Top stories for January 11-15

Mugabe back home and alive – President Robert Mugabe returned home today but is still on holiday until the end of this month. Faceless facebook character Baba Jukwa had claimed that he had collapsed and was probably dead. Baba Jukwa said if he was dead, the nation would only be notified about this in six months time. Mugabe takes his traditional holiday during the festive period each year and usually travels to the Far East.

Spirits giveth police taketh away
A 10-year-old girl found US$2 000 at a bush dump site behind a police check point and rushed to her parents thinking this was a gift from her ancestral spirits, reports said today. The family consulted a spiritual healer but word spread about the new found wealth alerting the police where the stash was. Police raided the family’s homestead and recovered the cash. Police spokesman Charity Charamba said it was now suspected that the cash a bribe loot which police had stashed away. Police officers at the check point were now being investigated.


It’s unconstitutional to reduce salaries- Chief Justice
Zimbabwe’s chief judge Godfrey Chidyausiku today said it was unconstitutional to downgrade the conditions of service of sitting judges a move that immediately prompted Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to say that he would approach treasury to restore allowances for critical staff in various government departments. The government had announced that it would suspend retention allowances of between US$150 and US$400 for critical staff — among them magistrates, law officers, prosecutors and other legal officers — because it did not have cash. Chidyausiku said the move would impact negatively on justice delivery. “We have on other occasions pointed out that it is unconstitutional to reduce the conditions of service for judges while they are still in office. This serious breach of the Constitution persists to this date but we remain hopeful that our concerns shall be addressed as soon as the fiscal space allows,” he said.


EU sanctions talks off
Talks between Zimbabwe and the European Union aimed at ending sanctions and normalising relations are off and the committee that was set up by Zimbabwe for that task has been disbanded. Secretary for Foreign Affairs Joey Bimha said today: “We only engaged the EU during the time of the inclusive government. After holding elections that were recognised by the United Nations, the African Union and the majority of the international community, we no longer have that re-engagement structure that we used to have during the time of the inclusive government. The EU has to remove the sanctions because they are illegal in the first place. Why should we engage them? The ball is in their court.” The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe more than a decade ago but has lifted most of the measures leaving only 10 individuals including President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace and one company, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. The EU normally reviews its sanctions on Zimbabwe in February, which is just weeks away.


No agreement on civil servants’ salaries

The government and representatives of civil servants today failed to reach agreement on new salaries for civil servants. Negotiations will continue on Friday. The government offered a salary adjustment which will see the lowest paid civil servant getting a basic salary of US$375 a month but civil servants representatives said the offer was unacceptable. Civil servants have been demanding a basic salary equivalent to the current poverty datum line set by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe which is US$540. The government says the poverty datum line is US$500. The lowest paid employee currently earns a basic salary of US$296 a month. Salaries already consume 73 percent of the government expenditure leaving almost nothing for capital expenditure which is badly needed because of the deteriorating infrastructure. The International Monetary Fund Staff Monitored Programme which was extended for another six months to June recommends that the government should gradually adjust its recurrent expenditure to make sure that salaries consume no more than 30 percent of the budget.



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