SOUTHERN NEWS | MDC Alliance mulls name change

FORMER Cabinet minister and newly-installed spokesperson of the MDC Alliance — Welshman Ncube has hinted that some principals within the coalition want a name change to their pact — although he does not share the idea which he said is problematic.

Ncube, who leads the smaller MDC, is part to the Alliance which was launched in Harare on August 5 as part of preparations for next year’s elections which the opposition is likely to contest a single bloc.

“Working with other parties, you need a basic minimum not to have hostility to any of those that you will work with.

“So I find it problematic that there could be one who does not want to be associated with MDC but wants to be in a coalition alliance with the MDC component by another name,’ Ncube told the media here.

“Surely it must mean you are hostile to what the MDC stands for if you are so offended by the name, not to want to work within that alliance.

“I am saying this purely from an analytical point of view without suggesting that the MDC Alliance has not been open to an alliance which will use another name. We have remained open to persuasion within the Alliance. That it will be enhanced and better off if it uses that brand name,” added Ncube.

“For your own information, we have in fact received a paper within the coalition structures that this issue be debated. It will be debated and a decision will be made either to stick with the name or for something else. Definitely, we have not closed the debate. These are the issues for consideration.

“Whether you are in politics or any other forms of marketing you have to develop a brand. You need name recognition. There is no doubt that over the last decade and a half or more, the MDC as a brand, has at the very least in spite of other issues we might have, name recognition.

“If someone can establish to our satisfaction that we can adopt another brand which we can grow quick enough, to fight the elections basically in less than six months, so be it. That’s the debate we need to have and those who think that another name would be better, need to persuade us on that name,” Ncube told the media.

Tsvangirai formed an MDC Alliance in August which includes his former two cadres Ncube and Tendai Biti —  as well as five other fringe parties —  as part of preparations for the formation of a grand coalition which is expected to contest Mugabe and Zanu PF in next year’s much-awaited elections.

Meanwhile, Ncube told the media that there should not be discussion about Tsvangirai retiring from politics due to his ill health.

Ncube said the MDC Alliance was not perturbed by growing calls for the former dogged labour union leader to pave way for someone to lead the opposition in next year’s elections.

“Within the Alliance we are very clear that we decided that our Alliance candidate shall be Morgan Tsvangirai and that as an Alliance we shall do everything to campaign for him as an Alliance candidate, to campaign collectively for all other Alliance candidates.

“As an Alliance we remain very focused, that historically in terms of support base, in terms of experience, president Tsvangirai remains our best foot forward. There is no doubt and we will campaign for him without hesitation, without qualification, unconditional and will not in such a debate,” said Ncube.

“Zanu PF should be the one focused on succession because they have a president who has been in power for over 30 years.

“As for us, we are trying to get our candidate to be elected State president how can we try to have him be succeeded before he has been elected, it’s not logical, it does not make any sense.

“Let’s all rally behind him. Let’s all have him elected as president, if he fails in his first term as president maybe that’s when we can start thinking of a successor,” added Ncube.

Since June last year, questions about Tsvangirai’s health have dominated political discussions in Zimbabwe.

That was when he stunned the public when he revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer of the colony and that he was receiving treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

The former prime minister in the inclusive government was rushed to Johannesburg in September after he fell ill during a meeting of the MDC Alliance principles.

On Wednesday he went to South Africa, again, for what his spokesman said a ‘routine’ medical check-up.

Recently, MDC lawmaker Eddie Cross said in a post that the former trade unionist was suffering from an aggressive form of colon cancer which could spread.

“He has been struggling with his treatment and the family is concerned that he might not handle the election and subsequently the responsibility of being president of a country in a deep crisis,” said Cross.

“After a lifetime of principled struggle, to have it all threatened by a disease in your body, is not fair . . . Life can be a bastard at times.”

Tsvangirai’s deputy Thokozani Khupe, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and lost one of her breasts, urged people to pray for her boss.

“I am appealing to all of you here to put president ...Tsvangirai in your prayers because he is one of those who is suffering from cancer.

“I am sure you have heard that in the past few weeks he was not well. So I am saying please let’s remember him in our prayers because I know that through prayer nothing is impossible,” Khupe told a gathering commemorating the cancer month in Bulawayo last month.


