Local news

Anger over Bob UN naming as ambassador

Harare – The United Nations faced criticism on Friday after naming President Robert Mugabe a “goodwill ambassador” to promote health causes, despite the country’s dire health crisis under his rule.

The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) asked Mugabe to serve in the role to help tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart attacks, strokes and asthma across Africa.

Mugabe, 93, was in Uruguay for the announcement by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said he was “honoured to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador on NCDs for Africa”.

Tedros hailed Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

Zimbabwe’s healthcare system, like many of its public services, has collapsed under Mugabe’s authoritarian regime, with most hospitals out of stock of essential medicines and supplies, and nurses and doctors regularly left unpaid.


The appointment angered international rights campaigners and opposition parties, who also accuse Mugabe of violent repression, election rigging and presiding over the country’s economic ruin.

“Given Mugabe’s appalling human rights record, calling him a Goodwill Ambassador for anything embarrasses WHO and Doctor Tedros,” Iain Levine, programme director at Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter.

The main MDC opposition party in Zimbabwe described the appointment as “laughable”.

“The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told AFP.

“Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.”

‘New feather in President’s cap’

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, is in increasingly fragile health and makes regular trips abroad for medical treatment.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported the appointment under the headline “New feather in President’s cap”.

It reported that Mugabe told the WHO conference in Montevideo on Wednesday that Zimbabwe had developed a national policy on NCDs and that he had called for more funds for developing nations.

According to WHO, non-communicable diseases are by far the leading cause of death in the world, killing more than 36 million people each year.

The UN agencies such as WHO, UNHCR and Unesco all appoint goodwill ambassadors to highlight specific causes and often draw publicity.

The Unicef ambassadors currently include singer Katy Perry and tennis player Serena Williams.


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Govt to dole out free sanitary pads

ZIMBABWE’S young and vulnerable girls would soon be receiving free sanitary pads as part of government efforts to allay a social problem that has often seen girls from less privileged families forced to stay away from school during their menstrual periods.

This was revealed by Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya in parliament recently.

She had been harangued by MPs on why condoms were often issued out for free while girls were made to by sanitary ware.

Bulawayo proportional representation MP Thokozani Khuphe asked the minister why government could not avail sanitary pads in schools.

Khuphe said statistics have shown that a number of girls miss up to about 60 days of schooling per year adding that this ran contrary to efforts to break the circle of poverty if the girls’ education continued to be disrupted by the situation.

Mazowe South MP, Fortune Chasi also asked the minister as to when they shall consider placing sanitary pads in toilets and women rest rooms for easy accessibility.

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa, similarly, said the problem was more critical in rural areas adding that lack of sanitary ware lowered the girl child’s self esteem.

“Government has got money to buy condoms which are available for free but sanitary wear is not available for free,” Mliswa said.

“Is it because of misplaced priority because condom money is there but sanitary wear money is not there?

“…This is a serious matter that cannot be further delayed.

“These things must be here like yesterday, not tomorrow.”

But in her response, minister Chikwinya said some local companies have been contracted to supply sanitary pads that will be issued out for free.

“Coming to the issue of sanitary napkins and towels for women, we have two companies that we have approached that are going to give sanitary towels for women for free,” Chikwinya said.

“We have two companies that we have actually contracted to produce sanitary towels for those young girls she is talking about for free.

“One of the other companies has said we are unable to do it for free because of budgetary constraints, but we can sell the sanitary towels for 50c down from $1 and we are still looking into that.”

The crisis has often seen girls from less privileged families sometimes use tree leaves and dry cow dung as substitute for sanitary ware.

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Tsvangirai in BVR plea to Christians

By Staff Reporter

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has issued an impassioned plea to the country’s large Christian community to register and take part in next year’s harmonised elections.

Tsvangirai, presidential candidate for the country’s main opposition coalition, made the appeal in a letter he directed at the local church.

“I am kindly appealing to all pastors and members of the clergy in our Christian faith and the broader church fraternity to mobilise the congregants to register to vote,” he said.

