Zimbabwe: $33 million African Development Bank clean water and sanitation project nears completion

Safe water access and cleaner waste collection are set to become a reality for vulnerable communities in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, as a Bank-funded water and sewerage improvement project enters its final phase.

The Mayor of Bulawayo examining new backwash pumps at the Criterion Water Treatment Works

The Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP), a $33 million project is on course to rehabilitate and upgrade water production treatment facilities, water distribution, sewer drainage networks and wastewater treatment disposal facilities in the southwestern part of the city.

The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020.

“We are counting down months to completion. With the full suite of new services, we seek to reverse the devastating effects that poor sanitation and water supply has brought to this area. We look forward to witnessing the positive impacts that these changes will bring and building the resilience of this society,” said Mr Damoni Kitabire, Country Manager for the Bank’s Zimbabwe office.

Bulawayo, like many urban centres in Zimbabwe, has been affected by years of under-investment in its water and sewerage infrastructure maintenance. The city also suffers from water insecurity due to frequent drought. Less than 50% of the sewage generated in the city is currently collected, and the exposure to contamination is significant.

The project, administered by the government of Zimbabwe via the Bulawayo City Council, is designed to contribute to the health and social wellbeing of its population.

“Before the project, water was distributed on a ration basis, forcing marginal communities in Cowdray Park, an informal settlement in Bulawayo District to walk for over a kilometre to get water,” said Engineer Simela Dube, Director Engineering Services for the Bulawayo City Council

In addition, nearly 2,000 municipal staff have been trained (30% of them women) to address the lack of skills to efficiently manage water and sewer service delivery systems, and several interns afforded an opportunity to hone new skills through engagement on various segments of the project.  Training was provided on the environment, water services, gender and health.

Supporting the rehabilitation of water and sanitation in Zimbabwe has been one of the Bank’s priority areas since a cholera epidemic in 2008/09.  The BWSSIP is an extension of the Bank’s efforts to stabilize and improve water supply and sanitation services in Zimbabwe.

Without adequate financing, the city was suffering from inadequate and dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure, including inefficient and old pumps and treatment works; non-functional sewer systems and frequent instances of contaminated pipe water.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe ex-president, dies aged 95

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has died aged 95.

Mr Mugabe had been receiving treatment in a hospital in Singapore since April. He was ousted in a military coup in 2017 after 37 years in power.

The former president was praised for broadening access to health and education for the black majority.

But later years were marked by violent repression of his political opponents and Zimbabwe’s economic ruin.

Credit: BBC News

Popular protests pose a conundrum for the AU’s opposition to coups

Unyielding protesters put an end to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s 26-year old authoritarian rule. EPA-EFE/Stringer
Adem K Abebe
Extraordinary Lecturer, University of Pretoria
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Adem K Abebe also works at the Constitution Building Processes Programme of International IDEA and is the editor of ConstitutionNet.
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Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir was overthrown in April following months of incessant countrywide protests. Less than two weeks earlier, protesters forced Algeria’s long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.

The ultimate push in both instances came from the army.

The crucial distinction is that the involvement of the army in Algeria was very subtle, with the head of the army suggesting that Bouteflika should step down. In contrast, the Sudanese army threw the decisive punch that abruptly ended al-Bashir’s regime.

In this sense, the role of the Sudanese military may be more appropriately compared with the situation in Zimbabwe when the army’s involvement led to the resignation of Robert Mugabe in November 2017. It is also similar to the coup that toppled Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore in November 2014 which also followed days of protests.

Nineteen years ago the African Union (AU) adopted a declaration that rejected “unconstitutional changes of government” (known as the Lome Declaration. The policy was followed by the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which formalised the rules.

But the tail-end involvement of the military after intensive and popular protests raises questions about how this should be applied. While there have been some hiccups and inconsistencies, the rule has allowed the AU to reject coups d’état and suspend governments from its membership. But the recent round of popular protests that finally led to the toppling of authoritarian presidents is a reminder of the conundrum the AU faces.


