Nightmare for Epworth as residents endure endless power blackout


Living in Epworth, a peri-urban marginalized community has proven to be difficult for many who have to struggle to eke a living during the day and return to the dark and silent homes in the evening. As if the shortage of water is not a bigger problem on its own, Epworth residents have to suffer more when it comes to making meals and preserving their food because of the unavailability of electricity in most of the households.

Lack of sufficient power generation capacity in the country compounded by poor transmission and distribution infrastructure has been the main cause of unequal electricity distribution between Zimbabwe’s developed and marginalized communities. While the equal distribution of electricity within a country is a necessity, Zimbabwe has largely lagged behind. This drawback has been one of the main reasons for the sluggish development that currently persists.

Although the country has tried to cover the gap difference of the electricity supply between urban and rural areas through the establishment of the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) in 2002,  there have been loopholes in terms of distribution between the country’s developed and marginalized urban areas resulting in massive inequalities. For example, in Epworth, most of the houses do not have electricity due to what residents described as a cumbersome and expensive process when it comes to applying for electricity installation.

The lack of electricity has led to the perpetual suffering of residents as they struggle when it comes to energy for their cooking, getting access to information, and powering their electronic entertainment gadgets, which are necessary for them to escape real-life hardships they endure on a daily basis. The lack of access to electricity greatly infringes on their rights as human beings.

“In Epworth, almost three-quarters of the houses do not have electricity. For one to have electricity they should have a cluster at their area and then start contributing every month to buy materials like poles, cables, and other related materials and from there they need to look for a contractor and have to submit names to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). So that is the process now, and ZESA does not want wooden poles and also they need four lines of wire cables which cost, for instance, $2 US dollars per meter.  How many can afford that? Thus most people do not have electricity and for those who have, sometimes there will be no electricity due to power cuts like any other areas,” said one of Epworth’s local residents who identified herself as Sarah Njanji.

The effects and costs of the lack of electricity also disadvantage school children who cannot access online lessons during the recent Covid -19 induced lockdowns and future lockdowns. Residents also miss critical information in the form of news due to the lack of electrical power.

“We are doing that project now and it has been now 4 years without electricity because we had wooden poles and only 50-meter wire. The challenges we then face are that most people use firewood to cook which is a disadvantage during rainy seasons, especially when they cannot afford to buy gas as it is very expensive.  Also, technology appreciation and access to information require electricity, and most people here cannot watch television or listen to the radio because sometimes solar energy is not reliable as they require a great amount of sunshine. In schools our children are lagging behind because they are unable to attend online lessons because there will be no source of energy to charge their cellphones,” Sarah added.

Lisen here

Another issue that Njanji raised was that of regularization. She stated that some of the houses in Epworth’s Wards 4,5, 6, and 7 are still waiting for regularization.

“The regularization process in Epworth is unsatisfactory because both the local board and council are failing to properly allocate land. Maybe l don’t really understand how the allocation process is carried out but it seems to have something to do with politics because I don’t understand the criteria they are using when allocating the land, but it is disadvantaging vulnerable groups in Epworth such as the elderly and orphans whom they should be prioritizing. Hence, there’s a need for government to monitor them because urgent intervention is required for regularization to be done properly to improve livelihoods and prevent chaos,” said a local resident, John Nyapetwa. Listen here

Meanwhile, the Epworth local board confirmed the unavailability of electricity in some parts of Epworth but blamed squatters who live in illegal structures for delaying the regularization of some houses. According to the Epworth local board, unregularized houses cannot get electricity because they will be considered to be without owners.

“I think the bigger problem is that people do not have money and the process of installing electricity is very expensive. While vandalism is another problem leading to power outages in the area, the presence of illegal structures has also been affecting the regularization process, thereby affecting the distribution of electricity in the area. However, there is need for proper use of funds which government donates so that electricity is made available and Epworth develops from being a peri-urban area,” Epworth Local Board member, Reverend Masesedza said.

Illegal structures cannot be regularized, hence, there’s a need for the residents to formerly buy land and build legal houses so that they get electricity.

Despite efforts to improve the electricity supply in the country, the government’s measures have been catching a cold from the nation’s deteriorating economic conditions. The government established the rural electrification program, constantly repairs machinery at the county’s power stations (Hwange and Kariba), and granted electricity-producing licenses to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as a way to increase electricity supply. Hence, inadequate electricity distribution and generation remain a challenge, which without improvement can prevail forever, unless transparency, accountability, and equity are put into practice by Zimbabwe’s electricity generating, transmission and distribution company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). Transparency, accountability, and equity are important principles that when applied, there will be adequate and fair use of funds donated to the energy sector, thus ensuring equal and efficient distribution of electricity within the country. This prevents the neglect of marginalized communities like Epworth in this instance.

While most European and Asian countries like the US, China, and India have made clear progress on expanding electricity access in recent years,  developing countries’ efforts, especially Zimbabwe to make electricity available for everyone will need to improve if the country is going to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 which aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Thereby supporting Zimbabwe’s vision of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by the year 2030 because insufficient power supply in the country presents barriers that impact development in the country’s economic, health, education, and social sectors.

