Lift sanctions on Zim: Sadc
From Innocent Gore in DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
SADC yesterday stood firmly behind the Government and called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country by the West.
In a communiqué released at the end of a one-day extraordinary summit attended by 10 heads of state and government here, Sadc also appealed to the British government to honour its obligations and release funds to compensate former commercial farmers whose land was acquired for resettlement.
The summit "noted and appreciated the briefing by President Robert Mugabe on the current political developments in Zimbabwe".
"The Extraordinary Summit recalled that free, fair and democratic presidential elections were held in 2002 in Zimbabwe. The Extraordinary Summit reaffirmed its solidarity with the Government and people of Zimbabwe.
"The Extraordinary Summit reiterated the appeal to Britain to honour its compensation obligations with regard to land reform made at Lancaster House.
"The Extraordinary Summit appealed for the lifting of all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe," read the communiqué.
The Sadc heads mandated Sadc executive secretary Mr Tomaz Salamao to undertake a study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose measures on how the regional bloc can assist the country to recover economically.
This is the first time that Sadc has collectively called for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and come up with a proposal on how the effects of those sanctions on the country can be countered.
The sanctions against Zimbabwe by Britain and her allies follow a bilateral dispute between Harare and London after the country embarked on land reforms in 2000.
The British government of Mrs Margaret Thatcher promised to release funds for land reforms at the Lancaster House constitutional conference that culminated in Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 after a protracted armed struggle.
However, the Labour government of Mr Tony Blair has refused to honour that obligation and has instead mobilised its allies — the United States and some countries in the European Union — to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Sadc has previously made it clear that the problems in Zimbabwe are a result of a bilateral dispute with Britain, mainly arising from the land reform programme, but had not pronounced itself explicitly on the need to have the sanctions lifted.
The Government has said it will not compensate the former commercial farmers for the land because it does not have the money to do so, but that it will pay for the improvements on the land such as dams and other infrastructure.
On the political situation in the country, the summit mandated President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to continue to facilitate dialogue between the MDC and the Government and report back to the troika on Defence, Politics and Security on progress.
"The Extraordinary Summit also encouraged enhanced diplomatic contacts which will assist the resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe," read the communique.
The summit was held in the wake of a protracted media onslaught on Zimbabwe by the West, with the international media, particularly the BBC and CNN, speculating that President Mugabe had been "summoned" by Sadc leaders to be "dressed down" or "shown the exit".
But sources who attended the meeting’s closed-door session said President Mugabe briefed the leaders on the political situation in the country and the MDC terror campaign that has seen the opposition party petrol-bombing police stations in Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru and Mutare.
Suspected MDC supporters also petrol-bombed a Bulawayo-bound passenger train and a supermarket in Warren Park.
Speaking to reporters on arrival at Harare International Airport, the President said the summit had also urged the MDC to desist from violence and to recognise him and his Government as he was legitimately re-elected by the people of Zimbabwe in 2002.
He said President Mbeki would talk to the opposition and see whether there is need for dialogue with them, but warned them against engaging in violence.
The summit also got briefings on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lesotho by the leaders of those countries, President Joseph Kabila and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili respectively.
The leaders resolved to render unconditional support to Mr Kabila’s government in its quest to restore law and order, maintaining peace and stability and spearheading national reconstruction.
It reaffirmed the sovereign right of the DRC to have a single national army and urged former Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba to integrate his remaining armed elements into the national army or to be demobilised. They also appealed to other armed groups in the DRC to do the same.
The summit reiterated that the rule of law in the DRC must be observed and respected by all parties in conformity with accepted international conventions. It expressed concern on the loss of lives and urged all parties to respect the sanctity of human life and the principles of human rights.
The summit also expressed support to the ongoing efforts for the economic reconstruction of the DRC.
On Lesotho, the summit agreed to send a Sadc delegation at ministerial level to assess the situation as requested by the opposition political parties who want the regional bloc to help in dealing with post-election tensions.
The other leaders who attended the summit were host President Jakaya Kikwete, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Prime Minister Themba Dlamini of Swaziland and President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia. Botswana was represented by its Vice President, Mr Ian Khama, while Angola was represented by its Minister of External Affairs, Mr Joao Bernardo Miranda. Madagascar and Mauritius were represented by their ambassadors.
President Mugabe returned home last night and was met at Harare International Airport by Vice President Joice Mujuru, the Minister of State Security, Land Reform and Resettlement, Cde Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, service chiefs and senior Government officials.
‘Continue defending Pan-Africanism’
THERE is need to continue defending the values and ideals of Pan-Africanism as the continent still faces threats from imperialist forces, Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Cde Nathan Shamuyarira has said.
