Zimbabwe Receives First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Zimbabwe officials receive a cargo plane with COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: @edmnangagwa/Twitter

 

Zimbabwe has received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced.

The President, on Monday, shared photos of a cargo plane with COVID-19 vaccines while making the announcement via his official Twitter handle.

He also announced the country will start COVID-19 vaccination this week.

“The first batch of vaccines for Zimbabwe has been successfully delivered. We start vaccinating Zimbabweans this week!

“The faster our country is protected against this virus, the faster Zimbabwe’s economy can flourish,” Mnangagwa tweeted.

This positions Zimbabwe as the first southern African country to start inoculating citizens.

 

Zimbabwe Health Ministry had earlier on Friday said it will begin its Covid-19 vaccination campaign this week.

READ ALSO: Lebanon Receives First COVID-19 Vaccines

The ministry said it expects to take delivery of the first shipment of 800,000 vaccine doses, 200,000 of which were donated by the Chinese government.

“The vaccine will immediately be distributed to all provinces and districts across the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The vaccination programme begins next week after the country takes delivery of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines,” it added.

The vaccines will be first distributed to 10 provincial storage facilities, then to 1,800 clinics, it said, adding that there was adequate cold chain equipment to keep the vaccines “in their potent state up to the point of use”.

Frontline workers deemed most at risk of infection have been lined up to receive the first shots.

The government aims to vaccinate 10 million of its over 14.5 million population to achieve community immunity.

Zimbabwe Introduces Curfew As Coronavirus Infections Spike

Zimbabwe President and candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa stands after casting his ballot at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe on July 30 2018, during Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections to elect the president and members of Parliament. (File Photo)
Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

 

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday imposed a curfew and reinstated strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus following a spike in cases in recent weeks.

The number of cases recorded in the southern African country, whose health system has been tottering from years of neglect, rose by nearly a third over the past week to a total 1,713 cases.

The number of deaths climbed from 18 to 26.

“We can no longer be complacent and that requires urgent and decisive measures,” Mnangagwa said during a national address.

“These urgent and necessary measures will entail curtailing the freedoms we have always enjoyed and grown accustomed to.”

Starting Wednesday, security forces will enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Mnangagwa said “all non-working” people will be required to stay at home and may only go out to buy groceries and seek health care.

Travel between cities and gatherings of more than 50 people for social, religious and political reasons remained banned.

Mnangagwa initially imposed a 21-day lockdown on March 30, banning large gatherings and ordering most businesses to close except food shops in a move aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

In May he relaxed the restrictions, allowing large corporations to open but under strict conditions to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.

The latest measures effectively ban a protest organised by opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume against state corruption and worsening economic troubles.

The nationwide protests had been slated for July 31.

Police arrested Ngarivhume along with prominent investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono.

Chin’ono had lately been writing about alleged corruption involving funds earmarked for anti-coronavirus supplies in what was dubbed “Covidgate”.

They were both charged with incitement to commit public violence.

Mnangagwa Begs For Patience To Fix Zimbabwe’s Ailing Economy

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during the Defence Forces Day celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on August 14, 2018. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday acknowledged the economic hardships Zimbabweans are suffering and pleaded for patience to allow his government to fix the country’s rapidly deteriorating economy.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been badly suffering for two decades but the last 12 months have been the worst decline in 10 years, characterised by shortages of basic goods such as fuel and electricity.

Even when such goods are available, they are often unaffordable for most Zimbabweans.

Annual inflation neared 300 percent in August, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The government has been introducing what economists have called “piecemeal” policies to raise revenue, fix currency distortions and increase cash liquidity.

But Mnangagwa was upbeat in an annual speech to parliament on Tuesday, saying that his government’s economic reforms “are beginning to bear fruit”.

“I am aware of the pain being experienced by the poor and the marginalised”, but “getting the economy working again will require time, patience, unity of purpose and perseverance”.

The local currency has fallen from parity against the American dollar to 16.5 Zimbabwean dollars (ZWL) since June, when the treasury introduced currency reforms in a bid to address the chronic monetary crisis.

The local unit briefly breached 20 against to the greenback last week before clawing back a little value.

“Last week’s events of exchange rate manipulation amounts to economic sabotage and should not be tolerated,” said Mnangagwa, referring the near crush of the currency which saw the central bank freeze bank accounts of a Zimbabwean company linked to global commodities trader Trafigura.

On Monday the central bank unexpectedly shut down the use of mobile phone banking for cash transactions, citing exorbitant commission fees.

Years of economic crisis have left the country short of bank notes and commercial banks have been rationing cash withdrawals to a maximum daily limit of 100 ZWL (US$10) per customer.

