Zimbabwe VP’s Wife In Court On Attempted Murder, Fraud Charges

 

The wife of Zimbabwe’s vice president was remanded in custody on Monday after appearing in court to face charges of fraud, money-laundering and attempted murder of her husband.

Marry Mubaiwa, 38, who is the wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, was arrested by Zimbabwe’s anti-graft commission on Saturday.

She was initially detained on suspicion of contravening the country’s exchange control act and of fraud.

Mubaiwa appeared in a Harare court on Monday and was held pending a December 30 hearing. She did not speak at the court but her attorney told local media they would apply for bail.

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Prosecutors said between 2018 and May this year, Mubaiwa withdrew amounts of from her foreign currency account in Zimbabwe to deposit into bank accounts in neighbouring South Africa under the pretext of paying for goods bought in that country.

She allegedly used part of the money to buy a house in the Waterkloof Golf Estate in the South African capital Pretoria and two luxury cars.

Prosecutors accuse Mubaiwa, a businesswoman and former model, of attempted murder while she accompanied her husband when he was airlifted for medical attention in South Africa.

In South Africa she allegedly took the ailing Chiwenga to a hotel, refusing to take him to hospital until his aides forced their way and took him to a clinic.

Prosecutors said “with intent to cause serious harm,” Mubaiwa went to Chiwenga’s hospital ward and asked his security aides to leave saying she wanted to have a private conversation with her husband.

Alone with the bedridden Chiwenga, Mubaiwa allegedly removed an intravenous line and a catheter from Chiwenga causing him to bleed profusely, the prosecution said.

“The accused then forced the complainant off his bed and took him by the hand and started walking out of the ward before being intercepted by the security personnel at the door,” the charge sheet for attempted murder count said.

Chiwenga, who led the ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, went to South Africa to seek emergency medical attention for an undisclosed ailment, before being transferred to a Chinese hospital from where he was discharged late November.

On his arrival he was welcomed by China’s deputy ambassador to Harare while his wife Marry was absent. There was also not a welcome ceremony held for Chiwenga at his rural home.

AFP

Babies Delivered On Floor As Zimbabwe’s Health System Wobble

Sixty-nine-year-old Esther Gwena, an untrained midwife who belongs to an Apostolic religious sect where she says she got her midwifery calling, spreads a tent sheeting on the floor for expectant mothers as she prepares herself for a long day ahead at her two-room apartment in Mbare high-density suburb in Harare, on November 21, 2019. Her house has served as a ‘maternity ward’ since nurses at Harare City Council clinics and maternity homes went on strike. Gwena says in a space of two weeks she has delivered as many as 250 children as a major health delivery crisis in Zimbabwe continues. PHOTO: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

The floor is dusty, the walls filthy and the furniture decrepit, but for two weeks last month a tiny flat in a Harare township was transformed into a maternity clinic where scores of babies were born.

Its owner, 69-year-old Esther Gwena, says she helped to deliver 250 infants as Zimbabwe’s health sector tottered — a feat that earned comparisons to Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.

Hundreds of junior medics at state hospitals began a strike three months ago because their salaries — less than $200 a month — are not enough to live on in a country gripped by 500 percent inflation.

Nurses are only working two days a week.

Those who can’t afford private care — the majority of the 14 million people reeling under an economic crisis compounded by acute food shortages — suffer at home or seek help from people like Gwena.

Senior doctors, in a letter last week, said state hospitals had become a “death trap” and warned of a “slow genocide”.

Gwena, a widow and member of the local Apostolic Faith sect, is a self-taught midwife.

When the health services strike peaked last month, she came to the rescue.

– ‘I had to do something’ –

“A man came to me and said there were two women in advanced labour at (a nearby clinic) but the place was closed because the nurses were on strike,” she told AFP in her two-room flat in Mbare township.

She rushed there and found that one of the women had a baby which had died.

“I took the other one to my place, where I helped her. The baby survived. From that time, I knew I had to do something,” she said.

