Category Archives: Top Stories

Govt withdraws student funding: Grants financial institutions to be named: Tertiary institutions owed over $27m

Deputy Minister Dr Gandawa Godfrey

Vincent Gono, Features Editor
THE Government has phased out the student cadetship programme at tertiary institutions in anticipation of the re-introduction of the student loan facility later this year, officials have said.

The development comes as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which will administer the new student loan has indicated that it will this week carry out an adjudicating process on the proposals that were submitted by financial institutions who will provide the funding.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said all tertiary institutions in the country were no longer taking students for cadetship as the Government was expediting the adoption of student loans as a sustainable alternative to the phased out era where Government would assume the parental duty of paying fees.

“We have since phased out the cadetship programme in anticipation of the student loan facility where students will access loans from the banks. All tertiary institutions in the country are no longer accepting applications for cadetship. Those that are on cadetship were recruited under the programme in previous years and they are most likely in their final year,” said Dr Gandawa.

He confirmed that the Government owed tertiary institutions a substantial amount of over $27 million which he said they were working hard to clear. The revelations come in the wake of complaints by tertiary institutions that the varying amounts of money they are owed by Government are stalling various development projects at the country’s institutions of higher learning.

“We currently owe our tertiary institutions a figure of $27 024 723 for students who were on cadetship. In 2014 we received 294 000 applications from students who wanted to be considered for cadetship. Not all of them were successful. We had to go through a rigorous screening exercise from where 43 914 were considered, meaning 250 086 were unsuccessful. In that same year the amount we owed tertiary institutions initially stood at $61 030 345 and we paid $34 005 622 in January this year,” said Dr Gandawa.

He said the good thing was that the figure was no longer accruing since there were no more students on cadetship after the Government announced the return of student loans which the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Central Bank were working to put in place.

Institutions of higher learning such as National University of Science and Technology (Nust), University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Midlands State University (MSU), Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) and many other universities and colleges have been complaining over the Government’s failure to meet its assumed parental obligation of paying for the students on cadetship.

Some of the institutions at one time threatened to defy the Government directive not to exclude from lectures students that were on the cadetship facility saying sending them home was the only way of making sure Government would pay.

Their argument was that failure by Government to pay the fees was burdening them and stalling progress at campuses as well as making them fail to meet other financial obligations such as paying for equipment and for other staff that was not paid by Government.

Dr Gandawa, however, said they were engaging the Treasury with a view to clear the debt owed to tertiary institutions and start on the loan facility.

“You may be aware that under the cadetship we would bond the student for three years. But since 2013 we have allowed students to buy out their bonding period and be given their certificates after the realisation that we were failing to give them employment as Government had frozen recruitment.

“We hope the loan facility will be more flexible and give students the latitude to exercise some financial freedom that they did not have under cadetship. The scheme will be taken care of by the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank that will give the money to various financial institutions for disbursement to the students,” said Dr Gandawa.

He said one of the banks to be used for the loan facility was CBZ while other financial institutions would be announced as the programme was rolled out as and when the requisite amount was available.

RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said they have received submissions after their call for proposals from financial institutions for the implementation and administration of the educational loan facility and they would be adjudicating them this week.

“We shall be adjudicating the submissions to the calls for proposals whose deadline was 19 May this week,” he said.

The adjudication process is expected to see the RBZ naming the financial institutions that would be tasked with implementing and administering the student loan facility.

Call for tougher action on factionalism

Ignatius Chombo

Ignatius Chombo

Harare Bureau
FORMER liberation movements in Southern Africa have identified factionalism as their biggest enemy and are proposing that they should all establish radio stations and newspapers that will inculcate a revolutionary ideology among the populace.

The liberation movements are also proposing tough disciplinary actions against those perpetrating factionalism. In addition, the liberation movements are proposing robust ideological schooling for their members and fully exploiting new technologies to engender social cohesion and responsible information sharing. These proposals were adopted by secretaries-generals of former liberation movements at their annual indaba in Angola last week, and now await ratification.

