In Zimbabwe, Surviving Means Improvising And Some Luck

At Least 31 Dead As Cyclone Idai Hits Eastern Zimbabwe

 

In crisis-stricken Zimbabwe, where prices are soaring, the local dollar is plummeting and time is always short, even a trip to the gas station can be an adventure in the struggle to survive.

Filling a tank used to require just a few minutes. Now it takes a day of patience and some ingenuity at the gas station. Even then, success is not guaranteed.

As the sun sets on Harare, Tinashe Magacha is about to spend the night in his car, like hundreds of motorists in the queue, hoping to refuel the minibus he uses for work.

“While I am queueing, my bus is on the road with my driver transporting passengers. If I fill up this car, I will drain the fuel with a hosepipe to the commuter bus.”

All that effort comes with a hefty price tag. Fuel prices more than doubled in January, triggering protests suppressed in a bloody crackdown by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.

For months, lines of cars stretching for several kilometres at petrol stations have become the latest manifestation of the economic ruin left by Robert Mugabe, who died on September 6 almost two years after a coup ended his 37-year rule.

Zimbabwe has been mired in the crisis since the early 2000s after Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme that saw the violent seizure of white-owned farms and investors fleeing the country.

Zimbabwe never recovered. Today there are shortages of everything. From fuel to washing powder, to license plates and passports. Even local currency is in short supply.

Cash Shortages

Ruined by hyperinflation and the plummeting Zimbabwean dollar, the country and its banks are desperately short of currency.

Forced to pay his bus tickets in hard currency to go to work, Crispen Mudzengerere must spend hours at his bank to withdraw, if he is lucky, at best 100 dollars (about 8 euros) in cash.

He could buy some from street traders, but the service is “taxed” at least 30 per cent commission.

“To get 20 dollars, I need to spend 26 dollars. I have to pay for my own money,” he said.

To cut back on transportation costs, Mudzengerere got creative. He now does double shifts at his restaurant, which allows him to have four days of rest, and travel less.

In Zimbabwe, resourcefulness and patience have become indispensable weapons for dealing with daily survival.

But hustling cannot solve everything. The first victim of the crisis has been the value of wages, destroyed by hyperinflation – 175 per cent in June — and the depreciation of the local currency.

Within a year, Zimbabweans say, the value of their salaries has been divided by fifteen.

The toll has been harsh. Wakanai Murambidzi, a cleaner in a bank, was unable to pay her children’s school fees. They were forced out of school earlier this month.

“I did not pay the full last school fees. I don’t know what to do. I am stuck,” she said.

“We regret removing Mugabe,” she said, referring to the military coup that ended the former president’s reign in 2017.

“We used to buy bread for one dollar. Now it is 10.”

Contraband

Amidst the economic ruin, a new type of market has emerged in Harare, in the poor district of Mbare.

Shoppers here won’t find any fresh vegetables, fruit or meat, but only non-perishable foods like rice, sugar and bars of soap, all illegally imported from neighbouring South Africa.

Prices, untaxed and sold without intermediary, are unbeatable here.

“We are smuggling,” shopkeeper Blessing Chiona says, with all her goods laid on a wooden pallet in the mud. “The prices change up to three times a day.”

Beside her, dozens of her colleagues wait for customers under the sun. Here, two litres of cooking oil go for 24 dollars in cash, compared with 34 dollars in supermarkets.

Sheltered under an umbrella, Chiona sends text messages of shopping lists to delivery drivers, known as “malayitsha” or couriers in Ndebele language, who travel back and forth between Zimbabwe and South Africa with minibuses full of passengers and goods.

As if these struggles were not enough, Zimbabweans also have to work around the country’s interminable power cuts, sometimes up to 18 hours a day.

Street seller Misheck Masarirevhu has found his solution: with a mini solar panel, he charges a car battery during the day, which he uses to charge his phone once at home.

