Thursday, July 17, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Preparation for Agricultural Season Begins; Agrarian Reform Irreversible; Fertilizer Firms Warned, etc.

Preps for agric season commence, says Mujuru

Herald Reporter

PREPARATIONS for the forthcoming summer agricultural season have begun with Government expecting raw materials for fertilizer production in the country this week, Vice President Joice Mujuru has said.

Commissioning agricultural equipment and implements distributed to farmers at Nyahoni Irrigation Scheme and Ringa Resettlement areas in Chikomba District yesterday, Cde Mujuru said inputs for agriculture would be made available by October this year.

"Government is looking at the forthcoming season as a period to fight hunger and food shortages in the country and we are making serious preparations," she said.

Amai Mujuru said the most serious problem over the years was the issue of inputs and Government has met with various producers to make sure that inputs are available by the time the season starts.

"We have tasked the Agriculture Minister, Cde Rugare Gumbo, who is leading various Government departments to see what the seed and fertilizer manufacturers would need to produce the required inputs.

"Fertilizer companies raised a variety of issues including foreign currency shortages for procuring raw materials but we have provided the funding and we are expecting the raw materials to start arriving into the country by Friday (tomorrow)," she said.

VP Mujuru added that inputs for the agricultural season, which include seed, fertilizers and chemicals, would be made available to the farmers at their nearby distribution centres.

She said people should start working for themselves and desist from relying on Government as it has to undertake other developmental programmes in the country.

"We should not look up to Government to feed everyone. The money being spent on importing food can be used for other projects like constructing roads, buying drugs and for various other projects," she said.

Cde Mujuru said the tractors being distributed in the schemes would help farmers in their agricultural activities but should also be used by other villagers in the communities.

"The tractors should be controlled by responsible committees to ensure that they are not abused while communities near the Nyahoni Irrigation Scheme should also take advantage of this equipment."

She said Government had stopped some non-governmental organisations from operating in Zimbabwe because they were being involved in political activities.

"The West is trying to use these NGOs to stop people from working for themselves so that they can rule us but President Mugabe has said they should work in agreement with Government for a certain period.

"President Mugabe wants to empower the people so that they work for themselves and stop this reliance on NGOs. We are a hardworking nation, which does not need handouts from others," she said.

VP Mujuru also deplored violent activities in the community urging people to be productive so that they develop their communities.

"There are some lazy people who are jealousy of their hard-working neighbours and these are the same people who label others as belonging to the opposition party.

"It’s not politics that is making people fight against each other but jealousy by those who do not want to work for their own development," she said.

Cde Mujuru said farmers should start producing for the markets so that they earn from the land.

"People in urban centres and markets outside Zimbabwe need your produce from the land. We need to take advantage of that so that we get money to develop our families, communities and the nation."

She said there is also need for the establishment and rehabilitation of irrigation schemes in the country to ensure food sustenance.

"There are various dams in the country and these should be utilised for food production throughout the year," she said.

VP Mujuru paid tribute to the people of Chikomba for voting for President Mugabe in the June 27 presidential run-off.

"What we did during the presidential run-off has impressed the whole world. The world is still amazed by the people’s resolve to defend their independence and sovereignty and we would like to commend you for restoring your confidence in Zanu-PF and its leadership."

Cde Mujuru commissioned four tractors for the Nyahoni and Dangarendove irrigation schemes in the district.

She also handed over ox-drawn ploughs, harrows, cultivators, scotch-carts, knapsacks and other agricultural implements.

Agrarian reform irreversible: Lawyers

Herald Reporters

LAWYERS representing former commercial farmers in the landmark case challenging the compulsory acquisition of their farms by Government at the Sadc Tribunal in Namibia yesterday conceded that the agrarian reform was essential and irreversible.

Advocate Adrian de Bourbon admitted during his submissions that given the colonial injustices, it was fundamentally important that the land be given to landless Zimbabweans.

He also conceded that the land issues was racial but sought the nullification of Constitutional Amendment No 17 and urged the Sadc to intervene and order compensation to the farmers whose land was acquired by Government.

One of the farmers Ben Freeth appeared in court in bandages in a wheel chair in a move the Zimbabwean Embassy in Namibia said was meant to dramatise the case and stage-manage allegations of violence.

"Freeth, in dramatic fashion, came to court bandaged, limping and on a wheel chair to demonise the Government and attract attention on alleged political violence against whites and opposition figures," said the Embassy in a statement.

