The Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) urged government to improve on accountability, transparency and balance as ways of refining the monetary policy, which it says is necessary in further reducing the rate of inflation in the country.
In its assessment of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s monetary policy statement the PRFT said although it acknowledged RBZ’s efforts in reducing Inflation from the peak of 837.5% in July 2020 to 60.7% in December 2021, inflation is still very high. Therefore, PRFT suggested;
“That the RBZ should review the foreign currency auction system taking into consideration stakeholder’s views and conforming to the Dutch Foreign Currency Auction principles which allows for price discovery. This will build confidence in the official foreign exchange market and help bridge the gap between the official and parallel foreign exchange market; Government should allow payment in local currency for all government goods and services to promote the use of the domestic currency; The limit on mobile banking transactions should be increased further in line with the inflation developments; More emphasis should be put on improving access to credit to disadvantaged groups such as women and persons with disabilities; and RBZ and the relevant authorities (Police, Zimbabwe Anticorruption Commission etc.)must deal with abusers of the US$50 facility. On the other hand RBZ must put in place a mechanism for all citizens with genuine foreign currency requirements to be able to access the forex through official channels,” said the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust.
The economy has been deteriorating due serious hyperinflation which has contributed to the increase of poverty in the country.
This has seen the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe implementing various monetary policy measures, including the recent 7 February 2022 monetary policy statement – themed “Stay the Course”, to try and reduce the rate of inflation.
The monetary policy statement is in line with section 46 of the Reserve Bank Act (Chapter 22:15), which requires the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to issue a statement outlining the monetary policy stance for the subsequent six months, the reasons for the policies and an evaluation of the previous period monetary policy measures.
Covid 19 has been seen as an evil one of the most devastating pandemics of all time claiming lives as well as disturbing economies and also the normal functioning of societies around the world. However, this misery brought about changes that the world needed and can be called “benefits” when it comes to international trade as well as international diplomacy which refers to the interaction between states that is both in relations and the exchange of goods. In this writing, I will be looking at the other side of Covid 19 not as misery but rather as a mother of a new form of international diplomacy and also a catalyst in the trade of new and another set of trades between nations.
Covid 19 has brought about improvements in the science and technology sector. In this case, as a result of covid 19 countries and communities have resorted to lockdown measures as a way of curbing the spread of the virus. Thus this resulted in online lessons for schools and we’ll as meetings. For example, the 2020 G20 Riyadh summit held on November 21-22 was supposed to take place in the capital city of Saudi Arabia but however, due to covid 19, this meeting was done virtually. In this regard, we also see an upgrade of the African Union Headquarters by the Chinese whereby they inserted a technology whereby officials can attend their meetings in their respective countries. Thus this is another improvement to the diplomacy due to COVID-19
We also see a boost in the trading center during the COVID-19 era whereby we see the importing of some goods necessary for the pandemic. I’m this case a case study of Zimbabwe comes into light whereby there has been a lot of vehicle imports in the COVID-19 era Speaking during his delivery of the 2021 national budget in parliament on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said about 800million U.S. dollars was spent on importing buses and light commercial and passenger vehicles from 2020 to September 2021. Due to the abolishing of an unregistered transport systems that is the Kombis and mushika Shika system. A lot of people in Zimbabwe had resulted in purchasing of private vehicles from abroad, also due to the taking over of the government transport system Zupco, it has put more pressure on the transport system since those with no private transport now depended on Zupco thus we saw The government of Zimbabwe under Zupco purchase more bases to cater for these needs. This improved trade between Zimbabwe and as well as other countries we traded in
Moreover, this period has brought peace around the nations. In this case, it has improved the living and working together concept as the whole world. Due to a common goal and a common enemy which is Covid 19 all states around the world has become one family and has set all the difference aside so as to focus on the problem at hand. As a result, we see countries joining hands to find a cure for Covid 19 in light of this we see the production of vaccines Where nations wherein a race to produce vaccines, and also the Free distribution of these vaccines. This issue is very critical in the diplomacy and trading corners at an international scale
It will also be unjust if it happens that Improvements in the medical and pharmaceutical arena. In this case, a rise in improvements in the medical arena is also seen during the Covid 19 era whereby nations now began to focus more on the medical field of their nations. For example, Zimbabwe the purchasing of ventilators and also the rise of infrared thermometers as and also surgical masks.
