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The story behind Zimbabwe’s scarf

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Emmerson Munangagwa

An accidental fashion accessory is helping President Emmerson Munangagwa rebrand the country – and distance himself from his predecessor Robert Mugabe and his 37-year rule.

Since the Davos summit in January, Emmerson Munangagwa is hardly ever seen without a scarf in the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag around his neck – no matter the temperature.

It was perfect for the freezing Swiss mountain village in mid-winter – and the Mr Emmerson Munangagwa proudly wore it during a BBC interview, later tweeting a clip of it saying, “Zimbabwe is open for business.”

But the scarf now has a life of its own, beyond the World Economic Forum – and even has its own hashtag #EDscarf.

Mr Emmerson Munangagwa, popularly known by his initials ED, got his hands on the scarf by chance when a mother-and-daughter fashion start-up contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a Saturday before the Zimbabwe delegation left for Davos.

‘Such a shock’

There had been much hype ahead of the summit with Zimbabwe’s new leader anxious to attract urgent investment to revive an economy that has been on its knees for the last decade.

“We called and were like, ‘We’ve got these products, we’re not sure how you can use them.’ And the next thing you know the president is wearing the scarf… It was really such a shock on our end,” Celia Rukato told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

She said it was one of the first products she and her mother, Hesphina Rukato, produced when they formed their company in 2014 – and it was sold, with little fanfare, at a curio shop at Zimbabwe’s Harare International Airport.

It was a way for Zimbabweans to show they were “proud to be Zimbabwean”

Pride in the scarf chimes with the #ThisFlag social media movement of 2016 that protested against Mr Mugabe’s rule and the dire economic situation.

It was launched by a pastor angered by the state of the nation. He posted a video on Facebook of himself wrapped in the Zimbabwean flag, explaining why the colours were significant.

“They tell me that the green is for the vegetation and for the crops. I don’t see any crops in my country,” Evan Mawarire said.

“The yellow is for all the minerals – diamonds, platinum, chrome – I don’t know how much of it is left; I don’t know who they sold it to and how much they got for it.

“The red they say that is the blood that was shed to secure freedom for me and I’m so thankful for that – I just don’t know that if they were here, they that shed their blood, and saw the way this country is that they would demand their blood be brought back.”

Before Mr Mugabe was ousted, vendors were even banned from selling flags without authorisation.

But during the unprecedented protest days before Mr Mugabe’s resignation, the flag was everywhere – around the necks of many Zimbabweans, no matter their political party.

‘National dress’

Following the scarf’s outing at Davos, it has become a must – near enough a uniform with slightly different designs – for those representing the country abroad.

For the Rukatos the success of the scarf feeds into their ambition to start a debate about creating a national dress for Zimbabwe.

“One of the things we’ve noticed over the years is that most nationalities have a national dress and Zimbabweans have not had anything.

So the scarf is just one of the things we’re beginning to put out there,” Hesphina Rukato told journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

Creating a national dress is now a manifesto promise for the main opposition Movement Democratic Change Alliance, whose leader Nelson Chamisa is Mr Emmerson Munangagwa’s main rival in presidential elections later this month.

For the scarf, things have also got a little more political because of the president’s passion for it. At nearly every campaign rally for the ruling Zanu-PF party – whether or not it is cold – he is seen with it around his neck.

It has even got the head of the electoral commission into trouble, when a photo of her posing in the scarf with its creator, Celia Rukato, next to her began circulating on social media.

Priscilla Chigumba said the photo was taken before she was appointed in January to head the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

“That scarf was designed by a brilliant young Zimbabwean girl who then approached a group of us when I was a high court judge to say, ‘Look I’ve designed this scarf in an effort to build national consciousness.’

And I did want to support her, and I was very grateful for the present that she gave me and I took a picture,” she told Zimbabwe’s Capitalk FM earlier this month.

It didn’t help that one of the Zec chair’s aides said last month it was must have been faked – not realising it was an old photo.

“He obviously thought in his mind it must be a Photoshop as he knew I’d never jeopardise the image of the commission,” Ms Chigumba said.

Despite the controversy, the scarf remains popular – and a bestseller for the Rukatos.

One young man returning to university in neighbouring South Africa last week wanted to buy one of the last ones for sale that day for $24 (£18) at Harare’s International Airport.

“Of course I wouldn’t wear it in Harare at home – but it looks cool in Port Elizabeth,” he said.
BBC

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HEALTH

Zororo Makamba laid to rest

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Zororo Makamba

The government has announced that Zororo Makamba, Zimbabwe’s first coronavirus casualty, has been buried, a day after his death at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital.

Information ministry permanent secretary, Nick Mangwana announced that Zororo, 30, was buried Tuesday.

“All protocols in handling departed loved ones who pass on from infectious conditions were followed,” he tweeted.

Zororo’s death has exposed the Zimbabwe government’s ill-preparedness in handling the coronavirus, with the family narrating how they had been frustrated each time they sought to have the media personality treated.

The family narrated how they had been forced to look for their own ventilator and that when they found it, Wilkins Hospital, which is the main referral centre for the coronavirus, said they did not have power sockets in the media personality’s room.

Efforts to get him to another centre were also frustrated.

Zororo Makamba, famed for his explainer video series, State of the Nation with Zororo, was the son of the politician and former broadcaster, James Makamba.

Zororo Makamba reportedly travelled to New York City in the United States of America and upon his return, he had cold-like symptoms.

At the time of his return, it was suspected that Zororo Makamba had a cold since he had travelled to the US in the middle of winter.

The government has announced a number of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has so far killed 17 250 globally and infected 396 200.

