RAMAPHOSA REPRIMANDS DEFENDS MINISTER OVER ZIM TRIP, DOCKS HER PAY

South Africa’s president has reprimanded defence minister
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and docked her pay for three months for taking a
delegation to Zimbabwe on an air force plane, his office said. 

The opposition Democratic Alliance had accused
Mapis…

South Africa's president has reprimanded defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and docked her pay for three months for taking a delegation to Zimbabwe on an air force plane, his office said.  The opposition Democratic Alliance had accused Mapisa-Nqakula of misusing state resources by letting the group from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) travel with her to Harare in September.

OUR FORGOTTEN COMRADES CRIED UNCONTROLLABLY IN JAIL : SIKHALA

 By Job Wiwa Sikhala

The painful experience of Chikurubi Maximum Prison
concentration camp made me to be in contact with my long time colleagues in the
struggle Last Maengahama and Cllr Tungamirai Madzokere. Their story is a sad
script. They think we …

 By Job Wiwa Sikhala The painful experience of Chikurubi Maximum Prison concentration camp made me to be in contact with my long time colleagues in the struggle Last Maengahama and Cllr Tungamirai Madzokere. Their story is a sad script. They think we have all forgotten about them. The first day they saw me, Last Maengahama cried uncontrollably. It had to take time for me to comfort him. He is

Whispering Spring

Yesterday the Jacaranda trees that surround our home in Harare, burst into bloom. There is no other description for this annual event – one minute the trees are bare and lifeless and then suddenly they come out in blossom – that almost indescribable blue/purple. When you couple that to the banks of other flowering shrubs […]

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Yesterday the Jacaranda trees that surround our home in Harare, burst into bloom. There is no other description for this annual event – one minute the trees are bare and lifeless and then suddenly they come out in blossom – that almost indescribable blue/purple. When you couple that to the banks of other flowering shrubs and the brilliant colours of the bougainvillea, suddenly what was a brown and almost lifeless City becomes a living garden.

Source: Whispering Spring – The Zimbabwean

Eddie Cross

In the open veld, it is different but the same. Along the rivers the riverine trees and shrubs are breaking out in flower and new leaves. In the Eastern Highlands the stunted Msasa trees are again blazing red and brown. Soon the hills will be covered in green. The Msasa leaves come out in all the colours that you see in the Fall in the Northern Hemisphere. The difference here is that each leaf is covered in a water soluble sheen of wax coating that inhibits the loss of water through the foliage and this gives the trees a translucent appearance.

When we see these changes we know spring is coming with its storms sweeping across the Veld followed by that unmistakable smell of wet earth that has been dry for months. Then the annual miracle as the blackened, burnt, countryside turns green. We are not alone in seeing these seasonal changes, the birds are all busy making nests and the migrants start arriving from the north – tiny Fly Catchers from the Congo, great Storks from Europe and Russia, yellow billed Kites.

But the land that they come to breed in and raise the next generation, is not what it was. When I was a teenager I grew up on a Ranch in the south of the country, spending my school holidays there, roaming free in the western Matopo Hills and helping my Godfather run three properties with cattle and some irrigation based cropping. They belonged to a close knit community that worked together to support each other and to tackle common problems and needs. We built a private school in a small centre nearby called St Stephens College, an Anglican Church in the Village of Esigodini.  I cut hay in the summer and hauled it to the farmstead in an ox drawn waggon.

We belonged to the local Intensive Conservation Area (ICA) and worked together to conserve water and grazing. If a fire broke out in the area, we all responded with tractors and bowsers with sprays and beaters. We maintained fire breaks along our fences and built dams to hold water for the winter season. When we bought a 10 000-acre property near Bushtick Mine it had an ugly, deep gully right down its centre – the result of poor veld management and summer floods. My Godfather gave me a small team with an ox drawn dam scoop and hand tools and we set out to build a series of small earth dams across the gully, each wall with a steel pipe through the wall to release water from the dam into the stream.

In two years the gully was overgrown with vegetation, reeds in the bottom and a permanent stream of water throughout the year where it spilled into the local river. If the dams filled up with silt and sand it did not matter, the sand held water and protected it from the sun and evaporation. We put up fences and cut fire breaks and were able to put in a small area of irrigation. The grass recovered and we were able to transfer cattle from the Matopo Hills to the new property.