Adv de Bourbon is assisting the lead defence counsel Advocate Jeremy Guantlet in the case while Deputy Attorney General (Civil Division) Adv Prince Machaya assisted by the Director (Civil Division) Mrs Fatima Maxwell and Adv Martin Dinha is representing the Government of Zimbabwe.

Earlier on, the Sadc Tribunal judges were forced to throw out an application for contempt of court by the white farmers alleging Government was not complying with the interim order granted to them last year.

The farmers also demanded to have their case referred to the United Nations Security Council.

The Tribunal was forced to throw out the application following a strenuous protest by the lawyers representing the 345 beneficiaries of the land reform programme.

The lawyers had insisted that the intervener application filed by the beneficiaries should be heard first before any inquiry into the alleged contempt of court by the Government of Zimbabwe. The 345 resettled farmers who were affected by the interim order granted to white former commercial farmers by the Sadc Tribunal filed a substantive intervener application with the regional tribunal last month.

This was after 77-other white farmers had filed intervener applications that have now been consolidated against the Government to lend weight in the case brought by Michael Campbell to the regional tribunal.

The case opened in October last year and Campbell, the former owner of Mount Camel Farm in Chegutu, successfully obtained an interdict blocking Government from acquiring his farm. The tribunal yesterday deferred the hearing of the intervener application to sometime in September.

But the tribunal proceeded to hear the main application in circumstances which legal experts described as strange and unprocedural.

Once the tribunal set down the intervener application for hearing in September it meant the main case was supposed to be determined after the interlocutory application.

The tribunal cannot determine the main case unless it wants to hear the arguments and reserve its ruling until it hears arguments from the intervener before making a proper decision.

However, the beneficiaries were consoled by the fact that the contempt of court application was thrown out and now have a good chance to present their case.

It is reported that when it appeared the tribunal was ready to hear the contempt of court application, lawyers representing the beneficiaries demanded to see the judges in chambers, which then triggered a U-turn that resulted in the judges dismissing the urgent application by the white farmers.

In their application, the beneficiaries are arguing that they have a right to be heard in accordance with principles of natural justice on a matter that affects their peaceful and lawful occupation of the farms allocated to them.

On the other hand, the farmers claim that Section 16B of the country’s constitution constitutes a breach of the rule of law and human rights and violates provisions of the Sadc Treaty.

The section states that in the event that the Minister of Lands compulsory acquires land, the decision to acquire that land cannot be challenged in court.

Deliver or face jail, fertilizer firms warned

By Walter Muchinguri

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday warned fertilizer companies that they face prosecution unless they make available 25 000 tonnes of the commodity that they promised to supply after accessing US$10 million from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in April.

Chemplex Corporation chief executive Mr Misheck Kachere indicated last month at a business meeting organised by the National Economic Consultative Forum and attended by the President that the industry would release the fertilizer this month.

President Mugabe, who was speaking during the launch of the Basic Commodities Distribution Programme in Harare, said the industry had up to the end of the month to deliver.

Government, he said, had already promised farmers that the fertilizer would be available before the start of the new season.

He said Government had persistently failed to ensure the timeous availability of inputs in successive agricultural seasons as it had repeatedly been let down by the industry.

"Government has not done well for a number of years because those we had trusted to do well have not done so.

"The fertilizer companies ask for money from Government and when we have provided that, they fail to produce.

"Izvozvi ndanzwa kuti havasati vatanga kugadzira. Ndanzwa naVaGumbo kuti vari kuti tatadziswa nekuti hatina matrucks ekutakura zvinhu kubva kuSouth Africa nekuti ese ari kutakura chibage, but surely can’t we use rail?

"These are delaying tactics and in the end they want to say that they have failed to produce but we will have given them money.

"This time tinoda kuonana, there should not be any failure on their part, everyone should succeed.

"By August and September we should be able to say: ‘Yes, this is the fertilizer that we have promised, it is all there.’ Otherwise it’s jail," he said.

Mr Kachere is reported to have made a U-turn this month when he wrote to Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono advising him that they had not started producing because of several challenges.

He also appealed to the governor to allocate the industry more money and gave a promise that the industry would only be in a position to supply the country with fertilizer in September, by which time it would be too late for most farmers.

Such excuses have become common with the industry, which has continued pushing forward delivery dates, but never actually delivering in the end.

