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Fruitful trip as creditors embrace repayment plan – The Herald

Herbert Zharare and Africa Moyo in SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt 

A number of development partners and creditors have embraced Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process, with some expressing interest to work with Harare on various development programmes for the country to regain its footing after being burdened by debt and devastated by sanctions for a long time.

This came out during the highly successful and oversubscribed roundtable meeting on Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process held here on Wednesday evening.

The meeting was a side event during the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meetings that started on Monday and will end today.

AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Champion of Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process, facilitated the organisation of the meeting with creditors and development partners.

President Mnangagwa appointed Dr Adesina as Champion of the process, and is working with former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, the High-Level facilitator.

The two luminaries have since engaged most of the creditors and development partners, culminating in Wednesday night’s engagement, which was the fifth meeting since they came in. 

Before the interventions, President Mnangagwa had delivered a keynote address that focused on the measures being put in place by his administration to restore macro-economic fundamentals, reboot key economic sectors such as the agriculture to ensure food security, and dealing with corruption.

The President also promised to ensure free, fair and credible harmonised elections in August this year, which is one of the 16 indicators crucial to the success of the debt and arrears resolution programme.

Representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the Word Bank, European Union, SADC, civil society and development partners, attended the meeting, whose venue had to be changed to accommodate scores of people who wanted to listen to the important discussion.

So interactive was the meeting that attendees kept making contributions, resulting in the event being the last one to conclude well after 8pm, at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Centre.

Contributing to the dialogue, Mr Willie Nakunyada, Executive Director for Zimbabwe at the IMF, said the executive board meeting held on March 15, welcomed the progress Harare has made to exit the grey list.

He urged the Government to continue consolidating the gains made so far and ensure financial integrity.

Mr Nakunyada said the IMF executive directors also keenly await the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) request in line with the first pillar of the three pillars: an approach that anchors the reform efforts called by the structured dialogue platform. 

“The executive directors are looking at this structured dialogue as the lasting solution and amicable way to unlock international capital and unleash the country’s growth potential.  

“So, the fund awaits the move by Zimbabwean authorities to see how they can support this process going forward,” said Mr Nakunyada.

World Bank director for regional integration for Sub-Sahara Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Ms Boutheina Guermazi, saluted Zimbabwe for advancing the dialogue platform as part of arrears clearance and debt resolution. 

“It is encouraging to see the open and encouraging dialogue that the Government has, with the international partners, (and) civil society organisations on its re-engagement. 

“The World Bank remains committed to support Zimbabwe in reforms agreed through the dialogue process. We are happy to contribute to the economic reforms working group and provide knowledge and advisory services, in key development areas. We are mobilising resources through the multi-donor platform and other global funds to contribute towards building capacity. 

“We want to see Zimbabwe’s accelerating economic growth, with human capital and abundant natural resources,” said Ms Guermazi.

United Kingdom representative at the meeting, Mr Phil Stevens, who is also acting director International Financial Institutions Department, congratulated Zimbabwe for working with President Chissano and Dr Adesina to create an institutionalised structured dialogue to solve the country’s debt and arrears. 

“The improved dialogue is already building trust. The UK remains committed to engaging in the process in good faith. 

“The UK welcomes the inclusive approach and it’s important to keep all players, civil society, political parties and private sector involved. 

“We are sure this will be a multi-lateral process with all creditors involved,” said Mr Stevens.

He said the UK welcomed the reforms being implemented by the Government, adding that they support the internationally monitored outcome indicators.  

It is the achievements of the indicators that will achieve arrears clearance rather than mere plans, he noted.

Mr Stevens said delivering free and fair elections was central to all efforts being made, adding Britain looks forward to being part of the arrears clearance process.  

Mr Edward Kallon, the UN resident representative in Zimbabwe, said Harare has huge potential in Southern Africa and could contribute for the emancipation of the region if given the chance to “reproduce itself”.

“I had to fly from the United States straight to Sharm El-Sheikh for the purpose of this process. When my brother (Dr Adesina) spoke, he captured the critical ingredients of the dialogue,” said Mr Kallon. 

He said he called for the lifting of illegal sanctions imposed on Harare at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo in April, but was advised that his position was premature.

But Mr Kallon reiterated the position of the UN that the sanctions on Zimbabwe were not endorsed by the world body, adding that a stifled country will never deliver its goal of national economic development.

“For the past six months, Your Excellency, I have been pushing the United Nations to see whatever we can do so that the voice of Zimbabwe is louder and louder. 