The meeting identified factionalism as “the Number One threat” to revolutionary parties, and resolved to counteract the scourge with stringent disciplinary action and ideological schooling. The ruling former liberation movements in Southern Africa include Zanu-PF, the African National Congress (South Africa), Frelimo (Mozambique), Swapo (Namibia), MPLA (Angola) and Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Tanzania). Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo who was part of the interface told our Harare Bureau that the secretaries-generals would table the proposals before their superiors. He said,

“The secretaries-general made the following recommendations:

‘1. That former liberation movements institute tough disciplinary measures along with strong ideological grounding under the auspices of political party ideological schools and national youth service. 2. That former liberation movements should apply innovative media and information strategies which make full use of available technological advancements. 3. That former liberation movements should institute measures to eliminate the use of money or other material enticements in influencing outcomes of internal electoral processes. 4. That former liberation movements carry out focused political orientation programmes targeting youths — both members and non-members — to inculcate correct ideologies and a sense of belonging.

5. That former liberation movements create ways and mechanisms to share ideas with each other.’”

The meeting also recommended: “6. That former liberation movements establish daily newspapers, radio stations and establish a meaningful presence on the Internet. 7. That former liberation movements should study new weather patterns in order to align with agricultural seasons. 8. That former liberation movements should institute joint and individual measures to eliminate corruption. 9. That former liberation movements should hold workshops to share experiences, strategies on sustainable economic growth and improve our countries.”

Dr Chombo said the proposals were informed by similar workshops held in Mozambique in November 2015 and Victoria Falls in May 2016. The Victoria Falls gathering resolved to address factionalism, lack of patriotism, foreign-backed organisations that work with opposition parties, external interference in electoral processes and “foreign interference using hard and soft power for regime change”.

Dr Chombo said, “We met in Victoria Falls in order to deliberate, and Zanu-PF presided over proceedings. The workshop agreed that regime change is primarily the most urgent and common threat governing former liberation movements face for now and the foreseeable future. The Victoria Falls report captured the salient points of the deliberations and recommendations of the meeting. The workshop also agreed with the Russian and Chinese characterisation of regime change as the tool of choice for overthrowing legitimate political authority by provoking internal instability and conflict against governments that are considered inconvenient to their interests, replacing them with pliant puppets regimes that then pander to their interests.

“According to research and intelligence analysis that informed presentations of former liberation movements, Western interests in Southern Africa seek to establish military domination, including military bases within the region as an option for rapid escalation to hard power where soft power would have failed in pursuit of regime change.”

He went on: “The West want unfettered access and control to Southern Africa’s 200 million-strong population, 10 million square-metre land, strategic east-west route, vastly diverse and unique mineral resources and vast natural resource endowment, agricultural potential that is second to none in the world, high quality human capital and unparalleled friendly climatic and weather conditions. This puts them at variance and on a collision course with the resource nationalisation being pursued by Zanu-PF through the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme; the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Progamme and other social models that are being pursued by other former liberation movements.”

Police hunt down murder suspect

Ray Bande Senior Reporter
POLICE in Mutare have launched a manhunt for a possessive man who butchered to death an innocent passer-by after accusing him of courting his wife.

Angel Ndafira (37) of Number 4, View House near OTS Section in Sakubva, who is now at large, turned devils’ agent when he fatally assaulted Mathew Matinye (38) using stones and unidentified weapons.

A police truck collects the body of Mathew Matinye in Sakubva on Monday morning

Matinye was passing by Ndafira’s home on his way from work around 11pm when he met Ndafira who had just arrived home. A brawl ensued as Ndafira accused Matinye of courting his wife in his absence.

Manicaland Police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa said: “Mathew Matinye was passing by Angel Ndafira’s home on his way from work around 11pm. Ndafira was in the company of his employee identified as Knowledge Nhokwara.  A brawl ensued as Ndafira accused Matinye of courting his wife and questioning what Matinye was doing at the formers’ home at that time.

“Nhokwara is said to have left the two fighting. It is alleged that Matinye was overpowered and heavily assaulted using stones that were seen at the scene the next day. The accused (Ndafira) fled after also assaulting his wife. Anyone with knowledge on his whereabouts may contact the police,” said Insp Kakohwa.

He urged members of the public to refrain from violence.

“We are witnessing more of these violent scenes in the province that result in unnecessary loss of lives. We are appealing to members of the public to solve their problems amicably without resorting to violence,” said Insp Kakohwa.

In an interview at her home on Monday morning, Ndafira’s wife, a visibly shaken Tabeth Mkaya, whose jersey had blood stains, said she does not understand why her husband behaved in that manner.

