Author Arrested In Zimbabwe During Banned Protest

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga holds a placard during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road, on July 31, 2020 in Harare. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP
Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga holds a placard during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road, on July 31, 2020 in Harare. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP

 

Police in Zimbabwe on Friday arrested internationally-acclaimed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga as they enforced a ban on protests coinciding with the anniversary of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election.

Dangarembga, 61, was taken away in a police truck as she demonstrated in the upmarket Harare suburb of Borrowdale alongside another protester, an AFP photographer saw.

Streets in the centre of the city were largely deserted as police and soldiers set up checkpoints to prevent entry.

Opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, head of a small party called Transform Zimbabwe, had called for demonstrations against alleged state corruption and the country’s slumping economy

The protests were timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Mnangagwa’s election, which the opposition says was a fraud.

But most people stayed at home after police on Thursday issued a ban and warned of a tough response.

“All security arms of government are on full alert and will deal decisively with any individuals or groups fomenting violence,” it warned.

There were more checkpoints and roadblocks than usual on roads leading to the centre of the capital, manned by police and soldiers.

In the central business district, police carrying batons or riot shields were heavily deployed, an AFP journalist saw.

Novelist arrested

In the suburbs, only a handful of people appeared to brave the ban.

An AFP photographer saw Dangarembga and a fellow protester, Julie Barnes, hauled into a truck full of police armed with AK-47 rifles and riot gear.

Shortly afterwards, she tweeted: “Arrested! At Borrowdale. Ope it will be OK”. She also tweeted a photo of herself and Barnes, sitting on the floor at a police station.

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga (C) and a colleague Julie Barnes hold placards as they are arrested during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road, on July 31, 2020 in Harare. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP
Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga (C) and a colleague Julie Barnes hold placards as they are arrested during an anti-corruption protest march along Borrowdale road, on July 31, 2020 in Harare. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP

 

She had been carrying placards calling for reforms and the release of Hopewell Chin’ono, a prominent journalist arrested last week under a government crackdown.

Minutes before her arrest, she told AFP: “It seems that there has been a big reaction by the authorities to this protest.

“They declared it illegal — I’m not quite sure (why), apart from the fact that they don’t want it…Our constitution gives Zimbabweans the right to demonstrate peacefully and that’s what we are doing.”

The Cambridge-educated author is the only Zimbabwean woman writer to win the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and has often been praised for speaking out on women’s issues.

She leapt to prominence in 1988 with “Nervous Conditions”, a coming-of-age story about a girl’s battle to escape poverty and gain an education. The book became an instant classic.

Her arrest came days after her latest novel, “This Mournable Body,” entered the long list for the Booker Prize.

In a statement, police confirmed she had been arrested “for trying to incite the public to engage in illegal demonstrations while carrying placards written various political messages meant to cause public disorder.”

Among several others arrested Friday was Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer and spokeswoman for the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance.

Mahere live-streamed via Facebook images of riot police scaling metal barriers into a suburban eatery where she had retreated after her protest, and arrested her.

The British ambassador in Harare, Melanie Robinson tweeted: “Very concerned about reports of abductions, arrests and threats targeting those exercising constitutional rights. Freedom of expression is vital even in times of COVID19, with social distancing observed”.

Poverty and hunger

The government had denounced the protests, calling them an “insurrection”.

Ruling ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa earlier this week claimed that US ambassador Brian Nicholls was sponsoring the protests and called him “a thug”.

Zimbabwe'S President Emmerson Mnangagwa wears a protective face shield and facemask as he delivers a speech during the burial ceremony of Zimbabwe's agriculture minister Perrance Shiri at the National Heroes Acre on July 31 2020. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP
Zimbabwe’S President Emmerson Mnangagwa wears a protective face shield and facemask as he delivers a speech on July 31, 2020. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Mnangagwa took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017.

