1. Zimbabwe passes bill to punish 'unpatriotic acts'

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Emmerson Mnangagwa
    Image caption: Emmerson Mnangagwa became president after forcing Robert Mugabe to step down in 2017

    Zimbabwe’s parliament has voted in favour of a controversial bill to punish citizens for "unpatriotic acts" , including imposing heavy fines or even the death penalty on them.

    Critics have called it a dark day for democracy.

    The so-called patriot clause of the Criminal Law Act targets those who harm the "national interest of Zimbabwe”.

    It includes any citizen who meets a representative of a foreign country with the aim of encouraging sanctions against Zimbabwe or overthrowing the government.

    Many senior government officials and state-owned companies are under Western sanctions over alleged human rights abuses,

    They’ve long blamed the opposition for this and want to stop meetings between the opposition and foreign officials.

    Parliament voted 99 to 17 in favour of the law - one of the most controversial of Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidency.

    It will now go to the senate before it is signed into law.

    Critics say the legislation is unconstitutional as it would violate freedom of association and the right to free speech.

    An opposition official told the BBC that the way to end sanctions is to uphold human rights, not to criminalise criticism.

    The controversial changes were passed as part of a series of amendments to the Criminal Law Act.

    Lawmakers also voted in favour of minimum sentences for rape.

  2. 'We are the poorest of the poorest' - Zimbabwe nurse

    Nurses and doctors strikes
    Image caption: Medical workers in Zimbabwe have previously staged protests, wanting better pay and conditions

    A Zimbabwean nurse has told the BBC's Africa Daily podcast that they are the "poorest of the poorest" not just in the southern African region but globally.

    Douglas Chikobvu said he and his colleagues were paid a "pittance" given Zimbabwe's high inflation and that he had attempted to leave the country in search of greener pastures.

    His comments come as Zimbabwe’s Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga wants to make it a criminal offence for recruitment agencies to poach health workers from Zimbabwe.

    He says his country should not be subjected to training doctors and nurses for the benefit of other nations.

    However, his proposed legislation has been met with anger and frustration.

    Mr Chikobvu said the workload at Zimbabwean hospitals was immense and warned that basic "tools" to do a job like medicine and personal protective equipment were lacking.

    He said his ideal country to relocate to would be the US, where he believes nurses are valued, or the UK, where he says medical professionals can work "nicely".

    Zimbabwe's government says it doesn’t have enough funds for salary hikes or better equipment.

    You can listen to the full Africa Daily podcast here.

  3. Zimbabwe election set for 23 August

    Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set 23 August 2023 as the date for the country's general election - including presidential and parliamentary polls.

    Tensions have been rising ahead of the vote, with the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) calling for an audit into the voters' roll citing missing names, including some of its officials and voters being moved several kilometres away from their wards of residence.

    The electoral body has said the ongoing voters' roll inspection exercise will resolve some of these anomalies.

    As we reported earlier, Zimbabwe's government summoned the acting US ambassador to the country over election-related social media posts, which it said amounted to activism and meddling in internal affairs.

    The US, which stands by its remarks, had encouraged Zimbabweans to "make sure your voice is heard" in the vote.

  4. Zimbabwe summons US diplomat over social media posts

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    One of the posts shared by the US embassy
    Image caption: The US embassy said it was standing by its posts on social media

    The Zimbabwean government summoned the acting US ambassador to the country over election-related social media posts, which it said amounted to activism and meddling in internal affairs.

    Last week, the US embassy encouraged Zimbabweans to register to vote "and make sure your voice is heard".

    In a statement on Tuesday, Rofina Chikava, Zimbabwe's acting permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, confirmed the meeting.

    She had told Elaine French, the US embassy's charge d'affaires, that the posts were unacceptable and deviated from diplomatic norms, Ms Chikava said.

    A spokeswoman for the US embassy said there was no problem with the social media posts, while also confirming the meeting between the two.

    "We stand by our recent social media posts calling for peace during the election season," Meg Riggs, the spokeswoman, is quoted as saying.

    Tensions are rising ahead of the planned general elections.

    The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has called for an audit into the voters' roll citing missing names, including some of its officials and voters being moved several kilometres away from their wards of residence.