“I really do not know why he behaved in that manner. All I remember is that he came around 11pm and knocked on the door. When I opened he was in the company of his workmate. He refused to get inside and I heard them fighting, but could not really establish the reason behind the fight at that time.

“He later came inside and assaulted me saying he wanted to kill me. I struggled to escape, but I managed and ran straight to a neighbour who is also a relative who let me in her house. I later told the relative that I needed to go and close windows and doors since I was not sure he was still there.

“When I was closing windows, he bolted in and continued assaulting me. He said he wanted to kill me since he had also killed the man I was cheating with. I screamed for help and managed to escape again. I really cannot tell the basis of his suspicion that I was cheating on him with a stranger,” she said.

A neighbour, Mr Clever Mparutsa, said although he was not there when the fateful incident occurred, he knew the late Matinye as he frequently used a footpath near their house each time he was going or coming from work.

“I knew Matinye. We were so close and at times he identified himself as my son. He always used a footpath near our houses each time he was going or coming from work.

“I really do not understand why he (Ndafira) behaved in that manner. The young man (Matinye) was not in love with Ndafira’s wife. He never even asked her out. I wish I had been around when this happened as I could have restrained him,” said Muparutsa.

Drama at Justice Mutambanengwe’s burial

Cletus Mushanawani News Editor
THERE was drama at last Saturday’s tension-filled burial of former High Court judge, Justice Simpson Victor Mutambanengwe’s burial at Dambakurimwa Village just outside Mutare, with the director of ceremonies choosing to heap praises on the Namibian delegation that graced the funeral, downplaying the role played by the Zimbabwean Government that accorded him a State-assisted funeral.

The grandstanding director of ceremonies, who refused to divulge his name, drew the ire of dignitaries who were in attendance among them the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs when he announced that only Namibians present deserves special mention for honouring Justice Mutambenengwe (87). When the director of ceremonies invited Cde Chimene to lead the body viewing process, she told him off and he had to make a haste retreat.

Local Government Deputy Minister, Cde Chris Chingosho had to lead the process.  The late Justice Mutambanengwe’s wife, Mrs Juliana Mutambanengwe had to restrain Cde Chimene who was about to walk away from the proceedings.

Mutare-Chimanimani Senator, Cde Monica Mutsvangwa, who was also present had to take the director of ceremonies aside for a brief talk.

Far from the drama, hundreds of people from all walks of life thronged the Mutambanengwe homestead to bid farewell to Justice Mutambanengwe who died in Namibia recently. Earlier on in her address, Cde Chimene, described Justice Mutambanengwe as a gallant and fearless cadre who contributed immensely towards the liberation of Zimbabwe.

“I am representing President Mugabe who could not make it here because of other pressing commitments.

“It is with no doubt that Justice Mutambanengwe’s history both before and after independence is well documented.

“He qualified to be a national hero, but we need to remind each other of being consistent in everything that we do.

“We have many war veterans, but it does not mean that everyone will be accorded the national hero status,” she said.

In recognition of Justice Mutambanengwe’s service to the Republic of Namibia, the Namibian government offered assistance with parlour related expenses, the casket, a combined church and Justice Ministry memorial services.  Namibian government also chartered a flight that ferried Justice Mutambanengwe’s body to Harare on Wednesday.

In a condolence message read by a Namibian judge, Justice Sylvester Salufu, Mainga, Namibia Chief Justice, Peter Shivute, said Justice Mutambanengwe was a gallant jurist.

“Justice Mutambanengwe was a leader in political and judiciary circles both in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

“He was a down to earth judge who authored 26 reported judgements while he was serving the Namibian High Court. “When he was serving the Supreme Court, he authored 19 reported judgements.

“He presided over hard cases in both the High and Supreme courts, but his judgements were of high quality,” said Chief Justice Shivute.

Justice Mutambanengwe was the founding member of Zanu on August 8, 1963. He was a member of the interim Central Committee that was chosen to steer Zanu for 10 months before it held its first congress in Gweru from May 21 to 23, 1964.

At the Gweru Congress, he was elected secretary for the Pan-African and International Affairs being number five on the party hierarchy and was deputised by Cde Henry Matuku Hamadziripi.

