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Zimbabwe delegation invited to Commonwealth London summit

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has been invited to the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit that begins in London Monday and ends next Sunday, marking the latest sign of thawing of relations between Harare and London, state media reported Sunday.

However, the country will only have observer status and will not participate in deliberations to take place.

Former President Robert Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003 following differences over governance issues.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Joey Bimha said the Commonwealth invitation was an indication of reciprocity to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts.

He said foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo would attend the summit.

"The minister has been invited by his British counterpart for a visit.

"He is going to attend the meeting, but he will not participate," he said.

"We are not privy to the agenda of the summit since we are not participants ...

"But this shows that our re-engagement exercise is working," he said.

Prior to the summit, Moyo will make an official call on the United States to meet American government authorities, the paper said.

After London, Moyo will travel to Brussels, Belgium, to meet European Union head of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Bimha said Zimbabwe’s re-engagement missions had been going well.

"The President has been on record as saying we should make overtures to woo the West again following a long period of isolation.

"I think the exercise is going on well.

"We have been to Japan, UK, Portugal, China and Spain," he said.

"To signal the level of reciprocity Zimbabwe has been enjoying from the West, delegations have visited the country from the European Union, the UK, the U.S. and other countries," he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s first foreign visitor following his inauguration last November was then British Minister for Africa Rory Stewart.

UK minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development Harriet Bladwin also visited him in February.


Zimbabwe government to privatize some state-owned firms

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government on Friday announced plans to privatize some of its under-performing state firms as part of a comprehensive reform aimed at improving performance of the state-owned entities that have become a drain on the national fiscus.

At their peak in the 1990s, the entities used to contribute 40 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told a press conference that the reform program would result in some entities being merged, privatized, liquidated or absorbed as ministerial departments.

The government, he said, was still carrying out discussions on the appropriate decision to take on state airline Air Zimbabwe.

He said four companies will be privatized including insurance firm Allied Insurance and grain bag manufacturer Zimbabwe Grain Bag.

Among the entities targeted for partial privatization are oil company Petrotrade, postal firm Zimpost, Post Office Savings Bank, Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, mobile phone companies Net One and Telecel and fixed phone operator Tel-One.

Struggling mines run by the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation will also be partially privatized, as well as car manufacturer Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, fertilizer manufacturer Chemplex Corporation and road transport firm ZUPCO.

Zimbabwe capital seeks deal with American firm to introduce electric buses

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s capital Harare is seeking a deal with an American company to introduce intra-city electric buses to provide efficient and cost-effective public transport to residents.

The firm, Concept Media Group, plans to introduce the electricity-powered buses for intra-city commuting on a pilot basis, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Thursday.

"The introduction of such a transport system would pave way for a cleaner, environmentally friendly, cost-effective and easily manageable intra-city passenger transportation that echoes the Harare City Council’s motto as a clean and beautiful sunshine city by 2025," said the Council.

The E-buses, according to council, will replace "mushika-shika" as the preferred, safe and affordable mode of transport for intra-city routes.

The city has been facing a big challenge in removing the "mushika-shika", the unregistered taxis that ply the city and often drive dangerously, causing chaos in the central business district.

The E-buses will have a carrying capacity of 20-30 passengers per ride, and have a maximum speed of 60 km per hour.

They will have designated pick-up and drop-off points within a 10-30 km radius of the city center, the council said.

"E-buses have advantages over competition because they are cheaper in terms of maintenance and operation, they are significantly smaller and lighter and they will be pre-installed with fleet management system," the council said.

Harare lacks an efficient public transportation system and the council has over the years battled the challenge of chaotic and dangerous driving by commuter omnibuses and unregistered taxis which puts the lives of commuters at risk.



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