Fertilizer is critical to the success of the agrarian reform and its unavailability on the market has caused some anxious moments for winter wheat farmers and those preparing for the forthcoming summer cropping season.

Stand firm against US, UK arrogance

LAST week, the world was treated to yet another display of the kind of supreme arrogance that has characterised the West’s engagement of Zimbabwe since the start of the Land Reform Programme.

In this instance, the United States, Britain, France and their allies in the illegal regime change agenda tried to get the United Nations to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

These countries were trying to find a way to legitimise the unilateral economic embargo they already have on the country through the structures of the UN.

Thankfully, reason and sanity prevailed and South Africa, Libya, Vietnam, Russia and China effectively opposed this latest attempt to interfere in the internal political affairs of a sovereign nation.

While the West learnt its lesson that the world will not roll over and accept whatever insults are thrown their way by military powers, there was also a poignant lesson for the UN and Africa from all this.

Firstly, the UN must find ways of ensuring that its offices and structures are not abused by individuals such as George W. Bush and Gordon Brown, who have their own personal scores to settle with Zimbabwe.

The most democratic organ of the UN, the General Assembly, must seriously consider coming up with punitive measures to deter warmongers from bringing forward frivolous draft resolutions that only serve to divide what should be an organisation that seeks to foster global unity.

It is in the best interests of all UN members to send a clear and strong message to countries like the US and Britain that the organisation exists to deal with real issues, not to appease the flippant political desires of power-drunk Western countries.

Secondly, the African Union must realise that the West does not care about what this continent’s leaders and people say or want.

The AU passed a resolution in Egypt earlier this month in which they made it clear that South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki should be given the room and support he requires to complete his facilitation of dialogue between Zimbabwe’s political parties.

The AU was also unambiguous about the fact that there should be no interference by any interest group whether inside or outside Africa unless President Mbeki has expressed a desire for assistance.

By taking a draft resolution to the Security Council calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US, Britain and their motley band of supporters have demonstrated that they are not interested in what Africa thinks.

As such, the AU must realise that the West simply wants to criticise and control the rest of the world.

If Africa allows such a thing to continue, history will judge the present crop of continental leaders harshly for watching as our sovereignty is compromised in such a blatantly crude manner.

China, Russia: True all-weather friends

By Stephen T. Maimbodei

Last Friday was probably one of the darkest days in British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s life since he engaged in his war against President Mugabe.

Whitehall is overwhelmed with the post-mortem on how the whole British political system could have been dealt such a double blow by China and Russia.

Just a few days earlier at the G8 summit, Brown was brimming with overconfidence. Together with US President George W. Bush, they believed that they had found the winning formula in their illegal regime change quest: more sanctions against Zimbabwe.

They did not want to repeat the Iraq mistake and therefore the "blessing" was going to come from the UN Security Council.

However, the United States-sponsored sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe was ill-fated from the very beginning.

There were too many issues at stake for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China — some of which were not necessarily related to Zimbabwe.

The unprocedural manner in which the draft resolution was introduced raised eyebrows among diplomats in the world body.

When the United States introduced the resolution, it hit a snag.

Six of the 15 Security Council members did not support it and two of them — Russia and China — were veto-wielding permanent members.

Others who opposed the draft were South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia and Libya, all developing nations and members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The so-called punitive sanctions that the West sought to impose were supposed to be punitive measures against the June 27 presidential poll.

The West inexplicably still maintains that the inconclusive March 29 result was final.

But the sane world argued that Zimbabwe did not constitute a threat to international peace and security.

They also argued that the West was trying to internationalise a bilateral matter between Zimbabwe and former coloniser Britain.

China argued that passage of the resolution would have exceeded the UN’s mandate while South Africa pointed out that it was mediating talks between the major political parties in Zimbabwe.

Russia also contended that the passage of the resolution would have set a dangerous precedent for the world body.

But the US, Britain and their allies were blind to all these warnings.

However, what surprises the developing world and Africa in particular is that the US flagrantly disregarded the resolution made by African leaders in Egypt.

The actions of the US and the UK reinforced the belief that not only economic, technological and military power are at the core of the operations of the UN, but also that race is now a major factor in the manner in which the world body approaches global issues.

Zimbabwe consequently applauded Russia and China, and the other Security Council members, who supported the country last week.