Jocelyn Chaibva, a 59-year-old pharmacist, gets up in the middle of the night, when the electricity is back on for a few hours in her neighbourhood, to put on the washing machine.

“It requires a PhD to survive here,” said Luckmore Bunu, one of her colleagues. “If you come from abroad, you don’t survive a month here but we are used to it.”

Tiv/ Jukun Crisis: Taraba Govt Holds Security Meeting With Stakeholders

Taraba Assembly Holds Last Plenary, Remembers Departed Members

 

The Taraba state government has held a security meeting to bring to an end the unabated clashes between the Tiv and Jukun tribes in the state.

The meeting which is a follow up to the one held in Abuja, was held behind closed doors and some recommendations were made.

Briefing journalists shortly after the meeting, the state’s Deputy Governor Haruna Manu disclosed that a committee will be set up on Monday, September 16, where 15 persons from both Tiv and Jukun will present their interests.

Manu added that a joint patrol team involving all security agencies in the state will be set up with dedicated lines for distress calls to curb kidnapping and banditry.

Beyond that, he also noted that another recommended was that both Benue and Taraba states will liaise with the National Boundary Commission for adequate demarcation of their boundaries in order to minimise the conflict between the two tribes.

‘My Entire Home Is Destroyed’, Sudan Villagers Lament Over Nile Floods

 

Days after a devastating flood swallowed up his village, Alsediq Abdelqader bulled his truck through the waters in a desperate attempt to locate his small house north of the Sudanese capital.

Flash floods from the Nile inundated his home last week in Wad Ramli village on the eastern river bank, expelling him and his family who managed to clamber aboard a ferry to the nearest dry land.

His drive through the flash floods was not easy as he had to avoid floating mattresses, house appliances and broken tree branches.

“My entire home is destroyed,” said the 57-year-old. “I have lived all my life in this village and I have never seen a flood like this before.”

“I’m struggling to recognise my house and trying to identify it, as some others have done, by the trees around it.”

His home is among thousands destroyed or damaged by the floods that struck at least 15 states, affecting nearly 200,000 people across Sudan.

The worst hit area was White Nile state in the south.

About 62 people were killed and nearly 100 injured overall, said the official SUNA news agency quoting a health ministry official as saying the crisis “did not reach the level of being declared a disaster.”

Volunteers and aid workers immediately rushed to Wad Ramli when the savage floods hit.

Authorities dispatched lorries and boats to wade through the thick water to rescue families and salvage their furniture and valuables.

But Abdelqader was among the less fortunate, unable to find their belongings.

“I have not managed to recover any of my furniture or belongings. My family is now staying with relatives in a nearby village,” said Abdelqader.

‘Mosquitoes Everywhere’

On the main road outside Wad Ramli, piles of sodden furniture are strewn about as homeless families shelter in dozens of make-shift tents.

The crisis comes as Sudan ushers in a political transition to civilian rule.

A prime minister and a civilian majority ruling body are to oversee a three-year transitional period following the ouster of veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

On Friday, the newly-appointed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visited Wad Ramli and gave directives to intensify aid efforts.

The UN says the crisis is expected to drag on until October.

“We have not been able to survey the number of houses affected in Wad Ramli due to the rising water levels,” said Farouk Ahmed, supervisor of a Red Crescent aid team.

He estimates the village alone had about 6,000 residents.

And as Wad Ramli inhabitants reel from the floods, residents of nearby villages are bracing themselves for water levels to keep rising.

In Wawesi Gharb village, about half a kilometre (500 yards), 35-year-old farmer Sami Ali says he is running out of ways to roll back the water threat.

“We placed piles of sandbags around houses to reduce the damage in case we were flooded especially after the water surrounded our village from all sides,” he said.

Another resident, 24-year-old Hozeifa al-Ser, expressed fear of an outbreak of diseases especially as “mosquitoes and flies are hovering everywhere”.

