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Budget insensitive to the informal economy

Viset is outraged that the extortionate 2% tax is being maintained, along with a trebling of the withholding tax of 10% of the value of commercial goods imported by cross-border traders to 30%, with effect from August 1, 2022.

Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) notes with grave disappointment the 2022 Mid-Term Review and Supplementary Budget presentation by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube.

The presentation, which essentially doubled the national budget to $1.9 trillion does not in any way answer to the needs of those in the informal economy and indeed in the greater population.

If anything, it illustrated that the minister is completely out of touch with the ordinary person’s lived reality in the country. His assumptions such as the increasing if the tax-free threshold to $50 000 per month, ostensibly to boost disposable incomes is preposterous given the runaway inflation being experienced, which for the month of June stood at 191.6%.

Viset is outraged that the extortionate 2% tax is being maintained, along with a trebling of the withholding tax of 10% of the value of commercial goods imported by cross-border traders to 30%, with effect from August 1, 2022.

These measures are a further attempt to strangle the informal sector by a minister who is not shy to display his love for corporates and big business through awarding of tax breaks at the expense of small enterprises battling to earn a living in a turbulent economy.

To further illustrate the contempt which the minister holds for the majority poor who bear the brunt of his chaotic economic policies, he proposes spending a paltry 7% of the supplementary budget on social security. There can be no doubt that poverty levels in the country are unprecedented and that there is urgent need to come up with concrete solutions to address the crisis.

With regards the health sector, where lives are being lost everyday owing to lack of medical supplies and equipment, dysfunctional machinery and a debilitating brain drain, the minister in response proposes a duty-free facility for scientific equipment. What yesterday’s presentation confirmed is that Ncube and reality are two things that can never be spoken in the same sentence.

In turn we challenge him, the rest of his colleagues and members of parliament to go to any municipal clinic and major referral hospital and see if they can get any treatment or medication.

In our view, Zimbabwe is a rich country with abundant sources where revenue can be obtained to spend on social services for its citizenry. One such is the implementation of value addition on agricultural produce such as tobacco, where companies pay farmers as little as US$3 and export for as much as US$17 with little to no value addition! Mining is another sector where ore is being extracted and exported to be processed and refined in neighbouring countries with negligible fiscal benefit to the nation.

Viset will not condone the further suffering of informal economy actors through the assumptions as contained in the minister’s presentation and will be advocating for rethinking an some corrections to be implemented before it can be passed, and we urge Parliament to, for once, side with the people. –Viset

Lawyers fight disenfranchisement of pupils

HUMAN rights lawyers have petitioned authorities at a Zimbabwean school seeking to stop them from disenfranchising pupils by not allowing them to register for their Grade 7  examinations owing to non-payment of registration fees guaranteed by government.

Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights on July 26, 2022 gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the headmaster of Mahombekombe Primary School only identified as Beretino to stop disenfranchising some pupils by arbitrarily withholding their Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) benefits by not allowing them to register for the November 2022 Grade 7 examinations scheduled for the end of the year.

Without giving any reasons, Beretino reportedly told parents and guardians that their children’s examination registration fees will not be paid through the government-backed Beam programme.

Parents and guardians were expected to make payments at examination registration centres by July 29, 2022.

In response to Beretino’s conduct, Chinopfukutwa on July 26, 2022 served him with a letter demanding that he, within 24 hours, forward the list of names of all Grade 7 students, who are enrolled on the Beam programme to Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec), for payment of their 2022 examination fees. Chinopfukutwa protested that the summary and arbitrary decision to withhold Beam benefits to the pupils is unlawful, constitutes a breach of the learners’ right to “basic state-funded education”.

In addition, Beretino’s conduct, Chinopfukutwa said, amounts to treating the learners in an unfair and discriminatory manner based on the economic and social status of their disadvantaged parents and guardians.

This, the human rights lawyer said, is a breach of the affected learners’ right to equality and non-discrimination as set out in section 56 of the constitution.

Chinopfukutwa also warned that Beretino’s conduct amounts to a breach of the affected learners’ right to administrative justice guaranteed in section 68 of the constitution, which entitles them to be furnished with reasons in writing for the adverse administrative conduct which the school head has adopted against the learners.

