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China set up explosives firm in Zimbabwe to help mining industry

by Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- China will soon set up an explosives manufacturing firm in Zimbabwe that will boost the southern African country’s mining industry, China’s charge d’affaires Zhao Baogang said Thursday.

He told journalists after meeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the explosives firm will also help boost Zimbabwe’s economy through foreign currency generation.

"In 2019 we expect that we will have more projects in Zimbabwe.

"One is the furniture factory and another one is the explosive factory between China and Zimbabwe.

"This one will be launched very soon and it will help Zimbabwe a lot especially in the development of mining so they don’t have to import explosives from other countries.

"After the establishment of this project Zimbabwe will save a lot of foreign currency and the project will also help Zimbabwe earn foreign currency," said Zhao.

He said China is looking forward to implementing more cooperation projects with Zimbabwe in 2019.

China rolled out multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe in 2018 as it stepped up bilateral cooperation following the elevation of ties between the two nations from all weather friends to comprehensive, strategic partnership of cooperation in April last year.

Some of the projects include the 300-megawatt Kariba South extension project, the 1.5-billion-dollar Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion, Harare International Airport expansion and the new parliament building.

"We expect that these projects will inject vitality into the bilateral relations.

The relations between the two countries will be raised to a new level," Zhao said.

He expressed the hope that Zimbabwe’s economy will soon recover and start growing through the reforms being implemented by Mnangagwa’s government.

"We have strong confidence in this country.

"After the efforts by the government we believe that more investments will be attracted, the economy will go back to normal and the country will become prosperous and strong," he added.


Zimbabwe teachers’ unions say to press ahead with strike

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s two main teacher unions said Thursday that they will embark on strike starting Feb. 5 after wage negotiations with government failed, breaking ranks with the rest of the civil service that has decided to give negotiations a chance.

This came after the Apex Council which represents 16 public sector workers’ unions, on Wednesday backed down from plans to embark on a national strike citing polarization and the volatile situation in the country.

Apex Council chairperson Cecelia Alexander said most unions felt they still needed to pursue the route of negotiation, fearing that the situation was polarized and that any action they may take could be hijacked by people with sinister motives.

In a joint statement Thursday, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, two unions representing the majority of teachers in the country, said they will go ahead with the strike.

The government has maintained its offer of 300 million dollars to be shared by the workers between April and December but civil servants are demanding much more.

The workers want the lowest paid worker to earn a monthly salary of 1,733 dollars, up from the current 414 dollars.

The civil servants have been negotiating with government for a salary increment since the beginning of this year to cushion them from the rising cost of living.

Zimbabwe civil servants divided over government pay offer

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe civil servants on Wednesday failed to reach consensus on the way forward after divisions emerged among member unions on government’s unchanged salary offer.

At the last-ditch National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting held Wednesday to try and avert a crippling strike, government offered three hectares of land per province for housing for the civil servants, in addition to the 300 million dollars it has offered, but a workers’ union for teachers rejected this, saying it was a mockery.

A feedback meeting called by the Apex Council to discuss the government offer and map the way forward ended prematurely after members failed to reach consensus.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, told journalists that the Apex Council was divided amid accusations of some unions having allegedly been paid by donors to cause violence in the country.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association, the main teachers union, has already indicated that its members will embark on strike starting Feb. 5.

The Apex Council consists of 16 government workers’ unions.

Zimbabwe’s civil servants have been calling for wage increases following a sharp rise in the cost of living, which has been exacerbated by the recent massive hike in fuel prices.

The workers want the lowest paid worker to earn a monthly salary of 1, 733 dollars, up from the current 414 dollars.

Government has unveiled a 60 million dollars housing scheme for civil servants as part of non-monetary incentives to the poorly paid workers.

However, Majongwe said the loan facility was grossly inadequate as it would translate to a mere 200 dollars for each of the 300,000 civil servants in the country.

Zimbabwe government offers housing facility for civil servants after strike threat

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s Public Service Commission on Tuesday signed a 60-million-dollar loan facility with local bank National Building Society (NBS) for the provision of a national home ownership scheme for civil servants.

The housing facility, to be rolled out countrywide, is part of non-monetary incentives that government is availing to its poorly paid workers who are threatening to go on strike demanding a pay rise.

NBS managing director Lameck Danga said funding for the project was already available and that the number of beneficiaries will be determined by the amount of loan each civil servant will get.

"It is a global facility, it is not only restricted to houses that are almost complete but each civil servant will come in with their own circumstances then we will evaluate that," said Danga.

