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Australian company confirms oil pros-
pects in north-eastern Zimbabwe

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- An Australian company, Invictus Energy Limited, has confirmed the potential of oil in Muzarabani, Cabora Bassa Basin, in north-east Zimbabwe, 25 years after Mobil carried out similar studies in the area and left.

The discovery of oil in that region could fast-track government efforts to turn around the economy, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Wednesday.

In a statement, Invictus Energy quoted managing director Scott Macmillan saying that results of ongoing technical work were encouraging and enhancing the company’s understanding of the potential of its acreage in the Cabora Bassa Basin.

“The basin modeling and source rock characterization is one of the key pieces of work that significantly derisks the charge timing and availability to the Muzarabani Prospect and the wider basin as well,” Macmillan said.

He said conclusions from previous source rock characterization and basin modeling studies undertaken by Mobil “have been superseded with new geological understanding derived from updated industry classification of source rock types and basin modeling methods”.



HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has asked Britain to help it revive and implement a debt arrears clearance plan, dubbed the Lima plan, agreed with global lenders including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2015.

Under the plan, Zimbabwe committed to paying off its debt arrears with the global lenders as a pre-condition for accessing new lines of credit, but has so far only managed to clear overdue amounts owed to the IMF.

Zimbabwe owes the World Bank and the AfDB over 1 billion U.S. dollars in arrears, but despite committing to paying these off, funding challenges have stalled the Lima plan.

In an effort to see through the plan, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in New York for the 73rd UN General Assembly, met British Minister of State for Africa Harriett Baldwin and asked for London’s support at the 2018 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Bali, Indonesia next month.

“We have had a very important meeting with the British government and this is in the context of the re-engagement strategy that we have embarked upon since the inauguration of the President and essentially we looked at three critical areas which are of a national interest,” Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) George Charamba told Zimbabwean media traveling with Mnangagwa.

“We looked at the support that Britain can extend to Zimbabwe in the context of the Lima process. You recall that has to do with the multi-lateral re-engagement so that Zimbabwe can again be considered suitable for credit lines from multi-lateral agencies,” official news agency New Ziana reported Wednesday.

“There is a way in which British support is actually critical especially against the background of the forthcoming meeting in Bali which is going to be attended by the Finance minister we thought that the British could put in a word for Zimbabwe so that those relations can be restored,” Charamba added.

Under the Lima plan, Zimbabwe also has to undertake a raft of economic reforms, including reducing the fiscal deficit to sustainable levels through the alignment and re-organization of the public service.

Currently, the government wage bill gobbles up more than 90 percent of the national budget, which is funded entirely on taxes.

The government is also expected to strengthen and restore confidence in the financial sector as well as accelerate ease of doing business reforms and reduce the cost of doing business.

Charamba said Baldwin had promised to take up the matter with her superiors and counterparts back home.

He said Mnangagwa had expressed eagerness to mend relations between the two countries and the two had also discussed progress made in Zimbabwe’s quest to rejoin the Commonwealth.

“We also engaged the British in respect of our wish to re-join the Commonwealth. You will recall that the Commonwealth did send an observer mission in the just ended harmonized elections. They had certain benchmarks which they were pursuing and assessing to gauge our suitability to re-join the Commonwealth. Happily the report itself is fairly positive and we think the way is open for us to re-join the Commonwealth,” he said.

Also in the context of the Commonwealth, the two sides discussed the possibility of resuming the Commonwealth scholarship program in order for Zimbabweans to acquire new and better skills.

The two countries, Charamba said, also discussed the possibility of resuming security cooperation.

Charamba said during the meeting, Mnangagwa had informed Baldwin of Zimbabwe’s intention to appoint at least two British experts into an international advisory committee that his government intended to set up.

The international advisory board will assist government in coming up with competent decisions to assist steer Mnangagwa’s vision to transform the country into a middle income economy by 2030.


Zimbabwean official explains plans to give opposition leader official recognition

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s plan to give official recognition to the leader of the opposition in Zimbabwe, is not meant to appease any particular individual but is an effort to create strong institutions which help entrench democracy and political inclusivity in the country, a senior government official has said.

