|Admire Matutu with Zanu PF Mwenezi East MP Joosbi Omar |
...demands that RDC chair, deputy chair resign
MWENEZI - The Public Service Commission (PSC), which is in a nationwide drive to flash out civil servants who hold political office, has demanded the immediate resignation from council of two teachers who contested in the 2018 elections and won seats in the Mwenezi Rural District Council (RDC).
The PSC served dismissal letters to Marinda Primary School head Jorum Ncube, who also serves as Ward 6 Councillor, and Zvomupungu Primary School teacher-in-charge Admire Matutu who is Ward 14 councillor.
After winning in the 2018 harmonised elections on Zanu PF tickets, the two went on to be voted Mwenezi Rural District Council (RDC) chairperson and vice chairperson respectively.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from provincial PSC secretary, Tavuyanarwo Makuza were fruitless as by the time of publication as his mobile repeatedly went unreachable.
One of the letters, dated April 15, 2020, and signed by PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe reads:
"The Commission has noted that, following the 2018 harmonised elections, you continue to render service as a civil servant while you are also serving as a councillor.
“Circular number 10 of 2018 dated 28 November 2018 requires members to resign within 30 days of being elected. In the absence of your resignation letter, you are deemed to have elected to remain a member of the civil service…
“The commission hereby directs that as a civil servant, you should cease to serve as a councillor with immediate effect. Failure to comply with this directive will result in disciplinary action being taken against you," reads part of the letters.
Soon after the 2018 harmonised elections the Nelson Chamisa's MDC Alliance’s Mwenezi leadership made several spirited attempts to pressurize the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to declare the two council seats vacant but all was in vain.
[read similar story here http://www.tellzim.com/2019/02/mdc-alliance-demands-by-elections-in.html ]
This was allegedly due to political inferences by powerful Zanu PF provincial bigwigs who reportedly kept shielding the two councillors.
The constitution forbids civil servants to serve partisan political interests and to hold political office.
CHIREDZI - The Air Force of Zimbabwe is set to construct a new clinic close to Masimbaavanhu Primary School in Chief Neromwe’s area, TellZim News can report.
There was a ground-breaking ceremony at the clinic site which was attended by AFZ Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo and other officers, members of the Masvingo provincial leadership as well as Chief Neromwe (born Clemence Madzingo).
The clinic will be built under the Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe Charity Fund which was formed in 2011 to mobilise resources for less privileged people and communities in Zimbabwe.
AFZ is in partnership with local universities to undertake needs assessment studies as well as tap into the knowledge of officers in order to identify deserving people and communities.
The organisation’s intervention in the Neromwe area was facilitated by Chief of Staff Supporting Services, Air Vice Marshal John Nzvede who was born in the neighbouring Zaka district.
In his address, Air Marshall Moyo said he was glad that his organisation was involved in a developmental project of that nature.
“Our main aim is for communities to know about the Air Force of Zimbabwe and our duties, in order to motivate their children to join our force. This community was chosen after considering that it is a resettlement area which lacks many facilities.
“Air Vice Marshal John Nzvede helped the Air Force of Zimbabwe in selecting this area, which he said got back its chieftainship recently but lacked proper health facilities,” said Air Marshal Moyo.
Moyo also said he was pained to learn that people in Masimbaavanhu travelled more than 80km to access the nearest health facility.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Ezra Chadzamira urged Chiredzi Rural District Council (RDC) and the District Development Coordinator (DDC) to mobilise resources for the construction of staff quarters and maternity waiting rooms.
“I am most pleased that the Air Force of Zimbabwe has chosen to support and empower rural communities around Neromwe, here in Chiredzi district,” said Chadzamira.
AFZ is working in partnership with Sakunda Holdings, Beta Bricks, Green Fuel, Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe and Exodus and Company to carry out the project.
|Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira is given a feel of the new sanitizer produced by Ngomla|
CHIREDZI – The Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Ezra Chadzamira has expressed delight at efforts made by a local construction company, Ngomla Investments Pvt Ltd to diversify its operations towards hand sanitizer production.
Speaking during the tour of the company's newly-procured sanitizer production plant in Chiredzi, Chadzamira said government was impressed by private players who continue to complement government efforts in the fight against Covid-19.
"We are very impressed as a province by the work which we have seen being done by Ngomla Investments here at their sanitizer production plant.
“As government, we are very delighted when our own local companies invest in businesses with an immediate bearing on the wellbeing of the people of Zimbabwe. We know this company has its very roots in construction and it’s pleasing that they have ventured into another field which is probably more critical at this point in time," said Chadzamira.
The company is expected to produce enough sanitizers to supply the whole province and beyond.
