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670K kids die of pneumonia yearly – Newsday Zimbabwe

MORE than 670 000 children under the age of five die of pneumonia globally every year, a figure that has surpassed infectious diseases and conditions such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis annually.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual world Pneumonia day on Saturday, Community Working Group on Health executive director, Itai Rusike said respiratory infections have increased and maternal and neonatal conditions remain a major driver of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

He said most of the infections contribute more to mortality, hence the need to strengthen the country’s health sector.

“Using this opportunity offered by World Pneumonia Day… The week-long commemoration of pneumonia awareness offers us an opportunity to identify all stakeholders for working together to quantify and begin to halt the pneumonia deaths in the under-fives in Zimbabwe,” Rusike said.

“The health delivery system has in the past decade been on a marked decline in health services provision and the most vulnerable remain the children and their mothers who are major users of the health system.”

The top four causes of DALYs in Zimbabwe are respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, maternal and neonatal issues, and cardiovascular disease. 

Pneumonia in Zimbabwe as in other low income countries is caused by viruses, bacteria, especially streptococcus pneumonia, fungi, and pre-existing conditions such as malnutrition, HIV, measles, asthma, diabetes, among other underlying factors. 

Rusike said the majority of pneumonias in children are both preventable and manageable. 

He said environmental factors such as poor hygiene, poor water and sanitation, air pollution, (indoor and outdoor), cigarette smoke, also predispose to pneumonias in children. 

This year’s theme was Fighting Pneumonia an Agenda for Action and commemorations were held in Goromonzi.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Diabetes Day under the theme: Education to Protect Tomorrow.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said diabetes is one of the biggest contributors of mortality in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe alone loses more than 3 000 people from diabetes every year, and some of these patients die from complications that can be averted.  Diabetic patients from remote areas face unbearable challenges such as unavailability of electricity to store medicines and lack of equipment to diagnose diabetes.

“For those with type 1 diabetes, they are dependent on insulin which is stored in refrigerators, which means we need refrigerators in rural areas.  Diagnostics are not available and it is rare to find glucometers or laboratories to run diabetes tests in remote areas,” Marisa said.

Zimbabwe is benefiting from on-going projects to curb diabetes through assistance of partners such as the International Diabetes Federation, Africa region and Santé Diabète.

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ZimSat-1 deployed into orbit – The Zimbabwe Mail – The Zimbabwe Mail

Zimbabwe is banking on its first satellite, ZimSat-1 to give impetus to plans to solve the country’s power challenges, as it has capacity to, among other things, map regions where there is high sun intensity for effective solar farm distribution.

Zimbabwe and Uganda last month launched their first homegrown satellites into space aboard a United Sates National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket.

The Zimbabwean satellite, named ZimSat-1, was designed and assembled by three of the country’s scientists who were supported and trained in Japan under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project.

The satelite was launched into orbit yesterday from the International Space Station where it arrived last month.

For Zimbabwe, which is battling acute power shortages due to frequent breakdowns at Hwange Thermal Power Station and water shortages at Kariba, the satellite gives impetus to the pursuit of strategies meant to ensure a healthy energy mix to guarantee sufficiency.

Project manager Victor Mukungunugwa said the satellite would play a key role in the development of solar farms.

“The satellite will also provide solar illumination mapping for effective solar farm distribution,” he said in a presentation before ZimSat-1 and Uganda’s Pearl of Africa-1 deployed into orbit.

“Through solar illumination, the satellite maps the regions where there is high solar intensity and thereby optimising the deployment of solar farms in Uganda and Zimbabwe to solve the electricity distribution.”

Zimbabwe has already expressed its determination to accelerate the use of renewable energies such as solar, to boost local power generation capacity.

Other economic sectors, such as agriculture, would also greatly benefit from the satellite, including through the provision of vital information such as harvest estimates, and crop health.

“This is with the aim to promote agriculture in Zimbabwe and Uganda,” he said.

“It will also provide soil fertility assessments to support agricultural activities. This will optimise the distribution of agricultural inputs to various agricultural regions in Uganda and Zimbabwe.”

ZimSat-1 also has the ability to provide data on water quality.

“The satellites seek to survey the water bodies in Zimbabwe and Uganda to see sources of contamination and eliminate the contamination at the source. This will, to a great extent, minimise the amount of chemicals used to purify drinking water,” he said.

Part of its mission also includes providing early warning services for incoming natural disasters such as floods and landslides.

At its launch to the International Space Station last month, President Mnangagwa hailed the occasion as a proud moment symbolising a nation on a technology driven trajectory to achieve its developmental aspirations.

The satellite is a culmination of the 2018 launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), which operates under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.

The satellite is also expected to enhance mineral exploration and mapping human settlements. — New Ziana.

