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Covid-19: Lazy ministers find fresh excuse to dodge parliament

July Moyo

By Nkosana Dlamini

Sloth cabinet ministers who have often riled MPs through continued failure to attend parliament to respond to questions on key government issues have found a fresh excuse in Covid-19 to continue dodging the house.

Outspoken Norton legislator Temba Mliswa described the ministers as the country’s worst cabinet ever.

Ministers are, every Wednesday supposed to attend parliament to respond to questions on policy issues by backbenchers.

Most of them have absented themselves from the house without any credible excuse, often inviting scorn from MPs who feel the government officials were being disrespectful to parliament.

On Wednesday, led by Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, eleven ministers did not come to the house claiming they were quarantining themselves after allegedly coming in contact with Covid-19 positive persons.

Speaker Jacob Mudenda said he had been inundated with notices of Leave of Absence from ministers F. Mhona (transport), F. M. Shava (Foreign Affairs), Anxious Masuka (Agriculture), J. G. Moyo (Local Government), Winston Chitando (Mines), Sekai Nzenza (Industry), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Tourism), V. Haritatos (Deputy Minister – Agriculture), D. Garwe (National Housing) and E. Moyo (Deputy Minister – Education).

Said Mudenda, “A number of these honourable members were in contact with people who had tested positive, so they have been advised to quarantine themselves in their respective homes.”

MDC Alliance MP Innocent Gonese who has always quarried the continued absence of ministers from the business of the house asked the Speaker to compel the ministers claiming Covid-19 isolation to participate virtually as has been the case with some MPs during the current Covid-19 menace.

“For example, someone might be in self isolation, but they are actually physically fit, have not tested positive and so are in a position to participate, answer and respond to questions from the comfort of either their offices, homes or wherever they are self-isolating,” said the legislator.

In his response, Mudenda said “when someone has been told by the doctor to be at home under quarantine and observation, that person is likely to be a patient”.

“So, they follow the doctor’s advice. I do not think that they can be engaged virtually but those who think they can do so on the advice of their doctors may proceed accordingly and we will accept their virtual attendance.

Mliswa singled out July Moyo for rebuke, claiming the minister was behaving like the country’s Prime Minister.

“So, he is never here and like I said, he behaves like a Prime Minister and maybe he is a de facto Prime Minister, I do not know but him being a senior Minister must lead by example,” he said.

“This becomes the worst cabinet ever, some of them in terms of their performance, the Auditor General’s office and from the people point of view; from the constitutional view, they have let the President down and the people and they have let the Constitution down, shame on you.”

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Polad vehicles: ED’s own goal against Chamisa – Mzembi  

Emmerson Mnangagwa

By Nkosana Dlamini

Former cabinet minister Walter Mzembi says MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s refusal to join Polad and consequent failure to be blessed with a brand-new twin-cab by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has lifted the opposition leader’s ratings against his under-fire nemesis.

Mzembi was commenting on Mnangagwa’s Father Christmas style lavishing of sumptuous Isuzu D-Max vehicles on politicians who have paid the price of public ridicule to be part of the Zanu PF number one’s disciples.

“Pasi ne Polad” Mzembi posted on Twitter weekend.

“Losing an Election gets you a car in Zimbabwe – you sink $1000 with ZEC and you get this! The Return on Investment is the highest in the world!”

Polad comprises a group of politicians who challenged Mnangagwa in the 2018 elections, with all their votes.

Under the country’s electoral laws, Presidential candidates were each compelled to pay $1000 to be eligible to contest for the poll.

Mzembi likened Mnangagwa’s generous parcelling out of public property at the era of the now defunct JOMIC where politicians from both MDC and Zanu PF enjoyed perks for being part of an organisation that was of little significance to the national cause.

“Once upon a time we had JOMIC, the grandfather of POLAD with similar appetite and profligacies! And we don’t seem to learn anything from history repeating the same stuff all the time!” he said.

Responding to commenting the thread, Mzembi said by dishing out vehicles to the exclusion of his biggest challenger, Chamisa, Mnangagwa had scored an own goal.

“I think it’s a boomerang on ED,” he said.

