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Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority
hikes fuel costs with new Pricing Index

by Tichaona Chifamba HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) on Monday increased fuel prices again and also implemented a new pricing model which takes into account transportation costs to various parts of the country.

Harare and Mutare will have the cheapest maximum pump price of 10.32 per liter for diesel and 10.01 Zimbabwe dollars per liter for petrol, while the resort town of Victoria Falls will have the highest maximum pump price of 10.86 dollars per liter for diesel and 10.56 dollars per liter for petrol.

"The petroleum prices applicable in the various cities represent the maximum pump prices taking into account the transport costs.

:Operators may however, sell below the cap depending on their trading advantages," ZERA said in a statement.

Fuel prices have gone up several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 dollars per liter to 3.39 dollars when the local currency was still pegged at par with the U.S. dollar.


Zimbabwe government warns against anarchy
as opposition plans countryside protests

by Gretinah Machingura HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government said on Wednesday it is aware of plans by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to continue demonstrations and warned that police stand ready.

The warning comes after the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC party intends to hold anti-government protests at growth points and smaller towns, starting this Friday after its planned demonstrations in major cities and towns were foiled last week.

The police and the courts banned the planned marches in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru on safety grounds.

It is understood that the opposition party has since notified police in Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Mashonaland West Provinces about their intention to protest at growth points and smaller towns in the provinces on Friday and Saturday.

However, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema said the planned demonstrations were a clear sign of the MDC’s intentions to continue disturbing peace in the country.

He said government was aware that the timing of these demonstrations was meant to draw global attention ahead of the United Nations General Assembly next month, state news agency New Ziana reported.

"We are quite aware that the opposition and its partners intend to hire buses and other vehicles to ferry people to various centers in the country for unlawful gatherings," he said.

"Let me reiterate that anyone caught on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with without fear or favor.

"Vehicles used to promote lawlessness will certainly be impounded by the police."

Mathema said government was concerned that the constitution was being misused to foment disorder and anarchy in the country and to further divide and polarize the nation.

"The nation cannot afford to be having demonstrations on a daily or weekly basis.

"The economy suffers as attention is taken away from key activities which as a country we should be focused upon," he said.

The minister also warned diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations against interfering in local politics.

He reminded the diplomatic missions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which spells out the duties of diplomats, including respecting the laws and regulations of the receiving state.

Diplomats, he said, were also duty bound not to interfere with the internal or domestic affairs of a sovereign country.

"My ministry is therefore concerned by the security implications of these diplomatic missions’ interference and visits to private residences of some opposition political party leaders under the guise of diplomatic engagements," he said, in apparent reference to the alleged recent visit by U.S. ambassador to the residence of a senior MDC party official ahead of last week’s foiled demonstrations.

Mathema said government was also aware of plans by the opposition to rope in civil servants in the demonstrations through main labor body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

"Let me assure all peace loving and law abiding citizens that the law enforcement agents are on high alert to deal with any acts of lawlessness in the country," said Mathema.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa warns ‘rule of law applies to all’

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday that the rule of law in Zimbabwe equally applied to every citizen, including foreign-funded organizations operating in the country.

Responding to questions on the government’s alleged crackdown on the opposition, Mnangagwa, who is in Japan attending the seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad 7), told the media that there were no "double standards" when it came to the application of the rule of law, state news agency New Ziana reported.

There has been an outcry by the main opposition MDC and some non-governmental organizations over bans by the police and the courts on planned anti-government protests starting mid-August for security reasons.

Some opposition supporters still took to the streets and clashed with the police, resulting in several arrests being made.

"There is not an incident where the rule of law has been breached, not even one incident.

"We apply the rule of law.

"Those who commit crime, the law must apply," Mnangagwa said.

He said observance of the rule of law was not meant to please outsiders but was for the good of Zimbabweans.

"Zimbabwe is a unitary state and our laws apply to every citizen, whether you are in the opposition or are in government or you do not belong to any political party at all, if you commit murder you get arrested; corruption or any violent act you get arrested; that is the rule of law which we observe," he said.

Zimbabwe not moved by Western hostility, says vice president

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi said Thursday Zimbabwe is not moved by the hostility that it is getting from some Western countries as most of it is historical.

