Saturday, November 22, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Another Bomb Blast Rocks Harare Central; MDC-T Gets Bill; President Mugabe Attends Graduation, etc.

Another bomb blast rocks Harare Central

Crime Reporter

ANOTHER bomb exploded at Harare Central Police Station on Thursday night, destroying walls and shattering windowpanes, only two days after police stepped up security at all police stations and Government institutions following a similar blast at CID Headquarters.

The latest explosion at Harare Central followed another blast at the CID Headquarters at Morris Depot on Monday night despite police being on maximum alert.

No one was injured.

Armed police officers yesterday cordoned off the rubble-strewn corridor leading to the Criminal Investigation Depart-ment offices, where the bomb reportedly exploded.

Chief police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the latest bombing.

"A bomb detonated around 8pm yesterday (Thursday) in the corridors of the second floor at Harare Central Police Station," he said.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said security had since been stepped up at all police stations, including other Government institutions, following the blasts.

"We have stepped up security at all police stations and institutions frequented by the public," he said.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said the public would be searched and also required to produce identification particulars when visiting the protected institutions.

He urged the public to co-operate with the police.

The blast comes after another bomb exploded at the CID HQ on Monday night.

The CID HQ houses several offices, including sections responsible for investigating high-profile cases such as money-laundering and corruption, among others.

In August, a bomb damaged the CID administration block at Harare Central Police Station while the Zimbabwe National Army Bomb Squad Disposal Unit recovered two unexploded bombs on the first floor of the building, overlooking Kenneth Kaunda Avenue.

Several police officers have since been questioned in connection with the August 2 explosion, but no arrests have been made.

MDC-T received draft Constitutional Amendment Bill

Herald Reporter

IT has emerged that MDC-T received the draft Constitutional Amendment (No.19) Bill contrary to the party’s earlier claims that they had not seen the document.

The shocking revelation emerged after yesterday’s meeting between MDC-T officials and church leaders led by Bishop Trevor Manhanga of the Pentecostal Church of Zimbabwe.

"They have the copy of the Draft Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill sent to former South African president Mr Thabo Mbeki. They say they were not given the copy officially," said Bishop Manhanga.

MDC-T spokesman, Mr Nelson Chamisa, however, continued insisting that they had not seen the draft Bill.

‘‘We are actually looking for that document desperately. We want to see what our colleagues in Zanu-PF are thinking," he said.

The church leaders, who met Mr Chamisa and the party’s deputy organising secretary, Mr Morgan Komichi, since party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was still touring Europe urged MDC-T to join the envisaged inclusive Government so that the country can move forward and deal with the prevailing economic challenges.

The church leaders told the MDC-T officials that "the nation is bleeding" and that there was need to urgently form an inclusive Government.

Bishop Manhanga said MDC-T raised a number of concerns, including the issue of provincial governors, equitable distribution of Cabinet posts and the need for co-authoring and co-sponsoring Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill.

The Government has since said drafting of constitutional Bills is the prerogative of the State legal department.

The meeting came two days after the church leaders, drawn from 16 denominations, held discussions with the Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

The draft Bill has since been sent to the negotiations facilitator, former South African president Cde Thabo Mbeki, after all parties had scrutinised it.

The clergy, who said they still wanted to meet Mr Tsvangirai, are set to meet representatives from the MDC-Mutambara formation next week as pressure mounts on the three parties to urgently form the envisaged inclusive Government.

Meanwhile police have barred two MDC-T report-back rallies scheduled for Kuwadzana and Glen View, citing the outbreak of cholera.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is has advised people to desist from wanton gatherings and unnecessary shaking of hands to avoid the spread of cholera.

Govt distributes 5 000 tonnes maize seed

By Sydney Kawadza

GOVERNMENT has distributed over 5 000 tonnes of maize seed under the National Food Security Programme while a further 4 951 tonnes have been secured from Zambia and local seed companies.

A total of 18 000 tonnes of Compound D and 5 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer have also been distributed to farmers under the same programme.

According to the High Level Resource Mobilisation and Utilising Committee, seed has been distributed to A1, A2, large-scale, old resettlement, communal farmers and some vulnerable groups with Agritex urging beneficiaries to ensure that they receive inputs most suited to their area.

Established farmers have, however, acquired their seed directly from seed houses while Government has also issued licences to individuals and businesses that can import inputs into the country.

"So far 5 026,63 tonnes of hybrid maize seed has been distributed as at November 14 and this is equivalent to 201 065,2 hectares under maize production," the committee said.

Government has set a target of 500 000 hectares and 200 000 hectares for maize and small grains production respectively for the 2008/09 farming season to boost national food security. The committee said 1 252 tonnes of maize seed received from Zambia is being distributed to farmers in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces.

As traditional maize-growing areas, the four provinces have the highest hectarage under the programme.

"The balance of 1 474 maize seed expected from Zambia would be distributed to communal farmers who have not received the inputs."

Government has distributed 500 tonnes of 10kg packets of maize seed under the Vulnerable Groups Programme.

