MDC calls for election candidates

The Professor Welshman Ncube led MDC has called for applications for potential candidates for the next general election barring individuals with less than five years as party members from contesting in the primary elections.

In a statement released by the party today, the call is for council, House of Assembly and Senate election candidates. Secretary General, Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga said the applications should be submitted to provincial chairpersons before the deadline.

The closing date is February 14 at 1600hrs.

“Aspiring candidates should have been party members for a period of not less than five years, submit education qualifications and produce membership cards for verification,” Mushonga said in the statement.

“According to the party’s constitution, candidates should also be fully paid party members, registered voters, not have a criminal record leading to imprisonment of six months or more without the option of a fine and should be competent and solvent.”

Meanwhile, MDC-T continues to be marred by chaos as the party’s Youth Assembly demands representation within the party amid reports of a confirmation exercise for sitting MPs.

The party’s national executive and national council last year agreed to a resolution to confirm sitting MPs, a move that has been described as a way of blocking any contestation during primary elections.

MDC-T youths this week demanded that the party set aside a quota for them in the parliamentary elections expected to be held this year. MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora says the party will not adopt a quota system urging the youths to fight for seats in parliament


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NGOs push union to demand better working environment

Civic society organisations under the umbrella body National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) have challenged the sector’s workers’ union to ensure that working conditions are improved ahead of the next general election.

Speaking to jessie04, NANGO chairperson Effie Ncube said the Zimbabwe Educational Scientific Social and Cultural Workers’ Union (ZESSCWU) should engage government to ensure that workers within the broader civic society are protected.

“The issue of the operating environment has to be directed towards government because the union has to ensure that the environment is free from arbitrary arrests and persecutions,” Ncube said.

“Its very difficult to go out and give people humanitarian aid without being labelled as coming from a certain political party, you have to go out knowing that you can be arrested or beaten up. That is the most fundamental task for any union that seeks to work around the NGO sector.”

ZESSCWU’s Stanley Mutindindi says although it has made efforts to assist individuals, it is increasingly becoming difficult to interfere with the justice system.

“As a union we have very serious challenges in dealing with that matter because the moment a person is arrested it falls under the criminal justice system, it ordinarily becomes the press versus the accused person,” Mutindindi said.

“If they are our members and are affected, we have intervened but some of the issues are really beyond the jurisdiction of the union.”

Mutindindi revealed that the union is faced with resistance by several civic society organisations who refuse to be members of the union.

According to a Human Rights Watch World Report 2012, minimal changes to repressive laws such as Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) have failed to open up space for the political opposition and civic society.

“The Zimbabwean authorities continue to use repression and intimidation to silence human rights advocates and to prevent them from exposing abuses and promoting respect for human rights,” reads part of the report.

“Harassment and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders have intensified since January 2011.”

ZimRights director Okay Machisa was yesterday denied bail after appearing before Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe. Machisa, according to media reports, faces fraud and forgery charges related to election documents.

Meanwhile, Anglistone Sibanda a human rights activist and director of Shalom Project says there is need for the union to push for the regularisation of the civic society sector to ensure compliance to set standards. NANGO chairperson Effie Ncube dismissed the suggestions saying the sector is well regulated-


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ZAPU, MDC not part of Matebeleland pact

The Welshman Ncube led MDC and Zapu have distanced themselves from the coalition Alliance Khumbul’ Ekhaya citing a regional bias as the main agenda of the alliance.

Patriotic Union of Matebeleland (PUMA) president Bancinyane Ndiweni last week criticised the two parties for letting down the local electorate by snubbing the alliance. MDC president Welshman Ncube recently dismissed reports that they are in a coalition with other political parties.

MDC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu speaking to jessie04 said while the party is aware of the alliance nothing has been agreed on.

“People of Matebeleland argue over minor and small issues, at the end of the day they lose focus and direction, Zanu PF members practice tribalism but they don’t speak about it,” Ndlovu said.

“My leader is Professor Welshman Ncube, he is a the leader of Matabeleland or Midlands, he is the leader of Zimbabwe. Why should I reduce my leader to a regional or provincial leader?”

Ndlovu said the party has never sent any representatives to the Alliance Khumbul’ Ekhaya meetings.

Zapu spokesperson Bensen Dube says the alliance is regional whereas Zapu is a national political party that is eyeing seats all over the country.

“While we are fighting for our region, we must also look at the country so that we may realise that we are part and parcel of a nation, today we are looking at this country as a state because of such divisions perpetrated by people who look at their own corners and disregard other places around the country,” Dube said.

