BY JAMES MUONWA
Zimbabwe must use the agriculture sector and its value chain to leverage on the African Continental Free Trade Area (Afcfta), which has a market of more than 1,2 billion people.
Agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy, contributing about 17% to the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Fifty-five African Union member states are set to operationalise the continent-wide free trade area in July 2020 and economists said Zimbabwe must start positioning itself to tap into the market.
"The best place for Zimbabwe to start would be agriculture," prominent economist John Robertson said.
"By regenerating efficient farmers and by restoring their ability to borrow as much as they want from banks, Zimbabwean farmers could not only supply regional countries with maize, it could give manufacturers all the encouragement they need to restart the canning and bottling factories, rebuild the dairy, beef, pork, poultry, deciduous fruit, citrus, paprika, horticulture, cotton and timber industries.
"An increase in export traffic would offer investment opportunities to the railways, the airways and the road transport companies.
"Better farm management would assist in the recovery of wildlife conservation areas and bring back tourism," he added.
"Zimbabwe used to do all these things well. If the political policies that caused these businesses to go into decline, or even fail, are changed, Zimbabwe could lead the way for the whole of Africa."
When fully operational, the Afcfta is expected to increase trade within Africa by more than 52% by 2022. It will create a combined market of more than 1,2 billion people with a combined GDP of more than US$3,4 trillion.
Targeting increased economic integration within the continent, the trade agreement will create a single market for goods and services.
However, opening of markets will mean that companies from big economies such as South Africa, Namibia and Egypt will find it easy to penetrate local markets, including Zimbabwe's traditional markets in the Sadc and Comesa region.
The export promotion body said horticulture remains one of the highest foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe and is a low hanging fruit for local farmers.
"Value-addition for horticulture produce would also ensure that local enterprises maximise on revenue, as processed products earn more than raw materials," ZimTrade said.
"Zimbabwe has some of the leading value-added products such as orange crushes and other soft drinks that are in demand across the globe.
"These could be used as key products to support growth of export earnings."
The country also has a promising textiles and leather industry.
"Zimbabwe has one of the best cotton in the world and used to produce and export fabric across the world in the past," ZimTrade added.
"Support to the cotton value chain, which promotes value addition of our cotton is one of the interventions that can be done to prepare Zimbabwe to benefit from this continental trade agreement."
Zimbabwe has eight tanneries that can produce leather products for export.
Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) first vice president, Berean Mukwende said local businesses should consider maximising on product efficiencies within the Sadc and Comesa regions.
Mukwende said Afcfta would protect itself from inflows of incorrectly priced agricultural goods from countries like Argentina and China.
Economist Wellington Mangwiro opined Africa should not allow China to destroy its clothing, footwear, electrical appliances and furniture manufacturers.
"With more certainty that a billion African customers will support duty-free imports from other African countries, investors will support the construction of factories to make such things.-TOP NEWS
BY JOHN MURWIRA
Failure to access national documents have negatively affected the lives of most people living in mining and farming communities, with children being the most affected.
A survey by NewsAnchor in Shackleton, Alaska and Mhangura mine communities has seen a number of families having difficulties in accessing documents such as birth certificates the main reason being their alien status.
In an interview, Marshall Mapfumo a 47-year-old man from the now-defunct Shackleton Mine said there was need for more dedicated outreaches by the office of Registrar-General to mining communities, educate people on the requirements using languages they understand as most of them have not pursued education because of the absence of documents.
"We need dedicated help as we have not gone to school. Our children are even dropping out of school due to the absence of birth certificates, the Registar's office must come to our rescue and help us to acquire such documents."
"At least if they help us to register us so that we register our children whom we think can change our lives if they persue with their education as most of them are dropping out," said Mapfumo.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) public hearings in Mashonaland West province noted mining and farming communities as being amongst hotspots of undocumented people across the country.
ZHRC Deputy Chairperson Ellen Sithole said access to national documents such as birth certificates was a huge challenge countrywide affecting many people particularly in mining and farming communities.
"Access to documentation is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the constitution of Zimbabwe which facilitates the enjoyment of other human rights, "she said.
"A number of children born to aliens living in mining communities have no birth cetificates and this is a situation the commission will look into to make sure they acquire such documents and enjoy their rights," said Sithole- LOCAL NEWS
BY JAMES MUONWA
Wherever she went noone believed that beneath the neat dressing lay a septic wound on her breast, incessantly oozing out pungent puss and at times blood.
