United States President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that imposes tough new conditions that have to be met before sanctions are lifted.

The Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country is open for business, but this new law – the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act – could scupper those plans as far as the US is concerned.

The United States law says that in order for sanctions to end the election has to be “widely accepted as free and fair”. The other condition mentioned is that the army has to “respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and to be nonpartisan in character”.

In the days following the poll, six opposition supporters died in clashes with the army, which has led some to question about its neutrality.

Zimbabwe is also required to take steps towards “good governance, including respect for the opposition”.

The United States has criticised the treatment of opposition supporters and in particular key opposition figure Tendai Biti, who has been arrested in connection with the post-election violence.

“The United States government is gravely concerned by credible reports of numerous detentions, beatings, and other abuses of Zimbabweans over the past week, particularly targeting opposition activists”, State Department spokespersonHeather Nauert said.

“We call on Zimbabwe’s leaders to guarantee Mr Biti’s physical safety and ensure his constitutional and human rights are respected.”

The United States began imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001. The sanctions imposed in Zimbabwe target individuals, as well as banning trade in defence items and direct government assistance for non-humanitarian programmes.

However, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge for free and fair poll has been marred by post-electoral violence that claimed seven lives after soldiers opened fire in Harare’s crowded streets last week.

 

Source: Report Focus News

A South African High Court on Monday overturned a decision by the government to grant Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity after she was accused of whipping Gabriella Engels with an electric cord.

Delivering his judgement on Monday, Judge Bashier Vally stated that the decision by the former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to grant Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity was inconsistent with the South African Constitution and should therefore be set aside.

“It is declared that the decision of the minister of August 19, 2017, in terms of the diplomatic immunities to recognise Dr Grace Mugabe immunities is inconsistent with the Constitution of South Africa. The decision is reviewed and set aside,” the judgment stated.

The former minster explained in court that Mrs Mugabe automatically qualified for immunity from prosecution by virtue of her status as the wife of a head of state.

She also argued that not awarding Mrs Mugabe diplomatic immunity might have serious implications for relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Engels filed a court application challenging the government’s decision last August.

Mrs Mugabe returned to Zimbabwe immediately after South Africa granted her diplomatic immunity, allowing her to evade prosecution for assault and causing a row in South Africa where the opposition Democratic Alliance also challenged the ruling.

Mrs Mugabe denied assaulting Engels with an electric cable, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels had attacked her with a knife.

South African advocacy group Afriforum, which represented Engels, dismissed the allegations as lies.

According to Engels, an irate Mrs Mugabe burst into the room where she was waiting with two friends in a Johannesburg luxury hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s sons last August, and started attacking her with an electric cable.

Photographs taken by Engels’ mother soon after the incident showed gashes to the model’s head and bruising on her thighs.

Willie Spies, a lawyer for Afriforum, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should now take action to prosecute Mrs Mugabe and seek her extradition from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Spies said if the NPA failed to take action, Afriforum would start proceedings against Mrs Mugabe.

“The ball is in their court now,” Spies said, adding that Afriforum had argued that Grace Mugabe committed the attack on Engles while she was on a private visit to South Africa and therefore did not qualify for diplomatic immunity.

NPA spokeswoman Phindi Mjnonondwana said the case was still in the hands of the police and had not yet been sent to the NPA for action.

However, NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said South Africa and Zimbabwe had previously cooperated on extraditing suspects from one country to the other.

Following the judgement, International Relations and Cooperation Department under Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said they were still studying the judgment.

The news from the South African court came as former president Mugabe (94), accompanied by his wife and daughter Mrs Bona Chikore, cast his vote at Mhofu Primary School in Highfield township, the first election that does not include his name on the ballot paper since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Source: News24

For former Zimbabwe leader, Robert Mugabe, it was payback time to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other coup plotters in ZANU-PF who removed him from office last November, as he urged voters to reject them in Monday’s election.
 
On the eve of Zimbabwe’s first election since his ouster in a de facto coup, the 94-year-old said he hoped his former allies in the “military government” would be voted out of power.
 
