Gender based violence (GBV), is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies around the world. In many countries, gender based violence continues to greatly undermine girls and women’s opportunities, Zimbabwe included notwithstanding the great strides to eradicate the prevalence of gender based violence.
Although both women and men experience gender-based violence, the majority of victims are women and girls. Zimbabwe among many other countries has been witnessing a phenomenal surge in gender based violence cases, with child marriages and domestic abuse accounting for 90 percent of gender based violence reported cases in the country.
Recent figures from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) indicate that Mashonaland East is leading in the gender based violence cases in the country for the period January to September 2021. According to ZPCS 445 male and 11 female inmates from Mashonaland East were incarcerated for perpetrating gender based violence.
Hwedza is an example of one of the districts in Mashonaland East where gender based violence cases have been rising. Presenting at a community interface meeting with Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust (WERDIT) in December last year, Women Affairs Ministry department representative Luckson Magebuza said:
“Hwedza is showing a disturbing trend in terms of gender based violence. Statistics from Hwedza police station indicated that from January to September 2021, Hwedza recorded 78 cases of gender based violence, 20 cases were of rape, 27 of domestic violence including other cases such as sexual intercourse with a minor and attempted rape. 31 women and girls were referred and housed at Msasa safe shelter in Kwakuenda – a place where we shelter most of our needy gender based violence survivors while they await their cases to be solved,”
He added that the figures could be more if they increase the scope of their research to include other sources
“We need more statistics from other sources that deal with gender based violence in Hwedza such as village headmen so that our research is not limited. The cases could be more than 78 considering that there are also those gender based violence victims who do not report.
Some of the gender based violence hot spot areas include rural district wards such as 6 and 7 in Gumbonzvanda and Demenyore in Hwedza.
An example of a gender based violence case in Hwedza was that of Agnes Tapatsiwa – a mother to a child living with a disability who encountered difficulties after being rejected by her husband’s family for giving birth to her child.
Agnes’ husband who is a psychiatric patient could not protect her from his brother’s wrath. She said she had to endure the pain of moving countless times from one abandoned homestead to the other with her four children.
“When I gave birth to my fourth child my husband’s family did not accept my child and because my husband is a psychiatric patient my brother in law chased me away from the house that my late mother in law had left me. So l had to look for another place to stay an abandoned homestead with my four children. I lived there for two years before I took my brother in law to court and got a peace order, however he denied ever chasing me away from home and also took a protection order against me. I had to move out again.
I later took the case at court in Marondera and I won the house, but when we returned to the village my brother in law again took the matter to the village head and I believe that he bribed the police because they supported him, he even wanted me banished from Hwedza. However, I am still living there despite the torment because that is my children’s home,” narrated Agnes.
However, the interface meeting saw WERDIT and both state and non-state members agreeing on improving Wedza District’s services towards gender based violence victims by urging the provision of one stop shops to protect gender based violence victims.
Zimbabwe recently took part in the 16 days of activism against gender based violence from 25 November to 10 December under the theme. ‘End Violence Against Women and Girls Now: No To Child Marriage!!!’ Such efforts are a positive step in emancipating women who play a critical role in sustainable socio- economic development.
Investor optimism following the 2017 fall of former President Robert Mugabe has dissipated as the new dispensation has been slow to follow through on its promises to reform and improve the business environment. The economy has suffered hyperinflation and contracted sharply in 2019 worsened by the climatic shocks that crippled agriculture and electricity generation. Unsustainable monetary policy has led to a protracted currency crisis which continues to strain the economy. The Zimbabwean dollar introduced in February 2019 has already lost approximately 98 percent of its value on the black market. Failure to implement finance ministry efforts to rein in the budget deficit undermined public confidence in the financial sector. The government adopted a stabilization and reform agenda supported by IMF Staff-Monitored Program but by February 2020 the IMF reported the SMP had gone off track due to government failures to fully implement reforms. Zimbabwe remains in arrears to the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral institutions restraining many forms of multilateral assistance.
By Netsai Muchemwa
Although the government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to improve transparency, streamline business regulations and address corruption, the last two years have brought limited progress. Zimbabwe has attracted less than USD 600 million a year on average in foreign direct investment over the past decade. Zimbabwe’s incentives to attract foreign direct investment include tax breaks for new investment by foreign and domestic companies and making capital expenditures on new factories, machinery, and improvements fully tax-deductible. The government waives important taxes and surtaxes on capital equipment. The government has made slow progress at improving the business environment by reducing regulatory costs but policy inconsistency, weak institutions and lack of fiscal discipline have continued to frustrate business and investment.
