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Malawi takes key step to advance digital payments and drive inclusive growth
May 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Government, private sector, mobile operators and development organizations convene to establish a plan for the future

The Pafupi savings account is designed for low-income people in rural areas, especially women with no previous access to a bank account. Here, a client accesses her mobile savings account through an agent at her local market - Credit: Women's World Banking

The Pafupi savings account is designed for low-income people in rural areas, especially women with no previous access to a bank account. Here, a client accesses her mobile savings account through an agent at her local market – Credit: Women’s World Banking

Today, Malawi took a significant step towards creating a digital payment ecosystem in order to address poverty and drive inclusive growth. An event organized by the Government of Malawi with the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF) Better Than Cash Alliance  and Mobile Money for the Poor initiatives brought together digital payments players to accelerate the progress of digital finance in Malawi. The convening also marks the release of an in-depth analysis of the country’s readiness to transition from a nearly cash-only economy to one where digital payments are widely available through an ecosystem approach.

Honorable Goodall Gondwe, MP, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development stated that the transition to digital payments is part of the Government’s commitment to achieving social and economic goals within the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. “This is part of our mandate to realize balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty,” said Gondwe. “We believe creating an economy where digital payments are widely available is the right path for us to embark on and we are doing so based on sound economic and fiscal policies.”

The research was conducted through a partnership between the Malawian Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, and the Better Than Cash Alliance, and is entitled The Opportunities for Malawi’s Transition Away from Cash (. The report detailed the current state of Malawian digital payments, providing an important baseline to track progress. The study also identified four potential opportunities for Malawi, including the Government advancing on digitizing its centralized payment system with support from banks, and merchants accelerating digital payment acceptance via mobile money and debit card at the point of sale.

“Malawi is moving forward to build a strong digital ecosystem that will respond to the needs of the people in the country,” said Mr. Tillman Bruett, Advisor and Programme Manager, Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P), a UNCDF initiative, undertaken in Malawi with the support of the US Agency for International Development. “We expect that as a result, Malawi will progress from 3.5 percent of total active adult population using digital financial services at the start of this year to 15 percent by 2019.” As part of the programme, UNCDF plans to provide technical and financial assistance to build capacity in public and private sector organizations to support the switch from cash to digital for the most promising payments streams identified in the research.

Making payments in cash can be expensive and inefficient for governments, companies and international organizations. Cash is also difficult to trace, and extremely vulnerable to theft and loss. Many people living in poverty only use cash, and this is a key barrier to broader financial inclusion because cash makes it costly to provide financial services.  According to UNCDF, in least developed countries such as Malawi mobile penetration is at 30 percent while access to a bank account is at 14 percent.  Mobile payments can therefore be one way to accelerate this shift.

Malawi’s approach can set an example for other countries in the early stages of transitioning to digital payments. “Digitization is an important development tool for many countries looking to reduce the cost of delivering payments, increase transparency and increase access to financial services for citizens,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director, Better Than Cash Alliance. “By undertaking this research and by using it to plan its shift, Malawi has taken a bold step in increasing transparency and moving towards an economy where the Government, businesses and people can pay and get paid electronically.”

logo-4Transitioning from cash to digital payments is a complex process, however, and requires collaboration between the government and businesses, as well as building trust and increasing familiarity among citizens. That reality is why leading figures came together today to discuss the diagnostic data and develop a blueprint for the country’s digital payments future. Participants noted that by working collaboratively to address the barriers to transitioning payments from cash to digital, they would be able to accelerate the shift and ensure that it brings real benefits to citizens in the form of greater financial inclusion.

USAID/Malawi Mission Director Doug Arbuckle noted in his remarks that, “The U.S. Government is glad to join many other governments and international organizations in encouraging a transition away from cash to digital payments in Malawi.  This can be a long road, but the benefits are clear and overwhelming.”

Ms. Mia Seppo, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, who spoke at the event, noted, “The introduction of digitization is timely as Malawi is currently going through public service reforms that will ensure equitable access to financial and payment services in a manner that is transparent and efficient.” Malawi is a focus country of MM4P and member of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

The Better Than Cash Alliance  partners with governments, the development community and the private sector to empower people by shifting from cash to electronic payments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, USAID and Visa Inc. are funders and the U.N. Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat.

The UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. The Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) is a global programme funded by UNCDF, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation. The programme provides support to branchless and mobile financial services in a select group of Least Developed Countries to demonstrate how the correct mix of financial, technical and policy support can build a robust branchless and mobile financial services ecosystem that reaches low income people in these countries.

About the Ministry of Finance Economic Planning and Development, Malawi

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning & Development has the mandate to formulate economic and fiscal policy and manage financial and material resources of the Government of Malawi in order to realise balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty.

*APO

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Southern African leaders discuss industrialization strategy
April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

By FARAI MUTSAKA* [caption id="attachment_17837" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, hands over a ceremonial key to SADC Excecutive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax during the official opening of the Southern African Development Community(SADC) Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Industrialisation in Harare, Wednesday, April, 29, 2015. The summit was called by heads of state in an effort to craft a strategy for industrialisation in the region through value addition and beneficiation of abundant natural resources in Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, hands over a ceremonial key to SADC Excecutive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax during the official opening of the Southern African Development Community(SADC) Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Industrialisation in Harare, Wednesday, April, 29, 2015. The summit was called by heads of state in an effort to craft a strategy for industrialisation in the region through value addition and beneficiation of abundant natural resources in Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)[/caption] HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Southern African leaders met in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Wednesday to discuss how to maximize profits from their countries’ natural resources.

