A media briefing to commemorate the World Day Against The Death Penalty was held at the Media Centre in Harare with calls for the total abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

The media briefing, which brought together civic organizations such as Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender, Amnesty International, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, reiterated calls to do away with state sanctioned killings in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe marks this year’s event under a new constitution adopted in 2013, which partially abolished the death penalty but still retains capital punishment against men aged between 21 and 70 years old. The Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) believes that there is no rational justification for the harsher treatment that the constitution makes for men who are convicted of murder between the ages of 21 and 70.  Retention of the death penalty for men is incompatible with state obligations under article 2, 3 and 26 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Zimbabwe is a party.

Zimbabwe’s last execution was conducted in 2005.

Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International campaigns coordinator, called on the government to ensure equality through abolishing of the death penalty for all persons.  Women, who are currently on death row, no longer face the death penalty under the new constitution in Zimbabwe. A total 97 inmates are currently on death row. Recently the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was reported as sharing government’s commitment and vision for the abolition of capital punishment through reviewing sentences imposed on death row inmates.

Last week I was at the Harare Ward 8 budget consultation where, among other things, we were informed that our taps are dry across the city because 3 million people consume Harare water and current demand is 1,250 mega litres / day, and the city’s current pumping capacity is only 450 ML / day.

Then I saw an article in The Sunday Mail this weekend which said demand was 900 ML / day.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s planned shut down of water across Harare was required as one step to help pumping capacity get back up to its 600+ ML / day potential.

The thing is, according to last year’s census, Harare Water consumers are closer to 2.2 million than 3 million. And according to an experienced water Engineer, the exiting 450 ML / day would be enough to supply this population with 205 L of water per day. Bulawayo’s water production is 130 million litre per day, or 192 litre per person per day. Bulawayo is producing less water per person than Harare but provides continuous supply to all of its population.

So, what’s happening in Harare? Amongst other things, the city is losing 60% of treated, pumped water back out of the system through leaking pipes and unmetered water consumption. Never mind ZINWA’s efforts to both ban (in the city) and tax (outside the city) bulk abstraction – If Harare Water could supply the city as it should do, bulk abstraction wouldn’t even be a concern.

In other words, in the short term (think next ten years), Harare doesn’t need to build new dams or find new water sources to get water back into all of our taps 24/7. And it doesn’t need to be supplying 900+ ML / day! Instead, it needs to focus on fixing the existing pumping and piping infrastructure and getting the treated water Morton Jaffray (and to a lesser extent Prince Edward) supplies successfully into our taps.

Following an urgent High Court application filed by Epworth residents to bar the Epworth Local Board from razing their houses, High Court judge Justice Nicholas Manthosi on Thursday granted an interim relief to stop the demolitions. In a clear disregard of the Constitution, the Epworth Local Board and Chitungwiza Town Council backed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police embarked on a house demolition exercise last week without a court order, which resulted in property loss prompting residents to approach the court for protection.

Section 74 under the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms enshrined in Part of the [Cap 4] on the Declaration of Rights provides:

74: Freedom from arbitrary Eviction

No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order made after considering all the relevant circumstances.

Respondents listed in the urgent chamber application include Commissioner General of Police, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Local Government. Police in riot gear indiscriminately assaulted residents.  Justice Manthonsi urged local municipal authorities to follow the law and to approach courts for authority to do so and not to use the darkness of the night as cover to perform demolitions of houses they allowed to be constructed in broad daylight.
Lawyers representing the residents welcomed the ruling highlighting that it should set precedence to areas like Chitungwiza also affected by the same illegal action.

Doctors give government ultimatum

Here is a statement issued by doctors in light of the current problems facing the health care system in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA)

Parirenyatwa Group Of Hospitals
Po Box 198
Avondale
Harare

To: Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Health and Child Welfare

Cc: The Chairperson Health Services Board

Clinical Directors and Chief Executive Officers: Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Mpilo Hospital and Chitungwiza Hospital

Re: Ultimatum To Review Salaries, On Call Allowances and Working Conditions For JRMOS, SRMOS, SHOS and Registrars

This notice serves to inform your office that the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association is deeply concerned by the current salaries, allowances and working conditions for doctors working in the above mentioned government hospitals. After nationwide consultations with our membership over the last few months we resolved that the Association shall approach government through your office

-    To seek an upward review of the basic salary doctors are receiving from 282 dollars per month to a minimum of $ 1200 per month exclusive of allowances
-    The government must not charge all doctors residing in government provided accommodation the current exorbitant rates of $250.00
-    These rates should be reduced to $37 for bachelor’s flats and $45 for one bed roomed flats
-    We also resolved that government must pay at least 1.45 x hourly rate as on call allowances
-    The government must also reinstate the duty free facility where doctors can import vehicles without paying duty
-    Lastly the government must urgently come up with a comprehensive response to the possibility of an Ebola outbreak that shall protect doctors, other health workers and their families from the deadly disease

We expect your response to the above mentioned issues in writing within 14 days and failure of which will lead to a nationwide strike by our members.

