THE elderly, who were neglected during the COVID-19-induced lockdowns, have suddenly become darlings of political parties seeking votes as the country heads for the polls scheduled for March 26.
Exactly two years ago during the same period, Gerald Ncube (65) was among the elderly in Nkayi South desperately waiting in vain for COVID-19 relief grants.
The government had announced a $600 million facility targeting the vulnerable in society, including informal traders, whose means of survival was disrupted by COVID-19 lockdown measures. Under the facility, each beneficiary was entitled to monthly support of $200 — then enough to buy a 10kg bag of mealie-meal and a two-litre bottle of cooking oil.
But Ncube is among many villagers who feel they were neglected after having failed to receive support — financial or otherwise in their hour of need.
Fast forward to 2022, all-terrain high clearance twin-cabs of all types from different political parties are trudging along the dusty roads of Nkayi South donating freebies.
Ncube says this is not new as election seasons always bring baskets of freebies from agricultural inputs to T-shirts.
By-elections to fill 28 parliamentary and 105 local government seats are due on March 26. The country will also hold general elections in 2023 and political parties have not wasted time in kick-starting their campaigns several months ahead of the polls.
In Matabeleland North province, there will be a by-election in Binga North and Tsholotsho South. Local authority by-elections will be held in Bubi, Lupane, Nkayi and Victoria Falls.
During COVID-19-induced lockdowns, political parties were nowhere to be seen. The elderly who were forsaken have suddenly become darlings. Social grants from the Department of Social Welfare did not reach them or were very paltry when received. Surviving became a challenge. – Bulletin
Public toilets must be free
TODAY let us turn our attention to public toilets in city centres which are now pay toilets when one wants to use them.
Yesteryear these toilets were used by the public free of charge and they were kept smart by the responsible authorities but it seems now a thing of the past.
Given that ratepayers are being made to pay for toilets after paying rates, it means they are being made to pay twice for the same service.
It is not right to do it that way because it disadvantages even the public transporters who pay council for use of roads and termini and are also levied presumptive tax by central government.
On top of that, we do have some businesses and registered vendors who also pay rates to councils in all cities.
On this note, I appeal to the city fathers to explain the issue of pay toilets. If we are not careful even the termini will be leased to private players.
While we are on the same issue, remember these termini or the city centres are the property of the Local Government ministry, while city councils report to the ministry, therefore, at the end of the day these are government properties which means the government has control over them.
Therefore, the State in partnership with local authorities should provide free public toilets since residents pay rates and other taxes. We do have public places where there are free toilets for example, at the stadiums and other recreational places.
It is government’s responsibility to save our nation from this rot where council officials are stealing from the people. – Paul Makiwa: Secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Passengers Association
Binga, 41 years on but no development
AS by-elections beckon, underdevelopment continues unabated in Binga with very little imprints of positive strides within communities.
By-elections will be held on March 26 and candidates from different political parties are all promising to develop one of the country’s poorest districts.
But the promises for a better life are not new.
In the 1950s, thousands of the Tonga people were forcibly removed from their ancestral land in the Zambezi valley for the construction of the Kariba Dam.
They were promised homes, fertile land and a steady supply of electricity, but several decades on, the promises remain unfulfilled.
A by-election will be held for Binga North constituency which fell vacant after the recall of opposition legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda from Parliament in October 2020.
As elections were suspended from December 2020, Binga was unrepresented in Parliament, a drawback to an already marginalised community.
Binga is home to one of the much sought-after fish industry. The area has a conservative culture, booming tourism industry which includes the hot springs.
Tourism, curio, fishing and basketry, wild fruits vending and cultural displays are some of the major economic activities with potential to drive development.
But villagers have claimed that lack of development is a result of “deliberate” marginalisation.
Some activists have for several years been questioning why there has been no development in Binga despite the district being endowed with natural resources.
Binga is known more for its challenges than potential and opportunities.
Any talk of Binga sees the conversation turn into moaning about under-development, including poor roads and lack of medical facilities among others.
In the past years, Binga has been one of the leading districts in receiving donor support in Matabeleland.
Most households in Binga survive on hand-outs from the donor community.
The hand-outs range from seed, food, bicycles, school fees and community projects. They also fund various activities which have seen many people being active and working for their families and communities.
Despite some villagers not seeing the importance of elections, the former Binga North MP Sibanda says the community should not lose hope. –Citizens Bulletin