By Sydney Kawadza
In the United States politics, there is what is known as the Political Courage Test, an initiative intended to increase transparency in the gruelling tussle to lead the American people.
Formerly known as the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), the test is part of the voter education organization Project Vote Smart’s candidate information program.
The test seeks to obtain answers from election candidates, describing their respective stances on a variety of popular issues in American politics.
This information is then made available to voters in a selection-driven, standardized format.
The Project Vote Smart website states that the test asks candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?”
The Political Courage Test comes into mind as yet another political party was launched in Harare with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission indicating that the country now has more than 200 parties.
The number of political parties in Zimbabwe being an issue for another day, the NewsDay this week asked Freshman Rodger Gwasira-Makoni the same question after he launched the Progressive People’s Party in Harare.
Born of the Chingaira lineage in Makoni District, Manicaland province, Gwasira-Makoni answered the question with an emphatic “yes” that one could only cherish the prospects of taking him to task over his answer.
The next question was obviously his decision to launch yet another party when the six million registered voters out of the Zimbabwe’s population of 15 million is a turf for the well-established Zanu PF and the exciting Citizens Coalition for Change.
“I am learning that (plus 200 political parties) for the first time, but it doesn’t come as a shock to me, it’s a reflection of the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
“It’s a sign of pain and a vote of no confidence to the current government. The difference is evident and anyone can see that the youths have been neglected for so long and no one has us in mind until today.
“Those who talk about youths, they are doing it out of selfish reasons, to use us to advance their interests and continue to amass wealth to themselves and their families,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni added: “I am very much aware of the consequences of having a different view from that of the elite few. But there is no freedom without paying a price.
“Our forefathers paid a supreme price during the liberation struggle. We too, even for me; it would be an honour to pay the price on behalf of the Zimbabwean nation.”
Born of the late Benjamin and Dorcas Gwasira, the 40-year-old politician said he was not new into seeking leadership positions.
“I have been a church leader since I was 19 years old, serving God through His people as an Apostle. In my line of work I have interacted with numerous political leaders at levels one can never think of while assisting in advisory services and counsel in several parts of Africa.
“In 2010, a Woman of God; Pastor Cooper, whom I was meeting for the first time in my life told me she got a Word from God after we finished a conference and it was declared: ‘I had served enough in the Church, it was time to focus fully on politics.’
“As if that was not enough: In January 2018, I visited the SCOAN to meet the Senior and General Overseer Prophet TB Joshua, immediately the Word of God came to me – “this (politics) would be my purpose, to lead the people in politics.””
Gwasira-Makoni said he has been preparing for the task ever since the encounters adding that the time had arrived to start on this journey.
“Beyond contradiction, we know and it is a well proven fact that leaders are Anointed and Appointed by God. We are banking our support on all the masses of Zimbabwean people, particularly on the youth in all our 10 provinces.
“This is their party that seeks to serve Zimbabweans through modern ways, latest technology and inclusivity with profound and prolific ideal methods of equality among the Zimbabwean citizenry,” he said.
On facing the gigantic task of facing Zanu PF strongman and Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the charismatic CCC leader Neslon Chamisa, Gwasira-Makoni acknowledged the battle that lies ahead.
“Yes, they have been in this battle for too long hence the more reason they should all retire and pave way for a vibrant people’s movement – the PPP or they should both consider to be in the opposition,” he said.
“The people are tired of listening to politics of cynicism and violence. They are hungry for; peace, tolerance, progress, and development on Zimbabwean Soil.
“They can’t wait to hear and experience the battle of ideas. At the end of the day that’s what politicking is all about.”
He said in the PPP’s research, it was discovered that Zimbabweans are keen and ready to support new ideas that push the needs of the people.
“I may be a leader on the front-line. But this is a movement: Of The People, By The People, For The People.
“Consequently, this movement came after a thorough consultation with Zimbabweans, it’s safe to say, this is a product of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
One would wonder why Gwasira-Makoni decided to go it alone instead of joining the well-established political parties in Zimbabwe.
