Week 1

Een wekelijkse selectie artikelen uit Zimbabwaanse kranten

China develops strong appetite for Zim goods

Zimbabwean products are set to enjoy increased demand in China, a new report from the country’s export promotion agency, ZimTrade has said. 

Trade between China and Zimbabwe increased by 39,4% to US$2,43 billion in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period of 2022, surpassing the total trade volume for 2022, data from the Chinese embassy show. 

Zimbabwe’s exports to China during this period totalled US$1,36 billion, while imports amounted to US$1,07 billion. 

In August last year,  China was Zimbabwe’s third-largest export destination, with neighbouring South Africa being the largest and the United Arab Emirates in second position, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. 

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$10 trillion kitty to complete high-impact projects in 2024 | The Sunday News (state owned)

About seven high-impact projects — spanning energy, information and communication technology, transport, water and sanitation, agriculture, health, education and housing, among other sectors — are expected to be completed in 2024, as Government seeks to speedily come up with infrastructure meant to make Zimbabwe a modern, industrialised and highly prosperous country within the next seven years. 

Treasury has since set aside $10 trillion — about US$1,6 billion, at the official exchange rate — to complete the projects, as well as begin new ones across the country. 

Some of the projects set to be completed next year are Lake Gwayi-Shangani; the Harare-Beitbridge highway; the Hwange Thermal Power Station upgrade; and the Presidential Borehole Drilling Programme.

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Poor road infrastructure blamed for traffic accidents

One of the primary causes of accidents in Zimbabwe is attributed to the poor condition of the country’s roads, making safe driving challenging and contributing to an increased accident rate. 

Recent police statistics revealed that between December 15 and December 27, 2023, 92 people lost their lives in 1 195 traffic incidents, with 464 individuals sustaining injuries nationwide. 

Although police primarily attribute accidents to human error, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) contends that the poor state of roads also plays a significant role, and they urge law enforcement to anticipate further incidents.

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In Zimbabwe, a small publisher that helped launch big voices shuts down

Weaver Press is based in Emerald Hill in northern Harare, a previously whites-only suburb in the colonial era, hardly an obvious setting for the country’s most vibrant and diverse publishing house. 

But since 1998 when it was co-founded by Staunton and her husband Murray McCartney who has served as its director, it has hoisted the voices of up to 80 fiction and over 100 nonfiction writers from Zimbabwe. The house has had interns over the years and, for a short while, a fully-fledged employee, but has been mostly run by the duo.   

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Poverty-stricken citizens resort to second-hand Xmas clothes

Second-hand clothes have been attracting several people, including those from well-to-do suburbs, who have been plodding the sticky red mud, to get their chance to shuffle through new stock, carefully sifting the bales which come in after every few days. 

Here clothes sell for as little as a dollar, contrary to the inhibitive prices in established clothing outlets. Clothes are dirt-cheap. 

For instance, in major shops, denims and shirts costing US$30 and US$15 can sell for as little as US$5 and US$3 at the makeshift shops run by street vendors. Sneakers that cost between US$25 and US$50 in clothing shops sell for US$10 and US$25, depending on quality and brand.

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Tough moments of hunger loom

Zimbabwe is bracing for a year of hunger, following disclosures by the government that the Grain Marketing Board, as of 10 December 2023, was left with maize stocks lasting just 10 months at a time when an El Niño-induced drought is threatening mayhem. 

On the other hand, Zimbabweans will bear the brunt of biting taxes that come into effect in January as announced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in his 2024 National Budget statement. 

 The new taxes will add to the hardships already being experienced by the general population due to the worsening economic situation prevailing in the country. 

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Coltart sees better days in 2024

Bulawayo mayor David Coltart says finding solutions to the city’s multifaceted problems will not happen overnight as he laid out his council’s priorities for 2024. 

Coltart, a former Education minister during the inclusive government under the later Robert Mugabe, was elected mayor of the country’s second largest city after the August harmonised elections. 

His first few months in office have raised hopes that he has the capacity to turn around Bulawayo’s fortunes due to years of decay that have been blamed on central government’s interference in the affairs of the local authority and poor leadership by successive mayors.

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Lobola still required for customary union

Claim: Lobola is no longer a requirement under the New Marriage Act. 

Verdict: Incorrect  

There have been several reports from various media platforms claiming that Lobola is no longer a requirement under the new Marriage Act, which came into effect on September 16, 2022. 

Legal practitioner, Prisca Dube of the Zimbabwe Lawyers Human Rights, explained that the payment of Lobola depends on the type of marriage that one enters.  

She clarified that the Civil Marriage, which was predominantly used by the white people, does not require payment of Lobola because the culture of the white people does not recognise such. But the Official Registered Customary Marriage does require the payment of Lobola as per the African tradition. 

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Headmasters confront govt over Zimdollar salaries

Headmasters from government schools across Zimbabwe have put their employer on notice to press for United States dollar salaries starting from the forthcoming term. 

School heads and teachers are currently earning at least US$300 and about ZWL$600 000. 

Zimbabwe schools are preparing to open for the first term next week. 

However, in a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads (Zinush) secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said the local currency component was eroding their benefits because it was being affected by inflation. 

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Govt fails to pay road contractors

The country’s roads have remained in a bad state despite the government launching the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Project (ERRP) in 2021.  

Some construction companies have been forced to abandon road rehabilitation works along the Beitbridge to Harare and Beitbridge to Bulawayo roads over outstanding payments owed by the government. 

Southern Eye heard that some of the contractors are owed several billions of dollars in local currency. 

Government turned to domestic contractors to carry out infrastructural projects after encountering problems internationally due to a high country risk and bad payment record.

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Zim requires US$4.4bn for power upgrade: World Bank

A new World Bank report shows that Zimbabwe’s energy sector has begun lagging behind other lower middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa as the nation requires US$4.4 billon to upgrade its power infrastructure. 

Experts say despite some recent developments, Zimbabwe’s electricity sector still faces power supply deficits and the slowing of progress toward universal electricity access. The country still suffers from significant power deficits. 

Medium-term World Bank projections suggest that electricity demand will grow from 1 950MW in 2022 up to 5 177MW by 2030. 

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ZRA delivers more sad news on power generation

Zimbabwe faces crippling power cuts going into 2024 after the Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) reduced water allocation for power generation at Kariba Dam due to poor rainfalls. 

Early this year, the country was plunged into darkness after ZRA slashed water allocation for power generation at Kariba hydropower station from 40 to 30 BCM due to reduced water inflows in Kariba Dam. 

In a statement, ZRA chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the reduced water allocation was informed by projections of normal to below 2023/24 rainfall. 

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