Under the programme, vulnerable members of the community receive a 10kg pack of maize seed plus a 50kg bag of Compound D and a 50kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizers. Beneficiaries will be under about 140 chiefs who fall in maize-growing areas that would create strategic clusters for the vulnerable groups and Zunde RaMambo for farmers outside the Champion Farmer programme. The committee, however, said more fertilizer would need to be sourced for the programme.

"So far 18 117 tonnes of Compound D, equivalent to 72 468 hectares, and 5 227 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which is equivalent to 26 135 hectares, has been distributed countrywide.

"(However), fertilizer supplies are exhausted and more fertilizer needs to be acquired to meet the initial requirement of 125 000 tonnes of Compound D using an application rate of 250kg per hectare and 100 000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate using an application rate of 200kg per hectare."

The committee has also distributed 1 635 000 litres of diesel and 140 000 litres of petrol for land preparations, planting, supervision and other agricultural activities throughout the country.

President promotes 5 Senior Asst Commissioners

Crime Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday promoted and conferred five Senior Assistant Commissioners with the rank of Commissioner in line with Constitutional Amendment Number 18.

The promotions are with effect from October 1.

Those elevated are Officer Commanding Support Unit Snr Asst Comm Josephine Shambare, Snr Asst Comm Oliver Chibage (Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri’s Chief of Staff), Snr Asst Comm Solomon Mubatapasango, the Deputy Director of Legal Services, Snr Asst Comm Charles Mufandaedza, who is the Officer Commanding Midlands, and Snr Asst Comm Nonkosi Ncube, the Officer Commanding Mashonaland Central Province.

The promotions of the five, who will be based at the Police General Headquarters, are in line with the rank restructuring exercise in the police force, which has seen the title of the head of police changing from Commissioner to Commissioner General.

Comm Gen Chihuri was conferred with his new rank in January this year following the promulgation of Constitutional Amendment Number 18 which changes the ranks of the top hierarchy of the police in anticipation of the envisaged expansion of the force to cater for more policing needs.

The changes are also in line with other police forces in the Sadc region. President Mugabe also promoted 13 Assistant Commissioners to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner, 18 Chief Superintendents to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, 41 Superintendents to the rank of Chief Superintendent, 167 Inspectors and Chief Inspectors to the rank of Superintendent and 281 Assistant Inspectors to the rank of Inspector.

Police chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the President made the promotions in accordance with the Police Act.

Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena was previously an Assistant Commissioner.

Others promoted to the rank of Snr Asst Comm were Mekia Tanyanyiwa, the Acting Officer Commanding Masvingo province, Bill Mashonga (Senior Staff Officer Transport), Charles Makono (Principal Police Staff College), Grace Ndebele (Depot Commandant), Annamore Jamu (Government medical officer based at Morris Depot), Plaxedes Gezha (Deputy Officer Commanding Midlands province), Martin Chari (Senior Staff Officer Operations), Simon Nyathi (Officer Commanding Serious Frauds Squads), Norman Sibanda (Deputy Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province), Benjamin Mhiripiri (Acting Director Legal Services), Munorwei Matutu (Acting Officer Commanding Manicaland Province) and Rangarirai Mushaurwa (Acting Officer Commanding Mashonaland East Province).

Four more errant banks kicked out

Business Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo

FOUR more banks — CFX, Kingdom, NMB and ZABG — were yesterday kicked out of the clearing house for failing to meet their obligations running into sextillions of dollars, as the effects of fraudulent transactions in the financial markets continued to take their toll.

The four join FBC, which was ejected on Thursday after it failed to settle $4,9 sextillion, with indications being that developments so far were only a tip of the iceberg.

It also emerged that some banks were desperately scurrying for help as they applied for accommodation at the central bank despite pronouncements on Thursday by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono that no bank would get any unsecured accommodation while those with security would need to prove their genuineness first.

The adverse effects of the fraudulent and artificial wealth that was being created on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the parallel market had deepened its roots across the entire banking system, investigations have revealed.

The latest ejections resulted from the banks’ failure to settle value November 17 (their dues on the day).

Clearing of the money market, which had remained open since November 14, was now settling and by close of the settlement for Monday’s obligations yesterday, these banks had failed to fund their positions.

More casualties are expected for the November 18 to 21 clearing positions.

The central bank says it is working throughout the weekend to establish the final settlement shortfall in the clearing house.

Statistics gathered yesterday showed that CFX Bank had an unfunded position of $179 quintillion.

Sources within the bank said this arose from a three-day loan extended to ABC Banking Corporation, which the latter failed to pay.

"On due date of maturity, Tuesday 17 November 2008, ABC Banking Corporation failed to settle their obligations with us. Unfortunately, this expected inflow which had been queued initially, resulted in us failing to settle our clearing obligations value 17 November 2008," read a letter understood to have been sent to the central bank by CFX management, explaining their position.

"We are aware of the contents of your announcement on 20 November 2008 but beg for your consideration given our circumstances to allow us unsecured accommodation to enable us to fund our clearing obligations," stated a letter availed to The Herald by sources within the bank.

