The eviction of Cheshire Disabled people: A story of prejudice & neglect

 

By Watmore Makokoba

It is 5 am early in the morning and everyone is probably contemplating on waking up or have one last nap of sleep before rising up for the day, this can only be in the dreams and imaginations to the Cheshire house former inhabitants.

As Monica (not real name) narrates her ordeal after forcing herself to swallow the harsh reality of separating with her two and half year old son when she had no option but to find an alternative sanctuary for him when she realised that no help was imminent and her son who had already succumbed to a cold-induced fever could face a fatal catastrophe.

“Naturally, as a mother, separating with your child because you don’t want to see them suffering or to face any danger is very painful,

“It is much more painful when you are living with a disability, with all the ridicule we get every day, my children are the only treasure I live for in this world,

“I had to ask for some well-wishers to temporarily look after my boy after I realized that we may stay longer outside than anticipated given the hide and seek tendencies being exhibited by the authorities”, lamented Monica with tears laden in her eyes as she sits on her old model wheelchair uncomfortably.

This was a few days after one Mr. Banda purporting to be a government official approached them with what he said it’s an ideal deal from the government, it was an offer of an insignificant $800 as a relocation facility, which some of the Cheshire residents rejected.

Monica saw a bleak future and more woes mounting hence she had no option but to evacuate her only son from experiencing such a horrible encounter.

Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (ZWIPA) founder and human rights defender had no kind words for Zimbabwean authorities after paying a visit to 85 Baines Avenue.

“ZWIPA condemns in strong terms the gross human right rights violations to the disabled people of Cheshire Flats who up to now continue to live as destitute’s after being evicted from the flat.

“It’s appalling this hide and seek and conman style being deliberately applied by the government to these people. Albeit the fact that these people are a special group of people living with disabilities, and requiring their rightful dignity. The constitutional core values clearly stipulates that every person has the right not to be arbitrary evicted from their shelter, guarantees the recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of each human being,

“It is very clear that the government of Zimbabwe, by not putting in place measures as called for by their mandate to bring a meaningful solution to the plight of these families is a violation of their human dignity and fundamental rights”, said Masarira.

Giving due appreciation to good gestures by well-wishers ranging from human rights defenders, civic society and ordinary citizens, including the donation call tin at Moto Republik where people have given what they have no matter how small, the government of Zimbabwe especially the relevant ministries has simply shown the whole world that it does not care about not only about disability but humanity.

 

The unconstitutionality of arbitrary evictions

According to section 22 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe:

“(1) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must recognize the rights of persons with physical or mental disabilities, in particular,  their right to be treated with respect and dignity.

(2) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must, within the limits of the resources available to them, assist persons with physical or mental disabilities to achieve their full potential and to minimize the disadvantages suffered by them”

Putting aside the issue of disability, though pertinent, Section 74 of the Constitution reads:

“Freedom from arbitrary eviction No person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without a court order made after considering all the relevant circumstances”.

“The High Court of Zimbabwe has reaffirmed that no one can just wake up and decide to evict people from their place of residence without following the law. The Zimbabwean authorities must now stop these forced evictions and abide by the court order,

“The Zimbabwean authorities continue to disregard the provisions of the new Constitution resulting in serious violations of human rights. It is not enough to have a beautifully crafted declaration of rights without a corresponding commitment to protecting these rights. The authorities must conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” , said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s researcher for the Southern Africa region referring to yet another dehumanising incident when families were evicted from Arnold farm in Mazoe in 2014 to pave way for the first lady’s Grace Mugabe  projects.

Since its winter, the pain of spending a good number of days in the open cold can be more painful and unbearable than enduring the long held ridicule of disability that the folks have already grown to brush aside.

 

In Gokwe, a teenager battles forced marriage to her uncle

 

By Watmore Makokoba

Agnes Mutsoko aged 18, of Musambasi village had to seek justice from the traditional court of chief Nemangwe following her battling the threat of a forced marriage to septuagenarian uncle, Obert Matambirofa.

Her recent marriage to youthful boyfriend, Liberty Mugari, 19, faced challenges – after her husband fell sick to a mysterious illness of the sexual organ – believed to have been caused by the uncle.

The illness was reportedly confirmed and treated by a traditional healer certified by the government-recognised, Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha).

What made the issue difficult for the traditional court at Chief Nemangwe homestead is that it involved the suspected use of cultic powers; Matambirofa had told the misfortune would happen to the groom by him, to more than three witnesses beforehand, including to the young groom before he was struck by the illness.

According to Joe Mutsoko, who is Agnes’ father, Matambirofa – believed to be in his 70’s – had declared that he wanted to marry the young woman and would not tolerate any other suitor.

