Friday, September 16, 2005

Mugabe: Zimbabwe to Take Stake in Mines

By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer

Friday, September 16, 2005
17:07 PDT

UNITED NATIONS, (AP) -- Zimbabwe's embattled and isolated leader said Friday that his government will take a stake in privately operated mining enterprises in the mineral-rich southern African nation, but he does not intend to nationalize the industry as he has commercial farmland. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Robert Mugabe claimed his people — including hundreds of thousands made homeless by a recent controversial slum clearance and others facing famine because of disastrous land reform — are "very, very happy."

Mugabe, 81, who has ruled since a guerrilla war brought independence 25 years ago, said he plans to retire when his term expires in 2008 and live between the countryside and the city, farming and writing. He spoke in a 75-minute interview at the U.N. World Summit, which he said he was pleased to have attended even though it produced "very little by way of expectations" toward promised goals to fight poverty and eliminate trade tariffs.

For that he blamed the United States, saying it should not be allowed to derail the agenda of dozens of other nations "just because they are the strongest and wealthiest. The United Nations isn't owned by them." He said Africa's 52 votes at the U.N. — more than a quarter of all votes — and the Non-Aligned Movement's more than 100 member votes should be mobilized to ensure that the "very important, sacrosanct goals" are not dismissed.

Mugabe also railed against the U.S.-led war in Iraq: "Iraq was attacked and attacked in violation of international law. ... They went on this rampage, on this campaign, which has destabilized Iraq, on the basis of lies," he said. With globalization and the fall of the Soviet Union, "the world is fast becoming a world in which small states are threatened by the bigger ones, by the bullies." Mugabe himself has been the subject of international condemnation. His government is accused of stealing elections, most recently in March, and of gross human rights abuses to suppress opposition.

On a national level, Mugabe said his government would take a share in private mining enterprises because it wants Zimbabweans to benefit from their own natural resources. And he expects companies currently mining there, including the multinational Anglo American, to understand that desire. "What we intend to do is for the state to have a stake in the production of some of our minerals — gold, platinum, diamonds," he said. "We are behind countries like Botswana and Namibia ...."

"We just want to be partners. We are not doing anything unusual, and this is the practice in many countries," he said. Zimbabwe mines coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin and platinum group metals as well as diamonds, emeralds and semiprecious stones. Zimbabwe has also signed several agreements for state-owned Chinese companies for mining under joint ventures with the government, he said. But he stressed there are no plans to nationalize the industry, as he had threatened to do when first was elected, and dreamed of created a one-party Marxist state.

Mugabe also said his government has no plans to seize white- owned businesses, as Transport and Communication Minister Christopher Mushohwe was quoted as threatening in a ruling party-allied newspaper this week. Mushohwe reportedly said they would take over the businesses as they did commercial farms, if business owners did not cooperate with the government. The government already has seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, leaving thousands of acres of once-cultivated land to run fallow. Together with years of drought, the often violent campaign has crippled Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy and brought banks carrying farm mortgages to their knees.

The Zimbabwe dollar, once traded at the same level as the greenback, is in free fall and collapsed this week to 52,000 to the U.S. dollar. Fuel shortages reached chronic proportions, with queues three miles long. Hundreds of thousands have fled the country. Yet Mugabe denied he has destroyed an economy that once was one of the most vibrant on the continent. "You describe it as if we have a whole cemetery," he exclaimed. "We are very much alive, very agile and very very happy in spite of the difficulties we are having with continuous years of drought."

Last week, the International Monetary Fund decided to defer a decision to expel Zimbabwe after Mugabe made a surprise partial payment of millions of dollars toward arrears. He indicated there were financial problems, saying it's become very difficult to find the kind of soft loans that would help him exploit Zimbabwe's natural resources without foreign investors. Still Mugabe insisted his policies were correct, ignoring charges his government steals elections to stay in power, most recently in March, and grossly abuses human rights to suppress opposition.

Instead he told a story about a traditional chief, from the minority Matabele tribe that his Shona-dominated government has repeatedly abused: "He said to me: 'Mugabe, we are born chiefs, you were chosen. We have it in our blood to be chiefs. You don't have it in your blood but you depend on the people (for your power).'"

Editors' Note: Michelle Faul is AP's new Chief of Africa News URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi? file=/n/a/2005/09/16/international/i162921D56.DTL


Saturday, 17 September 2005

Under-utilised farms should be seized: Mujuru

By Tandayi Motsi

VICE PRESIDENT Cde Joice Mujuru yesterday said all beneficiaries of land reform found under-utilising their farms are saboteurs who should lose those properties.

