WE are about 11 weeks before what is to all intents and purposes an important election for Zimbabwe since the first all-race poll 43 years ago, with the country once again on edge.

After some few months of relative stability and commendable peace, at least at the political level, the drums of war are once again at our doorstep.

We could actually lose it in the end. Some hope was built after November 18, 2017 and the outpouring of emotion by a collective citizenry weary of political conflict made Zimbabweans feel like things would change.

But the July 31, 2018 post-election violence and the January 2019 anti-fuel price hike protests made us think twice.

We had a chance to build on the political changes of November 2017 and work to set up the second republic.

But dark forces once again stalked our national soul.

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In the run-up to the 2018 elections, the opposition made a lot of noise about Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s independence, judiciousness and transparency.

Then, the MDC Alliance was the main opposition being led by Nelson Chamisa, before he was dispossessed of the party name, headquarters and some of his MPs and councillors.

Today, Chamisa leads the Citizens Coalition for Change and his party is again demanding transparency and accountability, but Zec, a Chapter 12 institution that must act as referee at this critical juncture in the life of our nation, seems deliberately “deaf and blind” to the dictates not only of moral suasion, but also our national governance charter.

Section 62 of the Constitution indicates: “Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or any institution or agency of government at every level, insofar as the information is required in the interest of public accountability.”

And to cement this even further, Chapter 1 section 3(2)(g) under the founding values of our Constitution, as part of the principles of good governance binding the State and all its institutions, says there must be transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness by all governmental agencies.

Therefore, the demand for a clean voters roll is not outlandish.

Zec must simply comply. The demand by the opposition and other stakeholders, in particular aspiring candidates across the board, to witness the printing of ballots while not provided for in our laws, is covered by section 62 and 63 as indicated above.

Given the fact that Zanu PF is a participant in this election and President Emmerson Mnangagwa as well as most of his Cabinet ministers are candidates in one or another part of the election, is it not unfair that they have undue advantage because they have unfettered access to information relating to the election.

Zec reports to the Justice ministry and the minister in this case, Ziyambi Ziyambi, knows how many ballots have been printed, by who, where and in what quality.

Surely, Mnangagwa has answers to these simple questions.

Is it too much then for opposition parties to ask for some form of access to such vital information?

No doubt the credibility of our electoral process hangs in the balance.

Mnangagwa has promised a free, fair and credible election.

Principles of accountability, fairness and transparency dictate that Zec needs to open up.

What is it that they have to hide? If none, they should, for God’s sake, allow opposition parties access to such information to obviate disputes that have characterised our electoral processes since independence.

Our country deserves better and Mnangagwa needs to do something now if we are to avoid another slide into the black hole we were sucked into not many years ago. Our children deserve better.-Citizens

Govt must stop rot in schools with regards Calas

AS parents in Bulawayo, we are concerned over the upsurge in the number of teachers who are involved in corruption on issues concerning the so much unwanted Continuous Assessment Learning Activity (Cala) curriculum.

This is worsening our hatred for the concept, therefore, we demand that it be removed as a matter of urgency if government has not developed mechanisms to ensure transparency and proper running of things around this concept.

As parents, we were  alarmed this week when children came back from school to tell us that the teachers were demanding US$1 for them to submit one of their Cala projects.

Just imagine that for each subject a pupil has to submit about five Calas and it means that for one subject, a teacher has to receive US$5 from each pupil, and with a class of say 35 pupils, it means the teacher will pocket about US$175.

This is clear daylight robber for the parents who also part with a lot of money in printing and research for Calas for their children, in addition to the school fees, levies and transport costs.

Does government and education stakeholders mean to say they are not aware of these things or they do not care about our children’s future?

If government is serious, it must immediately phase out this Cala monster and institute investigations into the allegations of corruption taking place in schools.

The poorly paid teachers seem to have identified an avenue through which they can siphon parents’ money and this is fast becoming a trend in some of Bulawayo’s high schools.

If the ministry investigates, it will be shocked.

As parents, were are tired of being ripped off while we struggle to eke a living in a country where there are no jobs and where those working are paid in worthless local currency that has been battered by inflation.

If our government is a listening one, as it purports to be, then it must act on this as a matter of urgency or it will be blamed for the corrupt activities taking place in schools.-Disgruntled Parent

Govt must embrace the informal economy to enhance national growth, development

THE mushrooming of women’s clubs in churches and communities has helped women make significant strides in taking over the informal economy.

In the past, the clubs facilitated their members’ cross-border activities, selling hand-made products such as madhoiri (doilies), the majority of which flooded the South African market.

The rise of informal traders (women) selling madhoiri was dominant between 1995 and 2005.

Many households and livelihoods were sustained by madhoiri trade.

This scenario led to the composition of a song by the late renowned Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi titled Chara Chimwe; a song that gives special reference to madhoiri which became a source of income for many women traders.

Interesting to note is that prior to independence, colonial laws did not allow people to move from one city to another without police clearance.

Vending was also prohibited, only the white minority and privileged could benefit from participating in the informal economy.

The informal sector was generally not a space for all.

After independence, the new government officially recognised the presence of the informal economy and did away with prohibitive laws.

Since then, the informal sector has contributed immensely to the growth and development of Zimbabwe.

It is time government re-orients its approach to the informal economy so as to enhance national growth and development.

In 1980, the informal economy contributed 10%, in 1986 and 1987 (20%), in 1991 (27%) and in 2000 (60%), and since then, it has never dropped.

As of June 2005, approximately three million out of 11 million people were dependent on the informal economy for survival.

The World Bank Country Economic Memorandum for 2022 states that 62% of the country’s gross domestic product is generated from the informal sector.

While 80% of the country’s employment is from the informal economy, over 47% are women.

Thus, women are more active in the informal sector than men.

This dynamic has increased the burden on women since they are expected to perform their culturally designated unpaid care at home.-Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development