Among the mourners were Zanu-PF secretary for Youth Affairs, Cde Kudzi Chipanga, Members of National Assembly and Senate among them, Cdes Irene Zindi, Batsirayi Pemhenayi, Shadreck Chipanga and Monica Mutsvangwa.

Members of the judiciary fraternity from both Zimbabwe and Namibia were also present. Justice Mutambanengwe is survived by wife, Juliana, three sons and 10 grandchildren.

I’m still Manicaland chairman: Undenge

Cletus Mushanawani News Editor
THE leadership crisis ghost has come back to haunt Zanu-PF in Manicaland, with confusion reigning supreme on who is holding forth as the provincial chairman.

The confusion was well pronounced during last Sunday’s youths inter-district conference held at Marymount Teachers’ College were speaker after speaker failed to acknowledge the provincial chairman as is the norm with other meetings.

Despite the presence of both Dr Samuel Undenge who is reported to have been ousted in a vote of confidence and his deputy, Cde Joseph Mujati who in some quarters is said to be the acting chairman, no-one acknowledged both of them in the salutations.

Zanu-PF provincial youth chairman, Cde Mubuso Chinguno in his address said: “We are still waiting guidance on the issue of the provincial chairman from the Politburo and that is the reason why we are introducing the provincial executive as a block.”

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Zanu-PF national spokesperson, Cde Simon Khaya-Moyo, said the issue of Manicaland provincial chairman was still to be tabled before the Politburo.

“I don’t know anything regarding the issue of the provincial chairman for Manicaland.

“The issue is still to be brought to the attention of the Politburo and if someone is saying it was brought to the attention of our secretary for administration, Cde Chombo, you can get in touch with him,” said Cde Khaya-Moyo.

Dr Ignatius Chombo was not picking up his phone, but the director of administration, Cde Dickson Dzora said: “There is nothing like that regarding the vote of no confidence on Dr Undenge.”

Cde Dzora further referred this reporter to Dr Chombo.

Dr Undenge said: “Please note that I am still the chairman and have continued to perform my duties as chairman.

“The so-called vote of no confidence against me is something fraudulent as it was not passed by the rightful organs, i.e the Provincial Executive Committee and Provincial Co-ordination Committee. Both the PEC and PCC declined to pass a vote of no confidence against me.”

Cde Mujati insisted that a vote of no confidence was passed on Dr Undenge on April 21, 2017.

“A vote of no confidence was passed on Cde Undenge on April 21by the majority of the provincial executive. During that meeting out of the 38 members who were present, 35 endorsed the vote of no confidence on the chairman.

“According to our constitution, if a vote of no confidence is passed on a member, that person is suspended until his or her matter is heard by the relevant board tasked to deal with it. This is the current scenario with Cde Undenge. All the relevant documents were forwarded to our national headquarters. What happens when a vote of no confidence is passed is that the next person in terms of the hierarchy assumes that office until a determination is passed,” said Cde Mujati.

Manicaland readies for President Mugabe’s visit

News Editor
MANICALAND has stepped up preparations to host President Mugabe who is scheduled to address youths in the province on June 16 at Sakubva Stadium.

The date of President Mugabe’s visit to Manicaland was announced by Zanu-PF national secretary for youth affairs, Cde Kudzi Chipanga at an inter-district meeting attended by more than 5 000 people at Marymount Teachers’ College in Mutare last Sunday.

Cde Chipanga also announced that Manicaland will hold next year’s 21st Movement celebrations.

“The main aim of this meeting is to prepare for President Mugabe’s address of youths in Manicaland scheduled for June 16. Some people wanted the address to be held at Mutare Aerodrome, but we feel that Sakubva Stadium is the ideal venue. We want a massive turn-out for the event. We want to use the event to determine whether Members of National Assembly still have the masses behind them as introductions will be done based on constituencies. It is now the duty of respective Members of National Assembly to ensure that there is a huge turn-out of people from their constituencies to save themselves from embarrassment which comes with poor mobilisation.

“In 2014 we had our National People’s Congress where we agreed that President Mugabe is our sole candidate. There is one-centre of power in Zanu-PF which is President Mugabe. We don’t vote for age, but ideologies and that is why we are saying all youths should rally behind President Mugabe,” said Cde Chipanga.

He urged youths to mobilise more members to register as voters.

“We want to reaffirm our support for President Mugabe. No coalition will dislodge Zanu-PF from power. As youths we should use our numbers to have more votes for President Mugabe.

“Singing and sloganeering will not guarantee President Mugabe’s victory unless we all register and vote,” he said.

He went on to urge youths to respect serving Members of National Assembly and councillors.

“We were in Mashonaland East recently and Members of National Assembly there were saying some youths are causing discord as they are eyeing their constituencies. Let me remind everyone here that there are no primary elections scheduled for this year. Let us work together with those in office until the end of their term of office. We want disciplined youths.

“We know that there are some MPs who usually switch off their phones whenever they know that there will be youth programmes. As youths you should not lose heart because time will come for you to switch off your phones when these MPs desperately need your votes,” he said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Manicaland provincial youth chairman, Cde Mubuso Chinguno, said they had intensified their efforts to ensure that President Mugabe secures one million votes from youths in Manicaland in 2018.

“Youths are in the majority and we are mobilising one million votes for President Mugabe in the province come 2018. Our target group is those from 18 to 35 years. From the 2013 harmonised elections statistics, we established that only five percent of youths participated and we want more numbers in 2018. We are encouraging youths to vote for President Mugabe because we have benefitted a lot from empowerment programmes being championed by our iconic leader.

“We are also targeting youths in tertiary institutions as well as Advanced Level students as most of them will be eligible voters next year,” he said.

Fake US$, bond notes hit Mutare

Liberty Dube and Julia N’andu
FAKE United States dollars and bond notes are flooding the streets of Mutare, with the peddlers targeting unsuspecting taxi drivers, barmen shop attendants and Eco-cash agents.

This has prompted police to warn residents and businesspeople to be vigilant especially when dealing with people with $5 bond notes and United States of America dollars.

Last week, police arrested two men who were found in possession of counterfeit US$20 and $5 bond notes. Rockford Matare (31) and Fungai Musonerwa (25) appeared before Mutare magistrate, Mr Innocent Bepura for “possessing articles for criminal use”.

Mr Fletcher Karombe prosecuted.
The court heard that the duo allegedly hired a taxi from Mpudzi Village in Mutare District on May 15 to town.

“In their intention to deceive the owner, they gave him fake notes knowingly that it was not allowed. They both demanded for change while they knew they had given him fake money,” he said.

They were remanded in custody to June 2 for trial. They pleaded not guilty.

In an unrelated case, a city cab driver, Lovebond Mutora, was last week given a counterfeit $5 by an unknown person who had hired him from Yeovil to Darlington.

“I picked the passenger in Yeovil in the evening and he gave me the fake $5 bond note. He asked for $2 change and I gave him. I dropped him in Darlington and returned to town. I later realised that the bond note was fake,” he said.

Another fake $5 bond note was recently used to pay for meat at Villa Meats in Dangamvura.

Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa, said: “We urge people to be wary of fake money peddlers. This is worrying and we continue to urge people to be knowledgeable and cautious of the features of genuine notes. People are taking advantage of the current cash shortages to peddle fake money. We will not hesitate to arrest anyone who will be found on the wrong side of the law.”

ZCDC gets equipment

From Abel Zhakata at Forbes Border Post
THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company has received heavy duty plant equipment procured from Belarus under a $32 million Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe financing facility granted last year.

The first batch of the equipment which comprises seven dump trucks arrived at Forbes Border Post in Mutare today (Tuesday). Some of the machinery had already been cleared by Zimra officials en-route to the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

ZCDC will receive a total of 21 dump trucks and five dozers which it procured from the eastern European country.

The company’s chief executive officer, Dr Morris Mpofu, said all the equipment will be in the country in three months’ time.

More details to follow……..

Price controls loom for electricity, water, fines . . . Govt to swoop on retailers for smuggled goods

Minister Bimha

Minister Bimha

Dumisani Nsingo and Dickson Mangena, Business Reporters
THE Government through the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) will monitor the pricing of goods and services by parastatals such as electricity, water and fines to ensure that they conform to regional levels as part of improving ease of doing business and improve competitiveness among local companies.

This will come into effect when the NCC is formed once the National Competitiveness Commission Bill is made into law.

Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha said the National Competitiveness Commission Bill, which would pave way for the formation of a NCC to repeal and replace the National Incomes and Pricing Act (Chapter 14:32) has passed through the Lower house and he would take it to the Upper house.

