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South Africa attacks on foreigners spark anger abroad
April 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Sibongile Khumalo* [caption id="attachment_17575" align="alignleft" width="300"]A resident raises his hands as a South African anti-riot police officer raids a hostel in Benoni on April 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari) A resident raises his hands as a South African anti-riot police officer raids a hostel in Benoni on April 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)[/caption] Johannesburg (AFP) – Countries neighbouring South Africa on Friday prepared to evacuate their citizens from South Africa as the UN raised the alarm over deadly xenophobic attacks which have displaced thousands.

The anti-foreigner violence, which erupted in the eastern port city of Durban, has left at least six people dead and spread to the economic hub, Johannesburg.

“In South Africa, xenophobic attacks over the last three weeks have… displaced over 5,000 foreign nationals,” the UN refugee agency said, adding it was “extremely concerned”.

“We would like to underscore that those affected in these xenophobic attacks are refugees and asylum seekers who were forced to leave their countries due to war and persecution,” the UNHCR said.

Foreigners who have fled their homes are sheltering in makeshift camps.

Neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique announced plans to evacuate their citizens, as the violence drew regional outrage.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo said the repatriation of about 1,000 Zimbabweans from Durban would start on Sunday.

In the Zimbabwean capital Harare, demonstrators marched to the South African embassy to condemn what they called the “senseless and gruesome slaughter” of fellow Africans.

In Mozambique, a group of about 200 on Friday blockaded the southern Lebombo border with South Africa, stoning South African vehicles.

“The demonstrators blocked the road for half an hour, refusing to allow cars with South African registration plates to pass,” Moamba district police commander Alfonso Rocco told AFP.

– South African gigs cancelled –

[caption id="attachment_17576" align="alignright" width="300"]Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa, April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana) Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa, April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)[/caption]

In Zambia, a privately-owned radio station has stopped playing South African music in protest against the xenophobic attacks.

“Radio QFM has blacked out the playing of South African music effective today, April 17th in protest against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals taking place in that country,” QFM managing director Asan Nyama said in a statement posted on the station’s website.

South African singer Kelly Khumalo was forced to postpone performances in London because of outrage, while Big Nuz — a group that plays the popular Kwaito dance music genre — had to cancel a concert in Zimbabwe, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said Friday.

The anger in neighbouring countries was exacerbated by the fact that they hosted thousands of South African exiles during the struggle against apartheid — a point that President Jacob Zuma raised in a speech to parliament Thursday.

“We were treated with generosity, dignity and respect by our brothers and sisters on the rest of the continent,” Zuma said, noting that their solidarity was “critical to achievement of freedom and democracy we are enjoying today”.

‘Government must act’ –

The latest violence has been largely blamed on a speech last month by King Goodwill Zwelithini, traditional leader of the Zulus, in which he blamed foreigners for South Africa’s high crime rate and said they must “take their bags and go”.

The king has since said his words were misinterpreted, but for some, Zwelithini simply articulated what many were feeling.

[caption id="attachment_17578" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa, April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana) Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa, April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)[/caption]

South Africa’s relatively sophisticated economy attracts both legal and illegal African immigrants, but massive inequalities and high unemployment among locals breed resentment against them.

“We believe that the cause of the xenophobic attacks is policy failure by the government,” said Mienke Mary Steytler, of the South African Institute of Race Relations. “High unemployment and inequality are not being tackled.”

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the “barbaric, criminal and xenophobic murder of innocent foreigners”, calling on the South African government to act quickly to end the violence.

This is not the first wave of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa. In January, foreign shopkeepers in and around the vast township of Soweto, south of Johannesburg, were forced to flee and six were killed as looters rampaged through the area.

And in 2008, 62 people were killed in xenophobic violence across the city’s townships.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Zimbabwe to bring home nationals caught in S.Africa attacks
April 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare, against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa on April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana) Zimbabwean citizens protest outside the South African Embassy in Harare, against a wave of violence against immigrants in parts of South Africa on April 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)[/caption] Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe will evacuate its nationals caught in anti-foreigner violence that has left six people dead in South Africa, the country’s ambassador told media Friday.

