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Zimbabweans Attack Finance Secretary for Throwing Lavish Birthday Party Amid High Poverty Levels – VOA Zimbabwe

Zimbabweans have reacted with anger over Finance Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga’s lavish 50th birthday party held recently and his remarks that he would pay South African singer, Louis Mhlanga, five times the agreed gig price tag signed by the music maestro and his handlers.

Guvamatanga, who was caught on video at his birthday party expressing happiness over the musician’s performance, allegedly promised to wire an undisclosed amount of money to Mhlanga.

He told The Standard newspaper that he had the right to throw lavish birthday parties as he cannot pretend to be poor.

Guvamatanga told the newspaper that he earned millions of dollars when he was the managing director of Barclays Bank, which was sold to the Merchant Bank (FMB) of Malawi in 2017. The FMB awarded him a retrenchment package of US$354,293,37, according to the Zimbabwe Independent.

Guvamatanga is quoted in The Standard newspaper as saying he owns a big farm where he sells 500 cattle per year at a cost of US$2,500 each.

Despite these claims, some people have attacked him for allegedly spending scarce foreign currency on the lavish birthday party organized by his family, when millions of Zimbabweans are struggling to make ends meet.

In a tweet, media practitioner, Zenzele Ndebele, said, “The Perm Sec for Finance reminds me of Marie-Antoinette-Josèphe-Jeanne d’Autriche-Lorraine. One day the walls of Jericho will fall.”

According to Britanica, Marie-Antoinette, who was queen of France from 1774 to 1793, “is associated with the decline of the French monarchy. Her alleged remark ‘Let them eat cake’ has been cited as showing her obliviousness to the poor conditions in which many of her subjects lived while she lived decadently …”

Investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, also attacked Guvamatanga on Twitter, saying, “It is either George Guvamatanga was misquoted, or he is a liar! In the article he says he worked for Barclays for 30 years and left 4 years ago, that is 34 years. He was celebrating his 50th birthday, so he joined Barclays when he was 16 years old?

“Don’t allow Varakashi to lie to you that George Guvamatanga made his money at Barclays Bank, it is nonsense and propaganda! George’s salary at Barclays Bank was US$16,666,67. His retrenchment payout was US$354,000. Don’t glorify corruption with LIES.”

Another Zimbabwean, Farai Maguwu, executive director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, has no kind words for the permanent secretary.

“In defending his squandermania lifestyle, Guvamatanga claims he worked for 30 years at Barclays Bank, until 2017. He joined govt in 2018. Less 30 years at Barclays we are left with 16 years. At what age did Mr Guvamatanga join Barclays? Age 16? If u subtract the 1 year he spent unemployed between 2017 and 2018 it means Guvamatanga joined Barclays at age 15!”

South Africa’s Afro pop stars – Mafikizolo and Makhadzi – performed at the lavish birthday party, which was attended by several top state officials and company executives, including one who allegedly paid for his trip to Britain to watch his favorite club, Arsenal.

Guvamatanga was not available for comment as he was not responding to calls on his mobile phone.

He dismissed claims that the artistes would be paid more money than they originally demanded.

Guvamatanga told the newspaper that “the issue of saying the artistes were paid more is not correct. The clip (video) was quoted out of context. I was saying to Louis Mhlanga, one of Zimbabwe’s most decorated musicians that if I had money, I would have paid five times more than we agreed. It was a tribute to Loius Mhlanga. You know that I cannot take foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and spend it like this.

“I worked for a big international bank for 30 years and I was paid in offshore accounts. There are millions in that account … I paid between US$2 million and US$3 million in taxes, the records are there. Now if I paid US$3 million, ndakasara nemari? (How much money did I remain with?).”

He also said his package at Barclays, including a bonus was US$3 million. “It is all above board, I have a known offshore account, and have interests across most sectors of the economy, from insurance to agriculture to distribution and others. I will need you to come to my farm, I have 1,200 cattle. My business interest and wealth are known and everything has been declared. I cannot pretend to be poor.”

He told The Standard that he is a rich man who deserves to throw such lavish parties.

“… I cannot pretend to be poor to make people happy. I am not poor … I am doing national service in government.”

