Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe bans mining in game reserves

Zimbabwe has banned mining in countriy’s national parks, reversing a decision to let Chinese firms explore for coal at its famous Hwange game park.

The move came after campaigners took the government to court to prevent “ecological degradation” in parks.

Two firms had been given a licence to explore for coal in Hwange, Zimbabwe’s biggest national park.

In court papers filed on September 7, the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) warned that the park would degrade into a “site for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys” if coal exploration went ahead.

Following a cabinet meeting on September 8, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the ban on mining with immediate effect in all national game reserves.

“Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in national parks,” the Minister said.

Ms Mutsvangwa also adjusted a ban on mining along most river beds, in a decision that would affect small-scale Chinese and local gold miners.

China is a major investor in Zimbabwe and a close ally of the government. The critical areas in China-Zimbabwe cooperation is in electricity and power generation, the key to the landlocked country development.
Over recent years, Chinese investments have funded infrastructure projects in the Zimbabwe and southern Africa in sectors including transportation, energy, telecommunications and manufacturing.

White farmers welcome back to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe “white farmers” whose land was seized under Robert Mugabe rule can apply to claim it back or they will be offered land elsewhere if restitution proves impractical, the government announced on August 31.

Last month, Zimbabwe agreed to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to local white farmers whose land was forcibly expropriated by the government to resettle Black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most controversial policies from Robert Mugabe legacy.

Under Zimbabwean laws passed during a short period of opposition government but ignored by Mugabe, foreign white farmers protected by treaties between their governments and Zimbabwe should be compensated for both land and other assets.

In that regard, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in a joint statement that these farmers should apply for their land return.

In practice, in some instances the government would “revoke the offer letters of resettled (Black) farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” the ministers said.

However the transfer of the Black beneficiaries from the land could become difficult politically and practically.

“Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available,” the statement said.

The ministers said other white farmers whose land had been earmarked for acquisition by the government but were still present on the properties, can apply to lease the land for 99 years.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has underlined the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe, where the number of white farmers has dropped to just over 200 from 4,500 when land reforms began 20 years ago, according to the predominantly white commercial farmers union.

The seizures of land that began four decades ago in an attempt to harmonise historical imbalances, later the expropriations were ratified by the government, which said they were needed to adjust to modernity the colonial heritage. As a result of this policy the florising agriculture that exported tobacco and roses and grew most of the food for the nation collapsed. Periodic food shortages ensued, the risk of famine has become real, and inflation became the world’s highest. The manufacturing industry was decimated. Robert Mugabe started his mandate as President of one of Africa’s richest countries, which under his leaderhip it became one of its poorest.

At present the World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently seeking to intensify the international support to prevent millions of Zimbabweans plunging deeper into hunger. 

According to the WFP, the number of food-insecure people is expected to surge by almost 50%, manning to 8.6 million Zimbabweans by the end of 2020. 

That figure represents around 60% of the population, the agency said in a statement, highlighting drought, economic recession and the COVID-19  pandemic as the main reasons of the crisis.

Galloping hyperinflation has signified that few families can now afford even basic food, WFP said, with the price of maize, the staple cereal, more than doubling in June.

Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said that many Zimbabwean families were suffering “the ravages of acute hunger”, before appealing to the international community to help prevent “a potential humanitarian catastrophe.”

Zimbabwe: EU demands liberation of activists

«The Constitution of #Zimbabwe guarantees the right to peaceful protests; a right that @efie41209591, @advocatemahere and others exercised today. They should be released from police custody. #EU4HumanRights,» reads the Tweet of the European Union delegation to Zimbabwe, demanding immediate liberation of Tsitsi Dangarembga (pictured), the novelist, and Fadzayi Mahere, the lawyer.

The EU’s cooperation with Zimbabwe, under the current funding period (2014-2020), aims to preserve the country’s democracy, bring stability, and build resilience to build a strong basis for an inclusive and sustainable growth.

At present Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis in more than a decade, marked by hyperinflation, a local currency that is rapidly depreciating against the US dollar and acute foreign exchange shortages. An estimated 90% of Zimbabweans are without formal employment.

