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Zimbabwe commissions construction of
China-funded new parliament building

by Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday commissioned the construction of Zimbabwe’s new parliament building in Mt. Hampden, 25 km west of the capital Harare, by Chinese firm Shanghai Construction Group.

The Chinese government will provide about 100 million U.S. dollars grant for the construction of the new parliament structure, the largest building to be funded by Chinese government in a southern African country.

The Zimbabwean government will chip in with about 10 million dollars for offsite infrastructure such as residential areas, shopping centers, access roads and electricity and water provision as it moves to establish a self-contained new city in the area to decongest the capital Harare.

The 650-seat building will replace the 100-seat building built during the colonial era which has become smaller for parliament business and can no longer accommodate the 350 parliamentarians and staff members.

The new structure will have extra facilities for conferencing, 12 committee rooms and adequate space for office staff and parking.

President Mnangagwa said the long-awaited new building will enable parliamentarians to fully execute their legislative roles and further entrench democratic tenets in the country.

It will also resolve the congestion challenge in the current bicameral parliament building, he said.

"We express our profound gratitude to the Chinese government for their continued support of our various developmental programs.

"We commend the Belt and Road Initiative under which infrastructure development projects such as this one, are being undertaken in emerging economies," he said.

He said the new spacious parliament building will, upon completion, undoubtedly improve the comfort of its users and change the ambience around which parliamentary business is conducted.

The president said the relocation of Parliament to Mt. Hampden will be a catalyst for subsequent developments throughout the area as government will also put structures for two other arms of the state - the executive and the judiciary.

Chinese charge d’affaires in Zimbabwe Zhao Baogang said the new parliament building, with a floor space of 33,000 square meters, six floors and two congress halls and other facilities, will greatly enhance the working conditions of the Zimbabwe parliament.

He said the parliament project will take 32 months to complete.

"The honorable MPs will work harder for the new legislations and make greater contribution to the institutional building of this country," he said.

He added that the new parliament building represents the arduous efforts of the new Zimbabwe government to propel economic development and turn Zimbabwe into a middle income status by 2030.

"This is not just a landmark building in this area, it marks the start of construction of a new city of Harare. Within a few years, a new Harare will take shape.

"It will attract more visitors into this country.

"With strong leadership and hard work, Zimbabwe will regain its past glory, becoming a middle income country, one of the major economies in Africa, an envy by many African countries," Zhao said.

As Zimbabwe has become one of the 140 countries that have signed BRI cooperation agreements with China, Zhao hoped that Zimbabwe will get more benefits under the cooperative framework.

Zimbabwe, he said, had done everything to ensure that Zimbabwe-China relations set an example for bilateral relations between China and other African countries.

"I believe Zimbabwe will continue to enjoy the special treatment from China," he said.

Zimbabwe’s two vice presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi attended the ground breaking ceremony, among other dignitaries.


Zimbabwean motorists spend more time in fuel queues as shortage persists

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Some motorists in Harare are now spending a lot of productive time in fuel queues as the shortage of the commodity persists in Zimbabwe.

Many social media groups have also been formed where members inform each other where fuel deliveries would have been made

Supporters of Zimbabwean main opposition MDC Alliance protest in Harare | Coastweek

  From this week, filling stations have resorted to rationing the commodity to ensure that as many motorists as possible are served, while tempers are flaring as some motorists, especially commuter omnibus drivers, try to jump the queues arguing that they need to transport people to work.

The shortage also comes at a time that the government will impose a further excise duty of 6.5 U.S. cents per liter for petrol and 7 U.S. cents for diesel with effect from Saturday.

"I don’t really know what is happening, but the government does not seem to be telling us the truth about the fuel situation in the country.

"We always hear that foreign currency has been allocated to buy fuel but we are not so sure about the deliveries," said a distraught motorist who refused to identify himself.

Posting on Facebook, a person named Samaita Gomwe said: "Few cars in Harare are an indication that the fuel crisis has reached another level."

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Supporters of Zimbabwean main opposition MDC Alliance protest in Harare. Zimbabwean main opposition MDC Alliance on Thursday held a demonstration in the capital Harare to protest against the worsening economic situation and called for political dialogue to resolve the crisis. XINHUA PHOTO - SHAUN JUSA
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said earlier during the week that the shortage had been caused by delays in the making of payments and transport logistics but assured the nation that the government is on top of the situation.

He said that enough letters of credit and other payment forms had been arranged and that the situation would improve "in the next few days."

