Category Archives: News

Opposition parties mull nationwide demos over BVR kits

OPPOSITION parties under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) banner are planning to hold nationwide demonstrations against the government’s decision to “hijack” the procurement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

BY Everson Mushava

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) last week said the government had taken over the process of procurement of BVR kits from UNDP.

But Nera, in conjunction with other opposition political parties, under the auspices of Coalition of Democrats (Code), said the government’s decision did not only prove that Zec is a captured institution, but showed President Robert Mugabe’s resolve to rig the 2018 general elections.

Zimbabweans United for Democracy (Zunde) president, Farai Mbira, said Nera and Code would be left with no option, but to take the Zanu PF government head-on if it insists on “hijacking” the process.

“We, therefore, demand that the current UNDP procurement process proceed undisturbed,” he said.

“We call upon all Zimbabweans from all walks of life to resist the rigging. To that extent, Nera and Code will close ranks in order to fight these attempts to manipulate the electoral process. A legal suit, as well as massive nationwide demonstrations, will be launched should the government persist with its evil agenda. To that end, the political parties will work together to ensure that the rights of the Zimbabwean people are not trampled under foot by this vile regime.”

The meeting was attended by MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, Renewal Democrats leader, Elton Mangoma, MDC-T deputy national chairman, Morgen Komichi, and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti from a ZimPF faction led by Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, among many others.

Nera, last year, held a series of demonstrations demanding electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections. Some of the demonstrations culminated in violence that left many opposition supporters hospitalised, as police responded with brute force.

Mbira said opposition parties were shocked by the government’s decision to elbow out UNDP, saying: “Even more flabbergasting was the decision by Zec to endorse this illegal move by the government.

“This is now government rigging the next elections and we cannot allow that to happen with our complicity or agreement.”

Mbira said Zimbabwe was part of the United Nations and any programme involving UNDP and Zec could not be said to be violating the country’s sovereignty.

Nera called for an independent Zec that does not operate on the whims of the ruling party.

“We, therefore, demand that Zec be disbanded and reconstituted by agreement of all political parties. If that cannot be done, then we resort to the 1980 vote system, where voters needed to produce an identity card on voting day only,” Mbira said.

On Monday, Mwonzora, who is the Nera head of legal affairs, wrote to Zec chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, demanding an explanation on the government’s decision to take over the procurement of the BMV kits.

“We, therefore, demand that the current procurement process must proceed undisturbed. We would appreciate your response as soon as possible. We should make it clear that we will resist (through lawful means, of course) any move by the government and Zec to change goal posts at this stage,” part of Mwonzora’s letter to Makarau, dated February, 20 read.

Mugabe ploughs into warring factions

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday ploughed into the Zanu PF warring factions fighting to succeed him, saying such practices were unheard of during the liberation war where positions were not acquired through canvassing.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

Mugabe, who turned 93 yesterday, was addressing his staff and service chiefs, who organised a birthday party for him at his Munhumutapa offices.

“During that time, people would vet you. There was no canvassing for positions. People would have to assess you before making their decision. We didn’t talk of G40 or Lacoste,” he said.

“If you are a leader of the people, be a true leader.”

The veteran leader has increasingly denied that age is getting the better of him, but the greater part of his speech yesterday was inaudible.

He chronicled his life history to the time he was in Ghana and his return to join the struggle for independence.

Mugabe said during that time, it was unusual to canvass for support to assume leadership positions.

Already Zanu PF is sharply divided between supporters of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe’s loyalists.

The two Zanu PF factions have been engaged in nasty fights both publicly and privately all in a bid to take over from Mugabe. The factional wars have also threatened to paralyse government business.

He said true leaders put people’s desires first.

Mugabe, who always claims he will not give up power as long as people still want him to lead, said he draws courage and support from the people and without them would never had made his achievements.

He said without people’s support, political office will be a nightmare. Mugabe said leadership required honesty and contentment.

The President said foreign investors must behave and not act as if the resources they were pursuing were theirs.
“What are we as a country if we cannot say the forests, the animals, the gold, diamonds, copper and other minerals underground are ours? If we cannot say that, then whose are they?” he said.

Mugabe said he was not a loner, as he had some friends, and that it was through God’s grace and not of his making that he was turning 93. Mugabe said his memory was still as sharp and he could retell stories that happened about 80 years ago.

Both Vice-Presidents Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were in attendance.

The Office of the President and Cabinet as well as service chiefs donated an undisclosed amount of money towards Mugabe’s birthday and he is expected to donate that money to the disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Zanu PF youths toyi-toyed in Harare yesterday, claiming they were carrying out a clean-up campaign to celebrate Mugabe’s birthday.