Last but not least the rise of the forgotten and underrated traditional medicines as helpers for Covid 19 as an illness. This has also brought another trading factor to light Which is traditional medicines for Example Madagascar came forward which is their traditional drink which they claimed that it cures Covid 19 though this was never approved. There is also the rise of traditional medicines like the Zumbani in Zimbabwe. This has now been available in supermarkets some pharmacies and well as is also being exported to other countries as far as Europe.
Though we are in agreement and trying to support the pandemic it was misery however, I had to look to the other side of the coin and accept that it is now among us and see what we had gained from its discovery those are some of the positive changes brought about by the Covid 19 era
Brighton B Chingwara
A Masters Student in International Trade and Diplomacy at The University Of Zimbabwe 2022
Investor optimism following the 2017 fall of former President Robert Mugabe has dissipated as the new dispensation has been slow to follow through on its promises to reform and improve the business environment. The economy has suffered hyperinflation and contracted sharply in 2019 worsened by the climatic shocks that crippled agriculture and electricity generation. Unsustainable monetary policy has led to a protracted currency crisis which continues to strain the economy. The Zimbabwean dollar introduced in February 2019 has already lost approximately 98 percent of its value on the black market. Failure to implement finance ministry efforts to rein in the budget deficit undermined public confidence in the financial sector. The government adopted a stabilization and reform agenda supported by IMF Staff-Monitored Program but by February 2020 the IMF reported the SMP had gone off track due to government failures to fully implement reforms. Zimbabwe remains in arrears to the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral institutions restraining many forms of multilateral assistance.
By Netsai Muchemwa
Although the government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to improve transparency, streamline business regulations and address corruption, the last two years have brought limited progress. Zimbabwe has attracted less than USD 600 million a year on average in foreign direct investment over the past decade. Zimbabwe’s incentives to attract foreign direct investment include tax breaks for new investment by foreign and domestic companies and making capital expenditures on new factories, machinery, and improvements fully tax-deductible. The government waives important taxes and surtaxes on capital equipment. The government has made slow progress at improving the business environment by reducing regulatory costs but policy inconsistency, weak institutions and lack of fiscal discipline have continued to frustrate business and investment.
Corruption remains rife and there is little protection of property rights, particularly with respect to agricultural land. In 2016, the government introduced a surrogate currency called the bond note officially pegged at USD only for domestic transactions. Money printing caused the currency to lose value and in February 2019 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe de-linked the local currency from the USD and has not yet implemented a market-clearing exchange rate regime. As a result, it remains difficult to access dollars at the official exchange rate and this has given much opportunity to the black market which has a higher rate. The government banned the use of foreign currencies for domestic transactions in 2019 further complicating the business environment but introduced some exceptions for investors and further relaxed the rules in March 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Inflation has jumped from 10.6% in 2018 to 676% in March 2020 reflecting monetary expansion, currency depreciation, and removal of subsidies on fuel and electricity. The sectors that attract the most investor interest are tobacco, mining, energy, and tourism. Zimbabwe has a well-earned reputation for the high education levels of its workers. In order to attract investment and encourage competitiveness, the government has encouraged public-private partnerships and emphasized the need to improve the investment climate by lowering the cost of doing business and restoring the rule of law and sanctity of contracts.
Zimbabwe Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Law limits the number of shares owned by foreigners in the diamonds and platinum sectors to 49% with specific indigenous organizations owning the remaining 51%. The government has signaled its intends to remove these restrictions. The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) promotes and facilitates both foreign direct investment and local investment. ZIA also facilitates and processes investment applications for approval. While the government has committed to prioritizing investor retention, there are still no mechanisms or formal structures to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the investors. While there is a right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activities, foreign ownership of businesses remains 49/51%.