Speaking to journalists after meeting outgoing United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli, Mohadi said it was unfortunate that some Western countries now believed their own lies about Zimbabwe, state news agency New Ziana reported.

"There are members of the UN, especially those from the West, that have demonized us, and they have ended up believing what they are saying.

"But those that come here to Zimbabwe and witness things for themselves, they found that Zimbabwe is a different country altogether," he said.

Mohadi said despite the lack of support from Western powers, Zimbabwe would rise again.

"We are a resilient nation, we will find our way.

"We will chart our way, and we will get there, with or without them.

"So they will join the bandwagon later on," he said.

The vice president was reacting to criticism by the European Union and other Western embassies on the way Zimbabwean police handled opposition demonstrators recently.

He commended the good relations between Zimbabwe and the UN, which rendered immense support to the country when it was struck by Cyclone Idai in March this year.

"Every year we get something like half a billion dollars from the UN (for development projects).

"About 442 million U.S. dollars came last year to provide us support for projects in health, water, education and also food security," he said.

Zimbabwe not considering any amnesty to de-congest correctional facilities

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s prisons are overcrowded and are currently accommodating 19, 500 inmates, above a carrying capacity of 17, 000, a cabinet minister said Wednesday.

The government, however, said it is not considering any amnesty to de-congest the correctional facilities, the state news agency New Ziana reported.

Early last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pardoned at least 3,000 prisoners under a presidential amnesty in an effort to reduce the prison population.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the government has since realized that official pardons do not help in reducing prison population.

"We gave an amnesty early last year but within a month we had almost the same population (as before the amnesty)," he told legislators in the National Assembly.

"So we realized that (giving pardons) is not the solution."

Instead, Ziyambi said the government would prioritize investments in new prison facilities across the country.

He said plans were in place to build a female open prison in Marondera and also to expand the existing Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare.

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) currently operates 46 correctional facilities throughout the country.

Ziyambi said due to economic hardships, the prison services was facing operational challenges and called for support to the ZPCS in various forms.

"If you want to donate to our prisons you are most welcome, what you need to do is to write to the Commissioner of Prisons detailing the nature of your donations," he said.

Zimbabwe civil servants accept salary adjustment offer

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean civil servants have provisionally accepted a 76 percent cost of living salary adjustment offered by the government with effect from Aug. 1 while negotiations for higher wages continue, state media reported Wednesday.

The Herald newspaper reported Wednesday that the least-paid worker will now earn 1,023 Zimbabwe dollars (about 102 U.S. dollars) per month, up from 582 dollars per month.

The decision to accept the government offer followed a meeting between the civil servants’ umbrella representative body, the Apex Council, and government representatives led by Secretary for Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Simon Masanga at a National Joint Negotiating Council meeting on Tuesday.

Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said that a cost of living adjustment of the total package would be implemented from beginning of August.

Alexander said they had provisionally agreed to the offer while they continued with negotiations.

"It must be reiterated that this is a provisional agreement meant first and foremost to allow the government to cushion its impoverished civil servants." she said.

"Our substantive demand of 4,750 dollars, which is benchmarked against the interbank rate, still stands and negotiations still continue towards that end," said Alexander.

The government last week offered the 76 percent cost of living adjustment which the Apex Council neither rejected nor accepted but went back to consult its members and on Tuesday gave the feedback that sealed the deal.

However, teachers on Monday rejected the offer, insisting that the employer pays them nothing more than 4,600 Zimbabwe dollars per month, which the government says it cannot afford.

Zimbabwe may pull out of CITES due to restrictions in ivory trade

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is considering pulling out of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in order to fully benefit from its conservation of natural resources, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the upgrading of a 6.5 km stretch along Harare-Chirundu Highway on Monday, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe would express its reservations before pulling out of the body, if need be, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.

At its 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Geneva this week, the body rejected a proposal by Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to open trade to clear existing stockpiles of ivory, with Zimbabwe sitting on 600 million U.S. dollars worth of stock.

The President said the clearing of the ivory stockpile would help conservation efforts through procurement of equipment and fences for buffer zones to curtail human-wildlife conflict.

"We are sitting on ivory stockpiles worth 600 million U.S. dollars. It’s a lot of money we can use for big projects.

