De-harmonise local government elections – Residents speak

Residents in Bulawayo and various cities have called for de-harmonising local government elections to improve attention paid to council candidates in local government elections. This came at a stakeholder meeting organized by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Women Institute Leadership Development (WILD) to share findings for the Local Government Elections Survey Report – The Uncertainty of 2018  done last year from August – October 2017 with a sample of 3640 respondents.

Lead Researcher Dr Davison Muchadenyika said the study observed that the timing of local government elections should not coincide with presidential and parliamentary elections as it does not raise the profile of local government elections and that it does not increase political competition during council elections.

Interviewed on the side-lines of the meeting Honourable Malaba MP Phumula Constituency also ZANU PF parliamentary candidate who was also present at the meeting said “It is an important recommendation for an election, when elections are separated people will opt for quality than in harmonised elections where people opt for partisan arrangement”  “It is a very sound recommendation, legislators must take it into account and perhaps raise a motion parliament, he added.   He said that he will foster a sense of serious consideration and definitely put it as his party agenda and that there is however still need for wider consultation.

MDC Alliance local government council candidate for Ward 9 Mr Mabutho Donaldson concurred with MP Malaba and said “De-harmonisation gives people an opportunity to choose candidates based on their strengths, because during harmonised elections people are told to vote for a party name, but de-harmonisation helps to look for strengths, capacity of every individual” He pointed that harmonised elections confuse the electorate and makes people just to vote without knowing the candidates abilities.

Asked to comment on the de-harmonisation recommendation from the researchers at the same meeting Mr Fortune Mlalazi People’s Rainbow Coalition Candidate  for Magwegwe Constituency said “We definitely need to de-harmonise so that there is more concentration on local government business, this will allow us to choose quality candidates because we will be more focused and give more attention to local development” He said in South African for example there are separate elections between national and local government elections.

The study also revealed that 60% of the respondents of local government election survey prefer mayors with executive powers and 52.4% prefer councillors to work full time at the council.  The study also recommended that CSO must play a critical role to organise debate sessions for council candidates, publish and disseminate credentials of candidates, provide the electorate with simplified checklists of issues to look for in parties and candidates  an election campaign and manifestos.

The survey was conducted by the ‘We Pay You Deliver’ (WPYD)  Civil Society Consortium focusing on harnessing citizen demand for improved service delivery & transparent use of public resources. The Consortium was comprised of Danish Church Aid, Combined Harare Residents Association, Harare Residents Trust  , Habakkuk Trust,  ZWRCN, Diakonia and the two organizations that hosted the meeting.  Project target areas were Harare Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo & Umzingwane.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

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Residents castigate candidate imposition in Bulawayo

Bulawayo residents have castigated some political parties for imposing candidates for local government elections scheduled for 30 July 2018. Participants at a meeting organized by BPRA and WILD to share the findings of the Local Government Elections Survey – The Uncertainty of 2018 carried out between and October 2017.

Speaking on the side-lines of the meeting Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Chairperson Mr Reason Ngwenya said the move taken by political parties is not unacceptable, all the candidates must come from the people, not from the parties. He said “Democracy is about people and people must choose their own candidates” “Parties that imposed candidates are likely to lose those council seats” He warned.

To guard against candidate imposition,  the study urged political parties to evaluate the credentials of council candidates during primary elections and that parties must have a criteria for candidates which is competence and integrity based.   The research rated the performance of sitting councillors as poor by 44.7%.

Media houses have reported that conflicts that have erupted in various political parties after allegedly imposition of some council elections candidates in some wards. To demonstrate the height of the fissures on candidate imposition, when the MDC Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa took to micro blogging platform- Twitter to complain about the allegedly refusal by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the voters roll to MDC Alliance, Mr Lion oh Judah who is believed to the son of Mr Felix Magalela Sibanda MDC T Chamisa party spokesperson replied and said “ Magwegwe folk begged for primary elections and you denied them. We have asked for sanctions against ZANU PF if they do not elections. I will be meeting @SenBooker over the selling of 210 congressional seats to personal friends of yours. Criminal. You are corrupt.”

On the 18th of June 2018, Mr Mbuso Siso who has been deputy national information and publicity secretary confirmed on a Facebook post that the Professor Welshman Ncube led MDC has dismissed him  for allegedly blocking imposition of Mr Nkanyiso Brezhnev Mathonsi to be a candidate for ward 2 Bulawayo Central seat. He accused Professor for his dictatorial behaviour and likened him to Mugabe regime that attempted to create a dynasty by imposing his wife.

