SOUTHERN NEWS | Mixed feelings over Mphoko donation

COMMUNITIES in Bulawayo have expressed mixed feelings over Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s day-old chicks donations, with some accusing the politician of  “dumping substandard” birds on them, while others are backing the initiative.

Last year, Mphoko — a shareholder in the Choppies supermarket chain — went around Bulawayo suburbs — including Nkulumane, Pumula and Mpopoma — distributing day-old chicks to Zanu PF party supporters, a project he said was aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting in the communities.

“I am giving you these chicks free of charge so that you start income-generating projects to improve your standard of living and please feed these birds, don’t let them die,” he said during one of the gatherings where he was distributing the chicks.

However, to some, the initiative was a “deceptive” move, under which the VP was not well meaning.

An investigation by this paper revealed that over 50 percent of the chicks that were distributed reportedly died upon delivery or a few days later.

For those that survived, the Daily News learnt that they had a stunted growth and took several months to mature.

The chicks were sourced from commercial white farmer, Peter Cunningham — owner of Maleme Farm in Matobo — who observers allege was returning the favour after Mphoko backed him in a farm dispute which involved politicians in the region.

Cunningham, however, could not be reached on his mobile.

The beneficiaries were made to go into groups of 10, and would normally receive a donation of 300 chicks per group, which in most cases they would share among themselves.

This paper also gathered that when the beneficiaries, who refused to be named, received the donations from the VP, they were unprepared and had no proper facilities to accommodate the chicks in addition to the fact that they had to acquire their own feed.

In reaction to the development, Zanu PF Bulawayo central district youth chairperson Magura Charumbira tore into Mphoko.

“Surely, it’s embarrassing for the VP to make such a fallacy donation,” Charumbira said.

“Instead of people benefiting, they actually lost a fortune, time and money. Almost everyone in our 12 constituencies is complaining that the chicks were rejects and besides, the process of distribution was totally biased, it was done on factional basis and only G40 members were benefiting from that programme.”

Zanu PF youth and former provincial commissar, Thabo Thwala, also rubbished the donations, adding: “That’s not how you eradicate poverty, honestly how can a whole VP give people dying chicks, chicks that are in an intensive care. When this happened, we asked ourselves whether it was a genuine empowerment or some political game.”

But Pumula legislator Godfrey Malaba, in whose constituency some benefited, differed.

He dismissed the complaints, and described the project as a success.

“The principal director in the vice president’s office, Themba Ndlovu was here recently trying to check the progress of the project. We showed him around and he was happy because some are doing quite well. The project was a success,” Malaba insisted.

“However, some chicks died because when they were donated, the people had not received proper training on how to keep them and the type of feed to use,” he said.

George Mlala, who was the chief coordinator on the programme, referred questions to Ndlovu, whom he said was responsible for compiling a report on the project.

Contacted for comment, Ndlovu said he couldn’t discuss details as he was still in the process of compiling the report.

“I am still in the process of compiling a report on the project, and I am left with two MPs, after then I will present it to the vice president (Mphoko) and it will be him who will be responsible for giving you the findings in that report. I am sure I will be done with the report in two to three weeks’ time,” he said.



Wrangling chrome miners seek Mugabe intervention

WRANGLING over chrome mining claims by artisanal miners in the Midlands Province is continuing unabated, with the Zimbabwe Small Miners Confederation (ZSMC) now threatening to appeal to President Robert Mugabe.

The small-scale miners are fighting over 93 claims they have to share out of a total 205 they once owned.

The province has a total 306 claims, with some owned by private entities. The dispute comes as government is re-allocating 21 170 hectares of land once owned by chrome miner Zimasco to new smelters and small-scale miners.

With prospects for improved chrome prices on the international market high, the battle is likely to get uglier as the ore-rich zones will be targeted by many.

ZSMC vice president Emmanuel Mubobo told the Daily News that there was heel dragging by government on addressing the dispute, despite impressions from the authorities that they were seized with the matter.

He said when his organisation recently met Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, it appeared all was on course for a resolution.

“We agreed at a meeting with Chidakwa that those who have been mining will be given the right of first refusal but we are now having people coming and threatening to displace us, claiming to have been allocated our blocks by government,” Mubobo said, questioning that “how is that possible”?

“We have been occupying 205 claims out of 306 claims in Midlands. We then agreed to shed some of the claims and remained with 93. Of those 93, we then agreed to share, meaning people would come together and mine but it seems they are still not satisfied with that 93 and that is why we are saying the government must come in and solve this once and for all.”

“Despite all those efforts to try and solve this, some people don’t see this hence everyday we continue to see individuals from outside Midlands coming to occupy claims which they say they were given by government.

“Now we have people coming from elsewhere to take our land, while locals are suffering and surely that cannot happen,” Mubobo said.

“As a result, we are appealing to Mugabe to help restore sanity in this area. He is the only one who can understand our language. It’s now a game of politics being played out at our expense and some are using the president’s name for their personal benefit and we don’t want that,” he said.

He said there was need to address the issue as a matter of urgency as it was likely to get out of hand if not dealt with properly.