Beyond the obvious

Cover page

The polarisation in the Zimbabwean mainstream media has led to the newspapers covering the Zimbabwean story from a biased, untrue and one sided point of view.

A partisan aligned account of the issues affecting Zimbabweans has therefore not adequately presented a true picture of the Zimbabwean story.

This has led to the stories affecting the ordinary people in towns and villages being ignored or given lesser attention at the expense of elite voices.

Unlike in the mainstream media where the stories quote business executives, politicians, government officials, and analysts. But this book provides the proverbial epistemic disobedience to these kinds of narratives.

The stories in this book are well articulated, detailed and thoroughly investigative humanitarian accounts and experiences of the daily events affecting Zimbabwean citizens.

As Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Information Professor Jonathan Moyo rightly put it, if one wants to be misinformed they must read the stories from Zimbabwe’s mainstream media, this book departs from desktop kind of journalism and reflects the Zimbabwean story from first hand accounts.

The stories in this book eschew the usual descriptive and events based journalism and purely give the views of the people of Zimbabwe in a well detailed and well investigated manner.

From the scourge of prostitution, to erratic water problems, lack of accountability in the diamonds sector, to the controversial issue of Zimbabwe’s elections among other issues. The book is a must read.

It is indeed an essential tool for civil and human rights activists, government officials and every progressive individual who wants to see this great country working again.

Download your copy by tapping the link below.




Poverty scourge fuels child marriages

HARARE – From as early as she can remember, Mariah Myambo (not her real name), 16, had dreams to pursue her education, attain a degree, get a decent job and be happily married to someone she loved.

By Thomas Madhuku

But the death of her parents in 2011 threw her life off balance.

She was emotionally adrift in the wreckage of lost love, lost support and guidance; and suffered a shattered identity.

Mariah and her siblings were forced to relocate from Harare where they had a reasonable life, to Chipinge, a rural district in eastern Zimbabwe, where she came face-to-face with stinking poverty.

She stopped attending school, and leapt into the status of a grown up. She was barely old enough, but had to carry the burden of looking after her siblings.

With little or no choice, Mariah was forced to marry a kombi driver at a tender age because of poverty and the desire to get something to take care of her siblings.

“We used to stay in Harare, but after the death of our father, we moved to Chipinge as our mother could not afford rentals in town,” she says, with tears welling up in her eyes.

“As if that was not enough, our mother also passed away, leaving us in the hands of irresponsible relatives who abandoned us and even grabbed our father’s piece of land.”

Being the oldest child, she found herself having to fend for her siblings and this meant she had to drop out of school to do menial jobs in the village — including cultivating other people’s fields.

Mariah said she realised that her boyfriend had another wife after she fell pregnant.

“I was forced into marriage by circumstances, and my reason was to escape poverty, but the situation has not changed because my husband’s first wife controls all the money and my siblings who still look up to me are at risk of falling into the same mistake I made,” she says.

Mariah’s case is one of many cases of early child marriages.

The media has in recent years been replete with reports of children tying matrimonial bonds at a tender age to the dismay of moralists.

A few weeks ago, an elderly couple in the southern parts of Zimbabwe allegedly married off their 15-year-old granddaughter so they could get a bag of mealie-meal and R500.

The story further alleged the grandparents reached an agreement with another middle-aged man to give him their granddaughter as a wife in exchange for food and money.

The man is said to have offered to pay lobola of R564 and a bag of mealie-meal to which the couple agreed.

Another case happened in the same area   with a widower marrying  his 15 year-old twin-girls to a rich businessman who had borrowed him and promised that he will do more if he accepted marrying them to him.

Speaking to the victims, Laiza and Lainah Mandava (not real names) say they had no option when their father told them that he had already collected part of their lobola money.

“We just woke up one day, and our father told us that we should get ready for the event that was going to take place that. We only got to know of the developments when our aunt came to the house to check if we had prepared for the lobola ceremony” .

This trend has given rise the hue and cry against the vice which in essence is a fundamental violation of child rights. Child experts say child marriage is a violation of human rights which compromises the development of girls and often results in early pregnancy and social isolation.

They say young married girls face onerous domestic burdens, constrained decision-making and reduced life choices.

Caleb Mtandwa, a child rights activist with the Harare-based Justice for Children, says religion, culture and poverty are fuelling child marriages in the country.

“Poverty is forcing children from poor families — including orphans to get married to escape from the trappings of poverty,” he says.

He says age-based discrimination towards girls takes place in the form of child marriages where the minimum age for marriage in terms of the Marriage Act Chapter 5:11 is 16 for girls and 18 for boys.

“The Customary Marriages Act Chapter 5:07 does not set a minimum age of marriage for girls,” the child rights activist says.

“Besides exacerbating the problem of child marriage, there is discrimination between those girls governed by general law and customary law.

‘‘Young girls are frequently married off on the pretext that custom allows that. We now want the government to take steps to address these causes and align the laws mentioned above to the new Constitution which describes a child as a person below the age of 18, and calls for protection of children from all forms of abuse.”

Says Grace Chirenje of the Zimbabwe Young Women Network for Peace Building: “With the prevailing harsh economic times, it is clear that parents are also mortgaging their daughters to cushion themselves against such difficult times.”

