SOUTHERN NEWS | Top post for Dabengwa in Chamisa government

BULAWAYO - ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa has been guaranteed to be MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s mentor and advisor in case the latter wins the next election due in less than three weeks.

Poll surveys recently predicted a two-horse race between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chamisa in the 2018 elections.

A political memorandum of agreement signed on June 12, 2018 by Chamisa and Dabengwa and two other unidentified witnesses gleaned by Southern News indicates a post-election deal where the latter would be roped into the presidium.

Dabengwa last month pulled out of the presidential race at the last minute and declared his party’s full support for Chamisa’s presidential candidature.

“At the last minute, Zapu drew back from fielding its president as a candidate in the 2018 elections.

“Prior to this decision, we had facilitated protracted discussions and consultations with what we regarded as significant actors in Zimbabwe’s national politics with a view to forging a grand coalition,” Dabengwa  told journalists during a press briefing then.

Dabengwa said through the agreement, the two entities have committed themselves to the promotion of practical cooperation in what they view as a turning point in the struggle for democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe.

However, a memorandum of agreement in part states that:

“Post winning the election, the president shall give due consideration to the appointment of deployees from Zapu in various State organs and State entities after consulting the president of Zapu. … Dabengwa shall act as the mentor and advisor to the State president post winning the election.”

The document further states that the two parties must commit themselves collectively and individually to act in good faith at all times and within the spirit of the agreement.

“This agreement shall from date of signature endure for a period up to the end of the term of office of the government that the parties would have formed post winning the elections scheduled for 2018.

“The parties also agree to commit unreservedly to the speedy implementation of devolution of power from the central government to the provinces and below and implementation of reforms envisaged by the 2013 Constitution,” reads part of the agreement.

The document further indicates that its objective is to affirm the importance of the core values that “underpinned our people’s sacrifices during the liberation struggle and the fight for democratic post-independence government”.


White City bomb haunts suspects

BULAWAYO - The two suspects fingered in connection with the June 23 White City Stadium bombo attack — Douglas Musekiwa and John Zulu — whose ages were not given — are living in perpetual fear and have been ostracised by the communities they live in.

The bomb blast, which authorities say was targeted at President Emmerson Mnangagwa, killed two security aides and left at least 47 other people seriously injured — including senior government officials.

Mnangagwa escaped injury when an explosive device was detonated as VIPs left the stage at White City Stadium.

The 75-year-old Zanu PF strongman had just finished his address to thousands of party supporters who had packed the venue of his penultimate humiliation last year by former president Robert Mugabe and his then influential wife, Grace.

The explosive device, suspected to be a hand grenade — went off moments after Mnangagwa had just stepped off the stage — seriously injuring one of his deputies Kembo Mohadi and senior Cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, as well as a host of other people.

Both Mohadi and Muchinguri-Kashiri were later airlifted to South Africa for specialist treatment.

On Saturday June 30, there was frenzied media and public interest here as the two men were brought to court for the attempted assassination of Mnangagwa.

Southern News tracked down the suspects to their base in Old Pumula suburb to try and hear out their story.

This publication caught up with Zulu, a popular tout at the Old Pumula taxi rank. However, efforts to get hold of his other colleague Douglas, a taxi driver, were not successful.

One thing that could be easily noticed was that Zulu is now living in fear and is now being haunted by the “bomb”.

“We were released last Monday (July 2). The police said we should go home as they are still conducting further investigations and might summon us back if they find anything on us,” Zulu, who looked uneasy throughout the interview, told Southern News.

“We were picked up by police in plain clothes a week after the bombing incident. They found me here at the shops where I operate as a tout.

“They told me I was under arrest and they asked me where they could find my colleague, Douglas, and I took them to his place,” he said.

Zulu admitted that they were part of the Zanu PF star rally at White City Stadium on June 23.

“On the day, we had nothing much to do so went to ... the rally and we were seated in the front but as for that bomb thing we saw nothing.”

Asked how they became prime suspects in the matter, Zulu said:

“They (police) showed us a camera where we were captured at the rally and it was us in the pictures. So, they tracked us using those pictures until they found me at the shops because I am well-known here so it was easy for them to get me.”

During the incarceration, Zulu said they were only interrogated on the matter but “we were never at any point tortured or enforced to admit to the crime.”

But above all, the allegations over such a serious crime which could even attract a death sentence on conviction, has just left him shattered.

“This thing has destroyed my life, no one wants to employ me now as they see me as a criminal. All the people I used to work with are now distancing themselves from me. And you know how it is when people start fearing associating with you,” he narrated.

“The worst thing is that we are living in fear because the police told us not to talk about this matter and we now feel that wherever we are, we are being stalked.”
Midway in the interview, his relatives interrupted before they ordered the news crew to leave as they have been persecuted enough over the matter.

