Category Archives: Features, Opinion & Analysis

Editorial Comment: Market must back local motor industry

Over the years, Zimbabwean businesses and individuals have been spending millions of dollars in foreign currency importing utility single and double cab trucks mainly from South Africa, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Some of the trucks gobbled a fortune for businesses, but were not value for money. They did not perform to expectations as they were not designed for local terrain and weather.

This, however, may be a thing of the past as Willowvale Motor Industries (WMI), which had been shut for the last five years, officially resumed operations this week following a joint venture with a Chinese firm to assemble a new range of pick-up trucks from semi-knocked down kits.

The firm previously specialised in Madza models.

As the country celebrates the fulfilment of deals President Mugabe penned with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in August 2014, expectations are high that more than 5 000 jobs will be created, and millions earned in taxes.

The more than 3 000 vehicles to be manufactured in three years, if not taken by the local market, will find themselves in regional markets, bringing in foreign currency.

We reported in our Monday issue that the new deal is a product of Beiqi Zimbabwe, a joint venture between China’s fifth largest car manufacturer, the Beijing Automobile International Corporation (BAIC), WMI and Astol Motors.

The truck will be called BAIC Great Tiger.

From the deal with BAIC, total sales volumes, we reported, are expected to be about 490 units this year, before rising to 940 units in 2018.

The new firm complements Quest Motors in Mutare which has been manufacturing different brands of trucks under a deal with another Chinese company.

However, inasmuch as the country celebrates the comeback of WMI, the company deserves everyone’s support.

The State Procurement Board (SPB) should ensure that no Government departments and parastatals will be allowed to import utility trucks for operations, but they must all buy from Beiqi Zimbabwe and Quest Motors in line with Cabinet Circular number 16 of 2011 which directed all line ministries, parastatals and public institutions to procure 80 percent of their vehicle requirements from local assemblers .

No such applications for foreign currency should be allowed by the Central Bank and Finance and Economic Development Ministry should make sure that all loopholes are closed.

Stiff penalties, we propose, should be imposed on heads of Government departments and parastatals who violate the standing Government regulation or law.

Our legislators should also lead by example by acquiring locally-assembled vehicles and help convince ordinary members of the public to follow suit.

Generally, local companies have been accused of not availing favourable terms to consumers, resulting in many preferring foreign brands.

To change that negative perception, it is not the duty of Government alone, but the companies too, to come up with favourable conditions that will result in local private companies settling for locally assembled brands.

The companies should come up with schemes that help struggling private companies acquire the vehicles under reasonable terms.

Zimbabweans, mainly ordinary workers and farmers had dreams of owning new cars fading away and it is our hope that the coming on board of Beiqi Zimbabwe should rekindle that hope.

However, it is up to the companies to reach out to the people and businesses with favourable terms.

My father, colonial education, Anglicanism

MARY SUMNER

MARY SUMNER

Sekai Nzenza On Wednesday
It’s 3.45 am at Mufudzi Wakanaka School on a Sunday morning. There are more than 300 mostly middle-aged women and grandmothers with walking sticks. Almost all the women are dressed in Anglican uniforms with various motifs.

The older women are wearing their Anglican uniforms, blue skirts, white blouses with blue collars and blue doeks or head scarfs. The uniform shows that they belong to the Anglican Mothers’ Union.

This is the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo, which stretches from further down south to Mufudzi Wakanaka, or The Good Shepherd School. Mufudzi, as it is popularly known, sits near the banks of the Save River and it is the last one to represent the Anglican churches in the Masvingo Dioceses.

I am here to participate in the Lady’s Day conference as well as celebrate the part played by my parents in bringing Anglican Christianity to this very scenic place. Mufudzi Wakanaka Church is built on a high hill near Save River across from Hwedza, Romorehoto and Nyangarire mountains.

Most of the schools at the gathering of women here have an Anglican name, then a Shona name. There is St Clara Svinurai, St Faith Mudoti, St Cecilia Mushipe, St Helena Nzuma, St Columbus Jeche, St Judes Chimowa and then Mufudzi Wakanaka or The Good Shepherd Church, no saint before this name.

Mufudzi Wakanaka School and church was built by my father in 1947. It was the first school in the area, with a grass thatched school and church. The house that he lived in with my mother is still standing and occupied by a young lady, recently graduated from Mkoba Teachers College. Four of my older siblings were born here.

We are all sitting on the old foundation of the school built by my father. In my handbag I have brought along a photo of my father taken in 1948, where he sits on a chair, with a desk in front of him, wearing an open white shirt, black jacket, cream or khaki pants and black shoes.

Behind him is a mud brick thatched classroom block with two entrances and big open arch windows. At the back of the photo, my father wrote that the building was that of a school he had built.

He signed his initials and name in ink with these words below: “Head teacher, Mufudzi Wakanaka School, Chikoro chandakavakisa Enkeldoorn S. Rhodesia.” Except for small scratches and some fading, the photo is clear.

Over the years, there have been times that I think my father was an African colonialist because he was a teacher and clergyman for the Anglican missionaries.

Here, at the Mufudzi Wakanaka School, my parents’ role in supporting the propagation of the gospel and the promotion of civilization has presented a certain personal ambivalence.

Back in the village, when we were growing up, the conflicts between my father and his mother Mbuya VaMandirowesa, were always related to my father’s adoption of new way of living relating to education, immunisation, food, dress and many other aspects of spirituality.

But my mother seemed to move easily between traditional religion and Anglicanism without much effort. And yet she played a significant part in the Mother’s Union at Mufudzi Wakanaka School in the early 1950’s. Many elderly men and women still remember her as the leader of the Mother’s Union.

Despite my ambivalence with joining a Christian church, I have expressed an interest in joining the Mother’s Union so that I can maintain the legacy of my parents and the education they were able to provide to both men and women of Mufudzi.

Last Saturday night, during the all-night Lady Day celebration, the pastor’s wife takes me to meet the Bishop’s wife, Mrs Albertina Taonezvi, who is sitting right in the front, in a separate tent built for dignitaries.

The rest of the women are out there in the open. Mai Taonezvi is a beautiful woman and she introduces me to the steps required in order to gain membership into the Mother’s Union.

She describes the number of materials that can be bought and sewn into uniforms. One of Mai Taonezvi’s assistants nearby quickly tells me that she has a whole suitcase full of materials at $7 per metre

“If you do not have cash with you, EcoCash is also possible, especially in the late hours of the morning when network is not so busy,” she says.

In order for me to be allowed to wear the cloth, bhachi reruwadzano, I am told that I must memorise the prayer of Mary Sumner by heart. I go back to the car to read my new booklet on prayers.

I try to half heatedly memorise the prayer of Mary Sumner in the car. In the back seat is my cousin, Piri, drunk and snoring. She is not an Anglican. I shake her and tell her to stop snoring because I need to concentrate on memorising the prayer of Mary Sumner. “Aimbove aniko Mary Samunari wacho?” Piri asks. Who was Mary Sumner?

