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

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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

Mindset change will address inequalities in Ghana, Northern region – Youths speak out

The Action Aid Ghana Global platform has hosted a Youth Panel discussion that featured youths from various civic and interest groups found in Tamale, Ghana and students drawn from the Northern Business School (Nobisco). Outstanding in the panel discussion was the need to deal with mind to liberate young people and address inequalities. The Youth Panel was part of advocacy activities held in the build up to the United General Assembly (UNGA) that will also discuss the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York from 24 – 27 September 2015 .

Action Aid youth hub #YouthDiscuss #Inequality is spearheading a number of advocacy campaigns to push the United Nations General Assembly to focus its discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on addressing inequalities within countries. The Sustainable Development Goals are proposed set of targets relating to future international development set by United Nations member states.

The activity was held under the theme “The role of youths in challenging inequalities in the Northern region”. The speakers unpacked the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its proposed key results areas.

In pursuit to locate the role of young people in fighting inequalities in the Northern region, Ghana, the keynote speakers Mr. Gideon Adjololo a Senior Administrative Assistant  from University of Development Studies (UDS) as well as the founder and  Chief Executive Officer for Transformational Leadership International  (TLI) spoke about the importance of young people taking part in decision making. He said youths must change their mindset in order to deal with inequalities in the society. Mr Adjololo lamented harmful cultural practices as an inhibiting to women and girls participation and also in addressing inequalities. He also pointed the many women and girls are unequal to men and boys because they are involved in unpaid care work that the society still undervalues and does not recognize.

He further took participants through the three priority goals selected by Action Aid Ghana Global Platform youth hub which are: Goal 4 – Ensure inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities, Goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and Goal 10 – Reduce inequality within and among countries and explicitly explained their targets.

The second speaker Mr Ibrahim Mustapha a young motivational speaker from Public Speaking Institute who was the discussant in the Youth Panel urged youths to embrace social media as a tool to add their voice in fighting inequalities. He said that women and girls must be supported to access education and other opportunities such as paid jobs in order to address inequalities. He also reiterated the submission by Mr Adjololo that it was of paramount importance that young people get involved in decision making process and the need for youths to think positively and change the way they view things.

On the sidelines of  the panel discussion one female participant Miss Addae Matilda said “The creation of spaces for dialogue is very useful because it gets us as young women equipped with knowledge that will ensure our effective participation in economic  and public issues”  She continued  “It will help us exhibit our potential and claim our rights”

Young people summed the panel discussion by suggesting issues that need to be addressed or followed by various interest groups that were represented in the panel discussion.

  • The youths challenged each other to hold the government to account on its promises to fulfill their rights.
  • Youths challenged each other to participate in decision making processes and add their voice.
  • Youths agreed that there is need for youths to put pressure on the government to implement policies and other blue prints that it puts in place as a response to such developmental agendas.
  • They emphasized the need to empower ad girls with education as a strategy to address inequalities.
  • Youths urged organizations present to foster partnerships to increase impact of the work they are engaged in and applauded those that have already started working together in addressing faced by young people in the Northern region.
  • Evidenced based advocacy and research was pointed as key tool to be effective in addressing inequalities.
  • Youths urged each other to play the watch dog and point excesses of the government that undermine or violate the rights of citizens.
  • Youths said interventions that deal with mindset change will be panacea in addressing a plethora of problems faced by young people.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni – Inspirator Action Aid Ghana

@mdladlaspeaks

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com / Michael.Ndiweni@actionaid.org

Young Female Parliament – Unique to ActionAid, Beneficial to Every Young Woman

http://www.modernghana.com/news/627649/1/young-female-parliament-unique-to-actionaid-benefi.html

After observing the nature of humanity and the evil that pervades our world, Mahatma Gandhi left this in the sands of time: “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.” Jostein Gaarder, a renowned intellectual and author also affirms that “A state that does not educate and train women is like a man who only trains his right arm.” The scholar had resolved that development cannot be achieved if women are discriminated in socio-economic and political activities.

These two philosophies epitomize the work of Northern Sector on Awareness and Action Center (NORSAAC), a Local Non-Governmental Organization based in the Northern region of Ghana and supported by ActionAid Ghana. The two organisations have programmes to groom and inspire young women to be part of the political and development discourse within their schools and beyond. Advocacy on issues affecting women and girls resulted in the creation of the Young Female Parliament (YFP), a unique innovation that is turning around the lives of young women in the Northern region.

The making of YFP
The initiative was propounded in 2009 by NORSAAC and ActionAid Ghana (AAG), having discovered the glaring disparities between young women and young men in their participation in local decision making processes, which are caused by the profound patriarchal cultural practices, beliefs and systems in the Region. The two partners have a mandate to build the capacity of the marginalised to access their needs on a sustainable basis and enjoy equal rights.

Over 700 girls are part of the leadership development initiative. NORSAAC and ActionAid Northern Region Programme have successfully developed and rolled out YFP in Nineteen (19) Senior High and Tertiary schools in fifteen (15) Districts in the region. This is a stimulant for girls in schools to challenge power structures that have historically oppressed females and violated their rights. The model has already achieved milestones by recording its first Senior Prefect at Chereponi Senior High School. The Zabzugu Senior High school has its first female assistant senior prefect in the school’s history.

