SOUTHERN NEWS | 'Mugabe can go hang'

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo based politicians have said former president Robert Mugabe must go hang, following his alleged demands to have his pension lump sum pay-out in cash.

Mugabe was recently quoted to have demanded his pension lump sum of almost $500 000 in cash, an arrangement which used to apply to his salary when he was still head of state.

Chairperson of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC Pilate Ndebele told the Daily News that the former president should respect the people of Zimbabwe as he is the one who caused the cash crisis.

“Mugabe is the reason why the country is like this, where does he want the money to come from when he is the one who brought us here in the first place.

“He is now feeling the pain because it’s now him but when pensioners were sleeping on bank queues only to get $20 or less  during his reign, he didn’t care.

“He should respect us and accept that he is the one who made the mistake, had he not tolerated corruption and weak policies, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Sonny Phiri, a campaign fundraising committee member of the MDC Alliance  and national deputy chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party, led by Tendai Biti said: “The demand by Mugabe for cash payment of his pension lump sum should be viewed as a demand by a greedy and selfish former president who has never cared for Zimbabweans save for himself and his family.

Mugabe is the cause of most of the problems Zimbabwe is facing today. His demand is outrageous and totally unacceptable as we all know that we are in this dire situation because of him.

The plight of the long-suffering majority of Zimbabweans has remained unchanged even after the military intervention of November last year.

“We are still faced by shortages of cash, no foreign currency in the form of the US$, other pensioners like Mugabe are failing to access small amounts such as $20 even after spending the night in a bank queue.

Things are being done in the same way as during the Mugabe era, so where does Mugabe get the guts to claim cash when he is aware of the situation?

On the other hand, Mugabe might be telling the masses that he knows the military has cash stashed up somewhere, remember he and the military are birds of the same feather and worked with him so they know each other,” he said.

Phiri said Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy remains ruined even under ED’s leadership because he has the same DNA with Mugabe.

“Mugabe is well aware that since his fall, people’s livelihoods have not improved. The bond notes which he (Mugabe) introduced have not been demonetised — cash access and foreign currency availability remains pie in the sky.  There is no cash or any meaningful change.

“Cash barons are roaming the streets and still changing money illegally. Prices of goods remain unchanged and still going up. In September 2017, the Zimbabwean government issued Statutory Instrument 122A of 2017 — Exchange Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (No. 5) which was/is to deal with widespread illegal cash vending on the streets. At the enactment of the law, many cash barons were arrested and brought before the courts.

“However, hardly after a month of enforcing the law, illegal money-changers returned to the streets and are now conducting illegal deals in every corner and in broad daylight. The question is who is really behind this illegal mess? Could it be the powers that be? Why is the Home Affairs department and the police turning a blind eye. If the government is encouraging and setting an example by allowing its departments and parastatals to buy foreign currency on the black market, then how are we going to restore the economy to functionality?” he queried.


Visually-impaired man aims to break barriers

A visually impaired man from Bulawayo has defied all odds against him by starting a social venture to empower visually-impaired youths with computer literacy, mobility as well as social interaction skills so that they can be part and parcel of the community.

Robert Malunda, 29, told the Daily News that he started the venture called Gateway to Elation after realising that blind people face challenges with accessing information.

“After facing challenges in accessing information when going to school and college, I researched on ways and means of how blind people could escape that predicament. I came to know that blind people can use a computer, not a special one but any other computer with the help of a screen reader. Alas, it was a success!

“That is why in 2016 I decided to found an organisation called Gateway to Elation, an initiative meant to open a gateway to the world for visually-challenged youths by providing training in computer literacy and daily living skills like mobility and orientation, as well as social interaction.

“In Zimbabwe, blind people are seen as beggars and objects of charity, they are expected to sing and ask for money, pray and hope that God will take care of them.
However, visually-impaired people can take good care of themselves if they learn how to. Therefore, Gateway to Elation has a unique curriculum which offers three different but related components,” he said.

He said one of the challenges that the organisation is facing is having no venue to operate from.

“So far, I have trained 35 blind youths between the ages of 20-35 in Midlands and Bulawayo. The vision is to see a Zimbabwe which has knowledgeable, independent and socially active blind people,” he said.

“Mostly, we rely on donors and even local people can be donors, so we are appealing for them to help us, some can assist with training venues because currently, we don’t have money to pay for the rent. We are mostly using free offices and boardrooms.

“We once received white canes from abroad, which we were supposed to distribute to our participants for free, but then when they arrived, the special arm of the government which we love so much — the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) — confiscated them and we have been trying to approach them to give us but to no avail. We really don’t understand the reasons for the confiscation,” he said.

Malunda became visually-impaired at the age of three due to glaucoma. He is a graduate of Midlands State University in African Languages and Culture. In 2015, he received a scholarship for social change makers in Kanthari, South India. He is also a 2017 Yali regional centre for Southern Africa (RLCSA) alumni. His dream is to impart the new knowledge to blind Zimbabweans especially youths.

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