“The structured dialogue needs a step-by-step approach to try and find solutions of key challenges of Zimbabwe. We are so happy that this process is going on. To Dr Adesina, we are watching you and you should deliver what you are talking about in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Nicholas Radin, Switzerland Alternate Governor at the AfDB, said they were involved in the process in Harare through their embassy, adding that his country was keen to support Zimbabwe through the whole process.

“We are co-chairing the group on land issue and we are available and we are very proud of what is happening in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Radin.

SADC Executive Secretary His Excellency Mr Elias Magosi said the regional bloc has been with Zimbabwe “through and through”.

He said SADC has made statements every October 25, calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

He also hailed the dialogue process saying it was the only way to solving challenges.

“You can’t solve any problem until you sit down to solve it. We commend President Mnangagwa for this development. Zimbabwe is one of us. As SADC we will walk with Zimbabwe,” said His Excellency Magosi.

He added that SADC plays a key role in delivering elections in the region and this year, they have four elections including in Zimbabwe, where the SADC Observer Mission would be deployed.

His Excellency Magosi said they will ensure the elections are free and fair.

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa General Secretary Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, also commended the dialogue process, and expressed hope that it would be successful.

US Assistant Treasury Secretary Mr Erick Meyer confirmed that they have punitive sanctions against Zimbabwe, aimed at making the economy scream.

“I know president Adesina mentioned ZIDERA (imposed by) the United States. That Act does bind us in opposing lending from international financial institutions and until definitely certain criteria under ZIDERA are made,” he said. 

Mr Meyer said some of the issues relate to the rule of law, free and fair elections, pre-election conditions, and the land reform.

The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe following the Land Reform Programme and is one of the few countries and institutions maintaining the devilish sanctions so as to punish the economy and make the citizens turn against the ruling Zanu PF in elections.

Since year 2000, the US plan to smuggle the opposition into State House has failed dismally, and a fresh attempt is brewing in the build up to the August harmonised elections.

Some commentators have alleged that the US actively participates in manipulating Zimbabwe’s currency towards every election with the hope of causing price increases and consequently a protest vote against Zanu PF.

However, the Government has put in place measures to defend the currency, and stabilise prices, including through allowing duty-free imports of basic goods.

Meanwhile President Mnangagwa and his delegations returned home yesterday and was received by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and senior Government officials.

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Farmers hail increase in irrigation schemes – The Herald

Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter

Smallholder farmers have applauded the Government for increasing investment in irrigation schemes to improve agricultural production despite the effects of climate change. 

The Government is targeting to increase the area under irrigation from the current 193 000ha to 350 000 hectares by 2025 as the country aims to boost production. 

The intention is to fight the effects of climate change although irrigation farming helps farmers in diversifying their farming operations thereby allowing them to grow crops all year round rather than engaging in seasonal productions. 

The rolling out of dam construction countrywide will also boost agricultural production, provide potable water and install mini-hydro power projects as the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa seeks to revolutionise agriculture, especially for smallholder farmers. 

The development of the dams was part of long term plans to support smallholder irrigation, boost food and agricultural production and harness water for industrial and domestic use. Farmers said irrigation schemes are critical for small holder farmers to improve agricultural production adding that Government’s move to introduce the system is greatly appreciated. 

They also said irrigation schemes constructed so far have turned the areas into green belts. 

One of the beneficiaries of Bubi- Lupane irrigation scheme, Mr Martin Hlongwane said the scheme has helped to transform subsistence agriculture at household level into commercial agriculture as part of rural development and industrialisation in line with vision 2030. 

He said following the revitalisation of the scheme in 2021, they have started reaping the rewards of their labour. 

“We are unemployed as a family, we struggled to make ends meet until Government availed this opportunity for us. We are grateful we can now afford to send our children to school,’’ he said. 

Mrs Margaret Simango of Guruve who stays near Dande said through their efforts, they are contributing towards boosting the country’s food security. 

“The irrigation scheme in Guruve has enabled my family to be food secure. I am also glad that in my small way, I am also contributing to Zimbabwe’s food security,” she said. 

A Chinhoyi farmer Mr Larry Muenza said his crop which is under irrigation was doing well. “We thank the Government for availing irrigation facilities. In the summer season we can continue with farming, we see the difference with those farmers without irrigation,” he said. Mr Taurai Mangisi of Katawa in Raffingora said because of climate change, rainfall patterns were no longer predictable and it was risky to depend on rain-fed agriculture.

“Some of us have been at the land for many years and we cannot be spoon-fed all the time. We ask for loan facilities where we can get irrigation equipment and pay in instalments,” he said. 