The former Prime Minister went biblical as he implored Christians to invest in a God-fearing leadership.

“Fellow Christians, our country is on the crossroads and let us all register to vote for a God-fearing government (Psalms 127:1) that can be trusted win rebuilding a democratic united and prosperous nation.

“The national hope lies in the church to assist in shepherding our beloved country to new dispensation.”

Tsvangirai added: “We hold the conviction that God loves Zimbabwe and we look to a bright future in hope and faith.

“Let us pray and urge all congregants to register and vote in the next election. Nothing is impossible because the Lord we serve is a God of eternal goodness and mercy.”

Zimbabwe’s church has largely refrained from taking an active role in national political affairs for unknown reasons.

Crisis-weary locals, similarly, look to have abandoned the political route as a possible solution to their myriad problems and have turned to local prophets for miracles.

But the church has seen brave individuals within its ranks stand up to challenge what they feel was an unjust system under decades of Zanu PF rule.

Prominent among these are Harare pastor Evan Mawarire of This Generation Church, Remnant Church’s Pastor Patrick Mugadza and Bishop Ancelimo Magaya of Devine Destiny Network.

However, President Mugabe has not been without his own backers within the country’s broad Christian faith.

Members of the local clergy who have fought in his corner include Destiny of Africa Network’s Reverend Obadiah Msindo; Pentecostal Assemblies leader, Bishop Trevor Manhanga and the late Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira of the Johane Masowe WeChishanu Apostolic Church.

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BVR no police business: Bonyongwe

By Staff Reporter

JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Happyton Bonyongwe (pictured) says police have no business being involved in the country’s electoral administrative processes other than their primary role of ensuring security.

He was speaking in parliament Wednesday while responding to a question by Proportional Representation MP Fanny Chirisa.

Chirisa had asked the minister to furnish the house with a government policy position on the role of police during voter registration exercises and to clearly state whether there would be no conflict of interest if police were engaged in voter registration processes.

The MDC-T legislator also asked if police will try to confine their roles in the maintenance of law and order even during the 2018 elections.

“Mr. Speaker, the role of the police is to provide security to ZEC as well as to maintain law and order at the registration centres so that all citizens freely exercise their right to register as voters.

“It must be noted that no police officer is appointed as a registration officer nor are they operatives in the registration process.”

He added: “Section 10, of the Electoral Act gives ZEC guidelines as to who can be recruited as electoral officers and the Section expressly excludes Members of the disciplined forces from that category.

“…May I reiterate that the police officers have the sole function of maintaining law and order.”

Bonyongwe’s sentiments follow continued complaints by Zanu PF opponents police were being used to advance Zanu PF’s electoral ambitions.

In 2008, President Mugabe came under fire for allegedly going against the country’s electoral laws by allowing police escort voters to polling booths.

The Zimbabwean leader had used his controversial presidential powers to come up with the decree.

Outside actual polling, Zimbabwean police have infuriated Zanu PF opponents through the continued banning of opposition rallies.

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‘Rogue’ Cops insult man freed

By Staff Reporter

A Chiredzi man who was August this year arrested for allegedly scolding some police officers for being corrupt walked free Wednesday after a local magistrate’s court found him not guilty of the accusations.

Zephania Virimai (32) was charged with undermining police authority.

Prosecutors said Virimai insulted two police officers, namely Lazarus Nyahonzo and Slyna Nyamaropa, by referring to them as thieves.

He had met the cops inside a local banking hall.

Virimai, it is alleged, was offended by the cops’ reluctance to join the queue to which he remarked, “mbavha idzo ngadzibvepo (these thieves move away from there).

Virimai (right) pictured with his lawyer Blessing Nyamayaro

After realising the two were unmoved by the alleged insult, Virimai reportedly intensified the verbal attacks by saying “Zvimapurisa zvinobhenga mari yecorruption (rogue police officers banking corruption money)”.

Prosecutors had charged that Virimai’s conduct exposed the law enforcers to “to contempt, ridicule or low esteem”.

