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President Emmerson Mnangagwa emphasises that
Zimbabwe cannot develop without its own currency

by Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Friday Zimbabwe cannot develop if it continues to use currencies of other nations.

It was the country’s intention therefore, to re-introduce its own currency when the conditions become ripe.

The president said his government has adopted policies that will result in the re-introduction of a local currency as it is the only way for the country to develop, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.

Zimbabwe dumped its own currency in 2009 after it had been rendered worthless by a decade of hyperinflation, and adopted use of multiple currencies.

Mnangagwa said the multi-currency regime had been adopted to deal with the hyper-inflation experienced between 2008 and 2009 but should not be maintained going into the future.

"Between 2008 and 2009 our country’s currency lost value and some people became billionaires or trillionaires due to high inflation," the president said.

"At the time, government decided to adopt the multi-currency regime where we started using, the U.S. dollar, South African Rand, the British Pound and Botswana Pula for transacting.

"It was a policy measure to address the challenges that were being faced then.

"We, however, cannot continue going forward without our own currency."

He added that the country would not develop if it continues to use other nations’ currencies.

"A currency is only printed by its owners and the only way to get (foreign currency) is through exports, Diaspora remittances or foreign investments but as a country we should have our own currency and we have embarked on that journey," he said.

He added that when the local currency is re-introduced, it would no longer be possible to use foreign currency while transacting locally.


Zimbabwe fuel prices rise yet again

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Fuel prices rose again in Zimbabwe on Wednesday with diesel now costing 5.07 RTGS dollars a liter from 4.88 RTGS dollars, while petrol now costs 5.26 RTGS dollars a liter, up from 4.96 RTGS dollars.

A spokesperson from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) confirmed the increases in a telephone interview with Xinhua but would not give reasons for the latest round of increases, promising to submit a written response.

Further attempts to contact her were fruitless Wednesday morning.

The Zimbabwe government has hiked fuel prices several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 RTGS dollars per liter to 3.39 RTGS dollars per liter.

This was the time the local currency was pegged at par with the U.S. dollar.

The new prices will likely spur an increase in the prices of other goods and services as fuel plays a key role in the economy.


No relief for Zimbabwean workers as high
accommodation costs add to their woes

by Tichaona Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean workers have been hit hard by high accommodation costs as landlords now demand rentals in foreign currency to cushion themselves from the RTGS dollar which is free falling against the U.S dollar.

This comes at a time many workers - including civil servants - are complaining that their RTGS dollar salaries have been eroded by high inflation as the cost of basic commodities continues to rise every month.

The country’s annual rate of inflation for the month of April 2019 rose further to 75.86 percent, up from 66.80 percent in March, while month on month inflation also climbed to 5.52 percent, gaining 1.14 percentage points on the March rate, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

Prices of basic commodities such as maize meal, milk, beef and washing powder have risen by about 100 percent between April and June.

A manager with a retail chain in the resort town in Victoria Falls told Xinhua that apart from the high cost of living, their workers were also facing accommodation problems in the town.

"Even our workers are feeling the pinch.

"We have advised the human resources department about the dire situation," he said.

There were reports at the weekend that police officers in the town were relocating to the local police station because they could no longer afford the rentals being charged.

Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi would not comment to Xinhua on the issue, only saying that a statement issued by the government on Sunday was sufficient.

"I think the government has responded to that appropriately.

"There’s a statement which was posted by the Ministry of Information.

"That statement is very relevant," he said.

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services on Sunday night dismissed the reports as false.

"Government has been made aware of false news circulating regarding the tent pitched in Victoria Falls by the @PoliceZimbabwe.

"The tent has been pitched purely for operational reasons which have nothing to do with the reasons given by the online publication.

"Fake news affects our country," the ministry said in a tweet.

However, a Victoria Falls resident confirmed that police officers were indeed moving into the police camp because they could no longer afford the high foreign currency denominated rentals.

"What we have discovered is that they have crammed all their belongings into single rooms and subdivided their rooms using curtains to accommodate the officers coming from locations.

"The tent has no people though we are reliably informed they have been promised more tents should more officers fail to pay rentals.

"Every other building has been converted into accommodation rooms including where they used to do finger prints," he said.

Another contributor to Twitter running by the name Nox also said police officers and other government employees in the town were suffering because of the high rentals.

"But the truth of the matter is that government employees are suffering in Vic falls.

"Landlords require rent in USD.

"Imagine a police officer who earns less than 500 RTGS dollars," Nox said.

In Harare, rental for one room is now pegged at about 70 U.S. dollars in the low and medium density suburbs, while a cottage costs around 120 U.S. dollars, inclusive of water and electricity charges.

Since banks do not issue foreign currency to individuals, tenants source the required amounts from the black market where the rates are currently between 7.50 RTGS dollars and 8 RTGS dollars against 1 U.S. dollar.

Teachers recently petitioned Parliament to have the government pay them decent salaries that can match the high cost of living.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association and the Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) want the government to pay a cushioning allowance in United States dollars to every teacher over and above the RTGS salaries which the government has promised to review.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said a teacher’s salary of 450 RTGS can only buy 98 liters of water, or alternatively is equivalent to just eight pockets of potatoes.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Friday that the government would in the course of time re-introduce a local currency and abolish the use of foreign currency to buy from local shops "to stem uncontrolled price increases".

He added that current austerity measures imposed on the populace were meant to improve the economy in the long run.

The International Monetary Fund has projected the country’s economic growth to contract 2.1 percent in 2019.

Some companies are now reportedly paying their workers’ salaries every two weeks to cushion them from the harsh environment, while others are also chipping in with groceries.

Zimbabwe and the European Union launch formal
political dialogue to improve icy relations

by Tichaona Chifamba HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday launched a formal political dialogue under the African-Caribbean-Pacific regions (ACP)-EU Partnership Agreement, which is also known as the Cotonou Agreement.

Wednesday’s session for the dialogue was organized by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said he hoped that formal political dialogue would from now on become an integral part of the relations between the two partners.

"This should provide a useful platform to exchange views on topics that are of common interest and identify areas where we can deepen our relationship," he said.

"It also provides a forum to a frank exchange of views on issues we might not agree upon and foster mutual understanding.

"Our commitment is to a relationship that we are building together, as partners," he said.

He acknowledged that the Zimbabwean government had been clear that significant political and economic reforms were necessary for the benefit of its people and pledged the EU’s support to the country as it forged ahead with its reform agenda.

Zimbabwe-EU relations started in 1982, two years after the country gain independence from Britain.

However, the relations soured starting in 2000, resulting in the Council of the European Union in 2002 imposing restrictive measures against individuals and companies that were considered responsible for alleged serious violations of human rights and of the freedom of opinion, of association and of peaceful assembly.

The measures, which included a travel ban, an asset freeze and an arms embargo, have been gradually removed over recent years and only two individuals and one company - former president Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defense Industries - remain on the list.

An arms embargo also continues to be in place.

The EU also maintained "appropriate measures" between 2002 and 2014 which consisted of the suspension of all direct development cooperation with the government but redirected its support through international agencies or civil society organizations.



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