“To put it candidly, I would say that the civil society of today should shy away from too many elite meetings that are disconnected with the people. The civil society in the past few years has been characterised by elite declarations and blueprints, which have generally failed because they have no mass ownership. There is greater need for a paradigm shift, move out of the comfort zone of issuing countless press statements and hosting press conferences while shying away from the grassroots.” - Blessing Vava

Soon the Sunshine City won’t have any shade

We got this comment (below) from a reader recently. Our question is why are environmental organisations and NGOs working in Harare so silent and so ineffectual on the issue of massive tree felling?

I have noticed a lot of trees being felled around Harare. The casuarinas around the Passport Office on Herbert Chitepo Avenue have all gone in the last few weeks, and this afternoon gum trees were being felled in front of an office development on the Borrowdale Road. This is not good. Trees cool the town and provide a surprising health benefit, it is estimated that in the USA the health benefit from removal of pollution by trees in urban areas is $86 billion per annum. See this article from the Atlantic. Trees also have a huge impact on people’s feelings of well being and happiness. I can understand that when trees get old there is a need to replace them before they fall down and cause damage, but the right way to do this is to take out half the trees, plant new trees between the old and take out the rest of the old trees when the new trees have grown up. – Kubatana subscriber

The history of Mbare

From a recent update courtesy of Community Radio Harare:

When Cecil John Rhodes’ Pioneers first settled around the Kopje and called their settlement Salisbury (now Harare), they wanted to build a “White” City. There was no space for the Indigenous Africans. But their wives wanted “Cook Boys” and “Nannies” and the men wanted messengers and office orderlies (tea boys, factory workers and agricultural labourers). At first, African workers settled all over the place. That was considered dangerous. So the “White City” decided to create a place for the local people after all. That was the beginning of Harari Township, as it was first called around 1900. Workers yes, but not their families. This was supposed to be a bachelors’ settlement. It was built close to the shops and offices in what is now the southern part of the Central Business District. Even today Mbare – as Harari Township is now called–is a popular address to have because it is close to town, where people work. These allegedly ‘single men’ were housed in hostels, which are still a striking feature in Mbare to the right and left of Cripps Road. There was a long battle about allowing wives and families to join their husbands in ‘married quarters’ in what is now called ‘National’ in the southern part of Mbare. While Harari Township was under colonial administration, families had to vacate their houses once the breadwinner had died or lost employment. Widows were expected to move back to the rural areas, where they and their children were strangers. It was in Mbare that the workers first organised themselves in trade unions- even today, street names remind us of some of those brave early leaders like Charles Mzingeli- and eventually even in political movements. Being represented only on the official Advisory Councils did not achieve anything in the eyes of most residents. Harari (and Highfield Township) became the birthplace of nationalism. The old Roman Catholic Church in Mbare (near Rufaro Stadium) was one of the first to open in 1910.

A press release from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network:

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network condemns the disruption of a public meeting on electoral reforms on 28 August at the Kwekwe Theatre by alleged ZANU PF youths.  The rowdy youths who destroyed tables, ZESN IEC materials and newsletters argued that the organisation should not be advocating for electoral reforms. The public meeting was being held as part of on-going deliberations on electoral reforms in view of the 2018 harmonised elections and had been cleared by the police. ZESN utterly condemns this act of violence and barbarism on a sanctioned meeting. The network reiterates the need for the creation of a conducive environment for free association and expression especially as the country gears up for by-elections in September and for the 2018 harmonised elections.

Launch of the Zimbabwe Government Barometer Report

You are cordially invited to the Launch of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition’s ZimGov Barometer launch. The report looks at the promises made by the ruling party, ZANU PF during the electioneering period, government performance in fulfilling the electoral promises vs. the state of the nation and affairs two years after the elections. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition will produce and distribute 6 issues annually, rating government performance in the areas of constitutionalism, electoral reforms and elections, public leadership and institutional accountability, economy and natural resources governance and social service delivery. This publication presents a reality check and attempts to give an outlook of Zimbabwe’s political and socio-economic outlook since the end of the power sharing government in July 2013.

Date: Thursday 3 September 2015
Venue: Media Centre, 66 Jason Moyo Avenue, Harare (Next to Barbours)
Time: 11am

Source: Media Centre

Nancy Mteki: Artist Talk

Friday 28 August 2015, 2.30 – 3.30pm

A press release from Njelele Art Station – you can find them at: 131 Kaguvi Street, Harare.

Please join us for an artist talk by Nancy Mteki on Friday 28 August 2015 from 2.30 to 3.30pm at Njelele Art Station, as she speaks about her practice, central interests and insight into her work currently on show in ‘Honai’.

Nancy Mteki (1989) is a Zimbabwean artist whose work draws on women and their daily experiences in society. Introduced to photography in 2008 at South African workshop Iliso Labantu (The Eye of the People) founded by Alistair Berg and Sue Johnson, her work has been exhibited widely in Harare, Bulawayo, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, London and France. In 2014, Mteki’s first solo exhibition ‘Mbereko’ took place at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Mteki has won awards at Dak’Art 2012, National Archives Of Zimbabwe 2010 and Gwanza Month of Photography 2009. She recently returned from the 5th edition of the Asiko 2015 international art programme in Maputo, and previously participated in residencies and workshops in Zambia, London, Scotland and Abu Dhabi.

Friday 28 August 2015 is the last chance to view the groundbreaking provocative exhibition ‘Honai’ which ends at 4pm. In ‘Honai’, Nancy Mteki exists on the axis of self-exploration in a society that shames whilst simultaneously sexualizing and objectifying the black female form. Through the series, her body transcends space encountering and challenging the public gaze, revealing her vulnerability and displaying her power.

