Friday, March 23, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: ZANU-PF Gears Up For 2008 Elections; SA Condemns MDC

Zanu-PF gears up for 2008 polls

Herald Reporter

ZANU-PF should start organising and mobilising its supporters ahead of next year’s presidential elections in order to win the polls resoundingly, President Mugabe said yesterday as the ruling party’s Women’s League and Harare Province pledged support for his candidature.

Addressing delegates attending the Women’s League National Assembly meeting at the party’s headquarters, Cde Mugabe said the league should play a leading role in mobilising other party structures in preparation for the elections.

"Without the Women’s League we will go nowhere. So you are very crucial, absolutely critical, musimboti, the core of and the pillars of the party," he said.

The President said in the event that the ruling party loses the election, then the Women’s League and the Youth League would be blamed.

Cde Mugabe said the Women’s League must "ginger up the Youth League" as it needed to be more organised.

He said the Central Committee would meet next week to discuss the harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections.

This follows proposals that synchronised polls should either be held in 2008 or 2010.

"I think the view again is that 2008 is preferable. Some of our lawyers are saying this will not give problems," he said.

"If we are going to have an election, we must start organising and mobilising support now, now, now."

In an earlier address to members of the national youth executive, Women’s League, war veterans and other Zanu-PF supporters, Cde Mugabe said the party should be united and those who wanted leadership positions should derive such leadership from the people.

"Chirwere ichocho chekugedageda pakati pedu ngachirapike.

"Madzimai rapai chirwere ichocho," he said amid applause from the floor.

"Zvigaro zvinobva kuvanhu hauite iwe chekuzvazvazvira kunge uri kutora damba."

The President also lashed out at some party members who could not withstand criticisms by some Western countries and the international media.

"Iye zvino kune vamwe varikugedageda. Vakangonzwa kutukwa aha! Manyoka," he said.

Cde Mugabe said the Government was working on mechanisms to ensure effective supervision and monitoring of prices of basic commodities in order to guard against profiteering.

He blasted dealers in the fuel sector who were getting foreign currency from banks at the official rate but were pegging oil prices using black market rates.

Cde Mugabe said the Government would deal sternly with such unscrupulous dealers.

"Some of the hardships we are facing are hardships which we do not deserve at all. Some of the hardships in the economy are man-made," he said.

The President said mechanisms that had been put in place to address economic challenges besetting the nation should start bearing fruit soon.

The Government, he said, was in the process of amending the Mines and Minerals Act in order to ensure that the country benefited from the extraction of precious minerals such as gold, platinum and diamonds.

A royalty fund should also be created so that proceeds from mining benefited local communities.

Cde Mugabe pledged to address concerns raised by the Women’s League that included more land distribution to women as well as an equal share in the allocation of agricultural equipment.

He said Government would look into ways of increasing the budget allocation of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Community Development, as this was a critical arm of the State in uplifting the lives of women.

Turning to the MDC, President Mugabe said the opposition had now resorted to violence after failing to win the support of the people through the ballot box.

He said Britain was scheming to recolonise the country by using the MDC but it would never succeed.

"As long as I am alive, that will never happen. Zvandakati ndine 83 years ndinopushika? This is 83 years of struggle and resilience. And I know the tactics," Cde Mugabe said.

The President said he hoped the opposition had learned that violence did not pay following the police crackdown on the recent disturbances that were sponsored by the MDC and some sections of the civic society.

"Our arms of Government, the police will act very vigorously and severely on those who go on a defiance campaign. We hope they have learned a lesson. If they have not, then they will get similar treatment," he said.

Cde Mugabe said this in reference to the arrest of the MDC leaders in connection with the violence.

He said most people now knew that the opposition had nothing to offer as it was a party of violence, adding that Zanu-PF must capitalise on this in order to woo support.

President Mugabe said the Government had no regrets over the land reform programme.

He said some people were laying the blame on him for causing the current situation by taking land from white farmers but he would not shift from the principled move.

"This is a black man’s country full stop. The Blairs and the Bushs do not belong here," Cde Mugabe said in reference to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and United States President George W. Bush who are spearheading the anti-Zimbabwe campaign.

"If the land issue is the one which has caused the present situation, I will stand by my position. Our sovereignty is not complete without the land."

The President said Zimbabweans should be resolute in the face of the economic challenges as the difficulties could not be compared to what they experienced during the liberation struggle when they suffered from oppression from the colonialists.

