Commitment: Key to Ending Trafficking in Persons (TiPs)

Lazarus Sauti

Most families in Ngwazani, a remote village in Buhera North District, cannot afford a decent meal per day, thanks to gripping poverty and drought induced by the El Nino phenomenon. The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas (2015) testifies that poverty in the country is mainly a rural phenomenon and the overall poverty prevalence in Buhera was 78 percent. Buhera generally receives low amounts of rainfall, hence all districts in Buhera grapple with high poverty prevalence exceeding 65 percent. To development partners, people living in Buhera need assistance as soon as possible, but to human traffickers, Buhera is a good example of a lucrative source of cheap labour. Buhera represents the type of areas likely to be gripped by the problem of human trafficking.

Poverty and the general economic crisis in the country have made Zimbabweans more vulnerable to Trafficking in Persons (TiPs). Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines TiPs as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” Zimbabwe is one country that is badly affected by TiPs, with about 99 600 estimated victims, as per the latest Global Slavery Index. The index, which also examined practices such as forced labour, human trafficking, debt bondage, child exploitation and forced marriage, ranked the country at number five.

Sadly, girls and women are the most vulnerable when it comes to this serious violation of human rights and subversion of societal values. In an interview with the Herald, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Zimbabwe, Dr David Okello, said human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, the children and weak people around the world for different purposes including forced labour, physical and psychological abuse. The Soroptimist, a global volunteer organisation working to improve the lives of women and girls through programmes leading to social and economic empowerment, also notes that women and girls are most vulnerable and typically trafficked into the commercial sex industry.

Co-ordinated and consistent measures key
Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre (HIFC) director, Virginia Muwanigwa, conversely, believes harmonised and consistent measures play important roles in curbing TiPs as well as improve the lives of girls and women and local communities in Zimbabwe and throughout the world. The United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally and this approximate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. ILO added that while it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, it is noted, the estimate implies that currently there are millions of human trafficking victims in the world.

To address this scourge, the United Nations General Assembly has put in place a Global Plan of Action to combat Trafficking in Persons, urging governments worldwide to take “co-ordinated and consistent measures to defeat the bane”. The plan also calls for integrating the fight against TiPs into the UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development as well as strengthen security worldwide.

In response to this global call, Zimbabwe launched its Trafficking in Persons National Plan of Action on July 26, 2016 to operationalise the Trafficking in Persons Act which was passed in 2014 to fight against human trafficking in the country. The plan is underpinned by the 4Ps – Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership – and will be implemented over two years from 2016 to 2018. It prioritises strengthening tools for the identification of victims of trafficking, which is the baseline for measuring an effective response.

At the launch of the Trafficking in Persons National Plan of Action, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa noted that Zimbabwe is a source and transit country for human trafficking. “The launch of the TiPs National Plan of Action demonstrates the government’s commitment to fight human trafficking and to protect its citizens, especially children and women who are most at risk of trafficking,” he said.

Advocacy and awareness building among the public are essential
Journalist and head of Journalism at Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), Gibson Nyikadzino, says TiPs is under-reported, and when reported, the quality is very low. He, therefore, urges the media to support the government and other stakeholders in combating this modern slavery. “The media, as the voice of the voiceless, is undoubtedly one of the key partners in raising awareness and combating TiPs, a ‘cancer’ stalling socio-economic development,” he says. “Accordingly, it is important that the media is able to clearly interpret and delineate TiPs against smuggling of migrants, and report accurate information, always mindful of fundamental human rights as well as victim sensitivity.”

Speaking during the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Training of Trainers for Media Practitioners on TiP workshop held in Botswana in June 2016, SADC Programme Officer responsible for research, information and documentation under the programme that deals with TiP issues, Mukundi Mutasa, also said media should be committed to raise awareness on trafficking so that “we prevent TIPs from ever happening or even spiralling out of control.”

Address root causes
More commitment is needed in tackling poverty, unemployment, lack of social security, gender inequality, conflict and violence – the root causes of human trafficking. In one of his recent media instalments, Dr David Okello described TiPs as a ‘parasitic crime’ and added that it feeds on vulnerability, thrives on times of uncertainty and profits from inaction. He also said human traffickers as well as migrant smugglers are taking advantage of misery to make a profit and criminals prey on people in need and without support, and they see migrants, especially children, as easy targets for exploitation, violence and abuse. Therefore, the essential strategy would be for the government to propagate economic development, fair trade, education of the poor rural dwellers and to implement sustainable pro-poor policies that add value to the economy and reduce poverty among citizens.

