Friday, May 30, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: First Lady Attacks Western-backed Opposition; President Slams Political Violence; Leaders Blast Rich Nations on Trade

Grace Mugabe attacks MDC

By Fanuel Jongwe

President Robert Mugabe will never vacate his office for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai even if he loses a run-off election next month, the Zimbabwean leader's wife said on Thursday.

Grace Mugabe told followers of her husband's Zanu-PF party that Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not be allowed to take power under any circumstances.

"Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step foot inside State House," she said after meeting victims of political violence that has rocked Zimbabwe since the first round of voting on 29 March.

Strong words from Grace Mugabe

"He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State House from people who have been there. Even if Baba (Mugabe) loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu-PF."

The 84-year-old president, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, is to square off against Tsvangirai on 27 June after an inconclusive first round.

Tsvangirai fell just short of an outright majority on 29 March needed to avoid a run-off, although the MDC wrested control of parliament from Zanu-PF in a legislative poll that took place at the same time.

Grace Mugabe, who is 40 years Mugabe's junior, accompanied her husband to the rural area of Shamva, northeast of Harare, for a tour of a homestead which was allegedly burned down by MDC followers.

"What we saw really touched us. We are not animals but humans. If you burn down someone's house you want to destroy their life," the president said.

"We want to warn the MDC they should stop immediately this barbaric campaign of burning and destroying people's homes."

Post-election violence

While Mugabe has laid the blame for post-election violence at the feet of the MDC, the United Nations and human rights groups say that Zanu-PF has been responsible for the lion's share.

The MDC says more than 50 of its supporters have been killed by pro-Mugabe militias since 29 March, and tens of thousands displaced, as part of a campaign of intimidation designed to ensure victory for Mugabe on 27 June.

In his address to supporters, Mugabe acknowledged that the country — which currently has the world's highest rate of inflation — was going through tough times but he said food shortages were not the fault of his government.

"There might be grievances about prices, food shortages and non-availability of basic commodities. These are being caused by sanctions and food shortages are a result of drought," he said, adding that recent purchases should alleviate the situation.

"We have bought a lot of maize from our neighbouring countries. What we have so far is 600 000 tonnes which was paid for."

A one-time regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe now experiences shortages of basic foodstuffs such as sugar and cooking oil.

With inflation running at over 165 000 percent, shops that do manage to find supplies increase their prices several times a day.

Mugabe and his inner circle have been subject to a limited package of Western sanctions since he allegedly rigged his re-election in 2002.


President slams violence

By Sydney Kawadza

PRESIDENT MUGABE yesterday described the orgy of violence perpetrated by the MDC-T as barbaric after he and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe visited the homes of some victims of the opposition attacks in Shamva, Mashonaland Central.

Addressing a rally after visiting the homes of affected families, President Mugabe said he was saddened by what he had seen at the homes.

"We have seen the violent activities of the MDC-T in Shamva and other areas across the country. Tasuruvara nezvataona. Hatisi mhuka dzinopisirana dzimba, destroying other people’s property.

"The MDC-T should stop immediately this barbaric campaign of arson, destroying and harming people, destroying lives," he said.

Speaking at the same rally, Amai Mugabe deplored violent activities after the March 29 elections.

"We have come to see the victims of violence and I want to urge people to avoid fighting each other. Musarovana, musapisirana dzimba nekuti pamunorwisana varungu vanenge varikudzimba dzavo vachiona vachingoti onai vanhu vatema havafunge, havana kurongeka; sei vasingabatsire kana pakaitika matambudziko akadai?" she said.

Amai Mugabe urged Zanu-PF supporters and MDC-T to co-exist as no one would benefit from acts of retribution.

The First Lady donated asbestos roofing sheets, clothes, groceries and $20 billion each to the affected families.

Two MDC-T supporters, who were also victims of the violent clashes, could not receive their donations yesterday because they were not present.

Cde Mugabe also donated 200 computers to 20 schools in Mashonaland Central.

Turning to the June 27 run-off, President Mugabe said this was an important election that will determine whether the country remains with the people of Zimbabwe or goes back to Rhodesians.

He said the March 29 harmonised election result was saddening, adding that he hoped that people would vote wisely in the forthcoming election.

"We are sad for the people who were bought and sold out. These people are in the party, in the communities and shamed us as a party. I would, however, want to thank the people who voted for Zanu-PF and made sure that there was no winner.

