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‘Boycotting 2018 elections akin to endorsing Zanu PF’

OPPOSITION parties have urged their supporters, particularly youths, to actively participate in next year’s general elections, saying boycotting the plebiscite would be an indirect endorsement of the Zanu PF misrule.

BY SILAS NKALA/VENERANDA LANGA

Mabvuku/Tafara MP James Maridadi

Mabvuku/Tafara MP James Maridadi

The calls came as opposition leaders are planning to enter into a coalition deal that would see them sponsor a single candidate to challenge Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe in next year’s presidential race.

People’s Democratic Party chairperson, Lucia Matibenga, told party supporters during Africa Day commemorations in Bulawayo last week that opposition parties could not risk boycotting the upcoming elections, as that would inadvertently extend Zanu PF rule.

“Everyone in Zimbabwe has a reason to be angry with Mugabe and his Zanu PF. If you are not angry with Zanu PF it means you are not alive or you are not normal,” Matibenga said.

“When your children are struggling to go to school because you have no money, when you have no job to get paid and struggle to get cash, you have a reason to be angry. You must come out in numbers to vote against Zanu PF.

“At the moment all of us in Zimbabwe are not registered to vote. When the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission comes out to register voters we must all go and register as voters. This is the opportunity given to all of us to change government. Do not tell us that you did not vote. Some are saying they do not support Zanu PF, but do not go to vote. You must simply tell us that you have voted for Zanu PF, because by not voting it means you are saying the status quo must prevail.”

While addressing a different forum in Harare last week, Mabvuku/Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) also decried the apathetic behaviour of youths during election time.

“The issue that pains me is that people are saying the youths are the game-changers in our country, but when elections and voting day comes the youths will be playing a game of pool,” he said.

“Then after elections they say we want jobs, but where would those jobs come from if youths do not participate in choosing leaders?”

Maridadi warned youths against being used as tools to perpetrate political violence during elections.

“You must stop begging for money for beer from political leaders, or engage in political violence,” he said.

Mugabe the bishop of dictators: Biti

Former Finance minister and People’s Democratic Party leader (PDP), Tendai Biti has said most youth in the country now think it is now normal to be vendors on the streets and to see dilapidated infrastructure at companies such as National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

BY SILAS NKALA

Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti

Addressing PDP supporters during Africa Day celebrations in Bulawayo on Thursday, Biti accused President Robert Mugabe of destroying a once-vibrant economy.

He accused Mugabe of plotting to have his wife, Grace, succeed him as President.

“There is a headmaster of dictators. Bishop, papa, Pope of dictators, and he is this old man called Robert Mugabe. He inherited the country when it was the jewel of Africa, the country has turned into a torn pair of trousers,” Biti said.

“People have no jobs, companies are closing, there is no money. This is a country with the largest constituency of lodgers 37 years after independence, they are still called mukomana wekuseri (lodgers).”

He said 37 years after independence, many homes still had no electricity, while 63% of the population use the bush as toilets.

“There is a third generation, which has never been employed and do not know what a payslip is. They think this is normal to sell cigarettes, to sell tomatoes. No, it’s not normal,” Biti said.

He said companies such as NRZ, which used to be engines of economic growth in the country, now had overgrown grass with no meaningful activity taking place there.

“They (youth) think it’s normal that when you go to company premises, you find churches holding services there,” Biti said.

“This is normal to Mugabe and his Zanu PF. What we want to tell you is that another Zimbabwe is possible. All Zimbabweans have the right to enjoy the benefits of independence. What is wrong for one to go to work and get paid? Most of us now think dealing, violence and crime are the only ways to survive.”

He said Zanu PF had taught people to survive on deals, most of them illegal.

Biti said economic revival could not be addressed through clandestine deals.

“The country’s economy must be brought to life through foreign direct investment. We cannot solve the economic problems through the so-called command this command that. Foreign direct investment cannot be achieved when there is a wrong team. PDP will build this economy at the rate of 7% per annum. In our manifesto we will emphasise on that,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa said people were suffering more than they were under the colonial regime.

Dabengwa challenged people, who feel the pain and suffering under this government to come out in numbers to register to vote in 2018, saying staying at home would mean Zanu PF ruling the country forever.

Parly urges students to use condoms

PARLIAMENT has urged students at tertiary institutions to use condoms, provided by the National Aids Council (NAC) to reduce HIV prevalence, even if they disliked them.