Word that she was helping deliver babies for free spread quickly.

The state-owned television ZBC described her as “a modern Zimbabwean version of Florence Nightingale” and First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa visited Gwena and donated food, detergents and blankets.

A funeral services company chipped in with a mobile water tank and pitched a tent outside to serve as a waiting room for women before they went into advanced labour.

“I helped to deliver 250 babies … (they) are alive and kicking and at home with their mothers,” Gwena said.

Two weeks later, the government asked her to stop after a nearby maternity clinic reopened.

Winnie Denhere, 35, cradled her two-day-old baby boy outside the clinic, where she had taken him for an immunisation injection.

“Everything went very well, she didn’t ask us for money,” she said, speaking of Gwena, who brought her child into the world.

– ‘Patients are dying’ –

But while some laud Gwena as a selfless do-gooder, doctors worry that she exposed herself, the mothers, the babies to infection.

“We need to do something about our facilities so no one goes to her,” Harare’s director of medical services Prosper Chonzi, said.

Medicines have been in short supply and broken machines go unrepaired.

The government has fired 448 junior doctors for striking.

Senior doctors last week also stopped work in protest over the sacking of junior colleagues.

A senior doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the situation has become untenable.

“There is no public health in Zimbabwe at the moment; everything has come to a standstill,” he said, adding: “Patients are dying”.

Even the scarce equipment is often not right.

“One needs gloves that fit just right when performing delicate operations, but we get old gloves that are too big,” said another doctor.

A UN special rapporteur Hilal Elver on food security last week spoke of “disturbing information” that public hospitals had exhausted food stocks, forcing them to seek humanitarian aid and that medical equipment in some cases was “no longer operational”.

In the second largest city of Bulawayo, Zimbabweans living abroad are helping in a small way by crowdfunding and sending money back home to offer health care for the vulnerable.

One such initiative is Citizwean Clinic, which opened its doors last month and attended to hundreds of patients in the first five days — providing free consultation and drugs.

“We go to the hospital these days it’s bad, there are no doctors. We heard that there were doctors here,” said hypertensive patient Elina Dzingire, 63.

“We’ve really been helped here,” she told AFP from the clinic in the city’s Cowdray Park township.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo admitted the situation in hospitals is constrained but says the government will soon advertise the posts left vacant by the sacked doctors.

Mugabe Left $10m, Two Houses – Report

Zimbabwean Ex-President Robert Mugabe attends the 2nd Session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe binational Commission (BNC) at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Zimbabwe’s late former president Robert Mugabe left US$10 million, 10 cars, a farm and two houses, details of his estate released on Tuesday revealed.

The state-owned Herald newspaper said his daughter, Bona Nyepudzai Mutsahuni-Chikore, disclosed these assets to the High Court after the family had been unable to locate his will.

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The $10 million (nine million euros) was in a foreign currency account with a local bank, the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), the report said.

It did not identify the make or model of the 10 cars.

During his presidency, Mugabe, who styled himself as a leftwing radical, was reported to own several farms that were seized during his controversial land reforms.

Only one farm is listed on the inventory of his assets.

His other properties, according to the list given to the High Court on October 21, include two houses in posh suburbs of the capital, Harare; his rural homestead in Zvimba; a two-hectare (five-acre)farming plot in Zvimba and a five-acre orchard.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe from the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980 until being ousted in November 2017, died on September 6 at the age of 95 in Singapore, where he had been receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

“Mrs Grace Mugabe was listed as the sole surviving spouse while Bona, Robert, Bellarmine and stepson Russel Goreraza were listed as surviving children,” The Herald reported.

Mugabe once said in jest that he would remain in power until he turned 100.

He was ousted after 37 years in power and replaced by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe had fired weeks earlier.

The later years of his rule were characterised by food shortages, massive joblessness and the use of brutal force against his opponents.