Addressing farmers at the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) National Grower of the Year Awards ceremony, Cde Mujuru, a successful farmer herself, said it was distressing and unacceptable that some farmers had become perennial beggars and not worthy and recognised producers in their own right. "If you are not farming properly, this is sabotage at its highest level," she said. "What pains us is that the farmers are not producing at the farms yet they are the first to beg for assistance from the Government."

The Government, Cde Mujuru said, had concluded the land question through the promulgation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (No 17) Amendment Act and it was now up to the farmers to reciprocate that enabling move by utilising the land. The Act bars courts from hearing appeals challenging the acquisition of commercial farms that would have been identified and repossessed by the State for resettlement. Vice President Mujuru said new farmers not committed to farming as a business should go back to communal areas and pave way for those who had serious intentions to work the land productively.

"Musana unenge unemabhaudhi usingagone kurima. Chirisiyirawoka vamwe nokuti isu hatidi kuverenga mbeva nanamudune. Aiwa, tinoda kuverenga mbeva chaidzo vanamudune tokandira vanakitsi (If you are not up to the task and demands of farming, leave it to those with the dedication and skills. We want farmers who work the land for maximum production, not incompetents and idlers who just sit and do nothing)," she said. Cde Mujuru then questioned the figure produced by Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) president Mr Silas Hungwe that the organisation had a countrywide membership of one million.

Expressing her doubts over the figure, the Vice President said if there were indeed a million small-scale and communal farmers under the ZFU, Zimbabwe would not be facing the current food shortages because such a large number was capable of feeding the entire nation. She further emphasised that farmers should not wait for or look up to the Government alone for assistance but should also work out ways and means to help themselves. "We have lost our respect through begging and we must produce our own food. The poverty in Zimbabwe is man-made." She urged the financial sector to recognise the new reality on the ground by extending funding and input schemes to the newly-resettled farmers.

Turning to the cotton industry, Cde Mujuru said the Cottco inputs credit scheme was perhaps the most visible element of business partnership. She applauded the company for investing in the industry. The challenge to Cottco, she said, was to disseminate information and distribute new varieties to farmers so that Zimbabwe keeps abreast with the world. Cde Mujuru encouraged Cottco and others in the industry to continue investing in research and development for the country to achieve the maximum returns on cotton seed production for its growers.

She challenged the company and the industry as a whole to boost production, saying Cottco should surpass its target of 400 000 tonnes of cotton a year in the immediate term and 500 000 tonnes in the medium term so as to fully use the available ginning capacity. Government, Cde Mujuru said, had a vision and thrust to put in place measures that stimulated investor confidence. "We believe that high quality standards from planting to dispatch of lint to overseas customers, is the only guarantee for a successful industry that exports a high quality product. It is, therefore, in that context that we will review your submissions," she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Cottco managing director Mr Happymore Mapara said the company would strive to increase financial assistance to farmers in order for them to procure inputs. Mr Mapara welcomed competition from other players in the industry, saying this was healthy for the sector. However, he said the competition had also come with threats as not all the current 15 players in the industry were committed to the production of the cotton.

Mr Mapara said Cottco was keen to value-add on its products and plans to expand the existing ginning plant were at an advanced stage. Gokwe Chireya Member of Parliament Cde Leonard Chikomba (Zanu- PF) scooped the Large-Scale Cotton Grower of the Year Award while the Small-Scale Cotton Grower of the Year Award went to Mr Risai Rutanhire of Muzarabani. For their efforts, Cde Chikomba and Mr Rutanhire walked away with a floating trophy each and an assortment of other prizes that included cotton fertiliser and seed.

Speaking after being crowned, Cde Chikomba, who is both a businessman and a farmer, paid tribute to Cottco for grooming him. "The real wealth is in the land and I urge other new farmers to commit themselves to serious farming," he said.


Saturday, 17 September 2005

Mujuru to assess irrigation facilities

Herald Reporter

VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru yesterday said she would tour rural communities next week to assess irrigation facilities and address some of the issues affecting ordinary people. Irrigation was key in ensuring food security and Government also wanted to keep abreast with the issues affecting the rural communities she said.

She was addressing members of the Chikomba Development Association, traditional leaders and senior politicians from Mashonaland East who paid a courtesy call at her Zanu-PF Headquarters offices in Harare. The delegation was led by the Minister of Information and Publicity Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya, who is also the Member of Parliament for Chikomba.

