Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: Alexandria, arts, contemporary dance, Egyptian, folk dance, photography, Robben Island
Categories : Arts Festival, Dance, HIFA 2013, photography
HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) 2013 started today. I had a relatively quiet day photographing 3 shows.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: arts, contemporary dance, dance, drama, HIFA, photography
Categories : HIFA 2013, photography
One of the larger and newer buildings in Harare is the National Social Security (pronounced NaSSA) building. It was built in the Zim dollar days so they were making a fair bit of money then. This was not difficult given that it is compulsory to give 3% of the labour force’s salary, matched by 3% from the company, in one’s employ to NSSA on a monthly basis and in those days we had a reasonably robust economy. So given the vastly reduced income base now that there is some 90% unemployment in the country, one could forgive NSSA being overly keen to ensure that dues are paid. But I was more than a little annoyed last week to get a phone call from one of the NSSA inspectors requesting to see the wage returns.
“Is that Mr Roberts? This is Brian from NSSA, I need to inspect your returns”.
“But I had an audit last year in December, why do you want to see them again?”
“We are doing them every 3 months. When will you be back in the office?”
I said that he would just have to wait the 2 hours or so that I was going to be in town.
On getting back to the office I produced the required documentation.
“Why are you doing inspections every 3 months?”
“It’s our policy” (meaning there is nothing I can do about it).
“Why not do it every 6 months or a year and save on time, travel and costs?”
“You will have to ask my superiors that”.
This was a blind ally so I tried a bit of information gathering instead.
“How many of you do this in Harare?”
“And do you do anything else?”
“No, this is what we do”
This sounded like a job from hell so I persisted; “How many customers do you have to see a day?”
“Oh, about 10 to 15″
“And how long have you been doing this?”
“Two years” and Brian rolled his eyes.
I was beginning to quite like this guy despite the annoyance I felt at the incredible waste of resources used in the quarterly visits. NSSA does actually pay out pensions to retired and widowed people so I guess it does fill a function. Fortunately as I am over 50 I am exempt from having to pay dues. In the past some high-profile politically “connected” farmers have point-blank refused to pay the dues and so far as I know were never brought to book. I should have put this to Brian but I had other more pressing issues to deal with.
“So I guess I will see you or a colleague in another 3 months time to look at another 3 pieces of paper”.
“Yes”, he replied, giving me a wan smile and clumped down the stairs on his way to another appointment.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: dues, government, NSSA, zimbabwe dollar
Categories : Social commentary
Tomorrow Zimbabwe will be 33. And there will be celebrations. Those cynical people who have never visited this amazing country may ask what we have to celebrate. I will answer them.
- We have 3 big South African supermarket chains with outlets that would not look amiss in South Africa – spotting the Zimbabwean produce can be a challenge though.
- We have plenty of fuel at competitive prices.
- We have the biggest fertilizer company in South Africa selling their top quality fertilizer.
- We have manageable inflation. Officially it is 4.5% but it may be a little higher than that in reality.
- 10% of the population is employed!
- We have a stable currency (not our own) in the US dollar
- We have the world’s best climate along with Malta.
- We have been a democracy longer than South Africa. There is a slight financial problem in funding the next general election this year but we will make a plan for the shortfall of $100 million or so.
I mean really, with all this, who needs an economy?
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: economy, employment, inflation, South Africa, supermarket, weather, Zimbabwe
Categories : Humour, Social commentary
Hey, I am Zak and new around here but as I am so cute I have a blog all to myself! Check it out, it is really upbeat, witty and clever and loaded with great photos of me!
Comments : 5 Comments »
Tags: puppy, Rhodesian Ridgeback
Categories : Pets, photography
There’s an old song by Jim Croce (long deceased) where a character is described as being “… meaner than a junkyard dog”. I have no idea why a junkyard dog should be mean as I have never come across one. Ella, or Erra as the Shona speakers pronounce the name, is no junkyard dog. She is old, very over-weight and very gentle and I would think a Lab x Rottweiler. I have being going to the particular pole-yard where she lives on Harare Drive for quite a few years now and she sometimes comes to say hello, her tail wagging gently.
Ella has not been badly treated at all by Zimbabwean standards but there has not been a lot of love in her life. I watched on one visit as she walked up to someone her tail wagging expectantly but he didn’t even notice her and her head sagged, her tail dropped and she walked off dejectedly to lie in the sun. So when a couple of weeks back I noticed that she was covered in ticks I decided to do what I could and bought some spot-on Frontline® tick chemical and called in on my way out-of-town. I discovered that no-one actually owns Ella but the person who took responsibility for her was genuinely pleased that I’d gone to the trouble so I showed him the container and applied the contents to Ella. It emerged that she is only fed sadza (cooked maize meal) which would account for her large girth. There was little more I could do except keep an eye on her.
