Friday, May 28, 2010

A culture of corruption

Currently a lot of controversy is gripping the country surrounding the issue of corruption. Most people are worried about how citizens have to fork out money for services to be delivered by the police force.  As the country grapples the issue of teacher’s incentives another one arises, police officers want to be paid to render national duties during the constitution making process that is in the hands of COPAC. Zimbabweans have gotten too used to receiving bribes and payment even at inappropriate times. This has become so common that we have forgotten how wrong it is.

One moment the government is preaching about how corruption should be done away with as it cripples our societies but the next minute the police are requesting to be paid for them to perform as expected. What happened to having a passion for your job? Now people just have a passion for the money and will do whatever job to get the money. Teachers will teach in class and take students for extra lessons in their own homes, police officers mount roadblocks when they feel like making an extra buck, nurses will attend to patients that will pay the nurses to get them a drip. What has this world come to? Should those who run mortuaries kill us to maximize profits?

If the government pays the police for the work they are expected to do during the constitution making process then taxpayers should not pay tax. If citizens can refuse for police to be paid the absurd the $2.9 million then we should all stand up and refuse for teachers to be paid incentives. Police should not get paid for this because it is their sole responsibility. Therefore, the government should see to it that teachers receive adequate salaries and not carry begging baskets to parents and guardians. By paying this money to the police and continuing to offer teachers incentives we are legitimizing bribes and corruption.

Such malpractices encourage a situation where each and every other group of civil servants will stand up and ask to be paid an extra lump sum so as to perform diligently.  At times of crises different groups will stand up and request payment unnecessarily. Police are not private body guards but a force that should protect the public at all costs.

The police are law enforcers and should not, in any case, take advantage of their uniforms or positions of power to manipulate the public. Lest we forget, the people are watching and they will speak out. Not hearing the people when they speak does not mean they are silent but could mean that you are turning a deaf ear.
The constitution making process is a national procedure where security lies solemnly in the hands of the police force. They are not a private entity that should be paid as per duty rendered. If the ZRP cannot serve Zimbabweans then their efforts are misdirected. 

As a way of protesting, the police have reduced the number of officers deployed to work with COPAC. This is a clear indicator of where their interests lie…where the money is. Zimbabweans should not be deceived to think that these very officials will stand up some day and say they proudly serve the nation because we have seen what their definition of national interest is.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Counting down to the FIFA World Cup.

The world over is excited about the world cup but I’m sure Africans are ecstatic. The 2010 FIFA World Cup has a totally different meaning to us than to anyone else. It is not merely about the entertainment that is brought by soccer but it’s about making a name for ourselves, Africans.
At some point xenophobic attacks erupted in South Africa, a country that has become a haven for most people from Southern Africa. The attacks left most of us dumb founded but at realizing how close the world cup was foreigners and South Africans alike united.
At the sight of vuvuzelas, soccer jerseys, huge soccer ball ornaments and decorated hats all huts melt, smiles shine and we all celebrate being African. The rest of the continent distanced themselves from South Africa but now we all chant unity and the beauty of being African. The FIFA World Cup has done what the United Nations has had challenges doing over a very long period of time a countless number of times.
Regardless of whether people are now attracted to Africa because they can make money out of it or not is not important but surely we have noticed the attention that the continent has attracted. Akon, Keri Hilson, Shakira and many other American artistes have been visiting Africa making a name for themselves and at the same time making money but who cares? All that matters now is that Africa has gotten the spotlight that some would kill for.
I am not a soccer fan per se but I anticipate the official opening of the World Cup. Questions rush through my mind, will the opening be as awesome as the one that was presented in Chine or as wonderful as the Olympics that were held ion Greece. Whatever the case South Africa will pull tooth and nail to prove that it has what it takes.
Lest I get carried away, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is not just about South Africa but other African countries as well. Many other countries are preparing for the novel time. Zimbabwe is boosting its tourist attractions, hotels and other recreational facilities. It is very important to prepare for visitors even if it means making a fleeting impression this is why in some households they will use the most expensive cutlery to impress a visitor and pack it all back as soon as the visitor leaves. Likewise, when one knows that a neighbor is expecting important visitors they will also tidy their place in preparation without any guarantee if the visitors will even take a glance at their home. Zimbabwe and many other countries are in the same situation as they prepare to welcome the tourists, soccer fans and other delegated despite that there is no guarantee that these will set foot in other countries besides South Africa.
On a number of instances when one talks about South Africa, the crime rate and corruption in the country quickly comes into mind but of late many of us can confirm that the country has picked a different vibe altogether. Excitement grips us to such an extent that we have picture the country as one huge colourful soccer stadium with glimmering lights, fascinated spectators, vivacious and energetic commentators, bold players and one beautiful ball that shall be used to make history.    

