Zimbabwean president says land reform programme irreversible as compensation set to begin
The president said this in an address to mark the nation’s 39th independence anniversary in Harare.
However, he said the government would compensate the former white commercial farmers for improvements on the land in line with the country’s constitution.
He spoke as his government recently announced that it will soon start compensating the former white commercial farmers only for improvements on the land.
This move has reportedly not been well received by some members of the ruling ZANU-PF party, who feel the government is broke and should not make such payments at a time when the economy is struggling.
Mnangagwa said the country would never regret taking back its land.
“Our constitution bids us to compensation in respect to improvements done on land before acquisition. This will be done as and when resources are available,” he said.
The government set aside 53 million RTGS dollars in the 2019 budget to compensate the farmers and only those in financial distress will receive the interim advance payments.
Representatives of the affected farmers, the Commercial Framers Union and the Compensation Steering Committee are currently in the process of identifying and registering former farm owners, who want to participate in the interim advance payments scheme.
He said the government would also address issues related to the land reform that include multiple farm ownership, disregard for maximum farm size and underutilisation of acquired land.
He said his government would focus more on unlocking the value of land and ensuring maximum productivity to quicken modernisation and industrialisation of the economy.
Mnangagwa also slammed businesses that were wantonly hiking prices of basic commodities and described such conduct as “inhumane, unethical and unpatriotic.”
The president said the government was implementing measures to stabilise the economy, including the recent introduction of the market-based exchange rate system.
“However, the government is alarmed by the recent wanton and indiscriminate increase in prices, which has brought about untold suffering to the people.
“This conduct by stakeholders in business, industry and commerce is inhumane, unethical, unpatriotic and goes against the grain of economic dialogue that we have initiated in this country,” the president said.
Zimbabwe has witnessed a fresh wave of price increases of most basic commodities in recent days as the nation battles foreign currency shortages that have affected importation of essential commodities such as fuel, drugs and wheat.
On Tuesday this week, millers and bakers increased maize meal and bread prices citing high input costs.
Bread price nearly doubled to 3.50 RTGS dollars (a new transitional currency) from 2 dollars, further making it unaffordable to many people.
Mnangagwa said the country was this year celebrating its independence anniversary under a heavy cloud of grief and sorrow due to Cyclone Idai disaster which left a trail of destruction and killed over 300 people while hundreds are still missing.
“I particularly thank our brothers and sisters (in Mozambique) for according dignity to the remains of our people, who were swept into their territory,” he said.
“The cyclone has indeed left a deep scar which will be with us for a long time to come.
“We mourn with the governments and people of sister republics of Mozambique and Malawi who also lost precious lives due to Cyclone Idai.”
The independence celebrations ran under the theme: “Zimbabwe @39 – Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030″.
Zimbabwean film industry makes Netflix debut with ‘Cook off’
Zimbabwean film, Cook Off, a romance about a struggling single mother who finds love during a cooking competition, premiered on Netflix on Monday, a debut that its makers hope will propel the country’s small film sector to global audiences.
Zimbabwe often grabs headlines for its economic woes and political crises, but producer Joe Njagu said the film sought to project a different image.
“I wanted the world to know that there is more to Zimbabwe than what they hear. We also fall in love, we also enjoy nice food. We also have very nice stories,” said Njagu.
With a production budget of only $8,000, Njagu said he used his personal relationships with the cast and crew to sign deferred contracts and to bring on board studio owners and equipment hire companies without making immediate payment.
The low budget film was shot in 2017 but very few people in Zimbabwe had heard of it, even after it won several awards at international film festivals, including in the Netherlands, Durban and United States.
“It’s a big ‘hello, this is Zimbabwe we are here’. It’s an opportunity for us to introduce our content to the rest of the world. It’s really a big deal for us,” Njagu said.
He would not say how much the Netflix deal was worth but that it was enough to pay the deferred expenses and make a profit.
“It’s a different story, it’s no longer deferred payments, it’s now commissioned work, it’s now getting budgets to do productions,” he said.
