Items filtered by date: Thursday, 02 March 2017

Tourists have added their voice to growing concerns over the heavy presence of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details on Zimbabwe’s, roads, with over half of respondents in a Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat) survey saying they felt harassed.

The harassment also includes confrontations with officials from the Department of Immigration and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)’s customs office, according to the visitor exit survey (VES) released on Tuesday.

The VES polled 38,680 foreign tourists over a 12 months period between 2015 and November 2016.

Harassment by the police constituted the highest percentage of the reasons not to recommend the country to potential tourists, at 43.2 percent, followed by harassment by ZIMRA officers at 14.7 percent.

Harassment by Immigration stood at 8.7 percent, according to VES, which recommended immediate action against ruthless treatment of tourists by public officers. It noted that even though the number appeared small, it had affected revenue inflows into the country.

“In order to retain reputation of Zimbabwe being a hospitable nation there is need to ensure continuous training of frontline personnel who interact with visitors creating the first and last impressions on the destination such as Immigration, customs and police,” Zimstat said in the report. Zimstat did not ask tourists the type of harassment they received at Zimbabwe’s 10 ports of entry, including airports.

But there has been outrage by tourism industry players in the past nine years following the heavy deployment of police officers on the roads. They are reportedly harassing motorists including tourists and using sharp metal objects to destroy wheels of motor vehicles to force drivers to stop on roadblocks. The smashing of windscreens is a common occurrence.

The police force is reportedly generating millions of dollars per year through vehicle enforcement, which has been condemned by senior judges in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), which represents the country’s major tourism players, condemned the groundswell of harassment and warned that the industry had lost substantial revenue due to the actions of the police.

Industry estimates say the industry, which generates about $800 million per annum, could easily breach the $1 billion mark if a range of hurdles, including the frequent security checks, were addressed and enough financial resources were deployed to finance marketing. The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry was allocated $2 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

“We don’t have to beat about the bush in terms of the damage that is done by (police) roadblocks to the product,” said ZCT chief executive officer Paul Matamisa. “If you are going to Bulawayo and there are 20 roadblocks you spend time stopping on 20 roadblocks. In other countries you do not see so many roadblocks on roads to tourist resorts. That has to be dealt with effectively. They are doing tremendous damage to the tourism industry,” he added.

A police spokesman at the meeting said the police had received numerous complaints of public harassment on highways and had started taking measures address the problem. He said, however, that the ZRP has not specifically received complaints pertaining to foreign tourists.

“We take seriously the complaints. We investigate each and every complaint that comes to us. We have set up a customer care service spearheaded by our public relations department to teach our officer how to handle the public,” said the spokesman.


- The Source

Published in Travel & Tourism

The Competition Commission recommends Unilever be prosecuted for engaging in collusion in the manufacture and supply of baking and cooking products.

The anti-graft agency said on Wednesday it had referred the transnational consumer-goods company to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution in a case that could see Unilever being fined 10 percent of its annual turnover.

Commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele said the agency found that, between 2004 and 2013, Unilever and margarine- and cooking-oil-maker Sime Darby allegedly entered into an agreement not to compete on certain packs of margarine and edible oils.

“Food and agro-processing is an important focus area for the commission, and we are determined to root out the exploitation of consumers by cartels that are so prevalent in this sector,” Bonakele said.

Last year, Sime Darby settled with the commission, agreeing to pay a fine of R35 million for collusion and to invest R135 million in packaging and warehousing facilities that would compete with Unilever for retail customers. The company also agreed to appoint a black economic empowerment distributor.

The Unilever probe comes just three weeks after the commission announced that it was pursuing a case against nearly 20 South African and international banks for colluding in the trading of foreign exchange.

Barclays Africa Group and Citibank have settled with the commission and agreed to testify against the remaining banks.

On Wednesday, the commission said it conducted search-and-seizure operations at the offices of Sime Darby in Boksburg and at Unilever’s headquarters in Durban, after it obtained search warrants from the high courts in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. It said that, in 2004, when Unilever sold its refinery business to Sime Darby, the two companies concluded a sale-of-business agreement that included an arrangement on how specific goods would be allocated in certain markets, in contravention of section 4(1)(b)(ii) of the Competition Act.

The commission said the two agreed that Sime Darby would not supply industrial customers with packs of margarine that were less than 15kg, nor would it produce or supply 25-litre edible oils in markets where Unilever was active. In return, Unilever agreed not supply industrial customers with its Flora-brand of edible oils, it said.

The probe is not Unilever’s first brush with anti-graft agencies. In 2011, the European Commission hit Unilever and Procter & Gamble with a combined fine of £281 million (R4.4 billion at current exchange rates) for fixing the price of washing powder in eight European countries. The fine was reduced after the two companies co-operated with the commission’s investigation and agreed to settle.

Sibonile Dube, the corporate affairs director of Unilever Southern Africa, said the company would wait for the process to unfold before commenting.

“As this matter is subject to litigation, we will not be commenting on it,” Dube said.


Source: Business Report

Published in Business

The Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute (KNII), has called on the Government and people of South Africa to end the xenophobic attack on fellow Africans living and working in that country.

“The perpetrated act is un- African, un-Pan African and impregnated with discrimination, hatred, abuse of human rights and against the basic principles of the African Personality, Dr Benjamin Anyagre, Executive Director of the KNII said in a statement issued in Accra on Wednesday and copied to the Ghana News Agency.

The statement said it was important to state that the act of xenophobic fever caught up in South Africa today cannot be so different in character from the brutal and inhumane activities of the erstwhile apartheid administration. “The Institute wants to recall once more that, it took the collective hatred, scorn and courage for many, many Africans to condemn the brutal apartheid government policies of racial discrimination.

