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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zimbabwe will vaccinate 1.4 million people
against cholera World Health Organization

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is launching a campaign to protect 1.4 million people at high risk of cholera with oral vaccination, as part of its efforts to control the outbreak of the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

With the WHO’s help, Zimbabwe declared the immunization drive in the country’s capital Harare earlier last month, in which the vaccines would be sourced from the global stockpile funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The campaign will be rolled out in two rounds, focusing on the most heavily affected suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza, which is 30 km southeast of the capital city.

To ensure longer-term immunity to the population, a second dose of the vaccine will be provided in all areas during a second round to be implemented at a later stage.

"The current cholera outbreak is geographically concentrated in the densely populated suburbs of Harare," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.

"We have a window of opportunity to strike back with the oral cholera vaccine now, which along with other efforts will help keep the current outbreak in check and may prevent it from spreading further into the country and becoming more difficult to control," Moeti said.

Meanwhile, the WHO will also provide cholera supplies of oral rehydration salts, intravenous fluids and antibiotics sufficient to treat 6,000 people.

Zimbabwe has experienced frequent outbreaks of cholera, with the largest outbreak occurring from August 2008 to May 2009 and claiming more than 4,000 lives.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Renewed confidence to see Zimbabwe economy
in strong growth: Finance minister Mthuli Ncube

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by 9 percent in 2019 and a further 9.7 percent in 2020 supported by renewed business confidence in the economy, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Friday.

While launching the economic recovery and stabilization document, Ncube said the upward trajectory in economic growth will also be anchored on the new Transitional Stabilization Program (TSP) to run from October 2018 to December 2020 which aims at stabilizing the macro-economy through fostering fiscal discipline, infrastructure development and export growth.
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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube | Coastweek

  Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by 6.3 percent this year, up from the initially projected 4.5 percent.

The TSP is the first of a series of time-bound development strategies that will be implemented by the government in its quest to transform Zimbabwe into a middle income economy by 2030.

After 2020, the government will launch two five-year development strategies, with the first one running during 2021-2025 and the second covering the period 2026-2030.

"Over the duration of the program (TSP), the economy is projected to grow by 9 percent in 2019, and 9.7 percent in 2020. This growth will be underpinned by renewed business confidence and investment opportunities as the new dispensation opens up Zimbabwe for business across all sectors of the economy," the minister said.

He said agriculture and mining will continue to be strong drivers of growth in the economy, with the growth expected to taper off to around seven percent annually from 2024 to 2030.

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube presents mid-term fiscal policies in Harare. Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by about six percent in 2018, up from the initial projection of 4.5 percent due to several economic reforms that have been implemented by the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA
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The minister said the TSP will mainly focus on stabilizing the macro economy, building a private sector-led economy, addressing infrastructure gaps, and launching quick-wins to stimulate growth.

It will also focus on measures to contain budget expenditure, civil service reforms, ease of doing business, containment of government wage bill currently consuming over 90 percent of government revenue and right sizing of government workforce.

"The realization of the TSP short-term quick wins for the economy will be underpinned by adoption of, and strict adherence to, macro-economic stabilization policies that require painful trade-off and sacrifice," Ncube said.

The minister, meanwhile, defended the two cents tax on every dollar transacted electronically that he announced on Monday this week, saying it was necessary to widen the tax base and raise more funding for social services.

Zimbabweans were previously taxed 5 cents per every transaction regardless of the amount involved.

The tax has attracted widespread condemnation from a cross section of Zimbabweans and many businesses have since hiked prices of their commodities and services following the introduction of the tax.

"The tax is a shock to the people but we do need austerity now and we need to fix this economy together.

"It is better we take more pain at the beginning and then afterwards we stabilize our macro economy and we go forward," he said.

Zimbabwe’s economy is currently reeling from foreign currency and cash shortages which have in turn spawned shortages of fuel and medicines, among other essentials.
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Zimbabwe economy forecast to grow six percent
in 2018 backed by reforms says finance minister

HARARE Zimbabwe’ (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s economy is projected to grow by about six percent in 2018, up from the initial projection of 4.5 percent due to several economic reforms that have been implemented by the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Monday.

