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Zimbabwe citizens will likely experience 'temporary discomfort'
as ruling ZANU-PF government implement austerity measures

by Tichaona Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is on a tough journey to an open market economy and citizens have to bear temporary discomfort arising from austerity measures that government is implementing to correct past wrongs, an advisory council to President Emmmerson Mnangagwa said Thursday.

The 26-member PAC said this after it met Mnangagwa and presented him with an advisory note that stressed the need to deal with corruption and getting the masses to understand the tough journey that the country is on.

The PAC’s alternate spokesperson Edwin Manikai told journalists that Mnangagwa had so far taken on board most of their recommendations on opening up the economy, but warned that the citizenry would have to bear the immediate consequences of the adjustments as the economy self-corrects, state news agency New Ziana reported.

"The opening up that we are talking about is the right way to go, the same people who were complaining that things were closed and there was too much administration around foreign currency and fuel are now complaining when it has been opened up," Manikai said.

"I am not an economist but in a little while, the benefits of these brave measures that His Excellency has implemented through his government will begin to be seen."

Manikai said with liberalization of forex and fuel markets, prices of goods and services will go up in local currency terms but remain unchanged in United States dollar terms, and will in the medium-term stabilize.

  Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming shakes hands with Zimbabwean Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sekesai Nzenza | Coastweek

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming shakes hands with Zimbabwean Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sekesai Nzenza during the rice handover ceremony in Harare, Zimbabwe. China on Friday donated more than 10,000 tonnes of rice to assist people who were affected by Cyclone Idai as well as vulnerable households facing hunger due to drought. XINHUA PHOTO - ZHANG YULIANG

Manikai said the PAC had stressed the need to rally the masses towards a common goal of economic recovery through improved communication by explaining the intentions and actions of the government to the people.

"We want Zimbabweans to achieve the pursuit of happiness and this is the beginning of the journey," he said.

"Everywhere you go where there is change and austerity, there will be some immediate adverse consequences.

"It is like taking medicine.

"We all know that medicine is bitter but it’s good for you, focus has to be about the right policies and their implementation and we have the right policies that have now been announced."

Manikai said the PAC had recommended the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee to look at addressing the needs of the vulnerable during the period that the economy is in transition.


Zimbabwe extends load shedding hours following
technical fault at major power station

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) on Saturday announced a Stage 2 load shedding schedule where consumers will suffer extended power outages following a technical fault at the country’s biggest power station-the Hwange Thermal Power Station.

"Kindly note that generation at Hwange is depressed due to a technical fault. Load shedding is now on Stage 2. Load shedding may be above the publicized schedules. We apologize for any inconveniences caused," the company announced on Twitter.

Zimbabweans are currently enduring an average eight hours a day without electricity because of depressed generation at the Kariba Hydro Power Station where authorities have begun rationing water allocations due to low water levels in the lake caused by the severe drought of 2018/19.

ZETDC said Wednesday that the recently published load shedding schedule-falling under Stage 1- was for planning purposes only and was not fixed.

"If supplies improve on a given day, the shedding will be shorter than stipulated and if supply deteriorates, then shedding will be longer than advertised," the company said.

Zimbabwe had enjoyed more than four years without load shedding, but the drought has pushed the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to reduce water allocation to the Zimbabwe Power Company from 19 billion cubic meters to 16 billion cubic meters for 2019, thus reducing power generation to 358MW for Zimbabwe and 392MW for Zambia.

The rationing is meant to ensure that the plant continues to run until the next rainy season.

Power generation at Hwange and the smaller thermal power stations of Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati remains fragile because of aged equipment.

Chinese company Sinohydro is currently refurbishing Hwange at a cost of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to add two generators each producing 300MW.

The power station currently has an installed capacity of 920MW but cannot generate at optimum level because of the aged equipment.

ZRA said recently that Mozambique’s Hydro Electrica de Cahorra Bassa had offered Zimbabwe and Zambia power imports in exchange for further reduced power generation by the two countries at Kariba Dam plants.

Cahorra Bassa Dam is overflowing following recent two cyclone-induced floods, and authorities in Mozambique favor having Zimbabwe and Zambia storing more water in Kariba Dam, which is upstream of Cahorra Bassa on the Zambezi River, to reduce inflows into the downstream dam and thus protect the infrastructure at Cahorra Bassa.

The two countries may get as much as 500MW from Mozambique without the parties involved having to exchange any or significant amounts of money for the deal.

Zimbabwe is currently generating less than 820MW from three power stations against a daily peak demand of 1,600MW in winter and 1,400MW in summer.|

Zimbabwe nurses issue notice to strike over salaries

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean state nurses have issued a 14-day notice to go on strike, alleging that the government has failed to address their concerns over working conditions.

In a notice to members dated May 23, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association said negotiations with the employer for improved working conditions had not provided positive results.

"This communication serves to inform you that negotiations that have been taking place with the employer have failed to yield positive results.

"Some of the issues tabled in today’s discussion include: cost of living adjustment; flexible working hours; vehicle loan scheme (and) working environment.

"Having failed to find a common position with the employer a deadlock has been declared.

"We are therefore issuing a notice to embark on an industrial action in the next 14 days if our grievances are not addressed," the association said.

Zimbabwe’s public health sector has been plagued by labor disputes over the years with nurses and junior doctors striking over poor working conditions.

