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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.

ZANU PF minister warns land beneficiaries

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ZANU PF legislator for Masvingo, Davies Marapira, has declared that beneficiaries of the land reform programme should not support opposition parties and those who do will be evicted from resettlement areas. His sentiments came as the country draws closer to the 2023 general elections, with several analysts and leaders of opposition parties predicting a violent campaign as ZANU PF hardliners indicate they will pull out all the stops to retain power. Masvingo province witnessed terrible political violence in the 2002 and 2008 elections which saw many people losing their lives while others were permanently maimed.

Address Gukurahundi before 2023 elections: Speaker

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Parliament Speaker, Jacob Mudenda, has urged the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to address Gukurahundi and bring closure before the 2023 elections. Little action has been taken, despite a 2021 announcement by President Mnangagwa. More than 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces were massacred in the 1980s as former president, Robert Mugabe unleashed violence on opposition ZAPU supporters. At the time, President Mnangagwa was Minister of State for National Security. Four decades later, victims – many in dire straits - have not been compensated and perpetrators walk free.

Zim still not open for business 5 years on

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President Mnangagwa has stymied the economy, five years after he declared the country “open for business”. He announced on 7 May that banks had been banned from lending in a bid to stem the precipitous decline of the Zim dollar. The order threatens to dissipate what little confidence there is in an economy that has been in turmoil for more than two decades. It’s the latest in a series of economic missteps that has seen Zimbabwe ride a roller coaster of hyperinflation and periodic shortages of food and fuel. “It’s an act of desperation. It makes legitimate business almost impossible,” said UK-based Professor Stephen Chan.

Zim debt under spotlight at crucial AfDB Indaba

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Zimbabwe’s options to settle nearly US$1 billion arrears owed to the African Development Bank (AfDB) will be discussed later this month. Zimbabwe has had arrears with the AfDB and the World Bank since the turn of the millennium and this has disqualified the country from accessing long-term cheap capital from multilateral lenders. A few years back, the country cleared its arrears with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) using its Special Drawing Rights holdings, but Harare remains ineligible to access capital until it clears arrears with the three multilateral lenders. External debt currently stands at US$10.7 billion.

43% decline in maize harvest predicted

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Zimbabwe expects its harvest of staple white maize grain to fall by almost half this year due to poor rainfall in the 2021/22 growing season, but the government claims it still has enough buffer stocks following a successful harvest the previous year, according to a cabinet statement seen by Reuters on Thursday 5 May 2020. The country of around 16 million people has struggled to feed itself since former President Robert Mugabe led the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000. Zimbabwe has also endured frequent droughts over the years, with conditions expected to worsen as temperatures rise due to climate change.

No free primary education yet

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Public Service minister Paul Mavima has admitted that the government still does not have a budget for free primary school education, despite previous promises. However, he said the President was committed to starting free primary education in 2023. Government has also failed to honour its pledge to pay tuition fees for children of teachers and is owing huge amounts of money for students under the Basic Education Assistance Module. Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said government was failing to offer free education due to corruption which has made education inaccessible. 

Zero percent pass rate to be eliminated

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Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education says it is going to eradicate the zero per cent pass rate in school through the provision of quality, relevant and wholesome education to learners. In the 2021 Grade Seven public examinations, a total of 51 primary schools in Matabeleland North recorded a zero per cent pass rate. The number was a slight improvement from 2020 when a total of 85 schools in the province recorded a zero per cent pass rate. Primary and Secondary Education Ministry director of communication and advocacy Taungana Ndoro said ending the zero pass rate will be achieved gradually.

Zim plans to copy Russia’s currency strategy

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Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa is trying to emulate Russian President Vladimir Putin in his attempt to revive Africa’s worst performing currency. Mnangagwa’s administration may announce plans for government departments in Zimbabwe -- under US sanctions for economic mismanagement and human rights violations for the past two decades -- to show “high preference” for the Zim dollar in the payment of services. Russia’s attempts to bolster the rouble in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine by demanding payment for gas and oil in its own currency along with strict capital controls have sheltered the rouble.

Churches allow wifi “poaching” by the poor

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In Zimbabwe, church environments are among the few places where the poor can access Wi-Fi and this facility is widely tapped into by desperate residents. Zimbabwe is home to one of Africa’s most expensive broadband internet access, so few people in this deeply Christian but impoverished country, where unemployment exceeds 90%, can afford to buy 1.4GB of data, which costs a whopping $15. This figure is double the global benchmark of 2% of average monthly income. Here millions are so poor that their experience of the internet is simply cheap WhatsApp messaging and nothing more,” said economist Carter Mavhiza.

: Zim dollar facing collapse again

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Zimbabwe’s largest business group, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), has warned that the economy faces collapse if the government insists on foisting the rapidly weakening local currency on the market when it is obvious that it is no longer viable. The CZI says that the Zimdollar is on the brink of rejection in the face of exchange instability and increasing inflation. The Zimdollar has fallen to Z$350 against the US dollar, against the official rate of Z$155. Renowned American inflation expert, Prof Steve Hanke, has given the country the highest inflation rate in the world. He wrote that annual inflation is now 207%.

Senator David Coltart Zoom interview

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Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, politician and author, Senator David Coltart, will be interviewed during a free Zoom session by the Kirby Laing Centre and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, after which there will be an hour of Q&A. Date: Thursday 19 May from 5:30-7:30pm UK time (6:30-8:30pm Zimbabwean/South African time). Senator Coltart set up one of the two organisations that documented the genocide in Matabeleland in the early 1980s and later served as Minister of Education in the unity government under Mugabe. His book, The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe, is compelling reading. 

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