Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Kwesé TV: It’s infantile for the poor to side with either Strive Masiyiwa or the Government.

Airtime vendor wearing an Econet Buddie bib
There may be a thousand and one neo-liberal reasons to sympathise with one of Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa over the furore around his Kwesé TV, talk of right to property, patriotism etc. But please job creation, labour rights, free expression, media freedom and benefits to poor Zimbabweans are not among the reasons. Let the elites (Masiyiwa and his fellow exploitative and rich government elites fight it out) fight it out among themselves and tear at each other’s guts.
I had a chat with a female friend of mine who had to send her two kids to the farms after her contact were without consultations downgraded to ‘volunteer’ status without even the curtesy of consultation from Masiyiwa’s Steward Bank.

Strive Masiyiwa took over a staggering TN Bank in 2013. TN Bank had 24 branches throughout the
Online petition over poor services at Steward Bank
country. The only innovative thing Masiyiwa did was to rename it Steward Bank and to retrench workers extensively, closing over 60% of the branches. The Board Chair of the bank became Bernard Chidzero, the son of the late neo-liberal Finance Minister Bernard Chidzero .Masiyiwa and his cronies are currently presiding over the most exploited bank workers in the country. The Zimbabwe Bank and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) can testify from painful experiences.

Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa key business Econet thrives on extortionate service charges on one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Much money comes from airtime vendors who remain the poorest informal sector workers and all they get are worn out low-quality bibs that advertise Econet. At one time Econet ruthlessly admonished those Ecocash agents who were trying to raise their meagre income by also doing Telecash services.

Econet security and police raid The Source newsroom (Pic: TechnoMag)

Strive Masiyiwa and the government are not the part of the solution, but the problem. Much media means freedom of expression and of the media right. Masiyiwa and his colleagues do not share that view. In 2015 he sent his thugs to manhandle journalist at the offices of The Source newspaper in Harare, confiscating computers after they wrote investigative article exposing the shenanigans at his businesses. This was only once the preserve of government which had its POSA and AIPPA legislations. But now it was a private citizen, a philanthropist who was thuggishly forcing journalist to reveal their sources! Let him build offices in a fellow capitalist thug’s country, where the richest man in the country is President and whose workers are among the most exploited and ruthlessly managed in Africa.

It’s infantile (apologies to infants) to expect that Masiyiwa will suddenly be a benevolent capitalist just because he gets a licence for Kwesé TV and gets an opportunity to feed neo-liberal propaganda on our suffering people. It is only the naive who can close ranks with either capitalist Masiyiwa or the capitalist government in such a time. Let them butcher each other out while we watch. We need a bold new alternative system for the protection of our media rights, labour rights and the sharing of profits amongst the majority of our peoples in Zimbabwe and Africa. Strive Masiyiwa and the government are not the part of the solution, but the problem. #AbashaCapitalism 

(Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist, socialist, writer and lawyer based in Harare. He blogs at www.cdetinashe.blogspot.com and www.africafightnow.org and tweets at @LeninChisaira)

An encounter with naked exploitation of workers at Chicken Slice

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

I had a 3-fold horrific encounter with wicked capitalism at a #ChickenSlice food outlet (Cnr 7th Street and Samora Machel Ave) on the night of August 24, 2017. Chicken Slice is by the way owned by Packers International, itself owned by Tawanda Mutyebere , who I hear is a “gospel” musician.

It was a few minutes towards midnight when I and some friends of mine,  decided to pass through and get some plain chips. First of the horrors was When we were in the queue, one of the young women who was serving suddenly collapsed , falling to the ground and hitting her head on some metal frame. She was obviously overworked, and suffering from the heat of the kitchen behind her. For about 2 minutes her co-workers continued to serve till we made an outcry .They then dragged her to some back room.

Then comes the second horror. Chicken Slice staff couldn’t call an ambulance. Despite all the ,money, customers and heat and other potential hazards, Chicken Slice doesn’t have a phone, a first aid kid and no airtime to be used even when one of the workers had such an emergency. The customers had to use their own phones and airtime to call an ambulance. 

