UPDATED: MDC thugs attack ZBC journalist 

Source: UPDATED: MDC thugs attack ZBC journalist | The Herald In this file picture, MDC Alliance supporters march to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices to hand over a petition for so-called electoral reforms in Harare last year. — Picture by Justin Mutenda Herald Reporters MDC violence against State media journalists reared its ugly head on Sunday […]

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Source: UPDATED: MDC thugs attack ZBC journalist | The Herald

UPDATED: MDC thugs attack ZBC journalist
In this file picture, MDC Alliance supporters march to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices to hand over a petition for so-called electoral reforms in Harare last year. — Picture by Justin Mutenda

Herald Reporters
MDC violence against State media journalists reared its ugly head on Sunday when the party’s leader Nelson Chamisa’s security team beat up a ZBC senior staffer (name withheld) at a rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru.

The security team assaulted the journalist and attempted to drag him out of the stadium, accusing ZBC of reporting negatively on their party.

“You do not belong here, you report lies about us,” shouted one of the security team’s members.

Mr Chamisa had to intervene and rescue the reporter as the hooligans bayed for his blood. Another group of MDC youths swarmed the ZBC vehicle and threatened to beat up the news crew that was covering the rally, resulting in the reporters leaving the event in a haste.

This is not the first time that MDC hooligans have harassed a ZBC news crew. Addressing reporters, Mr Chamisa could not hide his dislike of the public broadcaster, saying it needed to be reformed.

“We do not want them to have a monopoly over television broadcasting. We want more television stations in this country. Let ZBC be reformed and we have independent radio stations, not to have a single television channel for 39 years,” he said.

Mr Chamisa inadvertently confirmed that he was holding the country to ransom and would source money from America if President Mnangagwa bows down to his demands.

The MDC youths once manhandled ZBC reporters at the same venue last year, accusing the public broadcaster of reporting “negatively and falsehoods” about their party. In March last year, Herald Senior Reporter Zvamaida Murwira and freelance journalist Anna Chibamu were also attacked at Harvest House while covering a Press conference to confirm Mr Chamisa as the leader of the party.

Herald photographer Tawanda Mudimu was manhandled by MDC thugs in May last year while covering a demonstration by activists that were protesting against imposition of candidates ahead of the harmonised elections. In 2016, MDC youths also burnt a vehicle belonging to the State broadcaster during protests organised by the party’s youth wing.

In 2013, the late MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s aides manhandled Chronicle senior reporter Mashudu Netsianda before confiscating his notebook and deleting recordings from his mobile phone while covering a meeting of the party’s former leader and the Bulawayo business community.

Private media journalists have also not been spared, with former Zimbabwe Independent reporter Herbert Moyo severely assaulted by MDC-T security personnel at Harvest House while covering a demonstration by party activists.

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Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable… 

Source: Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable… – The Zimbabwean

Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable…

Paul Bogaert

The post Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable…  appeared first on Zimbabwe Situa…

Source: Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable… – The Zimbabwean

Mnangagwa’s reformer image is arguable…

Paul Bogaert

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Nigerians start another day of waiting on election results

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Radios and WhatsApp groups pinged to life on Tuesday as anxious Nigerians awaited a second day of state-by-state announcements of presidential election results in a race described as too close to […]

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Radios and WhatsApp groups pinged to life on Tuesday as anxious Nigerians awaited a second day of state-by-state announcements of presidential election results in a race described as too close to [...]

Energy Minister Jorum Gumbo speaks out as long fuel queues resurface in Zimbabwe

Hundreds of people were left stranded late Monday after a sudden shortage of fuel with public transport operators hiking fares. Reports of people walking on foot to areas like Glen Norah and Mabvuku emerged as commuter omnibus operators took their vehi…

Hundreds of people were left stranded late Monday after a sudden shortage of fuel with public transport operators hiking fares. Reports of people walking on foot to areas like Glen Norah and Mabvuku emerged as commuter omnibus operators took their vehicles to fuel queues. “Fares have gone up. It would have been better if they […]

United States issues stern warning to Mnangagwa’s government

The United States of America through its embassy in Harare has issued a stark warning to the government of Zimbabwe over the arrest and harassment of civil society leaders. The United States (US) says this […]

The United States of America through its embassy in Harare has issued a stark warning to the government of Zimbabwe over the arrest and harassment of civil society leaders. The United States (US) says this [...]