"Kune vamwe pakati pedu vakakwanisa kuvhotera Zanu-PF uye ndivo vakaita kuti kusawanikwe anokunda, kuite mangange. Saka ndimi makaita kuti Zanu-PF ivepo, ndimi makaita kuti nhasi ndive pano," Cde Mugabe said.

He said it was fortunate that laws in the country provided for a run-off after a stalemate in the presidential poll.

"There was no winner according to our laws. Iyi yatavakupinda ielection yekupedza mangange aya. Moenda munhu woga-woga, muudze vamwe vangangodaro vasina kukwanisa kuuya pano kuti musi waJune 27 hapana anosara, kana anenzara anofizukira ikoko.

"Your vote is important, we are not happy with the results
after the elections but go and vote together. Traditional leaders should go with their people even in the areas where the party lost. We must make sure that we retain our votes in those areas," he said.

Cde Mugabe expressed concern at the performance of the party in Mashonaland Central, where it lost two House of Assembly constituencies -- Bindura South and Mazowe West -- in the March 29 elections.

"Taiziva province ino iri province isina anozunguza, isina kana buri asi yakaita maburi maviri saka takaona magwanza maviri kuBindura South nekuti Mazowe West.

"Rangarirai kuti kuno kuMashonaland Central ndikokwakabva Mbuya Nehanda, ndiko kwakatanga Chimurenga chekutanga uye chechipiri. Saka munofanira kuziva kuti midzimu yakaramba kuti nyika iyerere.

"KuMazowe ndiko kwaMbuya Nehanda saka ivo vanoti mavakundiregereraka.

"Should we get people who do not support the land issue? Ivhu ravanhu rakakosha. We are rocking as nation and on June 27 when you go to vote, you should vote to show that Rhodesia is gone forever and Zimbabwe shall live forever," he said.

Cde Mugabe said Zanu-PF was aware of the issues that are affecting the people such as shortages of food and basic commodities and the ever-escalating prices of goods.

"However, these issues are being caused by sanctions, drought periods and heavy rains that affected agricultural production last year.

"We had grown maize in our fields, but it was destroyed by the heavy rains. However, Governor Gono has told me that the Reserve Bank has paid for 600 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa and is awaiting delivery and enough maize is coming to the people so that they would not suffer," he said.

Cde Mugabe said Government had also come up with programmes that would help people overcome the shortages, price hikes and other challenges.

He said the British had imposed sanctions so that people would lose track and stop supporting their party.

"MaBritish akaisa masanctions kuti akanganise vanhu kuti vati torega kubatana neZanu-PF, torega nekuti tashaya, musangano weZanu-PF hausisina kunaka, toenda kubva muZanu-PF.

"Did you join Zanu-PF for sugar, salt or for our land? We can have these shortages, but we need to work, produce and be fine. We can work on the land to produce food that would sustain us before we are rich or before we start selling our produce."

Cde Mugabe said Government was working on empowering the people because whites were enjoying the fruits of the land.

"We want to empower the people but there are others who are saying the people are starving because they (white farmers) are gone, but they did not produce any food. The people in the communal farmers were producing for the nation when farmers were growing tobacco and other cash crops.

"We took the farms and gave them to the people and there are more farms that are going to be allocated to those who need them," he said.

He said Government also wanted to empower its citizens in the spheres of commercial business and manufacturing industry.

"We want our people, blacks, to have control, to have more than 51 percent. Murungu hatichadi kuti awane zvinopfuura 49 percent. There should be minor shareholders and the same should be in the mining sector.

"We have made laws, but had not started using them and we want to do that for our children. Our children should not go to school so that they are other people’s workers.

"Tinoda kuzviitirawo, tizvivambire mabasa, tine mapurazi saka toda kuti vana vedu vaite varidzi vambabhizimusi aya. Whites can only come as partners while we control — ngavabate kutete isu tobata kukobvu.

"Ndozvirikurambwa naTsvangirai, hanzi varungu vauye vatonge. Ane zvakawanda zvaakataura, hanzi muchafa nenzara nekuti masiisa varungu mabasa."

President Mugabe castigated Tsvangirai for calling for sanctions against the country, which are now hurting the people.

"Tsvangirai akatenderera kunyika dzakawanda, akaenda kuSouth Africa akati dzimai magetsi, vakaramba. Akazoenda kuBritain kunokumbira masanctions, vakabvumira, vakati chakapusa achakuvadza hama dzake," he said.

