Monday, November 15, 2010

WARD 14 POLICY DIALOGUE PAVES WAY FORWARD

By Information Department

‘All is well that ends well.’ This statement could be seen written all over the hopeful faces of Gwanda Ward 14 Advocacy Action Teams as they filed out of the venue of the policy dialogue meeting organised by Habakkuk Trust to address three pertinent issues in the ward.

N.G.O commits some borehole pipes
After the presentation of the community Position Paper and the deliberations that ensured thereafter, the Bethel Action Team was left breathing a sigh of relief after Lutheran Development Services committed to assist the communities with some second hand usable borehole pipes that have been extracted from their other programme areas.
This arrangement will be the villages’ short term stop gap measure as they may now try to resuscitate their broken down boreholes.
However, it was also resolved that more water points need to be establish so as to balance water usage and population growth. This was after villagers had indicated that the available boreholes were sunk to cater for 10 homesteads but now they are catering up to about 100 homesteads.
The community was also urged to resuscitate its water committees and ensure that they are helped to advocate for the repairs and construction of additional points in their Ward plans.

Shortage of water has been an advocacy issue in many areas where Habakkuk Trust is working including Bulawayo, Mangwe and Tsholotsho. Advocacy need to be directed to equip local and national governments to establish water banks and water budgets that will ensure that people enjoy their rights to clean and accessible water.

A new Village Development Committee to be elected
Ward 14 villagers are now set to elect a new Village Development Committees after the Policy Dialogue meeting resolved that the current committees for Sengezane and other villages in the ward were unduly and illegally constituted.
Though the issue of the VIDCO Structure had initially been a Sengezane issue only, after Mr Nkosilathi Ncube from Gwanda Rural District Council had explained the legal procedure of electing the committee under Statutory Instrument 15 of 2000, the villagers concurred with Mr Phineas Maphosa’s idea that ‘the problem is not at Sengezane only, therefore there must be fresh elections to pave way for proper structures in all the villages’.
Apparently it emerged that instead of having 6 members the current existing VIDCOs have only 3 and in some areas they are not being chaired by the Village Head as the law stipulates. This led to calls for all community members to be educated on how the committee is elected, its major duties and functions and terms of office.

Habakkuk Trust will be partnering the local authority in raising awareness on development structures and how they ought to function. The first training will be for Councillors on the 15th to the 16th of November 2010.

The problem of leadership crisis and subsequent imposition of leaders on partisan lines continues to be a major issue derailing development in most communities. Though the country has very high literacy levels, there is still little civic education targeted on civic rights and how people can participate and bring their leaders to account.

Villagers to form grazing committees
Villagers from Bhalula and Ward 14 at large have been urged to establish grazing committees that will manage and monitor their pastures so as to avert the aftermaths of droughts and corrupt land use practices.
The call was made by an Agritex Official during the Ward 14 Policy Dialogue meeting held in Gwanda. The call comes after Bhalula Villagers presented a Position Paper on the issue of shortage of grazing lands and how their grazing land was misappropriated by political heavyweights in the community.

The Agritex official said if grazing committees were in place they could have averted the unfortunate land wrangle that now occurs.

It was also resolved in the meeting that the Councillor, the Rural District Council, Habakkuk Trust and the villagers need to visit the Ministry of Land s and clarify on the ownership of the land adjacent to Dubani Ranch which is now a conflict between villagers and some Cold Storage Commission officers.
Some villagers narrated chilling experiences of how the CSC officers have threatened them with guns trying to evict them from the land being wrangled.

Land disputes continue to be an order of the day in Zimbabwe especially after the government’s land resettlement programme. The 2010 Government led Land Audit has revealed that people with either political power or connections have usurped the programme for self enrichment at the detriment of other land deserving citizens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Zimbabwe Elections - Putting the Cart before the Horse