By VENERANDA LANGA

condoms

The recommendations were made in the Senate by the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids led by Lillian Timveos in a recent report on HIV/Aids at institutions of higher learning.

Senators visited different universities to discuss HIV and Aids issues, only to find out that students were shunning condoms distributed by NAC, describing them as “ugly, smelly condoms”.

“Students were unhappy with a particular brand of condom distributed at all institutions visited, these were dubbed ‘panther condoms’, and the condom is given by NAC and other partners, and students reported that they did not like the look or smell of it and, therefore, do not use it,” the committee report read.

“The committee recommends that students should use the condoms until they get the desired ones in order to avoid HIV infection, while institutions of higher learning should spread awareness of the female condom.”

Senators also found out that most tertiary institutions had no capacity to initiate anti-retroviral therapy because they were not registered with NAC, while most were understaffed and under-resourced.

“Information gathered pointed to the fact that most parents do not share any information relating to HIV and Aids with their children,” the report reads.

“There were reports of students who only discovered at college that they were HIV positive, but had been taking ARVs all their lives without knowing what they were being treated for. This exposed the students to re-infection and then infecting others without knowing.”

Hunger, lack of accommodation at colleges, peer pressure and lack of information about HIV/Aids was reportedly fuelling affairs with truck drivers and lecturers at institutions of higher learning resulting in HIV infections.

“At Mkoba Teachers’ College, the officials’ biggest concern was that most students cannot afford food and the college cannot afford to give them free meals,” the report revealed.

“HIV positive students from underprivileged families cannot take medication on empty stomachs. It was heartrending for Senators to listen to tales of how some students survive on maputi (popcorn) while others only managed one meal per day.”

NAC reportedly informed Senators that $500 000 had this year been earmarked for HIV programmes at tertiary institutions for peer education training, awareness campaigns, condom distribution and various activities like sending bulk messages on HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Other recommendations by the committee were that truck drivers and artisanal miners should be exposed to HIV and Aids awareness campaigns, as this population was part of the key populations interacting with students.

“Starting from 2018, every tertiary institution should have a clinic. Government should only register institutions of higher learning that have adequate health facilities to cater for the health of students,” the committee said.

ACF to bail out government

AFRICA Chrome Fields (ACF), owned by South Africa-based Moti Group of Companies, has pledged to construct a number of schools in Zibagwe as part of their corporate social responsibility programme.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

Auxillia Mnangagwa

Auxillia Mnangagwa

Group executive, Ashraff Kaka, who said his company would invest over $200 million into its mining operations over three years, has put a team on the ground to upgrade most schools in the area.

“We have spoken to the local Member of Parliament (Auxillia Mnangagwa) and she has indicated the need for schools and clinics in the area and we are definitely going to upgrade them. Our company is about improving lives of the community,” he said.

Mnangagwa confirmed the deal, saying a number of schools could benefit from the investment by ACF.

“This is a resettlement area and most children learn under trees. As MP, I would like to see them taking lessons in decent shelter, particularly with this unkind winter,” she said.

During the fast-track land reform programme, Zanu PF resettled people on vast tracts of game ranching land, far from schools and clinics.

In Zibagwe, children learn in what used to be ostrich farm butcheries and tractor sheds.

Clinics are as far as 30km and are reached on foot.

Children as young as eight years old are forced to walk over 10km to the nearest school and without warm clothes in the winter, at the same time learning under trees without shelter.

The government has failed to provide these basic services and AFC could bail them out.

Dokora scoffs at critics

PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Lazurus Dokora has scoffed at critics of his new education curriculum and vowed to soldier on with the programme.

BY Stephen Chadenga

Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora

Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora

Dokora made the remarks during the commissioning of a classroom block at Sarah Bata Senior School in Gweru on Wednesday.

“Some people have been attacking us on social media, asking why (the new curriculum) has been introduced,” he said.

“Even some of our students, who are always on social media, were saying we don’t want the curriculum. But we stay in a country and not on social media platforms and so we are not perturbed, but would carry on with the task.”

Dokora said the curriculum was a product of countrywide consultations with a view to align the education system with international trends, particularly the need to link theory and practical skills.

“Our emphasis should on the acquisition of lifelong and work-related competencies with the learner taking centre stage of the teaching and learning processes. We must offer learning outcomes that are performance-oriented that reflect competencies required for improved prospects for life, work and leisure in a changing environment.”

