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War vets back Gumbo, Mutasa

EMBATTLED Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, yesterday suffered yet another setback in her fight to control the opposition party after war veterans rallied behind “expelled” founding members, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa (pictured), and appeared to endorse them as the bona fide leaders.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Rugare Gumbo (left) and Didymus Mutasa at a Press conference at ZimPF headquarters in Highlands after being expelled from the party

Rugare Gumbo (left) and Didymus Mutasa at a Press conference at ZimPF headquarters in Highlands after being expelled from the party

Top executives of the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, Victor Matemadanda (secretary-general) and Douglas Mahiya (spokesperson), were part of a ZimPF steering committee meeting called by Gumbo and Mutasa in Harare to announce a new party leadership following their break-up with Mujuru last week.

Addressing journalists at the ZimPF headquarters yesterday, Gumbo said he would, for now, co-lead the party with Mutasa until a substantive president has been selected at an elective convention to be held “in due course”.

“Party elders, founding members and the steering committee will in due course meet to choose an interim president, who will lead the party pending an elective convention,” he said.

“Meanwhile, the steering committee, together with Mutasa and Gumbo, are the caretaker leaders of ZimPF.

“We are going to consult extensively from the members of the steering committee and the founders of the party to find what their opinion is regarding leadership.

“So, we cannot give a definite date, but we are saying, any time after the end of February, we should be able to have an answer.”

Matemadanda said they were attending the meeting in solidarity with their fellow liberation war comrades.

“We didn’t come here as members of People First, but we came here as comrades, who received information that other comrades are meeting here,” he said.

“Our membership and mobilisation will support a candidate, who has respect for our founding principles. We are not here to seek for membership or anything, except that, as comrades, there will be a time when we are going to meet as the veterans of the struggle.

“We will count each other, those who are with us and those that are not with us. We will ask what is meant by getting lost, because we were taught that the majority is the superior to the minority. When the minority remains with the other side (Zanu PF) and the majority is outside, what do you call that?”

Mahiya accused President Robert Mugabe of manipulating war veterans by using them for campaign purposes and dumping them afterwards.

“There is no one who can say I was not used at Shake-Shake (Zanu PF headquarters). We were all used at different levels and doing different things, but we couldn’t realise it,” he said.

“I have never seen an army general, who will go to war and later fire his troops soon after winning the war to accommodate nonentities like (Zanu PF commissar, Saviour) Kasukuwere. This is manipulative.”

Mutsvangwa, Matemadanda, Mahiya and others were fired from Zanu PF last year on allegations of indiscipline after they openly called for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe.

Norton’s independent legislator, Temba Mliswa, also attended the meeting in solidarity with the ZimPF elders.

Mujuru last week announced the expulsion of seven ZimPF founders, accusing them of being Zanu PF agents, but they have remained defiant, saying they could not be fired from a party they founded.

Mliswa described Mujuru as unelectable, while urging people to stop idolising political leaders.

“Mujuru was handpicked to be Vice-President. This is why I always ask you why you believe somebody who was handpicked can win elections,” he said.

“That is the danger of Zanu PF today. Mnangagwa was handpicked and (Vice-President Phelekezela) Mphoko was handpicked, so was Mujuru. So you cannot go and get votes out there without winning internal elections. It’s suicidal to have such a person as a substantive president.”

Margaret Dongo, who was also fired alongside Gumbo and Mutasa, took a swipe at Mujuru’s “dictatorial tendencies”, saying ZimPF structures were behind their group.

Gumbo also raised a litany of allegations against Mujuru, including running the party like a personal business, going on foreign trips without briefing her executive, failure to account for party finances, blatant disregard of the constitution, and backbiting, among others.

He also said it was a lie that they were against a coalition with other opposition political parties.

“There has been a deliberate distortion of the position of elders regarding the coalition of opposition forces,” Gumbo said.

“We want to unambiguously state our position regarding the question of coalition.

“We agree with the coalition of all opposition parties. We are for the unity of our people. Faced with a regime that knows no bounds in its quest to remain in power forever, we cannot and should not accept the luxury of being divided.”

He said Mujuru always shunned advice from the party elders, alleging she started plotting to expel them last year, but was blocked by some members of the national executive council.

“Mujuru always wanted the elders removed because they have the courage to speak out whenever she vacillates or goes astray,” Gumbo said.

