Friday, October 30, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Chando a Selfless Leader Says VP Mujuru; UN Gatecrasher Back in Vienna

Chando a selfless leader: VP Mujuru

Herald Reporters

Vice President Joice Mujuru has described the late national hero, Cde Misheck Chando, as a selfless leader who never boasted about his exploits during the liberation war.

Cde Chando, who will be buried at the National Heroes' Acre tomorrow, died in a car crash last Friday.

His body was yesterday flown to his farm in Shamva aboard an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter from a funeral parlour in Bindura.

The body, which was accompanied by Cde Chando’s two wives Chipo and Sophia, arrived at 3:15pm where it was received by the Zanu-PF provincial leadership and hundreds of mourners from across the province.

In an interview yesterday, VP Mujuru said she met Cde Chando in 1974 and since that time she discovered that the late hero was a leader quite different from other commanders leading the liberation struggle.

"I met Cde Chando soon after crossing the Zambezi as he had been assigned to welcome some cadres moving towards Chifombo and rescue some recruits. I was suffering from a serious bout of malaria and he carried me on his back for the journey.

"I had been left to die but he helped me and that is when I discovered that he was a man with a big heart and very kind in deed.

"He was an extraordinary leader, a super commander who operated in an unusual manner for a leader because he never used to be hard on us, as a military commander and we learnt a lot from him," she said.

VP Mujuru also described Cde Chando as a leader who always led from the front.

"Cde Chando was not afraid to lead from the front and was also a man who unlike others talk loudly about their exploits during the war. He was not pompous or proud but was a silent mover.

"Had it not been for characters like Cde Chando, not vanagudzamudungwe, but real man we would not have achieved all we did. We have lost a fighter, a man with a big heart.

"We are where we are because of him. We still had a lot to learn from him," she said.

Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios yesterday said a church service would be held today at Bamboo Creek Farm.

"We will then hand over the body to the state. The body will be flown to 1Commando Barracks in Harare, where it will lie in state," Cde Mafios said.

Cde Chando also known by his Chimurenga name of Cde Makasha will be buried tomorrow at the national shrine.

He is survived by two wives Chipo and Sophia, and 18 children, 11 boys and 7 girls.


‘Gatecrashing’ UN envoy back in Vienna

Herald Reporters

United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Mr Manfred Nowak yesterday returned to his base in Vienna, Austria, after trying to gatecrash into Zimbabwe against the Government’s advice to reschedule his planned visit.

Immigration authorities confirmed that the UN human rights expert caught the first plane out of Harare to South Africa yesterday morning.

"He went back after spending the night at the airport. He was on the 7:20am South African Airways flight to Johannesburg," a source said.

The Austrian human rights lawyer arrived in Harare on Wednesday night despite Government telling him that his visit had been postponed because Zimbabwe is presently hosting a Sadc delegation.

The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs had invited Mr Nowak to Zimbabwe to see for himself that the State was not sponsoring any human rights abuses.

He arrived at the airport accompanied by two unidentified persons but was whisked off to the VIP Lounge after being allowed to get his luggage.

The UN expert arrived on the same flight as members of the Mozambican contingent of the Sadc delegation that is in the country to review the Global Political Agreement.

Mr Nowak ignored Government’s communication and said that he was coming to Zimbabwe to meet MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

Back in South Africa, Mr Nowak said the decision to deny him entry into Zimbabwe was indicative of the shortcomings of the inclusive Government.

Internet news reports quoted him saying: "The Government, as a unity Government, does not function.

"It (the rescheduling of his visit) sheds a very negative light on the functioning of the Government."

Mr Nowak alleged that Zanu-PF was behind the decision to deny him entry.

The UN expert was, however, invited to Zimbabwe by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is from Zanu-PF.

"The responsibility for the failure rests exclusively… with those Zanu-PF members of the Government that actually produced the situation by denying me access to the country.

"It sheds a clear light as to where the real power is lying in this unity Government," Mr Nowak said.

Over the past week, there has been a glut of news reports in the foreign Press of State-sponsored attacks on MDC-T supporters’ a media campaign observers said was timed to coincide with Mr Nowak’s visit.

The observers said the media reports were well-orchestrated and created in conjunction with some political non-governmental organisations that had a vested interest in painting the country in as bad a light as possible.

They also noted that this was an attempt to try and drag the United Nations into Zimbabwe’s internal politics, something that the country’s detractors have failed to do on several occasions.

A number of attempts to get Zimbabwe placed on UN Security Council sanctions have flopped in recent years.


Parties brief Sadc team on GPA progress

By Takunda Maodza

Representatives of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security yesterday met the three parties to the Global Political Agreement and were appraised on the progress made by the inclusive Government and the challenges it is facing.