Foreign investment is free to invest in the vast majority of non-resource sectors without any restrictions as the government aims to bring new technologies, generate employment, and value-added manufacturing. The government reserves certain sectors for Zimbabweans such as car hire, taxis, employment agencies, grain milling, passenger buses, bakeries, advertising, estate agencies, and dairy processing. According to the country, U.S. investors are not especially disadvantaged or singled out by any of the ownership or control mechanisms relative to other foreign investors. That being said, it is quite apparent that the new investment policies under the new dispensation are not enough to lure the mystical investor.
Written by Netsai Muchemwa, a Student at the University of Zimbabwe. For comments contact email@example.com
There can be no doubt, that the 2022 budget is juxtaposed against so many odds which include but are not limited to price and Exchange rate stability, new COVID-19 variant shocks and possible climatic shocks. In the face of all these shocks, government is still expected to chart a course anchored by macro economic and fiscal balance while providing basic social services.
The 2022 national budget slightly falls short of the 1 trillion dollar mark raising fears of new inflationary pressures in the economy largely driven by parallel market rates and speculative behaviour. The widening gap between the Dutch auction system rate and the parallel market rate will pose a serious threat on the impact of the budget. While the premium between the parallel markets rates and the official rates is widening there maybe a case for the improvement of the bidding system so that it yields a competitive exchange rate that reflects market fundamentals. I opine that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe must not reject highest bids.
The other huge challenge undermining the budget is the dollarisation of the economy. The fact of the matter is that whereas the budget is in Zimbabwe dollars, on the ground 90% of goods and services are charged in United States dollars. Civil servants salaries are paid in Zimbabwe dollars but the fact that government has promised to pay bonuses in hard currency itself is an admission that the Zimbabwe dollar has been debauched. It then raises the question – who is benefitting from the Zimbabwe dollar? Is government printing money and getting seigniorage revenues?
The 2022 national budget must see improvement in the disbursement of government funds to Ministries, departments and priority national projects. In the previous budgets disbursement was under 40% thereby giving a false impression of a surplus budget.
Despite these problematic issues it is encouraging to note that the economy is poised to grow by 5.5% in 2022, with exports jumping to over US$4 billion. This has strengthened the current account and will provide the necessary forex for importation of essential goods and services, and raw materials. I also note that the fiscal framework remains on balance although the is still no fiscal space to raise more revenues. This is the reason why out of total bids amounting to ZWL2.7 trillion dollars government only allocated ZWL927 billion dollars.
Development partners are also playing an important role as they are contributing a huge chunk to the budget and so is the diaspora which is now contributing US$1.5 billion per annum. Government must stay the course by continuing to finance capital expenditure and the public sector investment programme underpinned by infrastructural development.
I now turn to vote allocations and with measured caution, commend government for almost meeting the Abuja target in the health sector which was allocated 117 billion dollars or 14.9% of the budget. But I have been advised by other Economists that the vote for health is about 12% which falls short of the Abuja threshold. This begs the question whether the Minister made a genuine error or not? I personally think the Minister is smart enough and would not mislead both the President and the Nation. For now I take it that the Abuja declaration was met. The health sector must be adequately resourced in order to cope with the health care needs of a growing population ravaged by Covid-19.
Vote allocations for agriculture, education, energy, mining, tourism and industry will boost economic growth. But on Agriculture government must put more resources towards livestock health. The ‘January disease’ has caused serious de-stocking throughout the country especially in rural areas where the situation is aptly described as ‘kupisa matanga’ or burning cattle kraals.
The women and youth, SMEs and social protection received a reasonable allocation in the budget. However, despite chewing almost 60% of the budget, the purchasing parity of civil servants incomes is very low, which begs the question – why can’t government collect revenue in US dollars and pay civil servants salaries in hard currency anyway? One thing that is certain is that civil servants, being agents, will offload their earned hard currency bonus on the parallel market and this has the potential to increase parallel market rates. The payment of bonus in hard currency, welcome as it is, is however a sign of lack of confidence in the mono- currency by government itself.
