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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe preparing for 2018 elections | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [left] shakes hands with the new Chief Justice Luke Malaba in Harare, Zimbabwe. Luke Malaba on Thursday took the oath of office promising to improve efficiency in the delivery of justice to the people. President Mugabe [right] addresses the ruling party ZANU-PF’s Central Committee meeting at party headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe. Addressing the 105th meeting of the party Central Committee, President Mugabe encouraged members of his governing Zanu-PF party to amicably resolve their differences and remain united to deliver a "grand defeat" to the country’s divided opposition in next year’s general elections. XINHUA - PHOTOS

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe preparing for 2018 elections

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is readying for the 2018 elections with party youths already making plans for him to roll out campaign rallies across the country’s ten provinces.

National political commissar in the ruling Zanu-PF youth league Innocent Hamandishe told members at a meeting on Tuesday that they should prepare for Mugabe’s rallies and that they must rally behind him as their only authentic leader.

Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda has been earmarked for the Matabeleland South star rally whose date is yet to be announced, but indications are that it will be "soon".

Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo confirmed that the youths were organizing the rallies.

Mugabe, who turns 94 next year and is already the world’s oldest leader, will be contesting for another five-year term after his party Zanu-PF endorsed his candidature in 2014.

In an interview with state television on the eve of his birthday in February, he declared that he was ready to soldier on as head of state and government despite his old age and would only step down if the call came from his party.

However, that would not be any time soon as the party wanted him to stand as its candidate in the 2018 elections, he said.

"The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement—a successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am," he said.

He said he would continue in office until his limbs failed him or if the party decided that his time was up.

The next elections are scheduled to be held on or before July 31 in line with the five-year tenure for the presidency, legislature and local authorities, and will come against a backdrop of resounding victories by his party in recent parliamentary by-elections.

Mugabe has led the country since independence from Britain in 1980 and his party won the subsequent elections in 1985 to keep him as Prime Minister until 1987, when he became Executive President following amendments to the pre-Independence constitution.

Since then, he won three six-year terms in 1990, 1996 and 2002, and another two five-year terms in 2008 and 2013 after he decided, as a cost-cutting measure, to have presidential elections held at the same five-year term limit with parliament and local authorities.

His bid to have his term extended to 2010 so that the presidential election would coincide with the legislative and local ones was rejected by his party.

So to have his way on the harmonized elections, he cut short the terms of parliament and local authorities by two years.

Opposition parties are also gearing up for the elections and have formed umbrella body the National Electoral Reforms Agenda to push for reforms before the elections are held.

Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T, who has been trying to dislodge Mugabe since 2002, will fight another battle again, this time hoping to be leading a coalition that may include Mugabe’s former deputy in both party and government Joice Mujuru.


European Union increases drought relief for Zimbabwe

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The European Union has given 2.49 million U.S. dollars to Zimbabwe to help families facing hunger due to the El Nino-induced drought last year.

The drought left a quarter of the country’s population in need of food aid, with the lean season peaking from January to March 2017.

The EU said in a statement Thursday that the additional financial support is being delivered through the EU’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

The aid came barely five months after the EU allocated another 8 million dollars from the reserve of the 11th European Development Fund to address the impact of the crises through various resilience-building initiatives.

This latest allocation brings the total contribution by the EU to combat the crisis to 106 million euros (approximately 114 million dollars), the EU said.

Recent flooding experienced in southern parts of the country had also exacerbated the already fragile situation, the EU said.

The additional funding, according to the EU, will allow EU’s implementing partners, including the UN World Food Programme and Save the Children to increase the reach of actions started in 2016 until the end of the lean season.

The Save the Children project targets over 58,000 affected people in four districts with humanitarian food assistance through mobile cash transfers while the WFP project targets over 67,000 beneficiaries, assisting them through cash transfers.

"The worst has been avoided and we now have to prepare for the future, building more resilient communities against future climate shocks and other hazards," said EU Head of Delegation Philippe Van Damme.

Zimbabwe farmers earn US $102 million as tobacco selling season continues

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s tobacco farmers have raked in more than 102 million U.S. dollars from auction floors and contract buyers since the beginning of this year’s marketing season on March 15, figures released by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) on Wednesday showed.

At least 36.2 million kilograms worth 185.5 million dollars have been exported at an average price of 5.12 dollars per kg.

TIMB said the 38.6 million kg of tobacco sold so far were higher than the 27.6 million kg worth 73.6 million dollars sold during the corresponding period in 2016.

About 30.5 million kg were sold through contract sales and the rest went through the auction floors at an average price of 2.65 dollars per kg.

Zimbabwe expects output of 202 million kg of tobacco in the 2016/17 farming season.

Challenges facing communal farmers, including the shortage of curing fuel and poor curing, grading and storage facilities had resulted in at least 36,121 bales of tobacco being rejected at the floors.

This was a huge rise from the 2,981 bales that were rejected during the corresponding period in the last marketing season.

China urges Zimbabwe to improve investment climate

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping urged Zimbabwe to improve its investment climate to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).

FDI into Zimbabwe has been low over the years mainly due to poor economic conditions and policy inconsistency. FDI into the country stood at approximately 300 million U.S. dollars in 2016.

While delivering a lecture at Zimbabwe Staff College on Tuesday, Huang said any country wishing to attract foreign investment should have sound laws and regulations to protect investments, state-run news agency New Ziana reported.

"Whoever is ready for cooperation and has the cooperation conditions in place will be among the first for Chinese investors to develop such cooperation with," he said.

"That is why we have been stressing the necessity for the Zimbabwean government to foster a sound and favorable environment for investors to come here and carry out business," he added.

He cited the establishment of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as a positive step, which would help attract much needed foreign investment.

Government has so far identified three SEZs - Sunway City in Harare, Bulawayo industrial hub and Victoria Falls financial hub, as part of a raft of measures the government is implementing to lure FDI.

A range of tax incentives will apply in the SEZs, including exempting companies from corporate income tax for the first five years of operation and allowing duty free importation of capital equipment.

Apart from establishing SEZs, Zimbabwe is also in the process of amending various laws that have hindered ease of doing business.

Some of the laws being amended include the Companies Act, Shop licensing Act and the Procurement Act.

The government is also aiming to reduce the days it takes to register a business from 30 days to between 10 and 15 days.

The Chinese ambassador said Zimbabwe should work to attract funding from the 60 billion U.S. dollars that China pledged to push forward China-Africa cooperation at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit held in South Africa.

Beijing promised the funding in loans and grants to Africa over the next three years. Chinese President Xi Jinping also unveiled a ten-points economic cooperation plan for China and Africa, to be financed by the three-year financing facility.

The plan includes financial support for, among other things, industrial, agricultural and infrastructural development in Africa.



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