The government early this year agreed to allow nurses and other hospital staff to work three days a week to cushion them from expenses that could be incurred while they are at work.

"Government is failing to pay us well and it’s now work as you earn.

"That’s why we are working fewer days than before," said a health worker who refused to be named.

Apart from better wages, the nurses also want the government to provide public health institutions with all the necessary drugs and equipment to make their work easier.


Zimbabwe minister says 2019 maize output tumbles, to import more

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is expecting to produce less than half of its maize requirement in 2019 due to a devastating drought and will have to import more grain to augment local supplies, agriculture minister Perrance Shiri said on Thursday.

According to a recent crop and livestock assessment, Zimbabwe is expected to produce 760,000 tonnes, down from 1.7 million tonnes produced last year, the minister said.

This is against a national requirement of 1.8 million tonnes of maize for both human and livestock consumption annually.

"We had a false start to the season and the rains came very late.

"So the rain-fed crops did not do well and as a result we won’t be able to produce enough to feed the country," the minister was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 5.3 million Zimbabweans, nearly a third of the country’s population, will require food aid in 2019 due to a combination of drought and economic hardships.

The UN has since launched a 234 million U.S. dollar aid appeal to provide food assistance to about 2.2 million Zimbabweans between January and June 2019.

The UN aid targets vulnerable people in both urban and rural areas, including the elderly, women and child-headed families.

Zimbabwe power utility decries vandalism of
infrastructure as state faces power shortages

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s power utility said Thursday it requires about 15 million U.S. dollars to replace vandalized infrastructure at a time when the nation is going through a debilitating power crisis that has forced it to introduce power cuts.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) recently introduced a biting load shedding schedule for the whole country due to depressed power generation at Kariba power station and shortage of foreign currency to import the commodity.

At the same time, vandalism has also contributed to power outages for some consumers, as the utility continues to battle the problem which has cost it millions of dollars in repairs.

"Up to 30,000 households are without power due to vandalism of about 4,000 transformers, cables and associated materials.

ZETDC needs about 15 million U.S. dollars to replace the stolen materials," ZETDC said on Twitter Thursday.

Recently, ZESA said it had decided to install geo-tracking sensors and cameras on transformers so as to curb the rampant vandalism of its infrastructure.

"We want to support the government by ensuring that every transformer in the country will have a tracking chip that can be tracked if a transformer is stolen," said ZESA official Burutsa Mandipezano.

"We will also set up hidden cameras that will take pictures of thieves and people who vandalize transformers because the rate of vandalism is worrisome," said Mandipezano.

He said the cameras are for capturing the physical identity of the criminals (and how they are carrying out the vandalism so as to guard against it) while sensors are for geo-tracking the equipment thieves would have stolen.

ZESA has also been urged to "ring-fence" the transformers using spikes so that it becomes difficult for thieves to get in and steal.

Mozambique power utility seeks power trade-off with Zimbabwe and Zambia

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Mozambique’s Hydro Electrica de Cahorra Bassa has offered Zimbabwe and Zambia power imports in exchange for further reduced power generation by the two countries at their Kariba Dam hydro plants, state media reported Thursday.

Cahorra Bassa Dam is overflowing following recent cyclone-induced floods, and authorities in Mozambique favor having Zimbabwe and Zambia storing more water in Kariba Dam, which is upstream of Cahorra Bassa on the Zambezi River, to reduce inflows into the downstream dam and thus protect the infrastructure at Cahorra Bassa.

The offer for power comes at a time the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which administers Lake Kariba, and the Zambezi River, which straddle the two countries, has instructed the two power utilities that generate power at Kariba Dam—Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and ZESCO of Zambia—to cut power generation because of the 2018/19 El Nino induced drought hitting southern Africa.

The ZRA has rationed water consumption by the two companies to 358 MW for Zimbabwe and 392 MW for Zambia, resulting in the two countries’ introducing load shedding since May and causing distress in industries and among domestic users.

ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa told a delegation led by Zimbbwe’s new Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi recently that Mozambique had offered power to Zimbabwe and Zambia in lieu of reduced discharge from Lake Kariba.

The two countries may get as much as 500 MW without the parties involved having to exchange any or significant amounts of money for the deal.

"We should be going to discuss that issue. We should be going with ZESA, ZESCO and their transmission people so that we sit together and agree how much Hydro Cahora Bassa can give out without requesting for money and without also the transmission requesting for wheeling charges and all that," he said.

ZESA is the parent company of the ZPC.

Zimbabwe leader to have regular meetings with ruling party legislators

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has agreed to meet ruling ZANU-PF Members of Parliament to discuss issues affecting their constituents.

A post on Twitter from the party on Wednesday said the MPs met Mnangagwa on the same day at the party headquarters to relay concerns from the constituencies they represent.

"The MPs request to meet the President and different ministers often was granted, with the President suggesting a meeting at least once every month, here policies and reforms will be articulated and explained," the party said.

The party also said in response to a query on land evictions, Mnangagwa had said steps were being taken to bring to account all illegal evictions.

He also said that even though some the evictions were legal, they should be carried out in a humane manner and the people relocated accordingly.

The government is currently evicting people who have illegally settled on farms previously owned by white commercial farmers.



'Skyrocketing fuel prices' are adding to the misery of Zimbabweans,
already reeling from indefinite rolling power cuts imposed last week



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