Ngomla Investments managing director Tawanda Mangoma said the company was moved by the realisation that proper sanitizers with an alcohol base remained a rarity especially in rural communities which are no more or less vulnerable to the coronavirus than any other community set-up.
“The district of Chiredzi borders Mozambique and South Africa and given the reality of illegal border crossings, we thought of people in remote areas such as Davata, Sango, Malipati whom we felt could be better served if an affordable, locally-made sanitizer is supplied to them, " said Mangoma.
|Masvingo district education offices in Mucheke|
Masvingo Provincial Education Director (PED) Zedius Chitiga has said parents and guardians need not fear for the safety of their children that are sitting for examinations saying schools have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social-distancing will be enforced.
Chitiga told TellZim News that he personally visited some schools before the commencement of exams early this week to make an assessment on the state of preparedness.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers and I am happy by the level of preparedness of schools in the province.
“I would say there is adequate Personal Protective Equipment for invigilators and candidates are required by the rules.
“Before getting into the examination venue, candidates are required to sanitise or wash their hands. In the examination venue, there is social distance so there is no need to panic. All the safety measures have been put in place,” said Chitiga.
Chitiga highlighted that every other basic precautions have been put in place for the success of the examinations but called on both candidates and teachers to play their part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the examination venues.
“The ministry has done its part but obviously we may not meet the best of standards. This pandemic requires each person to play their part. We will try our best to ensure the safety of candidates and invigilators,” said Chitiga.
Church of Christ’s Masvingo Christian College head Edson Muresherwa said that the exams are going on smoothly as his school had enough PPE for both invigilators and candidates.
“Exams started well and we do not have any problems. As a school, we have enough PPE for our invigilators and candidates. We are giving free masks to candidates who come without their own and we have managed to put in place all the basic precautions as a school,” said Muresherwa.
|Inmates at Mushagashe sleep in dormitories|
People quarantined at Mushagashe Training Centre outside Masvingo town along the road to Harare have complained that police and soldiers deployed there are using heavy-handed tactics whenever they try to raise issues that concern them.
The training centre was recently approved to hold people coming from neighbouring countries like Botswana and South Africa in quarantine for a maximum of 21 days.
Authorities had initially indicated that the centre was not suitable for use as a quarantine centre as its accommodation facilities were dormitories that made it difficult to make sleeping arrangements respecting social distancing rules.
Some of the people held there, however, complain that they have spent over 21 days at the centre but they have not been tested and there is no showing that they could be released any time soon.
This, they say, has fomented grievances as inmates want to know progress being made towards testing them.
“The police and army officer deployed here, however, are overly strict and paranoid. Whenever we try to register grievances or get clarifications from social services and health authorities here, we are met with brute force.
“Yesterday, the people we chose to represent us tried to initiate engagement but it all ended in grief as we were all rounded up and locked-up in one big room for the rest of the day where social-distancing was impossible. Our leaders were then detained in a separate room for questioning,” said one inmate who contacted TellZim News.
Another female inmate said they were once locked up and starved for the rest of the day after they complained about the bad state of sanitary facilities at the centre.
“The police and soldiers accused us of planning to stage demonstrations and they locked us up and denied us food for the rest of the day. This was after we raised concerns that the toilets and bathrooms were not being properly cleaned and maintained.
‘Besides that, a new inmate is added to the existing group so we end up mixed-up; those that came weeks back and those that are arriving now. How do you expect us to tolerate that when the focus should be on keeping people from different places apart,” said the inmate.
Others complain that the health authorities that visit the place do not bother talking to them either individually or to address them as a group.
When contacted for comment, Masvingo Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Dr Amadeus Shamu disputed inmates’ claims that they had spent several weeks in quarantine, saying most have been there only for a week.
He also claimed that all the people were tested upon arrival at the quarantine and were not yet due for retests.
Shamu also referred questions about mixing of new arrivals with those that have been there for long to the Social Welfare department but no comment could be obtained there by the time of publishing.
About 4,000 recovered Covid-19 patients from South Korean-based Shincheonji Church of Jesus will donate their blood, also known as convalescent plasma, for use in the research and development of a new therapy that could reduce deaths related to the illness.
Antibodies found in the blood of recovered Covid-19 patients could help fight off the disease. A recent pilot study conducted at three hospitals in China found that immune antibodies harvested from recovered patients appeared to shorten the duration of symptoms, speed up recovery and improve oxygen levels in those infected.
Researchers hope the blood of recovered patients can be used to treat the critically ill and that it may curb current death rates. To progress this research and develop the treatment scientists need the blood of individuals who have healed but battled to find willing donors. A previous trial was called off due to low participation.