That the discussions had been allowed to take place was not only anomalous, but it was an act that set a very dangerous precedent in the world body.

The African Union had decided on how engagement should proceed, but before that action had been tried and tested, it was usurped by dollar and military might.

We have all along suspected that apart from the Zimbabwe issue being a bilateral issue between Britain and Zimbabwe, the Anglo-Saxon/racial mix is a major factor.

Zimbabweans, who are currently looking forward to the speedy and successful conclusion of the inter-party talks, would want to see this process followed to its logical conclusion.

They also trust South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, who was given the mandate by Sadc and the AU to mediate in the talks, understands the issues on the ground and can bring the best result that Zimbabweans and Africa expect.

While Brown still wants to take the Zimbabwe issue to his Western eco-political clubs, it is interesting to note the backlash that Russia, China and President Mbeki are getting from the Anglo-Saxon nations.

The United States made a scathing attack on President Mbeki.

Russia was accused of being an unreliable G8 partner because it argued that it was wrong to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

Despite the arrogance that this draft resolution revealed, it was also clear that the Anglo-Saxon world does not wish to see the Zimbabwean matter resolved by Africans.

However, the Russian and Chinese positions are not new.

The Soviet government took a position soon after Rhodesian rebel leader Ian Smith declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.

This was a statement made at the height of the Cold War, when the West had blacklisted communism and regarded it as evil, as they still do.

Russia stood by the people of Zimbabwe and when it was evident that Ian Smith would not go back on UDI, and the nationalists realised that the only way out was an armed struggle, both Russia and China lent not only material, financial and moral support, but they stood by the people of Zimbabwe until they defeated the colonial system, and gained independence in 1980.

Many of the cadres who fought the settler colonialist system received top of the range training in the Soviet Union and China.

They had the moral vision of seeing that African nations suffering under colonial subjugation should not only be independent on paper, but rather that they should be sovereign and have total control of their resources.

The West continues to hoodwink the world into believing that President Mugabe is the problem, when in effect land is the core issue.

It has also hoodwinked its kith and kin into ignoring the fact that Britain failed to meet its obligations and compensate white farmers whose land was lawfully taken by the Zimbabweans.

If the heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales, on June 10, 2008 paid off a 350-year-old debt (£453,15, minus interest), left by his ancestor King Charles II to a clothing company, Clothiers Company of Worcester, why should the Blair/Brown government refuse to fulfil their obligations?

According to media reports, the company had never forgotten that the Royal Family owed them money after King Charles II failed to pay when he commissioned them to make uniforms for his troops in 1651.

As he presented the money Prince Charles said: "It seems that members of the Clothiers Company have a long memory."

Likewise, Zimbabweans never forgot that land was the central issue in the Zimbabwe equation, and neither will we ever do so.

The manner in which the West is treating the Zimbabwe matter and the manner in which they have armtwisted other members of the UN shows the paucity of moral values in the West.

But at this crucial moment, China and Russia have risen to the occasion the same way they did after UDI.

Last week Zimbabwe was again at the crossroads, its old friends China and Russia did what friends who understand the depth of the issue at hand could only do.

They vetoed the fast-tracked resolution.

Russia, even in its time as Soviet Union, has never wavered in its support for Zimbabwe.

We reproduce here, a statement issued by the Soviet government in 1965.

Soviet Government Statement:

The Situation in Southern Rhodesia, November 15, 1965

"The colonialists have committed a new crime against the African peoples. On November 11 the racialist régime of Ian Smith proclaimed the "independence" of Southern Rhodesia. These actions are aimed at perpetuating in Southern Rhodesia a colonial system based on inhuman oppression of the Zimbabwe people, four million strong, by a handful of racialists and on ruthless suppression of the just struggle of this people for real independence, freedom and social justice . . .

"The South Rhodesian racialists would not have dared to carry out their criminal plans without a deal with the colonialists, who have permitted the racialist régime in Salisbury to acquire economic and military strength and who have rendered it all-out support.

"Nor could this crime have taken place without the blessing of the governments of other Nato countries, and in the first place the United States of America.

"The creation of yet another centre of racialism — this time in Southern Rhodesia — is part of the overall plan of imperialist circles to erect an obstacle in the way, of the national liberation movement of the African peoples, the waves of which are drawing nearer and nearer to the last bulwarks of colonialism.