Gaps emerged with the intervention of the Egyptian military in the removal of President Mohammad Morsi in 2012 following days of extensive popular protests. The intervention of the military was the decisive last step that ended Morsi’s rule.

The AU labelled the events a coup and condemned the military. It demanded a return to civilian rule. Egypt was also suspended from AU membership.

In 2014 the leader of the coup, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, ran for the presidency and won. This went against the AU rule that coup leaders be banned from occupying political positions.

In the end the AU blinked, and later that year Egypt’s membership was reinstated. It even went one step further, allowing Sisi to take over as the rotational head of the AU in 2019.

The events in Egypt and the subsequent AU response underscored the unique dilemma that a combination of popular protests and military intervention pose for the continental body’s policy against coups.

A 2014 report from an AU High Level Panel considered the compatibility of popular uprisings with the AU’s framework against unconstitutional changes of government.

The report said that a necessary condition for the removal of government to not constitute a coup was that the military shouldn’t be involved. The other criteria were that the protests be popular and peaceful.

But the report was never formally adopted by the AU. This means that it doesn’t have a definitive policy on the issue.

Confusion in the ranks

Two other instances point to a lack of clarity on the AU’s part – Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe.

When President Blaise Compaore fled Burkina Faso in November 2014, the military took advantage of the political vacuum and arrogated power. The AU rejected the military takeover and demanded the establishment of a civilian authority.

The military was given two weeks to ensure a civilian-led transition, which it honoured. One of the military leaders was then named prime minster.

The AU’s response to events in Zimbabwe was confused. The country was never suspended from AU membership. And the army general who led the military intervention subsequently became vice-president.

Former President Robert Mugabe, in power for 37 years, was forced to resign following a ‘soft coup’ in 2017. EPA-EFE/Yeshiel Panchia

The events in Sudan have created another troubling scenario for the AU. The chairperson of the AU Commission labelled the move a “military take-over” and noted that a “coup is not the appropriate response” to Sudan’s myriad challenges.

On 15 April, the AU Peace and Security Council endorsed the chairperson’s statements and demanded the establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority within 15 days, failing which Sudan would be suspended.

Yet, in a joint communique of the “consultative meeting of the regional partners of Sudan” on 23 April, led by Egyptian President Sisi, and attended by the AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki, the participants recommended the peace and security council extend the transition period by three months. The council later extended the period of such transition by 60 days.

Under the Lome Declaration, once the Peace and Security Council labels a change of government as unconstitutional, it must immediately suspend the relevant government. But, apparently because of the gaps in the applicable norm on unconstitutional change of government relating to popular protests, this does not always happen.

Complex questions

The Sudanese situation raises complex issues. Given unfolding events, the initial two-week deadline for a return to civilian rule appeared to have been impractical. An extension was therefore understandable. But it creates the danger that military rule might become entrenched. The Peace and Security Council needs to agree on a schedule for the transition to civilian authority within the provided timeline.

To ensure consistency in future, the AU should clear the dust on the report of the High Level Panel on Egypt. It should clarify the rules on whether tail-end military intervention to support sustained popular protests against despots may in some instances constitute an exception to unconstitutional change of government.

In addition, the AU standards speak about the removal of “democratically elected governments”. In practice, it never asks whether the removed government was democratic, and does not have mechanisms to make a proper determination on the issue.

The AU should give equivalent focus to the pervasive problem of unconstitutional retention of government power. But, in cases where coups occur, it should continue to insist on civilian-led and controlled transitions within a reasonable time to allow for diplomatic efforts, regardless of the nature of the regime that was removed.

Credit: The Conversation

African Development Bank calls for urgent global response as second cyclone hits Southern Africa

The African Development Bank has called for urgent global action in the wake of a second cyclone to hit the southern Africa coastal region in six weeks.  According to Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, “we must have concerted international cooperation to establish management systems and responses to combat natural disaster.”

Cyclone Kenneth is also the most extreme tropical tornado to hit Mozambique in the last 60 years, according to official records.

