacity utilisation, water and power cuts, heaps of uncollected garbage and sewerage streams in urban centres, to almost zero levels of new investments.

 

PRESENTATION by Joy Mabenge, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Acting Executive Director (AED), at a public discussion hosted by the Zimbabwe United States Alumni Association (Zusaa)

DATE: February 25, 2014

VENUE: Quill Club, Ambassador Hotel, Harare

(This is the first instalment)

 

Thanks to the US Public Affairs Section for extending this invitation to me. I am happy to be here, and share my insights with you. By way of introduction, I would want to say I have no intention, really, of making this an academic discussion. So if you are sitting there having read the very good works of Antonio Gramsci, and the development of civil society, it is not my intention to go that route. I want to be a little bit pragmatic. The second point is that I am aware that civil society is very broad, so you saw from the topic that it’s civil society and democratisation in Zimbabwe. I am aware that civil society is very broad, and I am not sitting here pretending to be representing the length and breadth of civil society, including burial societies. I am here to talk about a particular type of civil society, and that is civil society, working on democracy, rights and governance. But I am aware that civil society is much broader than that. The third point I want to make is, that lets keep at the back of our minds that in fact there is mutual reinforcement between the work that civil society, and this is the mutual reinforcement that we see connecting civil and political rights to socioeconomic and cultural rights. The fourth point that I want to make is that I am aware that the emergence of civil society in post-colonial Zimbabwe pre-dates what we call the decades of crisis. And this is precisely from 1997-8 to 2008, and then the succeeding periods. Now the brief that I have from the Public Affairs section is not to flash back your memories thirty-four years. That is taking you back to 1980 – because I can still make my points without getting you back to 1980. The next issue that I want to put on the table is that my input today benefits from my understanding, but it’s undetailed subdivision of the nature of civil society into (1) the crisis decade, that is 1997-8 to 2008; (2) to the GPA period, 2009 to 2013; (3) to the current period. So I think if we connect these three dots my points may probably make sense. I want to put it across to you that we should always remember that the nature of civil society at any given point in time is largely a function of the state of national affairs, that is, how is your economics? How is your politics? How is your social cultural connection? The last point, as a way of introduction is, that perhaps in responding to this question, it is important to say that civil society and democratisation cannot be understood without understanding the relationship between civil society and the state; the relationship between civil society and the market; the relationship between civil society and the citizens; and also the relationship amongst civil society. I have no intention of going deep into putting this across to you, but it’s my point of departure in terms of making the points that I want to make. A reality check points to the importance of July 31st of 2013, as the point of departure for this talk. Why, because it represents the end an era from inclusion to exclusivity. The Zanu-pf victory whether it came through fair, free processes or otherwise, it represents the end of an era. It also redefines opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The end of an era also is an end of era in terms of civil society politics. I did say, remember that, I am categorising civil society into three epochs; there is the crisis period, the GPA period and the ‘now’. As it is the end of an era, let’s bear in mind that over the years, Zimbabwean politics has been so much characterised by what I am calling compartmentalisation. It is that compartmentalisation that sees civil society existing as either appendages or extensions of the political order, particularly political parties. But it’s not only civil society that exists in that form; it is the entirety of the Zimbabwean society. So it is important for us to characterise the nature of the problem that we face by first understanding how it comes about. That compartmentalisation is sitting on a very false binary logic that every citizen of Zimbabwe must belong to either one big political party, or the other big political party. This is the very reason why civil society is compartmentalised. We can even extend it to the churches. We did see what was happening with the Anglican Church and other churches in Zimbabwe. So the segment of civil society segment which is dealing with democracy, governance and human rights is a victim of that real or perceived compartmentalisation that, and it’s important for us to keep that at the back of our minds. However, it would be amiss for me not to say that, there is a huge perception that the kind of civil society that I am referring to has been viewed within that compartmentalisation as an extension of opposition parties particularly the Movement for Democratic Change. Whether that is true or false is not for me to predetermine. I am sure that you, as Zimbabweans, are better placed to judge. But it is a perception that exists in Zimbabwe within Zimbabweans, and it is a perception that helps me to arrive at my input today. The next point that I want to arrive at is about the GPA. The GPA phase itself had a demobilising effect on civil society. Basically, civil society in society has two basic functions. The first function is that civil society must be a watchdog. If you put civil society within the relation between the state, the market and society in general where civil society is placed you would agree that the state always has excesses, the market always has excesses because the market is profit driven, and it is the responsibility of civil society to check the state and the market, and to ensure that the state and the market are acting in favour of or for the advantage of the citizens. The point here is that the GPA had a demobilising effect on civil society. I did talk about the watchdog role. The second role that civil society can play in any society is complementarity. You complement the government of the day, but you can also complement the state and or to a lesser extent the market. But you complement the government of the day in terms of filling in the vacuum that the state would have failed to fill particularly this works for service delivery, or pushing for opening of spaces and democratisation. Here is a civil society that has been seriously demobilised by the effects of the Global Political Agreement. The next point is that during the GPA there was clear contestation between complementarity and watchdog role and this played out in the public gallery in terms of the work of civil society when it came to constitution reform. We had the Take Charge Campaign, we had the Take Part Campaign, we had the ‘Monitor it’ initiative, however you may want to characterise that. The Global Political Agreement and its benchmarks particularly constitutional reform tore apart civil society in a big way, and weakened civil society. There is nothing wrong with segments of civil society refusing to participate in a process they feel does not represent their aspirations. There is nothing wrong with segments of civil society deciding to participate. I hope it was a creative tension that existed between the role of complementarity and the role of watchdog. However, I think quite clearly civil society chose to do both, and that is the reason why we were compartmentalised as civil society. And remember I am talking about the ghost of the Global Political Agreement. At the time that we had the Second All stakeholders’ conference even by COPAC, it was unfortunate that civil society was invited to participate along political party lines. This is not my own creation because civil society that came to Second All Stakeholders Conference had either to align to the MDC-T, MDC-M, MDC-N or Zanu-pf. Civil society when you expand it to include war veterans – war veterans could have not attended if they had not been deemed to be civil society. And for them to be deemed to be civil society they were invited through party lines, and these party lines were Zanu-pf lines. So there is also a very false assumption that views the civil society that is dealing with hard core democracy and governance issues as the only civil society that was aligned to political parties. I want to demystify that first, and say in as much as civil society dealing with democracy, governance and rights issues in terms of opening up the space was affiliated to political parties other sectors of society that deem themselves as civil society were also affiliated politically. Is that good for a society? My answer is no. It was a society that could only operate on a binary logic because the society was so divided that it only made sense for Zimbabweans at large to belong to some political party. The point is that civil society broadly defined has been associated with affiliation with political parties.

