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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun | Coastweek

MOUNT HAMPDEN Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun tour the construction site of Zimbabwe’s new parliament building in Mt. Hampden, on the outskirts of Harare. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday toured the new Parliament building that is being constructed by a Chinese firm and expressed satisfaction with progress so far. XINHUA PHOTO - ZHANG YULIANG

Zimbabwe inflation surges to 100 percent mark during May 2019

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s inflation surged towards the 100 percent mark in May as prices of basic commodities and other goods continued to rise, the national statistics agency Zimstats said on Monday.

Last month, year-on-year inflation rose to 97.85 percent from 75.86 percent in April driven by rising prices of food and nonalcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear, among others.

Meanwhile, month-on-month inflation gained 7.02 percentage points to close the month at 12.54 percent, the fourth consecutive rise in month-on-month inflation.

Many companies are sourcing foreign currency on the black market as official coffers fail to meet demand, according to media reports.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said recently that prices would soon start to fall, but people have doubts about his remarks, given prices of some goods are rising robustly, said the reports.


Zimbabwe government bans use of foreign currency as legal tender

HARARE (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government has banned the use of foreign currency as legal tender alongside the local RTGS dollar, in an apparent bid to arrest galloping increases of prices of basic commodities and other goods and services.

However, payment for international airline services in foreign currency will still be allowed.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube announced the ban on Monday.

"With effect from the 24th of June, 2019, the use of the British pound, United States dollar, South African rand, Botswana pula and any other foreign currency whatsoever shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transactions in Zimbabwe," the minister said in a Statutory Instrument (SI).

Ncube said this means that the Zimbabwe dollar, which is at par with the RTGS dollar and the bond notes and coins, would be the sole legal tender with immediate effect.

Zimbabwe, which abandoned its local currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, in 2009 following years of hyperinflation, has been using a basket of nine multi-currencies dominated by the U.S. dollar.

The others are the British pound, the euro, the Chinese yuan, the Australian dollar, the Indian rupee, the South African rand, the Botswana pula and the Japanese yen.

The SI said the new regulations do not affect the opening or operation of foreign currency-designated accounts, which shall continue to be designated in the foreign currencies with which they are opened and in which they are operated, or the making of foreign payments from such accounts.

Also not affected is the requirement to pay customs duties and value-added tax in any of the foreign currencies for goods specified under the law to be luxury goods.

A serious shortage of foreign currency has spurred a black market where the U.S. dollar was on Monday trading at 1:11 RTGS dollars at the minimum, while the official interbank rate was at around 1:6.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said last week that Zimbabweans should expect to start using a new local currency by the end of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020, as the government has made strides putting in place macroeconomic fundamentals needed before its re-introduction.

He said the current scenario where Zimbabwe has no control over the supply and availability of the currencies in use is unacceptable.


Zimbabwe allays fears of anti-retroviral drugs drug shortages

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has adequate stocks of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) that will last until the first quarter of next year, Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo said on Wednesday, allaying fears of a possible shortage.

Zimbabwe has an estimated one million people who are on the life-prolonging drugs with an estimated 65 percent of the one million people on first line of treatment while the remainder is on the second line.

The state news agency New Ziana reported that Moyo told Parliament during the question and answer session that the country was in a "safe zone" when it comes to the availability of ARVs.

"I do not want people to panic unnecessarily," Moyo said.

"For the first line, we have adequate supplies up to the end of the first quarter in 2020 and the second line drugs will last up to the end of the year."

Zimbabwe is facing foreign currency shortages that have impacted on among others, procurement of medical drugs.

Moyo told Parliament that there were various avenues that the government was exploring including partnerships with Indian firms to ensure that supplies are kept at required levels.

Zimbabwe eyes strong trade and economic ties with China: official

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is looking at forging strong economic and trade ties with China particularly anchored on its vast potential in agriculture, the mainstay of the country’s economy, a senior government official said Wednesday.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, James Manzou, told Xinhua in an interview that Zimbabwe will utilize the forthcoming China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo to explore ways of boosting the country’s exports to China.

"The focus has been on identifying what China needs and one of the areas we are working on is the area of citrus exports from here to China.

"That’s an area where the market is but there are also other commodities like tobacco which is a major export that can be further developed," Manzou said.

The inaugural expo is scheduled for June 27-29 in central China’s Hunan Province.

The bi-annual expo has been established under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation as a new mechanism for economic and trade cooperation between China and African countries.

China has been the biggest buyer of Zimbabwe’s tobacco for several years, and has also been a major funder of the production of the crop through contract farming.