“The Institute, calls for a Continental Union Government now, as one of the major lasting solutions to free movement of Africans, no matter, which village one was born on the African soil,” the statement said.

It said barriers created by the colonial agents must be dislodged, dismantled and broken down to ensure the liberty of endeavours in the midst of inter/intra African trade and industry with the establishment of jobs and business opportunities to all Africans home and in the Diaspora.

“The Institute calls on the Parliament of South Africa with all political parties’ representatives to condemn and call a stop to this tarnishing and disgraceful act on the embodiment of Africa,” the statement said.

Meanwhile Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has condemned the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa. Obasanjo issued the condemnation while speaking in Abeokuta during a courtesy call from leadership of the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Study, Kuru, Jos.

He said the South African government should be blamed for the attacks.

“I will apportion more blame to the leadership of the South African government. While the immaturity of the youths can be excused, the leaders ought to realise the importance of unity and brotherliness in Africa. “While I blame the youths of the country for the attacks, I will blame the leaders of any country more that allows xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans for whatever reason.

“African leaders should also step up measures at developing their countries and improve the living standards of their citizens,'' Obasanjo said.


Published in Economy

CC Land Holdings Ltd, a firm run by Chinese property magnate Cheung Chung-kiu, has agreed to pay 1.15 billion pounds to buy London's "Cheesegrater" skyscraper, owners British Land and Oxford Properties said on Wednesday.

The sale of the Leadenhall Building, known as the Cheesegrater because of its wedge shape, will be slightly dilutive to British Land's earnings per share but accretive to its net asset value per share, the property company said. British Land and Oxford Properties each own 50 percent of the building. Oxford Properties invests in real estate for one of Canada's largest pension plans.


- Reuters

Published in World

What does a staple food such as bread have to do with global warming? For a start, to make loaves on an industrial scale, you’ll need powerful milling and kneading machines and a huge oven, heated to 230℃ or more.

This uses a lot of energy. The flour, yeast and salt must also be shipped in and, finally, the finished loaves are delivered to stores – all in trucks powered by petrol.

But it isn’t milling or baking or transport that accounts for most of the environmental impact of bread. In a new a study published in the journal Nature Plants, colleagues and I looked at the entire supply chain of a regular loaf – from seed to sandwich, via mill and bakery. We found that more than half its environmental impact arises not from food processing but from the production of the raw material, the wheat grain.

Food causes about a third of total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the supply chains can be so complex that it is difficult to determine what part of the process is responsible – and without this information neither the industry nor consumers will know what to do about it. This is why it’s useful to take a zoomed-out look at the entire process.

Eight millimetres, perfect. Howard Walker / PA

Thanks to a collaboration with a bread manufacturer we had accurate “primary” data for every stage of their particular brand of 800g loaf. We found that ammonium nitrate fertiliser alone accounts for 43% of all the greenhouse gas emissions, dwarfing all other processes in the supply chain including baking and milling. These emissions arise from the large amounts of energy and natural gas needed to produce fertiliser, and from the nitrous oxide released when it is degraded in the soil.

For crops to grow big and fast, they need nitrogen, usually through fertiliser. It is the key ingredient of intensive agriculture. Without fertiliser, either we produce less food or we use much more land to produce the same amount, at greater economic and environmental cost. That is the fix we are in.

Fertiliser-free bread?

We could reduce the use of fertiliser by recycling agricultural and human waste as manure, in order to retain the nitrogen in the same cycle. We could also harness the best of organic farming by, for example, using “green manures” or rotating crops with legumes that “fix” nitrogen in the soil. Precision agriculture can be used to only apply fertiliser where and when it is needed, using new sensor technologies including drones to monitor the nutritional status of soils and plants.

And we can even develop new varieties of crops that are able to use nitrogen more efficiently by, for instance, harnessing fungi in the soil or getting soil microbes to release less nitrous oxide.

We use more than 100 million tonnes of fertiliser each year. oticki / shutterstock

But technology isn’t the only solution – we could also change our diets. Meat, in particular, is a very inefficient use of nitrogen, as cows or chickens use up energy and nutrients simply staying alive before being slaughtered.

Cereal crops such as wheat are a much more efficient way of converting nitrogenous fertiliser into nitrogen in food protein. Studies show emphatically that low-meat diets are also good for the environment.

There is no incentive to ditch fertiliser

But whose responsibility is it to reduce fertiliser use? After all, fingers could be pointed at the fertiliser manufacturer, the farmer, or even the retailers and consumers who demand cheap bread.

With goods like electronics or car tyres there is a growing recognition for a notion of extended producer responsibility where manufacturers are held responsible for the continuing impact of their products, often including disposal. This could be extended to fertilisers too.

Consumers could pay more for “greener bread” or apply pressure to use less fertiliser. But things can be confusing as people are usually entirely unaware of the environmental impacts embodied in the products they consume. This is particularly the case for food, where the mains concerns are over human health or animal welfare – not emissions. Many will be surprised that wheat cultivation has a greater environmental impact than baking or milling.

This highlights one of the key conflicts in the food security challenge. The agriculture industry’s primary purpose is to make money, not to provide sustainable food for the whole world. Profits for farmers and retailers rely on highly productive crops – which require lots of relatively cheap fertiliser. However the environmental impact of this fertiliser is not costed within the system and so there are currently no real incentives to fix things.

Feeding seven billion people fairly and sustainably is therefore not only a question of technology but also one of political economy. We need incentives to use less fertiliser – and we could start with bread.

Peter Horton, Chief Research Advisor, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Sheffield

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture

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