Government to Work with Stakeholders to Improve Workplace Safety: Goche

By Byron Mutingwende

Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has said much needs to be done in order to prevent workplace accidents and deaths.

Goche made the remarks while officially opening a workshop on safety and health at work at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare last week.

The calls come as the country recorded 71 workplace deaths and 3, 598 serious injuries from January to August 2014. Statistics showed that there were 4 158 work-related serious injuries and 75 deaths in 2011. In 2012 there were 5, 141 serious injuries with 107 of them fatal; while the year 2013 had 5, 666 injuries of which 76 were fatal.

“These statistics are not just numbers. They talk about people like you and me who left home for work one day but never returned or found ourselves on a hospital bed badly injured.

“We need to do much more together in order to prevent these accidents at work.

“A positive paradigm shift in the workplace safety and health culture is essential among social partners of government, business and labour if we are to win this war against accidents,” Goche said.

The conference hosted by National Social Security Authority was a platform to deliberate, participate and explore further ways to preventing injuries and fatalities at the workplace.


MDC-T Former Councillor Bande Sucked in Epworth Illegal Stand Allocations

By Samuel Takawira

Perusing the accounts of the demolition of ‘illegal’ structures in the Epworth and Chitungwiza in the media and moreso the social media, one is bound to imagine that the citizens are the sole cause of these demolitions.

However a visit to Epworth by this reporter, where more than 30 families have been displaced proved beyond doubt that corrupt exercises by local authorities has led to the suffering of ordinary home seekers in Zimbabwe.

As the economy continues to take a nosedive, the level of corruption has continued to hit the roof with authorities abusing public offices for personal benefits at the expense of the general populace.

The need to own a residential stand and corruption has left scores of people buying land from heartless land barons who are corrupt and not even registered house dealers. The ordinary home seeker in Zimbabwe is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Investigations done by this reporter during a visit to the suburb proved that a group affiliated to the MDC-T, under the leadership of Didymus Bande, who is the former MDC-T councilor for Ward 4  acquired  land meant for of small to medium enterprises stands.

The land which is being distributed on a partisan basis is being sold for an insignificant amount.

Residents who spoke to this reporter acknowledge that the stands are going for as little as $150 and no paper work is presented upon payment.

“I paid $150 for my stand and there was nothing I was given up to date including not being given a receipt.  We  were told that the receipts are coming,” said Theresa White one of the victims facing eviction.

Aloius Zimuto echoed the above sentiments when he blasted corrupt authorities who drain money from struggling citizens.

“We condemn such behavior of using political office  to rob desperate citizens.

“ We were tricked upon paying money for the stands as we were told that after one work we will be given paper work but we are now facing eviction and we have not received any documentation,”

Chairman of the local Board, Councilor Tafireyi Murambidzi, resonated the above thoughts when he revealed that Bande is fully behind the corrupt and illegal distribution of stands.

“Bande never owned a residential  stand in Epworth he only allocated himself one recently on the illegal  land and he is solely behind this because he knew all the open spaces in Epworth hence he is selling the stands at a very cheap price,”Murambidzi said.

Murambidzi called on the police and the judiciary system to be part of  the buying and selling of residential stands.

“The police should and the judiciary system must be part of the buying and selling of stands to avoid corruption,” he said.

He also call no the residents themselves to be cautious of land barons whose motive is to only rob them of their hard earned money.

“How can you purchase a residential stand for 150 and think that it is authentic,” he queried.

The MDC-T which issued statement denouncing the demolition refused to comment on the involvement of Didymus Bande, in the land grabbing scheme.

Bande refuted the above allegations when he said that land grabbing by MDC-T members does not make him qualify to be the brains behind the illegal settling of people.

“The fact that MDC-T members are caught in the land grabbing battle does not make me the brains behind the illegal distribution of land,” he said.

Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora refused to comment on the issue claiming that he was attending meeting and is in no position to comment.

The minister of local government Ignatius Chombo was not picking up his phone to comment on the issue.


Limited Improvement of Health and Education Service Provision: ZIMSTAT

Byron Mutingwende

Zimbabwe is registering some incremental gain in providing health to women and children, it has emerged.

This came to fore during the presentation of key findings of the 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) held at the United Nations Information Centre offices in Harare in the last week of September.