Heads of state of the 15 countries that make up the Southern African Development Community came together, marking the official opening of the summit that began on Monday when cabinet ministers gathered.

In meetings before the summit, officials presented a strategy to achieve economic growth by exploiting mineral resources through industrialization.

“The potential benefits we stand to reap are immense,” said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a 15-minute opening speech.

About 70 percent of southern Africa’s population lives in poverty, Mugabe said. Most southern African countries are rich in minerals such as gold and diamonds, while Angola is the second largest oil producer in sub-Sahara Africa, behind Nigeria. The majority of these resources are exported in their raw form, Mugabe said.

Officially named the Regional Strategy and Roadmap for Industrialization, the plan to modernize southern Africa is meant encourage economic growth until 2063. Analysts say the plot is ambitious because of the wealth gaps and policy differences between countries.

South African President Jacob Zuma, whose country has the largest economy in the group, recently blamed the political and economic conditions in nearby nations for the influx of immigrants into his country.

The recent spate of attacks on foreigners in South Africa was not on the official agenda for discussion, but Mugabe did comment on efforts to return Zimbabwean immigrants during a press conference. He said the Zimbabwean government sent free buses to repatriate citizens during the attacks, but only about 800 chose to leave South Africa.

“We, the neighbors, must do what we can to prevent more people into South Africa and get those in South Africa to get back home,” he said, adding that industrialization would make southern African nations “equally attractive.” *Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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African nations close ranks against South Africa after week of horror xenophobic attacks, criticism gets very loud
April 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

633x356SOUTH Africa is facing a backlash from an increasing number of African nations after mobs repeatedly attacked foreigners and looted their stores, prompting its presidency to warn that the country’s interests could come under threat if the upheaval was not arrested. At least five people have died in clashes in the eastern port city of Durban, Johannesburg and other towns since last week, while more than 1,400 have fled their homes. In a sign of how deep-rooted the problem may be, a solidarity march against xenophobia in Durban on Thursday was interrupted by mobs insisting foreign nationals must leave. Some poor South Africans see Zimbabweans, Malawians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and Pakistanis as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with a 24% unemployment rate. One fifth of the population of 54 million survive on less than 335 rand ($28) a month. South Africa’s cabinet warned on Friday that companies operating in the rest of Africa may be targeted, just as Johannesburg-based Sasol Ltd. announced it’s repatriating South African employees working on projects in Mozambique for their own safety. The blowback also came from unexpected quarters: award winning South African kwaito group Big Nuz cancelled their show set for Friday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, saying they feared violence from locals. The violence is embarrassing for the ruling African National Congress, whose members sought refuge in countries on the continent before white-minority rule ended in 1994. The South African government on Friday met with ambassadors and diplomats from several African countries to reassure them of the safety of their nationals and keep relations onside. Sparked condemnation The violence of the past week has sparked condemnation from governments from Ghana to Malawi, protests in Nigeria and Zimbabwe and calls from major continental groups such as the African Union for South Africa to act decisively to stem the attacks. “If this was happening here in Zimbabwe, the calls for immediate action would be like a cacophony,” Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a phone interview from Harare on Thursday. South Africa has to act “to save the lives and livelihoods of their fellow African brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent. They must act immediately against any form of racism or xenophobia.” Malawi hired buses to repatriate its citizens caught up in the violence, “I would have wished the government of South Africa would have done more,” Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said by phone from Blantyre, the capital, on Thursday. “We are concerned, we are disappointed. We want to take our people back home until the situation normalises.” The Economic Community of Western African States, a 16- nation regional group, said in a statement on Friday that it was regrettable that “the very people, whose nations sacrificed to help South Africans fight, repel and defeat apartheid, will today be considered aliens and hacked to death in such barbaric manners.” Patrick Gaspard, the US ambassador to South Africa, the United Nations and the African Union, a 53-nation continental grouping, also issued statements on Thursday condemning the attacks. “Whatever the challenges we may be facing, no circumstances justify attacks on people, whether foreigners or locals,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairwoman of the AU Commission and a South African citizen. “It is unacceptable.” Formal complaint China made a formal complaint with South Africa’s government about attacks directed against its nationals, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. [caption id="attachment_17614" align="alignright" width="300"]African Union heads of state in a past group photo. The bloc has condemned the attacks African Union heads of state in a past group photo. The bloc has condemned the attacks[/caption] The Malawi and Somali governments have set in motion plans to repatriate their nationals. The Zambian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Botswana governments also said they were closely monitoring the situation and would pull out their nationals if necessary, while Namibian ruling SWAPO party youth activists said they would organise a protest march in Windhoek. Reactions from African Union host Ethiopia, which was set to receive the bodies of three of its nationals killed in attacks in South Africa, have been among the most intense, as several Ethiopians sought to remind South Africa of the role the country played in its struggle against apartheid. Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria, which also has several of its nationals in South Africa and has had a number of diplomatic spats with Pretoria despite being a major trade partner, on Friday added its voice to the pushback. “The Federal Government… calls on the government of South Africa to live up to its responsibilities and take all necessary steps to stop the on-going xenophobic attacks and put in place policies and structures to prevent a reoccurrence,” the ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. This came after some Nigerian lawmakers on Thursday pushed for laws to frustrate South African businesses. A vote to sever diplomatic ties was however defeated. Repatriate nationals An estimated 20,000 Nigerians live in South Africa, and Abuja said it would repatriate its nationals if the situation deteriorated. So far nationals from Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania have been reported killed, although Tanzanian envoy Elibahati Ngoyai said there was no official confirmation his compatriots had died in xenophobic attacks. Jeff Radebe, a minister in the South African presidency, warned that the attacks would have far-reaching consequences for the nation’s economy and its relations with Africa and the rest of the world. “South African companies who are running successful businesses in the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the similar fate,” he told reporters in Pretoria, the capital. “South Africa is not a violent country and therefore a few individuals cannot be allowed to hold the whole country to ransom.” In an increasingly globalised world, South African businesses have cause to be concerned about a possible continental backlash. Many have branched north, with telecoms giant MTN, carrier South African Airways, retail giants Shoprite and Woolworths and pay TV giant Multichoice among the most visible. FDI flows MTN for example derives the bulk of its profits from Nigeria. The country’s banks and insurers such as Standard Bank, Absa, First Rand, Sanlam and Liberty Life are also highly active in countries to the north. “Here in Zimbabwe we support South African businesses, which sell goods and conduct trade. The South African people can’t have their cake and eat it,” Zimbabwe opposition MP Jessie Majome said on Wednesday, as he delivered a cross-partisan petition to the South African embassy in Harare. In 2012, South African invested in more new Foreign Direct Investments in Africa than any other country with its 75 projects—the most— valued at $1.4 billion making up 12% of total FDI into Africa. Only China, India, the US, UK and Canada invested more by value. Most investments by South African firms have been in services and consumer products, while resources also showed up on the radar. With close to 50,000 jobs created in these cross-border links, neither of the two parties can afford soured relations. *Source Mgafrica  ]]>