I then google Mary Sumner’s name. She was born in 1828 near Manchester and she married a clergyman called George Sumner. Then they lived near Old Alresford in the UK. When she became a grandmother, she was concerned about the way local mothers practised their Christian faith.

She therefore founded a small group called the Mothers’ Union. Its main aim was to promote and strengthen Christian family life.

For a few years, the Mothers’ Union remained small. However, it grew rapidly after the 1885 national Church Congress where Mary Sumner addressed the participants and “focused on the two ideas central to her Mothers’ Union group: being a good example to children, and keeping prayer central to the life of the family”.

Her speech was supported by Bishop of Winchester, Harold Browne, who recommended that a Mother’s Union should spread through the Diocese. Within a few years, the Mother’s Union grew rapidly in Britain and right across the colonised countries of the Commonwealth.

Mary Sumner became the international president in 1896, just at the time when this country was going through the First Chimurenga fight against colonial rule.

Mary’s profound work in the Mother’s Union continued to spread in Rhodesia and everywhere across the Empire right up to the time of her death in 1921.

She is buried outside Winchester Cathedral. Mary witnessed the growth of the Mother’s Union from a small group to a worldwide organisation with millions of members who still recite her prayer today.

My parents were married at Daramombe Christ, the King Mission in 1947. They were assigned to go back to a remote place in our village and start a church and a school. My father named the school Mufudzi Wakanaka, after convincing the missionaries that such a name was very much Christian, because it meant The Good Shepherd.

It was only a question of translation and there was nothing uncivilised or native about the name. The missionaries accepted and the church and school have kept that name up to this day. The church has also maintained the annual Lady’s Day celebrations which are held across the Diocese.

The Lady’s Day at Mufudzi Wakanaka church finished at the odd hour of 4:30 am. Many women from faraway left in the hired kombis. But some of us from around the area stayed for sweet tea and bread with jam.

One of the old ladies called Mai Mudawarima recognises the facial resemblance with my father. She tells me that she used to look after my four older siblings around 1955, before I was born, while my mother went around the village teaching the women the values of the Mother’s Union.

My father would teach the young boys and girls to read while my mother helped women (who could not read) memorise the prayers and Catechism. These readings were and are still compulsory for the women who want to be confirmed in the Anglican Church, kugadzwa.

As we left Mufudzi Wakanaka School on Sunday morning, one old lady waved frantically for a lift.

I stopped and let her in. She said she was Mai Murenje, born in 1945, educated by my father, baptised and received, kugamuchirwa by my mother at Daramombe Mission in 1957.

“Your father taught me English,” she proudly said. “I can still read the Bible and I can write letters.”

I realised that colonial education and Christianity was not, in itself, something we should look back at and view with regret. No. We have benefited from this historical occurrence.

However, we cannot forget that there were very few of us who were able to access education. The colonial system limited the number of children who could go past primary education.

Although Anglican missionaries promoted education for Africans, we cannot forget that Anglicanism worked very closely with the colonial government and that dispossession and racism was part of the package.

Still, we celebrate the memories, and the unity that remain because a school and a church were built at Mufudzi Wakanaka, in this beautiful isolated mountainous part of Zimbabwe.

Dr Sekai Nzenza is a writer and cultural critic.

The long, bumpy road to recovery

Part of the structures erected at Sipepa Temporary Camp for flood victims

Part of the structures erected at Sipepa Temporary Camp for flood victims

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
What started as a hopeful journey to recuperation for Tatenda Mulauzi (not his real name) from his death bed in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 19, 2017, has become a long, endless and bumpy ride since he returned home in Matabeleland North province.Mulauzi had unwillingly left South Africa where he was working after his friends decided to send him back home through oMalayitsha – informal cross boarder transporters – owing to persistent coughing, weakness, weight loss and a fever.

They decided he had to be taken care of by his family back home.

En-route to Tsholotsho, disaster struck his home area of Sipepa where hundreds of homes, including Mulauzi’s were destroyed while people in other wards were marooned due to flooding of the Gwayi River.

There was no more home for Mulauzi to go to.

All the affected communities had been evacuated to higher ground at Sipepa clinic, where a temporary holding camp had been erected.

Mulauzi was then supposed to be handed over to his family at this camp, but alas, on seeing his symptoms and condition, nurses manning the clinic could not take him in for fear of further infection.

He was then referred to Pumula Mission Hospital in the same district where he was then diagnosed of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Mulauzi was not the only person affected by the recent floods that left over 800 people from Sipepa area displaced from their homes.

Sixteen-year-old Precious Kurwa (not her real name) who was born with HIV only escaped from the family’s little hut with her two-year-old baby and clothes that where on her body.

“It was so scaring; I thought the world had ended. I was the eldest in the house and did not know how to help my other siblings,” she said.

“Medical records or even my everyday medication were the least thing that came to my mind at that moment.”

Kurwa is one of the 63 people living with HIV and Aids from the village who lost their medical records and tablets to the floods.

Precious Kurwa (right), a teen mother who is living with HIV stands with her siblings at the camp. She lost her medical records during the floods

Precious Kurwa (right), a teen mother who is living with HIV stands with her siblings at the camp. She lost her medical records during the floods

Of these 63, only one could not state the medication he was on but the rest have since been started on treatment again.

For Lameck Makwara (not his real name), a 34-year-old gold panner from Bulawayo, the floods where a blessing in disguise as they led him not only in getting tested but also initiated on anti-retroviral drugs.

Makwara had visited Tsholotsho to consult his father-in-law, a traditional healer, on his ailment.

“I had visited several health facilities to no avail. I had also visited several traditional and faith healers but my condition didn’t change until I came to Sipepa to consult my father-in-law who knows about traditional medicine.

“Just before he prescribed anything, disaster struck. It started raining non-stop that he couldn’t even go out to look for the herbs. Before we knew it, the whole village was marooned,” Makwara said.

He said together with many other people, they were airlifted to Sipepa clinic for safety.

Makwara said while at the clinic and still pondering his next move, health workers embarked on daily testing and counselling sessions.

“It was through these sessions, that I agreed to get tested from which I tested positive for both HIV and TB,” Makwara said.

He said soon after testing positive, he was then quarantined from the crowded tents, which accommodated up to 10 people to avoid further infecting others.

Makwara is one of the two people who tested HIV positive in the camp since its establishment on February 18.

He has since completed his two week directly observed TB treatment and has since been initiated on antiretroviral drugs.

Makwara who said he is now feeling much better is now looking forward to returning to Bulawayo and rejoin his family.

Sister-in-charge for Sipepa clinic, Merjury Maphosa said they had traced all people with chronic illnesses and put them back on their medication.

Sister Maphosa said the clinic was fully stocked on all medicines for chronic diseases.