“We can’t fall short anymore. This is the world stage.”
Zimbabwean economy to slow down in 2020 as COVID-19 takes toll: information minister
“In tandem with other global economies, Zimbabwe’s economy has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and growth is expected to slow down. The drought experienced in the 2018-19 and the current season coupled with diminished access to external sources of foreign currency further compounded Zimbabwe’s economic situation,” she said in a post-Cabinet media briefing late Wednesday.
She said the government had put a number of measures in place to rescue the economy.
“There are however, a number of measures, both fiscal and monetary, that are being implemented to address the challenges that the country is going through in the absence of financial support from international financial institutions,” she said.
Zimbabwe has been under Western sanctions for two decades, penalties that have cost its economy over 100 billion U.S. dollars over the period, the minister said.
Mutsvangwa said the current price hikes and exchange rate fluctuations were more speculative, and did not reflect the economic fundamentals in the country.
The country has lately experienced a wave of price increases, particularly of basic commodities, and sharp devaluation of the local currency.
“It is also stressed that the current price and foreign exchange rate fluctuations are clearly divorced from real economic fundamentals and can also be attributed to speculative tendencies.
“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will announce measures which should see the situation stabilizing in due course,” she said.
Zimbabwean president hails Chinese medical team for support in fighting COVID-19 pandemic
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday expressed Zimbabwe’s gratitude to the visiting team of Chinese medical experts for sharing their experience and knowledge with Zimbabwe’s frontline medical staff in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
He extended the appreciation in a letter read out by Zimbabwean Health Minister Obadiah Moyo at a joint press conference at the conclusion of the team’s two week visit to the country.
“I write to express to you, and your colleagues, my deep personal gratitude, and that of my Government and the people of Zimbabwe, for your unwavering support by sharing the expertise garnered from China‘s victorious battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mnangagwa said in the letter addressed to the leader of the Chinese medical team, Zhu Yimin.
He said Zimbabwe’s medical staff had benefited immensely from the team’s frontline knowledge in fighting COVID-19.
“It is my hope, as you leave us, that you carry fond memories of Zimbabwean people in your hearts and minds and that you will, forever, take pride in knowing that you have made a personal and hugely valuable contribution to ensuing that Zimbabwe, like China, is poised to emerge victorious from its battle against this deadly pandemic,” Mnangagwa said.
These are Harare, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces.
The team also donated medical supplies to the hospitals they visited including Marondera Provincial Hospital, Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and Mvurwi Hospital.
The team which arrived in the country on May 11, met Mnangagwa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, senior government officials and World Health Organization officials, among others.
The team comes from southern China‘s Hunan Province and is made up of experts from infectious diseases and respiratory illnesses, intensive medicine, infection control, traditional Chinese medicine as well as public health and nursing.
At the press conference, Zhu Yimin presented a report with their recommendations on fighting COVID-19 to the Zimbabwean government.
Zhu said measures taken by Zimbabwe to fight the pandemic have been effective so far, as shown by the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases that stand at 51, including 18 recoveries and four deaths since the onset of the outbreak on March 20.
He said they were encouraged to note that the Zimbabwean government greatly values the advice and proposals from the Chinese medical experts.
Zimbabweans go hungry as coronavirus compounds climate woes
Now she can hardly put together a meal a day as the country faces a deepening food crisis.
Sitting on a bed in her two-room lodgings in Harare’s poor Mbare township, Pamire told Reuters she had exhausted the little food she had stocked up during the first 21 days of an extended seven-week lockdown.
“We just eat once a day now. I wish the government could give us food to feed my family,” Pamire said.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, 7.7 million Zimbabweans faced food shortages after a drought and cyclone in 2019 and patchy rains this year, linked to climate change and worsened by rampant inflation and a foreign exchange shortage.
Now it faces a triple threat of climate breakdown, monetary woes and a new economic crisis caused by the lockdown.