By Dumisani O. Nkomo-Chief Executive Officer –Habakkuk Trust

The Zimbabwean political leadership, chiefly President Robert Mugabe has become obsessed on talks about elections in 2011. The opposition M.D.C led by Morgan Tsvangirai has disappointingly joined in this discordant choir calling for elections in 2011 in spite of the fact that the situation on the ground is hardly conducive for free and fair elections. Civil society and churches have been clear in calling for comprehensive policy and constitutional reform as a pre-requisite and priority not just for elections but also for the process of democratic transition.
I would like to argue that it is unrealistic and na├»ve to advocate for elections in Zimbabwe in 2011 hardly three years after the last elections in which Mugabe was beaten by Tsvangirai. The opposition, SADC, sections of the international community and a portion of civil society are now so infatuated with elections that they have ignored reason and like a starry eyed adolescent believe that an election will solve Zimbabwe’s problems in spite of the fact that the bulk of the institutional and structural factors that contributed to disputed elections in 2008 are still in place. Mugabe’s prime objective is to seek legitimacy and to consolidate political power at all costs and he seems to have found willing partners. His strategy is an election which will ensure that he no longer has to share power with the M.D.Cs.
Tsvangirai who has been at the forefront of the struggle for democratization has tragically miscalculated in calling for elections as his party is not ready for elections as evidenced by his party’s failure to mobilize it’s constituency in the constitution making process. More critically the M.D.C is naively delusional to the reality that it does not control the levers of power which are critical to the transfer of power. There is nothing to suggest that the M.D.C has a strategy to influence the effective transfer of power. To base an argument for elections to be held on the promises made by Mugabe to Tsvangirai that the next elections will not be disputed is like holding on to a promise made by a lion to a sheep that it [the lion] would not eat the sheep no matter how hungry the lion becomes.
Broadly and importantly elections in Zimbabwe should be predicated on the implementation of the Global Political Agreement which the three main political parties signed, and adherence to the SADC GUIDELINES ON THE CONDUCT OF DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS. As things stand today only a tenth of the agreement has been implemented. The agreement was signed by the country’s political leadership with SADC as guarantors and the country’s political leadership has to own up to what it signed. Admittedly the Agreement is inherently faulty but it offers the only realistic solution to the country’s political, social and political crisis. Holding the elections may move the country back and not forward. The script is still the same so the result will obviously be the same.
In order to correct the imbalances in the country’s political and social architecture the following issues should be addressed [All these are contained in the Global Political Agreement]:
1. Amicable conclusion of the constitution making process in a conducive political environment
2. Implementation of the national healing process as outlined in article 7 of the Global Political Agreement. The organ which the government set to deal with issues of national healing has failed to develop a proper framework for healing and conflict transformation as well as effective public outreach in this context. This process is important if we are to move forward because elections and political processes are the context in which violence takes place in Zimbabwe. We are talking about elections when the wounds of victims of political violence are still fresh from the 2008 elections, the 2005 elections, the 2000 elections and the massacre of 30,000 Matabeles in the period prior to the 1985 elections.
3. Institutional reform – including security sector reforms
4. De-politicization of traditional leadership.
5. Granting of licenses to independent broadcasters.
6. Freedom of association, assembly and free political participation
7. Security of persons
8. Review of sanctions and measures - sanctions and measures have failed and have only given Mugabe and his cronies propaganda ammunition to use to woe African leaders and the electorate. Removal of these measures will provide leverage to engage Mugabe on other issues as well as to woe SADC leaders.
9. Setting up of the economic advisory council - the country needs to be given time to stabilize and grow. An early election may send the wrong signals and result in stalling of investment and growth as a result of waning investment.
10. Setting up a land audit. This is important but there is lack of political will to make this happen because it implicates hundreds of top ZANU PF big wigs who benefitted from land grab at the expense of ordinary Zimbabweans.
This may appear to be a wish list but we need to start making the wish list into a shopping list as there are things which are too expensive to ignore at the moment. Strategically it will be important to look at what is achievable and what is attainable, within which time frames and to prioritize the things that can be achieved. The Global Political Agreement has gives space to civil society and the Zimbabwean people to begin to engage. It has also given the M.D.Cs a little bit of strategic influence through their presence in government. They should not sacrifice this at the altar of political expedience. We need a pragmatic approach to Zimbabwean politics and the regional /international dynamics that accompany it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

POSITION PAPER ON THE EDUCATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN GWANDA WARD 2

PREPARED AND PRESENTED BY THE GWANDA WARD 2 COMMUNITY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HABAKKUK TRUST

Habakkuk Trust under its Local Level Capacity Building Programme carried out extensive consultations with Local leadership in Gwanda Ward 2. These consultations were followed by training workshops in Dambashoko, Datata-Silikwe and Zhukwe areas and public meetings in these areas. It was during these two stages of the programme that issues pertaining to the ward were raised. The issue of educational infrastructure came out as a matter of concern which needed urgent attention.

Dambashoko

Dambashoko Primary School
The school was built in 1933 and has four (4) blocks
The community concerns were as follows:

• The school is old and the walls are falling
• Some classroom blocks do not have windows
• Grade zero pupils learn under a tree.
• The existing blocks are being shared between secondary school children and primary school children.
• Inadequate cottages for teachers, primary and secondary school teachers are sharing the same cottages.
• Furniture is not enough for pupils they learn sitting on the floor.
• The school office is too small and insecure; money, records and exam papers for both primary and secondary school are kept in the same office.
• Books are lost and furniture is broken as school children move furniture from classes.

In view of the above concerns the community needs are as follows;

• 2 additional classroom blocks be built
• Administration block with shelves
• 3 cottages with five rooms each are shared by both secondary and primary school teachers.
• Furniture for Grades (zero-seven) chairs, tables benches desks.
• Cabinets to secure confidential information and exam papers







Assistance needed for building

• Cement, brick force, Damp Coarse
• Roofing material, trusses, asbestos and the nails.
• Window frames, window panes and air vents putty
• Door frames, doors and lock sets.
• black and white paint


Community contributions

• Brick making,
• Pit sand, river sand,
• Quarry
• Water
• Manpower



Datata Silikwe

Datata Primary School

Datata Primary school was built in 1951 and has 2 classroom blocks. The school has 190 children and 5 teachers. An additional block is at foundation level. Teachers have 2 cottages.

Community concerns were as follows:

• Grade one to seven share four classes.
• Children traveling long distances to better schools
• Teachers’ cottages are far from the school and are shared between male and female teachers this limits their freedoms and is morally improper.