“As I have said, this is the people’s choice, so going to join other parties would be denying the people their hope for the change they long for and in dire need. I think it won’t be fair for the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni said solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems lies with the Zimbabweans and working with the PPP will be the key to unlock solutions to the problems.
“But I would to reiterate that politics is rather a game of well communicated, vibrant and realistic ideas. Ideas that are applicable to the challenges on the ground. I think if these ideas are not projected or properly presented to the people, they are likely not to be persuaded,” he said.
Gwasira-Makoni said he was working with veteran politicians and technocrats that are in full support of his vision.
“We have been in consultation with some senior politicians and numerous technocrats whom you will start seeing soon.
“We are advising our supporters to go and register to vote. I would also want to take this opportunity to encourage someone here now, to go and register to vote.”
He dismissed suggestions that he was in politics for personal gains.
“Well, I really can’t change people’s beliefs. But that is the true essence and benefits of a democratic society that we aspire to inspire.
“But as for me, I am into politics for my social responsibility and obligation. More from; ‘what I can do for my country, kind of spirit?’
“I ascribe to the intellect that, if you are not happy about something; Do something to change it. Therefore, to someone out there whether you are inland or across our boarders, please I am pleading with you now to come and register to vote.
“Remember, the process may require your patience and sacrifice, but, please don’t give up… Make sure you have registered, let’s all vote in our millions next year.”
He said his vision is for Zimbabwe to regain its status as a continental leader in all spheres.
“I want to see Zimbabwe becoming the best in Africa – rising to her former glory. The best in: Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Industry, Mining, Innovation, and Infrastructure Development.
“I want to see us build high-rise buildings, our minerals feeding our people, providing free education, providing health care for free and giving our people basic needs like clean water in their homes.
“I want a Zimbabwe where our workers are given meaningful wages. I want Zimbabwe to be a proud nation.
“When introducing themselves they must quickly say; ‘I come from Zimbabwe’, with no stigma or low self-esteem attached on them. Zimbabwe must be home a blessed people, with all other nations coming here in Zimbabwe for their holiday seasons.”
He said the PPP has plenty of ideas to transform Zimbabwe to its true potential.
“Firstly, we need to restore confidence and trust to all our people in their government, government systems – from the judiciary, monetary, fiscus and an education system that is tailor made for Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.”
He said his party would also focus on unleashing the Zimbabwean energy.
“Zimbabweans have become despondent with little or no enthusiasm to work and develop their communities and country at large because of long lost hope.
“Thirdly, we will privatize most parastatal and state enterprises while we will also be working on addressing currency issue by backing the Central Bank with real and enough gold and other minerals.
“But of course, we would have rid of all manner of corruption and the corrupt people in the systems whose interest and intentions now are self-serving, not serving national interest and purpose.”
As Gwasira-Makoni talked of his dreams for Zimbabwe, it also became evident that the country’s plight continues to touch so many people.
With so many people interested in the revival of this forgotten and crumpling giant which, could in one good time, rise like a Phoenix.
Lastly, Zimbabwe has 200 political parties and more are coming, what an exciting journey ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections.
Unicef supports Zimbabwean schools with equipment for radio lessons – NewsDay
BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
UNICEF today handed over 1500 radio sets and 1500 Universal Serial Bus (USBs) with pre-recorded radio lessons to promote offline learning to urban and marginalised communities in the country.
The radio sets and USBs will assist students to cover up for the learning time they lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking during the solar radio handover ceremony today, UNICEF representative Tajudeen Oyewale said his organisation will continue supporting Zimbabwean learners.
“As UNICEF, we are strongly committed that every child has the right to education. With assistance from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UNICEF procured additional 1500 solar radio sets to further promote access to radio lessons in remote areas by secondary school students in disadvantaged communities.
“The radios are equipped with a USB port which enables students to learn through pre-recorded lessons and offline playback of digital files. Taking advantage of this specification, the procurement of 1500 memory sticks uploaded with pre-recorded lessons that were developed and aired on the radio is also in progress. The solar radio sets will be distributed with the memory sticks to 1500 secondary schools across the country, benefitting a total of about 400,000 learners, “he said.
