Live Updates by Wadzanai Mhombera

1428: We end our live updates. Thank you.

1420: The programme is coming to and end. Mrs Margaret Sangarwe gives a vote of thanks.

1416: ED concludes – he lauds the organisers of the interactive dialogue with women organisations, saying it is a first of its kind in Zimbabwe, on lighter note, he says if it ever happened, maybe it was during the time he had ‘jumped the border’. ED says next time he will bring his entire cabinet so that they respond to various concerns.

1410 ED asks Minister Chinamasa to give further details on the issue of cash shortages.  Says govt is having to import US dollar notes from the Federal Reserve of the United States. Chinamasa says “of every $100 we receive, 90 percent goes to wages”. Says the best solution is to move towards a cashless society.

1409: On cash shortages, ED speaks of the recent US$100 million soft loan from the UK, says it will help to ease cash shortages.

1407: Responding to political will on youths, ED says his 5th interface will be with youths.

1359: On the issue of employment, ED says were are coming from a situation where the economy had collapsed, the country lost its currency, in 2009 a multicurrency system was introduced. “As we go forward, it is necessary that we build our own currency,” says ED.

1358: Responding to the Matabeleland representative, ED says “Zimbabwe is a unitary state” and there is no need to talk about regions, says “we are a people together”.

1355: On violence, “Whenever I see people who are gathered, like here, I preach unity,unity. I ask all political leaders to commit ourselves to peace, unity and love for each other…” ED says people must accept divergent views and let the best idea win.

1350: ED responds to final panel – on Zanu PF primaries, he admits it was quite disappointing that only about 10 percent are women. Says there is need to find a formula to achieve a reasonable representation of women, adding that the current formula is not working. Noted that there are 60 seats reserved for women in parliament where they compete amongst themselves – says this was agreed amongst political parties.

1342: 3rd presenter focuses on financial inclusion. Says women are still not accessing the funds unveiled by the RBZ as soft loans to assist women. Banks want fixed assets as collateral, but women in rural areas only have houses made of pole and dagga which banks do not accept. In a nutshell, she speaks of the stringent requirements for a woman to access this financial facility. Says the “open for business mantra” seems to be targeting foreign investors, but there is nothing being said about domestic investment. Says ED must talk about intra-Africa trade when he meets his African counterparts. Laments the cash shortages which are costing women in business, RTGS, ecocash, etc, has charges.

1339: 2nd presenter says she is representing women and girls from Matabeleland. Says lack of employment opportunities for youths, girls, says primary education is still expensive. Asks for political will to address youths issues in Matabeleland.

1332: First presenter, a woman from Mash Central, represents women’s rights advocates. Asks why very few women made it in the Zanu PF primaries? Says rural women facing violence. She says women’s rights advocates are being asked many questions when they approach their home areas to talk, educate women about their rights. They face challenges in being allowed to meet women and girls….they are asked who are you?, who sent you?, who is behind you?

1331: The 3rd and final panel is now taking its position. MC says it will be brief.

1328: On disabilities issues, ED says he has appointed Cde Joshua Malinga as Special Advisor on Disability issues in the Office of the President. Says Cde Malinga has presented a paper on disability issues which will be looked at soon.

1325: ED explains Command Agric Programme in detail. Says govt recently launched Command Livestock in Matabeleland Provinces

1320: ED says farmers grain payments from GMB is now timeous, says this started with the launch of the Command Agric Programme which he spearhead starting 2016-2017 season.

1313: ED says a new diamond policy is expected soon, and part of what the policy will address is the issue of ploughing back to the community in which mining is taking place. Compensation of people moved from their traditional homes to pave way for mining will be included in the new legislation. Also any company engaging in mining will be legally required to craft a social responsibility programme. Says 100 days initiative is an ongoing programme, and each minister had to present their plan. On land, says farms have different sizes, some farms are being downsized to also allocate others….adds that an individual woman has a right to land.  “If a man owns a land and dies, the spouse automatically inherits that land, but if there are weaknesses in that law, the Justice Minister or my drafters must be able to look at it…,” says ED.