The minister has been under fire from stakeholders, who argue that the updated curriculum would cause damage to the education sector.

Dokora is no stranger to controversy. In his first year as Education minister in 2013, he caused an uproar countrywide when he banned teachers’ incentives before he introduced the contentious national pledge, followed by the new curriculum and the goats-for-school fees mantra.

‘Mugabe creating family dynasty’

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been accused of clandestinely setting up a Mugabe dynasty following the appointment of his daughter, Bona Mugabe-Chikore, to the Censorship Board, with opposition activists saying yesterday the veteran ruler was trying to protect his interests by okaying such an assignment.

by XOLISANI NCUBE

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

The activists argued Bona’s appointment was the first step towards preparing her for a bigger political office and it raised a stink, as it came after the equally contentious appointment of her husband to head Air Zimbabwe.

“This is State capture by the Mugabe dynasty. Bona is slowly being manoeuvred for a State position and office,” MDC-T spokesman, Obert Gutu said.

“If you look at roles, she has lately been playing during government functions and events, she is positioning herself to be a top civil servant in Mugabe’s office. This is illegal.”

Eyebrows were raised when Mugabe, two years ago, included his daughter on a government trip to Japan, where she was allowed to sit by his side during an official meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“Mugabe does not trust anyone other than his family and he is slowly grooming them for leadership posts,” Gutu continued.

“Basically, he is copying from his role model, the North Korean dynasty, and this ought to be rejected by all right-thinking Zimbabweans.”

More recently, during a State banquet for Lesotho King Letsie III, Bona occupied a top table seat close to Mugabe — a feature Gutu said was undiplomatic and improper for such events.

Although Grace does not occupy any government post, she is reportedly a key figure in making certain government decisions.

Grace has in the past used State machinery to campaign for Zanu PF through rallies, where she has been talking about government policies.

Jacob Ngarivhume of Transform Zimbabwe said Mugabe had personalised Zimbabwe and created jobs for his close relatives, leaving multitudes to suffer.

“This is the most unfortunate thing that has happened to Zimbabwe. A few years ago Mugabe promised the nation 2,2 million jobs, but what we know since then is that people have been losing jobs,” Ngarivhume said.

“Of course, the only job he created is the position for his son-in-law at Air Zimbabwe and he is now appointing his daughter to be a board member of the Censorship Board. That is outrageous, that is disgraceful, that clearly is not what the people of Zimbabwe fought for.

“You don’t empower only one family, a family that is monopolising the nation. If you look at the mess Mrs Mugabe has created, even in their Zanu PF party, that is completely unacceptable and shows that his intentions for Zimbabwe are not good.”

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo on Tuesday announced Bona’s appointment to the Censorship Board, a government arm that regulates the entertainment industry.

“She is a Zimbabwean like you and I and there is nothing wrong with her appointment,” Chombo said.

“Who do you want appointed? She has the same right of being a Zimbabwean like any other person you may think of, so this is nothing.”

Besides Bona, other notable Mugabe close relatives appointed to key government positions include his nephew, Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao, Chikore (Air Zimbabwe chief operating officer), Zimbabwe National Roads Administration board chairperson, Albert Mugabe and Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, among others.

Zanu PF plants spies in MDC-T

ZANU PF has unwittingly exposed how it planted several spies within the top levels of MDC-T structures in an effort to destabilise and weaken the Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition party.

by BLESSED MHLANGA

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai

The ruling party’s Midlands provincial secretary for security, Owen Ncube, exposed the plot last Friday when he reportedly told provincial security leaders that his team had deployed Pearson Mbalekwa to the opposition.

This came up as party leaders were vetting Mbalekwa’s CV ahead of the Chiwundura by-elections, where he had won the right to represent Zanu PF to fill the vacancy left by the recent death of Kizito Chivamba.

Zanu PF national commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere has since blocked the former Zvishavane MP from representing the party arguing he contested the primary elections without the blessing of the ruling party.

Mbalekwa joined the MDC-T and served as Tsvangirai’s security adviser during the coalition government.

“There were attempts to have Mbalekwa disqualified because of his stint at MDC-T, but the meeting, which was chaired by (Daniel Mackenzie) Ncube, thwarted the attempts,” said a source, who attended the meeting.

