Week 52

A weekly selection from Zimbabwean newspapers

2023 — Another cholera year

The year 2023 is coming to a close with Zimbabwe grabbing international headlines over the cholera outbreak, a long forgotten medieval disease. 

Cholera is both a food and water-borne bacterial disease that is caused by vibrio cholerae, a toxin-producing bacterium and there are several factors that lead to the spread of the virus.  

The outbreak is not new to the country as Zimbabwe first experienced the traumatic effects of this medieval virus in 1972, though not much damage was experienced. 

Since then, cholera is now endemic, especially in the capital, Harare. 

The worst outbreak was between 2008 and 2009, where 98 585 cases and 4 287 deaths were recorded within a space of nine months.


Zim economic data questionable: IMF

A team of technical experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week called into question the authenticity of economic data compiled by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), raising questions about the accuracy of official information on key fundamentals. 

Inflation data released by ZimStat is already contentious after the statistical agency changed its methodology of calculating the Consumer Price Index twice this year in what critics say was an attempt to hide the ravages of price increases. 

The IMF technical assistance mission was in the country in October to help Zimstat produce reliable data. 

In a report produced after the mission, the IMF said there were serious shortcomings in the computation of data by the Zimbabwean agency, which appeared to distort the real situation of the ground.


ED’s boreholes fail to quench Binga’s thirst

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s boreholes for villagers in Binga, Matabeleland North province, have not quenched their thirst as water shortages persist. 

Southern Eye Weekender gathered that boreholes were left without pumping systems, making it difficult for the villagers to use them. 

Government supplied rigs for the drilling of the boreholes ahead of the elections to alleviate water woes in Binga. 

The drilling of boreholes was abandoned after the elections. 

Former Binga councillor Themba Munkombwe said the government has not fulfilled its promise to equip the boreholes with solar systems.


Facts and Fiction: Does an accident occur every 15 minutes on Zimbabwe’s roads?

Claim: Media reports claim one road accident occurs every 15 minutes in Zimbabwe, with most accidents being attributed to reckless driving and use of substandard vehicles. 

Verdict: In 2023, this is a slight understatement 

What is the extent of vehicle accident incidents in Zimbabwe? 

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) recorded 38 482 road accidents countrywide between January and September 2023. This translates to 141 road accidents per day and 5.89 per hour or one accident every ten minutes. 

TSCZ’s annual reports show that Zimbabwe had the highest road accident peak in 2018, when 58,738 incidents were recorded followed by, 51 107 in 2022 and 45 791 in 2021.   


Mpilo plunged into darkness

Mpilo Central Hospital has gone for nearly a week without electricity owing to a fault at a substation that feeds the referral facility and surrounding suburbs. 

The public hospital has been relying on generators for the past five days, but at a huge cost because of the need to purchase fuel to power them. 

Mpilo Central Hospital chief medical director, Narcisius Dzvanga, confirmed the development saying the health facility needed an independent power line to ensure constant supplies. 

“We do not have an independent power line,” Dzvanga told Southern Eye in an interview. 

“As long as there is no Zesa in Barbourfields suburb, we will be affected. We have our standby generators to push us for our operations but this comes at a huge cost.


Zim dollar decline fuelled by surge in money supply

According to a survey, the local currency has depreciated by 50% on the much-used parallel market since the unveiling of the 2024 national budget by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube on November 30. 

A day before the budget announcement where Ncube outlined bonuses for civil servants, the parallel forex rate stood at US$1:$8 000. 

Since November 30, the local currency has depreciated by 50% to US$1:$11 500 to $12 000  on the commonly used parallel market. 

However, when consumers sell the greenback to parallel forex dealers, the depreciation is lower at 33,33% to US$1:$7 700 or $8 000. 

The depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar has widened the premium between the official and unofficial forex rate by over 100%. 

Officially, the forex rate on Friday stood at US$1:$5 935, 4572, a 2, 51% depreciation since the day before the budget announcement.


Govt fails to deliver on Gwayi-Shangani Dam

Govt fails to deliver on Gwayi-Shangani Dam, again

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is being constructed by Zinwa in partnership with a Chinese contractor.  

The government has yet again missed its December deadline to complete the Gwayi-Shangani dam project, which is expected to bring a long lasting solution to Bulawayo’s water woes. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had initially said the dam, which is expected to be the third-largest inland water body in Zimbabwe, would have been completed in December last year. 

Ahead of the disputed August elections, construction workers were working round the clock as the government sought to present the project as a sign of its capacity to deliver on major projects. 

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary for administration Thembelani Dube said they were worried that the project would never come to fruition. 


Massive traffic jam at Beitbridge border

Incoming traffic has increased at Beitbridge border post where the Customs and Excise department currently appears overwhelmed by applications for Temporary Import Permits (TIP) of foreign registered cars used by the bulk of arrivals from South Africa. 

Although other departments appeared on top of the situation and were comfortable with the increased pressure, a long queue of motorists meandered from the Customs and Excise desk handling TIP processing.  

“It’s taking too long, our children are getting restless. In this computer age some things should just be by the click of a button,” said a motorist driving from Johannesburg to Harare. 

He, just like dozens of other motorists in the queue, had not made the recommended online application for the facility.


PSC to recruit 5 000 teachers The Herald (state owned)

At least 5 000 teachers will be recruited next year, with Government expanding its teaching force as it seeks to continue reducing teacher to pupil ratio from 1:45 towards the target of 1:35. 

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Torerayi Moyo said in an interview with The Herald that although the Government had a job freeze on recruitment, teachers were an exception and recruitment would continue, resources permitting. 

From next year, we are going to recruit 5 000, but we can’t absorb all of them who are at home,” said Minister Moyo. 

“Let’s do domestic mobilisation. Then the national cake when it expands more people will be recruited, but now we are limited by resources, that’s the limiting factor.”


Four issues that bothered Bulawayo residents in 2023

Today in the year 2023, Bulawayo residents continue to face the same problems that have confronted the city over decades. 

The City of Kings and Queens is today grappling with a plethora of unfinished projects, notably the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project which was officially commissioned by former president Robert Mugabe after a lot of background work by the late vice president Joshua Nkomo. 

The city is still in the throes of fleeing or collapsing industries, decaying infrastructure that has outlived its lifespan, general urban decay and debilitating water challenges that are clearly rolling over into 2024 as the city’s rotten identity.


Economic instability to continue in 2024-ZIMCODD

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) anticipates the economic instability experienced in 2023 to continue next year because of a weak macroeconomic framework. 

This year saw economic challenges that include the rapid depreciation of the Zimdollar by over 700%, since last year to date, rampant power outages, water shortages, depressed local and external lending, and forex shortages. 

Further, the onset of El Nino drought in the current quarter, political instability emanating from the disputed elections, high public debt, policy flip-flopping and the authorities failure to capture economic data weighed down the economy.


ZESN Calls For Constitutional Amendment To Scrap Recalls Clause

The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) has called for the revision of a Constitutional clause that provides for the recall of elected representatives, saying the power to recall a legislator should reside with the people. 

In a statement, ZESN said that by-elections are costly, and also the recall of elected public office holders results in voter apathy and is a potential subversion of democratic principles. It said: 

Parliament should amend Section 129 (k) of the Constitution as recalls place a heavy burden on the fiscus, contribute to voter apathy and affect the essence of democracy. 

The power to recall, if any, must reside in the people and not the political parties as is the trend in the majority of democracies.


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