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Mixed Biblical interpretations on homosexuality

Jessie04's Blog

homosexuality_is_a_sin “The Bible has been misused to fight homosexuality, it is not against homosexuality as we know it today, the Bible is against some aspects of homosexuality which was practiced by the Cannanites in their shrines and its called cultic temple prostitution where the priests performed anal sex as a way of conferring blessings to the worshippers,” says Reverend Michael Kimindu.

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is amplified as a lack of hospitality, so it is not right to use the Sodom story as a reference against homosexuality in the Bible. It has been misinterpreted, mistranslated and misapplied.”

Homosexuality remains a thorny issue in most traditional and religious communities as these groups in society battle to disassociate themselves from homosexuals but of note is how religious writings are being interpreted to either condemn or fight for sexual minority rights.

Anglican ordained Kenyan Reverend, Michael Kimindu says most…

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Disability group presses for charter alterations ahead of polls

The Zimbabwe National League of the Blind (ZNLB) has engaged the three political parties in the inclusive government seeking alterations of clauses in the draft constitution that affect people within the Disability Movement ahead of a general election set for this year.

ZNLB Disability Rights and Advocacy Officer, Abraham Mateta says although members of the Disability Movement are going to vote at Saturday’s referendum, negotiations with political parties for a possible alteration will continue.

“There are various levels of engagement that have been commenced which include talking to political parties to register unhappiness with the contents of the draft,” Mateta said.

“We are going to the referendum this Saturday where people will choose to either reject or accept the draft constitution but we are still lobbying for alterations of clauses on disability so that they look more like human rights in nature as opposed to charity and welfare.”

Mateta said according to the COPAC draft constitution, disabled persons’ rights are subjected to the availability of resources.

“There is a resource conditionality, it imprints in the mind of those who will implement that disability is very expensive because you don’t find that condition with other groups except the elderly and sometimes children, that should be the first thing to be removed,” said Mateta.

“We are also talking about self-representation, the current draft constitution does not give that right to persons living with disabilities, it looks at these people as individuals with only social and recreational rights but we are saying disabled persons should have political and economic rights.”

Mateta said the final draft constitution should have captured the people’s views as represented in the National Statistical Report.

“We are arguing and making efforts to convince them that it is in the national interest to frame the content of the draft based on best international practices as well as the content in the National Statistical Report,” Mateta said.


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MDC engages CSOs in constitution campaign

The Professor Welshman Ncube led MDC has engaged Civic Society Organisations reportedly left out of the official COPAC constitutional campaigns to assist in carrying out a separate nationwide campaign set to end on March 15.

This follows MDC’s pullout from the official campaign at the weekend citing unequal representation in the campaign. MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Edwin Ndlovu said the party’s nationwide campaign on the eve of the referendum.

“We are holding a nationwide ‘Yes’ campaign with the help of civic groups who also feel that the two political parties (Zanu PF and MDC T) deliberately excluded them from the campaign process,” Ndlovu said.

“The MDC-T only engaged Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition which is the group that it is working with and excluded groups which include the Matebeleland Civic Society Forum while Zanu PF also picked its own civic groups as led by Goodson Nguni, as MDC we are working with these organisations that were left out.”

Matebeleland Civic Society Forum spokesperson Dumisani Nkomo however said civic organisations should remain apolitical and allow Zimbabweans to make their own decisions on the draft constitution. He said the forum is not part of the COPAC campaign.

The MDC last Saturday pulled out of the official Copac constitutional campaign citing a deliberate exclusion from 8 of the country’s ten provinces. MDC secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga said the party decided to pull out of the two provinces, Bulawayo and Matebeleland South, where they had initially been allowed to campaign as the other two parties in the inclusive government were using the campaign platform in the other provinces to attack the MDC.

Copac this week threw out a request by the party to have additional representatives in the publicity campaign. COPAC co-chairperson Paul Mangwana was quoted saying, “We are proceeding with our civic education on the draft with or without the MDC. After all, they are leaving when the process is just about to end.”

Meanwhile, the MDC says it had offered to deploy its MPs to the other 8 provinces.

