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Morning Express March 31, 2017

FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC HEADLINES

Investors to fund $4bn Batoka project

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg B1) The development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme has received stimulus with international financial institutions and private investors agreeing to finance the $4 billion power project. This came out at an investment conference called to solicit for finance for the major electricity project which is expected on stream by 2024. BGHES will produce 2 400MW to be shared equally between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The investment conference underway in Livingstone, Zambia ran under the theme, Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme: Harnessing Sustainable Power Generation Potential of the Mighty Zambezi River. Energy and Power Development ministry permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri said investors’ interest was encouraging. Lead financial arranger, the African Development Bank, which is planning to invest $2 billion in energy projects in Africa by 2020, expects to channel funds towards BGHES.

Metbank to advise millers

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg B1) The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has appointed Metbank Limited as its financial advisor on its $8 million silo facility meant to fund the rehabilitation and repair of the Grain Marketing Board silos. GMAZ president Tafadzwa Musarara said Metbank’s role will be to conduit funds of the facility, negotiate financial terms and ensure the successful performance of this facility. It will also be responsible in the procurement of nostro currency for GMAZ members for both outstanding payments and future shipments of mainly wheat and rice. Musarara said GMAZ has taken confidence in Metbank’s recent and current performance in providing critical financial services to the 2016/7 farming season.

Lafarge posts $3,1m profit

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg B3) Cement manufacturer, Lafarge sprung back to profitability, posting a $3,1 million net profit for the year ended December, 2016 from a $1,9 million loss the previous year. Group chairman, Kumbirai Katsande said the firm’s ability to swim out of the red pointed to its “strong competitive tenacity, resilience and high performance culture of the management team. The cement producer saw it revenues marginally increase to $61 million from $60,9 million after product volumes went up 2 percent. Cost savings in operations, plant maintenance and “better” inventory control as well as a revaluation of plant property and equipment also contributed to the positive performance.

Cresta in multi-million dollar refurbishment

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg B3) Cresta Hotels has embarked on multi-million dollar refurbishment of its establishments in Zimbabwe as it seeks to keep in line with international trends and position itself for a boom in the tourism sector. Cresta Hotels officials during a tour of the group’s three mid-level establishments namely Cresta Jameson, Cresta Lodge and Cresta Oasis that the refurbishments would allow the group to stave off emerging competition. The officials were however not keen to share the amount that the group had budgeted for the exercise, saying some of the budgets were still being worked on. Group sales and business development manager, Leonard Nyamutsamba even the 50-roomed Bulawayo-based Cresta Churchill was set to go under massive renovations. At the Cresta Jameson, the group’s oldest hotel established in 1958, general manager Tinashe Kuvheya said the 123-roomed establishment was undergoing a phase by phase face lift owing to funding constraints.

Savanna Tobacco rebrands 

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg 3) Government has called for the creation of a cigarette industry which fully embraces value-addition and beneficiation to realise better profits compared to selling unprocessed tobacco. The successful empowerment of the tobacco sector at primary level has not translated to gains further down the value chain, where superior returns are being made by leaf merchants and cigarette manufacturers. Company (PCC) yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said the local industry has the responsibility of growing provisions of the Zim-Asset economic blueprint. PCC executive chairman Adam Molai said his company started implementing some provisions in Zim-Asset more than 10 years ago, before the document was crafted.

Diamond forensic audit hits snag

HARARE, Zim Ind (March 31, pg 3) Efforts by government to audit diamond mining companies have practically stalled because the firms are not forth coming with financial records and documents. This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plundering at various stages and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund. 

World Bank, govt mull teacher registration

HARARE, Newsday (March 31) Government, the World Bank and teachers’ unions are discussing proposals for possible registration of teachers under a profession council. If approved, the proposal will see teachers joining other professions like doctors and lawyers who get certificates before they practice and could be deregistered if they fall foul of regulations. The World Bank, as the technical and financial partner, is working with the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, represented by Tapfuma Jongwe, who said the proposed Teaching Professions Council would seek to uphold standards for teaching staff in the education sector. 

Zim in dire need of aid: United Nations

HARARE, Newsday (March 31) Zimbabwe is in dire need of aid, especially in areas around poverty reduction, with the United Nations (UN) promising to pour more funding in the face of an investment and jobs dry-up due to a serious economic crisis. UN resident co-ordinator Bishow Parajuli said this week that his team was targeting to raise more than $326 million to pour into Zimbabwe in the year 2017 for various interventions mostly associated with poverty reduction.

AirZim set for major overhaul

HARARE, Zim Ind (March 31, pg 1) ZB Financial Holdings chief operating officer Mike Manyika has been removed in what appears to be a volte-face on the initial position that was taken by one of the group’s key shareholders Transnational Holdings Limited following a corrective order issued by the RBZ early this month. This comes after a storm had engulfed one of Zimbabwe’s oldest financial institutions, ZBFH over a series of issues which include the forcing out of independent board members.