She, however, appealed for counter books to be used for recording patient’s medical history since most of them lost their records to the floods.

“Most of them no longer have medical records and for chronic conditions we need A5 counter books. The clinic does not have these books as well,” Sister Maphosa said.

Tsholotsho district is the most severely flood-affected district in the country to date with about 250 families losing their homes. Roads, bridges and school infrastructure where also destroyed.

Asked about access to health facilities to access HIV treatment since it is supposed to be taken everyday in light of the destroyed roads and bridges, Tsholotsho District Aids Coordinator Mr John Zwelempi Ngwenya said all who needed assistance had been helped.

“Wards that were affected are Wards 6, 7, 8, 10 and 15. No one in the wards was cut off from health services as such. They are still receiving all the services from their clinics,” he said.

In the camp, Mr Ngwenya said the National Aids Council together with other partners were assisting with the HIV testing and counselling sessions, behavioural change programmes and condom distribution to prevent HIV infections.

“NAC recently funded a sports gala where several youths participated. The sport kits, balls and nets used where procured by us and the whole purpose is to disseminate HIV and Aids information because we know that when people are in a crisis sometimes it becomes difficult to control their behaviour,” he said.

HIV and Aids is still a public health threat in Zimbabwe with a prevalence rate of about 13,7 percent while its co-infection with Tuberculosis is still a major cause for concern.

In a statement release recently ahead of the World TB Day commemorations, UNAIDS urged countries to intensify their response towards TB among people living with HIV.

It said in 2015 alone, 1.1 million people died from an AIDS-related illness—around 400 000 of whom died from TB, including 40 000 children.

However, according to health analysts, the current state of affairs at Sipepa Camp actually fuels transmittable infections such as Tuberculosis.

Only 69 tents are available for the 859 people staying at the camp with each tent accommodating up to 10 people depending on the size of the tent.

The tents are also set up very close to each other, making transmission possible should any one of the villagers get infected.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said natural disasters such as the recent floods and cyclone Dineo has increased the vulnerability of families and children.

“It is clear that climate change and the environment in general has tremendous impact on our quality of life and standard of living,” she said.

Minister Mupfumira said the demand for social welfare services in Zimbabwe has also increased due vulnerability exacerbated by poverty and natural disasters.

About 2 000 houses were damaged throughout the country due to flooding leaving about 635 families completely homeless.

Tsholotsho, Lupane, Binga, Mberengwa, Mt Darwin, Masvingo and Harare were some of the districts that were affected by the floods.

Government has since launched an appeal of about US$188 million to assist all victims and rebuilt the destroyed infrastructure.

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Irrigation development key to Command Agriculture success

VP Mnangagwa

VP Mnangagwa

Takunda Maodza Assistant News Editor
FACTS are stubborn. That Command Agriculture is a success is fact even before we start counting our harvest. A few doubting Thomases have vociferously downplayed the programme unnecessarily.

But it remains a fact that a bumper harvest is upon us, attributable to the success of Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support scheme.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose office was tasked by President Mugabe to ensure the success of Command Agriculture, was at a loss for words a fortnight ago in Switzerland, when he briefed the Zimbabwe embassy staff in Geneva on the programme.

“We are happy that our people responded beyond belief countrywide. After seeing that the programme is a success, we are thinking of going beyond maize,” he said.

VP Mnangagwa said the thinking within Government was to spread the Command Agriculture net to such crops as cotton, soya beans and wheat. He suggested taking the command management system to other sectors of the economy. Indeed, it cannot be business as usual!

There is, however, an important ingredient to the success of Command Agriculture that deserves salience.

It is an indisputable fact that the bumper harvest we expect is partly due to the good rains we received this farming season.

I am not diminishing the efforts made by the Command Agriculture team towards realisation of a bumper harvest. No. They toiled. The point is rather that we do not know how the weather will be like next farming season. God might smile at us again come the 2017-2018 season.

He might not. Government intervention is confined to creating a conducive environment for farmers to produce through such programmes as Command Agriculture. Zanu-PF is not a union of rainmakers. That is the preserve of the Most High.

What comes to mind is — how sustainable is a rain-fed Command Agriculture? Put simply, what is the fate of Command Agriculture, for example, if the 2017-2018 farming season turns out less than favourable?

Would that spell doom for Command Agriculture and any such efforts by Government at beating hunger? Climate change is an unruly monster. It is a dictatorship that rules without moderation.

It blessed us with rains this farming season; tomorrow it might be stingy and callous. What safeguards has Government put in place to ensure Command Agriculture does not perish even in a drought year?

Today we are basking in the sun celebrating in the success of Command Agriculture but what guarantee is there that the bubble will not burst the moment rains fail?

An idea like Command Agriculture must certainly stand the test of time by rising above the vagaries and calamities of poor rains. History must have taught us by now that it is naïve or rather dangerous to rely on rain-fed agriculture to a feed a nation no matter the depth and height of our prayers.

While the joy that comes with the success of Command Agriculture is an entitlement for all citizens, it is also a moment of planning ahead.

Government must urgently mobilise resources and invest in irrigation. It has talked about the need for revamping irrigation for some time.

It is time we walk the talk. The country has enough dams to ensure the success of Command Agriculture even in the event of a drought. In fact, news from Masvingo is that the newly built Tokwe-Mukosi dam — situated a few kilometres from where my umbilical cord is buried in Nyajena Communal Lands — has 1.204 billion cubic metres of water or is 67 percent full. It has a capacity for 1,8 billion cubic metres when full.

Closure to the capital, another piece of positive news is that Mazowe Dam is reportedly spilling for the first time in almost two decades.

With such positive news, there is need to revamp the country’s irrigation schemes if we dream of yet another Command Agriculture success story.

Critics of the programme will certainly laugh their lungs out if Command Agriculture fails next farming season owing to poor rains. They will immediately attribute this season’s bumper harvest to good rains and nothing else.

We have a Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development under the stewardship of Dr Joseph Made. Time has come that mobilisation of resources for irrigation development follow the command route.

It cannot be Dr Made’s baby alone as issues of the stomach affect everyone. In fact, in as much as food is a human right, lack of it is a national security threat.

A hungry people think with their stomachs. Since irrigation is such a critical factor to the success of an economy based on agriculture like ours, it is prudent to start thinking of having a ministry dedicated to irrigation development. In countries such as the United Arab Emirates they have a Minister of Happiness by the name Ohood Al Roumi. His duty is to ensure that citizens are happy!

To do that here, a nation needs full stomachs, hence our focus on irrigation. In the short term, we may need public-private sector partnership in the area of irrigation development using the same modus operandi as in Command Agriculture.

The fact that all the millions used in Command Agriculture were sourced locally points to the capacity Zimbabwe has internally — without the burden of taking a begging bowl to foreign capitals — to boost agriculture production.