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poor service delivery the order of the day in the City of Kings

Residents to take ZESA to court 
Bulawayo residents are threatening to take the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to court for public interest litigation. For far too long residents have been paying fixed bills of US$27 for high density surbubs, while those residing in low density suburbs pay a minimum of US$40. Whether or not, electricity is available during the 24 hour period is inconsequential to the parastatal which demands that residents settle their bills or face disconnection. This comes at a time when the parastatal has no meters to ascertain consumption levels and is basing on suppositions and assumptions. Electricity is only available for six to eight hours a day, while in most cases faults emanating from erratic power cuts often take ages to get fixed. Meanwhile in an attempt to portray a good international image ZESA has pledged to contribute electricity to South Africa during the FIFA 2010 World Cup to be held from 10 June to 11 July 2010. This has left residents foreseeing worse and more erratic electricity load shedding. For some, the hope of watching live matches has been killed. Currently, each residential area has a single day in a week that is not affected by load shedding. 

Furore over worsening water crisis 
Bulawayo residents have expressed discontentment over looming water rationing at a time when the city council is about to decommission two major supply dams in Matabeleland. The Bulawayo City Council intends on decommissioning Upper Ncema and Umzingwane dams in July 2010. The decommissioning which was meant to have taken precedence was suspended after the late March rains. Residents suggested that the council should make use of other dams that are lying idle. The city council requires $56 million to construct outlets from the dead waters to refill the dams currently in use but has since received only $7 million from the ministry of finance. Residents have implored the local government to improvise and secure adequate resources. Residents have also challenged the council on its course on water rationing stating that the council cannot resort to water rationing as the ultimate solution while it is failing to fix faults that have led to the loss of huge quantities of water. For example the council took almost two years to fix a water leakage emanating from a pump burst in Emganwini. Residents also passed complaints about the city council’s billing system alleging that the authorities use dysfunctional meter readers forcing them to estimate bills. Residents said that this reflects a gross mismanagement crisis, poor administration, misplaced priorities and negligence of the local authority. Residents issued these sentiments at a meeting that was hosted by BPRA at Emganwini last Sunday, on May 9, 2010. 

Residents shun ZBC2 
A new television station, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC2), will be broadcast to cities that are at an 8km radius from Harare. Residents have castigated this move saying it is a way of further discriminating and marginalizing other regions as many citizens will not benefit from this station. Instead of dwelling on how unreasonable and unnecessary it is to have a second television station when the initial one is dysfunctional, residents have said that they will continue to clamour for a new people driven constitution. Bulawayo residents have said that it is due to such unfair distribution of resources that they call for devolution of powers in the country. ZBC1 does not represent citizens equally let alone proportionally, hence there is no guarantee that this new station will be of any difference. Seeing as how Zimbabweans anticipate fresh elections, some have pointed out that this could merely be a political expedience.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Implications of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act on ordianr people

