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Zimbabwe commuter transport operators raise
fares following yet another Fuel Price increase

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Commuter transport fares rose by an average 50 Zimbabwe cents on Monday night in tandem with fuel price increases effected by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) earlier during the day.

The price of diesel rose to 7.19 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, up from 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, while that of petrol rose from 6.10 dollars per liter to 7.47 per liter.

Operators did not increase fares the last time fuel prices went up on July 12.

Commuter Abednego Kamhoti, who resides in Domboshawa, about 30 km from Harare, said fares had been raised from 3.50 dollars to between 4 dollars and 5 dollars, depending on the time of day.

"Kombi drivers are now charging 4 dollars during off-peak hours and take advantage of the limited availability of transport during peak hours when they charge 5 dollars per fare," he said.

The fare from Warren Park into the city center, which used to be 2 dollars, is now 2.50 dollars.

ZERA has been periodically hiking fuel prices to keep them in the region of the prevailing foreign currency exchange rate.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said recently that fuel and electricity tariffs would be reviewed because the current pricing model was no longer sustainable.

Fuel prices have gone up several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 dollars per liter to 3.39 dollars when the local currency was still pegged at par with the U.S. dollar.

Zimbabwe fuel prices continue to rise just 10 days after the last round of increases

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Fuel prices rose yet again in Zimbabwe on Monday, just 10 days after the last round of increases.

The price of diesel rose to 7.19 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, up from 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, while that of petrol rose from 6.10 dollars per liter to 7.47 per liter.

Prior to the last increases 10 days ago, diesel and petrol were selling for 5.07 dollars and 5.26 dollars per liter respectively.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said recently that fuel and electricity tariffs would be reviewed because the current pricing model was no longer sustainable.

Apparently, fuel prices continue to rise in tandem with the foreign currency exchange rate.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority in June increased the price of diesel to 5.07 dollars a liter from 4.88 dollars, while the price of petrol rose to 5.26 dollars a liter from 4.96 dollars.

Fuel prices have gone up several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 dollars per liter to 3.39 dollars when the local currency was still pegged at par with the U.S. dollar..


Zimbabwe sets up inter-ministerial team to resolve power and energy crisis

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe, battered by crippling power and fuel shortages, has set up an inter-ministerial committee to help the energy minister in finding lasting solutions to the crisis that has beleaguered the nation.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-cabinet briefing on Wednesday that energy minister Fortune Chasi was currently visiting South Africa for energy talks with his South African counterpart.

In the face of the power shortages, Zimbabwe has been importing power from its neighbor South Africa but supplies have been stopped due to debt.

The country recently paid 10 million U.S. dollars towards its 33 million dollars debt to South Africa’s power utility Eskom.

"On the power front, it was reported that the Minister of Energy and Power Development is currently in South Africa for electricity supply negotiations with Eskom.

"The nation will be apprised of the outcome of the negotiations at an appropriate time. In the meantime, Cabinet resolved to set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee to work closely with the Minister of Energy and Power Development in order to facilitate a collective approach in the resolution of the prevailing power and energy supply challenges," Mutsvangwa said.

She said the committee comprises ministers of energy, information, industry and commerce, tourism, agriculture, mines, and information communication technology.

Zimbabwe’s fuel shortages are due to foreign currency shortages to import the commodity while power supplies have been severely curtailed due to low water levels in Kariba Dam that supplies water to the country’s largest hydro power plant, Kariba.

Zimbabwe elections body defends appointment
of former soldier as chief elections officer

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has defended the appointment of Utloile Silaigwana as its Chief Elections Officer (CEO) following questions that had been raised in the media over the appointment procedures.

Silaigwana, who had been acting CEO since early 2018 when he took over from Constance Chigwamba, was recently confirmed as the substantive CEO. Some political actors have questioned the appointment, suggesting that it was tantamount to militarization of the national elections body since he is a former member of the Zimbabwe National Army.

However, in a press statement titled "Setting the record straight", ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said the appointment was done after interviews were conducted by the full commission which sat as an interviewing panel and vetted several applications before Silaigwana was given the job.