Assistance needed

The community has built a block to foundation level and need assistance to complete the block.





Materials needed

• Cement
• Window frames and panes
• Doors and locks
• Damp coarse and brick force
• Air vents and wire
• Paint
• Roofing, trusses, asbestos, nails,

Community contributions

• Manpower
• Bricks
• Pit sand
• River sand
• Water


Zhukwe East and West

Wilikisa Primary School

The school was established in 2002 during the fast track land reform programme. The school comprises of one incomplete block. The school has an enrolment of 133 pupils with 4 teachers.

The community concerns were as follows:

• Enrolment has declined as a result of pupils learning in the open
• Teachers have left the school for better areas as they complained of eye complications due to exposure to the sun.
• Some pupils complain of similar eye complications as well.
• Grade zero, one and two learn at a nearby church, whilst grades four to seven share this incomplete structure.
• Learning and teaching becomes difficult as this confuses pupils.
• The teachers have no cottages they are housed at the local business centre.
• The structure that was built has no floor, windows, and roofing.







In view of the above concerns the community proposed that:

The school’s one block be completed

• The above block needs: cement for the floor, 2 door frames. 20 window frames, putty and window panes.
• 18 trusses,15 by 9 rafters, 22 air vents, 84 by 3.3 meters asbestos sheets, 28 ridges and asbestos nails
• The school also needs 3 additional blocks including administration block
• 2 teacher’s cottages of F.14 Plan.

Assistance needed:

• Damp coarse
• Brick force
• Door frames and doors four per block and lock sets
• Window frames putty and panes
• Cement
• Air vents
• Roofing material
• Funds for the builders
• School furniture
• White wash paint
• Perimeter fence and gates

Community Contributions:

• Labour
• Bricks, pit sand and river sand
• 40 by 3.3m asbestos sheets
• 4 interior doors
• 22 benches
• 25 double desks
• 20 single desks

Thursday, November 4, 2010

RESIDENTS COMPLAIN OF CORRUPTION BY ZESA OFFICIALS
By Linda Moyo

Bulawayo residents have questioned the criteria that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority uses to disconnect power supply in residential areas and complain of rampant corrupt tendencies by the Authority’s officials.

Speaking during a Public Dialogue Meeting organized by Habakkuk Trust at the Bulawayo Small City Hall recently, residents complained that instead of targeting those consumers who do not pay their bills ZESA officials deliberately disconnect those that have little balances and then have the potential to pay bribes.

‘We want to know as residents the criteria that you use to disconnect your services as we have seen you disconnect for those that pay regularly, and the very people will obviously be talked into paying something else for reconnection?’ asked one Linda Ncube.

In response however the ZESA Regional Manager Mr Chinaka insisted that the authority targets those that have never paid since multi-currencing and then those that have paid little. ‘There is no way we can do that, what we do is look at who has never paid, then next on target is those that have paid once, twice up until everyone is disconnected,’ said Chinaka.

Furthermore the Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, Gorden Moyo, informed residents that his Ministry had passed a Corporate Governance Framework that aims at curbing corruption in the parastatals.

According to Hon. Moyo the framework will mandate parastatals to be audited and flight their audited financial reports on newspapers. Moreover the framework is based on Ubuntu philosophy, values and principles where the use of parastatals for personal and political gains is prohibited.

‘This framework is based on Ubuntu philosophy and those parastatals that charge high bills for personal and political gains will be dealt with-in the framework because we won’t have people charging outrageous bills for purposes of paying salaries, ’ said Hon. Moyo.

Friday, June 25, 2010

MINISTER OPENS HABAKKUK – MTHABISI EXHIBITION
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

The new Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, Honourable Gorden Moyo yesterday officially opened Voices in Colour, a visual arts exhibition by a resident artist Mthabisi Phili.Voices in Colour is an annual exhibition which began last year and is this year running under the theme Blue Pencil.

Addressing at least 130 guests who braved the chilly weather and sacrificed the World Cup matches to have a feel of Phili’s artistic expression, the Minister applauded the work outlining that he was able to visualize the entire spectrum of our country through the art as soon as he walked into the exhibition hall.
‘Art transforms this world, it transforms our communities and it also transforms our societies,’ said the Minister as he commended Habakkuk Trust for getting into such a partnership with Mthabisi.

Mthabisi Phili took had the opportunity not only to expresses his profound gratitude for the support received from various partners who made his exhibition a success but also took the time to explain what inspired the Voices in Colour Annual exhibition and the theme ‘Blue pencil’, which refers to censorship.

The Habakkuk Trust Chief Executive Officer took time to explain to the delegates why the organisation had partnered with the artist in this year’s edition of Voices in Colour. ‘Habakkuk Trust is an organisation that exists to give a voice to the voiceless. Voices in Colour is an artistic voice that is used by Mthabisi to depict the social, economic, political and human rights in a creative and intriguing manner.’
Nkomo further told the delegates that Habakkuk Trust would be conducting a series of public lectures on the key issues depicted on Phili’s pieces. ‘As part of the exhibition there will be public lectures on the role of youths in civic participation, the role of ex-combatants in peace building, the role of the church in nation building and the role of civic society in nation building.’