The delegation — led by Mozambique’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Oldemiro Baloi with Zambian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Professor Fashion Phiri, Swazi Foreign Minister Lutho Dhlamini and Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao — met officials from Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations separately.

Zanu-PF was represented by Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cde Nicholas Goche and Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

Mr Tendai Biti, Mr Elton Mangoma, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and Mr Nelson Chamisa represented the MDC-T while Professor Welshman Ncube and Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga represented the MDC.

Zanu-PF reiterated its position that the illegal sanctions imposed by the West remained the most critical outstanding issue in the GPA.

The party did say it was confident the inclusive Government would not collapse.

However, Zanu-PF said MDC-T had not called for the removal of sanctions imposed "by their friends".

"Basically, we expressed our views on the challenges we are facing and on the way forward.

"We put into perspective the fact that the bigger and substantive outstanding issues that have undermined the inclusive Government and economic recovery and threatened political stability were sanctions and the failure by the MDC-T to call for their removal," Cde Chinamasa told The Herald after the meeting.

Zanu-PF said it was disturbing that MDC-T even had faith "in asking that the sanctions be maintained".

"Our disappointment is that contrary to their obligations under the GPA, MDC-T has not called for the lifting of sanctions.

"They have not approached their friends to lift these sanctions. It is a big disappointment and runs against the spirit of the GPA," Cde Chinamasa said.

Zanu-PF said that external interference in the country’s domestic affairs, evidenced by the broadcasting of hate language against the party leadership by pirate radio stations, continued unabated.

"We also raised concern over the sponsorship by Western governments of parallel structures within the Prime Minister’s Office outside Government structures," added Cde Chinamasa.

He said MDC-T "disengagement" from the inclusive Government came as a "complete surprise".

"Announcement by the MDC-T of partial disengagement came as a complete surprise and without warning to other partners in the inclusive Government and went contrary to what was happening all along.

"I believe the way forward would be to bring any issues to the negotiating table not only now, but perpetually.

"Dialogue should continue and that is how you resolve differences not through boycotts."

Both Cde Chinamasa and Cde Goche said the "disengagement" had not been discussed in itself but within the wider context of the Troika’s brief of reviewing the GPA.

"We do not think the inclusive Government will collapse. The co-operation that we have enjoyed has brought about peace, tranquillity and political stability in our country.

"I read from the hearts of the generality of our people that they want us to continue working together because that has brought stability, enhancing prospects of economic recovery and prosperity," Cde Chinamasa said.

Cde Goche said they briefed the Troika on the achievements of the inclusive Government such as the launch of the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Plan and appointments of ambassadors.

"We have even implemented certain issues that are not in the GPA," Cde Goche said.

Mr Biti told journalists that MDC-T briefed the Troika on outstanding issues.

"We made our presentations on issues of concern — outstanding issues around the GPA. The Troika is going to consult other people and tomorrow (today) we are going to meet again.

"The fact that there are here shows that they have not ignored the crisis," he said.

Mr Biti said progress was made during the meeting, adding that he was confident the African Union and Sadc would resolve the misunderstandings.

The Troika was at the time of writing still in a meeting with delegates from Professor Arthur Mutambara’s MDC.

Prior to meeting Zanu-PF and the MDC formations, the Troika paid a courtesy call on Prof Mutambara, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and had a closed-door meeting with Sadc diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.

Today they will pay courtesy calls on President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

They will also meet diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe among other engagements.

Dr Salamao reiterated that the Troika was in the country to review the GPA.

"Our mission is to review the GPA. Obviously, we have to take into consideration what is going on," he said.


Zim on right track: IMF

Business Reporter

THE International Monetary Fund has praised Zimbabwe for the way it is rapidly rebuilding the economy but has advised Government to budget for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as part of efforts to ensure lasting stability and confidence in the country’s financial sector.

This recommendation comes against the background of the RBZ having operated for 10 months since January this year without reserves of working capital, which would have to be provided by the Government.

In its advice to Government, the IMF is understood to have observed that the "incomprehensible" non-funding of the RBZ led to the undesirable scenario where the central bank, on some occasions, had to rely on part of statutory reserves from the commercial banks to keep the electronic payments system running, among other critical requirements.

This came as the IMF registered a vote of confidence in the economy, saying a 3 percent growth would be achieved by year-end. An IMF team that was in the country from October 14 to 26 said Zimbabwe was on the right track in its efforts to rebuild the economy.