Kingdom Bank failed to settle $1,5 sextillion which it said arose from the exclusion of FBC from clearing value November 17. The latter had cheques due to it from FBC valued at $3,1 sextillion.

ZABG and NMB were also said to have failed to settle their clearing obligations of $230 quintillion and $181 quintillion respectively.

Yesterday, the central bank reaffirmed its position that it was determined to uproot the "rot" in the banking system and on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, pledging that the gridlock on the clearing system would be unclogged through continued ejection of all institutions that failed to fund their positions.

Contacted for comment last night, Dr Gono said he was confident that finally all the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle had fallen into place in the quest to uproot indiscipline and general economic sabotage which he said had seemingly become the order of the day in the financial system.

"It is hoped that all those people who were generating the various flyers denigrating the governor and his team and all those politicians and non-politicians who were bad-mouthing the governor in their various caucuses and everyone else who is standing in the banking queue tomorrow morning (today) waiting for their money now know who exactly is the enemy and where they should direct their anger.

"My team and myself have been doing and are doing and will continue to do everything that is best and possible for Zimbabweans. No matter how difficult our operating environment . . . we will not let up," he said.

1 116 graduate at Nust

Bulawayo Bureau

PRESIDENT Mugabe capped 1 116 graduates at the National University of Science and Technology’s 14th graduation ceremony in Bulawayo yesterday.

The graduates were drawn from all Nust faculties — Applied Sciences, Built Environment, Commerce, Industrial Technology as well as Communication and Information Science.

Among those capped were graduates who completed Bachelor of Technology degrees at the Bulawayo Polytechnic, Harare Institute of Technology, Harare Polytechnic and Kwekwe Polytechnic.

Sixty percent of the graduates obtained either first class or upper second class honours degrees.

Of the 1 116, 104 were awarded postgraduate degrees, three of them doctoral.

Before capping the graduates, President Mugabe — who is the university’s Chancellor and a holder of seven earned academic degrees and several honorary ones — took part in an academic procession which included Nust staff led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Lindela Ndlovu; the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Stan Mudenge; the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu; Bulawayo Resident Minister Cde Cain Ginyilitshe Mathema and vice chancellors from other universities.

It was a carnival atmosphere as parents, relatives and friends ululated, clapped and whistled as the graduates were being capped.

The university’s choir spiced up the occasion with absorbing musical interludes.

Earlier at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport, Cde Mugabe, who is also President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF, had received a rousing welcome from several Zanu-PF supporters, Nust officials and senior Government officials.

Among the welcoming party were Cde Mathema, Dr Ndlovu, the Deputy President of the Senate, Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, Zanu-PF National Deputy Commissar Cde Richard Ndlovu and Zanu-PF Politburo member Cde Joshua Malinga.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Nust Vice Chancellor Prof Ndlovu said since the establishment of the university 13 years ago, it had produced 8 000 graduates who had gone on to occupy lofty corporate posts, senior public offices and some being engaged as lecturers at universities the world over.

"We not so jokingly say that any serious establishment has a National University of Science and Technology graduate,’’ he said amid laughter.

"One such beneficiary is Muhle Designs, an architectural company based in South Africa owned by Dr Kuda Mucharambeyi, a Zimbabwean.

"The company employs 10 of our graduates and they have performed so well that the company refurbished a laboratory and equipped it with state-of-the-art computers and software for Architecture, Quantity Surveying and Urban Design to the tune of R4 million."

On the local front, Prof Ndlovu said the institution’s Graduate School of Business had received full sponsorship of its Masters in Business Administration in Banking programme from Barclays Bank while Premier Bank had refurbished and fully equipped the school’s library.

He announced that the library has been selected as the regional centre co-ordinating projects on digital library collections.

Prof Ndlovu said the library was selected on the basis of its performance on regional initiatives to set up a prototype digital library.

However, the vice chancellor said the university had not been spared the vagaries of a hyperinflationary economy.

He cited delays in the construction of buildings on the campus as one of the affected areas.

"The site development programme collapsed because the amounts budgeted in November (last year) which appeared generous then were peanuts by March when they were disbursed, due to erosion by inflation.

"Staff, both academic and non-academic, resigned in dozens, including senior academic staff such as deans of faculties and professors, whom we desperately need to mentor our young staff, due to the harsh economic environment," said Prof Ndlovu.

However, he said, there seemed to be some glimmer of hope on the conditions of service for lecturers.

"Recent discussions on the matter, with your blessing, promise to bring smiles on the faces of staff and students, an occurrence the whole nation has been waiting for," said Prof Ndlovu.

He said the university was committed to "sustainable development", which was the theme for this year’s African University Day commemorated on November 12.

"To us, sustainable development is not a ‘by the way’ issue; it is core to our business.

Nust was involved in the fight against hunger and poverty through emphasis on bio-safety in use of biotechnologies.

Several Government officials as well as members of the Nust Council, led by the acting chairman Engineer Alvord Mabhena, graced the graduation ceremony.

No comments: