President Mugabe of Zimbabwe & United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
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By Peter Matambanadzo recently in VICTORIA FALLS
Courtesy of the Herald Newspaper
SOUTHERN African governments should establish and strengthen national youth organisations to enhance youths’ participation and contribution in the socio-economic development of the region, delegates who attended last week’s Southern African Youths Festival have said.
In a communiqué at the end of the festival, heads of youth co-ordinating bodies from 11 Sadc countries called for integration and co-operation among youths in the region.
"We the participants at the Southern Africa Youth Festival, representing national youth co-ordinating bodies from 11 nations of the Southern African Development Community and guided by the deliberations, presentations and discussions that have taken place during the festival, urge governments in Southern Africa to establish and strengthen national youth co-ordinating bodies, and ensure that these bodies are properly legislated and governed by acts of parliament," the communiqué said.
The delegates implored governments and the civic society to assist in the funding of youth organisations to ensure that youths can effectively and efficiently address some of the socio-economic challenges faced by the region.
Sadc governments were also challenged to include young people in their delegations to inter-governmental meetings as this would enable youths to be involved in international relations and foster greater integration and co-operation.
The delegates also noted the prevalence of poverty, unemployment and HIV and Aids in the region and urged Governments to come up with a consolidated approach towards addressing the problems.
On youths and economic empowerment, the delegates agreed that there was need for young people to be active participants in the economic development of the region.
"Youth economic empowerment is an essential forerunner to full and effective youth economic participation. We call for subsidies and concessions to be provided to youth enterprises particularly in the fields of agriculture, fishing and tourism," the communiqué said.
It also emphasised the need for training in life skills which result in capacity building and empowerment of youths.
The delegates stressed the need for scientific and technological revolution to enhance the efficiency of industry and commerce in Sadc, which will go a long way in the eradication of poverty.
The delegates also welcomed the hosting of the World Cup 2010 by South Africa and urged youths to grasp the economic opportunities during the event.
The four-day inaugural Southern African Youth Festival ended on Monday. Participants were drawn from Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The major aim of the festival, which coincided with commemorations to mark the International Youth Day, was to open dialogue on how the youths can play a pivotal role in national development matters, HIV and Aids, unemployment and poverty alleviation.
The festival was also attended by the Namibian Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Mr Shifeta Pohamba, Deputy Minister of Youth Development and Employment Creation Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Bright Matonga, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Cde Patrick Zhuwawo, Kadoma-Sanyati-Ngezi Senator Cde Ratidzo Gava, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Youth Council Advocate Farai Mutamangira and representatives from the Zanu-PF Youth League.
President commends Sadc defence organ
From Caesar Zvayi in MASERU, Lesotho
PRESIDENT Mugabe last night commended the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Organ on Defence and Security Co-operation for bringing peace to the Kingdom of Lesotho that was disturbed by an insurrection 10 years ago.
He said the organ’s efforts had enabled Maseru to host this year’s summit in a peaceful and enabling environment.
The President said this while giving a vote of thanks at a State banquet hosted by King Letsie III last night.
He said whenever there is need to ensure peace and security in the region, the organ should move in the same way it did in Lesotho.
Lesotho, President Mugabe said, was today one of the most peaceful countries in the world.
Citing the wars in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, he said: "These situations are caused by some leaders at the frontline of international leadership, but they have become great states as sources of barbarism and terrorism.
"They have also been sources of great hypocrisy. On one hand they talk peace and stability, but on the other hand they cause mayhem in countries like Lebanon," Cde Mugabe said.
He, however, said Sadc had a long way to go in terms of economic integration.
It seemed the grouping worked better before 1992 when it was still the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (Sadcc) that had clear demarcations of responsibilities.
"There are projects that, once upon a time, were assigned to each and every country in the Sadcc; my own country had food security. It would appear that we worked better then.
"I do not know what has gone wrong now. Is it overdependence on donor funding or something within Sadc that has failed? But our spirit of meeting challenges must propel us to greater heights."
The President said in light of the challenges facing the region, Sadc should come up with programmes to deal with the challenges.