Equipped with the camera and experience of rejection, mothering and loss she invites the audience to her reawakening. She boldly stares at you against the backdrop of domesticity rewriting history and challenging the narrative of Black African female voicelessness. Each image layered with political force, freezing time and space, pushes one to reimagine ‘woman’, ‘man’ and ultimately ‘self’.

Politics will find you


Ten points in the Government’s plan “to maintain economic growth and especially the creation of jobs”:

Ten Point Plan

1. Revitalizing Agriculture and the Agro-processing value chain
2. Advancing Beneficiation and/or Value Addition to our agricultural and mining resource endowment
3. Focusing on infrastructural development, particularly in the key Energy, Water, Transport and ICTs subsectors
4. Unlocking the potential of Small to Medium Enterprises
5. Encouraging Private Sector Investment
6. Restoration and building of confidence and stability in the financial services sector
7. Joint ventures/ public-private partnerships to boost the role and performance of state owned companies
8. Modernising Labour Laws
9. Pursuing an Anti-Corruption thrust
10. Implementation of Special Economic Zones to provide impetus for foreign direct investment

Source: Mugabe’s State of the Nation Address

Here are some excerpts from the Survey undertaken by Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI):

Key findings on incidence of lived poverty
The most serious shortage confronted by most Zimbabweans across the country was the problem of cash; Some Zimbabweans also reported deprivations in respect of other basic needs e.g. clean water, medicine, food, and fuel to cook food; Matabeleland North and South provinces were the two most affected by food shortages; Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces faced serious challenges in terms of access to clean water and fuel to cook food.

Key findings on Government performance & people’s development agenda
Government received worst rating in terms of job creation and most positive rating in terms of addressing educational needs; By far, unemployment ranked as the most important problem that confronts the current Government; A plurality felt the Government had not done anything important to them; The 2nd and 3rd most important problems survey respondents mentioned are: wages, incomes and salaries; and water supply; The next most important problems in the hierarchy are: corruption; poverty/destitution; and infrastructure like roads.


Interaction & trust in key institutions
Adult Zimbabweans frequently interacted with the church (71%), more than any other institution; Traditional leaders (37%) and ZANU-PF (37%) recorded comparably fair levels of interaction with the people; The survey also showed adult Zimbabweans’ interaction with political parties over the past year was generally very low; In addition to recording the highest level of interaction with the people, churches were the most trusted institutions in Zimbabwe (83%). Other include traditional leaders (65%) and traditional courts (63%) of law, and the NGOs/Civil society organizations (63%)

Perceptions of corruption
The survey showed that Zimbabweans are rarely involved in corrupt activities themselves, but thought that some of the people working in government institutions are involved in corruption; The public perceives the police to be the most corrupt institution (57%), followed by government officials (39%), ZIMRA (37%), local government councillors (36%) and Members of Parliament (35%). Judges and Magistrates are least suspected of being corrupt; Views on causes of Zimbabwe’s economic problems; Slightly more than half (53%) of Zimbabwe’s adult population shared the view that corruption, rather than sanctions, is to blame for the economic woes; Except for political party affiliation, this view was shared by ordinary Zimbabweans across gender, age groups, province and level of education.

Use of & trust in mobile money services
Roughly seven in ten (71%) Zimbabweans had used Ecocash over the past year; Telecash (17%) and Nettcash (7%); By far, the mobile money transfer service that adult Zimbabweans trust a lot is Ecocash (60%) compared to Telecash (31%) and Nettcash (21%).

Almost half of adult Zimbabweans thought the country was going in the wrong direction; Zimbabweans had a gloomy assessment of their present personal and country economic conditions; The problem of cash haunts the large majority of Zimbabweans; A plurality of Zimbabweans wanted the unemployment problem addressed by the Government; A majority of Zimbabweans had heard of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe; A majority of Zimbabwe professed ignorance about ZimAsset; A majority of Zimbabweans shared the view that natural resources are not benefiting them; To achieve transitional justice, a majority of Zimbabweans agreed that perpetrators should be held accountable for what they did; A majority of Zimbabweans thought that most police officers were involved in corrupt activities; Adult Zimbabweans, across all walks of life, used Ecocash for mobile money services more than they used Telecash and Nettcash; A majority of voting age citizens said they voted in the July 2013 elections and did so freely. They also found the July 2013 Presidential, Parliamentary and Council elections to be free and fair; The July 2013 elections recorded low levels of fear of political intimidation or violence (64% was not at all afraid) and incidents of intimidation (89% said no one threatened them).

Use this link read the complete Survey

MPOI suvey highlights Zimbabweans’ despair

The latest survey report from Zimbabwe’s Mass Public Opinion Institute shares some depressing, but not surprising, information from a public opinion survey conducted in September 2014.

At the time, 57% of respondents said they would rate Zimbabwe’s economic condition as fairly or very bad, and 51% said they would describe their own personal economic condition as fairly or very bad. 42% believed Zimbabwe’s economic condition in September 2014 was worse than it was during the Government of National Unity / Inclusive Government (2009-13).

According to the survey, “Farming came first as the main source of food for many Zimbabweans; in second place was the use of a salary; in third place was project income. Remittances from relatives also played a critical role.”

Of respondents in Bulawayo, roughly a third said they sourced food through use of a salary, a quarter through farming and a quarter through remittances from relatives and friends.

Download the survey findings here