BY JAMES MUONWA /ELVIS DUMBA
Scores of motorists and passengers have perished in road traffic accidents that have left many families with mammoth burdens of taking care of orphans, while in other instances families have lost bread winners. In some cases, whole families have been wiped out following ghastly crashes on our country's major highways.
In one of the stories I wrote and was published in 2014 in the NewsDay, a couple and their three children were killed in a horrific head-on accident that occurred just outside Banket. The mishap was attributed to speeding by the driver of the other vehicle coming from the opposite direction who reportedly encroached into the lane of the family's oncoming car which was returning home from a church service in Chinhoyi heading back to Mutorashanga where they lived.
A pot-pourri of theories has been expounded as social analysts try to proffer the cause of the high number of road carnages.
While police, road and traffic safety authorities have continuously, and 'naively' so, told the nation the major cause of accidents was "human error", I contend the term is too broad. It exhibits the authorities' lethargy and, maybe, lack of resources to carry out scientific investigations to establish the underlying factors that cause various carnages that continue to claim many lives.
Other causes of accidents have been pinned on the country's poor roads, defective vehicles, drunk-driving, incompetence and the so called black spot theories.
Whilst all has been said and done, I posit it that the major driver of road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe is the economic rot that in turn spawns corruption, which rears its ugly head in all facets of government departments; police and Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID). Quasi-governmental and private organisations –Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) and driving schools - are also complicit in the web that perpetuates the corruption surrounding the acquisition of driver's licenses and traffic policing.
In a bid to line their pockets inorder to be able to feed and clothe their families, officials from the aforementioned institutions would go to any length to get money; even if it means letting an unlicensed driver go unpunished, a defective vehicle passing through a roadblock, a visibly incompetent prospective driver being certified to dangerously navigate on our country's already poisoned highways condemned to dungeons by gaping potholes.
I respect an attempt by Michael Meki, an international road expert and former regional traffic officer for Matebeleland, for trying to go deeper to find the cause of accidents beyond the 'tired' and hollow reason of "human error" which has taken the form of a cliché.
Quoted in the Southern Eye of 13 July 2017, said Meki, "Drivers are being frustrated from one point to the other, as the number of roadblocks in Zimbabwe is too much.
"People now know that even if I don't have a license, I will just pay the policeman and pass. That has injected a wrong philosophy about driving in Zimbabwe. So, all the accidents that we see are a result of frustration."
Meki argues there was lack of professionalism by traffic cops and VID officials, who were so corrupt that the country's highways have been taken over by incompetent drivers.
While we encourage the road and traffic authorities to institute forensic investigations into each accident, police and the TSCZ safely contend human error remains the largest contributor to crashes that daily rob us of the nation's productive citizens.
According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)'s National Traffic Branch report of January 2017, 94 percent of accidents that occurred on the country's roads in 2016 were as a result of human error with some worst accidents being recorded along the best roads such as Harare-Plumtree highway.
TSCZ Information and Communication manager, Tatenda Chinoda bemoaned the lack of a road safety culture among road users. He argues motorists should always be conscious of risks inherent in using the road and find ways to avoid accidents.
"We continue to lose limb and life, day-in and day-out due to the same reasons. Drinking and driving, speeding and negligence, but we know the causes but we don't act to prevent them. The major stumbling block in the fight against road carnage is the road users' blame-game," he said while addressing journalists attending a recent media road safety workshop.
"It is time drivers took full responsibility of their actions on the road if we are to stop road carnage, for example some blame the road but statistics reveal the worst crashes this year occurred on the newly rehabilitated Harare-Bulawayo-Plumtree highway," he said.
According to police statistics of the period July 2017, a total of 962 people were injured, 156 people killed in 116 fatal crashes of the total 4 402 accidents recorded.
Zimbabwe is playing its part in a decade of action for road safety which seeks to reduce road deaths by 50 percent by 2020 by undertaking various initiatives such as defensive driving trainings for licensed drivers.
Harare province recorded 295 while Mashonaland West witnessed 146 fatal accidents last year alone. Matebeleland North recorded the least number with 69 recorded.
Pedestrians should also take precautions to avoid accidents and hit-and-run collisions as last year, 5 122 cases were recorded and 2 088 hit-and-run accidents were recorded and this calls for road traffic safety actors and stakeholders to galvanise all their efforts towards eradication of human error in road traffic deaths, injury and property damage.
"Usually when a road crash occurs or is reported by the media an erroneous tendency is to blame ZRP, the road, ZINARA, weather, tyres and evil spirits, the so called black spot mentality, and its time we took full responsibility of our actions. If we are to stop road carnage, I urge all drivers to take time and undertake defensive driving," Chinoda opined. OPINION
BY KUNDAI MOYO
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai reportedly had a torrid time clarifying the provisions of the grand coalition to disgruntled members of the Midlands executive who had summoned him to shed more light on the alliance, it has been learnt.
MDC-T is struggling to stay afloat ahead of the 2018 elections as the fire sparked by some alliance irregularities, seem to be spreading to other provinces.
Tsvangirai's MDC-T, Welshman Ncube's MDC, Tendai Biti's PDP, Jacob Ngarivhume's Transform Zimbabwe are some of the parties that make up the MDC Alliance that seeks to end President Robert Mugabe's tenure in office, come the plebiscite.
