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.

23 May

Zimbabwe launches a second state-owned airline

The first one is so indebted its planes are impounded when they land abroad. Will the second be any better?

HAVING one loss-making state-owned airline is bad enough. What, then, of a government that wants two?

Earlier this year Zimbabweans were startled to learn that the government had concluded a secret $70m deal to buy four second-hand Boeing jets from Malaysia to form the core of a new national airline, Zimbabwe Airways. This venture is supposed to compete with Air Zimbabwe, the flag carrier, which ran up huge debts thanks to poor management and ex-President Robert Mugabe’s habit of commandeering its planes so his wife could shop abroad.

The government hopes to stimulate tourism and business by reopening long-haul routes that are closed to Air Zimbabwe, whose planes can be impounded as soon as they land on foreign runways. It suspended flights to London’s Gatwick airport in 2011, for instance, after one of its planes was seized over an unpaid debt. It has since been banned from European skies because of concerns over the safety of its creaking planes.

Critics questioned the secrecy and the price paid for the new planes. The government had claimed for months that the new airline was a private initiative, funded by Zimbabwean investors living abroad. Joram Gumbo, the transport minister, told local newspapers it had been necessary to lie because “if they had been exposed as government of Zimbabwe planes, they would have been taken by the creditors who were claiming for money.” He also revealed that “the man in charge of Zimbabwe Airways” is Mr Mugabe’s son-in-law.

Officials see the new airline as a panacea for the economy. That seems unlikely. It will be pitted against rivals offering reliable connecting services via their hubs in South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates. Airlines based in those countries have the upper hand on numerous fronts, among them economies of scale, network synergies and more frequent flights. Zimbabwe Airways will have only one advantage: the ability to fly between Harare, the capital, and destinations in Europe and Asia without boring stopovers. Yet there is probably not nearly enough direct traffic to fill its planes.

Read more at: The Economist

16 Feb

Death of Tsvangirai Threatens Unity of Zimbabwe’s Opposition

The death of Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has left his party in disarray ahead of presidential elections later this year.

Tsvangirai, who led the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, died Wednesday at the age of 65 from colon cancer.

He had been nominated to run against President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the presidential vote expected in the first half of this year but indicated last month he was considering bowing out of the race after undergoing treatment, saying it was time to leave his party in “new hands.”

While the MDC on Thursday appointed Nelson Chamisa, 40, as acting party president for 12 months, he may face challenges from deputy leaders Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe.

On their Twitter accounts, the three men have each claimed to be the official party voice and speak for Tsvangirai, fueling media speculation that they’re locked in a power struggle.

“The fear for the opposition is that his sad passing will exacerbate the ongoing leadership battle in the party, which may cause it to split or otherwise be in disarray ahead of polling,” said Derek Matyszak, senior research consultant at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies.

The party has previously splintered with senior officials Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube forming their own parties.

Chamisa, a lawyer, was widely seen as Tsvangirai’s favored successor. Khupe is MDC’s longest-serving vice president and holds an information technology degree, while Mudzuri is an engineer with a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former mayor of Harare.

Tsvangirai’s death comes only three months after the ousting of Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years until the military seized control in November 2017 and forced him to resign.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front named Mnangagwa to succeed him. A date for the presidential election hasn’t yet been announced.

To read the full article, click here.

15 Feb

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s Former Prime Minister, Is Dead

Morgan Tsvangirai, who led Zimbabwe’s main opposition party for almost two decades and failed to unseat Robert Mugabe as president in several elections that were marred by allegations of violence and rigging, has died. He was 65.

Tsvangirai, who has been battling cancer, died on Wednesday, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s vice president, Elias Mudzuri, said by phone.

A former labor union leader, Tsvangirai helped found the MDC in 1999, the first party since independence in 1980 to pose a major threat to the rule of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

While the MDC won control of Harare, the capital, and other urban areas where Tsvangirai was wildly popular, the security forces helped Mugabe cling to power.

Mugabe finally quit in November 2017 after the military seized control of the country and his own party threatened to impeach him.