Developing alternative income generating strategies for parents and even children themselves, she suggests, may be one way to solve the child marriage problem.

A number of demographic and household surveys have been done in the country to determine the prevalence of child marriages, the causes and make recommendations.

In its report titled, Married Too Soon: Child Marriage in Zimbabwe, a local research organisation, Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) noted that early marriages are caused by poverty, beliefs, religion, impunity, tradition and teenage sex.

Poverty, which is rearing its ugly head in Zimbabwe following over a decade-long economic crisis, has increased the vulnerability of young girls who are forced into marriage as a means of eradicating food shortage in their households.

Another study conducted by Medicins sans Frontieres Belgium-Zimbabwe mission and the University of Zimbabwe’s Centre for Applied Social Sciences also established that poverty makes young girls and women more vulnerable.

In 2012, the then Education, Sports, Arts and Culture minister, David Coltart hinted that over 50 percent of young girls in secondary schools were being forced to drop out because of various reasons, chief among these being the unavailability of funds and societal preference to educate the boy child.

Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls around the world will become child brides, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

It further says if current levels of child marriages hold, 14,2 million girls annually or 39 000 daily will marry too young.

Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before they reach 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.

“Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” says Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the UNFPA.

“A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled.”

‘‘Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage.”

Ending child marriage is closely related to efforts to reach Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 3,4 and five to promote gender equality, to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health.

And, for now, it seems, the continued occurrence of child marriages in Zimbabwe and Africa will make it impossible for the countries to attain these MDGs by 2015.

Pensioner loses $26k to conman

By Caroline Nyamayaro:

A serial fraudster is expected to appear in court soon on allegations of defrauding a former civil servant of his $26 000 pension that was in his CABS savings account.

The alleged conman identified as Tapera masqueraded as an employee from the Central African Building Society (CABS)and withdrew a sum of $26 612.97 from 54 year old complainant Reuben Mpofu’s account.

Mpofu a former general hand with the Zimbabwe Republic Police received an on his Econet line supposedly from CABS bank, which alerted him that he was about to activate the app on a new device, but he ignored it. He later received the same message on the same day.

Upon receiving the second message, Mpofu immediately was called by the suspect ordering him to respond to the message that was asking him to correct his account.

Mpofu supplied the suspect with the code thinking that he was a CABS employee.

A few minutes after Mpofu gave the code, he received a notification that $10 000 had been debited from his account. In response, Mpofu called the suspect who responded that the matter was being.

By day end, his account had only a balance of $3,20, prompting him to physically visit his banks’ branch.

As Mpofu stood in the queue to be served, the suspect was said to have called him again and pleaded with him not to inquire with the bank as the anomaly was being fixed fixed.

CABS Bulawayo branch manager advised Mpofu to make a police.

Police are currently investigating the matter with assistance from the suspect.

$97k embezzlement rocks Mathew Rusike college

Success Majaramhepo:

Studies at Mathew Rusike college have been thrown into disarray, less than three weeks before public Ordinary Level examinations commence amid concerns that some of the administrators have embezzled $97 000 that was meant for staff salaries.

Some teachers have been absconding lessons citing incapacitation as the school has been struggling to pay them on time. This has a knock-on effect on students who are preparing for their final examinations and are now wary of their passing chances.

A student at the school told ZimSentinel that teachers were not attending lessons.

“Teachers are not being paid, so they are no longer attending lessons.  ‘O’ levels are having at most three lessons per day than normal lessons they used to have. This is really affecting ‘O’ and ‘A’ level students as they about to write final examinations,” she said.

Another student said that students are being sent off home to collect school fees to cover up the missing $97 000.

“This is a serious issue at our school, which need immediate response. It is pathetic that ‘O’ level students who are writing their exams in the coming weeks are being send home to collect money to cover up the missing money. This is not fair, as these administrators are benefiting at the expense of the students,” he said.

An ‘A” level student said they are now having extra lessons with private teachers and this was expensive to them due to the decline of economy and hyperinflation.

“We are now resorting to other alternatives like having extra lessons with private teachers. This is costing us as these private teachers are charging exorbitant fees. This has worsened our life as our parents are trying to deal with effects of the ravaged economy,” he said.

The school deputy headmaster Mr Mashava and the senior Lady who refused to be identified by name, however, denied the embezzlement allegations saying everything was normal.

“We are not aware of the missing money and our teachers are doing work as usual,” said Mashava.

$7 million tobacco afforestation Levy disappears

Malvern Mkudu

More than $7 million collected for afforestation efforts to mitigate the damage on forests being caused by small tobacco farmers has not yet been disbursed and sources say that the money has been taken by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).

Last year the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Matibiri announced that tobacco farmers would start paying 1.5 percent of their earnings as part of efforts to curb deforestation.

Electricity and coal are way beyond the reach of many small holder farmers forcing them to resort to using firewood to cure their tobacco. This has resulted in massive deforestation.

It has however emerged that an excess of $7 million that was raised from the levies has not been availed for the intended purposes. Sources say the money was taken by ZIMRA and may have been used for other purposes.

The money had been sitting idle in the TIMB bank account as the organisation awaited government guidelines on how to utilise the money.