Tsvangirai is currently frantically making efforts to engage party deputy president Thokozani Khupe, chairman Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary Abdigo Bhebhe, who have hinted on the possibility of leaving the party if their leader does not give them an ear. Tsvangirai this week pacified Khupe by appointing her acting president as the long-time opposition leader battles ill-health.
During the closed door meeting held at Gokwe Centre, Tsvangirai was reportedly at pains explaining the provisions of the alliance to provincial members who demanded transparency from their president.
"Some members accused him of being selfish as he is mainly focused on satisfying personal interests at the expense of the party's interests," revealed a source on condition of anonymity.
Among the hot issues, according to the source, was that of imposition of candidates in certain constituencies that Tsvangirai is seemingly handling without prior consultations.
"Most members were disgruntled by the imposition of candidates. It ended up consuming most of the time as the president (Tsvangirai) failed to clarify why he is allowing other parties, especially PDP, to take most of the seats targeted by our candidates," further said the source.
Tsvangirai's decision to allow Settlement Chikwinya to stand for Mbizo is said to have sparked outrage from the members who eyed the seat.
Chikwinya was recalled from parliament in 2015 after he jumped ship from Tsvangirai's party joining Biti's PDP.
"Members stood in solidarity with Nkayi legislator Abednico Bhebhe whose seat is also reportedly earmarked for a PDP member whose name could not be established.
Party Midlands provincial deputy spokesperson, Willard Somerai confirmed the meeting saying the meeting's agenda was to update the province on the ongoing coalition talks.
"The meeting was not personal, the party is bigger than personal interests. The president wanted to give feedback as well as to update the province on the coalition process that is still underway," Somerai said.
On imposition of candidates, Somerai said the party was yet to officially open the campaign season, saying members may start jostling for positions following a green light by the presidium.
Deputy president Nelson Chamisa, Midlands senator Morgan Komichi, national youth chairperson Happymore Chidziva also attended the crunch meeting.
Meanwhile, Somerai said Kwekwe will host the party's national anniversary celebrations.
"Kwekwe , Mbizo Stadium to be precise , will be the venue of this year's 18th Anniversary for the party and preparations have already started," he said. POLITICS
Players in the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe should take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in Chinese market, an envoy said on Tuesday.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said this during a meeting with players in the agricultural sector in the Midlands province.
Ping said China, which has a population of about 1, 4 billion people, had a ready market for the agricultural sector.
"Zimbabwe should increase its agricultural production to levels that it used to produce," he said.
"With 1.4 billion people, China can be a market for Zimbabwean produce," he said.
Ping said Zimbabwe's potential in agriculture and China's market potential should bring the two countries even closer.
He said China required beef, goats, fruits and road runners (indigenous chickens) among other things.
"These are the things you are producing and you can produce more," he said.
While Zimbabwe had the resources, Ping said China had the technology and capital to assist "its all-weather friend".
"By strengthening this cooperation in this way, both sides can benefit. We need to cooperate on increasing value and adding production," he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, World Food Programme representative and country director Eddie Rowe said China was one of the countries giving aid to Zimbabwe through his organization.
"The El Nino phenomenon affected Zimbabwe last year and we received food contribution from China through the ambassador which helped thousands of Zimbabweans in rural areas," he said.
Goods donated by China last year included 20 000 tons of rice and 10 000 tons of fertiliser. A further 12 000 tons of fertiliser would be donated this year, while 300 boreholes would be sunk throughout the country.–(Online)BUSINESS
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has called on residents to fight the proposed sale of part of the iconic Harare Gardens to Africa Sun (Private) Limited for its expansion programme.
Africa Sun has proposed acquisition of an estimated 2,2 hectares of the lush garden park for the extension of Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere has since issued a legal notice seeking residents' input over the proposed sale of the recreational park.
In a statement, CHRA said it was against the unilateral decision to off-load the park to the hotel group.
"CHRA opposes the sale of part of Harare Gardens on the basis that this would amount to privatization of a public space which has over the years acted as a recreational facility for Harare residents.
"In 2015, CHRA engaged the Harare City Council in a bid to oppose the sale of part of the Harare Gardens and our position still stands.
"We are concerned that the park is slowly shrinking as a result of various 'private projects' which will eventually make it inaccessible to ordinary members of the public," CHRA said.
The residents lobby group, argued there was insufficient debate on the impact of the sale of part of the Harare Gardens.
CHRA said it was against a situation whereby the Harare City Council sought to raise funds by encroaching into public spaces and in the process, making them inaccessible to the general public.
The Harare Gardens, which is also a wetland, has a historical value which must be preserved and this is only achievable through protecting the area from private interests, the group said.
"CHRA will also petition the responsible authorities to ensure the destruction of Harare Gardens, a recreational area and wetland, is stopped."LOCAL NEWS
North Korea said it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after United States President, Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make a "mentally deranged" Trump pay dearly for his threats.
Kim last Friday did not specify what action he would take against America or Trump, with whom he has traded insults in recent weeks. South Korea said it was the first direct statement of its kind by a North Korean leader.
However, Kim's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said in televised remarks North Korea could consider a hydrogen bomb test of an unprecedented scale over the Pacific Ocean.
