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LATEST NEWS FROM ZIMBABWE

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Watch award-winning film President

The excellent award-winning documentary film President, which details the rigged 2018 Zimbabwean elections from within the campaign of the charismatic Nelson Chamisa, President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance opposition party, was screened on BBC Channel 4 on 9 February 2022 and can be watched on the BBC website by UK residents. Alternatively, the link to a You-tube trailer is included. This is the second film on Zimbabwe by acclaimed Copenhagen-based filmmaker, Camilla Nielsson. Her first feature documentary, Democrats (2014), achieved more than 25 international awards and nominations.

Dr Alex Magaisa: an irreplaceable loss

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The passing of Dr Alex Magaisa has been a huge blow to Zimbabwe where he was revered as an outstanding academic, commentator and hero. Born in 1975, Alex Tawanda Magaisa read law at the University of Zimbabwe and at the University of Warwick and joined Kent Law School in 2007. In Zimbabwe, he was instrumental in the crafting of the country’s 2013 constitution. He also served as an adviser to Dr Morgan Tsvangirai, the former prime minister of Zimbabwe, in 2012 and 2013. He was an authoritative voice on Zimbabwean legal and political matters and was well known for his incisive Big Saturday Read blog.

Successful agriculture is built on title deeds

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Land rights activist Ben Freeth says the country’s agriculture sector will remain in the doldrums until authorities give title deeds to farmers who benefited from controversial land seizures at the turn of the century. Freeth, who represents several white former commercial farmers whose land was forcibly taken from them and parcelled out during the contentious programme, told the Zimbabwe Independent last week that by depriving citizens of title deeds for land, Zimbabwe was shutting doors to any hope of accessing bank loans by local farmers. “In successful agricultural countries, all are built on title deeds,” he said.

Inflation soars, economy and schools in crisis

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Since Cathy Buckle’s last letter two weeks ago, she writes that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has escalated at a frightening pace. She notes that in a fortnight, “the street rate for one US dollar has gone from Z$460 to Z$600 plus while the bank rate continues to trail far behind at Z$338. Two weeks ago a loaf of bread was Z$469, last week it went up to Z$640 and yesterday it was Z$825 in my home town. Schools have also reached a new crisis point this week and sent out an SOS to parents for a ‘top up’ of fees saying they had been eroded by inflation.” She says that some have run out of food and have been forced to close early.

Ukraine war fuels food crisis in Zim

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Joseph, Tinashe, Marlvin and Pardon are part of a wave of Zimbabwean refugees who left their economically-hit homeland for a better life elsewhere. After their perilous individual journeys they arrived in South Africa, eventually get jobs in restaurants, gained interest in wine, became sommeliers (wine stewards), meet and bonded with one another, and were encouraged to form the first-ever Zimbabwe team to compete in The World Wine Blind Tasting Championships—the Olympics of the wine world. The documentary Blind Ambition follows their ambitious path to their unlikely spot in this annual competition held in France.

Documentary: Blind Ambition

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Joseph, Tinashe, Marlvin and Pardon are part of a wave of Zimbabwean refugees who left their economically-hit homeland for a better life elsewhere. After their perilous individual journeys they arrived in South Africa, eventually get jobs in restaurants, gained interest in wine, became sommeliers (wine stewards), meet and bonded with one another, and were encouraged to form the first-ever Zimbabwe team to compete in The World Wine Blind Tasting Championships—the Olympics of the wine world. The documentary Blind Ambition follows their ambitious path to their unlikely spot in this annual competition held in France.

Pressure piles over diaspora vote

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Exiled Ntabazinduna Chief Felix Ndiweni, who is chairperson of MyRight2Vote pressure group, based in the United Kingdom, said that the 2023 elections outcome would be ruled illegitimate by the international community if the more than five million Zimbabweans in the diaspora are not allowed to vote. Ndiweni’s remarks came weeks after underfire Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda called for the amendment to the electoral laws to allow for the diaspora to vote, prompting harassment from ZANU PF. This human right was promised during the war of liberation by ZANU PF and ZAPU,” Ndiweni said.

Reliving Zimbabwe’s land invasion horrors

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Ben Freeth, spokesperson for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch, tells Sydney Kawadza, chief reporter at the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, what his family and fellow commercial farmers went through at the hands of “war veterans” as victims of the fast track land reform programme from 2000. This comes after a South African Supreme Court of Appeal overturned an earlier High Court ruling that could see Zimbabwe forced to compensate dispossessed former commercial farmers. Freeth says restoration of property rights is essential as every successful country has been built on the back of security of tenure for all.

Cathy Buckle: Seizing maize and déjà vu

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“The shocks await us every time we go in the supermarkets,” writes author Cathy Buckle in her latest newsletter from Zimbabwe.  The official inflation statistic is 131% “but realistically it’s 256% according to John Hopkins University economist Steve Hanke who’s been watching Zimbabwe’s economy for a very long time. Zimbabwe’s own respected economist, Tony Hawkins, said this week he agreed with Steve Hanke and that ‘Zimbabwe now has the highest inflation rate in the world.’ The deeper we go into the mire however the more the figures become almost irrelevant… even a loaf of bread is just under Z$500,” Cathy says.

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