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Breaking news. – The Herald

Herald Reporters 

FOLLOWING the unveiling of the new currency last Friday, the country’s sole national payments platform and clearing house, Zimswitch, yesterday announced that it had completed the rollout of the ZiG processing system.

 Under the new system,  person-to-person transaction limits have been set at ZiG2 400 while the monthly transaction limit is ZiG8 000. 

The largest local mobile money platform, EcoCash  Holdings, also notified its customers yesterday that it had successfully converted Zimbabwean dollars to the new gold-backed ZiG currency.

“Dear customer, we are pleased to advise that EcoCash services have been restored. You can now transact on USD and ZiG. Thank you for your patience and support,” read a generic message to subscribers.

Zimswitch said an individual could send up to ZiG2 400 per single transaction, but their overall monthly limit would be ZiG8 000.

Although some people struggled to understand the new system and how to make payments, there was overall optimism that the new currency would bring economic stability.

As of yesterday, NMB Bank had not yet completed the conversion.

“Valued client, please note that our conversion to ZiG is still underway. In the interim, you can perform USD transactions across all our channels,” read part of  an NMB Bank statement.

Zimswitch was incorporated in 1994 to process domestic card-based (ATM and POS) and EFT transactions among  member financial institutions in real time online. 

Zimbabweans have pinned hopes on the newly introduced gold backed currency, saying it might be a solution to inflation that has destabilised prices in recent weeks.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mushayavanhu last week introduced the new currency which is backed by the country’s gold and foreign currency reserves, and precious metals.

ZiG notes and coins will start circulating on April 30, but the electronic banking systems should be operational this week.

In interviews yesterday, most people said they believed ZiG would address the country’s currency volatility and other economic challenges.

Mr Silas Mukoto of Harare said people should embrace the ZiG and use it with confidence so that it does not lose its value.

“In my opinion, the new currency is good although there might be some confusion at its introduction. We had been buying foreign currency on the parallel market using RTGS and this new currency gives us hope. 

“I am glad that this is real money and it will be a better way of transacting,” he said.

Mr Tarasikirwa Bumba from Mabvuku suburb was happy that the country now had a proper currency and urged people to embrace it.

“This ZiG money seems to be good since it is backed by gold, but the RBZ that are outside those backed by gold. If we embrace this new currency, things will change positively and the parallel market will suffocate.”

A number of institutions began converting their systems last Friday, with financial institutions and payment system providers notifying their clients of suspension of Zimbabwe dollar transactions pending a switch over to ZiG.

Mrs Aisha Mohammed from Belvedere said: “The money should be heavily advertised so that we all know this new currency. We hope its introduction will bring positive changes in the economy and that we will not go back to the 2008 era.”

With the huge conversion in progress by banks and mobile money platforms of all local currency accounts, all digital platforms have been unavailable since Friday except prepaid Mastercard transactions.

Generic messages from banks and mobile money platforms yesterday suggested that services would resume soon.

Dr Mushayavanhu noted on Saturday that banks and payment system providers had made satisfactory progress in converting the Zimbabwe dollar balances into ZiG balances since the announcement of the changeover.

“The conversion process will continue for other economic sectors until Friday, April 12, 2024. Thereafter, the RBZ expects that all the online payment platforms will be operating smoothly for all transactions in the economy,” he said in a statement.

Following the announcement of the monetary policy statement, President Mnangagwa gazetted Statutory Instrument 60 of 2024, which gave the transacting public a transitional period of up to 21 days to convert their Zimbabwe dollar notes and coins to ZiG.

“Accordingly, the ZW$ notes and coins will continue to be used for transactional purposes at the ZiG: ZW$ conversion factor of 2 498.7242 applicable on April 8 within the 21-day transitional period,” said Dr Mushayavanhu.

The new ZiG notes and coins will start circulating in the economy on April 30, to allow the RBZ to undertake an intensive educational and awareness campaign on the key security features of the ZiG notes and coins.