A tool for practical coaching
The inventiveness ensures that young girls are acquainted with leadership skills and coached to contest for school and district level decision-making and leadership positions. The concept affords girls the knowledge to develop convincing and implementable school election manifestos and equips them with public speaking skills. It inspires girls to aspire to lead and change negative attitudes, beliefs, norms and perceptions towards women and girls. It motivates girls to be game changers within communities. It is a safe platform for girls to support, open up, share and support each other, to play active roles in decision making.

The YFP innovation is anchored mainly on four core pillars: leadership, human rights, social activism and women’s’ health. These tools empower girls to confront the society with a positive attitude and prove that they are not objects, but subjects.

Barriers to participation of women and girl

An assessment on women`s participation in local governance by Abubakar and Ayuune (2014) revealed that women lack confidence and have inferiority complex compared to men, and this undermines their status. The survey revealed that this is due to the patriarchal nature of the society.To overcome these barriers, a proven model like the YFP has been found to be effective. It restores confidence and promotes respect of human rights while giving women and girls a voice to speak out. It responds to such beliefs and battles allegations that the people of the Northern region have for a long time been subjecting their girls and women to harmful cultural practices.

An analysis by the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) asserts that the Northern region has the highest number of under representation of women at all levels of decision making processes. It argues that this is exacerbated by low literacy levels, food insecurity and poverty that increase the vulnerability of women and girls.

Statistics have also given credibility to NORSAAC`s work and proven that women in the Northern region still play second fiddle to their male counterparts due to deeply entrenched cultural practices that malign women and girls. A glimpse on participation in elections illustrates that out of a total of 137 females who contested in the District Assembly Elections in 2010, only 19 of them were elected. In that same year, while only one was elected to the Tamale Metro Assembly compared to 64 males, no woman was elected in nine other Districts in the region. Overall, only 6 women in the entire region won the elections to become Assembly Members out of a total of 43 women who contested. These disturbing disparities demonstrate the negative views, perceptions and status of women and girls in the society.

The Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA)
This work fits into ActionAid’s Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) that advances women’s rights, promotes rights-based and sustainable alternatives, partnership and alliance building and working with young people. It analyses obligations, inequalities and vulnerabilities in order to address discriminatory practices and unjust distribution of power that impedes progress and diminishes human rights. The HRBA was the motivation of the partnership between the ActionAid and NORSAAC.

NORSAAC on YFP
Extolling the virtues of the YFP, NORSAAC Project Officer, Wasila Abdul Rahaman, explains that the initiative depicts parliament and serves as a lobby group and launch pad for young girls with low self-esteem to build their confidence, gather skills, competencies and knowledge on human rights. This would enable them to effectively participate in decision making in their schools, communities and in the society.

The project officer said the innovation has challenged the conventional thinking of some head teachers who still believe that females cannot lead. She noted that some girls are still trapped in cultural beliefs and predispositions that they are weaker and cannot be heard by boys in schools to campaign and win positions.

An innovation worthy of emulation
The YFP innovative provides a practical approach to mobilize and promote the empowerment of girls to claim their space and voices in decision making and leadership. It involves, recognizes, and nurtures the strengths, interests, and abilities of young women through the provision of real opportunities to become change makers and impact their generation.

YFP resonates with theories of participation proffered by Hart (1997) that argues that youth participation is at different levels. It starts from the lowest stage of participation to the highest stage of active involvement of young people, where decision making is shared and initiated by both young people and adults. The YFP is a model that is worthy to be emulated in other regions in the country.

By Michael Ndiweni and Alia Mumuni
Northern Region Programme
ActionAid Ghana
Emails: Michael.Ndiweni@actionaid.org
Alia.Mumuni@actionaid.org
Twitter: @mdladlaspeaks

Matabeleland region never enjoyed the fruits of independence

The Matabeleland region has been a victim of well-orchestrated strategy of alienation, subjugation, under development and economic strangulation. This can be traced back to the first 7 years after the independence, period 1980 – 1987. The Zimbabwe economic history began with the transition to majority rule in 1980 and Britain’s ceremonial granting of independence. The new government under Prime Minister Robert Mugabe promoted socialism, partially relying on international aid and sang equality for all. The new regime inherited one of the most structurally developed economies and effective state systems in Africa. The government propagated a whole range of new economic policies, introducing a minimum wage and virtually eliminating the right to fire workers, total spending on education nearly tripled (from Z$227.6 million to Z$628.0 million), as did government spending on healthcare (from Z$66.4 million to Z$188.6 million), between 1979 and 1990, The new government maintained much of this intervention such as restricting the use of foreign currencies, whilst increasing taxation and government spending to reduce poverty and inequality.

