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Fourteen Years in the Dark: Cowdray Park Residents Pursue Electrification
Fourteen Years in the Dark: Cowdray Park Residents Pursue Electrification
Everything—Good or Bad—Comes to an End
Everything—Good or Bad—Comes to an End
Power Shortages Diminish Crop Yields
Power Shortages Diminish Crop Yields
Women Dominate Cleaning Campaign Processes in Bulawayo
Women Dominate Cleaning Campaign Processes in Bulawayo


 BULAWAYO: More than 673 households in Cowdray Park deprived of electricity for the past 14 years are making a collective push to secure light by December.

THE CITIZEN BULLETIN. 31 OCT. 2018 — HER desire to live in a global world with information communication technologies is something that she keeps on hoping will be availed to her. Nonhlanhla passes time with her disabled aunt and pays a fifty cent bond coin each day to recharge her cellphone battery, and continues to live without electricity. 

The unemployed twenty year old woman of Cowdray Park says she feels isolated from her agemates three kilometres from her who regularly follow their favorite talkshow "The Real.” 

More than 673 households in Cowdray Park deprived of electricity for the past 14 years are making a collective push to secure light by December. 

“I came here in 2008 and there were few houses that were built by then,” Nonhlanhla’s aunt told The Citizen Bulletin. “And there was no electricity and no sign of power lines. We have lived just like that ever since.” 

Afflicted residents recently engaged the minister of state for Bulawayo province Mrs Judith Moyo to intervene and deliberate with ZESA authorities on extending the electrification process to the urban Cowdray Park area close to the Roman Catholic area.

The ward 28 residents group formed a Zibuthe committee to focus on electrification and began to hold meetings with ZESA from 2008. ZESA has cited lack of materials and resources, says Zibuthe Committee Chairperson Denford Makonese, which has delayed the project.

Since February of 2018, electrical poles from ZESA have arrived in batches but the community is still awaiting installation of poles that was supposed to happen in August, according to Makonese. 

Due to these delays the Zibuthe committee began to gather funds, asking for 20 dollars per family to purchase electrical equipments.

"Nearly half of the residents in our area managed to pay," indicated Makonese. "Other people have not paid because they cannot afford though we chose $20 as we felt its affordable with most of the residents.”

Makonese added that the initiative to raise funds was advised by the financially challenged electrical company.

"After a meeting with ZESA they outlined that ZESA is incapacitated for now due to foreign currency, they then advised us to do a community project to speed up process which other communities like Pelandaba was doing,” he said.

ZESA directed the residents committee to use the collected funds to buy a drum of 50 milimetre conductor wire and stays, which they bought for $3200 and $499 respectively. 

Residents in the Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle section 13 area currently buy firewood for their domestic chores, while others have installed solar systems and geysers for lighting and use liquified petroleum gas to power their refrigerators. 

“The lifestyle hurts,” MaSithole said, her voice level rising. “How would you feel if it was you staying in place that even when you are walking now you can trip and fall and get hurt? Tell me!”

She added that people often go to collect firewood at dawn in order to return home by six in the morning to avoid rangers patrolling the area. Many also fear walking in the dark due to risk of robbery. 

Residents are proceeding with electrification on their own and will continue to engage with ZESA. 

“Minister of state Judith Moto commended us for such effort. She called ZESA to encourage to at least by December have electricity because it’s been a long time,” Makonese said. 

An email enquiry sent to ZESA had not yet been responded to and persistent follow ups were ignored until the time of publication.  

Editor's note: This article will be updated as soon as we get a comment from ZESA.

BULAWAYO: THE last forty-days (Biblical symbolism unintended) at The Citizen Bulletin were punctuated with a hive of activities—from attending and reporting community events, to consistent staff meetings; to throwing social outings.

THE CITIZEN BULLETIN. 13 Nov. 2018 (EDITORIAL) — The last forty-days (Biblical symbolism unintended) at The Citizen Bulletin were punctuated with a hive of activities—from attending and reporting community events, to consistent staff meetings; to throwing social outings.

We took a new direction in terms of our content strategy; from random reportage of activities to a more organised, issue-based coverage of events around Bulawayo and the two Matabeleland provinces—our primary target audience. We also recruited five fresh and dedicated emerging reporters with the enthusiasm to report—sometimes with no or little resources—about issues that affect their immediate and surrounding communities.

We also deepened our engagement and increased our visibility with(in) communities that we serve—including establishing mutual relationships with both state and non-state actors operating within Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South. This we did because we believe in collaborative journalism—which is characterised by symbiotic relationships between journalists, our audiences, civic and government structures.