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Pensioners Of Closed Companies In A Quandary, Fail To Access Payouts – New

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By James Muonwa 

THOUSANDS of former workers of companies that ceased operations are failing to access their pension payouts from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) after years of contributing religiously to the scheme.

Mashonaland West Pensioners Forum chairperson, Rumbidzai Zingwari-Tandi lamented NSSA was demanding signatures from officials at the closed companies, a development that has thrown thousands of deserving social security beneficiaries in a quandary.

She requested for a relaxation of the application process and criteria for eligibility for pensioners, who worked hard for the country’s development through contributions to the welfare fund.

Zingwari-Tandi said: “Some pensioners whose companies ceased operations are facing difficulties in having their applications processed by NSSA as they are asked to have application forms signed by company officials who no longer exist in view of the closure of the respective companies.”

She added: “I cite Golden Kopje Mine (in Chinhoyi) as an example. We request that there be security measures that these pensioners may be able to access their pensions.”

Former workers at commercial farms were also suffering the same fate as most dispossessed white farmers have fled the country following the controversial seizure of their land by the government to pave way for black Zimbabweans.

“As for pensioners who used to work on farms, the farmers are no longer there so when you ask them to have forms signed by their former employers who are no longer there, where should they go?”

Participants at an interactive engagement with Labour Minister Paul Mavima last week in Chinhoyi suggested evidence such as payslips and long-service awards should suffice to prove one’s employment history.

Since the turn of the millennium, hundreds of companies have folded, leaving millions jobless as the country’s economic implosion continues to worsen.

Closed companies were mainly from the construction, clothing, motoring, and agriculture sectors.

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COVID-19 jobs carnage : The numbers – NewsDay


“THERE were unprecedented global employment losses in 2020 of 114 million,” the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported early this year.

A new report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) shows that job losses locally were nearly 1,5 million last year from both the formal and informal sectors.

The statistics confirm how millions of Zimbabweans were affected by the COVID-19-induced job carnage.

According to the 2019 labour force and child labour survey report by Zimstat, almost 2,9 million people aged 15 years and over were found to be employed.

But, in a new joint 2020 survey report on ICT usage in the country by Zimstat and Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), there were only 1 426 744 people identified as either permanent or part-time workers, a significant decline from the 2019 levels, and a worrying development for the country.

The drop is further proven in the increase in persons within the stipulated age group doing an economic activity, which rose to 8 989 981 from a 2019 comparative of 8 101 515. Zimstat defines economic activities as activities in which people are engaged in work to produce goods or provide services for pay or profit only, which covers both formal and informal sectors.

The joint report is titled ‘2020 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Access By Households and Use By Individuals Survey Report.’

“(According to) details of individuals 15 years and above…highest proportions of 29,5% for the male population and 37,8% for the female population, indicated that they were own account workers in agriculture who produced mainly for subsistence,” part of the report read.

“Countrywide, 33,6% of individuals (aged) 15 years and above were subsistence own account workers in agriculture. The female category also recorded 17% of its population aged 15+ as homemakers, compared to 2,3% which was reported in the male category for the same age reference.”

In the report, 1, 4 million were recorded as being employed from the total number of economically active persons.

Another 1,2 million were own account workers (people working for themselves), while 165 330 were contributing family workers.

The report said  421 213 were uncategorised.

Lastly, 909 649 were recorded as homemakers with 334 646 being retired or too sick or old to be engaging in any form of economic activity.

“When asked the main kind of economic activity in which establishments they work for are engaged in, close to a third (26,2%) of the individuals aged 15 years and above indicated that they worked for institutions mainly involved in wholesale and retail trades; repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles sector,” the report read.

It is a worrying development, because almost all of these sectors are in the service economy of which productive sectors are not being utilised to their maximum potential.

Most foreign currency-generating exports are derived from manufacturing sector operations.

“Just above a fifth (21,8%), of the surveyed people said they worked for establishments mainly engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing.

“The highest proportion (39,6%) of the female population, 15 years and above, worked in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles sector, while the highest proportion of male individuals (22%), was employed mainly in agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.”

Last year, the global market came to a standstill owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced government to apply hard lockdowns which allowed only a few sectors to continue operating.

As a result, companies began to reduce working hours to try and contain the spread of the virus, which meant lower profit margins.