Harare – ARTISTS have called for the relaxation of the country’s censorship laws as a way of promoting the freedom of artistic expression provided for in the new Constitution.

 

Stephen Chisvuvi, a renowned international hip hop artist, poet and artistic entrepreneur, winner of the 2013 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Human Rights Defender of the Year Award said the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act “intimidates” artists because of its stringent requirements.

“According to that Act, an artist is supposed to apply for a censorship certificate, and you go to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and they will require going through the content of your art work.

After which if they are satisfied that it is compliant they will issue you with a censorship certificate.

“The very idea of a censorship certificate will intimidate artists from freely expressing themselves.”

(Steven Chisvuvi)

Chisvuvi said the authorities would argue that they want to uphold the moral values of society, but he did not see the logic especially where this requirement for artistic content to be pre-assessed conflicted with certain forms of art.

What happens with artists that want to do spontaneous performances? For example in hip-hop and poetry there are performance techniques that are classified as freestyle techniques. How do you issue a censorship certificate for a performance that is yet to be formulated?

“It doesn’t make sense; it’s just tedious to go through this process.

“But if you look at it, the law is applied selectively; you are only required to produce the certificate if they already want you to stop your performance.

“People like Tuku and Macheso, I don’t think they always queue up to get censorship clearance every time they have a show.

“This is a law that is used to target young people and their expression.”

 

Last year African Hip Hop Caravan participants from South Africa and particularly from the United States billed to perform on the theme of promoting democracy across Africa experienced “hiccups” in getting the certificates as authorities claimed that their music could cause “breach of peace”, Chisvuvi said.

 

Chisvuvi is the founder of the African Hip Hop Caravan and the Houser of Hunger Poetry Slam as well as founder and coordinator of Uhuru Network, among other artistic outfits in the country.

I think the new constitution is specifically clear, it actually does not just mention freedom of expression, but it particularly highlights freedom of artistic expression.

“Therefore it seems to me logical that the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act should thus be realigned to the new Constitution, which means they must remove all those aspects within that Act that infringe on free artistic expression.

“I think we are now trying to push for a situation where this law is realigned and those sections repealed.”