The EMRAS ambulance came promptly after we the customers called…and I was confronted with another horror of capitalism. We discovered that all along there had been an ambulance parked outside the food outlet. It or its drivers most likely been in the outlet and they took no action at all. The unhelpful ambulance belonged to Nyaradzo Funeral Services.

I have been always openly communist, but that experience made me go to bed with the stronger conviction that capitalism as a system will never serve the people. The choice for these times is either building a an alternative socialist production and working model or continue with the barbarism that I witnessed last night. Down with #ChickenSlice. Down with Packers International. Down with Capitalism!


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ward Fire Fighting teams Trained in Nyaminyami (Kariba Rural) District

Community fire fighting committee members being trained at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)
Ward based firefighting committees were established and trained in the 12 wards that make up the Nyaminyami Rural district Council on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley.  The training was conducted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Nyaminyami Rural District Council and took place from 31 July to 5 August 2017. The trainings and provision of fire prevention materials supply were made possible due to support from the UNDP –funded Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) project. In total up to 180 community based firefighting committee members were trained. The training was necessary since the Zambezi valley is a dry region and historically depended on wildlife resources, which are highly affected by wild fires.
The district’s Wards 1,2 and 4 were trained at Mola Ward Centre; Wards 5,6,and 7 were trained at Negande Ward Centre; Wards 8,9 and 10 at Musambakaruma Ward Centre; Wards 11 and 12 at Makande Business Centre whilst ward 2 which is furthest from the Siakobvu District Offices was trained at Gatshe-Gatshe Primary School. The main facilitators were EMA’s Geoffrey Mafunhwa, ZELA’s Lenin Chisaira and Action Aid Zimbabwe’s Edson Nyashanu.
The training of the ward fire fighters was opportune and long overdue. In 2016, EMA records ranked Kariba particularly Nyaminyami District as number 4 out of the 7 districts that make up Mashonaland West Province in terms of fire intensity and effects.
Map showing Fires and Land-use Affected in Kariba District in recent years (Source: EMA)

The emphasis of the trainings was on fire prevention rather than having to fight fires themselves. Hence the teams were provided with firefighting equipment in the form of knapsack sprays, shovels, fire beaters, slashers, helmets and gloves. They also received training on laws governing fire prevention in Zimbabwe, mainly the provisions of the Forest Act and S.1. 7/2007.
“Fire issues are not new,” said Headman Seremwe from ward 5. “We have always been uniting to fight fires and prevent fires. This training enhances that knowledge.” 
Further trainings will be conducted in August and early September as the fire season begins. The trainings will be conducted in two other districts within the Zambezi Valley, namely Mbire in Mashonaland Central and Binga in Matabeleland North Province.

Pictures From the Trainings in Nyaminyami Rural 
Training at Musamabakaruma , ward 9

The writer taking community members through fire management laws during a training at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)

Training at Gatshe Gatshe Primary School (Pic: ZELA)

Mola Ward Centre (Pic: ZELA)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My Appeal for Majazo Primary School (Nyaminyami/Kariba Rural District) #MajazoSchoolAppeal

Last week, when I was doing my environmental work in Nyaminyami (Kariba) Rural District Council, I came across this “school”. It's called Majazo Primary School and it was established in 1998. It is situated in Ward 9 (Musambakaruma). One of the children I had a chat with, was dusty from head to toe, from learning whilst seated on the stony ground and braving the wind and heat, then having to travel long distances to and fro school in the wildlife infested district.  I also had a chat with the school head, who then shed me and my colleagues around the school grounds. I promised that as soon as I get to Harare I would spread the word and appeal for any assistance. The school needs assistance with children’s tuition, stationary, building materials, development projects, etc. Anyone willing to assist, can inbox me or email me on lenin.t.chisaira@gmail.com and I will share the school head’s contact details, so you deal with him directly. #MajazoSchoolAppeal

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Cde Chinx (1955-2017): One of the last anti-imperialist artists to come from Zimbabwe

Cde Chinx (1955-2017)
The revolutionary artist and veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira breathed his last on 16 June 2017, a day when Africa commemorates the 1976 massacre of black school children by apartheid forces during the Soweto Uprising.