Mugabe, whose 37-year rule came to an end when he was forced to resign in November, told reporters at his mansion in Harare on Sunday that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was unconstitutional and ruled by the gun.
 
“I hope the choice of voting tomorrow will throw, thrust away the military government and bring us back to constitutionality,” said a frail looking Mugabe, in a rambling off the cuff speech that lasted almost an hour.
 
“Let tomorrow be the voice of the people to say never again shall we experience a period where the army is used to thrust one person into power.”
 
Monday’s election will see 75-year-old Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, face 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who is vying to become Zimbabwe’s youngest head of state.
 
Polls, which are unreliable, give former intelligence chief Mnangagwa a slim lead over Chamisa.
 
Both candidates are due to address the media later on Sunday.
 
Mugabe, one of the last “Big Men” of African politics, still looms large over Zimbabwean politics and he may yet influence the first vote without his name on the ballot paper since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
 
Though he became increasingly unpopular with most Zimbabweans as mismanagement and corruption sent the economy into decline, he retains support in his rural heartland where supporters remain bitter about the manner of his removal.
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe on Friday pledged to deliver a fair and transparent election, amid the UN concerns over the alleged violations of the political rights in the African country.
 
Mnangagwa made the pledge on Friday at the outreach dialogue session of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
 
Zimbabweans will elect their new president and members of parliament on July 30.
 
These are the first elections to take place after a three decade rule of former President Robert Mugabe.
 
In November, Mugabe, who also served as prime minister, was forced to step down. Mnangagwa, the former vice president, was sworn in as Mugabe’s successor.
 
“Let me assure you, Your Excellencies, that all measures have been taken and put in place, for peaceful, transparent, fair and credible elections,” Mnangagwa said.
 
On Monday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about growing number of reports of “voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment and coercion, including people being forced to attend political rallies.”
 
At the same time, the OHCHR welcomed the “widening of the democratic space” in Zimbabwe ahead of the elections, such as the presence of international human rights observers.
 
The presidential ballot includes a record 23 names.
 
However, the main contenders are 75-year-old Mnangagwa from the ruling Zanu-PF party and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa from the opposition MDC Alliance.
 
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
The United States of America has terminated funding to three Zimbabwean human rights and pro-democracy groups  weeks before an election, a move that analysts say could undermine the credibility of the country’s first post-Mugabe vote.
 
General elections are scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe on July 30 to elect the President and members of both houses of Parliament.
 
A U.S. embassy spokesman said the decision by USAID, Washington’s aid arm, to pull the plug followed a regular internal audit that uncovered “unusual activity” and “non-compliance” in the use of funds, without providing any details.
The affected groups are the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Counselling Services Unit (CSU), a health clinic that provides medical treatment to victims of police torture and abuse, and Election Resource Centre (ERC).
 
Alongside its broader voter education work, the ERC has been working on an independent audit of the July 30 election’s register of voters, a list that has been at the centre of vote-rigging allegations in the past.
 
The credibility of the voters roll and the election, eight months after the removal of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a de facto military coup, is crucial to establishing a government that is acceptable to the outside world.
 
Without that international seal of approval, Harare will be unable to patch up relations with the likes of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to access the large-scale funding it needs to get its moribund economy back on its feet.
 
“These organisations have played a really important watchdog role,” said Piers Pigou, a Zimbabwe analyst at the International Crisis Group, a think-tank.
 
“This has politicial implications.”
 
All three NGOs denied any wrong-doing and challenged USAID, saying it had acted unilaterally and without completing its investigations while denying the affected parties the right of reply and smearing them in the media.
 
“The blanket embassy statements, innuendo and allegations are deeply distressing to the board, staff and survivors of torture in Zimbabwe,” CSU said in a statement, adding that it would be opening its books to the public to prove its innocence.
 
The ERC said its audit of the voters’ roll had been affected although should still be concluded in time.
 
“We have just revised our timelines,” spokesman Tawanda Chimhini said.
 
“We remain on track to contribute towards a constitutional, credible, free and fair election.”
 