The country’s ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo said Harare will Sunday begin the repatriation of about 1,000 Zimbabwean citizens affected by the attacks in the eastern port city of Durban.

“Identification and processing of repatriation documents has already been done,” Moyo told the state-owned Chronicle newspaper.

There are some 250,000 Zimbabweans in South Africa, making them the biggest community of foreign nationals in the country.

Most Zimbabweans travelled to South Africa to escape the economic hardship that gripped their country after a wave of unrest in 2008.

On Friday, over a hundred people marched outside the South African embassy in the Zimbabwean capital, calling for an end to the violence.

“We, the people of Zimbabwe standing in solidarity with our brethren in Africa, strongly condemn and denounce the cruel, senseless and gruesome xenophobic slaughter of foreign nationals and the looting of their properties in South Africa,” read a petition signed by 15 civil society groups.

“Why (are they) killing them? They came in peace”, “One Africa for all Africans” and “Save our brothers and sisters from xenophobia” read some of the placards at the Harare protest.

The violence started in Durban three weeks ago, after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was reported last month to have said foreigners should leave the country. He has since claimed he was misinterpreted.

Durban has a large number of Zulu speakers loyal to the king.

More than 1,000 people have been forced by the wave of violence to seek safety in camps.

Mozambique and Malawi have also announced they would help their citizens return home.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Zimbabwe's expelled Zanu-PF members to form new party
April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

Joice Mujuru and President Mugabe were once close allies Joice Mujuru and President Mugabe were once close allies[/caption]

An expelled member of Zimbabwe’s ruling party says a new party will be formed to challenge President Robert Mugabe.

Didymus Mutasa told the BBC the new party would also be called Zanu but the initials PF would stand for “People First” not “Patriotic Front”. Zanu-PF expelled Mr Mutasa and other senior members after accusing them of plotting to oust Mr Mugabe last year. They denied the claim. Mr Mugabe, 91, is due to run for re-election in 2018. He has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The BBC’s Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says Mr Mugabe’s sacked deputy, Joice Mujuru, is tipped to lead the new party, following the biggest split in Zanu-PF in the post-independence era. The likes of Ms Mujuru and Mr Mutasa were veterans of the guerrilla war against white minority rule, and commanded a huge following in Zanu-PF, our reporter says. The ruling party will therefore be worried that the proposed new party could take support away from it in the next election, he adds. Ms Mujuru was known as “Spill Blood” during the guerrilla war, and served as Zimbabwe’s vice-president until last year. First lady Grace Mugabe, who is now a senior figure in the Zanu-PF, accused her of plotting to kill the president. She denied the allegation. Zanu-PF expelled her last week, accusing her of bringing the party into disrepute. *Source BBC  ]]>

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Zimbabwean president arrives in South Africa for state visit
April 8, 2015 | 0 Comments


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Zimbabwe’s president has arrived in South Africa for his first official state visit in more than 20 years.

[caption id="attachment_17369" align="alignleft" width="257"]Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, front, and his wife Grace, rear, arrive in Pretoria, South Africa Tuesday, April 7, 2015 for a state visit to the country. Mugabe will be in the country until Thursday and will meet with South African president Jacob Zuma Wednesday.(AP Photo) Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, front, and his wife Grace, rear, arrive in Pretoria, South Africa Tuesday, April 7, 2015 for a state visit to the country. Mugabe will be in the country until Thursday and will meet with South African president Jacob Zuma Wednesday.(AP Photo)[/caption]

President Robert Mugabe arrived with his wife, Grace, on Tuesday at the Waterkloof air force base outside the capital Pretoria.

“This is a bilateral visit,” said Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. “The focus is largely on consolidation of our bilateral ties.”

One of the main aims of Mugabe’s visit is strengthen economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and its wealthier neighbor, South Africa, according to an earlier statement by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Mugabe will visit the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa’s government, on Wednesday where the two presidents will sign an agreement to increase trade. South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amount to about $2 billion dollars, while in contrast Zimbabwe exports goods worth about $170 million to South Africa.

Mugabe has visited South Africa on other occasions, such as presidential inaugurations and the state funeral of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela in 2013.

*Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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Fastjet raises USD 75 million for expansion
April 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

indexFastjet, Africa’s low cost airline, is pleased to announce that, following the launch of a proposed placing yesterday, 1 April 2015, it has successfully placed 5,000,000,000 new ordinary shares (the Placing Shares) at a price of 1 pence per share (on a pre-consolidation basis) (the Placing Price) to new and existing institutional shareholders, other investors and fastjet management (the Placing). The Placing, raised gross proceeds of GBP 50 million (approximately USD 75 million) (the Placing Proceeds). Net proceeds from the Placing will be deployed in two key areas – expansion working capital and the launch and growth of operations in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. fastjet will use funds raised in excess of that needed for its working capital requirements to commence an aircraft acquisition programme of used Airbus A319 aircraft. Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer of fastjet, said: “I am delighted with the success of our Placing and with the positive reaction of investors. While our low cost airline model is already well established and highly regarded in Tanzania, this fundraising is a transformative step towards achieving fastjet’s goal of building Africa’s most successful pan-continental low-cost airline. “We will now be able to significantly expand our fleet and customer base, grow our operations organically, add new international routes and expand the fastjet model in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In doing so, we look forward to bringing our safe, reliable, low cost flights to up to 210 million potential customers, 20% of Africa’s population, and to creating a new market for aviation. “We have also announced a proposed share consolidation which we expect to be a positive development for investors, reducing share price volatility. To allow me to fully focus on the growth of the business, I am pleased to say that Clive Carver has taken over as interim non-executive Chairman.” The fastjet fleet is expected to grow using a mix of aircraft ownership models and by the end of 2018, it is anticipated that approximately one a third of the fleet will be leased, a third equity financed, and a further third debt financed. index.jpg1 fastjet believes that a range of benefits will accrue from bringing purchased aircraft into the fleet, specifically balance sheet enhancement, cash flow reduction and the deferral of maintenance deposits. fastjet will also use the proceeds of yesterday’s placing to expand its existing operations and expects to further increase the frequency of flights on all its current routes, linking domestic destinations with routes such as Mwanza to Kilimanjaro, and add more international destinations such as Nairobi, Lilongwe, Mombasa and Lubumbashi to the Tanzanian network. A further opportunity includes the operation of 5th freedom flights through Entebbe, where Air Uganda has ceased operations and left a void in air connectivity. Ed Winter added: “In the past two years, we have established very strong foundations in Africa and demonstrated we can manage our way through challenging regulatory restrictions, operate to a high standard of reliability and operational performance, build an award-winning and relevant brand, establish and grow effective distribution channels and trade profitably.”    ]]>

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Ethiopian cinema focuses on prostitution
March 7, 2015 | 0 Comments


Price of Love, in Amharic, has been nominated for Africa's top film award at the Fespaco festivalEthiopian scriptwriter and film director Hermon Hailay says she grew up close to prostitutes.

“I know them as young, beautiful women, mothers, sisters and friends,” she tells me at a popular cinema in the middle of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “I always wanted to tell their story, because I know it well. As a kid, I did not see the shame in what they do.” At just 28, Ms Hermon has already written and directed three feature films, all tackling social issues like poverty and the perils of rural to urban migration. She was getting ready to travel to Burkina Faso for Africa’s biggest film festival Fespaco, where her latest film, Price of Love, has been nominated for the top prize. It follows the life of a young taxi driver who in the course of his job falls in love with a prostitute.

Hermon Hailay speaks about her latest film Price of Love

He is then forced to confront his past, having been raised by his mother, who also earned her living from prostitution. This is not uncommon in Ethiopia where prostitution is widespread, but is at times spoken of in low tones. Despite the country’s impressive and fast-growing economy, a large part of the population still lives on less than a dollar a day. Every evening, heavily made up “business ladies”, as they are called, line up on Addis Ababa’s streets in short skimpy dresses. “In the three movies I have done before, I had small roles of prostitutes and I always wanted to have a major role in one of them,” says Ms Hermon. “It’s of course a very controversial topic and people ask me why I include such roles in my movies but I think we have never told enough, and if we think prostitution is bad, we should change that by loving them, not shunning them – that is the message of my movie.” ‘Change a life’

Ethiopia is full of film lovers and most evenings you will see long queues at local cinema halls showing the latest Amharic language and Western releases.