For those in the dark, local companies funded the Command Agriculture project. Since Government does not have money, it is worthwhile to urgently consider engaging stakeholders with interest in irrigation development.

The format does not change — the system is command management. Command management entails identifying a problem as a nation, putting up a team answerable to one centre of power, setting up a target, roping in like-minded stakeholders and executing chores fearlessly.

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Young architect turns people’s dreams to reality

Christopher’s designs have been a revelation in Harare’s northern suburbs

Christopher’s designs have been a revelation in Harare’s northern suburbs

Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
Meeting Christopher Togaraseyi for the first time, he can easily pass for any other guy in the hood.Wearing a baseball cap, matching T-shirt, a pair of Polo jeans with a gold neck chain and cruising in one of those huge convertibles, you can actually mistaken him for one of the nouveau rich kids.

However, Christopher is none of the above.

He is a young architect, who is contributing to Zimbabwe’s architectural excellence by coming up with defining creations that are slowly earning him respect in the sector.

“I love turning people’s dreams into a reality. This is what brings a smile to my face,” he said.

Driving through the affluent northern suburbs of Harare, there are breathtaking structures of various shapes and sizes that are being put up, as people turn their dreams into a reality.

Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, some of the residential areas in the northern suburbs now have buildings which are a marvellous concoction of tumbling and irregular granite and other expensive material – all held captive in a resilient dance of weight, light and gravity.

Christopher can lay claim over some of the magnificent designs that have changed the city’s landscape, creating aesthetic and panoramic views.

As a young architect, who has on several occasions worked through the night to complete projects before their deadlines, Christopher attests that architecture is an emotional business.

But beyond the travails of the studio, great buildings engender busts of inspiration, passion, delight and even love.

“In this industry I have learnt that a love song for any type of building material could be best expressed through shape,” he said.

Born 30 years ago in the capital, Christopher has a potent vision which can easily be distinguished in his designs.

This is a passion that he unknowingly nurtured at the age of four, when he would scribble for fun but would still come up with amazing artwork.

“Out of anything, I would come up with more edified and creative drawings, and that’s how I started,” he recalled.

Fortunately, he was able to match his passion for drawing with some of the technical subjects he was studying, particularly Technical Graphics and Building. It was during his secondary school days that Christopher resolved to try his luck in architectural design.

After passing his Advanced Level examinations, Christopher enrolled at the University of St Antonio in the United States, where he studied for a Bachelor of Architectural Technology and Project Management between 2005 and 2008.

During his stay in the US, Chris worked with one of the best architectural firms, where he was part of the team that took part in some of the major projects in that country.

“That is how I got the exposure and a widened perspective of the unique Hollywood architecture, and I told myself that I would come and replicate the same designs back home,” he recalled.

When he returned in 2009, Christopher immediately embarked on several projects, focusing on residential designs.

The response was, however, quite low, owing to the economic challenges bedevilling the country during that time.

He would sometimes spend months without working on a project but Christopher did not despair

His waning fortunes got a boost with the introduction of the multi-currency system.

“I started getting orders from many people, who wanted unique and compelling designs.”

With time, he had built a database of discerning clients, who were keen on making an investment on various projects.

Today, he can afford to marvel at some of the picturesque designs that have become part of the capital, knowingly fully well that his name would go in the annals of history alongside the doyens of architecture.

Despite the economic challenges, what has kept Christopher going is the enthusiasm and excitement that locals show whenever a new design comes on the market.

“Locals love good quality products. Many of our clients are amazed how easy it is to turn their dreams into reality, so they are always phoning, enquiring whenever a new design comes on the market,” he enthused.

Christopher believes his work is sought after by many clients because he integrates new designs with local features, to create unique and competitive designs.

“There are many buildings nowadays that are designed just to be spectacles, just to be a thing that looks extraordinary from a distance, but as you enter, that sense of spectacle doesn’t create that sense of transformative experience in the way that you would want.

“It is for that reason, that I then have to marry two unique ideas to bring out a complete and user friendly design,” he explained.

Parametric designs have also helped Chris to further push his designs on the market.

“I have also taken a stance to push the creative and practical boundaries, while looking at the cost of the project, so that the clients are able to build their dream projects at minimal costs,” he said.

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The ‘cousin-brother’ syndrome, other peculiarities in Zimbabwe

Why are you always wearing headphones? Is it to take your own inner counsel or simply to avoid talking to others because you think you do not need them?

Why are you always wearing headphones? Is it to take your own inner counsel or simply to avoid talking to others because you think you do not need them?

David Mungoshi Shelling The Nuts
The passing on of someone close to us is always a traumatic experience at the personal level. But the passing on of an important idea is perhaps a tragedy without measure, for the loss can never ever be recouped.

What’s lost is lost forever and those who pass on and go away with valuable skills and knowledge that no one else has are a special cause for bitter mourning.

This is probably the reason why heritage studies around the world are becoming ever more relevant and important.

Not so long ago (perhaps two or three years back from now), an old woman died on an island off the coast of India.

She was 102-years-old and was literally the very last of her ethnic group.

Nobody else but her spoke the language that only she could speak. The story of how all her “tribe” perished until she was the single piece of evidence left that once there had been a people that spoke as she did, is one that investigative journalists, historians, anthropologists and archaeologists may want to go into.

Many people take language for granted. That is a most unfortunate thing to happen. Language is at once the backdrop of and the vehicle of our culture: thoughts, philosophy, values, norms and so on.

When the old woman finally gave up the ghost and moved on, learned professors and other researchers who had been studying her language were left holding broken shells, so to speak. It was the end of the road for their project, literally!

The world may never know what we lost when we lost that old lady.

Who knows what secret knowledge she may have held all those years when nobody took notice of her? Who knows what remedies her people may have had for the many maladies that afflict our so-called modern world?

These are important things to talk about because in these days of big business and clandestine corporate activities you can never put anything past these greedy, grasping organisations. The world could be a better place without them.

In recent times there has been a sort of grudging acceptance of things like alternative medicine and homeopathy where treatment is by assisting the body to rediscover its own capabilities, resist disease and repair itself through proper nutrition and exercise. Processed foods in this kind of thinking become taboo.

There are many who will defend even with their lives the gains they have made over the centuries because to do anything different would be the same as taking their own lives; the lifestyles they pursue are all about novelty and loudness.

In this din the words and wisdom of herbalists and nutritionists like Dr Sebi, late of Honduras, are drowned and condemned because the pharmaceutical companies feel threatened. Consequently, people like Dr Sebi are eliminated, metaphorically or in real terms.

Quite often the really big people of our world become big rather too late for us to benefit. If you’re one of the lucky ones like the gifted Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806) you excel in the field that your father was expert in although you do not really have the same kind of formal training that he had.

You use your imagination limitlessly to achieve what others may think impossible to achieve. Brunel’s bridge over the River Severn on the border between England and Wales is a great wonder. It is easy to stand there and be lost in perpetuity — forever.

