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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zimbabwe now experiencing its worst hunger
emergency - reports World Food Programme

by Peter Kenny GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst hunger emergency, the World Food Programme (WFP) said Wednesday, while boosting food assistance to the people most affected by drought, flooding, and economic crisis.

"With Zimbabwe experiencing its worst-ever hunger emergency, WFP is stepping up food assistance.

"At the same time, it’s working to build the capacity of chronically hungry communities to withstand climate shocks," WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said in a statement.

Climate shocks such as cyclones or drought have an immediate impact, especially on the rural population, he said.

More than a third of the southern African nation’s rural population - 3.6 million people - will be food insecure by October, said WFP.

By next January this tally is expected to increase to 5.5 million during the inter-harvest season.

"Most of Zimbabwe’s 60 districts will exhaust their maize stocks by October," said Verhoosel, adding that WFP is providing food assistance to 700,000 people in August, and when crop stocks decline, "we will scale up for the season between harvests and help 1.7 million people in October-December."

The UN agency will help two million in January-April next year, "but only if funding allows," said Verhoosel.

WFP said the recent abandoning of the U.S. dollar and other currencies for commercial transactions has negatively impacted on the economy.

It said the official year-on-year inflation rate reached 176 percent in June, with food prices soaring by 252 percent and the actual rates could be even higher, severely impacting the poorest.
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UPDATES:

Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa
urges nation to shun violence and corruption

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday urged Zimbabweans to shun violence and corruption and focus their efforts in rebuilding the economy.

The president made the remarks in his address to the nation at the National Heroes Acre to mark this year’s 39th Heroes Day, held every year to remember fallen and living gallant sons and daughters of the country who fought to bring Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980.
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Mnangagwa made the plea as the opposition has given notice to stage mass demonstrations in the capital, Harare, on Aug. 16 to protest against economic hardships.

Such opposition-organized demonstrations have in the past turned violent and resulted in the death of people and destruction of property.

The last one, held in January against rising fuel prices, resulted in the destruction of property, looting of shops and the death of at least 12 people.

"Violence, discord, dishonesty, hatred, divisions, discrimination, tribalism, regionalism and corruption must be rejected as having no place in the new Zimbabwe," Mnangagwa said.

"Mutual respect, love, equality, peace, commitment, loyalty and cooperation must now be the order of the day. Violence must continue to be shunned and rejected."

 

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa arrives to attend an event marking the 39th Heroes Day in Harare | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa [front center] arrives to attend an event marking the 39th Heroes Day in Harare.  XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA
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He said dialogue and constructive criticism must be promoted as the center piece of national development in the new Zimbabwe.

National economic progress requires dedicated effort, hard work and unflinching loyalty and patriotism by all Zimbabweans, he said.

Mnangagwa reiterated that the ongoing painful economic reforms being implemented by his government are "necessary to right-size the economy and reset it for sustainable economic development."

"Going forward, my government will continue to concentrate on increasing production efficiencies across all sectors of the economy," he said.

Mnangagwa assured the nation that no one will die of hunger this year following the impact of cyclone Idai and drought that left a third of the country’s population in need of food aid.

He commended the international community for contributing to the country’s food relief efforts.

The United Nations last week raised its aid appeal for the country from the initial 234 million U.S. dollars in February to 331.5 million dollars to deal with growing hunger in Zimbabwe.

According to the UN, at least 5.1 million people in the country require food aid, and out of the 5.1 million people, over 3 million, or 38 percent of the rural population, is projected to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in October-December 2019.

An estimated 2.2 million people in urban areas are also food insecure due to economic challenges, and require food aid.

Mnangagwa expressed satisfaction with monetary reforms that have been implemented this year, resulting in the introduction of a foreign currency inter-bank market in February and the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar in June.

He said currently, about 5 million U.S. dollars was being traded daily on the inter-bank market at market rates on a willing seller-willing buyer basis.

Prior to the inter-bank, foreign currency was mainly being traded on the parallel market where traders charged exorbitant rates.