[caption id="attachment_16940" align="alignright" width="300"]Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa Cinemas showing the latest releases are popular in Addis Ababa[/caption] “I have seen the trailer and it’s a movie I just can’t wait to watch because it’s not only based on reality but more importantly has a message in it,” says Arega Bekele, who runs a restaurant often frequented by people leaving a nearby cinema. Twenty-eight-year-old Meseret, who was in a cinema queue and had seen the trailer, agrees. “Out there, one of those beautiful young ladies will watch that movie and it will change her life forever,” she says. Across town at a restaurant frequented by middle-class Addis Ababans, I met three young people having their lunch who had seen Price of Love. They were more critical about the film, feeling it did not offer anything new. “This is just a regular story that has been told over and over again in Ethiopia,” says one of them, an office manager. “It’s of course a difficult issue to tackle here and many young girls are just getting into it because of the money they get,” she says. But while there may be critics, many agree that Ms Hermon deserves praise for bringing the Ethiopian film industry into the limelight. Price of Love was filmed by a crew of just eight people – all Ethiopians. Max Conil, a producer born and raised in the UK, was a consultant on the film and says their work ethic and dedication was exceptional. “It doesn’t matter if they win at Fespaco or not. This is already a big win not only for them but also Ethiopia’s film industry,” he says. Ms Hermon believes Ethiopian films can compete with the best in the continent and on the international scene. “Just look at our neighbours Kenya, beyond to Nigeria and South Africa, we have the culture, the stories and the people, we can be like them,” she says. *Source BBC]]>

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Zimbabwe President Mugabe sued by former Zanu-PF allies
March 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 President Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980[/caption]

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been sued for wrongful dismissal by two former ruling party senior officials.

The pair were expelled from the party in December and February for allegedly supporting a plot against him. Ruagare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa have filed papers in the High Court of Zimbabwe seeking an order to reinstate them into Zanu-PF. Mr Gumbo told the BBC that President Mugabe was a “dictator” and that he should step down. In an unprecedented move, they are seeking that the court also strike down reforms that President Mugabe brought in at the party conference last December. If successful, the president’s two former stalwarts would call for an extraordinary congress of the party where a new leader could be elected to replace the 91 year old. Wife ‘running the show’ Speaking to the BBC’s Brian Hungwe, Mr Gumbo, a former Zanu-PF spokesman, said he might set up his own political party if the court challenge failed. Even if the pair do win back their places, Mr Gumbo says it would be impossible to work with President Mugabe, “There is no basis of working with him, he is a dictator. He tells you what to do, if you don’t then he fires you. So how can I work with a man like that?” he told the BBC [caption id="attachment_16869" align="alignright" width="300"]President Mugabe accused Joice Mujuru of plotting to assassinate him. President Mugabe accused Joice Mujuru of plotting to assassinate him.[/caption] The former party spokesman does not believe that President Mugabe is fully in control of his party and that the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, is now “running the show”. Last week, Mr Mugabe denied such claims, saying his wife was not the “power behind my throne”. Mr Gumbo and Mr Mutasa, former party secretary general, were dismissed as part of a cull of senior officials accused of supporting an alleged bid by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru to remove Mr Mugabe from power. Mrs Mujuru, who had been tipped as Mugabe’s successor, was dismissed for allegedly plotting to assassinate the president and to contest against him at the December congress. She has denied these accusations and has not been charged. *Source BBC]]>

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Mugabe admits land reform blunder in Zimbabwe
February 28, 2015 | 1 Comments

By Fanuel Jongwe* [caption id="attachment_16735" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attends his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at the sports stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013 (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption] Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has admitted he blundered by giving ill-equipped black farmers vast tracts of farmland seized from whites under his controversial land reforms.

In an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) late Thursday to mark his 91st birthday on February 21, Mugabe also declared he is still in charge, dismissing speculation that his increasingly powerful wife Grace is now running the show.

“I think the farms we gave to people are too large. They can’t manage them,” Mugabe said, referring to black farmers who benefited from the land reforms.

“You find that most of them are just using one third of the land,” he said, a surprisingly candid admission of charges that the reforms were poorly executed.

