The struggle for rights of vendors continues in Bulawayo

On 27 September 2016 was a special day for us and Wild Trust Zimbabwe to face off with the City of Bulawayo and find mutual beneficial ways to address challenges faced by vendors and informal traders especially women and girls at Presbytarian City Church.

The meeting came at a time when sour relations were escalating between City of Bulawayo and vendors due to their violent raids that have been recorded in the past few weeks resulting in some vendors sustaining serious injuries. Vendors and informal traders especially women face harassment on a daily basis. We believe that this kind of dialogue will help curtail cases of human rights violations recorded in the sector daily. Partners such Nango Western Region, NAVUZ, Uhlelo LweZakhamizi (BPRA), SWITA and ZCIEA supported us.

Mr Elliot Panesu from BCC engineering department responding to questions and also speaking on behalf of other four BCC officials present pledged the City of Bulawayo preparedness to always engage with vendors if there are grievances.

(1) BCC pledged to investigate cases of abuse women and girls especially at Egodini Terminus where they are deprived of water by unscrupulous men who are now selling water from a public tap.
(2) BCC pledged to partner with Bulawayo Vendors Trust and Wild Trust Zimbabwe and conduct joint outreach meetings on City of Bulawayo Bylaws
(3) BCC committed desire to allocate more vending bays to vendors associations.
(4) BCC pledged to conduct periodic meetings with vendors associations.
(5) Address cleanliness in public toilets to address special needs of women and girls.
(6) BCC also committed to attend to individual grievances arising from vendors who felt their issues have not been dealt with adequately by some City of Bulawayo officials.

We pay our gratitude to Wild Trust Zimbabwe for choosing to collaborate with us in this important meeting.

Did you know that 17% of cases of human rights violations recorded in the first quarter of 2016 were against vendors?

Did you know that women and girls vendors buy water from unscrupulous individuals to wash hands after using toilets at Egodini vending area?


Girls Camp inspires girls to be Change makers.

Action Aid Ghana with its partners last week, organized an inspiring one week Girls Camp. A team of energetic and enthusiastic young facilitators supported the Inspirator Michael Ndiweni to equip the Girls with knowledge on leadership qualities and skills they can use to effectively organize themselves and challenge all the vices that affect them. Thanks to the Action Aid Ghana Global Platform for anchoring and providing motivated young facilitators to support this inspiring camp.
The Girls Camp was themed “ Celebrating Girl Empowerment for Leadership” 160 girls converged at Tamale Senior Girls High School populary known as “Pagaana” simpled translated to Girls in Dagnani indigenous language.
The camp focused on building girls resilience to overcome challenges they face in the communities for example forced child marriages, teenage pregnancy. It also discussed effects of these challenges to the development of the Girl Child. It inspired them to be change makers within their communities and defy cultural barriers that continue to oppress and alienate them.
Prominent women role models were invited to give motivational speeches to the Girls so as to believe in themselves and take up leadership roles within communities.
Ghana Health Service provided an icing on the cake by providing health screening to the girls.11892294_510965575736304_2377433053672449637_o

A case of spilling beans about Gukurahundi and planting snares

An analysis of the narrative by VP Mphoko on Gukurahundi is very revealing and it puts a final nail on the coffin, he is actually spilling the beans than doing any good to ZANU PF. It is like planting snares in otherwise a smooth path.  In my VIEW the damage is so severe and has far reaching implications.  In other words is saying that ZANU was in complicit and conspired with the West and recruited North Korea to train the 5 Brigade and annihilate PF ZAPU supporters. Simple put he is admitting that ZANU was puppet of the West that allowed the conspiracy to be executed. Consequently he is saying  ZANU must be held to account for conspiring with the West to maim, kill, destroy property, holding people incommunicado, to make people disappear, arbitrary arrests and detention, rape, ripping pregnant wombs open, throwing people in mine shafts and other heinous crimes the list is endless.