In the Tribal Lands that were adjacent to our farms I knew the situation was very different. The people were living in villages and were governed by Chiefs and Headmen. We walked through those quiet valleys and hills and were always welcomed in the Villages. Two small boys with dogs. They had no fences, owned cattle and small stock that were always herded by the young boys in the village. I had no impression of overcrowding or land pressure, the rivers all ran most of the year, but even then the signs were there with a shortage of grazing and the sight of thin cattle and poverty in the Villages.

We lived and worked in a completely different world. We went to good schools and played sport, we had electricity and running water at home and servants that we hardly ever regarded as more than shadows, who cleaned our shoes and took us to school on their bikes. I was hardly aware of my privileges – this was my world as I found it. It was not to survive.

70 years later, that world has gone, swept aside by the forces of history and change, but the old country is still there. The difference is that we are now populated by 14 million people with 5 million or more in the Diaspora. Our Cities and towns are crowded and largely dominated by informal sector activity that somehow generates a living for the majority.

In Europe and Asia, the urban population drift was driven by industrialisation that created millions of jobs and gave their relocated rural populations stability and security. Not so in Africa, here it is poverty that has driven our rural populations to the towns and cities and into the Diaspora, across the globe. In the rural areas we have destroyed the colonial land system that gave the whites a privileged lifestyle and security of tenure on the basis of which they built an agro/industrial empire that fed the country and generated exports and work. In the process we destroyed the very systems that made commercial agriculture viable and competitive and sustainable.

Today there are few fences, no firebreaks and no sense of community responsibility for services and support. The result is that we now burn half the country every year. Our rivers no longer run in the winter but rage in the summer, sweeping all in front of them crushing bridges and breaking dams. We are cutting down our trees and burning them for energy and charcoal. We hold cattle and goats for prestige and subsistence and vast areas of the country are now totally denuded of cover from the relentless sun and long dry season.

Where I once walked with my dogs in the open veld we are now faced with low sand dunes that cover the remains of the fences. In some areas the term desertification has new meaning. Cattle die in their thousands every year and poverty has deepened across the country. Rural roads are hardly passable and open gulley’s like the one I once repaired and turned into an asset instead of an eyesore, stretch unchecked across the land.

It is time for African leadership to wake up and recognise that this situation is no longer tenable. We have to recognise that water and land are a finite resource and if we are not careful we will run out of the one and destroy the other so that it cannot sustain our population and meet our needs.

I have been reading how North Korea and China have completely reorganised their rural economies after recognising that if they did nothing their rural populations would starve and forced relocation would destabilise their urban areas. We need to do the same and to recognise it is time to give everyone who makes their living from the land, security over the land involved and the necessary support to make it productive and sustainable.

Then we need to ensure that all who choose to live in the towns and cities are permanently settled, can own property and make a living with long term security. Failure is just not an option or all countries in the same situation as Zimbabwe will not be able to deliver a decent quality of life to their people and drive ever more into the Diaspora.

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‘You have to laugh’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

Source: ‘You have to laugh’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 26th September 2020 https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/50389375466/sizes/m/ The hypocrisy of President Ramaphosa calling at the United Nations for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe while himself recognising that Zimbabwe is suffering from a crisis of misgovernance is only to be expected of the chairman of the African Union. Like […]

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Source: ‘You have to laugh’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 26th September 2020

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/50389375466/sizes/m/

The hypocrisy of President Ramaphosa calling at the United Nations for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe while himself recognising that Zimbabwe is suffering from a crisis of misgovernance is only to be expected of the chairman of the African Union.

Like the United Nations itself, the African Union is fatally divided between democracies and tyrannies so Ramaphosa feels he must compromise and rely on the old policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’. But in reality South Africa’s attitude has hardened. Its attitude now means: ‘Do this or you’ll get no more money or co-operation from us’.

How serious the situation now is in Zimbabwe is graphically described in a newsletter by the human rights campaigner Ben Freeth, who recently returned home after a visit to the UK, protracted by the lockdown over the Covid-19 pandemic. He writes: ‘In Zimbabwe it was not lockdown. It had been a time of crackdown – and curfew. I was struck by the desolate dryness as we drove through the maze of road blocks on the potholed streets. Masked army and police personnel are out in force to ensure no insurrection and to collect bribes – all in the name of Covid-19. I was struck how even they were thin. Zimbabwe is facing major hunger with estimates of two thirds of the population needing food aid by Christmas.