“@nelsonchamisa by not receiving the poisoned chalice is more appealing to Voters right now.  His ratings are up. Interestingly POLAD car beneficiaries also feature on the JOMIC car list, Ndomuririro wadzo shiri idzi!”

Also joining the national chorus of condemnation against the politicians was ex-minister Jonathan Moyo, who found everything distasteful about a broke government burning its coffers to advance favours to a group of hangers on.

Moyo described the vehicles as “wages of treachery” given to politicians by Mnangagwa “for enabling him to steal the 2018 poll”.

However, NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku, one of the recipients of the vehicles, defended his decision to accept the gift saying there was nothing wrong with receiving property from the government.

“The vehicle is from the Government of Zimbabwe. I am a political leader in Zimbabwe. I lead a party called NCA. The NCA believes in the Polad philosophy. I believe in the Polad philosophy. The vehicle will help me to spread the Polad approach and build the NCA. Wait and see,” Madhuku posted on Twitter.

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Zanu PF MP wants Covid-19 graves guarded

Percy Teedzayi Muchimwe

Zimstar News

Zanu PF legislator for Mutare West, Teedzayi Percy Muchimwe has implored government to protect graves for Covid-19 deaths, claiming the virus buried with the victims underground remained so active to a point of potentially contaminating the living.

Muchimwe was contributing to debate following the presentation of the Mid-term budget review statement by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in parliament Thursday.

The MP said protecting the graves was to ensure passersby do not contract the virus straight from the underground through water and the soils.

The legislator implored the Treasury chief to channel resources towards efforts meant to ensure other citizens do not catch the disease when they pass by the graves.

“My contribution is that the Minister of Finance must put more resources to the Ministry of Health because I have discovered that when a person dies, the virus remains active in the dead body and on burial, it stays in the ground and is incorporated in underground water and soils.

“I am saying where Covid-19 victims are buried, the places should be protected from passerbys.

“Maximum precautions must be exercised on resources used to bury such victims. Otherwise lack of funds to the Ministry of Health could be a death trap to the nation,” he said.

The MP did not suggest how that could be made possible as the Covid-19 pandemic has killed over 4 000 citizens all buried in different parts of the country.

The country has no separate graves for those who have succumbed to the world pandemic.

Zimbabwe also does not have its own study yet on whether there have been cases of infections occasioned by human contact with graves belonging to those killed by the pandemic.

Currently, the nation has stuck to social distancing, sanitising, handwashing and few other methods aimed at preventing the continued spread of the disease.


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Mnangagwa splurges on Polad colleagues


Zimstar News

President Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday distributed 19 Isuzu D Max vehicles sourced from the national purse to opponents who form his Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) forum.

The vehicles, according to authorities, are for executing national programmes.

“The vehicles have been made identifiable and make sure it carries the dignity of Polad,” Mnangagwa said to the politicians during handover at state house Friday.

“The cars, you are going to use them as you see fit, except that it must be for political work or development work.

“Down the line, ofcourse the other purpose belongs to Polad, now that they are given to each political party.

“In terms of regulations in the public sector, after three years we will then make sure that they belong to you.”

Polad comprises over a dozen local politicians who contested Mnangagwa in the 2018 elections.

It was formed when Mnangagwa came under world pressure for him to foster harmony with opponents who strongly disputed his controversial victory in the poll, and just when the Zanu PF number one came under siege for visiting brutalities on rivals.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, the closest challenger to Mnangagwa in the 2018 poll, has adamantly refused to be part of a grouping he feels comprises politicians with no grassroot support.

Critics find the pampering of opponents as an attempt by the national leader to capture and weaken the opposition.

The politicians blessed with the vehicles are indebted to the national leader for what appears like rare coverage on national media platforms and government perks.

Since formation, Mnangagwa has had occasion to take his Polad colleagues to his farm in Kwekwe and to host them at State House.

Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T is yet to be part of the forum although Mnangagwa says the politician was welcome to join.

Mwonzora, vilified by erstwhile allies for alleged surrender of the opposition cause to the bitter enemy, is at crossroads on whether he should also become part of Mnangagwa’s grouping.