The MDC nominated Tsvangirai to run against Emmerson Mnangagwa, who Zanu-PF chose to succeed Mugabe, in presidential elections scheduled for 2018.

He indicated on Jan. 8 that he was considering bowing out of the race after undergoing treatment for colon cancer, saying it was time to place the party in “new hands.”

Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was born on March 10, 1952, in the southern district of Gutu, the son of a bricklayer father and a mother who was a subsistence farmer.

He first worked as a plant operator at Trojan Nickel Mine in the northern town of Bindura and entered union politics, becoming the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general in 1989.

Tsvangirai joined forces with other labor and civil-rights leaders in 1999 to form the MDC, as opposition grew to Mugabe’s increasingly authoritarian leadership and mismanagement of the economy.

The MDC won its first political battle in a 2000 referendum, when it defeated constitutional changes that Tsvangirai said would have entrenched Mugabe’s rule.

After the loss, government-backed militants embarked on the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms and evicted about 3 million people, mainly farmworkers of Malawian, Zambian and Mozambican descent, according to the United Nations.

To read the full article, click here.

21 Nov

Mugabe’s Woes Wipe Out $5 Billion From Zimbabwe’s Skewed Stocks

Investors dumped Zimbabwean stocks every day since the military seized power on optimism that 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe will be forced to step down.

The stocks, which are denominated in U.S. dollars and were used to hedge against rising inflation, fell 10 percent on Monday to an eight-week low of 387.38, bringing the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Industrial Index’s retreat since the army’s takeover on the morning of Nov. 15 to 27 percent.

The bourse’s market capitalization has plunged $4.8 billion in that period to $11.1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Zimbabwe’s stocks soared this year after the government printed a new form of money — called bond notes — to deal with a cash shortage, stoking concerns over price growth in a nation that saw inflation jump into the billions of percent about a decade ago. While the southern African nation has mostly used the dollar since scrapping its own worthless currency in 2009, greenbacks have become scarce as Zimbabwe’s balance of payments position has worsened.

Read more: Mugabe’s Woes Wipe Out $5 Billion From Zimbabwe’s Skewed Stocks

11 Jul

Investor flight spurs equities’ H1 rally

THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) witnessed a rally during the first half of the year as investors, fearing loss of value after the introduction of bond notes last November, sought refuge in equities.
The rally on the ZSE is seen continuing during the second half of the year as investors and asset managers seek safety amid growing inflation concerns.
Zimbabwe’s inflation remains on an upward trajectory, rising for the fourth consecutive month in May due to price increases caused largely by worsening foreign currency shortages and an injection of liquidity in the market through Treasury Bills and the real time gross settlement (RTGS), which critics have said is a new form of money printing by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
The US dollar was reportedly attracting a premium of between 15 and 20 percent to either bond notes, a domestic currency introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to deal with cash shortages, or bank transfers, which are denominated in US dollars, but are essentially a phony currency created through the RTGS.
Amid rising inflation concerns, the stock market is becoming a safe haven for individuals, companies and asset managers.
Analysts said increased scepticism over Zimbabwe’s currency crisis would continue to give impetus to a buying spree on the ZSE, which has witnessed its longest upward swing since November last year.
With interest rates now under cap after an RBZ order to lower lending rates last year, investors have also been taking positions in equities.
Falling money market rates and a depressed property market have also fuelled the equity market’s bull run.
The ZSE’s industrial index advanced 35,6 percent during the first half of the year.
It closed the month of June at 195,97 points, while the mining index rose 19,28 percent to 69,79 points.
On a year-on-year basis, the industrial index gained 94 percent while the mining index gained 182,55 percent.
The volume of shares traded on the local bourse increased to 917,6 million shares, from 630,4 million shares recorded in the comparable period last year.
Market capitalisation rose by 104,79 percent year-on-year to $5,7 billion, while in the half year it increased by 42,1 percent.
Total market turnover recorded in the first half increased by 28,84 percent to $115 million from $89,3 million recorded last year.

Read more : Financial Gazzette