1303: ED now responds to the 2nd panel. Access to clean water…..says when he went to China he secured a loan facility for improving the access to clean water in Harare. Say they have secured borehole drilling machines which can reach water which is very deep from the surface…..the machines are currently being deployed to the rural areas. Classrooms – the challenges is the number of schools is not corresponding with the number of students, says it’s an issue which govt is looking at. On health care, says free maternal health care must include all the necessary requirements for a safe delivery – to engage Health Minister. On guest houses, washing facilities at borders – ED challenges private sector to chip in. Says govt is working to provide such facilities, initially at 4 ports now.

1254: 5th presenter – a blind woman, from the federation of women with disabilities. Speaks on challenges faced by women, girls with disabilities. Appeals for disability inclusion, says they face stigma and discrimination.Says she hopes that by this opportunity to meet the President their concerns will be taken aboard going forward. Women with disability have not been able to access housing, even landlords are reluctant to stay with women with disabilities. Health delivery system – no sign language interpretations in public hospitals hence they do not get adequate care. Public institutions are not accessible to women with disabilities in terms of infrastructure. Says when ED was VP and Justice Minister, he ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – asks that it be domesticated so that the necessary legislation is put in place. Appeals for govt to recognise their rights.

1249: 4th presenter – a rural women farmer, women being displaced from their land speaks about value addition of their farming produce but they are paid through ecocash and they lose out when trying to cash it. Appeals for A2 farms to be given to women, rehabilitation of roads which they use to carry their produce 

1245: 3rd presenter from Chimanimani speaks about the mining of diamonds in Chiadzwa  – the concerns – lack of plough back to the community, water is contaminated by chemicals used in mining, being relocated without compensation, women also want claims to benefit from diamonds, pollution of rivers.

1240: 2nd presenter is a cross-border trader, speaks about the challenges associated with their sector – i.e. services at borders, tax rebates, how they are handled by border inspection officials, some borders are closed early e.g. Plumtree and Chirundu border posts.

1233: It is now time for the 2nd panel for women who will engage ED on the economy and business issues. The first presenter speaks about service delivery, lack of running water from tapes, women have to go to boreholes early in the morning, risking rape at dawn. Says if under 5s get free treatment at hospitals, the medication must also be for free. Maternal health must be free including the materials required for a smooth delivery.

1228: A young school girl Tanyaradzwa Mutate from Zengeza One High School presents a petition regarding access to sanitary wear as girls. Says they are having to use stockings or dirty cloth in place of sanitary pads. Some girls have to stay away from school for 5 or so days per month when they are menstruating because they have no sanitary wear to use. The petition is girls want to have sanitary pads for free. Tanyaradzwa hands over the petition to Pres ED. The first panelists, including Tanyaradzwa pose for a photo session with Pres ED. That marks the end of the first panel discussion.

1225: “The burden of date rape, sexual harassment is our burden together….am a listening President and Zim is in good hands…..I thought Misihairabwi was abusing me but now I realise I am now getting to hear things that I didn’t know were happening,” said President Mnangagwa.

1219: Say its worse when young girls are involved in prostitution…says it is sad. Says police must be informed of such activities so that it can be dealt with. On students loans, says he didn’t know the requirements are stringent and exclude many students…..”I was in the former administration, so I share the guilty…”, says he will engage the Minister of Higher Education to address this. ED says he has taken note of sexual harassment of university students, …there is need to understand how its being perpetuated….tasks Mrs Mabhiza to arrange a meeting with female students, while also engaging universities management.

1215: ED response -“When I was in the Justice Ministry I asked ministry to draft a law which criminalises marrying a child who is below 18, outlawing child marriages…” Asks where that bill is now…..directs that the bill with be tabled in the first session of the next parliament.

1209: 3rd girl in the panel is a 22 year old university student. Speaks on students’ sexual harassment at colleges. Says even lecturers are sexually harassing female students in exchange for passing exams.