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Zimbabwe now one of the fastest growing African economies – Bulawayo24 News

ANALYSING Zimbabwe’s unconventional economy always proves somewhat cumbersome because it is a country bridled with policy inconsistency, unfavourable operating conditions buoyed by decades of unilateral sanctions and a touch of political upheaval at every election cycle.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic structural adjustment policy, 13 climate-related droughts, economic mismanagement and civil unrest have also contributed to the country’s rapid decline.

The lack of autonomy by the apex bank essentially means that monetary policy is compromised and is set to serve the interests of the ruling government, which can secure election funding willy-nilly to thwart the opposition.

Development has stalled for decades, as post-colonial infrastructure continues to dilapidate. Once Africa’s beacon, “the jewel of Africa” as it was formerly known, is now one of the saddest places to live in the world.

In fact, to put that into context, a recent study found that Zimbabwe was the third saddest country to live in the world, after Afghanistan and Lebanon in first and second place, respectively. Economic crisis after crisis has been the norm in one of the most resource-rich nations in Africa.

Although Zimbabwe’s mining sector is highly diversified, with over 40 different minerals, the ruling party has never been able to leverage the sectors’ returns to create value for its people.

Corruption persists like a festering wound slowly spreading to all of the state’s institutions.

From the outside, the situation looks dire and the economy is seemingly unlikely to return to its glory days. Most certainly, if the monetary authorities continue with their current policy trajectory, Zimbabwe will likely not attain middle-income status because simulations show that Zimbabwe will need to reach productivity growth rates of 8–9% per year in the next seven years to advance to UMIC status.

Achieving such unprecedented rates for Zimbabwe will require dramatic improvement in the policy environment to address the binding constraints to productivity growth.

The question is, does government have the incentive or the means to make such radical policy shifts, uncharacteristically? Well, there are two forces at play here. One is internal and within our control, but it is also important to take into account the impact of external forces such as sanctions.

First and foremost, sanctions have never achieved their intended purpose anywhere they were ever deployed. In fact, they often give rise to tyrannical governments that use the very sanctions as precedence for complete control of power.

Statistically, sanctions fail to achieve their aims in 65 to 95% of the cases in which they are imposed and it is the poorest that suffer the most through their implementation, rather than the elites that the sanctions aim to target.

Through the economic damage of the sanctions, a significant impact is felt by the public: GDP per capita decreases at an increased rate, exports and imports decrease, international capital decreases, and inflation increases.

Due to the already fragile economies of sanctioned countries, the sanctions run the risk of leading to an economic collapse, which in turn leads to greater impoverishment. As import and export-focused sectors are more affected by economic sanctions and these sectors tend to hire low-skilled workers, deprived groups in society are affected more by sanctions.

In 2001, Zimbabwe’s official development assistance reached a 20-year low of US$160,2 million as external debt reached 2,485% of the gross national income, a level not seen since the early 1980s.

For Zimbabwe, lost revenues reportedly exceeded US$42 billion from 2001 to 2019. Zimbabwe historically relied on foreign trade to sustain its economy. It last registered a trade surplus in 2000, at US$155 million, representing approximately 74% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Overall production increased 1,44% in 2001 after a shortfall in previous years. However, sanctions targeted various entities in key productive sectors of the economy, including mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, which made it challenging for Zimbabwe to rely on its trade and industry to promote growth. During the first decade under sanctions, the country’s trade balance spiralled to -23,8%, in 2010, and has stayed negative since then.

It does not end there. Sanctions also facilitated deindustrialisation, as key agriculture, mining and manufacturing companies were barred from selling their products in the United States and European Union markets.

The economic contraction went from -3,1% in 2000 to -17,7% in 2008. Thousands of workers were forced out of employment in the formal economy, and multiple local companies closed down. This nurtured the expansion of the informal sector as a method of resilience, estimated at 94,5% in 2014 and 75,6% in 2019.

Foreign direct investments were affected as investors avoided risks, given the negative perceptions about the economy and the country’s governance.

This led to increased unemployment, estimated at 94% in the formal sector by the end of 2008, and to a significant loss of qualified professionals. From 2000 to 2008, the gross national income per person fell by 35%.

The list of the effects of sanctions goes on and on, from humanitarian impacts, the access to food, water and sanitation, access to healthcare, education and basic fundamental human rights. The irony is that the west says it is fighting the abuse of human rights, but ends up inflicting worse damage on sanctioned economies.

Most economists consider this damage irreparable in the short term. Consequently, going into the 2023 election, even if the opposition party wins (let us assume sanctions are lifted), they will have to contend with the effects of the sanctions for at least half a decade.

Let us delve into the internal forces. Zimbabwe’s GDP growth in 2021, according to World Bank was 5,85%, making Zimbabwe the 10th fastest-growing economy in Africa in 2021.