 

Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights (ZPHR) Coordinator Shoes Lambada said last year when they were running the poetry segment of the Savanna Trust organised, local Protest Arts International Festival (PAIF), were required to submit scripts of the poems of the performing poets.

“It was very difficult because we wanted the event to be in a slam format.

“In that format, you cannot ask the poets to submit their poems before the event. Actually, it pre-empties everything.

 

Lambada said they had some brushes with the police, where they were asked to submit their poems after staging a street poetry event.

 

Some of the poems dealt with the 2005 urban house demolitions, also known as Murambatsvina, which the police said insulted the Minister of Local Government.

We were just speaking to those issues, and saying they were violations of human rights.

“We were told that we had contravened the censorship laws, but we were released without charge.

“At one time we were performing in First Street in Harare, and we were detained for the same charge because they said we were demeaning the office of the President.

“They want us to submit our work because they want to sift what we are going to say.

“Actually, it is a violation of our free artistic expression and the Constitution if we are going to perform already submitted material,” Lambada said.

 

Mehluli Dube, director of the Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT), narrated that they had had an encounter with authorities, leading to the cancellation of a street theatre performance.

“In light of this we have come together as Artist for Democracy in Zimbabwe (ADZT), Uhuru Network and Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights to raise awareness on the restrictive nature of the law.

“We are looking forward to partnering Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Media Institute of Southern Africa- Zimbabwe Chapter in advocating for realignment of such laws which are ultra-vires the new Constitution.”

Harare – RESIDENTS’ grouping, Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) made a breakthrough in advocating for regular interaction between ordinary residents and the City Fathers on service delivery issues. Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni indicated on Tuesday, February 18 that he was agreeable to diarised briefings with the residents.

 

The provisional pact was made at an open meeting held at Town House on Tuesday, where the Mayor gave updates regarding the work of the council and the recent suspension and later on reinstatement of Town Clerk Dr. Tendai Mahachi to members of the Association and other stakeholders.

 

CHRA Chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said they were happy with the agreement and the Association will mobilise residents for the meetings.

“One of the positives that came out is that we are going to meet regularly with the Mayor,” he said of the Tuesday dialogue.

We are going to diarise the meetings to get updates on service delivery which is a positive thing.”

 

According to the CHRA chairperson the engagement will take place on a monthly basis.

 

The “state of service delivery address” will focus on efficient water provision, sewage reticulation, garbage collection, street lighting, maintenance works, and other areas of service delivery by the local authority. Citizens will give feedback and draw attention to areas that need sprucing up to council, Moyo highlighted.

 

According to Moyo, the Mayor also assured them that a forensic audit into the financial transactions of the local authority was being conducted and results will come out soon. The audit is being done after it recently emerged that top officials at the City Council were awarding themselves what have been termed “obscene salaries”, while service delivery continually collapsed.

 

However, the residents’ leader said they were not happy with the fact that Town Clerk Dr. Tendai Mahachi had been re-instated after suspension, which was meant to pave way for investigations. He questioned the involvement of Local Government, Public Works and Housing Minister Dr. Ignatius Chombo in revoking the Town Clerk’s suspension.

“We welcome the assurance that we got from the Mayor that the forensic audit into Council’s financial affairs will go on,” Moyo said.

“But it remains a genuine concern to us that they will be trying to audit and investigate someone who is now back at work fulltime.”

 

The residents said they were anticipating the draft forensic audit report in line with the Mayor’s pledge, but indicated that they will continue to agitate for clarity on the reinstatement of Dr. Mahachi, the town’s clerk who was once suspended allegedly for refusing to divulge information regarding top council staff’s salaries.

Chitungwiza, Manyame Rural District – THOUSANDS of home-owners whose structures were found to be built on undesignated land expect to know their fate next Thursday as Chitungwiza Town Council is still to respond to a court order, which initially halted demolitions early in February.

 

The bulldozers were halted after Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) approached the local Magistrates Court seeking a permanent halt of demolitions, and was granted a 20-day halt order beginning from February 6, which required Chitungwiza Town Council to make their case for possible demolitions.

 

About 15 000 home-owners in Chitungwiza have one week to know whether the bulldozers will roll in or not, CHITREST chairperson Marvellous Khumalo said, adding that they were to submit a similar court application for about 6 000 home-owners in Manyame Rural District Council.

“We are still waiting to see if council will respond to standing court order which bars them from further demolitions ,” Khumalo said.