The study further recommended that parties must prioritise council elections by fielding candidates with a traceable record of public service commitment than those preferred by those higher echelons of political parties.

By Michael Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Sympathy Vote favours Dr Khuphe in Zimbabwe 2018 polls

 

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The Zimbabwean forthcoming elections slated for the 30th of July 2018 presents presidential candidates with different prospects, one of the key issues that politicians, key board political warriors aka Social Media activists and political pundits ignore is the Sympathy Vote.

A Sympathy Vote entails an occasion when a lot of people vote for or support a particular person because he or she has suffered recently on her/his struggles with abuse.

For example a tragic death of a political candidate in the midst of a campaign. The concept of the Sympathy Vote suggests that media coverage of the tragedy and the unification of public opinion carry the party of the deceased to victory on Election Day. Thus the MDC T party stood a better chance to benefit from a Sympathy Vote after the demise of its founding leader Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai before its fights escalated leading to Dr Thokozani Khuphe holding her extra ordinary  congress after the MDC T National Executive Council controversially endorsed Advocate Nelson Chamisa to be the interim president until congress.

It is also important to point that in this concept that the emotional dynamics of public opinion may not be so simple and binary but complex. Researchers have argued that the relationship between emotion and candidate support hinges largely on behavioural expectations of those that remain entrusted with the duty to fulfil the mandate and also how the media covers all the processes that ensures after the death of the candidate.

In light of the ugly scenes witnessed in Buhera during the burial of Morgan Tsvangirai where the MDC T Vanguard militia harassed Dr Khuphe and nearly set the hut that she and other officials have taken refuge in set in motion negative coverage by the media. Thus according to the Sympathy Vote concept if messages violate expectations, media will focus on controversy leading to a dissipation of the sympathy effect in public opinion.

One can therefore deduce that for now the Sympathy Vote flies in the face of MDC T faction led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa who now heads MDC Alliance and has eluded them because sustained coverage of ugly scenes and debauchery witnessed also in Bulawayo and continuous reports of imposition of candidates, threats of shootings and fights within rank and file of the faction. As bitter as it is to swallow for now the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote is the faction led by Dr Khuphe whom the media has largely pointed to be the victim of the MDC T internal fights, her cause has been further strengthened by sexism undertones that the public has deducted from utterances made by her erstwhile compatriot Advocate Nelson Chamisa in some platforms here and abroad.

Observers must not also ignore the fact that the ZANU PF candidate stands to benefit from the Sympathy Vote, one as a victim of former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe political shenanigans, secondly as he appears to be “messiah: who served Zimbabweans from facing 39 years of Mugabe’s rule albeit being propped by the military to ascend to presidency in November 2017. The disappearance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the highways who seemingly thrived on milking Zimbabweans their hard earned money, semblance of new found freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and aura of hope that has been restored post military assisted transition, opening of operating space for Civil Society to carry its functions within communities seem to tilt the Sympathy Vote also to ZANU PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa. Sadly the populace seem to forget that the ZANU PF candidate is accused of being the hand that implemented Gukurahundi Genocide under the instruction of former president Robert Mugabe that left over 20000 people dead according to conservative estimates from CCJP.  MDC Alliance candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa is the biggest loser of the Sympathy Vote due his seemingly reckless statements, coupled with accusations of peddling lies in his addresses.

The Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) also stands to benefit from Sympathy Vote from Matabeleland region, their determined campaign to demand closure on Gukurahundi, their sustained media messages on economic exclusion of the people from Matabeleland is a shot in the arm for them to get the Sympathy Vote. Protests against President Emmerson  Mnangagwa at Zimbabwe International  Trade Fair  (ZITF) and the subsequent arrests of their 8 activists,  protests at the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) outreach meetings also presents them with an opportunity to get the Sympathy Vote

Lastly, it can be concluded that the biggest beneficiary of the Sympathy Vote in the opposition will be MDC T faction led by Dr Thokozani Khuphe assuming the courts rule in her favour, if not that vote will certainly go to Dr Nkosana Moyo, who could spring a surprise on middle class vote and assimilate the Sympathy Vote. Emmerson Mnangagwa shall also benefit from the Sympathy Vote based of his perceived role to have untangled Zimbabweans from Robert Mugabe’s bondage. More investigations must be done to get an elaborate picture on Sympathy Vote, its nexus with public opinion created by the media.

