Posts tagged as: zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Air Zimbabwe Banned From Europe… So Is It Safe for Mugabe to Use?

Photo: Flickr

Bad news for Zimbabwe’s national airline which is headed by President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law: it has just has been barred from flying to Europe over safety concerns.

News of the ban, contained in a press release from the European Commission, will deal a blow to the struggling carrier’s plans to resume once-popular direct flights to London.

The European Commission maintains an Air Safety List of airlines that they say don’t meet international safety standards and are barred from operating in the European Union.

One of four banned

Tuesday’s statement names Air Zimbabwe – regularly used by Mugabe on his overseas trips – as one of four airlines added to the list “due to unaddressed safety deficiencies that were detected by the European Safety Agency”. All five of Air Zimbabwe’s planes were grounded in April, the Zimbabwe Independent reported. It’s not clear whether all five are now back in the skies.

London flights stopped

Debt-riddled Air Zimbabwe doesn’t currently offer flights to Europe. Flights to London were discontinued in 2012 after one of the airline’s Boeings was seized at Gatwick over an unpaid debt. These days passengers occasionally post updates of problems with internal Air Zimbabwe flights or flights connecting Zimbabwe to neighbouring South Africa. SA-based journalist Audrey Chimwanda at the weekend posted a photo of herself on an Air Zim flight from Joburg to Harare which had just four passengers (though two days later she reported that the return flight was “almost full”). There have also been claims of handwritten boarding passes.

Nepotism charges

Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore was last October given the position of Chief Operations Officer at the airline, with the former pilot tasked with helping to turn around the company’s fortunes. While critics said the appointment was a clear case of nepotism, officials maintained Chikore excelled during the interviews and hadn’t been favoured because of his links to the First Family.

Ban could be lifted

The commission’s statement said: “The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for Europeans citizens.” It said a total of 181 banned airlines from 16 countries should take heart from the case of Benin and Mozambique, whose airlines had their bans lifted on Tuesday.

“I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. It shows that work and co-operation pays off,” commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc was quoted as saying.

Fit for the president?

The British government has advised its staff against using Air Zimbabwe, according to an update on the British embassy in Harare’s website.

There’s been no official reaction yet from the Zimbabwean authorities to the European ban on Air Zimbabwe, though as former Chronicle editor Mduduzi Mathuthu (@mathuthu) tweeted: “In wake of EU ban we should be asking if Air Zimbabwe aircraft fit to be carrying any passengers, including President.”

It’s understood that a plane was leased from Bahrain for Mugabe in March.

Source: News24

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe: Govt Approves Command Irrigation Project

By Elita Chikwati

Cabinet has approved a special irrigation rehabilitation and development programme, which will see an additional 300 000 hectares of land being put under maize production to ensure national food security. The programme, which is an extension of the hugely successful Command Agriculture, is expected to produce around 2,1 million tonnes of maize that will be set aside for national strategic grain reserve.

The programme will enable farmers to develop irrigation infrastructure at affordable costs.

Maize, wheat and livestock are now being produced under the special programme — Command Agriculture.

Institutions such as churches, prisons and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority with water bodies, and A1 and A2 farmers will also benefit from the irrigation development programme.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made confirmed the development last night.

He said instructions had been given for more dams to be constructed under the special programme.

He said the irrigation development programme targeted all water bodies across the country.

“For instance, all water bodies within the Manyame River system will be developed completely. This programme will further be elaborated under the Food and Nutrition Cabinet committee chaired by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” said Dr Made.

“Once fully irrigated, the farmers will be able to produce winter crops such as wheat and other crops,” he said.

Dr Made said there was need to strengthen the Department of Engineering as the country was currently faced with challenge of proper maintenance and operations of such systems.

“The Ministry will also work with other ministries such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade and the Industrial Development Corporation.

“These will play a major role in ensuring that we are self-sufficient,” said the Minister.

“This is where countries such as Algeria, Iran, Russia, Egypt come in.

“We also have a number of experienced engineers whom we are going to call for them to make meaningful contribution.

“The programme will also see the training of farmers and managers who will effectively run irrigation development,” he said.

Zimbabwe is expecting to receive 80 centre pivots worth over $6 million from Spain to aid irrigation under Command Agriculture as Government moves to adopt new technologies and to strengthen infrastructural development in support of the successful import-substitution programme.

Dr Made said the centre pivots from Spain signified a new thrust of embracing new technologies in agriculture to complement new programmes being implemented in the sector.