“Ncube told the meeting Mbalekwa was a Zanu PF asset in the MDC-T and he had shared information with his team, leading to the overwhelming victory for the ruling party in 2013.”

Mbalekwa, a former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative, quit the opposition in 2013 following the party’s third successive electoral loss to Zanu PF.

Mbalekwa denied being a Zanu PF spy, but could not explain why rejoined Zanu PF and was already being allowed to stand in elections.

“Let people say what they want to say. I was in the MDC for six years and stayed out of politics for two years. If they want to say I was a spy, it’s up to them,” he told NewsDay.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo also dismissed allegations that his party had planted spies in other political parties.

“They have their own problems and they want to blame those on us. They should stop being cry-babies and leave Zanu PF out of their internal squabbles,” he said.

Mbalekwa said he would be contesting the 2018 general elections on a Zanu PF ticket after he withdrew his candidacy for the Chiwundura by-election for “personal” reasons. Provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mupereri said: “He was readmitted in the party two years ago and due process was followed. The matter was discussed at the PCC (provincial co-ordinating committee) and he has been in Zanu PF like anybody else. He won the primary elections resoundingly.”

MDC-T has claimed on several occasions that Zanu PF spies had infiltrated its rank and file and have been central in engineering splits within the party.

Party spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said the MDC-T was now cleverer after realising that Zanu PF was deploying State security agents to destroy the party.

“We know that there is a counter intelligence desk at the CIO working overtime to infiltrate and break the MDC from within, but that will not work, we are a people’s project and you can’t break the people. Once bitten, twice shy,” he said.

Sharon Mlotshwa: Woman with a mission to change the world.

There is nothing that Sharon Mlotshwa is more passionate about than her desire to help those in need.

Sharon Mlotshwa

Sharon Mlotshwa

A founder of an organisation called Uhuru Foundation, Mlotshwa is also a businesswoman, but according to her, where her heart lies is in the philanthropy work she does at Uhuru.
“I am driven & self motivated knowing that my efforts will bring a smile to someone’s face & hope to those who feel all alone and unwanted,”she says.

“It is my mission to touch lives and Uhuru is my outreach platform.Through the power of unity & collective participation, we have engaged in school feeding schemes,donation of clothing to the homeless and the less privileged. Through our Pad a Girl campaign, we have donated sanitary pads to schools in South Africa,Zimbabwe,Zambia & Malawi because we believe that no girl child should ever have to miss school and not attain a better tomorrow due to lack of sanitary wear.”

Research in Zimbabwe has shown that sanitary pads are among

Recent studies by the SNV Netherlands Development organisation estimates that seven in 10 girls in rural primary schools that menstruate have no access to sanitary pads in Zimbabwe, a trend attributed primarily to the acute economic challenges the country is facing, which have left many families without sustainable income bases.

According to health experts, using things like rags, and leaves can result in thrush, urinary tract infections, cancer, among other diseases.

It is to this cause – which government has neglected – that Mlotshwa, Uhuru Foundation and many other organisations intervene.

Mlotshwa’s organisation also does outreaches campaigns to source and donate suncreams, food & protective sun clothing to people living with albinisim.

People with albinism face discrimination in some societies, leaving them failing to fully realise their opportunities.

“Horrifying ritual and physical attacks have been perpetrated against albinos in countries such as Malawi. At Uhuru Foundation we are looking to educate and have awareness-raising campaigns for persons living with albinism ,not only in Zimbabwe, but throughout all of Africa,” she said.

BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA

Opposition scoffs at Mnangagwa jobs claim

VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s claims that the government had created more than 2,2 million jobs are an insult to millions of unemployed people roaming the country’s streets, opposition parties have said.

BY STAFF REPORTER

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa

MDC-T youth leader, Happymore Chidziva said unless the government had reduced itself to counting vending as formal jobs, then Mnangagwa could be right.

“Just walk the streets of Harare, in First Street, the levels of unemployment will look you straight in the eye,” he said.

“Vending is not employment, it is the height of unemployment.”

Chidziva said Mnangagwa’s statements showed why the party should be booted out of office in the 2018 general elections.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said Mnangagwa’s statement could have been a slip of the tongue.

“He must have wanted to say we lost more than 2,2 million jobs because, knowing him as a sober lawyer, he would not intentionally lie to the people of Zimbabwe,” PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general, Japhet Moyo dismissed the claims, saying only 6% of Zimbabweans had jobs.