But hopes among many that he would end Mugabe’s disastrous economic slump have been dashed, and many Zimbabweans say they are worse off than before.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says some 8.6 million Zimbabweans, or 60 percent of the population, will require food aid as a result of a drought, economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country has recorded 3,092 virus cases including 53 deaths.

 

 

AFP

Zimbabwe Minister Shiri Died Of Coronavirus, Says President

In this file photograph taken on December 4, 2017, former Zimbawean air force commander Perrance Shiri (L), who was appointed Lands and Agriculture minister, takes his oath of office in a new cabinet at State House in Harare. AFP

 

 

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, a retired general who commanded an army unit accused of a notorious massacre in the 1980s, succumbed to coronavirus, the president said on Thursday.

Shiri, who was also involved in the ouster of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, died on Wednesday aged 65.

The state-owned daily The Herald said President Emmerson Mnangagwa told mourners “it is confirmed that Minister Shiri died of COVID-19”.

Local independent media had said Wednesday that Shiri had been quarantined at a private hospital after he was exposed to coronavirus by his driver, who reportedly died at the weekend.

 

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 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

 

 

Shiri became Zimbabwe’s first high-profile personality to die from the virus that is fast spreading in the country, which has a weak health system.

Zimbabwe has 2,879 confirmed virus cases, including 41 deaths.

Shiri was commander of an elite North Korean-trained unit, the Fifth Brigade, that cracked down on a revolt in the western province of Matabeleland in the newly independent Zimbabwe.

Known as the Gukurahundi massacres, the operation claimed some 20,000 lives, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, a figure supported by Amnesty International.

Shiri served for years as commander of the air force before taking up a post as land and agriculture minister under Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe.

AFP

Zimbabwean Minister In Gukurahundi Massacre Dies At 65

In this file photograph taken on December 4, 2017, former Zimbawean air force commander Perrance Shiri (L), who was appointed Lands and Agriculture minister, takes his oath of office in a new cabinet at State House in Harare. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

 

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister, Perrance Shiri, an ex-airforce commander who headed an army unit accused of a notorious massacre in early 1980s, died on Wednesday aged 65, the government said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who made the announcement, paid tribute to Shiri as a “true patriot” but gave no details about the cause of the death.

Shiri was commander of an elite North-Korean trained unit, the Fifth Brigade, that cracked down on a revolt in the western province of Matabeleland province in the newly-independent Zimbabwe.

Known as the Gukurahundi Massacre, the bloodbath claimed some 20,000 lives, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, a figure suported by Amnesty International.

Mnangagwa was state security minister at the time.

Shiri served for years as commander of the airforce before taking up a post as land and agriculture minister under Mnangagwa after a coup that ousted longtime ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Mnangagwa described Shiri as “a long time friend and colleague… a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country.”

According to an independent daily, NewsDay, Shiri had been quarantined at a private hospital after he was said to have been exposed to coronavirus virus by his driver, who died at the weekend.

Critics took to social media to vent their emotions.

“It’s tragic that Shiri has departed without facing justice over the Gukurahundi atrocities he committed in Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces in the 1980s nor telling the truth about those atrocities to help heal the nation. May God rest Shiri’s victims in eternal peace,” tweeted exiled former minister Jonathan Moyo, who served under Mugabe.

AFP

Zimbabwe Court Bars Money Laundering Probe Of Telecoms Giant

Zimbabwe court bars money-laundering probe of telecoms giant

 

Zimbabwe’s High Court on Wednesday ruled in favour of the country’s top telecoms operator Econet Wireless and revoked a search warrant issued by the police over allegations of money laundering, the company spokesperson said.

Police issued the warrant last week as part of an investigation into suspected money laundering by the operator.

Investigators wanted Econet to disclose the details of its more than 10 million subscribers and records of all transactions conducted within the first half of 2020.

Company spokesman Fungai Mandiveyi confirmed local media reports that the warrant had been suspended by High Court Judge Justice Edith Mushore.

“I can confirm the development but will be able to comment on it after receiving full judgement,” Mandiveyi told AFP.