He said more companies manufacturing agricultural equipment from other European countries like Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Turkey had expressed interest in servicing with the local market.

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe: ‘Livestock Population Declines’

By Abigail Mawonde

The livestock population has fallen by nearly 40 000 beasts since last year, the Department of Livestock Production and Veterinary Services has said. Addressing delegates attending a workshop on livestock production organised by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, the department’s principal livestock officer Mr Passmore Nyamadzawo emphasised the need for restocking to ensure food security as spelt out in the Food Security and Nutrition Cluster of Zim-Asset.

The workshop brought together stakeholders in livestock production and was the first of its kind.

“The unpredictable weather patterns being experienced in the region leave livestock as the way to go due to its resilience and potential for growth,” he said. “However, there are numerous challenges and opportunities in the development of the livestock sector in Zimbabwe.”

Mr Nyamadzawo said there was need to take livestock farming as a business. “There is, therefore, a need to have a shift of mind in the way the livestock industry is operating,” he said. “The thrust of Food Security and Nutrition cluster is to create a self-sufficient and food surplus economy and see Zimbabwe re-emerge as the bread basket of Southern Africa.”

Added Mr Nyamadzawo: “Cattle population decreased marginally by 0.69 percent from 5 528 242 in 2016 to 5 489 720 in 2017.

“The national herd building exercise will enable families to increase household food, income and nutrition security through commercialisation of an integrated and sustainable smallholder livestock sector as enunciated by Zim-Asset.”

Mr Nyamadzawo said livestock, particularly cattle, were an integral part of the smallholder farming system in Zimbabwe and were important for provision of cash, draught power, meat, manure and milk. He said although livestock production was central to smallholder farmers’ activities, most of the communal herd was now comprised of small cattle breeds with low weights.

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe: Unsafe Air Zimbabwe Banned From Europe

Photo: Beda Msimbe/Daily News

Air Zimbabwe aircraft.

Air Zimbabwe has been placed on the European Union Air Safety List for failure to comply with safety standards expected from airlines flying into the Eurozone.

The list means the struggling Air Zimbabwe, now being managed by President Robert Mugabe’s son in law Simba Chikore, can no longer fly to Europe until it has improves safety standards.

The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted by the Commission in December 2015.

While all airlines certified in Benin and Mozambique were cleared from the list after improvements to the aviation safety situation, Air Zimbabwe was added together with Med-View (Nigeria), Mustique Airways (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Aviation Company Urga (Ukraine).

“They were added to the list due to unaddressed safety deficiencies that were detected by the European Aviation Safety Agency during the assessment for a third country operator authorization,” said the EU commission in a statement on Tuesday.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. Their reforms have paid off.

“This is also a signal to the 16 countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and cooperation pays off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist them and raise the safety standards worldwide.”

The embattled national airline is struggling to pay millions in air taxes and other obligations. At Independence in 1980 Air Zimbabwe boasted a fleet of 18 aircraft but is now nearly grounded with just three functional planes.

The blow comes as the flag carrier airline recently told parliament that it was on the verge of closing a deal with a foreign investor.

Media reports also indicated the airline was planning to lease two planes from Malaysia but the deal reportedly fell through.

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe: Telecoms Firms Warned to Improve Service

By Zvamaida Murwira

Gokwe — The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is set to be tough on telecommunication operators whose services fall short of statutory standards, an official has said.

Potraz executive officer responsible for economic and financial analysis Mr Talent Munyaradzi said they were winding up countrywide road shows in which they were receiving feedback from users of telecommunication services and would soon ensure that they enforced the law.

Mr Munyaradzi said this in an interview in Gokwe Nembudziya on Saturday where his organisation was conducting a road show aimed at raising awareness on consumer grievances.

He said there was a Statutory Instrument governing services, both postal and mobile service providers, and Potraz would impose varied penalties on service providers.

Mr Munyaradzi said they would be on high alert to ensure service providers complied with the law.

This comes against the background where the quality of service, including call set up time (ease of connectivity), duration of uninterrupted calls and internet speeds have at times been and continue to be an issue for users.

Prior to Government’s promulgation of a law that specifically outlines quality of service standards, Potraz had no benchmark against which to hold operators, neither did consumers have basis on which to hold services, particularly mobile network operators. “We have been moving around the country interacting with consumers,” said Mr Munyaradzi. “We heard about their complaints and we also told them that they ought to direct complaints to Potraz.

