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Govt struggles to clear BEAM arrears – NewsDay

Moyo said his ministry had suffered brain drain, something that was compromising service delivery.

PUBLIC Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister July Moyo says government has a ZWL$200 billion outstanding bill for the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) programme.

BEAM, a social welfare programme whereby government pays tuition fees for the disadvantaged and orphaned children, has over the years been seriously affected by underfunding.

In a presentation at the pre-budget seminar held at the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden last week, Moyo said: “Mismatch between budget disbursement and cash release: for example, under the BEAM programme, from the revised budget of ZWL$86,9 billion, cash availed to date is only ZWL$58,4 billion, leaving a balance of $28,6 billion. Even the revised balance is not adequate to meet the requirements for 2023, as we are currently paying arrears for 2022. The arrears currently stand at ZWL$278 billion.”

In May this year, teachers unions questioned the continued existence of BEAM, describing it as a breeding ground for corruption.

This year, the government assisted 1 515 047 learners with educational assistance under BEAM. Of these, 730 321 were boys and 784 726 were girls. At least 59 701 children were assisted with care and protection services.

Government also reached out to 3 796 961 people with food assistance, where 4 400 metric tonnes of grain were distributed to refugees and asylum seekers at Tongogara Refugee Camp.

Moyo said his ministry had suffered brain drain, something that was compromising service delivery.

“Service delivery by the ministry continues to suffer due to skills flight. This mainly affects social development and labour officers who continue to leave service in large numbers in search of greener pastures abroad,” he said.

“Mobility is a serious challenge in the ministry, as all the programmes that the ministry administers require transport. The ministry requires an additional 100 vehicles for provinces, districts and institutions across three departments.”

 

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Breaking news – Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, [email protected]

INSIZA Rural District Council has joined hands with residents to construct Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town, which has brought relief to the local community.

The project was initiated by the community and the council chipped in with support for the project using devolution funds.

The school opened its doors to learners last year starting with ECD A to Grade 3  learners. 

The council used devolution funds to build two classroom blocks while the community mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block. 

Parents are targeting to build a classroom block each year so that the school can introduce the next grade every year.

In an interview, Insiza Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Shepard Tshuma, said the new school has come in handy to decongest the other two schools in Filabusi Town.

“The devolution fund has come in handy for us as a local authority in improving education sector. In 2019 we came in and assisted in constructing Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town. 

“We assisted by constructing two classroom blocks. The community didn’t sit down and watch but they also mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block,” said Mr Tshuma.

“Now the school houses ECD A to Grade three learners. The plan is to have a classroom block each year so that the school can accommodate children who will be going to the next grade.

“The school has helped to decongest Filabusi Government Primary and Marvel Primary School. At Filabusi Government we had 23 classes but with only nine classrooms. This meant that some pupils were learning in the open space.”

Mr Tshuma said they also used devolution funds to erect a perimeter fence at the school, build an administration block, and buy furniture for the school.

He said devolution funds will be used to build cottages at the school and a computer laboratory while the local authority will, starting next year, use devolution funds to promote the teaching of science subjects in schools. 

Mr Tshuma said this will help to ensure that local schools churn out learners who can enrol at the Gwanda State University. He commended the community for supporting the construction of Bekezela Primary School saying such commitment from parents was necessary for bringing about the necessary development in communities.

Bekezela Primary School Development Committee chairperson, Mr Pilate Siziba said the school has brought relief to their children as some had to walk up to five kilometres.

“Besides learners being congested at the two other schools, children used to walk up to five kilometres to get to school. Some of them were passing through a bushy area, which is very risky for primary learners,” he said. 

“As a community, we realised that we didn’t have to wait on Government to provide everything but we also had to initiate our own development. We are now targeting to start construction of a four-classroom block. We thank the Government and council for their intervention through the devolution fund,” he said.

Insiza RDC has used devolution funds to tackle four key thematic areas in the district namely education, machinery and equipment, infrastructure, and health.

The council has so far received $717 million out of its yearly allocation of $1,5 billion. Some of the projects that have been done include the purchase of a motorised grader, which upon being delivered will see an acceleration in the road maintenance works in the district.

