Silas Masindi was not entirely surprised by his HIV test results. The dapper garment trader, who discovered earlier this year that he was infected with the Aids virus, admits to using condoms somewhat erratically before he remarried three years ago. "I would meet a girl, use a condom, but after four months stop using them," he says.
The topic of campaign finance is rarely far from the minds of politicians or pundits in the run-up to elections -- and Zimbabwe is no exception to this rule. With the country in the midst of a political and economic crisis, it may even be a hotter topic of discussion here than elsewhere. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe in six weeks' time.
And so, another year in Zimbabwe -- and in less than three months' time, another election. It is a prospect that few seem to welcome. Compare the political environment in the country now with what it was ahead of the last parliamentary poll in 2000, and the lack of voter enthusiasm is not hard to understand.
Zimbabwe's clothing manufacturers understand all too well why Asian economies are often referred to as "tigers". With feline swiftness, low-priced imports from the East have cut a swathe through the local clothing, textile and footwear market. The influx of Asian goods now ranks high on Zimbabwean manufacturers' list of worries -- which also includes triple-digit inflation, shrinking consumer demand and political instability.
Food and politics, as Zimbabweans are finding out, are not always mutually exclusive. If they were, what would explain official claims of a bumper harvest when independent assessments suggest otherwise? The clue seems to be parliamentary elections -- now only six months away. A UN-led assessment mission says about five million of the country's 12-million people will need food aid before the next harvest in March.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), celebrated its fifth anniversary over the weekend. However, ceremonies to mark the event were overshadowed by the question mark hanging over the party's participation in next year's parliamentary election.
<li><a class='standardtextsmall' href="http://www.mg.co.za/Content/pd.asp?cg=BreakingNews-Africa&ao=122141">Mugabe to seize bankers' farms</a>
Political office has never been for the faint-of-heart. Getting into office is often a dirty business, and staying there a trying one. There's no denying, however, that legislators from developing countries -- in the case of this article, Zimbabwe -- face a particularly challenging set of circumstances.
It wasn't an instance where absence made the heart grow fonder. A three-day regional conference on improving access to Aids treatments held in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, in March failed to attract a single government representative from the host country. About 150 delegates from elsewhere in the region attended the summit.
At first glance Lupane seems no different from other rural districts in Zimbabwe. Ironically, it is the district's lesser revealed life and issues that the media and politicians are now interested in. An election campaign in this, one of Zimbabwe's key rural constituencies, has revived memories of state brutality two decades ago.
With few obvious hassles, a local pressure group, Bulawayo Agenda, kicked off a string of public meetings late last year. Twenty-nine gatherings, held as part of its "township series", provided residents of townships with a rare platform to speak out on issues of concern.
Since its inception in 2000, Zimbabwe's national youth training programme has been dogged by a welter of criticism and demands for its disbandment. The main complaint is that it is simply a ruse by the ruling Zanu-PF government to brainwash hapless youths, and turn them into a militia for terrorising the opposition.
A glance around the Jock and Saddle pub gives a telling glimpse of the uneasy path that Zimbabweans are treading towards racial integration. Although an exclusively white club at first, the Saddle's fairer are seated, demurely, at one side of the horseshoe-shaped bar. On the opposite side blacks -- nouveau riche farmers, traders and young professionals -- cluster around their drinks.
Zimbabwe's main constitutional change pressure group has taken its campaign to a level, demanding that the next general election be held only under a new democratic constitution. The National Constitutional Assembly says to get into another election before changing the rules would be self-defeating.