President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The two nations have been subject to vicious attacks by the imperialist countries of the US and Britain.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
From Michael Padera in VICTORIA FALLS
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday hailed traditional leaders for backing and complementing Government efforts, saying the support would be reciprocated.
He also thanked the traditional leaders for the support they give him as an individual.
"Let me express my deep-seated gratitude and appreciation for the invitation and for the support you have expressed, your support for me and your total loyalty to our Government," he said.
President Mugabe was speaking as he officially opened the Annual Chiefs’ Conference in Victoria Falls.
President of the Chiefs’ Council Chief Fortune Charumbira set the tone when he told the conference that chiefs only recognised President Mugabe’s leadership and would not consider any other leader for as long as the President lived.
He said while chiefs were apolitical, they supported a party and government that gives them ownership of the land.
Chief Charumbira said it was too late to experiment with any other leader because there was no guarantee that such a leader would stand for the rights of traditional leaders.
"When election time comes, we do not think of anyone else other than Cde Mugabe. We cannot experiment with new leaders," he said.
Chief Charumbira said a wavering leadership was akin to practising prostitution.
"Kubuda mumba kunounza Aids. You can talk of harmonisation (and) the succession debate, isu tinongoti VaMugabe," he said.
Earlier on, during a briefing, chiefs from all provinces said they were totally behind President Mugabe as they appreciated his Government’s programmes.
Among problems the chiefs presented to the President were poor road networks, unavailability of transport, drought-induced hunger, delays in getting their allowances and lack of respect for traditional institutions.
The chiefs also complained of moral decadence, citing the high incidence of rape of minors by their fathers and the arrest of chiefs.
President Mugabe said a chief could only be arrested after he or she had been informed as happens with Government ministers.
He said the Annual Chiefs’ Conference was an important forum that affords the Government an opportunity to be informed on issues of immediate concern to traditional leaders and the communities they lead. The Government, the President said, was determined to maintain the involvement of chiefs and their people in matters of governance.
He said traditional leaders were custodians of the traditions and values that form the basis of Zimbabwe’s culture and personality.
He took a swipe at the erosion of Zimbabwe’s culture through copying Western values and traditions.
The President said women should not wear mini skirts and dresses that expose all cleavages and private parts.
He blasted some pressure groups that were advocating the abolishment of lobola, saying such calls were misguided and a pervasion of our culture.
If there was no payment of lobola, such marriages would not last as both parties would regard each other as prostitutes, said Cde Mugabe.
The President said he would not allow his sons to just live with someone’s daughter without paying lobola.
He said it was disturbing to receive weekly reports from the Attorney-General’s Office showing that an average of 37 rape cases of children by their fathers are committed each week.
"Tave vanhu vakaita sei? How do we stop that? Is it because of HIV that people think little girls have the remedy?"
The President said it was the duty of chiefs to hold meetings with communities to discourage the practice.
Cde Mugabe explained the rationale behind the formation of the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation and implored the chiefs to explain its aims to the people.
Ministers taken to task by chiefs
From Michael Padera in VICTORIA FALLS
TRADITIONAL leaders have taken some ministers to task over their failure to timeously implement Government programmes.
The traditional leaders candidly told ministers at their annual conference underway here that they were not happy with empty promises and demanded to know what was being done to address their concerns and those of their people.
The chiefs also took issue with the Ministry of Rural Housing and Social Amenities failure, accusing it of failing to have an impact on the ground.
"The ministry has no impact on the ground," said Chief Makore of Masvingo.
Chief Chisungo asked the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa whether his promises to chiefs in Kariba last year were just empty promises.
Cde Mnangagwa had promised to build schools, dispensaries, swimming pools and children’s play centres in rural areas.
"Was the Minister just telling us his own vision in Kariba? Where are the community television stations, dispensaries and community halls?" Chief Chisungo asked.
In response, Cde Mnangagwa said Government was in the process of implementing the rural development vision.
He said rural development was part of President Mugabe’s vision because the majority of Zimbabweans live in rural areas.
"I carried the vision to you, you accepted the vision. Now you are seeing the implementation of that vision," he said.
He said all the promises he had made would be fulfilled.
"Zvandakatumwa ndinoita nokuti ndinoda kuramba ndiri muhurumende," he said.
Chief Chisungo also asked the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa to account for Government programmes and policies.
Chiefs wanted to know whether it was Government policy to have condoms distributed to schoolchildren.
Chiefs also took the Minister of Agriculture Cde Rugare Gumbo and the Minister of Environment and Tourism Cde Francis Nhema to task over the implementation of programmes under their portfolios.
Cde Gumbo was asked to explain the distribution of agricultural inputs while Cde Nhema was asked to explain issues of wildlife and the environment.
The chiefs stressed that they needed animals for 2010 especially in Masvingo.
Some of the chiefs complained that they were not allowed to kill elephants that were destroying their crops. Cde Nhema explained that for tourism to be viable there was need to have animals in areas like Victoria Falls because the wildlife industry created employment for many people.
President to address child parliamentarians
PRESIDENT Mugabe is expected to address child parliamentarians from various parts of the country at the 16th Children’s Parliament National Debate to be held in Harare tomorrow.
Zimbabwe Youth Council spokesperson Tanzwika Guranungo said this year’s edition of the Children’s Parliament debate would be held under the theme "Be Seen, Be Heard: Child and Youth Participation for Development".
"The theme calls us to reflect on our commitment as a nation in capacitating our young people for active contribution to national development processes and citizens in their own right.
"It also calls for children and the youth to identify and take up their role in national development," he said.
The 16th Children’s Parliament National Debate will be held at the Harare International Conference Centre.
The Children’s Parliament was established in 1991 as a ceremonial institution to commemorate the Day of the African Child. Later on, due to the significance of issues that were raised by child parliamentarians during their debates, the Children’s Parliament was transformed into a leadership development and advocacy arm on children’s rights with activities being carried out throughout the year.
Over the years, child parliamentarians focused on a number of topics of significance to the nation in general and children in particular.