The Minister of Finance calls the 2022 budget the People’s Budget but regrettably there is little or no pro-poor policies in the budget. We expect to see the plight of pensioners comprehensively addressed. The tax-free threshold must be raised to ZWL$50 000 dollars if it is going to cushion the working class. Despite harping on supporting economic value chains, there’s no clear jobs creation strategy in the budget. It is also not clear how government is going to ensure that minerals are value added and beneficiated locally, during our lifetime!. Yet these are the same issues we keep on raising year after year in pre-budget consultative meetings.
I urge government to increase the budget allocation to the local government sector which is in shambles. The urban road network needs complete overhaul. Motorists are driving on bumpy and pot holed roads which require urgent capital outlays. Economic growth is hollow if it does not lead to the improvement in the lives of people and clearly the poor state of urban roads, reduces the happiness index of citizens.
Urban water and sanitation, government must urgently intervene and make sure that urban settlements have clean running water and efficient liquid waste management systems.
On key infrastructural projects, I appeal to government to finish the Harare airport road – the section linking Enterprise road and the Flyover bridge on Mukuvisi river was abandoned many years ago. The other urgent project requiring urgent attention is the decongestion of the Mbudzi traffic circle by the construction of flyover and associated rumps.
Turning to Matabeleland, the Beitbridge border post must be modernised and turned into a one stop border post in order to improve the movement of traffic, people, goods and services. Government must complete the Zambezi water project in 2022 in order to provide a lasting solution to the water challenges faced by that region. The Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane road must be constructed and tarred in order to shorten the distance to the tourist resort of Victoria falls.
More schools and tertiary colleges must be constructed in Mashonaland East and Central provinces. I have raised some of these project issues so that government remains alive to the development gaps that exist.
In conclusion, this cursory look at the 2022 national budget is meant to provoke further debate on the manner in which government has proposed its budget measures. It is hoped that the global economy will not be adversely impacted by the new COVID-19 variant which has got a potential to reverse the economic stimulus measures which have been provided by the IMF through the SDRs. And talking about SDRs, civil society and none- state actors must now engage authorities on the proposed allocation of the $1 billion SDRs that Zimbabwe recently received from the IMF.
Last but not least, the US$50 tax on new cellular handsets flies in the face of digitalization. We must promote mobile banking and handshake with technology. Zimbabweans had long transited from being digital migrants to becoming digital natives. This tax must be reversed while other revenue raising measures are explored.
Living in Epworth, a peri-urban marginalized community has proven to be difficult for many who have to struggle to eke a living during the day and return to the dark and silent homes in the evening. As if the shortage of water is not a bigger problem on its own, Epworth residents have to suffer more when it comes to making meals and preserving their food because of the unavailability of electricity in most of the households.
Lack of sufficient power generation capacity in the country compounded by poor transmission and distribution infrastructure has been the main cause of unequal electricity distribution between Zimbabwe’s developed and marginalized communities. While the equal distribution of electricity within a country is a necessity, Zimbabwe has largely lagged behind. This drawback has been one of the main reasons for the sluggish development that currently persists.
Although the country has tried to cover the gap difference of the electricity supply between urban and rural areas through the establishment of the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) in 2002, there have been loopholes in terms of distribution between the country’s developed and marginalized urban areas resulting in massive inequalities. For example, in Epworth, most of the houses do not have electricity due to what residents described as a cumbersome and expensive process when it comes to applying for electricity installation.
The lack of electricity has led to the perpetual suffering of residents as they struggle when it comes to energy for their cooking, getting access to information, and powering their electronic entertainment gadgets, which are necessary for them to escape real-life hardships they endure on a daily basis. The lack of access to electricity greatly infringes on their rights as human beings.
“In Epworth, almost three-quarters of the houses do not have electricity. For one to have electricity they should have a cluster at their area and then start contributing every month to buy materials like poles, cables, and other related materials and from there they need to look for a contractor and have to submit names to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). So that is the process now, and ZESA does not want wooden poles and also they need four lines of wire cables which cost, for instance, $2 US dollars per meter. How many can afford that? Thus most people do not have electricity and for those who have, sometimes there will be no electricity due to power cuts like any other areas,” said one of Epworth’s local residents who identified herself as Sarah Njanji.