    The electoral body has said the ongoing voters' roll inspection exercise will resolve some of these anomalies.

  5. Zimbabwe accused of freeing 'dangerous rapists'

    A guard with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) looks on ahead the release of inmates from Harare Central Prison on May 19, 2023.
    Image caption: Prison authorities had said rape was among offences excluded from the presidential amnesty

    Zimbabwe's main opposition coalition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has alleged that some of the more than 4,000 prisoners released on presidential amnesty last week include child rapists.

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa pardoned the prisoners drawn from the country’s 47 prisons in an attempt to decongest overcrowded jails.

    Prison authorities had said rape was among offences excluded from the amnesty.

    However, viral videos showed what local media said were rapists celebrating their freedom with some who are said to have served less than a year of their term.

    The CCC in a statement on Wednesday said it was "grossly irrational to release dangerous, unrehabilitated offenders back into society" before informing or preparing rape victims.

    “Unleashing an unrehabilitated rapist who has not served his sentence back into his community unchecked and with no safeguards to protect victims endangers women and girls and can never be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said.

    Some Zimbabweans on social media have also demanded that the decision be reversed as it puts women in danger.

    "In normal countries, amnesty is never granted to rapists or people who have committed violent crimes. Women are not safe with this regime," investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and government critic tweeted.

    The Zimbabwean authorities are yet to comment on the allegations.

  6. Zimbabwe pardons over 4,000 prisoners to decongest jails

    Richard Hamilton

    BBC World Service Newsroom

    Prisoners walk out of the gates after being released at Chikurubi Maximum Prison on April 17, 2021 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
    Image caption: Thousands of prisoners have been freed in the past to decongest prisons, like these ones in 2021

    Zimbabwe has released about a fifth of all prisoners under a presidential amnesty order meant to decongest the country’s overcrowded jails.

    The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) said more than 4,000 inmates - mostly men - were let out, in what it described as a noble gesture.

    Violent criminals as well as those convicted of robbery, treason and public order offences were excluded.

    Prisons in Zimbabwe are suffering from extreme overcrowding.

    The move comes ahead of general elections in August.

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa is battling a cost of living crisis, high inflation and power cuts.

  7. Tributes paid to Zimbabwean jazz star Kelly Rusike

    Tributes are pouring in for Zimbabwean jazz musician and producer, Kelly Rusike, who died on Wednesday in the capital, Harare.

    He was part of the famous Rusike Brothers, who rose to fame in the 80s and 90s with hit songs including Cecilia, Saturday Night as well as the popular advert, Ngwerewere Sadza.

    In a family statement, the Rusike Brothers said Kelly died after a long battle with diabetes.

    "Kelly lived for his music and touched many lives through it. His music will forever live in our hearts," the statement added.

    The veteran musician owned Shed Productions, a major recording production house in Zimbabwe that produced jingles and songs.

    Social media users described Kelly as one of the best bass guitarists and jazz impresarios in Zimbabwe.

    View more on twitter
  8. Zimbabwe girl dies fleeing traditional dancers

    A nine-year-old girl fell to her death in Zimbabwe while running away from traditional Nyau dancers who were performing at a school in Mabvuku, a suburb east of the capital, Harare.

    In a statement on Wednesday, police said the child died on Monday and investigations into her death were in progress.

    The Nyau dancers, also known as zvigure or izitandari in Shona, often scare children with their cryptic dances and costumes.

    Apart from their fascinating dances, the dancers are associated with many myths among adults, but to young children they are more like monsters, local media say.

    Nyau dancers belong to the Chewa community in north-western Zimbabwe. The ethnic group is also found in Malawi and Zambia.

    The dancers assist in passing down the culture and history of the Chewa people.

  9. Zimbabwe vote key to resolving debt crisis - African bank

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank
    Image caption: The head of the African Development Bank is directing efforts to help Zimbabwe pay off debt of more than $8bn

    The African Development Bank says the outcome of Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential election and the issue of compensating white farmers are key factors in efforts to restructure its crippling debt.

    The bank head, Akinwumi Adesina, is directing efforts to help Zimbabwe pay off debt of more than $8bn (£6.4bn) to foreign countries.

    Zimbabwe has turned to the African bank to help paying billions of dollars in compensation to the white farmers, who had their land seized by the previous government of Robert Mugabe from 2000.