That limit has led many Zimbabweans to turn to electronic financial transactions as well as using mobile transfers to buy cash.

Mnangagwa said he was “fully aware of the challenges faced by the public in accessing cash, which has resulted in some unscrupulous traders selling cash in exchange for electronic money” and promised to fix the problem.

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, said that a state-of-the-nation address “that does not address key issues facing the nation such as lack of electricity, water, fuel, non availability of cash, poor wages, human rights abuses, terror, abductions, illegitimacy and reforms is a waste of resources and an unprovoked insult”.

“This invites us all to act!” Chamisa said after his lawmakers walked out of parliament shortly before Mnangagwa stood up to deliver his speech.

A UN special rapporteur Clement Nyaletsossi Voule visited Zimbabwe last week and concluded that “there is a serious deterioration of the political, economic and social environment since August 2018”.

Mnangagwa won a July 30 election last year, taking over after 37 years of authoritarian rule under Zimbabwe’s founding president Robert Mugabe, who died in hospital last month.

AFP

Relatives Fly To Singapore To Bring Mugabe’s Body Home

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 2, 2002, Former President Robert Mugabe listens to speeches during a session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) at Sandton convention center in Johannesburg. Anna ZIEMINSKI / AFP

Close relatives and government officials flew out of Zimbabwe on Monday to collect the body of ex-president Robert Mugabe from Singapore where he died last week, his nephew said.

Mugabe, a guerrilla leader who swept to power after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain and went on to rule for 37 years until he was ousted in 2017, died on Friday, aged 95.

Mugabe’s health deteriorated after he was toppled by the military and former loyalists in November 2017, ending an increasingly tyrannical rule that sent the economy into ruin.

A charter flight left Harare at nine am (0700 GMT) on Monday with family and senior party members and was expected to return with Mugabe’s body on Wednesday at 1300 GMT, the nephew and family spokesman Leo Mugabe told AFP.

Leo Mugabe said although he was devastated at his uncle’s death, he believed he was “rested” after the coup in November 2017 when his former trusted lieutenants turned against him.

“When he was 93, 94, he was able to walk, but the speed with which he deteriorated after the coup is just incredible, and I can imagine what was going through him and it’s why I’m saying he has rested,” he said.

“It was sudden, it was just like revolution overnight, he could not believe that those he trusted most turned against him, people that he depended upon turned against him.”

Although he sent his daughter to represent him at the inauguration of his former ally and successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe suggested his uncle never healed.

“I don’t quite think that healing process ended, it ate into him to such an extent that God just said he must rest… I think we must just celebrate his life,” he said.

Zimbabweans still struggle daily to access basic services and supplies, leaving many divided over how to mourn a former leader once hailed as a liberation hero but who later brutally repressed his opponents.

 Final respects

On arrival, Mugabe’s body will be taken straight to his rural village in Kutama, in Zvimba district, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) west of the capital Harare, for an overnight wake.

On Thursday and Friday the body will lie in state at Rufaro Stadium in Mbare township in Harare for the public to pay their final respects, Leo Mugabe said.

“The government has organised people from all over the country’s provinces (to) come and bid their farewell at Rufaro stadium on Thursday and Friday.”

The 35,000-seater stadium is where Mugabe took his oath of office at a colourful ceremony when colonial Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith handed over the country.

There Mugabe hoisted the new Zimbabwe flag and lit the independence flame on April 18, 1980 – bringing hope for a new era after a long guerrilla war.

The body will be kept at his Harare house commonly known as the Blue Roof overnight Thursday and Friday.

The official funeral will be on Saturday at the giant 60,000-seater National Sports Stadium in Harare where foreign leaders are expected to attend.

“Then the (traditional) chiefs will bury him on Sunday, where I don’t know,” said Leo Mugabe.

 Burial dispute

The location of the burial remains unclear, with Mugabe’s family and President Mnangagwa’s government apparently at odds over whether it would be at his homestead northwest of Harare or at a shrine for liberation heroes in the capital.

His nephew said that in line with native Shona customs, traditional chiefs from Zvimba will have a final say on where the former leader will be buried.

As a national president he did not excercise the role of a traditional ruler, but Mugabe held the respected title of traditional chief of Zvimba rural district.

“If a chief dies, the announcement is not like how we announce any other person who is dead. Even his burial place remains a mystery,” the nephew said.

“The chiefs and the elders are the ones that determine which cave they are going to put him in and where they are going to bury him.”

AFP

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader, Chamisa Insists He Won Elections

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance speaks during a press conference at the MDC headquarters in Harare, on August 25, 2018. PHOTO: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Saturday refused to accept a Constitutional Court ruling that upheld Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win in presidential elections last month. 