‘We Will Go Back’

Mobile health clinics were set up outside the village to serve Wad Ramli but aid workers say medicine and food are in short supply.

In the tents, hundreds of villagers are pondering ways return to their lives.

Along with her two sisters and their families, Nafisa al-Saeed said they plan to go back home after the water recedes.

“We lived in this village all our lives. We will have to go back and rebuild our houses. Authorities just have to build flood barriers but we will not leave this place,” she said.

But 19-year-old Shehab al-Din Mohamed says he lost his documents and identification cards as well as university application papers.

“The academic year will start soon and I have no idea how I would submit my documents after I lost everything,” he said.

“It seems like we will be living here (in the tent) until October, and I have no idea what to do.”

Edo Assembly: I Don’t Think There Is Any Crisis – Obaseki

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has dismissed the rumour of crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

The governor said this while receiving the report of a reconciliatory committee set up to look into all post-election matters at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Secretariat in Benin.

Addressing journalists in the state on Saturday, he said the APC is ready to reconcile its aggrieved members, stressing that there is no crisis rocking the party or the House of Assembly.

READ ALSO: ‘Nothing Unusual About Meeting With My Brother’, Oshiomhole Says About Obaseki

“It has ended actually. We are just waiting for the members to come back and get inaugurated. I don’t think there is any crisis.

“For those people who don’t want to make peace or people who don’t want to belong to a family, as long as the party gives an opportunity to be members of that family, if it’s not utilised, there is not much we can do,” he said.

The governor’s comment come two weeks after meeting with APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, following weeks of disagreement.

Obaseki after the meeting said there is no rift between himself and his successor Governor Godwin Obaseki and there is nothing unusual about them holding a meeting.

Oshiomhole, who described Obaseki as his brother said the alleged rift between them is the creation of people with personal interest.

Edo Assembly Crisis, Reflection Of Immature Politics, Says Odigie-Oyegun

APC Ex-Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun

 

The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, says the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly is a reflection of immature politics.

Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke to journalists in Benin, criticised the National Assembly’s order directing Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation of the state’s parliament.

He noted that while President Muhammadu Buhari’s office is sovereign, the office of the state governor is sovereign and should be treated as such.

According to the APC chieftain, anyone who treats the governor with disdain is indirectly questioning the legitimacy of the people on him.

READ ALSO: Atiku, SERAP, Others Condemn Sowore’s Arrest

“Our politics has to start maturing. Our politics has to start being civilised. Our politics has to move from killings, maiming, thuggery and the rest of it.

“Our politics has to move to a stage where you can differ with somebody and state the good reasons for differing. I don’t think it has ever happened in this country that the National Assembly will issue instructions to a sovereign government.

“People don’t seem to realise it, there are two sovereignties. We have the President who represents the sovereignty of this nation and the governor reflects the sovereignty of the state,” he said.

Odigie-Oyegun also advised APC leaders to stop heating up the polity with unguarded utterances, stressing that anyone who doesn’t want the governor for a second term can do that through the ballot in the party’s primaries.

Venezuela Crisis: ‘I Am Very Optimistic’, Says Maduro After Talks With Opposition

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro

 

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said Monday he was “optimistic” after dialogue between his government and the opposition resumed in Barbados.

The South American nation was plunged into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.

The opposition leader is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries but has been unable to dislodge Venezuela’s socialist leader, who is backed by Russia, China and Cuba.

READ ALSO: Ex-UN Official Jailed For Child Abuse In Nepal

Delegations from both sides arrived in Barbados Monday morning to revive discussions after a previous round in Norway petered out.

“I am very optimistic… Today they had a five-hour session, and I think that step by step, with strategic patience, we can find a path to peace,” Maduro said in a broadcast on the state television channel VTV.

Without giving details, he said that a six-point agenda was being discussed with “the whole country in mind.”

“If you work with goodwill and there is no American interventionism, I am sure that we will reach an agreement,” said Maduro, who blames the United States for fanning the crisis.