.…as lack of unity ‘scuppers’ opposition deal

AS THE clock ticks towards the much-anticipated 2018 elections — the country’s opposition is finding it hard to unite and form a grand coalition — a situation which MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube says could put paid their hopes of winning the crucial polls.

The deeply-divided opposition has three alliances which analysts say reduce their chances of beating President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF in next year’s elections.

Former prime minister in the inclusive government, Morgan Tsvangirai is leading the MDC Alliance while his ex-treasurer Elton Mangoma is at the helm of Coalition for Democrats (Code).

Former vice president Joice Mujuru, who signed a memorandum of understanding with Tsvangirai mid this year, recently assumed leadership of the Peoples’ Rainbow Coalition (PRC) — further raising question marks over the envisaged grand coalition.

“There are questions that we still meet on the ground as an alliance, questions relating to cohesion of the opposition and questions relating to unity.

“It is ironic that perhaps the more marginalised areas in this country, which are in need of more and greater unity than others, need to work together if they are indeed to overcome that marginalisation.

“(People’s Democratic Party {PDP} leader Tendai) Biti always says, unity must never be the cause of disunity but in reality this is so much happening in all our political parties, more so in others,” Ncube told Southern News.

“Disunity being born out of struggles around trying to build a united opposition. I hope that those which are academics and intellectuals at universities will analyse for us as we go along as well as historically why it is that so many among us, so many who profess to desire change, so many who say one more day is a day too long under the rule of Zanu PF and yet spend so much time fighting against unity,” he added.

Political analysts have cited personal egos among opposition leaders as the reason for lack of unity.

The proposed grand coalition has hit headwinds as opposition leaders haggle over who should lead the electoral alliance.

Mujuru, on numerous occasions has punted herself to lead the coalition while on the other hand, Tsvangirai has acted in a manner that suggests him and the MDC hold sway to who should be in the alliance.

As a result, Tsvangirai launched the MDC Alliance together with various other opposition parties at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, on August 5.

Among the signatories to the pact are Biti’s PDP; the MDC led by Ncube; Transform Zimbabwe headed by Jacob Ngarivhume; Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira; and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu.

Both Biti and Ncube are former secretaries-general of the main MDC.

Mujuru stayed out of the MDC Alliance and instead, launched the PRC last month with little-known opposition parties.

Analysts have consistently said a united opposition stands a chance of finally defeating Mugabe and Zanu PF in the eagerly-anticipated polls.


Police make ‘progress’ in minister’s shooting case

DEPUTY Home Affairs minister Obedingwa Mguni could find himself in court answering to allegations of shooting at a motorist, as police had made progress in the case, Southern News was told yesterday.

He is in charge of police.

Mguni was accused of shooting at Moses Mutsveru on suspicion that he was smuggling goods from Botswana.

The incident reportedly took place in Marula near Plumtree in September.

According to police sources, progress has been made in the investigation process.

“It seems there is progress on the matter, the ‘client’ was taken for ballistics in Harare last week and its now back.

“You know when talking of ballistics we refer to the scientific tests to determine the type of gun used and at what distance it was shot from among other crucial details,” a source said.

Mutsveru’s lawyer, Prince Butshe confirmed to Southern News that his client was last week taken to Harare for ballistics but refused to give details.

Asked if that means the deputy minister would soon be dragged to court, Butshe preferred to say: “Not sure but it may be soon.”

The sources said while Mguni had also filed a case against Mutsveru, indications were that he was no longer willing to pursue the matter.

Mutsveru accused Mguni of firing at him and filed a complaint of attempted murder against the deputy minister at Plumtree Police Station.

Mguni allegedly fired several bullets at Mutsveru’s Nissan Sunny car with three hitting the vehicle although Mutsveru escaped unhurt.

Mutsveru said he was driving along Marula Road at around 4pm on the day of shooting, when he saw a vehicle behind him flashing lights at him.

He, however, did not stop but proceeded with the journey.

Mutsveru reportedly panicked as the vehicle, which was being driven by Mguni, pursued him resulting a high speed chase.

In the chase, Mutsveru hit a farm pole but continued speeding and moments later, it was alleged Mguni started firing shots at the vehicle.

It was claimed the chase continued for about 40km before Mutsveru, sensing danger, reportedly pulled off the road, abandoned the car and escaped into the bush.

