Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: UK Hypocrisy Exposed; Namibian Leader Tells Off Johnson-Sirleaf; Food Programme Launched

UK hypocrisy exposed

Herald Reporter

THE British government is building a £10 million complex for its Embassy in Harare despite its calls for foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe to pull out of the country.

Chief executive of leading construction group Murray & Roberts Mr Brian Bruce recently revealed that his company was contracted nearly 18 months ago to build the complex just outside Harare’s central business district.

"It is a completely new facility from scratch, costing in the region of £10 million. Work began about 18 months ago and is pretty close to completion," Mr Bruce said.

Murray & Roberts Zimbabwe is 48 percent owned by Murray and Roberts, Johannesburg in South Africa and is listed separately on the local bourse.

The building is now close to completion and insiders said the UK’s mission in Harare would relocate there "late this year or early next year".

Observers say the project exposes British hypocrisy following repeated claims by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and several of his ministers that Zimbabwe was not a safe country to do business in and that companies operating in the country should relocate as part of the illegal regime change agenda.

In essence, this means that the British government is investing in Zimbabwe while discouraging companies like Anglo-American and Barclays from doing so.

Keith Scott, the first secretary for political and public affairs at the British Embassy in Harare, yesterday admitted that the UK was indeed expanding its presence in the country despite official pronouncements calling for sanctions.

"It is right that the UK should plan an embassy commensurate with its interests in Zimbabwe," Scott said without explaining why they were expanding while at the same time coercing others to pull out.

He added that their position was that "individuals must look to their own consciences as regards investments" in Zimbabwe.

Presently, the local UK embassy rents space in the city centre.

Britain, together with the United States, has been at the forefront in urging companies to pull out of Zimbabwe and last week their bid to have United Nations sanctions imposed on the country was thwarted by several members of the UN Security Council.

Namibia tells off Liberian leader

Herald Reporter

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba has told off Liberian leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf over the Zimbabwean issue while Russia has lambasted the United States and Britain for criticising its stance against more sanctions on Harare.

President Pohamba told his Liberian counterpart, who is one of the African leaders being used by the West to denounce the June 27 presidential election run-off won by President Mugabe, that rather than denouncing Zimbabwe, Africa should help the country in resolving its problems.

At the recent African Union summit in Egypt, Johnson-Sirleaf was one of the African leaders who opposed a Sadc-proposed resolution to encourage dialogue between Government and the opposition in Zimbabwe.

Liberia was among the countries that denounced the run-off and were parroting the West’s agenda to impose Morgan Tsvangirai as president of Zimbabwe.

But the AU adopted the Sadc resolution and asked President Thabo Mbeki to continue mediating in Zimbabwe.

On Saturday, Johnson-Sirleaf repeated her criticism of Zimbabwe at an annual Nelson Mandela lecture ahead of the former South African president’s 90th birthday celebrations in Soweto.

She told the gathering that she had unsuccessfully urged fellow AU leaders at the Egypt summit to denounce the run-off.

The Liberian leader also attacked Zimbabwe in her speech at a banquet hosted for her by President Pohamba on Sunday in Windhoek.

But the Namibian leader told her that Africa should assist Zimbabwe now that the elections were over.

"Now that the elections are over, we should assist the leaders and people of Zimbabwe to work together to find an inclusive solution in order to address the political and economic problems facing that country.

"The maintenance of peace and security on our continent should be the overriding consideration in all our actions," President Pohamba said.

And Russia yesterday criticised the US and Britain over the attempt to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe that Moscow effectively blocked last week.

The US and Britain had attacked Russia, who along with China, South Africa, Libya and Vietnam opposed the sanctions bid at the Security Council last Friday.

Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Mr Vitaly Churkin, was yesterday quoted by news agency AFP saying the accusation that the country was not fit to be a G8 member because it supported Zimbabwe were baseless.

"I have to question the character of our partnership with our British and US colleagues . . . when they suddenly come out with these absolutely unfounded accusations, Ambassador Churkin said.

He reiterated Russia’s position that President Mbeki’s ongoing mediation between Zanu-PF and the opposition was the best way forward.

Zambezi Green Valley gets machinery for agric project

Bulawayo Bureau

THE Zambezi Green Valley Development project has acquired 99 percent of machinery needed to turn about 35 000 hectares of land in Binga and Dete into an agricultural greenbelt, an official has revealed.

Speaking in an interview during the Zanu-PF Matabeleland North celebrations in Bubi on Friday, the managing director of the project, Mr Junior Siankope, said the first crop under the massive programme is to be planted this summer on about 100 ha of land.

"We have cleared 100 hectares of land and we are going to put the area under crops this year. Everything is in order because we have acquired 99 percent of the equipment and machinery we need, ranging from pipes, transformers and tractors," he said.

"We received 10 tractors and some spare parts under the Government’s agricultural mechanisation programme, so everything is in order."

The Zambezi Green Valley, the brainchild of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, is meant to empower rural communities.

Mr Siankope said his association was aiming at clearing about 10 000ha of land over the next two years and achieve the 35 000ha target in five years.

He said the programme was set to empower many villages, as it was community driven and had the blessing of the chiefs under whose jurisdiction the land falls.

"Many people, particularly youths will benefit from the project through employment creation. We are working with community and we have the blessing of chiefs such as Chief Binga whose area covers a big chunk of the project," he said.

