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Zimbabwe business community remains in limbo as Central
Bank delays announcing further monetary policy measures

by Tichaona Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The delay by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya to announce the 2019 Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) has left the business community in limbo as they cannot effectively plan for the new year without the necessary guidance over monetary issues.

The MPS, which is usually issued between the end of January and early February, has been delayed this year amid reports of disagreements between Mangudya and Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube over currency issues.

The delay showed that the monetary element is a major issue to the current economic challenges facing the country, economic analyst Clemence Machadu told Xinhua in an interview.

"Monetary authorities are at a crossroads as they know that this time around huge monetary decisions are not only inevitable but indispensable to recalibrate the economy and set it in the right trajectory, as opposed to scratching-the-surface methods of yesteryear," he said.

Machadu added that the delay in announcing the monetary policy was due to the policymakers’ failure to arrive at a consensus in terms of a sustainable solution or their unpreparedness to deal with the consequences of those measures.

"The central bank also seems to be in jittery mode as its previous monetary policy’s measures have caused market and pricing distortions and they are trying to be more careful," he said.

"But these delays have put the economy in a wait and see stance."

"The beginning of the year is a period when companies plan their strategies of the year ahead, basing on policy measures pronounced by both fiscal and monetary authorities," Machadu said.

"The current scenario leaves businesses, the investing public and other economic agents with only conjectures on what the likely scenarios are, as there is no policy direction," he said.

The delay could also result in needless distortions arising from uncertainties about the future, with the parallel market also taking over the duties that are supposed to be played by the central bank, Machadu said.

"The monetary policy drives economic activities in various sectors and its delay leaves market participants and other economic agents with no policies to be guided by.

"Already, there are plenty of policies which are long overdue, such as the industrial policy, trade policy, local content policy ...

"We therefore cannot afford to create a culture of delaying critical policies that different stakeholders require to make key decisions, especially given how we are in desperate need for foreign investment," he said.


Frequent mine disasters call for review of informal mining activities in Zimbabwe

by Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has many disused gold mines, some abandoned by struggling big mines, and these have become death traps as scores of poverty-stricken people descend on them, usually under the cover of darkness, in search of the yellow metal.

While the artisanal miners have been credited with helping boost the country’s gold output in recent years, calls are growing for the government to formalize such operations.

The country produced a record 33 tonnes of gold in 2018, spurred by increased production from small-scale miners.

However, appeals for safe and legal mining have been rising after the flooding of two gold shafts last week that killed at least 24 people.

Eight other people were rescued alive, after spending four nights underground in neck-deep waters.

Henrietta Rushwaya, president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, urged the government provide land to "formalize activities of illegal miners."

"Let’s have people forming cooperatives so that they can mine in properly allocated land," he said.

The government has struggled with funding challenges over the years to equip small-scale miners so that they mine safely.

After the mine disaster in Battlefields, about 100 km southwest of the capital Harare, a government minister has also called for tightening of security at disused mines.

It has since been revealed that the disaster struck when the miners were engaging in unauthorized mining during the night at Rio Zim’s mining location and another shaft that belongs to a private individual.

"The problem with artisanal miners is that they always take risk, for instance Eldorado Mine was closed but they still went in.

"It’s a huge challenge we have as a country," said justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.

At least 14 illegal miners died at Eldorado Gold Mine in September last year after a shaft collapsed.

The government ordered the sealing of all access points to the mine following the tragedy, but several other illegal miners died at the mine last month after the collapse of another shaft.

Rio Zim has since issued a statement, warning of the dangers of illegal mining and highlighting the need for concerted efforts to promote safe and legal mining activities in the country.

"It has always been the company’s view that not only is unauthorized mining a violation of property rights but most importantly, it is extremely dangerous and if not controlled, regrettable tragedies such as the current one will persist.

"It is therefore vital that government and the mining industry as a whole work together in promoting safe, legal and authorized mining activities," Rio Zim said.

Mines minister Winston Chitando said the government will now review the Battlefields mining disaster with a view to changing mining policy and implement a raft of measures to foster safety and formalization of illegal mining activities.

He said formalization of artisanal miners will help the government control mining activities.

Gold is one of the key minerals in Zimbabwe, and generated 45 percent of mineral exports in 2018, up from 40 percent in 2017.

More than 500,000 people are engaged in artisanal gold mining in Zimbabwe, according to the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines.

Zimbabwe state media issues stern warning to perceived authors of civil unrest

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper on Monday issued a strong warning to perceived authors of civil unrest, particularly the main opposition MDC Alliance, that the government will descend heavily on them since violence cannot be tolerated further.

The government has accused the MDC-Alliance and its partners, including the labor body Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, of having spearheaded the Jan. 14-16 demonstrations that later turned violent as rioters began looting shops and destroying government property.

The largest circulating daily newspaper in the country said the opposition had "chosen a very dangerous path of violence in an effort to win power which has eluded them in democratic ways in the last 20 years."

The paper said it has noticed renewed vigor by the "Western-funded party" to make the country ungovernable.

"No Government in any part of the world can watch while people torch police stations and target armories in search of weapons, as witnessed in the violent demonstrations of mid-January ...

"Once we reach such levels, then government knows it is no longer dealing with an ordinary demonstrator who has a genuine grievance.

"In such cases, the State always reacts accordingly to protect the integrity of the country and other citizens who become victims of lawlessness," the paper said.

It said it would be naïve for the opposition to think they can take violence to the government and expect to be treated lightly.

"Our advice to those who intend to participate in future violent demonstrations is that they should be well aware that apart from facing the wrath of the law, they can be left with permanent scars, both physically and mentally," it said.

Zimbabwe investigates attempts by person
to wrestle operations at white-owned farm

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government is investigating circumstances surrounding a video circulating on social media where a white farmer is being asked to cede half of his farm to a person who claims to have obtained an offer letter from the government to occupy the land.

"Regarding a circulating video depicting a land dispute on an unidentified farm, government seeks more information so as to facilitate an investigation.

"Government policy regarding the need for normalcy to obtain on farms still holds.

"Our economy requires sanity and productivity on all farms," a tweet by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said on Monday.

The unidentified farmer from Chipinge, southeastern Zimbabwe, filmed the video in which he told a policeman that he was aware that an offer letter for half his farm had been signed on Jan. 10, 2019, and he was contesting it.

"My lawyers have advised me not to have any interaction with the apparent so-called beneficiary Mr Mbudzana and not to allow him on the farm, so that’s the position until I hear from the High Court," he said.

The police inspector said the farmer had no right to bar a beneficiary from entering the farm unless he had a court order and that he was being charged with occupying gazetted land without lawful authority.

The person claiming to have been offered the land, Ashirayi Mutirikwi Mawere, also visited the farm and told the farmer’s manager, Richard Bolton, that he would in due course take over the manager’s house on the farm.

Brandishing an offer letter, Mawere demanded to be shown the 229 hectares of land on which he would settle, while the farmer said the whole two lots on his farm were fully developed plantations.

The farmer said he had a successful integrated export operation for which he was about to start the process of acquiring a 99-year lease in line with the government’s land occupation policy.

He reminded Mawere that there was plenty of empty land and unused farms in Chipinge District which he could use.

The incident is reminiscent of the events that happened in the early 2000s when landless blacks invaded white-owned farms in often violent scenes which left several white farmers dead.


Eleven rescued, twenty four dead, many still trapped in Zimbabwe gold mine



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