Lender of last resort facility on cards

Source: Lender of last resort facility on cards | The Herald 26 FEB, 2019 Dr Mangudya Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Business Reporter The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has announced plans to re-introduce a lender of last resort facility. A lender of last resort is an institution, usually a country’s central bank, which offers loans to […]

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Source: Lender of last resort facility on cards | The Herald 26 FEB, 2019

Lender of last resort facility on cards
Dr Mangudya

Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Business Reporter
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has announced plans to re-introduce a lender of last resort facility.

A lender of last resort is an institution, usually a country’s central bank, which offers loans to banks or other eligible institutions that are experiencing financial difficulty or are considered highly risky or near collapse.

RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya said the lender of last resort facility will help local banks meet their monetary requirements.

“Going forward, as a bank we are going to open a lender of last resort window, an accommodation window because we know that in this market there is not too much money,” said Dr Mangudya.

“The money in Zimbabwe, just to give you statistics, the real time gross settlement (RTGS) balances are just under $1,8 billion, the rest are loans and securities. And the bulk of the RTGS balances are required for local trades, not to purchase foreign currency. So while foreign currency will be available, what may be in shortage are RTGS balances to buy the foreign currency.”

The country’s interbank market was made dysfunctional upon the introduction of the multicurrency system as confidence in the banking sector waned.

In 2010, the Government moved to restore the banker-of last-resort function of the central bank by injecting US$7 million to improve fluidity of banking operations.

And while announcing the 2015 Monetary Policy Statement Dr Mangudya announced that the local interbank market was now in operation, describing it as a “great financial milestone.”

“The interbank facility supported by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) under the Afreximbank Trade Debt Backed Securities (AFTRADES) is now operational. This is a great financial milestone,” said Dr Mangudya at the time.

“The facility would be managed by the Reserve Bank as an agent bank for Afreximbank for the purposes of managing the surplus and deficit participants’ requirements under AFTRADES.

Critically, the RBZ governor said the (interbank) “facility shall also be used as a precursor programme for the lender of last resort function by the Reserve Bank.”

Zimbabwe currently has 19 operating banking institutions.

And as at December 31, 2018, 18 of the 19 banks reported profits for the year, with a 61,06 percent increase in aggregate profits from $241,94 million in 2017 to $389,85 million, official figures show.

The lender of last resort functions both to protect individuals who have deposited funds, and to prevent panic withdrawing from banks who have temporary limited liquidity.

All things being equal commercial banks usually try not to borrow from the lender of last resort because such action indicates that the bank is experiencing financial crisis.

However, critics of the facility say it entices financial institutions to take on more risk than would be considered normal without the lender of last resort facility.

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Is Zimbabwe the Next Venezuela?

This weekend’s news that protesters were gunned down at Venezuela’s border while pro-regime thugs burned trucks filled with food and medicine demonstrated just how vicious Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship is. But those who wonder how long he can hold on to power while his nation slowly starves might want Source: Is Zimbabwe the Next Venezuela? – […]

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This weekend’s news that protesters were gunned down at Venezuela’s border while pro-regime thugs burned trucks filled with food and medicine demonstrated just how vicious Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship is. But those who wonder how long he can hold on to power while his nation slowly starves might want

Source: Is Zimbabwe the Next Venezuela? – Yahoo News

This weekend’s news that protesters were gunned down at Venezuela’s border while pro-regime thugs burned trucks filled with food and medicine demonstrated just how vicious Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship is. But those who wonder how long he can hold on to power while his nation slowly starves might want to visit Zimbabwe, as I did last month, for a sobering lesson.

Robert Mugabe became the president of Zimbabwe in April 1980, back when Jimmy Carter was still president. Within two years he had deployed his infamous North Korea–trained Fifth Brigade against minority tribes in Matabeleland in a campaign of deliberate killing and starvation. The organization Genocide Watch estimated that 20,000 people were ultimately killed.

Mugabe would later launch an insane seizure of white-owned farms. That led to widespread food shortages and a destructive hyperinflation that resulted in almost-worthless 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar notes in circulation.

But henchmen from the ruling party, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), violently tamped down protests, and he ruled until November 2017, when a clique of his own generals worried that his wife would replace him overthrew the 94-year-old dictator in a coup. Since then, former minister of defense and current president Emmerson Mnangagwa has proclaimed that his country is “open for business,” when in reality the regime’s slogan should be “The new boss is just like the old boss.”

Last week, even Mugabe attacked his old protégé for violently suppressing protests over a doubling of fuel prices in January. At least 17 people were killed and dozens of women were raped by marauding troops. “God has his own way of punishing rogues and cruel people,” Mugabe thundered. “People should love their army, they should not fear the army.”