“We will be issuing out show cause orders to various service providers on why their services were failing to comply with the law on quality of services. We will impose fines of varied amounts for operators who fall short of the benchmark of services.”

Mr Munyaradzi said in their interaction with consumers, the major complaint was on the duration of data bundles by mobile network operators. “They are complaining that there is a mismatch between the window period of say one week and the time that it will actually take when one is credited with data bundles,” he said. “They said the data bundles were not lasting the given duration.”

Mr Munyaradzi said while Potraz would look into the issue, there seemed to be lack of information that the one week window period was mainly for ordinary use of data bundles. “You will notice that in most cases, these data bundles have window periods in terms of say 90 megabytes,” he said. “So, an ordinary use would last one week.”

Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena implored consumers to be responsible in the use of social media. “It is a crime, as what Potraz officials would confirm, to send offensive messages,” he said. “Let us be responsible when we use social media via our mobile phones.”

Cde Wadyajena said Potraz was there to protect consumers and should fully use them in directing complaints.

In terms of new regulations promulgated and adopted by Potraz last year, telecommunication service providers are compelled to observe minimum service quality and customer care standards in provision of services such as voice, internet and data connectivity, short message and multimedia message services.

Potraz has in the past said it was disturbed by the shoddy service quality from some of the operators.

According to regulations, call completion rate, calls successfully set-up, maintained and terminated normally by the calling or called party should be equal or exceed 80 percent, while the rate of voice calls and dropped calls should be restricted within the two percent band.

Zimbabwe: Agric, Mining to Drive Economic Growth – IMF

By Conrad Mwanawashe and Enacy Mapakame

The International Monetary Fund expects recovery in agriculture and mining to drive economic growth this year but warns that maintaining the growth momentum would require action to expedite plans to reduce Government deficit to a sustainable level.

But economists said growth will only come if Zimbabwe escalates value addition and beneficiation and development of the agro-based export sectors such as horticulture. “In agriculture, it is clear, whether it is Command Agriculture . . . we are likely to have more maize this year. But I do not see how this will invigorate growth, unless there is value addition and there is more manufacturing done,” University of Zimbabwe’s Professor Albert Makochekanwa said.

Although the IMF mission that was in the country early this month warned that excessive Government spending, if continued, could exacerbate the cash scarcity, further jeopardise the health of the external and financial sectors, and, ultimately, fuel inflation, it noted progress already achieved in other economic fronts through a number of initiatives such as support towards agriculture. The Bretton Woods Institution called for urgency in implementing reforms which include civil service and discretionary spending. “Building on the progress already achieved, the Government is encouraged to demonstrate that Zimbabwe is open for business.

“This will include enhancing efforts to tackle corruption, encouraging private sector investment, allowing the market to determine prices, promoting labour flexibility, and creating a stable legal and regulatory framework to reduce policy uncertainty. Moreover, there is room for enhancing domestic revenue mobilisation, boosting transparency in the mining sector, and improving governance in public enterprises to strengthen the country’s fiscal position,” IMF team leader Ana Lucía Coronel said in a statement.

“Spending pressures stem from high employment costs, government transfers to support specific economic sectors, and elevated discretionary expenditure. Action on these three fronts, while safeguarding social outlays, is therefore crucial. Reducing the wage bill could involve reviewing allowances and benefits and evaluating the size of the civil service with a view to eliminating non-essential posts. Reinforcing the Government’s efforts to curtail non-priority spending is also pressing,” she said.

Economists said while the issues that the IMF raised were pertinent, Government was already working on the issues and this showed that Government was in the right direction.

“The IMF report is reinforcing what Government is already doing but there is need for urgency in certain areas especially industry rejuvenation and rationalisation of staff costs. The gist of the report is that we are in the right direction but we need to do more and to make certain sacrifices as individuals and the country,” Africa University economist Thomas Masese said.

Commenting on calls by the IMF to stop excessive spending through staff rationalisation Mr Masese said it was understandable that Government was in a tough fiscal corner but still “unnecessary allowances such as annual bonus can be done away with”.

Furthermore, Mr Masese said restraint should be exercised on domestic borrowing as it is beginning to crowd out domestic investment and inflation is beginning to show its head. The IMF said the large fiscal imbalances are being financed by domestic borrowing since Zimbabwe is faced with a difficult external environment limiting access to foreign inflows.