Parirenyatwa threatens to fire striking doctors

PARIRENYATWA Hospital has threatened to fire striking doctors if they do not report to work today, as the stand-off between the government and medical practitioners intensified yesterday.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa

In a statement yesterday, the hospital’s clinical director, Noah Madziva, said the institution will introduce a daily roll call beginning today and those that are not at work will be removed from the duty roaster and will not be paid.

“Therefore, anyone who voluntarily withdraws his or her services will be removed from the duty roaster,” a statement attributed to Madziva read.

“The same will not be allowed to enter the wards or to see any patients until reinstatement upon submission of an application to return to duty.

“It follows that while one is removed from the duty roaster, the same will not receive remuneration accordingly.”
The statement said the roll call will be held at 9am every morning.

“Anyone not available at the time will be deemed not available for service and subject to the above mentioned arrangements,” the statement read.

The doctors’ strike enters its second day today, with the medical practitioners accusing the government of failing to concretise its promise of creating more posts and improving their welfare.

Striking doctors vowed to continue with their industrial action until they are furnished with real dates, timelines and the locations of the posts that Health minister David Parirenyatwa announced had been created.

Parirenyatwa, on Tuesday, said the government had opened up 250 posts for doctors and 2 000 posts for nurses, but did not give further details on how soon this would be implemented.

“In the next two weeks, 120 trained doctors will be rendered jobless as a result of an ill-timed freeze on health sector posts,” the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) said.

“The ministry issued a notice that posts would be created to accommodate the cadres completing internship in the next two weeks. The notice, however, falls short of absolute clarity on when the posts will be availed and an update can only be given by October 14, 2017.

“This arrangement will render our cadres jobless and detached from the payroll for eight months. Revision of this position will definitely unlock avenues of collaborative engagement,” Edgar Munatsi, the ZHDA president, said.

In a statement to its members, ZHDA said the industrial action was deeply anchored on the “unpalatable inability” of the Health ministry to resolve the long-standing issues.

These included that doctors were currently earning around $1,20 per hour as on-call allowances despite an October 2014 agreement between the doctors’ association and the Health minister.

“ZHDA unequivocally reiterates that the agreed minimum of $720 per month be immediately implemented and also the duty-free vehicle policy for health workers,” the association said.

ZHDA said it had been actively engaged in consultations, negotiations and meetings with a view to resolving the current impasse.

“The proposed dates for resolving on-call allowances and duty-free facility are not an accurate reflection of both the urgency, which this matter deserves and the time for which they have been outstanding,” Munatsi said.

ZHDA was yesterday consulting its members on quick ways to resolve the impasse in a manner that causes the least harm to patients and country.

Efforts to get a comment from Parirenyatwa Hospital’s CEO, Thomas Zigora, as well as from Harare Central Hospital were fruitless.

Meanwhile, ZHDA said there was an overwhelming response from government doctors across the country on the call to go on strike.

“Central hospitals such as Mpilo, Parirenyatwa and Harare hospital today literally closed their out-patients’ department and cancelled emergencies. ZHDA deployed a few doctors in casualty and emergency departments to cover for emergency cases,” the association said in a statement.

Zimdef boss off remand

ZIMBABWE Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) finance director, Nicholus Mapute, was yesterday placed off remand in a fraud case where he was jointly charged with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy, Godfrey Gandawa.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Mapute’s lawyer, Pisirayi Kwenda, argued that his client could not continue to be kept on remand when his co-accused, Moyo, had not yet been remanded over the same matter.

“It is common knowledge that Moyo was not brought before this court for remand purpose because the State was interjected by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and it is not known when will they appear in court on trial for the charges levelled against them,” he said.

“The State is unable to proceed with the case until the ruling by the ConCourt, which we do not know its determination.”

Magistrate, Elisha Singano, removed Mapute from remand, saying the State could pursue the matter by way of fresh summons after the ConCourt has ruled on the two applications filed by Moyo and Gandawa challenging the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc)’s arresting powers.

Recently, Malvern Chimutashu, who was alleged to have tried to facilitate the withdrawal of the same case after being arrested in a trap by Zacc officials, was also removed from remand.

