News Roundup

NGOs face charges

President Robert Mugabe’s government has reportedly launched a fresh onslaught on civic organisations by demanding illegal levies and putting them under surveillance.

Mugabe accuses charity organisations of plotting to overthrow his regime. On Sunday, Crisis Coalition said that authorities across the country had imposed charges of up to $1,000 to allow them to operate.

The practice is “theft and extortion,” they said, adding that many NGOs also reported “direct surveillance” byintelligence agents and the military.

Harare can’t cope

The city of Harare is failing to cope with waste as the populations wells due to rapid urbanisation, city council officials said last week.

The city’s environmental regulatory planner, Clifford Muzofa, said litter was difficult to manage because population growth was no longer compatible with available space.

Harare is home to 1.4 million people with an annual growth rate of 5.8 percent.

ZMC hunts The Zimbabwean

The Zimbabwe Media Commission has intensified its onslaught against The Zimbabwean by getting the police involved.

ZMC chairperson, Godfrey Majonga, reported The Zimbabwean and the Sunday Times to the ZRP in order to bar the newspapers from entering and circulating their papers in the country because they are not registered with the media regulatory body.

In an affidavit deposed to police at Harare Central police station, Majonga accused the Sunday Times and other foreign newspapers of carrying out news gatherings in the country without registration or licensing in contravention of the country’s obnoxious media laws.

Dominated by men

Harare is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, a Harare City Council (HCC) survey has just revealed.

“This is mainly because the males have come from the rural areas to find work here while their wives are left behind,” said a senior HCC official.

This is despite the fact that the nation’s population is about 52 percent female, according to the Central Statistical Office.

Health sector understaffed

In the face of an escalating typhoid outbreak, the Health Services Board said health workers should be exempt from the state hiring freeze in order to improve service.

Health Services Board Chairman, Dr. Lovemore Mbengeranwa, told Parliament’s committee on health that health care institutions were severely understaffed.

He said the Health Ministry’s staff complement of 24,000 health professionals was far below World Health Organization minimum standards.

For the ministry to function effectively, it needs 47,000 workers, of whom 31 000 must be professionals such as doctors nurses and pharmacists, Mbengeranwa said.

Ministers get AIDS: Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe last week admitted for the first time that some of his political allies have died of AIDS.

The statement was made at the launch of a programme urging parliamentarians to lead by example in fighting the disease.

“Comrades I have worked with perished, and quite a number of them had HIV and AIDS,” Mugabe said. “I have witnessed the challenges that both they and our people face as a result of HIV and AIDS, and yet I do not recall any lawmaker who has come out in the open about their HIV status.”

MPs looted inputs

Cabinet ministers and some Zanu (PF) and GMB officials were involved in the looting of subsidized farming inputs provided by the state for poor farmers through the Grain Marketing Board, according to Vice President Joice Mujuru. They are believed to have resold inputs including ammonium nitrate and maize seed to unsuspecting farmers. The vice president said she recently informed President Robert Mugabe about the development.

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