ZHDA Executive Committee

An interview with Wellington Zindove, the Youth Forum Zimbabwe Coordinator

When was Youth Forum Zimbabwe formed?
The Youth Forum Zimbabwe was established in 2004 by a group of young people who felt that there was need for them to fight for a free, fair and inclusive political space in Zimbabwe.

What led to the decision to start the organization?
I think if you remember well around 1999 up to 2004 that is when, as a country, we started to experience serious problems relating to our politics. That is when we saw the emergence of political opposition parties and it was also the same time we felt as young people we were being excluded from mainstream political and economic processes. So Youth Forum Zimbabwe was formed as a response to the gap that was there between young people and decision-making at policy and political level.

Who plays the leading role in the Youth Forum?
Our members play the leading role. We are a membership-based organisation, we have members who are located in several provinces across the country and these include individuals and community based organisations. These are the people who form a Youth Forum democratic structure, which means we have representation at district, provincial and national level. These young people then elect their national leadership, which is called the national executive that forms the board that leads the organisation.

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Tell us about your vision?
Our vision is to see young people empowered to fully participate in social, economic and political processes in the country. We understand, as an organisation, that political participation in our context opens all the other avenues for economic and social opportunities.

What kind of programmes are you currently implementing?
We are robustly working on building our grassroots structures for effective mobilization and participation. So by this we are giving young people political orientation highlighting the importance of the youth’s participation in turning around the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. We are also strengthening the youth voice in governance through creating platforms of interaction between the government architecture, parliament and bureaucrats, for them to be able to have a clear understanding of the policy formulation processes and how they can influence it.

We are also very much involved in terms of trying to make young people set the agenda in the media. We realised that issues to do with youths are not really understood at various levels, be it at government or in parliament, so we are trying to engage young people to be active through various forms of media, be it social media, our newsletter and to a greater extent the mainstream media. In the light of the new constitution we are also trying to increase the literacy of young people regarding their civic, social and economic rights as enshrined in the constitution. Lastly, we have youth capacity building and empowerment as a response to the economic situation of young people. We are building youth’s capacity so that they come up with viable and bankable project proposals.

Share some of your highlights with us
Our jobs campaign has made a significant impact on our work in terms of bringing on board the policymakers. We are also working with the private sector and building partnerships to try and knock sense into the government for them to prioritise their expenditure and focus on resuscitating local industries.  Our local community advocacy processes program where young people identify issues in their communities they would want to work on, be it teenage pregnancies or politicisation of aid, has created a platform for engagement with stakeholders for deliberations with a view to redress and recourse.

Are you fulfilled with your work?
Not really! The environment is not complementary to our work. Issues of security, surveillance and also the regulation being done by the Zimbabwe Youth Council hinder the advancement of our work.

A study by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa) raises some worrying concerns about corruption in Kwekwe and Redcliff, and its implications for the rest of Zimbabwe.

As an ACT-Southern Africa media release about their new report put it:

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa)  confirmed that members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s traffic section could be harvesting and pocketing a minimum of US$780,187.50 bribe money per annum from a sample of 285 commuter omnibuses in Kwekwe and Redcliff alone. In the same vein the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Finance, could be losing a minimum of US$2,080,500.00 per year from the same number of commuter omnibuses. Similarly, the City of Kwekwe police were receiving bribes to allow commuter omnibuses to pick and drop passengers in the Central Business District (CBD).

The study confirmed that all drivers refusing to pay bribes are punished severely and in some instances forced to abandon the transport business, which has serious consequences of the survival and viability of the SME sector.

Furthermore, the City of Kwekwe’s licencing authority was accused of refusing to issue shops licences to SMEs against the Shop Licences Act which stipulates that such licences should be issued unconditionally. SMEs operating without shop licences and vendors decried being tired of paying bribes to the City of Kwekwe police and these have threatened protests if corruption and refusal to issue licences persists.

Complaints against members of the ZRP were that individual police officers were taking their private vehicles to checkpoints, which made it easy for them to hide ill-gotten money.  In Redcliff and at ZimBeef or Carswell turn-off two police officers from ZRP were seen staging a checkpoint on their own.

The SMEs refusing to pay bribes are often punished through a spate of exorbitant fines as has been demonstrated through two cases that have been highlighted in the report by ACT-Southern Africa. In one of the cases, the City of Kwekwe police impounded a commuter omnibus and only released it upon payment of US$270.

More shocking are revelations that the proceeds of corruption are being used for personal enrichment and the research team was hinted on massive accumulation of wealth by ZRP police officers who drive luxurious private motor vehicles, commuter omnibuses of their own, and other forms of wealth such as houses.

Read the full report

Trillions wanted

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trillions_wanted_140913

The health of urban residents should be the prime concern of us all – residents, elected representatives and employed officials.

An efficient pro-poor health system is not a luxury – in poor cities, like ours, it is essential. It is criminal that now, in the twenty-first century, we should be facing diseases like dysentery, cholera or typhoid, and that we have to collect dirty water in buckets from polluted streams, or defecate in a plastic bag.

Public toilets are an essential aspect of city life. They are not something the Council supplies out of benevolence -that we should be grateful for – but a necessity for a decent urban life even for the wealthy who have flush toilets at home or at work.

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Pay now for loadshedding later