The youths marched from the Harare provincial office up to Zanu PF headquarters, singing and celebrating Mugabe’s birthday, but at intervals they swept the streets.

Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs, Kudzi Chipanga urged youths to take up leadership positions at any level, though warning against unbridled ambition to gun for Mugabe’s post.

“It is clear that the MDC people that were voted into different councils don’t know what they are doing. In 2018, we are taking over. There is nowhere written that you (youths) cannot be councillors or MPs,” he said.

“One position, which is not for contestation, is that of President Mugabe. This is agreed in heaven and on earth that this position is for President Mugabe. Other posts you can contest, but not this one.”

Chipanga said the “clean-up” campaign was meant to show the way to the MDC-T-led councils who are allegedly failing to deliver services in the cities they preside over.

Mliswa urges opposition parties to contest elections without coalition

NORTON MP, Temba Mliswa yesterday said opposition parties should campaign and contest next year’s general elections without a coalition and use the results to form a broad alliance to defeat President Robert Mugabe in a run-off.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

“We should form a coalition based on the result of the first round of elections, which will prove the strengths of each party, then have a coalition to win the run-off. The challenge, for now, is to penetrate Zanu PF areas, which Zimbabwe People First has failed to do,” he said.

Mliswa was of the view that the opposition had to win in the Mashonaland provinces, which have remained Zanu PF strongholds.

The independent MP said there was need to woo war veterans and traditional leaders to the side of the opposition to win in politically volatile areas.

“The greatest reform we need is to convince the war veterans to stop the use of violence during elections and traditional leaders to stop coercing people to vote for Zanu PF,” he said.

Mliswa’s remarks come as the opposition is frantically trying to build a coalition ahead of the elections. The talks are reportedly being stalled by personality clashes and differences over who will lead the coalition and the formula of fielding parliamentary candidates.

Mliswa said the formation of the Third Force would not split votes among the opposition parties. The Third Force is a loose organisation of youthful political activists, who are seeking public office as transformation agents.

“The Third Force has always been there. The majority of voters do not belong to any political party. So we need people, who can make them vote and naturally we assume youths will vote for other youths,” he said.

Mliswa also bemoaned the over-reliance on social media by opposition political parties instead of getting on the ground to convince voters.

“Social media is now dictating the politics in this country,” the MP said.

Govt cornered over biometric voter registration

THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has challenged the government to come up with a clear roadmap, giving specific timelines for commencement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) process to safeguard next year’s general elections.

By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

In a statement, yesterday Zesn said: “Given that the 2017 budgetary allocations for Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) fell far short of expectations and in the absence of clarity from the government on when the (BVR) kits will be procured, there are fears that the whole voter registration process might be seriously delayed, thereby, affecting preparations for the 2018 Harmonised elections.”

Zesn said it still firmly believed that the procurement of the BVR kits “is a crucial exercise that must be given adequate time, transparency and openness to scrutiny by all electoral stakeholders in order to instil trust and confidence and safeguard against the disenfranchisement of any potential voters.”

“The lack of publicity around the sourcing of funds for key electoral processes such as voter education and voter registration will only serve to perpetuate uncertainties around the whole electoral process in Zimbabwe,” the statement read in part.

“It is imperative that Zec, in its timelines, indicates the manner of engagement the commission will have with the technical partners especially in the rolling out of the BVR exercise.

“In addition, Zesn calls for consultations with political parties and other electoral stakeholders to ensure that the process is transparent and inclusive.”

The electoral watchdog said it was important that the whole process of procuring the BVR kits, including the selection of the vendor to supply the kits, be subjected to public scrutiny.

“Moreover, the selection process of the BVR kits vendor either by the government or Zec must be subjected to public observation and scrutiny to enhance trust and confidence in the process,” Zesn said.

“The tender process must adhere to regional and international standards to uphold integrity, credibility, openness, transparency and inclusiveness.”

Cowdray Park residents complain over impassable flooded main road

RESIDENTS of Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb have raised concern over an inaccessible flooded main road leading to the Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle housing scheme, saying the road poses a danger to those in the area.

BY TALENT GUMPO

The residents said most public transport operators were now shunning the area because of the impassable roads, with some dropping off passengers far from their homes.

“We are now stranded because our main road is flooded and it is the only route that we use to get to our house, now we are forced to use a distant route,” a resident, who declined to be named, said.