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Vendors and Informal traders launch Anti- Corruption and Coordination Task Team

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Bulawayo Vendors and Vendors Association (BVTA) and various Bulawayo based vendors associations working in partnership with Transparency International Zimbabwe have established a Vendors and Traders Anti-Corruption and Coordination Task Force to help raise awareness on corruption and help to coordinate and disseminate information among members of associations. The platform seeks to play a watch dog role and be a whistle blower to any corrupt activities that occur in trading and vending areas.  Vendors and traders lamented corrupt practices by some law enforcement agents who solicit for bribes and sometimes confiscate their wares and disappear before reaching the warehouses. More alarming were revelations that women bear the brunt of sexual harassment from some errant law enforcements agents who demand sex in order to let them free.

The idea was proposed at an Informal Sector Governance workshop held at Transparency International Zimbabwe, Bulawayo office. The workshop was meant to assist Vendors and Informal traders understand how corruption occurs in the informal sector; understand the personal and cooperate rights in criminal and civil liability of involvement in corruption and to develop strategies on how to reduce corruption.

Transparency International Zimbabwe says that Zimbabwe scored 21 points out of 100 on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index and the country is ranked 150 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries. It must be noted that the Corruption Perception Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and not the informal sector, however the data provided mirrors the informal sector as some services rendered to the informal sector are from various government arms hence the perception that illicit dealings are rampant in the informal sector.

Vendors also highlighted a number of challenges they face in the industry among them lack of support on lines of credit to finance their small businesses as banks and micro- financiers demand collateral. Vendors were encouraged to pursue internal lending and savings, establish group bank accounts, pilot ideas such as Grameen Bank by Mohamoud Yunis. Informal traders called for review of legislation that governs National Social Security to consider schemes that cater for vendors as they are now part of the huge economy sector. Estimates from the government have shown that in 2013 the Informal sector was accounting for $7 billion dollars and against $4billion national budget.

Speaking at the same workshop during a breakaway session Debra Mukasa an official from Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association urged associations to advocate for the formalization of the informal sector in order to be orderly and organized so as to access loans and be recognized by the government. “Formalizing the informal traders will help us to be recognized by the government and also help us to lobby  the government to introduce social security schemes for us vendors” she said. “When we grow old we do have other means of survival but if the government allows us to make small contributions to NSSA, it will cushion us and our families” she added

Mr Dumisani Ncube from Bulawayo Traders Association urged informal traders to consider acquiring pieces of land as associations and construct buildings that they can sublet and the returns be used for social security schemes.

Informal Traders and Vendors Association committed to work closely with Transparency International Zimbabwe in fighting corruption and promotion of their rights. Transparency International Zimbabwe pledged to provide legal services and assist in coordinating the informal traders and vendors associations.

For feedback: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com   / twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Aspiring Activistas fight for the right to learning materials in Northern Ghana.

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/11/aspiring-activistas-fight-right-learning-materials-northern-ghana

Fourteen (14) young people, who recently signed up to join Activista Ghana, have stepped up their ante by influencing the Global Platform Ghana Campaign course 2015 participants to focus on Teacher rationalization campaign in Northern region, Ghana. The advocacy campaign is organized under the theme “Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) for quality education in basic schools”

The aspiring Activista Ghana members have together with other young activists from Burundi, Nigeria and Senegal set their target on building the skills of teachers and schools executives such as School Management Committees (SMCs), Teacher Parent Associations (PTAs) to lobby the Northern Region District Directorate and other key stakeholders in education to provide Teaching and Learning Materials for basic schools. The activists have chosen Kpene, Dabokpa, Dimala and Paazar communities in Tamale to be at the center of their advocacy campaign.

A situational analysis tour carried out by these activists to the four selected communities revealed that rural teachers feel disadvantaged as compared to their urban counterparts. Bulk of the teachers who spoke to the campaigners lamented long distance, bad roads, inadequate teaching and learning materials as demotivating and an impediment to effective teaching. They also argued that lack of cooperation from parents to support them with social amenities like alternative housing has negatively affected the moral of teachers. The tour also exposed alarming levels of low pass rates in rural areas; one school visited recorded a pass rate of as low as 28% in 2014.

According to the Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2010 – 2020 Vol (1) p14 improving the conditions of Teachers is a top priority coupled with availability of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs). The strategy also highlights the importance equipping teachers with improvisation of mechanisms as stop gap measure in the short term.

One of the Activista Ghana aspirant member Yakubu Yussif  who is part of the campaign said “We chose to campaign on Teacher Rationalization with a bias towards Teaching Learning and Materials because it motivates teachers, it improves the performance of students.”  He continued “ The current conditions dissuade rural teachers who have no adequate teaching and learning materials,” “ What is striking the most is the fact the very rural teachers have to prepare their students for the same examinations that their urban counterparts sit for who have a better competitive advantage as their conditions are better “ he added.