In recognition of his engineering feat, a university is named after him in London. The Brunel University has taken sports science to breathless heights. World celebrities like Usain Bolt have trained at this institution whose indoor athletic facility is second to none.

Dr Sebi, by contrast, and perhaps because he was operating in a completely different area, has been a victim of prejudice and intrigue. Being African, Dr Sebi’s life and work has been the victim of rabid scepticism (unreasonable disbelief).

The humble herbalist pushed the perhaps revolutionary idea that the cause of disease or sickness in our bodies has nothing to do with pathogens (germs/bacteria and viruses). The culprit, according to him, was the substance known as ‘mucus’ (not necessarily as in what we blow out through our noses).

In his thinking, acid at uncontrolled levels is highly dangerous. So he designed and advocated the use of alkaline diets. Such diets eliminate mucus and by extension eliminate all diseases.

He concluded that there was a one-size-fits-all solution to all diseases. No disease was incurable! He said he could cure AIDS and diabetes plus a host of other life-threatening diseases and illnesses.

Those who are familiar with the work of this gentleman know that he was arrested and taken to court for practising medicine without a license and for claiming he could cure AIDS and so on.

Dr Sebi was freed by his country’s supreme court after he proved through seventy of his cured patients that he had indeed cured them. They were tested and seen to have been cured.

But we are talking about a black man here. One belonging to a race that is vilified and ridiculed and whose psyche has become so submerged that in many cases we have become carbon copies of others nations.

Burning Spear, the Jamaican super star reggae group fronted by the enigmatic Winston Rodney, sang the sad but true song called, “No one remembers Marcus Garvey”. Yes, no one remembers ‘the’ Marcus Garvey, a veritable back to Africa prophet.

That kind of fate is what the Western world would prefer for all prominent blacks. It is all done to buy time for their own people to arrive at the same point of knowledge and expertise. The Graham Bell issue is a case in point.

History records that it really was not him who first invented a telephone, if one can speak that way. He was just the first to have his design patented/ registered. That was thanks to the work of a young black man, Lewis Latimer, gifted in doing patent drawings and thus employed as a draftsman by the patent law firm that Alexander Graham Bell used.

Latimer contributed to Bell’s patent drawings and Bell’s design was first through the post. One wonders whether that was all that Lewis Latimer did since he became a very important inventor in his own right.

Let us learn to hold on to those things that are dear to us and let us learn to celebrate the achievements of our people. Let us appreciate them while they live. This applies even to personal relationships and to family.

Increasingly as we become more and more absorbed by Western values we begin to compromise our own systems and values, things like community and togetherness as well as our kinship systems.

The typical colonial master often asked of the black man on the factory floor: How many times does your father die? He did not understand that the word uncle for us had a completely different meaning from his.

But lo and behold, these many years later we hear of fathers being called uncles. Some of us grew up in families where brothers of our biological fathers were our fathers as well, and the same applied to the sisters of our mothers. They too were our mothers.

This system guaranteed what sociologists refer to as safety nets in which everyone could find refuge and support when times are hard. This meant that there was greater unity and cohesion than we are seeing now. The tendency these days is to create yawning gulfs between close family by using language and terms that encourage this terrible thing.

Whatever is the meaning of ‘cousin-brother’ and ‘cousin-sister’? People use these matter-of-factly these days without seeming to see that they are contributing to the death of family units.

In this careering the ultimate destination is the nuclear family, a typically English preference. The children of the brothers of my father are my brothers and sisters. It is not correct even to refer to them as my extended family.

And the children of the sisters of my mother are also my brothers and sisters. It is these things that can help consolidate peace and nationhood. Let us stop being in too much of a hurry to get nowhere and start engaging in proper greetings again.

Why do people ask people how they are before they have exchanged greetings with them? With time, we will look at some of these things in greater detail. Meanwhile, where are you hurrying to so frantically? Is it to avoid me?

And why are you always wearing headphones? Is it to take your own inner counsel or simply to avoid talking to others because you think you do not need them? Too much immersion can one day mean that nobody remembers Zimbabwe.

David Mungoshi is an applied linguist, social commentator and writer.

Opposition: Jacobinism in times of plenty

Tsvangirai (right) and other opposition leaders listen to Mutasa’s address during a flopped Nera demonstration in Harare on Wednesday

Tsvangirai (right) and other opposition leaders listen to Mutasa’s address during a flopped Nera demonstration in Harare on Wednesday

Nathaniel Manheru: THE OTHER SIDE
So it’s true after all? That Tsvangirai’s MDC benefited from Mai Mujuru and her late departed hero-husband, Chauya-Chauya’s Mavambo project? So why was she denying it when this column made that revelation for the benefit of truth and history?

What has now changed so much now to inspire such unheralded candour? They got it all wrong, those sages of old. It is not hell; it is not even fury. It is politics; it is truth. Politics hath no truth like woman scorned! Still I thank Joice — do so from the bottom of my heat, sorry, heart! She has well and truly served History. The late it is, the nearer to history. But about that, a little later.

Temper kept in the countryside
“I defy you to agitate a fellow with a full stomache,” wrote one William Cobbett, a radical politician by British liberal standards. This timeless prognosis was made at a time when English kings daily lived in the fear of French Jacobinism which threatened to sail across the Channel. A fear also shared by their scholars whose role was to play “whispers behind the throne”. Burke among them.

He lived in mortal fear of what he termed “the swinish multitude”, an epithet which that eminent British historian, E. P. Thompson, termed “an epochal indiscretion”. Today I join William Cobbett in defying Tsvangirai and his group to agitate a fellow with a “full stomache”. Like they tried to do a few days ago, leaving many wondering how well, and how much they are in touch with their immediate constituency and, more broadly with the national mood. Is it not a truism that the national temper is kept in the countryside?

Buhera, my dearest home
But the misconception started well before, and not a matter of a few days ago. It started much earlier when Save (may the good Lord save his soul!) told newsmen while on his rural rides that the good national harvest expected boded well for next year’s electoral politics. His logic: food would thus not be used as a tool for political mobilisation!

For a man who like me comes from the caked earth of Vuhera, I found that hard to grasp, harder to believe. Vuhera, our existential milieu — glory be the hard land that raised us, whose bruises steeled us – taught us good harvests don’t just happen; they follow a struggle, are eked out. That behind full granary of a rich man is the story of ardour, of sweat. Abridged sleep, harsh tongs, a furious wrestle with the dry, reluctant sod. Getting those tired sands to yield a morsel! Those tired sands through which black ants easily bore empty homes. That is the story of Buhera, my dearest home. Its lessons which no sane man desert, can ever forget.