The effects and costs of the lack of electricity also disadvantage school children who cannot access online lessons during the recent Covid -19 induced lockdowns and future lockdowns. Residents also miss critical information in the form of news due to the lack of electrical power.
“We are doing that project now and it has been now 4 years without electricity because we had wooden poles and only 50-meter wire. The challenges we then face are that most people use firewood to cook which is a disadvantage during rainy seasons, especially when they cannot afford to buy gas as it is very expensive. Also, technology appreciation and access to information require electricity, and most people here cannot watch television or listen to the radio because sometimes solar energy is not reliable as they require a great amount of sunshine. In schools our children are lagging behind because they are unable to attend online lessons because there will be no source of energy to charge their cellphones,” Sarah added.
Another issue that Njanji raised was that of regularization. She stated that some of the houses in Epworth’s Wards 4,5, 6, and 7 are still waiting for regularization.
“The regularization process in Epworth is unsatisfactory because both the local board and council are failing to properly allocate land. Maybe l don’t really understand how the allocation process is carried out but it seems to have something to do with politics because I don’t understand the criteria they are using when allocating the land, but it is disadvantaging vulnerable groups in Epworth such as the elderly and orphans whom they should be prioritizing. Hence, there’s a need for government to monitor them because urgent intervention is required for regularization to be done properly to improve livelihoods and prevent chaos,” said a local resident, John Nyapetwa. Listen here
Meanwhile, the Epworth local board confirmed the unavailability of electricity in some parts of Epworth but blamed squatters who live in illegal structures for delaying the regularization of some houses. According to the Epworth local board, unregularized houses cannot get electricity because they will be considered to be without owners.
“I think the bigger problem is that people do not have money and the process of installing electricity is very expensive. While vandalism is another problem leading to power outages in the area, the presence of illegal structures has also been affecting the regularization process, thereby affecting the distribution of electricity in the area. However, there is need for proper use of funds which government donates so that electricity is made available and Epworth develops from being a peri-urban area,” Epworth Local Board member, Reverend Masesedza said.
Illegal structures cannot be regularized, hence, there’s a need for the residents to formerly buy land and build legal houses so that they get electricity.
Despite efforts to improve the electricity supply in the country, the government’s measures have been catching a cold from the nation’s deteriorating economic conditions. The government established the rural electrification program, constantly repairs machinery at the county’s power stations (Hwange and Kariba), and granted electricity-producing licenses to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as a way to increase electricity supply. Hence, inadequate electricity distribution and generation remain a challenge, which without improvement can prevail forever, unless transparency, accountability, and equity are put into practice by Zimbabwe’s electricity generating, transmission and distribution company, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). Transparency, accountability, and equity are important principles that when applied, there will be adequate and fair use of funds donated to the energy sector, thus ensuring equal and efficient distribution of electricity within the country. This prevents the neglect of marginalized communities like Epworth in this instance.
While most European and Asian countries like the US, China, and India have made clear progress on expanding electricity access in recent years, developing countries’ efforts, especially Zimbabwe to make electricity available for everyone will need to improve if the country is going to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 which aims at ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Thereby supporting Zimbabwe’s vision of becoming an upper-middle-income economy by the year 2030 because insufficient power supply in the country presents barriers that impact development in the country’s economic, health, education, and social sectors.
This is a report produced on behalf of the Media Centre for the above meeting which had the support from FOJO Media Institute, IMS and the Government of Sweden.