But in acquitting him of the charge, presiding magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga said the state had failed during trial to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

He also ruled that the evidence of the State witnesses who testified during the trial was inconsistent and therefore he could not rely on it to convict Virimai, who was represented during trial by practitioners from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

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Toddler trapped in raging inferno, burnt to death

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD Mahusekwa toddler was on Monday burnt to death after he was trapped by a veld fire while in a vegetable garden.

Terrence Mapuranga, of Gotora Village under Chief Chihota, died in full view of the villagers who failed to rescue him.

The toddler’s father Edson Mapuranga sustained serious burns as he unsuccessfully tried to rescue him.

Mashonaland East province acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Tendai Mwanza was not available for comment on Wednesday.

According to a reliable source, on the fateful day, at around 0800hrs, it is alleged that Angeline Gotora (53) of Gotora village was burning rubbish in a pit at her homestead when she failed to contain the fire which spread towards the Mapuranga family’s garden where the now-deceased was playing inside.

It is reported that villagers failed to put out the fire in an attempt to rescue the toddler.

Terrence’s father made frantic efforts to rescue his son, but all was in vain.

The toddler was burnt to death while his father sustained burns all over his body.

Police in Mahusekwa attended the scene and conveyed the toddler’s body to the Marondera Provincial Hospital mortuary for post-mortem while his father was rushed to the same hospital where he was admitted.


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Cat grieving man shoots self dead

By Staff Reporter

A 69-year-old Harare man shot and killed himself Friday the 13th of this month after failing to come to terms with the death of his cat.

Police confirmed the bizarre incident involving the elderly man from Borrowdale.

Acting Harare Provincial Community Relations Liaison Officer, Assistant Inspector Chazovachiyi said the deceased called his friends, relatives and lawyer to inform them that he was failing to cope with life without his cat, which he lived with at an old people’s home.

The unnamed senior citizen was then found in a pool of blood by a friend who checked on him the following day, police said.

The incident, although bizarre, is not the first involving a Zimbabwean going to great lengths mourning a pet.

In May this year, a 38-year-old man from Harare’s Mabvuku suburb caused a stir when he invited friends and relatives to attend a funeral he had organised for his dead chicken he had been keeping as a pet.

The man, Philemon Murefu told the media the bird deserved a special send-off as it had been too special to him.

“I shed tears when one of my chickens dies. The bird was a special bird to me because for the two years I had stayed with it, it was friendly and loving to me,” he told the media then.

Murefu also planned to put a tombstone at the grave of his dead chicken.

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Hungry Zims stampede for hangman’s job

At least 50 people want to become Zimbabwe’s hangman, a job that fell vacant over a decade ago, officials said Tuesday, stressing that applicants were “very interested” in the role.

The country, which has an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent by some measures, last executed a prisoner in 2005, after which the serving hangman retired.

“The response has been overwhelming and the applications have been from both men and women,” justice ministry secretary Virginia Mabhiza told the NewsDay newspaper.

“We have received over 50 applications in the past few months. People are very interested.”

After a long search, a new hangman was reported to have been appointed in 2012 but the chosen candidate was never confirmed.

Rights groups including Amnesty International have often called on Zimbabwe, which has 92 inmates on death row, to abolish capital punishment.

Zimbabwe’s new 2013 constitution exempts women from the hangman’s noose.

“All men between 18 and 69 years (who) have been convicted of murder in aggravated circumstances can receive capital punishment,” Mabhiza was quoted as saying.

She did not say when the hangman would be appointed or if Zimbabwe intended to revive executions soon.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was justice minister until a recent cabinet reshuffle, is a strong opponent of the death penalty.

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What sickness, Tsvangirai is our man: Ngarivhume

By Staff Reporter

TRANSFORM Zimbabwe President Jacob Ngarivhume (pictured) has vowed his unwavering support for MDC Alliance presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai whose persistent ailment continues to fuel doubt over his capabilities to lead the multi-party opposition alliance to electoral victory next year.

He was speaking to The Zimbabwe Star Tuesday soon after telling the media at a party press briefing locals should ditch the bond note and adopt the more stable South African rand.