Ordinary Zimbabweans have every reason to fear not only the military but every part of their government. Last week the government ended the practice of pegging the value of Zimbabwe’s dollar to that of the U.S. dollar, a 2009 reform that had finally ended the nation’s hyperinflation. Fears of a new round of hyperinflation has helped reduce food reserves such that the nation’s grain-millers’ association says there is now only a week’s worth of wheat in reserve. Zimbabwe now produces less than half of its annual wheat consumption, even while having some of the most fertile farmland and one of the most temperate climates in the world.

During my visit to Zimbabwe, every local I spoke with was wary of being quoted on the record regarding their real feelings about the government. “Everyone keeps their head down for fear it will be chopped off,” said “Captain Jack,” the nickname that one of my drivers from the airport uses in dealing with visitors. “No one has any confidence these people will ever leave power.”

When I asked an employee at my hotel if he had heard of the situation in Venezuela, he just laughed. “Oh, yes, we know about them. We would only remind them that their Hugo Chávez came to power 20 years ago. Our versions came to power nearly 40 years ago.”

While blacks I spoke with were proud that they had won independence from white rule in 1980, they were embarrassed that the country has been so mismanaged since then. “Zimbabwe has all the ingredients to be a successful state — good land, minerals, hard workers, modern farming techniques, proximity to markets in South Africa,” says Rejoice Ngwenya, head of a Zimbabwean free-market think tank. “We don’t have a government that builds on that.”

George Ayittey, an economics professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and the author of the book Defeating Dictators, isn’t optimistic that the generals behind Maduro in Venezuela or behind Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe can be displaced easily. “Bad governments metastasize into criminal enterprises so anyone chosen from the ruling elites to succeed a failed president would himself be a crook,” he told me. In Zimbabwe, for example, the anti-corruption czar, Ngonidzashe Gumbo, was himself jailed for ten years on fraud charges.

Still, Ayittey admits, there are exceptions. Street protests were able to force genuine change in South Africa in 1994, in Ghana in 2000,, and in Tunisia in 2011. “I myself was one of the architects of change in my native Ghana in 2000,” he told me. He also notes the progress that Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has made in reforming that nation’s rancid Marxist past.

“We should always have hope,” Ayittey told me. “But dictators have far more staying power than we like to admit. There are few happy endings.”

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Zimbabwe drip-feeds dollars to tackle cash crunch 

Source: Zimbabwe drip-feeds dollars to tackle cash crunch | Reuters HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s central bank drip-fed dollars on Monday to a handful of commercial banks to allocate to large businesses, part of currency reforms authorities hope will ease a cash crunch that has starved the economy of many basic goods. Zimbabwe ditched a discredited […]

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Source: Zimbabwe drip-feeds dollars to tackle cash crunch | Reuters

Zimbabweans queue outside a bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s central bank drip-fed dollars on Monday to a handful of commercial banks to allocate to large businesses, part of currency reforms authorities hope will ease a cash crunch that has starved the economy of many basic goods.

Zimbabwe ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its dollar-surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars last week, merging them into a lower-value transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

Economists welcomed the move but doubt it will prompt a swift turnaround in the southern African nation, which has grown used to currency turbulence since excessive money-printing under former leader Robert Mugabe triggered hyperinflation.

Ordinary Zimbabweans are not yet able to use the RTGS dollars in their bank accounts to buy dollars from banks, and the bond notes – which many businesses are reluctant to accept – are still in circulation.

“The devaluation was long overdue. The economy has been in limbo and the RTGS can now play a role in boosting competitiveness,” Anthony Mandiwanza, chief executive of Zimbabwean food and dairy firm Dairibord, told Reuters.

“What is critical is that the government lives within its means and narrows and eliminates the fiscal deficit.”

RTGS DOLLAR NOT WEAK ENOUGH?

The last time Zimbabwe had its own currency, a decade ago, Mugabe’s government turned on the printing presses to fund higher salaries for government workers and curry favour with the military – with disastrous economic results.

Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised a break with the past, but many Zimbabweans are wary after his government ramped up borrowing in the lead-up to a national election last July and inflation rose to a 10-year high in January.

The central bank started selling U.S. dollars to banks at 2.5 RTGS dollars on Friday.

Mandiwanza said banks had told Dairibord the same day that it could submit requests for dollars at around 2.5 RTGS each and that it would receive an unspecified amount on Monday or Tuesday.