I called in yesterday on business and she was sleeping by the building that serves as an office. I couldn’t see any ticks on her and she didn’t respond to my call so I left her dreaming her old dog dreams. As I got in the truck to drive off her “owner” reached down and gave her an unselfconscious pat. She didn’t move.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: dog, dreams, jim croce, old dog, pets, pole-yard
Categories : Pets, Social commentary
Referenda (that’s plural of referendum) are rare in Zimbabwe, unlike in Switzerland where they are distinctly popular. So Saturday’s referendum to accept or discard the new draft constitution should be a big deal but I am predicting the turnout will be poor.
All three of the major political parties have endorsed the draft constitution and are pushing for a yes vote so it’s pretty much fait accompli. I have had a look at the document (easily available online) but at some 88 pages of a pdf file have just cherry-picked the more pertinent points.
Despite being born here I have no birthright to Zimbabwe citizenship:
Chapter 3. Section 36
- Persons are Zimbabwean citizens by birth if they are born in Zimbabwe and, when they are born:
- either their mother or their father was a Zimbabwean citizen; or
- any of their grandparents was a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent.
As both my parents were British I don’t qualify so I have to look under Section 38.
2. Any person who has been continuously and lawfully resident in Zimbabwe for at least ten years, whether before or after the effective date, and who satisfies the conditions prescribed by an Act of Parliament, is entitled, on application, to be registered as a Zimbabwean citizen.
Which seems to indicate that I have to apply! As I already am a citizen under the previous constitution this might not actually apply but I find it amazing that I cannot be a citizen by birth. There cannot be too many countries in the world where this applies.
The death penalty still stands which it did not in a previous version (it has been a long and tortuous path to this version).
Chapter 4. Section 48. Right to life
- Every person has the right to life.
- A law may permit the death penalty to be imposed only on a person convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances, and:
- the law must permit the court a discretion whether or not to impose the penalty;
- the penalty may be carried out only in accordance with a final judgment of a competent court;
- the penalty must not be imposed on a person:the penalty must not be imposed or carried out on a woman; and
- who was less than twenty-one years old when the offence was committed; or
- who is more than seventy years old;
- the penalty must not be imposed or carried out on a woman; and
- the person sentenced must have a right to seek pardon or commutation of the penalty from the President.
I do find it bizarre that the death penalty cannot be carried out on a woman – surely this is preferential treatment and not “equality”.
Under section 72. Rights to Agricultural Land:
- Where agricultural land, or any right or interest in such land, is required for a public purpose, including:
- settlement for agricultural or other purposes;
- land reorganisation, forestry, environmental conservation or the utilisation of wild life or other natural resources; or
- the relocation of persons dispossessed as a result of the utilisation of land for a purpose referred to in subparagraph (a) or (b);
the land, right or interest may be compulsorily acquired by the State by notice published in the Gazette identifying the land, right or interest, whereupon the land, right or interest vests in the State with full title with effect from the date of publication of the notice.
- Where agricultural land, or any right or interest in such land, is compulsorily acquired for a purpose referred to in subsection (2):All agricultural land which:
- no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition, except for improvements effected on it before its acquisition;
- no person may apply to court for the determination of any question relating to compensation, except for compensation for improvements effected on the land before its acquisition, and no court may entertain any such application; and
- the acquisition may not be challenged on the ground that it was discriminatory in contravention of section 56.
- was itemised in Schedule 7 to the former Constitution; or
- before the effective date, was identified in terms of section 16B(2)(a)(ii) or (iii) of the former Constitution;
continues to be vested in the State, and no compensation is payable in respect of its acquisition except for improvements effected on it before its acquisition.
The government can still compulsorily acquire agricultural land (not urban). This is by any standard non-democratic and contrary to Chapter 1, Section 3 – Founding Values and Principles:
2. The principles of good governance, which bind the State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level, include:
- a multi-party democratic political system;
If this all seems heavy going – it is, so check out a summary at the kubatana website.
It is worth noting that this draft constitution has only been available to the general public without access to the internet (most of Zimbabwe) for 3 weeks when it was published as a supplement to The Herald newspaper. This is not nearly enough time to analyse and digest it to any significant degree so I must conclude that the government has a vested interest in rushing it through. Why are the other political parties, who were at the end of last year very much against this constitution, now supporting it? I have no idea what sort of deal has been cut behind closed doors to prompt this sort of U-turn.
When I dropped Shelton off at the University of Zimbabwe I asked him if he was going to vote. He paused and then said; “No. It’s fait accompli and I suspect most people will boycott it. It is very flawed”.
Will I vote? No, I don’t think so. I agree that it is fait accompli and the best way of registering my displeasure is to contribute to what I hope will be a dismal turnout.
P.S. It is now Saturday, the day of the referendum. David Colthart, the minister of Education, Arts and Culture, has just been quoted on the BBC. He said we really have no choice for if we don’t accept this less-than-perfect constitution we will revert to the truly odious previous (i.e. the current) one. David Colthart is a lawyer by training, a constitutional lawyer no less. So I guess he has a point. It was also remarked on the same program that adoption of the new constitution is no guarantee that it will be respected by the powers that be.
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: birthright, compensation, democracy, draft constitution, land acquisition, referendum, Zimbabwe
Categories : Social commentary