"In the case of agriculture, we have seen two projects on the mountains (here) that can be used for various projects, done one mountain valleys that appear to be insurmountable. If that can be done on such mountains, why it can’t it be done on rivers like the Zambezi and Limpopo? Let’s do it so that we can share the benefits . . . We should have programmes in Lesotho, in Angola, the DRC — that is what we were talking about this morning when we were talking about economic inte- gration."
Fuel prices slashed
GOVERNMENT and the oil industry have — with immediate effect — fixed the price of diesel at $320 and that of petrol at $335 a litre for all users in the country.
This effectively means that farmers, Government and public transporters, who were accessing fuel from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) at a heavily subsidised rate, will have to pay the new increased prices, while private motorists, who were being charged around $700 for a litre of both petrol and diesel, will now pay less.
The Government also announced that both A1 (communal and small-scale) and A2 (large-scale) farmers would be able to use their concessionary loans to access fuel at the new price, without subsidy.
Dealers early this month unilaterally increased the price of fuel, resulting in petrol and diesel selling at between $600 and $800 a litre. This resultantly triggered bus fare increases.
Public transport utility, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) doubled its fares with effect from yesterday.
A trip from the city centre to Kuwadzana, Glen View, Budiriro and Dzivaresekwa now costs $150, up from $60. Commuters from Chitungwiza will now pay $200 from the previous $80 while those from Norton and Goromonzi will pay $300 from $150.
The Harare-Mutare fare has been increased from $900 to $2 000 and Bulawayo travellers will be required to pay $2 800, up from $1 400 .
Harare-Masvingo will now cost $2 400, up from $1 700.
All fares are based on the revalued currency.
Zupco public relations manager Mr Richard Mlambo attributed the increases to high fuel and maintenance costs.
Dealers argue that they buy their foreign currency on the black market and the new prices might trigger fuel shortages.
However, some observers argued that the dealers were profiteering.
The Minister of Energy and Power Development, Retired Lieutenant General Mike Nyambuya, yesterday said Cabinet approved the new fuel prices last week.
He said the prices were reached after consultations between his ministry and the oil industry.
"On August 11 2006, Cabinet approved the new prices of fuel of $320 and $335 per litre for diesel and petrol, respectively. These are the prices my ministry, together with the oil industry, had agreed on in our consultations and are applicable immediately as announced in the media by the oil industry," Rtd Lt Gen Nyambuya said at a Press conference he jointly addressed with the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono.
The minister said the consultations were held in terms of Statutory Instrument 248 of 2003, which states that the price of any petroleum product would be increased with the approval of the Ministry of Energy.
Rtd Lt Gen Nyambuya said the law would take its course on all those who fail to adhere to the new prices "as the unilaterally declared old prices are now illegal".
His ministry and the central bank would continue to support farmers with diesel for their operations at the new price.
"In line with the economic turnaround strategy of supporting agriculture, my ministry and the Reserve Bank will continue to support farmers with diesel for farming activities. My ministry, through Noczim, will continue to receive applications for fuel forms and sell diesel to farmers at the new price.
"Because the price has increased significantly, it may be a substantial challenge to some farmers. Any farmer who finds it difficult to buy fuel for farming activities should approach his bank to access the facility fund that has been set up by the Reserve Bank.
"My ministry, therefore, urges all farmers in need to ensure that they follow the procedures outlined above in order to ensure that farming operations carry on without disruptions," he added.
The minister added that Government would also make sure that the price of paraffin remains affordable to those who need it.
"Paraffin is a commodity we get after pumping Jet A1 and the country has not procured Jet A1 for some time now. Arrangements are underway to have it pumped. I would like to assure the nation that the price of paraffin remains affordable to all those who need it," said Rtd Lt Gen Nyambuya.
Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gono said Government’s decision on fair pricing would cascade to all sectors of the economy and benefit the nation.
"The minister has taken a very bold step in the process of removing distortions in our economy. Industry and commerce has been calling for the removal of distortions in the fuel prices and today represents a significant step in the unification of the fuel price. Fuel is a basic commodity whose price is pervasive throughout the economy," Dr Gono said.
He said the central bank would continue supporting the oil industry to import fuel.
The Governor said money was also available to assist farmers but warned those in the habit of abusing the facility that "the law will catch up with such abuse".