By Alois Vinga
COMPANIES operating in the property sector have bemoaned decreased space uptake owing to poor economic conditions prevailing in the country.
Speaking recently, First Mutual Property’s (FMP) chairman Elisha Moyo, said performance remained under stress over the past year.
“In 2019, the Zimbabwean property market remained subdued, characterised by high levels of voids.
“The economic outlook remains uncertain due to climate change, erratic power supply, foreign currency challenges, and low productive sector capacity utilisation,” he said.
Moyo said the retail and office park sectors remained relatively stable during the year due to limited availability of quality space.
“Development risk remains high due to inflationary pressures affecting development costs.
“However, in order to protect the value, property investors are entering into new developments taking a long-term view, assuming the development risks and utilising available excess liquidity to hedge value and inflation risk in real assets,” said Moyo.
FMP financial performance shows an increase in operating profit of 88 % on the back of improved occupancy levels and turnover rentals.
The value of the investment property portfolio grew by 53 % driven by fair value gains. Rental income decreased by 12% to ZWL$57.42 million (FY2018: ZWL$65.25 million) underpinned by foreign currency translations.
Another major property firm, Mashonaland Holdings Limited (MHL) chairman, Roy Mutandagayi also bemoaned the impact of a collapsing economy on viability of business in the sector.
“The operating environment worsened during the period under review as economic activity continued to shrink in the face of headwinds,” he said.
He said the property market continues to be at the receiving end of an economic environment characterised by declining capacity utilisation and monetary policy inconsistencies.
The reported growth in money supply in the fourth quarter of 2019 fuelled inflation.
“Whilst the property market responded with regular rent reviews, the general reduction in economic activity meant that constrained rental growth could not match prevailing inflationary pressures,” he said.
The MHL financial performance for the year 2019 shows that revenue at ZWL$30.1 million was 44% higher than the same period in the prior year.
The increase in revenue reflects the positive impact of rent reviews effected to hedge against erosion of rental value due to inflation.
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Zimbabwe’s biggest gold mines are being snapped up by Mauritius-based Sotic International as the price of bullion soars to the highest in more than eight years.
Landela Mining Ventures, which is controlled by Sotic, bought two of Zimbabwe’s gold mines this year. The newcomer is targeting six more mines, including four idled state-owned operations, said Sotic Chief Executive Officer David Brown. That expanding mining portfolio has strategic importance as gold is the biggest source of dollars in a nation facing foreign-currency shortages.
“Gold is a commodity with potential positive impacts,” Brown said in a phone interview from Johannesburg. “We want to grow the resource base to provide upside for both company and country.”
Brown said Sotic is backed by Cayman Islands-registered Almas Global Opportunity Fund, but he declined to name other investors. Last year, Sotic acquired control of Bindura Nickel, Zimbabwe biggest nickel operation.
Zimbabwe is struggling with food and fuel shortages, soaring inflation and an imploding currency. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power after his predecessor Robert Mugabe was removed by the military in November 2017, has failed to revive the economy and is increasingly reliant on security forces to quell mounting discontent.
Landela is ramping up output at Freda Rebecca, an operation formerly owned by Asa Resources, and last month concluded a deal to buy the mothballed Shamva gold mine from indebted Metallon, once Zimbabwe’s biggest gold miner. While the coronavirus pandemic delayed the acquisition of two more Metallon mines – Mazoe and Redwing – the transaction should be concluded shortly, according to Brown.
Landela is also favored to buy four of state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development’s gold mines, that were mothballed due to lack of capital, said Brown, a former CEO of Impala Platinum.
“We want to become a significant player in the gold industry in Zimbabwe,” said Brown, who is also chairman of a Russian investor-backed company developing one of Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mines. “We have significant amount of resources that are available to grow the asset base and become a significant producer. We want to become bigger.”
He declined to say how much Landela is spending to acquire the mines, while capital requirements are still being assessed. Some of the operations have been flooded or stripped of equipment after being idled for years.
Still, the quality of Zimbabwe’s assets and the rally in gold justify investor backing for the mines, said Brown.