The Barbados talks will be the third round since the Oslo talks in May, although Guaido had originally said last Tuesday there were no plans to re-open talks with Maduro’s “murderous dictatorship” following the death of an officer in custody over an alleged coup plot.

The suspicious death of retired naval officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo had sparked international condemnation.

Guaido said Sunday he wants the talks to lead them towards Maduro’s departure from the presidency he has held since 2013 to a transitional government, and then “free elections with international observers”.

 Ravaged by crises 

Some members of the opposition oppose the Barbados talks, fearing they may reinvigorate Maduro, but Enrique Marquez, vice president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, said they are the best option.

“A violent solution… could generate loss of governance even for a new government,” he told AFP.

Along with the negotiations in Barbados, Guaido had a closed-door meeting on Monday in the capital Caracas with Enrique Iglesias, the European Union’s special advisor for Venezuela.

Afterwards, Iglesias met with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

“Iglesias has confirmed his commitment to the dialogue process,” Rodriguez said on Twitter.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been ravaged by five years of recession marked by shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities, and the economic woes have been exacerbated by the political crisis.

Delegations representing the Venezuelan rivals met face-to-face in Oslo for the first time in late May, in a process begun two weeks earlier under Norwegian auspices to find a solution to the nation’s multiple crises.

Maduro has repeatedly said that the dialogue will continue with the opposition “for peace in Venezuela.”

Guaido has called Maduro a “usurper” for staying in power after a 2018 election widely dismissed as a sham.

Meanwhile, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo stressed in a TV interview that military intervention is not the solution to the Venezuelan crisis, and offered his country’s assistance in reaching a negotiated solution.

AFP

Obasanjo, Kufuor Ask AU, ECOWAS To Intervene In Benin Crisis

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Ghanaian counterpart, John Kufuor have asked the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in the crisis rocking the Benin Republic.

Both leaders made their position known in a joint statement released on Thursday by Obasanjo’s spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.

According to them, there was a need for the intervention in order to avoid escalation of the festering political crisis.

“The crisis in Benin calls for urgent action by ECOWAS and African Union (AU) to avert the escalation of the festering political unrest.”

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: George Weah Visits Buhari At Presidential Villa

The former leaders believe that the country’s ongoing political crisis if not properly handled could worsen the security and humanitarian situation.

“We are of the view that all stakeholders should be carried along in the electoral process. In addition, the ongoing political crisis appears to be worsening the security and humanitarian situation which might open a floodgate to terrorist incursion that will lead to further destabilisation of the West-African sub-region, the statement read in part.”

They also want African leaders to rise to their responsibility by urgently intervening with a view to putting pressure on the incumbent administration to play the games of democracy by the rules.

The former leaders urged the AU and ECOWAS to send a strong delegation to appeal to President Talon to release his immediate predecessor who needs medical attention abroad.

African Union Suspends Sudan

Egyptians To Vote Monday, Sisi Anticipates Re-election
Chairman of African Union and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Credit: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

The African Union on Thursday suspended Sudan, demanding a civilian-led transition authority to resolve the crisis which has claimed over 100 lives.

“The AU Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis,” the AU posted on Twitter.

Sudanese authorities have admitted dozens of people were killed when security forces stormed a weeks-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

READ ALSO: Sinai Militants Kill Four Egypt Security Personnel

But doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108.

The military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule.

But thousands of demonstrators had remained camped out in front of the army headquarters calling for the generals to cede power to civilians.

The AU had urged the generals to ensure a smooth transition of power, but the brutal crackdown to disperse protesters Monday saw pressure mount on the AU to hold those responsible for the violence to justice.

AFP

Canada Asks Venezuela’s Maduro To ‘Step Aside Now’

Maduro Accuses US Of Financing Mercenary 'Plot' Against Him
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a pro-government demonstration in Caracas on March 23, 2019. Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday to “step aside now” after self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido said troops had joined his campaign to oust Maduro.