Dr Andrew Matibiri said “The money is with ZIMRA and we are about to submit a proposal for the use of that money. We have now consulted all stakeholders”

He however did not say whether the money is available. Last year he told the state owned Herald that “the fund is in the TIMB account but we (TIMB) need guidelines to utilise it.”

Efforts to get a comment from finance minister Patrick Chinamasa were unsuccessful.

Well placed sources in the Tobacco industry say that the money was taken by the Zimbabwe revenue authority and it has been converted to other uses by the cash strapped government. TIMB have been waiting for instruction from the ministry of Finance on how to utilise the funds but the revenue authority has taken the money.

The Agricultural manager at the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association Mr Casper Mlambo confirmed that they had not yet received part of the $7 million that was realised in collections last year.

He said that they were facing financial problems which had hampered their afforestation efforts. Between 2012 and 2016 the ZTA has overseen the planting of 400000 trees in areas such as Karoi, Odzi and Marondera. He could however not be drawn to speculate about the where-abouts of the money.

It is estimated that the 90000 smallholder tobacco growers destroy 7,5 million trees annually to cure their tobacco.

These efforts are being undermined by a lack of funding as the funds collected for the purpose have allegedly not been availed as the money is said to be sitting with ZIMRA.


Government excludes Russian firm from diamond merger

Phillemon Mhlanga and Malvern Mkudu

DIAMOND mining firm, DTZ-OZGEO, a joint venture outfit between Econendra of Russia and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ), will be excluded from government’s planned consolidation of all diamond mining companies, the Financial Gazette can report.
This comes as it emerged that government could force some diamond mining firms operating in the country to give up stakes to the State, with the possibility that some of them may not get any compensation for the shareholding.
This would likely affect companies operating from the Chiadzwa minefields, most of whom have been accused of plundering resources and failing to account for cash from diamond sales.
There are several companies mining diamonds in Chiadzwa, and these include Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments (which is jointly owned by the Chinese military and their Zimbabwean counterparts), Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Rera, Kusena and Gye Nyame.
The consolidation has already started taking shape under the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation (ZCDC), with three diamond companies — Marange Resources, Gyne Nyame and Kusena – having already been incorporated into the entity.
But sources said the highlight of the proposed merger was the likely exclusion of DTZ-OZGEO from the proposed merger, which was first announced by Mines and Mining Development Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, early last year when he said government would force diamond mining firms to consolidate operations and create one entity in which it would control 50 percent shareholding while the private players would share the remaining 50 percent.
Chidhakwa said government was not prepared to negotiate and would kick out any firm not willing to participate in the initiative.
The decision is understood to have forced Rio Tinto Plc to sell its controlling stake in Murowa Diamonds to Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed RioZim, which held a minority stake in the diamond company.
Highly-placed sources said this week that a decision had been taken by government to exclude DTZ-OZGEO from the proposed consolidation.
An official at DTZ-OZGEO who declined to be named confirmed that the company would not be part of ZCDC.
Asked why the company would be exempted when other privately-held firms like Murowa and the liquidated River Ranch were being forced into the merger, he tersely said: “We have a special licence.”
While sources within the mining industry suggested that government did not want to upset Russians by consolidating their interest into ZCDC, it also emerged that DTZ, the other partner in the joint venture, was directly linked to the ruling ZANU-PF party.
The board of trustees for DTZ is appointed directly by the party.
In terms of appointments made in 2014, former party national chairman and now ZANU-PF spokesman, Simon Khaya-Moyo, was the DTZ board chairman, with Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramai; Small Scale Enterprises Minister Sithembiso Nyoni; the late vice president Joshua Nkomo’s daughter Thandiwe Nkomo Ibrahim; former secretary to Cabinet Charles Utete; lawyer Sobusa Gula Ndebele; business executive Busi Bango; deputy war veterans affairs minister Tshinga Dube; and Mines Minister Chidhakwa being part of the board.
Other DTZ board members included expelled former secretary for administration and State security minister, Didymus Mutasa; former environment minister Francis Nhema; former energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire; and former labour minister Nicholas Goche.
It was not immediately clear if the involvement of the ruling party had influenced the decision to exclude DTZ-OZGEO or not, but it would certainly appear Chidhakwa would have required approval from his principals to interfere with the company’s operations.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Francis Gudyanga, told the Financial Gazette this week that government had not discussed with DTZ-OZGEO, which also mines gold in Penhalonga, about the planned consolidation of its interests into ZCDC.

