Economic Evaluation of Zimbabwe: How is it different now from the first two years of Independence.

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Just as Zimbabwe is a land of political contradictions, so it is a land of economic paradox, for the nation is simultaneously both developed and underdeveloped. A developed economy can be seen through its industrial sectors, in the commercial farm areas, and in the mines. These sectors have relatively modern technology, excellent infrastructure, sophisticated management techniques, and a skills pool well above the average for the continent. But in the former tribal trust lands, where about 75% of the population lives, Zimbabwe is obviously a land of underdevelopment, if not of poverty. The shortages of arable land, clean water, schools, roads, farm implements, irrigation facilities, and fertilizers, combined with the generally poor quality of the land, make this side of Zimbabwe a candidate for “least developed” status. 


The government aims to correct this distortion and pull the underdeveloped segment out of its poverty. But it says that it does not want merely to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor, as it realizes that this could eventually cut incentives and reduce the economic pie to the detriment of all. The task then is to obtain sufficient growth in the developed sector to give a fair return on investment and to fund development in the neglected areas. 

Can this essential growth be achieved? On the basis of Zimbabwe’s history, there is a good chance that it can. While the country is burdened with distortions between the developed and underdeveloped sectors, within the developed sector itself Zimbabwe is blessed with a level of diversification and therefore of economic balance that is the envy of Africa. 

The economy is basically powered by three engines: mining (12% of GDP), agriculture (17%), and manufacturing (18,43). These sectors balance each other, with a bad year in one often compensated by a good year in another. And within each sector, there is again a surprisingly balanced variety of activities. Hundreds of crops can be grown, six main minerals are mined and manufacturers cover a wide variety of fields. 

But a prosperous future is not automatically assured. Four things could sabotage it. First, overhasty or inappropriate government policies could scare off the white population which still possesses many skills essential to the economy. Such policies could also deter foreign investment that is essential for growth. Second, an international recession could depress prices for Zimbabwe’s exports, curtailing foreign exchange revenues. Since the pace of manufacturing expansion depends on the availability of foreign exchange for importing machinery and raw materials, a fall in commodity revenues would also slow manufacturing growth. Third, rapid manufacturing progress requires export markets and, if the lucrative South African market were closed, manufactures would suffer. Fourth, massive government social welfare spending, high wage policies, and international price rises could eventually spin inflation to levels that erode economic growth. Despite these dangers, Zimbabwe’s post-independence economic record encourages a moderately optimistic outlook. Certainly, Zimbabwe is far better equipped than virtually any other African country to withstand whatever economic storms the future brings.   

According to Riddell R.C (1984), it was only in the first two years of Independence that Zimbabwe outperformed her neighbors. Economic performance in the second year of independence, 1981, was less stupendous than the 1980s but still entirely respectable. Economic growth was hindered by the fall in demand for minerals due to the international recession, transport problems associated with South Africa’s lack of cooperation on lending railroad stock, and difficulty in maintaining rail equipment because of the emigration of skilled repairmen. But even with these breaks, 1981’s current prices growth rate reached an estimated 23%, the same as the 1980s. It was only when the plateaued growth was combined with a two-fold increase in the inflation rate, up to about 16%, that 1981’s growth rate estimate fell to the 6% to 8% range. The slowdown was disappointing but it still left Zimbabwe with enviable figures far above most African, and indeed some European, indices.  

Manufacturing fared moderately well for the first half of the year when 1980 revenues paid for increased foreign exchange allocations for manufacturing inputs. But the effects of decreased minerals’ revenues started to bite in the third quarter, forcing 10% to 15% allocation cuts in the last quarter of the year. The consequent shortages of inputs and equipment, combined with a steady, if not dramatic, erosion of skills, led manufacturing growth to slacken from the 1980s 15% to an estimated 12%. 

But contrary to expectations, consumer demand did not fall simultaneously. An estimated 37% increase in government expenditure and the ongoing effects of increased wages and employment led to a 33% increase in the first four months of the year. 

