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The Herald – Zimbabwe
Younger Zimbabweans may never have had the chance to stand at the bus stop or orderly terminus, waiting for a time-tabled transport system. They have neither used a public phone nor been inside an electric train.
Here is a generation that may have begun to believe that disorder is the Zimbabwean way.
However, things are changing. President Mnangagwa has started the process of bringing back much-needed order back to the Zimbabwean way of life and this is in line with the grand plan of Vision 2030 — to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy.
The return of Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) is only the beginning of better things to come. Zupco, Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe are the veins of the Zimbabwean economy.
These three companies need to be revived not only to bring relief to the travelling public, but to facilitate development and Vision 2030.
A functioning mass public transport system has been long overdue.
Many Zimbabweans had given up on the revival of Zupco after decades of having to make do with kombis and pirate taxis.
Being harassed and extorted had become the new normal.
On Tuesday, however, an aura of nostalgia grabbed a number of Zimbabweans who in the 1980s and early ‘90s experienced a functioning Zupco with terminuses, conductors, ticketing points and inspectors. The buses were always on time and did not have to wait to be full as they were well subsidised.
For young adults, this was a new experience and eye-opener. Public transport can be convenient, cheap and decent all at the same time.
The e-ticketing system introduced by Zupco is also a welcome development. In this information age, travelling should not only be made cheap, but as easy as possible.
We commend President Mnangagwa and his Government for the innovation that has restored the dignity of commuters.
Already, prophets of doom have started predicting the death of Zupco which they say, with fares between 50 cents and $1,50 is too cheap, but Government has made it clear that the company is here to stay.
Yesterday, Higher Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amos Murwira told Parliament that the electronic ticket system will result in the efficient collection of revenue.
“We have developed a tap and go system, an electronic ticketing system. The 50 cents can make the company make huge profits. Most of the high prices that we normally see are as a result of inefficiencies, Zupco is able to make profit even if it charges 30 cents per trip,” said Prof Murwira, who is the acting Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
The Zupco intervention in the wake of fuel price increases is part of restrained interventions in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), Government’s economic blueprint.
Following the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s announcement on the removal of the 1:1 foreign currency exchange rate for the procurement of fuel by oil marketing companies, and the subsequent statement released by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority announcing new maximum retail prices of fuel, industrialist Busisa Moyo tweeted: “Running budget surpluses, removing subsidies, returning to authentic market fundamentals with restrained ‘interventions’ is the path of sound economics. A line in the sand on corruption, a forum for economic dialogue, growing production, creating jobs, and social security nets is next.”
Even business is on board and in agreement with Government’s interventions.
Austerity is not an enemy of the people after all.
This was enunciated by Finance and Economic Development Secretary Mr George Guvamatanga when he said: “Any responsible Government, even during austerity measures, should provide safety nets for the vulnerable members of our society. There is no austerity without social safety net. It will be a very irresponsible for Government not to have social safety nets.”
Al Ahram Weekly - Egypt
By: Azza Radwan Sedky
Foreign surveys on Egypt can paint a dismal picture of spiritless and subservient Egyptian women. It is high time we held such surveys accountable and exposed their inaccuracies.
I have always been sceptical of the surveys conducted by, say, Thomson Reuters or Gallop on Egypt. Such surveys leave me perturbed and disconcerted, for neither the questions asked, the methodology applied, the experts probed, nor the results established make much sense. Today, as I examine the latest surveys, my reservations are validated.
In a 2013 Thomson Reuters survey, Egyptian women fared worst among the 22 Arab states, even as women in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Libya were caught up in wars.
In 2015, Gallop decided Egyptians were a very unhappy people; out of 143 countries surveyed, Egypt came in at 123. Laughably, the survey conductors asked passers-by, “did you feel well-rested yesterday? Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” I bet many Egyptians walked on, ignoring those conducting the survey.
In 2017, Thomson Reuters ranked Cairo as the most dangerous megacity for women from a list of 19. Most Cairene women will find this bizarre since we find Cairo to be very safe. By the same token, a Mexican friend once visited me in Cairo. In an involuntary act, and because she did this elsewhere, she rolled the taxi window up in anticipation of some violent act or other. I told her Egyptian bystanders never carry out harmful acts.
