11 Jun

‘Stay out of politics,’ Zimbabwe army told ahead of crucial elections

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has questioned the Zimbabwe National Army’s ability to explicitly stay clear of the southern African country’s forthcoming election –  regardless of its outcome.

In an interview with News24, Senior researcher at ISS, Derek Matyszak said that there was need for the Zimbabwean military to stay clear of politics if the country was to hold a credible election.

“It is important that the military publicly announces its pledge to stay clear of politics regardless of the election results. They have often been meddling in politics in the past and have just recently done that when they stepped in last year,” said Matyszak.

The Zimbabwean army played an important role in getting President Emmerson Mnangagwa into power last year, as they launched a brief take over from then president Robert Mugabe.

The military temporarily took control of the country on November 15 when internal feuding escalated in the ruling Zanu-PF party over then president Mugabe’s succession.

The takeover, which the army said was targeting Mugabe’s corrupt allies came days after the 94-year-old leader had fired then deputy Mnangagwa who had strong military ties and was widely tipped as the likely successor.

Mugabe’s wife Grace had indicated interest in succeeding her husband. The army’s intervention was followed by mass street protests against Mugabe and a motion to impeach the veteran ruler who resigned in a letter to parliament as proceedings to recall him began.

“The military’s involvement in politics is a worrisome issue because they have been meddling with the country’s politics for the past decades.

In 2008 they made it clear that they were not going to back any leader without any liberation credentials.

And they have also made it clear in the past seven months that they are the final arbiters in the country’s politics. So their announcement to stay clear of the election will be important,” said Matyszak.

To read the full article, click here.

09 May

Zim: MDC leader Chamisa threatens ‘national shutdown’

Zimbabwean opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has reportedly threatened a “national shutdown” if his Movement for Democratic Change Alliance’s demands for transparency and electoral reforms in the forthcoming watershed polls are not met.

Speaking to his supporters in the  United Kingdom, Chamisa said that the MDC-T Alliance would not boycott this year’s election but would mobilise its supporters to halt the vote, the privately owned NewsDay reported.

He said his party had the capacity to block the forthcoming polls if President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government failed to implement the necessary electoral reforms.

The opposition parties in the southern African country have tabled a number of demands which included de-militarisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) secretariat, security of the vote and transparency in the production of ballot papers ahead of elections expected before the end of August.

“We have the people and if we make the call, the country will come to a standstill and that we can do. We are not joking about this. It is a matter of life and death.

“We will not go into an election without an agreement on what type of election we are going to have. We still have three months, but there must be political will. Mnangagwa does not have the will to deliver a free and fair election because he knows we will humiliate him,” Chamisa was quoted as saying.

This came as the southern African country’s electoral body indicated recently that it won’t go to tender over ballot printers.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said that it had already selected the company that would print ballot papers for forthcoming polls and won’t put the job out to public tender because there was not enough time, the state Sunday Mail reported.

“Government has selected a company to print ballot papers and supply indelible ink for the forthcoming harmonised elections…. due to security and time considerations,” the report said.

“The tender would normally have been announced in the Government Gazette [but]…it was felt there was not enough time to follow this process,” the paper continued.

Source: https://www.news24.com/Africa/Zimbabwe/zim-mdc-leader-chamisa-threatens-national-shutdown-20180509

04 May

Zimbabwe Ruling Party Primaries Marked by Upsets and Mayhem

Zimbabwe’s ruling party saw some major upsets and raucous bickering during its primaries this week ahead of general elections due by August.

Senior officials including Oppah Muchinguri, the chairwoman of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Industry Minister Mike Bimha and Chris Mutsvanga, an adviser to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, all lost the nominations in their constituencies, according to tallies released by the party on Thursday. Mutsvanga said in a letter to Zanu-PF that he rejected the results.

