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MASHONALAND WEST Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Rescuers [left] work on a flooded shaft at a mine in Battlefields, Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe. A miner’s body [right] is put on a pickup truck near a flooded shaft at a mine in Battlefields, Mashonaland West Province. Eleven illegal miners were rescued Saturday after being trapped in a gold mine in Zimbabwe. So far, 24 bodies have been retrieved as rescuers continue to search for survivors. XINHUA PHOTOS - SHAUN JUSA
Eleven miners rescued, twenty four dead, missing
twenty still trapped in Zimbabwe gold mine flood

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Eleven illegal miners were rescued Saturday after being trapped in a gold mine in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province.

Deputy Chief Mining Engineer of the Zimbabwean government Tapererwa Paswavaviri told reporters at the scene that these miners survived by escaping to higher ground, state media New Ziana reported.

"We are yet to assess and find out if there are more people down there who are still alive.

"But indications are that some of the guys succumbed to gassing, that was the major cause of fatalities," he said.

The illegal miners were trapped when the shafts they were working in were flooded Tuesday night after a nearby dam burst.

So far, 24 bodies have been retrieved as rescuers continue to search for survivors.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said Friday that between 60 and 70 miners were trapped after the incident.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the incident a State of Disaster on Friday.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka told media that the tragedy was a big wake up call for mining authorities and miners on the need to adhere to safety standards.


Over 60 feared dead in
Zimbabwe gold mine flood

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- More than 60 people are believed to have died in two mining shafts after a nearby dam burst in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province, authorities said on Friday.

The number of illegal miners who could have been trapped was estimated at between 60 and 70, said Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo.

  Twenty still trapped in Zimbabwe gold mine flood | Coastweek

MASHONALAND WEST Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Rescuers carry a miner’s body at a mine in Battlefields, Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe. Eleven illegal miners were rescued Saturday after being trapped in a gold mine in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province. So far, 24 bodies have been retrieved as rescuers continue to search for survivors. XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA
In a statement on Friday, Moyo said hopes of finding survivors are fading following heavy rains that pounded the area during the night.

Rescuers successfully pumped out water from two interlinked tunnels, and work to retrieve the bodies is expected to start Saturday, Moyo said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the incident a State of Disaster on Friday.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the tragedy was a big wake-up call for mining authorities and the miners on the need to adhere to safety standards.

At least 23 illegal miners die in Zimbabwe mine flood

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- At least 23 illegal miners died in Zimbabwe on Tuesday evening when shafts and tunnels at two mines were flooded by water, state media reported Thursday.

Interlinked shafts and tunnels at two mines in Battlefields, Mashonaland West Province, were flooded after the collapse of a dam wall due to heavy rains received in the area, said the report.

The dam wall reportedly collapsed around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, flooding shafts at leading gold producer RioZim’s Cricket Mine and another one owned by an individual known as Baxter.

While the number of the dead miners was given as 23, there were fears that more miners could have perished in the disaster.

Mashonaland West provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo said the local Civil Protection Unit (CPU) had been activated to offer assistance.

"We are waiting for more information from the people on the ground and the local CPU is on standby to offer assistance as soon as the disaster is confirmed," she said.

"We urgently need to mobilize more pumps. As many as we can because the water levels are continuously rising from beneath and we are not sure if the miners had reached an aquifer below," she said.

Mhondoro-Ngezi district administrator Fortunate Muzulu, who visited the two mines Wednesday, said chances of rescuing any survivors were very slim since the shafts were flooded to the surface.

"The names of people believed to have been trapped has reached 23, with 19 reportedly trapped at the RioZim-owned mine with another four from the other mine," she said.

Muzulu said more artisanal miners could have been trapped underground.

The illegal miners, she said, entered the shafts and tunnels under the cover of darkness without the knowledge of mine owners and disappeared early in the morning.

RioZim spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa, who also visited the site Wednesday, confirmed that efforts were underway to drain the water from the shafts.

"I am not sure how many people are trapped but estimates from their colleagues say above 20," he said.

"The operations are led by Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and we are playing a supporting role."

Zimbabwe inflation continues to soar

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s annual rate of inflation for January 2019 rose to 56.90 percent, up from 42.09 percent in December last year, driven mainly by increases in prices of basic goods.

Statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency on Friday showed monthly inflation for January climbing up to 10.75 percent, up from 9.03 percent of the previous month.

The continued rise is against the background of fuel price hikes by more than 100 percent last month.

The country’s inflation for 2018 closed at 42.09 percent, against an initial target of 25 percent, an indication of deteriorating economic conditions.

Zimbabwe cancels premier arts festival, citing economic challenges

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The 2019 edition of Zimbabwe’s biggest, annual arts and culture festival, the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), will not take place due to economic challenges facing the country, organizers said on Friday.

HIFA said in a statement that it will, instead, use the break to work on projects to broaden and deepen its contribution to arts and culture, particularly in schools, as well as to prepare for next year’s major anniversary festival.

"Zimbabwe is dealing with many important issues, both social and economic.

In this context, the festival cannot responsibly commit to presenting a viable event of the same quality and impact that HIFA is known for this year," said HIFA executive director Maria Wilson.

This is not the first time that HIFA has suspended the event. It also took a break in 2016 due to economic challenges.

The six-day arts and culture celebration usually takes place in the second quarter of the year. HIFA began in 1999 and has grown to be known as one of the most prominent and prestigious arts and culture events not only in Zimbabwe but also across Africa.