    Zimbabwe is seeking to raise $3.5bn to pay for improvements to machinery and buildings on farms - the government have refused to compensate for the land itself.

    The country has over $14bn of external debt and has not received funding from lenders, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for more than 20 years as a result.

  10. Zimbabwean writing

    Video content

    Video caption: NoViolet Bulwayo's We Need New Names on stage plus "enfant terrible" Dambudzo Marechera

    Mufaro Makubika, Jocelyn Alexander and Tinashe Mushakavanhu join Rana Mitter to discuss archives and the writing of authors including NoViolet Bulawayo and Dambudzo Marechera

  11. Zimbabwe seeks to lower food cost by scrapping duties

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Scones being made in Harare
    Image caption: Food prices have shot up as the value of Zimbabwe's currency has plummeted

    Zimbabwe has scrapped duties and the requirement for import licences for basic food items in an effort to reduce the cost of food in a renewed cost-of-living crisis.

    The measures followed the setting up of a government taskforce to investigate spiralling food prices.

    According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net), a global network of partners reporting on food insecurity, bread, sugar, and wheat flour prices increased by about 40% in Zimbabwe between February and April.

    It said maize meal prices shot up by nearly 60% and rice and vegetable oil prices increased by about 20%.

    Using the official exchange rate, the Zimbabwe dollar has dropped 32% in value against the US dollar since the beginning of April, however on the black market it's fallen by almost double that.

    The government blames businesses for using the black market rate to price their goods.

  12. Zimbabwe U-turn over medical purchase information ban

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Zimbabwe’s president has withdrawn an information ban on how the state procures medical and other supplies.

    It followed an outcry after the government’s gazette - the official publication notifying the public about its actions and decisions - announced last Friday it was no longer going to make the information available.

    Critics accused the government of fostering an environment that allowed corruption to flourish.

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa has now distanced himself from the controversial notice, saying it was placed without authorisation and the government was committed to transparency.

    Though crossed wires appear to be at play.

    Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesperson Nick Mangwana defended the ban, saying it was to allow the purchase of emergency supplies and critical equipment repairs without a long drawn procurement process.

  13. Zimbabwe to end disclosures about medical procurement

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Zimbabwe's government will no longer be forced to disclose information to the public about its procurement of medicines, medical and construction equipment, according to a gazette by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

    Critics say the move violates the right to freedom of information.

    Entitled "Special Procurements in the Public Interest – Health Sector", the gazette lists biomedical equipment, vehicles including ambulances, laboratory equipment, chemicals, hospital protective equipment as "of national interest" adding that details of their disposal and procurement shall not be publicly disclosed.

    Zimbabwe’s public healthcare sector is poorly funded and often has shortages of syringes and antibiotics.

    It is not clear whether the government is planning large-scale expenditure in the health sector without having to disclose the details.

    State procurements worth over $1m (£790,000) are usually required to go to public tender.

    The main opposition party, the Citizen’s Coalition for Change, called for transparency and questioned why the acquisition of public property should be hidden. It said the secrecy would promote corruption.

  14. Zimbabwe discovers oil and gas in northern region

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Zimbabwe has discovered oil and gas deposits during exploration in the northern Cabora Bassa region.

    An analysis of five mud gas samples collected from the Upper Angwa reservoir during the drilling of the Mukuyu-1 well between September and December showed "light oil" and "very rich gas", according to Invictus Energy, an Australian firm.

    Invictus Energy managing director Scott Macmillan said they hoped to get better results from deeper drilling.

    The sample also showed a consistent high quality natural gas composition containing low amounts of carbon dioxide and helium gas.

    The discovery of oil and gas is vital for Zimbabwe having channelled resources into the mining sector in the recent past to boost its economic growth.

  15. African leaders arrive in London for King's coronation

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa arriving in London
    Image caption: President Mnangagwa will be the first Zimbabwean leader to visit London in over two decades

    Several heads of African states, mostly from Commonwealth countries, have arrived in London for King Charles's coronation on Saturday.

    Among those already in the UK include Rwanda's Paul Kagame, King Mswati III of Eswatini, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, and Liberia's George Weah among others.