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Late widow suffers ex-President Canaan Banana sins

Janet Banana

By Nkosana Dlamini

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has denied late former First Lady, Janet Banana national heroine status in signs the widow of the country’s founding President could have suffered collateral damage for her husband’s seemingly unforgivable sins.

Mnangagwa announced in a Thursday condolence message following Mrs Banana’s death in Bulawayo earlier in the day that she will be accorded a State assisted funeral.

“I have directed that the late former First Lady be accorded a State assisted funeral,” he said.

A family spokesperson said the late former First Lady is going to be buried next to her husband as per her wishes.

Canaan Banana, described as “a rare gift to the nation” when he died aged 67 November 2003, was denied national hero’s status by then President Robert Mugabe “as a matter of principle”, according to then Politburo secretary for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira.

It was apparent the country’s President from 1980 to 1987, in the eyes of the country’s rulers, could have squandered his national goodwill after he got mired in a messy sodomy scandal which saw him serve time in a Zimbabwean prison following a conviction.

Mugabe was an incorrigible hater of men who found sexual pleasure on fellow men.

But 18 years later, Banana may still not have been forgiven even by Mugabe’s successors as his widow, just like him, has just been granted a State assisted funeral, an honour often reserved for those with modest contribution to the national cause.

This is despite Mnangagwa going to great lengths to acknowledge the enormous contributions the late Mrs Banana made in support of her husband during the liberation struggle.

“The country remembers her with fond memories and admiration for the important roles she played during the period of our liberation struggle, and as our First Lady,” Mnangagwa said in his condolence message.

“During the struggle for our independence, the former First Lady exhibited courage and bravery as she endured persistent harassment at the hands of the Rhodesians for supporting her husband, the late First President of the Republic, Reverend Canaan Sodindo Banana, in his activism.

“To the very end of her husband’s life and her own, she remained a strong pillar of support to both her husband and children.

“We shall not forget as a mother of our Nation. She carried herself with simplicity and dignity.

“Our country is all the poorer with her passing on.”

The Zanu PF led administration has come under fire for alleged hypocrisy and favouritism when it comes to according heroes’ status to outstanding citizens.

Musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and dancehall star Souljah Love were accorded national hero and liberation heroes’ status despite not having played a part in the liberation struggle.

Mugabe once declared the national shrines were for those who took part in the liberation struggle.

But in her denial of national heroine status, Janet Banana failed to join fellow widows of the country’s President and Vice Presidents who were all easily accorded the highest honour of the land.

Mugabe’s first wife Sally, who died of kidney failure back in 1992, was declared a national heroin together with Johanna Mafuyana, late wife to late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo.

Similarly, Maud Muzenda, wife to late former vice President Simon Muzenda; Maria Msika, late former wife to late Vice President Joseph Msika were accorded national heroine status.


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MP Mashakada cautions Mthuli over claims govt coffers spilling

Tapiwa mashakada

By Nkosana Dlamini

Hatfield legislator Tapiwa Mashakada has told Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to stop reducing himself and government into a laughingstock through continuous claims of a budget surplus in the midst of grinding poverty in the country.

This was after Ncube had said while tabling in parliament, his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Statement and 2022 budget strategy paper, the country registered ZWL$570 million surplus between January and June 30 this year.

Contributing to debate soon after the minister had tabled his statement, the MDC-T lawmaker said Ncube should for once, stop inviting ridicule through continuous claims government coffers were spilling.

Said Mashakada, “…I think about 560 million for this six months period.  My advice to the honourable Minister is that he must always put this matter to rest.

“Whenever you talk about a surplus, people mock you if you have ever realised that because this is just a book balance, a book surplus.

“In other words, a surplus is a book balance and in real terms it is an accrued deficit.”

He added, “This surplus is an accrued deficit, so I think you could explain more about the opportunity cost of this surplus.

“This will enable the generality who are not economists, to understand that it is not a surplus in the sense that all other things have been done – no, but it is in terms of the opportunity cost that has been forfeited.  I think if you do that, people will put that surplus into context.

Mashakada was not done.

“We must be very careful when we celebrate macroeconomic stability and growth.

“There is no such thing as trickle down. We can have good growth in the economy among a sea of poverty. We can have growth alongside massive unemployment.