Corruption remains rife and there is little protection of property rights, particularly with respect to agricultural land. In 2016, the government introduced a surrogate currency called the bond note officially pegged at USD only for domestic transactions. Money printing caused the currency to lose value and in February 2019 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe de-linked the local currency from the USD and has not yet implemented a market-clearing exchange rate regime. As a result, it remains difficult to access dollars at the official exchange rate and this has given much opportunity to the black market which has a higher rate. The government banned the use of foreign currencies for domestic transactions in 2019 further complicating the business environment but introduced some exceptions for investors and further relaxed the rules in March 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Inflation has jumped from 10.6% in 2018 to 676% in March 2020 reflecting monetary expansion, currency depreciation, and removal of subsidies on fuel and electricity. The sectors that attract the most investor interest are tobacco, mining, energy, and tourism. Zimbabwe has a well-earned reputation for the high education levels of its workers. In order to attract investment and encourage competitiveness, the government has encouraged public-private partnerships and emphasized the need to improve the investment climate by lowering the cost of doing business and restoring the rule of law and sanctity of contracts.
Zimbabwe Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Law limits the number of shares owned by foreigners in the diamonds and platinum sectors to 49% with specific indigenous organizations owning the remaining 51%. The government has signaled its intends to remove these restrictions. The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) promotes and facilitates both foreign direct investment and local investment. ZIA also facilitates and processes investment applications for approval. While the government has committed to prioritizing investor retention, there are still no mechanisms or formal structures to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the investors. While there is a right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activities, foreign ownership of businesses remains 49/51%.
Foreign investment is free to invest in the vast majority of non-resource sectors without any restrictions as the government aims to bring new technologies, generate employment, and value-added manufacturing. The government reserves certain sectors for Zimbabweans such as car hire, taxis, employment agencies, grain milling, passenger buses, bakeries, advertising, estate agencies, and dairy processing. According to the country, U.S. investors are not especially disadvantaged or singled out by any of the ownership or control mechanisms relative to other foreign investors. That being said, it is quite apparent that the new investment policies under the new dispensation are not enough to lure the mystical investor.
Written by Netsai Muchemwa, a Student at the University of Zimbabwe. For comments contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The festive season in Zimbabwe has always been associated with high traffic movement as most holiday makers seek to reach their various destinations to be in the company of their loved ones for the celebration of Christmas. Notwithstanding the debilitating effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economy and the entire social fabric, this years’ festive mood has not been entirely blighted as witnessed by high numbers of commuters at major pick up and drop off points here in Buhera district, Manicaland Province.
Illegal transport operators are however taking advantage of the shortage of authorized public commuter vehicles in the form of ZUPCO buses as they have doubled fares much to the agony of the impoverished rural folk. For example, a short distance from Masasa to Murambinda is normally charged between US$2 and US$3, but the pirate operators plying the route better known as Mushikashika have raised fares to as much as US$5.
The government has a duty to provide adequate alternative transport especially to protect the vulnerable rural commuters who during this time of the year always find themselves at the mercy of illegal transport operators. Opportunities for private operators should be opened so that they augment the efforts of the government in the quest to provide safe and dependable public transport service.
BUHERA- Women in Buhera South have taken it upon themselves to generate meaningful income through self help projects like weaving and basketry. Just at a time when most people are complaining for lack of employment opportunities, rural women in this part of Manicaland are doing wonders by producing products that can really be competitive even at the export market. Just from palm leaves, grass and raw fiber, the craftswomen are making beautiful products like baskets, flower pots, floor mats and many other assorted home decorative items.
If these skills are imparted to the young generation, many will help themselves escape the jaws of poverty especially during these times when unemployment levels are high. Women and youths will not suffer from any want as they can be capable of generating themselves surplus income to meet all their requirements and even support others.
Parents from Ward 24 of Buhera South, have pooled together their meagre resources to construct an accommodation house at Mukodza Secondary school. The rural parents have taken it upon themselves to address the problem of accommodation at the learning institution with the view that this may add up to the success of their children if the teachers are well taken care of.
Rural teachers at Kandenga Primary and Secondary Schools are meeting with the parents to discuss pertinent issues, critically affecting the inclusive access to education in Buhera district. Community elders always speak frankly on ways of how to improve quality education in the area.
BUHERA- Stock theft cases are on the increase especially this festive season. Attributed to high unemployment, many desperate young people are unfortunately resorting to stealing in order to get something for the holidays. In Buhera South, thieves are targeting poultry (huku nematoki) especially during heavy downpours when owners will be silently resting in the inner rooms. Avoid buying chickens from mobile sellers, chances are high they may not be bona fide dealers.