The MICS was carried out by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) with technical assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Presenting the findings, the guest speaker, Reza Hossaini, UNICEF Zimbabwe representative said it was pleasing to note that people now had improved access to sources of drinking water.

“Safe drinking water and sanitation are some of the essential elements that determine improvement of living standards, as they reduce morbidity from diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and typhoid. Seventy-six percent of households reported using improved sources of drinking water (piped water, protected well, protected spring0 compared to 73% in 2009,” Hossaini said.

There was concern on the increase of the number of children who were underweight at 11, 2%, stunted at 27, 6 % whereas 3, 3% were wasted while3, 6% were overweight. Hossaini said obesity leads to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart failure hence the need for a controlled diet.

On the other hand, basic education largely survived the collapse of services running up to 2009 compared to health in terms of access.

“Despite gains made over the years through the Education Transition Funds, early childhood development para-professional education and other programmes can be seen. Since 2009, school readiness, the percentage of children in the first grade (Grade 1) of primary school who had attended primary school during the previous school year increased from about 75% to about 86% in 2014 while secondary school attendance ratio increased by about 13 percentage points between 2009 and 2010,” read part of the MICS report.

It was also note that the country had done well in closing gender gaps between girls and boys in education but in equalities remained across the rural-urban divide particularly in secondary education. The primary and secondary net attendance rate is 96, 2 % and 73, 9 percent for urban areas, while for rural areas is 92, 5% and 47, 9% respectively.

Despite these gains, Zimbabwe has a paltry rate of 32, 3% children under five years whose birth was reported registered according to the survey. Accordingly, it was noted that the lack of this right undermines the protection of children from harm and exploitation and hampers children’s access to services such as health and education.

Economic hardships more often lead to incidences of early marriages in Zimbabwe while domestic violence was driven by cultural practices and beliefs where at times violence is seen as a disciplinary action when a woman does not comply with certain expected gender roles.

Zimbabwe was also hailed for increasing the immunization programmes as ways of reducing child mortality while major gains have been recorded in terms of provision of antenatal care. In 2009 it stood at 59% and this increased to 70% in 2014 while skilled birth attendance increased from about 60% in 2009 to 805 in 2014.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Zimbabwe Dr. David Okello said there was need for concerted effort towards maintaining the gains registered in the health sector so far and consolidation of the same towards attaining the Millenium Development Goals.


VP Mujuru Pledges Government Commitment Towards Mainstreaming Disability Rights

Byron Mutingwende

Persons with disabilities have made calls for realization of their rights by advocating for an environment that promotes their full inclusion and active participation as equal members of the family, community and society.

This came out during the roundtable meeting held at Crown Plaza Hotel in Harare meant to scale up African commitment and efforts towards realizing the rights of persons with disabilities.

In a speech read on her behalf, Vice President Joyce Mujuru said the meeting organized by the African Disability Alliance in partnership with the government of Zimbabwe would culminate in the domestication of provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD) by individual countries.

“The coming of the ICRPD as the first human rights convention of the 21st century bears testimony to how critical it had become necessary for a legally binding instrument to guarantee comprehensive protection of the right of persons with disabilities,” Mujuru said.

Zimbabwe ratified this Convention on the 23rd of September 2013. The Convention is intended to strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities as fundamental  human rights.

“The provision of the ICRPD of ensuring equal rights to persons with disabilities through elaborating in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and setting out a code of implementation calls upon countries to address challenges hindering disabled people in their pursuit of development,” Mujuru said.

Mujuru added that government’s commitment for mainstreaming disability is evident in the fields of inclusive education, physical rehabilitation and vocational training.

Africa Disability Alliance chief executive officer Kudakwashe Dube praised the government of Zimbabwe for providing a quota for women and disabled persons in Parliament but said there was room to contain more people with disabilities.

Annah Shiri, the senator representing people living with disabilities said she was encouraged by being included on the committee of the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus and the thematic committee of gender and community development.

Speaking on the same occasion, Miriam Chikukwa, the minister of state for Harare province said there was need to continue strengthening enabling services to meet the specific needs of individuals with impairments and incorporate gender as a part of every programme element.

She added that there was need to make disabled persons concerns and challenges the key background to design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of government policies.