“The common wisdom for the gold price going forward looks like it will stay stronger for longer and to that extent the economics of the mines is significantly enhanced,” Brown said.
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By Mary Taruvinga
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe Seventh Day Adventist Students Association has approached the High Court challenging the holding of examinations on Saturday 11 and 18 July.
The association said if they sit for exams on a Saturday, it will be in contradiction with their religious beliefs, as they will be writing on their Sabbath.
They filed the challenge through their representatives Maranatha Chigogora and Natasha Nyathi.
Cited as respondents are the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the registrar of University of Zimbabwe, Higher and Tertiary education minister Amon Murwira.
They are seeking to have the decision set aside.
“The applicants being members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church cannot avail themselves for the said examinations on the above mentioned dates as this conflicts with their professed faith in particular their belief that the biblical seventh day Sabbath starts from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday,” reads the application.
“Applicants have fundamental constitutional rights to freedom of conscience, right to education and right not to be unfairly discriminated against.
“The right to freedom of conscience allows them to practice, propagate and give expression to their religious beliefs.
“Given that the applicants cannot take up the exams on Saturdays, they will definitely suffer prejudice if the examinations are to proceed in their absence.”
The association wants the examinations to be written on alternative dates and time and previously proposed that UZ puts them into quarantine to allay any fears of cheating and releases them for exams at 6pm on the respective dates.
According to court papers, UZ opened its learning facilities to final year students on June 29 following its closure in March due to Covid-19 pandemic.
On July 1, the university released an examination timetable through the e-learning portal and some of the exams are going to be held on June 11 and 18 which will be Saturdays.
The students said they had attempted to engage university authorities concerning rescheduling of the examinations but to no avail.
The court heard that despite efforts to negotiate for the students to sit for the exams from 6pm on the Saturdays, UZ authorities did not take heed of the letter of proposal on July 8 for the alternative plan.
The case is pending.
By Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Transform Zimbabwe leader and coordinator of the planned July 31 mass demonstrations, Jacob Ngarivhume has vowed the anti-government protest will proceed with or without police approval.
In an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com Thursday, Ngarivhume said he would be sending notifications to district police stations early next week to inform them of the planned action.
He said he was currently mobilising support from other political parties, civil society organisations and business organisations.
“During this whole week, I have been meeting with all these groups which have pledged support to our cause,” he said.
“We want to stage nationwide demonstrations to demand the availing of the Unites States dollar for all citizens, end of poverty, equality and better health care.
“We are preparing notifications to police, which we will send out early next week.
“Our intention is to come up with one national notification which we will give to the police command and others which will address specific district police centres.
“But what you need to bear in mind is that this is a mere notification and not an application for approval and whether or not they permit, the demonstrations will proceed.”
The planned street protests come amid a worsening economic crisis punctuated by hyperinflation, erosion of income and high cost of goods and services.
The crisis has been worsened by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.
This becomes the first major demonstration organised by a different party other than the main opposition MDC.
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By Bulawayo Correspondent
ZIMBABWEAN millers under the umbrella Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Friday met government and security commanders to air their views on how authorities could deal with current shortages on mealie meal.
This comes as shortages on the staple have continued in the country with little hope they could be resolved anytime soon.
To remedy the situation, GMAZ Friday met the Bulawayo Minister of Devolution Judith Ncube, members of Joint Operations Command (JOC) and resident representatives in which the group proffered its own solutions to the crisis.
“We had a closed meeting with Service Chiefs, millers, residents representatives and the resident minister about the mealie meal situation in the country.
“As you know mealie meal is a national security,” GMAZ national chairman Tafadzwa Musarara told journalists soon after the meeting.
He said his association proposed that millers with free funds should be allowed to buy maize direct from farmers using foreign currency.
“Our argument is that currently, we are using foreign currency to import maize. Why can’t we use that foreign currency to buy maize from our local farmers,” said the GMAZ boss.
“We can even pay the farmers at prevailing bank rate. In that way, we will be empowering the farmers as they will be able to import their own inputs.”