To give credence to his narrative, it is well documented that the then prime minister used inflammatory statements that ZAPU must be crushed, so VP  Mphoko confirms that the prime minister was singing from the West hymn book.  Also based on VP sentiments one concludes that ZANU was a willing tool driven by the hate of people from the Southern part of Zimbabwe who were the majority followers of the late VP Nkomo . He is further tainting the image of ZANU as a puppet party that could not make its own decisions. Scribes and other book makers must have screaming headlines like “ VP spills the beans.” VP Mphoko exposes ZANU PF”

You can go further and ask who funded the North Koreans? Where did the money come from?, with so much aid coming from the West a few years after independence.  A guess will be suffice that  part of the money used pay the North Koreans perhaps came from the West and with their full knowledge passed on to the North Koreans, to me that is the conspiracy. This in my view was part of a grand plan strategy by the West to use a ripe puppets like ZANU and others  to fight the Soviet Union and diffuse its influence in Southern Africa which supported  PF  ZAPU. And indeed a well-orchestrated plan to use willing tools like ZANU PF who were desperate for relevance and to impose themselves as key players in regional politics. Unless if he explains what he means by the conspiracy. And whether ZANU conspired with the West or the West conspired with ZANU it does not absolve them from Gukurahundi. They  are guilty as charged.

Despite the dire situation of young people, hope is still not lost

Overtime young people have been ostracized and their voices not heard in decision making bodies and in socio- economic and political spheres centrally to their personal development and that of communities.

Statistics indicate that the majority of the Zimbabwean youths are not partaking in development initiatives in their communities.  For example COPAC (2012) declares that 22, 58% young people participated in the constitutional making outreach meetings. Youth Forum (2011) adds that from the previous general election held in 2008 statistics indicate that a paltry 18 % of the youths aged between 18-30 years turned out for the elections.  This is incredibly low in view of the fact that youths make up about 66% of Zimbabwe’s total population. In essence statistics show that less than 10% of youths managed to participate in each province, a massive indicator of apathy. This gives a hind sight that perhaps there is correlation between participation and having the economic muscle. It suggests that young people will be occupied by other activities that are inclined to survival and bringing food on the table and participation becomes a luxury than a right.

Literature available cite the causes and synopsis of this situation as the payment of gratuities to war veteran which raised inflationary pressures, the government’s involvement in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the implementation of the necessary but chaotic land reform programme, economic distortions caused by price controls and the misalignments of the foreign exchange rate and the collapse of respect for property rights and entrepreneurial freedom. Researchers have proved that the situation of the youths is dire and needs urgent attention. According to the Labour Force Survey of 2011 in Zimbabwe, unemployment rates were highest for the youths, those with secondary education and higher education.

After the advent of the economic down turn as alluded above, the wealth turned into the hands of a few political correct individuals, usually owners use proxies such as the political elite to manage their wealth and as a result they become the core of decision making using power associated with controlling wealth and means of production. This then alienates young people who do not own the means of production to take part and participate in mainstream decision making and economic activity.  This explains the predicament of many youths in Zimbabwe.

Limited meaningful measures have been adopted to prepare youths to meet their challenges in life and to resist the temptation to be used. This situation has led to many youths to be indoctrinated with dangerous ideologies thus eliminating independent and critical thinking of youths on developmental issues and finding alternatives to make their lives better.  Whilst others become willing pawns in order to earn means of survival. Politically, youths have been abused as pawns to perpetrate politically motivated violence and few youths are groomed to assume leadership positions in communities.

Young people have resorted to illegal gold panning, forced to illegally migrate to neighboring countries to look for jobs, some become hard core criminals i.e. armed robbers, drug dealing, human traffickers, stock theft as means of economic survival.

Social values have been lost as relationships in families are strained due to disintegration, teen pregnancy increase, abuse alcohol and drugs, prostitution, HIV infection and early or arranged marriages. All these vices have affected youth development at individual, family and at community levels.

Despite all these challenges hope is still not lost for the youths; scores of young people still toil day and night to earn a living. I think to retain their lost dignity due to their situation, lost values and broken social fabric, robust initiatives must be adopted to facilitate active their participation and bring about positive change in the lives of the youths.

