Top stories for February 11- 15

EU says NO to Mugabe- The European Union is planning to lift the remaining sanctions on Zimbabwe but not on President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the European Parliament today it was now time for the EU to respond because Zimbabwe was moving forward. “I think we probably are now in the right place to do this on the basis that if things go badly we can move back again,” she said. The EU has refused to endorse last year’s elections which ZANU-PF won overwhelmingly but it has lifted sanctions on Zimbabwe’s diamonds. Sanctions on Zimbabwe, imposed 12 years ago, will be renewed on 20 February. But reports said the EU would lift sanctions on eight of the 10 remaining individuals on the list. Apart from Mugabe and his wife, others still under EU sanctions are: ZANU-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, Central Intelligence Director Happyton Bonyongwe, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force Chief Perrence Shiri, Army Commander Phillip Sibanda and army brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba. Only one firm, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, remains on the list.

PSMAS Confusion
The extraordinary general meeting of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society which had been set for Friday was postponed today allegedly because the government had overlooked key players, according to secretary for Health Gerald Gwinji. This was the second time the special general meeting was postponed the first one having been scheduled for 28 January. It was not clear which key players Gwinji was talking about because workers’ representatives of civil servants had called for the special meeting. PSMAS has been under the spotlight following revelations that its senior managers were paying themselves hefty salaries while the organisation was failing to honour its debt of $38 million. Chief executive Cuthbert Dube was reportedly earning close to US$500 000 a month including allowances with his annual salary exceeding the budget for the Ministry of Tourism for 2014. The chairman of the board Meisie Namasasu was suspended. Other board members claimed to be ignorant about the salaries the executives were getting- something that is difficult to believe considering the size of the salaries.


MDC chastises its MPs
The Movement for Democratic Change today chastised its Members of Parliament following reports that they had asked that their sitting allowance be almost trebled from US$75 to US$200 and that they should be given the most expensive cars on the market saying the legislators must be alive to the plight of the people. In a statement, the party said it acknowledged the plight of the MPs but it was strongly against their demand for outrageous perks while the ordinary people of Zimbabwe were struggling to put food on the table. “While the MPs may have legitimate concerns, those concerns must reflect that representing the people is not equal to what the press has branded as the MDC’s unbridled pursuit of avarice and expensive tastes,” the party said. “The MDC is a party of ordinary Zimbabweans who want parliamentary representatives with a dignified status but who do not make demands that give the impression that we have joined the bandwagon of those from ZANU- PF who are in the news every day for plunder and personal aggrandisement at the expense of the welfare of the ordinary citizen.”


Another twist to PSMS saga
The Premier Service Medical Aid Society saga took another twist today when the board of directors dissolved itself. The board which said it was stepping down in the interest of the society, its members and stakeholders comprised: Luxon Zembe who was the acting chair; his deputy Newton Mhlanga; Moses Mtombeni; Secretary for Information George Charamba; Public Service Commission Secretary Pretty Sunguro; and Primary and Secondary Education Secretary Constance Chigwamba. The government had earlier announced that PSMAS should hold an extraordinary general meeting today but that was postponed because it had not consulted key players. The outgoing board said it had cleared outstanding issues and slashed huge salaries previously paid to PSMAS executives. “The board leaves the society reasonably satisfied that PSMAS, as a strategic health care insurer and investor in health care services through Premier Services Medical Investments (Pvt) Ltd (PSMI) has very bright prospects provided that the following interventions, among others are speedily instituted,” it said in a statement. PSMAS has been in the headlines following reports that its chief executive Cuthbert Dube was earning close to US$500 000 a month including allowances when the society was failing to honour its debt which at one time stood at US$38 million.


Mangoma beaten up
Movement for Democratic Change deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma, one of the top MDC officials to publicly call on party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to step down to save the party, was assaulted by party activists outside the party headquarters today after attending a meeting of district chairpersons. It was not clear why Mangoma was assaulted because the 210 district chairpersons had endorsed Tsvangirai as party leader. This was a clear demonstration of the culture of intolerance that has bedevilled Zimbabwean politics. Talk about succession is taboo in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which has been led by Robert Mugabe since 1977. This now seems to have spread to the MDC which has been led by Tsvangirai since its formation in 1999. Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said Tsvangirai was likely to be the party’s presidential candidate in the 2018 elections. Tsvangirai’s current term as president of the party expires in 2016. The party had to amend its constitution to allow him to stand for another term. Those calling on him to step down say Tsvangirai has already been in power too long- 15 years and has failed to beat Mugabe on three occasions.



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