After that Mguni reportedly went to Figree Police Station where he made a report that he had shot at a smuggler.



High Court reinstates expelled prosecutor

HIGH Court judge Martin Makonese yesterday hammered the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for giving little respect to the court before dismissing its application for rescission of judgment ordering the re-instatement of a fired prosecutor.

Makonese had no kind words for the NPA which he accused of being in contempt court for blocking the re-instatement of Patrobs Dube.

Dube was sacked in 2011 alongside other prosecutors, Leopold Mudisi, Dereck Charamba, Mehluli Tshuma and Musekiwa Mbanje by former Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana, for leading a strike over better working conditions.

His lawyers — Calderwood, Bryce Hendrie and Partners — had obtained various court orders which the NPA ignored.

Instead, the NPA applied for rescission of judgment at the High Court.

“The respondent (Dube) was declared by this court to be an employee of the NPA but ... ignored the order and proceeded as if the order is nothing but a piece of paper.

“The applicant (NPA) has refused to comply with the order and has not bothered to seek the suspension of the terms of the order pending the determination of this application for rescission of judgment.

“The applicant is prima facie guilty of contempt of court for failure to comply with an order of this court,” Makonese ruled yesterday.

Makonese  said it was surprising that the NPA had approached the same court  seeking relief to rescind the default judgment yet the law was clear that the party who is in contempt of court is now allowed audience until he has purged his contempt.

He accused the NPA for handling the matter in a “very cavalier fashion.”

“I am satisfied that the court was correct in its declaration that the respondent is an employee of the NPA.

“The underlying principle therefore is that the applicant has not been candid and bona fide in its application, the court will be reluctant to grant an application rescission of judgment particularly where there are no prospects of success.

“For the foregoing reasons the application of rescission of judgment has no merit (and) is hereby dismissed with costs,” Makonese ruled.



Osiphatheleni back in full force

GOVERNMENT’S spirited clampdown on illegal foreign currency traders — including the gazetting of Exchange Control Amendment Regulations which carry a 10-year prison sentence for offenders — appears to have come to nought as forex dealers have returned to the streets.

This comes as the shortages of foreign currency have widened since the publishing of the new regulations at the end of September – with many companies relying on imports – hiking prices of their goods.

At the same time, Zimbabwe’s import cover is now said to be at critical levels of less than a month.

Exactly a month after the panicking authorities introduced the harsh measures, forex dealers are back on the streets of Bulawayo.

To be precise the illegal money changers are back in full force.

A survey done by this paper this week revealed that it’s now business as usual at the city’s illegal foreign currency dealers’ hot spots which include, TM Hyper, Tredgold and 5 Avenue otherwise known as the World Bank due to its popularity as an illegal forex dealing hub.

“The situation is now better at least we can now afford to work. Of course police officers never cease to come here and there but now the difference is that when they come normally they need money like $5 or at least $10 for them to release you or leave the place,” one dealer.

Another female dealer said it was not their choice to be in the streets.

“They can chase us from the streets but they should know that as long as they can’t create employment then they cannot kill the trade.

“This will forever be there as long as government is not serious about stabilising the economy.

Economist Butler Tambo said government could be fighting a lost cause by clamping down on the illegal forex dealers.

“Government will not succeed in clamping down on money changers because for starters these people cannot be called ‘illegal’ on the simple basis that we are in a multi-currency regime in Zimbabwe.

“And as long as the bank can’t change money from one currency to another for instance from rand to USD or pula then the laws of supply and demand come into play and only the one who has access to these currencies will transact and in this case it is the Osiphatheleni who are transacting,” Tambo told Southern News.

He said government should stop the blame game.

“Osiphatheleni are not the ones who caused the shortage of cash in banks. These people had disappeared from the streets post 2009 as banks were back to doing their normal business of transacting in various currencies so most Zimbabweans simply used normal banking services for their business and Osiphatheleni lost business over night.

“But the government, because of its huge and uncontrolled spending on non-essentials at a time when industry is not functional and revenue flows are low, later started creating Fiat money in the form of Treasury Bills to fund its huge expenditure and all this has led to the current cash shortages,” Tambo added.

Tambo said the only way for government to deal with Osiphatheleni was to demonetise the bond notes and adopt a real currency like getting Zimbabwe to join the Rand Monetary Union (RMU) which the government has rejected.