Ri, who was talking to reporters in New York ahead of a planned address last week, also said he did not know Kim's exact thoughts.
Japan, the only country ever to suffer an atomic attack, described the threat as "totally unacceptable."
Trump said in his first address to the United Nations he would "totally destroy" North Korea, a country of 26 million people, if it threatened the United States and its allies, and called Kim a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.
Kim said the North would consider the "highest level of hard-line counter-measure in history" against the United States and that Trump's comments had confirmed his own nuclear programme was "the correct path."
Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on 3 September and has launched dozens of missiles this year as it accelerates a programme aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
"I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire," Kim said in the statement carried by the KCNA state news agency.
"SLEEPWALKING INTO WAR"
In a separate report, KCNA made a rare criticism of official Chinese media, saying their comments on the North's nuclear programme had damaged ties and suggested Beijing, its only major ally, had sided with Washington.
Singling out the official People's Daily and its more nationalistic sister publication, the Global Times, KCNA said Chinese media was "openly resorting to interference in the internal affairs of another country" and driving a wedge between the two countries.
The escalating rhetoric came even as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for statesmanship to avoid "sleepwalking" into a war.
South Korea, Russia and China all urged calm.
Asked whether China had spoken to North Korea about the latest threat, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the North was very clear about its neighbour's opposition to the repeated nuclear tests.
"All relevant sides should exercise restraint and dedicate themselves to easing the situation rather than irritating each other," he said.
However, the rhetoric was starting to rattle some in the international community. French Sports Minister Laura Flessel said France's team would not travel to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea if its security could not be guaranteed.
The 2018 Games are to be staged in Pyeongchang, just 80km from the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, the world's most heavily armed border.
Asian stocks fell, and the Japanese yen and Swiss franc gained, on the possibility of a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan handed back earlier gains and was down 0, 4 percent .
In Thursday's sanctions announcement, Trump stopped short of going after Pyongyang's biggest trading partner, China, praising as "tremendous" a move by its central bank ordering Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea.
Asked about the order on Friday, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu said, "As far as I understand, the situation you have just mentioned does not accord with the facts.
"In principle, China has always fully and strictly enforced UN resolutions and accepted our international obligations."
He did not elaborate.
The additional sanctions on Pyongyang, including on its shipping and trade networks, showed Trump was giving more time for economic pressure to weigh on North Korea after warning about the possibility of military action.
Asked ahead of a lunch meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Thursday if diplomacy was still possible, Trump nodded and said: "Why not?"
Trump said the new executive order on sanctions gives further authorities to target individual companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.
It "will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea's efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind," Trump said.
The US Treasury Department now had authority to target those who conduct "significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea."
Trump did not mention Pyongyang's oil trade.
The White House said North Korea's energy, medical, mining, textiles, and transport industries were among those targeted and that the US Treasury could sanction anyone who owns, controls or operates a port of entry in North Korea.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said banks doing business in North Korea would not be allowed to operate in the United States.
"Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both," Mnuchin said.
The UN Security Council has unanimously imposed nine rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006, the latest this month capping fuel supplies to the isolated state.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who addressed the UN General Assembly, said sanctions were needed to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table, but Seoul was not seeking North Korea's collapse.
"All of our endeavours are to prevent war from breaking out and maintain peace," Moon said. He warned the nuclear issue had to be managed in a stable fashion, so that "accidental military clashes will not destroy peace."
The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.
The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies. (Reuters)INTERNATIONAL
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has launched a colourful new condom variety, Icon Gold, which is expected to appeal to young adults particularly in institutions of higher learning.
Speaking during the launch event, National AIDS Council operations director, Raymond Yekeye said the introduction of the condom provided additional choices for youths which would go a long way in the fight against the epidemic.
"The package of Icon Gold is attractive and is something that young people can want to be identified with. We are hoping to distribute targeting mainly our tertiary institutions so that they are readily available to young people to increase their uptake," said Yekeye.
Zimbabwe reportedly distributes 100 million condoms yearly.
According to its website, AHF has for over 25 years delivered high-quality, compassionate and lifesaving medical care and treatment to people living with HIV.
It's innovative testing, outreach, education, prevention and advocacy initiatives have prevented the further spread of this disease. In order to get to global AIDS control, universal access to treatment AHF is championing the cause.
In Africa, AHF has led highly successful initiatives in all of these areas since it began operations outside of the United States. AHF has operations in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda and Liberia. LOCAL
Calls for the renaming of the iconic Rufaro Stadium after legendary footballer, George Shaya are growing louder.
Harare City Council Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni last Friday added his voice to the proposal which has been ignited by various stakeholders when he challenged the city's councillors to consider naming the popular Mbare stadium after Shaya, who won the Soccer Star of the Year accolade a record five times.
Dynamos' greatest player of all time –Shaya was nicknamed "Mastermind" for his exploits on the pitch. Shaya is arguably the most talented player to have come out of Zimbabwe and could have plied his trade in the lucrative European league, had it not been that during his heyday Rhodesia was barred from export players.
Formerly known as the Number One Ground before it was refurbished by the Salisbury City Council in 1972 and renamed Rufaro, this is the stadium where Shaya made his mark.
