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Chief Ndiweni convicted of destroying property

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Chief Ndiweni

Chief Ndiweni together with 23 of his subjects were yesterday convicted on charges of destroying a villager’s property in Ntabazinduna and will be sentenced today.

Ndiweni (54) and 23 other villagers pleaded not guilty to damaging Mr Fetti Mbele’s property but they were convicted by Bulawayo magistrate, Ms Gladmore Mushove.

They were remanded in custody at Khami Prisons to today for sentencing.

The matter went on a full trial with a number of witnesses testifying, including Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Cde Obert Mpofu.

In her judgment, Ms Mushove ruled that the accused persons’ actions were unlawful and a violation of the complainant’s constitutional right. She said Chief Ndiweni and his subjects acted in common purpose.

“In assessing the evidence of the accused persons and the State submissions, it is court’s finding that all the accused persons acted in common purpose when they destroyed the complainant’s property,” she said.

Ms Mushove said although the villagers’ actions were in compliance with the chief’s order, they acted knowing full well that their actions were illegal after they had been warned by police prior to damaging the property.

“The first accused person’s (Chief Ndiweni) subordinates carried out an order that was illegal. In as much as the chief had a right to banish the complainant from the village by virtue of his judicial authority in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act, his actions were out of bounds. Although the first accused person is a chief, his powers are limited,” she said.

The magistrate said the acrimony between Chief Ndiweni and Cde Mpofu had no bearing on the matter before the court.

“The court finds that all the accused persons are answerable to destroying the complainant’s property and accordingly, they are found guilty as charged,” ruled Ms Mushove.

Cde Mpofu’s involvement in the case came following Chief Ndiweni’s testimony in court last year during which he claimed the allegations emanated from Cde Mpofu’s efforts to “fix” him after he had filed criminal charges against the politician.

He alleged that Cde Mpofu stole 200 head of cattle from his late father, Chief Khayisa Ndiweni. Chief Ndiweni said he had reported the stock theft case at Mbembesi Police Station, but Cde Mpofu allegedly used his influence as then Home Affairs Minister to make the docket disappear.

Chief Ndiweni further claimed that politics was at play in the matter, accusing Cde Mpofu of influencing Mr Mbele, his wife and members of Zanu-PF to interfere with his traditional court’s order. However, Cde Mpofu in his testimony said Chief Ndiweni was in the habit of making false allegations against the Government and the ruling party due to ignorance since he had spent many years out of the country.

According to court papers, Mr Mbele of Ntabazinduna was banished from the village by the chief after his wife Ms Nonkangelo Mpengesi was allegedly caught having sex with another villager.

In July last year, Chief Ndiweni ruled that Mr Mbele and his “adulterous” wife should be banished from Sifelani village, saying “prostitution” will not be tolerated in his area.

The accused persons’ lawyer, Mr Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, early last year asked the court to subpoena Cde Mpofu to testify in court following allegations by the traditional leader implicating him in their arrest.

However, Cde Mpofu, through an affidavit dated July 6, 2018, which was brought to court by his lawyer, Mr Byron Sengweni, declined to testify saying he knew nothing about the matter.

Mr Dube then sought a court order compelling Cde Mpofu to attend court after which the latter was served with the summons. Chief Ndiweni and the other accused persons were denying the violence charges levelled against them by Mr Mbele.

The prosecutor, Mr Leonard Chile, said on July 26, 2017, at around 4 PM, Mbele and his wife arrived from Bulawayo to find some villagers standing outside their homestead.

Kimpton Sibanda (72), a village head and two other villagers, claimed they were ordered by Chief Ndiweni to destroy Mbele’s garden fence and kraal.

“Sibanda instructed the villagers to destroy the fence and kraal. At around 5 PM, Chief Ndiweni arrived and ordered the villagers to continue destroying Mr Mbele’s fence and kraal,” said Mr Chile. The Chronicle

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POLITICS

Mnangagwa appoints army General Sibanda into the Zanu PF politburo

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Philip Valerio Sibanda ZaNU PF

President Emerson Mnangagwa has appointed General Philip Valerie Sibanda, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, to the Zanu PF politburo, in violation of the national constitution.

During a Zanu PF conference in Gweru on Saturday, Mnangagwa announced that the country’s top-ranking soldier would become an ex officio member of the party’s highest decision-making body in between congresses. Mnangagwa, who benefited from a 2017 military coup, made this announcement during his closing remarks.

“During the course of the year, we lost one of our party stalwarts, Cde Joshua Teke Malinga who was the Secretary for People with Disabilities.

Philip Sibanda’s appointment is a violation of the national constitution which says “The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this constitution.”

While Zimbabwe’s military is known for being embedded with ruling party politics, Sibanda’s appointment is an unprecedented case of a serving soldier taking a leadership position within a political party.

The Zanu PF-led authority has ironically hounded out of service, a lot of officers within the country’s unformed forces for associating themselves with the opposition, which protests continued military involvement in Zanu PF campaigns.

The appointment of Philip Sibanda could come as an attempt by the under-fire leader to hedge himself against a possible coup with the military ever interested in who should be in the country.

The controversial appointment could also fall within the willy politician’s paraphernalia of self-serving schemes amid subtle signals of an ambition to go for a third term.

Zimbabwe has a dirty history of military interference in the country’s political affairs.

During past election periods, partisan military commanders have vowed never to “salute” an opposition leader emerging from the country’s polls in an indirect threat to block the ascension into power of any winner of the presidential election who is not Zanu PF.

Mnangagwa could also be preparing Philip Sibanda for a post in the Zanu PF presidium.

Last year, exiled former cabinet minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo revealed Mnangagwa was keen to name Sibanda as his second vice president.

Sibanda is among former liberation war fighters drafted into the country’s military upon independence after having waged the war as a ZIPRA combatant.

ZIPRA was the military wing of the former PF Zapu, a liberation war movement that fought side by side with Zanu PF for the attainment of independence.

The current co-vice president, also a former PF Zapu politician, is battling poor health.

Mohadi collapsed a week ago while addressing a Zanu PF rally called to drum up support for a Gutu party election candidate.

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NEWS

Zimbabwe Care Workers Fleeced Thousands of Pounds in COS Visa Scandal

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Zimbabwe-care-workers-cos-uk

Certificate of Sponsorship Scandal Sees Zimbabwe Care Workers Pay up to  £8k for Visa

Care workers recruited from Zimbabwe are being trapped in the UK. They are forced to pay large debts to recruitment agencies before they can start working. Once they start working, they are paid very little and are often forced to work long hours without breaks. This has led to a situation where these care workers are being exploited and treated unfairly. It has been discovered that Zimbabwean care workers who come to the UK to start their careers are getting scammed and exploited by middlemen. These workers are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen who trick them into coming to the UK and then withholding up to 50% of their wages, forcing them to live in squalor.

Due to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, many trained care professionals are seeking employment overseas. However, many agencies, which are often run by Zimbabweans in the UK and are unregulated, are exploiting these workers. Zimbabwean nurses have been working in Britain for years, but hiring care workers is a new trend. Experts say that an ecosystem of manipulation has been built around this phenomenon, which is highly exploitative. One way to move to the UK is to complete a Red Cross care worker certification program, which is highly sought after. However, locals say that middlemen exploit the certificate of sponsorship (COS) by charging high fees.

Terrence Macheka, a trainee nurse, plans to emigrate to the UK when he graduates, and he says that his wife was scammed by agents who charged $380 to put her on the training waiting list, despite the official Red Cross certification fee being only $300. Closed WhatsApp groups show that these agents then ask care workers to pay up to £5,000 to be linked with UK-based care agencies. This has created a web of corruption, where UK-based care agencies run by Zimbabwe nationals give the COS to their relatives and friends first, while others have to pay hefty fees that reach £4,000. Some charge as high as £7,000, which is against British law. 

The UK law is clear that a recruitment agency cannot charge a fee for ‘placing’ an employee, and the person who ‘assigns’ or prepares and allocates the COS cannot be related to the prospective employee. However, regulation of these agencies is weak, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) suggests that their hands are tied because these actors are not under UK jurisdiction. DHSC says that some organisations may use repayment clauses to recoup upfront costs if internationally recruited staff do not meet the terms of their contract, which is acceptable. Still, it would be concerning if the repayment costs were disproportionate or punitive.

According to experts, various schemes are taking advantage of the chronic staffing issues faced by the UK’s social and healthcare systems. The NHS alone has to fill 40,000 nursing positions, which has led to a surge in international recruitment. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently signed a deal with Nepal, allowing 100 nurses to work at the Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This pilot scheme could potentially open up opportunities for thousands of Nepalese nurses to work in the UK. However, the ethics of this move have been questioned by Sir Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians. Nepal is on an international recruitment red list, which the World Health Organization (WHO) operates to prevent developed countries from actively recruiting from regions with a lack of health workers or an undeveloped health system. Sir Andrew said, “That the UK should have [to] do special deals with other countries to support its own NHS workforce is in itself a marker of how workforce planning for the NHS has failed. That we are taking from a country that has substantially lower numbers of healthcare workers than many countries have is something we should have serious reservations about.”