A strong legal basis needed
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on the occasion of the 2016 UN World Day against Trafficking in Person, called every nation to overcome TiPs by supporting and protecting victims while prosecuting the criminals. “On the World Day against TiPs, let us resolve to act as one in the name of justice and dignity for all,” he said, urging all countries to establish a strong legal basis for action against human trafficking. Ki-moon also encouraged all states to tighten border controls and adopt and implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its protocol on human trafficking as well as all core international human rights instruments.

Frankly, if Zimbabwe and other countries truly want to end TiPs, the governments should be committed to developing and engaging their communities. Healing is in communities and intervening TIPs needs to start before people become victims. Communities should be conscious that trafficking does not only occur across borders, but also happens inside a country. Further, every member of community should be committed to end TiPs since it is stalling socio-economic transformation – HerZimbabwe.

ACCZ fights child marriages, GBV

Lazarus Sauti

The Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) is organising a youth and women conference to be held in October at Masuka Christian High School in Tynwald, Harare in a bid to curb early marriages as well as gender-based violence.

The event, under the theme “The Role of The Church in Shifting the Paradigm on Youth and Women Engagement in Peace Building and Development”, is expected to attract over 5 000 apostolic youth and women drawn from all provinces.

Addressing journalist at the New Ambassador Hotel in Harare on Friday, ACCZ Gender and Child Care chairperson, Bishop Busani Sibanda, said the purpose-in-life of the youths and women conference is to teach apostolic members to guard against child marriages and gender-based violence.

He also said the youth and women constitute the majority of people in ACCZ and as such, the Gender and Childcare Unit is mandated with the task of creating a conducive environment that champions their development.

“Based on the large demographic profile under our organisation, we discovered that the majority of people in the affiliate member churches are women, the youths and children.

“Cognisant to this large demographic dividend, we established the Gender and Child Care as a unit under ACCZ and the unit is mandated with the task of creating an enabling environment that champions the development of women, children and the youths,” Bishop Sibanda said.

He also said the unit constantly strives to scout for solutions that empower, protect and champion the well-being of women, children and the youths since they are vulnerable to poverty and other social vices in churches as well as mainstream society.

To foster child development, Bishop Sibanda added, the unit successfully conducted anti-child marriages crusade under the theme “Zero Tolerance to Child Marriages, Iyi Ndiyo Sungano YaVapositori”.

“The campaign was conducted based on the hypothesis “Engage to Change Behaviour and Perception” and hinged on the premise that if people know more about the causes and effects of child marriages to families, churched as well as the nation, they can do more to eradicate this practice, creating resilient, empowered and progresses communities,” he added.

Bishop Sibanda also said: “As a Christian-oriented organisation, ACCZ believes in dialogue as a remedy to a lot of problems hence the upcoming conference is consciously tailored to allow interaction between males and females fostering gender equity.

“The conference also presents stakeholders with the unique opportunity to interact with the large number of women and young people so that they can discuss various issues in the areas of women and youth empowerment, education, business, health issues, gender-based issues and child marriages.”

Street kids, OVCs empowered

Lazarus Sauti

A local private voluntary organisation in Harare, Justice Mish Humanitarian Aid (JMHA), is taking bold steps in helping street kids as well as orphans in Harare, Shamva and Chinhoyi.

The organisation, founded by Prophet Justice Mish of the House of All Nations (HOAN) Christ Church, has embarked on a humanitarian assistance scheme meant to empower street kids and orphans.

In an interview with 263chat, JMHA spokesperson, Abel Mavura, says his organisation had researched and identified the needs of beneficiaries before providing them with food and clothing materials.

“We carried our research and identified that some street kids and OVCs in Harare, Chinhoyi and Shamva are living in abject poverty due to circumstances beyond their control,” he says.

“This triggered JMHA not to hide its head in the sand, but to help the needy, especially street children and orphans to lift them from abject poverty.”

Mavura adds that the aim is not only to empower street kids and orphans, but to please God

“Hebrews 13:16 encourages us not to neglect to do go. It also urges us to share what we have for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

“When the Bible talks about helping the needy and pleasing God, we have to act as it is important,” he says.

Mavura also says the mandate of the church is to be the salt of the Earth and the House of All Nations, therefore, is simply fulfilling this obligation.

He adds that in line with Prophet Mish’s vision to empower streets kids and OVCs in the country, JMHA will be adopting some street kids and rehabilitate them.

“Death of parents, poverty and family breakdown are some of the factors pushing many children onto the streets.