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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

By LYNSEY CHUTEL*

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

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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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Barred Mugabe 'can travel to EU as AU head': official
February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet delegates at the conference of his Zanu-PF party in Harare on December 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana) Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet delegates at the conference of his Zanu-PF party in Harare on December 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)[/caption]

“This ban will be lifted when he is travelling under his African Union chairmanship capacity,” European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray said.

Asked if that would also apply to Mugabe’s wife if she accompanied him, Ray said she would have to check.

The EU issued a special invitation for Mugabe to attend the EU-Africa summit in Brussels last year but he turned it down in disgust when his wife Grace was denied a visa to travel with him.

The European Union hit Mugabe and his government with an arms embargo, plus a travel ban and asset freeze in 2002, citing serious rights violations.

The EU has recently eased some of the measures in the hope of normalising relations with Harare but Mugabe, at 90 Africa’s oldest head of state, and his wife remain on the banned list.

Mugabe is well known for his uncompromising stance towards the West and the colonising powers he blames for many of Africa’s ills.

Taking up the one-year rotating AU chairmanship last week, Mugabe said he cared little for what the West might say.

Mugabe said that he and his country had been under sanctions for over 10 years. “If they want to continue it’s up to them but these sanctions are wrong.” At the same time he added: “If Europe comes in the spirit to cooperate and not the spirit to control us and control our ways, they will be very welcome.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Africa looks to extend new disaster insurance to Ebola-like epidemics
February 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Daniel Flynn in Dakar*

ebolareutersAfrican countries want to extend a new catastrophe insurance fund, which made its first payout of $25 million this month, to include protection against epidemics in the wake of the devastating Ebola outbreak.

The African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency, a specialised body of the African Union, launched a scheme last year to insure against natural disasters.

It is an effort to break Africa’s reliance on foreign aid and address the impact of climate change by using innovative financial techniques.

The ARC paid $25 million in its first year of operations to Senegal, Mauritania and Niger to mitigate the effects of a severe drought in the arid Sahel region south of the Sahara — well above the $8 million in premiums paid by those countries.

The other African nation to take out a policy, Kenya, paid $9 million but received no insurance payment.

Richard Wilcox, the ARC’s director general, said that its success so far had encouraged 12 countries to sign up for policies for the second year.

African states, he said, have also approached ARC to develop insurance against epidemics after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 8,800 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — severely damaging their economies.

“The scale of the Ebola crisis in those three countries was a wake-up call to everybody,” Wilcox said, and his agency was working with virologists and other experts to design a system of coverage.

“Technically, this is much harder than the weather risk because with weather we have 30 years of reliable data. Disease outbreaks are much rarer.”

The World Bank estimates the three countries hardest-hit by Ebola will lose $1.6 billion in economic output this year.

Mining companies have suspended expansion plans, agricultural production has slumped and tourists have avoided the region.

ARC was capitalised using $200 million from the British and German development institutions.

That money will be paid back without interest in 20 years time, allowing the ARC to offer below-market premiums to African states.

By pooling disaster risks across east and west Africa, which have uncorrelated rainfall patterns, the ARC is also able to undercut commercial insurers.

On top of drought coverage, the fund will offer cyclone and flood insurance next year.

By making use of reinsurance, ARC was only liable for the first $15 million in payments this year — meaning that it received $2 million more in premiums than it paid out.

On an average year, it would expect to do even better, Wilcox said.

*Source theafricareport

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Mugabe shrugs off concerns over African Union-West relations
February 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, is seen at the opening ceremony of the 24th Heads of State meeting at the African Union in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on January 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, is seen at the opening ceremony of the 24th Heads of State meeting at the African Union in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on January 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption] Addis Ababa (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Saturday shrugged off concerns that his appointment as new African Union chairman would harm relations between the pan-African bloc and the West.