Zimbabweans want hope, security, dignity, freedom and prosperity. They want investment so that they can have jobs, food, better health care and education and not cheap politics meant to smother hope and undermine the inclusive government. Such implication might be brought by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. The act will simply create a new arena for looting and abuse. The so-called “indigenous people” who are set to benefit from this act are not the ordinary man and woman, but the well-connected elite. Zimbabweans do not want an experience like that of the blatant hijacking of land resettlement, the so-called economic empowerment of the electorate should not be used to reward criminals while cultivating a culture of patronage. The Indigenisation Act will create an elite black that survives on patronage. Through this act a few individuals belonging that have benefited through partisan lines might own 51% of the companies in the country and go on to donate to the groups they sympathise with and fund galas, birthdays and congresses. How much trust do we vest in these people that contributed immensely to the deterioration of the Zimbabwean economy? This extension of the patronage system can be juxtaposed with South Africa’s BEE. We should learn from South Africa where tenderprenuers have been created based on patronage and party affiliation. I am not against indigenization policies, but I do not support any policy that has the potential to scare away investors, worsen poverty among people while embedding our political culture with patronage and favoritism. There is need for a balance of policies between attracting investors, supporting indigenization and sustaining citizens, a balance that this act lacks. Such an act would also further hamper efforts to encourage foreign investment in the country, efforts already undermined by the ongoing seizure of commercial land under the guise of land reform. The act completes a process that began with the controversial seizure of white-owned farms starting in 1999. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is failing to meet not only the basic components of procedure, but has far reaching negative and dire consequences on the much-needed investment in Zimbabwe. This act will achieve disempowerment by taking businesses away from people who do not support the proponents of this act and giving power to those who do. As we have seen before, those in support of such policies are conveniently rewarded. Most citizens do not have enough money to buy businesses or own 51% of a firm and those who do, probably, stole it. Most industries that collapsed in Bulawayo did so when they were owned by government officials. It has been proven that corruption is rife in industries that are partly or wholly owned by government officials. In most cases this results in the officials using the industries to enhance their personal gains at the expense of the nation. Buildings in Bulawayo are owned by government officials or people with links within government mainly because the city’s residents cannot afford to make such investments. Young people in Bulawayo have no capital what-so-ever as they have never benefited from laws that are meant to empower the youth. Surprisingly, these are the same people who are expected to invest in their own city. In the past party affiliation and tribal issues have determine the distribution of resources. Allocation of resources should be done with respect to cultures and indigenous people. Cultures have to be respected and the process of undermining certain cultures through economically disadvantaging them should stop. People in Binga should not be forced to speak Ndebele because they want jobs. They should be free to speak Tonga under whatever conditions and not be undermined because they are a minority. There should be respect for all political parties and tribes this way indigenization will actually start at local level.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Media Freedom & Access to Information should be Constitutional Rights!

At a time when Zimbabweans are faced with a restrictive media environment and the ongoing constitutional reform process, this year World Press Freedom Day ran under the theme Media Freedom & Access to Information should be Constitutional Rights! This is the opportune time to call for provisions that guarantee media freedom and the right to access information. Media freedom is fundamentally inseparable from the universal rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and citizens’ right to access information. The Media plays a pivotal role by assisting the public to perform an effective watchdog role through exposure of misconduct within public and private sectors. An efficient media holds both public and private bodies accountable and helps fight corruption. For the good of the citizens, a free media will play a crucial role in ensuring participatory poverty reduction policy making. The reduction of poverty in different communities lies in a free media that prioritises public interest. Through a free media people can foster respect for human rights. This can include socio-economic rights such as the right to clean water, adequate housing and health care. These are some of the rights that the Zimbabwean government seems to take for granted. There is need for media that will be educating, informing and ensuring free flow of information and ideas without which citizens cannot make informed decisions necessary for obtaining democracy. The Global Political Agreement and the constitutional mandate of the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission guarantee media reforms and it is about time Zimbabweans saw the benefits of these freedoms. There should be as many community radio stations and community newspapers; the public media should be run by the public and its thrust should be determined by public interest.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Education not for all

