Top stories for July 11-15


Zambia tells Britain sanctions on Zimbabwe are hurting it too – Zambia’s Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has told Britain’s Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe because they are affecting his country’s growth as well. “We are appealing to Britain to help some of our neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, our economies in this region are inter-linked, when there is a problem there, it spills over to us…..We need to grow our economy and reduce donor dependence,” he told Greening who is visiting Zambia. Britain pushed for sanctions on Zimbabwe through the European Union more than 10 years ago. The EU lifted sanctions on all Zimbabwean individuals and entities this year leaving only President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. It promised to review the situation on 1 November and might review bilateral aid. The United States on the other hand regularised its sanctions on Zimbabwe yesterday.

Cuthbert Dube says he is still PSMAS boss and is owed him US$700 000 in outstanding salary
The circus about former Premier Services Medical Aid Society chief executive officer, Cuthbert Dube continues. Dube who was “dismissed” after revelations that he was earning over US$500 000 a month says he is still employed by the society and is owed US$700 000 in outstanding salaries. His lawyer Jonathan Samkange told The Herald that the PSMAS board had not terminated Dube’s job but had only told him that he was going on leave but had told him this would be unpaid leave. “The board, under pressure, asked him to go on leave pending some resolution to be made by the board. The next thing they told him that his salary had been reduced to US$43 000 but they stopped paying him that US$43 000. That is the reason we wrote to them reminding them but they told us that they were waiting for the board. But our argument is that if you have the power to stop the salary then you should also have the power to pay.” PSMAS acting board chairperson Gibson Mhlanga disputed the claims saying Dube’s contract was terminated by the previous board. “He was actually given an exit package and he took some of the money. That is why some of us say it doesn’t make sense that now he says he is still employed by PSMAS. He has no role in both PSMAS and PSMI because he was group CEO which means that covers everything under PSMAS. That is the contract that was terminated. In any case that is what they are contesting at the court and we have also submitted our response. We will let the justice system take its course because we don’t want to keep arguing with him,” Mhlanga said.


Mujuru says there are no short-cuts to ZANU-PF leadership
Vice President Joice Mujuru says there are no short-cuts to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leadership. The party, which is preparing for its elective congress this year, is not for novices. It should be led by people who know its history and its ideology. “Party haitungamirirwi nevanhu vasingazivi kwayakabva. Inotungamirirwa nevanoziva zvitevedzwa, zviyerwa zvemusangano iwoyo.” Her comments seemed to be directed at Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who is reported to be one of the leading contenders for the top post or Information Minister Jonathan Moyo who has been giving her headaches by exposing her lieutenants. On paper, Mujuru is the logical successor of President Robert because she is the only deputy to Mugabe at the moment. The post of second vice-President has not been filled since the death of John Nkomo in January last year. Behind her is Simon Khaya Moyo, the national chairman, and then Didymus Mutasa the secretary for administration. Mnangagwa has repeatedly said that he is not in contention because he is “number 12” in the party hierarchy but his name keeps popping up when people talk about succession. The other names that have been mentioned are those of Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, former Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and once in a while Information Minister Jonathan Moyo. Already some people are proposing that Mugabe stay on. Mugabe is 90 and has been in power for 34 years first as Prime Minister and then as president.


Zimbabweans in diaspora sending more money home
Zimbabweans in the diaspora are sending more money home through the official channels according to figures released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently. Remittances from Zimbabweans in the diaspora dropped from US$2.1 billion in 2012 to US$1.8 billion last year but remittances from individuals increased from US$655 million in 2012 to US$764 million last year. “There was actually an increase in individual remittances from 2012 to 2013. In 2012, individual remittances were US$655 million and last year the figure was US$764 million, which shows that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have confidence in the economic prospects of our country,” a Reserve Bank official said. Nearly half of the money that is sent to Zimbabwe is sent through the informal channels, that is, through cross-border transport popularly known as malaishas and through bus drivers. The government is trying to capitalise on the remittances from the people in the diaspora to revive the economy and it is slowly winning the battle. More people outside the country are getting disgruntled with politics and are focusing on the economy and how then can invest.


Belgium still interested in Zimbabwe diamonds
Belgium is still interested in Zimbabwe’s diamonds and the president of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre Stéphane Fischler will be in Zimbabwe next week for the Zimbabwe for the Mining, Engineering and Transport Exhibition (Mine Entra 2014). Outgoing Belgian ambassador to Zimbabwe Maricou Johan told Vice-President Joice Mujuru that Belgium would fight for the lifting of remaining sanctions on Zimbabwe to normalise relations. Belgium pushed for the lifting of sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation so that it could buy Zimbabwe diamonds. The AWDC is the world’s leading diamond trading bourse. Zimbabwe has held two auctions in Belgium and a third one in Dubai, but there were delays in getting the proceeds from the Dubai sales. Sales for the second auction in Antwerp were better than those in Dubai but President Robert Mugabe pledged to do business in Dubai because it “does not have the evil heart of Europe”. The current liquidity problems could, however, work in favour of Antwerp. The European Union has lifted all the sanctions on Zimbabwean individuals and entities except Mugabe and his wife and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. These will be reviewed in November. “We are, within the EU, a strong advocate of trying to normalise relations between the bloc and Zimbabwe. We should work in favour of lifting the remaining sanctions and this is what we have to do. Of course, we are an EU member State and work on the basis of consensus, but I hope that in the near future we will reach a consensus about lifting the remaining sanctions,” Johan said.


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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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