An interview with Plot Mhako, Projects Director, Jibilika Dance Trust

When was Jibilika Dance Trust formed?
Jibilika was formed in March 2007, initially registered as a limited company then in 2009 we registered as a trust. We started Jibilika to promote dance and youth culture for development and engagement purposes

Who plays the leading role in this important work?
The youth play a pivotal role in all our projects. Our target group are young people and all our work is tailored for them and also administered by youths.

And your vision?
Our vision is youth engagement and development through popular culture. The initiative seeks to promote the dance industry, exploit capabilities to alleviate poverty, generate employment, as well as economic, social and cultural growth.

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What kind of programmes are you currently implementing?
We are running Step Up 2 HIV project, a dance and music project that engages young people in promoting an HIV and AIDS free generation. The project uses popular youth culture as a medium to ‘step up’ the fight against HIV and AIDS. Step Up 2 HIV uses mediums that young people are interested in outside of the classroom such as elements of hip hop and dancehall as the bridge to teach them about HIV/AIDS empowering them with the knowledge, tools and opportunity to use their own art, media and ideas to promote and work for an AIDS free generation. The project was launched in 2012 with support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and is running in schools and communities in five provinces.

We also organise the Jibilika Dance Festival that celebrates its 7th year anniversary as well as other community programs.

Are you fulfilled by the work you do?
We are greatly fulfilled by our work owing to the positive response we get from young people who come in numbers for our community work and outreach programs.

Do you have any activities planned for the rest of the year?
We will produce and present Step up 2 HIV dance and music performances in at least 30 schools and 10 communities in Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Gweru. The performances will be on issues around HIV Prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health. School clubs and community peer groups will be established and empowered to replicate the campaign. We are also hosting the national finals of the Jibilika Dance Festival on the 4th of October in Harare.

Zimbabweans are being taxed to the bone

Despite our government’s proud declaration that the Zimbabwean economy will create more than two million jobs, more people continue to fall below the poverty line. Increasing duty on fuel and airtime will have ordinary citizens’ backs against the wall as they brace for a rise in the cost of travel, communication, and basic foodstuffs.

Indications of revenue collections, depressed exports and imports from the 2014 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review statement presented yesterday in Parliament portray an economy struggling to remain on its feet. Highlights of the fiscal policy review statement offer no joy to an already over taxed society.

Instead of creating the 2 million jobs promised under ZIMASSET what we now have is a desperate government strangling the life out the few remaining businesses. Even the informal sector, which appeared to have helped keep a large number of unemployed youths from crime, has attracted the eyes of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and council authorities. Meanwhile the authorities don’t even have the courtesy to create a conducive environment to run these businesses.

Harare water: In pictures

I should have been happy when, for the first time in weeks, municipal water came out of the taps at work.

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But if this is what they have to put in our taps, maybe they’re better off dry?

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Left: Harare tap water // Right: Bought water

As much as I would have loved to take part in the ice bucket challenge that has gripped the world, I can’t because I’ve gone for weeks without running water. What I endure everyday is a water bucket challenge.

I hear people can nominate each other to participate in the ice bucket challenge and those who do not feel like taking up the offer can donate money to charity. But then if people in other countries can have fun drenching themselves with buckets of freezing water and donate money for charity to raise awareness and fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease, why not do the same to raise awareness about the water crisis bedeviling Zimbabwe’s urban areas, in order to avert cholera?

Since we have no water to splash around in hometown Chitungwiza I propose a water bucket challenge with a difference as an alternative to raise awareness on the water crisis in the town.

First to be elected for the water bucket challenge would be the Mayor of Chitungwiza and his councilors.  Filming my hometown mayor waiting patiently in a queue to fill up a bucket of water at one of the few boreholes in the town should go a long way to raising awareness on the man-made water crisis in the town. If the mayor feels he is too smart for the bucket challenge he can decide to opt out by resigning from his post since he would have failed the same challenge which residents endure almost every day.

Selective application of council laws

We received this message from a WhatsApp subscriber in Bikita:

Hello, good morning. I’m writing to you with a bleeding heart, last month Bikita Rural District Council came to our rural homestead and confiscated my mother’s grinding mill, the only source of our income, that used to generate some funds to pay for school fees for her dependents. When we tried to get it back, they told us they need 500 dollars, and for your own information, where can one get such an amount in the rural areas. I know that it was not properly documented to have the grinding mill at our rural homestead, but  l want to believe that there are other options of regulating the situation instead of dismantling the only source of this old woman’s source of income and her dependents, to leave her vulnerable like that, it really pains me a lot, Further more, there was a selective application of their action since some distinguished members of the community had theirs not taken. Things are not good here, her children and nephews are no longer going to school.

A head line in today’s Herald reads: Council bigwigs bypass salary cap.