This Saturday, the 26th of June 2010 there will be a ‘Walk About’ from 1000 to 1200 hours where the artist will take time to explain in detail the inspiration behind his work. The exhibition will run up to the 24th of July.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

COPAC OUTREACH TEAM IN NO SHOW
By Media and Publications Officer

It is already 1530hours and a handful of Bulawayo’s Ward 1 residents who had turned up for a Constitutional outreach meeting are growing impatient and some are already leaving the gates of the Large City Hall as the Constitutional Select Committee on the Constitution (COPAC) Outreach team has failed to turn up.

Habakkuk Trust was at the venue of the first Constitutional Outreach meeting in Bulawayo for a meeting that was scheduled to start at 1400 hours. This was according to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution (COPAC) press announcement in the radio news bulletin earlier today.

Disappointed residents were seen leaving the meeting venue in turns, as hopes for the team’s arrival started waning. There was no communication whatsoever on the cancellation or likely delay of the meeting.

Meanwhile a Habakkuk Trust snap survey done in Ward 1’s residential areas earlier today revealed that the majority of the Ward residents were not aware of the meeting. Of the 89 residents who participated in the snap survey 80 confessed that they were not aware that there was such a meeting in their ward today at 1400 hours. Only 8 residents claimed to be aware of the meeting whilst one was not sure of the actual date of the meeting. One resident who spoke on condition of anonymity even suggested that COPAC should also put notices in the World Cup Fan Parks since these days most people visit those areas for the soccer matches.
There are unconfirmed reports that in Bulawayo and Harare the whole process will be postponed until after the end of the World Cup.

COMMENT: It is with great concern that Bulawayo Ward 1 residents’ were today denied their constitutional freedom of expression due to the COPAC Outreach Team’s failure to turn up for this important meeting.
Habakkuk Trust has been keeping close tabs on the unfolding of the Outreach process and is not surprised about the latest chaos. Earlier this week there was also confusion regarding the accreditation of the teams in Bulawayo and Gwanda. Media reports went on to reveal that there was a likelihood of another delay in the process following non-payment of allowances and hotel accommodation for some teams.

Monday, June 7, 2010

MOTHERS FAIL TO ACCESS PMTCT
By Ndumeya Moyo (Local Governance Officer)

BULAWAYO - Scores of pregnant women on Bulawayo are finding it difficult to commence Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission medication due to the exorbitant maternity fees demanded at the Bulawayo City Council clinics.

According to the latest council minutes, the local authority is currently charging US$50 for maternity fees, this has become a deterrent for many pregnant mothers as they are unable to pay it all at one go. This in turn deters many from testing for HIV and further accessing PMTCT for the unborn babies.
Councilors raised concerns at Full Council meeting held on the 2nd of June 2010 that there was an increase in the number of children who have been commenced on A.R.Vs because their mothers had failed to access PMTCT services. They said that this is disturbing and measures should be taken to ensure that mothers could pay this amount in installments and at the same time allowing them to access treatment. It was felt that Council cannot allow a situation where people are sent back home without testing and accessing treatment. The Director of Health and the Chairperson of the Health, Housing and Education committee have since been tasked to come up with mechanisms that will enable expecting mothers to pay in installments.

COMMENT:
The actual cost of the maternity service at a Council Clinic is US$78 but currently Council is charging US$50 and subsidizes the US$28. In as much as we might call for the further reduction of the charge, residents should be aware that further reductions might jeopardize the quality of such an essential service. However, it will be commendable for Council to agree on terms of payment for the expecting mothers so as to allow them to get tested and access PMTCT for their unborn babies. This information comes barely a week after the Chronicle reported that the number of HIV and AIDS related deaths is at 1300 per week.
Habakkuk Trust has been advocating for the Access to Treatment for People Living with HIV and AIDS and the HIV and AIDS Indaba that was held in March 2009 saw the Bulawayo City Council starting to implement a two month old resolution that was enabling People Living With HIV and AIDS not to pay consultation fees when going for refill their drugs.

US$7 MILLION FOR MTSHABEZI PIPELINE?

BULAWAYO - The government has allocated US$7 million for the Mtshabezi pipeline but it is worrying that to date nothing has happened on site.

Councilors raised concern about the US$7Million that was given by the Government for the Mtshabezi pipeline to be connected to Umzingwane saying nothing has been done to date. Councilor Israel Mabaleka said there is need for an action plan to guide the process. He added that there is need to know the exact location of the money, suggesting further that it could be put in unit trusts and generate more for Council. Another Councillor and the Deputy Mayor Councilor Amen Mpofu concurred saying that the status of the project on paper should symbolize what is on the ground.

A total of US$21 Million is required for the success of this project but only US$7 Million was allocated. Councilor Gideon Mangena the Acting Chairperson for the Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee concluded this issue by saying that Bulawayo needs water like yesterday, however Council has limited jurisdiction especially with regards the Mtshabezi pipeline. He said this is entirely the business of Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) as it deals with bulk water. In as much as the concerned Committee and Council might push for the success of the issue their hands are tied and short. The Mayor Councilor Thaba Moyo said there is need to push the issue further and that the US$7 Million that was availed is pathetic, there is need to engage Council to engage the residents at ward level to start lobbying the Members of Parliament and Senators from this region to put pressure to the concerned Ministry as soon as possible.