President Mugabe said Government had stopped relying on the European countries after the sanctions and was looking East instead.

"Mari yekunze yatinenge taita inotorwa nemaAmericans nenyaya yemasanctions. Vanoti vanogwadama chete nemasanctions nekuti vakatora mapurazi. Takati never ever, hazviite. Tikati you can go hang, keep your little Britain and we can keep our Zimbabwe.

"Tiri vanhu vevhu. Hapana pasingararami tisina ivhu," he said.

President Mugabe castigated some companies that were undermining Government efforts to make goods available to the people by increasing prices after workers are awarded salary increments.

"We recently took to task Seed Co for hiking prices of wheat seed, which they reduced but we have heard that it has been increased again.

"These companies want to make things bad for us as we head for the elections. Izvozvo ngazviregerwe. We want that to stop so that we secure the future of the country, the future which is our land, heritage, kuzvitongera uye kuvanesimba rekutonga nyika yedu," he said.

He said there were many programmes to upgrade roads, increase electricity generation and others that have been affected by shortages of funds but Government was determined to complete these.

At the same rally, Amai Mugabe said people should vote for President Mugabe since he is fighting for the future generations.

"President Mugabe is a modest man who does not want to gain anything from ruling the country. He works for the people. But the whites are saying he is clever and they want to get rid of him.

"Tsvangirai has done nothing for the nation. He survives from what he gets from his white masters and comparing President Mugabe and Tsvangirai is an insult. People will only realise this after they have lost their land because they want sugar, salt and other foods," she said.

She said she was surprised that after getting implements to use on their farms, people still expected President Mugabe to give them more.

She said President Mugabe would not be removed from his position by any other person other than from the ruling party.

"Tsvangirai haapatsike paState House. Baba vanotobva kana pauya munhu weZanu-PF anoziva kuchengetedza nhaka yedu," she said.

Amai Mugabe also distributed over a thousand pairs of shoes to the community and 800 T-shirts to war veterans in the district while Cde Crispen Rwizi, who lost his tractor during an attack by MDC-T supporters, would get a replacement.


African leaders blast rich nations for ignoring trade inequalities

Business Reporter

YOKOHAMA. African leaders have blasted rich nations for failing to tackle trade inequalities even as they make lofty pledges to boost aid in developing countries.

This emerged in Yokohama, Japan where 40 head of states from Africa are attending a conference to discuss economic growth, stability and climate change.

The African leaders also said they were more concerned about the unfair trade deals.

Among the leaders are Ugandan President Mr Yoweri Museveni, South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki and Tanzanian President Mr Jakaya Kikwete and senior Government representatives.

Foreign media reports quoted Mr Museveni on Wednesday saying problems bedeviling the continent were largely as result of bad policies of Western countries.

"There is a big problem of food in the world now and a problem of energy.

"In Uganda, there is a problem of a different kind. We have too much food and no market to export it to," said Mr Museveni.

"Why? Because of bad policies in Europe, America and even in Japan," he added.

Mr Museveni said Uganda was facing "a real struggle" to get a fair deal for its natural resources, including agricultural and mineral products.

He gave an example of a kilogramme of unprocessed Ugandan coffee sold for one dollar at home but for 14 dollars in Britain after it has been refined.

"I see some people here who are called donors," Mr Museveni told the conference audience.

"Now, I really have a problem with that definition. Because I don’t know who’s helping who?"

According to Fair trade campaigners, poor countries have been forced to open up their markets while rich nations have kept unfair practices such as farm subsidies, while multinational companies fail to give farmers a fair deal.

Mr Kikwete also echoed the same sentiments and called for increased trade and investment, and more development on the African continent. Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi who is also attending the conference charged that foreign aid policies were slanted to serve political ends.

"The structure of lopsided power distribution in the United Nations system, particularly in the Security Council, is replicated in the development institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," Mr Mumbengegwi also said.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has since pledged to double aid to Africa by 2012 and to help the continent boost rice production two-fold to ease food shortages.

In recent weeks soaring food prices such as rice, wheat and corn in some of the world’s poorest nations have sparked demonstrations across Africa.

The three day conference is seen as efforts by Japan to expand its influence in Africa, where China and India are also seeking closer ties and supplies of natural resources to fuel their rapid economic growth.

Japan also announced a US$2,5 billion initiative to help its companies do business in Africa, paving the way for private sector investment. — Business Reporter.

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