“Sadly, these children fall prey to people who exploit them.

“Hence our objective to assist some of them, especially those with potential with school fees as well as provide medication to those in need,” Mavura says.

He also stresses that children need to grow within a community and that the involvement of the community is vital in helping the traumatised children to regain their confidence.

The Justice Mish Humanitarian Aid project started in 2014 in response to the increasing numbers of street children and orphans in the country and more than 50 street kids in Harare and Chinhoyi have so far benefitted from this programme.

The organisation also donated some goodies in Shamva recently to orphans and other vulnerable children.

Policy to solve energy crisis

Lazarus Sauti

More than 60 percent of households in Zimbabwe do not have access to electricity, says Partson Mbiriri, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Power and Development.

Opening the National Dialogue for a consumer driven renewable energy policy hosted by Ruzivo Trust at Holiday Inn, Harare recently, Mbiriri added that these people use candles, kerosene, maize cobs and wood for heating and lighting.

“60 percent of households in Zimbabwe do not have access to electricity and they depend on wood, kerosene and diesel-powered system for heating, lighting and essential food processing tasks such as milling grain,” he said.

Mbiriri, however, said the country is in the process of crafting a renewable energy policy to close the gap.

He added that the policy will provide the sector with guidelines as well as an avenue for creating a more conducive environment for attracting investment.

He also said the policy will facilitate the adoption of a green economy in the sector as well as enhance socio-economic development in the country.

“We are crafting a renewable energy policy after realising that the availability of sustainable, clean and renewable sources of energy is an essential driver for economic expansions,” he said.

Mbiriri also said the national dialogue for a consumer driven renewable energy policy is significant as it helps Zimbabweans to exchange ideas on issues that hinder access to energy.

Once we have this dialogue, he added, it is of paramount importance that we should not have parallel processes.

“In fact, we should converge to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all as provided by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7,” said Mbiriri.

He also said the country needs reliable data to come up with a good policy that will not only address energy needs in the country, but also enhance local, regional and international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy and technologies, including renewable energy, energy efficiency as well as advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies.

Further, Mbiriri urged all stakeholders in the energy fraternity to focus on profiling appropriate solutions to all challenges inhibiting the adoption of renewable energy in the country.

“It is high time stakeholders in the energy fraternity support the government in addressing the energy crisis in the country,” he said. “The government is the biggest stakeholder, but it should not do everything. Other players should support and reinforce its efforts.”

Clean energy technologies tonic to development

Lazarus Sauti

Most Africans are dependent on solid fuels such as wood, coal, crop residue/waste and cattle dung to prepare daily meals on traditional mud stoves or open fires due to lack of electricity.

This lack of access to electricity is holding back economic expansion on the continent.

“Only about a third of the population have access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some countries, like Zambia, only 5 percent of rural and 26 percent of the urban population have electricity,” says expert in distributed renewable energy and Sierra Leone Power for All campaign director, Aminata Dumbuya.

She adds that in Sierra Leone, less than 12 percent of people in the country’s cities have access to electricity, while in rural areas, where most people live, the figure is less than 1 percent.

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MISC) 2014 also notes that more than 70 percent of households in Zimbabwe still rely on solid fuels as their primary cooking and heating energy sources.

Such inefficient cooking and heating practices produce high levels of household (indoor) air pollution which includes a range of health damaging pollutants such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.

In poorly ventilated dwellings, wisps of smoke in and around the home can exceed acceptable levels for fine particles 100-fold, and this increases the risk of pneumonia in children as well as chronic bronchitis and other diseases in women.

“Exposure is particularly high among women and young children because they spend most time near the domestic hearth,” says Engineer Oswell Chakwanda. “Sadly, household pollution is killing more people every year than Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria combined.”

He also says the smoke springing during cooking and heating procedures consists of short-lived, but high impact climate change agents like black carbon which are light-absorbing carbon particles.

“These short-lived, but high impact climate change agents are more intoxicating in the short-term than greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane,” adds Engineer Chakwanda.

However, energy and climate experts believe embracing and popularising clean energy technologies related to recycling and renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower and biofuels) among rural populations is the most effective way to reduce negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements over and above the sustainable use of resources.

“The adoption and popularisation of clean energy technologies not only lower the risk of pneumonia in children and chronic bronchitis and other ailments in women, but are critical in attaining universal energy access in a sustainable way,” says ZERO Regional Environment Organisation Director, Shephard Zvigadza.

Engineer Chakwanda adds that the provision of clean energy sources propagates inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development in Zimbabwe and other developing nations.