In the past, Mugabe has blamed a drastic drop in agricultural production on erratic rains due to climate change and western sanctions, which he said hampered his government’s efforts to procure equipment for the farmers.

The reforms, launched in 2000 and accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, were aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms.

The farmlands were parcelled out to tens of thousands of blacks.

The land seizures have reduced Zimbabwe from being the regional breadbasket to having to import grain from neighbouring Zambia and other countries, as most of the beneficiaries lacked both farming equipment and expertise.

The rural population now often relies on food aid and at the worst times families are forced to skip meals to preserve their seed stocks and feed on wild fruits and edible leaves.

Critics say the land reforms mostly benefitted allies of the veteran leader, who has been in power since 1980.

Although an individual is not allowed to own more than one farm, Mugabe’s wife Grace reportedly owns several.

Mugabe said in the interview that despite his wife’s surprise rise to key positions in the ruling ZANU-PF, he was still in charge of both the party and state affairs.

Grace Mugabe last year became the leader of the influential women’s wing in the party.

“She is not the power behind my throne,” said Mugabe of his 49-year-old wife. “She has come into politics in her own right.”

Her surprise nomination to lead the women’s league and be given a seat in ZANU-PF’s powerful politburo sparked speculation that she could be aiming to succeed the ageing ruler in the event of his death or retirement.

– Using one-third of land –

[caption id="attachment_16736" align="alignright" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms launched in 2000, accompanied by violent evictions of white farmers, was aimed to resettle blacks on 4,000 commercial farms (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption]

During a series of rallies last year she denounced Zimbabwe’s then deputy president Joice Mujuru, claiming she was fomenting factionalism and plotting to topple Mugabe.

Mugabe subsequently sacked Mujuru, replacing her with long-time ally and hardliner Emmerson Mnangagwa. Several of Mujuru’s allies, including party spokesman Rugare Gumbo and cabinet ministers, met a similar fate.

Grace said at a rally last year that as a Zimbabwean she had a right to aim for the presidency, lending credence to the speculation that she was seeking to succeed her husband.

Mugabe, the world’s oldest leader, will be feted at a massive party to be hosted by the ZANU-PF youth wing at a hotel in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday.

His health has been subject of speculation following reports that he is making frequent visits to the Far East to seek medical attention. Government officials insist he is fit and that his only health concern was an eye cataract.

Mugabe said his long life was thanks to God and a strict diet on his part.

“I eat well, not filling my stomach,” he said in the interview aired on state television.

“Eating foodstuffs that I believe will sustain one most. You must eat well and really not go for food because it’s attractive.”

Mugabe also played down his fall at the country’s main airport earlier this month which sparked speculation about his physical fitness.

“I would want to see a person who hasn’t fallen down. I don’t see the reason why anyone should be surprised that the president has fallen.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe turns 91, slowly sheds pariah image
February 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

By MacDonald Dzirutwe* [caption id="attachment_16528" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (C) arrives for the 24th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (C) arrives for the 24th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri[/caption]

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe turned 91-years-old on Saturday showing no sign of giving up power as the West slowly eases pressure on a man who has been an international pariah for the last decade.

Mugabe, one of the Africa’s most divisive figures, is the only leader that Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in 1980.

Leaders from his generation like South Africa’s Nelson Mandela have died while others like Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda retired long ago, but Mugabe plans to run in the 2018 election, his last under a new constitution, when he will be 94.

Last December Mugabe fired his deputy of 10 years, changed the ruling party constitution to concentrate more power in his hands and promoted his wife Grace into the top rungs of the ZANU-PF decision-making politburo.

The EU and United States imposed travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe and his acolytes in 2002 accusing the veteran leader of vote rigging and human rights violations.

Finger-wagging and remonstrating, Mugabe has said the West is punishing him for seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle blacks and have sponsored his opponents at home.

On Saturday, newspapers printed congratulatory messages from companies and government departments hailing Mugabe as “chief of chiefs”, “embodiment and a template of unparalleled Pan-Africanism” and “revolutionary and a visionary”.

A senior Mugabe aide said he was spending the day at home with his family and would hold huge celebrations in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Feb. 28.

