Zimbabwe Update

zimbabwe_fagThe December edition of the Zimbabwe Update covers the governments failed application for support from the Global Fund, Amnesty Internationals report on maternity care in Hopley, Harare and the visa application process for Zimbabweans living in South Africa. We also cover the growing civil society concerns about the proposed 2011 elections and continuing challen

You can find more details about ACTSAs campaign work on Zimbabwe on the ACTSA website

Global Fund Zimbabwe proposal rejected

Zimbabwe will not be receiving money from the latest round of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The international financing body rejected Zimbabwes request for US$170 million for HIV and US$50 million for TB. A spokesperson for the Global Fund, Jon Liden said that it was not unusual for bids to fail and that Zimbabwe would still be receiving funding from the organisation for current projects. Mdecins Sans Frontires criticised the decision and said that the rejection will prevent a move to better antiretroviral drugs and mean possible stock shortages.

At the time of writing a detailed explanation for the rejection had not been received, although a number of suggestions have been put forward. Gilles Van Cutsen, from MSF, speculated that the Global Fund was forced to reject proposals due to being underfunded by international donors for its work in the next three years. RadioVop Zimbabwe quoted an unnamed official in the Ministry of Health as saying that the proposal was rejected over fears of fresh political instability caused by the proposed election in 2011.

Amnesty International report on new-born deaths

New-born babies are dying due to poor conditions and lack of maternity care at Hopley settlement in Harare claim Amnesty International (AI). While conducting research in Hopley AI identified 21 newborn mortalities between January and May 2010. This is very high given that there are only around 5000 people in the settlement and AI fear that there may be more deaths that have gone unrecorded.

The residents of Hopley are mostly people who were evicted from Porta Farm during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005. Many fewer houses were built at Hopley than promised under the rebuilding programme Operation Garikai and they were not connected to any water or sanitation network, many people just received empty plots on which they have constructed plastic shacks.

Numerous barriers to accessing healthcare have been identified, the nearest maternity clinic is eight kilometres away in Glen Norah and many residents can not afford the $50 registration fee. There is a general, council-run clinic in Hopley but it suffers from erratic supplies of medicine and has no running water. As well as the unsanitary conditions a number of women reported struggling to keep newborns warm in unheated shacks.

Amnesty International held a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, along with Zimbabwean groups, and issued a memorandum to the President, Robert Mugabe. At the time the report was published they had not received a government response.

Deadline looms for Zimbabweans in South Africa

Zimbabweans in South Africa have until December 31st to ensure they have the correct paperwork to remain in the country. Thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa without accreditation are applying to for visas. The process is being held up by the number of people who need documents processing and the limited capacity for Zimbabwe to issue passports and other identity documents. In response to the backlog South Africa has had to make some concessions, accepting receipts of application in place of actual Zimbabwean passports and removing some of the requirements.

After meeting with the Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, Gabriel Shumba, said that the ministry had decided to waive the requirement to have fingerprints taken and applications can now be submitted from the queues Mobile stations have been deployed to reach farm workers in the field and to further encourage people to come forward there is an amnesty on illegal South African documents if they are handed over. Since September the South African government has received 116,000 applications for residency and has so far vetted 37,000 of them.

Women organise against early elections

A national womens organisation hope to delay elections until the Global Political Agreement is fully implemented. The Womens Coalition of Zimbabwe plan to protest to SADC and African ambassadors and heads of state about the holding of elections before reforms are made. They are working on a roadmap to elections that they will present to regional leaders, including Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa and chief facilitator of the GPA.

Many civil society organisations are worried that elections without reform will mean a repeat of the violence seen in 2008. A new report from the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZDHR) shows that there were more politically motivated rapes in 2008 than in any other elections from 2000 onwards.

Parties in the inclusive government continue to wrangle over elections with MDC-T suggesting that only a presidential election should be held. Legislators are said to be unhappy at the idea of early elections, as they were not expecting to face election again until 2013. Zanu PF held a national conference at which President Mugabe restated that the inclusive government had to come to an end with new elections in 2011.

Dignity! Period

Access to sanitary products for women in Zimbabwe is worse than ever, for many women sanitary protection is a luxury they can no longer afford.

Women have been forced to use newspaper, rags or leaves as a subsitute for sanitary pads which can cause serious infections for which there is no available medication.

ACTSAs Dignity! Period campaign provides sanitary towels to women in Zimbabwe, just 3 a month provides sanitary towels for 3 women for a year.

Visit the Dignity! Period pages of the ACTSA website to make a donation or learn more.

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