Shaya, who turns 70 in October, and is now suffering from dementia at his home in Glen Norah, was part of the Dynamos side that played Rufaro Rovers during the official opening of Rufaro in 1972.
"With that in mind, I am grateful for the Glen Norah community for hosting, quite recently, a local reception for the best yesteryear soccer star, the Mastermind – George Shaya.
"He has been of frail health lately and on behalf of the residents of Harare, I wish him renewed health.
"I invite public debate on the real possibility of naming this popular soccer stadium in his honour.
"I would be most humbled if such consideration takes place during his lifetime," said the mayor. SPORTS
BY KUNDAI MOYO
A by-election to choose a replacement for Kwekwe's Ward 5 Councillor Weston Masiya, who died a fortnight ago after a long battle with an undisclosed ailment, has been ruled out by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Zec chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau said the Constitution did not allow for a by-election to be held with less than nine months to go to national polls.
"It is most likely that we will have to wait for the harmonised election in 2018 as there will be less than 9 months to go for the plebiscite," said Makarau in a telephone interview.
She said although the process had already begun, by the time the nomination court would have completed their logistics, it would be less than the stipulated timeline to allow the conducting of a by-election.
MDC-T's Masiya succumbed to an undisclosed ailment and was buried at Msasa Park Cemetry in Kwekwe.
Kwekwe mayor, Matenda Madzoke said his chamber had lost a dedicated cadre who served the city well.
"The gap left by Councillor Masiya will be hard to fill as he worked hard in everything he did. Even before he could fully recover, he gave it his all and attended council meetings which goes on to show how dedicated he was," said the mayor.
Masiya, known for his hard-talk during council meetings and was regarded as the party's chief whip in the chamber, was also an audit committee chairperson who contributed immensely to curbing corruption within the local authority.
His death comes hard on the heels of the city's deputy mayor, Aaron Sithole who died early this year after a short illness.
Sithole also of MDC-T party, has since been replaced by the ruling party's Asam Musa following a by-election leaving the opposition party depleted in terms of representation in council.
Sithole died soon after release from prison after he was jailed for public violence alongside Masiya who died 6 months down the line.
Before the deaths, MDC-T and Zanu PF enjoyed an equal share of seven councillors each party in the chambers.POLITICS
BY KUNDAI MOYO
A total of 60 tonnes of gold was reportedly smuggled out of the country by gold dealers who sought higher prices for the precious mineral, it has emerged.
Acting chief mining engineer in the Ministry of Mines, Tapererwa Paskwavaviri said during the last mining period which he did not specify, government received a paltry 25 tonnes of gold as the bulk was smuggled out of the country and destined for other market, particularly South Africa.
Pasikwavaviri said this while addressing various stakeholders including traditional leaders, mine owners and employees, at a mining consultative meeting in Kwekwe recently.
"As a ministry we are saying, if everyone allowed to handle gold it seems to end up in the wrong hands. It is not handed over to Fidelity were it is supposed to, but instead it is smuggled out of the country," said Pasikwavaviri.
Zhombe Chief Weight Gwesela said everyone was entitled to be in possession of gold since it was a precious national mineral.
His Silobela counterpart Chief Ntabeni accused the Mines ministry of ursurping the role of traditional leaders in the controlling of the mineral.
"Chiefs have a role to play to protect the gold found in their jurisdiction. I should have a say in the way the gold is mined and eventually sold, but your ministry overlooks our role as chiefs. I, therefore, think if you involve us in the matrix, not much gold will be smuggled," said Chief Ntabeni.
Another traditional leader, Silobela's Chief Malisa blamed Fidelity's monopoly as the sole buyer of the mineral saying this spawned corruption.
His sentiments were echoed by Zibagwe Rural District Council chairperson, Chamunorwa Zvichamira who called for the decentralisation of gold buying and do away with bureaucracy as it promotes vice in the gold sector.
Zvichamira said councils should be given a mandate to control the mining and sale of gold for the benefit of local communities where the mineral is found.
Government is carrying out consultations with a view to amend the Gold Trade Act as well as the Precious Stones Act that were last reviewed in 1972.
Government seeks to tighten laws governing possession and transportation of the mineral to avoid smuggling.
Currently, Section 3 of the Gold Trade Act states that only four people; mine owner, employee, agents and buyers were permitted to be in possession of gold, as long as they were armed with proper documentation.
While officially opening Parliament recently, President Robert Mugabe called for the protection of natural resources and expressed displeasure over the increased leakages of minerals. BUSINESS
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's unofficial top aide-de-camp, Owen Ncube is in an eye of a storm amid sensational allegations that he swindled the party of 8 000 litres of fuel in the run up to the Midlands leg of the Presidential Youth Interface rally.
The party's Midlands provincial executive has since launched a probe into the matter with a source revealing Ncube, popularly known as Mudha, was the main suspect being in-charge of fuel coupons for Gokwe district at the material time.
Contacted for comment, Ncube dismissed the allegations claiming they were the work of his enemies plotting his downfall.
"There is nothing like that, each constituency was given its own diesel and, therefore, I do not know where the 8 000 would have come from. It is a total lie, even if you ask our chairman (Cde Mackenzie) who dealt with fuel, there is nothing like that," said Ncube.