The combination of an estimated 22% fall in the volume of exports in 1981 and an escalating deficit in Invisibles caused Zimbabwe’s foreign reserves to fall from a post-independence peak of Z$212 million in October 1980 to only Z$150 million in September 1981, which is equivalent to just two months’ import cover. Consequently, the 1980’s trade surplus of almost Z$70 million moved to an estimated 1981 deficit. This, combined with an increased deficit in Invisibles only partially alleviated by aid-flows, led to an increase in the current account deficit, as yet unspecified but clearly above 1980’s Z$182 million (monthly digest of statics, November 1981). Furthermore, the government’s budget deficit grew from 9% to 11% of GDP. The government sought to ease the economic crunch by borrowing. World Bank figures showed Eurocurrency borrowings of US$27 with US$6 million in the final part of 1980 and US$116. 6 million in the first half of 1981. Other finance came from aid, which contributed 6% of 1981 total expenditure. The Zimcord donors’ conference, held in March 1981, brought pledges amounting to Z$1.3 billion which was to be used over the following three years for a variety of public projects. 

The new borrowing pushed Zimbabwe’s debt service ratio from a low 7% at independence to nearly 12%. To control the money supply and bring down inflation the government almost doubled most interest rates in 1981. (The prime overdraft rate of the commercial banks went up from 7.5% to l3%.) . Furthermore, banks were “advised” to increase their liquid assets ratio from 35% to 40%, tightening credit still more. In the 12 months ending June 1981, the money supply grew 11.3%, a marked slowdown from the 1980 liquidity expansion. 

But while the government was juggling with the economy in an effort to stimulate maximum growth and minimum inflation, it also had to continue to respond to the needs and demands of the black population. After all, the whole point of the exercise was to improve living standards for previously neglected sectors of the population. 

 Miranda Mungate is an MSc student at the University of Zimbabwe student and can be contacted on


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Gender-Based Violence ravages  Mashonaland East

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By Panashe Chikonyora

Visuals of people who attended the Wedza Community Interface meeting

Gender based violence (GBV), is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies around the world. In many countries, gender based violence continues to greatly undermine girls and women’s opportunities, Zimbabwe included notwithstanding the great strides to eradicate the prevalence of gender based violence.

Although both women and men experience gender-based violence, the majority of victims are women and girls. Zimbabwe among many other countries has been witnessing a phenomenal surge in gender based violence cases, with child marriages and domestic abuse accounting for 90 percent of gender based violence reported cases in the country.

Recent figures from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) indicate that Mashonaland East is leading in the gender based violence cases in the country for the period January to September 2021. According to ZPCS 445 male and 11 female inmates from Mashonaland East were incarcerated for perpetrating gender based violence.

Hwedza is an example of one of the districts in Mashonaland East where gender based violence cases have been rising. Presenting at a community interface meeting with Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust (WERDIT) in December last year, Women Affairs Ministry department representative Luckson Magebuza said:

“Hwedza is showing a disturbing trend in terms of gender based violence. Statistics from Hwedza police station indicated that from January to September 2021, Hwedza recorded 78 cases of gender based violence, 20 cases were of rape, 27 of domestic violence including other cases such as sexual intercourse with a minor and attempted rape. 31 women and girls were referred and housed at Msasa safe shelter in Kwakuenda – a place where we shelter most of our needy gender based violence survivors while they await their cases to be solved,”

He added that the figures could be more if they increase the scope of their research to include other sources

“We need more statistics from other sources that deal with gender based violence in Hwedza such as village headmen so that our research is not limited. The cases could be more than 78 considering that there are also those gender based violence victims who do not report.

Some of the gender based violence hot spot areas include rural district wards such as 6 and 7 in Gumbonzvanda and Demenyore in Hwedza.

An example of a gender based violence case in Hwedza was that of Agnes Tapatsiwa – a mother to a child living with a disability who encountered difficulties after being rejected by her husband’s family for giving birth to her child.

Agnes’ husband who is a psychiatric patient could not protect her from his brother’s wrath. She said she had to endure the pain of moving countless times from one abandoned homestead  to the other with her four children.