A dealer at a large bank in Harare whose firm operates on the interbank market said launching the RTGS at 3 to the dollar or higher would have been better to encourage U.S. dollar sellers.

“There are a lot of (dollar) buyers … but no sellers because the rate is not high enough. What we are basically doing is allocating foreign currency to corporates but no trading is taking place,” the dealer said.

‘MANAGED FLOAT’

Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe after an army coup in November 2017, hopes to steer the economy back to credibility and lure back foreign investors, who have also been deterred by violent security crackdowns on post-election protests last year and demonstrations last month against a steep fuel price hike.

The central bank has said it will let the RTGS dollar trade in a “managed float”.

But it has not explained how it would control the currency’s movements given it does not have significant foreign exchange reserves.

The currency dealer said the central bank was only selling dollars to banks that had lined up customers who had agreed to buy them.

“We have seen this before in the past and it went nowhere, the interbank system will ultimately become redundant if the Reserve Bank doesn’t allow the currency to freely trade,” the dealer said.

There are also indications that the central bank is not selling many dollars. Only around $5 million changed hands on Friday, a senior central bank official told The Standard newspaper in an article published at the weekend.

A Standard Chartered bank teller in Harare said her branch was not selling dollars to individuals yet, and downtown bank queues were no longer than normal.

On Monday, one U.S. dollar was being sold on the black market for four electronic dollars – those locked in individuals’ accounts for months due to the chronic cash shortages – compared to 4.2 on Friday, informal currency traders said.

“The big players are holding onto their money, that is what is holding rates at the moment,” one currency trader at Harare’s Eastgate shopping centre said.

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Zimbabwe struggles to convince doubters as it launches new currency

Source: Zimbabwe struggles to convince doubters as it launches new currency – Times Live Zimbabweans queue outside a branch of First Capital Bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 23, 2019.  Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo Zimbabwe’s government has a trust problem as it introduces a discounted currency in a bid to reverse chronic cash shortages that left people struggling […]

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Source: Zimbabwe struggles to convince doubters as it launches new currency – Times Live

Zimbabweans queue outside a branch of First Capital Bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 23, 2019.

Zimbabweans queue outside a branch of First Capital Bank in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 23, 2019. 
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s government has a trust problem as it introduces a discounted currency in a bid to reverse chronic cash shortages that left people struggling to get hold of basic goods.

Business people and economists welcomed last week’s decision to abandon an unrealistic dollar peg for the country’s surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars, which were merged into a new currency called the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar.

But they expressed doubts about whether the government has the fiscal and monetary discipline to stick to its commitment to lower the budget deficit and keep inflation in check.

“There is nothing to stop Zimbabwe printing money with this new currency,” said Jee-A van der Linde, an analyst at South Africa-based NKC African Economics. “The government has basically kicked the can down the road in recent years by trying to stimulate the economy through excessive spending.”

Zimbabwe’s currency woes have undermined President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors who were sidelined under his ousted predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

The last time Zimbabwe had its own currency, a decade ago, Mugabe’s government was able to turn on the printing presses to fund higher salaries for government workers, curry favour with the military and pay political opponents – with disastrous economic consequences.

Residents of the capital, Harare, now wait outside banks for hours to withdraw a maximum of around $30 in surrogate money or collect remittances from relatives abroad. Snaking queues have become the norm at petrol stations because of a shortage of fuel.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last week pledged to contain public spending and reiterated the importance of the independence of the central bank. Yet, investors and Zimbabweans remain concerned that, should Mnangagwa’s government come under political or military pressure, it may revert to the tricks of the past.

Some also fear that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the country’s central bank, will be unwilling to loosen its grip over the currency as its governor, John Mangudya, is thought to oppose the move to abandon the dollar peg.

“It’s quite clear that the minister of finance wants a liberalised currency regime, whereas the governor of the Reserve Bank doesn’t,” said Eddie Cross, a Zimbabwean economist and former opposition lawmaker.

Whether Zimbabwean policymakers can convince their doubters, both in financial markets and on the streets, will be central to the success or failure of the new RTGS dollar.

If Zimbabweans begin to use banks instead of the black market to exchange any U.S. banknotes they have stashed under their mattresses, then the government could start to rebuild its foreign currency reserves by buying those dollars from banks.

That could give it the wherewithal to relaunch the Zimbabwean dollar when the economy has turned a corner.