In Binga, vast pieces of land in Bulawayo Kraal, Magoli and Mangondoma would be put under irrigation while some land in Dete would also be irrigated.

In addition, supporting infrastructure such as canning factories would be put up to add value to the products. Some of the products are earmarked for the export market.

The aim of the project, which has a 50-year development plan, is to turn the Zambezi Valley into an agricultural greenbelt which would guarantee food security for the nation while also empowering the community, especially youths and women.

President launches basic food programme

Business Editor

PRESIDENT Mugabe today launches the Bacossi to the People Programme under which basic commodity hampers will be sold directly to all households at affordable prices, as he fulfils promises he made during the presidential election run-off campaign last month.

The Basic Commodities Accessibility programme is meant to make available basic goods such as cooking oil, maize-meal, flour, laundry and bath soap, among other products, to rural and urban households.

Most of these products have not been available in shops over the past few months while they have been fetching exorbitant prices on the parallel market where they are readily available.

Today’s launch will strictly focus on rural areas while distribution logistics for urban areas are still being worked out.

The initiative is also expected to benefit boarding schools, hospitals, clinics, orphanages and old people’s homes, among other needy institutions.

Briefing journalists during a tour of some of the warehouses in Harare yesterday, the Secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba, said this was a sign of things to come as the Govern-ment moves to restore people’s buying power.

The warehouses were well stocked with basic commodities, most of them imported, while trucks were on standby to start delivering the goods soon after the launch.

The project is the culmination of a collective effort by various ministries and Government departments.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is providing technical advice and back-up.

"Government is shifting from a ministry-based activity to a situation where ministries are converging on an activity. Gone are the days when we would cut the feet to fit the shoe, to a situation where we now cut the shoe to fit the feet," said Cde Charamba.

RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono, who was part of the tour, said the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention initiative launched last October had taken another dimension from providing funds strictly to manufacturers to boost production capacity, which they had failed to do, to providing the goods directly to the people.

"The programme is not a substitute for local production. This is meant to complement business and at the same time whip them to deal with overcharging. The indiscipline in this economy is chronic so we can actually make it disappear through using a direct intervention where we can show manufacturers that goods can be produced and sold to people at affordable prices and still make a profit," said Dr Gono.

He said it was unfortunate that manufacturers had betrayed Government by failing to supply goods despite the provision of both foreign and local currency. Instead products continued to disappear from the shelves while some were exported through clandestine deals.

Dr Gono emphasised that there would be no political, religious, gender or any other form of discrimination in the distribution process as it was the Government’s responsibility to feed the nation.

Stem sugar smuggling, Govt told

Masvingo Bureau

GOVERNMENT has been urged to stem rampant smuggling of sugar through secluded exit points in the Lowveld amid reports that an average of about 2 000 tonnes of the scarce commodity were being illegally smuggled each week mainly into Mozambique.

Zimbabwean sugar has a ready market in Mozambique and other neighbouring countries where it is considered cheap.

The rampant smuggling of sugar has been cited as one of the chief reasons of the shortages on the local market despite the fact that Zimbabwe produces an average of about 600 000 tonnes per annum.

Zimbabwe needs only about 250 000 tonnes of sugar for local consumption each year but the local market has over the past five years been beset by shortages.

Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers Union secretary general Cde Admore Hwarare said Zimbabwe was losing a lot of sugar through smuggling and urged Government to curb the rampant practice.

Cde Hwarare said tens of thousands of tonnes of sugar were being smuggled annually into neighbouring countries such as Mozambique by syndicates that were raking in trillions of dollars to the detriment of the nation.

"We are asking the Government to make sure that they come up with ways of curbing the rampant smuggling of sugar in the Lowveld as most of the sugar is being exported illegally into neighbouring countries such as Mozambique by sugar barons who control vast syndicates operating in the sector.

"Government should increase patrols as most unscrupulous dealers are taking advantage of the absence of tight security to smuggle the commodity out of the country while locally sugar is hard to come by. At the moment an average of about 2 000 tonnes of sugar is being smuggled out of the country through the Lowveld per week and the figure could even be higher," said Cde Hwarare.

He pointed out that it was imperative for Government to curb the smuggling of sugar as the country ended up losing foreign currency by importing sugar which was produced locally.

While on a campaign trail in Masvingo for the June 27 presidential run-off, President Mugabe also lamented the shortage of sugar in the country while locally-produced sugar was being found in neighbouring countries.

President Mugabe said the Government was investigating how locally-produced sugar was finding its way out of the country yet the commodity was in short supply locally suggesting that there were shoddy deals that were taking place in the sugar industry.

Cde Hwarare also said besides sugar, Zimbabwe, was losing a lot of wealth such as livestock, which were being smuggled out of the country through secluded exit points as there was no adequate security.

Communities in the southern part of Masvingo near the Mozambiquan border every year lose livestock worth trillions of dollars to cattle rustlers who take advantage of lax security at the borders to smuggle the beasts.

However, there has been improved security at the borders following the resumption of joint border patrols between local security personnes and their counterparts in neighbouring countries a situation that has drastically reduced smuggling.

1 comment:

Emmanuel said...

your statement regarding the Liberian president been used by the west is totally untrue, everyone knows that zimbawe's mugabe is a tyrant, and its time for him to go, the Liberian president along with other African leaders in the west and the east have all call Zimbawe election a sham, so why single her out? the bottom line is mugabe will go, its up to him, he either go the hard way or the easy way, its his choice.