Today, we introduce to you as we say adieus to the face behind our new strategy and editorial direction. Thanks to Julia Thomas, a young, talented American journalist who, for one month and ten days, worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to reinvigorate The Citizen Bulletin into what it has become: a truly hyper-local news outlet serving information needs of its audience; spurring meaningful civic engagement that aids government accountable.

Thomas, who first came to Zimbabwe early this year to study the nexus between citizen journalism and citizenship in Africa communities, Zimbabwe included, with support from the Watson Journalism Fellowship, apparently fell in love with The Citizen Bulletin when the fledgling news outlet covered the Bio-metric Voter Registration (BVR) with focus on the plight of grassroots communities, particularly poor and middle income citizens including those residing in areas such as Ngozi Mine in Bulawayo. Her desire to work with the outlet in future culminated into a collaboration, supported by the U.S government under the Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Program which enabled her to return to the country as The Citizen Bulletin’s associate editor.

She has been key in (re)training our community reporters in different storytelling formats for local news and mentoring them in local reporting and audience engagement. She has been instrumental in rejuvenating our social media platforms whose organic reach increased by more than 50 % during her stay with us. The contacts which Thomas also created with local organisations and key individuals on our behalf are also key in driving forward our work as a hyper-local news outlet working towards sustainability. 

As she returns to the U.S to (re)launch her career in journalism, we wish her all the best and cherish the efforts she put, while in Zimbabwe, to recast The Citizen Bulletin into a viable hyper-local news publication. We also cherish her mentorship which she has pledged to continue imparting to our emerging but talented reporters. We pray that although everything—good or bad—comes to end, she returns again to Zimbabwe, this time for ever. Adieus Julia Thomas and thank you!

Moving Towards a New Content Strategy

This past week our reporters continued with deep community engagement and coverage as they reported about the plight of farmers in Umguza, who, because of poor service delivery by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, better known by the acronym ZESA, are at risk of losing their crops because of inconsistent irrigation. We implore the power service provider to speedily address the situation at Umguza because the many families, especially as the economy continues to tumble—depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. We also checked progress with Tearaccotta, a company charged with construction of Egodini Mall.

According to the company, at least 3000 people have so far registered for employment but of this number, 1000 applications have errors or queries—which the company is keen to address through reaching out to applicants via text messaging. As we continue to update our audiences about progress thereof, we implore the company to ensure that there is for equality and diversity in the employment process—a call repeated by pressure groups and citizens from Matabeleland.

We also covered the Bulawayo City Council clean-up campaign—which was largely attended by women. The city has been voted on several occasions, the best run urban council in the country and because of this we say bravo and implore the city fathers to continue with efforts to ensure that the city maintains its cleanliness. We also urge the city fathers and council bureaucrats to consider the recommendation contained in a story which we published last week, that those found littering the city be fined at least $1.

This week we shall focus more on local governance, democracy and human rights issues, part of our strategy as we try to produce content that spurs civic engagement. We shall begin with profiling Councillors from Bulawayo and a few from Matabeleland North and South because of resource constraints to reach out to outlying areas, a situation that we are however, working to fix as we avoid falling into the pitfalls of our traditional media which has over the years neglected rural and peri-urban communities that continue to sink in news deserts. We will, as part of our profiles, ask our Councillors a series of structured questions pertaining to their biographies, their development strategies and priorities.

We will also ensure that Councillors provide details through which citizens can engage them on their development agendas. We also keep our ears on the ground to report more deeply and accurately about key local governance and democracy issues in our communities. Because we strongly believe in collaborative journalism, we also invited our audiences to give us feedback and suggest story ideas to us through our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as our WhatsApp number +263 772 610 726.

 

Umguza farmers are panicking as power shortages of up to several days threaten their seasonal produce and may reduce harvest yields by half in the challenged economy. 

Umguza farmers are panicking as power shortages of up to several days threaten their seasonal produce and may reduce harvest yields by half in the challenged economy. 

Inconsistent power supply has lowered quality of produce in the Ward 8 district and limited access to consistent irrigation, a necessity for some crops at this point in the harvest season. 

Farmers told The Citizen Bulletin that they normally produce approximately 10 tonnes of wheat per season but expect the yield to fall to less than five tonnes with another expected drop if the electricity supply issue is not addressed. 

As of the date of publication, some farmers in the area had been without power for four days. 

Umguza Irrigation Farmers Union Chairperson Khepha Dube revealed that the impact of electrical shortage will have a serious dry spell for the area which happens to supply Bulawayo and the surrounding areas up to Victoria Falls Market.

“What is very sad is that this is the rainy season which is seriously showing signs of a dry spell and this means that all our crops may die and most farmers will runout of business,” Dube said of Umguza, which has a number of dairy farms, millers, irrigation lots, and an abattoir.