The activists have argued that provision of teaching and learning facilities is a right.  The Ghanaian Constitution of 1992, Article 38 (1)  provides  that the “ the state shall provide educational facilities at all levels in all the regions of Ghana and shall be to the greatest extent possible make those facilities available to all citizens “ and hence the government has a duty to provide for teaching and learning materials as guaranteed in the constitution. Article 21 (1) further gives credence to their argument that basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all.

The course has so far covered 5 weeks. The young activists have been equipped with knowledge and skills to run an effective campaign.  The next four weeks will witness an intense series of activities as part of the campaign on Teacher Rationalization – Teaching and Learning Materials. A durbar at the Chief Palace has been lined up to mobilize people to support the campaign and be aware of challenges faced by teachers and promote the importance of provision of teaching and learning materials. Radio programmes and stakeholders meetings will build the momentum towards a march expected to bring together over 200 residents of Tamale Metropolitan advocating for teaching and learning materials in four (4) target basic schools.

The campaign is in sync with ActionAid International Key Change promise six (6) which harnesses youth leadership to end poverty and injustices. The campaign course creates confident and skilled social change agents and campaigners who will contribute significantly to the realization of successful campaigns in ActionAid and formation of new Activista networks.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

For feedback: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Global Platform Ghana youths call for Activista Ghana

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/10/global-platform-ghana-youths-call-activista-ghana

It’s a cool night in Tamale, Ghana on Wednesday 29 October 2015 and the time is 21:30hrs,  loud cheers are heard rumbling from the Global Platform Ghana, as youths scream “ We Need it! We need it” The noise increases every second and its now mixed with clapping of hands “Activista – We need it! Activista – We need it!”  as inaugural Campaign course 2015 participants drawn from West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal) and Burundi in East Africa demand the establishment of Activista Ghana after listening to motivating presentations made by Nigeria, Senegal on fantastic work in fighting poverty and inequalities and also background information on the role of Global Platforms playing the hub for all Activistas in ActionAid Federation family.

Margaret Osei  a member of Young Urban Women project with ActionAid Ghana and also a Campaign course participant  and was joyful   to express her desire to have in  Activista in  Ghana  she exclaimed “ It is a very noble idea, as it will help us to join hands and fight oppressive norms  in communities and encourage more young women to be active in civic engagement” she continued “ I really want Activista Ghana because it will invigorate youths to be engaged in decision making, it will  provide us with a space to organize, share ideas on how to campaign and change people`s lives “

Abdulai Mohammed Shani  a Training of Trainers graduate with the Global Platform Ghana added “ Activista will be very important to us, since we do not have a vibrant and more visible  youth network in all parts of Ghana, it will make our voices  heard and make positive change in communities”

Zakaria Hasfa Yurizaa a Young Urban Women based in Tamale weighed in by saying “ We need Activista because we also want to contribute in having a  functioning young women and young men`s  movement like other countries represented here in the course and also so that my fellow youths in Ghana can create networks and participate in other regional and international programmes organized by Activista and learn new things that can help develop my country”

According to media reports, speaking at the Young Professional and Youth Coalitions (YPYC) on Friday 23 October 2015 , the Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the government of Ghana has instituted structures, schemes and interventions not only to transform but also to empower youths for nation building.  Conversely the call for setting of Activista Ghana resonates well with the vice president statement as the network will augument government efforts to empower the youth and prepare them to contribute positively towards nation building.

This was a night set aside from the Campaign Course 2015 for course participants to get learn from experiences sharing by Activista members present in the training. The night was dubbed “Activista night” and was also meant to unpack what Activista is and to entice those who are interested in joining it to do so. It was explicitly explained that Activista is a global youth network involving more than 250 ActionAid partners seeking to challenge power holders, combat inequalities and end poverty within communities.  It is comprised of ActionAid country programmes, local and national youth organizations, movements and partners. It involves all youths regardless of their economic status who are keen to bring and promote social change. It targets youths from Action Aid Federation Local Rights Programmes and has mobilized thousands of volunteers in more than 25 countries.

The evening was set ablaze by exciting presentations that demonstrated the individual and collective effort of young people who have done amazing work that has brought about significant changes within communities.

First to take to the podium was Activista Senegal. Saliou Balde  from Senegal gave an inspirational testimony when he shared how he managed to stage a protest  by blocking the main road that passes by the community to demand construction of a school after he realized that children were walking over 5 kilometers  to access a nearby school.  “ After I realized that the children were suffering by walking a long distance of over 5 kilometers  to get to a nearest school, I decided to organize children and went and blocked the main road that services haulage trucks across West Africa as a way to show our pain and  suffering and also to make the government act on children`s suffering . We stopped traffic flow and caused chaos. The blockade resulted the government constructing one classroom block and now as we speak children are attending school in their school”  he narrated.