Central bank governor John Mangudya also said the strong growth in agriculture and mining would drive growth this year, but stressed the need for Zimbabwe to ratchet up the reforms and accelerate re-engagement with international financial institutions in order to secure fresh offshore lines of credit to revive the distressed economy.

The two were speaking while jointly presenting their mid-term fiscal and monetary policies respectively.

"If this six percent is realized, then Zimbabwe will join what I call the six percent club, a grouping of countries in Africa that are growing at six percent and above," the minister said.

He said the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe were not insurmountable but required urgent and bold decisions.

Among the challenges were foreign currency and cash shortages, an unsustainable high budget deficit and current account deficit, emerging inflationary pressures, infrastructure deficiencies and weak social services delivery, Ncube said.

He said the high budget deficit was destabilizing financial sector stability and crowding out the private sector, resulting in suppressed national production.

"The (high budget deficit) has also increased money supply in the economy, translating into exchange rate misalignment and inflationary pressures," he said.

Government’s domestic debt jumped from less than 300 million U.S. dollars in 2012 to 9.5 billion by August 2018 while foreign debt stood at 7.4 billion dollars.

In total, government debt stood at a whooping 16.9 billion dollars, the minister said.

To contain the high budget deficit, the minister said government will limit the use of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s overdraft facility and also curtail RBZ advances to the government.

He said Zimbabwe was in dialogue with the World Bank, African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank to clear a combined 2.5 billion dollars that it owes the three multilateral financial institutions.

The debt ridden country was also engaging the Paris Club to restructure its 2.8 billion dollars debt arrears.

Governor Mangudya said Zimbabwe needed to take painful and tough decisions to turn around its economy, and announced a raft of measures to improve supply of forex and boost confidence in the economy.

He said despite inflationary pressures in the economy, Zimbabwe’s inflation was projected to remain within the Southern African Development Community’s inflation benchmark of seven percent.

The central bank had arranged for 500 million dollars in offshore lines of credit to finance critical imports as well as another 255 million dollars to prop up the economy, he said.

Mangudya gave banks up to Oct. 15 to comply with a central bank directive to allow clients to open separate Nostro and RTGS foreign currency accounts in order to preserve the value of money for generators of forex.

The governor also said drivers of foreign trucks will now purchase their fuel in Zimbabwe in U.S. dollars to curb their abuse of foreign exchange distortions on the market.

Mangudya emphasized that curbing corruption and boosting production to generate foreign currency was key to drive growth in the economy.

He also refuted claims that the central bank was dealing in the thriving parallel market for foreign currency.

Meanwhile, the finance minister said Zimbabwe should consider establishing a regional fuel dry port as a long-term solution to the fuel crisis it is facing due to the ongoing shortage of forex.

He also dissolved the board of the tax revenue collector, ZIMRA and said a new board will be announced soon.
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Zimbabwe government says to continue levying
resettled farmers to raise compensation funds

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government will continue to levy resettled farmers to raise funds to compensate former white commercial farmers who lost their land during the land reform program, agriculture minister Perence Shiri said.

Zimbabwe has pledged to compensating former white commercial farmers whose land was expropriated.

Shiri was quoted by the state news agency New Ziana on Thursday as saying that the rental and land development levies, introduced in 2015, would help in raising the compensation funds.

"There are improvements which were done on the farms and the new farmer is utilizing those improvements.

"It makes common sense that instead of laboring the tax payer, the person who is directly benefiting from those improvements contributes towards the compensation of the former farmer," he said.

He, however, said the compensation was not being done directly by the new farmer to the former farmer but through government.

"The policy is that the new farmer pays for the improvements on the farm and that money is used to compensate the former farmer.

"That is the government position, if the money is not enough then probably government may chip in, but the new farmer has to contribute," he said.

The minister added that leases which are paid by the farmers at the rate of 3 U.S. dollars per hectare per year were also going towards the compensation of the former farmers.

