Week 12

A weekly selection from Zimbabwean newspapers

Hungers stalks Lupane villagers

Hungry villagers in Matabeleland North’s Lupane district are resorting to exchanging livestock for maize amid warnings that over two million people, including urbanites across Zimbabwe will need food aid this year. 

Barter trade is rife in other food-deficit districts where desperate villagers are said to be trading any commodities and household effects just to have a meal. 

According to the US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet), the El-Nino induced drought has left many Zimbabweans starving. 

The situation has been exacerbated by the harsh economic climate as seen in the high cost of living. 

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One Farm In Zimbabwe, 24 Years Later – Cathy Buckle

Twenty four years ago this month Zimbabwe was turned upside down when Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government sanctioned the widespread seizure of privately owned farms. Government supporters swarmed over the land evicting everyone in their wake. It was a program which saw around 6,000 commercial farmers evicted and an estimated 600,000 farm workers and their families directly and indirectly affected.

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Zimbo mercenaries fighting in Ukraine

In a statement, the ministry said since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the total number of foreign mercenaries who have arrived in Ukraine has reached 13 387. 

The Russian army claims it has eliminated 5 962 of them. 

“The Russian Ministry of Defence continues to track and personally record all foreign mercenaries who have arrived in Ukraine to participate in combat action,” the statement said. 

The ministry noted that 2 960 mercenaries arrived in Ukraine from Poland. 

The US was second with 1 113 “soldiers of fortune” and Georgia third with 1 042. 

Many other mercenaries also come from Canada, the United Kingdom, Romania, France and Germany, the ministry said. 

A total of 249 mercenaries from 14 countries in Africa arrived in Ukraine since the war began two years ago, with 103 having been killed. 

Nigeria tops the list with 97, followed by Algeria with 60 and South Africa with 35. 

Zimbabwe and South Africa are the only countries in southern Africa with mercenaries operating in Ukraine. 

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Government, BCC to ensure water availability | The Sunday News (state owned)

 THE Government and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) officials are working together to ensure the current water challenges bedevilling the city do not affect schools and have allayed fears that some schools could be forced to close early. 

With the worsening water shortages, schools in the city have come under the spotlight as the unavailability of water could have serious health effects on learners at a time when the country is grappling with a cholera outbreak. 

BCC corporate communications manager, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said council and other stakeholders were doing their best to come up with short and medium term solutions to address the water challenges faced by the city and schools in particular. 

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Declare 2023/24 farming season a disaster: Opposition

OPPOSITION Nkayi South legislator Jabulani Hadebe has called on the government to declare the 2023/24 farming season a national disaster because of the devastating effects of the El Niño phenomenon. 

In his letter addressed to Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuku last week, Hadebe said this was the time to mobilise humanitarian aid to feed hungry masses for months to come. 

In response to his submission, the National Assembly Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi advised Hadebe to submit his question in writing to allow the responsible ministers to conduct independent investigations. 

A day later, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told Parliament that the country was food self-sufficient. 

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Victoria Falls to get modern hospital The Herald (state owned)

Plans are underway to upgrade the Victoria Falls Hospital in Matabeleland North from a 40-bed hospital to a modern health facility that matches the city’s status as an international tourism destination, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Sleiman Timios Kwidini, has said. 

He was speaking last week after touring the hospital and promised that this week, the hospital will receive a fully equipped ambulance from the Government. 

Victoria Falls, the country’s tourism capital, was conferred with city status in 2019, hence the Government’s decision to upgrade its hospital to meet international standards. 

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Liberation movements plot against opposition parties

Zanu PF, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and other regional liberation movements are meeting in Victoria Falls beginning today to craft strategies to push back the opposition parties onslaught to remain in power, NewsDay has learnt. 

Zimbabwe, as the chairperson of Southern African Development Community (Sadc) liberation movements, is hosting the summit. 

The summit is being attended by secretary-generals of Zanu PF, ANC, People’s Movement of Angola, SouthWest Africa’s People’s Organisation of Namibia, Botswana Democratic Party and Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania and Mozambique’s Frelimo. 

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Expulsions spark explosive Zim, US diplomatic spat

In crucial back-to-back meetings between Harare and American embassy officials in the past few weeks, the world’s superpower at some point described as “egregious” Harare’s move to expel its nationals last month, as relations plunged to new depths, according to diplomatic sources. 

The meetings were convened after Zimbabwe expelled scores of officials, who the United States said were assessing development and governance dynamics in the country. 

It said the assessments were meant to “help inform the United States Agency for International Development (USAid)’s work supporting civic participation, democratic institutions, and human rights”.

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Zim crime rate surges

ZimStat (Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency) publishes statistics on crime levels and trends in Zimbabwe based on police-recorded crime data, collected on a monthly basis. Recorded crime figures exclude crimes that have not been reported to the police. 

Presenting the 2023 fourth quarter crime statistics report, ZimStat manager-social statistics Tinashe Mwadiwa said there were 326 cases of intentional homicide recorded in the fourth quarter. 

“The police recorded 221 596 offences over the period October to December 2023. This represents a 21,5% increase from 182 427 offences recorded in the third quarter,” Mwadiwa said. 

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Rural clinic offers respite for priced out Zimbabwean patients

Outside a hospital in rural Zimbabwe, scores of people wait patiently under trees or inside small tents for news of their loved ones. 

Vendors sell snacks, fruits and drinks to drivers queuing at the gates of what has become an unlikely sought-after healthcare destination in the impoverished southern African country. 

Zimbabwe’s public health system has all but collapsed under years of mismanagement, amid shortages of funds, staff, medicine and equipment. 

When in need, those who can afford it, including government ministers, fly overseas to seek treatment. 

Some check into private, but relatively expensive clinics in Harare. 

Many others make the trip to Mount Darwin, a small village in the parched countryside about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital and home to the Karanda Mission Hospital. 

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Zimbabwe’s tourism revenue rises to US$1 billion in 2023 | The Sunday Mail (state owned)

Zimbabwe’s tourism receipts increased by a remarkable 22 percent last year to reach US$1,1 billion, while international tourist arrivals stood at 1,6 million, up from one million in 2022, signalling a strong recovery of the sector following a devastating Covid-19 pandemic. 

The tourism industry, which is one of the country’s major economic sectors contributing at least 5 percent to the gross domestic product, was hardest hit as the world imposed travel restrictions and national lockdowns to combat Covid-19

In 2022, the sector recorded US$911 million in revenues. 

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Teachers reject meagre salary adjustment

Teachers have rejected the meagre 6,66% cost of living adjustment which was proposed by the government, saying they want a meaningful salary increment. 

Government increased the current US$300 cost of living adjustment by US$20 to US$320, a figure which was deemed insufficient and out of touch with the economic realities facing educators. 

Progressive Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe accused the government of disregarding the harsh realities faced by teachers. 

“We want to make it clear that the above figures are meaningless and far from our expectations. Government had turned a blind eye to the realities on the ground. Teachers are suffering because of poor salaries.  As if that is enough, the government introduced and continues to put punitive taxes which further erode the meagre salaries of teachers, yet the government is offering pathetic salary adjustments,” Majongwe said. 

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