“Mangwana is also aware that as a party we offered to deploy our other MPs to the other 8 provinces where we were not represented and this was flatly refused. It is this refusal which is in itself disrespectful and contemptuous of the MDC that resulted in us resolving to pull out of the publicity outreach campaign,” reads a statement released by the party.

“The hypocrisy of that refusal is borne out by the fact that whereas we were rudely informed that no party was allowed to deploy any of its MPs and or officials who are not part of the 25 member select committee, Mangwana and Mwonzora proceeded to deploy in the Bulawayo Province publicity outreach programme, Kucaca Phulu to represent the MDC –T. As everyone knows, Phulu is neither a member of the select committee nor an MP.”


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600 ZESA workers to lose jobs

The Zimbabwe Technical Energy Employees Association says over 600 ZESA workers are likely to be retrenched following the introduction of prepaid meters.

Western region representative Purano Ngulube told jessie04 that several meter readers and sales managers are set to lose their jobs due to the switch from fixed meters to prepaid meters, an exercise that is currently underway.

“We are faced with a possible retrenchment of about between 600 to 700 workers nationwide because of the movement from the fixed meter system to a pre-paid meter system,” Ngulube said.

“Sales managers who have been the overall supervisors of these meter readers will also be affected, the company is going to cut down on the numbers of existing sales managers. Contract employees are not having their contracts renewed.”

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) western regional officer, Percy Mcijo said there is need for the power utility to devise other strategies to cater for meter readers into other technical departments.

“We aware of the changes within ZESA and how it is going to affect workers, we are in the process of getting together to discuss the issue making efforts so that we can agree on the best way forward,” Mcijo said .

“While we appreciate that the meter readers have been rendered jobless by the new development, we strongly believe that these people should be redeployed, ZESA has to be innovative in devising strategies of absorbing these workers into other technical departments because they cannot just be laid off just like that.”

However Ngulube said it may be difficult for ZESA to absorb certain workers into other departments as they do not have any other professional qualifications.

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League of the Blind slams Copac on braille draft copies

The Zimbabwe National League of the Blind says the blind and the visually impaired have been excluded from accessing the draft constitution following reports that only 200 braille copies will be circulated nationwide.

Ishmael Zhou, the director of the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind told jessie04 that no survey was done to determine the number of blind people in Zimbabwe.

“We are not sure if Copac carried out a baseline survey to determine the number of would be voters who are visually impaired to come up with this figure of braille copies of the draft constitution,” Zhou said.

“Braille documents are difficult to share because it makes use of fingers to read, the moment one puts their fingers on the lines then no one else can also put their hands on the same copy. We are far

excluded from the process and the content of the draft constitution.”

Abraham Mateta of the League of the Blind says there are over 100 000 blind people.

Dorothy Duncan Braille Library director, Andrew Mutambisi confirmed that they have since delivered the 200 copies to Copac. Mutambisi says Copac had initially ordered 500 copies which was revised down to 200 copies due to financial challenges.

“We had initially charged them $15 000 for the 500 copies and they later asked us to cut down the number of copies to 200 which cost them $6000,” said Mutambisi.

Copac national coordinator Gift Marunda says the parliamentary body has been working with organisations for and of the disabled who indicated that the number of visually impaired persons in Zimbabwe is 10% of the 1.3million disabled people. Marunda said 15 braille copies will be distributed to each district.

“Copac is aware that the braille copies will not be enough, even the draft constitution for the generality of Zimbabwe will not be adequate, resources did not permit us to produce copies that we would have termed enough,” Marunda said.

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Mpilo Central Hospital engages debt collectors

Bulawayo’ s referral hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital is seeking the services of debt collectors to recover over $8million owed in unpaid medical fees claiming service provision has been crippled by the financial gap

Mpilo Chief Executive Officer Dr Lawrence Mantiziba today said the hospital will soon be engaging the services of debt collectors to recover the $8million debt that has accrued over a period of between three to four years.

“We hope that if we engage debt collectors we will be able to collect money from the people enabling us to revive and resuscitate service delivery at the hospital,” Mantiziba said.

“When we get these debt collectors, the clientele will then be forced to come up with payment plans, before this we had people who would come up and agree on a payment plan but the majority would simply ignore our reminders, which is the reason why we decided to engage debt collectors.”

