Sunday, November 30, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Mujuru Launches Farmer Programme; Parties Agree on Bill; 6 Soldiers Arrested, etc.

Mujuru launches Champion Farmer programme

Zimbabwe Herald
Bindura Bureau

ACTING President Cde Joice Mujuru yesterday launched the Champion Farmer programme with a donation of seed, fertilizer and farm implements in Guruve District.

Cde Mujuru gave the district 20 tonnes of maize seed, 3,5 tonnes of groundnut seed, four tonnes of cowpeas seed and 200kg of rapoko seed.

This is in addition to 89 tonnes of maize seed, 90 tonnes of Compound D fertilizer, 120 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate and 17 800 litres of fuel already distributed by Government in collaboration with an NGO, Sustainable Agriculture Trust to the same district.

Addressing thousands of people gathered at Guruve Growth Point, Cde Mujuru expressed concern at some corrupt leaders who were abusing Government aid.

"We do not want leaders who, after receiving goods on behalf of the people, begin to think of themselves first. We want leaders who have the people at heart," Cde Mujuru said.

She said Guruve was currently preparing for the House of Assembly by-election and people should be accorded a chance to select a good leader who has their wishes at heart.

"I, as Vice President, cannot be seen pointing out at a leader for you. What would happen if that leader is lazy or maybe a sell-out who would fail to deliver during the election time?" She asked.

Cde Mujuru said Government was aware of the people’s plight especially on food and inputs, adding Government would continue distributing the little procured.

"We would like to ensure that each household manages to plant at least a hectare to avert a more serious food shortage next year," she said. Cde Mujuru said the country’s problems were a result of some opposition parties that believed politics was all about making their people suffer.

She said it was perplexing to note that as aspiring President (Mr Morgan Tsvangirai) had campaigned for sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"It is like a parent who asks a neighbour to discipline his/her own child," she said.

Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central Chairman Cde Itai Dickson Mafios, who accompanied the Acting President blasted some political heavyweights who were hijacking the Champion Farmers programme, at the expense of more dedicated ordinary farmers.

"The ruling party owes its success to the ordinary people and such programmes like Champion Farmer should be seen benefiting the ordinary man, the Zanu-PF backbone," he said.

Cde Mafios concurred with the Acting President that, in accordance to the ruling Zanu-PF principle, no one should be barred in the forthcoming Guruve by-election.

Cde Mujuru is expected to launch a similar programme in Mushumbi Pools in the same district today.


Parties agree on Bill

Herald Reporters

ZIMBABWE’S three main political parties, Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, have reached agreement on the text of Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill and are expected to initiate soon the relevant parliamentary procedures for it to become law.

While officials from Zanu-PF and the Professor Arthur Mutambara-led MDC formation could not be reached for comment yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa confirmed that an agreement had been reached.

The Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, last night said he was still to get confirmation of the outcome of the latest round of talks which ended on Thursday night.

However, he said reports of an agreement were welcome.

"That’s a welcome procedure, the people of Zimbabwe have long awaited this process to take place and come to conclusion.

"We now look forward to gazetting it," said Cde Ndlovu.

In a statement, Mr Chamisa said: "Dialogue resumed on Monday November 24 in South Africa and the negotiating teams from the three major political parties have since reached an agreement on the issue of the Constitutional Amendment Number 19."

The development comes on the back of attempts by MDC-T to have Cde Thabo Mbeki step down as the facilitator of the inter-party dialogue after he criticised opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai for insulting Sadc leaders while pandering to the whims of the European Union and the United States.

Cde Mbeki wrote to MDC-T before the latest round of talks.

It could not be established how the opposition ended up accepting Cde Mbeki’s continued mediation, but MDC-T could have succumbed to pressure from various quarters.

Several countries and organisations have over the past week been urging Mr Tsvangirai’s party to put national interests above their sectarian preferences for the sake of progress.

Yesterday’s developments mean the Bill would soon be presented in Parliament.

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu-PF’s negotiators to the talks were fruitless as they were understood to be still in South Africa last night.

A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority for it to be forwarded to President Mugabe as Head of State, who is expected to sign the Bill into law. With all three parliamentary parties backing the Bill, it should get unanimity.

Mr Chamisa said there was still disagreement over the issues of provincial governors, permanent secretaries and ambassadors as well as the National Security Council in the negotiations for forming the inclusive government.