The former white commercial farmers are reportedly demanding 9 billion dollars compensation from the government.
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Zimbabwe seeks to boost horticulture production

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe will next week host the first international horticulture and floriculture trade show, HortiFlor, as the nation seeks to boost exports and become once again one of Africa’s top horticulture exporters.

"Zimbabwe will, in a relatively short time, become one of Africa’s largest exporters of horticultural products," Dick Van Raamsdonk of HPP Exhibitions was quoted as saying by online agriculture publication, Farmers Voices, on Tuesday.

He said the Oct. 9 -11 trade fair is open to players in the fresh flowers, vegetables and fruit industry.

Over 50 Zimbabwean and international companies will showcase their products and services at the event, Van Raamsdonk said.

After having been Africa’s second largest exporter, the Zimbabwean horticulture industry is eager to climb back up the ladder and again become one of Africa’s top exporters.

According to Van Raamsdonk, the industry can achieve this within five to 10 years as they do not have to start all over.

"They are not starting from scratch.

"The know-how is still there; surprisingly a lot of know-how actually is available," he said.

One major factor that could hold back the country is high transport costs, Van Raamsdonk said.

"They are high as the cargo volumes are low.

"However, if the cargo volumes increase, the transport costs will decrease and that is when the strength of Zimbabwe will show to its full extent," he said.

Van Raamsdonk said Zimbabwe grows many summer flowers, expressing the hope that a good market for them could be established.

However, he noted, Zimbabwe will not rise to become a fierce competitor for other African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia.

"Zimbabwe will complement the assortment of Kenya and Ethiopia, as roses are their main product.

"I would sooner think that Zimbabwe can become a competitor for South America.

"The price of Zimbabwean flowers will be lower than those from South America," Van Raamsdonk said.

Horticulture production, which used to be Zimbabwe’s third largest agriculture export sector after tobacco and cotton, declined significantly over the past years due to disturbances caused by the land reform program.
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AfDB extends U.S. dollar 1.4  million dollar grant to support Zimbabwe refugees

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe and the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Monday signed a 1.4 million U.S. dollar grant agreement to support about 20,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in Tongogara Refugee Camp.

The funds, running from 2018-2020, will assist the refuges and about 15 percent of communities surrounding the camp to improve their technical capacity to adopt innovative solutions for self-reliance and enhanced economic livelihoods.

"It (the grant) will provide employment to unemployed youths from the refugee and host communities, build knowledge on how to combat sexual and gender-based violence, and develop skills through training on market access and links," finance minister Mthuli Ncube told the signing ceremony for the grant.

He said such funding would significantly contribute to the government’s vision of transforming Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by 2030.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Zimbabwe representative Robert Tibagwa thanked the Zimbabwe government for its continued support to improving livelihoods of refuges in the camp.

He said a large number of the refugees, including newcomers from neighboring countries, remain vulnerable and are in need of urgent support.

AfDB country manager Damoni Kitabire said he hoped the funds will be disbursed fast to enable the youths to benefit from the grant through employment-creation.

Tongogara Refugee Camp, located 420 km southeast of Harare, is home to thousands of refugees who have fled war and civil strife in different parts of Africa.
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Zimbabwean bankers join fight against card cloning

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) on Monday said it has joined hands with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to protect the banking public from rampant card-cloning.

More than 150 cases of card-cloning were reported between January and June this year, with the police warning businesses and private individuals to be wary when conducting point of sale transactions.

Card-cloning involves the production of counterfeit cards by criminals after fraudulently acquiring debit or credit card information contained in the magnetic strip of cards.

According to police, criminals target victims mainly at food courts, liquor outlets, fuel stations and casinos where they operate in cahoots with till operators who swipe the cards on devices called grabbers, which copy all the information from the legitimate cards.

The till operators take note of customers’ PINs which they transmit to their accomplices.

The BAZ advised bank clients to never release their cards to unauthorized people and to ensure that their cards remained in sight all the time during transactions.

"Do not allow a till operator or vendor to take your card out of sight. Never disclose your PIN to a third party, especially strangers," the association said.

             

 

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