The campaign is expected to reach out to a wide spectrum of society consistent with the bank’s financial inclusion thrust.

“The Reserve Bank further advises the public that the issuance of new currency is always preceded by this important process. The Reserve Bank is taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the public is not prejudiced and there is value preservation and transactional convenience during this transitional period,” said Dr Mushayavanhu.

Political analyst and international relations guru, Cde Trynos Jujuju said it was important that the citizens maintained confidence in their currency.

Cde Jujuju said the new currency and measures were simple to understand yet a critical economic strategy.

“As it is, the new currency appears to be the strongest currency in the region. According to the gold standard principles, this is one of the best measures the Government took in order to arrest inflation and ensure that the trading citizens enjoy the easy and convenient way of trade.

“The introduction of the currency reforms is one of the measures to manoeuvre in this turbulent environment where restrictions are wreaking havoc to the country. It is critical that every Zimbabwean works together with Government for the development and betterment of all,” he said.

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Entertainment news

President grants amnesty to 4 000 prisoners – The Herald

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has granted amnesty to over 4 000 convicts in various categories, in a move meant to decongest the country’s prisons.

The amnesty was granted under Clemency Order Number 1 of 2024, published in an Extraordinary Gazette on Tuesday, while the announcement was made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs Vimbai Nyemba, under General Notice 467 of 2024.

Last year the President granted amnesty to 4 270 inmates.

The latest amnesty excludes those serving time for specified offences.

These are murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, public violence, human trafficking, unlawful possession of firearm, contravention of the Electricity Act, contravention of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, contravention of the Public Order and Security Act/Maintenance of Peace and Order Act and any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of the offences listed above.

Beneficiaries of the amnesty include all female inmates who have served one third of their sentence by April 18, excluding those serving time for specified offences and those who have previously been released on amnesty.

Inmates under the age of 18 will also benefit if they have served one third of their sentence by today, but those charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act are excluded from this Amnesty.

In addition, prisoners serving an effective period of 48 months and below and who would have served one third of their sentence, also by today if the offences are not specified, will also be released.

The President also pardoned inmates certified terminally ill by a Correctional Medical Officer (CMO) or a Government Medical Officer (GMO), but those charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act are excluded from the amnesty, while the Department of Correctional Services should liaise with Social Welfare so that there is continuity of treatment for those released.

Inmates serving their sentences at open prisons, provided they were not charged under the Criminal Code, will also be released while those above 60 years will also benefit if they have served one tenth of their sentence by today and were not be charged under the Code.

“Full remission of the remaining period is hereby granted to all those inmates who would have served life imprisonment for at least 20 years. This includes inmates sentenced to life imprisonment and those whose sentences were commuted from death to life imprisonment. In this case the period of 20 years will include the period when the inmate was serving as a prisoner under sentence of death, inmates whose sentences were altered to life imprisonment on appeal or review,” reads part of the Clemency Order.

President Mnangagwa also commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment to all inmates who have been on death row for 10 years and above.

Inmates who are certified by a CMO or a GMO to be visually impaired, and those who are physically challenged to the extent that they cannot be catered for in a prison or correctional environment and have served one third of their sentence by today, will also be pardoned.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Meya Khanyezi, said the amnesty was a joyous occasion as it comes when the nation is celebrating its 44th Independence Day today.

“As we celebrate the 44th anniversary of our great country’s independence tomorrow (today), let us rejoice in this great act of clemency.

“In due course our correctional facilities shall witness the joyous sight of inmates embarking on their journey back home, as soon as due processes to select deserving inmates are completed. This Presidential Amnesty serves as a tangible demonstration of the Government’s commitment to the rehabilitation of our fellow citizens. It is a significant step towards building a harmonious and inclusive society, where every individual has the opportunity to contribute positively,” she said.

