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Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa at 94 percent but it has a huge skills gap of 61.75 percent.

According to the Ministry of Information the biggest gap is in Natural and Applied Sciences which stands at 96.91 percent, Medical and Health Science at 95 percent and Engineering and Technology at 93.57.

Higher Education Minister Amon Murwira has been mourning about the skills gap in the country saying this can adversely affect the President’s vision 2030.

Addressing graduands recently Murwira said: “Our education has to work hard for us, it must produce industry for us. Our education must be relevant in areas of job creation and must have consciousness.

“The Zimbabwe we want requires people with relevant skills for today and tomorrow. The Zimbabwe and Africa we want is made today in our colleges and universities. Let us take these first steps together.”

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President Mnangagwa poses for a photograph with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo (front row, left), Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ) president Mr David Mutasa (front row, right) and other delegates at the Rural District Council Chairpersons Conference in Victoria Falls yesterday.

Local authorities should be economic hubs with a transformative impact on the quality of life in communities and the nation as the country seeks to achieve upper middle income economy status by the year 2030, the President has said.

He said local authorities have more sources of revenue collection that are untapped and challenged them to be more creative as central Government’s attention will be on such councils and not crybabies.

President Mnangagwa said this while officially opening the third edition of the Rural District Councils Chairpersons’ indaba here, where he implored RDCs to deliver as they have the capacity to make Vision 2030 succeed or fail.

“We at the national level have interrogated this vision but it cannot succeed without the other tiers of Government, which primarily include yourselves (RDCs). We must all recognise that every one of us at every level is critical for the success of our vision.

“This platform is thus important as it provides us with the opportunity to interrogate and reflect on issues related to equitable and inclusive growth, harnessing the resource endowments within our respective communities,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the majority of the country’s citizens lived in the rural areas and eagerly anticipated socio-economic development to cascade into their societies.

“As leaders who preside over these communities you should be at the forefront of crafting innovative strategies which stimulate production, value addition and beneficiation of resources in the areas under your jurisdiction.

“We need you to focus on the resources available in your districts. As RDCs when we speak of devolution we have you in mind. My Government will continue to support local authorities through policy guidance, financial and non-financial support, capacity building and technical back-up to improve efficiencies within your sector,” he said.

The President reiterated his call for every citizen to participate in building the economy, saying no one should be left behind even at household level.

He challenged Ministers of State in every province to be pro-active in the devolution agenda saying they should be the ones leading in project identification.

He also said in line with the new culture of dialogue there was need for increased collaboration, coordination and cooperation between RDC and their internal and external stakeholders.

“It is equally important for RDCs to network and share best practices among themselves and with their counterparts in urban councils.

“Better service delivery and the speedy improvement in the quality of life our people will be enhanced by such robust engagement within the sector, coupled with listening to the needs and perspectives of the communities we serve.”

The Head of State and Government also warned those engaging in corrupt activities to cease as he had given “teeth” to the new anti-corruption commissioners that were recently sworn in.

“Please all citizens be warned that acts of corruption will not be condoned or tolerated, l have created ‘teeth’ for the new team,” he said.

The President also reassured the nation that his Government will avail food to all deficient communities following the drought that affected the country this year.

The President said Cyclone Idai had opened their eyes to the new threats associated with climate change and need to re-think on disaster preparedness and response mechanisms.

RDCs association president Alderman David Mutasa applauded President Mnangagwa for accepting to interact with RDCs at the high level platform, as this was the first time since 2013.

He said under President Mnagwagwa’s leadership Zimbabwe was in safe hands and would easily achieve Vision 2030.

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Mnangagwa in church

Marange: Church elders in the St Noah Taguta led Johannes Marange Apostolic sect have claimed that their leader was the force behind President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory in 2018 and have further advised the national leader to keep his relationship with the High Priest if he wanted to stay in power.

The elders made the claim during their Passover which was held at St Noah headquarters in Mafararikwa, Bocha in Marange recently.

President Mnangagwa and other top ruling party officials attended the annual gathering.

Those who attended include ministers Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Defence), Monica Mutsvangwa (Information), Sekai Nzenza (Labour), Ellen Gwaradzimba (Manicaland Minister of State) and Home Affairs deputy minister Mike Madiro.

It was Mnangagwa’s second visit to the shrine after he visited the church leader during his 2018 election campaigns in July last year.

One of the elders told the gathering that President Mnangagwa was in power because of St Noah Taguta and therefore he should cement his relationship with him if he wanted to keep his job.

“We don’t oppose the ruling party; we follow instructions from our leader,” he said.

“He (Taguta) told us to go and vote for President Mnangagwa. We did so and he (Mnangagwa) won. Your (Mnangagwa) groups you work with had plotted a bhora musango (vote sabotage) but vapostori said our President is Mnangagwa. That’s why you are there today,” said the elder.

He said President Mnangagwa was chosen by Mutumwa Noah and he was supposed to stay calm as “things were under control”.