The IMF team recommended taking action to unleash the potential of the private sector and ensure that growth benefits the most vulnerable segments of the population. “Restoration of confidence is essential for attracting the necessary dollar inflows to the economy. Refraining from central bank financing of the deficit and containing the issuance of debt and quasi-currency instruments is vital.

“Furthermore, the financial sector should restore its role of intermediating resources in the economy by channelling deposits to productive credit rather than financing fiscal operations,” the IMF said.

Zimbabwe

Work on Robert Mugabe University Begins

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Zimbabwe: Govt to Put ‘Brakes’ On Speeding Drivers

By Freeman Razemba

Government will soon come up with road traffic legislation that will make it compulsory for all public service vehicles to be fitted with speed limiting gadgets in a bid to reduce road fatalities caused by speeding drivers, a senior official has revealed.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Engineer Michael Madanha also invited the private sector to consider the feasibility of installing speed governors and other in-vehicle technologies. “I am sure we agreed on the fact that some drivers are not disciplined enough to manage speed on their own,” he said. “Intelligent speed assistance imposed on the vehicle will help the driver not to speed when the speed limit is reached.”

Eng Madanha was speaking at the launch of the fourth Global Road Safety Week 2017 in Harare last Friday. “After thorough consultations, there is nothing that would prevent my ministry from developing a road traffic law which will make it compulsory for all public service vehicles to be fitted with specified and appropriate in-vehicle speed governing technologies,” he said.

“Excessive speed is when a vehicle exceeds the posted speed limit for a particular road. This is illegal. On the other hand, inappropriate speed is when a vehicle travels at a speed that is unsuitable for that road, prevailing weather, and/or traffic conditions, but within the speed limit.”

Eng Madanha said Government was committed to road traffic safety, as witnessed by the commemoration and appreciation of the global response to road safety.

He said he was proud that the country was ranked number four in Africa in terms of the mid-term status of implementation of the African Road Safety Action Plan. “The country was named fourth after Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa,” said Eng Madanha. “This is not an easy achievement.”

Eng Madanha said global research had shown that a 5 percent cut in average speed could result in a 30 percent reduction in the number of fatal road crashes. “To help highlight the impact of speed, it has been proven that an adult pedestrian has less than 20 percent risk of dying if struck by a car travelling below 50km/hr,” said Eng Madanha. “However, if the speed of the car is 80km/hr, the same adult has almost 60 percent risk of dying if hit.”

Last week, Government challenged traffic police officers to enforce speed limits by bringing to book reckless drivers to reduce road carnage.

Eng Madanha said Government would establish features, including appropriate speed limits, for each road.

Zimbabwe

Work on Robert Mugabe University Begins

The government has begun the process of setting up the Robert Mugabe University with the University of Zimbabwe expected… Read more »

Zimbabwe: CBZ Targets U.S.$20 Million Growth in Loans

CBZ Holdings Limited is targeting to grow its loan book by $20 million this year, amid expectations that its huge stock of sovereign paper will give it access to more lines of credit.

Group chief executive Never Nyemudzo said this translated to over 5 percent jump in loans from just over $1 billion.

This comes as the bank said it will make use of its nearly $1 billion stock of Treasury Bills to attract on and offshore funding. Zimbabwe’s biggest banking group has stocked up nearly half of the $2,1 billion TBs in the market.

CBZ said amid an investor stampede for the sovereign paper, it has latitude to rack up more lines of credit. “Sovereign paper, fortunately, appeals to local and international investors. Interestingly, in some of the discussions we are having, those investors are accepting the Treasury Bills as security, which reinforces the point I made last year that with the size of TBs we have, we can borrow locally and offshore,” he said.

RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya said recently that the $2 billion Treasury Bills issued by Government, including for debt clearance, will help boost economic recovery and improve liquidity for holders of the securities. As a sovereign or State-issued security, TBs are considered one of the safest forms of investment across the globe.

Mr Nyemudzo said that CBZ remained attractive to foreign lines, which it has accessed and disbursed to productive sectors of the economy, of credit due to its reputation and extensive footprint within Zimbabwe.

Mr Nyemudzo also recently said that CBZ, Zimbabwe’s biggest financial services employer with 6 percent share of the employment figures, processes roughly 35 percent of the country’s transactions annually.

Total advances grew by 1,4 percent, year to date, to $1, 021 billion while deposits surged 1,8 percent to 1,8 billion. “Our loan book should be growing by 5 percent this year, but certainly this is net, we could disburse more,” Mr Nyemudzo said.