Haru’s Freedom Square?
So, why would a mind hewn out of such a hard earth ever think good harvests do happen on their own? Or fill granaries of those who count cock crow? Even thinking the met need of an otherwise famished woman turns into yodels for the granary, not the granary-owner? Which harvest does not have a totem, which granary an owner?

Using my homeboy’s strange thought as a peg, and linking it to that vain political fiesta set at what Haru Mutasa — a professional journalist — glibly called Freedom Square, you end up with a continuum of endless fantasies. A torrent of rhetoric for a deluded age. Such are the times, and all these, the people! To assist my knuckle, sorry, my Uncle, the bounteous harvest you witnessed in the countryside has an owner, has a name. It is in someone’s field, someone’s effort. Politically, sekuru! Tambaoga, the naughty singer. He would have roared: Ndezvedu izvi! Kikiki!

Then unhelpful vocabulary
For before long, sekuru shall know whose field, whose harvest it is! As 2018 beckons, facts are being grown, made and written — in the ground, while the opposition is invoking a vocabulary which is either barren or which triggers a self-defeating recall. NERIA, sorry, NERA! ZEX, oh what’s wrong with me today, ZEC! And Freedom Square? Really?

What if the whole country, the whole people — you included — is someone’s Freedom Square, Freedom People? Freedom Vote? Freedom Land? Freedom Harvest? You stumble on your door-mat, well before you meet a rival in the pitch of play? Babanguwee Nhuka! Simply, there is a vocabulary that is not helpful to any thinking opposition; a vocabulary that is most helpful even to a slothful ruling party. I suppose that is what happens when you argue against the land, the spirits, the guardians of this land. Unobatwa nechadzimira! Hanzi gomo reMbire renemanyin’inya.

The art of an indispensable carpenter
I blame it on the men and women around the MDC-T leader. Including those now clawing back, now seeking and hoping to be around him once more. Senhunzi patsvina, as Matemadanda would fondly put it. Like flies on human dung, for those who can’t speak Shona. Those around Tsvangirai are mostly lawyers, invariably carrying the blind-spot of their profession.

But making a virtue of it. And as they say, to a carpenter all problems take on the shape of the head of a nail. For the hammer must work, itself the carpenter’s tool of familiarity, choice and competencies. We are witnessing a whole generation of attorneys growing fat — fatter — on the niceties of electoral law, to quote one modern authority. They feel very useful, industrious around sekuru. They pick an opponent of choice — Justice Rita Makarau — herself a “nail” they are wont to hammer to demonstrate and exhaust their competencies. Poor nail!

A man or a horse?
The opposition won’t go to the countryside where voters are; they prefer Haru’s Freedom Square where they sleep and snooze in open incest. Gladdening each other’s heart by feeling formidable, victorious. The opposition will not wrestle Zanu-PF, their opposite number; nay, they prefer ZEC, so they gloat in nice, sonorous legalism.

The opposition will not tackle vaMugabe; no, they prefer Mai Makarau against whom they exhibit exceptional manliness. Real vanquishers; formidable knights in ponderous armour. E. P. Thompson — I have quoted him before — in his Making of the English Working Class laments that for two long centuries, Britain wallowed in the fantasies of constitutionalism, thanks to its generation of erudite lawyers who split stupendous legal hairs, to great sweat and ardour.

And it told on the warped false consciousness that followed and stymied a generation: the hungry workers were ready to burn the baker and farmer for expensive bread and corn; but would hail the King and the Pope who gave them starvation wages! The proximate, symptoms, became causes. And when it finally dawned on them that their woes owed to the Castle and to the Church, still they could not tell if Popery be man or a horse! It’s called a consciousness lag, the bane of ignorance.

Do they smell the irony?
We are living in the grip of a giant irony; are we not? The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC for short, is a constitutional body, created, many thanks, by the MDCs through constitutional and statutory amendments during the life of the GNU. Biti was there; Welshman Ncube was there; so was Douglas Mwonzora.

The whole lot, and a whole bevy of their legal advisors. We ended up with ZEC, and many constitutional bodies, some of them now real institutional monstrosities. But it was an age of indulging an opposition, so as to blunt its stabs. An age when good politics was playing helplessness, all to incorporate reforms that demolished a legitimising argument.

The MDCs never read it, lost as they were in a succulent chew. Today the opposition have no case, do they? If they have to invent one, it is to seek to undo what they agitated for only yesterday. Nowhere is this evermore than in their current tussle with ZEC — a creature of their legal fancy. Do they smell the irony? That they are crossing swords with ZEC, itself the acme of electoral legalism and rule of law they sponsored and hailed, and not with Zanu-PF which they have painted blackest when it comes to the colours of democracy and democratic tenets?

Corpse, Koroner, President, Minister, all in one
Today it is Zanu-PF and its Government which have to protect and defend ZEC against its legal progenitors, ironically! Mudede, then the shorthand for all that was electorally evil, is now unreachable; Mai Makarau — a judge they desired at the helm for all to be put right — is too reachable that she now must be made to flee from where they wanted her to be. Flee from them! Poor learned lady! A real strange twist where the independence of an electoral commission has to be defended against ceaseless onslaught from an opposition. Not from the ruling party as normally often happens.

Oh Zimbabwe opposition, see what thou have wrought! And the arguments tendered? Amazingly bald. ZEC must disband, they tell Judge Makarau! She, a creature of the Constitution passed by a Parliament in which the MDCs sit, must now kill herself! sadc, the AU, the UN, must come to run our elections, a message put to Mai Makarau! Goodness me! ZEC that has dissolved itself must call foreign bodies to run Zimbabwe elections?

Hello Madame President and Foreign Minister, all rolled in one! And with such faith in her, why then can’t she run the bloody little elections for you? Well, ZEC shall be protected, defended, very soon. The learned lady shall sleep well. The opposition parties have just made a case against themselves, and let no one cry. A good general-friend of mine repeats the joke of Dzinemunhenzva, once-upon-a-time presidential candidate who manages a zero-vote count in an election in which he cast a vote. Generously forgot to vote for himself!

Exit UNDP’s Political Department
Except all this is consistent with broader calculations which Zanu-PF had better taken good care of. The facts on the electoral ground are large and snarling. Seen by all who care and matter.

The old man is set for a landslide. Far bigger than the 2013 one at that. It is frenetic in Metropoles. Resigned to a Zanu-PF resounding victory, the new effort is on how to discredit the win. Delegitimise it if possible. How else better than to traduce the process, now that the UNDP’s American-controlled Political Department has been outmaneuvred and ousted? The idea — we can talk about it now — was to get the Political Department to take over the running of our elections, the Ivory Coast way.

Then engineer a fiasco in which the PD would declare the opposition the winner, all to pave way for intervention Gbagbo-Ouattara style. Sorry guys, not here! It is back to the drawing board, with three scenarios are being mulled, all desperate, none promising. In the meantime Biometric Voter magic is out, although the opposition continues to suffer from delayed reaction. They have no compunction mounting demonstrations for its stoppage, long after it has been ceased!

