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Former Zimbabwe Vice President Mphoko granted
bail after Corruption charge before Bulawayo court

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Former Zimbabwean Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who has been on the run after fleeing from Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) officers at a Bulawayo police station on Monday, appeared in a Bulawayo court on Wednesday facing charges of criminal abuse of office, the Herald reported.

The former VP was remanded out of custody to Sept. 4 on 1,000 Zimbabwe dollars bail and ordered to report to the police once a week.

He was also ordered to surrender his passport, not interfere with state witnesses and reside at his given address until the matter is finalized as part of his bail conditions.

Mphoko, who on Saturday refused to cooperate with ZACC officers and instructed them to leave his home after they tried to arrest him, is being accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly instructed junior police officers to free then Zimbabwe National Road Administration acting chief executive Moses Juma.

Juma had been arrested on criminal abuse of office charges and was being held at Avondale Police Station in Harare.

Mphoko allegedly committed the offence in 2016 when he was still vice president of Zimbabwe.

Former Zimbabwe Vice President Phelekezela
Mphoko on the run amid anti-corruption probe

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Former Zimbabwe Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who fled from Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) officers at a Bulawayo police station on Monday, is still on the run, ZACC spokesperson John Makamure said Tuesday.

Responding to questions from Xinhua, Makamure said ZACC officers had told him that they were still on the ground looking for him and nothing had materialized as yet.

"There are some addresses to be checked but what we have confirmed for sure is that he is still in Bulawayo at his safe house," Makamure said.

Mphoko, who on Saturday refused to cooperate with ZACC officers and instructed them to leave his home after they tried to arrest him, is being accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly instructed junior police officers to free then Zimbabwe National Road Administration acting chief executive Moses Juma.

Juma had been arrested on criminal abuse of office charges and was being held at Avondale Police Station in Harare.

Mphoko allegedly committed the offence when he was still Vice President of Zimbabwe.

The former Vice President had on Monday agreed to meet ZACC officers at a police station in Bulawayo, but sped off upon arrival, apparently having second thoughts about the meeting.


Zimbabwe government has offered its workers a 76 percent salary increment

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government has offered its workers a 76 percent salary increment effective this month, after they initially rejected a 10 percent offer.

The 76 percent, however, does not meet the workers expectation as they are demanding 4, 750 Zimbabwe dollars for the lowest paid worker.

The new increment takes the monthly salary of the lowest paid worker to 1, 023 Zimbabwe dollars.

The government is insisting that it cannot meet the demand.

Following the 76 percent salary hike proposal, the Apex Council said Friday it will consult its members before taking a decision.

The Council has at least four days to consult its membership on the offer before the next wage negotiating meeting scheduled for Aug. 28.

"The offer does not meet the stated position of the workers which is pegged at 4,750 Zimbabwe dollars for the least paid civil servant," said Apex Council chairperson, Cecilia Alexander.

"According to this development, the lowest-paid worker is expected to take home 1,023 dollars, up from 582 dollars."

The Zimbabwe government has been in wage negotiations with its workers since the beginning of the year in the wake of rising prices of basic goods and services.

To try and help its workers, the government has twice awarded civil servants cushioning allowances since January this year, while talks for a salary adjustment are ongoing.

Talks for a salary hike came against the backdrop of a recent warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the government must only increase salaries in line with its revenue collections to avoid borrowing or printing money to meet its wage bill, which is currently consuming roughly 90 percent of national revenue.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa challenges
farmers to adopt modern technology and fully utilize land

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday challenged players in the agriculture sector to incorporate use of modern technology to boost agriculture production.

He also urged the sector to ramp up efforts towards water harvesting and irrigation development to mitigate the harsh effects of climate change.

The country has been experiencing inconsistent weather patterns in recent years due to climate change, which have impacted negatively on production of food and cash crops.

The president, who was opening this year’s annual Harare Agricultural Show, also called on beneficiaries of the land reform program to fully utilize the land.

"I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform program to be farmers, not mere farm owners.

The new agrarian revolution requires beneficiaries to give due attention to improving productivity across all crops," he said.

"Let us all rise to the responsibility of feeding the nation and meeting our dietary and nutritional needs as well as producing for export."

Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform program at the turn of the millennium to correct historical colonial land imbalances which favored white minority farmers.

However, some of the indigenous farmers are failing to fully utilize the land, with the majority citing lack of capital to finance their farming ventures.

The government has not given the new farmers bankable title deeds, making it difficult for them to access loans from banks.

He said the country cannot attain its vision of becoming a middle income economy by 2030 if vast tracts of land remain idle, unproductive or underutilized.

"We must therefore roll up our sleeves and assume maximum productivity," he said.

It was equally important for the manufacturing sector and related industries to continue to take advantage of the vast opportunities along the agriculture value chain.

"It is incumbent upon us to develop agricultural systems which will provide enough inputs to manufacturing industries and help develop competitive products for entry into the global value chains," he said.


Zimbabwe government warns will not allow opposition threats to overthrow it

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government said Tuesday it will not allow any threats by the opposition to overthrow it while reiterating that the enjoyment of constitutional rights by citizens should not infringe on the rights of others.

The reaction by the government came after the European Union (EU) and other Western nations including Britain and the United States, issued a joint statement Tuesday reprimanding the Zimbabwe government for alleged human rights violations before, during and after the opposition-led demonstration in Harare on Aug. 16.

In the joint statement, the EU expressed concern over the alleged intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives, and opposition politicians prior to, during and after the protest.

