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A letter from Zimbabwe where the country is in total shutdown.

A letter from Zimbabwe where the country is in total shutdown.

16 January 2019.

We are now in our third day of complete shutdown throughout the whole of Zimbabwe. Banks are closed, schools are closed, roads are closed in and out of the main towns and transport systems have shut down.

There are no newspapers to be bought, the Internet has been shut down by the government and everything is at a complete standstill.

People are too afraid to move around as a result of the burning of vehicles by vigilante groups and the complete dearth of any updated information or warnings due to the total social media blackout. This means that no WhatsApp messages or photos can be sent, no one can access Facebook or Messenger, and the situation is very tense.

In some centres it almost feels apocalyptic. We have heard gunfire, and before the Internet was closed down, saw pictures of dead and wounded people. It is unclear how many people have died but before the media blackout, it was reported that there had been five deaths and more than 200 people had been arbitrarily arrested.

Elements of the police and military are also involved in ensuring that there is a complete shutdown. People in civilian dress armed with AK-47 rifles have been seen in some areas. It is clear that these are military personnel.

Amnesty International has condemned the military crackdown and has called on the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure restraint by security forces and respect the public’s right to protest.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported prior to the blackout that they had received reports of soldiers and police breaking into homes in townships overnight and assaulting suspected demonstrators.

Contacts in the diplomatic corps and the political opposition are also completely in the dark, along with the rest of us.

This morning I spoke to Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, and it is clear that no one knows what is going on because the entire country has been effectively silenced.

I have also spoken to lawyers regarding the arrest once again of Pastor Evan Mawarire who inadvertently triggered the highly successful #ThisFlag social media protest action in April 2016 because he could no longer afford to pay school fees. This led to his arrest on trumped up charges and his high profile court case. Since then, his activities have been under constant surveillance.

Police officers arrive at his flat this morning in central Harare and took him to the Law and Order section, charging him under a false charge of incitement to commit public violence.

The crisis was precipitated on Sunday (January 13) by President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he announced a shock increase of 200 percent in the fuel price – this in a country with more than 90 percent unemployment and where the struggle to survive escalates daily. Mr Mnangagwa promptly left the country for Russia and has not returned. Reports say that he has gone there to “discuss Russian assistance to modernise the military”.

Right now the situation remains eerie and uncertain. If this goes on for much longer, the humanitarian crisis will escalate. We cannot buy food because the shops are all closed and transport systems have closed down. Most of the hospitals are without essential medicines and also staff because doctors and nurses can’t even get to work.

This is an unprecedented situation in Zimbabwe and internationally. Even in wartime Europe, the people could get newspapers, transport systems operated, retail outlets were still open and people could communicate.

I cannot send you an e-mail or a photograph – it is a very weird situation.

The only thing we can do at this point is to ask for your prayers as we face this time of escalating fear and uncertainty.

Ben Freeth

Executive Director

Mike Campbell Foundation

Harare, Zimbabwe


Mobile: +263 773 929 138

E-mail: benfreeth7@gmail.com [currently shutdown]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeCampbellFoundation/ [currently shutdown]

Website: www.mikecampbellfoundation.com [accessible]


 

About The Author

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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.