Other projects that have been implemented using devolution funds include the construction of an ECD classroom block at Artherstone Primary School, completion of Sukasihambe Primary School, construction of a Science laboratory at Lubuze Secondary School among other projects, completion of Mbondo Clinic and equipping Montrose Clinic.

Devolution funds are assisting local authorities in fulfilling their obligation of ensuring improved access to social amenities across the country through the development of key infrastructure such as clinics, classroom blocks, roads, and bridges among other facilities.

Social amenities and infrastructure development are some of the major pillars of the National Development Strategy (NDS1). — @DubeMatutu

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High Court overturns Sikhala’s conviction in obstruction of justice case


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By Mary Taruvinga


The High Court has acquitted former opposition MP Job Sikhala in a case he was accused of obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly announced that a Zanu PF activist had murdered Moreblessing Ali.

The State alleged that he posted a video that was intended to mislead the police who were investigating the death of Ali whose body was found dismembered.

Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero sitting as an appeal court ruled that magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa erred when she convicted Sikhala in May this year.

They quashed the lower court’s conviction ordering that the politician be found “not guilty and acquitted.”

Sikhala will however remain in detention as he is on trial on additional charges including incitement to commit violence, and disorderly conduct.

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Unlocking the power of disability inclusion for healthier, sustainable communities – NewsDay

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

IN the face of pressing social, health and environmental crises, such as climate change, infrastructure deterioration, and rapid urbanisation, it is essential to recognise the potential of disability inclusion and management as a catalyst for creating healthier and sustainable communities.

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

This opinion piece aims to highlight the critical importance of generating evidence-based reports laden with issues that advocate timely and regular improvements in policies and infrastructural development to foster a more inclusive society.

Climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and rapid urbanisation are prevailing phenomena that are presenting significant obstacles to populations, inclusive of PWDDs through increased vulnerability, health risks and inaccessible adaptation measures.

Climate change-related events such as extreme weather events, heatwaves and floods, much as they affect the majority population, they too, disproportionately affect PWDDs, who face challenges in skin infections, evacuations or finding safe shelter.

Climate change has a pronounced impact on the health of PWDDs, particularly those with respiratory diseases or heat sensitivity.

It is associated with a rise in air pollution due to factors like wildfires, increased dust storms and industrial emissions.

This can worsen respiratory conditions among individuals with disabilities, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease leading to more frequent and severe symptoms.

Heat-related respiratory distress through rising temperatures and heatwaves can trigger respiratory distress or exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Further, high heat and humidity can make it more challenging for individuals with respiratory disabilities to breathe, leading to increased discomfort, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can have severe health consequences.

Medical experts are increasingly advocating for the implementation of climate-responsive health policies to address the intersection of climate change and public health.

These policies aim to proactively address the health impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, inclusive of PWDDs.

Integrating climatic considerations into healthcare systems, promoting awareness and implementing preventive measures, these policies can enhance preparedness, reduce health risks and foster resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Experts observe that heat mitigation strategies such as the provision of cooling centres by ensuring access to shade and hydration are important; as they reduce the impact of high temperatures on individuals with heat sensitivity.

Public awareness campaigns can educate PWDDs, their caregivers, and healthcare providers about the specific risks and preventive measures related to respiratory diseases and heat sensitivity.

By recognising and addressing the unique vulnerabilities of PWDDs to climate change, policymakers and healthcare professionals can develop targeted interventions and adaptations.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an international treaty that promotes and protects the rights of persons with disabilities.

It is closely linked to the sustainable development goals as it aligns with the goal of leaving no one behind and achieving inclusive and sustainable development for all.

In view of this international convention, there is need to desist from developing inaccessible adaptation measures by policymakers through developing climate adaptation measures, such as the construction of barriers or relocation efforts, that do not consider the specific needs of PWDDs, leaving them more vulnerable and marginalised.