Affirmative Action Group (AAG) regional chairperson Reginald Shoko said the illegal money changers were on the streets due to the prevailing economic conditions.

“It’s not surprising at all. We knew that soon they would be back in the streets. Actually it’s now a cash cow for police as they now simply arrest them and get bribed to release them.

“So they are not going anywhere because they provide a service which the formal economy has not been efficiently delivering and the black market is a crucial option at this stage,” Shoko said.

He said the major challenge was that government was trying to address symptoms when it’s dealing with Osiphatheleni.

“The real issue is economic fundamentals, we need to start producing and exporting to earn the foreign currency or at least push more effort on the global value chains of tobacco and gold which are already big foreign exchange earners for the economy.”

Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of a serious economic crisis which has resulted in severe cash shortages and the complete disappearance of US dollars from the formal market.

Apart from failing to access foreign currency at local banks, ordinary Zimbabweans have over the past few weeks been greeted by sharp increases in the prices of basic goods, as retailers hike prices continually in response to the high cost of hard currency on the parallel market.



Ndanga blames Health ministry for Tsikamutandas

APOSTOLIC Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) president, Johannes Ndanga, has accused the ministry of Health and Child Care of contributing to the rise of controversial traditional healers popularly known as Tsikamutandas.

Ndanga told Southern News on the side-lines of his church’s just-ended inaugural two-day congress which was held in the city that the Act which was being used by the ministry to licence traditional healers was causing more harm than good to the society, particularly in the rural areas.

“The problem of Tsikamutandas is with the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC) which is an enactment under the ministry of Health.

“The chapter seeks to regulate traditional healers but to me it does not exist, it’s a mere fundraising programme by the ministry because you can also go to TMPC and claim to be a traditional healer and you get licenced,” said Ndanga.

“There is no due process that is followed. You just pay a certain fee and automatically you become a traditional healer even if you are not.

“Now they say they want to register churches and apostolic church prophets, it’s nothing but all for the purposes of fundraising maybe for buying tea for their meetings.

“The fact is that the whole thing is causing this problem of Tsikamutandas,” he added.

While he did not give specifics, Ndanga who during the congress together with his bishops endorsed president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace as the patron and matron of the church, respectively, said he was working on putting an end to the proliferation of Tsikamutandas.

Meanwhile, Ndanga was voted as the ACCZ life president as part of the congress’s resolution.

“I was willing to step down but the bishops were not willing to allow me to step down as the president. Fortunately, I never lobbied to remain president.

“The bishops said they have voted for me to be life president. Initially they had not told me that they wanted to make me life president but I was surprised when all the ten provinces, including the women and youth wings, resolved that I become life president,” Ndanga said.

His confirmation was also endorsed by the minister of Sports, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Makhosini Hlongwane.



Crafty maths exam cheat spared jail

A Bulawayo woman who had become a “specialist” in writing mathematics exams for other candidates has been spared jail by the courts.

Portia Nyamukondiwa, 22, from Nkulumane appeared before Esigodini resident magistrate Tawanda Muchemwa facing three counts of sitting for an examination with the intention of impersonating another person in contravention of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) Act.

Nyamukondiwa who is employed as a general hand at a city butchery pleaded guilty to all counts.

She was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment which was wholly suspended for 5 years on condition that she did not repeat the same offence.

Muchemwa fined her $100 or one month’s imprisonment.

In his ruling, Muchemwa said the reason why he opted for a lesser sentence was because the accused was a woman first offender who did not waste his time as she had pleaded guilty to all the counts.

Also acting in Muchemwa’s favour was her young age and the fact that she is nursing a 12-moth-old baby.

Nyamukondiwa, on October 25 last year at around 8am was alleged to have arrived at Irrisvale Secondary School and wrote the mathematics examination paper for Esnath Kamone using her identity card.

A week later, she wrote paper two for the same person using the same modus operandi. As a result this saw, Kamone passing the subject with a B grade.

Last month, on October 17 at around 8am, Nyamukondiwa proceeded to the same school where she identified herself as Violet Nyaku and managed to write the mathematics examination paper 1.

Her luck ran out when the invigilator recognised her for having previously written the subject under a different name.

Investigations were carried out leading to her arrest.

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