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Trust Mrs Depinah Nkomo said most women farmers did not have irrigation facilities and urged the Government to invest in micro irrigation facilities. 

“If every woman can have one hectare under irrigation, we will be able to boost production of earnings from agriculture. We have the land and zeal to farm, but lack of irrigation facilities is affecting us. With irrigation we can grow different types of crops throughout the year and increase profits,” she said. 

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera said there is a need to move more towards irrigation development as it is vital for ensuring food security. 

’’This Agric-Climate Proofing Programme entails massive country-wide water harnessing and irrigation programmes targeting to resuscitate and develop up to 350 000ha under functional irrigation by 2025 from about 150 000ha in 2020. By 2022, the country recorded 193 000 ha under functional irrigation. This thrust will present great opportunities for climate change adaptation in the agric-production space, thus giving us a chance to go for growth proper and at scale, ’’he said. 

The Government created the Irrigation Development Alliance as a vigorous framework that seeks to promote investment in irrigation expansion by supporting partnerships between financial institutions, irrigation companies and farmers. The programme is part of the Government’s efforts to create an enabling environment for accelerated growth through enhancing irrigation development’s viability and effectiveness to build the country’s resilience to vulnerabilities and shocks that come as a result of climate change. 

The Government, under the Accelerated Irrigation Rehabilitation and Development programme, has started resuscitating communal irrigation schemes nationwide, a key enabler to improved yields and livestock production for smallholder farmers. 

In a recent interview, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka said irrigation will transform the livelihoods and many households that are close to the irrigation scheme. 

However, this can only be achieved by focusing on improved production and productivity which can only be guaranteed if people take farming as a business. Increased agricultural production and productivity will in turn, enhance income, increase opportunities for value addition and the development of agribusiness value chains.

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Massive progress at MSU Law School – The Herald

Freedom Mupanedemo-Midlands Bureau

The construction of the ED Mnangagwa Law School at the Kwekwe Campus of Midlands State University (MSU), one of the projects put under the 100 day plan by the Second Republic, has recorded massive progress and is expected to be complete by August 2024. 

The two-storey ED Mnangagwa Law School will comprise some lecture rooms, a moot court, an e-library and an administration block among other sections. 

Already employing 239 workers, the bulk of them locals, the ED Mnangagwa Law School, will also house other faculties including agriculture and architecture is expected to recruit more than 1 000 students upon completion next year. 

If completed within the stipulated time, it would have broken the record by becoming one of the massive projects under the Second Republic to be completed within the shortest period of time. 

Speaking after touring the facility yesterday, Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes Permanent Secretary, Mrs Fananai Madambi expressed satisfaction at progress. 

“Upon completion, this is expected to become one of the best law schools in Africa and it has since been part of the 100 day cycle projects that the Government is closely monitoring and believe you me, it has been given special attention and it is getting the necessary support from the government,” she said. 

Mrs Madambi said with the commitment from the university itself and other stakeholders, it was possible that the project will be complete within the stipulated time-line. 

The project is being jointly funded by the treasury and the institution. 

“I have noted with pleasure the commitment coming from the university, the Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution (Senator Larry Mavima) and other stakeholders. It is proving to be a success. There is no doubt that the construction should be completed by August next year,” she said. 

Mrs Madambi urged local companies to take up opportunities presented by the university’s construction. 

“I am told that bricks are coming from Bulawayo and Harare. It is my wish that local companies benefit from the construction of this massive structure. We should be able to see companies supplying steel, bricks, cement and other building material that are required here,” she said. 

Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Senator Larry Mavima, said the campus was named in honour of the achievements made by President Mnangagwa in the development of this country.

“The idea of this law school was mooted by President Mnangagwa himself way back before he even became president. We then decided to implement the idea in his owner and recognition of the works that he is doing in the development of the country,” said Sen Mavima. 

He said had it not been of covid-19, construction could have been complete by now adding the new campus will play an important role in boosting the provincial GDP. 

“This is a way of proving that we can build our own nation despite the sanctions. If you look at this campus, MSU is providing its own builders instead of sub-contracting. They are also being supervised by MSU management and artisans. And it is also pleasing to note that most of the engineering works are being done on site proving that we can build our own country in line with President’s mantra “nyika inovakwa nevene vayo,” he said. 

Vice Chancellor, Professor Victor Muzvidziwa said given the continued availability of funds, the construction should be complete by August. 

“As long as we continue receiving resources the way we are doing, we should be able to complete the construction by August and take our first enrolment. This should be one of the leading law schools in Africa that will also attract foreign students,” he said. 