Asked if DTZ-OZGEO would be part of the consolidated diamond company, Gudyanga said: “Who said that?”
But he noted that government’s position was that all diamond mining companies in Zimbabwe would be merged into “one consolidated company”.
“So there is no excuse. However, the mechanism on how we do it varies from company to company. Whether DTZ-OZGEO will be part of it or not, is not the issue,” he said.
“We are saying the operations of diamond industries including where DTZ-OZGEO is working would be part of government. We haven’t discussed with them (DTZ-OZGEO) yet but just like we did with Murowa, the issue we will discuss with them is about the mechanism.”
Gudyanga is also the board chairman of ZCDC.
Interestingly, ZCDC has already entered discussions with Murowa Diamonds over the planned merger, although it is not yet clear what terms government may have agreed with the company for its proposed merger.
But during a tour of Murowa two months ago, Chidhakwa said: “Government gave us a directive as a ministry to consolidate all diamond mining companies into one, single entity and we registered the company under the name Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation. All diamond concessions and claims will be under this company.”
ZCDC is currently recruiting a management team, and a board is already in place but is yet to be publicly announced.
Gudyanga highlighted long-held fears that government may take some diamond mining firms without compensation.
He, however, declined to reveal the identity of the players likely to be affected.
“The bottom line is that the industry will be one but if you ask me about the mechanism, then it’s a different story. We can’t discuss that because of corporate confidentialities that we have to respect,” said Gudyanga.
“We know who will be in and who will not be part of the consolidated company. However, it’s not a matter that we can discuss at the moment because it’s a process and there are options.”
Asked which diamond mining companies would not be part of the consolidated company, Gudyanga said: “I can’t tell you who they are but we are prepared to go to 100 percent on our own (in terms of shareholding in ZCDC).”
Some companies did not bring in required capital for exploration on Chiadzwa claims they were given by government and concentrated on alluvial mining.
Now, most of the diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa have run out of alluvial deposits although they have been resisting the proposed consolidation.
Gudyanga also hinted that merging of diamond companies could take longer than anticipated.
“I cannot give a timeframe because it’s a process and we are still discussing with some of the diamond miners,” he said.

Chimanimani communities left in the cold

Thomas Madhuku

Zimbabwe’s community share ownership trusts, set up by government in recent years to benefit poor communities in resource-rich areas of the country, have never been far away from controversy.

Poorly explained and little understood, even by those communities supposed to benefit from them, Zimbabwe’s CSOTs have become a source of tension and dispute for all the wrong reasons.

And none more so than one of the pioneers of the CSOT project, the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust, set up to benefit the impoverished and dislocated communities who found themselves living on top of what was once described as one of the world’s richest alluvial diamond fields south of Manicaland’s capital, Mutare.

The issue in question is how the communities affected by the diamond mining operations were selected to be members of the trust – and how others were excluded.

While the communities of Chiadzwa and Marange were the most directly affected by the diamond-mining activities and were subjected to forced relocation, neighbouring communities just across the Odzi River, not 5km away, such as Hot Springs, Nenohwe, Nyanyadzi and Chakohwa, as well as Nemaramba and Chaseyama, were excluded despite suffering the effects of the high security mining operations.

Heavy security fencing and military patrols have cut these communities off from their traditional grazing lands; while the heavy traffic to and from the diamond fields have severely degraded the roads in these communities.

Some residents also point out that scores of their cattle and livestock have also died mysteriously in the years after the diamond mining companies began their operations, and many suspect the river water they drink has been contaminated and has led to their animals being poisoned. And to make matters worse, the cost of basic commodities have soared just because they serve those working in the diamond fields – as well as local residents.

Despite these handicaps and the negative effects they have had on the livelihoods of those living in these communities along the Mutare-Birchenough Bridge highway, the government excluded them from becoming  beneficiaries of the trust.

Residents living there blame political chicanery and a clear lack of consultation prior to the trust’s establishment as the reasons for their exclusion.

For example, what distresses them most is how government excluded these communities, barely a stone’s throw from the depopulated Chiadzwa diamond fields, but included communities in Zimunya, up to 100km away to the north, just south of Mutare.

Traditional administrative boundaries were used to decide the beneficiaries of the trust. The Chiadzwa diamond fields fall within the jurisdiction of Mutare Rural District, while Hot Springs,
Nyanyadzi, Nenohwe and many other communities neighboring Chiadzwa, fall under the jurisdiction of Chimanimani Rural District, which effectively ruled them out of contention for membership to the Zimunya Marange CSOT.

According to the Manicaland province geographical map, the Odzi and Save Rivers separate Mutare Rural District from Chimanimani, which is certain to have worked against Hot Springs and its sister communities.

Admire Mathende, a Hot Springs villager, said their exclusion from the scheme was painful considering their community’s lifestyle had been badly disrupted by the Chiadzwa mining operations.

Mathende cited the price of goods in shops that have risen over the years as a result of cash inflows at Chiadzwa.

“In 2008, groceries were very expensive to buy, especially here at Hot Springs because of increased demand due to illegal mining. These mining companies have also been polluting our water sources, especially the Odzi River.

“We were supposed to have been included in the community scheme, but I guess the issue was more political,” Mathende complained.

Another villager Cephas Mtetwa said they have also been losing livestock after drinking contaminated water from the Odzi River.

“We thought they would look at the communities that are affected by the mining companies for consideration into the share ownership trust,” Mtetwa said.

According to a Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) report of 2013, ward 5 of  Chimanimani West lost 178 goats and 132 cattle after drinking contaminated water from the Odzi and Save rivers in 2012, with a further 278 cattle dying in ward 8 during the same period.

The communities also believe the mining companies should play an active role in ensuring the roads in the district are well maintained since their presence in Chiadzwa has resulted in increased traffic.

“One would expect the mining companies to at least improve the roads here. But you just see trucks full of diamonds meandering through potholes on the way to Harare,” Mathende added sarcastically.