It is understood Zanu-PF’s position was that the latest round of talks should have focussed on Constitutional Amendment Number 19.

Sadc has since resolved that the Zimbabwean parties should form the inclusive government and moved forward.

But the MDC-T keeps bringing up new demands, a position Government says is designed to scuttle the Sadc mediation and have the matter taken over by the United Nations.

Apart from paving the way for the creation of the offices of the Prime Minister and his two deputies, the Bill will also deal with other outstanding constitutional matters such as the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Chapter on Citizenship, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.


Six soldiers nabbed

HR.

SIX soldiers have been arrested on allegations of beating up people and riot police at Fourth Street Bus Terminus in Harare on Thursday night.

They were among a group of about 15 soldiers that went on the rampage, destroying goods, beating up people, including vendors at the bus terminus.

Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests yesterday.

"About six soldiers have been arrested for assault and are still in police custody while investigations are in progress," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena said police would not hesitate to arrest anyone found on the wrong side of the law.

"What they are doing is illegal and they will be arrested. If anyone commits a crime, he will be arrested," he said. The Herald understands riot police called to restore order were also beaten up by the soldiers.

The soldiers were reportedly complaining over their failure to get cash from banks.

A senior police officer yesterday said they called in armed reinforcements to contain the situation.

The soldiers later disappeared but two of them were arrested near the bus terminus.

An alert detective followed some of them up to Cranborne and arrested two after firing warning shots and ordered them to surrender.

The two complied and were taken to Harare Central Police Station for further investigations.

The Herald understands that yesterday some soldiers beat up people at Gazaland Shopping Centre in Highfield and Mupedzanhamo Flea Market in Mbare. — HR.


3 CIO operatives jailed

THREE Central Intelligence Organisation operatives were yesterday sentenced to an effective four years in jail for extorting US$6 000 from a city businesswoman who they accused of flouting Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe tender procedures.

Jacob Ropafadzo Mudarikiri (23), Blessing Tarumbwa (24) and Jim Fish Kasumba (35) had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

But Magistrate Mrs Lillian Kudya convicted them of extortion after a full trial.

She slapped the three with a seven-year jail term each but conditionally suspended one year.

The court further suspended two years on condition they each pay back US$666 by February 28, 2009.

The court heard that the three, who were employed by the President’s office at Chaminuka and Munhumutapa buildings, demanded US$100 000 from Ms Effie Zituta whose transport company was contracted to ferry some of the Farm mechanisation Programme equipment.

They were given US$6 000 on October 20.

The three were arrested two days later when they went to collect the balance from Ms Zituta at her house in Borrowdale. The CIO operatives had US$4 000 on them when they were arrested.


Policy to combine TB, HIV/Aids screening on the cards

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT is formulating a policy to combine Tuberculosis and HIV and Aids responses to reduce deaths and complications related to the diseases, an official in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has said.

Addressing members of the civil society attending a TB conference held in Harare yesterday, Aids and TB Unit deputy national co-ordinator Dr Tich Nyamundaya said the policy will officialise screening of TB at HIV and Aids testing centres since an estimated 80 percent of TB patients are also HIV-positive.

"TB accelerates HIV replication resulting in immuno-suppression and opportunistic infections," he said.

Despite the fact that most people with TB are HIV positive, Dr Nyamundaya noted that responses to TB are minimal compared to HIV.

He said currently, most health facilities have stopped observing TB cure through the WHO recommended strategy — Directly Observed Therapy "short course" — yet Zimbabwe is among the 22 high TB-burdened countries.

According to the strategy, TB patients are supposed to take their medication for six months under monitoring by a health practitioner.

"This system has collapsed. Patients get a month’s supply and get back to their homes. This has resulted in increased burden of TB," he said.

Dr Nyamundaya said for Zimbabwe to combat TB effectively and record a decline as in HIV and Aids, the DOTS strategy should be revamped at all levels to ensure that TB patients are taking medication.

Statistics shared at the workshop indicated that Zimbabwe has recorded at least a 52 percent success rate for the DOTS strategy.

This means the other 48 percent are not completing their courses because they are no longer monitored and are therefore are at high risk of developing a Multi-Drug Resistant TB.

Aids service organisations attending the conference called on Government to speed up integration of the two diseases as TB has been overlooked in the past years. The two-day workshop, which started yesterday, was organised by the Zimbabwe Aids Network.

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