Top stories for February 6-10

Government to raid foreign businesses – The government is to raid foreign-owned businesses operating in sectors reserved for locals to make sure they comply with the law, the head of the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board said today. The companies were supposed to comply with the law which set aside 14 sectors for locals with effect from the beginning of this year. There have been conflicting reports about compliance with some reports saying the government had relaxed the law insisting that only new entrants should comply. President Robert Mugabe won last year’s elections on the back of indigenisation and consolidating land reform. NIEEB boss Wilson Gwatiringa said 578 foreign-owned businesses had so far received clearance certificates. The board received 1 311 applications. Those not compliant face fines or up to three months in jail.

Another victory for Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe scored another victory against the West following reports that he had been cleared to attend the African Union-European Union summit in Brussels in April. Mugabe is still under EU sanctions and cannot travel to Europe. AU leaders had resolved at their summit in Addis Ababa last week that they would not attend the summit if Mugabe was not invited. Mugabe was elected the AU’s first deputy chairman at the summit. Some observers said this was a clear endorsement of Mugabe’s presidency. The EU and the United States have refused to recognise Mugabe’s victory in last year’s elections. Previous attempts to bar Mugabe from the AU-EU summit have met with similar boycott threats by African leaders.


What now Mai Mujuru?
Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Joice Mujuru today told women in Mashonaland West province that the recent exposure of corruption in parastatals, which has only exposed exorbitant salaries paid to chief executive officers while their enterprises are collapsing, might be the work of detractors bent on destroying the government. “Nditeererei madzimai, chandiri kukuudzai ndochinhu chekupedzisira. Iyi nyaya yatiri kutaura iyi yehuori hwemaparastatals muchenjere kuti ndeimwe nzira yaunzwa nevanhu vari kuda kupwanya nyika ino iyi. Vari kuziva kuti chii chakabata nyika yeZimbabwe. They know what is done by our parastatals. They will go and talk to some of our people and do what is happening. Vanotaura kuti kana tabva kuZBC, toenda kuZESA, toenda kuZINWA. Regai kuzoti vanhu vacho havasi veZanu-PF, aiwa, zvinonzi kana usingagone kumukurira unomujoina, worova uchibva mukati make, saka mochenjera. Saka tiri kuti nyaya iri mumaoko mehofisi President,” she was quoted by The Herald as saying. The Herald has been at the forefront of exposing some of the scandals. Ironically, the first case, that of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was broken by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Supa Mandiwanzira. The second exposed Premier Services Medical Aid Society, where the CEO Cuthbert Dube was chairman of the ZBC Board. Another case has been that of the Harare City Council involving town clerk Tendai Mahachi.


Britain in a quandary over Mugabe
British Prime Minister David Cameron is in a quandary over whether to attend the African Union-European Union summit in Brussels in April now that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is eligible to attend. British legislator, Kate Hoey, one of the leading campaigners against Mugabe, today urged Cameron not to attend. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown boycotted the Lisbon AU-EU summit in 2007 after Mugabe was allowed to attend. Like this year’s summit, African leaders had said they would not attend the summit if Mugabe was not invited. Mugabe and nine other Zimbabweans, including his wife Grace, are still on European Union sanctions which should be reviewed this month. Belgium, which would like to capitalise on Zimbabwe’s diamonds, has been pressing the EU to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. The first lot batch of Zimbabwe diamonds was sold in Antwerp in December and the second lot is due for auction this month. A Zimbabwe business delegation that toured Europe last month received a hostile reception in London but was feted in Brussels. The delegation led by Charles Msipa president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, was honoured with a celebratory lunch on 27 January by the Chambre de Commerce Belgique-Luxembourg-ACP, the Netherlands African Business Council, and the Southern African Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.


PSMAS has no operating licence
The Premier Services Medical Aid Society does not have a valid operating licence raising questions about how it has been running over the past six weeks. Acting Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora said PSMAS’s licence was not renewed at the end of December 2013 after the society failed to submit audited financial statements. PSMAS has been mired in a salary controversy which revealed that its chief executive earned US$6.4 million last year when the society was failing to pay a debt of US$38 million. The government has ordered the society to hold a special general meeting this Friday to dissolve the board and pave way for the issuing of a licence. It said PSMAS must publish a notice to all members notifying them of the special general meeting by Wednesday.



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