Top stories for February 1-5


Chombo reinstates Mahachi – Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo today reinstated Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi who was suspended for three months this week by the mayor Bernard Manyenyeni for failing to provide the salary schedule for all senior council employees. Mahachi’s suspension had been welcomed by residents keen to know how much the city officials were earning following reports that Mahachi himself was earning US$37 000 a month and the top 18 officials were raking in US$500 000 a month at a time when the council could not even afford to replace street bulbs. Chombo’s action raised eyebrows as the Harare city council is run by the Movement for Democracy Change and his move was seen as condoning corruption by council officials known to be sympathetic to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front as it was interfering with investigations.

New chair for Human rights body
Former chief immigration officer Elasto Mugwadi was today sworn in as the new chair of the Human Rights Commission by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. He replaces Jacob Mudenda who is now Speaker of Parliament. Mugwadi said his priority was to operationalise the commission which had been dormant for years because of lack of funding. “Now that we have separate funding and the Human Rights Commission Act is now in place, my top priority is to operationalise the commission. We also need to first align the Act with the new Constitution before we start operations,” he said.


Gono has to wait
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chair Rita Makarau today said former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono will have to wait a little longer before he knows if he can take over as the Senator for Buhera. She said the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act under which the harmonised elections were held expired in December. This had created a legal vacuum on how ZEC would handle replacement of deceased legislators under the party list system. The previous law stated that the successor should be the next person on the list submitted to ZEC by the concerned party. In this case it was Shadreck Chipanga but the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had nominated Gono to replace Kumbirai Kangai as Senator for Buhera.


Biti says the informal economy is a dead economy
Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Tendai Biti, who was Finance Minister just seven ago, today said the informal economy is a dead economy and it was a tragedy that the government was celebrating the creation of such an economy. According to a statement released by the party after his press conference in Harare, Biti said 84 percent of the formal sector had collapsed and the government seemed not to have a clue about what to do. “84 percent of the formal sector has collapsed. Day to day, we are seeing the deindustrialisation of the formal sector. The problem of the informal economy is that it is a dead economy that does not pay taxes and it is a tragedy that this clueless government of the day is celebrating the creation of the informal market,” he said. As Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on 7 June last year the informal sector employed 3.7 million people and generated US$1.7 billion a year. He argued that unemployed in the country was only 9 percent and nowhere near the 85 percent often touted. “We have always had this argument about what is the percentage of people that are employed or unemployed in Zimbabwe. Textbook economists will say 85 percent but that is not true. If we had a population like that most people in Zimbabwe would have died, it is not possible,” he said at the launch of the Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure Survey by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. “One is either a farmer, selling juice cards (airtime vouchers), driving an emergency taxi or you are working as a hair dresser. The fact of the matter is most people are economically active.”


Zimbabwe needs $27 billion to rebuild its economy
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe currently facing a liquidity crisis needs some US$27 billion to rebuild its economy under its Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation. A senior government official Jonah Mushayi today said: “The quantum of the resources needed to fund ZimAsset is estimated at over $27 billion, with the bulk of it earmarked for energy, water, sanitation and social sectors.” Zimbabwe’s current budget is only US$4 billion with more than 70 percent going towards salaries for civil servants. Its total wealth is only US$11.6 billion. Although the country wants to bank on remittances from Zimbabweans abroad, these totalled only US$1.8 billion last year down from US$2.1 billion the previous year.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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