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be the first Zimbabwean leader to visit London in more than two decades after the UK imposed sanctions on the southern African country.

    Mr Mnangagwa said he was "excited" to receive an invite to attend the royal event. Some British parliamentarians, however, condemned his invitation citing alleged human rights violations in his country.

    It is not yet clear if Kenyan President William Ruto will attend the event, after he last week complained about the mistreatment of African leaders during foreign trips.

    He was referring to an incident where African presidents were put in a bus to attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral ceremony in the UK.

    From French-speaking countries, Niger President Mohamed Bazoum will be attending the royal event while Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara will be represented by his deputy Tiémoko Meyliet Koné.

    Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute will represent President Paul Biya at the event. The country is a former colony of both the UK and France.

    King Mswati III of Eswatini
    Image caption: King Mswati III of Eswatini is Africa's last absolute monarch
  16. Mugabe's daughter in $80m divorce battle

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Bona Robert Mugabe's daughter Bona Mugabe (R) and his spouse Simba Chikore (L) watch as the coffin of Mugabe is ready to be lowered in a grave in Harare, Zimbabwe, on September 28, 2019
    Image caption: Bona Mugabe seen with her husband at the funeral of her father in 2019

    The divorce case between the daughter of Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe and her husband has given a glimpse of the staggering wealth allegedly amassed by the family - including residential properties worth almost $80m (£64m).

    Bona Mugabe, 33, filed for divorce from former airline pilot Simba Mutsahuni Chikore in March, and asked for the division of assets to be dealt with in a separate court case.

    The BBC has seen court papers filed by Mr Chikore on 28 April in response to those of Ms Mugabe.

    He demands joint custody of the couple’s three children and a share of the assets, which he says include at least 21 farms, some of which were acquired by the Mugabe family during the contentious takeover of white-owned farms about two decades ago, and despite the government's "one-man one-farm" policy.

    Mr Chikore also lists 25 residential properties, including a mansion in Dubai - with a total value of around $80m, luxury vehicles, farming equipment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

    He says the assets were acquired solely and jointly during their marriage, through inheritance and donations from the late president for work carried out on his behalf.

    He adds that the assets he has listed are a drop in the ocean, compared to the wealth Ms Mugabe owns outright.

    Zimbabweans have reacted with shock and outrage to the extent of the wealth allegedly amassed by just one of Mr Mugabe’s children.

    Ms Mugabe has not commented on the claims but will have an opportunity to do so.

    George Charamba, who was Mr Mugabe's spokesman and now serves in President Emmerson Mnangagwa's office, denied that the couple owned 21 farms.

    "All Agricultural Land belongs to the State, with farmers using it on LEASE BASIS," he tweeted.

    He added that no-one should "build any politics or arguments around so-called 21 farms allegedly owned by Cde Bona and her estraged hubby".

    It is unclear when the divorce case - before a court in the capital, Harare - will end.

    Ms Mugabe and Ms Chikore got married at a lavish wedding in 2014 that was attended by several African heads of state - and was broadcast live on state television.

    Mr Mugabe died in 2019 at the age of 95, reportedly without leaving a will. He is survived by his wife Grace, Bona, two sons and a step-son.

    He was in power in Zimbabwe from the time of independence in 1980 until he was ousted in 2017 by Mr Mnangagwa, his former ally-turned-rival.

    Robert Mugabe (R) and his wife Grace (L) with their 24-year-old first-born child and only daughter Bona Mugabe (C) pose after the convocation at MDIS-University of Wales graduation ceremony in Singapore on November 16, 2013
    Image caption: Bona Mugabe with her parents at her university graduation ceremony in Singapore in 2013
  17. Zimbabwe court convicts popular opposition politician

    Richard Hamilton

    BBC World Service Newsroom

    A popular opposition politician in Zimbabwe has been convicted of obstruction of justice.

    In a high-profile trial at a court in the capital Harare, Job Sikhala was found guilty almost a year after he was first arrested.

    He was ordered to pay a fine of $600 (£480) or serve a six-month prison sentence.

    His conviction bars him from contesting upcoming presidential and legislative elections due to be held in August.

    The charges against him were based on a video in which he allegedly demanded justice for the murder of another opposition activist, whose mutilated body was found in a well.

    Critics say the trial was politically motivated.