We are going to submit a similar court application for those in Manyame, which our lawyers could submit today (Thursday, February 20) if it is ready.”

 

Meanwhile, he said, they have not heard from their lawyers of any intention to challenge the temporary court reprieve granted by the court, which could turn into a memorably victory for the anxious, threatened families.

 

This will only be so if up to February 27 council does not press for demolitions through a court challenge.,

 

Joel Biggie Matiza, the deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Housing who chaired the audit committee that revealed the illegal status of 21 000 houses in the two local authorities about 35 km east of Harare, has been on record affirming that the houses will be demolished.

 

Khumalo blames the government for failing to stop the development of the sprawling settlements.

“When these people were building where was council,” Khumalo said.

“It should have served them with stop development orders.

“Some of these houses were built ten years ago.”

 

Khumalo accused unnamed senior council officials of being actively involved in parcelling out land which was not meant, or was not fit for housing purposes in the areas in question.

“The allocation of the illegal stands involved senior council staff,” he said. “It’s not as if they could not see these people building on undesignated land.

“If the plan is to relocate these people, they have to relocate them first before demolishing their houses.”

 

The Zimbabwean government in the 1990’s, in 2005 and this year demolished illegal structures in urban centres.

 

The exercise in June 2005, which was done without giving affected home owners alternative dwelling units, was condemned in an assessment of impact report by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Human Settlements Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka as a gross violation of human rights.

Seke – A HEADMAN, Michael Dzvikiti, is reeling from the recent demolition of his house by local government authorities in a village he claims his ancestors settled for centuries.

 

The recent demolitions in Musoko village and two other villages under Chief Seke in Manyame Rural District left the 38-year-old headman furious and inconsolable over losing his ancestral home.

 

The demolition was part of the wave of demolitions of houses, supposedly built on land set aside for other purposes by the Zimbabwean government.

“The council is saying that we built on this land illegally,” Dzvikiti said with palpable disbelief.

“If there were such plans, I would have expected council to demolish after consulting me.

“In the face of such things, my subjects expect me to protect them as their headman.

“But even my house has been demolished.”

 

Several houses in Musoko, Marikopo and Chakahwata were recently demolished, he said.

 

Dzvikiti said that the government was commercialising their ancestral land, which is barely east of Chitungwiza Town’s residential suburbs, without due process.

“There should be a distinction between urban commercial land and rural communal land,” the Musoko village head said.

“Further, the government should understand that village heads are local authorities.”

 

Dzvikiti said the government did not give them a court order, and his discussions with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Manyame Council, Farirai Guta were fruitless.

 

The new Constitution of Zimbabwe affirms that all land belongs to the state, but prohibits the arbitrary eviction of people from their homes in Section74.

 

The right to agricultural land in Section 71 (1) (a-b) does not include “Communal land or land within the boundaries of an urban local authority or within a township…”

 

Section 72 (3) (a) says that “no compensation is payable to its acquisition, except for improvements effected on it before acquisition”, while Section 73 (3) (b) apparently prohibits approaching the courts for compensation if one loses their land.

 

It reads: “…no person may apply to court for determination of any question relating to compensation, except for compensation for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition, and no court may entertain any such application.”

 

The clauses may have been included to fence the government’s stance towards irreversibility of its land reform program, although they may affect communities displaced for development purposes.

 

The Musoko village head accused Member of Parliament, Hon. Phineas Chihota of neglecting the community after he promised to take their concerns about the encroachment of the urban area into the villages to relevant government departments for an amicable solution.

 

In mid-2012, it emerged that desperate home seekers from Harare, Chitungwiza and Ruwa were seeking rural havens in Chitsvatsva, Rusirevi, Chikambi, Chinamano, Mutsvairo, Marikopo, Gombe, Besa, and Mhindurwa.

 

Villagers in the areas, lured by money, were reportedly sub-dividing their homesteads into 1600sq metre residential stands, which they sold for about US$ 1500 to US$ 2500. Under normal circumstances, headmen are allowed to settle people in their jurisdictions.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 08:46

Patronage breeds corruption – civil society

Harare – CIVIL society said corruption and mismanagement in state enterprises is a direct result of political patronage.

 

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Chairperson Dewa Mavhinga told the meeting co-hosted by CiZC and Transparency International-Zimbabwe (TIZ) held on Thursday, February 13 in Harare.

 

President Robert Mugabe has been following up on his publicly stated dream of a one-party state by merging government institutions with Zanu-PF party.