Acting PG defies Justice Chitapi’s directive

HIGH Court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi yesterday said acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Ray Goba should not cry foul if an adverse decision is made against him following his refusal to appear before the judge as directed.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Justice Chitapi on Tuesday directed State representative in the ongoing trial of suspended PG Johannes Tomana, Jonathan Chingwinyiso, to ask Goba to appear in court to explain a letter he had written to the Judge President, Justice George Chiweshe.

Goba sought Justice Chiweshe’s intervention in his quest to force Justice Chitapi to recuse himself from handling Tomana’s trial, arguing the judge, at one point, worked with the accused at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The letter prompted Justice Chitapi to call Goba to appear in person and clarify his position, but the latter added insult to injury by citing Justice Chitapi as a respondent in another application seeking his recusal.

“Where a party is granted an opportunity to come and explain itself against allegations made, but wilfully, knowingly and intentionally decides not to do so, it must not cry foul if an adverse decision is made against it,” Justice Chitapi said addressing Chingwinyiso.

“I simply wanted him (Goba) to address such issues that what is it he finds offensive about calling Tomana, Prosecutor General.”

Prior to postponing the matter indefinitely, Justice Chitapi said he was not pleased that the NPA was trying to involve him in the politics of the organisation.

In response to calls inviting him (Goba) to appear in court, the acting PG reportedly wrote an affidavit for consideration and if the judge was not satisfied with the contents, he could issue a citation subpoenaing him to attend.

Minister denies hand in leaked NSSA ‘memo’

A FRESH storm has hit the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) after documents purportedly written by board chairperson, Robin Vela, allegedly detailing ways to frustrate top executives, who do not dance to the tune of Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira were leaked.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

Prisca Mupfumira

Prisca Mupfumira

But both Vela and Mupfumira immediately dismissed the documents as fake, saying they were being circulated by people unknown to them.

In the private and confidential documents between the duo, Vela allegedly wrote that NSSA would only recruit senior managers loyal to them.

The two were allegedly discussing the appointment of senior executives in August last year.

Vela allegedly wrote to Mupfumira on August 2 last year detailing how he would control the executives.

“If any one of the directors refuses to take directives, I shall frustrate them one by one, extending the probation period to force compliance or just fire. I can allege the delicate issue of incompetence as an excuse,” he allegedly wrote.

However, Vela denied authoring the letter, saying it was fraudulent.

“The letter is a clear fraud and I have taken up the issue with the police to investigate. I filed a report two weeks ago at Harare Central when I became aware of that letter,” he said.

In the letter, Vela was advising Mupfumira of the appointment of Elizabeth Chitiga as chief executive, Emmerson Mungwariri (finance and operations officer), Henry Chikova (chief social security officer), Betty Nyereyegona (chief occupational health and safety and rehabilitation centre officer) and Barnabas Matongera (chief contributions, collections and compliance officer).

He also advised of the appointment of investments executives Chikuni Mutiswa, Herbert Hungwe and Kura Chihota.
Mupfumira professed ignorance of the letter.

“The letter only came to light in the past two weeks. Why should it suddenly appear now? I have not seen it,” she said.

“The retrenching exercise has always been on the cards and some people are not happy. Somebody is hurt by the developments.”

Vela, in the letter, intimated that Mungwariri was experienced, but easier to control because of a scandal he was allegedly involved in while at RioZim.

“…Mungwariri is a very strong candidate because of his financial experience. I think he shall execute our directives without fear. I could have dropped him because of his case at RioZim, but we need him for he is seasoned,” he allegedly wrote. “If he opts to resist my directive, I shall bring up the case and immediately relieve him of his duties. He may not contest dismissal because he knows he is unsuitable for the job. It was a favour.”

Vela, in the letter, said he had reservations about the investment trio.

The executives have had their probation extended, but none has been appointed as substantive to date, nine months after they were initially engaged.

One of the investment executives, Mutiswa, was dismissed last month after he refused to have his probation extended for the third time.

The letter also contained the issue of NSSA restructuring that has come to pass.

“I shall retrench some managers this year and workers next year, 2017 and shall immediately replace them. These long-serving employees may pose a challenge/resistance to directives,” Vela allegedly wrote.

Govt takes over procurement of BVR kits

Government has, in a last-minute move, ditched the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the procurement of biometric voters’ roll (BVR) kits, preferring to do this on its own instead of through the UN agency.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA/KENNETH NYANGANI

The move is likely to outrage opposition parties and leaders, who are calling for electoral reforms, among them MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was yesterday pinning hopes of an improved playing field on a UNDP-facilitated BVR.