Media watchdog urges speedy licensing of community radio stations in Zimbabwe

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Independent media watchdog Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe on Wednesday urged the Zimbabwe government to urgently license community radio stations to foster freedom of expression and development in the country.

According to the watchdog, Zimbabwe does not have any community radio stations.

The organization contends that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has only licensed national and commercial radio stations.

Its view is supported by the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations that also argues that the radio stations licensed by BAZ in 2015 are not community but commercial radio stations.

Some of the licensed stations include Ya FM in Zvishavane, Nyaminyami FM in Kariba, Breeze FM in Victoria Falls, Capitalk 100.4FM in Harare and Diamond FM in Mutare.

"Community radio stations are still to be licensed and legally recognized in Zimbabwe, 18 years after enactment of the Broadcasting Services Act in 2001," MISA Zimbabwe said in a statement commemorating the 2019 World Radio Day.

MISA Zimbabwe argued that by their nature, commercial and national radio stations offer generic one-size fits all content and that their programming is usually not relevant to specific community needs and issues.

"This gap can easily be filled by community radio stations. As Zimbabwe commemorates this day, MISA Zimbabwe reiterates its calls for the speedy licensing of local community radio stations," the organization said.

It added that licensing of genuine community radio stations would go a long way in giving marginalized communities their voice in national affairs that seek to promote dialogue and tolerance in the country.

The 2019 World Radio Day ran under the theme: "Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace".

MISA said this year’s theme acknowledges the role played by radio in facilitating dialogue and building tolerance through respectful sharing of divergent views, thus fostering peace within communities and nations.

The theme, it added, was timely for Zimbabwe as it coincides with the repeated calls for meaningful national dialogue to address the country’s deteriorating socio-economic and political environment.

"It is in that regard that radio can play a fundamental role in facilitating national dialogue in Zimbabwe. Radio serves as a convenient information-sharing platform that is more popular and easily accessible than television because of its wide reach," MISA said.

However, the organization lamented that in Zimbabwe, access to radio is still concentrated mostly in urban and peri-urban communities, leaving communities in outlying, rural areas, especially those along Zimbabwe’s national borders, to rely on radio broadcasts from Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries.

"These marginalized communities are thus effectively excluded from participating in national conversations that take place on national publicly owned radio stations. This makes a strong case for the licensing of community radio stations as provided for in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act".

The Act provides for the three-tier broadcasting system comprising, public, commercial, and community broadcasting in Zimbabwe.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana said the Zimbabwe government was committed to licensing community radio stations.

"Radio shall not be a source of conflict in communities, but will be a bridge," he said.

Zimbabwe parliament wants new anti-graft commissioners
following resignation of previous team

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean Parliament has started hunting for people to serve in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) following the mass resignation of previous commissioners before the expiry of their term in office.

The chairman of ZACC Job Whabira and all the other commissioners resigned with effect from Jan. 31.

Parliament on Thursday called for public nominations for people to serve on the commission.

Among other responsibilities, the commission’s mandate is to investigate and expose cases of corruption in the public and private sectors.

"Members of the ZACC must be chosen for their integrity and their knowledge of and experience in administration or the prosecution or investigation of crime or for their general suitability for appointment," a notice from the parliament said.

According to the law, the president appoints a chairperson of the commission in consultation with Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

He also appoints eight other members from a list of no fewer than 12 nominees submitted by the same committee following public interviews.

Leading Zimbabwe gold producer resumes
operations after negotiations with central bank

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s leading gold producer RioZim, which had in early February suspended operations at its three mines following a failure to access its foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), announced Friday that it was now resuming operations.

This follows successful negotiations between the mining concern and the central bank, the company said in a statement to shareholders Friday.

"This development follows the fruitful discussions held with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which facilitated the clearance of all arrear payments thus allowing the company to resume its normal operations," corporate affairs executive Wilson Gwatiringa said.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed miner had initially stopped operations at the mines last October but resumed operations a month later after getting a commitment from the central bank that it would get enough foreign currency to meets its operational requirements.

Gold producers in Zimbabwe sell their gold only to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the RBZ, with the central bank supposed to allow them to keep a percent of their earnings in their nostro accounts.

As part of the commitments made to gold producers in November 2018 to support their operations, the RBZ undertook to allow all gold producers to maintain 55 percent of their export earnings in their foreign currency nostro accounts and to increase export incentives on all minerals.

However, notwithstanding these commitments, the central bank has been failing to meet them, resulting in RioZim experiencing significant and persistent delays in payment of its foreign currency allocation for deliveries made to Fidelity.

Zimbabwe is reeling from foreign currency shortages and the central bank is trying to spread the available funds across various sectors of the economy, disadvantaging most of the foreign currency earners in the process.

South Africa calls for lifting of sactions against Zimbabwe

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa supports the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe in order to allow for economic development, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.

"We would like to express our strong support for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe in order to allow for economic development in the country," Sisulu said during a debate in Parliament on the State of Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this month.

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union (EU) for years.

The EU lifted most of its sanctions in 2014, but has maintained those against former president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

After Mnangagwa took over Mugabe as president in August last year, the U.S. government said it will not lift sanctions against Zimbabwe until the new government demonstrates that it is "changing its ways."

Sisulu said Zimbabwe has been going through a challenging socio-economic situation, which has inadvertently had an impact on South Africa.

"We have engaged the government of Zimbabwe and have a clearer idea of the problem," she said.

As such, South Africa stands ready to assist the country in addressing these challenges, said Sisulu.


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