“Even when our economy is struggling, we tell our people to be calm because the President was chosen by God,” he added.

The preacher said their church was apolitical but its congregants voted because it was their constitutional right to do so.

Another speaker hailed Zanu PF government for embarking on the land reform programme, saying this move connected the ruling leader to St Noah and Holy Spirit.

“Don’t be afraid. Your government did a wonderful job by distributing land to the people. Even in the bible, God wants people to work for themselves. If a person is well fed he will not revolt against his government.

“We thank you for coming to the shrine to meet Mutumwa Noah. The coming of Zanu PF into power was prophesied long back before some of the leaders in the party were born but it was revealed to Mutumwa by the Holy Spirit years back,” said the elder.

He added that St Noah was a blessing to the country and government, saying the president should create a symbiotic relationship with him.

In response, President Mnangagwa pledged to work with the church, saying his party will assist in every way possible when the need arises.

“There is a relationship already between the party (Zanu PF) and your church,” said the President adding that he shall maintain relations with the church.

“I was here in July last year and the crowd was not as this big and you promised me that you follow what your leader (St Noah) tells you to vote for me…you voted for me. Zvino uyo anokupa chigaro womudadira unenge uri benzi rakaita sei (You cannot turn your back on people who have voted you in power. You will be a fool),”said Mnangagwa.

He assured the gathering that he will fulfil the pledges he made to the Vapostori before the elections, adding that his government has already fulfilled other promises including drilling of boreholes for water supplies.

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Energy Minister Fortune Chasi

Zimbabwe is working on increasing electricity tariffs so that they reflect the cost of generating or importing power Energy Minister Fortune Chasi told Parliament on Wednesday.

He said this during Parliament’s question time when he was put under pressure to explain when the country, which is now experiencing load-shedding of up to 18 hours, will resolve the power problem.

Chasi said that one of the problems is that the country’s power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, is owed Z$1.2 billion by consumers.

Asked to name and shame the consumers who owe ZESA by publishing their names, Chasi said that would be too expensive as ZESA has about 800 000 clients.

On how ZESA was going to recover its money since most of the consumers are now using pre-paid meters, Chasi disputed this saying he was actually working day-in, day-out to get more people on prepaid meters to manage the consumption of power.

“I also want Hon. Members to understand and I ask them that when they pay for their power, they should look at exactly how much will be going to ZESA as a percentage of what is actually going for the current usage of power,” the minister said.

“We are working on improving or increasing the tariff so that it reflects the cost of generating or importing power.  There must be a serious relationship between generation of power and the rate at which people are charged to consume that power.

“So, it is important that we must talk and do something about meters but I am sorry to say to the Hon. Member that we are not at the point where the majority of consumers are on metres.  That is not an accurate statement.”

ZESA has been battling to get its tariffs reviewed with the latest request in 2016 being turned down. The last review was eight years ago.

Even local industry says the current tariffs are “ridiculous”.

The load-shedding has affected industry as well as the winter crop. Mobile phone operators have also threatened to shut down when there is no power.

Zimbabwe is currently negotiating with South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Hydro Cabora Bassa to import power.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga

THE explosive audio leak between First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and 1 Presidential Guard Infantry Battalion commander Samson Murombo brings to light the escalating brinkmanship between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga to effectively control the country’s security apparatus.

In the leaked audio recording, Auxillia accused Murombo of spying on her while plotting to topple the President through a millitary putsch.

Since the November 2017 millitary coup, which dramatically toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, who was the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) at the time, have been using the millitary and other security sector instruments to checkmate each other.

The salacious audio recording is understood in the context of the bombing incident in Bulawayo in June 2018. A suspected grenade detonated during a Zanu-PF rally at White City Stadium when Mnangagwa was leaving the stage while other dignitaries including Chiwenga looked on.

Since the November 2017 coup, there has been heightening disquiet within the military due to deteriorating working conditions and poor salaries which have been eroded by spiralling inflation currently standing at 176% and unfulfilled promises after Mugabe’s fall.

On average, low-ranking soldiers are earning ZW$600, which was the equivalent of US$60 in November 2017.

As revealed by the Zimbabwe Independent in February, disgruntlement has been swelling within the rank and file of the military due to worsening conditions of service.

Millitary sources say even high ranking army officers are becoming restive and disillusioned, partly because of the unrelenting economic crisis.

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Zimbabwe’s pensioners who fall under the National Social Security Authority will this month receive a bonus equal to their normal pension, which means that they will get double their pension, but after that they will get an increase of 10 percent of whatever they are earning.

This was said by the Deputy Minister of Labour Lovemore Matuke when he was asked by Senator Gideon Shoko what government policy was on increases to pensioners who fall under NSSA.

“Starting this month, pensioners have been given a bonus which is double their normal pension.  Which means those who were getting about 100 dollars will be getting 200 dollars,” Matuke responded.