"For the record, the current CEO was appointed on merit as he is a qualified elections administrator with 17 years experience in that field.

"He is a holder of a Masters degree in elections administration from a recognized university as well as being an accrediting facilitator for Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections, a modular professional development program on electoral processes," said Chigumba.

She said several articles that had been posted on both social and mainstream media recently contained information with potential to cause alarm and despondency on the electorate.

Apart from questioning Silaigwana’s appointment, the articles also alleged lack of professionalism on the ZEC leadership and alleged reluctance by the commission to implement reforms.

Chigumba said the commission had always upheld its constitutional mandate as evidenced by the absence of any court decision that questioned its integrity or credibility.

"With regard to the electoral reform process, ZEC convened an all-stakeholder conference after the conclusion of the 2018 harmonized elections to discuss these reforms. ZEC has since consolidated proposals arising from the conference and included them in the electoral reform package for consideration by the legislature.

"The issue of electoral reform is therefore work in progress by the commission," she said.

Zimbabwe Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister
Prisca Mupfumira has been arrested after corruption allegations

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has arrested Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira on allegations of corruption.

A senior ZACC official told Xinhua Thursday morning that Mupfumira was currently being interviewed at the commission’s offices.

ZACC was recently granted arresting powers through a Statutory Instrument.

"Yes, we have picked her up. We are currently interviewing her, but she is not going back home," the source said.

The corruption allegations emanate from an audit report on the National Social Security Authority which reportedly unearthed various financial transgressions at the institution.

She becomes the first Cabinet minister to be arrested on corruption charges since President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed the current team in 2018.

The state-run Herald newspaper also confirmed the news by Twitter.

United States provides additional U.S. 4.7 million
dollars to Zimbabwe relief fund for 'Cyclone Idai'

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The United States on Thursday provided an additional 4.7 million U.S. dollars to assist thousands of Zimbabweans living in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts to recover and rebuild their lives following Cyclone Idai which hit the country in March.

The additional contribution complements previous Cyclone Idai relief efforts through USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and brings the total U.S. government contribution to 8 million dollars.

The U.S. Embassy said with this additional funding, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with seven partners to provide affected families with access to clean water and hygiene supplies, shelter and settlement support, and agricultural early recovery services.

"In response to the results of several assessments completed by USAID, we are providing additional funding towards recovery efforts to help people rebuild their lives after the tragedy.

"This contribution will provide much needed lifesaving assistance to help those affected," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, USAID provided food to approximately 133,000 individuals in the most affected areas, including 2,000 metric tons of sorghum, vegetable oil, and fortified cereals.

In addition, USAID supported a two-month activity that provided water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter to 36,400 individuals in cyclone-affected areas of Manicaland Province.

At the beginning of this month, USAID launched a project that is helping 1,700 smallholder farmers to grow high value crops, cereals, and pulses, and improve nutrition and hygiene, helping them meet their short and long-term food security needs.

Cyclone Idai, which also hit Mozambique and Malawi, was one of the worst natural disasters in southern Africa in nearly two decades.

The United States said to date it has provided more than 79 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to help people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who have been affected by the Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth, as well as by flooding that occurred in early March.

Namibian president calls for close cooperation with Zimbabwe

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia president Hage Geingob said on Thursday that his country benefited immensely from the development assistance rendered by the government of Zimbabwe in a variety of fields, calling for continued cooperation between the two nations for the future.

Geingob made the remarks during a meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on a three-day state visit to Namibia.

"We have also been closely cooperating in the establishment of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which holds great potential for the advancement of regional tourism, sustainable management of shared resources, and community empowerment."

Geingob added that Namibia and Zimbabwe will continue to work together in facing the daunting challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, poverty and underdevelopment, which negatively affect the economic and social conditions of our people.

Zimbabwe central bank approves small-scale chrome miners
to receive payment in foreign currency to boost production

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s central bank has started allowing small-scale chrome miners to be paid in foreign currency for their deliveries to large-scale chrome producers and smelters as it moves to enhance operations in the sector.