Econet filed papers to the High Court on Monday in which it called the warrant “unlawful” and a “violation of… privacy”.

It has denied all accusations of money laundering.

Zimbabwean state officials have blamed mobile money transfer platforms for galloping inflation that has wiped out savings and rendered basic goods unaffordable to most.

Last month, the government abruptly suspended mobile money transactions provided by telephone operators — the most widely used platform to make and receive payments in the crisis-ridden southern African country.

The services continued for daily individual transactions but were capped for commercial transactions.

The government also suspended trade on the country’s stock exchange, which it accused of being complicit in illicit financial activities.

Mobile money payments account for most electronic payment transactions in Zimbabwe, which is critically short of bank notes.

 

 

-AFP

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.

Zimbabwe Suspends Mobile Banking, Stock Exchange Trade

A man walks in the streets wearing a face mask as a preventive measure agaisnt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus on March 23, 2020, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP
A man walks in the streets wearing a face mask as a preventive measure agaisnt the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus on March 23, 2020, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP

 

Zimbabwe on Friday abruptly suspended all mobile money transactions, the most widely used platform to make and receive payments in the crisis-ridden country, claiming the move would tackle crime and economic sabotage.

The government also suspended all trade on the country’s stock exchange, which it accused of being complicit in illicit financial activities.

An information ministry statement said government was suspending with immediate effect “all monetary transactions on phone based mobile money platforms in order to facilitate intrusive investigations”.

“Government is in possession of impeccable intelligence … whereby mobile-based phone systems …are conspiring with the help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange — either deliberately or inadvertently — in illicit activities that are sabotaging the economy,” it said.

In 2016, mobile money payments reportedly accounted for more than 80 percent of all electronic payment transactions.

The shock announcement coincided with month-end when people receive and withdraw their salaries via mobile phone banking.

In a country critically short of bank notes, the move will likely shut most general transactions from payment for groceries and services such as electricity.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power in 2017 following a military coup pledging to revive the moribund economy, now blames the economic malaise on unnamed “political detractors”.

“We are fully cognisant that this battle is being fuelled by our political detractors, elite opportunists and malcontents who are bent on pushing a nefarious agenda,” he said this week.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

The country is short of cash and basics including fuel and the staple cornmeal.

According to new data annual inflation was inching closer to 800 percent in April.

 

AFP

Zimbabwe Increases Fuel Price By 150 Per cent

File photo

 

Zimbabwe on Wednesday announced a 150 per cent rise in the price of fuel following the launch of a forex auction system which eroded the value of the local currency.

The price of a litre of diesel jumped 152 per cent to ZW$62.77 ($1.12) from ZW$24.93 while petrol shot up 147 per cent to ZW$71.62, the country’s Energy Regulatory Authority said in a notice.

The central bank re-introduced forex auctioning on Tuesday, the first in 16 years after a long battle to stabilise its currency and fight hyperinflation.

The auction saw the local currency losing more than half of its value from 1:25 to 1:57 to the greenback by the end of trading.

Zimbabwe has been facing fuel shortages since October 2018.

The scarcity prompted President Emmerson Mnangagwa to increase the price of fuel by 150 per cent in January 2019, sparking countrywide demonstrations.

At least 17 people were killed and scores injured after soldiers deployed to quell the strike opened fire on protesters.

The government said at the time the prices were lower than in other countries in the region, and that some foreigners were buying fuel in bulk in Zimbabwe for resale in neighbouring countries.

Despite the price increase which was aimed at ending shortages, the scarcity persisted with motorists sometimes spending nights in queues for fuel pumps, stretching for kilometres.

After years in international isolation, Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time leader Robert Mugabe at the back of a military coup in 2017, pledged to mend the economy but things have only got worse with shops running short of basic commodities like bank notes, sugar and the staple cornmeal.

Zimbabwe Health Minister Arrested Over Coronavirus Supplies Scandal

At Least 31 Dead As Cyclone Idai Hits Eastern Zimbabwe

 

Zimbabwe’s health minister Obadiah Moyo was arrested Friday for alleged corruption related to the supply of medical materials to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the anti-graft agency said.