“There are young men, who now spend the whole day there helping people to cross and they charge 25 cents for the service. We end up paying them instead of taking the longer route,” he said.

Local councillor, Collet Ndlovu, said he was aware of the situation, adding he had reported the matter to the council’s engineering department.

“I was there on Sunday and I failed to cross because the water reached up to my waist, I had to wait for the water level to decrease.

“I contacted the engineering department and I am waiting for their response on the way forward,” he said.

Biti’s home burnt down in arson attack

FORMER Finance minister and opposition PDP leader Tendai Biti’s rural Murehwa homestead was on Sunday night gutted by fire in a suspected arson attack.

Newzimbabwe.com

Property worth an undisclosed amount was destroyed.

The outspoken former MDC-T legislator for Harare East could not be readily contacted for details yesterday morning, but PDP secretary-general Godern Moyo confirmed the incident in an internal communication to party members.

“Please note that the rural homestead of president Biti in Murewa was burnt down on Sunday evening by some people yet to be identified,” he said.

“Everything was destroyed. We only thank God no one was injured.

“We condemn in strongest terms the perpetrators of this malicious destruction of property. We hope police will do their work and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

In a statement, the party said: “As the People’s Democratic Party, we strongly suspect that political thugs in Zanu PF are behind the attack.

“The arson attack comes less than a week after president Biti warned (he would give) Zanu PF and its president, Robert Mugabe, a run for their money.

“There have also been threats to president Biti in recent years. While serving as the Finance minister during the inclusive government period, president Biti received a live bullet wrapped in an envelope.

“However, despite these attempts on the life of the PDP leader, president Biti and the entire PDP family remain unshaken and resolute as we prepare for the watershed 2018 elections.”

This is not the first time Biti has been targeted in similar attacks in his political life.

At around the same time in February 2014, the firebrand politician and lawyer, who was then MDC-T secretary-general, had his Umwinsdale home on the outskirts of Harare petrol-bombed by unknown assailants during the night.

The Molotov cocktail struck a pillar, leaving it smoke-stained.

Again, when he was still Finance minister in 2011, his Chisipite house in the capital was also petrol-bombed.

Women, local authorities collaborate

THE running of community affairs in rural areas is often left to men, leaving women playing a passive role both in the political and developmental arenas.

BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA

A local non-government organisation, Institute for Young Women in Development, last week unveiled a programme to facilitate the active participation of women in issues that affect their community

A local non-government organisation, Institute for Young Women in Development, last week unveiled a programme to facilitate the active participation of women in issues that affect their community

This is seen even at indabas that traditional leaders like village heads and chiefs hold, where often the views of the women are disregarded.

In many rural societies, where men are regarded as heads of houses, women do not get a chance to participate on decision-making forums, and in the end, the women’s views and concerns are left out as it is then assumed that it is the men who are better placed to speak on behalf of the women.

However, in Bindura rural district, this is about to change as a local non-government organisation, Institute for Young Women in Development (IYWD), last week unveiled a programme to facilitate the active participation of women in issues that affect their community.

With the principal aim to facilitate engagement platforms among young women, local authorities and mining companies for accountable and improved “Gender Responsive Social Service Delivery” in Bindura and Mazowe rural district councils.

The engagements, which involve panel discussions and one-on-ones with representatives from councils, government and the corporates, are named Public Resources Accountability Indabas.

According to IYWD, “the lack of accountability and transparency in the local authorities is fuelled by the unwillingness of traditional leaders and local authorities – elected and appointed – to engage young women and girls on social service delivery issues, and this leads to the imposition of solutions that do not consider their lived realities in the various communities.”

At the first indaba held last week in Bindura, attended by over 100 women drawn from Bindura district, women expressed concern about what they said was inadequate citizen consultation by the council authorities and lack of information on what role women should play to complement service delivery in their communities.

“We often do not get the information that we need, and in the end we have a perception that what council needs from us are just the taxes that we pay,” said Brenda Charakupa from Masembura.

According to Charakupa, women can contribute with manual labour to developmental projects like the rehabilitation of roads.

“We can help rehabilitate our roads and we can maintain our drainages and control soil erosion, but this can only happen if council authorities come to us and deliberate with us, just like we have done at the IYWD meeting.”

Elnet Barwa also said she and other women are prepared to complement council efforts.

“For example, if there is building of a clinic going on, we can assist with getting the sand, or we can provide food and cook for the workers to reduce the costs of such work,” she said.

Citing resource constraints to thoroughly engage constituents, councillor for Ward 16, Justice Chinakwetu, who is also the council chairperson for Bindura Rural District Council, said he hoped initiatives such as the one by IYWD would take place every time.