In his first comments since the country’s top court overturned the opposition’s legal challenge to have the results annulled, Chamisa vowed to lead “peaceful protests”.

“I have a legitimate claim that I am supposed to lead the people of Zimbabwe,” the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said Saturday.

“Yes, judgement has been made but as far as we are concerned, we have a view that is contrary to the view of the Constitutional Court,” Chamisa said.

“The court’s decision is not the people’s decision. The people who voted do not believe in (Mnangagwa). We have got a clear majority.”

In a verdict widely predicted by analysts, Chief Justice Luke Malaba strongly criticised the MDC party’s case and upheld Mnangagwa’s win.

Robert Mugabe’s successor Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won the July 30 election with 50.8 percent of the vote — just enough to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off against Chamisa, who scored 44.3 percent.

The elections were largely judged to be free of the violence which characterised previous elections in Zimbabwe.

Chamisa insists he won more than two-thirds of the vote.

“The legal door is not the only door to happiness,” he said. “Using our constitutional right, we have a right to peaceful protests. This is the route we will take. One of them.”

Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe after the long-time ruler was ousted following a brief military takeover in November 2017.

He vowed to hold free and fair elections and mend strained relations with the west but his plan was marred when soldiers fired at protesters on August 1 killing at least six people.

His inauguration will now take place on Sunday.

AFP

Buhari Congratulates Malian, Zimbabwean Presidents On Election Victories

Buhari Congratulates Malian, Zimbabwean Presidents On Election Victories
President Muhammadu Buhari (file)

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the President of Mali, Ibrahim Keita, and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Emmerson Mnangagwa, on their election victories.

The President rejoiced with both leaders on behalf of the Nigerian Government and its people, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Friday.

He commended the majority of Malians for re-electing Mr Keita and giving him another opportunity to serve them after the August 12 presidential run-off.

The ECOWAS Chairman urged the main challenger, Soumaila Cisse, and his supporters to abide by the verdict of the people as confirmed by the ruling of the constitutional court.

He also advised Cisse to join hands with the Malian President in the interest of the country in particular, as well as the peace and stability of West Africa.

President Buhari believes that the successful outcome of the election in Mali further strengthens Africa’s democratic credentials, as the people are allowed to choose their leaders without let or hindrance.

He wished Mr Keita a successful second tenure in a peaceful and stable atmosphere.

Similarly, the President congratulated Mr Mnangagwa following his declaration by the constitutional court in Zimbabwe as the lawful winner of the July presidential poll.

President Buhari also called on all Zimbabweans, especially the politicians, to unite and work for the progress and development of their country.

Zimbabwe Court Dismisses Opposition Bid To Annul Election

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photo: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s top court on Friday dismissed an opposition bid to have presidential election results annulled over alleged rigging in favour of Robert Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“In the final analysis, the court finds the applicant has failed to place before it clear, direct, sufficient and credible evidence” of irregularities, said Chief Justice Luke Malaba in his ruling at the Constitutional Court in Harare.

“Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is duly declared the winner of presidential elections held on the 30th of July 2018.”

Analysts had widely predicted the court would rule against the opposition MDC party’s case.

Malaba dismissed the application with costs after strongly criticising the legal challenge.

Lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition had argued that the results should be annulled due to alleged “massive doctoring” of the vote.

Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, won the election with 50.8 percent of the vote — just enough to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off against MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 percent.

Zimbabwe Arrests President Mnangagwa’s Critic Over Facebook Post

Zimbabwe President and candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa stands after casting his ballot at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe on July 30 2018, during Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections to elect the president and members of Parliament. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwean police have arrested a critic of Emmerson Mnangagwa on charges of insulting the president in a Facebook post, lawyers said Thursday, highlighting allegations of a crackdown on government opponents.

Munyaradzi Shoko, a well-known critic of Mnangagwa, was held after he posted statements on Facebook saying the president’s name was “generally associated with evil and devilish deeds.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda said Shoko was arrested on Wednesday.

“They detained him at Harare central police station where they charged him with criminal nuisance,” Mafunda told AFP.

“They said his statements were likely to interfere with the ordinary comfort, peace and quiet of the public.”

Police not immediately available to comment.

Mafunda said Shoko, who heads the pressure group Children of Zimbabwe War Veterans Association, was also charged with public violence for allegedly taking part in protests by opposition supporters after July 30 elections.

At least six people were killed after soldiers opened fire at the protests.

Mngangagwa won the presidential election, though the results are being challenged in court.

The government and security forces have been accused of a violent crackdown on MDC opposition supporters since the vote.

