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Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa: Call me Mr Ground-Breaking

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Mr Mnangagwa deposed Zimbabwe’s long-time dictator Robert Mugabe in a coup d’etat last November to claim the country’s presidency.

He is the man with the vibrant, multi-coloured scarf and he is promising the people of Zimbabwe nothing short of a miraculous transformation.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is a 75-year-old revolutionary-turned-politician and we watched him move and groove as he took the stage at a husting near the dusty town of KweKwe.

Mr Mnangagwa deposed Zimbabwe’s long-time dictator Robert Mugabe in a coup d’etat last November to claim the country’s presidency and he wants the public’s approval in national elections scheduled for Monday.

He is up against Nelson Chamisa, head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition coalition.

A record of more than 20 presidential candidates and 128 political parties will participate in the election.

Addressing a crowd of several thousand who gathered to see him at a new chromium mine, he told them they were going to get democracy and a serious rise in their standard of living.

“We are saying that Zimbabwe will never be the same again,” said Mr Mnangagwa.

“We have a vision (of) becoming a middle-income economy by 2030 and we are breaking ground on new (infrastructure). I am Mr Ground-Breaking.”

That got a hearty cheer from the people who had been bussed in for the speech by Mr Mnangagwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party, and in an exclusive interview for Sky News, Mr Mnangagwa said he was committed to holding open and peaceful elections.

“The new (approach) does not tolerate any violence.

Things have changed. No more violence.

We have told the entire international community that our elections are going to be free, fair, transparent and credible.”

When it comes to credibility, Mr Mnangagwa does have something of a problem.

The 75-year-old held various posts in Robert Mugabe’s regime and was considered one of his closest aides.

He led the security services in the early 1980s when at least 10,000 people from Ndebele tribe were killed by the Zimbabwe Army in the Gukurahundi massacre.

He ran Mr Mugabe’s bloody election campaign in 2008 when the dictator lost the first round of voting to the opposition MDC.

After a wave of deadly violence and intimidation, the MDC decided to pull out of the contest.

I put it to Mr Mnangagwa that some voters would be loath to trust him.

“You have promised the people of Zimbabwe a new dawn, new freedoms and prosperity.

But you are closely associated with the old regime – so why should the voters trust you?”

He responded: “You are saying the old regime. I can assure that the old regime brought independence to this country and (the people) were very grateful. We walked through difficult conditions.”

But the Zimbabwean president did not want to focus on the past.

“Now, those who want to live in the past, we cannot persuade them to live the future.

But we are saying that we are going to the future, we do not live in the past.”

Despite the president’s guarantee of free and fair elections, civil rights organisations such as We The People – formed by 7,000 volunteers around the country – have recorded hundreds of incidents of political violence and intimidation.

But that is something Mr Mnangagwa disputes.

In fact, he says he has not received information about a single incident.

“On social media people can sit in (their) houses drinking his whiskey and say anything they want.

“That is not what we are worried about. We are worried about the reality on the ground, (whether) anyone has been aggrieved and the courts are open (for them).”

Certainly, the atmosphere is more relaxed than elections held under Mr Mugabe’s control and the man who ousted him six months ago is absolutely confident of victory.

“I am extremely happy with the response I receive from east to west – (from) south to north. Monday is the deciding factor.

You will see wonders when Zanu-PF again, will romp to victory thunderously.
Sky News

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BUSINESS

Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers

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Zimbabwe White Farmers

Zimbabwe agreed on Wednesday to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to Zimbabwe white farmers whose land was expropriated by the government to resettle black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most divisive policies of the Robert Mugabe era.

But the southern African nation does not have the money and will issue long term bonds and jointly approach international donors with the farmers to raise funding, according to the compensation agreement.

Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 Zimbabwe white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 Black families, arguing it was redressing colonial land imbalances.

The agreement signed at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State House offices in Harare showed white farmers would be compensated for infrastructure on the farms and not the land itself, as per the national constitution.

Details of how much money each farmer, or their descendants, given the time elapsed since the farms were seized, was likely to get were not yet clear, but the government has said it would prioritise the elderly when making the settlements.

Farmers would receive 50% of the compensation after a year and the balance within five years. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and acting Agriculture Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri signed on behalf of the government, while farmers unions and a foreign consortium that undertook valuations also penned the agreement.

“As Zimbabweans, we have chosen to resolve this long-outstanding issue,” said Andrew Pascoe, head of the Commercial Farmers Union representing  Zimbabwe white farmers.

The land seizures were one of Mugabe’s signature policies that soured ties with the West. Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017 and died last year, accused the West of imposing sanctions on his government as punishment.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. But its supporters say it has empowered landless Black people. Mnangagwa said the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West. Reuters

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NEWS

Chinamasa calls U.S. ambassador ‘thug’ as anti-government protests loom

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Chinamasa

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party on Monday called the United States ambassador a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition ahead of this week’s planned anti-government protests that authorities say are meant to overthrow the government.

Without providing evidence, ZANU-PF spokesman Patrick Chinamasa told reporters that U.S. ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Chinamasa’s comments echo the Robert Mugabe era, where the ZANU-PF government regularly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to dislodge it from power.

“He (Nichols) continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so, if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, coordinating violence and training insurgents, our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug.”

The U.S. embassy in Harare did not immediately respond to Chinamasa’s comments. Political tensions are rising fast in the southern African nation after activists called for demonstrations on July 31 against government corruption, which they blame for deepening the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Last month, the government summoned Nichols after a senior White House official said Zimbabwe was among “foreign adversaries” using the civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd to interfere in U.S. affairs.

The U.S., Britain, E.U. embassies and the United Nations have all criticised Zimbabwe for the arrest of journalists and political challengers.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the West were promising when Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe after a coup in 2017, but have soured over the government’s human rights record.

Patrick Chinamasa urged party supporters to defend themselves from protesters and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence that followed post-election demonstrations in August 2018 and the January 2019 protests over a steep fuel price hike.“No, this time no. Use any means at your disposal to defend yourselves,” Chinamasa said. Organisers say this week’s protests will be peaceful. Reuters

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HEALTH

Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Agriculture Minister Dies

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Perrence-Shiri-Dead

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perence Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Perence Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2,817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran,Perrence Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Perence Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.Reuters

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