Chinopfukutwa said Beretino’s failure to comply with the students’ parents and guardians’ demands will leave him with no choice but to institute legal action against the school head seeking an order to compel him to register the students so as to write their Grade Seven examinations. –ZLHR

MSF pushes for accelerated CAB-LA roll out

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) for HIV prevention, and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and UK pharmaceutical corporation ViiV Healthcare announced an agreement to open up generic production and supply of CAB-LA in 90 countries, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) called on governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to urgently include this drug in national HIV guidelines and accelerate its rollout to prevent HIV transmission.

Administered as an injection every two months, CAB-LA is the most effective form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people at high risk of HIV. However, as detailed in a new MSF report released ahead of the 2022 International Aids Conference, the lack of transparency around the pricing and plans for registration of the drug and implementation-science conditions for procurement, set by ViiV, may still pose as barriers to access to this medicine, particularly in LMICs.

ViiV holds patents on CAB-LA in multiple developing countries. The patent monopolies of the pharmaceutical corporation may block access to more affordable generic formulations in those countries and allow ViiV to sell CAB-LA at high prices, keeping the medicine out of reach for many who need it unless licenses are issued to generic manufacturers. Today, at the 2022 International AIDS Conference, ViiV and MPP announced a voluntary license on CAB-LA.

“Today’s announcement on ViiV’s agreement with MPP is a welcome yet limited step given its restrictive geographical scope. The license allows only up to three generic companies globally to produce and supply,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Head, MSF Access Campaign. “It is disappointing to note that a number of developing countries with generic manufacturing capacities in Latin America and Asia are currently excluded from this license agreement.”

CAB-LA was approved for the prevention of HIV infection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2021, and ViiV currently charges over R62,000 (US$3,700) per vial in the US more than R371,000 ($22,200 per person per year). Research from the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) has shown that generic manufacturers could produce this drug for around R43,87 ($2.60) per vial (less than R337 / $20 per person per year). Although ViiV has publicly said they would provide CAB-LA for their at-cost price in many LMICs, they have yet to announce the price. 

Another major limitation is that ViiV currently makes this drug available in LMICs only under its special programme, wherein the drug is donated based on approval by the corporation to the organisations submitting protocols for studying the drug for PrEP. Granting access under research conditions may deny the most vulnerable populations, particularly in humanitarian settings, from accessing CAB-LA. –Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Southern Africa


Ward 20 in Matobo falls in an area called Emlageni along Shashe river. It is council land with no permanent residents. Residents from neighbouring communal areas practise partial nomadic life.

When feed for their animals diminishes in their usual areas of habitation, some locals take their animals to ward 20 for grazing. They put up temporary structures as shelter. They will reside in this area for months and go back to their usual places of residence in summer.

When our enumerators entered the ward, they accounted for 85 males who spent the census night, 20th April 2022, in these temporary structures in ward 20 of Matobo area.

Kindly note that the census was conducted using the de-facto method that entails enumeration of persons who slept at a given place on the census night irrespective of their place of usual residence.

These figures are comparable to what was accounted for in the 2012 census, when our enumerators accounted for 15 females and 49 males giving a total of 64 for the ward.

We kindly ask stakeholders who have any queries with the 2022 Population and Housing Census figures to contact Zimstat for clarity before disinforming the public and condemning the census process with a likelihood of triggering alarm and despondency. -Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency

A forex dealer Tafadzwa Murengwa, who was based in Harare on Friday shot and killed his ex-lover Samantha Dzapata, in Waterfalls. Before he could face justice, he also committed suicide. May their souls rest in peace. The issue is not their unfortunate deaths, but rising cases of gender-based violence,  failure at dealing with rejection and failing to resolve issues peacefully. Women must walk out on abusive men. No one must tolerate or try to understand or justify abuse. It is time this message was taken to schools and institutions of higher learning so that the young women are enlightened about their rights and that no one, no woman needs to be beaten up, emotionally abused or demeaned. -Peace, Harare


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