"In order to enhance the operations of this critical sector which is dominated by small-scale miners, with effect from July 24, 2019, large-scale chrome producers and smelters may pay for chrome deliveries from small scale miners through Nostro FCA transfers," the RBZ said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"The small-scale chrome producers are therefore, required to open Nostro FCA (Export) for purposes of receiving payment for chrome deliveries. No cash pay-outs are allowed, payments will be done only through bank transfers.

"In this regard, large-scale chrome producers and smelters who wish to pay for chrome deliveries from small-scale producers in foreign currency, shall submit applications for operation of a Nostro FCA (Transitory) to Exchange Control, Exports Department for consideration," the central bank added.

The move is expected to boost chrome production by the small-scale miners who often struggle with lack of adequate resources to increase output.

The central bank, meanwhile, further relaxed foreign exchange rules by allowing oil firms, embassies, and international organizations in the country to use foreign currencies for local transactions in a bid to increase the flow of forex in the country.

This comes after government last month banned the use of the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies for domestic transactions and re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar which it made the sole legal tender.

Top Zimbabwe brewer feels pinch as rising prices hit beer drinkers’ pockets

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Lager beer volume from Zimbabwe’s biggest beverage manufacturer Delta Corporation declined by 57 percent for the first quarter to June 2019, compared to the same period in 2018, because imbibers’ buying capacity has been impaired, the brewer said Wednesday.

While reporting a subdued performance for the period, the company said fundamental changes in the economy arising from recent monetary and fiscal policies had significantly affected its business.

"The macroeconomic changes have led to a surge in inflation and a fast depreciating exchange rate which have resulted in the erosion of disposable incomes and reduced consumer spending.

"Our product prices have not yet factored in the full impact of the depreciation of the exchange rate," it said.

The government in June banned the use of all foreign currencies as legal tender and re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar which has been hobbling against the U.S. dollar, both on the inter-bank and parallel markets.

Delta said, however, that the traditional sorghum beer volume in the country grew by 2 percent versus the same quarter in 2018 and product supply had remained consistent despite difficulties in accessing imported packaging materials and services.

Some people who can no longer afford the higher beer prices are also resorting to cheaper spirits and illicit brews.


President Emmerson Mnangagwa urges further
China investments in Zimbabwe tourism sector

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday urged Chinese investors to invest in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector and help turn the southern African country into a competitive tourist destination.

He made the remarks on the occasion where a visiting delegation from China’s Zhejiang Province and the Zimbabwean government officials and business leaders witnessed the signing of a twinning arrangement between Zimbabwe’s Chinhoyi City and China’s Dongyang City.

He said Zimbabwe possesses vast tourism opportunities which if fully harnessed, could help the country in its quest to become an upper middle income economy by 2030.

It emerged at the meeting that Zimbabwe had set aside 1,200 hectares of prime land in the resort town of Victoria Falls for tourism development.

"I urge you, prospective investors (from China), to seize this opportunity to turn Victoria Falls into a competitive tourism hub and financial center," Mnangagwa said.

The resort town, in Matabeleland North Province, is home to the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

On Wednesday, officials from the two countries are set to sign twinning agreements between Zhejiang Province and Matabeleland North Province, and Jinhua City and Victoria Falls.

Mnangagwa said his government has a plan to develop a tourism corridor along the Zambezi River, covering two provinces in the north and western parts of the country.

Ge Huijun, head of the Chinese delegation and chairman of the People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Zhejiang Provincial Committee, said China was keen to consolidate its friendly ties and cooperation with Zimbabwe, particularly in the tourism sector.

"Zimbabwe is an important partner of China in Africa. Today, we come from afar to Zimbabwe to comprehensively strengthen our exchanges and collaboration with Zimbabwe and set an example of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa," Ge said.

She said cooperation between Zhejiang and Zimbabwe continued to grow, with seven reputable companies from the province making significant investments in Zimbabwe over the past few months.

