November 30, 2006

Mugabe fires top civil servant over fertilizer scandal / Women demand 50-50 share of political power

The permanent secretary for agriculture Simon Pazvakavambwa became the first casualty of Zimbabwe's fertilizer import crisis. Pazvakavambwa's dismissal was announced by Misheck Sibanda, President Robert Mugabe's chief secretary, who also unveiled Shadreck Mlambo as the new head of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The firebrand Pazvakavambwa, who has previously clashed with some of the country's top leaders over policy matters, was ostensibly fired for his role in the importation of inferior fertilizer from South Africa. He was part of a team that toured and tested samples of the product at the Intshona workshop in South Africa. The fertilizer saga has sucked in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which financed the transaction. A special parliamentary committee on agriculture has also said it will soon begin questioning state officials involved in the fertilizer importation scandal that farming experts have said could lead to a poor harvest regardless of whether the country receives good rains.

In the meantime, at least 50 Zimbabwean women have demonstrated in Harare demanding a 50 percent share of the country’s political power. The demonstration was organised by the Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU), a civic group that promotes the participation of women in issues of governance. According to Human rights groups, although women make up 52 percent of Zimbabwe’s 12 million population, they are not represented meaningfully in positions of governance. For example, out of the 10 provincial governors in Zimbabwe, only two were women. In addition, only 22.2 percent of women are represented in political positions in the country. "Fifty-two percent of the women’s population being represented by 22.2 percent in politics is not justifiable," said Rutendo Hadebe, the director of Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) and one of the organisers of the protest. (Zim Online, South Africa)


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