Zimbabwe ditched its own currency for the U.S. dollar and other currencies in 2009, after hyperinflation reached 500 billion percent the previous year.

But as a chronic hard currency shortage worsened, it introduced a parallel system of bond notes and electronic dollars, nicknamed “zollars.” The substitute currencies were pegged at 1:1 to the U.S. dollar but traded at a discount on the black market.

MAKE OR BREAK

A key test for the RTGS dollar comes on Monday, when many Zimbabwean banks will buy and sell RTGS dollars on the interbank market for the first time. Some large firms will also be able to buy foreign currency from banks, but it is not clear how much or on what terms.

Many Zimbabweans are sceptical that the latest monetary intervention will reverse the crisis.

“The government has changed things over and over again,” said Godfrey Chinani, who is worried that customers will no longer be able to afford the car parts he sells from a cramped shop in downtown Harare.

He wishes Zimbabwe had switched to the rand instead, as he buys his goods mainly from South Africa.

“People get RTGS as salaries, but when you convert it to rand or U.S. dollars it is worth nothing,” he said. “It won’t work.”

The central bank sold U.S. dollars to a handful of banks at around 2.5 RTGS dollars on Friday, an effective devaluation of 60 percent. More than $5 million changed hands on the interbank market, a senior RBZ official told The Standard newspaper.

In the coming weeks, the new currency is expected to weaken towards 3.5 to the dollar, the level at which bond notes have been trading on the black market.

PRICE PRESSURES

Many Zimbabweans fear a return to the hyperinflation era that prevailed during part of Mugabe’s tenure if the RTGS dollar sinks much beyond that point. Inflation already hit a 10-year high of 57 percent in January, and some public servants say the currency devaluation means the government should raise their salaries by several times.

Authorities have pledged to control the currency’s slide as part of a “managed float,” but how they intend to do that remains a mystery.

The central bank said last week it had secured “sufficient lines of credit” to launch the RTGS. Analysts are scratching their heads as to where the money could have come from.

“People are bound to ask what backs this new currency,” said van der Linde. “It’s no wonder people are distrustful.”

Informal currency traders in downtown Harare said they were waiting to see how the new currency trades on Monday before they change their rates.

POLITICAL SOLUTION

Analysts say one way for Mnangagwa to build confidence in his economic reforms would be to try to mend a deep political rift with the country’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mnangagwa narrowly defeated MDC leader Nelson Chamisa in an election last year which the opposition says was rigged but which Mnangagwa says he won fairly. A violent security crackdown on post-election protests and on demonstrations last month against a major fuel hike have hardened international attitudes towards Mnangagwa’s government and deterred much-needed investment.

“An economic solution on its own, without being backed by a political solution, won’t take us to sustainable economic development,” said Eldred Masunungure, a politics professor at University of Zimbabwe.

“Mnangagwa has not yet built enough trust to relaunch the Zimbabwean dollar. But he is testing the waters.”

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The Interview – ‘We are available for dialogue,’ Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition leader tells FRANCE 24

Following recent unrest in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, spoke to FRANCE 24. He rejected claims by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the MDC had attempted “regime change” with foreign backing by organising mass protests in January. Chamisa went on to say he was willing to take […]

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Following recent unrest in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, spoke to FRANCE 24. He rejected claims by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the MDC had attempted “regime change” with foreign backing by organising mass protests in January. Chamisa went on to say he was willing to take part in “a credible and genuine dialogue” with the president.

Source: The Interview – ‘We are available for dialogue,’ Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition leader tells FRANCE 24

Speaking to FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman from the Zimbabwean capital Harare, Chamisa said the recent protests were ignited by fuel price hikes and led by trade unions, not by his party.

“We are not working with any foreign power,” he added.

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader accused the government of serious crimes in the ensuing crackdown on the protests – including alleged extrajudicial killings –and said that Mnangagwa should be held to account. “The constitution does not allow the taking away of life,” he told FRANCE 24.

Chamisa noted that even former president Robert Mugabe, who himself was accused of severe repression during his time in power, has strongly criticised Mnangagwa’s crackdown. The opposition leader called Mugabe’s remarks “confirmation” that the current president had “crossed the line”.

Chamisa said he was ready “anytime” for “a credible and genuine” dialogue with Mnangagwa but insisted that it should be done through international mediation, citing South Africa, the inter-governmental Southern African Development Community or the African Union as “ideal” go-betweens.

Finally, he dismissed reports that he had offered Mnangagwa a power-sharing agreement under which they would each lead the country for two years.

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