“My sister is married to him (Matambirofa) and the couple stayed with my daughter for some while,” said Joe Mutsoko before the court session started at Chief Nemangwe’s homestead.

“When he was drunk that’s when he would say he wanted to marry my daughter Agnes. He insisted that if she were to attempt to sleep with another man, there would be problems. My daughter is now in bondage.

“She has been married for four months without sleeping with her husband. Even if I take her back from her current husband, who will marry her because everyone who sleeps with her might die? If we look at the age of this man, he cannot reasonably marry such a young girl by force.”

Joe Mutsoko

At the Chief’s court, Matambirofa denied the accusations and said he wanted five cattle for being accused witchcraft, although he had willingly accepted to approach three traditional healers who allegedly found him with dirty hands.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), which observed the proceedings at Chief Nemangwe Traditional court expressed concern over the dilemmas of the traditional courts “found at the intersection of modern laws on one hand and traditional beliefs, customs and practices on the other hand”.

While some people believe such cases of witchcraft are true, the dilemma faced by the traditional courts remain: should the evidence of traditional healers be permissible, or if not, should young women like Agnes continue in their apparent suffering potentially disastrous to their future.

Featured image credit Honor Diaries

Zim is the 2nd most developed country in Africa… wait, what?

 

(Not so) Dear His Excellency.

Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces And President and First Secretary of Zanu PF, Chancellor of all State Universities, Life President of Zimbabwe and blah blah blah blah (you get the gist of it)

I was watching you speak the World economic forum and besides wondering why a man of your age, who in our culture should be resting and enjoying time with his grandchild, was still working when age dictates otherwise, I also wondered if you were speaking of modern day Zimbabwe. I listened to you as spoke and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. You said, and I quote, “Zimbabwe is one of the most highly developed country in Africa and after South Africa, I want to know which country has that level of development that you see in Zimbabwe.” You went on to mention that we have 14 universities and a 90% literacy rate and various resources and we have a strong agricultural industry and we are having a bumper harvest. I understand the disillusion. Between the many trips to Singapore and other nations, the little time you spend in this country isn’t enough to reality get a grip of what is on the ground. When you are in the country, you are surrounded by your fellow comrades and their wealth and riches could easily give you the impression that things are well in this country. Let me give you the facts on the ground about this “sovereign nation”.

 


Zimbabwe is poor. Period. We are nowhere near the top of the list of developed nations on this continent. If anything, we are moving backward while everyone else is moving forward. Your finance minister wants to take us as far back as the batter trade era and have us trade in livestock and other goods in exchange for services. We are slowly returning to gravel roads in many areas. We moved from tarred roads with potholes to gravel roads with a bit of tar. The roads you frequent, including the one to your rural area, are in perfect condition. The rest of us have to play ‘Who Can Dodge Better’ on our way to our various destinations. Every other day, many people lose their lives on these roads because of their dilapidated state. 37 years after independence and there has been insignificant development to our road network. The Harare – Masvingo highway has been a death trap for as long as I can remember and nothing has been done to improve that road and we speak of being developed? Where? Have you seen the state of these 14 Universities you speak of? Students are sleeping in overcrowded dormitories and rented rooms. And those that have graduated? The majority are just sitting in their homes with their degrees in hand. So of what use are those Universities? Of what use is the 90% literacy rate when people can’t use it anywhere?

And then we speak of resources. The people only hear of these resources when you or the media speak of them. That’s it. The ordinary citizen had benefitted nothing from the resources in this country. It is “our” ministers and yourself that benefit, no one else. What is happening is that the elite few are looting theses said resources and everyone else benefits nothing. If by “utilize” resources you meant the elite minority filling their personal coffers, then I agree, they are being utilized to the fullest. Then there is the state of our medical facilities. Basic healthcare has become a luxury very few can afford in this country. Hospitals don’t have the drugs they require most of the time and this means people aren’t receiving treatment when they need it. Many people are dying from ailments that shouldn’t be resulting in death because of how bad the health system is. Given how bad it is in towns and cities, I can’t even imagine how hospitals and clinics in rural areas are getting by. The whole of Zimbabwe has 14 psychiatrists. FOURTEEN. 14 psychiatrists for a population of about 16 million, 1.3 million of which are recorded psychiatry patients. Development.

I could go on and on and on about things that are actually happening in Zimbabwe, things that show that this development you speak of is a myth. Simply said, the people of Zimbabwe are suffering under your watch. Families are going to bed hungry under your watch. Children are vending under your watch. Communities rely on food aid under your watch. The police have become daylight robbers under your watch. Over 90% of Zimbabweans are unemployed under your watch. Zimbabwe is dying..under your watch! Development.

Yours

Developed Citizen

Image Credit Aljazeera.