Mantiziba said of the $8million, over $700 000 is owed by maternity patients. He said failure by patients to settle their debts has further financially burdened the hospital crippling operations.

“Financial resources are a major challenge, in 2012 our PSIP financial allocations were cut from $3.1 million to $1.1million thus causing a budget deficit of $2million,” said Mantiziba.

However, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) organising secretary Ambrose Sibindi says engaging debt collectors will further financially burden residents. Sibindi says most residents seek medical assistance at Mpilo Hospital because they cannot afford doctors in private practice.

Meanwhile Mpilo Hospital is expected to scale down on some of its operations following failure by government to pay creditors who are holding on to some medical equipment and drugs. Health and child-welfare Deputy minister Douglas Mombeshora was recently quoted saying Mpilo Hospital among other government hospitals will be forced to withdraw services. Mpilo Hospital, CEO Dr Mantiziba however says the hospital will soon embark on resource mobilisation to compliment government efforts.

“Despite the financial challenges being faced by the hospital there are no services we are going to scale down on,we have embarked on resource mobilization to compliment government efforts and through such efforts we intend to open up sections that were closed such as theatres and furthermore we are in a drive to recruit more specialists to make the hospital fully functional,” he said.

Mantiziba said funds collected from the resource mobilisation exercise are also expected to address issues related to staff shortages after treasury froze filling of vacant posts.

“The newly opened paediatric hospital has no establishment of its own and we had to deploy staff from the main hospital thus depriving it of staff as well. Other parts of the hospital are equally affected.”


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Youth pressure group threaten to conduct Bulawayo census

A local lobbyist group, Mthwakazi Youth Leaders Joint Resolution has revealed that it may be forced to carry out its own enumeration exercise in Bulawayo following the release of preliminary results which have since been disputed by Bulawayo residents.

Resolution officials recently said they have made an urgent court application against the official 2012 census results released by the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstats) demanding a recount of the citizens of Bulawayo, Matebeleland and Midlands.

The statistical agency has given official preliminary figures at 655 675 for the province of Bulawayo which according to the Bulawayo City Council are in contrast with the final figures of 2002 and 1992 population statistics which were at 676 650 and 620 436 respectively.

“In the event that we do not get a favourable response from the courts, we will embark on our own enumeration exercise,” said Resolution chairperson Busani Sibindi.

“It is not difficult, all we have to do is engage volunteers who are willing to do an exercise that will give a true reflection of the local population.”

Sibindi said the inaccurate figures are likely to negatively affect city plans.

“We have evidence that prove beyond doubt that the recent population figures by Zimstats are not reflective of the figures conducted by the Bulawayo City Council in 1992 and 2002 after an alternative population census was done using the number of housing units in Bulawayo,” he said.

“Statistical information plays an important role in budget and resource allocation, constituency delimitation and proper service planning. Hence for the past twenty years, the nation of Mthwakazi has undergone severe acute marginalisation and consequently underdevelopment. The stem root for all the structural marginalisation of our people has been such important organs like statistics.”

The local authority has also raised concern over the preliminary results saying the total population of Bulawayo has gone beyond 1.5million people.

Zimstats in 2012 released preliminary results showing that the country’s population has grown to 12.9 million with Bulawayo accounting 5% of the total population while the capital Harare had 2 084 592.

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Q&A with Fidelis Fengu- Chombo’s special interest councillor

LOCAL Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo in December 2012 appointed special interest councillors to represent persons living with disabilities in local authorities around the country. In Bulawayo, Fidelis Fengu was appointed but the Bulawayo City Council refused to swear him in accusing Chombo of exceeding the number of special interest councillors. A disabled Bulawayo resident, Jack Matshazi two weeks ago obtained a High Court order barring the local authority from swearing Fengu in following threats by the minister. jessie04 (R) spoke to Fidelis Fengu (FF)who is also the Deputy Chairperson of the Special Advisory Board in the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment.


R: What was the process leading up to your appointment?