"I make a stand. I stand on principle. I was born here. I was bred here and I shall die here. We do not run away from protecting our sovereignty. We went to jail, we are hardened. Nothing frightens me. Someone wrote that I am a frightened man. Frightened by who? Little men like Blair? I have seen it all," he said.

Secretary for Women’s Affairs Cde Oppah Muchinguri said the Women’s League was fully behind President Mugabe.

"I would like to assure you that your league is determined to work for the strengthening of the party. Women are the pillars of the party.

"Isu pamunobvawo tinobva tabvawo. Imi ndimi muchatitaurira kuti handichadi. Ariko matsotsi President asi achakanda mapfumo pasi. We have one President and two Vice Presidents. As long as muri President, ndimi vatichamira navo. Tikaona vava kunetsa tichafukura marokwe," she said to applause from the floor.

Earlier, Zanu-PF Women’s League vice-chairwoman for Harare Province Cde Susan Vera said the party should deal with those who were bent on causing disunity.

"Hongu tine nhubu dziri pakati pedu. Asi kana tirisu takaisa X ngatione zvekuita nokuti vanotikanganisira nyika," she said.

In response, Harare Province vice-chairman Cde Christopher Chigumba said the province was fully behind the President.

He said he was surprised to hear some people saying the province was not in support of Cde Mugabe.

SA adds voice to growing condemnation of MDC

Features and Political Editor

THE South African government has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the culture of intolerance and violence in the opposition MDC, saying the party’s refusal to accept the outcome of democratic elections was to blame for the problems in the country.

South African government spokesman Mr Themba Maseko was quoted by News24 this week saying the MDC’s refusal to abide by the outcome of democratic elections had fuelled problems in the country.

"I think it is now public record that there were elections in Zimbabwe . . . at the end of those elections, the MDC were of the view that those elections were not free and fair. Based on the view of the MDC, we then had a situation in Zimbabwe where there was serious conflict arising out of the premise taken by the MDC that the elections were not free and fair."

Mr Maseko, however, reiterated South Africa’s position that elections in Zimbabwe have been held in a free and fair manner.

Leaders of both MDC factions claim they have lost faith in elections and have mobilised their colleagues in the civil society under the aegis of the so-called Save Zimbabwe Convention in attempts to unseat the Government through orgies of violence disguised as "defiance campaigns".

To this end, the opposition has set up hit squads — dubbed "democratic resistance committees" — that it has armed with dangerous weapons, petrol bombs and tearsmoke canisters to target members of the security forces and other citizens who they feel are not amenable to the MDC’s message of illegal regime change.

The hit squads have gone on a campaign of assaulting members of the police force and bombing police stations in their attempts to intimidate security forces to leave them to their designs.

Mr Maseko also reiterated Tshwane’s position in the United Nations Security Council that Zimbabwe did not pose a threat to regional stability, as he dismissed claims in certain sections of the South African and Western media that Harare threatened peace and security within Sadc.

Britain and the United States have, on numerous occasions, tried to have Zimbabwe placed on the agenda of the Security Council to warrant foreign intervention in their quest for illegal regime change.

But African countries, along with China and Russia, have invariably rallied behind Zimbabwe in thwarting these subversive moves.

It has since emerged that the MDC activists who wanted to leave the country under the pretext of seeking medical attention abroad, had been lined up by London and Washington to testify before the UN Security Council to support US and British designs.

This week, top Zambian politicians, among them former presidents Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick Chiluba, alongside maverick opposition leader Mr Michael Sata, lashed out at Western governments for condemning the Government crackdown on violent opposition protests, without holding the MDC accountable for its actions.

Ministry secures 540t of fertilizer for women

Chinhoyi Bureau

THE Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development has secured 540 tonnes of fertilizer to assist women prepare for this year’s winter wheat season.

Speaking at a meeting with women drawn from all parts of the Mashonaland West Province in Chinhoyi on Thursday, Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri said women in agriculture had covered considerable ground in mobilising inputs and other resources.

"We are aware of the fact that women do not get equal opportunities to get some inputs at the designated points where they have to compete with men so we have decided to mobilise some inputs that would be only accessed by women throughout the country.

"In this regard, we have so far bought about 540 tonnes of fertilizer to assist women during the winter cropping season," she said.

She said women would buy the fertilizer and mobilise their own transport to collect it from the ministry.

She said the ministry’s thrust was to maximise on production at farms, especially those being run by women, by mobilising resources.

Cde Muchinguri urged women to take advantage of the South African market where demand for dried tomatoes was high.

Cde Muchinguri said talks were at an advanced stage with consultants from Tanzania to establish and train people on drying wine, fruits and packaging.

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