“The provision of clean energy technologies is an enabler to health, education and agriculture. It provides a strategic alternative to conventional energy sources, considering the impacts of climate change and pressures of increased energy demand,” he says.

Engineer Chakwanda urges policy makers in Zimbabwe to take a cue from China, Japan and United States in switching to clean energy technologies.

“China, the world’s biggest single investor in clean energy technologies, installed 11 gigawatts of solar, and there are plans in the works for just as much this year,” he says. “China is also pouring money into cleaner coal – a form of clean technology that many greens disdain, but that could be enormously beneficial.”

Fiona Mundonga of Ruzivo Trust, a research-based organisation that undertakes issues to do with clean energy technologies, also says renewable energies such as solar and wind power are accessible, affordable, reliable, sustainable and timely and can effectively help address energy requirements such as lighting.

“Solar household systems, which are common in both urban and rural areas, for instance, help in tackling energy requirements as far as lighting and other utilities are concerned,” she adds.

Chiedza Mazaiwana, Power for All Zimbabwe Campaign leader, believes there must be a shift in the acceptance of renewable power if the country is to attain energy access in line with Sustainable Development Goal 7 which seeks to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.”

Target 1 of SDG7 endeavours “by 2030, to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services” while target 2 of the same goal makes an efforts “to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.”

ZERO Regional Environment Organisation Project Officer, Wellington Madumira, says the media should in the switch to these technologies.

“By reporting on clean energy issues, the media empowers communities to participate in energy debates as well as discussions that affect them,” he says.
“Media reports enable people to have a say in the design, implementation as well as impact assessment of sustainable energy projects.”

However, Renewable Energy Association of Zimbabwe (REAZ) Secretary, Simba Sibanda, says clean energy technologies can close Zimbabwe’s energy access gap, but their use as well as promotion is still limited in the country.

“The uptake of wind and solar is still limited in the country and this is so because energy service providers are faced with serious problems,” he adds, urging all stakeholders in the energy sector to join hands and collectively work together for the common cause of creating a supportive framework for the rapid expansion and integration of clean energy sources into the national energy plan.

Dementia: 21st Century major public health issue

Lazarus Sauti

Veteran journalist and former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) news anchor, Dave Emberton, was “mistakenly” arrested recently for shop lifting.

He was accused of stealing a packet of bacon in Letombo Spar Supermarket in Greendale suburb, Harare.

Spar Supermarket Zimbabwe managing director, Terrence Yeatman, however, apologised to the frail ex-broadcaster.

Yeatman, who issued the apology via a video posted on social media having lunch with the ageing Emberton, said the former broadcaster suffers from mild dementia which he said was responsible for the “minor incident”.

Social worker Milton Chitsime says in Zimbabwe, most people who suffer from dementia are senior citizens.

“Sadly, these senior citizens are usually in rural areas where they are shunned,” he says, adding that they are seen as witches and wizards.

Chitsime also says forgetfulness and confusion are symptom of this disease.

“Some symptoms of dementia are forgetfulness and confusion and the causes of different types of this disease are a result of sugar diabetes and high blood pressure,” he says.

The World Health Organisation adds that dementia is becoming the public health issue of the 21st century and is set to rise in numbers dramatically with the ageing of the world’s population, especially in developing nations.

Currently, more than 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia. This number will double by 2030 as well as more than triple by 2050, according to the UN health agency.

Dementia, sadly, does not just affect individuals like Emberton, but affects and changes the lives of family members, sentiments echoed by clinical psychologist, Dr Sekai Nhiwatiwa, who therefore calls family members to be on the lookout for common behavioural changes that affect senior citizens who suffer from dementia.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, also says dementia is a costly condition in its social, economic, and health dimensions.

“The need for long-term care for people with dementia strains health and social systems, and budgets,” she says.

“The catastrophic cost of care drives millions of households below the poverty line and the overwhelming number of people whose lives are altered by dementia, combined with the staggering economic burden on families and nations, makes dementia a public health priority.”

The Alzheimer’s Disease International, the global voice on dementia, says the cost of caring for people with dementia is likely to rise even faster than its prevalence.

Consequently, countries in southern Africa need to be prepared to address the social and economic burden caused by dementia and the Alzheimer’s Disease International, in its World Alzheimer 2015 Report titled “The Global Impact of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, Incidence, cost and trends”, says raising awareness is a cornerstone of the public health approach to addressing the dementia epidemic.