Although he could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, Zanu PF provincial chairperson, Daniel Mackenzie said an inquest had since been instituted to verify how the fuel was used, adding he was yet to receive breakdowns on how the fuel disbursed.
"We allocated fuel to all eight districts and as I speak, I am yet to receive a breakdown of how the fuel was used and I have since ordered that audit," said Mackenzie.
"I have since asked my deputy who was handling all the fuel issues to submit a breakdown of all the fuel allocations and schedules of how it was used," he added.
He said the law would take its course in case Ncube, who is also Gokwe- Kana MP, was found on the wrong side.
"As a province we received almost 70 000 litres of fuel. In the event that we discover that some of the fuel was looted, then we have no option but to allow the law to take its course," said Mackenzie.
A well-placed source said Ncube only distributed 2 000 out of the 10 000 litres that was allocated for use by Gokwe supporters who intended to travel to Gweru for the star rally.
"He (Ncube), distributed 2 000 litres before claiming that the remaining 8 000 was going to be set aside for any eventualities. When asked of the whereabouts of the fuel, he became evasive and started shouting and blaming members for looting the fuel," revealed the source.
He added; "We were left with no option as we had to report the matter to the chairperson. And I promise you that we are not going to rest until we get to the bottom of the issue. Even at our next provincial meeting, we are going to raise the matter."
Ncube is a well-known ally of the troubled Vice President who runs a vast of businesses in and around Kwekwe on behalf of the VP. TOP NEWS
BY KUNDAI MOYO/ JAMES MUONWA
MDC Alliance has slammed elections officers mainly from the youth ministry who have been recruited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to register potential voters in the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise recently launched by President Robert Mugabe.
The registration exercise, which seeks to come up with a new voters' roll by next year, is part of a plethora of processes which includes voter education and documentation, lined up as the nation gears for the 2018 harmonised polls.
But MDC Alliance, comprised of different parties which seek to remove President Mugabe from power come elections, feel the programme was shambolic.
MDC Alliance's elections and reforms committee member, who is also People's Democratic Party (PDP) secretary for elections, Settlement Chikwinya, said the process should be stopped forthwith to give room for proper research to be conducted before the roll out of the programme.
"The secretariat chosen for the job is incompetent. At the rate at which we are going, I don't see us coping with the target of registering seven million voters before elections," said the outspoken former Mbizo legislator.
He added, "Given most of the people operating the state of the art BVR kits are green bombers and civil servants who one cannot regard as computer literate, they needed more than the one and half days of training for them to be able to operate these machines."
Chikwinya said it took him more than an hour for him to complete the process as the Zec officials failed to restore the machine which had lost signal, and said this showed lack of competence on the part of the secretariat.
He said government never capacitated Zec to carry out the process from the onset.
"Out of the acquired 3 000 BVR machines, only 400 are in use countrywide. This simply means that Zec is not yet ready to carry out this process and should wait until such a time when they put their house in order," he added
Using memory sticks as servers, Chikwinya said, is not a safe method of keeping information as vital as that to do with national elections.
"As the Alliance, and as PDP, we are therefore saying this must be stopped forthwith until there is proper training for the attendees, enough equipment and most importantly servers have been established," he said.
Chikwinya said the Alliance had since lodged a complaint with the courts to the effect of blocking the process from proceeding.
"As we speak, the issue is already before the courts where we are saying these issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency before the restart of the normal process after the issues have been ironed out," said Chikwinya.
Meanwhile, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) said it was concerned with the apparent incapacity of Zec to administer a cedible voter registration exercise meant to create a new clean voters roll.
CiZC said it was worried by the inadequacies of the commission in ensuring a transparent voter registration process amid absence of easily accessible public information on the BVR process.
Zimbabwe was unlikely to conduct a credible electoral process in 2018, the body said.
"In light of the immense irregularities surrounding the process we call on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to urgently ensure public information is accessible and the BVR process is as transparent as possible as the first step in retaining integrity and trust building with election stakeholders and citizens," CiZC said in a statement.
"We have noted with grave concern that the voter registration process in urban centres is slow with ZEC indicating that they will only register 75 people a day in Harare. This runs contrary to plans of registering 7 million voters at the end of the six months period. In Harare on Tuesday 19 September, ZEC ran out of VR1 forms at Remembrance House, Mbare sending multitudes of citizens back home unregistered." LOCAL
BY MUNICIPAL REPORTER
The Harare City Council has come under heavy attack from residents who say they were being billed for non-existent water supplies.
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said it had noted with concern that several Harare residents who had their water disconnected years back continue to be charged for water consumption.
CHRA last week held a crisis meeting with affected households in Highfield, where they highlighted their water metres were removed by council for non-payment of bills, yet they continued to receive monthly bills for water consumption.
"We had our water supply disconnected about two years ago and the council workers also removed the water metre. By then, our water bill was around $900 and now it has gone up to almost $2 000 because every month, we are receiving a bill for water consumption yet there is not even a water meter at our house. We wonder where council is getting all these figures," said a resident.
CHRA questioned the logic behind the removal of water meters in the event that residents are disconnected from water supplies.
The unfortunate development in Highfield, which is reflective of the situation in most Harare suburbs, is clear indication that council has been using estimates to charge residents and in the process, robbing residents of their hard-earned cash, CHRA said.