“Zapu is to do with the nation because when you dwell on Matabeleland as Mthwakazi you are actually reneging on what Zanu PF already blundered.”

Alliance Khumbule Ekhaya is coalition which brings together political parties and civic society organisations expected to fight Zanu PF and MDC T in the next election. The alliance initiated by Mthwakazi Youth Leaders Joint Resolution is made up of Zapu FP, Mthwakazi National Party, PUMA, ZPRA veterans, Umhlahlo weSizwe sikaMthwakazi among others.

Bheki Mdlongwa (PUMA) spokesperson says it is important for local politicians to address regional issues before going national.

“Charity begins at home, master your problems at home, be a good family man then you can tell be able to tell your neighbours how to be good fathers,” Mdlongwa said.


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Mixed Biblical interpretations on homosexuality

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 Christians tend to misinterpret the Bible in condemning sexual minority groups particularly homosexuals quickly pointing that they lack proper understanding on what the ‘holy book’ says on homosexuality.

Kimindu, president of Other Sheep Africa, runs a church open to ‘social outcasts’ at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. The church under the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) has had 1000 visitors since its formation in 2008.

Sexual minority groups said all they were getting from their churches were insults, not being reached and they made demands that we start something for them,”

Together with other affirming individuals, a congregation was started in my house,” Kimindu says.

Kimindu who makes reference to Biblical verses (John 10 verse 16) says faithful sexual minority groups deserve a place within local churches. He says clergymen and women should embrace ‘Jesus’ Other Sheep.’

John 10 verse 16 according to the King James version reads, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

However, Bulawayo based Pastor Anglistone Sibanda of Word of Faith International Ministries is quick to dismiss Kimindu’s interpretation of the Bible as “actually a violation of the rules of Bible Study interpretation, completely cut out of context.”

Homosexuality has become an old social problem that is as a result of sin, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of that sin which marked the fall of man,” Sibanda says.

Romans 1 makes reference to this because it speaks of how man knew God but did not want to honour him, the sheep Jesus refers to in John 10 are the Gentiles and not homosexuals.”

Romans 1 v 26-27 reads, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Reverend Kimindu who says he belongs to the sexual minority group by affirmation accuses several world religious leaders particularly Western preachers for encouraging homophobia through misinterpreting the Bible. He says while most of the African community is convinced that homosexuality is an imposition of the Western culture, the importation of homophobia from the West has reached alarming levels.

I am shocked at the level of the importation of homophobia from the West as opposed to the importation of homosexuality, what the West is bringing to Africa is tragic homophobia through a group called the Evangelical Christians, the likes of Pat Robertsons, Joyce Meyer and other televangelists through use of the Bible,” Kimindu says.

Several critics of homosexuality in most African Christian societies tend to make reference to the Bible in condemning this section of the sexual minority group. In 2010, televangelist, Joyce Meyer criticized Uganda’s Homosexuality Bill saying she has a moral and ethical duty to speak out against injustice. In a statement released then, Meyer said,

As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God’s word to justify bigotry and persecution.”

Kimindu is of the view that people within the sexual minority community in churches are not being fully reached because of lack of skills, religious bigotry and ignorance.

Reverend Judith Kotze, a Cape Town based lesbian minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, speaking at a German Foreign Affairs ministry organised conference on the Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transgender and Inter-sex (LGBTI) community said homosexuals and others within the sexual minority community should be accepted in the same manner as heterosexuals as “God created them.”

Speaking at the same conference attended by sexual minority activists, a gay South African Muslim worship leader, Muhsin Hendricks says he has been doing research on what really happened in Sodom and Gomorrah as well as what the Quran says about homosexuality.

The conference was attended by activists from South Africa, Germany, Nigeria, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi and Lebanon.

In Nigeria, there have been reports of homosexuals being chased away from church services and in other churches stopped from participating in church activities that include the choir and Bible studies once their sexual orientation is discovered and made public.

Dorothy Aken’ Ova, a human rights activist in Nigeria says, House of Rainbow Fellowship, another church under the MCC now provides a safe haven for members of the LGBTI community to worship without fear of persecution.

Tim Kuschnerus, director of the Joint Conference Church and Development says in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s anti gay sentiments have been a source of influence for stances that have been adopted by the church since the early 1980s.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), a local coalition of churches has already said they will not accept a new constitution that lacks clarity on homosexuality. According to media reports, EFZ president Goodwill Shana has been quoted saying,

As the church, we have never been for homosexuality and we want it clarified in the draft constitution that it is outlawed.”