Zimbabwe

Work on Robert Mugabe University Begins

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Zimbabwe: GMB Must Protect Farmers

editorial

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has been the buyer of choice for Zimbabwean farmers for decades, but developments in recent years have seen growers shunning the parastatal, opting to deal with private buyers.

It is, however, debatable whether farmers are benefiting from these private deals or they are being short-changed. The truth is GMB has a huge task to restore confidence among farmers, some of whom had abandoned growing cereal crops such as maize in favour of cash crops that offer instant cash on delivery.

The ball is now in the court of the new GMB boss, Mr Rockie Mutenha, to transform the parastatal so that it rises again to the challenges of grain storage and prompt payment to the producers.

On Tuesday we reported Government urging farmers and institutions that grew maize under the special maize import substitution programme (Command Agriculture) to register for a stop order facility with GMB.

There is a strong emphasis that those caught side-marketing will be blocked from participating or benefiting from future similar programmes.

This stop order system seeks to facilitate deductions for inputs received during the 2015-16 cropping season. You receive a loan and you have to pay back. This is a business culture that should be promoted among Zimbabweans, not a culture of abusing revolving facilities meant to benefit all farmers. We implore the new GMB chief to be unpopular among workers, GMB clients, among them politicians, and ensure the company plays its strategic role of storing and value adding the cereals for the benefit of the country.

The figure of 2,7 million tonnes of grain expected to be delivered is just a projection, over three million tonnes may be produced and the country must not suffer avoidable post-harvest losses due to lack of proper storage facilities. We urge the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to ensure that all agro-related departments harness their efforts and ensure that not a single grain is lost.

Treasury should play ball by making sure that money to pay farmers is mobilised, even by floating bonds and Treasury bills so that growers who worked to produce bumper crops are adequately rewarded, and timely too.

In spite of threats by Government to deal with side-marketers, reports abound that dealers are already feasting on Command Agriculture produce, offering farmers as little as $180 cash per tonne compared to Government’s lucrative $390.

History has shown that no matter how eye catching the price may be, it rarely gets to the farmer on time, resulting in those cash squeezed letting go of their crop for a song.

Poor payment plans have a negative effect of dampening farmers’ spirits, resulting in some of them turning to cash crops. This must stop forthwith. Good pay schemes will naturally deal with the side-marketers. We challenge the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to tighten cash management so that unscrupulous businesspeople do not withdraw huge amounts of money they later use to buy maize from farmers.

They later deliver the maize to GMB and manipulate the systems and become the first to be paid at Government prices, thereby disadvantaging genuine producers.

The bumper harvest as a result of Command Agriculture is a litmus test that the GMB must pass because indications are that the country is likely to continue posting higher yields.

Zimbabwe is expecting a bumper harvest of 2,7 million tonnes of cereals, with 2,1 million tonnes expected to come from maize, while the remaining 600 000 tonnes will come from small grains such as pearl millet, finger millet, rapoko and sorghum.

GMB has 85 depots across the country and has established 1 882 collection points countrywide to enable farmers to reduce transport costs when delivering grain.

Farmers must make maximum use of these and shame detractors of the programme.

Zimbabwe: Caledonia Confirms Fatality At Zimbabwe Operation

Canada-based Caledonia Mining has confirmed the death of a miner at its Zimbabwe operation, saying the fatality occurred Monday in a mining-related accident on 12 May.

The AIM-traded junior resources group runs Blanket Gold Mine which located near the town of Gwanda.

“This is a serious setback in our efforts to continuously improve safety at Blanket Mine,” said group CEO Steve Curtis.

“The previous fatality was in April 2015. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased.”

Management said it had suspended mining activities in the specific mining area, being the pending a full risk assessment and in-loco investigation.

The affected area contributed 10% of production in the first quarter of 2017.

The company said it had notified the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, as well as the Inspector of Mines, and said it would provide “all the necessary assistance” to the Inspectorate Department in its inquiry.

In its statement, the board said the directors and management of Caledonia and Blanket were expressing their “sincere condolences” to the family and colleagues of the deceased.

The Canadian company now holds a 49 percent interest in the mine after complying with the country’s indigenisation requirements.

Zimbabwe

Work on Robert Mugabe University Begins

The government has begun the process of setting up the Robert Mugabe University with the University of Zimbabwe expected… Read more »

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