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Protests in Zimbabwe as economic crisis worsens

Police fired teargas as angry protesters barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks

Kathleen Ndongmo

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Photo: AFP

A few days after announcing plans to introduce the local Zimbabwean currency within the next 12 months,  Protests over the state of Zimbabwe’s economy broke out today in the country’s capital Harare

The protest comes two days after Zimbabwe’s president; Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% increase in fuel price to contain a currency crunch

Cash shortages have taken a toll on Zimbabweans, leading to  widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors excluded  under former President, Robert Mugabe.

Angry protesters gesture as they block the main route to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare from Epworth township on January 14 2019 after government announced a more than hundred percent hike in fuel prices. –  (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Things might be taking a turn for the better in the next 9 months if the government successfully introduces its own currency which was abandoned in 2009 after it was wrecked by hyperinflation in favor of the dollar.

The government says the introduction of the Zimbabwean currency are part of efforts to address cash shortage in the South – African economy.

Economist say Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube must address existing loopholes if his plans to introduce a local currency within the next 12 months are to succeed,

Inflation reached 31 percent in November, its highest since 2008 when the figure hit 500 billion percent

Government negotiators are due to hold a second round of negotiations with civil service unions planning a nationwide strike from Jan. 22 to press for U.S. dollar pay.

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest against worsening economic conditions

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Zimbabwe’s business community calls for economic reform
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

The Zimbabwe business community has called on its government to urgently address ordinary people’s concerns in order to avoid continuous loss of production time through protest shutdowns.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had initiated a massive protest in central Harare to express growing impatience with the government’s failure to remedy a deepening economic crisis that has pushed many to the edge.

The government, however, insists that the pain caused by its tough policy measures was necessary for an economy which is reeling from decades of mismanagement under former President, Robert Mugabe.

Police moved on Thursday to impose an unpopular ban on the demonstration, setting the stage for ugly clashes with MDC followers.

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Nigeria’s state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms

The awarded oil firms include Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies

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Nigeria's state oil firm awards crude oil swap deals to 15 firms
NNPC Towers, headquarters of Nigeria's state oil firm in Abuja, Nigeria. (File photo)

Nigerian state oil company, NNPC, has announced that 15 companies have won the right to swap the country’s crude oil for fuels, following a tender for the deals.

About 132 companies made a bid for the deals. The tender for the one-year contracts effective from the 1st of October and dubbed direct sale, direct-purchase (DSDP), was issued in March.

Nigeria is almost entirely reliant on imported fuel due to years of neglect at its own refineries.

It has leaned heavily on the swap arrangements to get fuel, particularly gasoline, as other would-be importers struggle to make money due to price caps.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation says the companies that won the bids are made up of a consortium of 15 companies including Vitol, Trafigura, oil major, BP and local downstream companies.

Since the scheme’s inception in 2016, replacing a program that paid subsidies to importers, the NNPC has said it had saved the country $2.2 billion and supplied some 90 per cent of its import requirements.

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Zambia rejects donor aid amid its worst drought

The government says it has enough corn, the country’s staple food, to last until the next season and won’t need to import

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Zambia declines donor aid amid its worst drought
(File photo)

Zambia is experiencing its worst drought since 1981, but its government insists that a state of national emergency will not be declared.

Neither will donor assistance be accepted. A Southern Africa Development Community report last month, forecast 2.3 million Zambians will be food-insecure by March after large parts of the southern and western areas of the country received the lowest rainfall since 1981.

Over the same period, the report forecast Zambia will experience an 888,000-ton cereal deficit.

The Zambian government says it has enough corn, the country’s staple food, to last until the next season and won’t need to import.

Retail prices for the cornflour that Zambians consume mostly are already the highest since at least, 2003, according to data from the national statistics agency.

In July, prices were 41 per cent higher than the same time last year, helping to push inflation to 8.8 per cent, the highest since November 2016.

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