But so far, the Zimbabwe government has fallen short of instituting a lockdown.NewsDay

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NEWS

Pupurai Togarepi, Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu booted out

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Lewis Matutu

The Zanu PF Politburo yesterday removed secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi from the post and suspended his deputy Cde Lewis Matutu and secretary for the Commissariat Cde Godfrey Tsenengamu for a year for indiscipline.

Cde Togarepi will, however, remain a Central Committee member, while Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will revert to being ordinary card-carrying members.

Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu will be required to undergo rigorous training at the Chitepo School of Ideology for three months.

The Youth League secretary for Administration Cde Tendai Chirau becomes the wing’s acting deputy secretary.

Acting secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the Politburo unanimously decided that indiscipline within the party should not be tolerated.

He said: “Cde Togarepi, who was serving as the secretary for Youth League at the pleasure of the First Secretary of the party, President E.D. Mnangagwa, will with immediate effect, cease to be the secretary of the Youth League.

“As such, he is no longer a member of the Politburo, but he retains his position as Central Committee member, as you all know, he serves in the Politburo at the pleasure of the President of our party and in this case, Cde Togarepi has been relieved from this position.

“Cde Matutu and Cde Tsenengamu have been immediately removed from their positions as deputy secretary for Youth League and Political Commissar, respectively, and this will be for a period of 12 months.

“This means they will be ordinary card-carrying members of the party and after 12 months, they will be eligible to stand in any elections to any position within the party.”

Cde Patrick Chinamasa told journalists after the 336th Ordinary Session of the Politburo yesterday, the first meeting in 2020, that the Politburo discussed at length issues around a Press conference held by Cdes Matutu and Tsenengamu, purportedly in their personal capacities.

During the briefing, the pair accused three prominent businessmen of corruption but did not give incontrovertible evidence implicating the trio.

“The Politburo took note of this irregular modus operandi which is alien to the party’s way of doing its business,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“It is also important to highlight that previously it happened and the Politburo deliberated and specifically gave a directive that the youth if they have any problems which are of significance to them, they should raise them in a proper forum.”

Cde Chinamasa said Zanu PF did not tolerate corruption in whatever form, by whomsoever.

He said anyone with information implicating anyone in corruption should approach the police so that the law takes its course.

“It is important, of course, to say and emphasise that the party does not condone corruption and as you are well aware, that it has set up structures both within the party and at Government level of which these can be approached,” said Cde Chinamasa.

“We basically invite and encourage our general membership that if they are witnesses and have evidence of any corruption against whomsoever, to raise these issues with the relevant authorities, in this case, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and where they think it’s pertaining to senior party members, they should bring them to the party.

“Unfortunately, there has not been any evidence that has been brought to ZACC pertaining to any previous allegations and I am sure that even now, we will probably find out that the claims or allegations are unsubstantiated.

“So, in light of these developments, we felt that the departure from the violation of the directive the Politburo called for, was an act of indiscipline and that it called for severe punishment.”
The Herald

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BUSINESS

Two killed, 20 feared dead in Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapse

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Globe and Phoenix Mine

Two miners died and two others were injured, while more than 20 others are feared trapped underground after a tunnel at Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapsed yesterday.

By the time of going to print, the actual number of trapped illegal miners was not clear, but indications were that about 25 miners were underground at the time of disaster.

Chief Government Mining Engineer Michael Munodawafa, confirmed the accident, yesterday.

He said rescue efforts were ongoing.

Eng Munodafawa said mining inspectors were still trying to gain entry into the collapsed shaft through other channels.

“We can confirm that two artisanal miners died while two others were injured and taken to hospital, after a mine shaft they were working under collapsed,” he said.

“We are still to get more causalities but there is a possibility that those who are said to be missing could have found their way out through other entrances and exit points.

“We are not ruling out the fact that there could be scores others missing, but they could as well have managed to escape; we will give a final update once the operation is over.”

Various groups operating at the mine were trying to account for each other with unconfirmed reports saying at least 20 were still unaccounted for.

It also emerged yesterday that Globe and Phoenix Mine ceased operations in 2007 following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which showed the shafts, most of which were right underneath Kwekwe central business district (CBD) were posing danger to the city.

Kwekwe District Administrator Mr Fortune Mupungu, who is also the District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, said scores of artisanal miners were operating at the mine illegally.

Some of the artisanal miners were evicted from Gaika Mine.

“We received the sad news that several miners were trapped underground following the collapse of a shaft this morning (yesterday).

“A team which went underground to assess the situation only found two bodies,” said Mr Mupungu.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya could not be reached for comment last night as her mobile phone was unreachable.

Police only arrived around 3 pm while officials from the Mines and Mining Development Ministry arrived at 4:30 pm.

The police were assisted by some artisanal miners to retrieve the bodies from the shaft, before loading them into their van and left.

It was a tense atmosphere with some self-styled security personnel at the scene threatening to beat anyone who dared to take photos.

Some of the artisanal miners who had gathered outside the mine were ordered to leave.

“We don’t want any pictures taken from here. Those who came out of the shafts, please go home. We have stopped operations here. We only want to see relatives of those missing, everyone let’s go,” said one of the security people.

Eyewitnesses said the two miners, whose bodies were retrieved, were crushed by a boulder which fell off the collapsing shaft.

“The two were at the entrance of the shaft so there is a boulder which fell on them as the shaft collapsed, they were cut into halves but we don’t know what became of their colleagues who were inside the shaft, about 20 of them,” said an artisanal miner, Mr Mthokozisi Moyo.

Mr Moyo said the shaft where their colleagues were trapped was over 8km long.

“From outside up to the entrance of the shaft which collapsed, we need to walk for about 4km while underground, but the shaft itself is over 8km,” he said.
The Herald

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