Prof Muzvidziwa said after completion of the initial block, there will be construction of staff accommodation as well as students’ hostels, a kitchen among other infrastructure. 

Sitting on 229 hectares, the university has brought with it excitement not only in Kwekwe but the province at large. 

It seeks to make education available to the communities, MSU has adopted a multi-campus philosophy that has seen it being in Gweru, Zvishavane, Harare and Bulawayo hence operationalising education 5.0 model.

MSU which is the biggest institution in Zimbabwe in terms of enrolment, is also looking forward to opening other campuses in Gokwe and Mutare.

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China now Zim’s largest FDI source – The Herald

Kudzanai Sharara in Beijing, China

China has made huge inroads into the Zimbabwean economy in terms of investment, which is expected to grow further following the three-day ZimTrade organised Zimbabwe-China Business Forum, which ends today in Beijing, China.

The Asian giant, the second biggest economy in the world after the USA, now holds the number one spot in terms of investment into Zimbabwe, according to Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) chief investment officer Silibaziso Chizwina.

In her presentation at the official opening of the highly subscribed business forum, Ms Chizwina revealed that Zimbabwe has 427 licensed Chinese companies in various sectors of the economy, making it the biggest source of foreign direct investment in the country.

“Of those, 228 are in the mining sector, 95 in manufacturing, 57 in the services sector while construction has 15 with the rest shared between, transport, energy, agriculture and tourism,” Ms Chizwina said.

She said that 72 of those licences were issued in the last three months, which shows “how much potential there is in our country.”

The huge appetite by Chinese investors is in line with Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement drive and also dovetails with Zimbabwe’s Open for Business mantra.

Continued growth in investments across sectors of the Zimbabwean economy will help the country attain its quest to be an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

Zimbabwe’s cooperation with China spans from infrastructure construction and mineral exploitation to investment and trade, and more is expected after this week’s business forum.

Chinese giants Sinomine Resource Group, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, and Chengxin Lithium Group have since 2022 acquired lithium mines and invested in projects worth a combined US$678 million in Zimbabwe, and are at various stages of developing mines. The two companies are also developing processing plants at the mines.

Another Chinese firm, steel giant Tsingshan Holding Group through its subsidiary, Dinson Iron and Steel Company, is building a US$1 billion steel-manufacturing plant that could turn Zimbabwe into one of Africa’s largest producers of iron and steel products.

The plant, which will be ready later this year, will initially produce 600 000 tonnes of steel a year and the production could double when it reaches full throttle.

Ms Chizwina said in 2023, US$295 million had come from Chinese investors.

“China remains our highest investment partner in the country for the last three years, they have taken poll position number 1.

“In 2022 alone, we calculated US$1,3 bln worth of investments came from China alone.

“Our highest investor to date is a US$900 million iron and steel plant, which is currently under establishment and estimated to produce 500 000 tonnes of steel by November 2023,” Ms Chizwina said.

Despite these huge investments, Ms Chizwina said Zimbabwe had the capacity to absorb more in all sectors of the economy.

Some of the investment opportunities are in the energy sector where there is a deficit of 1 500MW according to Ms Chizwina.

This, she said, requires investments in transmission infrastructure, financing of independent power producers and financing investment into renewable energy production through hydropower and solar power.

“These are all areas the Government is currently pushing to have many more investors to come on board. In addition, our ago-production has a shortfall of about 55 percent which we are slowly covering,” she said.

Ms Chizwina said the Government had been working aggressively to establish irrigation facilities across the country through the development of large water facilities like Tokwe Mukosi Dam, which is ready for investors to come on board and establish irrigation and associated projects the local communities can then benefit from.

Other areas investors can tap into are fertiliser, dairy, and horticulture production.

The cotton-to-clothing value chain is also another area that offers investment opportunities to investors, according to Ms Chizwina. Housing, infrastructure, roads and rail also offer massive investment opportunities according to Chizwina.

“Our health services have been estimated to require about US$3 billion in investment over the next 5 to 10 years in order to bring the level of medical facilities to a level which allows our people to be treated within first world facilities,” she said.

Zimbabwe has a deficit of 2 000 hotel rooms, which is another area that offers investment opportunities.

The Zimbabwe-Business Forum, which started on May 30 and ends on June 1, 2023, was organised by national trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, to improve the visibility of Zimbabwean products in the Asian market.

The Business Forum is not only focusing on trade, but investment and tourism as well, according to ZimTrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru.

This is in line with the economic diplomacy being championed by President Mnangagwa, whose Government’s policy thrust has always been to open the country for doing business.

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