Embassy Harare Statement on Political Uncertainty in Zimbabwe

The U.S. government is deeply concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwean military forces.

The U.S. government does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and calls for an expedient transition to democratic, civilian order.

We call on Zimbabwean military leaders to exercise restraint, respect the rule of law, uphold the constitutionally-protected rights of all citizens, and to quickly return the country to normalcy.

The United States encourages all Zimbabweans to resolve differences calmly and peacefully through democratic, transparent and constitutional processes, with proper respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression through any media, in order to move past this current crisis and towards a more stable future.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe.

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IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Mali for ECF Review and Article IV Consultation

  • GDP growth remained robust, at 5.3 percent supported by good harvests and robust public spending. Inflation was subdued, well below the regional ceiling.
  • The IMF staff and the authorities agreed on measures to maintain debt sustainability, while making space for financing the poverty reduction strategy.
  • Reforms to improve governance and remove obstacles to investment are essential.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Ms. Boriana Yontcheva visited Bamako from October 29 to November 12, 2017, to conduct discussions on the Eighth review of Mali’s economic and financial program supported by the Fund’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF), and the 2017 Article IV consultations.

At the end of the visit, Ms. Yontcheva made the following statement:

“Mali’s economic recovery continued in 2017 amid persistent security challenges. GDP growth remained robust, at 5.3 percent supported by good harvests and robust public spending. Inflation was subdued, well below the regional ceiling. The fiscal outturn is in line with programs targets of an overall deficit of 3.5 percent of GDP and a basic deficit of 1.1 owing to improved revenue mobilization, and under execution of capital spending. The macroeconomic outlook remains broadly positive, but the economy faces increasing downside risks going forward, notably due to the volatile security situation.

“The 2018 budget submitted to the parliament is in line with the fiscal consolidation path of the program, and the goal of converging to the WAEMU’s regional deficit norm of 3 percent by 2019.

“The team and the authorities agreed on measures to maintain debt sustainability, while making space for financing the poverty reduction strategy. The authorities intend to boost revenue mobilization by accelerating tax and customs administration reforms and developing more effective international taxation rules. On the spending side, they are seeking to improve public expenditure efficiency by reforming public investment management and streamlining nonpriority spending. They will implement sound debt policies by stepping-up efforts to secure concessional financing and using the most cost-effective debt instruments for securities’ issuance on the regional market.

“The team and the authorities agreed on the need to accelerate the pace of implementation of structural reforms to promote a dynamic private sector-driven economy, improve competitiveness, including by removing structural bottlenecks, and strengthening the financial sector to bolster its contribution to economic growth.

“Reforms to improve governance and remove obstacles to investment are essential. As envisaged under the program, discussions covered progress on anticorruption efforts and notably on the implementation of the law against illicit enrichment and asset declarations. While good progress has been made in building understandings on the key elements of these measures, further progress is needed to meet the governance reform objectives. Discussions will continue in the coming weeks to advance the reform agenda and pave the way for the completion of the eighth review.

“The staff team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and the constructive discussions.”

The team met with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dr. Boubou Cissé; the Minister of Decentralization and Local Taxation, Mr. Alassane Ag Ahmed Moussa, National Director of the Central Bank of West African States, Konzo Traoré, senior government officials, the private sector, trade unions, and development partners.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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President Zuma to launch the Kwazulu-Natal invest SA one stop shop

President Jacob Zuma will on Saturday, 18 November 2017, launch the KwaZulu-Natal InvestSA One Stop Shop in Durban which aims to provide strategic guidance, reduce regulatory inefficiencies, and reduce red tape for all investors looking to invest in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

During the launch of the National InvestSA One Stop Shop in March 2017, President Zuma announced that provincial InvestSA One Stop offices would be opened in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape provinces. The President launched the Western Cape One Stop Shop in September 2017 and other provinces will open their One Stop Shops over a period of three years in support of the Special Economic Zones programme.

The establishment of the InvestSA One Stop Shop initiative is one of the government’s efforts to improve the business environment by reducing the bureaucratic red tape, lowering the cost of doing business and improving the ease of doing business in South Africa in order to create a sustainable and competitive economy.

The KwaZulu-Natal One Stop Shop, which is housed at the Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, will provide services from SARS, CIPC, Water Affairs, Home Affairs, Trade and Industry and other regulatory services. It will further include representatives from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), uMsunduzi and uMhlathuze Local Municipalities as well as eThekwini Metro.

The Dube TradePort (DTP), one of the Special Economic Zones in the province that was set up to promote local and international trade, will work together with the one in Richards Bay.

The event will take place as follows:

Part One: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Walkabout

  • Date: Saturday, 18 November 2017
  • Time: 10h00
  • Venue: InvestSA KwaZulu-Natal, Kingsmead Office Park Kingsmead Boulevard 1 Arundel Close, Durban

Part two: Formal Programme

  • Time: 11h00
  • Venue: Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Durban

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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Woman peacekeeper wins the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year award

A United Nations peacekeeper from South Africa was yesterday awarded the United Nations’ Military Gender Advocate of the Year in Vancouver, Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, presented the award to Major Seitebatso Pearl Block as part of the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial taking place from 14-15 November for her outstanding work on the frontlines of UN peacekeeping.

Created in 2016, the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award recognises the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

“Major Seitebatso is an inspiration to us all and a strong example of how peacekeeping is about our personnel taking personal initiatives and interacting with local communities to help find solutions to their problems, better protecting civilians and, in turn, saving lives,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

Serving as an Information Operations Officer with the United Nations Stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) from July 2016 to July 2017, Major Block developed a Mission-wide SMS campaign on conflict-related sexual violence to reach communities who would otherwise not be easily accessible.

Based in the eastern city of Goma, Major Seitebatso interacted extensively with Congolese women, men, girls and boys to better understand their concerns. She invested her personal time to train fellow staff officers and troops to be more aware of gender dynamics within the peacekeeping mission. This led the military component to develop more inclusive community engagement projects as part of the Protection of Civilians strategy combating illegally armed groups in Eastern Congo.

Upon receiving her award, Major Block said she was “honoured and privileged” and hoped the award would encourage other women to serve as peacekeepers. “I knew I had to take action from the many conversations I had with women’s groups. As a peacekeeper, and as a woman, I think we have much to contribute to making the UN more inclusive and in tune with the communities we serve”, she added.

The UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial brings together defence ministers and other senior representatives from more than 80 countries and organizations to discuss the challenges facing UN Peacekeeping including the under-representation of women, and how to work together to find solutions.

Major Block is thirty-two-years-old and married to a fellow South African army officer. They have two daughters and are based in Pretoria.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Information Centre in Pretoria (UNIC).

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