The article alleges that senior authorities such as town clerks and directors have “retained their mega remuneration despite poor service delivery by reducing their basic pay while doubling allowances.”

Meanwhile, local authorities continue to struggle with debt, non-payment of rates, and collapsing service delivery.

But articles like this – and the lack of transparency around local authority income and expenditure – are part of why residents are fed up and don’t want to pay their rates.

The Ministry of Local Government is currently drafting new local government legislation – and says it is seeking public input on this process.

But the new legislation doesn’t make local authorities’ finances any more open to the public, or any more accessible to scrutiny and review. Our requests to view the City’s annual accounts from as far back as 2009 are consistently stonewalled.

Headlines like today’s add to residents’ suspicion and resentment of local authorities. Opening these financial statements to public review would alleviate this suspicion. The mechanisms for this public scrutiny should be included in the revised local government legislation.

The Ministry of Local Government is accepting public feedback on draft legislation until 15 September. This legislation includes the draft Provincial and Metropolitan Councils Administration Bill.

In reviewing the bill, Zimbabwean Residents’ Associations argue that the bill does not incorporate the letter and spirit of devolution as outlined in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution.

Read the Residents’ Associations position on the draft bill, and check out other resources on this legislation.

Get informed, and add your voice to the process. Send your feedback to info [at] kubatana [dot] net or via WhatsApp on +263 772 452201 or on Twitter or Facebook by 15 September so we can share your thoughts with the Ministry of Local Government.

Congratulations to Junior Achievement Zimbabwe for winning an award for their youth employability programme! Here is the statement from Junior Achievement Zimbabwe about the award.

JA Zimbabwe Has Won an International Award for the Youth Employability Program

Junior Achievement Zimbabwe in partnership with the private sector developed a youth employability program in 2013 where recent college graduates were trained on Life Skills, Work Ethics and placed as interns. Out of 57 young people trained and placed over 2 to 5 months, 37 got full time jobs. When JA Worldwide called for submissions for Innovative programs, JA Zimbabwe submitted the above program naming it “JA-The Career Launch Pad!”

This year JA Worldwide received an impressive 84 submissions from 58 JA offices out of the 123 25 countries. Eight JA operations have won the MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Award, which includes $25,000 each for their innovative programs and processes that have been implemented with good results and strong potential for replication and adaptation.

2014 MetLife Foundation Entrepreneurial Award Winners:

  • JA of Rhode Island (USA)
  • JA of Northern New England (USA)
  • JA of South Dakota (USA)
  • JA of Oregon and SW Washington (USA)
  • JA Zimbabwe
  • JA Brazil
  • JA Hong Kong
  • JA Romania

Going forward, for JA Zimbabwe this particular project is meant to help college graduates get smooth entry into jobs. The current economic challenges do not give many chances to fresh graduates. Using this grant, we will scale up this project and endeavor to reach out to more young people and we will also engage more sectors of the economy to help us hosting the interns for between 3 to 5 months.

House of Hunger Poetry Slam Saturday

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Describe yourself in five words?
Curious, optimistic, impulsive, adventurous, ferocious.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Keep your dignity and grace especially in difficult situations.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever done?
Some people may consider it ridiculous. I think it is joyous. It’s something my friend and I insist upon doing at some time during our morning walk. We track down a sprinkler and run through the spray – laughing and skipping. We love it.

What is your most treasured possession?
Possessions in the plural and the answer is easy – my books. (This will undoubtedly upset my children – but my response is: you aren’t my possessions, you are my gift).

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Violence and cruelty in the name of religion.

Do you have any strange hobbies?
People watching?

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My goiter.

What is your greatest extravagance?
My art and craft stuff – I’m like a kid in a toyshop.

What have you got in your fridge?
Lots of bottles of water, hummus, yoghurt, vegetables, cheese, olives and pickles.

What is your greatest fear?
The fact that I don’t think I have enough time to learn new things and that I might die before I get a chance to go riding through Tuscany on a Vespa or learn to play the guitar.

What have you got in your pockets right now?
No pockets today. When I do have pockets, often a bit of money or lip ice.

What is your favourite journey?
My morning walk – it centres me and I’m going crazy at the moment, which will then inform you that I have not been regular about my walks.

My parents often made us travel to places by train and so I loooooovvvvve train journeys (not the underground, of course).

Who are your heroes in real life?
The amazing women – (both friends and family) around me who keep their sanity as well as their humour in the midst of chaos, crap and drama.

When and where were you happiest?
My most amazing moment was when I was deep sea fishing for the first time in my life. Wow! Everything I imagined and more! It was in Mauritius.

What’s your biggest vice?
Talking a little too much and not listening enough. And … good chocolate.

What were you like at school?
Meek, mild and invisible.

What are you doing next?
Going to Domboshawa and having an early morning picnic.