Bilateral trade between Zhejiang and Zimbabwe grew by 17.32 percent in 2018 to 180 million U.S. dollars, and there was huge potential for further growth, Ge said.

She urged Zimbabwean companies to participate in China’s business events to grow business opportunities and expand cooperation between the two countries.

More than 3.5 million rural households in Zimbabwe now
dangerously food insecure after a severe drought  - WFP

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The World Food Program (WFP) has said that more than a third of rural households in Zimbabwe are "dangerously" food insecure following the El Nino-induced drought that hit the country and other parts of Southern Africa during the 2018/19 rain season.

WFP said in a tweet that it was working with the government and development partners to help the needy families.

"Severe drought has rendered more than a third of rural households in Zimbabwe—or around 3.5 million people—dangerously food insecure. We’re working with the government and partners to provide urgent support to those who need it," it said.

The United Nations has already said that more than 6 million Zimbabweans (or nearly 40 percent of the population) require food aid until the next harvest in April 2020 due to the drought and the impact of Cyclone Idai which hit the country, together with Mozambique and Malawi in March.

The Zimbabwe government has since completed a document which outlines modalities on the implementation of a Food for Work program under which beneficiaries get food packs after working on identified projects.

The last food for work program was undertaken in 2016 following another serious drought in the country.

Generally, priority is placed on projects that achieve food security. The incapacitated still receive food under the government’s drought relief program.

Zimbabwe attaches great importance to Economic
diplomacy - Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is attaching great importance to economic diplomacy as it seeks to boost foreign direct investment and help revive the ailing economy, Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said Monday.

He told a portfolio committee of parliament that the country’s ambassadors had been given economic targets to achieve for the country, including on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourism.

"We are saying whatever diplomatic forces we deploy outside the borders of this country, they must be focused on ensuring that firstly there is FDI which comes into the country," said Moyo.

"It is their responsibility to ensure that they secure markets for Zimbabwean products.

"The other aspect has to do with technology, as investors bring FDI there must also be technology.

"The other aspect is that our diplomatic efforts must be deployed towards the mobilization of tourists into our country, which is a low hanging fruit," said the foreign minister.

Moyo said for a specific period of time, the performance of the envoys will be judged against the number of tourists and investors that they bring to the southern African country, as well as markets secure for the country.

"If an ambassador cannot perform, they can be recalled.

"So we prefer to have performing ambassadors," Moyo said.

He said missions abroad had a duty to scout for potential investors and deepen economic relations with countries around the world.

In that vein, the government was in the process of recapitalizing the foreign embassies including renovating dilapidated offices and purchasing new furniture and equipment to ensure the envoys work in a good environment, Moyo said.

He said the government was forging ahead with its engagement and re-engagement efforts to end the country’s decades-long isolation and chart a new development path for the country.

Moyo also called for concerted efforts in promoting the country’s political and economic interests, image and influence abroad.

"Let us make it a concerted effort and not the work of the ministry alone. I believe that each and every Zimbabwean must be an ambassador of this country in the external world. It does not matter which political affiliation you belong to," Moyo said.

Western sanctions costing Zimbabwe billions in potential
funding - confirms
Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Western sanctions have caused immense economic harm to Zimbabwe, with the country losing billions in potential economic funding over the past two decades, Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said Monday.

He told a parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs that apart from losing an estimated 42 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, Zimbabwe had lost bilateral donor support estimated at about 4.5 billion dollars annually since 2001 due to sanctions.

Zimbabwe had also lost 12 billion dollars in IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank loans which could have helped in developing infrastructure, as well as losing commercial loans amounting to 18 billion dollars which could be extended to the private sector and other companies, Moyo said.

"As a result of this, Zimbabwe experienced a 21 billion dollars reduction in GDP over the past two decades," he said.

Moyo said despite the West maintaining sanctions on Zimbabwe, the country will continue to engage it so as to normalize relations.

"The government continues to engage with the West and so far the response is encouraging," he said.

Moyo added that it was time that the United States lifted its sanctions law on Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, saying it had run out of its relevance and necessity.


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