Many had hoped Mnangagwa would fare better but the hardships that Zimbabweans suffered under Mugabe have returned to haunt the country.

According to the World Bank, extreme poverty is likely to affect 5.7 million Zimbabweans this year — equivalent to 34 percent of the population, after 29 percent in 2018.

Gross domestic product is likely to contract by 7.5 percent in 2019, it says.

AFP

Zimbabwe Facing ‘Man-Made’ Starvation, UN Expert Warns

 

Zimbabwe is facing “man-made” starvation with 60 percent of the people failing to meet basic food needs, a UN special envoy said on Thursday after touring the southern African country.

Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, ranked Zimbabwe among the four top countries facing severe food shortages outside nations in conflict zones.

“The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering a man-made starvation,” she told a news conference in Harare, adding that eight million people would be affected by the end of the year.

“Today, Zimbabwe counts amongst the four highest food insecure states,” she said after an 11-day tour, adding that poor harvests were compounded by 490 percent hyperinflation.

“A staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity” in rural areas due to a drought that has affected harvests, she said.

Another 2.2 million people in urban areas also faced food shortages and lacked access to minimum public services, including health and safe water.

“By the end of this year… the food security situation is expected to worsen with an estimated eight million people requiring urgent action to reduce food consumption gaps and save livelihoods,” she said, describing the numbers as “shocking”.

Zimbabwe is in the grips of an entrenched economic crisis, pervasive corruption, poverty and a crumbling health system.

The economy, crippled by decades of mismanagement under former president Robert Mugabe, has failed to rebound under Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over following a military-led coup two years ago.

“Political polarisation, economic and financial problems and erratic climatic conditions all contribute to the storm of food insecurity currently facing a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa,” Elver said.

She warned that food insecurity heightened “the risks of civil unrest and insecurity”.

“I urgently call on the government and the international community to come together to put an end to this spiralling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown social unrest,” she said.

AFP

Zimbabwe Turns To Charcoal For Cooking As Power Outage Bites

Prudence Mkonyo, a charcoal vendor in Zimbabwe, serves a customer as she stands beside 50-kilogramme polythene bags full of charcoal piled on top of each other as she openly sells her wares at Mbare Musika Market in Harare. PHOTO: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP

Miller Chizema walked through the forest near his home and came across a pile of freshly-cut logs — a sight that spurred the 82-year-old villager to dismay and anger.

The logs were arranged in such a way that they were ready to be burnt into charcoal — a fuel that has become a substitute for Zimbabwe’s energy shortages, at a terrible cost to its forests.

“It hurts to see forests decimated like this,” said Chizema, who lives in Mhondoro Ngezi, in the centre of the country, 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Harare.

Some loggers come from as far as Harare, “where we hear there is a big demand for charcoal,” he said.

“We, as elders, try to discourage the practice, but it’s all about money and survival.”

For nearly six months, Zimbabwe has been in the grip of chronic power cuts, sometimes running to 19 hours a day.

The price of cooking gas has increased more than six-fold since the start of the year, placing it beyond the reach of many.

For many lower-income urbanites, firewood and charcoal have become the go-to sources of substitute energy — and rogue logging is the result.

Zimbabwe is losing more than 330,000 hectares (815,000 acres) of forest annually, according to Abednigo Marufu, general manager of the Zimbabwe Forestry Commission.

That’s the equivalent to nearly half a million football pitches.

“Zimbabwe is losing quite a lot of trees and forests… everywhere because there is no electricity and our people need to feed themselves, they need heating in their homes,” he told AFP.

Even so, “agriculture is still the number one driver of deforestation,” he said.

A controversial land reform programme launched in 2000 saw a surge in the loss of forest cover as people cleared land for cultivation.

“Some of them started growing tobacco and cut down trees to use for curing their crop.”

The practice continues, as farmers view wood to be free compared to other options.

Dilemma

Authorities are confronted with an enforcement conundrum.

Charcoal production is outlawed in Zimbabwe but it can be imported from neighbouring Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, with special permits.