FF:This appointment came after negotiations, we approached the office of the prime minister where we met Jameson Timba who is the minister of state in the prime minister’s office. We made representations as young people with disabilities who were coming from the special advisory board that advices minister Saviour Kasukuwere. Our point was that people with disability need to be represented across the board, not just in government but in any decision-making position so that we allow integration. After this meeting,a letter was written to minister Ignatious Chombo and was copied to the permanent secretary Mupingo, this letter was saying that minister Chombo should meet with us and discuss the issue of appointing special interest councillors to represent people with disabilities. That meeting happened in late November and on the 22nd of November we were appointed special interest councillors at a press conference that was held in Harare. We have young people with disabilities who were appointed in more than five cities, Simba Mumbengegwi in Masvingo, Gift Mabhaudi in Harare, Clever Mukwazi in Gokwe and a number of other places. Special interest councillor for Harare, Clever Mabhaudi has been sworn in. Simba Mumbengegwi, Masvingo special interest councillor was sworn in on the 5th of December. This is how the issue of special interest councillors came to being. It is a national issue, it is not a Bulawayo issue.

R: According to media reports, the Bulawayo City Council had before the court order refused to swear you in saying Chombo has exceeded the limit in the number of special interest councillors that he can appoint to council. What are your thoughts on why the council has taken such a stance?

FF: My understanding is petty politics, in the sense that you can’t question the issue of disabled persons having representation; that is clearly defined in the Disability Act of 1992. Why would the Bulawayo City Council be the only council to reject the appointment of a special interest councillor? Harare, Masvingo, Gokwe and others have these young people with disabilities and it has only been Bulawayo that has rejected it. Fair and fine, they were within their rights to question the minister. The issue of the other eight (special interest councillors), if they were appointed in 2009 and were never sworn in up to 2012, can you be in office without being sworn in? They were only appointed, so you cannot say the minister exceeded his limit when they were not sitting in meetings, by right they were not even councillors. The minister wrote to council telling them to disregard the list of eight that they had been given. As of now, I am the only special interest councillor who has been appointed to Bulawayo.

R: You have mentioned negotiations which included the prime minister’s office were conducted before your appointment, were there any efforts to engage organisations for and of the disabled people in Bulawayo prior to the appointment.

FF: We have been in the special advisory board that advises minister Kasukuwere on the empowerment of young people with disabilities, we have worked with a number of disability organisations, but what we did not do was to become tribal, regional and petty. We decided to operate at a national level and because of the results that we had given, the minister said, ‘lets have these young people become special interest councillors. The Urban Councils Act does not question or state how the minister should appoint or what criteria he should use, it’s up to the minister’s discretion.

R: Do you admit that there were no consultations with disability organisations?

FF: At a national level there was, because in everything that we were doing we were working with the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH). So by consultation do you mean that he (Chombo) should have sought permission to appoint?

R: By consultation,I want to understand if there was dialogue with disability organisations prior to your appointment since you are supposed to be representing them in council. Do you admit that there was no dialogue with these local groups before you were appointed.

FF: I am not minister Chombo, I do not know who he spoke to and who he didn’t speak to, all I know is what we have done and how we got it to be done.

R: Are you an active member of any disability organisation or group in Bulawayo?

FF: I am not a member of any organisation and I choose not to be because there is something that is called disability politics that is going on. These organisations are fragmented and I refuse to be part of this fragmentation, I would rather stand for everybody, work with everybody that wants to work with me.

R: How do you feel about the controversy surrounding your appointment?

FF: It is fun, politics is a game and so far they are playing on it, let them play we will see who emerges the winner. At the end of the day, the key thing is what results are we delivering to the people who matter the most: ratepayers and persons living with disabilities. For so long there has been talk of representation, representation has come and yes we can debate on the modalities but the fact is that it is there. I would rather be criticised for wearing an oversized shoe than walk barefooted. Inside or outside council, I am still going to continue with the work that I have been doing, in the coming few days, we are going to be distributing empowerment forms to people with disabilities and make sure they get empowerment funds from the 5% quota that we negotiated with minister Kasukuwere.

R: Are you going to be contesting in the Zanu PF primary elections ahead of the next general election?

FF: No, I am not going to stand in the primary elections, I choose not to stand but I am going to contest as an MP for Bulawayo East constituency as an independent candidate. I am going to contest as an independent because at the moment it makes more political sense. I think the current political parties have their strengths and weaknesses but I haven’t found the one that I clearly identify with in terms of my personal beliefs. I agree with indigenisation and empowerment, I have my issues with some of the modalities in terms of implementation. MDC T’s JUICE has its own weaknesses and strengths, it is not a perfect project but there is some good that we can borrow from.