“What the West will say or do is not my business,” Mugabe told a news conference at the close of two-day African Union summit held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“My business is to ensure the decisions we take here are implemented. My concern is on uplifting the life of our people, giving them something that will raise their standard of living,” he said.

“For more that 10 years I have been under sanctions, my country has been sanctions. If they want to continue it’s up to them but these sanctions are wrong,” the president said.

“If Europe comes in the spirit to cooperate and not the spirit to control us and control our ways, they will be very welcome,” he added.

Mugabe, Africa’s oldest president at 90, took over the rotating post of African Union chairman on Friday, replacing Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Mugabe, a former liberation war hero who is Africa’s third-longest serving leader, is viewed with deep respect by many on the continent.

But he is also subject to travel bans from both the United States and European Union in protest over political violence and intimidation.

Last year Mugabe boycotted an EU-Africa Summit in Brussels after he was given a rare invitation — but his wife was still denied a visa.

Mugabe also spoke on his attitude towards the empowerment of women.

“We are different,” he told reporters. “There are certain things men can do and that women can’t do. And there are things women can do that men cannot do. You can’t bear babies in your tummy, can you? Even the gay ones cannot.”

“But what we have done in Zimbabwe is that our women can become ministers, judges, farmers, pilots. We have three pilots,” he added.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Calm returns to Zimbabwe business
January 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Nicholas Norbrook* [caption id="attachment_15941" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimplats will invest €100m updating its Ngwarati smelter in 2015/16. Photo©Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters Zimplats will invest €100m updating its Ngwarati smelter in 2015/16. Photo©Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters[/caption] A cabinet reshuffle has calmed the nerves of investors, who plan new and expansion projects. The political temperature in Zimbabwe – scaldingly hot for investors in the country in recent years – has shown no sign of abating. The battle that pitches President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace against vice-president Joice Mujuru is just the latest instalment in the drawn out succession struggle. But in the mining sector, the government still has a few indigenisation plans to rule on before the companies involved will plough in more money. Recent years have seen the mining industry the target of both scorching rhetoric and legal action. The 2010 indigenisation law called on international companies to transfer a 51% stake to local investors. In 2012, the largest platinum miner in the country, Implats, finally agreed to what it called the “minimum requirements” of the policy. The International Monetary Fund, which in July re-opened its office in Zimbabwe, says the clarification of black economic empowerment laws is necessary before any resumption of bilateral lending. Since incendiary indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere was replaced in a cabinet reshuffle in September 2013 and Patrick Chinamasa became finance minister, relations with the large mining houses have improved. Enough, indeed, for the prospect of fresh investment: South African miner Aquarius Platinum has announced a $40m expansion programme for 2015. It will involve investing in the Mimosa mine, which it owns with Implats, to prolong its lifespan for 20 years. Mimosa Mining says revenue was up 4% in the quarter ending September 2014, reaching $82m, with both production and head grade up 1% to 655,034tn and 3.64g/tn, respectively. Meanwhile, Toronto-listed Caledonia Mining said in November that it is planning a $70m investment in its Zimbabwe subsidiary Blanket mine over the next five years. Caledonia will use the funds to expand an existing gold mine and improve mine-related infrastructure. A $3bn Russian platinum project also broke ground in September some 50km north-west of the capital. So will we see a further influx of cash in the min- ing sector? Much depends on the squabbles at the top, but the wind may be turning. ●

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Zimbabwe: Black-owned business stock exchange project gathers speed
January 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Janet Shoko* stockexchangreutersPlans by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to set up a secondary stock exchange for black-owned businesses is gathering pace with the bourse setting a $250 000 minimum share capital threshold for firms. The alternative market is part of a broader strategy to support the government’s controversial economic empowerment policy. High potential small and medium enterprises (SMEs) firms are the prime target of the proposed bourse. ZSE announced the threshold when it unveiled a set of listing requirements titled Zimbabwe Emerging Enterprising Market (ZEEM). “The applicant must have share capital of at least $250 000 (including reserves but excluding minority interests, and revaluations of assets and intangible assets that are not supported by a valuation by an independent professional expert acceptable to the ZSE prepared within the last six months),” the ZSE said in a statement. According to the requirements, the public would be permitted to hold a minimum of 26 % percent each class of equity securities and the number of public shareholders shall be at least 50. However, there are doubts on whether struggling firms already trading on the main bourse would be willing to downgrade to the new equities market. But economic analysts have advised against setting up of the bourse, arguing the ZSE is still struggling to improve on the liquidity situation four years after the country adopted a multiple-currency regime following a decade of economic stagnation and hyperinflation. Economist Tafadzwa Mangwiro said the dearth in long-term affordable capital for SMEs in Zimbabwe would pose challenges to the proposed ZEEM. “The dominance of foreign investors on the ZSE does not bode well for the future SME window on the bourse because foreigners are highly unlikely to trust little known companies,” he said. “More counters in the form of SMEs may not necessarily translate into more activity.” Meanwhile, the ZSE’s industrial index retreated by 0.27 points (0.16%) to close at 166.19 points on Monday. ZSE was seating on $4 398 229 996 market capitalisation at the beginning of the week.