“Timely intervention of national, regional and international actors and stakeholders are crucial when disaster strikes. Increasingly, Africa’s ecological challenges will only be successfully tackled through the harmony of efforts and activities of continental and global institutions,” Adesina urged on Monday from the Bank’s Abidjan headquarters. 

Cyclone Kenneth ripped through Comoros and Mozambique last week and is likely to cause extreme flooding in areas where more than 70,000 people live, according to the country’s National Directorate for the Management of Water Resources.

On March 15, cyclone Idai began pounding Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and impacted the livelihoods of more than 3 million people. The official death toll now stands at 1,007, with 602 killed in Mozambique, 344 in Zimbabwe, 60 in Malawi and one in Madagascar, according to relief agencies.

Infrastructural damage from Idai across Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe is estimated to be at least $1 billion.

“We are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. We need to brace up for post-cyclone flooding, landslides and disease outbreaks,” Adesina warned.

A high-level Bank delegation, led by Mateus Magala, Vice President for Corporate Services and Human Resources, has begun visiting the affected areas.

Speaking from Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, Magala said, “What we saw on the ground in Mozambique after Idai, and in camps housing internally displaced persons in the south of Malawi, shows that we need to focus on restoring the dignity of citizens and the economic stability of communities when disaster strikes.”

Other members of the Bank delegation include Patrick Zimpita, Executive Director for Malawi, Zambia, and Mauritius; Heinrich Gaomab II, Executive Director for Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe; and Kapil Kapoor, Director General, Southern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office.

The Bank delegation is expected in Harare this week to meet with donor agencies and officials of the Government of Zimbabwe. They will also tour Chimanimani, Chipinge and Mutare districts in Manicaland Province which were most affected by cyclone Idai.

Study of PrEP and vaginal ring for HIV prevention begins in girls and young women

NIH-supported research aims to expand HIV prevention choices.

A clinical trial has begun to examine the safety and use of two HIV prevention tools – oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and a vaginal ring—in adolescent girls and young women in southern Africa.

Dapivirine vaginal ring and tablets of oral PrEP medication.NIAID

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the trial is designed to contribute to the delivery of safe, effective and desirable choices of HIV prevention methods for adolescent girls and young women, who are disproportionately affected(link is external) by the HIV epidemic.

The Phase 2a clinical trial is called REACH(link is external), for Reversing the Epidemic in Africa with Choices in HIV prevention. It will enroll 300 girls and young women ages 16 to 21 years at five sites in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The ring in the study, which is replaced once a month, continuously releases the anti-HIV drug dapivirine in the vagina. The ring is currently undergoing regulatory review by the European Medicines Agency. PrEP involves taking a daily oral tablet containing two anti-HIV drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine. After using each of these HIV prevention methods for six months, study participants may choose to use either one of the two methods—or neither—for another six months. Investigators will evaluate product safety, the extent to which study participants use the products, and how much participants report liking each product.

REACH is co-funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health, all part of NIH. The study is being conducted by the NIH-funded Microbicide Trials Network(link is external) (MTN) and is also known as MTN-034. Gilead Sciences, Inc. is providing the oral tablet for PrEP, and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) is providing the dapivirine vaginal ring.

The World Health Organization(link is external) recommends that oral PrEP be offered as a prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection as part of combination HIV prevention approaches. The dapivirine ring is an investigational product that was found to be well-tolerated and to reduce the risk of HIV infection by approximately 30 percent in African women ages 18 to 45 years in two large studies: the NIH-funded ASPIRE clinical trial and The Ring Study led by IPM. IPM, which developed the dapivirine ring, is in the process of seeking regulatory approval for the product.

South Africans differ on land reform. But there needs to be a meeting of minds

Land Reform

South African land reform debates reflect a tricky balance of power post Jacob Zuma’s rule. GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement that the government was going to push ahead with implementing a decision taken by the African National Congress (ANC) at its national conference last year to expropriate land without compensation has set the cat among the pigeons.

  Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand
Disclosure statement: Roger Southall receives funding from the National Research Foundation
Partners: University of the Witwatersrand provides support as a hosting partner of The Conversation AFRICA.

Speculation is widespread that Ramaphosa gave in to the land expropriation without compensation proposition to appease a faction of former president Jacob Zuma which has positioned itself as a champion of “radical economic transformation”.

There is also the view that Ramaphosa is out to promote party unity and to outflank the Economic Freedom Fighters, to the party’s left, in the buildup to the 2019 general election.

All this appears fair comment, and is no way unduly cynical. Politicians say things, whether or not it is entirely wise to say them, to get votes.

Yet the land debate is about much more than party politicking. In many ways, it goes to the heart of South Africa’s post-colonial politics. It speaks to fundamental racial chasms. This points to the very real danger that the different terms on which the land issue is debated simply don’t address each other.

It would seem to me that there are three broad approaches to which the land issue is debated – the instrumental, the functionalist and the symbolic.

All three approaches have a number of things in common. They all recognise the dangers inherent in the grossly disproportionate amount of land owned by whites, they accept that this has arisen out of the injustices of the colonial past, and agree that it needs to be addressed for reasons of both social justice and political stability.

Beyond that there tends to be disagreement about ways, means and the urgency of land reform.

It’s important to understand these different approaches and how they relate to the ANC’s proposed implementation of land expropriation without compensation. It’s particularly important for people who hold these different viewpoints to understand and find one another. South Africans can’t afford to let the land debate be reduced to a shouting match.

The instrumental approach

This argues its case upon both ideological and constitutional grounds.

There is the argument that the ANC’s move represents a fundamental undermining of property rights, to the extent that it might even threatenthe ownership rights of ordinary house-owners in urban areas. As such, it constitutes a major disincentive to investment and totally contradicts Ramaphosa’s highly-touted goal of attracting USD$100 billion in investment over the next five years.

Furthermore, because of the threat to security it involves, the move will serve as major discouragement to commercial farmers, who are unlikely to pour money into infrastructural improvements if they fear being expropriated. As such expropriation without compensation is a major threat to both jobs and economic growth.

The property rights argument is backed up by those who posit that the considered constitutional amendment is unnecessary because the constitution already allows for the expropriation of property by the state for public interest purposes.

This, the constitutionalists argue, gives the state all the armoury it needs to pursue land reform with urgent speed without threatening property rights.

The functionalist approach

This says that there is a desperate hunger for land among impoverished black poor. This needs to be addressed on grounds of need and political stability.

Economically, the argument is that, while the role of commercial agriculture as the principal producer of the nation’s food supply and of significant exports need to be recognised, there are many areas where farming could be successfully undertaken by black farmers, given the right support. This perspective is steeped in history. It points out how white commercial agriculture was systematically advantaged by the state under white rule, and how prosperous black peasant communities, whose competitiveness constituted a threat to white farmers, were dispossessed.

It’s argued that there is much land available in South Africa which could valuably be transferred into private or communal black hands. Such land includes property owned by the state, land held by speculators, and farms which over the last two decades have shed most of their workers as they have turned over from direct food production to become game farms.

The symbolic approach

This angle to the debate appeals to the heart as much to the head. It harps on the point that land belongs to Africans. It was stolen by the colonialists and should be given back.

The symbolic approach is overwhelmingly about African dignity. As such, it often involves notions of reparations. It tends to brush aside all the difficult policy issues about how land transfer should be managed, let alone the injustices which may be heaped upon white landowners who had nothing to do with the original theft of African land.

Meeting of minds

Ramaphosa is well known for playing the long game, a pragmatist who is ready to bend to political pressures to achieve his long-term objectives.

It may well be that he will bow to the ANC imperative to pass a law allowing for expropriation without compensation. But he will want to make sure that it will pass constitutional muster. He will ensure that this amendment meets the requirements of the property clause in the constitution.