To aid in the global search for a safe and effective treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Shincheonji Church has urged its members to become donors, with roughly 4,000 are expected to give 500ml of blood.
Shincheonji leader Man Hee Lee, who is an advocate for world peace, personally advised recovered congregants to donate their plasma for the general good of humanity. “As Jesus sacrificed himself with his blood for life, we hope that the blood of people can bring positive effects to achieve a world of peace for future generations,” said Mr. Lee.
After discussions with South Korean health authorities which highlighted the need for resources to progress treatment research, the church decided to create a plan for the donation. “Some of the recovered members have already donated individually, feeling thankful for the assistance from the government and medical teams,” a Shincheonji representative said. “They expressed their willingness to make this contribution to society.”
There is currently no vaccine or drug proven to be widely effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, though various nations are researching treatment options. A breakthrough in the search for a cure from South Korea would help to lower the mortality rate in Southern Africa, and to contain the economic damage suffered from lockdown measures.
African nations have mostly reported lower infections and more slowly than their global counterparts, meaning the full impact of the virus on the continent remains to be seen. With vulnerable healthcare systems throughout the region the discovery of an effective treatment would be lifesaving.
BIKITA – A total of 120 informal traders some of whom had been operating illegally prior to the Covid-19 induced national lockdown have now registered their operation with the Bikita Rural District Council (RDC), TellZim has learnt.
The local authority is on a drive to encourage more informal traders to register their operations so as to avoid future inconveniences should the lockdown be fully lifted.
In an interview with TellZim News, Bikita RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Chibhi said council wanted orderly and lawful informal trading going forward.
“We are pleased that a significant number of our people in the informal trade have come forward to regularise their activities. We encourage others to come forward as this is a continuous process allowed as per the SI 136 (Public Health [Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment] [National Lockdown] Amendment Order, 2020, No 10).
“Council is working hard to improve market stalls at Nyika growth point and other business centres to make sure that people do their business in dignity and with decreased chances of contracting the coronavirus and spreading it to others,” said Chibhi.
He warned that the future was bleak for those who fail to take advantage of the existing dispensation to register anybody who wants to get into the informal trade.
“Our desire is to give our people a chance to fend for their families in a lawful manner since things will never be the same even if we are to have a post-Covid-19 era. Council wants to maintain lawful control of informal traders so that we can plan accordingly and be able to provide optimum service delivery as per our mandate,” he said.
He also said those that have already registered were being allowed to do some business at stipulated timeframes with a requirement that they strictly adhere to maximum hygiene standards possible and social distancing rules.
In April, the Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing ordered local authorities to take advantage of the lockdown to destroy illegal market stalls and build proper market places.
...new TV stations on airwaves by August?
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ)’s call for television licences application lapsed today, June 30, with bids expected to be processed in the next few weeks, TellZim News can report.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday released a media briefing after a meeting of the national Covid-19 taskforce in which she wishes the new applicants well.
“Government has embarked on a media reform programme. This includes legislative reforms, media cultural reform and registering new players in television.
“I wish to inform the nation that the deadline for applicants to lodge their applications for television players is tomorrow, 30 June 2020. We take this opportunity to wish applicants all the best. The Second Republic means what it says on the media landscape reform,” she said.
In February, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) made a call for interested parties to make applications. This was after government promised that the country will have 12 new national free-to-air television channels by August this year.
A total of six of these channels will be owned by the state-controlled broadcaster ZBC while the remaining six will be run by private enterprise.
The application fee stood at a non-refundable $42 500, with the licence valid for a total of 10 years at a cost of $306 000 per year.
Meanwhile, government has also called for application for 10 language-based community radio stations which are expected to be based in areas perceived to be culturally marginalised.
Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) made history on June 07 when it because the first university to be awarded a campus radio licence.
With only one TV station, Zimbabwe’s broadcasting space is tightly controlled by BAZ which is a statutory body appointed by government in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA). This has seen the country’s broadcasting industry lagging behind its regional peers despite being one of only two African countries to have a TV station by 1958.
Provisions of the BSA allow interested players to apply only if and when BAZ has called for applications at moments it deems necessary.
Government has been accused of manipulating the authoritarian licensing regime to benefit only private players with deep political connections to the ruling Zanu PF party.
|Icod Zim service delivery meeting in Chiredzi|
Chiredzi Town Council has accumulated more than $2.5 million in debt from its various service providers since the beginning of the Covid-19 induced lockdown, it has been learnt.
The debt is owed to such stakeholders as Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe (THZ); Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Due to that difficult state of its finances, the local authority has now gone for two months without paying salaries.