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Zim to grab more land from remaining whites – Mugabe’s VP
January 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP) Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP)[/caption] Cape Town – Zimbabwean government will soon intensify its land grabs, targeting the country’s remaining white farmers and those with multiple farms, acting president Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly said. According to the Newsday, Mnangagwa said there was need to resuscitate the country’s agro-based economy so that Zimbabweans could have food on the table. “Those with multiple farms, we will take them, the few whites on farms, we will look into that and those with big farms, we will cut to size,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying. Land policy U-turn Mnangagwa’s remarks come a few weeks after Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora announced that the Zimbabwean government had made a U-turn in its land policy, allowing farming joint ventures between new black farmers and former white commercial farmers. But the country’s Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), which is largely made up of white former farmers expressed scepticism over government’s sincerity, with the spokesperson Hendrik Olivier saying white farmers were still hesitant to enter into partnerships with locals. Hendrik said the policies had been inconsistent and sometimes non-existent over the past 15 years. Last year President Robert Mugabe made headlines when he vowed that whites would never be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe. Mugabe at the time also warned black Zimbabweans against partnering with whites in agriculture deals. Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances. At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms. The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle. Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land. *Source news24]]>

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Zimbabwe: Top Zanu-PF officials defy Mugabe and wife
January 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. File President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. File Photo©Reuters[/caption] Zimbabwe veteran ruler, President Robert Mugabe, due back home this week from an overseas holiday, faces one of his toughest political hurdles, as a group of ousted top members have ganged up against him in rare defiance. Mugabe’s Zanu PF expelled and fired scores of top members last December, accusing them of plotting to topple him among a host of other crimes.

Led by former Presidential Affairs minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, disgruntled Zanu PF members have called the party December’s congress a damp squib. In a hard-hitting statement, Mutasa accused Mugabe of alienating himself from the people through his behaviour. Mutasa said a clique of evil plotters had successfully waylaid the president and his wife, Grace, using them as “weapons to unleash venomous and uncouth statements against anyone they perceived to be standing for the original Zanu PF values, ideals and ethos”. Portraying themselves as “upright cadres of the revolution” the group said “we resolutely and patiently waited for the cardinal direction of our elected First Secretary and President of Zanu PF (Mugabe), but his customary clear and unequivocal stance did not come until this undemocratic congress”. “In disbelief, Zanu PF and the whole nation listened to their leader berating his own protégés not only in the party but in government and the august House of parliament,” reads the statement. Among those fired was Vice President Joice Mujuru, long believed to be Mugabe’s heir apparent. Mutasa said instead of concentrating on the country’s economic and social woes, Mugabe was leading it on a self-destructive path. There are fears that this may split the ruling party, but Mugabe has for the past 30 years dealt ruthlessly with anyone who threatened his grip on power. Mutasa reiterated his call for the regional political bloc, the Southern African Development Community’s intervention in the party’s internal fight and further called for the “nullification of the entire process of the so-called congress as constitutionally flawed”. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who has caused chaos since her political debut, was not spared. “Outside the party and the country’s constitution and any moral tenets, Grace Mugabe went around the country preaching the gospel of hate in the presence of our very impressionable youths and the traumatised impoverished population,” the statement said pointedly.
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Zimabwe: First lady, Grace Mugabe in land grab storm
January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Janet Shoko* [caption id="attachment_15403" align="alignleft" width="300"]Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe's First Lady. Photo©Reuters Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s First Lady. Photo©Reuters[/caption] Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party has reacted angrily to reports that his wife is behind the mass eviction of families from several farms to make way for a private game reserve. Armed police last week began evicting close to 800 families from Manzou Estate east of Harare.The estate is near a number of properties grabbed by First Lady Grace Mugabe where she has built an orphanage. She has also built an elite primary school and plans to build a private secondary school as well as a university named after her husband. The evictions have been condemned by civil society and opposition parties who have accused the First Lady of being greedy. Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission chairperson Alec Muchadehama said the evictions were unlawful. “First, the removal is unlawful, for the reason that the Constitution says there should be no eviction without a valid court order,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because here you are dealing with human beings. You can’t treat them like that. This is a serious violation of human rights.” However, Zanu PF said the reports linking the First Lady to the evictions were malicious. “We view this relentless onslaught on the good name of Dr Mugabe as politically-motivated and call upon all those who are behind this sordid campaign to stop it forthwith,” the party said in a statement. “We are especially distressed by the latest claim, which is completely and utterly baseless, that Dr Grace has any entitlement to or anything to do with the ongoing eviction of people from Manzou Farm, which authorities say was designated not as a residential area but a national heritage site several years ago”. The First Family already owns several farms that were grabbed from white commercial farms during Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme. Late last year, Grace entered mainstream politics and was quickly elected to lead the ruling Zanu PF’s women’s wing shortly after having being awarded a PhD from the University of Zimbabwe with surprising speed.