Marange Residents Empowerment Trust (MRET) chairperson, Didymus Machiri, who was one of the people championing a broad-based trust, said they had made significant progress holding meetings with communities. But the idea later collapsed following the launch of Zimunya-Marange CSOT.

“When Statutory Instrument SI 116 of 2010 was gazetted, it had three options for the setting up of a community share ownership trust, the first was that rural district councils should be at the forefront, the second option was that communities mobilize themselves, and the third option stipulated that any other distinct community or group of people affected by the exploitation of natural resources in or adjacent to their place of residence should also be included.

“We were working under the guidance of the second option and everything was going according to plan until the Minister (Saviour Kasukuwere at the time) came with a different model.

“To us the fact that the President officially launched the trust meant that the chapter was closed because we could not go against him. But we were left with a query because under that model so many communities were left out,” Machiri explained.

He added that under their plan of action a lot of ground could have been covered since they had a clear framework of key development projects for the affected communities.

The Zimbabwe Diamond Mine Workers’ Union, which has an office at Hot Springs, confirmed that Hot Springs and its neighboring communities had a lot to do with diamond mining processes at Chiadzwa.

ZDMWU secretary-general, Justice Chinhema, said the reason for setting up an office at Hot Springs was that they viewed the community as part and parcel of the diamond mining community.

Chinhema said they too, had issues with the structure of the CSOT, saying his organization believed the “workers deserved a stake in it because they are a significant sector that cannot be ignored”.

The Centre for Natural Resource Governance noted that the issue of CSOTs was not included in the Indigenization Act, but was later “smuggled” onto the indigenization agenda through regulations that are not enforceable at law.

CNRG director Farai Maguwu said: “This explains why companies presented dummy cheques to the President while the majority have not complied with the extortionate demands for payment.”

He added that the selection of trustees was shrouded in secrecy and left to the rural district council to administer with absolutely no inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in decision-making.

“If the trustees are appointed by the rural district council they are accountable and answerable to the RDC, not directly to the community. So it really stands in the way of transparency and accountability,” added Maguwu.

A villager at Hot Springs who refused to be named revealed that local clinics were also struggling to cope with the rising populations in the area due to the diamond mining activities.

“Local clinics and schools on this side are now overcrowded because a lot of school children from Marange and Chiadzwa are now coming to stay with relatives going to school,” she said.

Another villager from Nyanyadzi, Eunice Mathambo Mtetwa, said the sudden surge in population in their area had put pressure on the few boreholes, such that some were failing to cope.

“Free movement of people and livestock to and from Bocha has been hindered, people used to cross to see their relatives across the river, and also to fetch firewood. Livestock used to cross over for grazing, but due to tight security and fencing around the diamond
fields, it is now impossible to do so,” added Mtetwa.

Tichaenzana Chibuwe, a resident of Hot Springs and treasurer of Save Odzi Community Network Trust, said they were excluded from the community share ownership plan despite the fact that they are the most affected people by virtue of living downstream.

“We are the most affected people because we live downstream; our cattle are dying because of contaminated water,” said Chibuwe.

Environmental Management Agency Spokesperson Steady Kangata confirmed receiving reports of livestock dying after drinking contaminated water but said expert opinion from Veterinary Services department was needed to substantiate the claims.

Chimanimani West Member of Parliament, Munacho Mutezo, declined to comment on the issue. “I cannot comment on that. It is not my issue, talk to the right people,” said Mutezo.

Chief Kibeni Zimunya, who is the current secretary of the Zimunya Marange CSOT, expressed ignorance about the formalities used to come up with communities that formed the trust and how the trustees themselves were selected.

“The trust was established using districts, hence the exclusion of those communities outside Mutare District,” said Zimunya.

The new Minister of Youth, Indigenization and Economic Empowerment, Patrick Zhuwawo, said he was barely two months into his new job and was still trying to understand many issues in his new portfolio.

The Zimunya Marange CSOT operates within the Mutare West constituency, comprising the entire Marange area and areas as far as Zimunya, Sakubva, Burma, Chigodora, 22 Miles, St Welberts Odzi and Arda Transau respectively.

At its official launch in 2012 the trust received initial pledges of US$10 million from each of the five diamond mining companies, and at its launch President Mugabe was made to present a dummy cheque for $50 million.

In Parliament a few weeks ago, Deputy Youth Minister, Mathias Tongofa, revealed that only $250,000 had been released by Marange Resources and a further $200,000 had been paid by Mbada Diamonds to the Zimunya Marange CSOT project.

Trustees of the Zimunya Marange Community CSOT comprise Chief Gilbert Marange, the chairperson, Chief Kibeni Bvirindi Zimunya the secretary, Shepherd Chinaka, the current chief executive officer of Mutare Rural District Council, who is the secretary, and other members selected from different sectors.


By Everson Mushava

A VISIT to Kadoma district shows that land reform in the ore rich mineral area has become a blood-letting affair as people fight for farms that are rich in gold deposits.

Several murders in connection with the gold have also been reported in the district, which has been invaded by suspected Zanu PF youths to pan gold.

