Sunday, March 01, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: SADC to Hold Aid Summit

Sadc to hold Zim aid summit

Herald Reporter

SADC is set to hold yet another summit on Zimbabwe, this time to help the country source US$2 billion to revive the economy and rebuild infrastructure, South Africa’s foreign affairs minister has said.

According to reports from Cape Town, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said regional leaders will meet to consider Zimbabwe’s financing proposals and to back the country’s efforts to win support from international lenders as well as donors.

She said the meeting would be held before the G20 meeting scheduled for London on April 2.

"We are all, as Sadc, determined to help Zimbabwe mobilise the resources. The economic environment globally is difficult, so we will do our best," she said.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said Sadc wanted to help Zimbabwe by normalising its relations with global lenders like the International Monetary Fund, which suspended dealings with Harare three years ago.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma was speaking after Sadc finance ministers held a meeting in South Africa said there was need for the regional bloc to invest US$2 billion in Zimbabwe.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Finance Minister Tendai Biti had earlier on attended meetings in South Africa to discuss the economic rescue package for Zimbabwe.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe convened the ministers’ meeting and Minister Biti led a delegation to the meeting where he presented proposals on Zimbabwe’s recovery strategies.

Although Prime Minister Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needed US$5 billion for its recovery programmes, South Africa’s Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said it was just a number and "there was a document which split the immediate costs over the next 10 months into two amounts of about a billion dollars each".

He said there was need for a US$1 billion loan to stimulate retail and related industries, which the ministers were looking at immediately mobilising, and another US$1 billion for emergencies such as education, health, municipal services and infrastructure.

The African Development Bank hailed Sadc’s move and urged the international community to support the country’s recovery plan.

AfDB president Donald Kaberuka said the new Government had made an impressive start with its economic recovery plan, which, he said, needed warranted support.

He said the bank was looking at setting up its own donor conference to source funds for Zimbabwe.

UN urges global community to assist Zim

Herald Reporter

THE United Nations inter-agency humanitarian mission that was in Zimbabwe last week has urged the international community to support and strengthen relief efforts by humanitarian organisations in the country.

In a statement from the UN Headquarters in New York, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and deputy emergency relief co-ordinator Ms Catherine Bragg — who led the mission to Zimbabwe — said the most acute manifestations of the situation included the cholera outbreak.

The outbreak has already claimed over 3 000 lives.

"Despite tremendous efforts by both the Government and the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe to contain the cholera epidemic, major challenges remain," she said.

Ms Bragg said there was need for continued assistance and resources to help Zimbabweans improve national food security.

"We have to ensure farmers have all the agricultural inputs they need for the next planting season, which begins in September. If we do not act now, we could end up next year with a situation similar to what we have today," Ms Bragg said.

According to the statement, members of the mission noted the international community’s continued generosity to the people of Zimbabwe, saying additional resources will be required in the coming months to respond to the evolving situation in Zimbabwe.

They stressed the need to start planning for early recovery, noting that rehabilitation of the basic infrastructure was required.

"To effectively contain cholera, water and sewage systems need to be urgently repaired coupled with a public health outreach campaign that goes down to the district and ward level," the statement said.

President Mugabe met the mission last week and expressed his appreciation for the support Zimbabwe has been receiving from the humanitarian community.

The mission also described their meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and several Cabinet ministers as positive while it received assurance of full co-operation with the UN and its partners.

It, however, stressed that the welfare of the people was largely the responsibility of the Government of Zimbabwe.

"We trust that the inclusive Government will quickly take the necessary steps to address the fundamentals of governance that would allow stability and economic recovery," the mission added.

Addressing journalists at the end of the mission last week, Ms Bragg said the UN required a total of US$500 million to assist Zimbabwe with its humanitarian needs.

Other members of the mission included Daniel Lopez Acuna, World Health Organisation director of recovery and transition programmes; Robin Nandy, senior health advisor at Unicef; Andrew Colin Parker, senior water and sanitation advisor with Unicef; and Timo Pakkala, the World Food Programme deputy regional representative.

Cholera cases drop

Herald Reporter

CASES of cholera in Kadoma and surrounding areas have dropped sharply in recent weeks as boreholes give safe water and residents improve hygiene.

Said the director of health services in the Kadoma City Council, Matron Matty Dhliwayo: "We have 47 patients at our cholera treatment centre as compared to the over 600 patients we had when the outbreak hit the city early this year."

Kadoma recorded its first cholera case in the present epidemic in November last year.

The municipality’s environmental health officer, Mr Aaron Masembura, said the city had rolled out a number of programmes to promote awareness and prevention since the outbreak started.

"We have trained voluntary hygiene peer educators who do door to door campaigns aimed at spreading hygiene education and awareness.

"Residents have been trained on the proper use of the drilled boreholes and how to manage them on their own. Most of the shallow wells that they had been using have been closed," he said. Kadoma Mayor Peter Matambo commended the efforts by non-governmental organisations to help curb the cholera outbreak.

"Kadoma is grateful to those who have been helping us during hard times. We hope that they will continue to help us," he said. A recent tour of Kadoma showed that many people are now using safe water.

The Kadoma City Council, Practical Action and Oxfam have drilled 20 boreholes in Rimuka suburb to help the residents access safe water.

UZ to open March 30

Herald Reporter

THE University of Zimbabwe will open for its second semester on March 30 following the gazetting of new fees by Government last Friday.

In a statement, UZ acting director of information and public relations Ms Ruby Magosvongwe said the interim tuition fees for the semester are US$200 for Humanities, US$400 for Sciences, US$600 for Veterinary Sciences and Medicine and US$2 500 for non-Zimbabwean students.

Third, fourth and fifth year students from the College of Health Sciences would be advised when lessons would begin.

Payments can be in United States dollars, British pounds, euros or South Africa rand.

"The University will only be accepting hard cash and cheques will not be considered as any form of payment and the fees should be paid at the bursar’s office to avoid confusion and misunderstandings of any form."

She said the fees would be adjusted once a final decision is taken adding that students who seek to obtain Government support must obtain cadetship forms from the Dean of Student’s office.

Students seeking accommodation are to submit applications to students’ affairs and residence fees have been set at US$400 a semester and must be paid in full upfront, she said.

Ms Magosvongwe, however, said the opening of halls of residents would be subject to availability of water on campus.

"If upon arrival you do happen to find out that some of your residential halls are closed you should not panic but due to water shortages we might slightly delay the opening of hostels.

"We want to run the whole semester with proper sanitation facilities so as not to comprise the health and welfare of those staying in the halls of residents", she said. UZ was shut for vacation last month and was expected to open at the end of April following student strikes over examination and tuition fees.

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