He was being held at a Harare police station and is likely to appear in court on Saturday.

“I can confirm that the minister of health and child welfare has been arrested and is being detained at Rhodesville police station,” John Makamure, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, told AFP.

“It’s to do with the procurement of COVID-19 materials,” he added.

The government did not immediately comment on the arrest, which came a day after the country’s main opposition condemned alleged state corruption following suspicions over a $2-million-dollar payment to a medical company contracted to provide anti-coronavirus equipment.

Harare has come under fire for granting two-month-old company Drax Consult SAGL a contract to supply $20 million worth of drugs, personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits.

The deal was allegedly signed without the legal consent of Zimbabwe’s procurement registration authority.

In March, authorities in Hungary — where Drax Consult SAGL is registered — flagged a suspicious $2 million deposit into the company’s accounts, drawing anger from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Local media reported last week the arrest of businessman Delish Nguwaya, believed to be Drax’s local representative, in connection with the same case.

The government last week ordered the cancellation of all contracts for the supply of medicines and sundries by Drax, according to the state-run Herald newspaper.

The country has detected 479 virus cases, including four deaths, although that figure is believed to be underestimated due to a lack of testing.

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UN Experts Slam ‘Abductions And Torture’ In Zimbabwe

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

United Nations experts on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe to stop “abductions and torture” that they said seemed aimed at stifling dissent.

Three members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change say they were abducted by police at an MDC protest in the capital Harare on May 13.

Joanna Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri — prominent members of the MDC’s youth wing — were found dumped on the side of a road two days later and taken to hospital with multiple injuries.

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said they had been severely beaten and sexually assaulted.

In a statement, nine UN special rapporteurs — who do not speak for the UN but report their findings to it — said the three had been charged with violating COVID-19 regulations on public gatherings and with intending to promote public violence.

The UN experts called on Zimbabwe to immediately end the reported pattern of disappearances and torture.

“The charges against the three women should be dropped,” the experts said.

“Targeting peaceful dissidents, including youth leaders, in direct retaliation for the exercise of their freedom of association, peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, is a serious violation of human rights law.”

They urged the Zimbabwean authorities to “urgently prosecute and punish the perpetrators of this outrageous crime, and to immediately enforce a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for abductions and torture”.

They also said that in 2019, 49 cases of abductions and torture were reported in Zimbabwe, without investigations leading to those responsible being held accountable.

“Zimbabwe must take all measures in its power to prevent such abuse, to investigate suspected violations, and to bring any perpetrators to justice,” the experts said.

The rapporteurs also urged Zimbabwe to admit UN rights experts so that they could assess the situation.

Two Decades On, Zimbabwe Takes Stock Of Mugabe Land Reform Legacy

Benard Chinyemba (R), 60, a qualified mechanical engineer who was offered a farm during Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and became a commercial farmer, inspects a sugar bean crop with his son (L) at his 80-hectare Benchi farm in Glendale, near Harare on March 4, 2020. – Chinyemba grows maize, fish, soya and sugar beans. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP.

 

Eighty-year-old Isobel Simons calmly narrated how she and her late husband lost their 728-hectare Zimbabwe farm two decades ago to Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.

Then she broke down and sobbed.

“It was my home for 47 years,” she said.

Her home is now a tiny one-bedroom cottage in a retirement home in the capital Harare, where she spends her time cross-stitching and reading.

“I am very happy here,” she said after composing herself.

She was happier on the farm, where she spent her teen years riding horses.

“I am a country girl at heart.”

Sixty-kilometres away in Glendale, Benard Chinyemba, 60, took over an 80-hectare farm in 2002, offered to him by the government as part of land redistribution to blacks.

The ex-engineer is thriving, growing maize and soya beans, while rearing goats, sheep, fish and chickens.