“Given the rarity of this achievement, we believe that this is the best evidence yet that his leadership is indeed the will of the Almighty God,” Simon Khaya Moyo, ZANU-PF’s spokesman said in a congratulatory message.

Viewed as an international pariah only two years ago as Zimbabwe’s political crisis topped the agenda at all summits of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mugabe’s political fortunes have now changed for the better.

After a landslide victory in July 2013 elections that has left the opposition in tatters, Mugabe is now SADC chairman and was last month chosen to chair the African Union, positions his ZANU-PF says are an endorsement of his nationalist policies.

The European Union (EU) on Friday renewed an arms ban on Zimbabwe as well as travel and asset freezes on Mugabe and his wife, although the bloc has gradually eased sanctions to encourage reforms.

The EU this week gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros ($266 million) in aid, the first time the bloc has directly given financial aid to the southern African nation’s government since 2002.

Delegations from Britain and France have already visited Zimbabwe this year as Western countries explore business opportunities in a country that has pivoted to China for financial assistance in the last decade.

Political analysts say the West may have realized that ZANU-PF could be in power for longer and calculated that, given Mugabe’s advanced age and rumors of ill health, he could soon leave the political scene.

Mugabe frequently travels to Singapore for medical checks but insists he is fit.

“It may have dawned on the West that Zimbabwe is stuck with ZANU-PF for a long time to come and that this is time for rapprochement,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

“They are taking a pragmatic approach to say the policy of the last 10 years has not really worked because Mugabe is still president,” Masunungure said.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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EU resumes direct aid to Zimbabwe after a decade of sanctions
February 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

zimbabwexxThe European Union has given Zimbabwe 234 million euros ($267 million), it said on Monday, the first time the bloc has given financial aid to the southern African nation’s government since imposing sanctions in 2002. The 28-nation EU has gradually eased biting sanctions on Zimbabwe to encourage political reform, although it has kept an asset freeze and a travel ban on veteran President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo. Since imposing the sanctions, the EU has shunned the government, and restricted its funding to charities only. The EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme said during a signing ceremony that the agreement opened a new chapter in the bloc’s relationship with Zimbabwe, but cautioned that new problems could still emerge in future. “Does this mean that everything is suddenly sorted out and that we are entering a new honeymoon? No, we have cleared some obstacles in our partnership, and as in any partnership new problems may emerge, old problems may reappear,” he said. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has long demanded the complete removal of EU sanctions it denounces as illegal. Finance Minister Finance Patrick Chinamasa said the aid marked a significant step towards improving ties between Zimbabwe and the EU but that sanctions on Mugabe and his wife would hurt full normalisation of relations. “As long as the chief executive (Mugabe) remains under sanctions, our relations remain poisoned and unproductive,” Chinamasa said. The EU said the funds will improve health, agriculture-based economic development, governance and institution-building. Half of the money would be released this year, and the rest will be paid gradually until 2020, Van Damme said.


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Zimbabwe: Buyanga Makes South Africa Rich List
February 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Photo: Facebook Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga has been named among some of Africa's youngest United States dollar millionaires with "incredible success stories" by a South African newspaper. Photo: Facebook
Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga has been named among some of Africa’s youngest United States dollar millionaires with “incredible success stories” by a South African newspaper.[/caption] A ZIMBABWEAN businessman has been named among some of Africa’s youngest United States dollar millionaires with “incredible success stories” by a South African newspaper. The New Age described property and micro finance magnate, Frank Buyanga, 35, as an “entrepreneurial ray of hope”. Buyanga, who recently splashed on a US$345,000 Bentley Mulsanne, was named alongside five other “US dollar millionaires from South Africa and the rest of the continent who have inspirational stories”. “Zimbabwe may be experiencing the worst economic meltdown in its history but Frank Buyanga has proved to be an entrepreneurial ray of hope for young businesspeople hoping to make it,” the New Age reported. Buyanga, the paper added, is “among the richest young businesspeople in Africa… with impressive investments in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and as far as the United Kingdom.”

