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Zim commits to resolve debt, arrears – The Herald

Africa Moyo and Herbert Zharare in SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday committed to resolve Zimbabwe’s long overdue debt arrears, and re-engaging with development partners and creditors to reposition the economy for sustained growth anchored on partnerships and multilateral financial support.

He also rallied development partners and international financial institutions to support the arrears clearance and debt resolution process.

Critically, the President pledged to deliver free, fair, credible and peaceful harmonised general elections in August, as a demonstration that his Government observes constitutionalism and adheres to the tenets of good governance and democracy.

President Mnangagwa was speaking during an oversubscribed Roundtable meeting on Zimbabwe’s arrears clearance and debt resolution process on the side-lines of the ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meetings here.

The roundtable was attended by representatives from SADC, Comesa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, the United Nations and others.

Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, who is the High-Level facilitator of the arrears clearance and debt resolution process, and AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Champion of the process, also attended the indaba.

President Mnangagwa said in December 2021, the Government adopted the Arrears Clearance, Deb Relief and Restructuring Strategy to help resolve the country’s long, outstanding debt overhang, “which is weighing heavily on our development agenda”.

He said to operationalise the strategy, he was pleased that Dr Adesina accepted to be the Champion of the arrears clearance and debt resolution process, while former President Chissano agreed to be the High-Level facilitator between Zimbabwe and its international creditors.

In this regard, said the President, a Structured Dialogue Platform was established in December 2022.

“The dialogue process is designed to institutionalise constructive engagement with all our creditors and development partners,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said the agreed pillars for implementation are: economic reforms, governance and reforms, and land tenure reforms, compensation of white former farm owners and the resolution of Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAS).

The reforms are discussed in technical meetings that incorporate representatives from the Government, international creditors, development partners represented by their ambassadors, the private sector and civil society organisations.

President Mnangagwa said through this dialogue, the Government has managed to institutionalise regular constructive dialogue, build trust and confidence among all the stakeholders.

“To this end, policy reform matrices have been developed outlining policy actions and indicators to measure performance over time.

“These reforms will underpin the ongoing arrears clearance and debt resolution process. My Government is fully committed to their implementation.

“So far, there is emerging consensus and growing confidence in the process which is promoted by transparent and inclusive consultations,” he said.

But sadly, said the President, lack of access to external concessionary financing to fund Zimbabwe’s national priority projects and programmes remains a drawback.

Presently, Zimbabwe is using internally generated funds to embark on massive infrastructure development projects targeting airports, border posts, health, education and road rehabilitation, including the giant Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway on which over 420km have been completed and opened to traffic.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe needs funding to support the productive sectors of the economy as well as to cushion vulnerable sectors such as education, health, food security and climate change.

“In this regard, we invite development partners and international financial institutions to scale up support for this comprehensive arrears clearance and debt resolution process,” said the President.

In line with the engagement and re-engagement agenda, President Mnangagwa said his Government was committed to honouring its debt obligations.

Zimbabwe’s total debt is US$17,5 billion, of which 80 percent is arrears.

However, it has been making token payments to Multilateral Development Banks and its Paris Club creditors.

President Mnangagwa commended development partners and creditor countries for their “patience, open and constructive dialogue and for speaking with Zimbabwe on Zimbabwean issues”.

“The technical and structured dialogue meetings will continue as a platform for inclusive, frank and constructive dialogue, monitoring progress on the implementation of reforms by the Government, technical level exchange of information and channelling of technical support to the process from development partners,” said the President.

He saluted Dr Adesina and President Chissano for engaging the US administration this May, for deeper bilateral engagements on behalf of Zimbabwe.

Such bilateral engagements, said President Mnangagwa, are key in addressing specific issues relating to Zimbabwe’s historical relations with some of its creditors.

He added that development partners and creditors have shown support for and commitment to the arrears clearance and debt resolution process.

Going forward, President Mnangagwa said the arrears clearance and debt resolution roadmap entails negotiating for a Staff Monitored Programme with the IMF, continuation with dialogue through the structured dialogue platform meetings, conducting free and fair elections, implementing Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) reforms, resource mobilisation for a ‘wet’ SMP, and mobilisation of bridging finance to clear arrears with international financial institutions.

“. . . I want to highlight that Zimbabwe will be holding the 2023 harmonised general elections in August. I, therefore, want to assure you all that my Government has put in place mechanisms to guarantee peaceful, free, fair and credible elections as our country further entrenches democracy and constitutionalism.

“International observers are welcome and will be invited through the relevant channels at the appropriate time in accordance with our laws.

“We look forward to strengthening partnerships and playing our part with the comity of nations towards addressing the various challenges facing the world today. Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy of none,” said President Mnangagwa.

In his remarks, President Chissano implored creditors and development partners to support the debt and arrears resolution process, and also called for the removal of sanctions, saying they not only affect Zimbabwe, but the whole region.

The views were echoed by Dr Adesina, SADC Executive Secretary His Excellency Elias M Magosi, and South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana.

The President also highlighted the developments that have taken place since 2018 including infrastructure development, fighting corruption, promoting the separation of powers and maintain the independence of the judiciary, strengthening institutions that support democracy to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of their mandates, boosting electricity generation, construction of dams to support irrigation agriculture and massive investments in health and education.

But he called for more support especially in tourism which has rebounded strongly from the Covid-19 era and demand for accommodation is now outstripping supply especially in Victoria Falls.

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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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