Oyewale said since the advent of COVID-19 induced school closures in March 2020, UNICEF has been supporting various alternatives and blended learning arrangements put in place by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to ensure that children continue accessing education during school closures through the provision of radio lessons introduced in June 2020.
In 2021, UNICEF procured and distributed 3,000 solar radio sets to targeted disadvantaged primary schools and community learning circles across the country. This included schools in Tongogara camp, which were supported with radio lessons.
Oyewale said since the launch of the Catch-Up Strategy in 2021 by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, UNICEF has procured teaching and learning materials for every primary and secondary school in all 72 districts, benefitting about 4.6 million children.
“These include 700,000 Grade 7 self-study guides, 600,000 Mathematics textbooks, 14,000 copies of the Assessment framework, 300,000 Catch-up teaching and learning materials, and 450,000 Grade 5 and 6 Workbooks and 210,000 Non-Formal Education Modules.
“There is no doubt that the arrival of the solar radios at the schools and communities will help learners to catch-up with the standard curriculum”, he said.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Eveline Ndlovu said the past two years has taught the ministry to adopt and adapt to ways of teaching and learning that are digitised and premised on use of technological gadgets.
She said provision of access to education has proved to be quite challenging for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education due to the unforeseen scourges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The radios will also provide alternative learning, remote learning and blended learning to both formal learners and non-formal learners, thereby bridging in the gap caused by the increased drop-out rate due to various disasters that have affected the country’s face to face instruction due to COVID 19 pandemic,” Ndlovu said.
She said her ministry will ensure that learners with hearing challenges access the lessons in script form or on other alternative platforms.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) development director Geraldine O’Callaghan said the United Kingdom government is committed to support all children in Zimbabwe to achieve their potential and to be able to continue learning regardless of where they live.
“In particular, when asked to see what support we could provide to the ministry’s catch-up strategy and implementation framework over the last two years, we have been happy to fund over US$1m to provide materials such as reading and numeracy cards and teachers and school heads guides to first determine the levels of foundational literacy and numeracy needed by students to enable them to learn effectively, and then provide teachers with methods to increase those literacy levels. These materials are now in all primary and secondary schools across the country,” she said.
Footsteps for Africa – Santa Barbara News-Press
Montecito couple’s generous support benefits lives of students and community in Namibia
Because of a generous six-figure donation from Montecito residents Tiara and Alan Salzman, living conditions have improved greatly for hundreds of children who live in Namibia.
The funds went to Footsteps for Africa, a nonprofit that provides aid to disadvantaged children.
The organization was able to build new bunkhouses, a kitchen and dining hall for 300 students and more than 100 children living on school grounds at Oshamukweni Combined School.
“Upon learning the critical needs of these disadvantaged children in Namibia, and as a mother myself, nothing was more important to us than to support Footsteps for Africa in helping these children succeed,” Mrs. Salzman told the News-Press during a phone interview from Hawaii, where she and her husband were vacationing with their blended family of seven.
The Footsteps for Africa team held a ribbon-cutting ceremony recently to reveal the finished project to students, teachers, government officials and community members from 11 surrounding villages in the rural area. The new facilities now serve as a gathering place for the larger community and encourage greater participation and awareness of Oshamukweni School.
“Namibia is the third richest country in Africa, but it has the third highest levels of income inequality of any country in the world. For this reason, Footsteps for Africa has focused most of its efforts serving children in the most impoverished areas in northern Namibia by building school structures and supporting clean water and sustainable food programs,” said Mr. Salzman.
New facilities unveiled as part of the project include Salzman Kitchen, a 2,000 square-foot building equipped with food preparation equipment, showers, restrooms and cold storage; Salzman Hall, a 5,000 square-foot dining and congregation hall that will serve not only the school but the entire community of several thousand people; and two bunkhouses, each housing 25 students.
“Due to their generosity, Footsteps for Africa has bettered the lives of those in this village,” said Isak Hamatwi, director of education at Ohangwena Regional Council. “The schooling life and learning environment at Oshamukweni Combined School will no longer be a life of struggle but a life befitting a life in an independent country.”