"The Soviet government fully shares the view of the independent African states, expressed in decisions of the Organisation of African Unity, that the ruling circles of Britain will never be able to escape responsibility for this crime against the African peoples, for the national tragedy of the Zimbabwe people, who for many, years now have been waging a stubborn struggle for their rights.

"At the present time the government of Great Britain, in words, is condemning the actions of the South Rhodesian authorities and is asking the Security Council to examine the question of Southern Rhodesia. It is clear, however, that these statements of the British government are at present only an attempt to whitewash its actual policy.

"As long ago as 1961, having put into effect a ‘constitution’ worked out by the British government itself which formalised the racialist system, Britain laid the foundations for the present régime of the racialists' colonial rule over millions of Africans.

"Following that, she armed the South Rhodesian racialists and helped them to consolidate their positions by encouraging the colonial alliance of Southern Rhodesia with the racialist régime in the Republic of South Africa and the Portuguese colonialists in Angola and Mozambique.

"As a result, Southern Rhodesia turned into a police state, into a land of jails, concentration camps and terror for the African population of the country.

"The racialist régime in Southern Rhodesia also constitutes a hotbed of danger for all other African peoples, including those, which have already freed themselves from colonial oppression.

"It is a bayonet pointed at the heart of liberated Africa, a constant threat to peace on the African continent and a threat to world peace . . . The Soviet government, guided by its principled stand in questions of abolishing colonialism, strongly condemns the new crime against the peoples of Africa and declares that it does not recognise the racialist regime which has usurped power in Southern Rhodesia.

"The Soviet Union fully supports the decisions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly on the situation in Southern Rhodesia and will carry them out unswervingly.

"Loyal to its steadfast policy of supporting the national liberation movement of the peoples, the Soviet government declares its full solidarity with the Zimbabwe people and again confirms its readiness to co-operate with the African countries in rendering them all-out support in their just struggle for genuine national independence."

Source: from the Soviet Neivs, No. 5206 (November 16, 1965), p. 70. Modern History Sourcebook: Rhodesia: Unilateral Declaration of Independence Documents, 1965

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook.
© Paul Halsall, July 1998.

Tsvangirai refuses to sign MoU

By Takunda Maodza

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that had been reached between negotiators from his party, the other MDC formation and Zanu-PF outlining the agenda of the inter-party dialogue.

Sources close to the talks said Tsvangirai claimed that he had been advised by the African Union Commission chairman, Mr Jean Ping, not to sign the memorandum, which also expresses his party’s commitment to the talks.

This is the second time that Tsvangirai has backed out of the talks claiming that Mr Ping had advised him not to attend.

The first time was when he snubbed a meeting he had requested between himself, President Mugabe and the leader of the other MDC formation, Arthur Mutambara, which was brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki on July 5.

Reliable sources said negotiators from Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC-Mutambara met at the South African ambassador’s residence in Harare on Monday to prepare for the signing of the memorandum.

"There was a meeting on Monday at the South African ambassador’s residence where all three parties were represented.

"Representing Zanu-PF were Cde Nicholas Goche and Cde Patrick Chinamasa while MDC-T was represented by Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma with Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the other MDC formation also present," a source said.

South African Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, Reverend Frank Chikane and Advocate Monjangu Gumbi, director and legal adviser in the Office of the President respectively, chaired the meeting on behalf of the facilitator.

"The meeting finalised on the Memorandum of Understanding that was to be signed by the three principals, namely President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

"It was agreed that the MoU was to be signed in Harare on Wednesday by the three principals and that commitment was conveyed to the facilitator.

"On Wednesday morning, Tsvangirai indicated that he was not going to attend because he had received instructions from Jean Ping not to sign the MoU," said the source.

Asked to comment on the matter last night, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa dismissed as speculation claims that Tsvangirai had refused to sign the MoU.

"That is speculation and wild imaginations meant to fertilise discomfort and uncertainty among Zimbabweans.

"The party is committed to a negotiated settlement with a view to achieving a transitional model that will deal with the challenges facing the country. We have the immediate challenge of addressing problems like poverty and despair among the people. We need to provide hope," he said.

Efforts to get a comment from Cde Chinamasa were fruitless.

Tsvangirai’s latest snub comes after the United States on Friday launched a scathing attack on President Mbeki after Pretoria’s United Nations envoy Mr Dumisani Khumalo voted against the US draft resolution seeking to extend and, in the process, legitimise the West’s illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council.

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