COMMENT:
Access to clean and adequate water has been a critical advocacy issue that has come up in nearly all the urban and rural communities that Habakkuk Trust works with. The Bulawayo Advocacy Action Teams have pushed the water issue to an Indaba that was held in 2008 where various stakeholders who also included the City Council, Civic Society organisations, the Academia, residents and Water experts debated on the possible lasting solutions to the perennial water problems bedeviling the City. Though the Indaba resolved that the Mtshabezi - Umzingwane pipeline needed to be sped up, subsequent national budget allocations have seen little funds allocated to the project. The organisation has even engaged the Minister of Water Resources on the issue in order for the Ministry to give priority to the project.
Once completed the project is expected to increase the water supply to Zimbabwe’s second largest city and this will in turn catapult investment in the once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BULAWAYO POWER STATION TO BE REFURBISHED
By Khumbulani Maphosa – Media and Publications Officer

BULAWAYO – Latest media reports suggest that Zimbabwe’s ZESA Holdings has clinched an agreement with Botswana’s power company, Botswana Power Corporation, which will result in the refurbishment of the derelict and unused Bulawayo Power Station.

Presenting the latest developments to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, the Zimbabwe Power Company managing director Mr Noah Gwariro, is quoted in the Chronicle revealing that the Intergovernmental agreement will be officially signed on the 15th of May 2010. He further revealed that ‘ a loan agreement will also be signed with Zesa Holdings while BPC and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company will sign a power purchase agreement.’
After the refurbishment, the power company is expected to produce around 90MW, of which 40MW would be exported to Botswana.

Comment
Habakkuk Trust has been advocating on the issue of power and energy and on 29 September 2008 the organisation held an Indaba on Energy, which was attended by residents, ZESA Regional managers, CSOs, the academia, media personnel and Bulawayo Councillors and Council staff. At this Indaba it was suggested that the power utility (ZETDC) should explore other sources of energy such as wind and solar. Calls were further made for the maximization and refurbishment of all existing electricity generation plants.
The Bulawayo City Council, with support from the residents, challenged ZETDC to hand back the Bulawayo Thermal Power station to the local authority as it had previously run it well.
Bulawayo residents will also be hoping that the refurbishment of the power station will increase the power supply in the city thus boost the industrial and commercial operational capacity which has been adversely affected by long hours of load-shedding.
CONSTITUTION MAKING TAKING TOO LONG: RESIDENTS
By Media and Publications Officer

Bulawayo residents have expressed concern that the making of Zimbabwe’s new constitution is taking too long than previously suggested and expected.

According to the Habakkuk Trust results of the Opinion Poll conducted during the recently ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, residents who participated in the poll expressed concerns on the tortoise pace with which the process is moving.

‘We need the constitution before elections’ suggested a resident from Killarney. Another resident from Luveve had this to say, ‘The process of writing the new constitution should be speeded up.’ This was concurred by a resident from Richmond who said, ‘the constitution making process must be done at a faster speed. As of the moment the process is non-existent.’ Other residents from Luveve accused the civic society saying, ‘You have been talking about this constitution issue for a long time, its not coming up, you should know why because you talk to these people.’ There are some residents who felt that the problem is that ‘the process is polarised along political lines (ZANU PF vs MDC a resident from Ward 6.

Habakkuk Trust called the COPAC offices today seeking clarity on the delays in the constitution making process and a female COPAC official who refused to identify herself, revealed that there would be a press statement on Friday pertaining to the progress of the constitution making process. This statement, she said, will appear in the Herald and the Chronicle.
COPAC has been issuing numerous conflicting press statements, which have not culminated to practical action. On signing the Global Political Agreement (GPA) the Principals in the agreement had initially agreed to make the constitution making process a top priority.

Habakkuk Trust will continue monitoring and creating awareness around the constitution making process. This is inline with the organisation’s vision of ‘enhancing citizen participation in decision-making processes.’

Monday, May 3, 2010

ILLEGAL SELL OF HOUSES ON THE INCREASE IN BULAWAYO
Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

BULAWAYO - There seems to be an upsurge in the illegal sell of houses in Bulawayo’s high-density suburbs as evidenced by an incident reported in the local IsiNdebele newspaper, UMthunywa, where a house has been sold five times without the owner’s knowledge.

According to media reports carried in the latest edition of UMthunywa (30 April to 6 May), this house which is Tshabalala, house number 7559/10 has been sold five times to five different people without the owner’s knowledge. The media reports claim that the house, which belongs to Sophia Mpofu, who is now based in Harare, is under the custody of her niece Siphiwe Ndlovu who is now blind. The paper further reports that Siphiwe Ndlovu was last week on Wednesday evicted by the people who claimed to have bought the house.
It is also reported that the house was recently advertised in another local paper as being sold for $10 000.
The paper further reports that when the residents’ association representatives visited the housing office they discovered that the ownership of the house has not been changed from Sophia Mpofu.