I am not in any political structure of any political party.

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Chombo appointed councillor rejected by Disability Movement

The Disability Movement in Bulawayo has also rejected the appointment of Fidelis Fengu as special interest councillor representing people with disabilities saying organisations for and of people with disabilities were not consulted.

This follows orders by the ministry of local government, urban and rural development that the Bulawayo City Council swear in Fidelis Fengu as a special interest councillor representing the disabled.

Representatives of disabled organisation’s umbrella bodies today told jessie04 that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is imposing an individual who is unknown to the disabled in Bulawayo. Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe spokesperson, Whartson Khuphe says the post requires an individual chosen by disabled persons.

“Disabled people’s advocacy and rights based activities are championed by disabled people themselves, if they decide as government to impose an individual to represent the disabled, it may be difficult because the councillor may not get cooperation from the movement,” Khuphe said.

“When government appoints the National Disability Board, it writes to disabled people’s movements to ask for nominations, they don’t pick anyone from the streets or from the church but they approach the disabled.”

The National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) says while the inclusion of a person representing the disabled within the local authority is noble, disabled rights activists should have been given an opportunity to choose their own.

“The idea to recognise disability as a human rights issue is good being but the problem is that the approach they have taken will not yield good results,” said NASCOH chairperson, Ishmael Ndlovu.

The National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe says Fengu is unknown to the disability movement in Bulawayo. The Council’s interim president Obadiah Moyo says while representation of the disabled in council improves in the accessibility of services, disabled persons have a right to know where Fengu is coming from.

Joshua Malinga, a member of the Zanu PF politburo also condemned the move by Chombo to appoint Fengu without consulting disability groups. Malinga says Chombo had initially asked him to make suggestions of candidates who could have been appointed and Fidelis Fengu was not on the list.

“Some time ago I made recommendations of special interest councillor and the minister is still to come back to me, Fengu was not one of them,” Malinga said.

“Everybody is to be elected, an election is not one system. If you are appointed after consultation, there is no problem but I would have believed that someone to hold that position would have come come from the Disability Movement.”

Meanwhile, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha has since granted an interim order interdicting the Bulawayo City Council from swearing in Fengu.

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ZCTF in bid to block UNWTO over elephant trade

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCFT) says it is making efforts to block the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly from being held in Zimbabwe until government stops the movement of wildlife into captivity.

Task Force chairperson Johnny Rodriguez told jessie04 that Zimbabwe continues to violate international regulations on wildlife by exporting elephants from national parks to be kept in zoos in countries that include China and Belgium.

“At the moment we are working on trying to get the UNWTO General Assembly from taking place in Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe is not meeting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations,” Rodriguez said.

This follows concerns that have been raised over the trade in live elephants from Zimbabwe to Chinese public zoos. Rodriguez says the task force is currently seeking a High court order to bar government and wildlife authorities from exporting more animals.

“Four elephants have been exported already and we believe that the authorities have an obligation to deliver 50 elephants to countries that include China, America, Belgium and others,” he said.

Zimbabwe is this August expected to jointly host the UNWTO General Assembly with Zambia.

The task force has since written to CITES to revoke export permits for the elephants which have already left Zimbabwe. The petition also seeks an immediate halt in the trade of wild elephants to international zoos pending a full discussion at CITES Conference of Parties to be held in Thailand in March 2013.

“We request CITES, the world trade body responsible for issuing trade permits of endangered species to immediately halt the transfer of any more elephants from Zimbabwe to China, revoke any permits issued for trade of live caught elephants to zoos, cease all trade of wild caught elephants to all zoos pending a full discussion at CITES CoP 16 March 2013,” reads part of the petition sent to CITES.

“Investigate how CITES granted permits to Zimbabwe to sell live specimens to Chinese zoos, cease all trade of any species that are listed on Appendix I in any range states to all zoos, except for bone fide conservation programmes.

The task force all wants CITES to facilitate a suitable NGO to investigate immediate access to a suitable sanctuary environment for the three elephants in China to be housed together and also to ensure that the elephants being held captive undergo suitable rehabilitation and are released back into the wild.



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