November 25, 2016

Poverty drives girls into early marriages in Gokwe

Filed under: Feature,News — Nhaudzenyu @ 8:43 am

By Nhau Mangirazi
Gokwe Nemangwe- Sixteen year old Tarisai Zvinoputsa (not her real name) is six month pregnant expecting second child after suffering birth complications on her first pregnancy.
She says she is luck to be alive with her bouncing baby girl now aged two.
At her age she is the third wife in five wives polygamous relationship.
The husband aged fifty five years is old enough to be her father but she I submissive due circumstances beyond her control.
The husband is one of the few who get better maize yields annually boosting food security that is now a bait to lure young girls into early marriages within remote parts of Gokwe under Chief Nemangwe.
Situated about 500 kilometers from capital Harare, communities here are lagging behind on education due grinding poverty that exposes girl child into early marriages.
Though equipped with natural resources including coal deposits that could have changed the face of the communities, poverty and gloomy future awaits majority of girls, trapped into early marriages.
Poverty as driving force
According to Plan International an advocacy organization that fights for girl child rights worldwide, poverty is one of the driving forces of early marriages in mostly rural communities.
It further says traditional justice systems sanction this practice while statutory law prohibits it, making it possible for girls as young as 12 to enter into marriage.
Hot spots
Kwekwe alongside Gokwe and Lower Gweru within the Midlands province is also a child marriage hot spot, with 98 percent of the cases attributed to gold mining activities where some boys drop out of school, according to the organization.
However, Tarisai admitted that it is unsafe to get pregnant at early age but they will be doing this to secure food for their families
’It is risky to be pregnant but as you know to be woman you are obliged to give birth. Every woman tries to please the husband as more children born become part of food security to your families,’ she narrated her ordeal.
Part of statistics
Tarisai is part of statistics of how poverty is driving girls into early child marriages within Midlands’s province under which Gokwe falls.
According to some residents and villagers here, majority of girls aged between 12 and 17 in Gokwe are dropping out of school becoming part of early marriages because of poverty and hunger.
Although there was no official statistics from district administrator at the time of writing, sources within education ministry revealed that hundreds of children had dropped out of school as parents were failing to pay their school fees.
Recurring Drought
Gokwe is drought prone area where cotton that has fallen on world market is the only crop that is highly produced.
‘With current drought affecting part of Southern Africa, many of these young girls are easy targets to be married off,’ said a headmaster of a primary school speaking on condition that he is not named for professional reasons.
“Generally twelve to 17-year-old girls are married off in Gokwe fueling dropouts,” he added.
Traditionalists blamed poverty and hunger for out of control child marriages here.
Stop it- Chief Nembudziya
Chief Nembudziya is quoted in local press as having said there is need to curb child marriages by arresting suspects marrying young girls aged twelve years.
“If you hear that 12-year-olds are being married, those people should pay 10 cattle and have that person arrested. It is an issue that needs to be looked into thoroughly. I heard the President (Robert Mugabe) say by all means, government should make sure no girl should be married before the age of 18. We must stop it” he said.
A United Kingdom based child rights activist Obert Mundevere-Ncube attributes that grinding poverty is affecting more girls in the country.
‘With Zimbabwe and its people suffering, girls are getting married at an early age and this affects their future. They can hardly plan and will remain subjects of mental torture,’ said Mundevere-Ncube in an interview.
United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, State of the World’s Report (2015), said the prevalence of child marriage had Mashonaland Central leading with 50% while Mashonaland West is pegged at 42%, Masvingo (39%), Mashonaland East (36%). Midlands is at (31%), while Bulawayo has the least prevalence rate of about 10%.
Though equipped with natural resources including coal deposits that could have changed the face of the communities, poverty and gloomy future awaits majority of girl forced into early marriages due to grinding poverty.

The province is among the worst affected by early marriages in Zimbabwe.
Renewed hope
She says it will be better if the area gets food and assist more girls against child marriages.
‘There is renewed hope if all girls are given a chance to be independent than being forced into early marriages due to poverty,’ she says, her face beaming with confidence.
Young girls are said to be lured by the prestige of money into early marriages and at times early pregnancies.
Globally 140 million girls become child brides annually which translates to 39000 per day, whilst 16 million adolescent girls give birth annually and 90% are already married according to the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Also according to WHO, 50 percent of pregnant girls under the age of 18 undergo still birth, whilst the number of maternal deaths continues to soar yearly.
Zimbabwe joined the Africa Union campaign to end child marriages in mid-2015. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development with support from UNICEF, UNWOMEN, UNFPA, the Child Rights and Women’s Rights Coalitions has been working on a National Action Plan to End Child Marriages.
The Zimbabwe Constitutional Court made a ruling in January 2016 outlawing child marriages but for Tarisai there grim of hope.


November 19, 2016

Joint local statement on the abduction of social activists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nhaudzenyu @ 12:54 pm

Harare, 18/11/2016
The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland issue the following statement in Zimbabwe:

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland issue the following statement in Zimbabwe:

The Heads of Mission of the EU and Switzerland have received reports indicating that some social activists have been abducted and brutalised by unknown persons in the run-up to today’s demonstrations.

The Heads of Mission note with growing concern a significant and worrying increase in the number of incidents over recent months, in violation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

Those incidents include acts of intimidation, violence, abduction and torture, violations of the rights of arrested and detained persons, and a lack of respect of the freedom of assembly and association and the freedom to demonstrate and petition.