The NBS, wholly owned by the National Social Security Authority, started operating in 2016 with the aim of providing accommodation to low income earners and players in the informal sector.

Public Service Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza said the program marked a shift from the focus on salaries as the fulcrum of an employee’s conditions of service.

She said the government was committed to meeting the needs of its workers.

"Further, this occasion is a demonstration of government’s new commitment to public partnerships that harness the competencies and comparative advantage of private sector players in delivering public sector policy objectives," she said.

Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the Apex Council, the umbrella body of civil servants, said the program should benefit workers across the board at affordable terms.

"We also recognize the efforts of the government to improve the conditions of service for its workers notwithstanding the economic hardships currently prevailing in the county," she said.

Commissioners of Zimbabwe anti-graft body resign

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The chairman of Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) Job Whabira and all commissioners resigned Thursday, chief secretary to President Mnangagwa and the cabinet Misheck Sibanda announced.

The body has the constitutional mandate to fight crime and corruption. President Mnangagwa has declared the fight against corruption among his government’s top priorities.

President Mnangagwa has accepted the resignation of the chairman of the ZACC with effect from Jan. 31, 2019.

Furthermore, the president accepts the resignation of the rest of the ZACC commissioners with effect from Jan. 31, Sibanda said in a statement.

He said all the commissioners had gone on leave pending finalization of their terminal benefits.

In the meantime, Mnangagwa will shortly appoint a new chairperson for ZACC and requested for nominees from Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders for appointment of the rest of the Commissioners, Sibanda said.

"The President extends his gratitude to Whabira and the Commissioners for the sacrifice and efforts they rendered to the country in working towards the elimination of the scourge of corruption which threatens to tear apart the very fabric and ethos of our society," Sibanda said.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa forms
new advisory council for key development policies

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has established a 26-member Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) to advise and assist him in formulating key economic policies and strategies.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda said in a statement on Wednesday that the advisory council would act as the President’s sounding board on key economic reforms, issues and initiatives in line with his quest to open the country up for business.

Members of the council were drawn from various sectors of the economy and are expected to help Mnangagwa push for Vision 2030 which seeks to make Zimbabwe an upper middle-income country by 2030.

"It will be recalled that Vision 2030 is predicated on attracting domestic and foreign direct investment and on transforming Zimbabwe into a business-friendly investment destination with a stable and supportive macro-economic environment," Sibanda said.

He said the PAC had 17 terms of reference and should, from time to time, help with a comprehensive situational analysis on the state of the economy and investment climate in the country and proffer ideas and suggestions on the way forward.

Sibanda said the advisory council should also provide infrastructural strategies and investments meant to transform the country into a land-linked regional logistical and trading hub.

The advisory council was also mandated with organizing interactions between the president and local and international businesses, said Sibanda.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa sets up task
force to address issues related to post-election violence

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set up an inter-ministerial task force to address issues detailed in recent reports and findings concerning last year’s post-election violence.

"President Mnangagwa has established an Inter-Ministerial Task Force to address issues arising from the reports by the 2018 Harmonized Election Observer Missions as well as the Findings of the Motlanthe Commission," the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said in a statement Monday.

The task force consists of justice minister as the chairman, minister of foreign affairs as deputy chair, minister of information, minister of finance, minister of home affairs, minister of industry, minister of state security, Zimbabwe Law Society Representative, the attorney general and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Several observer missions commended the peaceful pre-election environment in last year’s first post-Mugabe era elections but deplored the post-election violence that occurred on Aug. 1 resulting in the deaths of six people and destruction of property.

Western observers, in particular the European Union (EU) observer mission, hailed the peaceful pre-election period but condemned what it called misuse of state resources, intimidation of voters, partisan behavior by traditional leaders and overt bias of the state media in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The EU observer mission also noted lack of independence of the ZEC, saying this undermined public trust in the electoral body.

The observer group, which was the single largest international observer group to the polls, recommended implementation of reforms to ensure the ZEC is widely perceived to be an independent election management body capable of administering credible elections.

The Commission of Inquiry set up by President Mnangagwa to look into the Aug. 1 violence also made a number of recommendations including national dialogue among main political parties, provision of compensation to all the affected victims, review of all laws relating to hate speech, abuse of cyber space and incitement to commit acts of violence.

The seven-member Commission of Inquiry, chaired by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, also recommended that police should be equipped with the necessary skills and capacity to deal with rioters and should be further trained to be professional and non-partisan.


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