But Marufu said no such licences had been issued for over a year, yet Zimbabwe was awash with charcoal.

“How do you then know what charcoal is imported and locally produced?” Marufu asked rhetorically.

A lot of the older indigenous mopani trees have been reduced to stumps. AFP journalists saw numerous darkened patches where the logs had been piled and burnt into charcoal in the forests at Mhondoro-Ngezi.

Best Muchenje has been the district’s forestry officer for the past two years.

“Deforestation was already bad when I came here,” he told AFP.

“But the power crisis has worsened the situation, (and) the mopani tree is a target because it is hard and produces quality charcoal.”

Mopani is one of the country’s iconic indigenous trees that easily survive hot and dry conditions.

The law allows those living in the sparsely populated villages to cut trees for personal use and not for commercial purposes.

‘Forests or humans’

But for unemployed villagers like Enia Shagini, lack of money forces them to risk being fined or even jailed for cutting down trees for charcoal.

She sells a 50-kilogram (110-pound) bag for the equivalent of less than 50 US cents (40 euro centimes).

“We have children to send to school,” said the mother of three, bemoaning a crackdown on illicit charcoal production which has widely been ignored.

In the capital, charcoal vendors at the Mbare market, just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Harare, display dozens of 50-kilo polythene bags of charcoal for sale.

Prudence Mkonyo claimed she got her charcoal from Nyamapanda, near the border with Mozambique.

“It’s difficult bringing the stuff to Harare,” she said.

“We ferry it on trucks at night but sometimes you have to deal with the police at roadblocks. You need to be prepared to pay them bribes when you get stopped.”

She sold her charcoal at the equivalent of between US$2.50 and US$3.00 a bag, but sales are slow.

People are struggling with unemployment and the country’s worst economic crisis in a decade.

“There isn’t much money going around so business is really bad. Some people are burning discarded plastic soft drink bottles for cooking.”

While the law is clear on production of charcoal, the government is in a dilemma.

“It’s a very complicated issue,” Nqobizitha Ndlovu, newly-appointed minister for the environment and climate change, told AFP.

“We acknowledge the shortage of electricity and that gas is expensive, so wood and charcoal are alternatives. So while we are worried about forests, we also worry about human beings.”

AFP

Zimbabwe VP Returns After Months Of Medical Care In China

At Least 31 Dead As Cyclone Idai Hits Eastern Zimbabwe

 

Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who led the ousting of Robert Mugabe, returned home Saturday, four months after he was airlifted to China for medical care, state media reported.

Chiwenga, 63, who is seen as a major power-broker in Zimbabwean politics, had been in and out of hospital since the start of this year.

In July, the government said he was being flown to China for “further tests” after he had been hospitalised in neighbouring South Africa.

His ailment has not been disclosed.

Zimbabwe’s public health services have practically collapsed and more than 400 doctors have been sacked in recent weeks after they stopped going to work saying their salaries – decimated by hyperinflation – were not even enough for the commute to hospitals.

Those Zimbabweans who can afford it seek treatment in South Africa or elsewhere.

Ex-president Robert Mugabe died in September in Singapore where he had been receiving treatment for five months.

Chiwenga was welcomed back by the Chinese deputy ambassador to Harare Zhao Baogang, according to state broadcaster ZBC.

A video clip of his airport arrival shared on social media, showed no senior government official among the delegation receiving him when he stepped off a Chinese aircraft.

The then army chief led the military takeover that ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule in 2017.

Zimbabwe Issues Fresh Banknotes To Ease Cash Shortages

A man shows a wad of the new Zimbabwe two-dollar notes he received from a bank in Harare on November 12, 2019. PHOTO: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Cash-strapped Zimbabweans began using new banknotes and coins Tuesday, as the nation’s central bank seeks to ease chronic shortages.

The Zimbabwean dollar is being gradually reintroduced, after being rendered worthless by decades of economic mismanagement under former president Robert Mugabe.