Asst Comm Khanyezi appealed to the beneficiaries of the amnesty to use their freedom to transform their lives as law-abiding citizens.

“To beneficiaries of this amnesty, we extend our warmest congratulations and encourage them to seize this fresh start as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation.

“This release is not only a second chance: it is an opportunity to rewrite the narrative of their lives and become productive members of society, coming from behind bars to business. We encourage them to embrace this freedom with a deep sense of responsibility and a commitment to making amends for past mistakes,” she said.

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Entertainment news

Man City 1-1 Real Madrid (Agg 4-4, Madrid win 4-3 on pens): Champions League holders out after epic quarter-final – Sky Sports

Holders Manchester City are out of the Champions League following a penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in an epic encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

After a 1-1 draw on the night that left the teams tied 4-4 on aggregate, Antonio Rudiger scored the winning spot-kick after Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic had their attempts saved to see the 14-time winners progress 4-3 in the shoot-out.

Rodrygo had given Carlo Ancelotti’s side the advantage on the night and in the tie with an early goal on the counter-attack but Kevin De Bruyne’s 76th-minute equaliser took the game into extra-time, in which neither heavyweight could deliver the knockout blow.

It was a backs-to-the-wall effort by Madrid and Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions were applauded from the pitch even in defeat. But their hopes of an unprecedented second successive treble are over. It is Madrid who face Bayern Munich in the last four.

Player ratings:

Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Akanji (6), Dias (7), Gvardiol (7), Rodri (6), De Bruyne (7), Bernardo (6), Foden (6), Grealish (6), Haaland (5).

Subs: Doku (7), Alvarez (6), Kovacic (n/a), Stones (n/a).

Real Madrid: Lunin (7), Carvajal (7), Nacho (8), Rudiger (7), Mendy (7), Kroos (7), Valverde (8), Camavinga (7), Rodrygo (7), Bellingham (7), Vinicius (7).

Subs: Dias (6), Modric (6), Vazquez (6), Militao (n/a).

Player of the Match: Federico Valverde.

Antonio Rudiger celebrates after scoring Real Madrid's winning penalty against Man City
Antonio Rudiger celebrates after scoring Real Madrid’s winning penalty against Man City

How City’s exit played out

“We have to control him,” Guardiola had said of Jude Bellingham on the eve of this second leg but it was the England player’s sublime touch, bringing the ball down from the Manchester sky, that helped Madrid take the lead early in the game.

Bellingham fed Vinicius Junior and his cross was met by Rodrygo, the man who broke City hearts in that famous semi-final in 2022. He needed two attempts to beat Ederson but Kyle Walker, having recovered from injury to start, was not close enough to stop him.

That set the tone for the night. City, trying to become the first team other than Real Madrid in 34 years to retain this trophy, dominated possession, roared on by the home crowd as they searched for an equaliser. It demanded constant concentration from Madrid.

Erling Haaland almost found a quickfire response but headed over with one chance and then struck the crossbar with another. The rebound found Silva but the Portuguese was unable to sort his feet out in time and the ball trickled agonisingly wide of the post.

But Madrid were threatening on the counter-attack. The ability of Vinicius, in particular, to play out of the City press, was a worry throughout and one lightning breakaway resulted in Dani Carvajal having a free shot. Ruben Dias did brilliantly to block the effort.

Those counter-attacks were few and far between in a second half that was played out inside the Madrid half with City probing. It came after Guardiola turned to Jeremy Doku. It was Rudiger’s failure to clear that presented De Bruyne with the equaliser.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after equalising for Man City against Real Madrid
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after equalising for Man City against Real Madrid

The Belgian almost added another with a spectacular strike soon after but should have scored with a more straightforward chance, firing his shot over the bar. That meant extra-time and the smart money was on Madrid tiring. They were hanging on.

Rudiger had the opportunity to make amends, missing the best chance of the first period of extra-time. With Haaland withdrawn for the home side and both Vinicius and Rodrygo taken off by Ancelotti, the more familiar scorers were no longer on the pitch.