Tsvangirai, also MDC-T leader, is battling cancer of the colon which has seen him withdraw from public life as he battles his chronic condition.

He was last month flown to South Africa for specialised treatment after his condition deteriorated at a meeting of coalition principals firming up for the anti-Zanu PF election pact.

The MDC-T leader returned home quietly last week.

Besides repeated denials by close aides the veteran opposition leader was well and ready to proceed with his quest to land the country’s most coveted job, Tsvangirai has not been seen in public yet.

His lengthy sabbatical that has followed his recent trip to South Africa has set tongues wagging, with some saying the ex-prime minister must relinquish leadership of both party and opposition coalition so he could find time and a more private space to recuperate free of the daily stresses of confronting President Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime.

Asked over his party’s position on the matter, Ngarivhume did not think twice about his party’s position on Tsvangirai’s continued leadership.

“We absolutely have no problem with the health of Mr Tsvangirai. In our understanding in the alliance, he is well and we are quite happy; we absolutely have no problem at all,” Ngarivhume said.

“We are pretty confident and comfortable with what he represents and we have identified him as the leader of the alliance because we believe in his ability and he is ok.”

Ngarivhume added: “My understanding is that the presidential candidate who is sick is Robert Mugabe. He is the one that we see clearly that he is not well, he is the one that we see falling down at airports, he is the one that we see sleeping everywhere.

“He is also the one that we see travelling to Singapore now and again. Clearly, he is 94 years of age and he can’t hold.

“The question of health really needs to be taken to Zanu PF and not to the MDC alliance.”

Ngarivhume is the second among principals leading political parties already signed up to the coalition arrangement to land support for the embattled opposition heavyweight.

PDP leader Tendai Biti on Monday also vowed his emphatic support for Tsvangirai.

“Yes, we have absolute confidence in Morgan Tsvangirai and none among us is fit enough to play doctor to his life. We are going to support him and we will stand with him,” Biti said during a live interview with a local radio station.

Asked if he thought Tsvangirai would pull through to next year in his current condition, Biti responded, “Absolutely, absolutely! That’s what we have chosen; that’s our decision as Zimbabweans and we owe him that.”

President Mugabe has urged Tsvangirai to throw in the towel arguing his ailment was a result of the successive defeats he has handed to his main rival since 2002.

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Mugabe dares courts, seeks Mutsvangwa ouster

By Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his party could soon find themselves in contempt of court as they seek to depose the elected Chris Mutsvangwa led war veterans executive to replace it with a more docile leadership.

The intended move shall also see war veterans drafted into Zanu PF to join other appendage party organs such as the women and youth leagues.

This was revealed by permanent secretary in the war veterans ministry, Retired Brigadier General Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi on Monday.

A fresh elective war veterans congress was being planned for December this year and shall play forerunner to the party’s potentially explosive elective one same month.

“We want to cascade the structure of the war veterans from the politburo where we are present right now, all the way down to the cell so that the war veterans are just like the women and the youth in the party,” he told state media.

The new war veterans association, Tapfumaneyi said, shall now include Mujibhas, Chimbwidos, ex-detainees and other groups that have drawn their identities from their past association with the country’s liberation war.

Currently, war veterans are a private affiliate group to Zanu PF.

If Zanu PF proceeds with plans to reconstitute the war veterans association, it may find itself in conflict with the country’s courts of law which have barred any attempts to interfere with the running of the organisation.

This follows a court challenge successfully filed before by the Mutsvangwa led group which sought to bar anyone from executing any duties on behalf of the one-time fanatical Zanu PF support base.

But Zanu PF continues to defy the order and has allowed the interim national executive headed by Patrick Nyaruwata to run the affairs of war veterans.

The planned association is also expected to play a major role towards campaigning for President Mugabe and his party’s re-election for the 2018 elections.

Following their bitter fall-out over how to handle Zanu PF’s divisive succession question, the vocal Mutsvangwa led group has vowed to throw spanners into President Mugabe’s re-election bid.

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