“Venezuelans are in the streets today demonstrating their desire for a return to democracy even in the face of a violent crackdown,” Freeland told a press conference.

“Canada commends their courage and we call on the Maduro regime to step aside now and allow for a peaceful end to this crisis in line with the Venezuelan Constitution,” she said.

“It is time for Venezuela in line with its own laws to return to democracy.”

She said an emergency conference call would be convened later in the day to discuss the situation with the foreign ministers of 13 Latin American nations that — with Canada — form the Lima Group.

Freeland also planned to speak with Julio Borges, who represents Guaido at the Lima Group and is currently in Canada.

The Lima Group was created in 2017 to try to find a solution to Venezuela’s economic meltdown.

Most Lima Group members have refused to recognize Maduro’s second term, which began on January 10, due to alleged fraud during his re-election last year.

Guaido, the National Assembly speaker, launched a challenge to Maduro’s authority and has been backed by more than 50 countries, led by the United States, that recognize him as Venezuela’s interim president.

AFP

Turkey’s Erdogan Condemns ‘Coup Attempt’ In Venezuela

Turkish President Recep Erdogan/ AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday condemned a “coup attempt” in Venezuela after self-proclaimed opposition leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

“As a country which fought against coups and experienced the negative consequences caused by coups, we condemn the coup attempt in Venezuela,” Erdogan, a close ally of Maduro, wrote on Twitter.

“The entire world must respect the people’s democratic preferences in Venezuela.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s Former Prime Minister Berlusconi Hospitalised With Kidney Stone Pain

Turkey is a firm supporter of Maduro, who was the first world leader to express backing for Erdogan after an attempted coup d’etat in Turkey in 2016.

Guaido, Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president who is recognised by more than 50 countries including the United States and Brazil, said troops had joined his campaign to oust Maduro, who is backed by Russia, China and Iran.

The Venezuelan government has vowed to put down what it called an attempted coup.

Erdogan blasted “those who are in an attempt to appoint a post-modern colonial governor to Venezuela.”

“They should know that the only (way) to determine how a country shall be governed is through democratic elections,” the Turkish leader said.

“Ballot boxes are essential in democracies,” he added.

Earlier, his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was against any attempts to change Venezuela’s government through “undemocratic” methods.

“We are in favour of the solution to problems facing the country through dialogue. We always stand by the people of Venezuela,” he said.

AFP

Three Killed As Fresh Crisis Breakout In Kaduna Community

 

Three persons have been killed following the outbreak of the fresh crisis in Kasuwan Mangani area of Kaduna State. 

Security operatives are yet to apprehend nor identify those who perpetrated the killings.

In reaction to this latest upheaval, the Kaduna state government has announced the imposition of a 24-hour curfew on Kajuru local government area of the state.

In a chat with our correspondent,  spokesman for the Kaduna state government, Samuel Aruwan said the imposition of the curfew is to avert any further breakdown of law and order and also to prevent the crisis from spilling over to other neighboring villages in the local government council.

He however urges  citizens to comply and support peace efforts  by government and security agencies  in the community.

UN Council To Meet Wednesday On Venezuela

UN Security Council Meets On Syria Strikes
The UN Security Council meets at UN Headquarters in New York.  HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

The UN Security Council will meet Wednesday at Washington’s request to discuss the worsening humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, diplomats said.

The United States requested the meeting on Thursday amid growing alarm over the impact of a political standoff in Venezuela on families and children.

An internal UN report seen by AFP last week said seven million people — about 24 percent of Venezuela’s population — are in need of humanitarian aid, lacking access to food and medical care.

President Nicolas Maduro has blamed US sanctions for Venezuela’s economic problems but opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim leader, says government corruption and mismanagement are at fault.

Guaido is recognized by the United States and about 50 other governments.

The meeting to be held in open session is scheduled for around 11 am (1500 GMT).

AFP