In June, the government also banned the use of the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies for domestic transactions, and reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole legal tender, effectively ending the multi-currency regime that had been in existence since 2009.

Mnangagwa, however, expressed concern over the continued cash shortages in the economy, and vowed to address the challenge soon.

"We are aware that our people, especially those in rural areas, are facing difficulties in transacting owing to cash shortages," he said.

"This transient challenge will be addressed decisively in the near future."

He added that efforts to turnaround the economy will remain underpinned by a spirited campaign to eradicate corruption.

"This campaign will be waged relentlessly and without fear or favor," Mnangagwa said.
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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa thanks
external supporters on his first election anniversary

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has paid tribute to China and other friendly countries outside the African continent for standing by Zimbabwe as it undergoes political and economic transformation.

In a state of the nation address Friday night to mark his first elective year in office, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe will remain eternally grateful to the countries for the support.

"We remain eternally grateful to all those nations outside the African Union which have stood by us through thick and thin, principally the People’s Republic of China, Russia, India, Belarus, Spain and Brazil. We never take their support for granted," Mnangagwa said.

He said as his government continues to engage and re-engage the world, he will visit Russia in October this year, the second such visit in a year.

He also said through the re-engagement efforts, Zimbabwe was now enjoying warm relations with Western countries that had remained hostile to it over the past two decades.

He said the ultimate goal was the complete removal of punitive Western sanctions on Zimbabwe.

He commended the political, economic and legislative reforms his government has undertaken over the past year to improve democratic space in the country.

He pledged to bring about a durable democratic dispensation under his new government.

"As I address you, bad laws are being repealed, and are set to be replaced by good ones which comply with our celebrated Constitution and international tenets of good governance.

"No piece of legislation which is deemed offensive, restrictive, or undemocratic will be spared," he said.

Among the laws facing repeal and replacement include the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, blamed by the civic society and opposition for stifling fundamental freedoms and liberties of Zimbabwean citizens.

On the economic front, the president said painful but necessary reforms had been undertaken over the past year, the major highlight being the scrapping of the multiple currency regime that had been in place since 2009, and the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar.

"Through this key reform, and the operationalization of open market in all spheres, we have geared our economy for a major transformation underpinned by greater efficiencies, fair value and secure property rights," he said.

He urged the nation to remain patient with the reforms, saying while the beginning may be painful, the medium to long run will deliver durable jobs, economic stability, growth and development.
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Zimbabwe President calling for effort to modernize
defense forces to meet with changing environment

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Tuesday that his government would ensure that the Zimbabwe Defense Forces are fully equipped and trained in line with the changing environment.

Addressing the military and thousands of civilians who thronged the National Sports Stadium to mark the 39th anniversary of the establishment of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and to celebrate the Defense Forces Day, he said his administration supported efforts to modernize the military.

In view of the ever-changing socio-economic, technological and security architecture, the modernization of our defense forces has become urgent and imperative.

"My government is therefore prioritizing the upgrading of equipment as well as facilitating focused training of specialized units in both the army and air force.

"The provision of skills training and raising the forces preparedness in general has also received my administration’s full support," he said.

At the international level, he said the government would ensure that ZDF played its role in the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and promote the silencing of guns on the continent.

"Zimbabwe is indeed committed and ready to play its part in ensuring a more peaceful, empowered, modernized, industrialized and integrated Africa," he said.

Mnangagwa also praised ZDF for working with international partners in the removal of anti-personnel mines which were planted during the war of liberation in the 1970s.

He said a cumulative area of 900,000 square meters had been cleared between Aug. 2018 and June 2019.

At independence, the country had six minefields covering an estimated 2,700 km along the borders with Mozambique and Zambia.

Landmines and other explosive remnants of the war remain dangerous to the border-lying communities, with about 1,650 people killed and many others injured.

Zimbabwe in early 2018 launched an eight-year national mine action strategic plan to ensure a coordinated approach and speed up the clearance of anti-personnel mines.