‘On the afternoon that I arrived I spoke to Martin Grobler. His farm had been invaded at lunchtime. Twenty-five policemen arrived with guns and, in direct defiance of all international law, human rights instruments and our own SADC Tribunal Judgment, evicted him. By the end of the weekend he was off. He has over 100 employees who, with their families, will add to the hunger problem this year.

‘On Monday I went to meet up with the brave, award-winning journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, and show him some solidarity in the Magistrate’s Court after 45 days in the most unimaginable jail conditions. I managed to get in and find Hopewell. The magistrate was late – as usual – so we had a spare hour or two to chat. He was defiant; but he told me of the conditions he had been kept in: a cell of approximately 7 metres by 4 metres with 44 people. The usual routine of a Zimbabwe jail applied: everyone lay like sardines and when one person in the line turned, everybody had to turn together . . . In the corner is a bucket for anyone needing the toilet. There’s no privacy, no running water, no soap, no detergent, no masks and as for the social distancing required in the rest of the world there is instead desperate and unimaginable overcrowding.

‘Hopewell’s crime was exposing multi-million dollar corruption at the very highest level in a Covid-19 deal. I chatted to Beatrice Mtetwa too, the award-winning lawyer. She had been due to go to the UK with me in March but had had to cancel at the last minute. I reminded her of when she had got me out of the torture chambers at Harare Central years before and we laughed. You have to laugh. Beatrice has been prevented by the magistrate from representing Hopewell. The magistrate wants her struck off the legal register so that she cannot represent anyone. Human rights lawyers are persecuted in Zimbabwe. After several hours the magistrate finally arrived and remanded the case for another month – just to frustrate everyone.’

Freeth said he had also talked to another lawyer Dave Drury who told him how two of his children had been in jail for displaying anti-corruption and anti-violence placards. His daughter was released after one night but his son Simon was held for 3 days in the same conditions as Hopewell.

Freeth continued: ‘Some of those in the cell had been waiting months for a trial; others years – even up to 14 years in those inhuman cells without trial or any verdict from a court. Suddenly though Simon was fished out from amongst the sea of fellow inmates. After the clanking of doors and turning of keys and other formalities he was suddenly out under the magnificent African sky. It was then that one of the most heart-rending cries I can ever remember hearing echoed right up to the stars from a little aperture in the dark, fetid and overcrowded “hole” that Simon had just left: “Simon, don’t forget us . . .’ (See: https://media.wix.com/ugd/02876c_20eb97a0877e4f4b8fc9b0d1459c3ced.pdf.)

Other Points:

  • Freeth also talked to the novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga who has been nominated for the prestigious Booker prize for her latest novel ‘This Mournable Body’ about life in independent Zimbabwe. She was also recently detained accused of inciting public violence for demonstrating against government corruption. She told National Public Radio: ‘having become an adult in the 1980s after independence and having experienced the whole hope of the new nation and seeing the potential, it was really heartbreaking to come to a point where I am told I am not allowed to exercise my right to demonstrate. And when I do, the weight of the state comes down on me. It was a very sad moment for me’ (see: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/this-mournable-body-a-novel-about-life-in-independent-zimbabwe/).
  • We are praying for six-year-old Jesse who has been diagnosed with bone cancer. He is the son of Vigil activist Isabell Gwatidzo and often came to the Vigil with her. If you wish to contribute to Jesse’s recovery check: https://gf.me/u/yzqiwz.
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157716142549321.  Our virtual Vigil activist today was Deborah Harry who kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

Notices:

    • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions,
    • events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
    • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
    • Facebook pages:

Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil

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Govt approves forex-based allowances for councillors

Source: Govt approves forex-based allowances for councillors | Sunday News (local news) Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter THE Government has approved the pegging of travel and subsistence allowances for councillors in foreign currency. However, the councillors will receive the allowances in local currency using the official foreign currency exchange rate. In a circular to all […]

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Source: Govt approves forex-based allowances for councillors | Sunday News (local news)

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Government has approved the pegging of travel and subsistence allowances for councillors in foreign currency.

However, the councillors will receive the allowances in local currency using the official foreign currency exchange rate.

In a circular to all councils, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu stated that the new allowances were with immediate effect.

“In line with circular number 12 of 18 March 2020 and to enable you to compute the travel and subsistence levels for councillors for local travel, I attach hereto the revised Government travel and subsistence levels as contained in the Public Service Commission circular 13 of 2020. It is expected that you adhere to these new levels that come into effect immediately. The allowances shall be converted and paid in Zimbabwe Dollar using the prevailing foreign exchange rate determined through the official foreign exchange auction system,” said Mr Churu.