*Source Allafrica
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Zimbabwe: Indigenisation Law to Be Amended
January 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Lloyd Gumbo [caption id="attachment_15107" align="alignleft" width="290"]Photo: New Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and IMF's Domenico Fanizza (file photo). Photo: New Zimbabwe
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and IMF’s Domenico Fanizza (file photo).[/caption] Amendments to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act that will see line ministries approving indigenisation plans in sectors under their purview are set to be effected soon after Parliament approves some of them through the 2015 National Budget.Speaking in the Senate while steering the Finance Bill recently, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, said the Ministry of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment would only issue compliance certificates on the recommendation of line ministries after their assessment. He said the line ministries and that of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment would monitor implementation after compliance with the law. “Madam President, the Bill also seeks to amend the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, in order to devolve to line Ministries the responsibility for approving indigenisation plans, prescribing indigenisation and empowerment assessment rating schemes and certifying transactions as being compliant with the Act,” he said. “These amendments are motivated by the fact that line ministries are generally more knowledgeable about the dynamics of the sectors which come under their responsibility. “They will be in a better position than the minister responsible for the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act to know the real needs of each sector, the inadequacies, strengths and weaknesses. So, it is for this reason that we devolving this responsibility to line Ministries.” Zanu-PF senator for Manicaland, Retired Lieutenant General Mike Nyambuya said while devolving indigenisation assessment to line ministries was a bold move, it would have been ideal to clarify the indigenisation law from a centralised authority. “Because again, if you leave it to line ministries and officials; you might create some room for rent seeking behaviour. It would be good if could lay down one solid policy which is friendly to the investors.

“We need fresh money in this country and FDI is one clear source of attracting fresh money into the economy. What I am saying is that, I would have been happier if the clarity had been done from a ministry point of view, rather than delegating it to the line ministry,” said Cde Nyambuya. Minister Chinamasa defended the proposed amendments saying line ministries were best suited to do the job but said what was important was for Government to guard against corruption by publicising ministries’ decisions in that regard. Chief Fortune Charumbira weighed in saying foreign-owned firms were naturally against indigenisation. “But I have one apprehension which is that, in the previous arrangement, there were some allegations and insinuations that the whole issue of indigenisation was characterised in some cases by corruption and I think it is in the way it was being done. “When we do this, I doubt if this might take away the issue of possibilities of corruption. We have just moved from one ministry to another ministry but as I am saying, it is good that we move to the line ministry but within that ministry, we need checks and balances. “That is the critical issue. So that they do not have to approach a particular director or officer and say, can we indigenise and then they say, no, not yet. The particular officer or director may end up being corrupted and end up saying, no, we cannot indigenise now but let us do that after 10 years or 20 years,” said Chief Charumbira. He said it was critical that Government comes up with measures to guard against corruption if the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive was to succeed. *Source allafrica/The Herald]]>

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Possible Mugabe Successor Takes Office
December 13, 2014 | 1 Comments

Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, Vice President of Zimbabwe chats with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after the swearing in ceremony at State House in Harare, Dec, 12, 2014. Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, Vice President of Zimbabwe chats with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after the swearing in ceremony at State House in Harare, Dec, 12, 2014.[/caption] Zimbabwe has two new vice presidents, including the man many see as the likely successor to 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe. Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as the country’s first vice president during a ceremony at Zimbabwe’s State House on Friday. Mnangagwa, 68, was Mr. Mugabe’s aide during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation and has held several key positions, including state security minister, speaker of parliament, and the president’s campaign manager during the disputed 2008 election. Mnangagwa is known as “The Crocodile” for both his physical appearance and his political tactics.  Critics say he was involved in the killing of some 20,000 civilians in the mid-1980s as the government tried to crush opposition in the Matabeleland region. The director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Pedzisai Ruhanya, says there is no difference between the president and Mnangagwa in terms of character. “People are saying that he was responsible for Mr. Mugabe’s retention of power after he lost the first round in March 2008,” Ruhanya said. “So what brought Mr. Mugabe’s victory in the June 2008, the sham election, was coercion and Mr. Mnangagwa was controlling that coercion.  But the other thing is that Mr. Mnangagwa also was the minister of the intelligence in the 1980s when there was Gukurahundi, so they associated it with him, with Mr. Mnangagwa.  So they seem him as a hard man.  As someone who uses violence.” Mnangagwa, like President Mugabe, is on a U.S. sanctions list that prohibits Americans from doing business with him or business entities he controls.  The sanctions were imposed in response to alleged election rigging and human rights violations by the Zimbabwean government. Zimbabwe’s second vice president, Phelekezela Mphoko, was also sworn in Friday.  Mphoko is also a veteran of the liberation war and has served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa. The two men were appointed this week after Mr. Mugabe fired his longtime deputy Joice Mujuru.  The president accused Mujuru of  plotting to assassinate him — an allegation Mujuru has denied. President Mugabe has held onto power for 34 years since Zimbabwe won independence from Britain, defying analysts who predicted ill health or political turmoil would oust him from office. *Source VOA]]>