“When I gave birth to my fourth child my husband’s family did not accept my child and because my husband is a psychiatric patient my brother in law chased me away from the house that my late mother in law had left me. So l had to look for another place to stay an abandoned homestead  with my four children. I lived there for two years before I took my brother in law to court and got a peace order, however he denied ever chasing me away from home and also took a protection order against me. I had to move out again.

I later took the case at court in Marondera and I won the house, but when we returned to the village my brother in law again took the matter to the village head and I believe that he bribed the police because they supported him, he even wanted me banished from Hwedza.  However, I am still living there despite the torment because that is my children’s home,” narrated Agnes.

However, the interface meeting saw WERDIT and both state and non-state members agreeing on improving Wedza District’s services towards gender based violence victims by urging the provision of one stop shops to protect gender based violence victims.

Zimbabwe recently took part in the 16 days of activism against gender based violence from 25 November to 10 December under the theme. ‘End Violence Against Women and Girls Now: No To Child Marriage!!!’ Such efforts are a positive step in emancipating women who play a critical role in sustainable socio- economic development.


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Are the new investment policies under the new dispensation enough to lure the mystical investor?

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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

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Since the coming in of the second republic in 2017, the mantra Zimbabwe is open for business has become part of the country’s foreign policy. Due to the volatile currency, lack of clear institutional governance frameworks, slow pace in domesticating international trade or investment treaties, the role of the government in the economy and national politics, there has been no meaningful investment in Zimbabwe. This article highlights the major challenges facing Zimbabwe is open for business mantra to underscore in its objectives and achievements.

By Ray Masuku

Firstly, the relationship between international trade law and domestic law is guided by two theories namely, the monist and dualist theories. The theories explain how international law is domesticated into national law. In this section, the theory of dualism in international trade law states that international agreements should be incorporated and domesticated into domestic or municipal law through legislative procedures. Domestication of international trade agreements in Zimbabwe is guided by sections 34, 326, and 327 of the 2013 constitution of Zimbabwe (as amended). The legislature as an arm of the government has an important role to play in the domestication of international treaties to promote economic prosperity in accordance with section 12 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe on the principles of foreign policy. Zimbabwe has not yet incorporated the World Trade Organization agreement into domestic law as well as a number of treaties. Zimbabwe is not using the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Eastern and Southern African countries (EPA-ESA). The Economic Partnership Agreement can go a long way in addressing Zimbabwe’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues through article 35 of the EPA. Zimbabwe has been slow in joining some international initiatives to foster international trade and investment as Zimbabwe has not joined the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. This is against the principles of good governance especially those related to transparency. Zimbabwe has to improve its domestication process to encourage investments to foster economic development.

Isolation from the international community has been Zimbabwe’s policy for the past two decades. The second republic has proclaimed that Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none. One of the major issues of concern is the number of Bilateral Investment Treaties and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements which are in force in a scenario where the government says Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none. Zimbabwe has 10 BITs that are in force and those BITs came into force in the 1990s. The global economy is changing as a number of events have taken place and new economic ideas are being implemented. Zimbabwe, therefore, needs to up its game by renegotiating and negotiating new BITs to be in touch with the current global economic events for economic prosperity through investment.

As we live in a global village where technology is advancing, there is no clear online institutional governance framework in Zimbabwe. The institutional governance framework must be accessible under government or institutions’ websites. It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe is Open for business mantra faces challenges when it comes to the accessibility of online information. Online websites do not have enough or detailed information for investors to access all investment-related information. Some of the government’s websites do not open hence, investors cannot access much-needed information from these sites. The governance frameworks should speak to section 3(2) of the constitution which speaks to justice, transparency, and responsiveness as factors of good governance. The environment for investment has become opaque as Zimbabwe is ranked low in the ease of doing business due to more time spent on office-to-office documents. In this 21st century where technology is advancing, Zimbabwe has to retool its investment environment by revisiting government websites for accessibility to give investors information from wherever they are.