Cde Chinx was not only a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, but a talented artist who chose to use music to advance the struggle against imperialism both before and after independence. It is not surprising that he was sidelined by the government. The post-independence Zimbabwean government had not hesitated to throw away a Leadership Code or to adopt the western-inspired Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of the 1990s.

 His key songs highlight the victorious fight against colonialism and settler rule (Maruza Imi), the fight against a government that was losing the socialist way of the liberation struggle (Rojer Confirm) and the importance of united struggles against imperialism waged by the exploited people of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Vanhu Vese vemuno muAfrica).

In his personal life, he died almost a pauper without any social welfare benefits. He also could not get medical assistance of note in a country where the leaders rush to treatments in foreign destinations. The house he built was razed down as an illegal structure in independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has seen the number of artists surging up, manly as a result of democratized production of music especially by the Zimdancehall movement. However, the lack of ideological clarity also has seen these artists initially singing pro-poor songs, but within a few days of success, these artists resort to singing nonsensical music about sexual and drug escapades as well as materialist aspirations like flashy cars, money and clothes. Cde Chinx never did that, although at certain times indeed he had to join the throngs of hapless artists who would praise-sing for the Zanu Pf government under the guise of anti-Western politics in order to get recognition and food on the table.

In nutshell, many obituaries will likely be written about Cde Chinx. however, it is worthwhile to note that he, alongside the self-exiled Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Hosiah Chipanga, have been the last voices of truly conscious revolutionary music in Zimbabwe. Adieu Cde Chinx.

(Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is a writer, lawyer and activist based in Harare. he blogs at www.cdetinashe.blogspot.com and www.africafightnow.org and tweets at @LeninChisaira

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Boycottism is the new Patriotism at national commemorations.

On 18 April each year, since 1980, the Republic of Zimbabwe commemorates its Independence from colonial rule (and from a racist and fascist Rhodesian regime). The event is characterised by military parades, mass displays, the President’s speech and a soccer match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. In any other county, a similar event would be characterised by wholesale patriotism. In Zimbabwe the event is mostly viewed with a partisan. A lot of Zimbabweans do not attend the Independence festive, rather they merely take advantage of the official designation of 18 April as a public holiday and they rest. The conscious ones willingly boycott the festive. In boycotting they seek to send a strong message that they are not complicit in the way the country is being run. To these, boycotting ‘national’ commemorations is a show of newfound patriotism.

 Patriotism, itself a not so progressive concept, relates to a one’s love or devotion to one’s country.  The concept can be observed when one celebrates the history, trials and triumphs of a nation. Zimbabwe’s dominant politics if jambajaism and insults results in a divided society based on one’s political party membership; people from the collective opposition are constantly denounced as unpatriotic and ‘sell-outs”. This denigration is accompanied by segregation when it comes to public processes such as Independence Day commemorations.

It was interesting that the President Speech at the 2017 Commemoration included the sentence that “every person has the right to a political; party of their choice”. The statements however remain hollow to a majority of urban based and working class Zimbabweans who chose to remain at home.

Indeed there is every justification for people to boycott national events. This will ensure that future governments and leaders will learn lessons and ensure that these events are not privatised for the benefit of a sole political party or class. However these boycotts should be organised and be pronounced. At the moment, the capacity of the ruling party to mobilise its supporters, by force or other means, and the resultant multitudes who attend the commemoration, can cover up the partisan nature of such commemorations to the untrained eye.