The 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme (NIP) focuses on:

– health
– agriculture-based economic development
– governance and institution building

The 11th EDF NIP amounts to €287 million. It is in line with the country’s agenda for sustainable socioeconomic transformation (ZimAsset) and the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (2018-2020).

Zimbabwe is a low income country faced with several political and development challenges. However it has an educated population, is rich in natural resources, and has great potential for agriculture and manufacturing, but its development remains constrained by political and institutional bottlenecks.

Since the early 2000s, Zimbabwe has actually seen increased poverty, economic deterioration, and frequent droughts.

Harare in lockdown amid public discontent

Zimbabwe’s two main cities – Harare and Bulawayo – have been in lockdown since July 31, Friday, patrolled by the secuiry forces in an attempt of government to prevent protests called by activists over corruption and rapidly degrading economic situation, causing unprecedented hardships.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s critics blame his government the return to the authoritarian methods of late Robert Mugabe, banning demonstrations, and abducting and arresting opponents.

Mnangagwa has responded that the protests constitute an attempt of “insurrection” by the opposition.

The leading ZANU-PF party this week branded the U.S. ambassador in Harare a “thug,” accusing him of funding protests.

In central Harare, the capital, banks, supermarkets, and businesses were shut as police and soldiers patrolled the streets.

A journalist in Bulawayo, the other main city, described a similar situation there, with some police patrolling on horseback. Businesses also stayed shut in Harare’s townships, including Mbare – an epicenter of protests in the past.

Public indignation is rising over an economic crisis marked by inflation running above 700%, shortages of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine.

More than a dozen activists sought by the police for promoting Friday’s protests were in hiding.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere and Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga separately said on social media they had been detained for protesting in their neighbourhood. Mahere posted a video of police advancing towards her and telling her to stop recording them. She later could not be reached for comment.

“The security situation in the country is calm and peaceful” police spokesman Paul Nyathi said.

«The Constitution of #Zimbabwe guarantees the right to peaceful protests; a right that @efie41209591, @advocatemahere and others exercised today. They should be released from police custody. #EU4HumanRights» reads the Tweet issued by EU delegation in Zimbabwe, calling for immediate release of Tsitsi Dangarembga,the award-winning novelist, and Fadzayi Mahere, the Consitutional lawyer.

Image above: social media

EU expresses concerns about Zimbabwe arrests

«Recent developments in Zimbabwe are deeply worrying. The work of human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society organisations is essential to support reforms that stand the test of time. Upholding constitutional rights is a principle which cannot be compromised» the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

A court ruled on July 24 that a journalist charged with inciting violence was a danger to the public and extended his detention until August, while the United Nations and the European Union expressed concern that authorities could be violating the fundamental freedoms.

Hopewell Chin’ono (pictured) and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested on July 20 on allegations of promoting planned protests against corruption in government on July 31, which police insisted degraded to violence.

Both arrested, who deny the charges, face up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

Chin’ono’s lawyer Doug Coltart said a Harare magistrate had ruled that the journalist “is a danger to the public because he has not yet completed his mission of inciting people to demonstrate on 31 July.”

Chin’ono, who has gained a following on social media by being critical of the government’s handling of the economy and corruption, told reporters as he was being taken to prison cells: “Journalism has been criminalised. The struggle against corruption should continue. People should not stop, they should carry on with it.”

He will be kept in prison until the next court hearing on August, Coltart said he would appeal the ruling extending his detention until that hearing.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement it was concerned by allegations that Zimbabwean authorities may be using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“Merely calling for a peaceful protest or participating in a peaceful protest are an exercise of recognised human rights,” it said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed an overnight curfew and tighter restrictions on movement from July 22 to combat rising coronavirus infections. But activists say the measures are meant to stop the July 31 protests.

Image above: Hopewell Chin’ono Facebook page

#COVID19: Zimbabwe mines to continue extractions

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a lockdown from 19 april by two weeks to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, but the measure does not concern mining companies, which are going to contintue their activities.

Mnangagwa said the lockdown would continue because Zimbabwe had not yet met conditions imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift the measures.

Three people have died from the virus out of the 25 confirmed cases of infection, but health experts expect the figures to rise once authorities starts to apply tests.

