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Panic buying and a mass stay-away as Zimbabwe fuel price bites



Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa

A national stay-away kicked off on Monday in opposition to Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa hiking fuel prices by 120 per cent on Saturday, January 12 2019, a move which sparked panic buying, with the public speculating on a sharp increase in goods and services across the board.

Social media went into overdrive with “Bring back Mugabe” memes after the president’s announcement. During his 37-year stint in power, Mugabe did not, at any point, go on national television to announce a fuel price hike. The pro-Mugabe calls subsequently waned as people recalled his policies.

The new pricing is seen by many as the beginning of a tough year under president Mnangagwa, who after the military transition in November 2017 was buoyed by goodwill locally and internationally, but has so far struggled to improve the country’s finances.

By the close of business on Sunday, some basic commodities had started disappearing from shelves in supermarkets. In some cases, grocery store owners removed products from shelves or directly increased prices, while in others the buying public bought in bulk.

“If we sell at this price, in a few days’ time we won’t be able to restock. Transport costs have shot up and it simply means to have sugar coming here (at the shop) it will be at a higher cost. It’s not workable,” said Tapiwa Ngorima, a shop owner.

Petrol went up to $3.31 a litre, from around $1.46, and diesel now costs $3.11 a litre, from $1.26 in bond currency.

However, for some fuel station operators, it’s a loss.

“The same capital that procured fuel at the old price will be used to buy in the new price regime.

For most of us, we are operating at a loss. Only rogue dealers will survive this because government notified us early that we should sell all our fuel and wait for the new pricing.

Imagine if I had held on to my old stock and decided to sell with the new price, I would at least be cushioned,” said a fuel station operator.

To try to calm tempers, the government moved its workers’ pay dates back by two weeks, with the army, police and health sectors getting paid on Monday, January 14 and the rest of the civil service getting paid on Wednesday.

Their salaries are expected to reflect a 10 per cent increment, which has been rejected by unions.

“How do you explain a 120 per cent fuel hike and a 10 per cent salary increment? Public transport operators are now demanding $2.50 for a one-way trip, from $1. There is no balance there,” said a nurse.

Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Energy Mutodi gave a few tips, via his official Twitter account @energymutodi, on how to survive the fuel crisis.

“Faced with high fuel costs, clever people know what to do & here are some tips: Avoid fuel guzzler, reduce fleet, cancel unnecessary trips & use bicycles where possible to save BIG. Do not protest in the street you can lose a limp (sic) in skirmishes,” he tweeted.

With the festive season gone and most companies expected to resume operations, some have extended their annual festive season shutdown until the economy improves.

Leading cooking oil, soap and margarine manufacturer Olivine Industries has closed shop because of its failure to service a US$11m debt. The company said its failure was due to the crippling economy.

“The board of directors and management of Olivine Industries (Pvt) Ltd regrets to advise its customers that all manufacturing operations have stopped.

The company has struggled to restart its manufacturing operations in January 2019 for lack of imported raw materials. As such it remains closed after the shutdown in December 2018 and employees have been sent on indefinite leave.”

“Production during the remainder of 2018 struggled at low capacity due to shortages of raw materials procured through letters of credit established before September 30, 2018, and on foreign supplier credit which was last serviced in 2018.

The company currently owes US$11m to its foreign suppliers who have since cut off supplies until the arrears are paid,” reads the company’s statement.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a militant workers union body that gave birth to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, announced that, after wide consultations, a national stay away had been called for Monday to Wednesday, January 16 in protest against “the insensitive and provocative” fuel increase.

“Workers have been facing serious hardships as a result of the general astronomical price increases since last year against stagnant salaries.

The fuel increase added more misery to the suffering working class of Zimbabwe both in formal and informal sectors,” the union said in a statement shared on social media.

“The (stay away) action will be embarked on an incremental basis and include other forms of actions that will be advised in due (course). There is nothing else pushing the workers besides the starvation and hardships afflicting every working-class household,” said ZCTU.

Meanwhile, president Mnangagwa left the country at the weekend for a five-nation visit that will take him to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Switzerland, where he will make a second appearance at the Davos World Economic Forum.

Besides Russia and Switzerland, the other destinations have little or no trade relations with Zimbabwe other than Memorandums of Understanding.


African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants




The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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Forging Strong Bonds: Iran and Zimbabwe Deepen Economic Ties in Raisi’s Africa Tour



Zimbabwe and Iran

On Thursday, Zimbabwe and Iran signed 12 memorandums of understanding to strengthen their bilateral ties during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Africa. Raisi had previously visited Kenya and Uganda before meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare. Among the 12 MOUs is a plan to establish a tractor manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe with the help of an Iranian company and a local partner. The two countries also signed agreements for cooperation in energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications, as well as research, science, and technology projects.

Mnangagwa expressed his appreciation for investments in several sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy to reporters after the signing ceremony. However, he did not disclose the amount of investment Zimbabwe is expecting from Iran. Raisi mentioned the economic challenges facing Iran and Zimbabwe due to U.S. sanctions but emphasised his country’s efforts to build closer economic ties.

According to Iran’s foreign ministry, trade with Africa is expected to exceed $2 billion this year, but there was no comparison to the previous year’s figures. This African visit is the first by an Iranian leader since 2013, following a visit to three Latin American countries in June, all of which are also affected by U.S. sanctions.

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Breaking News: E-Creator Fraud Ring Leader Apprehended by Police



Zhao Jiaotong

The Zimbabwe Republic Police is requesting that individuals who have been deceived by E-Creator, Zhao Jiaotong come forward and report to the nearest police station.

According to police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the kingpin of the E-Creator Ponzi scheme has been arrested on charges of fraud. The suspect is identified as Chinese national Zhao Jiaotong, who is said to be the founder of the notorious platform that has scammed people out of thousands of dollars.

Nyathi stated, “The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the arrest of Zhao Jiaotong, 39, in connection with a case of fraud in which unsuspecting members of the public were duped through the E-Creator Ponzi scheme.”

The police are urging anyone who may have fallen victim to E-Creator to report to their nearest police station. Additionally, the public is encouraged to exercise caution and perform thorough research before investing in any Ponzi or pyramid schemes that promise quick returns.

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