The plan aims to mobilize local and international support to enable the country to meet the goal of being land mine free by 2025.

After becoming a state party to the anti-personnel landmine ban convention in 1999, Zimbabwe failed to meet the deadline to clear all land mines within 10 years of ratifying the convention, and has sought five extensions of varying durations.

The country was granted the current and fifth extension period running from 2018-2025.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

United Nations launches an appeal for US $331 million
dollars to help 3.7 million hungry people in Zimbabwe

by William M. Reilly UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- UN humanitarian organizations and the government of Zimbabwe on Wednesday launched a revised aid plan seeking 331 million U.S. dollar to help 3.7 million people in the country hit by climate change and economic problems, a UN spokesman said.

"Zimbabwe is facing many humanitarian challenges stemming from climate change and economic shocks," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "Food insecurity has worsened following the droughts of 2018 and 2019 and continuing macroeconomic challenges."

The revised humanitarian response plan seeks to help the 3.7 million Zimbabweans through the end of April 2020, Dujarric told correspondents at a regular briefing, while noting some 5.5 million people in rural areas and 2.2 million in urban areas are believed to be food insecure.

The World Food Program—The UN’s food agency—is increasing its role by providing food aid and "building the capacity of chronically hungry communities to withstand climate shocks," he said.

Zimbabwe has long been suffering economic woes. In addition, climate problems, including the droughts and, earlier this year, the flooding from Cyclone Idai severely affected parts of the land-locked country.
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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa
has fired tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired jailed tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira who is facing a slew of criminal abuse of office charges.

The Herald reported Friday that in firing the minister, Mnangagwa noted that the former minister’s conduct was not in line with what is expected of a government minister.

The president has since appointed industry and commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu as the acting minister of tourism while Mupfumira battles the corruption allegations in court.

Mupfumira, who was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission on July 25, is currently in detention after being denied bail by a Harare magistrate.

She is set to re-appear in court on Aug. 9 for continuation of trial.

Mupfumira is the first high profile government official to be arrested by ZACC as Mnangagwa’s government intensifies the fight against corruption.
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Zimbabwe government and Australian firm sign coal marketing agreement

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government on Wednesday signed an agreement with Australian firm, Victoria Consulting Limited, local media reported Wednesday.

Zimbabwean Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando signed the agreement on behalf of Zimbabwe while Vitor Oliveira Sousa represented Victoria Consulting Limited, state news agency New Ziana reported.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa witnessed the signing ceremony.

Speaking after signing, Chitando expressed optimism that the deal would promote the country’s coal exports into the Asian region.

He said Victoria Consulting will work with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Mines in finding the necessary projects which will qualify for capital and using that capital, to be able to deliver the resource to the market.

The firm will also be expected to invest in necessary logistical network.

"As a country, we have had limited exports of coal. We have mainly been limited to the region (southern Africa) and to China," he said.

"We are aware we have been too constrained to be able to deliver. We would like to see five million tonnes of coal being an offtake," Chitando said.

He said local coal miners need to be capacitated to produce enough coal to satisfy the Indian market.

"The first constraint is capital to take the coal out. We do have over 10 active coal projects in Hwange at the moment which are at various stages of implementation. But for us to be able to meet the volumes, we require capital to increase production," he said.

He said the coal would be mined mainly in Hwange area in the western part of the country.

India, the largest importer of coal, last year imported about 52 million tonnes of coal, which translates to almost one million tonnes per week.

President Mnangagwa said the country had potential to at least satisfy 10 percent of the Indian coal requirements.

"You can see the huge potential where we currently are on a level of 2 million tons per 52 weeks needed by India which means our coal will be consumed in two weeks. I think that we should aim to at least have 10 weeks that will mean 10 million tonnes to supply India," he said.

Sousa said their aim was to help Zimbabwe significantly increase its coal exports.

"The volumes will depend on the production capacity but we are ready to export as much coal as possible," he said.

             

 

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