Activists demand embassy closure, UZ six held in inhuman Matapi, EU pledges millions for health

Activists demand embassy closure

LONDON – Activists determined to see the closure of the Zimbabwean Embassy in London are braving the cold to hold an all night vigil to further their cause. Exiled Zimbabwean Arthur Molife encouraged other Zimbabweans to come and support them at the vigil which will be held weekly on Monday and Tuesday nights from 6pm.

“We demand the closure of this embassy. This building is doing no good for Zimbabweans,” said Molife. “Employees in high commissions across the world are not being paid so why keep something so expensive open when people have no medicine or food in the country?” he asked.

Molife also said that he aimed to build up solidarity among Zimbabweans both inside and outside the country “no matter which faction of the MDC you are from, we welcome all Zimbabweans from all walks of life to come and protest with us,” he said. The vigil will be held on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6pm until 9am. Anyone wishing to participate is encouraged to bring banners and placards which Molife says can be “left behind for the embassy employees who come to work in their limousines to see.” – KJW

UZ six held in ‘inhuman’ Matapi

HARARE – The six student leaders from the University of Zimbabwe who were arrested on Monday are being kept in inhuman conditions at the Matapi Police Station in Mbare. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has complained to the officer in charge of the CID Law and Order section who arrested them about the filthy conditions of the holding cells.

The group, which includes Secretary General Mfundo Mlilo, Zimbabwe National Students Union president Washington Katema, Wellington Mahohoma, Collen Chibango and two others, were picked up by riot police for allegedly organising a demonstration at UZ against the massive tenfold hike in tuition fees.

Matapi Police Station was declared unfit for human habitation by the High Court a few years ago because of the filthy conditions there. ZLHR said the cells were covered with human excrement and urine and the accused have to walk bare foot and sleep on the messed floors causing them much distress and exposure to ill health.

There is no bedding, no wash basin, no soap or toilet paper, no drinking water and detainees are not allowed out into the sunlight. – Own correspondent

EU pledges millions for health

HARARE – The European Union (EU) has pledged US$19 million towards a Zimbabwe’s ‘Vital Health Programme’, to secure much needed medicines and antiretroviral drugs.

According to senior EU officials, the programme was essential to improve health services in the nation with an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 20.1 percent. “However, it remains the government’s responsibility to ensure that the health services available to the Zimbabwean population are sustained and improved,” EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, said in a statement. – Own correspondent

IMF blames Gono

HARARE – The IMF has blamed RBZ governor Gideon Gono for the country’s soaring inflation, which last month rose above the 600 percent mark, making it the highest in the world.
Thomas Dawson, IMF External Relations director said: “The reality is that inflation has been driven mainly by quasi-fiscal activities of the RBZ.”
Over the past two years the RBZ has been availing billions of dollars to ailing parastatals. The central bank has also funded agricultural activities, among many other things, in what analysts said would fuel inflation.

Dawson said he did not believe that Zimbabwe’s repayment of its IMF loan had been the cause of Zimbabweans having to do without medicines, adequate food, fuel and other essentials.

“If in fact there have been shortages in that regard, it has been entirely because the authorities have chosen the course of action in not implementing the comprehensive package of macroeconomic and structural reforms, that the Fund and including the Fund Board have repeatedly recommended,” said Dawson.

Eskom denies ZESA claims

JOHANNESBURGSouth Africa’s energy firm, Eskom Holdings Limited, has denied government media reports in Zimbabwe that had agreed to invest US$37 million to upgrade the Hwange power station.
The Herald quoted Sydney Gata, executive chairman of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) as saying the two utility firms were to seal a deal in the coming week, while ZESA was expected to repay the loan by exporting 150 megawatts of electricity weekly to South Africa.

“These reports are factually incorrect. Eskom can confirm that it is not scheduled to sign an agreement with ZESA in the coming week. Eskom can also confirm that it has not taken any decision at any level of the organisation to invest the said amount in Zimbabwe,” the South African company said in a statement.
Eskom has however expressed a willingness to ZESA to improve the available load factor at the power station. Own correspondent

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