Another Highfield resident, who had his water disconnected last year, said he was shocked to see council workers coming to his house last month and threatening him with water disconnections.
The residents of Highfield also complained about extortion by corrupt council employees.
CHRA is on record urging residents to resist corruption and report all corrupt council employees to relevant authorities.
During the Highfield meeting, residents complained over the process leading to water disconnections saying the Harare City Council was disconnecting them without prior notice as per the legal procedure.
In light of the challenges, CHRA has approached human rights lawyers to ensure that residents' constitutional rights to water and administrative justice are respected.
CHRA also contends that most of the amounts the residents are reported to owe the Harare City Council are largely contested as they are based on estimates.
This, therefore, justifies the need for a debt audit that would culminate in debt justice.
"We are further appalled by the fact that some of the residents who had their water disconnected years back continue to receive threats from Wellcash Debt Collectors who have been on a rampage threatening and extorting Harare residents."
CHRA said Wellcash Debt Collectors' operations were illegal and amount to extortion and we will intensify efforts to urge residents to resist them. LOCAL
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, President Robert Mugabe's close relative, has come out in the open denouncing both G40 and Team Lacoste factions allegedly pushing factional agendas as they jostle to have their preferred candidates succeed the aged Zanu PF leader.
"If a person approaches you and asks you to pledge support someone based on a faction, tell them off. Don't entertain them, we do not want to hear about the existence of G40 or Team Lacoste.
"True Zanu PF cadres know the worth of a united party led by President Mugabe. This factionalism must end and real comrades do not waste time fighting factions," said Chidhakwa, while addressing a recent meeting at Maquadzi in Zvimba South.
Those belonging to factions, he underscored, had waived from the founding principles and ideologies of the revolutionary party.
G40 is allegedly fronted by Higher Education minister, Jonathan Moyo and Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere who enjoy the backing of First Lady Grace Mugabe while Team Lacoste's kingpin is Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Both factions are playing political gamesmanship inorder to leverage their preferred candidate to succeed President Mugabe.
Both factions have denied harbouring such ambitions, but recent events speak for themselves.
Ironically, Chidhakwa's sentiments were echoed by Mashonaland West provincial secretary for Legal Affairs, Chrispen Saidi who said nothing was bigger than the revolutionary party for people to sow seeds of discord in the party. He urged party supporter to be united and promote peaceful development.
Chidhakwa and Saidi are locked in a bitter turf war as the latter has declared interest to run for the Zvimba South legislative seat currently held by the Zanu PF bureaucrat. LOCAL
BY ARTS REPORTER
This weekend will forever be ingrained in music lovers' minds when music greats converge in the rusty city of Kadoma as the gold mining town celebrates its centenary.
The weekend of September 28 and 29 will witness, for the first time ever, multi- award-winning South African duo Mafikizolo as well as Zimbabwean superstars Jah Prayzah and Oliver Mtukudzi sharing the stage.
To put icing on the cake, rising female sensation Diana Samkange and the enigmatic Tendai Dembo will also feature their acts. 2 Kings Entertainment are promoters of the gig.
Power FM will broadcast live the event.
The timing of the musical gala coincides with the Kadoma Agricultural Show, whose curtain closes the same day.
Mafikizolo has staged numerous shows in Zimbabwe, but this will be the first time that the group performs outside Harare or Bulawayo.
Odyssey Kadoma is the place to be and management are ecstatic to host the South African artists as well as Zimbabwe's finest in music.
This will also be the first time for Jah Prayzah to take the international collaborations outside Harare. All along, Hararians have been the ones enjoying the mega concerts. The Watora Mari and Sendekera concerts were both held at the Harare International Conference Centre featuring Diamond Platnumz and Mafikizolo, respectively.
Keen Mushapaidze, Jah Prayzah's manager and spokesperson, said expectations were high within their camp that this would be one of their major events in 2017.
"For the first time we are on an international platform on a show in Kadoma together with Mafikizolo. We have had the opportunity to perform for full houses in Kadoma and we look forward to an even bigger event considering the heights Mafikizolo has gone to," he said, adding: "With Sendekera doing so well on the charts and also during shows, we expect this to be one of Zimbabwe's biggest events for 2017 and we are happy for it to be in Kadoma."
And to make it a truly international occasion in the heart of Mashonaland West — Tuku as Dr Mtukudzi is adoringly referred to by his legion of fans, will belt out fresh tunes as well as golden oldies.
Tuku has promised to drop tracks off his forthcoming 66th album and judging by the great response they have been receiving at most of the gigs where he has sampled them, Kadoma will surely be lit up.
Coincidentally as well, this gig will come exactly a week after Samanyanga's 65th birthday celebrations at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton. The event would also serve as a send-off as Tuku would be touring Botswana days after to perform alongside Franco. TOP NEWS
BY JAMES MUONWA
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) will from next Friday until October 13 allow relatives and friends to visit inmates on a daily basis amid festivities to commemorate the 2017 Prisons Day.
ZPCS Mashonaland West provincial spokesperson, Assistant Correctional Officer, Peter Chaparanganda told this publication the prisons authorities had introduced the Prisons Day Family Week, which would see relaxation of conditions permitting visitors daily, for the whole day.