“It has been a very hard decision that my government has had to take reluctantly,” Mnangagwa said in a live television broadcast.

Mnangagwa said the government would allow mining companies, which generate the most foreign currency, to resume full operations while manufacturers would work at limited capacity. Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe include local operations of Impala Platinum Holdings and Anglo American Platinum.

Zimbabwe began a 21-day lockdown on March 30, which has confined most people to their homes. But in poor townships, people are venturing out in search of staples like maize meal, leading to long queues at the shops.

EU restates support to Zimbabwe

The Council today adopted conclusions on Zimbabwe restating the EU’s continued support for economic and political reforms in the country, as well as for the formal political dialogue which was resumed in 2019, as a step towards a more constructive EU-Zimbabwe relationship.

https://twitter.com/eucouncilpress/status/1229347384884371456?s=21

The conclusions note the ongoing acute humanitarian crisis in the country, and renew the EU’s support for the people of Zimbabwe in various sectors, such as economic development, primary health care, resilience building, as well as through humanitarian assistance.

Taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the yet to be investigated alleged role of the armed and security forces in human rights abuses, the Council today agreed to renew its arms embargo and targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, for one year until 20 February 2021. The existing restrictive measures against four individuals are suspended.
The arms embargo, as well as the asset freeze against Zimbabwe Defence Industries, do not affect the Zimbabwean economy, foreign direct investment, or trade.

The decision will be published in the Official Journal of the EU on 18 February 2020.

Restrictive measures were initially introduced in February 2002, when the Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular with regard to serious human rights violations by the country’s government at the time.

The Council conclusions highlight that the EU stands ready to review the whole range of its policies at any time, when justified, based on developments in the country.

EU aid to Africa hunger emergency

The European Commission is mobilising a humanitarian aid package of €22.8 million to help address emergency food needs and support vulnerable people in Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The funding comes as large parts of southern Africa are currently in the grip of their harshest drought in decades.

“Many poor households in drought-affected areas in southern African countries are struggling to have enough food due to crop failure, reduced access to water and, in some places, unaffordable food prices in markets. EU humanitarian aid will help deliver food to those most in need and tackle the hunger crisis in fragile rural communities,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.

In Zimbabwe, €16.8 million from this aid package will boost food and nutrition assistance, as well as improving access to basic health care, clean water and providing protection to vulnerable people. The remaining amount will be channelled to providing food assistance and nutrition support in Eswatini, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia.

The Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, as a whole, is prone to natural disasters and oscillates between droughts and floods that are destroying harvests and further weakening fragile communities. Since January 2019, the EU has allocated a total of €67.95 million for humanitarian assistance across the region. The bulk of this funding went for emergency relief assistance in the wake of natural disasters (cyclones Idai and Kenneth), food assistance, and helping at-risk communities equip themselves better to face climate-related disasters.

US curbs Marange diamonds import

Zimbabwe denounced a U.S. administration decision to curb imports of diamonds from its Marange field, branding the claim the country uses forced labor at the operations “a shameless lie.”

Invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labor is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe’s diamonds from the international markets,” said in a statement issued by officials in Harare. “This move constitutes a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe’s interests and is no less than a manifestation of undeclared sanctions.”

Mnangagwa to attend Mugabe obsequies

Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will address mourners of late Robert Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium, where thousands will wear the colours of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Meanwhile African leaders are assembling in Harare, the capital, as the country prepares for former president Robert Mugabe‘s funeral on September 14 (Saturday).

Robert Mugabe family explained the late leader will be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument in Harare in “around 30 days”, Leo Mugabe said,  acting as family spokesperson, adding to controversial information about the obsequies details.

The government and the chiefs went to the Heroes Acre, showed each other where President Mugabe is going to be buried, and that place would take about 30 days to complete,” Leo Mugabe said.

So what that means is the burial will take that long.

More than a dozen incumbent and former leaders, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, are expected to attend. Some dignitaries, including Equatorial Guinea President Theodore Obiang Nguema, have already arrived.

A national sports stadium with capacity of 60 000 seats is expected to be filled with well-wishers. It is located in Harare close to the Heroes Acre.

The funeral follows an argument between the Mugabe family,  and the government over his burial.

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