The meeting started with Mr. William Ponela of Zoneful Energy signposting the importance of how Government introduced renewable energy policy to move from dirty energy. This is not reported. Further, the media is not talking about stunted assets where we need to abandon certain aspects like coal. If we move from call what. He also emphasized how information dissemination on energy issues is poor because of poor reportage in the media. There is also the ‘puppy syndrome’ where international investors may dump products because we are not innovating greatly on holistic ways to deal with our challenges. There are serious implications on end consumers since they are shortchanged. There has been a lot of poor reportage on green energy. In countries like Germany and other European energy we can disrupt. In Gr the generation of solar energy is 4c for kWh. In economic sense let’s resort to that. With the invention of lithium batteries and smart phones, solar energy is effective way for our people to have access to clean and safe energy. Local media isn’t talking an informational approach and focus on other issues like resuscitation of Hwange and Kariba power. Solar energy are wireless. Let us share notes with countries like Algeria and Egypt on how smart energy have vitalized energy access. Bangladesh has prioritized investment in solar energy and local renewable agencies have immensely benefited. Public and private sectors must come up with models.
Honorable Mangoma focused on what the energy sector should be like and what it is like. Basically a country needs to have electricity to properly develop. Africa’s energy crises have regrettably hampered development. He focused on four pillars which are:
Generation of electricity– In this pillar Zimbabwe should properly focus on resources like coal, gas, methane; hydro and solar. We have interstate hydro energy which we share with Zambia. There is need to explore ways to exploit the Congo rover energy if our relations are improved. Africa has witnessed significant developments on energy sector seriously in the Nile River and Ethiopia’s of commissioning energy transmission. This is also important since Zimbabwe has little internal hydro generation. Coal has been Zimbabwe’s bedrock and the nation can continue to expand and can exploit that competitive advantage. Added to this are clean energies like natural gas. While we can focus on Zambezi interstate investment, Zimbabwe has solar which can be exploited at a large scale. We can feed this into national grid or roof top installation and reverse metering. Solar energy cannot be lost and wasted. Let’s connect to the national grid.
Transmission- There is inter-linkages between East Africa power pool, Southern African power pool. We need to focus on generation capacities at inter and intra state benefits.
Distribution- Access of electricity at the endpoint by consumers. Zimbabweans have 50-60% access to electricity although much in urban areas and lower in rural areas. There is room for improvement which we must focus on as a nation.
Systems management- Electricity comes with other issues. What you generate must be consumed. High demand for instance shows that we increase generation. We can have systems on load sharing, tariffs, reserve power, pick tariff (higher) and off-pick tariffs (lower). Zimbabwe’s current flat tariff system has to be relooked. Zimbabwe needs smart meters which will tell us whether we have off pick or pick tariffs. This will encourage investment if it is properly reported by the media. We can compare solar energy investments and reportage on the merits and down-sides of coal and hydro energies. In simple, Zimbabwean media must deepen reportage on interstate linkages so that we exploit various transmission networks. This leads to cost effective measures on energy management in Zimbabwe and beyond. This way Zimbabweans can find ways to deal with availability, affordability and accessibility of electricity. There is need for educational campaigns to enable the general populace to make informed choices on taking up issues like reverse metering. Reverse metering is insurance in periods of load shedding or other aspects that affect electricity consumption.
From a media perspective, Miss Sofia Mapuranga a freelance journalist proffered some recommendation on how the media can be a medium of communication on energy issues. She indicated that various mediums like print, broadcasting and online media can be used as a tool to educate the population in sustainable ways. Energy issues dominate various media platforms but there is need to find ways to change public perceptions on energy issues. Public enlightenment is crucial even in promoting energy justice. The media should indeed provide comprehensive accounts of energy events. Generally, energy issues are lowly reported and other key aspects include internet accessibility. The news of news is usually focused on commissions of events by Government or energy scandals. The media landscape is generally like that. The challenges in the media relate to editorial policies that influence the news content. The competition of spaces and this ‘news is business’ perspective has to be genuinely interrogated. There is lack of appreciation on energy issues among journalists or editors. The technical side on energy issues may be lacking especially where media houses are chasing deadlines. There should be partnerships between media and stakeholders so that we establish links between practitioners and other active stakeholders. There is need for organizations to provide resources to journalists and commission energy-related stories. Another way is to incentivize reportage on media issues. We can learn from countries like Rwanda on why they have
After the presentations from Mr. Ponela, Mr. Mangoma and Miss Mapuranga, there were critical interventions from participants like Mr. Ernest Mudzengi. Mr. Mudzengi bemoaned why the media does not go out of its way to deal with issues including issues between ZETDC and scandals on bribes. He raised concern on why there is little on the reportage on how the continuation of the electricity project will be like beyond INTRATEC and ZETDC’s severed relationship. Mr. Mudzengi also raised concerns on the economic value of public-private partnerships in the energy sector. He felt that an innovative business model should be clear so that the partnerships have a business dimension. Mr. Mangoma indicated that there is a serious knowledge gap that needs to be filled in. Independent power producers are legislatively allowed to come in. The tariff issues have to be properly assessed so that we accommodate customers through clear breakdowns on excess energy that is generated. We need to look at business elements by properly understanding the need for tariff charges as they relate to returns on individual and business investment.