U.S. embassy spokesman David McGuire declined to comment on the specific allegations or the findings of the partial investigations.
 
He also denied that Washington was dabbling in domestic politics or guilty of undermining the vote.
 
“The timing obviously is unfortunate but when you’re looking at protecting your investments and you uncover wrong-doing, our philosophy is that you have to act swiftly,” he said.
 
He said the funding cuts were only a “small percentage” of Washington’s annual $225 million aid package.
 
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded 94-year-old Mugabe after November’s military intervention, is expected to win a close vote.
 
 
 
Source: PrimeNews

Fake news is on the upsurge as Zimbabwe gears up for its watershed elections on 30 July. Mobile internet and social media have become vehicles for spreading a mix of fake news, rumour, hatred, disinformation and misinformation.

This has happened because there are no explicit official rules on the use of social media in an election.

Coming soon after the 2017 military coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37 years in power, these are the first elections since independence without his towering and domineering figure. They are also the first elections in many years without opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February.

The polls therefore potentially mark the beginning of a new order in Zimbabwe. The stakes are extremely high.

For the ruling Zanu-PF, the elections are crucial for legitimising President Emmerson Mnangagwa (75)‘s reign, and restoring constitutionalism. The opposition, particularly the MDC-Alliance led by Tsvangirai’s youthful successor, Nelson Chamisa (40), views the elections as a real chance to capture power after Mugabe’s departure.

The intensity of the fight has seen the two parties use desperate measures in a battle for the hearts and minds of voters. They have teams of spin-doctors and “online warriors” (a combination of bots, paid or volunteering youths) to manufacture and disseminate party propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Known as Varakashi, (Shona for “destroyers”) Zanu-PF’s “online warriors” are pitted against the MDC’s “Nerrorists (after Chamisa’s nickname, “Nero”) in the unprecedented online propaganda war to discredit each other.

Besides the fundamental shifts in the Zimbabwean political field, the one thing that distinguishes this election from previous ones is the explosion in mobile internet and social media. Information is generated far more easily. It also spreads much more rapidly and widely than before.

What’s happening in the run-up to the polls should be a warning for those responsible for ensuring the elections are credible.

Seeing is believing

Images shared on social media platforms have become a dominant feature in the spread of fake news ahead of the elections. Both political parties have used doctored images of rallies from the past, or from totally different contexts, to project the false impression of overwhelming support.

Supporters of the MDC-Alliance, which shares the red colour with South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters EFF, have been sharing doctored images of EFF rallies – and claiming them as their own – to give the impression of large crowds, according to journalists I interviewed in Harare.

Doctored documents bearing logos of either government, political parties or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are being circulated on social media to drive particular agendas. Examples include:

  • A purported official letter announcing the resignation of the president of the newly formed National Patriotic Front.

  • The circulation of a fake sample of a ballot paper aimed at discrediting the electoral commission, and

  • A sensational claim that Chamisa had offered to make controversial former first Lady Grace Mugabe his vice president if he wins.

A number of these fake images and documents have gained credibility, after they were picked up as news by the mainstream media. This speaks to the diminishing capacity of newsrooms to verify information from social media, in the race to be first with the news.

And, contrary to electoral guidelines for public media partisan reporting continues unabated. The state media houses are endorsing Mnangagwa while the private media largely roots for the MDC-Alliance.

Explosion of the internet

These are the first elections in a significantly developed social media environment in Zimbabwe. Mobile internet and social media have been rapidly growing over the years.

Internet penetration has increased by 41.1% (from 11% of the population to 52.1%) between 2010 and 2018, while mobile phone penetration has risen by 43.8% from 58.8% to 102.7% over the same period.

That means half the population now has internet access, compared to 11% in 2010.

Ideally, these technologies should be harnessed for the greater good – such as voter education. Instead, they are being used by different interest groups in a way that poses a great danger to the electoral process. This can potentially cloud the electoral field, and even jeopardise the entire process.