Cde Shamuyarira yesterday said imperialist forces still had the desire to exploit Africa and its resources through modern and revised means that were different from direct colonialism and slavery.
He was officially launching the Zimbabwe Liberation Heritage Project, which seeks to promote, document and preserve the country’s history.
Cde Shamuyarira, who is the chairman of the trust, said the project would assist in uniting Zimbabwe with the region and the rest of the continent.
"The trust can assist in uniting us with other people in Sadc. It helps us to build a common culture with our friends in Sadc. We had similar experiences.
"We can also play a part in the broader African unity. We should continue to promote the Pan-African ideals.
"We still have the same enemies, who are the same people who took us into slavery, the same people who took us into colonialism.
"The only thing is that they no longer occupy or colonise our countries, but they still exploit in many ways," he said.
The Zimbabwe Liberation Heritage Project is part of the African Liberation Heritage Project, which is being run under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
It seeks to locate sites that should be preserved as sacred for giving inspiration and providing protection to freedom fighters during the liberation struggles.
It also seeks to document and record in writing and various forms of media and communication, the full account of the liberation struggles and establish a platform for further in-depth analysis of the past, present and the continuing revolution.
The project further seeks to explore types of media and communication used during the liberation struggles as well as identifying heroes, external partners and persons who played a role in the liberation era and create a comprehensive memorial directory for use by present and future generations.
Information and Publicity Minister Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who also presented a paper on the education during the liberation struggle, said such a project would help in inculcating values and history in the youths. He said the Government would fully back the project.
"We will support the project through my ministry as well as other organs of Government," Dr Ndlovu said.
Zanu-PF Politburo members Cdes Solomon Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe and Dumiso Dabengwa, Media and Information Commission chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso and Midlands State University Vice Chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe attended the launch.
The Anglican Archbishop for the Diocese of Harare, Right Reverend Nolbert Kunonga, the executive director of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Dr Godfrey Mahachi, and Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander were also present.
Mujuru hasn’t resigned: Government
THE Government yesterday dismissed propaganda reports in the Western media that Vice President Joice Mujuru has resigned and that things were falling apart in Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said the reports should be dismissed with contempt.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare last night, Cde Ndlovu said the story was not only malicious and hurtful to Cde Mujuru, but also a complete falsehood which was the work of Zimbabwe’s political enemies who dream for such a development to happen.
"Yesterday (Wednesday), my ministry issued a statement announcing that in the absence of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, who is in Tanzania attending an extraordinary summit of Sadc member states, Vice President Mujuru will act in his place.
"It does not make sense that someone who is supposed to have resigned from the Presidency is then invited back to act in the higher post," he said.
Cde Ndlovu said the Government condemned in the strongest terms these deliberate attempts to distort the truth about the unfolding events in Zimbabwe and mislead the world into believing that things were falling apart.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. The situation in Zimbabwe is normal and the violent disturbances stage-managed by the violent MDC which the country experienced in the past two weeks have been quelled by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the perpetrators of that violence are being accounted for and dangerous weapons confiscated," he said.
The minister said any suggestion that the situation was otherwise was a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts on the ground.
Cde Ndlovu said only on Wednesday, he had to deal with another lie that the British government had concocted in the House of Commons through junior foreign minister Ian McCartney alleging that President Mugabe’s daughter Bona was studying at the London School of Economics.
"Thankfully, the London School of Economics refuted McCartney’s claims, putting paid to the British lies," he said.
Similarly, he said, sections of the British media have been running away with another fabrication meant also to draw world attention on Zimbabwe for the wrong reasons.
"They are claiming that the extraordinary Sadc summit meeting in Dar es Salaam has been convened to pressurise President Robert Mugabe to retire at the end of his present term of office and not to seek re-election," he said.
Cde Ndlovu said a head of state of another country could not make a decision for another head of state to vacate office.
"We have a Sadc protocol of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other," he said.
For the record, he said, the Sadc leaders were meeting to brief each other about economic and security situations in their respective countries.
He said they had received briefs on the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Said Cde Ndlovu: "Indeed, President Mugabe has briefed his colleagues on the quelled British-sponsored MDC violence in Harare and yesterday’s (Wednesday) police operations which led to the arrest of MDC officials and seizure of weapons for terrorist activities."
He said thanks to the vigilance of the police, their quick reaction and the public’s co-operation, the situation was under control.
The minister said the Government was putting in place measures to stop the suffering of the people because of price increases that were a direct effect of British-sponsored sanctions.
"Government will not allow the people to suffer," he said.