That forced the country to rely on US dollars for a decade.

New two- and five-dollar notes were disbursed by the central bank on Monday.

One Zimbabwean dollar is currently worth around six US cents.

“Bond” notes — a legal tender pegged to the US dollar — were introduced in 2016 to alleviate chronic cash shortages and ease a transition back to Zimbabwean dollars.

These were then supplemented with electronic RTGS dollars in June 2019.

But cash remains hard to come by, and most people use mobile money and now-banned foreign currencies to pay for goods.

Withdrawals remain capped at a maximum of 300 new Zimbabwean dollars ($18) per week per customer – which buys less than three kilogrammes of beef.

Account holders wait long hours to draw cash.

In Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, bank customers remained sceptical.

“There is no difference,” Milton Mushangwe, 37, told AFP. “The withdrawal limits remain the same.”

“We are still getting the same small amount of 100 dollars or less,” added another customer, Richard Govha.

Zimbabwe’s reserve bank said that only 31 million new Zimbabwean dollars (less than $2 million) had been disbursed so far, of a planned total of one billion that is to be drip-fed into the system over the next six months.

AFP

Zimbabweans March Against US, EU Sanctions

 

Zimbabweans staged a mass government-orchestrated protest on Friday against sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union during the despotic rule of late ex-leader Robert Mugabe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been battling to re-engage with the West since Mugabe was ousted by the military in November 2017.

His administration organised the demonstration in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, demanding the lifting of sanctions that have weighed down the country for more than two decades.

Thousands of people gathered for the event — which was declared a national holiday — waving posters and banners as they marched towards the national sports stadium.

Some rode on top of buses, chanting slogans.

“Sanctions are a crime against humanity,” read one banner.

“ZIDERA must go,” said another, referring to sanctions imposed by the United States in 2001, at the height of land reforms that saw hundreds of white-owned farms violently seized.

Tensions escalated further when the Mugabe regime kicked out European Union observers and cracked down on opposition party members ahead of a presidential vote in 2002.

The sanctions were aimed at high-ranking officials and government institutions, including travel bans on Mugabe and his inner circle.

US President Donald Trump extended the penalties in March to more than 100 individuals and entities, Mnangagwa included.

 ‘Immeasurable impact’ 

On Friday, the president and his wife Auxilia paraded through the streets of Harare, escorted by a brass band playing religious and political songs.

“We know very well that the sanctions are neither smart nor targeted,” he said in an address to the crowds at the stadium.

“Their impact on our daily lives is immeasurable and the consequences are dire.”

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters that Zimbabwe had been “ostracised” by investors.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in tatters since Mugabe brought in a series of misguided policies that brought a once-thriving agricultural industry to its knees.

Hyperinflation has rendered most goods unaffordable and basics such as fuel and medicine are scarce.

The downturn only worsened under Mnangagwa, who has pledged to revive the economy and attract investment.

But the cash-strapped government still found resources to bus hundreds of people in from rural areas to take part in Friday’s protest.

Public universities were also asked to send 500 students per faculty to march.

At the stadium, participants were each handed a box of chicken and chips.

‘Hinder progress’ 

Zimbabwe’s southern African neighbours also voiced their support and called for the sanctions to be lifted.

“Mnangagwa has made significant efforts… to revamp the economy of Zimbabwe,” Zambian President Edgar Lungu said in a statement on Thursday.

“The continuous restrictive sanctions hinder the country from making significant progress.”

A handful of anti-sanctions marches were also organised in South Africa, where thousands of Zimbabweans have sought better living prospects.

“We do this because the sanctions on Zimbabwe affect the region and South Africa in particular,” said Jacob Khawe, a regional representative of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party.

“Zimbabweans have been converted into homeless people by these sanctions. They run all over the world trying to find survival,” Khawe told  reporters at a protest outside the US embassy on Friday.

Both the US and the EU have defended their stance.