A good example are the attacks on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which has become a major target of fake news. These attacks threaten to erode its credibility as a neutral arbiter. For example, an app bearing its logo, prompting users to “click to vote”, went viral on WhatsApp. But, responding to the prompt led to a message congratulating the user on voting for Mnangagwa, suggesting that the supposedly independent electoral body had endorsed the Zanu-PF leader.

Numerous other unverified stories have also been doing the rounds on social media, labelling the voters’ roll “shambolic”. This, and claims of bias against it, have forced the commission to persistently issue statements refuting what it dismisses as “fake news”.

Events in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent point to the need for measures to guard against the abuse of social media, and bots to subvert democratic processes. There’s also a need for social media literacy to ensure that citizens appreciate the power the internet gives them - and to use it responsibly.

 

Dumisani Moyo, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, Film and Television, and Vice Dean Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg

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

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday assured Zimbabwe's white farmers that their land will not be taken, calling on them to work together with the government ahead of landmark elections on July 30.

Under his predecessor Robert Mugabe, white farmers were evicted in favour of landless black people from 2000 by a controversial policy that wrecked agriculture and triggered an economic collapse. 

But less than two weeks to go before Zimbabwe's first elections since Mugabe's ouster, Mnangagwa moved to quash any fears the practice would be repeated.

"This issue of new (land) invasions is a thing of the past. The rule of law must now apply," Mnangagwa told a group of about 200 white and Asian people gathered in the capital Harare, adding that the "animal farm mentality," was a thing of the past.

"I am saying we should cease to talk about who owns the farm in terms of colour. It is criminal talking about that. A farmer, black farmer, a white farmer is a Zimbabwean farmer."

Mnangagwa said his government was "racially blind" and needed the expertise of everyone across the economy. 

Zimbabwe's white population has fallen to less than one percent of the country's 16 million after Mugabe imposed the policy to expropriate farms in 2000.

Agricultural output crashed in the aftermath, with investors leaving and mass unemployment forcing millions of Zimbabweans out of the country to seek work.

- 'A lot of encouragement' -

Mnangagwa acknowledged the failure of the land reforms, saying the expertise of white people in the farming sector was still needed and encouraging them to take part in rebuilding Zimbabwe.

"We must build the Zimbabwe we want. We want to restore the status of Zimbabwe as a food basket of the region," he said.

"He gave us a lot of encouragement. We came here to ask for options for farming," Louisa Horsely, 51, told AFP. 

"I wanted to know if my husband's expertise is still needed if he wants to farm and wants to help other people to farm and that is what we are interested in. It sounds (like) he wants us to be part of it."

Tara Chatterton, 39, who runs an auctioning business, said she attended the rally to hear what Mnangagwa's plans were since the military intervention last year that resulted in the removal of Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades.

"We are here just to see... what he is aiming at in trying to bring the country back up and trying to get people to work together as one nation," Chatterton said.

Paul Sexton, 71, who works for a printing company, said he was impressed that the leader "didn't make any outlandish promises".

"It's going to take time and that's the truth."

AFP

Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe John Mangudya said that there were no plans to re-introduce local currency as purported in messages being posted on social media.

A letter supposedly written by deputy minister of finance Terrence Mukupe to "all citizens and line ministries" and circulating on social media said that the government had resolved to revert to the use of local currency with effect from July 9.

However, Mukupe has since dismissed the letter as false and an attempt to smear his character.

Mangudya weighed in Wednesday dismissing the social media messages and accusing illegal foreign currency dealers of trying to cause confusion in the economy.

"Members of the public should ignore the social media article which has apparently been created and circulated by people who seem bent on manipulating parallel market rates for personal gain at the expense of the unsuspecting members of the public.

"The article is also calculated to cause unnecessary anxiety, panic, alarm and despondency within the national economy," he said.

He gave assurances that the country would continue to use the multi-currency system in line with government policy.

Zimbabwe has a multi-currency basket comprising the Euro, U.S. dollar, British Pound, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Chinese yuan, Indian rupee, South African rand and Botswana pula, although the more tradable currencies are the U.S. dollar and the rand.