Estimate crop yields have nearly bounced back to their annual averages after a mid-year dry spell in January but the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted that food insecurity will increase in 2018 and 2019 in southern and western provinces, citing Matabeleland South and North. 

Brilliant Ncube, a wheat farmer in Umguza, expressed concerns about the electricity disrupting production of crops such as wheat which have a period where they demand water supply constantly. 

“At first we thought that these continuous power cuts were due to faults but it seems to be getting worse as some days we go to more than three days without electrical supply,” Ncube said. 

Certain plants such as tomatoes also need prolonged moisture at the fruiting stage and the electricity shortages pose a serious threat to crop performance and farming families’ livelihoods, according to irrigation farmer Fred Phiri. 

“We feel that Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is giving us a lot of excuses because first they complained about shortage of fuel to have their experts come and fix this issue when one of the farmers offered the fuel they made an excuse of having no fuel to get to Umguza," Phiri said. 

Another local farm worker who declined to be identified stated that these power cuts always take place during the rainy season which is why most of the times they tend to believe it may be due to heavy rains but as it stands no rains have fell which is now worrying as to whether it’s a matter of load shedding or not.

Farmers have individually approached ZETDC with service delivery issues but the Umguza Irrigation Farmers Union has yet to formally approach the commission. 

“We pay their rates and it worries us mostly as we are failing to get proper service delivery from them and if it is a matter of load shedding then we will have to get a proper memorandum with reasons why,” Dube said. 

ZETDC did not respond to requests for comment from The Citizen Bulletin by the time of publication. 

 

 

 

 

Bulawayo residents have called on recycling companies in Bulawayo to launch awareness campaigns that will enhance the collection of plastics required to keep the city clean. 

 

Bulawayo residents have called on recycling companies in Bulawayo to launch awareness campaigns that will enhance the collection of plastics required to keep the city clean.

A tour of dumping sites in Bulawayo, including Treger Plastics company, yesterday engaged residents in how to collaborate with companies in keeping the city clean, an effort which is headed primarily by women.

"Our major goal is that we wish people are empowered through such schemes in a way that has better incentives," said Nyathi, one of the female members who went on the tour of some of the city’s companies that recycle Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), a widely used thermoplastic in manufacturing.

Zimbabwe produces an estimated 1.65 million tonnes of solid waste per year, of which approximately 12 percent is plastic waste according to research by the Institute of Environmental Studies in 2014, and is one of the highest producers of plastic waste due to imports of plastic packaged materials.

The technical manager for Treger plastics, Moses Tshuma, told the visiting team that women dominate the industry of collecting material.

One of the women who had come to trade with the Treger plastics company noted that the situation in the country has made her rely on collecting plastics for the sustenance of her family.

"l didn’t want to spend the day sitting at home watching my children starve all day," the woman who identified herself only as MaMlambo said. "So my friend introduced the process to me and l felt it was really good.”

MaMlambo indicated how she and her friend benefit from the scheme on a daily basis and encouraged other women to do the same.

"l actually urge some women to also take part in this as the process is simple. We go around in the morning to the shops and fill our 100 kilogram bags with plastic bottles,” she said. "At first it was difficult and tiresome as we collected even material that the recycling companies rejected.”

MaMlambo's friend reiterated the life changing impact of collecting plastics for Treger and the staff who helped them make their way in the beginning.

“Initially our plastic bottles were not taken as they didn't have a triangle to indicate that they could be recycled and sometimes were not weighing the targeted scale," she said. "The team was friendly enough to us and we were fine tuned and it is no longer difficult for us as whatever amount we have is weighed and we have our money.”

Women face risks such as gender based violence in pursuing such projects alone, according to a woman who resides at St Peters in the Mazwi area and had come to collect PET material at the Richmond landfill known as Ngozi Mine.

"We have no choice in this as our children need to go to school," she said. "We walk in the bush to come collect plastics and sometimes we get three dollars and we walk back home. The risk is there as some of us get raped or killed.”

She added: "Last week someone was killed in the bush and we don’t encourage people to live this lifestyle. So my friends and l have arranged that we come together so we don’t fall prey to robbers.”

The Ngozi mine was commissioned in 1994 and has since elapsed its lifespan.

"Thanks to the economy in our country that has seen us using the site for more than 21 years," said a worker from the Bulawayo City Council. "We just rely on compacting the material despite the fact that our vehicles are few.”

He added: "We are however going on the other side of the 29 hectare to create space for filling the domestic waste there.”

The clean up campaign will engage with councillors across the city to initiate next steps.

