Vice-President Joice Mujuru of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The southern African nation has been the victim of an international destabilization campaign directed from Washington and London.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
SADC ministers of tourism have rejected media portrayal of Zimbabwe as a country in anarchy, saying such reports were wide off the mark and misleading.
Speaking at a meeting of Sadc ministers responsible for tourism in the resort town of Victoria Falls, the ministers challenged the media to report truthfully and expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe.
The chairperson of Sadc ministers responsible for tourism, Ms Lebohang Ntsinyi, accused the media of "holding hammers to destroy the region".
"The impression created when one reads newspapers or watches television is that there is no one coming to Zimbabwe, that the country is full of misery. Yet when I came I was surprised that the planes coming here were full. I was surprised to find a country full of activity and life," she said.
Ms Ntsinyi, who is Lesotho’s Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, said the media had to help Sadc "develop this beautiful country (Zimbabwe)".
"The media is a powerful tool that can be used to develop or destroy the region. We want to have a partnership with the media, we want them to walk the journey with us to promote the region because without them we cannot expose the beauty of the region," she said.
Sadc, she noted, was endowed with natural beauty and had all the facilities and infrastructure that made it an ideal tourist destination.
"Yet for all that we still have challenges that prevent us from achieving our goals. We have the mandate to improve the lives of our people and reduce poverty and tourism is one of the industries that have been identified as a vehicle for development. It therefore follows that we need a partnership with the media," said Ms Ntsinyi.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Cde Francis Nhema, said the ministers had been shocked by the extent of misinformation on Zimbabwe.
"Before they came, the ministers had been told that there was no one visiting Zimbabwe and yet the planes they came in were all full. They had also been told that there is no food but found it in abundance.
"For us the idea of holding this meeting in Victoria Falls was two-fold — to sell Zimbabwe as a peaceful country and Victoria Falls as a tourist destination. The reaction from the ministers confirms that we have done our job well," said Cde Nhema.
The minister also said in general, the tourism industry was showing signs of recovery.
Mr Rosario Mualeia, the Mozambican Deputy Minister of Tourism, said his country had a strong bond with Zimbabwe.
"Mozambique has always expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe and will continue to do so," he said.
Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Mrs Callista Chapola-Chimombo, pledged to promote Zimbabwe in her travels.
"I never imagined what Victoria Falls looks like but now I have seen that it is a beautiful place. I will be an ambassador to promote Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls," she said.
Honourable Thandi Shongwe of Swaziland and Zambia’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Mr Russell Mulele expressed similar sentiments.
More US sanctions for Mugabe
Mail & Guardian (SA)
posted on this site: Fri 27-Jul-2007
Washington - The United States is looking at deepening sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his supporters but will continue to provide humanitarian aid, a senior US official said on Wednesday.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Fraser said the US, which already has tough financial and travel sanctions in place against Mugabe and members of his government, wants to do more.
"We are looking at additional sanctions against individuals who are supporting this regime. We can deepen the sanctions that are already there, can add more individuals to those travel sanctions," she told Reuters in an interview. Fraser stressed the United States was also looking at ways to ease the plight of Zimbabweans, who face 4 500% inflation rates and food and fuel shortages.
Once viewed as Southern Africa's bread basket, Zimbabwe is suffering a political and economic crisis and last week the United States offered 47 400 tonnes of additional food assistance to the country, which the White House said would help 500 000 people.
Mugabe (83) is accused of plunging the Southern African state into its worst economic crisis through a series of controversial policies, including his seizure of thousands of white-owned farms. He has also cracked down hard on the opposition, and rights groups say he has beaten, tortured and in some cases killed anti-Mugabe activists.
"One day his [Mugabe's] government will come to an end and his people will still be there and they will need to restore that economy and that society," Fraser said.
The United States has signaled strong support for Zimbabwe's opposition movement, which has been subject to a massive crackdown by Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.
Fraser urged other Southern African countries, such as South Africa, which has taken the lead mediating with Mugabe, to push for concrete results. She also urged China, which is a strong investor in Zimbabwe, to put more pressure on Mugabe. "The Chinese may be trying to rescue this government.
We are looking to the Chinese to put pressure on the government of Sudan and we would hope they would not support the repressive regime in Zimbabwe," Fraser said. Mugabe said on Tuesday that Britain and its Western allies had "redoubled" their efforts to topple him and he accused them of sponsoring violence to destabilise his country.
‘Respond to people’s needs’
LOCAL authorities should be responsive to people’s needs and should always champion projects and programmes that are people driven, President Mugabe has said.
Addressing the first biennial conference of the Zimbabwe Local Government Association in Harare yesterday, Cde Mugabe said once elected into office councillors and mayors should go back to the people to, firstly, thank them for electing them and then to hear their views on council-initiated programmes.
He said councillors and mayors should never detach themselves from the electorate but be the gears for people-oriented development.