READ ALSO: EU Tells UK Post-Brexit Deal Vital During COVID-19 Crisis

“There was no real farming going on here,” Chinyemba told AFP sitting on a garden chair on a well-manicured lawn.

“We renovated the house when we moved in,” he said.

Twenty years after Zimbabwe’s land reform began, the cases of Simons and Chinyemba illustrate the deep lingering divisions over what became a symbol of Mugabe, who ruled for 37 years until he was toppled in 2017. He died two years later.

– ‘On our terms’-

Two decades ago, Mugabe seized more than 4,000 farms from the country’s 4,500 white large-scale commercial farmers.

He justified the land grabs as a way to correct historical wrongs by claiming back land that was forcibly taken from the blacks.

Critics blame the land programme for wreaking havoc on the agriculture sector — a mainstay of the economy.

Economic output fell by half following the land seizures and the economy has been hobbled since — shrinking 7.5 per cent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in a letter to the IMF in April, projected the economy could contract by between 15 and 20 per cent, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Food shortages experienced over most of the post-land reform years are widely blamed on the loss of white farmers.

The coronavirus pandemic has only worsened the shortages.

Two successive droughts have stunted agricultural harvests, leaving 7.7 million, half the population, food insecure.

According to the World Food Programme, 56 of the country’s 60 districts are experiencing “crisis” hunger and the virus pandemic risks driving people into “deeper desperation”.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to import food to feed them “so that no one will starve”.

For Chinyemba, the government was right “repossessing” land from the whites, but they deserve compensation, if only for improvements.

“I don’t feel any remorse at all. The land belongs to the indigenous people. If the whites want to farm, they should do so on our terms.”

He said while black “people were killed,” when their land was taken from them, but “in all fairness, (whites) should get compensation” for improvements.

– ‘Willing buyer’ –

For white Zimbabweans, the programme was an invasion of their property. To the blacks, it was the final battle in the country’s liberation since they first rose against British colonialists in the 19th century.

The land issue almost derailed the negotiations with Britain that led to the birth of Zimbabwe in 1980.

Ultimately a deal was struck that the new government would not embark on any land reforms in the first decade in power.

After that, a “willing buyer, willing seller” principle came into effect with Britain to fund the buying of white-owned farms.

But in 1997, Clare Short, then British Secretary of State for International Development told Harare that London had “no special responsibility to meet the cost of land purchases.”

Sporadic invasions of white-owned farms ensued, but the government curbed them, with Mugabe assuring white farmers that “squatting” would not be tolerated.

Simons said white farmers deluded themselves into thinking they were untouchable and indispensable “royal game” because agriculture was key to the economy.

All that changed when in February 2000 after a constitutional referendum with a clause that would legalise expropriation of white farms without compensation, was rejected.

Days later, veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war started running white farmers off their land.

A year later, the government formalised the reform programme. Farms were either sub-divided into six-hectare plots or handed out whole to blacks.

Thirty kilometres west of Harare, 60-year-old Israel Pasipanodya Mushore inherited Rasper farm. But it has not been easy work.

In contrast to Chinyemba’s, his farm is rundown. What used to be a swimming pool is now a fishpond.

Weeds choked the maize crop. His showpiece is a herd of 70-plus cattle.

In 2016 government introduced the “command agriculture” scheme to supply farmers with so-called inputs — seeds, fertilisers and insecticides — and they pay back on harvesting.

The scheme brought hope, but not enough.

“Equipment and inputs are our biggest challenge; we have no draught power,” Mushore said.

Inputs were not timely disbursed to farmers, or just didn’t get to them.

Funding remains one of the biggest challenges.

Currently, all land belongs to the state and farms operate on 99-year leases.

Financial institutions refuse to lend in the absence of collateral.

“The 99-year lease on its own, in its current form has not inspired confidence to the financiers,” said Paul Zakariya, who heads the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, which represents over a million small-scale farmers.

Ben Gilpin, who lost a farm, agrees.