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Zimbabwe: Sacked Vice President, Mujuru may launch own party
December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Janet Shoko* [caption id="attachment_14720" align="alignleft" width="480"]Former Zimbabwean vice-president, Joice Mujuru, was the youngest minister in 1980 and was elevated to the vice presidency in 2004 Former Zimbabwean vice-president, Joice Mujuru, was the youngest minister in 1980 and was elevated to the vice presidency in 2004[/caption] Sacked Zimbabwe Vice- President Joice Mujuru has refused to talk about her future after her sacking by President Robert Mugabe, sparking speculation she could challenge the veteran ruler. Mujuru said Mugabe used a non existent law to fire her on Monday for her alleged role in the plot to assassinate the 90 year-old leader. “The letter said I was no longer vice-president of Zimbabwe, full stop,” she said. “And he quoted Section 102 (1b) of the Constitution, which I tried to check, but did not get, maybe he wanted to say Section 2b.” Mugabe also sacked eight ministers he accused of working with Mujuru in a plot to oust him. The veteran ruling Zanu PF leaders were dropped from the party’s top organs in the unprecedented purge. Mugabe said Mujuru had been fired because “it had become evident that her conduct in the discharge of her duties had become inconsistent with the expected standard, exhibiting conflict between official responsibilities and private interests”. The former vice-president was the youngest minister in 1980 and has been in government since. She was elevated to the vice presidency in 2004. “It’s too early for me to say…I am not a fighting character,” Mujuru said in response to the sacking. However, political analyst Charles Mangongera said the 59 year old politician might fight back. “From her statements, one can sense she will launch a legal fight,” he said. “She will certainly not take it lying down.” Some observers believe Mujuru and her allies would form a political party to challenge Mugabe who has been in power since 1980. “Those who have been sacked are people with a significant social base. “They are no pushovers. They are people with a significant following”. Mangongera “If elections were called today you would be 100 percent guaranteed that Zanu PF would lose.” Another political analyst Trust Matsilele said Mujuru may consider a coalition with other opposition parties. He said the sacking of Mujuru showed that the party had been hijacked by Mugabe’s wife, Grace who recently took over the powerful post of secretary for women’s affairs in Zanu PF. “Zimbabwe has started a path towards a monarchy and the only way this minor clique in Zanu PF will retain power will be through violence, coercion of State actors and apparatus and stealing of elections,” he said. “The ultimate firing of Mujuru once again confirms a country being governed not by the president, but by his wife. “The most interesting out of all this is that now Zanu PF is being run by an unpopular cabal, unpopular both within the broader Zanu PF and Zimbabwe at large.” The First Lady started demanding Mujuru’s ouster in October accusing her of corruption and plotting to oust Mugabe. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Zimbabwe: Mugabe Reveals Failed Plot to Assassinate Mnangagwa
December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Photo: New Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace talk with vice president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa after the announcement of his appointment. Photo: New Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace talk with vice president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa after the announcement of his appointment.[/caption] A plot to assassinate vice president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa suffered a still-birth on Tuesday but left his personal assistant fighting for her life in hospital as the country’s dirty succession struggle took a nasty turn. The assassination bid was revealed by President Robert Mugabe at the Zanu PF extraordinary Central Committee meeting in Harare on Wednesday where Mnangagwa was confirmed as the country’s first vice president. Insiders privy to the developments said cyanide had been used in the bid to eliminate Mnangagwa who has, for long, battled former vice president Joice Mujuru to be in pole position to succeed Mugabe. Mujuru’s prospects effectively collapsed after she was sacked as vice president on Tuesday and also reduced to an ordinary card-carrying member of Zanu PF. It was claimed that the poison was sprayed in the justice minister office overnight Tuesday in the hope he would walk in Wednesday morning and inhale the substance. However, the minister’s personal assistant got into the office first and is now battling for her life at Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital. Unconfirmed reports suggested police had cordoned off Mnangagwa’s office Wednesday evening as part of investigations into the alleged assassination attempt. Said Mugabe: “But why do this?

“You were hoping that it will go for Mnangagwa; oh shame it went for this poor girl, his secretary. Mnangagwa’s secretary was badly affected by the attempted poisoning and was taken to hospital. “We have demanded a probe on the issue and we are not going to allow it to go like that. They thought that Mnangagwa would be the first to go in and be attacked, unfortunately it had to be this poor girl, why do such things for power.” Mugabe seemed to infer that the Mujuru faction, which is now referred to as the “counter revolutionary and quisling cabal”, was behind the attempted attack his newly appointed deputy. In the run-up to last week’s Zanu PF congress, the public media revealed sensational details of a plot to assassinate 90-year-old Mugabe who has been in power since the country gained majority rule from Britain 34 years ago. The plot, according to the reports, involved Mujuru, expelled party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo as well sacked cabinet ministers Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs) and Nicholas Goche (Labour). Mujuru is accused of working with western powers and the opposition in Zimbabwe to further the much vilified “regime change agenda”. The former VP and Gumbo have strenuously denied the accusation and instead claimed Mugabe is being misinformed by a coterie of hangers on connected to the faction led by Mnangagwa. They insist that the former guerrilla movement has been infiltrated by a group of “gay gangsters working to destroy the party from within”. *Source Allafrica/]]>

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Zimbabwe gets $108 million from AfDB for electricity, water
December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

PATRICK CHINAMASA, ZIMBABWE'S FINANCE MINISTER. PHOTO©REUTERS PATRICK CHINAMASA, ZIMBABWE’S FINANCE MINISTER. PHOTO©REUTERS[/caption] Zimbabwe has received a $108 million grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to improve electricity and water supplies in the country, the finance minister said on Wednesday. Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa said the money would be used to repair the Kariba Dam, which generates most of the country’s power, and to fix electricity transmission lines. Water supplies in the second largest city Bulawayo and a smaller town would also be improved. “I am very pleased that this assistance has come at the right time. “Infrastructure is critical and a priority in the resuscitation of our economy,” Chinamasa told reporters. The southern African country owes foreign creditors like the AfDB, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, $9 billion, which has prevented it from accessing fresh loans required to rebuild roads, schools and hospitals. Zimbabwe is projected to spend 81 percent of its national budget on salaries for state workers next year, leaving little to develop infrastructure. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Russia eyes Zimbabwe as entry point into African market
December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