Spectacle of Dead-mouse Mutasa
Back to Haru’s Freedom Square. What a spectacle! What messy polysemy! For MDC-T, it was about getting Tsvangirai endorsed as the losing candidate for a united opposition. Zvavo zvikabva zvaita. For Pastor Mawarire, it was about morphing from a life in the cyber-nether to a life into the work-a-day world in which he is but a political minor, an ever dwindling joke from scriptures! Good God! Biti? Oh Tendai! “Amandl-yaa!”, he yells! A safe, neutral slogan! What have we here? A man or a fish? Remember your Tempest, Shakespeare’s last but one tragi-comic play? No slogan, no language of own, no correct pronunciation, the bane of a political nowhere man. And the heckling; the desperation, the urge to return, to belong once more! Really debilitating. Then Dead/Deedy-mouse Mutasa?

Poor old man; he had to be helped up the political scaffold, all to stand beneath the political guillotine, akimbo. What have we here? A man or a fish? Smells like a very ancient fish. Fuuu! It is always pathetic when symbolism overtakes a man. He is helped up the political scaffold, an elder already disabled in multiple ways. He utters something that tries to be a slogan, but with a fist clenched the Zanu-PF way. The crowd that must affirm, is outraged and roars into deafening approbria. He killed us! We don’t want him there! Get him off! Boom, Maximilian Robspeare let’s go of the rope: the guillotine comes crushing, does the rest! At that age, with so short a distance to go? And so wearied. Why, why, why vaMutasa? Babaiwee Shonga!

Runaida, Fourfold want
Asi pane vakange vasipo, the absent ones. Runaida — Four-times-want — Mujuru! Where was she, chizukuru changu? Waendepizve? HARDtalk? And in the absence was the present and future meaning, quite resilient and faithful enough to carry her all the way to the ballot. Not far back, Tsvangirai had intimated he would pick recycle-able matter from the ZimPF rabble. And we all waited with baited breath. Would it be the “queen bee”? Or the old man from Maungwe?

But the man from Vuhera had given a hint: you don’t give “blanket” refuge to a neighbour’s wife, however abused she may be. She remains someone’s wife. As for Shonga, well, the guillotine fell at Haru’s Freedom Square, did it not? And Chamisa is happy. No longer does he need to convince his doting principal; he saw it for himself how much of a liability the suitor is. After all, rinosebwa ngenyi ratingagweshera nekusi kusina shashiko kudaro? What colour is the relish that makes us so eager to fill our palms with lumps of “fufu”? Got that, my man from the white man’s graveyard? I translated that one especially for you!

We now understand and situate Runaida’s sudden burst of candour. Tsvangirai will not have her, sorry! And she did her damn-dest to make herself unappealing. She is throwing tantrums. She now walks alone, poor girl. Same, same naShonga. There is something economists call ruinous competition. Herewith, find a political sample!

Uncontested national by-election
So who won at Haru’s Freedom Square? Certainly not Al Jazeera whose journalists could be better trained in the art of “distanciation”. You do not “eat” the nomenclature of a civet cat, and still hope not to carry its smell. Need you wonder then when all those you seek to come near to sniff “fuuu, fuu”, before giving a wide berth? When was that open space renamed Freedom Square? Who by?

For a profession judged by its tongue, it was truly fatal for this daughter from Bonda. Was it Save who won? Certainly, for Save’s day it was! But to what end? To nowhere, of course! Pot-bellied, he has to survive on a widow’s mite! It was not a mealy day, whether by strategy or by numbers. You do not seek to supplement a poor argument with Burke’s “swinish multitude”, much of it small and absent-minded. While the multitude could have been a real force for political supplementation last year — itself a lean year — it certainly cannot be today when the fellow you seek to agitate struggles with the ache of “a full stomache”. To do so is to suggest a chronically impaired sense of reality.

On that fateful Wednesday, one noticed the spectacle of grown-up men seeking to ladle a small crowd that dragged “a full stomache”. You can only upset its “stomache”, never the King, never the prayerful Pope who still can afford a joke with an angry God. For if anything, the platform revealed disheartening disharmonies in what was supposed to be an emphatic message to the Crown. Now how does Tsvangirai make power shiver, and sleep wakeful, what with a crowd too small to surround a drenched mouse? We are headed for an uncontested national by-election, if you ask me. Which is why Bhasikiti and Mwenezi are such perfect prefigurements. For in a year of plenty, Jacobinism does not work.

Icho!

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Editorial Comment: Kudos to Delta for football boost

DELTA Beverages yesterday unveiled a $3.4 million three-year sponsorship deal with the domestic Premiership in another massive vote of confidence in football in this country at a time when the future of our national game has never looked this secure and promising.

After months of uncertainty in which the prophets of doom, who are always seized with negativity in every sector of this country were preaching the gospel that this marriage had collapsed and our top-flight league would be unbranded this year, the PSL’s flagship sponsors have shamed them by extending their marriage with the league by another three years.

They have even gone a step further by introducing a new one-off knockout cup, the $50 000 Super Cup, which will feature the winners of the championship and the team that wins the Chibuku Super Cup, which is the flagship knockout football tournament in the top-flight league.

This match will bring the curtain down on the season and provide the winners of both the championship and the Chibuku Super Cup, who get the tickets to represent this country in the CAF inter-club competitions the following year, with an opportunity to boost their coffers with money to help them prepare for their African adventure.

Of course, there will always be those who feel the sponsors should have ploughed more into the sponsorship package, but in these tough economic times, we feel their financial injection carries its weight in gold and should be applauded.

Delta Beverages have been our top-flight league’s all-weather friends, providing our leading clubs with an incentive to fight for both in the championship and the flagship knockout tournament, and at a time when big sponsors, across the Limpopo, are pulling the plugs on their partnerships with football, it’s refreshing that we have a sponsor who remains committed to the success of our national game.

It’s also wrong to just read the PSL’s marriage with Delta in terms of the figures that come from their flagship sponsor because there is more to it than just the money that ends up being transferred into the coffers of our top-flight league.

For, by convincing a company like Delta, one of the biggest companies that we have in this country, that the league is a good brand to partner with, it also sends the right signal to the other sponsors to also come on board and play their part, in a number of ways, to pour their money into the league.

Their marketing agents will be telling them that if a company like Delta believes this is a league that gives a firm value for money, through partnering it, they also should consider coming on board as part of their marketing initiatives.

We won’t be surprised, in the coming weeks, to see more corporate partners joining this bandwagon, simply because Delta have led the way, because that was also the case when this company led the way, in 2011, by going into bed with the PSL.

We could soon be seeing clubs like Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United — the big boys of our league — securing deals with corporate partners in the coming weeks or months because there is a lot of excitement that is being generated in our football which appears to be on the rise again after years of stagnation.

