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Foreign leaders extend best wishes for Chinese New Year of Rabbit – Xinhua

Rabbit shaped decorations are seen at a mall to greet the coming Chinese Lunar New Year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 7, 2023. (Photo by Chong Voon Chung/Xinhua)

BEIJING, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) — As the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit arrives, many foreign leaders have sent their Chinese New Year greetings to the country, the Chinese people and overseas Chinese, and expressed their hope for stronger cooperation with China towards a better future.

“My dear brothers and sisters from China and all Chinese communities around the world: I wish you all a happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous Spring Festival 2023,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement released by the Presidency.

“As we enter the New Year, we are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in 1998,” he noted, adding that South Africa will succeed China as chair and host of the next BRICS Summit.

“These occasions provide ample cause for celebration,” he said.

In a video message released on Saturday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended his warm congratulations on behalf of the government and people of Zimbabwe, and on his own behalf, saying that “the new season offers an opportunity to solidify the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity that exist between our two countries and peoples.”

Wishing all the Chinese “good health, prosperity and every success (in) the new year,” Mnangagwa concluded the message with the Mandarin Chinese “Chun Jie Kuai Le! (Happy Spring Festival!)”

In a video message published Saturday, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe wished the people and government of China a prosperous Year of the Rabbit.

Meanwhile, Dinesh Gunawardena, the country’s prime minister, said in his video message that China is a “true trustworthy friend” of Sri Lanka.

“Even in the present economic crisis in Sri Lanka, China has assured extraordinary special support for us to overcome economic challenges,” he said, wishing the Chinese people “a very happy, joyous and prosperous new year.”

In his message sent Sunday to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wished the Chinese people prosperity, progress, happiness and good health.

He said he looks forward to working with China to continuously expand mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, and further enhance the already close cooperative partnership between the Maldives and China.

“On behalf of our people I wish you (China and the Chinese people) good health, luck, and many new economic achievements,” said Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic when attending the central celebration welcoming the Year of the Rabbit held at the Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade on Saturday.

She pledged to further strengthen the “iron-clad friendship” between Serbia and China.

In a letter extending her Chinese New Year greeting to the Chinese people in Denmark and China, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen noted that “the Rabbit symbolizes gentleness and kindness,” to many people.

“China and Denmark have many shared interests, not least when it comes to dealing with climate change. We are facing mounting global challenges that can only be overcome by joint efforts,” she said, hoping that “this year we can further strengthen our relations in areas such as the green transition and trade.”

In a separate letter, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also wished all Chinese people in Denmark and China a happy Spring Festival and Year of the Rabbit.

Noting that Denmark attaches great importance to relations with China as the two sides have many shared interests, he said “I look forward to strengthening our trade relations, people-to-people ties, and cooperation on creating a safer, greener, and more sustainable world.”

In a recent video message, Lucie Milebou Aubusson, president of the Gabonese Senate, sent sincere wishes of health, happiness and prosperity to “the brotherly Chinese people” as the president of the Senate and on behalf of the upper house of parliament.

As this year marks the 49th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the top official said she is “delighted by our deepening ties and parliamentary diplomacy, marked by multiple visits and exchanges between our two parliaments.”

“May the Year of the Rabbit be the source of opportunity for our two peoples. May peace, harmony and equality be with us,” she added.

While celebrating the Spring Festival at the Chinese embassy in his country, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape wished the Chinese people a happy and healthy new year, and hoped for sustained development of bilateral ties and practical cooperation in various fields.

As rabbit symbolizes smartness and swiftness in the Chinese culture, Papua New Guinea hopes to swiftly grasp the opportunities brought by China in the new year and harvest more fruits in sectors such as bilateral high-level exchanges, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges, Marape said.

Fijian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sitiveni Rabuka also attended the celebrative activities organized Sunday by the Chinese embassy and overseas Chinese in the island country. He extended New Year greeting to the Chinese people, and said Fiji expects to set up closer and multiple cooperation with China.  Enditem

(Xinhua reporters Zhang Baoping in Harare, Shi Yu in Kinshasa, Che Hongliang in Colombo, Lin Jing in Copenhagen and Shi Zhongyu in Belgrade also contributed to this story.)