COMMENT: Habakkuk Trust can confidently report that the issue of the illegal sell of houses is not peculiar to Tshabalala only. The organisation has, since 2007 been advocating on the same issue in Mpopoma, a suburb adjacent to Tshabalala. Apart from gathering empirical evidence on the houses sold in Mpopoma, the organisation has gone to the extent of holding two public sensitization meetings where a total of 220 members of the public have been educated on the procedures to be followed in the sell of houses as well as other related concerns by representatives from the High Court, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre and the Bulawayo City Council. Another meeting is set for the 23rd of May 2010 at Mpopoma Community hall for the same reasons of creating awareness on the issue. Through the advocacy actions of the Habakkuk Trust Action Team in Mpopoma one case is now being handled by the courts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DEVOLUTION OF POWER IS NON-NEGOTIABLE: POLITICAL PARTIES
By Media and Publications Officer

In a rare moment of unity, togetherness and purposefulness, political parties operational in Matabeleland converged together to come up with a common regional position on the constitution courtesy of the Habakkuk Trust constitutional sector meeting.

The meeting that was held at the Habakkuk Trust Umkhankaso Centre on Friday 5 March 2010 had regional representatives from both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC and MDC-T), Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), United People’s Party (UPP) and Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (PUMA).
Of commonality from all the parties was devolution of power, which they said is non-negotiable, and should be enshrined in the constitution. Other issues that strongly resonated from all the parties were issues to do with limited powers of the executive, clear separation of powers in the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. They also agreed that the tenure of office for the presidency should be a maximum of two terms and each term should be five years.

Minor differences, however, were evident on the kind of legislature, as some preferred a bi-cameral system and others were of the one house parliament where the senate is abolished as they said it is a strain to the fiscal resources. There were also some minor differences on the electoral systems to be used though the majority of them opted for proportional representation and only MDC-T preferred what they termed the hybrid system which is a mixture of both proportional representation and first past the post system.

The Habakkuk Trust sector meetings on the constitution continue today (09 March 2010) with a sector meeting for Councilors which is expected to be attended by all Councilors from the City of Bulawayo and will focus more on systems of government.
DUAL CITIZENSHIP A MUST: NON-CITIZENS SECTOR MEETING
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

Participants at the Habakkuk Trust sector meeting organised for non-citizens/aliens have underscored the need for the new constitution to realise the importance of dual citizenship and provide it to its citizens.

Contributing during the proceedings of the meeting, participants noted that some of them were born in Zimbabwe and they know nothing of their ancestral countries and therefore they should be accorded Zimbabwean citizenship. They said dual citizenship would make it easy for children of aliens to be realized as Zimbabwean citizens and have full enjoyment of human rights in their country of birth.

Mr G. Moyo an educationist by profession bemoaned the rampant discrimination and disrespect of human rights in the country, based on ethnic lines. He said most descents of Malawi and Zambia are treated as second-class citizens in Zimbabwe, which ironically is their country of Birth. He therefore demanded that ‘aliens should get equal rights and enjoy equal rights and privileges as other citizens.’
He further challenged the use of derogatory and discriminatory terms used in the country’s national documents, terms such as ‘extra territorial students’ for non-citizen students, and ‘aliens’ which is used in the national Identity cards referring to those not of Zimbabwean origin.
Commenting on the same issue Mrs S. Sakala suggested that ‘kungathini ukuthi bafake ilizwe engivela kulo kulokuthi u Alien?’ (Why can’t they indicate my country of origin instead of using the word alien?). Other participants also suggested the use of acronyms such as NC or FC (Non-Citizen and Foreign Citizen respectively) instead of Alien.
Participants also stressed the need for non-citizen children to be accorded equal educational opportunities with local students. They therefore called for the scrapping of the additional foreign levy that they pay in schools and ensuring that their students are also awarded scholarships.

The Habakkuk Trust Constitutional Sector meetings continue today (05 March 2010) with a sector meeting for all the political parties operating in the Matabeleland Region.
ABOLISH NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE: YOUTH SECTOR MEETING.
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Information and Publicity Officer)

Participants at the Habakkuk Trust sector meeting for Youths and Children have underscored the need for the National Youth Service not to be constitutionalised so as to protect it from being politically usurped.

Speaking during the proceedings of the sector think tank meeting on the 25th February 2010, most participants who included youths, students and representatives of youth organisations said ‘the national youth service should not be a political issue but a national agenda with the interests of the youths and the nation’.
They further demanded that the Youths Service should be a platform for job creation and an area for skills training. It was thus resolved that the National Youth Service should not be put in the constitution but should be looked at as a strategy for Youth Empowerment and Development.

Other issues that were raised included the recognition of the rights of children of offenders especially when they are with their parents in prison.
Mrs Mlala from Childline further probed the new constitution to consider the rights of children who are in conflict with the law. She was concerned that child offenders are sometimes publicly humiliated which violates their rights as children.

