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Massive rockfall causes scare in Bikita



Bikita Rock Fall Zimbabwe

Government is mulling relocating four families in Ziki communal lands, Bikita, amid fears of rockfall and mudslides following heavy rains induced by Cyclone Idai that left more than 300 families in the district homeless.

The development comes as villagers in Taengerwei Village, Ziki, are living in fear after reporting a strange sound whose tremors shook adjacent homes was heard from a nearby Mapadze Hill. A boulder weighing more than 10 tonnes fell from the summit, narrowly missing two homesteads.

The incident, which happened at around 8 am on Saturday has fuelled fears that Mapadze Hill was close to a volcanic eruption.

However, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) downplayed fears of a potential volcanic eruption saying chances of the country experiencing it were remote.

A seismologist at MSD’s Goetz Observatory earthquake National Data Centre in Bulawayo Mr Kwangwari Marimira yesterday said their machines never recorded any volcanic eruption or earthquake in Bikita.

Mr Marimira said what happened might have been a rockfall caused by heavy rains induced by Cyclone Idai.

“We feel what happened might have been caused by heavy rains which normally cause rockfall or mudslides. I cannot confirm that its a volcano. I just feel it is a question of too much rain because if it was a volcano, we should have heard of hot molten lava.

For further clarification, we will refer our geophysical department,’’ he said. Mr Kwangwari said Zimbabwe did not have a history of volcanic eruptions although he noted that nature was subject to change.

He said they were no confirmed reports of an earthquake or volcanic eruption in Bikita over the past few days.

Bikita district assistant administrator Mr Innocent Matingwina who visited the area yesterday said they were going to recommend relocation of four families living close to Mapadze Hill.

“We have been to the area (Ziki) and we are going to recommend to the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) to relocate at least four families that are in danger of four huge rocks that are hanging precariously,’’ he said. Mr Matingwina, who spoke to some of the eyewitnesses said they heard a strange strong sound and plumes of smoke billowing from the place where the huge boulder was seated.

He said villagers observed several streams of cold water flowing from atop the mountain, a development Mr Marimira said was inconsistent with a volcano.

Mr Matingwina said villagers said the latest development reminded them of a similar incident during the days of Cyclone Eline in 2000 when a rock from an adjacent hill fell from the summit.

In a statement last night, the Local Government, Public Works and Public Works and National Housing’s Department of Civil Protection said:

“A large rock weighing between 10 — 15 tonnes fell on Saturday 23 March 2019 in the morning from Mapadze. The rock fell into a nearby depression and split into two pieces.

Two houses in the vicinity developed cracks as a result of the vibrations from the rockfall.”

The ministry said no injuries were recorded from this incident and advised that the nearby community be on high alert and ensure their safety. The Herald


Kembo Mohadi resigns amid sex scandal



Kembo Mohadi sex scandal

Zimbabwe Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned on Monday following local media reports he had engaged in improper conduct.

Kembo Mohadi, along with Constantino Chiwenga, was a deputy to President Emmerson Mnangagwa since 2018, but without a political power base, he was not seen as a potential successor to the president.

In a rare move by a public official in Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi said he had taken the decision to step down “not as a matter of cowardice but as a sign of demonstrating great respect to the office of the President”.

I have been going through a soul-searching pilgrimage and realised that I need the space to deal with my problem outside the governance chair,” he said in a statement released by the Ministry of Information.

Local online media service ZimLive has in the past two weeks carried reports that Kembo Mohadi had improper sexual liaisons with married women, including one of his subordinates.

Mohadi, 70, denied the accusations last week saying this was part of a political plot against him. On Monday he continued to deny the accusations saying he would seek legal recourse.

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Zimbabwe agrees to pay $3.5 billion compensation to white farmers



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




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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