Zimbabwe’s economic growth accelerated to an anticipated 5,9% in 2021 from a 6,2% fall in 2020 due to a bountiful harvest that expanded agriculture by 36,2% in 2021 as opposed to 4,2% growth in 2020.

The per capita GDP also increased, jumping by 4,9% in 2021 after declining by 6,7% in 2020. However, in 2022, economic growth was held down by unstable prices and deteriorating agricultural circumstances.

The real GDP growth rate is anticipated to decrease from 5,8% in 2021 to 3,4% in 2022. Zimbabwe’s economic growth is expected to end the year at 4% in 2022, down from 4,6% previously targeted, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said in a speech on Thursday.

Growth is then projected to slow to 3,8% in 2023 before increasing to 4,8% in 2024 and 5% in 2025, he said. The overall fiscal deficit is seen at 1,5% of GDP for next year.

“This growth will be sustained by mining, construction and agriculture, as well as accommodation sectors,” Ncube said.

The mining sector is expected to grow by 10,4% in 2023 on the back of anticipated favourable international mineral prices, as well as the increase in investment, especially in exploration, mine development and mechanisation, he added.

A barrage of measures introduced by government mid-year, which include the introduction of gold coins, the temporary suspension of bank lending, higher taxes on capital markets, a 200% policy rate, and the temporary suspension of payments to contractors, have seen the economy stabilising and recording growth, riding on investments in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Month-on-month inflations for September significantly declined to 3,5% from 12,4% in August 2022. Meanwhile, foreign currency earnings amounted to US$7,7 billion for the eight months up to August 31 2022. 

This reflects a 32,4% increase from the US$5,8 billion recorded over the corresponding period in 2021. With increased activity in both the mining and manufacturing sectors where industrial capacity utilisation is now at 66% up from 47% in 2020, the country is now facing increased power demand, with solutions already in place to meet the growing demand.

A new mineral royalty policy announced earlier this year is being utilised, as the country considers more than doubling spending in 2023 to help revive the economy. The royalty policy that came into effect in October compelled miners to pay royalties as follows – half in mineral form, 40% in local currency and 10% in foreign-currency cash.

The government has made some significant strides in taking back the reins of the economy and looks set for another stable economy next year, ceteris paribus. However, to ensure this long-fought stability, government has to focus on three key metrics.

Investor confidence

After probably the longest foreign investor drought, the new dispensation has worked over- time to win back the confidence of both external and domestic capital, since coming to power in 2017.

Billions of dollars, primarily from big-ticket investments in mining, power generation and an assortment of infrastructure projects have been flowing into the country. One of these is the Greenfield US$1 billion Chinese-led steel venture in Mvuma, the US$1,3 billion thermal power project in Hwange, and huge road and airport re-development programmes around the country as well as Invictus’s gas exploration in the north of the country.

The Second Republic has not unlocked even 1% of the potential FDI Zim could receive and that is because the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra doesn’t leverage tax incentives to nurture and underpin investor love and confidence.

Government should look to reducing general corporate income tax, implementing tax holidays and tax-privileged zones. Governments may also choose to offset the investment cost of the FDI by providing subsidies, or paying for some of the expenses of the project. Opponents of this practice claim it takes money from taxpayers and gives it to foreign entities.

This is true in the short term, but the investment is also intended to boost the economy (local and national). Land can also be used as a subsidy, either through reduced prices or by giving it away for free. However, if large tracts of land are going to be subsidized, then why not set up a special economic zone?

Ensuring stable exchange rates

Of equal concern should be maintaining stable exchange rates to anchor the government’s short-term economic stabilisation, lay a strong foundation for medium to long-term growth, and ultimately foster the public’s confidence in the local unit.

The local unit on the exchange parallel market has seen some slight depreciation, while the interbank rate has been somewhat steady over the past month or so.

Ensuring a stable exchange rate will be anchored on the government’s ability to keep liquidity out of the parallel market. The gold coins have played a vital part in moving that liquidity back to the RBZ.

The 40% tax on short-term investments on the ZSE also got rid of arbitrage that was being exploited with returns being dumped back into the parallel market.

However, ultimately, the suspension of payments to contractors had probably the most significant impact on the exchange rate, so it will be interesting how the resumption of these payments affects the market, particularly because the issue of forex shortages has not been addressed.

Keep inflation in check

The other measure, still being rolled out, is the introduction of gold coins. These have sucked out billions of dollars from the market which could have otherwise ended up on the black currency market, thereby driving up inflation.

And as long as the RBZ is able to settle all gold contracts without a hassle, that should see market players taking a keener interest in the new saving instrument. Gold coins valued at ZW$9,5 billion were sold as of September 30, 2022. Smaller denomination gold coins have been unveiled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to broaden access and inclusivity and half of the released coins were bought within the first week.