“We can have growth in the midst of so many structural inequalities growing in the economy.  Our celebration of growth and stability must be measured because it does not necessarily follow and I am talking to a professor who will naturally understand where I am coming from as an economist.”

Ncube, in his response, insisted “there is no confusion” in his continued claims.

“If you are an economist, the difference between your revenue and expenditure will either be in deficit or in surplus,” he said.

“Whatever that answer is, if that answer is $570 million, it is what it is.  The question is how did you use it?  Where did it come from?  That is really the issue.”

The Treasury boss said the US$100 million government was spending on acquiring Covid-19 vaccines, was in fact part of the surplus realised in the 2020 budget.

“It came at the right time for us to acquire vaccines.  Mr. Speaker Sir, if we did not have this surplus from 2020, we could have been in very serious trouble.  I want everyone to take note that the vaccine that went into your arm is a surplus.  That is where it is right now,” he said.

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Govt delight as Zim diaspora channels US$700m remittances in 6 months

Mthuli Ncube

Zimstar News

Zimbabweans living abroad have channelled US$746.9 million in diaspora remittances in the first half of this year, something set to spur economic development in their financially troubled homeland.

This was revealed in parliament Thursday by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube while presenting his 2021 Mid-Term Budget and Economic Review statement.

“Between January and June 2021, the country received US$746.9 million in diaspora remittances compared to US$288.7 million received during the same period last year.

“Remittances are projected to continue to drive the current account surplus in 2021, with end year projection of US$1.3 billion,” said the minister.

Responding to Ncube’s address, MPs called for incentives to be afforded to citizens channelling funds through the formal system.

Zanu PF MP for Gutu South, Pupurayi Togarepi called for government to invent strategies that would ensure citizens channelling their hard earned resources back home do not lose to unscrupulous intermediaries, among them, land barons.

He added, “I think it is critical that we support the diaspora and continue to open and come up with attractive investment opportunities for these people so that we rake in that money and that money can then support development in our country.”

Uzumba MP Simba Mudarikwa said “Diasporans must be supported left, right and centre”, adding that “we must even have a diaspora support system where we have a register and virtual conferences with Zimbabweans in different countries.”

MDC MP for Hatcliff, Allan Norman Rusty Markham called on Treasury to ensure the money channelled through remittances is utilised correctly to encourage citizens living abroad to continue remitting their money to the country, through forms of security to their investments.

He called on government “to register the diaspora so that we can make them feel wanted back home so that they continue bringing money to us”.

In his response, minister Ncube acknowledged diaspora remittances were an important component to national development adding that “we will be able to announce a few products going forward targeting our Diaspora”.

Ncube was however quick to admit government could only do so much in terms of harnessing diaspora remittances towards national development adding that “remittances are voluntary transfers by Zimbabweans abroad either for investment of their own choice or to support their families”.

“Perhaps we cannot really direct it but rather we can offer instruments and incentives for it to be attracted in specific areas,” he said.

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Matabeleland MPs cry favouritism over Gwakuba Ndlovu hero snub

Thokozani Khupe

Zimstar News

MPs representing constituencies in Matabeleland Wednesday took Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe to task over government’s failure to accord hero status on late veteran journalist and liberation war fighter Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu.

Kazembe said he was not aware the former Chronicle and Sunday News scribe, who died on 16 July, fought the liberation struggle.

Bulawayo Proportional Representation MP Thokozani Khupe said this was a “sad reality”.

She said Gwakuba Ndlovu was one of the pioneers of the struggle once honoured with liberation and independence medals.

“…As far as I am concerned, he is one of the good candidates of a hero status,” she said.

Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele said “we are duty bound to remind and at times demand of our own State to honour heroes in an equal and transparent manner”.

He said, “snubbing Saul Gwakuba is snubbing the contribution of ZIPRA as well as that of ZAPU to the struggle for Zimbabwe”.

Umzingwane MP Levi Mayihlome questioned why “a person who joined the struggle in 1960 has been deprived the status of a hero while a person who joined the struggle in 1978 has been accorded the national hero status within 24 hours”.

“What is the criterion that is used to confer hero status on retired uniformed members and war veterans? We want this to be clear so that we allay the fears of people out there.