After over three decades of uhuru, Zimbabwe should be a more democratic, inclusive and participatory society. The fact that even the leader of the majority opposition party , Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T or the former Vice President Joice Mujuru who has been in government since 1980 until being purged recently, do not participate in the Independence Day commemorations, should be worrisome  to any organiser of such events.

As a final word, whilst the people should not be keen supporters of patriotism, since the concept doesn’t recognise the reality of class struggles and differences in a given society, the same people should oppose in every form, the dominance of partisanship and other divisions during the commemoration of past historic struggles and events such as the War of liberation, Unity Day, Independence day, Heroes Day and Defence Forces days.

 [Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist and lawyer based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He tweets at @LeninChisaira and is interested in Economic Justice, Human Rights, Leftist Politics and Environmental Justice. He edits www.africafightnow.org and blogs at cdetinashe.blogspot.com ]

Friday, 17 February 2017

Zimbabwe: Dealing with environmental politics in a year of Cyclone #Dineo and Mbare typhoid outbreaks.

ex-Cyclone Dineo
The year 2017 has opened up with disaster scares in the form of typhoid, flooding in the high density suburb of Mbare in Harare and cyclone alerts in the southern parts of the country. Two people reportedly lost their lives whilst over a thousand cases were brought to the hospitals in the January typhoid fiasco. At a political level there were accusations ranging from the Harare City Council laying the blame on vendors whilst resident and vendor associations such as the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and the Vendors Initiative for Socio-Economic Transformation (VISET) blamed the city and government for non-provision of safe water to lack of consultations when a controversial mall was built on water courses just outside Mbare. The residents rightfully remain convinced that the mall blocked water ways during the excessive rainfall that has affected Zimbabwe since the end of 2016. The water flooded and brought various pathogens and waste into people’s homes.

Before the news and shock of typhoid has ebbed, the Meteorological Services Department in the midst of February 2017 warned of an upcoming disaster in the form of Cyclone Dineo. The cyclone was expected to hit the southern parts of Zimbabwe and her neighbouring coastal states of Mozambique and South Africa.

Against this background, there is need to question whether the governments in the various states will prioritise environmental justice, that is, catering for the rights of marginalised groups in society in relation to their benefits or challenges from nature. In Zimbabwe, exactly three years ago, in February 2014, over 7000 people had to be evacuated and then rescued by well-wishers after government failed to provide adequate disaster management systems following the shoddy workmanship and breakdown of Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo Province.

The government should engage itself in understanding the politics of geographical locations. Areas like Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Manicaland and Mbare which are the main areas of concern in this article, are characterised by unfavourable economic conditions as well as geographical nightmares, and hence are prone to poverty, pollution, drought and marginalisation.

The government should deliver on its mandate of empowering departments and agencies that
First reports of ex-Cyclone Dineo (eNCA)
are critical to public health, e
mergency management and disaster prevention of both natural and man-made hazards, such as the health sector, National Civic Protection Committee and the Civil Protection Directorate. Furthermore, there must be prioritisation of the alignment of legislations such as the Civil Protection Act, Environmental Management Act, Rural District Councils Act amongst others, to the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Human lives, disaster management and public health are of fundamental social concern. Any government or local authority worth its salt must provide its people with safe, clean water, ensure that there are conducive environments for access to basic nutrition and health services. Unfortunately for most impoverished and forgotten communities that has not been the case.

The government and Ministry of Health officials should pull up their socks in documenting, researching and mapping on the lifestyle choices, social and economic circumstances as well as weather patterns that affect the nation as a whole. They should have spent more time on these and less on petty fights, corruption and human rights violations.

The ordinary people themselves must be able to organise themselves and demand that their rights are protected and upheld by so called “duty bearers”. People are paying taxes and rates and these should be utilised more on disaster preparedness, public health and socio-economic issues and less on foreign trips, smear media campaigns, parties and rallies.

[Fadzai Midzi studies Geography and Environmental Studies at Midlands State University. Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is an activist and environmental legal and policy researcher based in Harare.]