Last Friday, police fired tear gas and beat up opposition protesters who tried to march in the streets of the capital Harare in defiance of a police and High Court ban on the protests.

The police banned the protest, fearing it would turn violent as has been the case with previous opposition-organized protests.

"The Zimbabwean Constitution guarantees the right to personal security from violence and prohibits physical or psychological torture.

"The Heads of Mission urge the authorities to respect these fundamental rights, and to hold perpetrators of violence legally responsible," the EU said in a statement.

However, in its response, the Ministry of Information said the Zimbabwe government would not fold hands while the opposition causes anarchy in the country.

"Section 86 of our Constitution provides that enjoyment of rights should not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others.

"It is also important to note that, no government would allow threats to overthrow a constitutional order to be carried through.

"Zimbabwe stands as no exception," the ministry said in a tweet.

Police have since banned similar protests that had been planned by the opposition in the cities of Bulawayo and Gweru on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

It remains to be seen whether police would allow the party’s planned demonstrations in the cities of Masvingo and Mutare on Wednesday and Thursday respectively to go ahead.

Record Zimbabwe 2019 tobacco production survives drought coditions

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s 2019 tobacco output has surpassed last year’s record-breaking output of 252 million kilograms, according to statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

This is despite the fact that the crop was grown under drought conditions marked by late rains and prolonged dry spells, particularly when the crop was almost ready for harvesting.

According to the industry regulator, a total of 252.6 million kg of the golden leaf had been sold as at Aug. 21 since the marketing season opened on March 20, with five days still remaining before the selling season ends.

While the regulator did not show the value of the crop sold to date, the 252.6 million kg sold as at Aug. 21 were valued at 507 million U.S. dollars, compared with 249 million kg worth 730 million dollars that was sold during the same period last year.

In general, the average price of tobacco this year has been lower by about 31 percent compared to those of last year.

The average price last year was 2.92 U.S. cents per kg compared to 2.02 this year.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s main foreign currency earner, with China being the biggest buyer of the crop.

Meanwhile, the TIMB announced Thursday that the 2019 marketing season will end on Aug. 28 while clean-up sales will be conducted on Sept. 10.

"All stakeholders are advised that the 2019 auction floors will remain open until Wednesday 28 August 2019.

Deliveries to selling points will be accepted until Tuesday 27 August 2019," TIMB said in a statement.

TIMB spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo said on Monday this week that they were still receiving tobacco from farmers, with farmers bringing an average of 400,000 kg of the golden leaf to the auction floors every day.

The remarkable rise in Zimbabwe’s tobacco production comes after production plummeted from the previous peak of 231 million kg in 2001 to a new low of 48 million kg at the height of the country’s economic crisis in 2008.

Over the years, production has steadily gone up driven by increased support mainly from the private sector and China, who have contracted growers to produce the crop.

Zimbabwe aviation regulator courts more companies to invest in airport business

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) is courting investors to operate lounges at its three major airports as it seeks to grow non-aeronautical revenue through the lease of commercial space at its airports.

This is the second invitation to investors in one week after CAAZ on Aug. 15 also invited investors in airport agribusiness to bid for the development and operation of horticulture facilities at its biggest port of entry, the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

In the invitation issued Thursday, CAAZ said it was offering commercial space at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls International Airport for the development of lounges.

The offer is open to both local and foreign companies and is on a lease and concession basis.

"Interested companies or investors should provide information demonstrating that they have the required experience, competencies, skills and qualifications relevant for performance of the services whether as individual firms, joint ventures or consortia," CAAZ said.

With regards to the development of about 300 hectares surrounding the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport just outside Harare, CAAZ said the project entailed the development of a horticulture growing facility, complete with pack-houses and all associated cold-chain infrastructure for export out of the airport.

The successful bidder will be expected to enter into a lease and concession agreement with CAAZ for an agreed term.

China Jiangsu International is currently upgrading the airport into a more modern facility at a cost of 153 million U.S. dollars.

The three year project will boost the airport’s annual passenger handling capacity to six million from the current 2.5 million, hence the need for the provision of the running of lounges.

Zimbabwe and China agree to enhance collaboration in economic research

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe and China have agreed to collaborate in economic research and development of strategic plans aimed at helping Zimbabwe develop its infrastructure and revamp its ailing economy, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said Thursday.

He said the cooperation will be carried out within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that he signed with the Development Research Center (DRC) of China’s State Council in Beijing in June.

He said following the MoU, a delegation from the DRC is visiting Zimbabwe from Aug. 21-30 to conduct research and field studies in some of the agreed areas of cooperation that include infrastructure development and financing strategy; macro-economic stabilization and enhancement of the business environment; and industrial structure transformation policy through value addition and beneficiation of natural resources.

"The DRC mission to Zimbabwe is taking place at a time when the country is in the midst of implementing key reforms necessary to achieve economic growth and development for the country," Ncube said in his remarks during a meeting between officials from China’s DRC and senior Zimbabwe government officials on Thursday.

He said areas of cooperation that Zimbabwe stands to benefit from the DRC also include human capital development and digital transformation; public enterprise reforms; effective government and state public service delivery policy; collaborative research and capacity building.

He said the two parties will collaborate in a phased approach in the agreed areas, and that cooperation will be done through policy consultation programs; academic information exchange; access to relevant data; exchange visits; joint conferences, meetings; training programs.


Harare is declared shutdown after Police ban opposition protest



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