News in brief

Jobs crisis set to worsen

MORE than 30 000 workers lost their jobs in Zimbabwe last year as a result of Zimbabwe's economic crisis triggered by the government's high spending.

According to a weekly financial newspaper, the number of people expected to lose their jobs in 1999 was likely to be much higher. "The decreases in jobs are still coming in, especially from sectors such as commerce," said local economist and consultant John Robertson.

He said people were going to react to the economic situation in a very visible manner early in this new year.

"People haven't reacted yet because of the Christmas period as they still have money to spend. But things are going to change dramatically . . . when there will not be that much money to spend and goods in the shops are no longer moving. Companies will start seeing their businesses shrink and will be looking at downsizing their operations," Robertson said.


Trade union to push for early elections

THE powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Unions (ZCTU) has said it will now push for early elections in view of President Mugabe's indifference to the country's economic problems.

The ZCTU said following Mugabe's failure to respond to mass job stayaways, it would now convene a one-off protest to demand early elections and a government with enough zeal to tackle the country's macro-economic problems which are the root cause of the current economic crisis.

Members of the ZCTU's affiliate unions said the problem Zimbabwe is facing, as exemplified by President Mugabe and his government's refusal to respond to the mass protests, was one of bad governance.

"A president who remains silent in the wake of two successive mass actions which cripple industry, preferring to chat with pop star Michael Jackson for long hours, is a leader who is living in a different world and has lost legitimacy," said one ZCTU member.


New passport for Zimbabweans

A NEW Zimbabwean passport with a host of improved security features has been introduced to replace the current easy to forge travel document.

The new passport which will cost Z$500 has a water mark and some of its details can only be viewed with under an ultraviolet detector to enhance security.

Registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede said the decision to introduce a new passport was necessitated by the need to keep ahead of criminals and to help protect the dignity of Zimbabwean travellers.

Mr Mudede said the forging of Zimbabwean passports by foreigners had become serious.

He said at one time 67 forged Zimbabwean passports had been intercepted in one foreign country and 47 in another. Foreigners were buying the passports from Zimbabweans who would then report them as lost.

"At some stage we were processing more than 30 applications for lost or stolen passports a week and this was just unacceptable," Mr Mudede said. -Afrika News


Just the ticket for motorists

HARARE motorists can flout parking laws without fear of a fine because the cash-strapped city council has run out of books of tickets, The Herald has reported.

The council's 80 traffic wardens have been spending their time playing ping-pong at their headquarters since the tickets ran out, according to the paper.

Efforts to secure new books had failed,costing the council about 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars (5,000 US) a day in lost fines.

Although no reason was given for the inability to get new tickets, several suppliers have recently refused to deal with the city council because they have not been paid in the past.


Court officials on corruption charges

HARARE provincial magistrate Lazarus Murendo, former area public prosecutor Andrew Muvirimi and clerk of court Tsitsi Shumba have appeared in court, this time as the accused, facing charges of corruption.

All three have pleaded not guilty. The State is alleging that the three, working in league, corruptly granted bail to two people accused of serious criminal offences who had been denied bail by another magistrate.

They are being charged with two counts under the Prevention of Corruption Act or alternatively attempting to defeat the course of justice.