Tuesday, December 6, 2011

By Khumbulani Maphosa

Bulawayo - The Bulawayo City Council has agreed to implement some recommendations that were tabled by Habakkuk Trust and NANGO western Region at an advocacy meeting on the proposed 2012 City Council Budget.
Addressing delegates at the advocacy meeting that was held on Tuesday 29 November 2011 in Bulawayo, The local authority’s Financial Director Mr. Kimpton Ndimande pledged that:
• The local authority does not have any plan of dealing with issues pertaining to people with disabilities and would appreciate NGO intervention and assistance in that regard,
• Council is willing to avail the proposed budget at convenient places like Housing offices but people should be encouraged to make use of them so that it does not end up being waste of resources,
• Council acknowledges that it has only consulted during budget formulation and not during auditing. However, Council is concerned that the audit is a technical exercise and Council will welcome input of NGOs on the concept of social audits.
• Council endeavors to provide housing for its residents and in 2012 Council is going to open up affordable stands,
• The local authority has since terminated contracting private land developers as they tend to be corrupt and have sub-standard work,
• Council shall look at possible sources of income to finance its activities though; donor funding is dwindling fast due to the global financial crisis.
• An audit has been made by Council on its properties and viability of its Small Business Units.
• The “work for debt” concept has since been introduced by the local authority. However to limit political manipulation and abuse of the system, the council has been doing it at a small scale and will look at up scaling it.
• Council is willing to improve the welfare of informal traders however there are national level legislative frameworks that inhibit the smooth implementation of some council efforts. For instance Operation Murambatsvina affected the Council’s 5th Avenue project and now when Council wishes to block a street it has to apply.
The 29 November advocacy meeting was a follow up to the 18th November stakeholders budget analysis meeting which came out with a 21 point submission paper.

By Odiya Shumba
Matobo - School children in Kezi Ward 8 are carrying drinking water to school every day due to lack of clean water for domestic use in the area. This came out at a community consensus building meeting organized by Habakkuk Trust Kezi Ward 8 Advocacy Action Team. This crucial meeting was held on the 29th of November 2011 at Bidi Ward centre.
“Our young Primary school children are carrying 5litres of drinking water to school every day and on top of that they pay 5Rands for Borehole rehabilitation” lamented Mr. Peter Ndlovu, the Advocacy Team Convener. This is clear evidence of the negative impact of acute water shortages in Kezi Ward 8 and Matabeleland South Province as a whole. One of the villagers who was in agreement with Peter Ndlovu added that teachers at one of the Secondary schools in the Ward Mqabuko High school left due to lack of water resulting in the abrupt closure of the school.
Access to clean water remains one of the critical issues being faced by communities in Matabeleland North and South where Habakkuk Trust currently operates in. According to villagers most dams in Ward 8 have since dried up due to siltation and the available dip wells have also dried up due to the lowered water table. The existing boreholes are being over used resulting in incessant break downs which take time to be repaired as there is acute shortage of repair kits.
The community therefore called for the urgent need to repair the broken down water points, installing more windmill water points in the ward as the available one used to work well during its time. The community has also done an in-depth research on the water issue and has realized that there is a survey that was done on the possible water points in the community and wants the finding results of the survey to be implemented.

By Khumbulani Maphosa

Mangwe – the Mangwe ward 2 and 12 Habakkuk Trust advocacy action teams with other community stakeholders have called for the urgent development and subsequent implementation of a water resource development plan to curb water shortage problems in the Mangwe District and other parts of Matabeleland.

This came out during a water policy dialogue meeting held at Plumtree on the 30th of November 2011 and attended by among the advocacy teams, the Minister of National Healing and Reconciliation (who is also the Bulilima West M.P) Honorable Moses Mzila Ndlovu, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) UMzingwane Catchment Operations Engineer, the District Development Fund (DDF) Accountant, the Mangwe Rural District Council (RDC) Chairperson, the Plumtree and Mangwe business community and local civic society.
The policy meeting that was organized by Habakkuk Trust in conjunction with a local daily newspaper, Newsday, resolved the following measurers as key issues of implementation to alleviate the water shortage situation in the region:

• The urgent need for a national water policy which guarantees the citizens of Zimbabwe adequate clean water on a daily basis,
• Matabeleland South should be declared to be a water shortage area and subsequent adequate fiscal and resource interventions from government and private sector be availed,
• The need for a water resource development plan that will put to an end the interventionist approach of water supply in the district,
• DDF pledged to drill one borehole in ward 2 in 2012. DDF further reported that another NGO, CADEC has also pledged to drill one borehole in ward 2 in 2012,
• There is need for closer interactions and collaborations between government departments,
• Villagers want ZINWA to remit a certain percentage of the revenue it collects from pumping water (that is supplied by dams in ward 2 and 12) into Plumtree town back to the community,
• Residents are willing to offer manpower if ZINWA pledges to scoop all the silted dams in the area,
• ZINWA to live to its jurisdiction over all bulk water and test water in all dams not only water in the dams that supply Plumtree town,
The Policy Dialogue meeting is a follow up to the advocacy capacity building and subsequent community consensus building meetings done by Habakkuk Trust in Mangwe ward 2 and 12.

By Khumbulani Maphosa

Plumtree - The government of Zimbabwe is behaving like a drunken man who does not differentiate his left foot from his right foot and has no well defined travel arrangement though he knows where he is supposed to be going.
This was said by the Minister of National Healing and Reconciliation and Member of Parliament for Bulilima West, Honorable Moses Mzila Ndlovu when delegates at an advocacy meeting in Plumtree on the 30th of November 2011.
Hon. Mzila, a vocal advocate for justice and healing in the country, lamented how the government lacks a coherent and well defined strategy of dealing with past human rights violations and ethnic injustices. He further lambasted the country’s security apparatus for victimizing him when he openly speaks about the injustices that happened and continue to happen in Matabeleland.
‘I was arrested, beaten and incarcerated by the police for having openly spoken out about the problems of Matabeleland, ” revealed Minister Mzila.
Minister Mzila further lamented the gross underdevelopment of the Matabeleland region due to the Gukurahundi era and further lack of commitment by the government to equalize development in the country. He called for the government to adopt deliberate strategies to develop Matabeleland if the issue of national healing is to be realized in then region.

A female Habakkuk Trust Advocacy Action Team member in Tsholotsho ward 5 (Siphepha) has been summoned to the local police station by the Inspector Zengeya for wearing a Habakkuk Trust t-shirt.

According to reliable sources from Siphepha, the lady (name withheld) who is a member of the neighborhood watch committee and an active Habakkuk Trust Advocacy team member left her home last Saturday to the local clinic (which is adjacent the police station). On her way to the clinic she met Inspector Zengeya who called her and cautioned her for wearing a Habakkuk Trust t-shirt as he claimed that ‘Habakkuk Trust is affiliated to MDC’.
Sources further explained that Zengeya further ordered the lady to report at the police station for further questioning.
The Habakkuk Trust Action team members in the ward have, however vowed to continue wearing their t-shirts as they know the organization is non-partisan.

Since the beginning of 2011 Habakkuk Trust has been faced with massive resistance from Tsholotsho following a Public Dialogue meeting on local resource management and beneficiation that was held at Tsholotsho in January 2011.
On the day of the public dialogue meeting, some senior local authority personnel did not turn up though they had confirmed their attendance prior. Soon after the meeting Habakkuk Trust staff members were told by the Tsholotsho Rural District Council Administration Officer that the organization shall be ejected from the district. The reasons for the ejection were not explained but seemed to be bordering on grounds of speculation. Since June 2011 Habakkuk Trust has been working on renewing its expired Memorandum of Understanding with the local authority but was told that it has to change its programming and focus on food aid and other relief work for the MOU to be renewed.
Habakkuk Trust has also had a public meeting stopped at Siphepha centre as the clearing officer castigated the organization for inciting people against their leaders.
On the 19TH of October 2011 Habakkuk Trust staff members who had gone to Siphepha centre for an action team meeting were unceremoniously forced to cancel the meeting by the Officer in Charge who claimed the meeting was not cleared. The team was further barred from distributing the Voice of Habakkuk Trust newsletter as the officer in charge deemed it to be politically inclined.