Mnangagwa announced plans to officially recognize the leader of the opposition in the same manner that the British Parliamentary system works, but local media said that the move was meant to pacify opposition leader Nelson Chamisa who is disputing the President’s election victory in July.

In Britain, the Leader of the opposition is normally viewed as an alternative prime minister, and leads an official opposition shadow cabinet which scrutinizes the actions of the Cabinet and offers alternative policies.

The British Leader of the Opposition, currently Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, is entitled to a salary in addition to his salary as a Member of Parliament.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet George Charamba told Zimbabwean media traveling with Mnangagwa in New York that the plan was not meant for any particular individual.

He said this in response to reports that leader of the biggest opposition in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa, had said he had not been approached by government over the matter.

Charamba said the plan was not specifically targeting Chamisa, but was instead an institution building process and was also in line with practices in the Commonwealth which Zimbabwe wants to re-join.

Charamba said the recovery of Zimbabwe’s economy was not a burden for the ruling party alone, but was instead for all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation.

A good starting point towards economic recovery, he said, was putting politics aside and working both individually and institutionally with a sense of purpose.

“The President has seen it fit that we build this new office and institution which brings the opposition on board so that as an institution we move forward as a country.” he said.


Zimbabwe’s new administration committed
to constitutionalism, says justice minister

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is committed to constitutionalism and will not willfully violate it, Justice Minister and leader of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi said Wednesday.

He said this in response to a question from opposition legislator Innocent Gonese who wanted clarification on why Mnangagwa appointed more ministers than is required by the constitution from outside parliament.

Zimbabwean law stipulates that cabinet ministers should be appointed from among legislators, but it also allows for up to five to be picked from outside parliament for their professional skills and competence.

Gonese said the appointment of the six ministers was unconstitutional, noting that while the previous constitution gave the president up to three months to correct the anomaly, the current constitution adopted in 2013 did not have such a provision.

However, Ziyambi said government had taken note of the issue and was addressing it.

“The current administration is committed to constitutionalism and in no way are they going to willfully violate the constitution. The concern has been taken note of and is being corrected,” Ziyambi said.

The ruling ZANU-PF party has since made its former Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu to relinquish his senate seat to make way for his successor Cain Mathema.

Commenting on the matter recently, Chief Secretary to the president and cabinet Misheck Sibanda said Mathema replaced Mpofu after he vacated the senatorial seat.

“Mpofu resigned as senator and honorable Mathema has since taken over that seat, hence he qualifies for a ministerial appointment,” Sibanda said.

Mnangagwa this month appointed a lean 21-member cabinet that excluded most ministers from former president Robert Mugabe’s era.


Zimbabwe seeks help from Estonia to develop e-voting system

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe will seek the help of Estonia to explore the possibility of implementing an e-voting system that would allow Zimbabweans based in the Diaspora to participate in national elections, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Diaspora-based Zimbabweans have long clamored to be given the chance to vote in national elections from their bases but this has not been possible.

The calls grew louder in the July 30 harmonized elections, culminating in some Zimbabweans based in the Diaspora approaching the courts to compel the government to facilitate their participation in the polls.

However, the Constitutional Court threw out the application.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is in New York for the 73rd UN General Assembly, promised Zimbabweans resident in the US that his administration would look into the possibility of implementing e-voting in the near future, the state-run news agency New Ziana reported.

Mnangagwa, meanwhile, met Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss wide-ranging issues including how Zimbabwe could tap into Estonian knowledge on e-voting.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet responsible for presidential communications George Charamba told Zimbabwean media traveling with Mnangagwa that the choice of seeking assistance from Estonia was informed by the fact that the country was a leading Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) powerhouse.

“Estonia is in fact a leader in terms of ICT development and for Zimbabwe we looked at three critical areas of ICT cooperation with Estonia, e-health, e-governance but more critically e-voting. You are aware that we do have a big Diaspora community whose fervent call has been for them to be given the power to vote except the logistics of it has been forbidding,” Charamba said.

The European country has implemented e-voting since 1997, having started aggressively pursuing a national ICT education strategy since the mid 1990’s.



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