Madrid were the happier team with penalties – despite Luka Modric being denied. Silva tried to knock it down the middle but Lunin stayed there. Kovacic had his effort saved. Ederson took the fifth kick himself and scored but could not keep out Rudiger.

It was cruel end for City, who will feel they were the better team, but Madrid’s resolve was rewarded and will fancy their chances against less than ominous looking Bayern in the semi-final. City’s trophy defence is over. What impact will this have on their run-in?

Bernardo Silva reacts after missing his penalty in Man City's shootout with Real Madrid
Bernardo Silva reacts after missing his penalty in Man City’s shoot-out with Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s win in stats

  • Real Madrid have qualified for the semi-finals of the European Cup / Champions League for the 33rd time in the club’s history, 12 more times than the club with the next-most semi-final appearances (Bayern Munich, 21).
  • Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League for a 10th time, the joint-most of any manager in the competition’s history (level with Pep Guardiola on 10).
  • Real Madrid have eliminated the reigning Champions League title-holders six times in knockout ties – at least twice as often as any other side in the competition’s history.
  • Manchester City had 88 touches in the opposition box against Real Madrid; the most on record in a UEFA Champions League match (since 2007-08). Their 33 shots were also the most in a knockout stage game in the competition since Liverpool (34) versus Atletico Madrid in March 2020.
  • Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in 24 goals for Manchester City in the knockout stages of the Champions League (13 goals, 11 assists), the most by a player for an English club in the competition (overtaking Wayne Rooney’s 23 for Manchester United).
  • Rodrygo has scored four goals for Real Madrid against Manchester City, his outright most against a single opponent in all competitions for Los Blancos.
  • Rodri completed the most passes (142), created the most chances (5), and recovered possession the most times (11) of any player in this game. He also completed more passes in the final third in this match (68) than Real Madrid did as a team (35).

What’s next?

Manchester City face Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday, kick-off 5.15pm. City then resume their Premier League title charge at Brighton on Thursday April 25, live on Sky Sports, at 8pm.

They then head to Nottingham Forest three days later on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 4.30pm.

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Breaking news – Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, [email protected]

SOON after the attainment of independence in April 1980, Stephen Mpofu was hired as a senior reporter at the Herald in Harare and quickly realised something was amiss about how the newsroom operated.

The voice of the black majority that had won the protracted war and gained independence was not in the media. 

The focus was still on what the colonists enjoyed, what they were dismayed about, their needs and wants without the consideration of the issues that affected the blacks.

This prompted Mpofu to boldly approach his news editor at the time and suggest that he covers black people’s issues, especially in the townships of Chitungwiza and Seke.

Mpofu was the first black News Editor at the Herald in 1981 and then Assistant Editor from 1981 to 1987, when he became Acting Editor of the Sunday Mail before taking over the following year. 

Mpofu then took over as the Chronicle Editor in 1989 and captained the daily, until his retirement in 2001. 

This week, a Chronicle news crew visited Mpofu at his house ,in Bulawayo’s Killarney suburb. He was in a jovial mood as he welcomed the news crew, which was ushered in by his two grandchildren to the dining room, where a beaming Mpofu was seated.

While he has lost his sight because of glaucoma but this has not affected his love for journalism as he recalled how the newsroom was when he walked into Herald house, after 17 years of working in Zambia. 

“I actually initiated the coverage of Chitungwiza and Seke because they were neglected as they were black townships, which did not get much coverage from white reporters. 

“I remember very well that I suggested to cover the two and there were a lot of things to be covered there,” said Mpofu.

A proud moment for Mr Stephen Mpofu (centre), the Editor of The Chronicle, as he savours the first batch of copies of his new novel, Zambezi Waters Run Still, at launching ceremony in 1996. He is flanked by a representative of the publishers, Mrs Susan McMillan (left) and Dr Yvonne Vera, a renowned local writer.