Of course, companies were forced to downscale with jobs being the first to be affected.

This problem has affected many countries.

However, in Zimbabwe’s case, existing economic challenges, including a depreciating currency piled more pressure on businesses to implement cost-cutting measures, with job cuts being the solution for most companies.

As a result, companies and those running small businesses in the informal sector were forced to cut jobs.

Recently, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions described the job market as volatile.

“If that is the number, then that is correct in the sense as what is counted as employed people include people that are in the informal economy. Remember in the last labour force and child labour survey of 2019 it was indicated that 76% of the jobs were informal jobs. So, with COVID-19 the sector that was mainly affected was the informal economy,” Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa said.

“We lost a lot of jobs in the formal economy…but we also lost a lot of jobs in the informal economy. People are no longer working because of COVID-19 around the country. Many people even had to migrate back to rural areas and the unfortunate part is that we are not very robust in terms of reporting our labour market information.”

He said the trend of jobs losses had continued up to now owing to mostly technological advancements and economic challenges with COVID-19 only accelerating the process. The loss in income has been catastrophic, owing to the rise in the cost of living.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) says in September, prices of most basic food and non-food commodities increased mainly in Zimbabwe dollars.

Parallel market exchange rates saw increases of up to 15%, contributing significantly to price increases.

Maize grain prices went up in Zimbabwe dollar terms by between 10% and 15% across FEWS NET’s main sentinel markets.

While the government has relaxed most COVID-19 restrictions, allowing for improvements in transport availability, economic activity, and recovery of livelihoods and income-earning opportunities, the improvements have not been enough to stave off job losses.

“Improvements in income are expected to be limited as national borders remain closed to non-essential goods and services, continuing to constrain informal cross-border activities, remittance flows, and other livelihood activities,” FEWS NET said. Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said the majority of households are struggling owing to “declining incomes that could not meet the rising cost of living…household income has shrunk to very depressing levels”

Government must quickly address the situation otherwise the poverty rate which is currently close to 50% will further increase.

  • This article first appeared in Weekly Digest, an AMH digital publication

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Corruption Busters In Court For Extortion – New

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

TWO employees of an anti-corruption organisation have appeared in court following their arrest for extortion.

Mind Musokeri (33) and Wilfred Nyahunda (44), who are employed by the Southern Africa Regional Anti-Corruption (SARACO) appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Rumbidzai Tshuma charged with two counts of extortion and were remanded in custody for the next fortnight.

Prosecutor Knight Tawanda Rwodzi pleaded with the court to deny the pair bail due to the seriousness of the offence.

The first complainant is Kudakwashe Faranando (34) of Murereka, Chinhoyi who is employed as a fuel attendant at Ram Petroleum, Lion’s Den.

He is also a farmer and beneficiary of the Command Agriculture Scheme for the 2020/2021 season.

In count one, the state case is that sometime in September last year, around 8 am, Musokeri met Faranando while in the company of his friend Tendawakura Kanyenze at D&R Service Station.

During the course of their discussions, Musokeri revealed he was a member of SARACO tasked to make follow-ups of all beneficiaries who had not paid back money for Command Agriculture inputs.

On the same morning, Musokeri met with Nyamunda at D&R Service Station in Chinhoyi.

They were joined by Faranando and his friend Kanyenze.

It is at this point that accused persons advised Faranando and Kanyenze that their names were on the list of defaulters to be arrested for failing to repay the inputs loans.

Accused persons demanded a US$1 000 bribe in order to strike off the names from the defaulters’ list.

Musokeri was handed US$15, before telling Faranando to raise the required kickback which they would collect the following day.

On the second count, the complainant is Ludi Zuze, who is also a beneficiary of the inputs loan scheme.

The court heard that on October 3 this year, at around 1 pm at Lion’s Den shops, Zuze, Tennis White, and Raymond Mapambawenyu were advised they were among the list of people who had not paid back for inputs they had received.

On that same day at around 8 pm, Musokeri and Nyahunda arrived at Lion’s Den to meet Zuze and his colleagues.

The two then introduced themselves to Zuze as members of SARACO, who were on an operation to apprehend defaulting clients of the scheme.

Out of fear, Zuze handed over US$100 to Nyahunda.

The pair was arrested after complainants reported the cases to the police.

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