Only on Sunday, CAPS United shocked the world by eliminating five-time African champions TP Mazembe — a club which has been crowned champions of the continent three times in the past eight years, has played in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, is run on a $10 million annual budget enabling it to buy some of the best players on the continent and owns two private jets — from the CAF Champions League.

That victory showed us that our game is moving in the right path, at a time when we also expect huge financial injections to come into the coffers of ZIFA now that there have been changes at the top of the leadership of the game at CAF, which would see the national association servicing the grassroots structures that badly need to be attended to.

In the past, there have been fears that our football is stalked by a lot of controversy, which ends up corroding the brands of those who partner them, but we have been seeing a drift from all this because, when one looks at our top-flight league now, there is a huge number of clubs that are backed by corporates.

This means that the people who lead them have a responsibility to ensure they don’t involve themselves in controversy since doing so might attract sanctions from their employers and that is why we now have a league where controversial incidents are no longer as common as was in the past.

This is what the sponsors want and we are happy that Delta Beverages have led the way and, from next week, the domestic Premiership — already cheered by CAPS United’s success in the Champions League — can roar into life amid expectations that this could be a very interesting season and, crucially, its future is in safe hands.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: UN Conducted Poll: What rank madness!

Last time we looked at the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act of 2013 with its expanded Bill of Rights, we did not come across a right to put Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and hard won Independence on public auction by whosoever feels aggrieved by the State of the Nation.

It is also a well-documented historical fact that one of the most fundamental issues that made Zimbabweans wage the war of liberation against settler brigands was the issue of one man, one vote — the right to vote.

This is an intrinsic value in any democracy, which we started carving out in 1980, when we first universally decided.

Attaining national sovereignty also meant that we are masters of our destiny, capable of charting the course of our future as we see fit as Zimbabweans, without undue pressure from second and third parties. Thousands of lives were not lost, only for us to remain dependent on Britain and its erstwhile allies in the so-called international community.

Sadly, there are some among us who believe that every good thing for Zimbabwe must come from the West. They want them to think for us, while we remain implementers of their perceived brilliant superior minds.

Thirty-seven years into Independence, the West must remain the reference point; the West that only yesterday was denying us the rights contained in Sections 44-87 of the Constitution.

They would also want us to surrender the management of our electoral system to the very people who were denying us those rights.

As opposition political parties, the templates of their activities are designed in London, Washington and Brussels, and they don’t see anything wrong with that. Why then should they be trusted to handle issues of national interest, when we know that they are poodles doing their masters’ bidding?

On Wednesday, we witnessed once again how desperate they are to be controlled from London, Brussels and Washington, when the so-called National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) organised a “mega protest march” according to the private media, which became a monumental flop. They wanted to demonstrate against the Government for saying it would avail the $17 million to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to purchase Biometric Voter Registrations (BVR) kits.

These opposition political parties have since concluded that the 2018 harmonised election will be rigged, thus they want the United Nations Development Programme to take over that mandate of procuring the BVR kits.

What rank madness! Which countries are putting in the money that the UNDP will use to buy those kits, and why? The UNDP has assisted many countries in their electoral processes, but should it be at such a high and very delicate level? If the opposition wants them so much to acquire the material, then we raise serious questions about their intention and objectivity.

Isn’t this also what some would term as external interference in the electoral process of a sovereign state? It is the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe to fund a Constitutional process like the running of elections. Advancing arguments that the Government does not have money is neither here nor there, because they know and understand their Constitutional mandate.

They cannot surrender the country’s Independence, just because the opposition always thinks that when they lose an election, it would have been rigged.

If these NERA demonstrators had listened to British Prime Minister Theresa May and the MPs after the terrorist attack in London on Wednesday, they would have learnt a thing or two about safeguarding democratic values and national pride. Obviously, they did not!

ZEC has its job cut out in the Constitution, a document that was not drawn up by Zanu-PF, but is a culmination of the main political players in the country, and Justice Rita Makarau has always said they are ready, despite the challenges.

You also wonder how blinded some of these people are.

They look up to the US, but cannot see that it currently conducting a major probe on external interference on their November 8 election, as some, especially the Democratic Party believe that Russia interfered, resulting in Hillary Clinton losing.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Steel can lead industrial rebirth

Reviving Zimbabwe’s steel industry involves a lot more than simply repairing or rebuilding sections of the old Zisco plant in Redcliff. It will involve the shift to more modern requirements and resuscitation of and expansion of a range of mining and other industries to ensure all raw materials are available.

This is both a challenge, as a lot of work needs to be done, and a great opportunity for Zimbabwe to use far more of its own natural resources effectively, at the same time creating good jobs and national wealth.

Since everything required for steel-making is in the country, a revived industry can be the centre of a general development of heavy industry.

Former Zisco chief executive Dr Gabriel Masanga sketched some of the requirements in a paper to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce.

Zisco can obtain its iron ore nearby, but was requiring 100 000 tonnes of coal a month from Hwange, meaning that the mines there must be able to produce that extra coal. Moving the coal to Redcliff means that the railways have to be back in better shape.

That in turn requires a dedicated fleet of up to six locomotives doing nothing, but hauling wagons filled with coal to Zisco.

Another major input is pure oxygen. A whole complex industrial base was set up in the Kwekwe area to do this. Sable Chemicals was set up to make nitrogenous fertilisers, getting the required nitrogen by liquefying air and the required hydrogen by electrolysing water using cheap electricity.

Both processes generated oxygen as a by-product and this was sold to Zisco, being despatched down a short pipeline. Without those oxygen sales Sable was a lot less viable and rising electricity prices made the hydrogen plant very expensive so other sources were sought.

Those responsible for reviving steel will have to work out whether enough oxygen can be supplied by existing processes and if not what new chemical industries will be required. So even at this early and basic stage we have at least three industries — coal, iron and chemicals — involved and the list will grow.

Then there is the necessary technical updates. When Zisco first started producing steel most of the world’s steel-makers produced cast ingots that were processed later. Now less than five percent of global output is in this form. The overwhelming bulk is continuously cast with an alloy make up very close to desired final products. Zisco will have to do the same.

One of the perennial problems Zisco faced, right back to the UDI era, was the lack of rolling mills and other product processing equipment.

If Zisco is to compete on export markets and if it is to be able to supply quality materials to Zimbabwean industrialists it will need to install modern equipment that can supply exactly what markets require.

So reviving Zisco is not like reviving a shop. It is far more complex requiring a lot of investment, which is presumably why potential external investors have been approached, a substantial investment of new technology, the expansion of mining and an expansion of Zimbabwe’s chemical industries.

So its revival will boost the economy simply on the side of Zisco’s demands. But it will also obviously boost the economy downstream by providing a vital raw material for almost every industry at a rational price.

All of this is worthwhile, very worthwhile, but is does require a lot of effort and co-ordination to achieve.

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