Mr. Mudzengi then dealt with the issue of how we can benefit from rural electrification. How can we ensure rural electrification helps us in our national development? Mr. Mabasa indicated that Buhera South is immensely benefiting from rural electrification. In terms of benefits in Buhera South, there are ready benefits in the wielding industry. We have a lot of benefits for schools in the grid network. There is low teaching staff turnover and this benefits students greatly. Areas in Buhera Central are also immensely benefiting from the program. Mr. Ponela noted that high electricity tariffs are however affecting rural investors. There is need for the media to find ways to ensure the production side of electricity utilization is properly reported. Mr. Mangoma also touched on the economic value of rural electrification. He emphasized the human development side of rural electrification. He emphasized that people in rural areas deserve to have their living standards raised in the same way urban areas do. This is a way is much cheaper and friendly ways of approaching rural life. Mr. Mudzengi then urged the Government to also learn from Zambia and how Zimbabwe can also prioritize electrification of areas like Kanyemba near Zambia. This should also be linked to the fundamental issues that were raised by Mr. Timba on issues ranging from climate change, sustainable tobacco farming and so forth.
Mr Tanatswa Dambuza also looked at ways Zimbabwe should indeed borrow electricity under the SADC Power Pool. Because there is liberalization of access to electricity in SADC region, the media must also report on the agreements that Zimbabwe is part of which bear on energy utilization. In the end, there is need for evidence-based media reportage. Mr. Mudzengi however felt that there is need for clarity whether we are borrowing or buying. We should look at this from the debts we have been owing to countries like South Africa. Borrowing will unfortunately depend on SADC regional cooperation. Mr. Mangoma however indicated that the buying of electricity is inevitable. Zimbabwe also sells to other countries. So let’s focus on Zimbabwe’s position as net importer and exporter of electricity.
Mr Mudzengi the director of Media Centre then indicated that there would be a follow up meeting. He also indicated that there would be invitation to many stakeholders so that an evidence-based approach to energy issues is done. He asked the moderator to also suggest on the way forward. In the circumstances the moderator suggested that:
This report should be taken as the summary of key take-aways and action items.
There is need for Media Centre to identify the individuals who will manage each activity to be done.
There is need to establish ways to get a buy-in from other participants.
The report or abridged minutes can be shared with the current participants
An action plan should be designed as a follow-up tool and road map on action items to be completed especially considering the recommendations from the three speakers.
The action plan can be shared by creating a google email
There is also need for a communiqué on this meeting which should be published in the state and private media. There is thus need to also find ways to ensure the communiqué is also signed or has the Media Centre’s funding supporters who made this important webinar a success.
There is need for Media Centre and partners to also design some achievement celebrations and acknowledge journalistic contributions. This will motivate the reporters, create engagement and improve the quality and effectiveness of reportage on energy.
The Media in Zimbabwe has been urged to increase its reportage on electricity generation and distribution as this constitutes an important aspect that can accelerate the production and provision of energy in the country. All the speakers at the webinar meeting convened on Thursday by Media Center, agreed to the fact that media reportage on energy related issues is the life blood upon which efficient power production can be realized for the good of the country.
Former Minister of Energy and Power Development, Elton Mangoma said increased electricity generation is key to ensure improved power generation in Zimbabwe to match what other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are doing. Mangoma added:
“The increase in electricity distribution cannot supersede generation .This will then ensure that electricity distribution in urban, rural, farming and peri-urban areas can only be enhanced once generation improved.”