"Our wild animals are being discussed in Geneva (at the ongoing CITES summit), an irrelevant place to the animals.

"We now know what to do about the issue." he said.

The president said it was unfair that Zimbabwe carried the burden of conserving its wildlife, but did not benefit from the resource.

Zimbabwe is battling to keep its elephant population which stands at 84, 000 against a carrying capacity of around 56, 000.

"Just the day before Sunday, they were saying we cannot sell products from our wildlife, but we rejected that.

:We cannot be denied such a privilege by people who no longer have the elephants.

"They now know elephants from pictures and films," he said.

Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was looking forward to cooperating with Japan in promoting sustainable wildlife management.

CITES rejected the proposal by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to open the trade of ivory to clear existing stockpiles, claiming that it would encourage poaching and reverse gains in wildlife management.

The countries have always argued that they need the funds to help protect the animals from poaching and enhance conservation efforts.


Lack of disposable incomes bites into Zimbabweans’ recreational activities

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Prevailing economic hardships are hitting Zimbabweans on the recreational front where they are cutting consumption in such habits as smoking and taking alcohol.

Leading cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco reported Monday that in the six months to June 2019, total sales volumes declined by 20 percent versus the same period in 2018.

"This was driven be shrinking consumer disposable incomes.

"The premium brand, Dunhill, recorded a decline of 87 percent compared to the same period in prior year driven by the company’s inability to import Dunhill as duties are requiredin foreign currency," said Chairman Lovemore Manatsa while presenting the company’s unaudited financial results for the half year.

He said that the company’s value for money brands Madison and Everest declined by 21 percent and the low value for money brand Ascot declined by 2 percent.

However, that despite the drop in volumes revenue was 9.6 million Zimbabwe dollars (48 percent) higher than the same period in 2018, driven by price increases targeted at containing an increase in costs.

"This resulted in a gross profit increase of 8.9 million Zimbabwe dollars which is 61 percent up compared to the same period last year, driven by the positive impact from raw materials sources at lower prices," he said.

In the liquor sector, lager beer volume from Zimbabwe’s biggest beverage manufacturer Delta Corporation declined by 57 percent for the first quarter to June 2019, compared to the same period in 2018, because imbibers’ buying capacity has been impaired.

Delta said, however, that the traditional sorghum beer volume in the country grew by 2 percent versus the same quarter in 2018 and product supply had remained consistent despite difficulties in accessing imported packaging materials and services.

Some people who can no longer afford the higher beer prices are also resorting to cheaper spirits and illicit brews.

Zimbabwe government to feed urban poor as effects
of national drought and economic hardships take toll

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government is working on providing food aid in urban areas to ensure an estimated 2.2 million food insecure people living in towns do not go hungry, with a pilot project on identifying the vulnerable already taking place in the settlement of Epworth to the south of Harare in conjunction with the World Food Program.

Parameters will be set for identifying more beneficiaries, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza told the government controlled media.

She was speaking to The Herald after a workshop sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and attended by government officials and donors in Nyanga over the weekend which reviewed the social welfare strategy in a bid to maximize efficiency.

"We are going to be working more closely with the World Food Program.

"We will work in rural areas, but we also have the urban poor and already we know from the ZimVAC (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee) report that we have got about 2.2 million people in the urban areas in need of food.

"So, currently we are working with the World Food Program on a pilot project in Epworth on how we can identify the beneficiaries in an urban area to provide them with adequate food." she said.

Nzenza said the government wanted to ensure that there was an effective distribution system of food aid, from the state grain procurer the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to the district and ward levels.

"The challenge we are experiencing now is that the GMB vehicle can get to the GMB depot, they may get to the district, but from there to ward level that’s where transporters are charging something like 10 Zimbabwe dollars, 20 Zimbabwe dollars per bag," she said.

"Where do people get that money?

"Moreso, they want the money in cash.

"So, we are in conversation now, going forward with DDF (District Development Fund) and the army to see how we can speed up the processes of delivering food to the remotest village," she said.

Zimbabwe has revised upwards the budget for humanitarian support to 464 million U.S. dollars amid indications that about 5.5 million people are food insecure following a severe drought in the 2018/19 agriculture season and the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai which swept parts of the country in March.



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