Chitsime concurs: “Raising awareness is critical in curbing dementia. However, social welfare services in Zimbabwe are not doing enough to raise awareness to communities like they do on HIV and AIDS.

“Dementia is not viewed as a major health problem compared to HIV and AIDS as well as Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

He adds that policy makers in the country should also strengthen efforts to improve care and support for people with dementia and for their caregivers.

Chitsime, significantly, believes dementia research in the country, just like in most developing nations, is underfunded with respect to the burden of the disease and its societal economic cost.

He calls the government as well as development partners to increase funding towards dementia research, a fact supported by the Alzheimer’s Disease International which adds that nation states, especially in developing regions should contribute one percent of their respective societal economic costs to dementia research funding.

Decentralised energy: powering a sustainable future

Lazarus Sauti

The continent of Africa is endowed with human and natural resources.

As such, it is home to some of the fastest-growing economies on the planet, but energy experts believe lack of affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy could hamper the continent’s political, economic, social, technological, legal, gender and environmental development.

Speaking during a Media Capacity Building Workshop recently organised by the Power for All – a global campaign to accelerate the market-based growth of decentralised renewable energy, they said access to electricity is fundamental to human and economic transformation, but most citizens in countries within and across Africa are without reliable access to electricity.

In Zimbabwe, notes the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MISC) 2014, only thirty-two percent of households had connected electricity (83.4 percent urban and 9.8 percent rural areas).

“This was lower than the proportion that had electricity in the 2010/11 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey which was 37 percent and 44 percent in the 2012 population census,” says the MISC, adding that apart from the urban provinces (Harare 73.6 percent; Bulawayo 92.4 percent), use of electricity was minimal in the other provinces.

Namibia is also actively working towards supplying electricity to the majority of its population, but many communities in the vast countryside still have no access.

Based on 2013 data, Namibia’s national electrification rate reached 32 percent (17 percent in rural areas, 50 percent in urban areas).

In Zambia, only 5 percent of rural and 26 percent of the urban population have electricity while in Sierra Leone, less than 12 percent of people in the country’s cities have access to electricity, while in rural areas, where most people live, the figure is less than 1 percent.

Population growth and economic expansion in most, if not all, African countries are outpacing electrification efforts and the number of citizens without access to electricity is expected to grow from 585 million to 645 million by 2030, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Forlornly, the predictable approach to electrification, which seeks to expand access to the centralised grid, is not good enough for the continent to attain Sustainable Development Goal 7, which sets a target of universal access to affordable, reliable, modern and clean energy services.

In Africa, however, as also estimated by the IEA, nearly half of the 315 million people who live in rural areas will depend on off-grip solution, like mini-grids, to close the electricity gap, while a quarter of those who live in the remote rural areas will rely on smaller, stand-alone solutions like solar home systems for first-time energy access.

This was supported by Zimbabwe Power for All Campaign director, Chiedza Mazaiwana, who also believes in the power of decentralised energy – power produced close to where it will be used, rather than at a large plant elsewhere and sent through the national grid.

Mazaiwana also says decentralised energy schemes should be embraced in Africa as they not only reduce transmission losses, but also lowers carbon emissions.

“There is a faster, reliable, sustainable, modern and more affordable avenue to achieve universal energy access: distributed energy, she says.

“With renewable, decentralised technologies, African countries can leapfrog traditional grid-centric approach and deliver energy access in half the time, at a fraction of the cost.”

Renewable Energy Association of Zimbabwe (REAZ) Secretary, Simba Sibanda, however, says distributed generation can close Africa’s energy access gap, but its use is still limited in most African countries.

“The use of distributed generation is still limited in most in Africa because energy service providers in the continent are faced with serious problems as they try to scale their impact,” he says.

“With the cost of renewable energy technologies continuing to decline as well as with the distributed generation market witnessing truly conversional innovations, the market opportunity on the continent is however remarkable.”

Sibanda adds that all stakeholders in the energy sector should be engaged to collectively map energy needs, over and above manage cost-effective as well as sustainable energy solutions if the continent is to effectively promote clean energy sources and lift citizens from dire poverty.

Wellington Madumira, ZERO Regional Environment Organisation Project Officer, says decentralised renewable solutions can close Africa’s energy access gap, but only if the media in Zimbabwe and other African countries are proactive in promoting the adoption of decentralised renewable energies (DREs).

He adds that the media should have a wide-ranging understanding of DREs to effectively promote them.

“By having a broader understanding on energy issues, particularly DREs and reporting effectively on them, the media empowers people to participate in debates and discussions that affect them,” he sums up.