United States Provides over $300,000 for Elephant and Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe this Year

more than 300 elephants died in Hwange game park early this year after drinking cyanide contaminated water

Harare, September 18th 2014: In 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided over $300,000 for elephant and rhinoceros conservation in Zimbabwe, pushing the amount that the agency has donated in Zimbabwe since 2002 over the $1 million mark to $1.25m.

This year’s contributions were matched with funds from other donors and non-governmental organizations for a total of over $750,000 for conservation activities in Zimbabwe.  In accordance with the U.S. African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989 and the Rhino Tiger Conservation Act of 1994, these funds were awarded to support anti-poaching activities in Gonarezhou National Park, home to one of Zimbabwe’s largest elephant populations, as well as monitoring and management of rhinoceros populations in the country’s lowveld region and Matopos National Park.  These projects are complemented by USFWS programs throughout Africa supporting law enforcement activities in all elephant and rhinoceros range states, as well as demand reduction efforts targeting elephant and rhino products in consumer countries.  With only $1.4m US$ available for all 37 elephant range states and $700,000 for all rhinos in Africa, the USFWS prioritizes funding in places that are both biologically important and under threat.  Zimbabwe still has populations of elephants and rhinos, both of which are under unprecedented threat from poaching throughout the continent.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton commented, “As part of the United States’ regional support for wildlife conservation, we are proud to assist Zimbabwe’s wildlife protection programs.  Zimbabwe’s wildlife resources should remain a source of national pride, and, if managed sustainably, can provide a long-term source of tourism revenues, providing jobs and economic opportunities throughout the country.”

Wildlife trafficking is one of the most profitable types of transnational crime, with annual revenues estimated to be as much as $10 billion.  On February 11, 2014, the United States released a National Strategy on Wildlife Trafficking, which represents a coordinated effort to combat wildlife trafficking and assist foreign governments in building the capacity needed to tackle wildlife trafficking and related crime. Consistent with this strategy, in October 2013, the United States supported the formation of a Wildlife Enforcement Network for Southern Africa.  In Zimbabwe, both rhinoceros and elephant populations are under threat from poaching.  Last year, at least 105 elephants, along with other wildlife species, were killed in Hwange National Park by poachers using cyanide.

Child Prostitution Cause for Concern in Epworth

By Prince Njagu
The grueling effect of the biting economy in Zimbabwe is forcing many young girls in the satellite town of Epworth to turn to prostitution for survival.

The girls as young as 12 some of whom are orphaned are reported to be engaging into the world’s oldest profession to counter the poverty rearing its ugly face within their households.

One of the girls only identified as Tanatswa (15) opened up and gave an emotionally personal testimony of how she had been forced into prostitution as a result of the economic hardships.

She said she had assumed the bread winner role in her family since both her parents lost their jobs in the wake of the economic down fall.
“Both my parents lost their jobs and since I am the eldest I have to do something to fund my studies as well as providing assistance for my younger brother and sister.

I no longer see this as prostitution but it has now become a way of life for the vast of the majority of the girls in my area” said Tanatswa.
She added that most girls in the area were assuming two roles; being school girls during the day and prostitutes at night.

Parents in Epworth have now accepted the reality of the economic hardships being faced in the country and no longer guide the little girls on their actions.

“Young girls and their parents have accepted prostitution in their communities and it has become a way of life for these poor families,” said Ndaiziveyi Chifamba; a female journalist based in Harare.

These young girls will be entertaining old man and they fall victims to the transmission of STIs and teenage pregnancy.

“Elderly men do not want to use protection and they pay more for unprotected sex; so in most cases we engaged such clients without protection so as to maximize the profits, “said Tanatswa.

Indulgence in prostitution is regarded as a taboo in our African societies but with the rapid dwindling in our economy; most communities have accepted prostitution as a way of life and it has ascribed a new name; “commercial sex work”

According to a report published by the Zimbabwe Youth Council in conjunction with Unicef; entitled; Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility; it narrates how girls as little as 11 were being forced into prostitution, and this resulted in high rates of unwanted pregnancies and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

Tsholotsho; After the Floods and Still No Change


FOR an ordinary farmer, whether commercial or subsistence, the winds that blew on the morning of July 27, 2014 signaled good weather patterns that could eventually lead to the much anticipated rains come the normal rainy season in the country.