According to the new allowances, councillors will get the prevailing hotel rates for proved bed and breakfast per day, when absent on overnight assignments and for unproved bed and breakfast per day they will get US$30.

“Unproved meals; for breakfast councillors will now receive US$5, lunch; US$10 and dinner; US$15, while unproved supplementary allowances shall be US$5 per day,” reads a Bulawayo City Council confidential report.

According to the ministerial circular, heads of departments and accounting officers are mandated to approve the trips, consider the size of the delegation and duration of the trip.

“A member should produce proof of expenses incurred on return to the home station and monies unaccounted for should be returned at the end of the month during which the trip is made,” reads the circular.

Last year the ministry approved that the councillors get free parking space and a grave during their tenure in office. On the purchasing of electronic equipment, the ministry said if a council wishes to do this, it should be done with the approval of the ministry.

“The minister has also put restrictions on the holding of workshops, seminars, trainings and similar events outside of the council jurisdiction unless authority to hold the function at an alternative venue has been sanctioned by the permanent secretary,” reads the circular.

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Second term fees scrapped • Govt recruits 6 000 teachers • Crash programme for learners 

Source: Second term fees scrapped • Govt recruits 6 000 teachers • Crash programme for learners | The Sunday Mail Ambassador Mathema Debra Matabvu Government has scrapped Second Term school fees, while 6 000 teachers are being recruited ahead of the phased reopening of schools starting tomorrow. This comes amid reports that a crash programme […]

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Source: Second term fees scrapped • Govt recruits 6 000 teachers • Crash programme for learners | The Sunday Mail

Second term fees scrapped • Govt recruits 6 000 teachers • Crash programme for learnersAmbassador Mathema

Debra Matabvu

Government has scrapped Second Term school fees, while 6 000 teachers are being recruited ahead of the phased reopening of schools starting tomorrow.

This comes amid reports that a crash programme to ensure learners complete their syllabuses and the suspension of sporting activities for the remainder of the year were among interventions being considered to ensure learners graduate to the next grades.

The recruitment of teachers will cater for classes that have been trimmed in line with health guidelines to fight Covid-19.

Before schools closed at the end of March, some classes had over 50 pupils, but according to the Standard Operating Procedure for the Prevention and Management of Covid-19 drafted by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, a standard-sized classroom must not exceed 35 learners.

The learners must also be seated a metre apart.

Public schools open on Tuesday for classes sitting Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) examinations as the country resumes direct tuition.

Next year’s examination classes — Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower Six — will resume studies on October 26, and on November 9, ECD A and B, Grades 1 to 5 and Forms 1 and 2 will return to school.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema told The Sunday Mail that Government had adopted extraordinary measures to allow learners to proceed to the next grades.

“There will be strategies this year and next year, like suspension of sports, introduction of weekend classes and crash programmes that will be put in place to ensure that students catch up with time that was lost.

“In some instances, teachers have to emphasise and concentrate on the key concepts so that even those slow learners grasp the concepts. Teachers know how to handle such scenarios.

“There will be gradual catching up as we go and revisiting those areas that might need to. We do not want to clog and disrupt the whole system even up to tertiary education, so we are letting them proceed to the next level.”

Local schools and colleges closed on March 24 as the Government took pre-emptive measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Examinations for all the other grades, said Minister Mathema, will be in December to ensure schools open normally in January 2021.

“Schools will close in December for everyone except for the Zimsec examination classes that will have papers that overlap to next year,” he said.

“We are recruiting 6 000 teachers starting this term to cover for the workload which is coming with the trimming of classes.

“We have 9 000 schools in the country, so we need the teachers to take the extra classes that will be created,” Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director of communications and advocacy, Mr Taungana Ndoro, told our Bulawayo Bureau
yesterday.

“School authorities must follow Government directives.

“The official school calendar was Term One. So, there was no Term Two in the first place, and the Government position is that no school must therefore demand fees for a term that was not announced and approved by Government.”

Provincial Education Directors (PEDs) submitted updates and progress reports to the ministry on preparations to reopen schools. The reports helped Government to procure and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and parliamentarians recently undertook an extensive tour around the country to assess the extent of preparedness of public schools to resume lessons under new health protocols.