“There is a slight increase of ten percent to whatever they have been getting.  That is taking place when the exercise to try and evaluate the pension is underway.  We hope in less than 60 days they are going to receive adequate pension to meet the harsh economic conditions.”

Shoko, however, said pensioners had already been paid their normal pensions for this month but there was no bonus.

“The Minister has pointed out to say effective from the first of this month, NSSA pensioners are going to get double. Unfortunately, I am one of them and we have already been paid. We did not get that double, we are still getting the old $10, $30 and $80,” he said.

Deputy president of the Senate Mike Nyambuya said Shoko was being specific so the minister was not asked to respond.

NSSA pensioners are usually paid between the 10th and 15th of the month but this is for the previous month which means the pensions that the old folk got in July is for June.

The government yesterday awarded civil servants across the board a once-off allowance of Z$400 for this month.

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The International Monetary fund (IMF) has become a “choir boy” for the Zimbabwe government, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says in its new policy document.

The IMF in May approved a new Staff Monitored Programme for Zimbabwe, under which the Fund will monitor Zimbabwe’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme until March next year.

While the SMP does not bring any new funding, it has been seen by the Zimbabwe government as a major step forward in its attempts to mend relations with international financiers.

The IMF has also given cautious approval for Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s economic reforms.

However, in its just-released Roadmap to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy (RELOAD) policy document, the MDC sharply criticises the IMF’s position on Zimbabwe.

“More disturbingly international financial institutions in particular the International Monetary Fund, continue to pay a blind eye to the economic chaos in Zimbabwe and on the contrary have become a choir boy for the economic cannibalism and sabotage being pursued by the authorities in Zimbabwe,” the party says.

This is not the first time that the opposition has attacked the IMF over recent months.

In April, after news that the IMF were discussing an SMP for Zimbabwe, the party said the Fund had “compromised and lied for the purposes of creating staff work for themselves” in Zimbabwe.

IMF SMPs, the party said then, were a “gateway for autocrats”.

Under RELOAD, the MDC criticises what it calls a “confused monetary policy”, under which government has taken far reaching currency measures since October, including most recently the controversial banning of the use of foreign currency for local transactions.

Instead, the MDC proposes dropping the bond note for the US dollar, “and in the long term join the rand monetary union”.

At the RELOAD launch event, MDC VP Tendai Biti, a former Finance Minister, said a country that had “self dollarised” due to currency failure could not successfully restore its own unit, due to the collapse in public confidence.

The party’s position on the rand and re-dollarisation is markedly at odds with that of government.

Mthuli Ncube has described adopting the rand or returning to the US dollar as a “cop out”, saying the country had to move towards its own currency.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a radio interview in June, said there had been too many conditions required to the join the Common Market Area the last time Zimbabwe explored that option.

South Africa itself appears reluctant to allow Zimbabwe to join the CMA.

In January, South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said Zimbabwe needed to have its own currency, a heavy hint of the sentiment in Pretoria over the matter.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa

MUTARE Central MP, Innocent Gonese Wednesday demanded an investigation into recent threats on the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s life by a state security officer.

The MDC politician also said during parliament’s question and answer session that government should also update the nation on who carried out the shock assassination attempt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and some Zanu PF top officials at an election campaign rally in Bulawayo June 2018.

Gonese went on to demand answers on who recently sent a threatening letter and bullets to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders to try and frighten them against organising a job stay away.

“What is government doing in ensuring that the fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter 4, Section 52 (of the Constitution) relating to the right to personal security on the threats which were sent to the ZCTU president Peter Mutasa?” Gonese said in a question he directed at Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema.

“What steps is the government or executive taking to make sure that what happened to Itai Dzamara who disappeared has not been found, we have ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure who was abducted, beaten up, assaulted and no one up to now has been arrested.

“Recently we have had the situation where the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has also indicated that she has received some threats. What steps is government taking to ensure that people’s rights are protected,” said Gonese.

This comes after the President’s wife was heard in a leaked audio screaming at a security officer she accuses of spying on her movements.

Mrs Mnangagwa also says in the audio that whoever was after her life should spare her and go for President Mnangagwa whom she says could be the principal target of the first couple’s enemies.

On his part, Minister Mathema said Wedneday the government will try all it can to get to the bottom of the cases.

“I can assure the people that wherever there are complaints of such nature wherever they are, we will do the best we can and find out where the people who are claimed to have disappeared are,” he said.

Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure also asked why the nation has been kept in the dark about details of the Bulawayo bombing.

However, the minister insisted that investigations were still in progress but Job Sikhala accused the Minister of trying to evade the question.

“On the issue about Itai Dzamara, the case includes a court judgment. So for the minister to try and evade the question, it is an insult to this House. We are demanding a ministerial statement so that he tells us how far he has gone with the Issue of Itai Dzamara,” Sikhala fumed. – NewZimbabwe