It signals a prospect of a good bumper harvest in the event that the rains fall pretty well. That would mean there is food to feed the family until the next agricultural season.

For the folk in Tsholotsho, the winds that blow on a daily basis spark some fear rains could fall anytime and should this happen, a repeat of the floods episode that was witnessed in their area early this year might be in the offing.

An investigation in the Tsholotsho communal lands showed government authorities had failed to attend to the major causes of the floods that rocked the district, the collapsed and at times non-existent drainage system around the dams and rivers in Tsholotsho

With the reported bickering between officials in the local authority, the business and traditional leadership, chances are that villagers would get to the next rainy season without getting any solution to their problem.

According to our investigation, the floods were caused by the spilling of dams, chief among them the Manzamnyama and Gariya dams, owing to siltation.

Villagers interviewed said authorities had been advised there was siltation at the dams. But due to alleged arrogance and the “we are the bosses and we know it all” attitude in some of the Tsholotsho Rural District Council officials, the problem was never attended to.

“When the rains started falling, it did not take much time for Manzamnyama and Gariya dams to fill up. Given that there were torrential rains, the dams started spilling water. In normal circumstances, water is diverted to the Hwange National Park using canals that were constructed many years back.

“The authorities were advised that elephants had destroyed the canals and there was need to have them reconstructed so that they could be used to move the water away from the villagers, but no one listened to us,” said Nixon Moyo.

It emerged, during the investigation, that had the canals been in place, the water would have been successfully diverted to the national park as was the initial design of the dam.

“The water flowed from the dam straight into the homesteads and the villagers were left to count their losses. Our administration here in Tsholotsho, especially the District Administrator, Nosizi Dube, is very arrogant. They think they know everything. And they are not interested in listening to alternative advice from anyone,” said Moyo.

He added: “Those canals were the ones that were going to help villagers to be spared from the water. They have even failed to lead a programme to reconstruct the canals because they are always locked up in their offices and hardly have time to meet with the community to hear our concerns and issues.”

Efforts, the villagers said, were underway to push for the re-assignment of the district administrator, Nosizi Dube, whom the villagers accused of being abusive of the traditional leadership in the district.

It also emerged that there is a big fight brewing between the government, through the ministry of local government, public works and national housing and the villagers in the area over plans by government to move the affected families to “higher ground.”During the investigation, the villagers vowed they would not move from the area.

The reason is that they do not trust government’s word and assurance they would be moved to a better place.

Thabani Moyo, 67, who has been a villager in the area for the last 45 years, said he and other villagers were not prepared to move to any other place.

He said the challenge was that they were likely to be moved to barren lands where they would no longer be productive.

“We have cattle here that we keep. The cattle feed on rich grass from salty soils here which is good for them and this plan to move us from these soils, which are rich for both cattle rearing and our own farming activities, will not work because we are going to resist the move. They might try and use force but we will not budge. Its better they kill us here than to move.

“We do not trust them (government). We have heard of their stories with the people of Masvingo and with that kind of experience, we better die here,” said Moyo.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a human rights lobby group, government recently indicated it wanted to move victims affected by the floods in Masvingo into a safe zone, but alas, the organization said the victims were dumped in areas where their only salvation was becoming cheap labour at sugar plantations where government intends to produce sugar for ethanol production.

Southern Africa director at HRW Tiseke Kasambala was quoted as saying: “These 3 000 families have been displaced under questionable circumstances and dumped at a place where their only alternative is to be cheap labour for Zimbabwe’s ruling party. These families have a right to compensation for their property and to voluntary resettlement elsewhere in the country; to earn a living as they see fit.”

The investigation also shows that most of the affected villagers have gone to re-construct their mud and pole houses to replace those that were swept away by floods.

Unlike the Chingwizi camp, and against the usually held notion that there was a transit camp that was established for the victims, the ones in Tsholotsho did not get that luxury of a transit camp.

“We were only given foodstuffs to sustain us. There was no camp to house us. We had to rely on some relatives who provided us with temporary shelter. Government wants us to move but we are not. They should fix the dams and their canals and stop bothering us about being moved,” said Austin Sibanda, also a villager in the area.

Government, it emerged, had been on a wild goose chase.

The villagers said told government officials who toured the area during the floods period that they could not move from the area as there were graves where their relatives were interred.