 

Mavhinga said this led to the appointment of heads of public institutions on the basis of their loyalty to the party rather than on their competence, which he said led to corruption and poor corporate governance at the public entities.

“If we closely look at Zanu-Pf’s structure of governance President Mugabe is an institution unto himself and the state is modelled on that line,” Mavhinga said.

“As he did say in the 1980’s his dream was a one party state, which means a conflation of the state and government.

“At that level cadreship, patronage trump competence.

“So incompetent individuals, who are loyal to the party are promoted to serious positions of authority for the purposes of channelling funds. That is the classical case of corruption.

“This structure of patronage at the level of systems and institutions is that all key institutions are controlled and run by party cadres who report on certain lines.

“And for us to unravel this cancerous corruption, we have to look at the systems.”

 

Mavhinga said that the fact that President Mugabe centralised power on himself weakened state institutions which should fight corruption.

So you will find that these arms of state that are there, the arresting authority, the prosecuting authority, all these are waiting for a signal,” he said.

 

“They might say, ‘President Mugabe, you said in Parliament that (former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Chairperson Goodwills) Masimirembwa did this and that, but did you in fact intend that we should arrest him?’”

 

Masimirembwa was last year publicly accused by President Mugabe of demanding a US$ 6 million bribe from a Ghanaian investor William Ato Essien.

 

Herald Senior Assistant editor ,George Chisoko said a look at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) showed that there was “a pot of people whose profession is to be board members” of companies, which he said was the case at government commercial enterprises.

“The same faces that you find in the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) board are the same faces that you find in CMED board ,” Chisoko said.

“It appears there is a pot of people whose profession is to be board members. It’s an issue that we as media are interested in. How can one be an expert in all areas?”

 

Chisoko denied that the state media was being used, saying: “If all papers were able to expose corruption, including the state media how then is the state media being used?”

 

Moderator of the public meeting, Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa also paused a challenge on how the cycle of corruption can be broke.

“What we have been talking about is precisely the problem of jobs for the boys and few girls, but the point is how we break this whole cycle?

“How have other countries made the transition from this kind of feudalism, where you transpose a very feudal system onto a modern economy? Definitely we know there is a reward system, how do we break this?”

 

Mavhinga suggested that there was need to reform state institutions.

 

MDC-T MP for Mabvuku, James Maridadi, said the business model of Zimbabwean state enterprises was flawed.

“I have a problem with parastatals reporting to line ministries because parastatals have become feeding troughs for ministers,” he said.

“Any corruption that happens in the country, it comes from the minister, to the permanent secretary into the parastatal.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with our business model of parastatals. Parastatals are important. China developed at the back of parastatals.”

 

Zanu-PF activist Goodson Nguni said his party was committed to fighting corruption.

“Zanu-Pf is the only party that has clearly articulated the fight against corruption in its manifesto and the recently launched government economic development blueprint ZimAsset,” Nguni said. “All these debates about corruption have been started by Zanu-PF.

 

Zanu-Pf is against corruption but we also support the rule of law. We don’t want to arrest people when there is no evidence of corruption.”

Harare – AS the revelations of financial mismanagement in state enterprises continue to spur public outrage, a workers’ union of the government’s audit department has accused its employer of neglect of public duty.

 

Michael Makuchete, President of the Audit Office Workers Union said the Auditor-General was incompetent, and must be fired on Thursday, February 13 in Harare.

 

Makuchete was contributing to discussions at a public meeting organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in collaboration with Transparency International – Zimbabwe (TIZ).

 

“The auditor general has failed to do his job because if you look at the case of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC)… the Auditor General is in fact the external auditor of ZBC,” Makuchete said, suggesting that the audit office should have spoken out against supposed financial mismanagement at the public broadcaster where workers went for seven months without salaries.

“That Happison Muchechetere was earning so much and the auditor general kept quiet…then it means the auditor general must go.

“The auditor general is the eye of the government so that office must be capacitated, that office must be professional, (and) that office must be manned by Zimbabweans that have courage to say this is wrong.

“The auditor general is supposed to do what we call value for money audits where he talks about the economy and effectiveness of all government institutions.”

 

Makuchete said he was surprised that the media was not taking the government department to task over the malpractises that have been unearthed in state enterprises.

(TIZ Chair Loughty Dube)

Speaking at the same meeting, TIZ Chairperson Loughty Dube said there was need for critical players like public auditors and civil society to do their best job in exposing corruption and malfeasance in public institutions.