1159: The 2nd girl  (18 years old) appeals to ED to assist vulnerable children to go to school, some of them who are raped, some of them end up turning to constitution. Appeals to have BEAM pay for such children school fees.

1150:One of them a mother of 2, shares her experiences to the President – of date rape at 15 years old and was chased away from home by parents and went to live with her boyfriend had a miscarriage and later had another pregnancy. 

1147: It is now time to commence the conversations with the President. There will be 3 panels which will engage ED. First panel, women want him to appreciate the living realities of women. 3 young girls are now on the panel to converse with the President.

1145: ED greets the delegates and expressing his joy to interact with the women. (The MC Mrs Mabhiza says the programme is an informal one, not the usual podium speeches that people are used to).

1140: Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Cde Sithembiso Nyoni now giving her remarks. Commends ED’s open door policy which shall be remembered as a hallmark of his leadership. She introduces the President – speaks about ED’s credentials, the ministries that he served in before being appointed VP and later President after Operation Restore Legacy. She asks the President to greet the women.

1131: Minister Chinamasa now giving a legal overview to the delegates, as Acting Minister of  Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Says Pres ED has been the longest Minister of Justice in post-independent Zimbabwe, and the longest serving Sec for Legal Affairs in Zanu PF. Says for 17 years he has been instrumental in many pieces of legislation that have emancipated and empowered women in Zimbabwe and protection of children. He said the President is concerned that women participation in the recent primary elections was very low and asked what can be done to increase their numbers. Says women have rightly sought to interact with him. Speaks about bills on children which will be deliberated on soon, and talks about how the new constitution came about – when all legislators came together in unity.

1126: Afro Poetic Voice performs a poem on women

1118: UN Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli on the podium to give a solidarity message. Says SDG number 5 speaks to gender equality and is critical for socio-economic development. Gender is one of the key pillars of the UN cooperation with Zimbabwe. Says “Indeed women’s rights are human rights”. Mr Parajuli expresses the United Nations’ commitment to gender equality.

1109: Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sofia Calltorp gives her solidarity remarks. Speaks on increasing gender equality. Sweden has an agenda for change to ensure women’s rights are respected, equal rights to inheritance, reproductive health. Says Sweden is keen to see prioritisation of women in all aspects of life including the participation of women in positions of influence. She said she is also keen to see increased participation of women in the coming harmonised elections.

1107:  President Mnangagwa is meeting several women’s organisations representatives in Harare this Friday morning under the topic “Women’s Conversations on legislation with his Excellency the President of Zimbabwe”.

1055: Legislator Mrs Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga now giving an overview of the meeting – why women have seen it necessary to meet the President. She has come as the Chairperson of the Parly Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. Says accessing the President is always difficult because of gate-keepers around a president, says some them vanoita kunge midzimu (spirit mediums)…. She thanks the President for agreeing to meet the women. Blasts those who behave as if they own the President. Commends ED in that when asked if he could meet women he only had 2 questions…1. What is the venue? 2. What is the programme?. Commends Justice Perm Sec Mrs Mabhiza for opening her door to women, door to the minister and the door to the President.

1050: Minister of State for Harare Cde Mirriam Chikukwa takes to the podium to welcome delegates to Harare Province.

1048: Legislator Mrs Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga now on the podium to introduce some of the women organisations who have come for the interactive dialogue. She says close to 40 women’s organisations are present.

1032: Perm Sec of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza conducting introductions, welcomes everyone. Says this is an interactive dialogue of the President with women on legal issues. The Ministry is mandated to translate the constitution into all the 16 languages recognised by the constitution of Zimbabwe. She explains how the Ministry of Justice works and locations of their offices countrywide. Says 59 women, part of the 3 000 inmates granted amnesty by  ED on 21 March, are back in prison.

1028: Prayer by Pastor Shana

1027: National Anthem

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is meeting women at local hotel in Harare this morning.