FIN STATEMENTS & NOTICES

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POLITICAL & GENERAL HEADLINES

Broke MDC-T fails to pay employees

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg 3) More than 62 MDC-T workers on Wednesday held a demonstration at the opposition party’s headquarters in Harare after going for more than 17 months without salaries. Sources say that the MDC-T leadership has been failing to pay salaries for over 110 of its employees after donors tightened the purse strings. About 62 employees, some of them who were representing the MDC-T National Workers’ Committee, besieged Harvest House on Wednesday afternoon demanding to be addressed by the opposition party’s secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora over the matter. Mwonzora confirmed that they were in arrears but dismissed reports that they had not been paying the workers for the past 17 months.

Kasukuwere on the ropes

HARARE, Newsday (March 31) Under-fire Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere has laughed off reports that the ruling party’s powerful women’s league, led by First Lady Grace Mugabe, wants him removed from his position. Kasukuwere, who also serves as Local Government minister, was reportedly a subject of “intense debate and discussion” during an explosive woman’s league national executive meeting on Tuesday during which it was agreed his case should be referred to the Zanu PF politburo. The women’s league met to discuss the expulsion of deputy politburo secretary and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo and treasurer Sarah Mahoka.

Zanu PF factional fights posing a security threat: minister

HARARE, Newsday (March 31) Zanu PF factional fights have affected stability within the war veterans, Parliament heard yesterday. Responding to a question from Manicaland Senator David Chimhini (MDC-T), War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube said the ongoing Zanu PF fights were destabilizing the ex-freedom fighters and this was now posing a security threat. The ZNLWVA is demanding President Robert Mugabe to step down to make way for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

We will pursue other routes to force electoral reforms: opposition

HARARE, Newsday (March 31) Opposition party leaders yesterday endorsed the decision to disengage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and pursue other routes to force electoral reforms ahead of next year’s crucial elections. The parties were fighting a collective war against Zec and the government’s decision to renege on the previous agreement concerning the electoral roadmap. Almost 20 political leaders attended the crisis meeting, among them MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa, PDP leader Tendai Biti, RDZ leader Elton Mangoma, Zimbabwe People First caretaker leader Didymus Mutasa and Marceline Chikasha (ADP).

Chaos rocks Mujuru camp

HARARE, Newsday, Dailynews pg 1 ( March 31) National People’s Party (NPP) top officials were yesterday involved in a public physical brawl reportedly over policy inconsistencies, as the hardly one-month-old Joice Mujuru-led party hit turbulent times. Mujuru’s spokesperson and incoming secretary-general Gift Nyandoro was reportedly left with a fractured leg following the fracas with party spokesperson Jealousy Mbizvo Mawarire. Nyandoro confirmed the incident, alleging he was attacked by his colleague over a policy position misunderstanding which played out in the media.

Mugabe clan stampede to testify against pastor

HARARE, Newsday, Dailynews pg 5 (March 31) President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Robert Zhuwao, Chief Beperere (born Alfred Tome) of the Zvimba clan and Chief Negomo (Lucious Chitsinde) are witnesses in the case in which a Kariba pastor is being accused of prophesying the 93-year-old leader’s death. The trio, who were expected to testify in court yesterday, were left dejected after Harare magistrate Lazini Ncube postponed the matter to April 5.  The magistrate said the case clashed with another matter where the clergyman, Patrick Mugadza, is accused of bringing the Zimbabwe flag into disrepute.

Popular city bar faces demolition

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg 4) Harare City Council is set to demolish popular bar Paramount Signature in Hatfield which was built in a residential zone without council approval while its owner is facing a $5 000 fine or two years imprisonment for disobeying a demolition order. The owner of the bar, one O. Chikonyora, was served with a demolition order and ordered to demolish all structures, cease the use of the property for commercial purposes and restore the land to its original state but has not complied. Director of Works Eng Phillip Pfukwa has since written to the officer-in-charge Hatfield Police Station informing him of council’s intentions to demolish the place. Council said the development carried out on the stand on Dunwondering Estate of Arlington was in contravention of the provisions of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 29:12 Revised Edition 1996.

Zambia deports 58 Zimbabweans

HARARE, Herald (March 31, pg 2) Zambian authorities have deported 62 foreign nationals, including 58 Zimbabweans, for over staying and not having proper documentation. The majority of the deportees were rounded up at two guest houses in the capital Lusaka on Saturday evening. The 58 Zimbabweans were handed over to the Immigration Department at Chirundu Border Post after arriving in two buses. Regional immigration officer Joshua Chibundu confirmed the deportation, which took place on Sunday afternoon.

TODAY’S PROFILE 

Eiffel Tower opens

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel’s plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world’s tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.

Eiffel’s tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.

The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower’s famous glass-cage elevators.

The elevators were not completed by March 31, 1889, however, so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower’s stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French tricolor on the structure’s flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about 200 workers. In early May, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition’s 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world’s premier tourist attractions.

 

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