“The biggest sanctions on Zimbabwe are the limitations it puts on itself,” tweeted the US ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols. “That should be the focus of the government.”

The EU embassy said it had only imposed an arms embargo, a travel and asset freeze against Mugabe and his wife, and a ban on doing business with Zimbabwean defence companies.

The US embassy also blasted Zimbabwe’s government for corruption and alleged embezzlement.

“Not the way to build confidence in Zim & attract foreign business & investment,” it said on Twitter.

Mnangagwa has come under fire since January, when at least 17 people were killed and scores wounded after the army brutally broke up a protest against rising fuel prices.

The army also used force to control a demonstration by unarmed civilians protesting a delay in the announcement of vote results last year. Six people died and dozens were injured.

Amnesty International and several other rights groups have accused Mnangagwa of human rights abuses.

Dozens Of Elephants Die In Zimbabwe Drought

FILE PHOTO/AFP

 

At least 55 elephants have died in a month in Zimbabwe due to a lack of food and water, its wildlife agency said Monday, as the country faces one of the worst droughts in its history.

More than five million rural Zimbabweans — nearly a third of the population — are at risk of food shortages before the next harvest in 2020, the United Nations has warned.

The shortages have been caused by the combined effects of an economic downturn and a drought blamed on the El Nino weather cycle.

The impact is being felt at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve.

“Since September, we have lost at least 55 elephants in Hwange National Park due to starvation and lack of water,” Zimbabwe National Parks spokesman Tinashe Farawo told AFP.

Farawo said the park was overpopulated and that food and water was scarce “due to drought”.

Africa’s elephant numbers have dropped from around 415,000 to 111,000 over the past decade, mainly due to poaching for ivory, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

But Zimbabwe, like other countries in the southern African region, is struggling with overpopulation.

“Hwange was meant for 15,000 elephants but at the moment we are talking of more than 50,000,” Farawo said.

“The situation is dire. We are desperately waiting for the rains.”

An adult elephant drinks 680 litres (180 gallons) of water per day on average and consumes 450 kilogrammes (990 pounds) of food.

Hungry elephants have been breaking out of Zimbabwe’s game reserves and raiding human settlements in search for food, posing a threat to surrounding communities.

Farawo said 200 people have died in “human-and-animal conflict” in the past five years, and “at least 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of crop have been destroyed by elephants”.

The authorities took action earlier this year by selling nearly 100 elephants to China and Dubai for $2.7 million.

Farawo said the money had been allocated to anti-poaching and conservation projects.

Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have called for a global ban on elephant ivory trade to be relaxed in order to cull numbers and ease pressure on their territories.

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

Zimbabwe’s Ex-President Mugabe Finally Laid To Rest

 

The body of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe was buried on Saturday in a low-key ceremony in his home village after weeks of wrangling over his final resting place.

Family members threw white roses into the grave as the coffin of the liberation hero turned despot, draped in navy blue velvet, was lowered to its final resting place in the courtyard of his rural home about 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of Harare.

A boys choir from Mugabe‘s old highschool sang in the background.

The burial in the village of Kutama came after the Mugabe family finally opted to reject government proposals that he be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.

Mugabe died in a Singapore hospital on September 6, aged 95, almost two years after a military coup ended his autocratic 37-year rule.

Hundreds of mourners assembled for the burial, which was initially intended to be a private family event.

Many wore white Mugabe-emblazoned T-shirts with the slogans “founding father”, “liberator” and “torchbearer”.

Some sang and danced. Others sat quietly under two white tents.

Mugabe’s widow Grace and his children accompanied the coffin.

 

 

Clad in black, they took their places in a VIP tent ahead of the service.

The words “DAD” and “BABA”, meaning “father” in the local Shona language were spelled out in white flowers.

“Our hearts are bleeding because we have lost our father,” said the priest, standing next to a portrait of Mugabe framed by white carnations.