Other key issues that were debated included the need for the legal age of majority to be raised from 18 years to 21 years, the democratization of the Junior Council and enshrining Education as a right for every child.
ACCESS TO TREATMENT SHOULD BE A CONSTITUTIONAL.
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

Participants in the sector meeting organised for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) have underscored the need for the constitution to guarantee free access to medication for People Living with HIV/AIDS and enshrine the right to health as a basic human right.

During a meeting that was attended by 35 participants and held at the Habakkuk Trust Boardroom on Wednesday 24 February 2010, participants also stressed the need for the decentralization of all medical services. Mrs S. Nyathi, from National AIDS Council stressed that the new constitution should ‘decentralize HIV and AIDS treatment just like any other condition’ and further challenged the PLWHAs themselves to think beyond ‘access to treatment and look at constitutional mechanisms of fighting stigma and further transmissions’. These sentiments were further echoed by a representative of a government parastatals, Mrs Brenda Homela who suggested that the constitution should make decentralization provisions that will ensure that ‘people be given ART at the workplace as they waste many valuable time traveling to queue at the OI clinics during working hours’. She said this could be very practical especially to those companies and parastatals that have ‘workplace medical clinics’ like the National Railways of Zimbabwe among others.

There was also debate on the use of the AIDS Levy currently being collected by government from civil servants. Most participants felt that the AIDS levy should benefit mostly those who are poor. Mr Davies Mazodze, a Lecturer and HIV Activists stated that ‘the private sector should also start contributing something to the AIDS Levy so that we can gather more resources for deserving people’.

The major issues that came out as constitutional issues from the meeting were issues to do with; the right to health, the right to access to medication, universal access to treatment, right not to be discriminated, the right to housing in spite of your HIV status, the right to Adequate medical information so as to fight stigma, discrimination and the continued spread of HIV and AIDS and the right to access state resources to curb the effects of HIV and AIDS.

The sector think tanks will continue on the 25th of February with one on Youths and Children.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

EDUCATION SHOULD BE A RIGHT FOR ALL.
By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

The right to education should be a right for every individual and the government should have an obligation to ensure that it provides quality, affordable and accessible education to all. Participants made this call during the Education Sector Think Tank meeting held at the Habakkuk Trust Boardroom on 23 February 2010.

The meeting was attended by 31 participants who included students, teachers, members of Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), members of various School Development Associations and some civic society members concerned with the education sector.
Anele Dube from Matabeleland Empowerment Campaign stressed the need for tertiary institution in the region to adopt a quota system whereby a ‘large percentage of the students should be people from the region where the university is located’.
Mr Enock Paradzayi from PTUZ also presented some of the key issues they would want to see appearing in the constitution as an organisation. Some of them include: Accessible and affordable higher and tertiary education, fees that are not way above the salaries of government workers, government intervention in the operations of private schools so as to ensure quality and non-discriminatory education, education being done in minority languages, teaching being recognized as a profession, minimum wages above the poverty datum line, the right to participate in collective bargaining, among other issues.
‘What the human mind is to a teacher, is what the body is to a doctor’ explained Mr Paradzayi who was passionate about the issue of temporary teachers and lack of an independent teacher self-regulatory body.

Some participants further called for a constitution that will ensure that the education system of this country produces a wholesome human being and one that is ‘cognizance of the socio-economic needs of the society’. This they claimed can be achieved if the country ‘adopt a two-tier education system, that is, an academic and vocational system’ suggested Mr Printah Nkala a University Lecturer.

Mr Dumisani Ndlovu who represented ZIMTA stressed the need for ‘a law that questions any child of school going age who is seen not going to school’. This will also be complimented by ‘policies that may arrest a parent or guardian or parent who is able but does not take responsibility’ of sending a child to school.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

CALL FOR MEDIA FREEDOM IN NEW CONSTITUTION
By the Media and Publications Officer

Media practitioners who took part in the Habakkuk Trust Think Tank on the constitution have underscored the need for the new constitution to guarantee media freedom.

The participants who were drawn from various media houses, media organisations and media associations in the city convened to discuss the Media and The Constitution.
Contributing during the Think Tank proceedings one of the participants indicated that while the constitution acknowledges freedom of expression, this is not sufficient. ‘The constitution should guarantee press freedom and protect journalists as they do their work,’ he said.

A media student present in the meeting pointed out that having constitutional provisions is one thing but implementation of those provisions is more important. ‘ We should be allowed to carry out investigative journalism without fear of victimization by political leaders” he argued.

There was a call for that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and Zimpapers operate as public and not state broadcasters. There was also an outcry for the opening of media space for example by freeing the airwaves so as to allow more media players as this is a basic component of any democratic society‘ .The government should support the opening up of space creating room for community, commercial and public broadcasting.

It was agreed that further advocacy should be done around this issue. Journalists also demanded an independent and dully constituted Media Commission that is fully empowered to deal with violation of ethics. This will ensure that the media adheres to ethics that are fundamental to human rights and development.

Some participants actually called for the abolition of the Ministry of Information and Publicity, as the ministry is rendered useless where there are effective, independent and functional media bodies. They concluded that the Ministry of Information and Publicity is an autocratic tool used by dictator states to control the free flow of information .The media practitioners were unanimous in pinpointing the need of a self regulating structure for journalists by journalists.