Kimindu whose Other Sheep Africa has ties with a church in Bulawayo says church leaders should desist from “living our lives for us.”

Does different mean unacceptable? The church continuously wants to manage our sexuality and prescribe our lovemaking because once you join a church you cease being yourself.”

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Media self regulation, statutory regulation: Which way for Zimbabwe?

The Zimbabwe Media Commission recently launched the Zimbabwe Media Council which is expected among other ‘professional’ duties to monitor media conduct, a move that has angered independent media groups raising concern on whether the political parties in the inclusive government are sincere in calling for media reforms as they is already an existing press council body.

The new media council was created in line with the requirements section 42A of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). AIPPA has since inception been described by human rights activists as a ‘draconian’ piece of legislation meant to muzzle the media.

Media professionals are arguing that there is already in existence their own institution, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe create for the purposes of advancing self-regulation necessitating no need for government interference. Pedzisai Ruhanya, a PhD candidate at the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster in London, in a report published by the Zimbabwe Independent, says the establishment of such a council is aimed at serving the interests of power rather than the democratic role of the media.

“The code is being proposed in circumstances where the history against the democratic practice of journalism in Zimbabwe is littered with numerous cases of media stifling and muzzling by the state in order to impede its key role of making public and private corporate institutions and their leaders accountable,” Ruhanya says.

The media situation particularly the concept of self-regulation in Zimbabwe is far from what is happening in developed countries. Cornelia Hass, the director of the German Journalists’ Union and a member of the press council, says governments should never be allowed a place in controlling the media.

The freedom of the press is part of our constitutional right and government has no right to influence self-regulation of the press, there should not be any media laws which cut down the freedom of the press. It is part of our constitutional right to form a self-regulatory body, to develop rules and to work together with publishers, that is very important for our system,” she said.

Hass revealed that German journalists in the early 1960s refused to recognize government efforts to implement new media laws as they felt it was likely to negatively affect media freedom.

“We do it ourselves, we set up our own regulatory system, our own rules and we decide how these rules look like and how they are implemented.”

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) in a statement released prior to the Zimbabwe Media Council launch described the move to establish the statutory council as undemocratic. Takura Zhangazha, VMCZ executive director believes the inclusive government is not doing enough to reform the media.

“The government has generally undertaken an incremental and largely quantitative approach to reforming the media in Zimbabwe. The democratic and qualitative aspect of it has been left out primarily due to the fact that government has not decriminalized freedom of expression and has not repealed repressive legislations that curtail media freedom,” said Zhangazha.

VMCZ was launched in 2007 on the premise that it was the best democratic practise to formalize self-regulation for the media. This was largely influenced on the backdrop of government’s regulatory body, the then Media and Information Commission enabled by AIPPA.

Zhangazha says compared to other countries, the Zimbabwe government has demonstrated minimal commitment to implementing freedom of expression and access to information in the best democratic interests of the country.

“It has sought to present freedom of expression as a privilege and not a right, a development that is undemocratic in principle and in practice.”

The Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe (MMPZ) is like the German Journalists’ Union convinced that governments have no role to play in controlling the media and its activities and on deciding codes of conduct beyond an administrative role. MMPZ says the presence of the VMCZ, to adjudicate and resolve disputes relating to unprofessional conduct by media personnel is adequate.

The VMCZ has however come under attack by a section of activists and the Zimbabwe Media Commission for lacking enough powers to tackle self –regulation. Ruhanya says the VMCZ has simply adopted a co-regulation approach as he claims most of its constituents are not journalists.

“However, the problems of statutory regulation do not mean the alternative, which is the VMCZ, offers the best practice. There is also misguided appreciation of statutory regulation in this group to connote state interference when numerous examples both locally and abroad show a professional body can be statutory, but still remain autonomous of the state,” Ruhanya said.

Matthew Takaona, one of the ZMC commissioners says Zimbabwe is not yet ready for self-regulation hinting that the presence of the VMCZ for the past five years has not created any changes in the unprofessional conduct by the media.

“At the moment when we look at the media environment, we are in transition mode, so it is not possible to practice voluntary regulation without first applying a system of statutory regulation,” Takaona says.

The reason why the statutory council was put in place is because, as a commission we were receiving numerous complaints from politicians particularly parliamentarians who believe voluntary regulation has not been effective enough in addressing media misconduct. We are all clamouring for self-regulation but we are not yet ready.”