The National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm), he said, is today expected to finalise the distribution of PPE to schools across the country.

“NatPharm has been tasked to supply PPE to schools and we have given them a timeframe that they should have delivered by Sunday (today) to ensure that every student gets PPE by the end of next week (this week).”

Minister Mathema said Government and its partners, which include churches, Plan International and UNICEF, would continue delivering PPE to schools throughout the term.

National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) chairperson Mrs Cynthia Khumalo confirmed that schools had begun receiving PPEs.

Educationist Dr Cephas Nziramasanga said there is need for a robust strategy to ensure all work is covered and learners grasp all the key concepts.

However, Dr Nziramasanga expressed concern over the practicality of Government’s crash programme.

“From my point of view, I do not think it is attainable for a teacher to complete a seven-month syllabus in two months.

“I suggest that in January teachers restructure the syllabi in a way that will cover work for the previous grade and present one.

“This will require a lot of work from both the teachers and students. This will ensure some form of continuity.”

Dr Nziramasanga said teachers would need to take up continuous assessments and introduce practical lessons in all subjects to ensure the child’s record is kept, while ensuring that the child is grasping all the concepts.

“By March, they will have finished work from the previous grade and continue with the present one.”

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Invictus eyes SA gas market

Source: Invictus eyes SA gas market | Sunday Mail (Business) Senior Business Reporter Invictus Energy, the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed firm exploring for oil and gas in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, believes that South Africa can be a key market for its supplies if it discovers commercially viable oil and gas. The company plans to sink […]

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Source: Invictus eyes SA gas market | Sunday Mail (Business)

Senior Business Reporter

Invictus Energy, the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed firm exploring for oil and gas in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, believes that South Africa can be a key market for its supplies if it discovers commercially viable oil and gas.

The company plans to sink two test wells by September next year at a cost of US$20 million.

Recent reinterpretation of data gathered by global oil giant Mobil in the early 1990s using modern technology produced results, which promote the possible existence of oil and gas deposits.

Invictus Energy director Paul Chimbodza said South Africa is currently getting supplies of gas from the Tande Temane gas fields in neighbouring Mozambique, which are fast depleting.

New gas sources were, however, being developed at Mozambique’s Rovuma gas fields.

The distance and pipeline infrastructure required to supply South Africa from this area makes Mozambique a more expensive proposition than Zimbabwe.

“South Africa is a significant market (for Zimbabwe). South Africa is looking to decommission 10 000 megawatts of coal-fired plants and will need to replace that with cleaner alternative energy,” Mr Chimbodza said.

Invictus recently entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with private developer Tatanga Energy to supply gas for a 500MW gas-to-power plant project in the event of a commercial discovery.

The proposed plant will be built in two phases, with the first estimated at plus or minus 150MW while the second consisting of an additional plus or minus 350MW.

The potential gas supply of up to 100 million cubic feet per day for 20 years from Muzarabani is substantial, which will underpin the development of any commercial gas discovery.

South Africa’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) enables industrial users to generate power for their own use and to accelerate the purchase of power from independent producers, including from neighbouring countries, through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

Eskom is targeting to purchase up to 5 000MW in the near term, which provides scope for Invictus to supply further gas volumes and become a major energy supplier to the region.

Natural gas is becoming increasingly important to the economies of southern Africa as a clean, reliable and affordable energy source.

Studies have proved Muzarabani to be a potential multi-trillion cubic feet gas and multi-billion barrel condensate prospective.

The project dovetails with Government’s ambitions to grow the mining sector from US$3,6 billion to a US$12 billion industry by 2023.

Presently, gold is the single biggest foreign currency earner, followed by tobacco.

Other key foreign currency earners include platinum, chrome and tourism.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando recently indicated that the huge investment that is being sunk into drilling test wells shows Invictus Energy’s confidence in the project.

Investors are increasingly warming up to local investments, particularly in the mining sector. Current efforts to mobilise over US$3,5 billion to compensate white former commercial farmers as part of an obligation outlined in the country’s supreme law is largely being interpreted as a commitment to uphold the law and property rights by the Second Republic.

Government has since completed a production sharing agreement (PSA) draft with Invictus, which holds a 80 percent stake in the project. The agreement is presently under review. Commercial discovery of oil or gas in Muzarabani will materially impact on Zimbabwe in terms of energy security, export growth and job creation, among others.