Musarara said his association also recommended for upward review of the price of mealie meal.
“Currently, a 10kg of the subsidised mealie meal costs about US$1. That amount is cheap considering what the rest of the region is charging for the same product.
“We are proposing that a 10kg bag of maize should cost between US$2, 50 and US$3.50,” he said.
The Harare businessman said his association wants government to pay the maize in advance to avoid losing value through inflation.
He said some of the proposals were still under discussion and therefore remained confidential.
“Assuming that the proposals which we have forwarded to government are taken on board, we will have mealie meal in the next 10 days,” he said.
He also revealed that some retailers were now refusing to buy the subsidised maize meal from millers because profit margins were very low.
“We sell a 10kg subsidised mealie meal for $63 while the retailers are allowed to sell the same commodity for $75.
“The profit is only $7 and some retailers do not see value in stocking the commodity.
“Besides, the subsidised mealie meal comes also with a lot of risks. People stampede to get the commodity and the distribution is also scrutinised,” he added.
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By Alois Vinga
SENIOR nurses have joined their colleagues in a crippling strike over poor wages and working conditions.
They announced the job action through a Friday letter by their representative Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA).
The correspondence was directed to all provincial medical officers in the country.
“We note with concern the lack of urgency by the employer in addressing issues raised by Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA),” said the sisters-in-charge.
“The ongoing incapacitation has not been doing any good to the patient care in this period of Covid-19 pandemic period.
“After consultations, and deliberations, we hereby notify that we are withdrawing our services with immediate effect until the employer takes the nurses grievances seriously by way of fruitful negotiations.”
The senior nurses said, despite the sacrifices they have continued to show in the current global menace, the employer has not been forthcoming.
The country’s health sector faces total collapse because nurses have been on industrial action for almost a month now.
The strike comes at a time their wages have been eroded by run-away inflation – at 786% – which has been pushing prices of basic commodities and services beyond the reach of many.
The International Monetary Fund has made its thoughts known to the Emmerson Mnangagwa led government economic reforms instituted by the under-fire administration since its inception were heading to no-man’s land.
The currency instability has further led to the indexing of prices against the US dollar resulting in reduced value of salaries which are still pegged in the local currency.
There are growing fears if government does not respond to the obtaining situation on time, things could degenerate into fully blown civil unrest.
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By Mary Taruvinga
A TOTAL of 51 MDC Alliance legislators and councillors have approached the High Court seeking to interdict MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe from filling up vacancies created by ongoing recalls of party MPs from the house.
The MPs and councillors behind the legal action have not yet been expelled but have filed the challenge to pre-empt any attempts by the rival politician to recall them.
The group has deposed an affidavit through Zengeza South legislator, Job Sikhala who said it has now become very clear that Khupe wants to expel everyone despite her earlier indications that there will be selected individuals to be recalled.
Sikhala said they have seen it wise to approach the courts early before Khupe takes action against them.
“Contrary to their initial indications that they did not intend to recall indiscriminately, it has now become clear that they intend to recall everyone who does not dance to their tune,” said Sikhala in his founding affidavit.
MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora was cited as the first respondent while Khupe is second.
MDC-T is the third respondent while the speaker of parliament and the president of the senate were cited as fifth.
Parliament was cited as the sixth respondent.
On May 5 this year, Khupe pulled a shocker after she recalled four MDC Alliance legislators from the house.
This was followed by yet another recall of nine other MDC Members of Parliament on June 23, 2020.
On the 1st of July, she struck again and recalled eight more senators.
Affected MDC Alliance members have challenged the actions and to this end, they have filed court applications declaring the said actions unlawful.
In the main application filed is case number HC2308/20, the MDC Alliance and others are seeking an order against the respondents arguing that they have no power or authority to recall members of the National Assembly, Councilors, and Senators voted for and/or appointed to Parliament and Councils on the MDC Alliance ticket.
In addition, affected MDC Alliance members have made urgent applications for interim interdicts prohibiting the respondents from taking any further steps to recall the affected members, pending finalisation of the court applications challenging the lawfulness of their recalls.