The primaries in some areas took place amid chaos after ballot papers arrived late or were delivered to the wrong locations. In several wards in Mashonaland West Province, brawls broke out and opposing sides threw bottles at each other, according to Jairos Wirirani, who went to vote in the small farming town of Raffingora, north of the capital, Harare..

“It’s not surprising that the old guard is falling,” Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst at the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said by phone from Harare. “We’re seeing a reconfiguration of politics in Zanu-PF, and by extension Zimbabwe.”

Before the resignation in November of Robert Mugabe, who ruled the southern African nation since 1980, Zanu-PF usually imposed approved candidates.

Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe as president and the head of Zanu-PF, said in an interview with the state-controlled Herald newspaper published on Wednesday that the disorganization in the primaries was a result of a bid “to root democracy into the party.”

On Thursday, he acknowledged complaints that police helped organize the voting process in some areas and told the Herald that the practice was illegal.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change will hold its primaries next week, a spokesman for the party, Luke Tamborinyoka, said by phone Thursday.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-03/zimbabwe-ruling-party-primaries-marked-by-upsets-and-mayhem

20 Apr

Firing of Striking Nurses Stokes Concern About Zimbabwe’s Democracy

The Zimbabwean government’s dismissal of thousands of striking nurses drew condemnation from labor unions and dimmed hopes that the removal of Robert Mugabe as president last year would usher in a new era of stability in the southern African nation.

The firings may hinder the drive by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe in November, to bolster confidence among the public and investors that he can re-establish the rule of law following four decades of Mugabe’s administration that showed scant regard for labor rights.

The decision to dismiss the nurses, who were demanding better pay and working conditions, was announced on Tuesday by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the former military commander who was instrumental in forcing Mugabe to resign.

“Such ill-advised actions that offer a repeat of past repression should be avoided,” said Gary van Staden, an analyst at NKC African Economics in Paarl, near Cape Town.

“It highlights the danger of military men assuming political power and failing to note the differences in problem-solving tactics appropriate when wearing a suit.”

While Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution enables all employees other than those who serve in the security forces to strike, it says laws can limit the exercise of that right to maintain essential services.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa told reporters Thursday that the dismissed nurses can reapply for their jobs and the government will hire others who are unemployed.

Chiwenga defended the decision to fire the nurses, saying they provide an essential service and refused to go back to work despite the government delivering on an agreement to allocate them a total of $17.1 million in additional pay.

Their actions were “deplorable and reprehensible” and may be politically motivated, he said in an emailed statement from Harare, the capital.

Lovemore Madhuku, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the law doesn’t allow summary dismissal, and the presidency has no power to fire nurses who are employed by the Health Service Board.

To read the full article, click here.

13 Feb

Mugabe’s Fall Has Veteran Miners Jockeying for Zimbabwe Comeback

Robert Mugabe’s fall as Zimbabwe president is setting the scene for the return of a London mining listing for Andrew Groves and his long-term business partner — and former England cricketer — Phil Edmonds.

Groves is preparing to relist the pair’s Zimbabwe coal, chrome and gold assets in London through the reverse takeover of a cash shell, or dormant company. He sees the ascent to the presidency of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a man who served more than half a century at the side of Mugabe, as beneficial.

“I’d like to build it into a mid-tier mining company,” Groves said, adding that he has a lot of local contacts. “I’ve known Emmerson — the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa — for 15 years. He’s made a huge change already.”

Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former spy chief, became president in November with military backing and has offered to hold elections by July. His administration abolished rules that mining operations must be at least 51 percent owned by black Zimbabweans for all minerals other than platinum and diamonds.

The southern African nation is geologically rich, with deposits of gold, chrome, lithium, coal, diamonds, platinum and iron ore. Mine development stalled under Mugabe, whose policies led to a collapse in the economy and hyperinflation.

All Change

“Everything has changed in the country,” said Groves, who won’t hold an executive position in the new company. “There’s a huge amount of euphoria.”