Mngangagwa succeeded long-time ruler Robert Mugabe who was ousted in November 2017 following a brief military takeover.

AFP

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Challenges Bid To Overturn Poll Results

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during the Defence Forces Day celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on August 14, 2018. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Wednesday filed a counter-petition challenging the opposition’s court bid to overturn election results that gave a narrow victory to incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa.

ZANU-PF submitted its papers to the Constitutional Court, which is considering an appeal by the opposition MDC party alleging that the election was rigged in favour of Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe’s former vice president.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused ZANU-PF and the election commission of ballot fraud in the July 30 vote, Zimbabwe’s first poll since the ousting of Mugabe in November.

“We have filed our papers opposing the petition filed by the MDC,” Paul Mangwana, a ZANU-PF spokesman and member of the legal team, told AFP.

“It’s now up to the court to decide.”

Mnangagwa narrowly won the presidential race with 50.8 per cent of the vote — just enough to avoid a run-off against the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 per cent.

Mnangagwa’s inauguration – which has been planned for last Sunday — was postponed until the court makes its ruling.

Mnangagwa had vowed the elections would be free and fair and would turn a page on Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule.

The election was marred by the army opening fire on protesters, killing six, allegations of vote-rigging and a crackdown on opposition activists.

Analysts say that MDC’s legal challenge has little chance of success given the courts’ historic tilt towards ZANU-PF, which has ruled since independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

“It’s a high hurdle to get over,” Derek Matyszak, a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, told AFP. “It’s almost a foregone conclusion.”

Judges have 14 days from August 10 to rule on the case.

AFP

Mnangagwa Says Disputed Zimbabwe Election ‘Behind Us’

Zimbabwe President and candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa stands after casting his ballot at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe on July 30 2018, during Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections to elect the president and members of Parliament.
Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday called for the country to move on from its disputed election, despite his victory being challenged in court over alleged fraud and his inauguration delayed.

The country’s first election since the fall of Robert Mugabe was mired by the army opening fire on protesters, allegations of vote-rigging and a crackdown on opposition activists.

Mnangagwa, who narrowly won the July 30 vote, took power last year when military generals ousted Mugabe after 37 years in office.

“It’s now time to put the election period behind us and embrace the future,” the president-elect said at a speech on the annual day honouring Zimbabwe’s independence heroes.

“The task facing us today is a great one,” he added.

“We should never be deterred by temporary setbacks and regrettable events we have encountered.”

Mnangagwa, a former long-term ally of Mugabe, repeated his accusation that the opposition MDC party was responsible for violence at an anti-fraud protest when soldiers opened fire killing six people.

The MDC party on Friday lodged a Constitutional Court appeal against the election result, forcing Mnangagwa’s inauguration, which had been due on Sunday, to be postponed.

The court must make its ruling within 14 days, though analysts say the judicial system is tilted in favour of Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party, which has held power since independence from British colonial rule in 1980.

Mnangagwa, 75, had vowed to hold a credible and peaceful election to re-launch the country and revive its shattered economy after the Mugabe era.

He narrowly won the presidential race with 50.8 per cent of the vote — just enough to avoid a run-off against the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 per cent.

Zimbabwe President Defends ‘Free, Fair And Credible Election’

Zimbabwe President and candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa stands after casting his ballot at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe on July 30 2018, during Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections to elect the president and members of Parliament.
Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday defended the landmark election in which he was declared victorious, despite claims from the opposition of vote-rigging.

“Here was a celebration of Zimbabwean democracy, a festival of unfettered freedom. With the eyes of the world on us we delivered a free, fair and credible election,” Mnangagwa told reporters.

Zimbabwe Riot Police Clear Journalists Waiting For Chamisa News Conference

MDC opposition leader Nelson Chamisa arrives at the Bronte Hotel in Harare for a press conference minutes after he was broken up by several dozen riot police armed with tear gas cannisters, on August 3, 2018, as Zimbabwe’s opposition rejected today what it said were the “fake” results of landmark elections.
Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zimbabwean riot police chased away journalists waiting for a news conference by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Friday (August 3), shouting “out, out,” a Reuters witness said.

Chamisa has questioned the outcome of Monday’s (July 30) presidential election, in which he lost out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The election, the first since the army removed 94-year-old Robert Mugabe from office in November, passed off relatively smoothly on the day, raising hopes of a break from a history of disputed and violent polls.

But an army crackdown on opposition supporters in which six people were killed and opposition claims that the vote was rigged revealed the deep rifts in Zimbabwean society that developed during Mugabe’s four decades in power, when the security forces became a byword for heavy-handedness.