“When we discussed with the women at the IYWD meeting, we realised that some of them said they did not know what their responsibilities were and we would be glad to take part in such collaborative efforts with NGOs that can bring our constituents and other stakeholders to the same platform,” said Chinakwetu.

Student dies in marathon race

Yolanda Simango Weekender Correspondent
TRAGEDY recently struck Sherukuru High School in Mutasa District after a Form Three student collapsed and died while participating in a 25 rounds race. Sherukuru High School headmaster, Mr Wilson Nyamukwanda, confirmed the death of Tinotenda Nyaumwe, who was participating in a 25 rounds race.

He said Tinotenda managed to complete 12 rounds before pulling out. He went home soon after.

Tinotenda’s uncle, Mr Wilfred Nyaumwe, said Tinotenda returned to school after drinking water and was shocked to receive a message 10 minutes later that he (Tinotenda) had collapsed.

He was rushed to Sherukuru Clinic and was transferred to Old Mutare Mission Hospital where he was further referred to Mutare Provincial Hospital where he passed on.

Mr Nyaumwe added that doctors could not ascertain the cause of Tinotenda’s death.

Couple fights over lobola

Tendai Gukutikwa Weekender Correspondent
THE residence of an elderly Mutare couple has suddenly become a wrestling arena after the husband allegedly married off their daughter without the blessings of his wife who works in South Africa.

When his wife finally returned home on January 14 this year, fierce domestic violent clashes became the order of the day over the lobola issue.

As she is on the receiving end of the endless fights, the woman has now taken the matter to the courts seeking protection against her husband.

Mutare magistrate, Miss Nyasha Kuture presided over the matter.

In her application, Moreblessing Ganda told the court that her husband, Raphael Farai Chimboza dealt with their daughter’s traditional marriage proceedings behind her back.

She said – by so doing – Chimboza undermined her authority as a mother to the child who had the right to be present at the marriage ceremony.

“I work in South Africa and when he called to tell me that our daughter wanted to get married, I told him to delay the whole process since I was having problems with my daughter that I needed to settle first before her marriage,” she said.

Ganda said her husband did not take heed of her advice and, because for the love of money, he married off their daughter alone in her absence.

She said when she questioned him over his conduct she was heavily assaulted.

“Only for the love of money, he went ahead and married off my daughter without my knowledge. When I came back from South Africa and confronted him on the matter, he assaulted me with an iron bar and since then, I have not had any peace at my matrimonial home.”

In response, Chimboza denied ever assaulting his wife, saying she was peddling falsehoods.

He told the court that his wife was not supposed to cause the delay of their daughter’s traditional marriage because of her personal differences with her.

Miss Kuture granted Ganda the protection order.

Chimboza was ordered to stop assaulting or insulting his wife, be it in privacy or in public.

Government accused of fuelling black market

PARLIAMENT yesterday heard that some private companies contracted by the government to undertake multi-million-dollar projects were importing duty-free fuel and reselling it on the black market.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Joram Gumbo

Joram Gumbo

The MPs raised the issue when CMED managing director, Davison Mhaka, and his board chair, Sheunesu Mupepereki, appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines, where they accused the government of failing to monitor fuel usage by companies carrying out national projects.

Committee chairperson, Daniel Shumba, told Mhaka that the private companies were taking advantage of the duty-free fuel import certificates issued by CMED to import cheap fuel and feed it into the parallel market.

“We don’t know how much the State has been prejudiced by these private companies. In any case, there is no law that governs such actions like the issuance of duty-free import certificates to private companies. The statutory instrument here states that the issuance of duty-free importation of fuel shall be enjoyed by government agencies and departments,” Shumba said.

Mhaka named Sakunda Holdings, which is undertaking the Dema Energy plant project, Africa Chrome Fields in Midlands and Bell Petroleum, as some of the firms that were given duty-free certificates to import fuel by CMED.

He told Parliament that all the companies given duty-free fuel import certificates had accounted for their imports, but admitted that the system was prone to abuse.

According to Shumba, directors at Bell Petroleum — a company that is allegedly importing fuel on behalf of the Ministry of Defence — were once arrested for diverting part of the commodity into the informal market, prejudicing government of millions of dollars of revenue.

“We have to agree that between the importation and the actual consumer they are possible leakages,” Shumba said, to which Mhaka responded affirmtively.

This came as Transport minister Joram Gumbo disclosed that the Austrian firm, Geiger International, which won the tender for the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway would reserve a 40% stake for local companies.

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