Ridiculous news of the week


The story that women giving birth in Zimbabwe were being charged US$5 every time they scream as a penalty for raising false alarm spread on the net like wildfire on Friday.

It was a gem of a story but was broken by the Washington Post. And I wondered how the Post had come up with such a beautiful story about Zimbabwe- not that it had good intentions- because I too would have loved to break such a best seller.

The source was the 48-page Global Corruption Barometer 2013 just released by Transparency International.

I was still enthusiastic how the Post had picked out this gem. I downloaded the report, braced for a day of reading because I did not want to miss this gem.

I was totally surprised after just going through the cover pages to realise that it was in the first sentence of the first paragraph of the report and read:

“Every day, all over the world, ordinary people bear the cost of corruption. In many countries, corruption affects people from birth until death. In Zimbabwe, women giving birth in a local hospital have been charged US$5 every time they scream as a penalty for raising false alarm. In Bangladesh, the recent collapse of a multi-story factory, which killed more than 1100 people due to a breach of basic safety standards, has been linked to allegations of corruption.”

In the note accompanying that sentence the report said Transparency International Zimbabwe followed up this case with the Deputy Prime Minister, who demanded a full investigation to be carried out by the Ministry of Health. Since then, no further reports have been received and Transparency International Zimbabwe maintains close contact with the local community to monitor the situation.

The note had a link to a story which said:“Eight mothers in Zimbabwe die in labour every day, according to UN figures. The country’s health system has borne the brunt of years of economic turmoil. Expectant mothers often struggle to afford the mandatory hospital delivery fee of approximately US $50, which is around a third of an average Zimbabwean’s yearly income. Many have no choice but to give birth at home, without professional help.

“As part of their community outreach programme, TI Zimbabwe learned about how corruption was making the situation even worse. They were told that nurses in a local hospital were charging women US $5 every time that they screamed while giving birth, as a penalty for raising false alarm. Women who refused or were unable to pay their delivery fees were allegedly detained at the hospital, and charged interest on their debt until they settled it. Some say they called on family members to help them escape. Others who were eventually released reported being hassled by debt collectors who demanded both the hospital fees and additional ‘collection charges’……………”

As if not to be outdone The Guardian, which the same day said President Robert Mugabe has launched a slick, well-oil campaign said he was plotting to assassinate South African President Jacob Zuma.

It said the document which it had, dated 2 July said: “On Monday this week Mugabe hired six Lebanese nationals to try and assassinate Lindiwe Zulu, who is Zuma’s advisor. The six met clandestinely with Mugabe yesterday to be briefed by him on the details of their mission … The six were told they must not concentrate on Zulu only, but should also pay attention to Zuma himself, and if they get a chance to do so they must assassinate him as well – but everything must appear as an accident.”

“Mugabe promised the six Lebonese [sic] an undisclosed fortune in cash if they succeed in getting rid of the two who [sic] South Africa senior officials who are giving him a lot of trouble. Names of the six could not be established, but they entered into the country via Zambia in the last few days, where they had previously held a close meeting with [president] Michael Sata before travelling into Zimbabwe.”

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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