The cash-strapped government had failed to fund the procurement of the kits, prompting UNDP to step in.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, yesterday said after the tendering process held by UNDP, the government had decided that it would now buy the kits using its own resources.

“Government has come on board and will fund the acquisition. They came and decided that they will now buy the kits.

We don’t know why they came in now, you will have to ask them. But we are happy that the government is picking the tab because elections are supposed to be funded by the government,” she said.

Makarau said the tendering process had been handled by UNDP on their e-platform from Copenhagen, Denmark, and 12 companies had expressed interest in supplying the kits, of which, seven failed to qualify on technical reasons.

“Of the five, three of the lowest bids will be invited to Zimbabwe for evaluation and site validation tests.

Thereafter, one supplier will be chosen,” she said.

Zec said it would continue to partner with UNDP for the exercise, which needs almost $50 million to complete.

The $50 million will cover the voter registration process up to the production of the final voters’ roll.

If all things go according to plan, Zec expects to have completed all processes and be ready for elections by November 2017.

Meanwhile, earlier, Tsvangirai said his party was still worried about the possibility of vote-rigging by Zanu PF.
Addressing journalists in Mutare, Tsvangirai said UNDP was set to provide $200 million for the BVR kits.

“People are concerned with the endorsement that comes from Sadc and the African Union when the elections are not free and fair. So the issue of monitoring the election is very critical,” he said.

“We want to ensure the involvement of UN. They are going to spend $200 million towards buying of biometric equipment. People are concerned with the potential for rigging, especially that we are going to introduce the new electoral system, biometric, which takes a picture and fingerprints. People want to know if it is an improvement from past electoral practices.”

Tsvangirai was touring Manicaland to meet traditional leaders and MDC-T officials to consult them on the proposed coalition with other opposition parties.

20% of maternal deaths due to abortion among young women, girls

The Health and Child Care ministry has said abortions among young women and girls are now the main cause of maternal deaths.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Health and Child Care ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji

Health and Child Care ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, the ministry’s secretary, Gerald Gwinji, said 20% of maternal deaths were due to abortion.

On average, Zimbabwe record between 500 000 and 700 000 pregnancies per year, and in 2016, 514 women died while giving birth.

Although this was a reduction from 656 maternal deaths in 2014, and 575 in 2015, maternal mortality rates were reportedly still very high at 651 per 100 000 births.

“Our 2015 study showed that almost 20% of maternal deaths were due to abortions and they were mainly happening in young girls below the age of 24. They die because of septic infections, haemorrhage through bleeding of a fractured uterus, septic abortions, and hypertension in pregnancy,” he said.

Gwinji said results of an adolescent fertility study would be out in two weeks.

The ministry was also experiencing blood shortages, as only 10 000 units per year were being provided to hospitals by donors.

“Harare and Mpilo hospitals need a lot of blood and at the end of the month they usually run out. Our expected pregnancy numbers per year are on average 500 000 and if one woman is to get two units of blood, it means it is only enough for 5 000 women per year,” Gwinji said.

The government is also grappling to fight infant mortality rates that stand at 60 deaths per 1 000 babies for under-fives, compared to 27 deaths per 1 000 babies in 1988.

The ministry is also saddled with a huge debt of over $80 million, which it owes to hospitals, in terms of reimbursements of user fees charged to people over 65 years and under-fives, as well as those that are supposed to be supported through social welfare, and maternal fees that are supposed to be free.

It is also saddled with another $50 million debt to suppliers of goods and services.

“In 2016, Parirenyatwa Hospital billed $8, 2 million for services rendered to people over 65 years old and $10,3 million for under-fives, as well as $5,7 million for social welfare patients, and the total bill owed to Parirenyatwa Hospital over the years by the ministry is now $61 490 000. Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo is owed $4 million for under-fives, $3 million for over 65-year-olds, and for patients under social welfare $3,5 million. The total debt owed to Mpilo is $20 983 000,” Gwinji said.

Mujuru’s bond notes challenge flops

ZIMPF leader Joice Mujuru’s bid to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s powers to introduce bond notes yesterday hit a snag after the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) struck the matter off the roll.