Mubobo added that despite numerous engagements, Mines deputy minister Fred Moyo was taking long to address the matter, which he said was worsening their plight.

“Fred is just good at promising. We have appealed to him several times but nothing has happened while we continue to be victimised,” Mubobo told the Daily News.

“Efforts to get attention from government through the deputy minister have failed,” he said, adding that Moyo “has on numerous
occasions given us false hope and on the ground there is nothing positive happening to show that he is doing something”.

On Monday, Moyo told the Daily News: “The invasion, as some people might put it, that’s a wrong term. What happened is government acquired 50 percent shares from Zimasco and government entrusted Zimasco to give vacant land where there is nobody such that other miners can be allocated. But naturally as you know, those who are on the ground want to protect their claims and those who don’t have want a share of the claims.”

Asked about the accusations of dillydallying Moyo said; “We don’t just come up with solutions that easily. It’s a complex matter.

“We also need Zimasco to say these are the people we have been working with. Such that we can see who is legally occupying the land and who has imposed himself on the claims.

“We are not after evicting people but we are after solving the issue amicably. As I am speaking, there is a conference that is currently taking place in Gweru where such issues are being addressed.

“We are also dispatching a taskforce team headed by my director this week to go on the ground and find out the real issues on the ground as we strive to address the matter.”

When quizzed about the matter during recently-ended Mine Entra he said his ministry was already seized with the matter.

“I have heard there are squabbles over mining claims. However, when the government allocated the claims we had the minister of Provincial Affairs (Jason Machaya) and Zimasco, who held a meeting with all small-scale miners contracted with the company,” he said.

“Those who are complaining were not on the list. However, there might be some isolated cases and as such, we are sending a team of surveyors and officials from Zimasco to go on the ground and rectify the situation.”



Forex dealers rule the roost amid cash crisis

ILLEGAL foreign currency traders — popularly known as osiphatheleni — are flourishing in Bulawayo, as desperate Zimbabweans flock to them in attempts to access cash.

While police descend on the money dealers almost on a daily basis, lately, the illicit traders have operated freely on pavements in the CBD, openly carrying hordes of the much sought-after cash.

While banks have reduced withdrawal limits to as low as $30 per day, the streets are awash with cash, where clients are able to access thousands easily.

In the city, osiphatheleni hot spots include, TM Hyper, Tredgold and 5 Avenue, otherwise known as the World Bank due to its fame as an illegal forex dealing hub.

However, it is the new lease of life that seems to have been given to these illegal money changers following the introduction of the bond notes.

A survey by the Daily News this week revealed a sharp increase in the numbers of the illicit money dealers.

To get US$100, one needs to have at least between $106 and $107 in bond notes — a six to seven percent premium.

Recently, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor, Kupukile Mlambo, admitted that the introduction of the bond notes last year gave life to the trade that had somehow been subdued during the multi-currency regime.

“But more alarming is the rise of the black market that we are seeing now,” he said while in Bulawayo.

“If you go near the Tredgold Building in Bulawayo there is a huge market that is going on there. If you go to Roadport or Eastgate in Harare, you see people holding huge amounts of bond notes and dollars,” Mlambo said.

As a result, he said, illegal foreign currency trading on the parallel market has resurfaced, further hindering the central bank’s efforts to clear the backlog of foreign payments of close to $200 million.

Economist, Butler Tambo, acknowledged the upsurge of the money changing business in the second capital.

“What has made osiphatheleni thrive in a difficult market where there is a serious cash shortage in the country is that when the bond notes were introduced, there was no confidence in the market over their use,” Tambo said.

He added: “With massive government borrowing from the domestic market as seen by the issuing of Treasury Bills to the tune of US2,1 billion, bond notes began to be discounted against the US dollar and rand and with the cash shortage persisting, the black market has arisen for cash being sold as people fail to access hard currency in their accounts.”

He further noted that all this, coupled with a lack of domestic production, poor exports and a huge import bill, has compounded an already bad situation.

“This has led to the current case of osiphatheleni coming back on the streets in full force,” he said.

Affirmative Action Group regional chairperson Reginald Shoko also noted the effects of the bond notes in the market, in relation to the upsurge of osiphatheleni business.

“The parallel market is thriving due to a number of reasons ranging from indiscipline in the economy to survival tactics. Since the introduction of the bond notes a number of the foreign currency dealers has increased as seen at the Tredgold and other hotspots.

“Initially, the bond notes traded at 10 percent against the dollar but of late you hear rates of up 25 percent,” he said.

“It seems the traders get the forex from the formal system mainly from cash-driven businesses like service station retailers, fast food outlets at a premium and they sale it off at a profit to either companies and individuals who can’t wait for central bank allocations or they want to purchase services and goods not on the priority list of the central bank.”

Another analyst, Mandla Tshuma, said regardless of their practice being illegal, osiphatheleni has now become more relevant than ever because they offer people services which banks are failing to offer.

“Talk of rands, US dollars, pounds and so forth, you can get them from osiphatheleni at reasonable rates. DStv subscribers also now depend on osiphatheleni for the US dollars required to pay for their subscriptions,” he said.