#HIFA2017 Survival Guide

 

by Simba The Comic King 

Motherf**kin’ HIFA is back! You may wonder why the exclamations mark? Well, that’s because a comma wouldn’t have been the appropriate thing to put at the end of a sentence but also because we are excited, the only thing that would be more exciting that HIFA is news that Robert Mugabe has stepped down but that’s probably not going to happen in another million or so years. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “Sit down, Be Humble and show me something natural like a** with some stretch marks.” So because we are excited as f**k, we have come up with a survival guide that will help you through the grueling six days that is HIFA.

Get Your Dreadlock On

There’s a song that goes something like, “You don’t have to have dread to be rasta,“ if you’ve ever heard that song then I’d like to tell you that’s a lie. You do need dread to be rasta and more importantly, you need it to get a white tourist from Czechoslovakia or any other country with a name that’s hard to pronounce. It is a well-known fact that HIFA is pretty much the only time we get to see our beloved Caucasian friends in the CBD, the rest of the time they dwell in their country….Borrowdale. So if you have been going through hard economic times and wish to get a VISA in a country with a name that’s hard to pronounce, visit your local salon and get yourself some dreadlocks. In fact, you should have done that s**t a few years back cause it takes a while for them to grow, guess your a** will have to wait for #HIFA2083.

Learn All The Appropriate Terms

We are well aware that English for us black people can be like electricity, sometimes there’s load shedding but nevertheless, that should not deter you from getting a bit of an education before purchasing your #HIFA2017 ticket. For example, black people, when you see the tickets advertising an Opera show, this is NOT Opera Mini. Opera is this really loud noise that usually comes from the mouths of people who failed at singing because they didn’t know how to put together words. For some reason, white people love this noise so much. Once you get your terms right go ahead and get that Opera ticket although you’ve been warned. It is quite unfortunate that the black people noise will not feature at this year’s HIFA. By black people noise, I’m talking about ZimDanceHall.

Watch A Comedy Show

If you don’t do noise the one thing you are guaranteed to love at HIFA is standup comedy and I may be saying this with a bit of bias. A fantastic line up of comedians are set to feature at this year’s HIFA including Carl Joshua Ncube, Doc Vikela and a bunch of obscure comedians who will go watch anyway because there are from countries with names that are hard to pronounce. In the history of HIFA, comedy shows have been known to sell out really quickly so be sure to get your tickets early!

Attend HIFA Opening And Closing Ceremonies

You could miss every other event at HIFA but the two things you definitely don’t want to miss are the opening and closing ceremonies. If you are broke though you could just settle for Coca Cola Green. The opening and closing ceremonies are the goddamn lifeline of HIFA, they are the only events known to bring Zimbabweans together since Pastor Evan Mawarire. This is where all the magic happens and if you’ve never seen fireworks in your life before I suggest this is where you go.

Well that’s it from Kalabash on how to survive #HIFA2017 gaddhemeti.

HIFA 2017 6-day program starts today!

 

By Kudzayi Zvinavashe

Running under the theme, Staging an Intervention, Harare is billed to come to life as the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is set to open its doors to festival goers on the 2nd of May in what is slated to be a 6-day program.

Speaking at the press conference, HIFA Associate Executive Director, Tafadzwa Simba said It will be accurate to say that in terms of support, it is absolutely phenomenal there are thirty-nine local companies have supported HIFA this year which is more than even HIFA 2015”.

HIFA 2017 comes after the festival took 2016 as a sabbatical year, at their theme hints the journey they have endured thus far. As the confirmed by the HIFA founder and artistic director, Manuel Bagorro, “2016 was a very tough year for us not because of the internal nature of the organization there are always struggles within an arts organisation whether you are in Zimbabwe or whether you are in America, wherever you are. There are struggles and there are challenges because we are always trying to do more than we possibly can and that is a given. What was not a given was that we were not able to present the festival or chose to experiment in a different way”

In 2016, festival organisers tried held some events that were poorly attended; Earlier Simba described the move as their attempt to keep their stakeholders engaged. Bagorro said they are retaining the traditional 6 Day format because they discovered that is where the HIFA magic is but HIFA chairman, Muchadei Masunda said attempts in 2016 might have failed but future trustees who would serve in the festival board must keep an open mind around changing the traditional 6-day structure of the festival.

As American songwriter and musician, Bob Dylan once said, “what is art next to life” such has been the case in Zimbabwe where the arts sector has been in freefall as the majority of the masses have often found themselves focusing on more pressing issues.

The festival comes as a relief to the arts sector as many players had folded their operations serve for a few that continue to soldier on. HIFA 2017 will feature an array of acts that will cater for poetry, live music performances, theater, craft and many other forms of art and have partnered various entities which include, the US embassy, The European Union, United Nations and British Council.