Mnangagwa has since blamed the attack on the vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction of Zanu PF — which was involved in a war of attrition with him in the deadly battle to succeed then president Robert Mugabe.

“I don’t know whether it was one individual — I would think it is broader than one person. I would think this is a political action by some aggrieved persons,” Mnangagwa told the BBC then.

Asked further whether he trusted Grace or not, he retorted: “On what basis would I trust someone who was used by a cabal to say things that had no basis?”

The annihilated G40 was, before the military intervention, locked in a bitter war with Mnangagwa and his supporters for the control of both Zanu PF and the country.


Whites now fully behind us: Zanu PF

BULAWAYO - Zanu PF Mpopoma-Pelandaba Member of Parliament Joe Tshuma has said whites were now in full support of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government, claiming the ruling party now had the upper hand over opposition parties.

“The whites are now in full support of ED,” Tshuma told journalists during a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ)-organised press club for political parties representatives held here over the weekend.

“My greatest fear is that the rules have changed, back in the days the whites would support the opposition, MDC and pamper them with money and everything but they have matured now, they are now behind ED and people start complaining.”

The Zanu PF legislator also claimed that the white international community had shifted its funding to the ruling party.

“The reason why the GNU was working was because whites were behind (the late Morgan) Tsvangirai and when he came into government, they started supporting him because there was their product there,” he said.

He said he was confident that after the elections — which he was confident will be won by Zanu PF — the country would flourish.

“Now that these same white people have jumped ship and are now behind Mnangagwa, watch after elections, you will see miracles, things beginning to happen.”

He described the white international community as kingmakers of most African countries.

“You must know that whites are kingmakers everywhere, in all the countries, think of any African country. Those guys are kingmakers each government they support will always prosper because they are the ones with the means of everything. That’s the truth that we should not run away from.”

As if to prove his claim, Zanu PF has lately flexed its financial muscle in the election campaign compared to the opposition, as they have managed to import campaign materials like vehicles and T-shirts worth millions of dollars.

Two weeks ago, Zanu PF reportedly gave each candidate $13 000 for publicity campaigns on top of brand new vehicles which are on their way to successful candidates. As if that is not enough, the ruling party has also splashed its election campaign material via gigantic billboards, posters, print and electronic media adverts.

Britain, in particular, has warmed up to Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power in a clear sign of a shift in diplomatic relations unlike during the time of former president Robert Mugabe.

Recently, the United States suspended funding to some local civil society organisations after investigations allegedly exposed non-compliance with set principles, and gross abuse of funds.

This has, however, been viewed by political analysts as a ploy to aid Mnangagwa’s victory in the forthcoming elections.


Council frets over 24-hour clinics demand

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council has been put under pressure to introduce 24-hour clinics at a time when financial challenges stalk the local authority to the extent of even failing to pay its workers on time.

This comes as residents in the city have petitioned the city fathers over their traditional eight-hour per day business of their clinics which they feel denied them adequate access to health care.

City fathers have indicated that they have no capacity to operate round the clock due to the huge costs involved.

At the moment, council clinics operate from 7:30am to 4pm between Mondays and Fridays, leaving residents having to resort to private or public medical institutions which in most cases are found in areas surrounding the city centre.

Only maternity departments in council clinics operate 24 hours a day and through weekends.

City council-run clinics operate in such a way that almost every suburb, particularly high density, has one conveniently situated to cater for the people in the vicinity.

A report of the general purposes committee meeting held on May 28 indicates that ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora felt that there was merit in the petition by the residents.

“There was need to explain why council was not able to offer a 24-hour clinic service,” Chigora said.

He said that residents were not happy with the level of service currently provided at the clinics.

“Yes, council was understaffed and resources were strained. In view of these constraints, council was offering primary healthcare only and could not operate a 24-hour service.”

Chigora also said it was unfortunate that government had also failed to pay health grants to local authorities and in this regard council should issue a statement explaining why it was not able to offer the 24-hour services.

The council revealed that due to a government freeze on hiring, the clinics were operating with skeletal staff.

It also revealed that council clinics have a staff complement of 164 nurses instead of the required 313.

Chigora, however, told Southern News that councillors were in full support of the 24-hour health service at clinics.

“As councillors, we are in full support of the 24-hour initiative but the residents should be prepared to pay more for that service because what it means is right now for example if a clinic is manned by two nurses then we will have to employ four more nurses for that station for us to be able to run three shifts,” he said.

However, Bulawayo rights activist Khumbulani Maphosa, who has been leading the “Open 24-hour clinics campaign”, argued the failure by the local authority to consent to their demands is an assault on their right to health.

He added that the council’s financial excuse does not hold water.

“On the issue of resources — I humbly submit that the local authority can easily get funding for this venture through several fundraising models that include donor partnership funding, partnership with residents, utilising set ratios from the community retention scheme, among others,” he said.

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