The Nigerian Activista also made mouthwatering presentation; one of their members gave an account on how they contributed in the demand of release of Chibok girls that were captured by Boko Haram militants. The representative said they have established many cell groups of Activistas in various communities in Nigeria, and are involved in tax justice campaign, and also organized inspirational workshops for youths. John Osiroko Atta a Cell Coordinator for Activista in  Benue State, Nigeria who is also a Campaign Course participant emphasized the need for Activista Ghana and said  “ Youths in Ghana must urgently  establish Activista as it will help us in West Africa to connect, build alliances around local, regional and global issues affecting  us youths”

A total of fourteen ( 14 ) young people currently taking part in the Campaign Course 2015 have signed up to  join Activista. The ActionAid Ghana family is still making in-house consultations to develop a youth network that will be a vehicle to face challenges of youth living in poverty. ActionAid Ghana´s Mission Objective 3 in the Country Strategy Paper V partly seeks to Enhance Capacity of Young People to Drive Their Development Priorities. The Key Result Area  in the objective  targets   “To mobilize and support 22 000 youth to take purposeful and sustained action as leaders in their own right to shape a more democratic nation that protects, respects, and fulfills the rights of the people living in poverty”.

By Michael Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

For feedback email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Girls can also grab influential Senior Prefects’ positions in Northern Ghana

http://www.actionaid.org/activista/2015/10/girls-can-also-grab-influential-senior-prefects-positions-northern-ghana

Women nowadays are becoming more influential in global politics, business and in various leadership positions; however such strides are still low in Northern Ghana.  Part of the reason why women are still few in decision making processes in the region is a result of lack of understanding of what leadership is and its importance in advancing their issues. Leadership is described by the Canvas manual as the process of influencing, motivating, and enabling individuals and groups to achieve goals.  The US Air Force defines leadership as the art of influencing and directing people in such a way that we will win their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in achieving common objectives.

These exciting definitions have a different meaning in Northern Ghana, seemingly they mean that only men and boys have the ability to influence and motivate people. This is due to prejudices and stereotypes attached to women and girls. Conversely this has been translated into an unwritten policy to deliberately exclude women and girls. For example there is a popular belief amongst both boys and girls that Senior High School Senior Prefect position is a preserve for boys, whilst there is no government policy that buttresses such a narrative. In addition no empirical evidence available has proved that men and boys can lead better than women and girls.

As a response to these affront on women and girls rights to participate that have continued to perpetuate negative notions and beliefs, ActionAid Ghana and its partner NORSAAC have started a series of leadership and public speaking capacity building trainings targeting over 700 girls under their flagship Young Female Parliament (YFP) project in 18 senior high schools and two tertiary institutions in Northern Ghana. This initiative is a stimulant for girls to organize and confront power structures that have oppressed women and girls and violated their rights.

Explaining  the scope of  the trainings, Nancy Yeri a project officer with NORSAAC  said  “ We underscore the need  for  girls to take up Senior prefects (SP)  positions  to end the stereotype  that a Senior Prefect position  is solely for boys and proving a point that  girls can equally lead in key leadership positions at all levels”  she continued  “The trainings have increased confidence of  girls and  is bringing out their leadership potential and at the same making them deal with their fears in speaking in public”

The leadership trainings are empowering girls with leadership qualities such as making them able to shape their vision for the future, assertive, changing negative attitudes and beliefs, inspiring them to be self-motivated, encouraging them to have integrity and to be honest in their dealings. The trainings also make girls critical and creative thinkers and enhancing fairness in the way they relate with other people. The trainings also equip girls with leadership skills which are important tools that girls can use to successful win support, motivate and lead others as one Chinese say that “A leader without followers is just takin a walk”

Public speaking acquaints girls with techniques important for canvassing and winning support in the public. It introduces them to ethics in public speaking which include being dignified in conduct, integrity with the subject matter, types of public speaking that include persuasive, entertaining speaking and key elements such as developing and good messages. The public speaking coaching is anchored on the effect and intent of the speech. Girls are trained to master techniques such as avoiding disruptive gestures, making good eye contact and projecting their voices loud when speaking in public.

The series put icing on the cake by imparting girls with knowledge on how to develop winning election Manifestos to encourage them to contest elections within the schools and promote their participation in decision making processes.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Blog: www.mdladlaspeaks.wordpress.com