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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

President Mugabe accuses allies of stirring up economic chaos       

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday accused some unnamed officials in his ruling ZANU-PF party of trying to trigger economic havoc as a ploy to effect regime change and oust him.

Mugabe said the recent price increases of some basic commodities and manipulation of currencies on the market was meant to incite people to rise up against the government.

“There are those who are manipulating the currency so they can trigger inflation and cause panic buying. Those people are saboteurs and they are amongst us, they are like Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. They are among us and let us expose and shame them,” Mugabe said while burying Maria Msika, the widow of former Vice President Joseph Msika at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

Mugabe said the people pushing for economic chaos wanted to push him out of power but he vowed that he was not going anywhere as yet.

He said he was put into the position by people and it will be the people again who will choose his successor when he decides to step down.

“I did not take the position by force. When the time comes, the people will choose who they want to succeed me but for now I am fully and firmly still in charge,” Mugabe said.

His party is battling intense infighting by factions vying to succeed him even though the veteran leader has been endorsed by his party as its presidential candidate in next year’s polls when he will be 94.

In recent days, Zimbabwe has witnessed a spate of price increases of some basic commodities, with retailers citing foreign currency shortages.

Social media rumors at the weekend claiming imminent shortages of basic goods also fueled panic buying and hoarding of basic goods and fuel by consumers and motorists, prompting government to issue a stern warning to people abusing social media to spread alarm and despondency in the country.

Mugabe said the “saboteurs” will not succeed in their plans to cause economic havoc as government was closely watching and monitoring the situation.

The Zimbabwean government introduced bond notes in November 2016 as a way to alleviate cash shortages in the economy but the surrogate currency which was officially pegged at par with the U.S. dollar has been gradually losing its value to the greenback on the parallel market.

The government recently secured a 600 million U.S. dollars forex stabilization facility from Afreximbank and has reassured the nation that there will be no shortages of goods due to foreign currency shortages.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Zimbabwe enacts law to curb cash trading by unlicensed dealers

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government has enacted legislation to curb selling of cash by unlicensed dealers, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in a statement to the parliament on Thursday.

The illegal practice has become rampant in the past few months as cash shortages in banks continue in the country.

Chinamasa said President Robert Mugabe enacted the Exchange Control Regulations on Thursday.

“These regulations will empower the police to arrest anyone trading in currency without a license as it is an offence,” Chinamasa said.

Because the banks have no sufficient cash for depositors, U.S. dollar notes and bond notes are available on the parallel market but the U.S. dollar is trading at a higher value than bond notes.

The regulations empower the court to impose a fine not exceeding the value of the currency and a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, the finance minister added.

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Social media abuse a headache for Zimbabwean government

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- While social media has proved to be an effective medium of communication, the Zimbabwean government is worried that some people are abusing it with the intention to cause political chaos and prop up the opposition ahead of the 2018 elections.

The recent panic buying of basic commodities where some shelves were literally emptied in retail shops while prices of some goods skyrocketed has been attributed to false social media, with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa warning that the government would take drastic measures against “economic saboteurs.”

Chinamasa said while Zimbabwe had its challenges, there were attempts by some forces to destabilize the country through triggering economic turmoil, New Ziana reported Thursday.

He said false messages on social media had spurred panic buying which had resulted in artificial shortages of fuel and goods as people rushed to hoard the commodities.

“It came to most of us as a complete surprise and in fact it was like a bombshell because there were no shortages in the market and what happened was not in sync with the prevailing situation in the economy at all,” the finance minister told a media conference Wednesday.

“The developments in the economy are very positive and all indicators are in the right direction, the trajectory is on the right path,” he said.

Chinamasa said the government would follow the direction of the European Union in introducing strict laws that deal with abuse of social media and other new technologies to spread lies.

With the impending elections, the government suspects that some people will use social media to prop the opposition by highlighting purported government failures.

Police on Sunday arrested a pastor who is well-known for using social media to express his discontent with government failures after he posted a video of long queues of motor vehicles waiting for fuel at some filling stations in Harare.

The state wants to charge Evan Mawarire with inciting members of the public to revolt against the government through the comments he made in the video clip.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has also had its fair share of false media and has been forced to make advertisements refuting various policy pronouncements seen on social media.

The government is drafting a law to penalize the “abusive” usage of social media with five-year jail terms to be imposed on offenders as it seeks to regulate the cyber space law and order.

According to the draft, any person staying either in Zimbabwe or overseas can be found guilty of intentionally generating, possessing and distributing an electronic communication with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, threaten, bully or cause emotional distress to another person.

The Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill, together with two supporting bills on information technology, is intended to manage the cyber space following various acts of civil disobedience triggered by social media messages on WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook.

Zimbabwe has seen a sharp rise in mobile internet penetration rate thanks to the proliferation of affordable smart-phones and cheap data packages.

The country’s telecommunication regulator Potraz reported in 2016 that active mobile internet subscriptions rose to 6.5 million by the end of 2015, which is nearly half of the entire national population. 

           

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