Gwenzi is a financial analyst and MD of Equity Axis, a financial media firm offering business intelligence, economic and equity research. —

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Disadvantaged, but very optimistic – The Zimbabwe Independent

WHILE 24-year-old Kundai Masache is a popular help at one of the top supermarkets at Highland Park Mall in Harare, he has a tale that shows how time makes diamonds while a mother’s love can build a child’s dreams into reality.

Unfortunately, life’s brickbats can also destroy a child’s dream unless the Heavens smile on the unfortunate. Kundai’s ease smile and confident conversations could have attracted many shoppers but for him, time is the cruel teacher; first she gives the test, and then teaches the lesson, and it aptly describes his life of ups and downs.

And behind the ready smile lies a very sad story that Kundai rarely shares but it is a tale that has made him a strong character oozing confidence and optimism.

He gives all the tribute to his mother for teaching him resilience.

As Agatha Christie said: “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity; it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”

That is all that Kundai needed as he battled life’s adverse throwbacks to dream of a future that just needs a little push to be realised. In an interview this week, Kundai took time to share his life story; his growth and aspiration which he hopes to achieve to change the world.

“The honest truth is; I was inspired by my mother as I listened to her stories, seeing the hardships she overcame, her fundamental optimism and decency,” he said confidently.

All Kundai hopes for is going back to school, attain his cherished law degree and make life better for his mother and siblings.

“My story began on July 26, 1998, in the small mining town of Bindura. I was born in a family four. My father was a hardworking man who was swept away by temptation,” he said.

“At the age of five, my parents separated due to my father’s infidelity and abuse which I vividly recall even though I was just but a little boy.”

Suffice to say, Kundai has forgiven his father and they are at peace, helping him heal to become the person he is today. As his parents’ marriage failed, his mother moved the family to Igava communal lands in Marondera.

“The transition from an urban to rural setting was very uncomfortable for us..

“What kept us alive was, hope, a belief that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

In 2003, his mother, at 27, found herself with two children while expecting another.

“She worked in other people’s fields. I had to learn and adapt to my new environment.”

Kundai attended Igava and Nyakurwi Primary Schools in Marondera rural.

“In school, I remember going to school with my khaki uniforms from the previous school, which was a totally different colour.

“Other children would chide me. Regardless of the misfit and going to school with flip- flops during winter and the rainy season, I was honoured and appointed as the school head boy.”

Watching his mother Kundai was exposed to challenges faced by single mothers in Zimbabwe.

“The pain of outgrowing my clothes top shops and waiting for ‘hand me down’ clothes from my cousins affected me a lot,” he said.

“I had one faithful corduroy pair of trousers that I would wear only on special occasions and I became the laughing stock of the community.

“As the only male figure in the house, I felt the need to protect my mother and sisters,” Kundai said.

He also grew gigantic hopes for a better future. Kundai was also a bright learner in school.

In 2010, the family had an epiphany when Kundai’s mother re-married and moved to Marondera.

“I believe God always takes us around the block just to get you to the next door. I learnt kindness, love and compassion from my step-father,” he said.

Kundai completed his primary and secondary education in Marondera attaining 13 points in his Advanced Level examinations.

At Nyameni High School, where he was the head boy Marondera Municipality junior town clerk in 2017.

He also formed the Marondera District Education Forum with young leaders in schools to tackle drug and substance abuse.

They initiated an anti-drug campaign including a thousand man marches with pupils from surrounding schools.

“We worked in partnership with the ZRP, Ministry of Women Affairs, Provincial Education director and the then child president, Tinaye Mbavari. We made a huge impact,” he said.

In all these strides, Kundai kept his dream of studying law alive so that he would be in a position to fully provide for his family. He was, however, forced to get a job and ease the weight off his parents’ shoulders who could not afford to take him through tertiary education.

The parents also needed to take his siblings through basic education. He took a job at Pick ‘n’ Pay supermarket in Highlands, Harare.

However, the thought of giving back to the community kept calling. Kundai met Edwin Tapiwa Toreveyi, a Seed Scientist, starting a non-profit making trust called The World Change Organisation. The organisation has distributed more than 3 000 packets of sanitary pads and a sizable amount of detergents, stationery  and clothes to young boys and girls in Igava, Tsholotsho and Kwayedza.

He has partnered Chitaitai Chemicals, Farenorth Investments and Tafira Family since 2019. The group has also done awareness campaigns on radio, televisions, magazines and newspapers.

Life has not been easy for Kundai but the hope that kept him going as a young boy growing up in the rural areas still drives him. He also keeps a huge dream to go back to school for that law degree. He just needs to raise enough money to pay for university fees.

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