Namola Abraham, a ninth-grade student, told the Salzmans: “Namibia has a lot of schools. Among all of those schools, Footsteps for Africa chose to help our school, and we thank you for that. I am very happy for the (Salzman Kitchen) because we now no longer have to cook on fires outside.”
The Salzmans’ connection to Footsteps for Africa came through Mrs. Cameron’s brother, Austin Cameron, who founded the organization in 2010 after seeing the plight of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) while he lived in Zimbabwe and Zambia for two years and while doing anthropological research in Namibia.
“Lack of educational opportunities or the resources to obtain an education was a major problem in virtually every area Austin visited, and it became his passion to assist as many OVC and surrounding communities as possible,” said Mrs. Salzman.
Footsteps for Africa has provided aid to more than 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children in more than 50 schools and orphanages in Namibia and Zimbabwe since 2010. The organization currently has teams in the U.S., Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Services provided include importation and distribution of goods, the building of facilities and implementation of medical and food programs.
“Through partnerships with other aid organizations, government relationships and the commitment to physically being on site for every initiative, Footsteps for Africa works efficiently and ensures that aid reaches the people who need it the most,” said Mr. Salzman.
Footsteps for Africa, which is based in Utah, is continuing to fund and embark on improvement projects across Namibia, according to the Salzmans.
Donations can be made at www.footstepsforafrica.com, and will go directly to resources such as:
— School uniforms: A $100 donation provides one child with a uniform and school supplies for the year.
— Sanitary products: Footsteps for Africa aims to provide washable sanitary pad kits to 1,000 adolescent girls, along with education to battle school absenteeism and “period shaming.” A $10 donation covers one sanitary kit per girl.
— Water supply: Footsteps for Africa will install 15 water wells, solar pumps and agriculture water tanks near Oshamukweni School, ultimately bringing reliable access to clean water to S20,000 people. The fundraising target is $250,000.
— Bunkhouses: Furnished bunkhouses for disadvantaged students at Oshamukweni Combined School as well as other schools in the region, including Ondobe Secondary School in Oshikango, Namibia. The fundraising target is $50,000 per bunkhouse or $2,000 per student.
“What Footsteps is doing is providing direct assistance to help children with education, food and housing, all of which are pathways to better lives,” said Mr. Salzman.
Margaret Dongo gives account of liberation war sex abuses – The Zimbabwe Mail
WAR veteran Margaret Dongo says the story of sexual abuse of women ex-combatants by their commanders during the armed struggle in the military camps is yet to be told fully.
Dongo lifted the lid on the sexual abuses during an interview with Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chairman Trevor Ncube on his weekly programme, In Conversation with Trevor whose excerpts are set to be published in our sister paper, The Standard.
“The truth has never been told about the history of the struggle, vis-à-vis women. I hope that one day, we will have some people who will be bold enough to stand up and talk about it,” she said.
“It’s a pity that very little is going to come from women themselves because they have been marginalised intentionally to make sure that they are not able to speak for themselves.
“Some people were abused by the bosses themselves. They (bosses) could have more than three or four girlfriends. When he (boss) comes from Maputo, he said: ‘Go and get me a girl from the camp.’
“We used to have female commanders at the camp that could blow the whistle calling women for a parade to look for a girl for the bosses. You were paraded not because they wanted all of us, but one. Those, who knew that they would be victims, would run away.”
Dongo said there were camps where pregnant women and those with babies were “dumped” after the abuse.
“Women lived under a terrible environment. They (women) ended up with babies not because they wanted to, they were raped. We used to have a camp called Osibhisa, where you were dumped when you got pregnant.
“If there were any attacks, you needed to have your baby, gun, and run away. Those women suffered and there was no special food for those children. They could get the feed here and there.”
In 2006, former Education minister Fay Chung published a book titled Reliving the Second Chimurenga that exposed some of the abuses by the guerilla war commanders.
In her book, Chung fingered late Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army commander Josiah Tongogara in the abuse of women at Pungwe III, a military camp on the banks of Pungwe River in Mozambique. – News Day Zimbabwe
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