This was revealed at a recent service delivery indaba organised by the Institute for Community Development in Zimbabwe (ICOD Zimbabwe) in collaboration with the Public Rights Forum (PIRF) and United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA).
In his address, Chiredzi Town Council Chairperson Gibson Hwende said council operations had been severely affected, with revenue collection having dropped from 56 percent before the lockdown to five percent currently.
“Our debt ballooned as a result of a sharp drop in revenue collection and we now have salary arrears for the months of May and June. Our refuse truck is also currently down, and we are failing to procure the required spare parts,” said Hwende.
From the council’s $52 million budget for 2020, $433 333 was supposed to be collected from residents and rate payers monthly, but only 56 percent ($242 666.48) of that figure was managed in the first month.
The figure dropped to $21 666.50 during the ensuing months after the lockdown was pronounced.
UCHIRRA advocacy officer, Bernard Dhachi hailed the local authority for improving water reticulation during the lockdown.
“There has been a notable improvement on water supply this lockdown regardless of the challenges being faced and we appreciate council for that. Most residents are, however, now in a more difficult financial position as the informal trading sector is closed. They can’t pay their bills and poverty has increased,” said Dhachi.
Chiredzi West Member of Parliament (MP) Farai Musikavanhu said it was unfortunate that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were the most affected by the lockdown.
|The under re-construction Civic Centre flea market|
City of Masvingo is rapidly building new market stalls in place of some of the old, shoddy structures that had become a terrible eyesores for the time preceding the Covid-19 national lockdown.
In April, the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ordered all local authorities to take advantage of the lockdown to clean up their informal market places by destroying illegal structures and building proper stalls.
Masvingo responded to the call by destroying illegal extensions on the shanty Chitima market which is made up of the fresh produce section and the miscellaneous section, before razing down much of the main market in town situated adjacent to the Civic Centre.
Part of the vegetable section of Chitima market is now undergoing reconstruction, with better materials being used than the makeshift wood and plastic that had covered the place before.
|Part of the veg section of Chitima market under re-construction|
Similar work is also being done on part of the Civic Centre flea market, where some more acceptable materials are being used in the rebuilding process.
In October 2019, City of Masvingo Housing and Community Services director, Levison Nzvura had told TellZim News that council planned to upgrade Chitima market into a better place of doing business by properly enclosing it and regularizing traders’ operations.
[ read similar story here http://www.tellzim.com/2019/10/no-more-free-reign-at-chitima-vendors.html ]
“We have been unable to keep track of the exact number of people doing beusines there because there is no consolidated database of traders. People come and occupy a stall for a day or two and then go away. Nobody pay for the bays except for a few so council is making huge losses there.
“We have done a lot to make sure conditions there are good but sometimes the people themselves make a mess of their own market. People use the strangest of objects in the toilets leading to blockages, and it’s council that has to unblock them despite that most of the very same people do not pay anything to use the market,” said Nzvura then.
He also said council wanted to rationalise operations at the market so that proper services could be provided.
“There are about 700 bays there and we want to know who owns which bay so that we can make follow ups in terms of rentals. We will than use the money collected to improve facilities and put a good shade starting with the vegetable section. We want a proper market where people can go and shop with confidence,” he said.
MASVINGO - The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) Masvingo provincial secretary for gender and social welfare, Shilla Chisirimunhu, who was arrested on June 22 after allegedly staging a demonstration at the district education offices in Mucheke, has been released on $500 bail.
Chisirimunhu was arrested after police pounced on a group of Artuz members who had submitted a petition to the Masvingo district education leaders demanding that teachers receive their salaries in US dollars.
Represented by Martin Mureri of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), she appeared before Magistrate Patience Madondo after spending a night detained in cells at Chikato Police Station in Mucheke.
According to the State outline, Chisirimunhu participated in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37(i) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
She alternatively faces a charge of contravening Section 4(a) (i) of Statutory Instrument 83/20 as read with Section 3(a) of Statutory Instrument 110/20 which prohibits ‘unnecessary movement during the national lockdown’.
The State represented by Unice Shoko, alleges that Chisirimunhu, in the company of 50 other colleagues that were still at large by the time of writing, went to the education offices chanting songs that denounced the local currency while raising placards.
Through her defence lawyer Mureri, Chisirimunhu denies the charges, arguing that she was not part of the said group and that she was arrested one kilometre away from the venue of the purported gathering.
Meanwhile, the Artuz national Executive Committee has condemned Chisirimunhu’s arrest as a case of a growing pattern of the State trampling on the rights of citizens though intimidation and victimisation.
The organisation has also threatened legal action against one female police officer Chabaya who allegedly assaulted Chisirimunhu severely during the arrest.