Academics have suggested that entrepreneurship and self-employment has been identified as a source of new jobs and “economic dynamism” that can improve youth livelihoods and economic independence in developing countries for young people with limited resources, life and work experience. This then calls for supporting policies to create an enabling environment for young people with ideas to thrive that contribute towards sustaining their livelihoods.

There is need to shift from modernization mainstream economic  theories  to People centered development theory as an alternative to increase the participation of young people in decision making processes and increase their economic participation that will improve their livelihoods. This paradigm shift must be not be done for political expediency but sincere empowerment of young people regardless of one`s racial origin, ethnic inclination, political orientation and preferences.

Youths should be made equipped with knowledge to understand the constitution that gives them power to demand their socio – economic rights from the duty bearers. Support must  be provided by the state and non-state actors for example entrepreneurial skill development, support with seed capital and more important the government and other arms.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

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
I write what I want – let’s get talking

Social indicators show governments` failure to deliver basic needs.

Accessible and affordable education
An assessment using social indicators in my view proves that the government of Zimbabwe has indeed failed to meet basic fundamental human needs. For example in the education sector, the Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare committee was informed in July 2014 by the principal director in the ministry that for BEAM the education ministry got $15 million instead of $73 million and the allocated budget assisted 83 000 against the targeted 250 000 vulnerable children. 167 000 children did not get support or access education and your guess is as good as mine on the fate of all these helpless children. The Committee was told that 75 percent of the more than two million people are in need of food aid and the government failed to provide assistance. I do want to talk about tuition fees paid by many young people at universities , education is now a privilege for the few not a right and some are even failing to supplement their ordinary due to unaffordability and others also it is lack of access as schools are sparsely populated.
Accessible and affordable health care
The healthcare has also failed to deliver accessible and affordability health service delivery. Giving birth in a government or municipal health facility costs between US$30 and US$50 per night and many people struggle to raise such huge amounts. These costs are prohibitive, leaving some women to give birth outside the health system and everyone knows the risks. In 2012 Parliament was informed that the maternal mortality ratio was 790 per 100 000 live births, compared with 390 per 100 000 in the 1990s. In the rural areas health facilities are sparsely populated, pregnant women walk long distances to receive pre-natal services and the chronically ill and the sick are also in the same predicament.
Clean water and sanitation
The conditions that allowed the cholera epidemic to flourish persist in Harare’s high-density suburbs and just a few weeks ago a cholera outbreaks was reported in Chiredzi district leading to temporary closure of port of entry. On 05 March 2015, 8 cholera cases were reported in Mudzi, Beitbridge and Chiredzi. Cities like Bulawayo and Gweru continue to face perennial water shortages and every year are marred with water shading. The government has not done anything meaningful to find a lasting solution to this problem save for efforts made during the inclusive government and other projects have stalled like the centenary Matabeleland Zambezi Water project.
Rights and protection
Various reports asserts that although cases of politically motivated murders have not been reported in 2014, but suspicious abductions and disappearances, torture and intimidation has been recorded raising fears from an ordinary persons to express themselves and exercise their political rights as the constitution guarantees those rights in chapter four. There are ongoing serious human rights abuses, including the selective application of the law, for example wanton land seizures from black indigenous locals in Matabeleland South guised as the land redistribution. There is also tight control of electronic media especially the public media. The government continues to stifle independency of the media and depriving citizens’ uncensored critical information on performance of government and its excesses.
Corruption levels
A massive corruption scourge continues to hamper meaningful development in the country as billions of dollars leak behind the scenes in the illegal sale of diamonds, other precious minerals and shady deals by some government officials. Zimbabwe was ranked 156 out of 175 highly corrupt countries in 2014 Global Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International. The political will has lacked from government to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission to fulfill its constitutional mandate.
Economic Activity
The informal has increased and no clear policy has been promulgated to deal with it. Threats deal with vendors from the central government and local governments have been an order of the day. The sector is ever increasing, many people are now into vending and trading imported cheap products. The government has failed to put measures in place to produce primary products. Income levels remain low and the largest employer the civil service has a ballooning wage bill of over 80% from total revenue and disposal incomes continue to dwindle as government has failed to make meaningful salary adjustments.