Groves and Edmonds delisted their Sable Mining Ltd. venture, which was trying to build a iron-ore mine in Guinea, less than two years ago. That followed a slump in prices of the commodity and bribery allegations that were denied by the company. The company’s market value reached 300 million pounds ($414 million) in 2010 before collapsing to just 2.2 million pounds and being delisted.

Now renamed Consolidated Growth Holdings Ltd., the private company that holds Zimbabwe and Guinea assets is in talks with London-listed Contango Holdings Plc for a reverse takeover.

To read the full article, click here. 

29 Jan

Zimbabwe: Fresh Moves to Arrest Grace Mugabe

The declaration by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week that former first lady Grace Mugabe is no longer immune to prosecution appears to have left Mugabe’s garrulous wife vulnerable to arrest as vultures circle above her, bracing for a kill.

Grace made a lot of enemies during her time as first lady and Mnangagwa’s pronouncement has opened floodgates of legal trouble for the once most feared woman in Zimbabwe.

In an interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Mnangagwa said Grace enjoyed no immunity and could be arrested and taken to court on any charges.

South African model Gabriella Engels, who was walloped with an electric cord by Grace and was left nursing a deep cut on the head and other injuries, has rekindled her fight for justice and is planning to have Mugabe’s wife dragged to South Africa to face the music.

“If I had the opportunity to meet the new Zimbabwean president, I would ask him to do the right thing and handover Grace for prosecution,” Engels told The Standard yesterday.

Engels’ lawyers were working hard to bring Grace to justice in South Africa so that she can answer to the case of assault.

“We are aware that she is no longer a person of power, that her husband was ousted from office and that the government of Zimbabwe said she does not enjoy any immunity anymore,” Engels’ mother said.

“In light of the latest developments, our lawyers are working on that case to secure justice for my child.”

Engels said her family was grateful and happy that Zimbabweans ousted the Mugabes because they were now abusing power to put fear into her family.

“Most definitely, I am happy, we are free and we will continue to fight until we get justice,” she said.

To read the full article, click here. 

24 Jan

It Would Be a Pitch Like No Other: Zimbabwe Eyes Bond Market

It’s a sales pitch as tough as they come: the economy has halved since 2000, unemployment’s at 90 percent and bank withdrawals are capped at $40 a week.

What’s more, the government’s behind on World Bank loan payments and some officials have been sanctioned by the U.S. and Europe.

Welcome to Zimbabwe, where new president Emmerson Mnangagwa wants to sell debt to revive one of the world’s worst-performing economies and end its isolation from international capital markets. The odd thing is, the pitch might just work.

“It is a tall order, but no longer out of the question with the change in leadership,” said Hasnain Malik, the Dubai-based head of equities research at Exotix Partners LLP, who covers Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa, 75, is mingling with the elite of the capitalist world at Davos this week, two months after replacing Robert Mugabe.

Under Mugabe, 93, who ruled the southern African nation for almost 40 years until the military ousted him in November, Zimbabwe turned from one of the continent’s most promising economies into a virtual pariah state.

His sanctioning of violent takeovers of white-owned farms from 2000 crushed agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, and caused investors to flee.

Inflation surged to 500 billion percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, as Mugabe printed money in a desperate attempt to get out of the hole he’d created.

Hyperinflation only ended in 2009 when Zimbabwe scrapped its worthless dollar and adopted the U.S. version, which is still the dominant currency among a basket of notes accepted as legal tender.

While Mugabe’s exit paves the way for Zimbabwe’s reintegration into the global financial system, bond investors will first want to see credible elections, evidence of more fiscal discipline and a deal with the IMF for financial help, Malik said.

Spy Chief

Mnangagwa, a former spy chief who was close to Mugabe throughout his presidency and the nation’s liberation war before that, plans to hold elections within five months and invite international observers, he said in an interview with Bloomberg in Harare, the capital, last week. He’s confident he’ll win.

To read the full article, click here.