Government, Cde Mujuru said, believed that if properly supported the Zunde Ramambo project had the potential of ensuring food security within communities hence the need for such projects to have access to irrigation facilities.

The Vice-President said that during her tour she would also find out whether Zanu-PF legislators had not deserted their constituencies after winning the parliamentary elections. "Sometimes we want to be voted for again during election time yet we would have deserted the people. Our wish is to spend time with the people because this is where you hear the actual grievances affecting them," Cde Mujuru said. Ambassador Jokonya told Cde Mujuru that there were several challenges that were being faced in Chikomba and this ranged from transport to the health services.

He said bad conditions of roads in the district were hampering development as some bus operators had pulled out he and appealed to the Vice-President to assist. The minister cited the main road from Hwedza via Sadza, which he said had taken more than five years to complete.

"We believe this project should have been completed long before the fuel problems started," he said. Ambassador Jokonya said the two major hospitals in the constituency, Chivhu Hospital and Sadza Hospital, had no doctors, adding that at Chivhu Hospital there was a serious water problem.

"When I fell sick during the elections they used to bring water in a bucket for me to bath," he said. The shortage of water in Chivhu was also affecting business operations in the town. Chikomba, Ambassador Jokonya said, was also lagging far behind other constituencies in the rural electrification programme with a number of clinics that included Madamombe Clinic and Sengwe Clinic having been closed due to lack of electricity.

The minister said Chikomba had several irrigation projects that had vast potential if upgraded
and these included the one at Charter Estate and others at Sadza and Chikwezvero areas.

Turning to the education sector, Ambassador Jokonya said there was no university in the constituency although the local council had made land available for such institution. He said there had been plans to establish a university in Chikomba by the Anglican Church which runs Daramombe Mission but recent developments which had seen some of the properties such as grinding mills bought by parents for the mission being sold and the proceeds being sent to the Masvingo Church’s Diocese cast doubts over such plans. Daramombe falls under the Masvingo Diocese.

A representative of the chiefs in the constituency, Chief Enos Musarurwa paid tribute to the Presidium for going to the grassroots with the intention to address the real issues affecting the people. "Addressing the needs of the rural communities will strengthen the party (Zanu-PF).

We have nowhere we can get help. The British do not like us," he said. In response to the issues, Cde Mujuru said she would consult the relevant ministers with the view to address issues raised by the Chikomba leadership. The Vice-President said efforts would be made to avail funds for the rehabilitation of the roads and the rural electrification programme. She also said funds would be made available for the construction of Chivhu Dam. Cde Mujuru reiterated that Government ministers should be committed to their duty.

"I have knowledge that in the minister’s offices there are files and files which are not being actioned. I would rather have a bad reply than no reply at all," she said. To which Ambassador Jokonya said jokingly: "Now there is another file tray called ‘tray which time will solve.’" Cde Mujuru said chiefs were the custodians of "our culture" and it was important for Zimbabweans to appreciate their cultural heritage. She said it was vital for one to have a rural home as some spouses were becoming desperate with nowhere to go following the death of the other spouse.

The Chikomba delegation later visited the Industrial Development Corporation where they had an audience with its chairman Dr Charles Utete who pledged the parastatal’s commitment to the development of all communities in the country. He said if people organised themselves and showed seriousness of purpose IDC was willing to facilitate and create the necessary links for their projects to succeed.

Chairman of the Chikomba Rural District Council Mr Mike Bimha said people in Chikomba were interested in entering into contractual farming where they would meet certain demands while IDC facilitated the projects. While many people were growing soya bean in the Chikomba District, they were not aware of the many opportunities existing that would allow them to realise profits from the crop. "IDC says it will be able to facilitate the link between soya bean growers and big companies that are in oil manufacturing. The parastatal can also assist in the provision of inputs if there is seriousness on our part.

"Together with our MP, chiefs, the party leadership and people as a whole we are very serious about seeing Chikomba and indeed our country develop and we want to work together, we have a unity of purpose hence these tours we are conducting today," he said. After visiting IDC the delegation visited the Scientific Industrial Research Development Corporation and Irvines Day Old Chicks where they familiarised themselves with what takes place at the two organisations. Mr Bimha said there were many in Chikomba that wanted to venture into poultry production.

"We want to create employment for the youths in our area and even the women that is why we are trying to get as much information about different projects as possible. "We want to look into roads, the transport situation, hospitals, water in Chivhu and everything else as a united group," he said.

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