Outwardly, this tormented soul looked healthy and could easily pass any health check.
As she went around knocking on doors pleading for donations from well-wishers, many scoffed at her labelling her a con-artist out to make a quick buck riding on people's sympathy.
"My body was reduced to an object for display. l was ridiculed and stripped of my womanhood and all dignity was lost as l begged for alms to undergo chemotherapy."
This is the story of 49-year-old Mwaoneni Mupungi who hails from Birchenough Bridge, Manicaland province, a survivor of breast cancer who still lives today to tell her tale.
Mupungi, a mother of three, narrates that her neighbours derisively bestowed on her the moniker "Madam Boss" as she would wake up very early in the morning daily to bath and launder her soiled blankets.
Unbeknown to the neighbours was that this was no display of cleanliness, but a way to vapourise the odour that accompanied the puss and blood from the cancerous breast.
Mupungi, who is widowed and unemployed, says what started off as a small lump on her breast in 2009 was diagnosed as cancer in 2014.
Following the diagnosis, she Mupungi says she fell into depression and was scared to die and leave her three children orphaned.
She literally saw death starring at her.
As all hope was fading and her toil taken her to every potential funder for her to undergo specialist treatment, Mupungi says she finally knocked at Island Hospice's offices in Harare where she got information on palliative care.
Speaking during World Hospice and Palliative Care Day recently, Mupungi emphasised the need for specialised care for patients and called on the government to heavily subsidise cancer drugs which are very expensive.
Cancer has overtaken HIV and Aids and other killer ailments to become the deadliest disease in Zimbabwe, where 30 percent of deaths are recorded annually.
Over 250 000 children and adolescents below 20-years old are diagnosed with cancer every year, while 90 000 do not survive.Health and Child Care minister, Obadiah Moyo, in a speech read on his behalf by the director for non-communicable diseases in the Health ministry, Dr Justin Mudavanhu during belated World Hospice and Palliative Care commemorations hosted recently at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, raised concern over the urgent need to scale up integration of palliative care in the health sector inorder to enhance equitable access to holistic quality care for people suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
"Cancer accounts for 30 percent of mortality in Zimbabwe and up to 7 000 new cases are recorded annually.
"The commemoration is coming at a time when Zimbabwe's epidemiological profile reflects a dual burden of communicable and non-communicable
diseases (NCDs) that have led to high morbidity and mortality and an observed increase in the number of NCDs such as hypertension and cancer," said Moyo.
The Health minister said 95 percent of adults and children with NCDs and patients afflicted by HIV/ Aids and TB require palliative care but a paltry 5 percent was receiving it.
"With the growing demand for palliative care in the country, the development of improved capacity to delivery of palliative care is a high priority."
Moyo said the capacity building will be through knowledge, skills and tools that enhance the early identification of patients who require the service, screening and referral of patients to the next level of care.
Hospice and palliative care day is marked globally during the second Saturday of October to raise local, regional and international awareness on the subject.
This year's commemorations were held under the theme, 'Palliative Care: My Care, My Right'.-LOCAL NEWS.
Police have noticed a gap when it comes to reported cases of sexual harassment at workplaces as in most cases victims of sexual harassment tend not to report such cases due to fear of victimisation as some of the culprits will be holders of higher offices.
On a follow up to a story published by this publication of ZESA Northern Region human resources manager Christopher Mundembe, who was recently convicted of sexual harassment of a student on attachment, police Mashonaland West Province said issues of sexual harassment was a cause for concern as most victims are not forthcoming to nail perpetrators with concrete evidence.
Acting Mashonaland West Police spokesperson, Sergeant Vengai Madyavana said there was need for more awareness when it comes to sexual harassment issues.
"Our Victim Friendly Unit has recorded one case of sexual harassment at workplace of which these are rampant only that victims are not forthcoming to report," said Madyavana
Reasons of failure to report such cases include fear of victimisation loss of jobs.
Madyavana urged employees, especially students on attachment who have become prey to sexual harassment vultures, to report cases of sexual harassment as the law will not be selective.
"If ever you are sexually harassed report such cases to our Victim Friendly Unit as justice will take its course against perpetrators," he said.
Recently ZETDC Northern Region human resources manager Christopher Mundembe was slapped with a 10 month jail term for sexually assaulting
a student on attachment.Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) Northern Region human resources manager was slapped with a 10 month jail term for sexually harassing a student on attachment.
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