The government’s latest figures show that 8.5 million Zimbabweans are now food insecure, while international aid agencies say up to 45 million people face hunger in southern Africa due to climate-induced food shortages.
The government has promised a food grant of 2.4 billion Zimbabwe dollars (96 million dollars) targeting one million people for six months, without saying where it would get the money.
It is pleading with donors, who would normally be reluctant to help because of its debt arrears, and this month it received 7 million dollars from the World Bank.
Pamire said she had registered with social welfare officials but she, like many others, is yet to receive anything.
That has left the burden to fend for the family with her 19-year-old daughter Anna, who sells ice lollies and bottled water at Mbare vegetable market at the risk of arrest by police because it is illegal.
“At times in the evening when we don’t have maize-meal, mum will just tell us to have the ice lollies and water and we will just go to sleep,” said Anna.
On a good day Anna sells a pack of ice lollies for 110 Zimbabwe dollars (4.40 dollars). After buying new stock, only 1 dollar is left for the family of seven to buy food, including the staple maize-meal and sugar and cooking oil.
Pamire, who lives with her four grown children and two grandchildren, used to buy clothes and shoes from Zambia for resell at home and earned 100 dollars after a good trip.
But the border is closed, her passport expired, and she does not have money to renew it.
The market where Pamire’s two adult sons carted goods around for a fee has been shut for six weeks, just like all informal markets from where millions of Zimbabweans were earning a living.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
WFP pays tribute to China for food assistance to hungry Zimbabweans
The World Food Program (WFP) on Friday paid tribute to China for helping provide food assistance to Zimbabwe, where thousands of people are benefiting from the country’s generosity during the lean season.
China has over the years provided assistance to thousands of hungry Zimbabweans who are affected by cyclone-induced floods and droughts.
The WFP said on Twitter that it had managed to deliver the all important food to vulnerable people in the country through China‘s assistance.
“Zimbabwe is facing its worst hunger crisis in more than decade. With thanks to funding from China-WFP has delivered vital food assistance to almost 250,000 people so they can meet their daily food needs at the peak of the lean season… Thank you to the people of China,” said the WFP.
China has come in as an important partner for Zimbabwe in its fight against hunger and, during January-May, provided “timely” food assistance to Zimbabwe.
“Severe drought and economic instability has hit Zimbabwe hard, driving 7.7 million people into hunger. A timely contribution from China towards WFP lean season assistance provided rice, beans and vegetable oil,” said the WFP in March.
Zimbabwe has had two consecutive bad agricultural seasons, starting with poor and erratic rainfall in 2018-2019 coupled with flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai in March 2019 and an equally bad 2019-2020 season.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said maize production in 2019 was 40 percent below the country’s five-year average, while on-going harvesting of staple cereals will also be poor.
Zimbabwe is one of three beneficiaries from China‘s assistance following the signing of agreements between the Asian country and WFP in September 2019 to provide emergency food assistance to three Southern African countries.
The other two countries are Mozambique and Namibia.
The agreements were signed by WFP high-level management and China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).
Under the framework of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, China‘s support enables the WFP to procure food including rice, maize, pulses, fortified cereals, vegetable oil for more than 577,000 of the most vulnerable people in the three countries, mainly women and children.
China has provided continual and concrete support to WFP’s humanitarian operations in various countries and regions in recent years, contributing significantly to WFP’s mission of saving lives and changing lives.
According to a joint report released in April by various international agencies, Zimbabwe remains in the grip of severe food insecurity.
The report anticipated a worsening food insecurity situation in 2020 with an estimated 4.3 million rural Zimbabweans, including children, in need of urgent action.
Zimbabwean president meets visiting Chinese medical team
The medical team also brought a consignment of medical supplies which include ventilators, nucleic acid testing kits, face masks and medical protective suits.
“I’m confident that our medical experts and the frontline health personnel would learn from your experience in dealing with this pandemic, which has destroyed lives and the livelihoods across the world, including Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
“This gesture by your visit attests to the determination by both countries to deepen bilateral corporation,” he added.