Shurugwi pre-paid water meters project on course

SHURUGWI Town Council (STC) has said its pilot prepaid water meter installation project is on course.

The local authority targets to instal 6 000 sets of the smart gadgets in the arid mining town, a move it hopes will improve revenue collection.

It is one of the few local authorities in the country that have chosen to go ahead with the unpopular initiative following resistance in cities such as Bulawayo and Harare by residents who argue the move is tantamount to commercialising water, which is a human right.

Speaking to the Daily News, STC chairperson  Tsungai Makore said the programme was now at an advanced stage.

“The programme of smart meters is well on course and currently we are waiting for a consignment of about 2 000 smart meters,” Makore said.

He said as part of the programme, they have since engaged ZB Bank, which will sell tokens to clients.

“The arrangement will see ZB selling water to the residents on behalf of the council,” Makore said.

He said under the integration process, “all the systems would be linked such that when we finally roll out the programme, we won’t face challenges”.

Makore said the integration will also allow STC to effectively collect debts from clients — residents as well as businesses.

“We are going to have a system where a vendor is linked to the smart meter. That link can be personalised by an individual and as council, we can as well be able to collect the other debts through that account,” he said.

STC has since partnered Anglo American’s platinum producer, Unki Mine, in the pilot project.

“Unki was part of the pilot project as per the MoU that we signed and they have provided 1 400 smart meters, which is a positive development in our mission to try and meet our target,” Makore said.

He added that council would recover overdue amounts from ratepayers through the initiative, adding the move was the solution to water shortages faced by the town.



Deputy minister's widow, step daughters in estate wrangle

The widow of the late former Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister Seiso Moyo is locked in a legal wrangle with her two stepdaughters over the ex-MDC Nketa legislator’s estate.

Moyo died in December 2012 due to heart failure.

His daughters, Glenda Paballo and Beatrice Joyce, took their stepmother, Sinini Moyo, the surviving spouse, to court, accusing her of ganging up with the executor of their late father’s estate and fraudulently inheriting properties without consulting all the beneficiaries.

Glenda and Beatrice are challenging the final liquidation and distribution of their late father’s estate.

They argued that some of their father’s assets were deliberately left out of his estate by their step mother.

High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva nullified the final liquidation and distribution account in the estate, saying it was fraught with gross irregularities.

The final liquidation and distribution account excluded a house in Bulawayo and another in Beitbridge as well as a top-of-the-range vehicle, which Moyo used as his official government car.

The applicants, through their lawyer Jabulani Mhlanga of Masiye-Moyo and Associates, argued that the executor erred in distributing the estate.

“The executor did not fully apply his mind into the objections and concerns raised by the beneficiaries in winding up the estate of the late Moyo.

“There is a serious malicious misrepresentation of facts by Sinini and the executor rendering the final liquidation and distribution account biased and one sided,” said the applicant.

On the other hand, Sinini through her lawyer Robert Ndlovu of R Ndlovu and Company said the car, a Land Rover Discovery could not be part of the estate assets, since at the time of Moyo’s death the vehicle was government property.

She further submitted that in terms of the law the house in Bulawayo’s Nketa 7 suburb and a house in Beitbridge’s low density area were matrimonial properties registered under her name.



Zipra remembers snubbed heroes

AFTER realising that most ex-liberators who fought on the Zipra front were not being recognised by the ruling Zanu PF during the annual Heroes Day celebrations, Zipra has come up with an initiative to remember its unsung own.

The party, in conjunction with pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu, is planning to hold a commemoration, which will be led by the former Zipra liberators.

The August 14 event will see the laying of wreaths on graves of fallen Zipra heroes and heroines at Lady Stanley cemetery in Bulawayo.

After that, there will be a march to Stanley Square where the commemorations will take place under the theme “unsung heroes”.

Zipra war veterans’ national secretary, Petros Sibanda, said they were motivated by the party veterans’ role in the struggle.

“If you look at how our role in the liberation struggle is portrayed in the local history, it appears as if Zanla played a major role in liberating this country.

Even at the heroes celebration nothing much is said about us so we are just saying let’s make our history clear,” he said.

Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was never too late to honour some of the fallen heroes, whose liberation roles were ignored by Zanu PF.

“We are convinced that time has come for us as a nation to celebrate all the people that have made sacrifices for this country both in pre and post-independence Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We believe that the past and current narrow and questionable definition of our heroes on a thin political line is not helpful and seeks to distort our history and mislead our current and future generations on what constitutes a proper hero,” he said.

As a result, Fuzwayo said until today, it does not make sense to them and the people of Matabeleland that the former Zipra army commander Lookout Masuku was buried at Lady Stanley cemetery.

“This is what we are challenging today, and we want our children and the next generation to know the truth about the true history of this country.

“We can’t have people like Border Gezi lying at Heroes Acre yet people like Masuku who had their history in the liberation struggle overlooked,” he said.

“We wish to state our commitment to contribute to the proper definition of a hero. Heroes like Masuku, Swazini Ndlovu, Masala Sibanda and Charles Grey among others deserve a better honour considering their role in liberating this country,” Fuzwayo said.

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