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Bulawayo to twin with German cities

Ambassador Hebson Makuvise

The German embassy has revealed that it is making efforts to twin Bulawayo with three or more German cities to enable German health institutions to donate excess medical equipment to local council clinics.

Speaking to jessie04 at his residence in Berlin, the Germany capital, the Zimbabwean ambassador to German, Poland and Switzerland, Hebson Makuvise said he is currently engaged in talks with German health centres to start donating humanitarian aid to Bulawayo.

“You will find that there are some local clinics that have surplus medical equipment that they do not need, so if the Bulawayo City Council can identify what local health institutions need in terms of healthcare materials so that we do not source equipment that we don’t need,” Makuvise said.

“If we have an idea of who needs what, then we can source that here in Germany and I know they (German health institutions) will donate, but we need to know what local clinics require otherwise we risk sourcing equipment that they do not need.”

Makuvise said Harare is already twinned with Munich and is currently benefitting from the relationship adding that Bulawayo requires to be twinned with more than one city as it has continued to be developmentally disadvantaged.

“Bulawayo has largely been behind in terms of development, Harare is currently twinned with the city of Munich but I wanted Bulawayo to be twinned with three or four cities in Germany simply because their healthcare service provision efforts need to be supported to enable Bulawayo residents to access affordable medical and or health services,” said Ambassador Makuvise. Bulawayo is expected to be twinned with Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

According to ambassador Makuvise, several German investors have indicated an interest in investing in Zimbabwe, a move that he explained could be used as an opportunity to arrest Bulawayo’s deindustrialization.

“I have been talking to a number of German investors and financial institutions who have expressed an interest to invest in Zimbabwe but once they are assured that their investments will be secure they will start investing because currently we are getting humanitarian aid and that will not revive our economy,” he said.

“These areas are tourism, mining, agriculture, energy development, water and sanitation.”

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Local civic organisations fall out over draft charter

Civic organisations opposed to the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) draft have dismissed the constitution convention organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition as a non event that is being bankrolled by the international community in support of the draft.

Activists who spoke to jessie04 this week said civic society organisations have abandoned their constituencies in order to align themselves with political parties ahead of the second stakeholders conference.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) spokesperson Madock Chivasa said most civic organisations are being used by the donor community to support the draft charter.

“There is nothing independent about these so called independent organisations because they have allowed themselves to take orders from donors to support the draft constitution, they are not being sincere because we know that they do not believe in what is contained in the current draft,” Chivasa said.

Masakhane Trust director, Dumisani Mpofu said the convention is not likely to have an impact on the second stakeholders conference. Mpofu said the structure of the second stakeholders conference is such that there will be no alterations while the political parties responsible for coming up with the draft will be responsible for looking at the submissions.

“This is the dilemma that civic organisations find themselves in because the MDCs have endorsed the draft and are now reacting to calls by Zanu PF to make changes so they are now pushing civic society organisations to support their calls for no changes at the second stakeholders conference.”

The anti Copac draft activists also accused donors of supporting a constitution that departs from what the people want in the constitution.

“What is being done by donors is not in line with what they are supposed to be supporting because they are now funding these organisations to support the draft charter that we all don’t want,” Chivasa said.

“They are wasting their money because Zimbabweans are watching them and these organisations that are receiving their money. We are not worried about their money.”

Mpofu echoed the NCA sentiments hinting that most civic society organisations under Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition are being driven by financial funding.

“We are developing and adapting to a culture in Zimbabwe that will make organisations very ineffective in the future, a culture of funding alliances which go on to implement things at the expense of their membership, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is membership based but it is implementing programmes that compete with their members,” Mpofu said.

“It looks like the international community has endorsed the draft constitution because the behaviour of the MDC formations leaves us with suspicion that they being backed by international institutions who could be saying we are fed up with the Zimbabwean scenario, lets take the little that we came up with and move forward.”

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is set to bring together representatives from 300 non-governmental organisations for a civic society convention aimed at coming up with a position ahead of the second stakeholders conference. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director MacDonald Lewanika told jessie04 said they expect to spend between $30 000 and $40 000.

“Everyone has a right to take a position on the draft constitution, they are some people who even before it was written said they were going to be against it, why are those people not being castigated,” Lewanika said.

“Those who have taken time and looked at the draft and think its okay and have decided they want to support, they should be allowed to do that. That is the essence of democracy.”