"Consult before you take any action or embark on a programme that you think will help the people. Get the people’s inputs. As you implement the projects and programmes assess whether you are still in line with the thinking that you and the people originally had or you have lost direction. The people and you must continue to own the programmes," he said.
Cde Mugabe commended the merger of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ) to form Zilga.
He said the formation of the united local government voice marked a turning point in local governance as it "effectively signals the demise of the anachronistic dual perception of local government in the country in terms of rural and urban".
He said the world over national governments were anchored on local government systems. He said councils were best placed to respond to development challenges.
"One could say these are indeed grassroots legislatures, making by-laws relevant to the management of local situations. It is essential therefore that the unity exhibited at Zilga level materially translates itself into robust local government systems capable of responding to the needs and aspirations of the citizenry on a sustainable basis," he said.
He said the unity of the two former associations should translate into better service delivery and make local government leaders listen to the people more.
Cde Mugabe urged local authorities to accept donations from local donors but to also beware of some locals who are used as Western fronts when making such donations.
He said because of the economic reforms that have seen the emergence of wealthy black businesspeople, Zimbabwe had managed to develop its own crop of donors who should be tapped.
Cde Mugabe urged the delegates — mostly mayors, councillors, and council chairpersons — to be aggressive in demanding service delivery from Government ministers.
"Itai hasha. Muvaitire hasha varume ivava. Where money for projects has not been found, we will print it. Some ministries need to be pushed not by me at the top alone because I do not see what theydo at the bottom. Push them at the bottom," he said.
The President said leaders must not only surface during election periods, and condemned those who misled the electorate.
He also questioned the calibre of some council leaders, saying it was time councils were led by innovative, honest and patriotic people with integrity.
"We certainly need councillors who do not brook any compromise in our mission to jealously safeguard our hard-won independence. Our sovereignty must of necessity be underpinned by a functional, forthright and sensitive local government system that is imbued with a passion to systematically empower the indigenous population," he said.
Cde Mugabe called on Zimbabweans, regardless of political or religious affiliation, not to betray the country.
"Zimbabwe is your motherland. You must respect Zimbabwe. You must not call for sanctions to damage your own people."
He also said Government would continue to buy farming implements until all farmers were equipped.
Cde Mugabe said Western countries should realise that they did not have the power to change the Government in Zimbabwe.
He also clarified the transfer of water and sewer management from local authorities to Zinwa saying the move was a Government decision taken after it became obvious that councils did not have the capacity to effectively deliver water and sewer services.
Government would instead give a yearly grant to councils to cover the vacuum created by the transfer of water and sewer management, the President said.
He said it was common knowledge that most councils derived their revenue from water, hence it was prudent to compensate them.
He also outlined the various water augmentation projects that Government was undertaking to service urban communities.
The conference closed yesterday with the ascendancy of Kadoma mayor Cde Fani Phiri as the new Zilga president, replacing Alderman Jerry Gotora who led the association for the past 12 months.
VP Mujuru raps ministry over dialysis machines
VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru yesterday lambasted the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare for letting kidney patients die, yet there are dialysis machines gathering dust at Mpilo Central Hospital which she donated more than four years ago.
Cde Mujuru, who is on a tour of parastatals in Bulawayo, was speaking during an interview in the city after visiting the Pig Industry Board station.
"My heart bleeds when I read that people are suffering because there are no dialysis machines at Mpilo Central Hospital, when I donated some to the institution,’’ she said.
"In fact, there are some people I know personally who have died as a result of the problem.’’
Cde Mujuru said there seemed to be no tangible reason for the delay in the installation of the renal equipment which she sourced from abroad in July 2004 under a broad-based initiative code-named "Dandito Project’’.
The Vice-President donated a total of 54 dialysis machines, shared equally among Mpilo, Bindura and Parirenyatwa hospitals.
"I would like to challenge the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to explain why the 18 machines I donated to Mpilo Hospital have not been installed when people are suffering’’ she fumed.
"This is the sort of ineptitude that we have always been complaining about. In fact, I should have been coming here with President Mugabe or Vice-President Msika to commission the dialysis machines that I sourced.’’
Dialysis machines act as artificial kidneys and remove waste, known as urea, from the body.
Renal patients are supposed to be dialysed at least four times a week, but many are treated once a week because of the shortage of machines and high costs involved.
The Chronicle yesterday reported that scores of renal patients throughout the country were now fearing for their lives after the only dialysis machine which was functional at Mpilo Hospital broke down while machines at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare were also reported not to be working.
Renal patients from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo are the worst affected as they have not had any sessions for more than a week after the dialysis machines broke down last Friday.
However, officials yesterday evening said the machine at Mpilo had since been repaired.
The majority of the patients last had the life-saving dialysis sessions on Tuesday last week.
Last year, it was reported that the renal equipment sourced by Cde Mujuru had not been installed at Mpilo Hospital, as the renal unit at the institution had to be refurbished first.
It was also pointed out that a shortage of foreign currency had resulted in delays in the installation of the equipment.