The Heads of Mission repeat their appeals to the competent authorities to conduct thorough investigations of these incidents, and to ensure that those responsible for commissioning and carrying out these crimes are prosecuted. The Government of Zimbabwe is responsible for the protection of its citizens from abduction and torture, regardless of their political opinions.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are essential elements of the bilateral relations between the European Union and Zimbabwe. Sustainable peace, development and prosperity cannot exist without respect for human rights and freedoms. Those principles underpin all internal and external policies of the European Union.

November 10, 2016

Citizen journalists must strive for the best- Mudzengi

Filed under: News — Nhaudzenyu @ 2:01 pm

By Nhau Mangirazi

KAROI- The role of citizen journalists must not be undermined as they strive to write issues that affect the citizenry, keeping State accountable on human rights, service delivery among other topical issues.
Addressing participants during a capacity building training in Karoi here this week Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, CCDZ, and director Phillip Pasirayi said there is need for citizen journalists to be on guard for an informed nation.
‘The Bill of rights gives State obligation to account for our needs including right to clean water, food, health facilities, better service delivery among other rights. You must not be ashamed that you have failed to pay school fees, Government must meet that obligation. As citizen journalists must not therefore let loose those sleeping on duty including councils, central Government. They must deliver. We therefore call upon citizen journalists to be well versed and probe pertinent issues so that we get positive results on service delivery,’ said Pasirayi.
He however called on need to engage policymakers so that everything is done transparently.
‘An elected public official including the President, Senator, Member of Parliament and councilor must be accountable to the citizens and it is your duty as citizen journalists to empower the communities with credible, informative community based stories that affect them daily. It is not a crime to ask why there is no water, bursts sewer pipes, no medication in hospitals rather State actors must provide answers and action to rectify worsening crisis affecting us all. They must provide this as duty bearers’ he added.
Trainer Ernest Mudzengi warned citizen journalists to be wary of creating unnecessary conflict through unverified stories.
‘Try to research on story that you are pursuing. Minimize harm by being truthful, objective, balanced and respect everyone right to privacy. We want well-articulated stories that build trust in what we do and give authorities a run for their money. They must deliver. Do not trigger unfounded allegations but get your facts right and do not photo-shop pictures. As citizen journalist you have a right to inform you audiences truthfully,’ said Mudzengi.
The training is going to be a catalyst of citizen participation ahead of 2018 general elections as the crashing service delivery outweighs Zanu PF government promises in 2013.

EU probes Karoi council

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nhaudzenyu @ 11:40 am

 By Nhau Mangirazi

 KAROI — The European Union (EU) has launched an audit into possible abuse of donor funds that were meant for empowerment projects in this small farming town, the Financial Gazette can report.
This follows a meeting held between interim Karoi Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman, Freck Kuchekwa, and an official from the EU, Massimo Stella, on July 26, this year, where the former alleged that some of the projects funded by the European trading bloc had been abused by council.
In 2002, the bloc initiated projects worth  147 000 euros in Karoi’s Chiedza township, through the Zimbabwe Development Community Programme (ZDCP), meant to alleviate poverty and empower communities.
Some of the projects have since collapsed due to political bickering and alleged abuse of funds by those who were given the responsibility to manage them.
The projects included factory shells, classroom blocks, a business complex, an incomplete flea market complex and an irrigation project for a herbal garden where a water pump and pipes have since been vandalised.
The factory shells and the business complex are now in a derelict state.
On September 15, 2016, the EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, wrote to Kuchekwa informing him that there were looking into his concerns.
“We would like to thank you for your initiative and do hereby inform you that an external financial audit has been commissioned which will be used to make further steps to be taken by EU. The EU promotes transparency, good governance and accountability and has zero tolerance for corruption,” reads part of the EU letter.
This week, Kuchekwa said he was representing disgruntled members of the Karoi community, who felt short-changed by the council over the abandoned projects.
“We have had double standards from some council top officials, who were managing these projects, but acting as accounting officers thereby raising suspicion of double dipping and conflict of interest. We are still yet to know where a vehicle and motorbikes used during the projects went to because the projects are still pending,” he said.
“Furthermore, some gardening material including a fence and a water pump, among other equipment, went missing; but we want everything to be accounted for. We have documentary evidence of who took what and where. We would be grateful if EU auditors broaden their scope during the probe and we hope that they will not be misled by the sweet-tongued officials.”
The town’s former ward development committee vice chairman, Mark Makayi, said he was saddened by the collapse of the projects.
“Whatever was done by the EU through ZDCP was above board. As a committee, we used to work on a bill of quantity on materials needed and they were supplied after tendering by council, as the implementing partner. It was transparent for us all. We are, however, surprised that council has not been very open to us on the way forward,” explained Makayi.
Acting town secretary, Wellington Mutikani did not respond to emails sent to him.
Budget estimates for the 2017 financial year show that council has now set aside US$56 993 to see through the EU projects.
Council’s finances are currently in bad shape.
As of July 31, 2016, Karoi council only collected a paltry 15 percent of the budgeted US$6 166 025.
Debtors account for US$ 3 991 295,59, while creditors owed US$1 855 746.
Karoi’s finance and investment chairman, Abel Matsika, said he was saddened by the current poor financial performance of the council.

“It is disheartening that the 2016 budget underperformed by worrying margins. This is despite the fact that it was crafted with active participation and participative involvement of stakeholders, residents and ratepayers, but there was huge decrease in the number of residents coming up to pay rates,” said Matsika, further indicating the poor performance of the budget impacted negatively on council’s programmes. –

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