Posts Tagged Zimbabwe

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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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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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 -www.radiodialogue.com

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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- http://www.radiodialogue.com

 

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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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Kudzai Kwangwari

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Jackee Budesta Batanda

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