 

 

‘Cheated’ Byo Councillor Bares Soul

 …As Cllr Batirai's Election Saga Deepens

BULAWAYO: Losing Council candidate who is also a former city father, Gideon Mangena, says he is receiving incessant pressure from ward 24 residents to contest the election of Arnold Batsirai whom the former claims won the ward under controversial circumstances.

Batirai was sworn in as the city’s ward 24 Councillor last week.

“They say to me, Councillor we want you to represent us,” Mangena told The Citizen Bulletin in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

“Some of them come to me with their problems seeking my assistance but I tell them that you now have a new Councillor,” he said.

“Some of them are threatening to revolt because they say the new Councillor does not even stay in the ward,” Mangena claimed.

But ward 24 residents who spoke to The Citizen Bulletin in separate interviews said “we voted for our preferred candidate” and as such they will abide by their choices.

“Both candidates campaigned and we chose Batsirai because we felt that he will represent us better than the other Alliance candidate in Council, a voter who only identified himself as Collet said.

His sentiments were supported by another resident from Nketa who claimed that Mangena had represented the ward for two uninterrupted terms and as such it was time for him to give others a chance.

“We are grateful of his representation as a Councillor from 2008—2018 but for now we just want[ed] a new leader who will address our needs perhaps in a different way,” said Sehlule Moyo, a voter from Ward 24.  

However, some residents with the backing of local pressure groups opposed to the election of Batirai ostensibly because he is an outsider “imposed to dilute the influence of locals in council affairs”,  have threatened to demonstrate in support of Mangena.

According to records supplied to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for nomination, Batirai resides at house 416 Nketa 6 but Mangena claimed, in an interview, that the former does not reside in the ward.

Batirai was not reachable for comment at the time of publication.

Mangena who won the city’s best Councillor award for 2017 alleges that Batirai used unfair campaign practices to gain advantage over him including tearing his rival’s campaign posters and distributing a fake letter alleging that he (Mangena) had been fired from the party.

“In addition to tearing my campaign posters, he distributed a fake letter insinuating that I had been fired from the MDC Alliance — and he did this in the morning of the polling day in violation of electoral laws,” Mangena charged. “It is because of his actions that I lost.”

Mangena said he reported the matter to both the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. However, the matter is yet to be brought before the courts.

Batirai who recently drew the ire of Bulawayo residents by attending the swearing in ceremony of Councillors late and drunk recently refuted Mangena’s allegations telling the press that the later was just a “bitter loser”.

A communication sent to Mangena by MDC-T chief of party Sesel Zvidzai seen by The Citizen Bulletin distances the party from the letter allegedly dismissing Mangena on the eve of the polls.

Ironically, both Mangena and Batirai were nominated to contest for the ward under the MDC Alliance. But Mangena alleges that he was the only one who had been “officially” endorsed by the Alliance.

“I only discovered during the nomination process that another (MDC Alliance) candidate was contesting for the same ward,” Mangena revealed. I was shocked because in as far I was concerned then, I was the only (MDC) Alliance candidate.”

“I raised the issue with the party leadership (MDC-T led by Chamisa), particularly Gift Banda — the Provincial Chairperson — and they promised to address the matter but they did not until we went for polls,” he added.

Mangena claimed that besides Batirai’s “dirty campaign methods” which scuttled his election, he believed he lost because his nemesis' name was positioned on top of his on the ballot paper, a circumstance which he alleges made residents to cast their votes for the immediate Alliance candidate who appeared on top of the ballot. 

The MDC Alliance swept all the city’s 29 wards with Mangena polling 2104 votes while his rival Batsirai won the ward with 2237 votes, just an advantage of just 100 votes.

Despite his narrow loss, Mangena believes that had there been fair play, he was going to romp to victory. As such, he hopes the courts will objectively determine the matter. 

Mangena also enjoys support from some residents under the banner of Mthwakazi Republic Party — who have been calling for the ouster of Batsirai — although not necessarily on the basis of being elected under controversy — but on the pretext of his demeanour and being an outsider who is not original from the city.  

Both PDP and MDC-T have chosen silent diplomacy on the electoral feud between pitting the two.

Although both parties have been sucked into the youthful Councillors’ drama, they have chosen only to comment about his conduct following his decision to attend the swearing in ceremony for Councillors drunk.

“We are investigating the matter…”, Edwin Ndlovu, PDP deputy spokesperson, told a local weekly publication this week, in reference to Batirai’s conduct.

His counterpart, Gift Banda, MDC-T provincial chairperson, told the same publication that “people should honestly consider the rights of the Councillor and the residents who voted him into office…”

 

Tags: PDP,, MDC Alliance,, Batsirai,, Mangena,, BCC,

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