He said this was to exhibit the spirit of inclusivity and unity between the community and incarcerated inmates.
The Family Week, which will run from 6 to 13 October, will be a precursor to the 2017 Prisons Day provincial commemorations to be hosted at Chinhoyi Stadium on 14 October.
"Over the duration of the Prisons Day Family Week, relatives of inmates can visit their incarcerated loved ones and spend the whole day at prison as a family. They can bring food and other goodies so that they feast as a family while discussing pertinent issues that need to be tackled," he said.
Chaparanganda reiterated the Family Week was introduced to foster family ties despite that one is in custody.
He added, "This will also facilitate the reintegration of offenders back into society, not as newcomers to society but as citizens who were interacting with those outside the walls of prisons."
Festivities to mark the annual event would also include an all stakeholders' carnival to be held on 13 October. The colourful procession, he said, would start at from Mzimba Shopping Centre and proceed to Gadzema bus terminus.
Entertainment would be galore and logistics for the successful hosting of the event had been put in place, he assured.
"Some of the participants at the carnival include inmates, churches, school pupils, the prolific Salvation Army Brass Band, drum majorettes and the general public. There are a number of activities lined up for Prisons Day, which include performances by award-winning musician Leonard Zhakata, Pax Gomo, Prisons Band, Inmates Band and acrobatics. All logistics have been done," he said.
The Family Week will run at all six prison facilities in Mashonaland West province, which include Kadoma, Chinhoyi, Karoi, Hurungwe, Kariba and Banket. TOP NEWS
BY COURTS CORRESPONDENT
A naughty driver of a South African trucking firm, Prestige Carriers, contracted to transport bond coins into Zimbabwe, this week appeared at the Harare Magistrates' Court charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act after he sent on social media an invoice and the quantity of coins he was carrying.
Tinashe Sikwila (32) of Gweru was not asked to plead when he appeared before magistrate, Josephine Sande. The State alleges Sikwila was entrusted with providing maximum security to the money.
The State's case is that on 20 September this year, Sikwila, whose company was hired by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to ferry the money, was part of the escort team that transported two trunks of Zimbabwean bond coins from South Africa.
During the collection of the bond coins from South Africa Mint, where they were manufactured, Sikwila allegedly took a picture of the invoice and sent it to a South African number owned by one Calisto.
Prosecutor Sebastian Mutizirwa, who appeared for the State, said on the same day the invoice showing the amount of bond coins was circulated on social media platforms, thereby, compromising the security of the escort team and Zimbabwean government.
On 21 September, RBZ staffers met accused and his escort team at Beitbridge Border Post, where they were alerted that the invoice accompanying the bond coins had been leaked on social media.
Upon arrival in Harare, all the escort members were ordered to open their WhatsApp messages in an effort to sniff out who had leaked the sensitive information and it was allegedly discovered that accused had committed the offence. LOCAL
Eastern Province Police Commissioner, Alex Chilufya has said authorities in Petauke have arrested a pastor identified as Masautso Mwanza, 32, of the Baptist Church for defiling a minor who is also his niece.
In a statement to Pan African Radio news this week, Chilufya revealed that Mercy Zulu, 14, is now pregnant by his uncle Pastor Masautso Mwanza.
Chilufya noted that this occurred in June 2017 on an unknown date in Petauke and the suspect is currently in police custody to help them with investigations.
"We have arrested a pastor identified as Masautso Mwanza, 32, of Baptist Church for defiling a minor who is also his niece of the same abode in Petauke," Chilufya said
Meanwhile, Commissioner Chilufya said a 10-year-old girl Falace Njobvu drowned and died in Lunkuswe River in Mbenjere area near Eastern Girls Secondary School in Chipata district.
Chilufya stated that the incident happened on 22 September, 2017 at 10:30 hours at Lunkuswe river in Mbenjere. The matter was reported to the police by her father Thomas Njobvu of Chaola farms in Chief Chikuwe.
Police said the body was retrieved by Fire Brigade and inspected by the police, affirming that the deceased's body had no injuries.
In a related development, Dalitso Phiri aged 7 also drowned in Lutembwe Stream whilst swimming together with his friends and the body was retrieved with no foul play suspected.
Chilufya said the incident was reported by his grandfather Patrick Zimba, 47, of Chipumba village, Chief Jumbe in Mambwe district who is a peasant farmer.(Zambian Post) INTERNATIONAL
BY STAFF REPORTER
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) is constructing a secondary school in Mbalabala as part of its social responsibility, a top-ranking official has said.
Speaking during a tour of the institution, ZNA Commander, Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda, said the army, as responsible public servants, should champion development of communities to build a better citizenry for the future.
The army boss said the school was meant to alleviate the long distances travelled by learners to the nearest school in the area.
Primary school pupils from the area were being forced to travel at least 10km to the nearest institution, a situation that prompted the local community to approach the former chairperson of the ZNA schools board, the late Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu for help.
Construction of the Mbalabala Secondary School was then started through the assistance of different partners.
Mbalabala School of Infantry Commandant, Colonel Posa Dliwayo Masaka revealed that $78 000 had to date been used in the setting up of the three classroom blocks that have so far been built.
A local company, Bakers Inn has also chipped in with a donation to take over the construction of 2 classroom blocks worth US$30 000 according to the company's sales and marketing executive, Caleb Musodza.