The Think Tank meetings continue next week in which the focus will be on Languages as well as Arts and Culture.

*Please note: names of participants have been deliberately withheld for security reasons.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

“CONSTITUTION SHOULD PROTECT OUR RIGHTS”: YOUTH THINK TANK
By Media and Publications Officer

Participants at the Youth Think Tank meeting held at Habakkuk Trust yesterday have stressed the need for the new constitution to protect the rights of the ordinary citizens.

Youths who spoke passionately on the need to have a constitutional framework that guarantees not only the freedom to exercise one’s rights also called for fair and just mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
This therefore calls for the capacity building of all law enforcement agents as they have been violating people rights both by default and by design, said the participants.
Francis, a university student, reiterated that “We have seen arbitrary arrests and searching on the streets and if you challenge it the police beat you thoroughly, and even if you comply they beat you again.” “We need to change from the current system where by the police, if they suspect you to be a criminal, they ‘shoot and then ask questions later’” pleaded Bhekumuzi Moyo.
The youths further stressed the need for the new constitution to mandate the government to speedily domesticate international laws and protocols. Other issues that emerged as pertinent during the meeting were the rights to information, the right to protection, the freedom after speech and freedom to exercise one’s rights without fear.

The meeting also brought out the need for the National Youth Council to be completely overhauled and be constitutionally constituted so as to effectively address the needs and concerns of youths irrespective of political affiliations.
“The National Youth Service was as a very noble idea that was unfortunately badly executed as it fell on the wrong hands,” observed Pastor Muchina who also said the institute should tap from international youth service institutions and concentrate in teaching life skills, values, and nationhood and empower youths to be responsible citizens.
The meeting that was attended by youths from various sectors that included CSOs, churches and Habakkuk Trust Action Teams discussed issues to do with Youth representation at decision making levels, the majority age and bill of rights.

The Habakkuk Trust sector Think Tanks continue today with a Think Tank for the Women and specifically tackling the thematic areas of Women and Gender, Land, Natural Resources and Empowerment and Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CONSTITUTIONAL THINK TANKS KICK START.

Habakkuk Trust has kick-started the sector based Think Tanks with members of the community converging to discuss pertinent issues pertaining to the content of the Constitution. Present in the first think tank of 26 January 2010 were members of the Action Team members and representatives from churches who convened to discuss Arms of the State, Executive Organs of the State and Systems of Government.

Participants stressed the need for a new order that will ensure that there is proper devolution of power that will entail local people getting control of local resources. They also agreed that there should be provincial legislatures to enable legislatures to be in touch with the people. “Sikhathele ngokwenzelwa izinto yiHarare kasiphiwe lathi amandla okuzibambela okwethu” reiterated Masibonge Ncube from Entumbane. (We are fade up with the centralized system where the capital, Harare, controls everything. We should be given powers to run our own affairs).

Another participant stressed the need for the security services like the Army, the Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation to report directly to parliament instead of reporting to the presidency. This they said will help to protect the security of the civilians than that of individuals in power.

Reverend Sibindi pointed out that there should be clear mechanisms for government to
report back to the people instead of the one-way upward information flow that exists now.

Another issue of interest during the Think Tank was the presidential term of office. Participants consented that the term of office for the president should be two terms of five years.

The Habakkuk Trust Programmes Manager Miss Belinda Gumbo explains that there will be a series of Think Tanks targeting various community interest groups in preparation for the COPAC Constitutional Outreach programme. She also explained that the Think Tanks come in as a vital tool to mobilize the community to start thinking critically on the contents of the constitution so that when the Outreach Teams come, there will be informed contributions.

Today (27 January 2010) there will be another Think Tank targeting the Youth sector and themes to be discussed are the Youth and Empowerment and the Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS MOVES INTO GEAR

CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS GETS INTO GEAR.

By Khumbulani Maphosa (Media and Publications Officer)

The training of the Constitutional Outreach Teams by the Parliamentary Select Committee came to an end on the 13th of January 2010. However the teams are yet to be notified of their deployment details paving way for the actual beginning of the historic constitution making process.

According to the Select Committee there will be seventy Outreach Teams that will cover the seventy districts of the country. Each team was supposed to have nine members, that is, three Members of Parliament and six Civic Society representatives. However after a lot of political bickering and negotiations the three parties in government resolved to add three more rapportuers, each representing one of the parties. This has however irked discontent from some quarters that have observed the process as being heavily politicized.

The deployment of the Outreach Teams has not been finalized, as there is speculation that the Select Committee Secretariat is yet to do a thorough audit of the Outreach Team members. This follows an unfortunate scenario that saw about one thousand people being accredited and trained instead of the initially advertised six hundred and thirty-eight.

Ideally there are supposed to be three meetings per ward in the rural areas and one meeting per ward in the urban areas. This is meant to cater for the spatial geography of rural wards and the settlement patterns that are not as clustered as in the cities and towns.

Habakkuk Trust will continue monitoring the Constitution making process and disseminating information to various stakeholders on how the process is unfolding. The organisation will also work closely with its Advocacy Action Teams to mobilize communities to fully participate in the outreach meetings that are expected to begin soon.