He also said that electricity usage in rural areas must go beyond mere lighting, cooking and the use for domestic refrigeration. The use of the energy must also be productive like for purposes of milling, irrigation, and other small to medium businesses.
Mangoma further said there is need for alternative sources of energy and one example he quickly mentioned is the use of Solar Energy which can also be fed into the national grid to avoid wastage. Another issue he tackled relates to the inclusion of Public Private Partnership (PPP), to generate electricity for Zimbabwe.
The media must be proactive when it comes to reporting on the various models that work for Zimbabwe in terms of electricity generation, the transmission and the distribution aspect.
Zoneful Energy Chief Executive William Pomela, concurred with Mangoma saying Zimbabwe must not neglect renewable sources of energy and the alternative usage of smart energy. He said Zimbabwe must emulate what other countries are doing such as Germany, Bangladesh and Rwanda to maximize power generation and distribution.
Sofia Mapuranga a freelance journalist weighed in saying there is need for a lot of information regarding electricity generation in Zimbabwe.
There ought to be empowerment programmes for journalists to effectively report on electricity generation, distribution and transmission issues. What worries a lot is that not so many media practitioners understand how to report on energy issues in Zimbabwe. She also urged the media to utilize the digital space to report on the energy matters.
Sofia’s views were echoed by the Media Center Executive Director, Earnest Mudzengi who voiced the need for a concerted reportage of the energy matters. He highlighted news agencies such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) who use specialists when reporting on energy issues. Hence, the local news agencies must do the same to enhance knowledge about energy discussions in Zimbabwe .
Mudzengi following up on a question raised by Tanatsiwa Dambuza, a political and social scientist, acknowledged the importance of following the SADC agreement such as Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) in terms of power importation and exportation of electricity. The media must come up with innovative ways of reporting on energy especially following up on agreements such as SAPP.
Currently ,Zimbabwe produces 1,100 megawatts (MW) of electricity against a national demand of 1,500 MW. The Southern African country depend on Kariba Dam for its electricity supply which has an estimated capacity of 1,050 MW. Coal powered stations such as Hwange produce above 70% of the country’s energy. But the Hwange coal power station infrastructure constantly breaks down causing a constant supply interruption.
Dubai based business woman and aspiring president for Zimbabwe Democratic and Economic Freedom Party (ZDEFP), Edith Chibhamu has challenged Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa to do the right thing and assist parents in the informal service with their children’s school fees.
Posting on her micro-blog Facebook page Chibhamu said: “Now that the lockdown has ended and ED says schools must open, who is going to pay fees for the informal traders’ children since their businesses were closed?
Vendors and informal workers’ groups in Zimbabwe say that city officials, with the support of the government, have been exploiting the lockdown destroying makeshift shops and market stalls while their owners were observing stay-at-home orders last year.
In a conjoint statement the former minister of state for Harare Oliver Chidawu and former mayor Hebert Gomba said they noted with concern the anxiety that has gripped players in the informal sector, especially when the demolitions began.
In an exclusive interview with Chibhamu on the sidelines of her challenge to the president she said:
“Mnangagwa’s government still claims that the aim of the operation was to remove illegal businesses and ensure that cities are “clean, orderly and well-managed” while also making sure councils don’t lose out on potential revenue although they did not consider the destructiveness to such a diabolic act against the ordinary people and the informal sector”
“I expected Mnangagwa’s administration to be reserving low capital sectors of the economy only for locals. It’s sad that he has chosen to side with foreigners whilst his own people are languishing in poverty with unemployment rates close to 95% percent”.
“Mnangagwa is treating his own people like strangers. How can a normal government approve a Chinese national to come to Zimbabwe and start Sadza (staple) and bottled water business when locals are unemployed and often denied that opportunity?”
“He must know that our youths are the guarantee to the future of our nation and it’s high time we build a strong foundation. The government must promote youths and have them in all levels of leadership and not victimize them on the basis of their different political affiliations” Chibhamu said