President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The two nations have been subject to vicious attacks by the imperialist nations of the US and Britain.
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GOVERNMENT has directed manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers to reduce prices of basic commodities, including transport and newspapers, by up to 50 percent with immediate effect as it takes measures against the wave of unjustified price increases over the past few weeks.
Chairman of the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation Cde Obert Mpofu, who is also the Minister of Industry and International Trade, announced the measures at a Press conference in Harare last night.
He said the business sector should revert to the prices as at June 18 2007 while its justifications for increases are being looked into by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
Cde Mpofu said the Government had noted with concern that manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers had unjustifiably increased their prices over the past few weeks without proper justification.
"Government is aware that these escalating price increases are a political ploy engineered by our detractors to effect an illegal regime change against the ruling party, Zanu-PF, and the Government following the failure of illegal economic sanctions. As a Government, we cannot stand idly while this situation continues.
"The Task Force on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation recently constituted by the Government is going to immediately take appropriate action against unscrupulous and insensitive economic players.
"This unruly behaviour is unacceptable and as such, Government will mobilise all the powers vested in the State to protect consumers."
A crack unit comprising all the security agencies has been set up and will work with the NIPC inspectorate to enforce the prices and root out all forms of corruption and economic sabotage.
Among some of the products whose prices have been halved are bread, reduced from $45 000 to $22 000, 10kg refined maize meal from $130 000 to $85 000, 2kg white sugar from $70 000 to $33 940 and Mazoe orange crush from $600 000 to $120 000.
The price of fuel, which had reached an all time high of $180 000 per litre, was slashed to $60 000.
Transport operators were also directed to appropriately adjust their fares.
Cover prices for The Herald and The Sunday Mail — the only two publications cited — currently at $25 000 and $35 000 respectively were expected to be reduced by $10 000 each.
Zimpapers chief executive Mr Justin Mutasa welcomed the Government intervention last night, saying the move should also be stretched to suppliers of raw materials, mainly newsprint and printing inks.
"We welcome the latest intervention in the spirit that the same will be extended to suppliers of newsprint and printing inks we use in the production of newspapers.
"These two are the major cost drivers of our costs and as soon as they lower their prices, the prices of newspapers will also go down," he said.
Mumbengegwi leaves for Ghana to attend AU session
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has left the country for Accra, Ghana, to attend the 11th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the session would be held from June 28 to 29.
The meeting was preceded by the 14th Ordinary Session of Committee of Permanent Representatives to the AU, which ran from yesterday up to today.
"The Foreign Ministers’ Executive Council Session will in turn present the conclusion of its deliberations to the 9th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union or the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Africa Union, which is scheduled to take place from 1 to 3 July 2007, in the Ghanaian capital, Accra," read part of the statement.
The assembly is expected to consider several issues, including convening a Grand Debate on the possibility of forming a Union Government, the election of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson and appointment of Commissioners of the Commission of the AU.
The report of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee on the Integration of Nepad into the structures and procedures of the African Union is also among issues to be considered.
The statement indicated that there will be adoptions of the decisions of the Executive Council of Ministers of the 11th Session and then conclude with the adoption of the Declarations of the Ordinary Summit of the AU.
Meanwhile, Cde Mumbengegwi is expected back into the country on July 5.
Zimbabwe plans to expand cotton production
Zimbabwe plans to expand cotton production from an estimated 270,000 tons this year to one million tons by 2010 through a systematic increase in hectarage and recruitment of new farmers.
The National Association of Cotton Ginners, Merchants and Buyers (NACGMB) said on Monday it aimed to achieve this target by increasing the hectarage put under cotton by 40 percent every year.
The Association was quoted by the official New Ziana as saying that although it seemed a mammoth task to increase production by such a big margin, the willingness of industry players to invest and commit the necessary funds in line with the planned growth would make the target achievable.
It added that achieving the target would also require that NACGMB members stick to their contractual obligations with buyers buying their own contracted crop which they would have financed while farmers only sell their crop to the financing contractor.
The association also cited high inflation, side marketing and the absence of a regulatory framework that govern the industry as some of the challenges facing the sector. Cotton lint is one of Zimbabwe's largest exports. Zimbabwe has an overcapacity of ginning which stands at 750,000 tons.
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Zimbabwe, Mozambique to scrap visa system soon
Zimbabwe and Mozambique have made significant steps towards abolishing visa requirements, Mozambican Ambassador to Zimbabwe Vicente Veloso said on Monday during his country's 32-independence anniversary in Harare.
He said the visa system would be scrapped before the end of the year and urged the business sector to take advantage of this development to penetrate new markets in his country.
"We are pleased to note that there is a significant move towards the abolition of visa between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The agreement will be signed in the next few months or weeks," he said, adding the development would help boost trade and the movement of goods between the two countries.
The move, he said, would also facilitate the free movement of people and services between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
"It is my hope that the private sector will also take full advantage of this instrument and the preferential trade agreement to further boost economic linkages between our two countries," he said.
Zimbabwean deputy foreign minister Rueben Marumahoko said the signing would strengthen the good relationship that exists between the two countries, ensure free movement of people and further promote the exchange of goods and services.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique share cordial relations that date back to the days of the liberation struggle.
The two countries have also supported each other in their principled stance towards the defence of national sovereignty.
President sends condolences to Chigwedere family
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday sent a condolence message to the Chigwedere family following the death of Ambassador Stanislaus Chigwedere on Saturday.
He described Cde Chigwedere as an outstanding teacher, bureaucrat, diplomat and Public Service Commissioner who belonged to the crop of dedicated cadres whose record goes back to the days of the liberation struggle.
"Alongside a number of committed teachers working in schools along the border with Mozambique, Cde Chigwe-dere ran numerous errands for the freedom struggle, including assisting recruits into Mozambique for training.
"At independence, Ambassador Chigwedere was among the first crop of cadres I engaged to fill the skills gap we faced then. He worked in my office until his redeployment into the diplomatic field where he served his country quite well."
The President said Ambassador Chigwedere was recalled to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he was appointed a Public Service Com-missioner.
"We grieve together with Chigwe-dere’s family, his wife Lillian and children, in particular, for losing a real father and mentor as we express our sympathies and condolences to them."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Simbarashe Mumbe-ngegwi also consoled the Chigwe-dere family yesterday.
"On behalf of my ministry and on my own behalf, I convey our deepest sympathies to Mrs Chigwedere, the children and to the rest of the Chigwedere family on the loss of a dear one," he said.
He said the Chigwedere family should get solace from the fact that the ministry was also mourning the departure of an efficient administrator of the Public Service of Zimbabwe, an attribute that saw him occupy the lofty position of Public Service Commissioner.
Cde Mumbengegwi described Cde Chigwedere as a diplomat par excellence.
"I fondly recall how he so ably gave direction to the ministry, both at head office and to all our ambassadors when he served as the ministry’s permanent secretary from 1992 to 1994," said Cde Mumbengegwi.
He added that before and after this, Ambassador Chigwedere enriched the ministry’s operations by serving as Ambassador to Canada from 1985 to 1989, as Ambassador to the United States of America from 1989 to 1992 before serving as Ambassador to Namibia from 2002 to 2007.
"In all these various portfolios Ambassador Chigwedere always presented himself as a most dependable colleague who acquitted himself exceptionally well in the performance of his duties. As we cherish fond memories of a departed dear brother and committed colleague, I pray that his soul may rest in eternal peace," said Cde Mumbengegwi.
Burial arrangements for Cde Chigwedere have not yet been announced as consultations are sill underway over his hero status.
Brigadier-General Gunda declared national hero
AN extraordinary Zanu-PF Politburo meeting yesterday declared Commander of 1 Brigade, Brigadier-General Armstrong Gunda, who died last week, a national hero.
He will be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre tomorrow.
Brig-Gen Gunda died last Thursday when his car was involved in an accident with a train, off the Harare-Marondera Road near Watershed School.
He was on his way to the school to pick up his son when tragedy struck.
Brig-Gen Gunda joins fellow military cadres interred at the national shrine, among them former Zanla Commander Cde Josiah Tongogara, who died in a car accident in 1979; Cdes Alfred Nikita Mangena and Lookout Masuku.
Others are former Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment; Cde Josiah Tungamirai buried in 2005, Cde Charles Dauramanzi buried in 2003 and Brigadier-General Charles Gumbo (1999) among others.
Speaking soon after the two-hour meeting, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa said people who worked closely with Brig-Gen Gunda spoke highly of him and the Politburo did not hesitate to confer him with the national hero status.
Cde Mutasa said Brig-Gen Gunda was described as an outstanding soldier who distinguished himself in executing the war of liberation that brought about independence in 1980 before serving in the defence forces after independence.
"He served our country extremely well to become a brigadier-general. Those who knew him and closely worked with him spoke highly of him for his outstanding work," said Cde Mutasa.
"All those who worked under him are successful officers who are straightforward and honest. We are sorrowful that he died and convey our condolences to his wife and family."
The body of Brig-Gen Gunda was expected to be flown from Bulawayo to the capital last night where his family would officially be notified of the national hero status, said Cde Mutasa, who is also the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement.
"It has been agreed that he be buried on Wednesday morning," said Cde Mutasa.
Brig-Gen Gunda was born on March 2 1957 and did his secondary education at St Killian’s Mission in Rusape before leaving the country for Mozambique in 1975 to join the liberation struggle.
He received his military training at Tembwe in 1976 and later in China from 1977 up to 1978.
Upon his return from China, he was posted to Chitepo Sector in Mashonaland Central Province where he operated until the ceasefire in 1979.
At independence, he was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army as an officer and in December 1981 he was commissioned a lieutenant after completing the Officer Standardisation Course at the Zimbabwe Military Academy.
His promotion history is as follows: lieutenant (1981), captain (1984), major (1986), lieutenant-colonel (1992), colonel (1996) and brigadier-general (2004), the rank he held until his untimely death.
During his service, Brig-Gen Gunda attended the Command Staff Course No. 1 at the Zimbabwe Staff College, the Human Rights for Peacekeeping at the Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre, Senior Officers’ All Arms Signals Course and the Executive Programme for Commanders in the United States of America, among other courses.
Since attestation in 1980, he has held several appointments with different units such as Officer Commanding B Company at 41 Infantry Battalion 1980-1982, Administration Staff Officer Grade 2 Facilities at the Directorate of Army Training 1984-1985, Commandant at All Arms Battle School 1996-1998, commander Presidential Guards 1998-2005 and Commander 1 Brigade from 2005 until his death.
It was during his time as commander Presidential Guards that Brig-Gen Gunda displayed his versatility and extreme devotion to duty.
His responsibilities included the highly sensitive duty of protecting the President and visiting VVIPs and VIPs from other nations.
This was a highly demanding task taking into cognisance the politically sensitive nature of his responsibilities.
The responsibility required him to exercise extreme diligence, initiative, unfailing devotion and loyalty as well as the highest standards of command and foresight.
Brig-Gen Gunda was awarded the Independence, Liberation, 10 Years Service, Mozambique Campaign, the Long and Exemplary and the Democratic Republic of Congo Campaign medals, among others.
He was posted to head 1 Brigade, which covers Matabeleland Province in 2005, a position he held until his death.
Mourners are gathered at Number 29 Argyle Road, Newlands, Harare. A funeral parade was held yesterday at Headquarters 1 Brigade in Bulawayo.