In one such application, a provisional order has since been granted.
Sikhala said, “The recent conduct of the 1st to 3rd Respondents has shown that they are bent on causing the recall of MDC A members of Parliament who remain aligned to the MDC A and have rebuffed the 1st to 3rd Respondent, which requests have been systematically been granted by the 4th to 6th Respondents.”
The Zengeza MP said the applicants who were yet to be recalled were now very apprehensive of their imminent recalls as they have snubbed Khupe.
“Applicants now fear that Mwonzora, Khupe and their party may proceed to fill the vacancies created by their recalls despite challenges to their actions.
“Applicants also fear that the senate president and parliament and ZEC may go along with Mwonzora, Khupe and MDC T’ instructions to replace the applicants’ positions as Members of Parliament despite challenges to the Respondents’ actions.”
He said if not stopped, the chances of them filling applicants’ positions as legislators were high.
“The conduct of the respondents in purporting to recall some of the MDC A members prove they are prepared to go all the way.
“The applicants’ fellow comrades have already been harmed and they reasonably fear that the said harm will visit them if the Respondents are not stopped by the court,” he said.
The case is yet to be heard.
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By Mbekezeli Ncube
NEWLY formed opposition, The Patriotic Front (TPF) has called for the resignation of city fathers in Bulawayo for “failure to keep the city clean and residents safe”.
This comes after a recent typhoid outbreak in the city’s Luveve high density suburb has claimed 13 lives with over 1 500 affected.
In a statement, TPF spokesperson, Mxolisi Ncube said his party was saddened with tragic events that have come as a result of consumption of unsafe water in the city.
He also said the party was not amused with how the city fathers have run the once prosperous urban authority, urging them to resign.
“About 110 years ago, the then city fathers noted and planned bringing water to Bulawayo from the Zambezi river in order to avert situations like this crisis,” Ncube said.
“It is sad that 40 years after independence and more than a century after a project which was meant to end this water crisis was mooted, the people of Bulawayo are still subjected to drinking sickening and poisonous water.
“One wonders what elected councillors meet and discuss about if the well-being and safety of the city dwellers is in such mud.
“The so-called city fathers and mothers must resign forthwith because they have failed dismally to keep the city clean and residents safe.”
Bulawayo’s perennial water woes have worsened in the recent past following the drought period, forcing authorities to impose a tight water shedding schedule.
The disease outbreak has come as a result of the water challenges.
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By Idah Mhetu
ZANU PF has threatened to unleash its own supporters to counter national anti-government protests planned for July 31 by the MDC Alliance and its opposition allies.
Addressing the media soon after a politburo meeting at the party headquarters Friday, Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa dared MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to lead the protests himself and be taught a lesson.
The former finance and justice minister described Chamisa as a coward leader who was fond of pushing followers to the front while he enjoyed the safety of his own home.
“We send this warning loud and clear and we say to Chamisa and those who are like-minded, don’t be the cowards that were on the first of August 2018.
“You were never to be found, you were in your houses.”
Chinamasa was referring to the ill-fated Harare demonstrations which saw the military gun down six civilians and injuring more in protests against alleged rigging of the July 2018 poll.
He added, “If you do whatever you are threatening to do, come to the front and face the music.
“We have our cadres and they are ready to take up and to take on anybody who attacks them.
“Zanu PF members have a right to defend themselves and will not sit idle as we did in January 2019.
“We have a right to defend our homes, our persons, our property and we will do just that.
“So please send out that warning to Chamisa that he should not be the coward that he has been, let him come in front and we will face him.”
The July 31 protests were planned by Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume but have received support from the main opposition.
Chinamasa declared this shall not take place while they watched.
“Zanu PF doesn’t sleep with one eye open,” he said.
“We remain vigilant against the machinations of the enemy and they have been very intensified in recent weeks.
“We have also noted the use of the same social media platforms to plan and organise for violent demonstrations aimed at overthrowing our constitutionally constituted government.
“Let me say this to Chamisa and those who are calling for demonstrations at the end of this July.
