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Zimbabwe ban demonstrations in capital after anti-Mugabe protests | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Opposition supporters disembark from a prison truck in Harare. Zimbabwe has charged 68 opposition supporters with public violence following violent clashes between the protesters and the police. XINHUA PHOTOS

Zimbabwe ban demonstrations in capital after anti-Mugabe protests

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has announced a two-week ban of public demonstrations in the capital Harare following a series of anti-government protests in recent weeks, state radio reported.

The government announced the ban, running from Sept.1 to 16, in a statutory instrument published Thursday.

According to the statute, police imposed the ban on the grounds that provisions in the Public Order and Security Act were inadequate to prevent public disorder.

The ban comes ahead of a planned demonstration by opposition parties in Harare on Friday to push government to implement electoral reforms before the next election in 2018.

This is after the opposition parties, working under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda, failed to go ahead with the demonstration on Aug. 26 despite court permission, after a clampdown by the police who fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters.

The clashes resulted in looting of shops and damage of some properties in the capital.

Police have since arrested and charged 68 protesters with public violence following last Friday’s violent protests.


EU condemns brute force by Zimbabwean police in quelling protests

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The European Union has expressed concern at the use of brute force by Zimbabwean police in quelling recent protests and demonstrations by the opposition.

"Police have a duty to facilitate the conduct of undisturbed peaceful demonstrations and petitions.

"Use of force should only be considered as a last resort and always be proportionate," the EU said in a statement ahead of planned demonstrations by pressure groups and the opposition on Wednesday and Friday respectively.

The planned demonstrations are the latest in a wave of anti-government protests by opposition members in Harare in recent weeks to express anger over alleged misrule by President Robert Mugabe’s government as well as to push for electoral reforms before the next elections in 2018.

In the previous protests, police have used tear gas, water cannons and beaten up demonstrators, resulting in violent clashes between the police and the protesters.

Last Friday’s demonstration in particular proved to be one of the most violent ones after police went on the rampage and indiscriminately fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters, some of whom burnt tyres and placed boulders on the roads.

The ensuing chaos resulted in looting of shops in the central business district.

While condemning the violence, the EU called on the government to respect citizens’ constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations, saying these rights must be exercised peacefully and fully respected by the authorities.

"Any form of violence, including incitement to violence and advocacy of hatred or hate speech, must be condemned by all parties in the strongest possible way," the EU said.

The EU appealed to demonstrators and the police to refrain from mutual, violent provocations and for calm, mutual respect and dialogue by all the parties.

The government has so far arrested and charged 68 people with public violence following last Friday’s violent protests.

Mugabe has strongly warned the opposition against causing anarchy in the country, saying Arab-Spring style protests will not succeed in Zimbabwe.


Chinese tourists surge after Zimbabwe relaxes visa controls

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Chinese tourists into Zimbabwe rose by 32 percent in the first half of 2016 after the country relaxed visa controls on China, an official has said.

Zimbabwe introduced a new visa regime in March this year which now allows nationals from China and 35 other countries to apply for visa on arrival.

Previously, Chinese nationals needed to apply for and obtain visas prior to travelling.

Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Ray Ndhlukula told a tourism conference in the capital Harare that the surge in Chinese tourists was due to the relaxation in visa controls.

He said according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority preliminary first half year report up to June 2016, Zimbabwe received 902,435 tourists compared to 930,277 in 2015.

"Although this figure represents a marginal decline in arrivals, what is noteworthy is the increase in Chinese tourists by 32 percent, which in itself is an affirmation of the positive steps taken to revise the visa regime," he said.

Zimbabwe, he said, would thus continue to review the legislative and regulatory environment affecting the tourism sector to boost its growth and competitiveness.

Currently contributing 1 billion U.S. dollars in revenue and 11 percent to Gross Domestic Product from 2 million visitors annually, the Zimbabwe government is targeting the sector to contribute 5 billion dollars in revenue and 15 percent to GDP from 5 million tourist arrivals a year by 2020.

Ndhlukula noted that overpriced tourism products and poor transport infrastructure were among major factors stifling growth of the sector.

He urged tourism players in the country to competitively price their products in order to restore the competitiveness of Zimbabwe as a prime tourist destination.

Zimbabwe boasts of an array of tourist attractions, including the famous Victoria Falls.

UNDP, Global Fund partner with Zimbabwe to strengthen HIV prevention services

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund strengthened their partnership with additional funding of 143 million U.S. dollars to help scale up the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe, a press release said here Wednesday.

HIV remains a major public health challenge in Zimbabwe with 1.4 million people living with HIV at the end of 2015. Even though the African country has seen one of the sharpest declines in HIV prevalence in the region, at 15 percent it remains among the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world.

The HIV grant aims to increase access to HIV treatment, with a particular focus on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, expanding HIV testing and counselling services, and scale up of prevention for adolescents and in and out of school youth.

"This timely new funding will sustain and strengthen existing HIV prevention and treatment services in Zimbabwe," said Bishow Parajuli, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe.

"Significant advances have been made in recent years but we must not be complacent," Parajuli said.

"Services must continue if we are to further reduce the rate of new HIV infections while also increasing the number of people initiated on to HIV treatment."

Implemented by UNDP, in partnership with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care, the National AIDS Council and civil society organizations, the new funding will run from January 2017 through December 2017, said the press release.

The 143 million dollars are additional funding to the Global Fund’s existing HIV grant to Zimbabwe, taking the grant total to 611 million dollars, the press release said.

Zimbabwe has made great strides in the fight against AIDS, with the support of UNDP, the Global Fund and other development partners. The existing HIV grant supports 880,000 people in Zimbabwe to access life-saving HIV treatment.

Between 2014 and 2015, retention of patients on HIV treatment has increased from 87 percent to approximately 90 percent, while the proportion of HIV-positive infants born to HIV-positive mothers has declined from 18 percent to 4 percent in the same period, corresponding to 14,000 new HIV infections of children being averted.

The grant will be key to reducing the impact of the HIV epidemic and ensuring healthy lives for all, contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring health and well-being for all.


Zimbabwe police disperse opposition parties at Magistrate Courts

Kind Chinese mothers providing love and care to Harare children




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