Invictus already has another offtake agreement with Zimbabwe’s biggest fertiliser producer, Sable Chemicals.

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Marked decline in SA returnees

Source: Marked decline in SA returnees | Sunday Mail (Top Stories) Sunday Mail Correspondent THE South African government’s relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions to Level 1 has seen a reduction in Zimbabwean nationals seeking to be repatriated home, Zimbabwe’s chief envoy to South Africa, Ambassador David Hamadziripi, has said. At the peak of the lockdown in […]

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Source: Marked decline in SA returnees | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Sunday Mail Correspondent

THE South African government’s relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions to Level 1 has seen a reduction in Zimbabwean nationals seeking to be repatriated home, Zimbabwe’s chief envoy to South Africa, Ambassador David Hamadziripi, has said.

At the peak of the lockdown in South Africa, consulates were inundated with Zimbabweans who wanted to come back home after having lost their jobs or were finding it hard to make ends meet.

Ambassador Hamadziripi told The Sunday Mail that the embassy was now predominantly receiving medical, study or work-related requests.

“The opening up of the economy has witnessed a reduction in the requests by our nationals to return home. The majority of requests that the embassy has been dealing with of late are for entry into South Africa for medical, study and work purposes,” he said.

As of September 11, repatriation statistics stood at 4 899 by bus, 352 by air and 1 407 by private vehicles.

About 2 311 Zimbabweans were deported by the South African government, while 2 538 were repatriations of Zimbabweans who had died in the neighbouring country.

South Africa’s move to Level 1 lockdown, Ambassador Hamadziripi added, had resulted in high demand for passport services.

“The repatriation process does not need the people to physically visit the consulate or embassy, unlike the passport application process which requires authentication of documents and physically taking fingerprints. I am glad to inform you that the consulates are coping with the pressure, with all booked clients being served as per their appointment.”

United Nations agencies and well-wishers were reportedly assisting with food, repatriation logistics and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Many countries are beginning to open up their economies while also remaining cautious of a possible second wave of the pandemic.

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‘Serial conman’ on the loose

Source: ‘Serial conman’ on the loose | Sunday Mail (Top Stories) Harmony Agere ALLEGED serial fraudster Austin Duwa Muli can easily make the list of Zimbabwe’s most hard-hearted people. More than 50 cases of fraud have been opened against him at police stations across the capital, according to police sources. He has a trail of […]

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Source: ‘Serial conman’ on the loose | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Harmony Agere

ALLEGED serial fraudster Austin Duwa Muli can easily make the list of Zimbabwe’s most hard-hearted people.

More than 50 cases of fraud have been opened against him at police stations across the capital, according to police sources. He has a trail of victims whose lives have been altered because of his alleged shenanigans.

So great is the number of his victims they had to create chat groups on WhatsApp and Facebook to support each other in an endeavour to bring him to justice.

And it appears, he deliberately targets women.

“He has multiple cases before the courts to the extent that he had to appear in court with four different cases in one day,” said one of Muli’s alleged victims Mrs Melody Mazonde.

Posing as a car dealer, Muli is alleged to have swindled scores of people of their cash, vehicles and other properties.

He is slippery and known for evading justice, purportedly through payment of bribes to some officials.

Mrs Mazonde, who lost two commuter omnibuses in one of Muli’s alleged scams, said she has tried everything legal to recover her vehicles to no avail.

She suspects Muli was getting protection from the police, especially from named officers at Southerton and Mabelreign police stations.

“I had two commuter omnibuses, a Mazda Bongo and a Toyota Quantum which I used at a preschool that I run in Tynwald North where I also stay,” said Mrs Mazonde.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown, I could not utilise these vehicles and as such were grounded at the school.

“Around June, Muli, who was my tenant at that time, then offered to hire out the Mazda Bongo to the Covid-19 taskforce for a fee of US$500 per month. He said he would help me sell the Toyota Quantum since it had started developing some faults.”

According to Mrs Mazonde, Muli then took the Mazda Bongo and its registration book the following day “for vetting” so that it could be hired by the Covid-19 taskforce.

“He came back with an agreement form and US$500 and I signed the deal not suspecting any foul play,” said Mrs Mazonde.

“So we agreed that by 11 August the vehicle should be coming back in preparation for the opening of schools. After taking the Mazda Bongo, Muli offered to buy the Toyota Quantum for resale at his car sale.