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Zimbabwe approves ‘draconian’ law targeting civil society – News24

  • Zimbabwe’s government has approved legislation that looks to “improve accountability” of charities in the country.
  • It has, however, drawn flak, with critics saying it is a measure to gag civil society groups.
  • Just one senator voted against the legislation.

Zimbabwe’s upper house of parliament has approved legislation that critics say will gag civil society groups, placing them under the threat of harsh sanctions and strict government control.

The senate voted late Wednesday in favour of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which needs to be ratified by the president before passing into law. The text sailed through the country’s other chamber of parliament, the National Assembly, late last year.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the law was a “necessary measure to improve the administration, accountability and transparency” of charities working in the country.

He accused some of “directing money to favoured political parties.”

“We cannot run the risk of charities of a public character being used as a cover for theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering or partisan political activities,” Ziyambi told the senate on Wednesday.

Rights groups and opposition parties complain of an increased government clampdown on dissent as the country heads towards general elections later this year.

READ | Protesting Zimbabwe health workers could face jail after new law passed

The bill bans civil society organisations from engaging in politics and allows the state to interfere in their governance and activities, such as making changes to their internal management and funding.

Those found in breach of its provisions risk up to a year in jail and the closure of their organisation.

‘Obscene’ law

Only one senator voted against the law. The chamber is dominated by the ruling ZANU party, with the main opposition group – the Citizens Coalition for Change – holding no seats.

The lone dissenter, Senator Morgen Komichi, called the bill “obscene”, saying NGOs provide key support in areas including health, education and food security.

“Zimbabwe is a country that does not have a strong economy which can cater for every Zimbabwean,” Komichi said.

Critics argue that the law’s broad scope risks de facto criminalising the activity of any organisation disliked by the government.

Some warned it could lead to drastic cuts in foreign aid, which comes through non-governmental organisations, and is estimated to be Zimbabwe’s third-largest revenue stream.

READ | Zimbabwe debuts gold coins as currency

Prominent journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono, said on Twitter the “draconian” legislation was similar to an apartheid-era law in South Africa that barred certain civil organisations from receiving foreign aid or funds.

“This is the lowest any modern state can get to. Especially a state that was born through struggle for freedom, independence and democracy,” Peter Mutasa, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a civil society umbrella group, told AFP.

“We never expected that we could sink this low”.

Up to 18 000 people working for non-governmental organisations in the country risk losing their jobs, he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, faces widespread discontent as he struggles to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and brake inflation.


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Zimbabwe approves ‘draconian’ law targeting civil society – Modern Ghana

Zimbabwe’s upper house of parliament has approved legislation that critics say will gag civil society groups, placing them under the threat of harsh sanctions and strict government control.

The senate voted late Wednesday in favour of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which needs to be ratified by the president before passing into law. The text sailed through the country’s other chamber of parliament, the National Assembly, late last year.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the law was a “necessary measure to improve the administration, accountability and transparency” of charities working in the country.

He accused some of “directing money to favoured political parties.”

“We cannot run the risk of charities of a public character being used as a cover for theft, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering or partisan political activities,” Ziyambi told the senate on Wednesday.

Rights groups and opposition parties complain of an increased government clampdown on dissent as the country heads towards general elections later this year.

The bill bans civil society organisations from engaging in politics and allows the state to interfere in their governance and activities, such as making changes to their internal management and funding.

Those found in breach of its provisions risk up to a year in jail and the closure of their organisation.

‘Obscene’ law

Only one senator voted against the law. The chamber is dominated by the ruling ZANU party, with the main opposition group — the Citizens Coalition for Change — holding no seats.

The lone dissenter, Senator Morgen Komichi, called the bill “obscene”, saying NGOs provide key support in areas including health, education and food security.

“Zimbabwe is a country that does not have a strong economy which can cater for every Zimbabwean,” Komichi said.

Critics argue that the law’s broad scope risks de facto criminalising the activity of any organisation disliked by the government.

Some warned it could lead to drastic cuts in foreign aid, which comes through non-governmental organisations, and is estimated to be Zimbabwe’s third-largest revenue stream.

Prominent journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono, said on Twitter the “draconian” legislation was similar to an apartheid-era law in South Africa that barred certain civil organisations from receiving foreign aid or funds.