BY CHARLES LAITON

This followed an application by Mugabe’s representative that the former VP’s application had not been properly brought before the court.

Mujuru had challenged the legality of a Presidential pronouncement that provided the legal framework for the introduction of bond notes as legal tender.

However, when the matter started and just before it could be heard on merits, Mugabe’s representative, Fortunate Chimbaru, raised a preliminary point, saying the constitutionality of the Presidential Powers Act was a question of interpretation.

Chimbaru said Mujuru ought to have first approached the High Court and made an application in terms of section 85 of the Constitution seeking to have the Act declared unconstitutional before approaching the ConCourt.

The full ConCourt bench, led by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, thereafter, disposed of the matter on a technicality and struck it off the roll, saying the reasons for its decision would follow in due course.

Justice Chidyausiku also said Mujuru was putting the cart before the horse, pointing out she should not have rushed to the ConCourt without exhausting all the available remedies.

“The problem that we would get by getting into the merits of this case is drawing the line between what Parliament can delegate and what it cannot,” Justice Chidyausiku said.

In the application, Mujuru had cited Mugabe, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.

Incessant rains slow down gold production

THE heavy rains that pounded most parts of the country have caused a sharp drop in gold production by both small and large-scale miners in the last month, a Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) official has said.

by Stephen Chadenga

ZMF spokesperson, Dosman Mangisi, said small and large-scale gold producers expected an output of over a tonne each in January, but failed to meet the target.

Mangisi said small-scale miners were the worst affected as their shafts were inaccessible after being flooded by water.

“Although in January we were expecting over a tonne each from both small and large-scale miners, the former (small scale miners) managed to produce 713kg, while the latter (large scale miners) managed 913kg, giving a total of 1 636kg,” he said.

The 2017 target by small-scale miners is 12 tonnes, although the sector expects to surpass and reach 14 tonnes after receiving a boost of $20 million from the gold development initiative facility.

Last year, small-scale miners delivered 9,7 tonnes of the precious metal to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-owned Fidelity Printers and Refineries.

This year’s gold production target is set at 28 tonnes. Last year, gold accounted for 43% of mineral exports, while platinum was in second position at 42%.

Grace resumes rallies

FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe is on Friday set to resume her countrywide rallies, making her first stop over in Buhera North, as she rolls out the roadmap for her husband President Robert Mugabe and the ruling party’s election campaign ahead of next year’s general elections.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

First Lady Grace Mugabe. Pic by Shepherd Tozvireva

First Lady Grace Mugabe. Pic by Shepherd Tozvireva

Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson, Samuel Undenge yesterday told provincial co-ordinating committee members in Mutare that Grace would be in Buhera, MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s home area, on Friday.

“We are here to discuss a number of issues and one of them is that our First Lady Grace Mugabe will be in Buhera on the 17th of this month,” he said.

“I think our Provincial Affairs minister (Mandiitawepi Chimene) can give us a briefing on our First Lady’s visit to the province since the letter came through her office.”

Chimene confirmed the visit, but could not give details, claiming that she was still on leave.

Provincial women’s league secretary for administration, Letina Undenge, said she was expecting a bumper crowd at the rally.

“We love our mother, we are supporting her and we did this at our recently-held conference,” she said.

“This is more like the rally we held at Mutambara in Chimanimani. She is energetic and very keen to empower women.

“She empowered women, including youths, the last time she came to Chimanimani. This is going to be a roadmap going to the elections, come 2018.

“We are preparing to come in numbers. We are delighted because we are also going to celebrate the birthday of our President.”

The sharp-tongued Zanu PF women’s league boss normally uses such platforms to rail against her rivals in the ruling party, and in this particular instance her target could be Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is reportedly eyeing succeeding Mugabe.

Grace, who is believed to be the leader of the G40 faction comprising of the ruling party’s Young Turks, is reportedly also eyeing Mugabe’s seat.

On the other hand, Mnangagwa and his Team Lacoste faction, are believed to have the backing of war veterans and the security sector.

Grace marked her grand entry into mainstream Zanu PF politics in 2014 with a string of campaign rallies that spilled into 2015, culminating in the axing of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and several other former ruling party bigwigs on allegations of plotting Mugabe’s downfall.

Mujuru and her team, which at the time included former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and ex-Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, later regrouped and formed the opposition Zimbabwe People First before their spectacular break up last week.

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