From this perspective, it’s tempting to conclude that the huffing and puffing about the ANC’s pursuit of expropriation without compensation is really about nothing. But that’s not the case. The Zimbabwean experience confirms this.

It was the Zimbabwean government’s lack of urgency about land reform in the first decades of independence which provided the backdrop to the war veterans’ seizure of white farms in the late 1990s. It was then that the Robert Mugabe government stepped in to give the land seizures legitimacy and to claim the credit.

Much controversy attends the land question in Zimbabwe to this day. Certainly, the post-2000 land reforms have not been a total failure. Nonetheless, what is beyond dispute is that the way they have been carried out has come at enormous cost to overall agricultural production. As such, the Zimbabwe mode of land reform is one South Africa cannot afford to adopt – or to be bundled into by a panic-stricken government scrambling to keep up with events on the ground.

The address of the land issue requires a meeting of minds. The instrumental, functionalist and symbolic approaches all have their important role to play, and humility and willingness to listen to competing perspectives should be at a premium.

The article was first published by the Conversation

Suspense is high for the three remaining matches of the African qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2019 this Saturday, 18th August

The stakes for the last three matches of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup 2018 could not be higher, with a dramatic final between Namibia and Kenya, and a fierce fight between Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Morocco to remain in the Gold Cup

The 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup concludes this Saturday, August 18th with three intense matches.


Kenya vs Namibia

In Windhoek, Namibia will host Kenya for the final match of the tournament. With 17 points on the scoreboard, Kenya absolutely needs to win the match to overtake Namibia who already have a total of 20 points. In the event of a defensive bonus point for Namibia, both teams would have a total of 21 points each, and according to the rules, the winner of the match between the two tied teams would win the Cup overall. The suspense remains unabated between these two teams who have not lost a single match in the Gold Cup so far. Namibia has won with large margins and gained several bonus points giving them a good lead, but not enough to safeguard their victory against the Kenyans. The runner-up will have to be satisfied with a place in the international playoffs that will take place in November in France with teams from Germany, Canada and Hong Kong.

In Kampala, Uganda will host Zimbabwe who are still looking for a win in this tournament to save them from relegation. The Ugandans won their first two games at home and are hoping to finish on a high note in front of their many enthusiastic supporters in attendance. Finally, the duel between the fellow North Africans, Tunisia and Morocco, will be held in Jemmel and here, Morocco will be trying to achieve a first victory to stay in the Gold Cup.

In the event of a tie on points after all the matches have been played, the teams will be classified depending on the scores of the matches played. For example, Tunisia having beaten Zimbabwe, would have the advantage over the Sables in the case of a tie. The draw between Morocco and Zimbabwe means that it would be necessary to examine the goal-average to decide between them. The suspense continues to build and the pressure is rising!

The matches will be refereed by Cwengile Jadzewani (South Africa) assisted by Victor Oduor (Kenya) and Nicardo Pienaar (Namibia) in Uganda at14:00 CAT; Egon Seconds (South Africa) assisted by Precious Pazani (Zimbabwe) and Saudah Adiru (Uganda) in Namibia at 16:00 CAT; Thomas Charrabas (France) assisted by Ignace N’dri Kan (Ivory Coast) and Sylvain Mané (Senegal) at 18:00 CAT. All matches will be broadcast live on television by Kwese Sports, also on YouTube in Africa and on the World Rugby website, YouTube channel and Twitter in the rest of the world.

Created in 1986, Rugby Africa (www.RugbyAfrique.com), previously the African Confederation of Rugby (Confédération Africaine de Rugby – CAR), is one of the six regional associations composing  World Rugby (www.WorldRugby.org), the international organisation responsible for the governing of Rugby Union and Rugby Sevens. Rugby Africa unites all of the African countries which play rugby union, rugby sevens, and women’s rugby. Rugby Africa organises the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup 2019, and Africa 7, a qualifying competition for the Olympic Games 2020. Rugby Africa has 38 members, including 22 membres and associated members of World Rugby, 10 members and associated members of Rugby Africa and 16 new countries collaborating with Rugby Africa.