“This is the lowest any modern state can get to. Especially a state that was born through struggle for freedom, independence and democracy,” Peter Mutasa, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a civil society umbrella group, told AFP.

“We never expected that we could sink this low”.

Up to 18,000 people working for non-governmental organisations in the country risk losing their jobs, he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017, faces widespread discontent as he struggles to ease entrenched poverty, end chronic power cuts and brake inflation.

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Zimbabwean pastors flee ministry to join more lucrative care work in … – Baptist News Global

Zimbabwe is blighted by a fearsome 240% inflation rate, one of the world’s highest. The nation’s pastors, although dedicated to the calling of Christ’s work, are struggling to eat or pay bills just like their impoverished congregants.

“We can’t dance in front of the pulpit and hide our poverty. I don’t feel bad for leaving my congregation,” said Tinaye Tangwena, 45, a former evangelical pastor who served congregations for 15 years in Zimbabwe. He now lives in Watford, England, 7,600 miles away from his home in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is a former colony of the UK, where there is strong demand for care workers, ambulance drivers, social workers, doctors and nurses partly due to the UK leaving the European Union and the staff burnout in England hospitals over the last two years. In Zimbabwe, where electricity is short, salaries for civil servants can be as low as $100 a month and emergency medication in public hospitals is usually absent.

Seeing their congregations flee poverty, pastors also are immigrating, dumping the pulpit for nursing home care work in England.

Thus, dire poverty and the lure of a better life are driving thousands of Zimbabwe’s nurses and care workers to decamp to the UK. Seeing their congregations flee poverty, pastors also are immigrating, dumping the pulpit for nursing home care work in England.

“I’m not shy to quit being a pastor, immigrate and become an elderly care worker in the UK,” said Silas Gatsheni, a Baptist pastor from Zimbabwe who has just arrived to work in a nursing home in Liverpool. “I know 10 Zimbabwe pastors who have arrived here in England to become care home workers in 2022. As the Bible says, it’s an exodus.”

Baptist News Global has reported in the past on escalating emigration from Zimbabwe as difficulties mount in the country. Average salaries for care workers in the UK generally come to $28,000 a year. This is a fortune for Zimbabwe emigres like Gatsheni. So, despite having a relatively small population of 15 million people, Zimbabwe has become one of the top five countries of origin whose nationals are getting work visas to the UK.

“Ministering, leading Christ’s followers as a pastor must not become financial slavery,” said Dana Sakadzo, a Pentecostal pastor in the UK who also left behind 10 years of ministry and his congregation to become a janitor in a nursing home in Glasgow, Scotland.

Sakadzo breaks down the math of survival. Pastors in many Zimbabwe churches don’t get formal salaries; they get by on congregations’ generosity and tithes because in Zimbabwe there’s a societal attitude that being a pastor is a “calling” and not a salaried profession. For a few pastors who get formal salaries in elite churches in cities, wages are as pitiful as $300 a month. In the rural areas, pastors live in even more precarious situations and are paid not in cash but by gifts such as live chickens.

“I used to care for people’s spiritual needs in Zimbabwe, now I care for their health in the UK.”

“Back in Zimbabwe, we couldn’t make proper breakfast or pay electricity on a pastor’s salaries or tithes,” said Sakadzo, who trained as a nurse in Zimbabwe before quitting to become a pastor in the early 2000s. “I used to care for people’s spiritual needs in Zimbabwe, now I care for their health in the UK.”

In Zimbabwe, most pastors already held professional qualifications such as mechanics, nursing and teacher diplomas well before they became pastors, said Dean Moloi, a trained nurse, who served as a pastor in Zimbabwe 10 years. “It’s terrible back home, and the congregation would go for three months without paying me a salary.”

He reverted to his midwife qualifications and has now found work in Leicester, England, at a public hospital.

But some of these pastors believe they haven’t left the ministry. In addition to serving the medical and social needs of clients, they have opportunities to start churches.

“I don’t see pastors’ immigration as a complete loss to Zimbabwe. Here in the UK, we get a chance to open new congregations and serve the Zimbabwe diaspora,” said Gatsheni, who works in a nursing home.

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