Cde Ndlovu said opportunities for investment and projects which people were taking advantage of herald bright prospects for the country as well as the discovery of diamonds in Marange.
The British, he said, cannot come and teach Zimbabwe about democracy.
He said in Zimbabwe, the ruling party welcomed opposition but it had to be a responsible opposition.
"I dismiss totally that Zimbabwe is a one-party state -- it is not. The opposition is in Parliament, we make laws together," he said.
Cde Ndlovu said the country did not want violence because Zimbabwe was liberated for it to prosper.
Minister urges women to organise themselves
THE Government is committed to empowering women but it is up to them to organise themselves to enable the State to assist them, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.
Addressing a conference of women in business in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Cde Oppah Muchinguri said the onus was on women to organise themselves and make it easy for the Government to help them.
The conference was a follow-up to the loans that were offered to various associations on International Women’s Day.
"Loans were offered to associations of women in the baking business, mining, agriculture and health so that problems of unavailability of capital to women in business are minimised," said Cde Muchinguri.
She said some women in business also needed skills and modern equipment to increase productivity and produce quality products, which are marketable even in foreign countries.
Cde Muchinguri also appealed to the Grain Marketing Board to provide cheap flour to community-based bakeries run by women to ensure against bread shortage.
GMB operations manager Mr Henry Mukombera assured the minister that the parastatal would do everything in its power to meet the flour requirements of small bakeries.
Chihuri blasts West for role in violence campaign
POLICE Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has blasted Western powers for masquerading as champions and custodians of democracy while they were behind the recent orgy of violence perpetrated on uniformed forces and the general populace to create civil disobedience in Zimbabwe.
Comm Chihuri made the remarks yesterday while briefing a contingent of nine policemen who returned on Wednesday from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
"There are some political forces bent on trying to cause disorder in the country and engage in acts of terrorism in the name of democracy. It is simply the Western world in the midst of supporting and sustaining these acts of terrorism," Comm Chihuri said, departing from his prepared speech.
The move by the Western countries, he said, was calculated to cause civil disobedience and render the country ungovernable.
The country has over the past two weeks been hit by a spate of terror bombings allegedly perpetrated by the MDC’s so-called Democratic Resistance Committees, an underground group.
Police have since arrested 35 MDC activists and seized explosives and arms.
The top two suspects arrested were Ian Makone, the special advisor to faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, and last year’s losing MDC candidate for Chikomba constituency, Piniel Denga, at whose city flat police reportedly recovered large quantities of explosives and detonators.
Comm Chihuri vowed that the Zimbabwe Republic Police would not let the systematic use of violence as a means to coerce and intimidate the Government and society take root in the country.
"We will not allow terrorism in this country . . . We will not allow civil disobedience and this will never intimidate us. But we take the bull by the horns," he said.
He said the West had exposed its hypocrisy by openly supporting acts of terrorism that had left many people injured, among them members of the uniformed forces and innocent civilians.
"They should not go ahead and say they are peace-loving nations when, in fact, they are the ones sponsoring many wars in Africa and many people have been killed and injured and poverty is the order of the day in these countries," Comm Chihuri said.
He noted that Western countries supply malcontents and rebels with weapons so as to ignite civil wars in Africa that would give them leeway to divert national resources for their own gratification.
Comm Chihuri also mentioned the excitement in the nation following the recent discovery of diamonds in the Marange area of Manicaland and how Western countries were eager to capitalise on the development and would go to any length to get their hands on the precious stones.
"Let me assure them that this will never be allowed to happen here. We will thwart all the machinations," he said.
He condemned the attacks on the police force, saying they were meant to provoke a physical response from the force in a ploy to create scenes for beaming in the international media in a bid to confirm the imagined human rights abuses, lawlessness and lack of democracy in the country.
"The political machinations are tailor-made to court international sympathy and justify the continued receipt of undeserved donor funds by the willing perpetrators of thuggish activities," Comm Chihuri said.
He stated that lawlessness would never be allowed to prevail in the country and those behind violent acts should not cry foul when they face the full wrath of the law.
"Notwithstanding all the distractions, the ZRP will not renege on its constitutional mandate of protecting life, preserving peace, preventing crime, apprehending offenders and suppressing all forms of civil commotion or disturbances that may occur in any part of Zimbabwe. We will remain focused and resolute in discharging our duties," he said.
Comm Chihuri also outlined the ZRP’s strategic plan, Vision 2008, which complements the Government’s National Economic Development Priority Programme.
He apprised the contingent about the success of Operation Chikorokoza Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile, saying the clampdown had managed to curb illegal gold mining as well as smuggling of the precious mineral.