The global economy through liberalism has pushed developing or less developed countries to the economics of survival as there has been a rise in volatile currency in developing and less developed countries. Volatile currency is another factor that is affecting Zimbabwe is open for business mantra. It is as a result of policy inconsistency in Zimbabwe as the government through the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have been changing policies in a short period of time. The shift from the multi-currency regime to the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWD) has affected a number of investors which has also made investors shun Zimbabwe because of uncertainty in projection of investment using the Zimbabwean dollar. The role of the government in controlling the exchange rate affects investors as their production is now determined by black market dealings. According to the World Trade report (2020), there is no transparency in the auction system which makes it hard for investors to choose Zimbabwe as an investment destination where foreign currency is controlled by the government.

According to Keynesian economics, the government’s role should be of providing a wide range of public goods while the institutionalists highlight that the focus should be on the real world rather than the abstract models of a free market. In Zimbabwe, policymakers deal with abstract and perception rather than reality. There is a need for Zimbabwe to implement the gold standard or adopt the 21st-century digital currency rather than using fiat currency which has failed the global economy since the abandonment of the gold standard. Poor salaries in the security services have led to the rise in armed robberies who are targeting business people. Recently, the minister of Home Affairs told the Zimbabwe Republic Police senior officials that the rise in cases of armed robberies was scaring away foreign investors in Zimbabwe. The role of the government, in this case, must be of providing basic goods and stable salaries to all the working people to reduce the levels of armed robberies. Adam Smith in his book “Wealth of Nations”, states that the government must create an enabling environment to make sure that the market strives. Therefore, the government of Zimbabwe must retreat and create a conducive environment for investment.

The link between politics and the economics of the day cannot be ignored in international relations. The politics of Zimbabwe is affecting the economy as investors remain insecure about political events in Zimbabwe. Political persecutions and political statements by government officials attacking potential countries who have the capabilities to invest in Zimbabwe are of great concern. Constructivists state that values, identity, and history play a major role in international relations. It is in this case that Zimbabwe needs the United Kingdom to revitalize industries as Zimbabwe’s closed industrial tools are of the United Kingdom model. Political unrests noticed in 2018 and 2019 is a clear example of the challenge faced by investors as political demonstrations affected investors through the looting of goods in their shops.  The demonstrations were due to the effects of liberal economics which affect ordinary people. The sanctions debate is a result of the national politics and international politics in Zimbabwe as we are living in the world of dependency and interdependency for economic growth.

From the Havana Charter to the World Trade Organization, property-related aspects in investments remain a major concern. Property rights in investments must be protected by domestic laws. According to Hume, the government has the obligation or duty to protect property. Farm evictions have continued even during the second republic’s tenure as farmers are being evicted by powerful political elites. In a globalized international system, evicted farmers’ news has made headlines to the outside world sending a clear message to the mythic investors that property rights are not guaranteed in Zimbabwe. The comments from members of the WTO for Zimbabwe’s trade policy report review indicated the dissatisfaction by western countries on property rights. This area needs attention by allowing investors to enjoy their property rights for economic prosperity. Zimbabwe must be clear on property rights and follow the rule of law as stated in the constitution of Zimbabwe.

However, there are some successes of the policy that may not be ignored. The private and public partnership in doing some investments as well as infrastructure development is complimented. Local investors and those in the diaspora have heard the call of the President “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”. A number of developmental projects and investments are taking place throughout the country. These include the building of schools, electrification, the building of clinics, and engaging in the business sector by also contributing to the economy through remittances. Moreover, the programs carried by the government as efforts to address the challenges can be commendable. The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme is one of the programs that can benefit Zimbabwe in terms of investment. Road rehabilitation and upgrades can help Zimbabwe to lay a strong foundation for economic growth given that road and air transport plays a major role in connecting trading countries. In line with the regional economic integration through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, road rehabilitations can be key to unlocking trade routes and linking with other states in the region.