“What happened on the first of August 2018 will never happen again in this country. What happened on the 14th to 16th of January 2019, attacking property, attacking persons, causing injuries will never happen again.”
The Zanu PF spokesperson also warned foreign embassies which stray from their mandates to dabble in the country’s politics to stop the habit.
“There are foreign interests fuelling and funding the proposed demonstration at the end of the month and also being very active on social media to vilify and undermine the government and Zanu PF.
“So sadly, we are being misunderstood that when we talk about re-engaging, it’s not from a position of weakness but it is because we believe in international solidarity which was very key to our mounting the armed struggle.
“Sadly, these attacks are spoiling the good name of the country and its leadership on the global scale. This has to stop forthwith. It is very clear that the aim is a regime change agenda, a priority despite our efforts to re-engage,” he said.
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By Bulawayo Correspondent
SCORES of Bulawayo commuters were Friday forced to walk to work in the city centre and industrial areas as most ZUPCO buses were grounded due to an acute diesel shortage in the city.
Others failed to go to work altogether due to the transport challenges.
Bulawayo businessman and fuel dealer Enerst Marima confirmed the crisis.
“There is a critical shortage of diesel and petrol today. All sorts of transport including Zupco are very short of fuel today,” wrote Marima in a WhatsApp group post.
NewZimbabwe.com witnessed scores of commuters stranded at most bus termini in the western high-density parts of the city.
Some of the ZUPCO buses and kombis were parked at the company’s depot in the city.
“This morning, I walked a distance of about five kilometres from Tshabalala because there were no ZUPCO buses.
“I am not sure if transport will be available in the evening when I knock off, otherwise I will be forced to walk again,” said a commuter who only identified himself as Silas.
Another commuter, Herbert Dlamini said he failed to get into the city centre because there were no Zupco buses operating.
“I normally board the early bus when going to the market to buy vegetables. Today, there were no buses. The only transport which was there were private motorists who were charging $20 per trip,” said Dlamini.
ZUPCO buses charge just $4 per single trip while kombis charge $8.
However, one Zupco bus driver told this publication there was no fuel at the depot.
“Each bus is allocated 100 litres of diesel for every two days. We have not been receiving our allocation for the past two days. We have been waiting since Wednesday,” said the driver.
Only a few foreign currency fuel selling service stations were selling the commodity.
Most service stations in the city have been without diesel with continued long fuel queues despite the continued spiral of fuel prices.
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By Alois Vinga
THE Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) has bemoaned lack of support systems to back economic reforms being implemented by Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube since 2018.
In a statement recently, the bank said the monetary and fiscal reforms which include the de-dollarisation of the economy which came with reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar were not backed by adequate support systems.
“The lack of necessary interventions such as balance of payments and budgetary support to buttress the reform efforts evidently affected policy conduct during the period under review.
“This was reflected through foreign currency shortages, exchange rate weaknesses and inflationary pressures,” CBZ said.
The bank said apart from mentioned factors, supply of fuel, electricity and water also remained below optimal levels, thereby constraining investment and expansion of production.
This comes after most targets envisaged by government when it introduced its policy reforms have not been met due to a slew of factors.
Several businesses have raised the red flag over the devastating impact of these measures which they blame for eroding salaries, increasing inflation and choking demand for goods and services.
Meanwhile, during the financial year ended December 31 2019, the bank recorded a profit of $313 million with $17.8 billion total assets against liabilities of $15 billion, leaving the financial institution with a sound positive net worth.
During the period under review the bank raked in $537 million through interest income against expenses of $155 million, leaving a net interest income of $382 million.
CBZ also recorded net non-interest income of $2.2 billion with commission and fees income raking in $579 million.
The management board proposed the declaration of a final dividend of $22.99 cents per share.
This declaration translates to a growth of 1766.1% on the comparative 2018 final dividend.
“The Directors have engaged themselves to continuously assess the ability of the group to continue to operate as a going concern and to determine the continued appropriateness of the going concern assumption that has been applied in the preparation of these financial statements,” added CBZ.
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