“Zimbabwe’s army seizes power, targets ‘criminals’ around Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe’s military seized power on Wednesday saying it was holding President Robert Mugabe and his family safe while targeting “criminals” in the entourage of the only ruler the country has known in its 37 years of independence. Soldiers seized the state broadcaster and a general appeared on television to announce the takeover. Armored vehicles blocked roads to the main government offices, parliament and the courts in central Harare, while taxis ferried commuters to work nearby. The atmosphere in the capital remained calm.
In his first contact with the outside world since the takeover, Mugabe spoke by telephone to the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and told him he was confined to his home but fine, the South African presidency said in a statement. It was not clear whether the apparent military coup would bring a formal end to the 93-year-old Mugabe’s rule; the main goal of the generals appeared to be preventing Mugabe’s wife Grace, 41 years his junior, from succeeding him.
But whether or not he remains in office, it is likely to mark the end of the total dominance of the country by Mugabe, the last of Africa’s generation of anti-colonial state founders still in power and one of the continent’s most polarizing figures. Mugabe, still seen by many Africans as an anti-colonial hero, is reviled in the West as a despot whose disastrous handling of the economy and willingness to resort to violence to maintain power destroyed one of Africa’s most promising states.
He plunged Zimbabwe into a fresh political crisis last week by firing his vice president and presumed successor. The generals believed that move was aimed at clearing a path for Grace Mugabe to take over and announced on Monday they were prepared to “step in” if purges of their allies did not end.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major General SB Moyo, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on television. “As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.” Western countries mostly called for calm
“Russia, Venezuela Sign Deal on $3.15 Billion Restructuring.”
Russia signed an agreement to restructure $3.15 billion of debt owed by Venezuela, throwing a lifeline to a crisis-wracked ally that’s struggling to repay creditors.
The pact gives Venezuela some much-needed breathing room as it faces the much more complicated task of restructuring its $140 billion of foreign bonds. For Russia, the deal underscores the costs that come with President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical ambitions across the globe. A $900 million hole had been left in its 2017 budget plan by Venezuela’s failure to pay on time. As China has seen scaling back its presence in the oil-rich country, Russia has been standing by its old ally, raising concern in some circles in Washington.
Wednesday’s deal spreads the loan payments out over a decade, with “minimal” payments over the first six years, the Russian Finance Ministry said in a statement. The pact doesn’t cover obligations of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA to its Russian counterpart Rosneft PJSC, however.
This is the second time Russia reschedules Venezuela’s debt payments after agreeing to an extension last year. Still, Caracas failed to make payments amid an economic crisis triggered by low prices for oil, a major export. Rosneft has also provided several billion dollars in advance payments for Venezuelan crude supplies.
Central bank reserves have fallen to a 15-year low and oil output has sunk to the lowest since 1989. Over the weekend, the grace period on $280 million in bond payments expired, and late Monday Fitch Ratings declared PDVSA in default, followed by a similar announcement made by S&P Global Ratings on the government.
“Senate Finance chairman revises tax plan to end Obamacare mandate.”
The head of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee proposed major changes to a Republican tax reform plan, adding a repeal of Obamacare’s health insurance mandate and making corporate tax cuts permanent while ending individual cuts in 2025.
In a statement late on Tuesday, committee chairman Orrin Hatch said the proposed changes would also slightly lower some individual tax rates and includes a repeal of the alternative minimum tax but only through 2025, when it would be reinstated.
The 226-page amendment comes as the Senate continues to craft its version of tax reform alongside the U.S. House of Representatives, which is finalizing its own bill. The two plans must be reconciled and merged into a final plan that can pass both chambers before it goes to President Donald Trump to sign into law.
Republicans, who control Congress and the White House but have yet to pass any major legislation, are eager for a legislative victory ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and are pushing hard to pass tax cuts by the end of the year.
It was not immediately clear how many of Hatch’s colleagues will support the plan in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slimmer 52-48 majority than in the House. Democrats have dismissed the Republican plans as giveaways to corporations and the wealthy that would swell the nation’s deficit. If Democrats remain united in opposition, Republicans cannot lose more than two senators from their ranks and still have enough votes to pass tax legislation.
“Dubai Airshow: Airbus seals order with US firm Indigo.”
Airbus has struck its biggest single deal with an order for 430 aircraft worth $49.5bn at list prices from US investment firm Indigo Partners. Indigo, whose interests include Europe’s Wizz Air, US-based Frontier, and Mexico’s Volaris, will buy Airbus’s A320neo family of aircraft. The order on the penultimate day of the Dubai Airshow comes after what could have been a difficult week for Airbus. On Sunday, Emirates appeared to snub Airbus over an A380 superjumbo deal.
Indigo’s managing partner, Bill Franke, 80, flew to Dubai for the signing ceremony, although there are still final details of the deal to be worked out. He said these should be completed by the end of the year.
The Airbus aircraft, whose wings are made in the UK, will be deployed across Indigo’s airlines, which also includes JetSmart in Chile. They operate what Mr Franke called an «ultra-low-cost model… To be successful you have to have a plane that can be worked hard. Airbus fits the bill.» The Indigo deal more than doubles Airbus’s existing order book for the year, which stood at about 290 aircraft as of the end of October. Wednesday’s deal beats a 2015 order for 250 single-aisle planes valued at $27bn by Indian budget carrier IndiGo. The two companies are unrelated.
The Airbus announcement beats an order unveiled earlier this week by arch rival Boeing, which secured a $40bn deal for 787 Dreamliners from Emirates.
Meanwhile, Boeing on Wednesday announced an order from Gulf airline flydubai for 225 medium-haul 737 MAX aircraft with a list price of $27bn, hailing it as the «largest-ever single-aisle jet order» from a Middle East carrier.