NHS England has also been accused of “emptying” Zimbabwe of health workers. Although the country is not on the red list, experts have warned of a “critical shortage” of staff. In 2020, the UK issued 1,059 skilled visas to Zimbabweans, a figure which jumped to 5,549 in 2022, placing the southern African country among the UK’s top five skilled visa grantees. However, the recruitment drive has drained Zimbabwe so badly that Bulawayo municipality, in the southwest, recently complained that 13 nurses out of its skeleton staff have moved to the UK since January.

Despite the vast difference in the number of health professionals per population, Zimbabwe has managed to maintain a decent nurse-to-patient ratio, with 1.9 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in 2018. In comparison, the UK had 8.2 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people. However, Zimbabwe is currently facing extreme poverty, which has led to nurses seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Despite being paid just $79 a month and dealing with a high patient load, Zimbabwean nurses have been fleeing the country due to the high inflation rate, which has shot up to 479% in 2020, according to Steve Hanke, director of the Troubled Currencies project at the Cato Institute. These nurses hope for a better life when they reach the UK, but many find themselves in a similar situation of financial insecurity. Experts warn that the issue of overcharging by agencies has become too large to ignore, with leaked care-worker pay slips showing salaries of £2,255 being drained by their employers under the guise of administrative fees until only £604 is left, causing an uproar on Twitter in June.

Mr Chagonda left the UK after only a few months due to unbearable conditions. He was not the only one who experienced a significant reduction in wages or had to live in cramped accommodations. During his time in Britain, he had to pay £70 a week to share a house with eight other people.

“I’ll never return to the UK as a care worker,” he told the local newspaper, describing such schemes as a form of modern slavery. However, the situation for those who were undocumented was even more dire. “I met people who had been in the UK since 1999, without papers, who worked as care workers for agencies and were left with only £300. You just do what they ask you to do,” he said, referring to his colleagues in Leeds. He added that some workers were so financially strapped that they had to sleep in their clients’ homes.

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DIASPORA

Zimbabwean Drivers in the UK: Converting Your License? The Ministry of Transport Addresses Your Questions

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Zimbabwean Drivers Licence to UK Licence

Recently, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Transport addressed the rising concerns about converting Zimbabwean driver’s licenses to British driver’s licenses. They shared an official statement on social media that provided answers to several crucial questions raised by Zimbabwean drivers.

Recognition of Zimbabwean Driver’s License by the British Government

One of the key questions addressed in the statement is whether the British Government still recognises the Zimbabwean driver’s license. The response was affirmative, confirming that Zimbabwean licenses are still recognised.

However, there have been unconfirmed reports of some Zimbabweans using counterfeit metal driver’s licenses in the UK. The drivers reportedly end up being involved or causing road traffic accidents

This has prompted the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK to require Certificates of Competency. These certificates are now part of the conversion process

Certificate of Competency Requirements

A question commonly asked by individuals who have lost their Certificate of Competency, which is now required for conversion, was also addressed.

The Ministry explained that the current system does not provide for duplicate Certificates of Competency due to their limited validity of 30 days.

The Ministry is actively engaging with the DVLA to reconsider this requirement.

Class Conversion and Downgrading

The statement addressed concerns from individuals who have class 2 driver’s licenses but wish to convert to classes 4 and 5, as opposed to being limited to class 2. The DVLA’s hesitation stems from doubts about the skills of many class 2 drivers who may not have undergone essential tests. To address this, the Ministry is facilitating testing for class four licenses, ensuring that drivers are competent for their desired class.

The Ministry has emphasised the importance of avoiding the use of fake Certificates of Competency. It strongly warns against presenting counterfeit certificates to the DVLA or any licensing authority as this may result in the revocation of valid driver’s licenses. The Ministry further urges applicants to follow the correct procedures for license conversion and avoid any illicit means.

Contacting CVR for License Verification

Concerns about the DVLA’s ability to contact the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) for license verification were also addressed. The Ministry assured the public that CVR maintains regular communication with DVLA.

To assist with license verification, citizens were provided with contact information for CVR via email addresses:

registrarcvr@gmail.com, ddcvrl@gmail.com, and ddcvr2@gmail.com.

Additionally, individuals were encouraged to seek assistance from their respective embassies if needed.

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