Mnangagwa also expressed gratitude for the medical supplies and equipment received from China through the Chinese embassy as well as the Chinese business community in Zimbabwe since the disease was detected.
“The government and the people of Zimbabwe cherish the assistance as it comes at a critical moment in this fight against the pandemic,” he said.
He said the technical support that Zimbabwe has received and continues to receive from China is a clear testimony of the excellent bilateral relations.
“China and Zimbabwe enjoy a comprehensive strategic partnership of corporation. This is a great reflection of our rock solid friendship and the value behind China‘s vision for a community with a shared future for China, Africa, and the world at large,” he said.
“I would also like to reiterate here that our aid to Zimbabwe and our cooperation with Zimbabwe are always practical and visible, which means they must be result-oriented and truly serve the development of Zimbabwe and the well being of Zimbabwe people,” he added.
Guo said that COVID-19 is a common challenge facing humanity, and the most effective weapon against the new enemy is international coordination and cooperation.
Zimbabwean doctors, nurses strike due to lack of protective clothing
Tawanda Zvakada of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said on Wednesday that Zimbabwean doctors and nurses had embarked on strike.
“Our members are being exposed to the virus in their line of duty. We have just downed tools demanding protective clothing from the government,” Zvakada told dpa.
“The Zimbabwe Nurses Association also said that all nurses are withdrawing their services until their demands are met.’’
These include allowances, protective clothing and water for hospitals.
Zimbabwe has recorded three coronavirus cases and one death.
The ailing country’s lack of preparedness has been exposed by the family of the deceased, prominent broadcaster Zororo Makamba.
According to the family the hospital where the deceased was admitted had no running water and were told to bring its own ventilator and power socket. (dpa/ NAN)
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim
EU suspends sanctions on Zimbabweans, warns of humanitarian crisis
The EU is suspending its remaining sanctions against four Zimbabwean individuals, including long-time president Robert Mugabe who died in 2019, while renewing an arms embargo and an asset freeze on one firm, Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
“The decision has been taken in light of developments in Zimbabwe, including the yet to be investigated alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses,’’ EU foreign ministers said in a statement issued on Monday.
The measures would come into effect when they are published in the bloc’s Official Journal on Tuesday.
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002, following a government crackdown on the opposition and the eviction of white farmers from agricultural land.
In recent years, the sanctions list was whittled down to a handful of individuals, including Mugabe and his wife Grace.
In October 2019, Zimbabwe held a public holiday to protest against EU and U.S. sanctions that remained in place after Mugabe’s death the previous month.
Monday’s EU statement also highlighted Zimbabwe’s “acute humanitarian crisis” and called upon the government to press ahead with reforms, tackle corruption and open up the country’s democratic space to help address the crisis, which includes a severe food emergency.
The 27-country EU is supporting Zimbabwe with development aid.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Sadiya Hamza
Over half of Zimbabweans face severe hunger, UN warns
Zimbabwe is facing the worst hunger crisis in 10 years, a deputy director of the World Food Programme (WPF), who addressed the issue in the capital Harare, said on Monday.
“More than half of the population of 14 million people is threatened by food insecurity,’’ deputy director Niels Balzer said.
Balzer adding that it was as a result of drought and decades of mismanagement under the long-term ruler Robert Mugabe, who died in September.
The WFP had planned to distribute food from abroad to 4.1 million people, especially in rural areas.
The hunger crisis, however, continues to worsen.
Corn, for example, is only available in half the markets nationwide and only at prices that are unaffordable for many due to high inflation.
In order to provide for almost eight million people, the WFP will need an additional 200 million dollars of funding for the first half of the year alone, “““““to prevent Zimbabweans from starving.
“As things stand, we will run out of food by end of February, coinciding with the peak of the hunger season, when needs are at their highest,’’ Balzer said.
The situation was aggravated by the fact that this year’s rain season started late, he added.
Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
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