The demand for plots is very high in the district leading to alleged corrupt activities, some allegedly involving the district lands committe, according to the newly resettled farmers. They claimed plots were now for sale fetching as high as $700 each.

In the same area, Richard Muranda lost his plot at Impalavane Farm to one M Mhasho according to an offer letter in this paper’s possession. Resettled farmers on the same farm say Mhasho owns other farms in that sane district.

Muranda and Mhasho, both have offer letters for the same plot from Minister Joseph Made. Muranda’s offer letter is dated November 22, 2001 while Mhasho’s letter is dated December 11, 2003.

The Daily News could not get a comment from Mhasho as he was not on the farm but his farm neighbours told the paper that he has never used the farm since 2003 when he allegedly took it from Muranda with the aid of the lands committe and the police.

Resettled farmers told the Daily News that many multiple farm owners existed in the district , with some having farms under their children’s names (some in primary schools). Showing the power of money in land ownership, some farmers claimed that a businessman from Highfields owns 11 plots on Impalavane Farm while the poor and needy struggle to keep their land.

In yet another development that exposes the rot at the ministry of lands, Archford Rubvuwe has an offer letter for Plot 11 , Impalavane Farm but an investigation with the ministry showed that the database at the offices does not recognise the allocation – it is a vacant plot – and assessment forms filled by Rubvumbe in Kadoma offices three years ago have not reached the head office. Rubvumbe is still on the plot and holds an offer letter.

In Chegutu, a wrangle over Marsden Farm has also shown that three different people, including Chief Mashayamombe, have offer letters for the same despite the fact that it was legally bought by a banker Christopher Goromonzi in 2003 after a joint venture operation on the farm with Minister of State in the Vice President Joice Mujuru’s office, Sylvester Nguni .

Investigations also show how the fight has often not been restricted to between one powerful individual seeking to evict a group of weak farmers who invaded the farms at onset of the land reform.

High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu and University of Zimbabwe Professor Lovemore Gwanzura have been in a long drawn battle for ownership over Desktop Farm in Marondera in a case that smacks of favoritism . Court papers seen by the Daily News reveal how Justice Bhunu was offered three farms to choose from since the inception of the land reform in 2000 before settling for the fourth offer.

He was first offered Rockland Farm but could not settle there because it was subdivided into smaller A1 plots and allocated to numerous other contenders.

He was later offered Illing Farm but could not settle there because it was doubly allocated. As a third option he was offered Aldington Farm in Seke but snubbed it because it lay among certain problematic properties subject to bilateral state jurisdiction. He later settled Desktop Subdivision 4 only after it was vacated by David Mangota, the permanent secretary in justice ministry.

The farm is the one at the centre of a legal fight between Bhunu and Gwanzura. Court papers and other documents seen by the Daily news suggest that Mangota recommended that Bhunu takes over the farm.

On May 4, 2008, Mungota wrote a letter to the then Governor and resident minister of Mashonaland East Province Ray Kaukonde recommending that the farm be allocated to Bhunu despite existing dispute over the property.

“I write to advise that the above mentioned farm (Desktop Farm) which falls within your province was formally allocated to Mr Justice Bhunu, who is your acquintance ,” wrote Mangota.

“I am satisfied that the allocation, which government has made, enjoys your full support as well and settles judge Bhunu’s long standing quest for land.”

Four months prior, on January 7, 2008, the provincial chief lands officer for Mashonaland East in the office of the President in charge of lands, Land Reform and Settlement, a certain J Munyanyi had recommended that Gwanzura be allocated Desktop Farm. Desktop Farm was first allocated to Mangota on July 25, 2002 but he moved out on February 2, 2007 to occupy the bigger Mbembezaan Farm in Mvuma.

The sequence of events leaves a sour taste. On July 25, 2002, Mangota received an offer letter for Desktop Farm by the then land allocating authority, the minister of lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Joseph Made. Then on October 30, 2006 the offer letter was withdrawn and a new offer letter for Mbembezaan Farm was handed to him.But he held on to the keys of the Desktop property, which he only handed over to Bhunu in March 2008.

“I gave him the vacant possession of the farm and the house after he had showed me the offer letter which the Land Acquiring Allocating Authority had issued to him.”

“I remained convinced of the fact that he was and is in terms of the relevant legislation, the lawful and tenant of Desktop farm,” said Mangota in a sworn statement signed on June 5, 2008.

What is evident in these land disputes is the fact that too many people call the shots that the centre of power is hardly noticeable. It is clear that the role of Zanu PF, where district and provincial chairpersons are required to approve applications for land and makes the whole programme look partisan.

Secondly, the fact that all district land committees are chaired by district administrators from Chombo Ministry also make it partisan.

And finally, the lands inspectorate, the body that has the final say in all land disputes is chaired by the home affairs ministry- the police leaving Murerwa’s ministry with the only major role of offering and administering offer letters.

caught in the cross halts of all this are farm workers who have been left jobless and over two million of their dependants poverty stricken since 2000, with the recent spate of black against black farm invasions – farm workers and the politically weak are at the receiving end of the stick yet again.