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni


We are interested in education Madam Nosizi Dube

The utterances by the district administrator for Tsholotsho Ms Nosizi Dube at the Livelihoods and Donor Symposium cannot go unchallenged, to a very lesser extent yes there are children who drop out of school to go to South Africa, on the contrary I must remind the learned madam that there are grave factors that she must deal with as an administrator in the region before wholesomely claiming that people from this region are not interested to embrace education.
a) One of the key aspects is the availability of schools in the region particularly in Tsholotsho where I was born and bred.
b) Secondly the distance between schools let me just give an example from Malanda Primary school to the next secondary school which is Tsholotsho High school is 13 KM, everyday students are made to walk 26km, the point is that one gets to school tired and rest then go back home rest and again, until the term finishes, here I am talking about an average student who is not academically gifted to grasp quickly, I am challenging her to avail schools and then we will see whether pupils will drop out and go to South Africa, the option of going becomes very attractive if you made to walk 26 KM daily to and from school. I repeat I challenge the madam to provide vocational training centres, one or two colleges, build more schools and see whether the majority will continue flocking to South Africa, otherwise her point is misplaced to blame us for going to South Africa. I did my secondary education in Victoria Falls at the benevolence of my relatives because I could not have managed to walk the distance to school everyday.
c) Thirdly the motivation to go to school is also a result of a culture of that particular community if schools are made available the culture of going school develops as more parents see the value of education and they motivate their children get educated having seen a neighbour’s son or daughter who has graduated from a local educational institution having a better living standard. My challenge to anyone who cares is build schools, training centres, colleges and then we will see the truth of what the Tsholotsho administrator is talking about. I have had a privilege to travel to other regions particularly Masvingo on average there is a school in every 5 km.
(d) The other point is for the learned madam to challenge our leaders who have been in government for so many years and having been appointed to so many portfolios to do something for their people and make local people benefit from their local available resources i.e. timber, diamond, wildlife and again we will see whether people will continue going to South Africa in numbers.
e) Similarly other issues that she must also deal with is menial jobs that are taken by youths from other regions, for example I had experience in Victoria Falls where a fast food outlet (Food Express bussed over 30 people from Gweru and Harare to open a restaurant in Victoria Falls, but Victoria Falls is the tourism hub that almost 60 – 70 percent of the population have experience working in hotels, so there was no justification whatsoever to bring such a number from outside, people would have understood if the company was bringing special skills, another company Guardian security also did the same, the Kingdom hotel re-opened after refurbishment it was the same thing, a train full of people from other regions came to re-open the hotel, still all these were not special skills. In Bulawayo also some companies did the same, I read about Mthwakazi Joint Youth Resolution who protested this behaviour at Makuzeze Primary School, at ZESA and were arrested and charged, but no leader said anything about this, now because of the presence of a microphone the learned madam accuse us of going to South Africa. I have met a lot of youths who have applied for these jobs but they are turned down but some clandestinely got the jobs without even having the minimum entry requirements, I have worked with people without the required 5 O level entry requirement but because they have a relative who is in the senior position they get the job. Madam I challenge you for a public debate to convince me that youths go to South Africa because they do not want to go to school.
In conclusion let me tell you that most youths save for a few from this region are discriminated in accessing job opportunities this is a fact that you may deny I have attested to living experiences, I think you said this because it is political correct but I dismiss it as a flimsy excuse and so that our people are maligned, not to speak against this unjust, unfair, evil practice that infringes of the rights of the people from this region. Madam speak against such glaring realities and make it a point that access to jobs in this region is given to locals as stipulated by the constitution in Chapter 1: 9, 13(d 3,4), 14, 18, 20, Chapter 4: 56(3), 75, Chapter 14: 264 just to mention some provisions. The learned madam also should tell people where her children are studying I bet they are in some elite boarding schools or are studying in the diaspora, but the industry closed in Bulawayo people are jobless they cannot afford to take their children to school, I think her utterances must be challenging the government to reopen the industry or find alternatives that will assist to drive economic activity in the region.
By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni – A development activist based in Bulawayo