Matabeleland suffers vindictiveness and lags behind from the onset

Despite all this rapid growth experienced by the country, Matabeleland remained stagnated and plagued by indiscriminate violence against citizens, crimes reported during early 80s to mid-80s by some journalists, medical practitioners, missionaries were such as arbitrary searches, destruction of essential infrastructure, looting of shops, rape, torture and massacres and also denial of family members to bury or mourn their loved ones as the prize for defiance was death. A study by the Swedish government revealed that the period between 1980 – 1989 Zimbabwe had 4500 primary schools, a number of high schools and colleges all over the country and the majority of these were in Mashonaland regions, one will argue that it is a reflection of demographic figures in Zimbabwe but empirical evidence proves that there are no colleges in Matabeleland region in particular in the northern parts of the province. It further gives credence that Matabeleland did not benefit from the rapid growth experience a few years post-independence and even up to date.

Inherited debt, lack of foresight and its implications

Moreover at Zimbabwe’s birth in 1980, the country inherited a $700 million debt from the Rhodesian government of Ian Smith. The loans had been used to buy weapons in the 1970s, breaking UN sanctions. The new government came under international pressure to take on the debt, whilst being promised over $2 billion by western governments for reconstruction and development. This debt grew through the 1980s due to drought, questionable development loans, and ‘aid’ loans from western governments tied to buying exports, including military aircraft. By 1990, to keep paying the debt, Zimbabwe had to take out bailout loans from the IMF and World Bank. In return, the economy was liberalized and public spending cut. Growth slowed, a trade deficit was created and poverty and unemployment increased. The government could have focused on beneficiation and value addition to produce primary products and created jobs than to get loans to purchase military aircrafts and falling for economic structural adjustments programmes.

The lost plot and betrayal

Between 1981 – 1989 the Zimbabwean received 14 banks loans and four Infrastructure Development Aid credits, totaling to US$ 657 million, US$51million towards agriculture, what comes to mind is the drought of 1982 -84 what happened to the loan if people starved with such huge sums of aid meant food and agriculture. The other US$136 million was meant to support the rehabilitation and expansion of exports. US$ 141 million was channeled to the transport sector and again I wonder if the region benefited from the funding since many roads and transport infrastructure has not been developed since independence. In my view I think this where the government lost the plot to believe the British. This also speaks to complicit of the British in Gukurahundi massacres. One begins to suspect that parts of the loans were used to fund the militia announced by the then prime minister to combat malcontents in Matabeleland regardless of the claims made by the then minister of state who told parliament that North Korea had given Zimbabwe a grant of 12.5 million pounds towards purchase of military hardware. Perhaps these are loans that are still hanging on Zimbabweans people necks that came guised as grants and have ballooned into billions of dollars. My conclusion is that loans that were taken by the government did not benefit the region; instead it appears they were used to fund the war against defenseless citizens. Up to date the region still suffers from underdevelopment and it is feeling the pinch of the debt that never brought positive change to their lives. For example schools and other infrastructure were destroyed during the period under review when loans and development aid was flowing to the Zimbabwean government.

Display of dwarfism, wrong turn and foolishness

The government of Zimbabwe was also fooled by the UK which gave ‘aid’ loans and tied Zimbabwe to buy products from British companies such as General Electric and Westinghouse. I find this as absurdity at its highest level that the government was that drunk to accept such an offer and it even borrowed money to fund planting of tress from the World Bank, so that local people could use cheaper wood rather than expensive coal, what if the government had borrowed to increase coal production. And having planted the trees the government discovered that locals already had plenty of wood. What a sick joke is this. The UK backed further loans for the Zimbabwean government to buy British made Hawk aircraft and the government accepted, which were later used in the war in Congo in 1998 which also contributed in the destruction of the economy. This proves beyond reasonable doubt the cluelessness of our government since independence, some decisions did not need advice from a rocket scientist not be made. It is just exhibition of foolishness and lack of foresight albeit with such high literacy rate that Zimbabweans flaunts everywhere. Interestingly since 1980 Zimbabwe has been lent $8 billion but repaid $11 billion. Despite this it is still said today to have a debt in excess of $7 billion, from loans for structural adjustment to Land Rovers and planting trees. In addition, research by various organizations indicates that the Zimbabwean government has been in default on most of its debt owed to the rest of the world, currently estimated to be around US$7 billion. Like seriously, to be a country notoriously known for defaulting when it is richly endowed with natural resources and even alluvial diamond that were discovered lately, how embarrassing.

It is our time to be the beacons of hope

This is the moment for people in Matabeleland to converge and begin to find lasting solutions to socio- economic and political problems that are bedeviling the region. There is need to work together and create opportunities for the young generation to empower themselves and take the region forward since the old generation has failed. Skills development will be useful for the youths to create their own jobs and have their own wealth. Matabeleland business people both local and beyond the borders must find ways support with seed capital so that youths do not end up being used by selfish politicians and other soulless infidels whilst begging for capital to start their initiatives. There is also the need to identity ways that can support the education for those that have the potential to be game changers in the communities. And lastly civic education on socio- economic and political rights remains an integral tool for critical conscientization.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Email: mikejnrsind82@gmail.com

Twitter:  @mdladlaspeaks