“We are worried about corruption and action not being taken,” he said, adding that there was a difference between corruption and mega-salaries as the latter sometimes did not constitute a crime.

 

Dube however said that salaries in parastatals should be regulated.

We feel there is need to set a salary scale based on organisational performance,” Dube said, adding that Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of non-performing parastatals should not be given hefty salaries.

 

Hon. James Maridadi, MDC-T MP for Mabvuku who also sits on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, said salaries of executives should be tied to the organisation’s revenue.

“A chief executive’s salary is a function of the organisation’s revenue, the two cannot be divorced,” Hon. Maridadi said referring to the case of ZBC where the salary bill excelled revenue.

How do you explain an organisation whose salary bill is USD 1.6 million, their revenue USD 90000 and the chief executive takes home USD 40000?

“Because before they even pay their salaries they are in a deficit.

 

Hon. Maridadi said ZBC boss, Happison Muchechetere used USD 5000 a week to replace the tyres of his luxury car, when the media house did not even have basic equipment like video cameras.

“I will not talk about it as corruption,” Hon. Maridadi said, “It’s a problem of leadership.”

Vincent Kahiya, Editor-in-Chief at Alpha Media Holdings said the issue of corruption had long been part of media exposes like the ones happening under the “Salarygate”, but no action had been taken.

 

He also said Zimbabwean citizens had become too tolerant to corruption.

As media practitioners we write a lot about the failings of our government, of state institutions and these stories about corruption,” Kahiya said.

The crisis we face as media practitioners, is that we get are phone calls and letters to the editor saying what are the media doing about corruption.

“So we have a country which has subcontracted its anger to the media instead of getting angry and the media reporting that anger, there are people who expect the media to get angry on their behalf.

“We are a county which laughs at itself when it’s hurting.

“I have been to countries where if a train is late by five minutes it will be a headline story.”

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:45

Police assault demonstrators

Harare – THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) abruptly ended the peaceful march of activists belonging to the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) with savage beatings at Parliament on Thursday, February 13, 2014 in Harare.

 

Ironically, the women in their petition were calling for the police to be at the forefront of protecting human rights in line with the new Constitution; which they said was “a special rose” for the country as citizens prepared to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on Friday.

 

“Police must now leave behind the name ‘Police Force’ and become a police service – they must be civil rights heroes and score zero abuses by respecting the constitution,” the WOZA statement said.

“Don’t let them trample on our rose.”

 

Yet, in a spectacular fashion, the police just did it – savagely broke up the peaceful demonstration with spirited beatings which scattered the women almost in a blink of an eye.

 

Section 59 of the Constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate and petition, but the police ignored it, and landed their truncheons on the women.

 

This is despite the fact that there is a Supreme Court ruling of 2010 barring the police from attacking WOZA activists, when they stage their annual, St. Valentine’s Day peaceful march for social justice.

 

The marchers were calling for an end in white collar crime such as corruption, and asking the government to look into the deterioration of service delivery in the local government, health and education sectors.

 

“The Valentine’s Day comes at a time when there is widespread plundering of national resources and widespread corruption in the public sector,” the statement by the organisation said.

“Despite these high salaries and lavish lifestyles of our public servants, the promised education remains a dream and school levies have sky rocketed.

“This year more children are being chased from schools for non-payment of fees and the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) is bankrupt.

“In March 2013 we voted for a new Constitution expecting that by now it would already be activated and fully implemented and new laws would be helping us to enjoy the fruits…why can’t parliament and senate activate it so we can enjoy it together?

“City councils leave the sewerage to forment and spill over around our houses. Our roads are now impassable but top chefs, executives, earn obscene salaries.

“Police road blocks have become far too many and the source of great corruption and suffering for commuters.

“Free maternity care is also an unfulfilled promise – hospitals cannot even provide expectant mothers with water to wash themselves.”

 

WOZA in 2013 won its case at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) after the women’s organisation approached the continental body over violation of its right to protest, and the brutal manner in which police dealt with its peaceful marches.

 

One of the lawyers representing the women, Belindah Chinowawa, said last year that the appeal to the continental body had been prompted by failure of local remedies.

 

She said police continued to ignore the Supreme Court ruling passed in favour of WOZA in 2010 by assaulting the women.

 

Once again, the police remained defiant by breaking up a peaceful march of the organisation, and more beatings on Thursday.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:25

CIZC Statement on Political Violence in MDC T

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