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Justice delivery system: A pipe dream for Zimbabwean women

Emilia Madziwa looks older than her 33 years.  “I have been married for over ten years and I have four children, three boys and one girl,” she said slowly. “I have known no other life apart from looking after my children and husband.”

Madziwa like many women in Zimbabwe has been a victim of gender based violence at the hands of her husband for the past three years. She has made up her mind to take her young children and walk out of the marriage that has caused  her untold suffering.

“I want to leave, I cant go on like this but it is difficult because I’m unemployed. How will I sustain myself and the kids,” she said with glassy eyes. “Where do I start, where do I get help?  This is what is giving me sleepless nights.”

Several decades ago, Madziwa’s case would have been addressed in the private realm of the family and in other instances, the community but in present day her case can be heard in the public domain of the court of law.

A section of Zimbabwean women are beginning to appreciate the efficiency of formal law in cases not limited to maintenance claims, deceased estates, property sharing and in Madziwa’s case divorce and maintenance.

Madziwa is among several women not only in Zimbabwe but in the region whose access to justice has been hindered by financial constraints. Organisations that represent women’s rights have noted that accessibility to financial resources are among the major reasons why women tend to shy away from seeking legal services and the justice system.

Disadvantaged groups have been identified as those sections in society that are likely to face problems in accessing justice systems. While reasons for difficulties in accessing these institutions may range from them being remote, slow, biased and in some instances discriminatory, for women issues related to affordability have remained tops.

Matshobana Ncube, a Bulawayo based lawyer with Abammeli Bamalungelo Abantu Lawyers Network said the greatest challenge faced by women is the fact that they do not own the means of production, which loosely means they cannot afford to take care of themselves financially let alone meet the expense of engaging legal services when faced with a problem.

“The prime challenge is that the bulk of the women in Zimbabwe are still to access or to enter the economic sphere, that is to own the control of the means of production, very few women are in control. The nature of the political economy in Zimbabwe is that it is skewed towards men; it is the men who go to work whilst in most instances the women stay at home to take up their reproductive responsibilities,” Ncube said.

“In some cases, these women are single mothers who are not gainfully employed and worse still in an economy like ours where the last estimates indicate that 90% of the people are not working, the bulk of these are women.”

Ncube said culture has contributed to women making up the highest number of people who find themselves without jobs. He says local families have always preferred sending a boy child to school over the girl-child making it difficult for women, in a modern economy, to get employed without proper education qualifications.

“But the reality is, for one to access the justice system, one must have money because you have to pay for legal fees and lawyers charge quite exorbitant sums of money, for instance, I charge $210 per hour and very few people can afford this, worse still women who are already finding it difficult to cater for their other daily needs,” he said.

The human rights lawyer said the very few women who have managed to penetrate into the economic sphere have created and or helped in the formation of organisations that provide free legal representation for disadvantaged women.

According to Ncube, Musasa Project and Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) primarily serve women’s interests by assisting women who have become destitute to access the justice delivery system.

ZWLA members said while they believe they have played a key role in assisting women in accessing justice particularly those who cannot afford lawyers in private practice, women still find it hard to pay some of the money that is required by the courts in the justice system.

Sethulo Ncube of ZWLA said most women often place the financial needs of the family ahead of their own leaving them with little if any at all to feed into the financial obligations of the courts of law.

“At times in terms of finance, women may want to institute,but while we provide free legal services, they will have to pay the monies that are required at the courts for them to have a record opened, they have to pay the messenger of court or deputy sheriff for that office to serve the relevant person,” Ncube said.

According to ZWLA financial challenges in accessing the justice system for women is not only a thorn in the flesh for Zimbabwean women, but for most women in various countries in the region.  Ncube said this is evidenced by the numbers of indigent women against the number of organisations and or institutions that provide free legal representation.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2007 said regardless of the particular reason, access to justice system mechanisms has become a major cause for gender disparities. If women are unable to equitably access justice mechanisms, they are not adequately protected from discrimination as is mandated by the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

However, for activists and social commentators, lack of knowledge should be addressed in a linear process of ensuring that women assist themselves to acquire legal services as well as justice system mechanisms, an assertion that is supported by women’s organisations.

According to Kudzai Kwangwari, a social commentator, women need to be fully empowered financially and socially to enable them to access the justice system speedily.

He said women who are enlightened particularly on rights based issues usually reach out to such justice institutions without any difficulties.  Kwangwari believes tailor made programmes to reduce women’s reliance should be employed.