Gift Muti, general secretary of the General Agriculture and Plantations Workers Union of Zimbabwe, (Gapwuz) said most people had been turned into residents and not workers at the farms since there was no farming activity taking place on many A2 farms. The situation is even worse for workers where there is multiple ownership of the farm. The new farmers will be fighting for the farm but do not want to assume ownership of the workers because they do not want to pay them,” he said.

He said this has forced non governmental organisations such as the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to come in and feed the former workers.

Muti said most A2 farmers did not pay workers leaving them to do task jobs only. Water infrastructure on the farms has also stopped operating, forcing residents to drink water straight from unprotected sources such as dams.

As the circus unravels, the situation on farms lays bare claims by government that land takeovers are a thing of the past as the country moves to concentrate on boosting production on resettled farms. The land reform remains a facade.


By Garikai Chaunza

Police Officers from Harare Central Police Station in August this year rounded up 74 street children at various spots in the capital before driving them as far as Muzarabani where they dumped them one by one, an investigation has revealed.

In a number of interviews with street children, some of whom are back in the capital, it was established that the street children are constantly victims of the ruthless of police officers.

Street children said in August this year, police nabbed them up and drove them out of Harare during the night and dumped them one by one in Muzarabani, Mount Darwin and Mavhuuradonha.

Mike Tafirenyika, one of the victims picked up by a group of uniformed police officers on August 27 at around 2200hrs near Crowne Plaza Hotel narrated his ordeal at the hands of law enforcement agents.

“ We were kept in police cells for four days while waiting for the number to accumulate to at least over 50 people. They then drove us to Mavhuradonha Mountain, near Mount Darwin.

The area is lion infested. “Getting back from there was not easy as we did not have any cash with us,” one of the street kids said.

“I was picked up at midnight while sleeping in Harare gardens on charges of obstruction. We were about 40, a lorry came to collect and take us to Muzarabani where they dropped us one by one along the road, telling us that we should stay there.”

“It took me six days to return to Harare because I was begging for transport through out the road. I was lucky to be given $5 by a well wisher, which I paid to Tuya coach as bus fare. While in the busm, I was given another $3 by a well wisher after lamenting my ordeal, another victim said.

Another victim, Willard Tambo added that they were raided while gathered at a place where they collect their supper.

“The police told us they were taking us to a place where we were going to get registered for census. We were kept at Harare Central Police station for three days. We were vetted for criminal records and cleared by members of the Criminal Investigation Department who found us innocent , but we were told that they were going to release us. On the third day when we were supposed to be released, we ended up in a lorry. We were dropped at Muzarabani and told not to return to Harare,” Tambo said.

Another street child who refused to be named now working as a peer educator under the Streets Ahead, chronicled the nature of abuse homeless children are exposed to on daily basis in the hands of security forces.

“Soldiers and the members of the police in the night visit our makeshift houses harassing us. They ask us the reasons why we are on the streets and pretend to ask us about our identity documents. Young girls in the process are raped within the vicinity of our bases, while defenceless boys are often sodomised.

“As a result, a number of street children contract sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, genital herpes and syphilis,” he said.

Respect Mugodhiwho works with the Street Exit Strategies, an organisation which rehabilitates children living in the streets said his organisation took action after hearing the sad reports of the dumping of boys and girls living in the streets.

“What is happening to these young girls and boys is inhumane. It is against human rights. It goes against our mandate of reintegrating street children into main stream society,”Mugodhi added.

Upon hearing such sad and inhuman developments happening to our constituency, we engaged human rights lawyers who are looking into the cases. We understand at times these children misbehave. They sometimes commit crimes around town, but we believe that this is not the way to deal with them.

“We want the public to know this is happening. What we have done is taking up the case against the two Co-Home Affairs ministers and the Commissioner General of the police for torturing our clients. We are still quantifying the amounts for which they are to be sued.”

“We believe it is a serious human rights abuse. Everyone has rights whether he lives in the street, shack or anywhere.”

According to papers delivered to the Ministry of Home Affairs by the Human Rights NGO Forum lawyer, the organisation is suing government under Section 6 of the State Liabilities Act, Chapter 8:14 as read with Section 76 of the Police Act Chapter 11:10.

Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe Republic Police National spokesperson Commissioner Charity Charamba denied receiving the summons.

“I have not yet received those reports and papers you are saying were filed against the police and it is difficult for me to comment on things I do not know,” she said before hanging down the phone.

Co-Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone who said she is still to receive papers filed by the Human Rights NGO Forum describing the dumping of street children as an immoral and evil act.

“That is evil and immoral. It is gross human rights abuse which warrants the affected to approach the courts. How can one take people away and dump them? They are justified to file a lawsuit.”

As gathered through investigations that included face to face discussions with street children roaming the streets of Harare are orphans who lost their parents to HIV and Aids. Some of them have left their homes and orphanages due to frustrations and ill-treatment from guardians.

According to Street Ahead, an NGO which fights for rights of street children, there are at least 12000 street children in Zimbabwe, 5000 of these live in Harare.

While the Zimbabwean police is dumping street children to dangerous destinations, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently launched a programme targeted at reaching out to 7000 children living outside the family setting with counselling, recreation, refreshments and rehabilitation services.

The organisation came up with the initiative after realising that a number of the victims resorted to living in the streets as they run away from depressing situations at homes.