Top stories for May 26-31


Mines Minister says government might still ban raw platinum exports – Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa says the government might still ban the export of raw platinum if mining companies are slow to set up a refinery. Mining companies were given a two-year ultimatum to set up the refinery and it expires at the end of this year. They have committed US$100 million for the refinery but Chidhakwa says this is not enough. “I want to see real action on the ground,” he was quoted by The Herald as saying. Chidhakwa also said he was not informed about the proposed investment which was announced by the companies at the Chamber of Mines annual general meeting last week. Zimbabwe, which has the second largest platinum reserves after South Africa, currently has an upper hand over its more powerful neighbour because of a four-month strike that has crippled platinum mining in South Africa. All three major players in Zimbabwe are South-African based companies. These are Impala Platinum, Anglo-Platinum, the world’s largest platinum mining company, and Aquarius which is registered in Bermuda but has its roots in Australia. Implats has the largest operation in Zimbabwe.

Man who hacked Zimbabwe government website released
A New York man who hacked into Zimbabwe government computers in 2011 and tried to steal information from the government email server was freed today largely because of the role he played as an informant to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Hector Xavier Monsegur served only seven months and prosecutors said this was enough. Monsegur is said to have helped to thwart 300 planned cyber attacks. He also provided information that has led to the arrests of at least eight major co-conspirators, including Jeremy Hammond, who was the FBI’s No. 1 cybercriminal target when he was arrested in 2012. Hammond was sentenced to 10 years for his hacking-related activities. One of the Zimbabwean websites that was attacked and went down for months was that of the Ministry of Finance which was under Tendai Biti.


We run a cash budget- no cash no salaries- Chinamasa
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the government is running a cash budget so it cannot pay salaries of civil servants and Members of Parliament when there is no money. He was responding to a question from Glen View Member of Parliament Fani Munengami who wanted to know what the government policy on salaries for civil servants now was since their pay day had been changed first from 22 May to 29 May and then to 6 June. “We run a cash budget and a cash budget means that we wait for receipts from ZIMRA before we can disburse to meet the obligations of Government, including the salaries of hon. Members,” Chinamasa said. “So, when resources are not to the level of meeting our obligations, we have to wait. What we are basically talking about is necessitated by the exigencies of our circumstances.”


Chihuri collapses in front of Mugabe
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri today collapsed in front of President Robert Mugabe during a police graduation at Morris Depot. The Herald said he was attended to by Lands Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora and returned to the podium after about 20 minutes. Chihuri has been at the head of the police force since 1993 and was appointed amid controversy because of charges he had faced. His contract has been renewed no less than 13 times. Chihuri is one of the top service chiefs that form the Joint Operations Command that some have said runs the country. The others are Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, Intelligence Chief Happyton Bonyongwe, Air Force Chief Perrence Shiri, army boss Phillip Sibanda and Prisons Chief Paradzai Zimondi. Chihuri has openly stated that he supports the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and would step down if another party took over.


MDC says PSM is a damp squib
The Movement for Democratic Change has described the Production Sharing Model (PSM) announced by the government this week as a damp squib because investors do not base their decisions on explanatory notes. All they want is a clear policy and legal framework. MDC acting secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada who is also the party’s Shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce said PSM and the Joint Empowerment Investment Model were borrowed from the Middle East and were mere posturing by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. “The MDC categorically dismisses the purported policy shift as a case of too little too late. We see this move as mere posturing by the corrupt ZANU-PF government. The MDC does not believe that the ZANU- PF government is capable or politically willing to improve the investment climate in Zimbabwe,” Mashakada said. He said PSM was worse than the current 51 percent requirement because it implied 100 percent indigenisation. “Instead of easing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policy, government is actually further tightening the screws,” he said. “If the 51 percent threshold was a foot brake to investment, the PSM is actually a hand brake. It is the last nail in the coffin of FDI in that it doesn’t inspire confidence whatsoever.”


ZBC audit report ready
Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira today said that the preliminary forensic audit report on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s operations is ready. “Government commissioned a forensic audit and also a turnaround audit for the national broadcaster. The preliminary report for that audit is expected this week, maybe today, after which the board would be presented with that audit report to use its findings to straighten up things at the national broadcaster to implement the turnaround strategy as would have been advised by the consultancy.” But Mandiwanzira said the final audit report could only be implemented by the ZBC board after presentation to the cabinet.


Mujuru says factionalism hinders development
Vice-President Joice Mujuru today denounced factionalism within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front because it hindered development. “When there are squabbles within the party either between our Members of Parliament and or within the Presidium, there will be no development. Isu vakuru hatifanirwe kudhonzerana; ngatifambire pamwe. We should be united and protect the party’s image. We should focus on implementing developmental projects as well as our economic blueprint. If we quarrel as MPs, it means even issues like the distribution of farming inputs would be delayed because there would be no harmony in the manner under which these inputs should be distributed to the people. We want you to even write anonymous letters informing your party leaders on people who are up to divisions. We don’t want spies who are out to hamper development. We want meetings for development and they should include traditional leaders. We want to talk of development,” she told people at Mataga in Mberengwa in the Midlands. The Midlands, home of Mujuru’s main rival Emmerson Mnangagwa, was rocked by factionalism last 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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