“There is need for an affirmative approach but care must be taken on how far it is taken lest it weakens and disempowers women because they may relax thinking that such laws will address all their issues without their participation.

“Such approaches should address sectors such as access to education, health, access to and information dissemination and other basic needs, there should be a deliberate effort to ensure women have access to things that can empower them,” Kwangwari said.

Article 7 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which pays attention to equality in accessing justice says state parties should by 2015 put in place legislative and other measures which promote and ensure the practical realisation of equality for women. According to the protocol, there should be equal treatment of women in judicial proceedings in customary, traditional courts and in national reconciliation processes.

Member states are also expected to ensure that women have equal legal status and capacity in both civil and customary law, full contractual rights, the right to  acquire and hold rights in property, the right to equal inheritance and right to secure credit. The protocol also says state parties should by 2015 ensure that women have equitable representation on and participation in, all courts, alternative resolution mechanisms and local community courts as well as accessible and affordable legal services for women.

Women who have engaged ZWLA for representation have revealed that while the organisation has presented a ray of hope for financially disadvantaged women, waiting for months to be attended to makes it more ‘expensive.’

“Sometimes, as women we cannot wait, we want to be attended to immediately as is the case with women who engage lawyers in private practice,” said a young mother currently engaging ZWLA in a property sharing dispute.

Such is life for a Zimbabwean woman, particularly the one who dwells in the rural areas, justice delivery system is still a privilege rather than a basic right for her yet statistics show that women make up to 52 percent of the country’s population.

Zimbabwe ratified the SADC protocol on Gender and Development in 2009 but has remained silent on making efforts to ensure a conducive environment for women to fully access justice.

And government has remained arms akimbo not doing anything about this state of affairs. Perhaps one would say gender parity between men and women by 2015 is more of an imagination if justice remains a preserve for the rich!




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Matebeleland farmers call for land tax reduction

The Matabeleland Agricultural Business Chamber has written to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Agriculture seeking a review and reduction of the land tax which is currently pegged at $3 per hectare.

Livestock expect and chamber official,Muhle Masuku told jessie04 the fee is too high for local cattle farmers and is hindering animal productivity.

“Farmers are being asked to pay $3 per hectare which places a burden on livestock farmers who require vast tracks of land for livestock farming,” Masuku said.

“Those who are engaged in agricultural produce have an advantage because they are realising an income from their agricultural activities yearly whereas livestock farmers wait for years before they can start earning an income from their livestock.”

According to the chamber, an independent research showed that farmers in the region have unanimously concluded that the land tax being charged all farmers is unfair to farmers in dry regions when compared to agriculturally productive regions.

Masuku said they are hoping to meet the parliamentary portfolio committee to express the challenges being faced by farmers.

Meanwhile the chamber has revealed that the $3 paid annually is not being used to develop the infrastructure required by farmers to enhance productivity.

“The money we are paying as land tax is shared between council and government but it is not being channelled towards the development of infrastructure such as bridges and roads,” he said. “As farmers we expect the money to be ploughed back into developing the infrastructure that we use on a daily basis.”




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Disability group rejects draft constitution


The Disability Agenda Forum of Zimbabwe, an organisation representing the disabled says it has started campaigning for a No vote ahead of the second stakeholders conference joining the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)which has already rejected the draft charter.

Tungamirai Kurunzirwa, an official with the forum said political parties and other civic society organisations are preoccupied with political power at the expense of the welfare of the disadvantaged.

“The draft constitution has got nothing really new to offer the disabled, it is far short of the demands of persons living with disabilities,” Kurunzirwa said.

“It is leaving these people at the mercy of the state powers. The draft constitution speaks to issues of the welfare of persons with disabilities without empowering them.”

Kurunzirwa said while the draft constitution makes provisions for a gender commission for the purposes of women empowerment, it is silent on the formations of a disability commission.

“It gives proportions about representation of women in parliament or in government institutions but there is no proportion of representation for people living with disabilities in these offices elected or appointed meaning that for there to be representation of disabled people, it will be at the mercy of the incumbent president, it will not be a constitutional right,” he said.

“While we appreciate the inclusion of sign language as an official language but it is only a small portion of what was demanded by persons living with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, the NCA which has already started campaigning for a No vote says it will not be participating at the second stakeholders conference to be held towards the end of this month. NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku told jessie04  the conference is part of the flawed process.

“We will only be taking part at the referendum because it is not part of the process,” Madhuku said.



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