Zimbabwe’s disability laws and policies have shown progress in promoting the rights of PWDDs. The country has ratified the UNCRPD and enacted the Disabled Persons Act, the disability policy is also available, which recognises the rights of PWDDs.

However, challenges remain, including limited accessibility, inadequate implementation and gaps in social inclusion.

Further efforts are needed to ensure effective implementation and meaningful inclusion and empowerment of PWDDs in all spheres of society, aligning with the goals of SDGs.

The devastating Cyclone Idai of March 2019 serves as a stark reminder of the importance of considering the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in climate adaptation measures.

In the aftermath of the cyclone, it became evident that many of the relief efforts and infrastructure rebuilding initiatives did not adequately address the accessibility requirements of PWDDs.

This oversight left them even more vulnerable and marginalised, facing immense challenges in accessing essential services, emergency shelters and healthcare.

The experiences from Cyclone Idai emphasise the critical need for policymakers to prioritise inclusive planning and ensure that climate adaptation measures are designed to be accessible and inclusive for all, including PWDDs.

Deteriorating infrastructure everywhere, marked by gaping potholes, uncollected and unsightly dumpsites along major roads, broken sidewalks, lack of ramps at public and private institutions and inaccessible public transportation, all hinder the mobility and independence of travelling populations inclusive of PWDDs,

Shifting perceptions: From risk to resource

Disability inclusion requires a significant shift in societal perceptions, moving away from viewing disabilities as solely health or environmental risks. Instead, PWDDs should be recognised as valuable contributors and agents of change.

By embracing their skills, talents, and experiences, we can tap into a vast pool of untapped potential, fostering creativity, innovation and resilience within communities.

Creating accessible infrastructure

One crucial aspect of promoting disability inclusion is the creation of inclusive and accessible infrastructure. This includes accessible transportation, public spaces, buildings and information and communication technologies.

By implementing universal design principles, policymakers can ensure that infrastructure is usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. This not only benefit PWDDs, but it also improves the overall liveability and functionality of communities.

Employment and economic empowerment

Creating inclusive employment opportunities is vital for economic transformation and social inclusion.

Policies should be enhanced to promote equal access to education, vocational training and job opportunities for PWDDs.

By recognising their skills and providing necessary accommodations, employers can tap into a diverse talent pool, fostering productivity and innovation. This, in turn, contributes to the economic growth and social cohesion of communities.

Health and well-being

Access to quality healthcare services and inclusive health policies are fundamental for the well-being of PWDDs. It is crucial to address barriers to healthcare, such as physical accessibility, communication, and stigma.

Additionally, targeted interventions and awareness campaigns can promote early detection, prevention, and treatment of disabilities, contributing to better health outcomes for PWDDs and the broader community.

Disaster preparedness and climate resilience

In the face of climate change and environmental risks, it is essential to consider the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in disaster preparedness and climate resilience strategies.

This includes accessible evacuation plans, early warning systems, and ensuring that shelters and relief efforts are inclusive.

By prioritising the inclusion of PWDDs in climate action plans, policymakers can build more resilient and adaptive communities.

Education and awareness

Promoting inclusive education and raising awareness about disability rights and inclusion are crucial components of transformative change.

By fostering inclusive educational environments at all levels, policymakers can empower PWDDs with the knowledge and skills to actively participate in society.

Additionally, awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes, reduce discrimination and foster a culture of inclusivity.

Conclusion

In the face of community social, health and environmental crises, disability inclusion and management hold immense potential for transforming challenges into opportunities.

By reframing and rethinking disability as a resource and embracing the diverse abilities and contributions of PWDDs, Zimbabwe can create healthier and sustainable communities.

Timely improvements in policies and infrastructure, encompassing accessible infrastructure, inclusive employment, healthcare services, climate resilience and education, are vital for realising this vision.

It is imperative for policymakers to prioritise disability inclusion and work collaboratively with stakeholders and PWDDs to create a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of their abilities.

By doing so, Zimbabwe can lead the way towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.

Tonderayi Matonho is a journalist exploring disability inclusivity, participation, integration and management debate across communities. He can be reached at 263-777 052 658, Email: [email protected].

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