zimbabwexxRussia is keen on further expanding its footprint in Zimbabwe’s business circles and has cast its eyes on agriculture, promising to set up vast equipment assembly plants at a knock down cost. There is a growing demand for agricultural produce in Russia, which is under sanctions from the European Union and has in turn imposed an embargo on basic foods, as well as meat and many other products, from Western countries. Russia is seeking alternative markets and products subject to the one year embargo on beef, pork, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and other dairy products from the US, Canada, the European Union, Norway and Australia. Setting up an agricultural base in Zimbabwe might help mitigate food shortages. On Monday, a 12 member Russian delegation, comprising of technical expects, led by Igor Avakumo, pitched proposals to their Zimbabwean counterparts. The proposals range from setting up an agricultural equipment manufacturing plant, citrus production, food processing, water purification, veterinary education, poultry and production of vegetable seeds. The head of the Russian delegation, Avakumo said Zimbabwe may bridge the food shortage gap. “We do not plant much of our citrus in Russia because we have a small vegetative season, but we need citrus more, so Zimbabwe may come and fill in the gap and be key in terms of supply,” he said. “Russia is one of the major global suppliers of agricultural equipment, we manufacture tractors and combine harvesters, we are ready to sell tractors and these combine harvesters to Zimbabwe. “The company will also ensure that an assembly plant is built in Zimbabwe to supply the African markets, the prices we offer are 15% less compared to competitors such as John Deere and Massey Ferguson tractors.” Russia, like China, has strong political ties with Zimbabwe, which began when Moscow helped train independence fighters in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2008 Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution by Western countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. Presently, Russia’s major investment in Zimbabwe is a joint-venture diamond and gold mining company in eastern Zimbabwe, DTZ-OZGEO, and Moscow is also planning a joint platinum mining operation outside the capital Harare. Joseph Made, the Zimbabwean Agriculture minister said the southern African country stood to benefit from the Russian proposal. Zimbabwe’s beef industry has been struggling since the European Union (EU) banned meat imports from the African nation in 2001, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Mugabe appoints Mnangagwa as new VP
December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Reagan Mashavave* [caption id="attachment_14653" align="alignleft" width="300"]Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured in Harare on 2008, is in pole position to be Zimbabwe's next president after his promotion to vice president (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe) Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured in Harare on 2008, is in pole position to be Zimbabwe’s next president after his promotion to vice president (AFP Photo/Alexander Joe)[/caption] Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday named hardliner Emmerson Mnangagwa as his vice president, putting the former justice minister in pole position to succeed the veteran leader.

Mugabe announced the appointment at the headquarters of his ruling ZANU-PF party to loud applause, a move that comes just days after he sacked one-time presidential hopeful turned rival Joice Mujuru as vice president in a major purge.

Nicknamed “Ngwena” (The Crocodile) because of his ruthlessness, Mnangagwa has held various senior posts in the country’s defence and internal security apparatus.

“I assured the president, I want to assure the party, its leadership, that I will remain loyal, committed and uphold the correct line of the revolution,” Mnangagwa said, describing the appointment as an “honour”.

The appointment caps a mass purge of rivals by the 90-year-old Mugabe in a bid to end fierce feuding within the ruling ZANU-PF party over who will eventually succeed him.

Analysts say Mugabe is increasingly concerned with making sure his family is secure after he steps down or leaves power.

Mnangagwa is reputed to be one of the richest men in the country and is also renowned for his stern demeanour and tough talk.

The 68-year-old played a critical role in Mugabe’s crackdown against opposition supporters that claimed thousands of lives in the 1980s, and which became internationally known as “Gukurahundi”.

Mnangagwa also helped Mugabe hold on to power during the 2008 elections, which the opposition won in the first round, but which were boycotted in the second round because of widespread intimidation and violence.

As part of his sweeping purge, Mugabe on Tuesday announced the sacking of Mujuru and eight ministers.

He said the new ministers will be announced soon, while the new vice-presidents were expected to be sworn in on Friday.

Rumours had swirled that Mugabe may seek to appoint his wife Grace to one of the vice presidential posts, although commentators saw the move as unlikely given her recent entry into politics.

The former typist was last week appointed leader of ZANU-PF women’s league and on Wednesday she was named as one of 33 members of the party’s politburo, which mainly consists of his trusted lieutenants.

The appointment of the 49-year-old first lady as the person in charge of women’s affairs at the party’s top-decision making body cements her newfound political rise.

In recent months she has been used as Mugabe’s attack dog, accusing Mujuru and her supporters of plotting to overthrow the president and of involvement in alleged dodgy business dealings.

– ‘Potential fracturing’ of party – On Wednesday, Mugabe also named former diplomat Phelekezela Mphoko to the largely symbolic post of second vice president. “There are two vice-presidents. From the former ZANU we have Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Mugabe said. “We say congratulations to him.” “From the former ZAPU we have Phelekezela Mphoko,” seen as one of the few leaders of the ruling party faction who remains loyal to Mugabe. “This is not a honeymoon, this is a challenge that’s the most important thing,” Mphoko said. The ZANU-PF is an amalgam of two independence struggle parties, but Mugabe’s ZANU faction has long been dominant over the ZAPU. Others named to the politburo were Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Home Affairs boss Kembo Mohadi.

London-based investment advisory group Interhorizon Securities said the latest developments could split the ZANU-PF.

“ZANU-PF already faces a potential fracturing in 2015, as Mujuru’s allies are likely to form a new party in an attempt to retain some of their political and business clout,” said Interhorizon analyst Robert Besseling.

“However, it is not yet known how much support she would be able to drain from ZANU-PF ahead of the national election in 2018 or any by-elections held before then.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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