“We come from a region where people have been perceiving marginalization, we want the Minister to be clear on what criteria he uses and what is the process that is required for the conferment to take place,” he said.

In his response, Kazembe, whose ministry is also responsible for burying heroes, denied any alleged biases.

“I would like to clear some air with regards to something that I heard to the effect that there could be bias in terms of conferring heroes status.

“…A lot of people from different backgrounds have been conferred hero status regardless of where they come from, whether it is Manicaland, Mashonaland Central or Matabeleland,” he said.

Kazembe insisted the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration has, in fact, been so accommodative to a point of even granting artists hero’s status.

“For starters, I want to be perfectly honest that the New Dispensation has been doing things differently in a new manner, especially with regards to the issues to do with heroes and heroines.

“We have noticed that for the first time since independence, we have had even musicians in the name of Oliver Mtukudzi being accorded that status. We have also Soul Jah Love, a youth and also we had an actress; I think the surname was Nhira if I am correct.

“This shows that there is no discrimination whatsoever.  I am also hearing now that the late journalist was also a liberation war veteran,” he said.

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Govt bans NGOs for failing to comply with directive

Tafadzwa Muguti

Zimstar News

Government has banned all Harare based Non-Governmental Organisations that have ignored a directive by Harare provincial development coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti to furnish his office with their credentials and catalogue of activities for them to continue operating.

In a press statement Thursday, Muguti listed some 40 NGOs that complied with his directive and were, accordingly, permitted to continue operating.

Those that did not comply have been ordered to cease operations until such a time they complied with the directive.

“The enlisted NGOs have been permitted to conduct their operations within Harare Metropolitan Province subject to them complying with the outlined procedures,” said the bureaucrat.

“Those that failed to comply with the request on the 30th of June 2021 shall with immediate effect be stopped by law enforcement from conducting any operations whatsoever until they fully comply with the policy.

“In particular, obtaining a resolution from the Provincial Development Committee and recognition from the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Development.”

Muguti torched a storm when he ordered all NGOs in Harare to submit their 2021 workplans as well as information relating to workshops, commissioning of projects among other activities before 9 July.

He also invited all NGO country directors to pay courtesy calls on him and the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution.

But some defiant NGOs were quick to challenge the legality of the directive, coming as it did, they said, from an officer who was trying to grant himself powers that did not exist under the country’s statutes.

The NGOs accused the controversial bureaucrat of attempts to meddle in their lawful affairs, declaring they will not be commandeered by an official who was trying to overstep his mandate.

“We have noted that you have not provided the legal basis upon which you have made this request. It would have been extremely helpful if such a basis had been clearly laid out,” said the NGOs in the letter they jointly authored.

“We believe you draw your mandate from the Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution.

“We note that although the Provincial Councils and Administration Act provides for provincial governors and provincial administrators, currently there are Ministers of State for provincial Affairs and Provincial development Coordinators.

“Your office of Provincial Development Coordinator is non-existent in statute…Your office therefore has no mandate to regulate the operations and clearances of NGO activities more specifically because: your functions are restricted to governmental development activities and your office has no executive functions.”

The NGOs dared the government official, adding they will seek legal recourse to “defend ourselves” if he insisted on putting them under the leash.

They include Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and seven other interest groups.

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Late President Canaan Banana’s widow dies aged 83

Janet Banana

Zimstar News

Former President Canaan Banana’s widow, Janet Banana has died.

She was 83.

Family spokesperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga confirmed Mrs Banana succumbed to kidney failure in Bulawayo’s Mater Dei hospital.

She passed on this (Thursday) morning at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo after a long battle with kidney related complications.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga, an MDC-T legislator and niece to the late former President, said burial arrangements were yet to be concluded.

Canaan Banana, who died in November 2003, was a Methodist minister who served as the country’s first President from 1980 to 1987.

He was Zimbabwe’s first head of state (Ceremonial President) after the Lancaster House Agreement that led to the country’s independence.

He is credited for brokering the unity accord between rival former liberation movements, Zanu (then) and PF Zapu.

The merger saw the formation of the ruling Zanu PF party.

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