"The economy has begun to recover in 2009, albeit from a low base. Since early 2009, the Government has broadly adhered to cash budgeting, achieved a significant improvement in budget revenue, established a multi-currency system, and largely liberalised prices and the exchange system. As a result of these improved policies, real GDP is projected to grow by about 3 percent," said head of delegation Vitaliy Kramarenko in a statement on the mission.

However, the IMF is also understood to have been critical of the delay by the Government in coming up with a new RBZ board, particularly given the hype earlier in the year about the need to resolve what were seen as "governance problems" relating to the RBZ board and its composition.

RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono yesterday confirmed that the IMF sympathised with the precarious financial status of the central bank which did not allow monetary authorities to carry out their critical function of being lender of last resort to the banking sector in order to smooth the daily payments system.

"We submitted our operational budgets to Government early this year, but for one reason or another we had to go for 10 months without funding from Treasury," said Dr Gono.

"We were indeed in full agreement with the IMF that usage of statutory reserves for central bank operations was not good at all and, this is why repeatedly we have been calling on Government to meet their statutory obligation of funding the RBZ’s operations," said Dr Gono.

He was quick to point out that plans were already underway to ensure that the portions of statutory reserves inevitably used would be funded before the end of the year, paving way for possible reduction in the statutory reserves levels to boost liquidity in the market.

A large part of this year has been characterised by a series of fights between the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti and Dr Gono, which many commentators have deplored as "unfortunate and non-productive".

The central bank has not been receiving funding from Treasury at a time when all other sources of funding to the RBZ had dried up, following Government’s move to do away with export surrender requirements.

In any economy, adequate funding for the central bank is critical in giving overall stability and confidence in the financial sector.

Asked about IMF’s stance on the usage of the US$510 million fund, the bulk of which was released in August, Dr Gono said: "All I can confirm is that they told us categorically that the longest it would take for Zimbabwe to access the money upon submission of a withdrawal request is seven working days.

"We, therefore, lost two months through internal misunderstandings among us. I am, however, pleased that all this is water under the bridge and we are forging ahead more objectively as a unified team on the IMF issues," said Dr Gono.

The IMF team, which was in the country to review progress in the implementation of the Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP) and assist in the preparation of the draft 2010 budget and the underlying macro-economic framework, held meetings with Minister Biti, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma, Dr Gono, and other senior Government officials.

It also met with representatives of the financial, business, and diplomatic communities.

As part of its recommendations, the IMF underscored the need for comprehensive tax reforms in the country to boost the overall revenue performance of the fiscus.

"The key challenge going forward is to build the necessary support for policies that would ensure sustainability of the nascent economic recovery and improvements in living conditions for Zimbabweans," said Mr Kramarenko.

IMF would continue to provide policy advice and targeted technical assistance.


Sanctions retrogressive — Pakistan envoy

Herald Reporter

PAKISTAN Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Rifat Iqbal has said sanctions imposed on the country are retrogressive and should be removed with immediate effect.

In an interview after her presentation at the Joint Command and Staff Course number 22 at Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday, Mrs Iqbal said the world must respect Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and that is a well-known fact which the world should know that it will never change.

"Sanctions are counter-productive, our country was under sanctions for a long time and through resistance and dialogue we managed to have them removed.

"I am optimistic the world will realise the importance of removing sanctions on Zimbabwe. We experienced this ourselves and sanctions are bad," she said.

She also said Pakistan would continue to assist Zimbabwe in every way possible.

"Our country is committed to promoting international peace and progress and to support international efforts to get rid of the terrorism menace.

"Importantly, the world community should take action to resolve the festering political disputes and economic deprivation," she said.

Mrs Iqbal said Pakistan attached special importance to its relations with African countries.

"Pakistan looks upon Africa as the continent of the future. We are confident about the rise of Africa.

"Relations with African countries are a priority area of our foreign policy. Our active interaction with the African continent dates back to the late 1940s, when we assisted countries of the region in their struggle for independence," she said.

Mrs Iqbal said her country was giving a new direction to its policy towards Africa, which would focus on further strengthening of relations.

Pakistan, Mrs Iqbal said, respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. She also highlighted her country’s involvement in the Kashmir dispute, which dates back to 1947.

Mrs Iqbal said Pakistan was playing a leading role in countering terrorism and extremism.

"The government of Pakistan have a comprehensive strategy to address militancy and terrorism. Our strategy is in three elements, which are political, socio-economic and military.

"We have emphasised on the need to address the root causes of terrorism and understand the factors that breed political injustices and lead to denial of freedom and fundamental rights," she said. Joint Command and Staff Course participants are drawn from the Sadc armies.

Zimbabwe Staff College as required by its curriculum invites high profile presenters from various countries to give lectures on their country’s foreign and defence policies.

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