This, some villagers said, was just an excuse used as it was realised the trick of citing relatives’ graves as a major reason for the refusal to move would disarm government intentions as the government had no answer to the graves issue.

What is evident in this area is that come the rainy season, the Tsholotsho folk will be in the news again over the same floods issue in the event that government and the villagers here fail to reach an amicable solution to this problem. And the earlier the solution is found the better.

Efforts to get a comment from the district administrator, Nosizi Dube and the Tsholotsho Rural district council chief executive officer, Themba Moyo were fruitless as they were said to be attending workshops outside Tsholotsho.

Homeless and Living on the Edge in Harare

As one draws  near the Mbare Musika bus terminus, the sound of groaning and hissing buses start to grow louder and louder.Each time a bus screeches to a stop, a mob of excited vendors outstrip each other racing to the grating bus to trade their stuff. They tussle for the best spot as they race against time to finish their wares before dusk.

At one end of the terminus is a group of young men enjoying the fatal, alcoholic and illegal ‘zed’ drink while touts tussle for travelers. This tussling borders on harassment and includes the snatching of bags from the travelers, often confusing them until  they end up on buses that are not even going to their destinations. On the other end of the terminus, a young lady in her early twenties is nonchalantly helping two children to bath. A few metres away a woman who identified herself as Theresa is struggling to keep the fire burning – together they make up the Chiuswa family.

Theresa and her 3 Daughters..
Theresa and her 3 Daughters..

While many people find comfort in their homes, the Chiuswa family has a different story to tell. Like many other people, they do not celebrate the sunset because for them, another uphill task of spending cold nights on pavements begins.Narrating her ordeal to this reporter, Theresa Chiuswa, who is lives at the terminus with her three children reveals how she ended up at Mbare Musika. Having failed to raise the amount of money needed for rentals in the shabby and metallic cabin houses which are located in the banks of Mukuvisi River she had to resign herself to fate.

“Life is so nasty and sometimes I wonder if I will ever enjoy the fruits of a normal life,” Theresa said with tears trickling down her cheeks

“We came to Harare in 2012 when things were so bad back home in Mutoko, where I come from,  after being fooled that life in the capital was rosy.

“Street life is not pleasing at all as you are exposed to all the dangers of the night, at times drunkards will come and wake us up and sometimes beat you up, on the other hand police officers and council authorities chase us as they do not tolerate our presence on the terminus,” said Theresa.


Theresa also told the Zimbabwe Sentinel that verbal abuse from people who pass by is the order of the day as they perceive them as insane people. She went on to reveal that the money she earns from collecting used plastic bottles is not sufficient for her to afford accommodation. “I rely on collecting used plastic bottles, but the money I get is not sufficient for me to rent a single room as we earn a paltry amount. The major problem these days is that the business has is now flooded as many  unemployed people are turning to it to make ends meet’’ revealed Theresa.Theresa and her family are only one of other homeless in Harare as Forgive Mhindu (not his real name) who is a 12 year old faces a similar situation.

The 12 year boy old boy hooked with this reporter while enjoying a handful of potato chips donated by a passing sympathiser.Mhindu told this reporter the vicious treatment they are subjected to by their elderly mates on the streets.“If we want to secure a place to spend the night at any hideout with lit fire you have to find food for the bigger boys, failure of which will result in us being evicted from the base,” said Forgive

Innovative bookshop pavement which is in the CBD has become home to scores of homeless teenagers. Sharon Munembo 22, a street dweller also narrated her ordeal to this reporter. ‘It’s not easy being a woman living on the streets,’ said Munemo while she tried to keep away flies that were hovering over her two year old daughter. “I have to walk one street after the other in search of food for myself and my child and at times people perceive me as mentally handicapped while a lot of them detach themselves from me.

“Some males on the streets are very hostile as they chase me away from their bases,” said Sharon, adding that some demand sexual favours in return for security throughout the night . According to George Masimba of Dialogue on Shelter, an NGO based in Harare close to 500 000 people in Harare are homeless.

Masimba went on to say that the number of homeless people in the capital is on the increase because rural to urban migration.“Rural dwellers perceive life in the urban areas to be rosy and they end up swarming in urban areas with nowhere to go,” said Masimba