The Chinese funding in tobacco production has largely helped to lift the country’s production, which plummeted to an all-time low of 48 million kg in 2008, to a record high of 252 million kg in 2018.

Manzou said there are opportunities for the Chinese to grow some of the crops in the country for export.

"We have other agricultural products that China can grow here because we have a beautiful climate which is very good for agriculture."

He said there are also other potential areas of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, including mining and tourism.

"There are a number of Chinese companies already operating in our mining sector but tourism is also a low hanging fruit," Manzou said.

Zimbabwe businesses adjust working hours as power shortage persists

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Some Zimbabwean businesses have been forced to adjust working hours due to sustained power outages lasting hours a day.

With a rationing from the Power utility Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), others in the chicken business are also running losses as eggs fail to hatch because of erratic power supplies.

Eddie Matemayi, a printer in the Tynwald industrial area, said power outages had affected business very much and it had become unsustainable to run the business on back-up generators.

"It is very costly.

"We can’t run a generator everyday because electricity is cheaper than generators which should only come in as backup.

"We have tried to stagger the working times so that we operate at night when power is supposed to be available, but then there is no guarantee that you will get it," he said.

Butcher Mike Nyakarenga from northwest Harare said he had begun staggering opening hours depending on when electricity was available.

"There’s no point in opening when there is no electricity.

"The meat will only go bad because the fridges will not be working.

"So it’s better I keep the meat in the cold room until power is restored," he said.

A leading fast food company with many outlets throughout the country has also announced that it will stagger operating hours at some of them because of the current power situation.

In a notice to customers, the company said it had introduced "power cut" trading hours during which it would be powered by generators.

However, to many businesses, the power shortage problem is two-pronged.

Apart from failing to get electricity from the national grid, the shortage of diesel is also stopping them from operating their generators.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which had ventured into a chicken breeding business, is now ruing the decision because of power shortages.

"Because of load shedding by ZESA and non availability of diesel our PTUZ Chicken egg incubation project has suffered.

"I believe many running such ventures have suffered the same fate.

"So far we have had to throw away more than 3,000 eggs," said secretary-general Raymond Majongwe on Twitter.

Zimbabwe had enjoyed four years without load shedding, but the drought of 2018/19 pushed the Zambezi River Authority to reduce water allocation to the Zimbabwe Power Company from 19 billion cubic meters to 16 billion cubic meters for 2019, thus reducing power generation.

The rationing is meant to ensure that the plant continues to run until the next rainy season.

Power generation at Hwange Thermal Power Station and the smaller thermal power stations of Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati remain fragile because of old age.

ZETDC - a subsidiary of ZESA Holdings - in June announced a biting load shedding schedule after demand continued to outstrip supplies following the curtailment of power generation at its Kariba South Hydro Power Station.

Generation at the country’s thermal power stations has also been reduced because of aging equipment, while power imports have been curtailed because the country does not have enough foreign currency to meet the import bill.

According to the schedule, load shedding is normally implemented during the peak periods of 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m..

Both domestic and industrial users are affected in Stage 1 of load shedding, while Stage 2 is implemented if the power deficit is more than earlier anticipated.

Water levels at Zimbabwe Lake Kariba continue to decline following drought

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The water levels at Lake Kariba, which hosts Zimbabwe’s anchor hydro power station, continues to decline and is now at 29 percent of capacity because of the drought that hit southern Africa during the 2018/19 season.

Figures released by the Zambezi Water Authority (ZRA) Monday show that the lake is now 29 percent full, compared to 85 percent during the same time in 2018 and 56 percent in 2017.

Zimbabwe and Zambia, which have two power stations at Kariba Dam, have had to curtail electricity generation and introduce load shedding after ZRA ordered a reduction in water usage following the El Nino-induced drought.

Zimbabwe nurses announce to reduce working days

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Nurses at Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have announced to further reduce their working days from three to two days per week after government failed to improve their working conditions.

This follows the expiry of their 14-day ultimatum for government to address their demands.

"We note that some of our stated grievances have not been addressed to date.

"To this end, we hereby advise your office that from the 17th of June 2019, our members will partially withdraw their services at their different stations."

"More specifically, we will only be able to attend work for only two days between the period 17 June up to 23 June 2019," the nurses said.

In a notice Tuesday, the Health Apex Council said the workers would go on strike on June 24 if government fails to address their demands.

"Should your office fail to attend to our grievances, during this period, we will have no option but to completely withdraw our service effective 24th June of 2019," the Health Apex Council said.

Zimbabwe’s public health sector has been plagued by labor disputes over the years with nurses and doctors striking over poor working conditions.


With official inflation up markedly, Zimbabwe abandons the use of foreign money at home



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