Today Zimbambwean schools resume for the second term in one of the years that might add up to the wasted academic years. The changes that the education sector have gone through are frightening but as a hopeful nation we just have to hold on, be patient and await a change. Does the beginning of this term ignite excitement in children that are paving way for a bright future, pride to parents that see a tomorrow that will be in the hands of an educated generation or does this mark the beginning of a dreadful three months to come.? The government of Zimbabwe once encouraged everyone to attain a decent education as it offered free education. As time went on school fees and levies increased but were still rather affordable to many. However, currently there has been a bizarre change in the education sector that has left the less privileged doomed. Parents with children attending government and council schools have been forced to pay teachers’ incentives to compensate for the salaries that the government is failing to pay teachers. The government should put into consideration the fact that most of the parents whose children attend these schools have resorted to such schools as they charge affordable fees. By requiring parents to pay incentives ranging from $2 to R60 a month for each child the government expects parents to have such money at hand every month when they also have other expenses. Due to the fact that no child is exempted from paying this money those who cannot afford to fork it out are forced to stay at home until they have the money. Seeing as it is the government that has rubber stamped these incentives, who then will stand up for these children and guard against discrimination in schools? Is the child whose parent or guardian fails to pay this money disobedient? Is the government punishing those that cannot afford to pay teachers’ incentives? Government officials, members of parliament, councillors and other stakeholders are sitting and watching as education becomes a reserve for the elite. The government is at fault for watching teachers take money directly from the residents and pocket it. Because it is the government that has initiated this move, residents are not supposed to query but sit back and watch as this form of corruption spreads and rages havoc in communities.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Do the under paid celebrate Workers Day?

This Saturday Zimbabweans celebrate Workers Day under the theme 'Forward Ever, Backward Never. Intensify the Workers' Struggle'. This day has a very different meaning to a Zimbabwean worker considering that most workers are not content with their salaries and not pleased with their working conditions.

As part of the celebrations, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) has arranged a march from D-Square, near Mpopoma High School, to the White City Stadium. The ZCTU Regional Officer for the Western region, Percy Mcijo, said that this year workers need to come together and deal with the various challenges that they face. He added that workers are the main creators of a nation’s wealth and therefore should get a fair share of it.

Workers have been the worst affected by country’s economic decline as most of them lost their jobs when companies liquidated because they were failing to cope with the changes in the economy. Currently, some companies are operating below 20 percent capacity and this has adverse effects on the workers as it means that they receive inadequate remuneration. Most workers working in the factories in the city have gone for months without pay and motivation. Workers are living below the poverty datum line yet the government still continues to turn a deaf ear. Such issues have led to a mass exodus of workers to the diaspora in search of greener pastures. The majority has taken to selling wares in the streets and to vending as formal employment no longer carries the same privileges it used to. If the dissatisfactions of workers are not met, development of the country will continue at a very slow pace. The government of national unity should address the concerns of workers as a matter of urgency.

Why then should underpaid workers celebrate Workers' Day? Are these celebrations merely about celebrating the fact that one wakes up every morning and goes to work or it is about celebrating that as a worker one adds to the wealth of the nation?

Friday, April 23, 2010

ZITF official opening

On my way to work my attention was caught by the police officers standing at every intersection along Robert Mugabe Way. This reminded me that today is the official opening of the ZITF by President Robert Mugabe and the guest of honour the Presidents of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This is one of the events that are deliberately meant to diverge the attention of the citizens. Through such events we are made to forget about the challenges that we face on a daily basis and relax at the fair admire the beautiful cars on display, eat candy floss and toffee apples the list is endless. The day ends with smiles on children's faces and the parents too. However, when the sun rises the next day all your sorrows dawn on you and voila all the problems that the fair had made to disappear are back in your face. You wake up and ZESA is gone, the cold water you intend to bath in looks rusty, you have to hike on vehicles that are unli unlicensed to ferry passengers because you can only afford to spend R3 on transport, if you are not already carrying a lunchbox with bread and butter then your next meal might be when you come back home.

We do not live in fantasy land where its all roses and should not drift and day dream but face reality with sober minds.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The world we live in...

So many things are happening in the world we live in. Whether we are part of those making things happen, watching as things happen or not even aware of what is happening is up to us. We should all be ware of the fact that one way or the other we are affected by what happens in the world we live in.

We should all care about the politics of the day that way we know how we can contribute to the world we live in. Politics shapes the way the world turns out, it shapes how your day will start and end. Believe it or not it shapes your life. Now the question is "How?".

Through dialogue, discussions and debates this blog will be an eye opener, an informer and a non-discriminatory platform for those that want to discuss politics.