22 Jan

Zimbabwe President Seeks to Woo Lenders by Paying Loan Arrears

Zimbabwe is committed to repaying arrears to external lenders so that it can resume support programs with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and end years of isolation from global capital markets, said the country’s president.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 75-year-old who took over as leader of the southern African country in November after the military pressured Robert Mugabe into resigning, said one of his priorities is reintegrating his country into the global financial system.

The economy has halved in size since 2000, credit lines from most lenders have been withdrawn and infrastructure has crumbled.

 Zimbabwe owes about $9 billion to lenders such as the World Bank and African Development Bank and has fallen behind in payments, with arrears recently amounting to about $1.8 billion.
If his bid to revive the economy is to succeed, Mnangagwa will need access to billions of dollars of support.
“There are limitations to engaging with Bretton Woods institutions — the limitations are as a result of our arrears with those institutions but they are giving positive indications that they would want to accommodate us,” he said in an interview in his office in the capital, Harare, last week.
“We shall recommit ourselves to paying our debts, our arrears. I believe that they will embrace us in the same manner they are embracing other countries.”
Re-engaging with international lenders would be a first step for the Zimbabwean government, which is also considering a debut international bond sale so that it can invest in infrastructure.
“If this succeeds, we would really need a substantial injection into our economy, in particular into the productive economy,” he said.
“Basically a capital injection into capital projects. Infrastructure development is what we want: dams, roads.”
Still, the Zimbabwean leader demonstrated little appetite for cutting costs in the manner that the IMF and other lenders have urged.
The country’s more than 500,000-strong civil service accounts for about 90 percent of budget expenditure, crowding out investment in much-needed projects such as restoring the capital’s water supply and fixing its roads.
To read the full article, click here.
19 Jan

New President Plans Zimbabwe Revival by Restoring Economy, Democracy

Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has a plan to revive one of the world’s worst-performing economies and end its isolation: pay compensation to white farmers whose land was confiscated, sell bonds to rebuild infrastructure and hold internationally acceptable elections.

It’s a tall order for a man who served more than half a century at the side of former President Robert Mugabe and was a key figure in a government that oversaw an economy that halved in size since 2000 and the collapse of the agricultural industry.

Yet, Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former spy chief, remains optimistic he can win lender support and tap international capital markets.

“Can we not do it? We think we should do it,” he said of a potential bond sale in an interview Thursday in Harare, the capital. He wore a gray suit in an office decorated with photographs of himself as a young man and there’s a crocodile-themed mug, a reference to his nickname earned during the liberation war against white-minority ruled Rhodesia. “We really need a substantial investment in the productive economy.”

Mnangagwa’s rise to power was problematic. After seemingly Mugabe’s heir apparent for decades, in recent months he clashed with the president’s wife, Grace, and finally fled the country on Nov. 6 after she accused him of plotting a coup.

That day, he was fired as vice president, and two hours later he learned that his life was in danger. He set out for the eastern border with Mozambique and crossed the frontier with his son and three soldiers.

“I could not use the formal border so I used the informal one which resulted in me walking for over 30 kilometers at night,” he said, adding that some tracks were filled with land mines. “Because I am a former guerrilla I understand the area, I operated there.”

To read the full article, click here.

15 Nov

Zimbabwe’s Military Seizes Power, Threatening Mugabe’s Rule

The armed forces seized power in Zimbabwe after a week of confrontation with President Robert Mugabe’s government and said the action was needed to stave off violent conflict in the southern African nation that he’s ruled since 1980.

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces will guarantee the safety of Mugabe, 93, and his family and is only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address in Harare, the capital. All military leave has been canceled, he said. A senior official involved in the army action said Mugabe is safe but declined to say where he was. People involved in the “purge” of liberation war veterans from the government will be arrested and charged, according to the person, who asked not to be named as the information isn’t public.

Denying that the action was a military coup, Moyo said “as soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.” He urged the other security services to cooperate and warned that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”

The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”
As several armored vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.