Lift clubs where people share transport to work instead of using individual vehicles have also been re-established.

Zimbabwe working on policy to screen imported second-hand vehicles

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is working on a policy to screen all second-hand vehicles that are imported into the country to make sure they meet minimum local standards.

Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu was quoted by the Herald newspaper Friday as saying that government wants to create an export-oriented motor industry to help revive the economy.

"In terms of standards, we need pre-inspection of pre-owned vehicles. We are seriously considering introduction of inspection in the first quarter of 2019 to see if they meet minimum local standards," he said.

Zimbabwe has witnessed an influx of imports of second-hand motor vehicles in the past years as local manufacturers are struggling to survive and also charge exorbitant prices for their vehicles.

The influx of the imports is, however, draining scarce foreign currency from the country, hence the government’s move last week to introduce duty in foreign currency on imported non-commercial vehicles.

Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe president Simpilisio Shamba said the payment of customs duty in foreign currency will help screen second-hand vehicles and promote local assemblers.

"The onus is now on local manufacturers to be able to choose models that are needed by ministries.

"We don’t want to waste foreign currency by bringing in models that will come and work for a few months and be parked," he said.

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa seeks transparency
in appointment of board members at state entities

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office is inviting interested people with the requisite skills to apply for board positions in various state entities as it seeks to ensure transparency in the appointment of board members and enhance efficiency.

This follows the passing of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act which requires the Corporate Governance Unit (CGU) within the Office of the President and Cabinet to establish a database and maintain a comprehensive directory or database of suitably qualified potential board members of public entities.

A notice issued by the CGU on Thursday said that members of public entities should have appropriate diversity of skills, experience and qualifications for managing the entities in the fields of law, accountancy, banking, ICT, human resources, marketing, pharmaceuticals, medicine and engineering.

"Nationals of Zimbabwe who are interested in being considered for appointment to the boards of public entities and who possess such relevant skills, work experience and academic and professional qualifications are invited to submit their credentials and the sector(s) in which they believe their specific skills-set and competencies would add value to the operational efficiency of a public entity," CGU said.

Prior to the enactment of the law, the minister responsible for a public entity appointed the board of directors.

However, this has been fraught with suspicions of bad corporate governance as the minister could pick his cronies for the board positions despite their lack of qualifications.

Zimbabwe moving closer toward abolishing death penalty

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is moving closer toward abolishing capital punishment as proposals to that effect will soon be tabled before cabinet, local media reported.

The Herald newspaper reported Friday that Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who was addressing delegates at the 11th international meeting of ministers of justice on death penalty in Rome, Italy Thursday, said "the coming into force of the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe brought a significant trajectory on the question of death penalty."

He noted that the death sentence in the country may now be imposed only on a person convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances.

"Secondly, such form of sentence must not be imposed on women, male persons who are under the age of 21 and over the age of 70 years convicted of murder committed in aggravating circumstances.

The Criminal Procedure and Act has already been amended in order to give effect to this constitutional provision," Ziyambi said.

Zimbabwe currently has 81 prisoners on the death row, while 127 are serving life terms.

Zimbabwe has not carried out any executions since 2005 when the last hangman retired.

Since then, there has been a moratorium on executions as the country is still searching for a hangman.

At the same time, 89 member states of the United Nations have urged Zimbabwe to review its position on the death sentence and abolish it.

Questions arise over eligibility of Zimbabwe Under-20 soccer players

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s national Under-20 soccer side has been hit by age-cheating allegations ahead of the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Championships which begin on Sunday in Kitwe, Zambia, local media reported on Friday.

Coach Bekithemba Ndlovu on Thursday named the final 20 players for the 12-day long event, but local media said a red flag has been raised over the selection of some players who were thought to be over-age.

However, Ndlovu defended his team selection saying that he had chosen them based on the documents they have.

"I don’t know about that one.

"We as [the] technical team, we took that list from PSL [Premier Soccer League].

"They play for PSL teams and there is a list. Each club in the Premier League has got five under-20 players.

"So we took those from that," said Ndlovu.

"And if it is said they are [too] old, why then are they registered in the PSL as under-20s if these people know that they are old.

"So who is wrong there?

"Is it the coaches?

"Is it the people?

"Is it the boys?"

He said he could not prove that any of the players was above the age limit especially when their passports showed that they were born in or after 1999.

Zimbabwe open their campaign against Botswana on Monday before facing Lesotho two days later.

Their final group stage match will be against Angola on December 9.


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