Tax holidays are important in investments for developing countries, as Zimbabwe has implemented it. Tax holidays are governed by tax law and are fiscal measures that are used to attract local and foreign investors. The government of Zimbabwe has given tax holidays to investors in different spheres of the economy especially in the mining sector. Great Dyke Investment was given a five-year tax break as Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency has a role to play in crafting the best tax holidays to attract investors as mandated by the attendant Act. The issue of tax holidays needs to be implemented in a transparent manner so that the citizens know-how and who is granted tax holidays as well as how do they benefit them. Zimbabwe has been moving in the right direction in granting tax holidays, however, the government has to be transparent and critically evaluate the performance of those who require tax holidays.

In conclusion, As the policy is getting attention, a number of issues still need to be addressed for it to successfully achieve its objectives. Zimbabwe should adopt a digital currency or join the Rand Union for investment and trade to thrive in this liberal international politics. There is a need to adopt current technological advancements and upgrade the government websites for investors to get more information online in order to reduce office to office delays. Zimbabwe should also reform the way it does its politics as the national politics of the day have been influential to the international politics for Zimbabwe leading to investment uncertainty. There is also a need to negotiate new Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAS) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) to be in touch with both the current global economic needs. In addition, Zimbabwe has to join some international initiatives that promote economic growth through trade and investments.  The World Trade Report comments for Zimbabwe should be taken into consideration as it sends a clear picture of Zimbabwe’s business environment. The implementation of the above issues may help Zimbabwe to witness the fruits of Zimbabwe is open for business mantra for Vision 2030 to be a reality.

This paper is an opinion piece written by  By Ray Masuku. A holder of a B.Sc. Hons degree in Political Science and is currently studying MSc. International Trade and Diplomacy at the University of Zimbabwe. He can be contacted via his email

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Transport operators extorting commuters

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Citizen Journalist 

The festive season in Zimbabwe has always been associated with high traffic movement as most holiday makers seek to reach their various destinations to be in the company of their loved ones for the celebration of Christmas. Notwithstanding the debilitating effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economy and the entire social fabric, this years’ festive mood has not been entirely blighted as witnessed by high numbers of commuters at major pick up and drop off points here in Buhera district, Manicaland Province.

Illegal transport operators are however taking advantage of the shortage of authorized public commuter vehicles in the form of ZUPCO buses as they have doubled fares much to the agony of the impoverished rural folk. For example, a short distance from Masasa to Murambinda is normally charged between US$2 and US$3, but the pirate operators plying the route better known as Mushikashika have raised fares to as much as US$5.

The government has a duty to provide adequate alternative transport especially to protect the vulnerable rural commuters who during this time of the year always find themselves at the mercy of illegal transport operators. Opportunities for private operators should be opened so that they augment the efforts of the government in the quest to provide safe and dependable public transport service.

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Women doing wonders to avert poverty

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Some of the products from the craftswomen

Citizen Journalist

BUHERA- Women in Buhera South have taken it upon themselves to generate meaningful income through self help projects like weaving and basketry. Just at a time when most people are complaining for lack of employment opportunities, rural women in this part of Manicaland are doing wonders by producing products that can really be competitive even at the export market. Just from palm leaves, grass and raw fiber, the craftswomen are making beautiful products like baskets, flower pots, floor mats and many other assorted home decorative items.

If these skills are imparted to the young generation, many will help themselves escape the jaws of poverty especially during these times when unemployment levels are high. Women and youths will not suffer from any want as they can be capable of generating themselves surplus income to meet all their requirements and even support others.

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Parents move to address accommodation crisis at rural school

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House built by the parents nearing completion

Citizen Journalist

Parents from Ward 24 of Buhera South, have pooled together their meagre resources to construct an accommodation house at Mukodza Secondary school. The rural parents have taken it upon themselves to address the problem of accommodation at the learning institution with the view that this may add up to the success of their children if the teachers are well taken care of.

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Livestock theft cases rising in Buhera

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Citizen Journalist

BUHERA- Stock theft cases are on the increase especially this festive season. Attributed to high unemployment, many desperate young people are unfortunately resorting to stealing in order to get something for the holidays. In Buhera South, thieves are targeting poultry (huku nematoki) especially during heavy downpours when owners will be silently resting in the inner rooms. Avoid buying chickens from mobile sellers, chances are high they may not be bona fide dealers.

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