Source: Xinhua

South Africa’s Alexander Forbes says it has received regulatory approvals to complete its acquisition of African Actuarial Consultants (AAC), Zimbabwe’s largest independent actuarial firm.

The deal, which was initially announced in June last year, gives the South African firm a foothold into the local market which it had exited in 2015 as the economy tanked but believes has significant upside growth potential.

“While it is early days, we (are) optimistic about the future of the country based on the various initiatives that the government is seeking to undertake to attract both domestic and foreign investment. A sustainable growth path is crucial to the success of any country and the financial well-being and security of its people. There are grounds for optimism in Zimbabwe,” said Alexander Forbes chief executive, Andrew Darfoor in a statement.

AAC falls under Alexander Forbes’ Emerging Markets Division, which already has market leading businesses in Botswana, Namibia, Uganda and Nigeria. It also has business interests in Europe and the Middle East.
Alexander Forbes has previously operated in Zimbabwe, but was rebranded to Willis Faber Dumas and Roland (WFDR) Risk Services in 2015 when ZB Holdings sold off its 40 percent shareholdings in the firm.

AAC is led by chief executive Tinashe Mashoko who said the firm has ambition to become one of the leading actuarial and consulting companies in broader sub-Saharan Africa.

“There are significant benefits from being part of Alexander Forbes with whom we share their ambition to grow a distinctly pan-African financial services group. We have aspirations to grow in the region and their acquisition of a significant stake in AAC aligns our regional ambition with that of Alexander Forbes,” said Mashoko.

AAC, which started operating in 1993 as unit of First Mutual Holdings, was in 2016 sold off to Mashoko’s Frankmash Enterprises. Darfoor said the terms of the acquisition were confidential.

 

(The Source)

Harare — Parliament backed down Monday from its demand for former president Robert Mugabe to answer questions related to diamond mining operations during his time in office.
 
In what would have been his first public appearance since being ousted last November, parliament had wanted to question Mugabe about his claim that the state had been deprived of at least $15 billion in revenue by mining companies operating in the eastern Marange diamond fields.
 
The legislative committee's pursuit of Mugabe had been condemned by a fledgling opposition party linked to the veteran leader.
 
Mugabe had twice failed to appear before the Temba Mliswa chaired mines committee of parliament and was given a final chance to do so on Monday.
 
However, the committee said in a statement it had now recused the 94-year-old former leader after consultations with the Speaker.
 
The committee did not give any more details.
 
"The former President, His Excellency Cde RG Mugabe, was unable to attend at the appointed hour and the committee was due to meet to consider summoning him as a measure of last resort but after consultations with the Honourable Speaker, he was recused from attending," said Mliswa in a statement.
 
He also condemned the refusal by home affairs minister Obert Mpofu to appear before the committee.
 
"In the same vein the non-appearance by the Former Head of State His Excellency Cde RG Mugabe to answer questions on the missing $15 billion diamond revenues, heightens the perception that both may have been complicit on this issue.
 
"Closure on the alleged missing $15 billion diamond revenues is possible if the former President clears the air on the context he made the assertion that the country lost such amount. The Ninth Parliament must pursue the matter to its logical conclusion."
 
A parliament official privy to the issue had told News men in May that it was unlikely Mugabe would appear before the committee because this was opposed by influential politicians in President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ruling Zanu PF party.
 
Mugabe said in March 2016 the country was robbed of wealth by diamond companies including joint ventures between Chinese companies and the army, police and intelligence services.
 
He later expelled those firms last year and replaced them with a state-owned diamond company.
 
The Mugabe-backed National People's Front (NPF) accused Mliswa's committee of abusing parliamentary procedures through what he called a "fake process aimed at obfuscating debate around the abuse of diamonds and diamond revenue through illegal mining activities by Zimbabwe's Security ministries."
 
In a statement, NPF wondered why the committee had not quizzed the military over its involvement in diamond mining at Marange.
 
"The activities of the parliamentary portfolio are meant to exonerate President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice president Constantino Chiwenga from allegations of looting diamonds by creating a sideshow involving the former president."
 
Source: New Zimbabwe

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