A representative of the community, Dubekile Zololo hailed the assistance rendered to them by different players in providing better education to their children.
The school which lies on a 25 hectare piece of land is anticipated to be fitted with state-of-the-art facilities.
The pupils will also be exposed to various activities to ensure they compete fully with others from other parts of the country. EDUCATION
BY STAFF REPORTER
The Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) is set to roll out a capital project at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) aimed at easing students' accommodation woes.
The ground breaking ceremony for an housing project was held in Bulawayo this week.
Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who officiated at the event, underscored the need for incentivise property developers to work together with tertiary institutions in building halls of residence and other infrastructure.
The multi-million dollar project, which seeks to alleviate the plight of accommodation amongst students, is set to be spread across the country.
Chinamasa commended the bank for assisting the government towards meeting its ZimAsset blueprint goals of providing housing.
The Finance chief said the government was working on a framework to recapitalise the IDBZ for it to satisfy its mandate. EDUCATION
A 29 km stretch in Mukumbura area, Mt Darwin has been declared landmine free after three years of clearance work by a non-governmental organisation, the Halo Trust.
Covering 1 641 207 square kilometres from Mukumbura border post to Chigango area along the boundary with Mozambique, the anti-personnel mines were planted by the colonial Rhodesian forces during the liberation war.
For the past four decades the Chisecha minefields were posing a great danger to both humans, domestic livestock and wildlife.
Government remains committed to ensuring that all anti personnel minefields in the country are cleared said Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi during the handover ceremony of the demined land.
Chief Chiswiti hailed government and the donor community for funding the demining exercises and urged the community to ensure that the cleared land is productively utilised.
The problem of landmines has haunted local communities since they were planted by the brutal Smith regime in the 1970s to try and stifle the progress of the liberation struggle. LOCAL
The Zimbabwe College of Music this week launched a new recording studio which would help aspiring artistes make a mark in the showbiz business.
College executive director, Rachel Chigwanda reiterated that the studio would serve as a platform to nurture adequately trained professional music artists.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora welcomed the launch of the music recording studio saying it had come at an opportune time when his ministry was celebrating the introduction of the new curriculum.
The college's vision is to produce music art professionals and in that regard, counts musicians such as Hope Masike, Rute Mbangwa and Dudu Manhenga among its products. ENTERTAINMENT
Spectators were last weekend treated to thrilling karate action at the Firework Knockdown Tournament held at Kuwadzana 6 New Hall.
It is in such community halls where the likes of Shihan Samson Muripo emerged from before making a mark on the international stage.
Inspired by their mentors an emerging young crop is aspiring to become top karatekas.
The budding karatekas were part of the Firework Knockdown Tournament attended by United World Kyokushin Karate president, Abdul Ismail who was impressed by the level of talent exhibited.
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Betty Kaseke, who was guest of honour, confessed she was impressed by the talent on display and outlined the importance of promoting sport within communities.
Alicia Mufundisi was the top fighter in the girls' juniors with Marcus Patsika dominating in the boys' category.
Kudakwashe Chivandire was first in the ladies open while Gabriel Mukombera topped the men's open section.
It may have traditionally been viewed as a sport for the minority but events on the ground indicate karate is slowly growing into a sport of choice. SPORTS
A buoyant President Robert Mugabe returned home this week from a sojourn at the United Nations in New York and was welcomed by news of price hikes of basic commodities and fuel shortages that triggered panic buying.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters who thronged Harare International Airport, Mugabe issued a stern warning to businesses unilaterally and unjustifiably hiking prices of basic goods such as cooking oil and sugar, while fuel was scare at most service stations.
Mugabe begged Zimbabweans to remain calm in the wake of reports shortages reminiscent of the 2008 crisis were back to haunt the populace. The nonagenarian slammed businesses that were bent on derailing economic gains through unexplained price increases and profiteering.
He appealed to his supporters not to worry as government would immediately resolve wanton price increases of basic commodities.
Mugabe said there was collusion among his detractors to destabilise the economy in a bid to effect regime change in the wake of the 2018 elections.
"There are people who want things to be bad in the country so that the people will demonstrate against us. The people are, however now aware of such moves and can no longer be swayed easily. I am back and will look into the matter. Be it fuel or cooking oil shortages, that is not a problem we are unable to address," said Mugabe.
He urged Zimbabweans to remain united and preserve peace ahead of next year's polls.
Mugabe's homecoming coincided with a sudden price hike of basic foods and fuel.
A snap survey by this paper in central Harare revealed that most retail shops had increased prices of goods by over 100 percent.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president, Denford Mutashu expressed disappointment over the basic commodities price jump in the country.
Speaking at the association's inaugural Masvingo retail awards ceremony held last Friday, Mutashu attributed the problem to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's delay in releasing funds for the purchase of raw materials hence manufacturers were exchanging foreign currency on the black market resulting in the artificial price increases.
The RBZ said it had increased foreign currency allocations for fuel per week to US$10 million to curtail threats of shortages for the commodity. The panic buying which has characterised consumers this week has seen motorists queuing at service stations with some filling up drums and containers, a situation which is being fuelled by fake social media messages spreading falsehoods of an impending shortage of fuel and basic commodities. TOP NEWS
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