Another friend, this time a Canadian one, found the fact that children were riding their tricycles on the curb at 8 pm in Heliopolis, unaccompanied, to be quite exceptional and wonderful at the same time.
In a 2018 Thomson Reuters survey, despite not appearing in the top ten countries in most categories, Egypt came in as the eighth most-dangerous country for women in terms of cultural and religious traditions or customary practices. Granted female genital mutilation (FGM) has not been eradicated in Egypt, but the numbers are slowly inching downwards.
According to the same report, in terms of sexual violence Egypt also ranked as the tenth most-dangerous country in the world. Any Egyptian living on Egyptian soil would find such results to be inexplicable. Sexual violence is not endemic in Egypt.
We won’t delve further into these surveys per se, but let’s turn the tables on these studies and see for ourselves what the women of Egypt have gained in recent years. First, let’s pay tribute to the women who stood their ground on 25 January 2011 and later on
30 June 2013. Standing shoulder to shoulder and side by side with their male counterparts, these women demanded change, a feat in itself, and they got it.
More recently, Egyptian women stood in solidarity with men to implement their voting rights in the 2019 referendum despite age or physical challenges. One such Egyptian woman, who had no arms, was photographed using her toes to sign the registration sheet. Blind women were led into polling stations. These women were there to tell the world that they all have rights.
I also envision momentous transformations for the simplest Egyptian women. Sayeda, let’s call her so, lives somewhere in rural Egypt. She suffered from FGM as a child, but she would fight tooth and nail before she let her own daughters go through a similar indignity, having learnt the lesson from TV awareness campaigns and NGOs calling for the eradication of the custom.
I know of some mothers who went along with the custom for their eldest daughters, but adamantly refused to let their younger ones go through the same ordeal.
Sayeda grew up with no electricity and a rudimentary sewage system. Today, she has both, and clean water too, as improved waste disposal and water access now reach millions. She was illiterate, but now she goes to adult education classes and can read and write. Not only does this empower her, but it also provides her with crucial information about child-rearing, birth control and healthcare for her children.
Sayeda used the government’s new Financial Inclusion Initiative and the support of NGOs to receive a loan that she invested in a cow. Its dairy products she sells for extra cash, which has raised her self-esteem and empowered her further. She’s now paid off the loan, and her next one will go towards a sewing machine.
According to Egypt’s Micro, Small and Medium-Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA), “rural women control 51 per cent of all MSMEDA-funded projects,” and women have become “a major driver for small and medium-sized projects in the country.” What often starts as a small individual effort later becomes a business that employs other female workers.
Like millions of other Egyptian women, Sayeda or her husband may have been cured of Hepatitis C, as have two million others, when the government made treatments available for all citizens. She may have found out through the government’s 100 Million Healthy Lives Initiative that she suffered from Hepatitis C, and then she would have been immediately put on the proper medication for free.
By March this year, over 36 million Egyptians had been screened in total since the initiative began, in the hope that by 2022 Egypt will be free of Hepatitis C. Only a few years back, one in every ten Egyptians was affected by the disease.
On the other end of the spectrum, meet the Egyptian women who have shattered glass ceilings in all fields. As social norms change, women gain empowerment. Women lawmakers are at the helm playing pivotal roles in Egypt’s future: there are now eight women ministers, 89 parliamentarians and two governors. Women parliamentarians will form 25 per cent of parliament after the 2019 referendum is implemented.
Egyptian women continue to gain rights and play a significant role in society. They have become airline pilots, professionals, entrepreneurs, judges and members of the police force.
Egyptian women are overcoming the stereotypes depicted in the foreign surveys. Egyptian women swimmers, weightlifters and Taekwondo and squash players rank amongst the best athletes in the world. Opera singers known worldwide, jewellery makers that create unique Egyptian brands, or accessory producers whose bags sell for thousands all around the world are just some Egyptian women.
Yet, Thomson Reuters and other survey conductors don’t want to see the leaps and bounds Egyptian women have taken. I suggest they take a closer and better look at today’s Egyptian woman. She’s capable of doing wonders.