“As you might know we have a Bill that we have introduced in Parliament, which has now passed through the Lower House, which I now have to go and take through the Upper House, the National Competitiveness Commission Act, which will also have an entity that will be finding ways of assisting companies in Zimbabwe on a daily basis, to be more competitive and advising Government on what ways to take to enhance the competitiveness of our companies.

“In the last summit of Sadc (Southern Africa Development Community) that we had in Swaziland, there was agreement by the Heads of State and Government that one area that we have to focus on in order for us to implement the industrialisation strategy was competitiveness. So it is an area that we continue to talk and debate about and make sure that we get our organisations to be doing something about this concept of competitiveness,” said Dr Bimha.

But it is the issue of pricing of services provided by Government entities that is set to be a major focus once the bill has been passed. There have been numerous complaints from business and the public that services provided by the Government were expensive and this was resulting in the increase in cost of production and ultimately prices.

In the past Government has been forced to put price control measures on business but according to the Bill focus will be on reducing cost of production than targeting the end product. According to the Bill, functions of the NPC will among others include “review all price changes by the Government, statutory corporations and local authorities when charging or levying user fees, rates penalties and fines payable by the public and clients.”

Dr Bimha said this stance has been taken because the National Incomes and Pricing Act which ushered in the National Incomes and Pricing Commission which was once headed by Mr Goodwill Masimirembwa never achieved its intended target.

In fact, according to economists, price controls on industry resulted in the closure of some companies. Captains of Industry said the move to look at pricing of cost drivers was the way forward as this will naturally result in the decline in prices due to market forces.

“The National Incomes and Pricing Act never achieved what it was meant to achieve. Its major failure was the issue of price control, which left companies and businesses crippled as there was no proper method of pricing. We are happy that the current Bill seeks to encourage competition and once companies start competing, prices go down. In the retail sector there is competition but not as much in other sectors like transport and housing where there is little competition,” said Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland regional manager, Mr Comfort Muchekeza.

The issue of pricing has also been a major problem for exporters who are failing to compete with goods produced from outside the country because of high cost of production. The NCC, according to the Bill, will also seek to de­velop poli­cies to make Zimbabwe com­pet­i­tive on a global scale. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said the Bill was sending a good message that Government was ready to work with industry.

“The Bill is meant to create an environment that will encourage competition rather than forcing price control, which ended up killing more businesses,” he said.

He said upon being set-up, NCC should ensure that the country’s prices of commodities and services are in line with that of other countries in the region.

“When the Commission has been set up we expect it to go on the ground and to be vibrant and interact with the stakeholders.

Zimbabwe still has one of the highest prices in the region and that needs to be corrected,” said Mr Mutashu.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Davison Norupiri said the Bill was important especially on encouraging export competitiveness.

“What is unique about this Bill is that it doesn’t just ensure competitiveness within the country but it looks at competitiveness of local companies compared to the whole of the trading blocs. The coming in of the Commission will establish where and how we fair as a country in terms of being competitive and then go on to specifically tackle the issues directly. The Bill is not a duplication of the Competitions and Tariffs Commission as some may think. This one was carefully drafted for specific conditions in Zimbabwe. It is a noble idea and ourselves as business we are for it and we expect this Bill to sail through,” said Mr Norupiri.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Mr Busisa Moyo said the Bill National Competitiveness was a long term replacement of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016.

“The Bill is key to promoting competitiveness long-term. This Bill coupled with a minimum local content Bill will create a fertile environment for industrial expansion and value chain development. SI 64 will have to be replaced with a local minimum content quota for Government, private sector and including wholesalers and retailers operating in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Moyo.

He further said: “Government has focused a lot on ease of doing business but not on cost of doing business, the two are related but are not the same”.

Meanwhile, a Cabinet-appointed committee will this week swoop on retailers and wholesalers countrywide to check compliance with import controls under Statutory Instrument 64.

This follows the rampant smuggling of goods that have been struck off the general import licence to stimulate domestic manufacturing capacity.

Products such as cooking oil, cereals, soap, spaghetti, rice, flour, detergents, sugar, salt and cremers are being brought into Zimbabwe via illegal ports of entry/exit.

It is understood some retailers purchase the goods in South Africa and then ferry them across the Limpopo River in speed boats and canoes.

