President Robert Mugabe and first lady Grace during the run up to the March 29, 2008 national elections in Zimbabwe.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
PRESIDENT Mugabe — scheduled to officially open the 49th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair today — arrived here yesterday afternoon to a rousing welcome by ruling party supporters.
Cde Mugabe, who was accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and their children, touched down at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport aboard an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 at 3:15pm.
The First Family was met by the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu; Bulawayo Resident Minister Cde Cain Mathema; the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu; Matabeleland North Governor, Cde Sithokozile Mathuthu; the Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Phineas Chihota; Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial chairman Cde Macleod Tshawe; provincial ruling party officials; and ZITF representatives.
A carnival atmosphere enveloped the airport when Cde Mugabe emerged from the plane and waved to hordes of people who were waiting for him while top Bulawayo performing groups — Thandanani Women’s Ensemble and Hloseni Arts — sang and danced to welcome him.
President Mugabe, who was in a buoyant mood, spent a few moments following the traditional dances by the two groups, which belted out the popular traditional tune "Ngiyamaz’ Ubaba’’ in his honour.
Earlier, two girls — who were resplendent in the proposed national dress designs which the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture came up with — had garlanded the President.
The First Family was then whisked away to the State House in the city.
Cde Mugabe is scheduled to open the premier international trade event — which Cde Mpofu has dubbed the "Pride of African Trade’’ — today at the main arena at the ZITF Grounds.
He is among distinguished personalities who include South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki, King Mswati III of Swaziland, former prime minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Namibian president Cde Sam Nujoma, who have opened the trade fair previously.
President Mugabe opened the inaugural trade fair in independent Zimbabwe in 1980 when he was still Prime Minister.
ZITF and its predecessors — the Rhodesian Trade Fair and the Central African Trade Fair — has been in existence since 1960.
Today, President Mugabe will be opening the annual trade showcase for the eighth time. He was the one who did the honours at last year’s event.
The theme of this year’s trade fair is "Made in Zimbabwe for Africa and the World’’.
In the run-up to the annual trade showcase, which began on Tuesday, speculation was rife in anti-Zimbabwe circles that the event would be cancelled because of the "crisis" that they alleged had been precipitated by the March 29 harmonised polls.
However, Government, through the ZITF board of directors led by Mr Nhlanhla Masuku and staff of the ZITF Company under the captaincy of Mr Daniel Chigaru, went ahead and organised the trade fair, which exhibitors and other observers say has so far turned out to be a phenomenal success.
‘EU, US failing poor farmers’
London--ActionAid has hit out at resistance by the EU and the US to demands by G77 for a stronger role for UNCTAD to regulate trade in agriculture commodities. The EU and US are also accused of starving UNCTAD of resources and limiting its mandate.
"The EU and US are pushing this responsibility to national governments knowing too well that they do not have capacity to negotiate with powerful multinationals dominating agricultural commodity trading," said Aftab Alam Khan, ActionAid’s international trade policy co-ordinator.
At the heart of commodity issues are complex agricultural commodity issues where multinational companies dominating the sector dictate the terms adversely affecting commodity-reliant developing countries while extracting unfair profits from the supply chain.
Joint ActionAid and South Centre research reveals six top coffee trading companies held half of the world market in 1998 while in 2002 only two companies controlled three-quarters of the global grain trade and another two, half of world’s banana trade.
UNCTAD has a clear mandate to work effectively on commodity issues so that small scale farmers are encouraged to produce more food to ensure national food sovereignty.
ActionAid believes a lasting solution to the pressures in the current food supply must include increased investment in smallholder agriculture and mechanisms to ensure they benefit adequately from commodities trading.
"ActionAid condemns moves by the EU and the US to further marginalise UNCTAD from the international trade and development agenda. While poor countries are facing increased challenges from globalisation, the EU and US are opposing G77 (Group of Developing Countries) demands to create an UNCTAD commission on globalisation," said Alam Khan.
"It will be a travesty of justice if the goals and aspirations of poor countries are neglected at this conference," he added.
Resources must be provided to UNCTAD to implement its mandate in trade and development. Any interference from any quarter is deemed as a betrayal to the cause of the developing world. — ActionAid.
Outcry over arms exposes West’s hypocrisy
By Caesar Zvayi
IN the strongest indication yet of the real motives behind the Western hullabaloo over the Chinese arms shipment to Zimbabwe, a leading American daily intrinsically linked to the United States’ ruling elite has proposed that the Bush administration arm the MDC while simultaneously weakening the Government to abet illegal regime change.
The revelations were contained in an article headlined ‘‘Arm Zimbabwe’s opposition’’, in yesterday’s issue of the Wall Street Journal, a publication that reflects the thinking of the White House on financial and foreign policy issues.
The newspaper claimed the MDC-T leadership had already indicated there was a war in Zimbabwe and it was time for the US to intervene.
‘‘The argument for arming the Zimbabwean opposition has gained new urgency in light of the news that three million rounds of ammunition, 3 500 mortars and 1 500 rocket-propelled grenades were on a Chinese ship, to be delivered to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe . . .
‘‘Mr Mugabe’s rule is a continuing crime against humanity. Lest that not serve as a wake-up call to the world, last week the MDC’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti, bluntly announced: ‘There is a war in Zimbabwe being waged by Mugabe’s regime against the people.’ America has chosen a side in this war. Perhaps it’s time we help it fight back,’’ wrote James Kirchick, an assistant editor.
Zimbabwe bought an assortment of arms from China last year and was set to take delivery last week but was prevented from doing so when South Africa’s Cosatu trade union movement, working in cahoots with the MDC-T leadership, influenced South African dock workers to refuse to offload the shipment, claiming the arms would be used against MDC supporters.
MDC’s Western allies jumped into the fray with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling on regional leaders to deny the ship permission to dock to offload its cargo.
On Monday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa dismissed claims that the arms would be used against civilians, saying Zimbabwe had a right to arm itself to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity while South Africa’s ruling ANC president Mr Jacob Zuma has rejected calls for a weapons embargo on Zimbabwe in the wake of the election, saying: "I do not think we have reached the stage of an arms embargo."
China has since indicated that the contract to supply the arms was signed last year and had nothing to do with the elections.
Ms Jiang Yu, spokesperson in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, reiterated her country’s long-held policy that economic dealings with other countries, including the sale of arms, adhered to strict non-interference in sovereign affairs.
The ship is being brought back to China, the Beijing government said yesterday.
"To my knowledge, the Chinese company has decided to bring back the boat," Ms Jiang told reporters.
She blasted Western countries — which were criticising China for selling arms to Zimbabwe — for politicising the issue.
"Some people in the US are always critical, positioning themselves as the world’s policeman, but they are not popular in the world," Ms Jiang said about the US State Department’s demand that China halt the shipment.
"It’s pointless . . . to politicise this issue," she said.
The European Union, the United States and their allies slapped an arms embargo on Zimbabwe in 2002 in addition to economic sanctions, prompting Harare to increase trade with traditional partners in the East.
China helped Zimbabwean guerillas with military andlogistical support during the Second Chimurenga as the West helped their kith and kin in the minority Smith regime.
Western media have since tried to use the arms shipment as an excuse to demonise the forthcoming Olympic Games to be hosted by China in Beijing. All along they have been berating China over standing firm against secessionists in Tibet.
Analysts have blasted Western hypocrisy over the shipment, saying China’s contribution to global arms trade stood at only 2 percent and is channelled to nation-states whereas the US’s 30 percent flowed mainly to sponsored wars of destabilisation throughout the developing world.
The Wall Street Journal argued that though announcing military support ‘‘for dissidents abroad . . . could endanger the dissidents’ cause and credibility, . . . . this critique might make sense in the Middle East, but it does not carry much water in Africa’’ where the US is considered a ‘‘most dependable ally’’, and where, at times, ‘‘it is faulted for not doing more’’.
Former British military chief Sir Charles Guthrie recently revealed that erstwhile British prime minister Tony Blair had contemplated a military invasion of Zimbabwe but was advised against it.
There have been reports, over the past few months, that the opposition has been training youths grouped into what it calls "democratic resistance committees" in various subversive tactics on isolated commercial farms.
Chombo extends lead in Zvimba North
By Sydney Kawadza
ZANU-PF Zvimba North House of Assembly candidate Cde Ignatius Chombo extended his lead by 155 votes to 6 939 in the recount completed yesterday at Murombedzi while second-placed Ernest Mudimu of MDC-T gained 13 votes, pushing his total to 1 714
Third-placed Shelton Magama of MDC lost 28 votes, which reduced his total to 916 after the recount.
Most of the changes arose from the fact that the results from one polling station had not been included in the totals.
Cde Chombo had initially polled 6 784 while Mudimu had 1 701 and Magama had 944.
The recount saw Zanu-PF Senate candidate Cde Virginia Muchenje, who initially won the seat by 26 274, gaining another 261 votes while her opponent, MDC-T’s Fidelis Chiramba, who had initially polled 12 651, gained 295.
Mashonaland West provincial elections officer Mr Michael Guzha said results from one polling station where omitted during the final collation at the constituency command centre when the initial count was done.
Mr Guzha said he was not allowed to give the name of the polling station whose results were omitted and could not say whether the error also affected the presidential results.
Zvimba North is the second seat after Goromonzi West Zanu-PF that has retained in the recounts done in 23 constituencies while MDC-T retained the Zaka West.
Zanu (Ndonga) has said it is satisfied with the recounting but urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to speed up the process and release results.
The party’s national organising secretary, Mr Paul Gondai Vutuza, said they participated in the recounting at the invitation of ZEC even though none of their candidates had contested in the constituencies subject to recount.
Mr Vutuza urged political parties to desist from politically motivated violence, saying violence would not carry the country forward.
"As a party, we have urged our supporters to desist from violence. We have told them that no leader is worth dying for. Any political differences should be resolved by going to the negotiating table," he said.
MDC-T supporters accused of violence
SUSPECTED MDC-T supporters have unleashed organised violence in Chiendambuya resettlement area in Headlands torching more than eight homesteads belonging to Zanu-PF supporters.
The arson attacks, which left a trail of destruction and at least three Zanu-PF supporters injured, occurred in Mayo resettlement area about 70 km from Headlands.
Two MDC-T activists have since appeared in court facing arson charges.
Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday that police were hunting suspects still on the run.
He condemned the violence saying those responsible would face the courts.
Among the injured were Zanu-PF Rusununguko district chairman Cde Claud Gwidzima, war veteran Cde Kudakwashe Mutasa and Wilson Chigwari, a party supporter.
The three sustained severe injuries all over their bodies from the attack by suspected MDC-T militants on Wednesday night last week.
Cde Gwidzima said the suspected MDC-T supporters went on a rampage and burnt at least eight homesteads in two villages in the resettlement area.
He lost almost 2 000kg of tobacco, a hut and his granary with almost half a tonne of maize.
"They came and started chanting MDC party slogans while beating me up.
"They gave me matches and ordered me to set alight my hut, my granary and my tobacco," he said.
Cde Gwidzima said he was also assaulted with clenched fists and sticks before the rowdy activists fled into the darkness.
Other Zanu-PF supporters also lost more than 1 000kg of tobacco each, clothes, blankets among other valuables.
Ward 35 Councillor, Cde James Munetsi condemned the violence saying such acts should never be tolerated.
He called on the MDC-T to co-exist and uphold the prevailing peace the area was enjoying before and during the election.