“I covered what people wanted, shops, schools, clinics and so forth, how people were living and what they needed. Whites would not go there and talk to people and in the first place the people were obviously reluctant to talk to them. They were however free to talk to me, a fellow black man and say what they needed and so forth.”

When he walked into the doors of Herald House, Mpofu said the environment just after independence was hostile, there was a “cold war” between the white and black journalists, both sides were suspicious of each other, not trusting one another and the whites looked down upon black scribes. 

“The environment was hostile in the sense that the whites who held superior positions were afraid of being supplanted because they knew, with time there would be no jobs for them. And, so, we had to be brave, we knew why we were employed there,” said Mpofu.

“We had to be brave because we knew how oppressive whites were and so, when we were promoted to higher positions, we knew we could not afford to fail because a revolution had been fought to remove oppression against blacks. 

“So, there was virtual war, cold war if you like, between black journalists and white seniors there.”

Mpofu said some would cynically disobey him while others left for South Africa, where they felt “comfortable” because Apartheid was in control. These white journalists could not fathom working with, let alone under a black man.

“They disrespected you simply because you were black. As they were used to the system of oppressing blacks. They disobeyed you in a very subtle way. Most of them left and went to South Africa because before independence our newspapers were owned by Argus Printing and Public Company from South Africa where Apartheid was at its height, so, they felt comfortable there,” said Mpofu.

Possibly, this behaviour by whites was not abnormal as it was ingrained in their DNA as they regarded blacks as lesser humans, viewing the journalist profession as a preserve of their race.

In his book, “Creatures at the Top”, Mpofu chronicles his utter shock and dismay after being told to his face by a Bishop Albrekston of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that journalism “was a career for white people”.

In the book, Mpofu wrote that in 1961 he could not wait to tell the Bishop, who he described as a quiet looking spiritual father, the good news that he had been accepted into Africa’s only journalism school, the Africa Literacy and Writing Centre (later to change to Africa Literature Centre) in Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia (present day Zambia). 

Mpofu in his book says he questioned whether the church stood for what he called “rampant white racism” or was it just the Bishop’s opinion or preferences that the journalism profession was a preserve for white people. 

He had earlier on applied to be taught journalism after seeing an advert in the Drum Magazine that he had picked up while killing time with his friends on a Sunday afternoon, at the Bulawayo Main Railway Station, in June 1961.

At the time, Mpofu was working at Sentex Weaving Mills as a drawer, making designs on towels. Mpofu said he was excited as he saw himself contributing to the church’s magazine, Chiedza to “improve its quality and increase its circulation.”

Away from the disappointment of the Bishop’s rebuff, Mpofu nearly failed to travel to Zambia for his journalism training because he had failed to get sponsorship to enrol. It was his father, who later raised money to pay for his course by selling grain and chickens, while Mpofu from his measly wages saved enough just to meet his travelling expenses and his upkeep in Zambia.

Stephen Mpofu

This is where he saw the possibilities of working in a free country as a black man. What he calls the Class of 63, at the Africa Literacy and Writing Centre, he rubbed shoulders with journalists from free countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).

This was the newsroom that he wanted, this was the life he had envisaged, free from being looked down upon in his own country. 

Looking back, Mpofu believes he was privileged to have worked in Zambia during a time that the country attained its independence, as back home there was little or no opportunity. 

“I wanted to come back home, but when Ian Smith declared UDI, I stayed on. The white man had grown roots in the country and being a journalist was a white collar job. I stayed in Zambia for 17 years, working there and seeing and feeling how a Government under majority rule worked. It was liberating and it was something that I wanted for my country,” said Mpofu.

He said all the while he was following the rise of the nationalist parties and movements in Rhodesia and in particular when Zanu was formed in Gweru, under the leadership of the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole as president and the late Cde Robert Mugabe as secretary general. 

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