Dlamini-Zuma in AU bid

Zimbabwe and South Africa’s diplomatic relations could take a knock this week following revelations that President Robert Mugabe’s government plans to oppose its neighbour’s bid for the African Union Commission chairperson’s post. SA is pushing Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy at the AU summit in Addis Ababa this week.

Nkosazana  Dlamini-Zuma
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Typhoid outbreak

At least 80 people have been hospitalised in Harare with typhoid and reports indicate that if the disease is not contained, it could spread rapidly.

The infection has been traced back to food sold by illegal vendors in Kuwadzana.

The outbreak comes amid a spate of diarrhoeal infection caused by the “shigella bacteria”, a deadly mix that will challenge the city health department, which has never before been faced with typhoid outbreak on such a massive scale. Medecins Sans Frontiers is standing by to assist.

Zimplats workers strike

Workers at Impala Platinum have gone on strike to force the company to pay their electricity and water bills – as it used to in the past. Zimplats is 87 percent owned by South Africa’s Implats and is among several foreign-owned mines being pressured by President Robert Mugabe’s government to cede majority ownership to black Zimbabweans. According to sources at the mine, a committee of war veterans is also pushing Zimplats to continue paying their bills.

Tsvangirai book ban

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s book ‘At the Deep End’ faces a ban after police in Victoria Falls raided a bookshop and confiscated copies. Sinikiwe Matore, the owner of Rosepet Bookshop in Victoria Falls was arrested after police raided her shop and confiscated 10 copies of Tsvangirai’s book.

CDF under spotlight

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will this week be given a list of 18 lawmakers who are alleged to have failed to account for their use of constituency development funds in 2010.

The names of the errant ministers are still a secret but Minister Eric Matinenga says MPs from all parties are included. Activists have been pushing for stern punishment for MPs who abused state funds. Treasury allocated $8 million in 2010 for development projects some MPs are believed to have diverted the funds to their personal use.

Mauritius buys stake in Kingdom

AfrAsia Bank of Mauritius has taken a 35% equity stake in Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd valued at $9,5m. Daniel Makono, the Company Secretary, said the company has been pursuing recapitalisation initiatives to raise $25m – $15m equity and $10m debt finance. Mauritius has become an increasingly important market for international capital seeking opportunities in Africa.

We’re living longer

Despite some living on only $1 a day, the life expectancy of Zimbabweans has shot up to 51 from 48, the United Nations Development Programme has confirmed.

This is among the highest in Africa. But the UN said chronic food shortages due to lack of funds to support programmes could affect many. Zimbabwe has requested $253,683 million from international donors for food and health services.

The UNDP said life expectancy should go up as long as the country’s health services were kept in check. Chronic malnutrition stands at 34 %.

China gives GMB $50m

The Grain Marketing Board is expected to improve its loss position after it received a $50 million line of credit facility from a Chinese firm. GMB general manager Albert Mandizha told a workshop last week: “We cannot hide that GMB is grounded. In order to achieve self reliance we have identified a $50 million line of credit facility from a Chinese company called AVIC International China.”

The money will be used for silo rehabilitation, the fleet and ICT equipment. Deputy Minister of Agriculture Sayso Moyo told the workshop: “It is import for GMB to pay the farmers on time so that they cn buy inputs for the next season.”

The GMB has improved its loss margin by 67% – from $18.7 million in 2010 to $6.2 million last year. Revenue went from $11.6 million to $14.7 million, a 26 percent growth.

Farmers appeal to ZESA

Small-scale tobacco farmers have appealed to ZESA not to wreck the curing process of their crop again this season. Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Paul Zachariah said: “We want to put it across that ZESA should consider the costs that farmers would have incurred up to the curing stage. The process needs to maintain regular temperatures as erratic supply of electricity will affect the grade.”

The Tobacco Industry Board has set the season’s target at 150 million from 77 000 ha.

Tobacco production has been the main driver behind the 34 percent growth in the agricultural sector. Production dipped to a low of 48,8 million kg in 2008, down from a peak of over 200 kg in 2000. Economic reform in 2009 ignited recovery with 60 million kg being produced that year, doubling to 123 million kg in 2010..

Cholera fears in Gwanda

Gwanda residents face massive water cuts following the breakdown of engines and health experts fear a cholera outbreak. Municipal workers last week appealed to residents to remain calm and urged them to stock water in drums and buckets.

The local authority is reeling under a financial crisis and has failed to pay its service providers. In the past the Mayor has blamed the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, whom he accuses of clinging to the water treatment plant instead of handing it over to the local authority.

Elderly care for 2m kids

At least 3.5 million vulnerable children face starvation as government fails to provide for their aged guardians, UNICEF has revealed.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency there are over 7 million people who can be described as children and over 3.5 million of these live under the Food Poverty Line. More than 60% are under the care of the elderly but the government has not done enough to alleviate their plight. According to the Ministry of Social Welfare only 540 elderly households throughout the country are receiving cash transfers from the government.

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