“If the farmers were on the land with title or some bankable entity that is truly tradable and can be honoured by the banks, government wouldn’t have to fulfil the role,” said Gilpin, who is the director of the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents mostly white farmers.

– Compensation –

Zimbabwe’s government insists it will only pay compensation for improvements on the farms that were taken and for not the land.

John Laurie, 83, lost two farms in 2002, then valued at US$9-million.

Now wheel-chair bound and a double amputee, Laurie is one of the farmers’ representatives negotiating compensation with the government.

“We hope to have an agreement on a global figure for the immovable assets shortly,” he said.

The government has made “interim relief” payments to especially old and destitute farmers.

Some 800 farmers have so far been paid the equivalent of US$10,000 for each farm lost.

But 20 years on, the land reforms remain a work in progress.

After carrying out a land audit, government vowed to slash the size of under-utilised large farms and tackle multiple farm ownership.

Opinions on the reforms remain split. But even those who lost farms agree the situation where white farmers occupied the best agricultural land while millions of black Zimbabweans were cramped on semi-arid land, was untenable.

Economically though, the reforms are widely seen as a failure.

Independent economist Tony Hawkins, said agriculture’s share of GDP has fallen from about 15 per cent to less than 10 per cent.

Despite several attempts, AFP failed to obtain a government response.

But for the Zimbabwean leadership, Mugabe’s farming legacy continues to empower blacks.

“Our land reform programme remains a fundamental cog to our independence and sovereignty,” Mnangagwa said during independence celebrations in April.

“To this, there is no wavering or going back.”

AFP

Zimbabwe To Maintain Lockdown Over COVID-19 – President

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

 

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Saturday the lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus would stay in place for the moment, but would be reviewed every two weeks.

The restrictions have so far borne fruit as transmission has not been widespread and numbers remain lower than had been initial projections, he added.

From more than 25,000 tests conducted, the country has so far detected 42 cases, four of which proved fatal.

Mnangagwa said the World Health Organisation had classified coronavirus transmission in Zimbabwe as “sporadic, with one or more cases imported or locally detected.

“This may suggest that despite the small numbers tested, our country might have a reduced COVID-19 trajectory,” he said in a speech broadcast on public television.

Other, similar sub-Saharan countries had recorded similar trajectories, he added.

“Zimbabwe will therefore continue on … lockdown for an indefinite period. We shall have two-week interval reviews to assess progress, or lack of it.”

Zimbabwe imposed its lockdown on March 30.

Local doctors have warned that Zimbabwe’s poorly equipped health service could not cope with a coronavirus pandemic.

China Sends Doctors, Equipment To Help Zimbabwe Fight COVID-19

Zimbabwe Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare July Moyo (L) with the Chinese ambassador Guo Shaochun (C) as they speak to the press on May 11, 2020 during the welcome ceremony held fora team of health experts from China that will help with the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP
Zimbabwe Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare July Moyo (L) with the Chinese ambassador Guo Shaochun (C) as they speak to the press on May 11, 2020 during the welcome ceremony held fora team of health experts from China that will help with the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

China on Monday deployed a team of doctors and donated a consignment of medical equipment to Zimbabwe to help the southern African nation’s fight against coronavirus.

“The Chinese medical experts will make a contribution to the battle … against the coronavirus,” Chinese ambassador Guo Shaochun said at Robert Mugabe International Airport after the plane bearing 17 doctors and equipment arrived.

“This is a very good reflection of the long-standing friendship between China and Zimbabwe,” Guo added.

The value of the donation which included personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff was not divulged.

Social Welfare Minister July Moyo said told the Chinese diplomat that “you have demonstrated that we are all-weather friends”.

“You are bringing professional medical staff who were on the frontline fighting COVID-19 in your own country,” he said adding the help “can only bolster our determination to fight this pandemic”.

Zimbabwe has recorded 36 cases of the coronavirus including four deaths.

Local doctors have warned that Zimbabwe’s health services are inadequate to deal with a coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, was first detected in China in December last year.

 

AFP