“I agreed to sell the Toyota Quantum to Muli and since the vehicle had some faults he sent a driver who took it for ‘repairs’.”

Mrs Mazonde told The Sunday Mail that Muli also asked for the registration book claiming that he wanted to buy a third number plate for the vehicle.

“I asked him to return the registration books for both vehicles but he never did and from then on he was making excuses,” said Mrs Mazonde.

Subsequently, Muli was reported to the police by another victim and got arrested for car theft. Mrs Mazonde said this is when she realised that she may have been scammed.

“After making inquiries I realised that Muli had 36 cases of fraud at Dzivaresekwa Police Station,” she said.

“I realised that there were social groups on Facebook and WhatsApp of people who were scammed by Muli. Eventually, I got hold of him and again asked him to return the registration books but he kept on giving excuses.”

Upon making police reports at Southerton and Mabelreign Police Stations Mrs Mazonde was informed by police officers that Muli had many cases at Dzivaresekwa, Mabelreign and Harare Central Police Stations.

“Police officers at Southerton told me they had many dockets for Muli. Muli was then arrested and transferred to Mabelreign Police Station where our statements were taken,” she said.

“But while we were there it became evident that he would never face justice because of the treatment he was being given by police officers and he even refused to reveal where the vehicles were.”

Muli was eventually taken to court under case RRB 448 4354 and was remanded in custody to November 4 but was released a few days later. Up to date, Mrs Mazonde has not recovered her vehicles. Another victim Daphney Ndlela claimed she lost US$1 100 to Muli.

“Sometime in July last year Muli advertised a car, model Toyota Mark II Grand, saying he wanted to raise US$1 300 to repair his other car,” said Ms Ndlela.

“After seeing the car, I paid US$1 100 on the agreement that I would pay the balance within a week. I took the car but he would not let me have the vehicle registration book saying I had to pay in full first.

“An hour later the car broke down and when I called Muli to tell him he apologised and said he didn’t know the car had a problem.”

The next morning Muli called to tell Daphney that he was sending someone to fix the car.

“The mechanic told me that the car had been stripped and advised me to claim my money back.

“I then met with Muli, he apologised again and offered to give me another car within two days.

“Since then I never managed to get hold of him until the day he was arrested after I made a police report under case number CR361/07/19.

“He was remanded in custody but to my surprise he was released a few days later. I never recovered my money.”

Thelma Sadondo who is another of Muli’s victims lost her Mercedes Benz C180.

“I was selling my Mercedes C180 and Austin took my car sometime in January claiming he had found a buyer from South Africa,” she said.

“On that day I was busy at work and he suggested to take the car so that the buyer could assess it.

“Since I knew Austin and was friends with his wife I agreed to give him the car but that was the last time I saw my car.

“After work, I tried calling him but he was giving excuses and eventually went unavailable and I think he blocked my numbers.”

Another alleged victim Tavaraidzwa Mpunga said she lost US$1 500 to Muli.

“Muli told me he was a Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) employee and that he could buy a car for me at an auction in Beitbridge,” narrated Mpunga.

“I gave him US$1 500 and we had an agreement that if he fails to bring back the car I would take his car as compensation. The following day I called him and he said I should follow him to Beitbridge to collect my car.

“On arrival, he started giving excuses saying he was in a meeting. I spent the whole day waiting for him in Beitbridge only for him to say he will release the car to us the following day.”

The following day Muli told Mpunga that he would release the car after an ongoing audit was finished.

“I stayed in Beitbridge for four days while Austin was giving excuses the whole time. I came back to Harare, made a police report and nothing was done.

“He even said I would get my money from the police. All efforts of trying to reach him were in vain because each time I would call he would block my number and even threaten me.”

However, Muli denies all the charges saying he bought all the vehicles in question adding that what was left was to make
full payments as stated by agreements of sale.

“All of these things are not true, we had agreements with these people and, of course, there were times I failed to pay as agreed but I have since told them that I will pay when I am in a position to do so,” he said.

“For the Mazda Bongo I paid $2 700 for it in full but she took the agreement of sale to destroy the evidence. As for the Quantum we had a rent to buy agreement.

“Those other girls are my ex-girlfriends and they are just trying to get back at me. The cases are before the courts and it will be decided there if I’m guilty. I have never been convicted in my life.”

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police were looking into the allegations.

“We are looking into the matter and we are working with the Central Investigation Department (CID) to get the facts. This may take some time but we will definitely work on it.”

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