“We have seen people losing jobs and most companies have now resorted to putting workers on fixed contracts. The VP cannot be right by any stretch of imagination, unless he thinks vending is a job,” he said.

ZCTU said industry has been slowly dying, as the economy continued to contract and jobs were being lost daily.

Mnangagwa said the government had surpassed the 2,2 million job creation target, which was the main campaign promise by Zanu PF as it won the 2013 elections.

Stage set for violent 2018 campaign

OPPOSITION parties yesterday predicted a bloody run-up to the 2018 election judging by the high levels of violence and intolerance already exhibited by rival Zanu PF camps since the beginning of this year, with the latest incident recorded in Bulawayo at the weekend.

BY OBEY MANAYITI/XOLISANI NCUBE/NQOBANI NDLOVU

Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere

Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere

Similar bloody clashes occurred at the ruling party’s provincial headquarters in Harare last month, leaving several activists injured in the melee.

In separate interviews with NewsDay following Sunday’s skirmishes — which saw two Zanu PF youths seriously injured in
intra-party clashes in Bulawayo — opposition officials accused the ruling party of setting the stage for a bloody campaign and in the process poisoning the electoral environment ahead of next year’s general elections.

“Zanu PF is and has always been a violent political party. We are not at all surprised by the intra-party violence that took place amongst Zanu PF supporters in Bulawayo at the weekend. Violence is part and parcel of the Zanu PF political DNA,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“If they are this savagely violent amongst themselves, then you can just imagine how violent they are towards members of other competing political parties.

“Already, these Zanu PF political thugs and hoodlums are setting the stage for an extremely violent election campaign in 2018. There will be blood on the floor. This is one of the major reasons why, as the MDC, we have always been advocating for a non-violent and peaceful political discourse in this country.”

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said: “(President Robert) Mugabe is now being mauled by the violence that he brewed many years ago.

Violence is now a permanent feature in Zanu PF. Violence is usually found in political institutions that are in a high state of decomposition like Zanu PF. The hungry crocodiles are now eating each other.”

Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume said: “Mugabe and Zanu PF have always been violent. The latest developments show that they are setting the tone for violence in the upcoming watershed elections.

“Zimbabweans need to rise up now and resist this kind of behaviour. It’s unacceptable and we must stand up to this.”

Activist Farai Maguwu said the country was now in a transitional phase starting in Zanu PF.

“Since formation, Zanu PF has always settled its internal squabbles through violence or expulsion. The Bulawayo skirmishes are only the beginning and a season of long knives is fast approaching as it becomes clear a new leader has to be found given Mugabe’s ripe old age,” he said.

“Next year is likely going to be marred by both intra-party and inter-party violence.”

The Bulawayo violence was allegedly triggered by a faction campaigning for the ouster of Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.

Violence broke out when the anti-Kasukuwere activists attempted to disrupt a provincial co-ordinating committee meeting, claiming the gathering was illegal.

The group targeted provincial chairperson Dennis Ndlovu, whom they labelled as Kasukuwere’s proxy, saying he had blocked attempts to join other provinces in passing a vote of no-confidence against the under-fire party commissar.

But Ndlovu remained defiant yesterday, saying he would not be pushed out of the party by “drunk mafias”.

“It’s politics. It will soon pass, I mean these power struggles,” he said.

“Sometimes people kill each other over such power struggles, but we are glad it has not come to that. We will talk to the aggrieved and hear their concerns.

“What we have noticed though is that these are the very same people who are given money and beer to come and cause chaos. It’s terrible.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo condemned the clashes and said a detailed report of the skirmishes would be tabled at the politburo’s next meeting to ensure the perpetrators were brought to book.

“We will come hard on those people responsible for that (violence). We don’t care who is involved in that,” he said.

“We have asked for a report, which will be tabled in the politburo. People should not use party processes to settle their own scores.

“The President does not support anyone who is violent, surely we will deal with that. Even if the person involved is from up there, the party has mechanisms to deal with violence.

“It tarnishes the image of the party. People should learn to discuss issues and not resort to violence. Yes, we can disagree, but not use violence. They will face the full wrath of the law.”

But, war veterans’ leader Chris Mutsvangwa claimed the clashes were the dirty works of the G40 faction.

“G40 is the problem. Putchist G40 has been nefariously seeking a Nazi-type power grab and the rank and file membership isn’t buying that,” he said.

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