The consignments are loaded onto trucks at the illegal ports and transported to Harare and other urban centres where they are sold in certain shops and on the streets.

Mystery disease puzzles doctors . . . Close to 50 people admitted, 15 cattle dead

set-doctor

Fairness Moyana, Hwange Correspondent
CLOSE to 50 people from Change, Dinde and Nekabandama in Hwange District, Matabeleland North have since the beginning of the month been hospitalised at Lukosi Hospital and surrounding health institutions complaining of severe pain which causes paralysis of the backbone, lower and upper body rendering patients immobile.

However, although no deaths have been reported in the area, health officials said they are failing to detect what the disease was or its causes after all patients tested negative for malaria which they were initially suspecting. Apart from the mystery of the disease, local people are now suspecting that there could be some poisonous plant or water source, as during the same time at least 15 cattle died under mysterious circumstances.

Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Nyasha Masuka confirmed the outbreak and said 42 people complaining of back aches, joint pains and high temperatures visited Lukosi Hospital.

“Most patients were admitted for three to four days and were given antibiotics and paracetamol. Investigations for malaria turned out negative. We couldn’t conduct further tests because patients could not afford and because of limited capacity at St Luke’s Hospital. It’s not that we couldn’t diagnose what disease it was but we had those challenges in conducting the necessary tests,” he said.

Dr Masuka said he has since instructed the Hwange District Medical Officer to go back and look into the records and do a spot map and see where the cases came from.

“We want to establish if the cases came from one village or a cluster of homesteads. We are also conducting investigations if there were any public gatherings like funerals or church meetings in those areas where the cases came from to see whether there might be a certain bug that might have hit the area. I have also instructed the District Medical Officer to be on high alert especially after so much rain, a lot of bugs may manifest.”

Dr Masuka added that they have also asked Hwange Colliery to help with tests while other samples have been sent to Bulawayo for testing. Sunday News visited some of the affected areas and the health institution where villagers and some officials said they were now confused on what sort of disease has hit the area.

“Since the beginning of last month people from Change, Gamba, Kashika, Dinde, Chibala, Mpongola and Nekabandama have been coming, some unable to walk or even sit up all complaining of the same problem. Nurses had a hard time treating the patients as they could not diagnose the ailment as malaria tests were inconclusive as most turned out to be negative. The numbers are a bit difficult to ascertain but it is believed that over 46 people have been treated with some hospitalised depending on the severity of their cases. At one point the wards were all filled up and some people had to be treated and discharged,” said a health official at the institution.

Some of the affected villagers told Sunday News that although they have been discharged from the hospital, they were still feeling the pain.

Ms Sithabile Nkosi of Change village said the disease was making her life unbearable as she could not do any chores.

“I couldn’t walk and had to be assisted to get to the hospital because of the pain that seems to creep up from my toes all the way up to my back giving me a burning sensation in my nails, legs and hands especially the joints. I was shocked to get to the hospital and see more people with the same condition admitted, some having been there for days. Initially the nurses suspected malaria. I was just given an antibiotic and discharged after two days to make room for more who were coming. I feel better now but the pain is still there especially my left hand such that I can no longer carry a bucket of water,” she said.
Hwange District medical officer Dr Wisdom Kurauone, however, said although the tests were inconclusive, they have managed to contain the unknown disease by using antibiotics.
Nekabandama councillor Alois Chibuswa said his area was the most affected and villagers in his ward were living in fear as the causes and type of disease was still unknown.
“It’s true the outbreak has been spreading, we are very worried as health officials have failed to detect the cause of the problem. One just starts feeling pain particularly in joints like someone with malaria and before we know that person is bedridden. In my area they are now calling the disease “umtshetshaphansi” meaning something that goes secretly underground because of the mystery surrounding its origins,” he said.
Clr Chibuswa said what was now complicating the matter was that some villagers have also lost their livestock which “just fall down and die”.
“We don’t understand what is causing it but suspicions are building on a possible relation of the outbreak of the disease to the recent sudden deaths of cattle in the ward. One example is of a village head, Samson Shoko who lost eight of his cattle to an unknown disease which could be anthrax.”
Nonetheless, Hwange District Veterinary Department officer Dr Lovemore Dube said his office has not yet received any reports of cattle dying from the ward but was quick to point out that cattle were prone to attacks of different diseases as a result of lots of rain which the country received in the summer season.

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