The report however noted that Buyanga’s success had “upset his competitors in his home country who accused him of conning people of their properties” leading to a lengthy police investigation which was wound up in January with the Zimbabwe Republic Police stating in High Court papers that it had found no evidence of criminality against him. The New Age also listed 44-year-old South African billionaire Elon Musk, a co-founder of PayPal; 38-year-old Mark Shuttleworth who founded Thawte, an internet security firm; Nigerian Uche Pedro, founder of Nigeria’s authoritative entertainment and fashion website Bella Naija, and South African Sbusiso Leope, also known as DJ Sbu, who left the studio to become a bestselling author and recently launched a new energy drink, Mo-Faya. Buyanga’s Hamilton business portfolio has tentacles spread across property investments, micro finance lending, insurance and funeral assurance following his recent acquisition of Cell Funeral. The flamboyant businessman, with an estimated US$20 million personal fortune, has used some of his riches to amass an impressive garage of supercars – his latest toy a 2014 $345,000 Bentley Mulsanne named last August in BBC Top Gear’s top five luxury cars that guarantee “utter serenity”. The Bentley, which came third in that list, “will show those peasants who is boss,” Top Gear said in the review, which listed the Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB as the ultimate and the Mercedes Benz S-Class 350 BlueEfficiency as its first runner up. *Allafrica]]>

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Emmerson Mnangagwa and the race to replace Robert Mugabe
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Frank Chikowore in Harare* [caption id="attachment_16127" align="alignleft" width="480"]Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photo©Xu Lingui/Xinhua-REA Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photo©Xu Lingui/Xinhua-REA[/caption] The race to replace President Robert Mugabe is not short on surprises. Justice minister Mnangagwa is now in pole position after Mugabe denounced Joice Mujuru as a traitor. Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who became Zimbabwe’s first vice-president in December, is now out in front in the race to succeed 90-year-old President robert mugabe. Mugabe fired vice-president Joice mujuru in December for supposedly plotting to assassinate him.

Mnangagwa draws his support from the security services and played a role in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, commonly known as Gukurahundi, and the disputed elections of 2008 when he was defence minister.
Mugabe has not named an official successor, and politics still holds surprises as his wife grace continues her ascent. He employs his usual strategy of playing factions off each other and none of them have his complete trust.Since his appointment in December, Mnangagwa has been trying to build up his credentials as a reformer. He says that he wants to work to uplift people in a country that has been marred by rampant corruption. “I want to ensure that i work to improve the lives of all Zimbabweans,” he explained when he said that he did not hold a grudge against Mujuru, a fellow veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. Those close to Mnangagwa say he is an admirer of the leadership styles of the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. Former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai describes Mnangagwa as an unrepentant Mugabe hardliner. “If Mnangagwa was sincere about reform, he would have pushed for the implementation of the constitution in his capacity as minister of justice and leader of government business in parliament. “Any leader who is keen on genuine reform would have prioritised the implementation of the People’s charter endorsed by over three million Zimbabweans in a referendum,” says Tsvangirai. Civil society organisations and Tsvangirai’s movement for Democratic change party want Mnangagwa, in his capacity as justice minister, to re-align the country’s laws to comply with the 2013 constitution before the next elections for a more even playing field. Mnangagwa faces a divided ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. Senior ZANU-PF officials criticise him in private for being self-centred and ruthless but praise him publicly, to the point of likening him to Jesus – a hyperbole hitherto reserved only for Mugabe. Mnangagwa’s faction is also split, with the ‘Gang of Four’ – information minister Jonathan Moyo, environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, higher education minister Oppah Muchinguri and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao – accusing him of conniving with Mugabe to deny them key posts in the ruling party and government after they had campaigned fiercely against Mujuru loyalists ahead of the ZANU-PF congress held in December. Mnangagwa is a Russia-and China-trained intelligence supremo who has been by Mugabe’s side since the early days of the country’s liberation war in the 1960s. The 68-year-old Mnangagwa was security minister when the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade butchered more than 20,000 people in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. The first vice-president matches his military skill with business acumen. He has interests in mining, banking, agriculture, tourism and real estate. He is friends with the controversial billionaire Billy Rautenbach and was the custodian of ZANU-PF’s finances in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the ruling party had a vibrant portfolio of companies like Catercraft, Zidlee, Tregers and National Blankets.

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