“This is a man who made use of the gifts he was given by God. This man was an asset, he was not a liability.”

No senior government officials were among the audience.

– ‘It’s his wish’ –

A mausoleum was being constructed at the site in Harare reserved for heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

However, the family said on Saturday he would not have wished to have been buried there.

“What we have done is his wish,” said Grace’s older sister Shuvai Gumbochuma, addressing mourners in Shona.

“He (Mugabe) said with his own mouth that he didn’t want to be buried at the heroes acre,” she said.

The ruling ZANU-PF party described the family’s decision as “most unfortunate”.

“All patriotic Zimbabweans were shocked to learn that the remains of the former president had been surreptitiously taken yesterday to Zvimba for a private burial,” said spokesman Simon Khaya-Moyo in a statement on Friday.

Former guerrilla leader Mugabe took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Initially hailed as a pan-African liberator, Mugabe‘s rule became increasingly repressive as he cracked down on his political opponents.

This was combined with a series of disastrous economic policies that drove millions of Zimbabweans abroad.

Mugabe was eventually toppled by his formerly loyal military generals in 2017.

Many in the family are bitter over his ouster and the role played by his deputy and successor Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was elected president in 2018.

 

 

The army turned against Mugabe after he sacked Mnangagwa, a move many saw as an attempt to position Grace to succeed him.

Zimbabwe remains deeply split over his legacy.

“I was very comfortable that he be buried at the heroes acre,” said local official Christopher Ndlovu before the ceremony.

“That’s what we wanted as local villagers. But since it’s a family decision to bury him here, we will respect it.”

 

 

Mugabe To Be Buried Saturday At Rural Home, Says Family

The casket containing the body of Zimbabwe’s late former president, Robert Mugabe is hoisted by soldiers in ceremonial uniform after it arrived on September 12, 2019 at the historic Rufaro stadium in the capital, Harare.

 

 

Zimbabwe’s ex-president Robert Mugabe will be buried Saturday afternoon, his nephew said Friday, after the remains were moved from his Harare house to his rural village ahead of the event.

The country’s founding leader died in a Singapore hospital earlier this month, aged 95, almost two years after a military coup ended his nearly four-decade rule.

After weeks of wrangling between government and his family over the final resting place, the Mugabes have opted to entomb him at his birth place and rural home, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) west of the capital.

“As per our Zimbabwean tradition, the elderly are always buried in the afternoon, so it will be after 2pm (1200GMT),” Leo Mugabe told AFP.

The body was moved by road on Thursday evening with a police and military vehicle escort, according to a video clip shared on Twitter.

It was the second time it made its way back to Kutama village in Zvimba district where Mugabe was born 95 years ago.

When the body was first taken home last week for the public to pay their last respects, it was airlifted by a military helicopter.

“The body arrived (at the village) around 1900 hours, yesterday,” nephew and family spokesman Leo Mugabe told AFP on Friday.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told the state-owned The Herald daily on Thursday that “the body of the late Mugabe left Harare for Zvimba, awaiting burial set for Saturday”.

Mausoleum snub

The decision to bury Mugabe in the village has been seen as an apparent snub of the government offer to bury him at a specially-built mausoleum at a national heroes shrine in Harare where dozens of other prominent independence war veterans are interred.

The family had previously agreed to have his body entombed at the shrine where preparations for the special mausoleum were already in progress.

Minister Ziyambi said the family had earlier consented that they were “happy with burial at Heroes Acre”, but suddenly on Thursday “they indicated that they want to go to Zvimba and (the) government agreed”.

The family gave no reason for the change of plans.

The former guerilla leader, who came to power at the end of white minority rule in 1980 and ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted for 37 years and seven months, died of prostate cancer, according to his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He was toppled on November 2017 in a military-backed coup, ending an increasingly iron-fisted rule marked by political oppression and economic ruin.

Mugabe’s health deteriorated rapidly after the ousting and he made regular medical trips to Singapore, where he died on September 6.