Sunday, October 14, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: African Union Snubs PAP Mission; Kuanda to Talk With UK; China Pledges Continued Support

AU snubs Zim fact finding mission

Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
News Editor Farai Dzirutwe

MOVES by the Pan African Parliament (PAP) to dispatch a fact-finding team to probe alleged human rights abuses in Zimbabwe appear to have hit a brick wall after the African Union opted not to fund the controversial mission while the head of the assembly says the exercise is no longer necessary.

The mission was supposed to have been carried out before the second sitting of the PAP, which will start tomorrow in Midrand, South Africa, but is now uncertain as the AU has apparently not provided support, at least financially.

A resolution had been passed during the first session of the largely ceremonial Parliament in May providing for the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe with 149 delegates sanctioning the move while 20 opposed it.

It has, however, emerged that PAP, which was established in March 2004 by Article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, did not receive money for the exercise from the continental body which has thrown its full weight behind the Sadc-sponsored mediation talks on Zimbabwe.

PAP president Dr Gertrude Mongela last week confirmed that lack of funds had rendered the planned mission impossible, adding that she personally felt the exercise was no longer called for.

Dr Mongela told South African media last Wednesday that the decision on whether the fact-finding mission should still go ahead would be made during the Parliament’s session this week.

Sources, however, told The Sunday Mail last week that the African Union had declined funds to the mission on the basis that Sadc, through South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki, was already working to assist Zimbabwe overcome political and economic challenges by facilitating dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the main opposition MDC.

The AU felt that it could not sponsor parallel missions until the dialogue was concluded and evaluated, the sources said.

"The PAP mission is unlikely to go ahead as the African Union has expressed confidence in the ongoing dialogue on Zimbabwe. The AU has released money for other PAP programmes, but nothing has so far been allocated in respect of the Zimbabwe mission," said a source at the PAP seat in Midrand.

Dr Mongela conceded that the dialogue could have been a factor in blocking funds for the mission. "There are other developments taking place, namely the Mbeki initiative, which I suspect has resulted in the dialogue that is now going on between the conflicting parties," Dr Mongela told South African news agency Sapa.

Dr Mongela said while the parliamentarians would decide on the best way to proceed, her personal view was that the mission was no longer needed adding that a possible next step could be to send an observer mission to Zimbabwe for the elections scheduled to take place next year. "If the election is properly done we are sure most of the problems of Zimbabwe would be resolved," she said.

PAP has up to now only received half of its US$12,2 million budget from the African Union. Dr Mongela said the fact that the mission was not sent as originally planned did not bring into question the parliament’s credibility. During the first session of Parliament in May, a representative from the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party of South Africa moved the motion to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

During a heated two-hour debate, delegates from across the continent disagreed over whether or not the mission would disrupt the Sadc-sponsored talks and when the matter was put to a vote, a resolution was passed for the deployment of the fact-finding team. Four out of Zimbabwe’s five members of PAP voted against the motion while the MDC’s Ms Paurina Mpariwa supported it.

Following the passing of the resolution, Zanu-PF delegate to PAP Cde Joram Gumbo dismissed PAP as just a noise-making organisation, adding that the Zimbabwean Government could still prevent the mission from coming to Zimbabwe because the parliament’s claims lacked merit.

The Pan-African parliamentarians represent all the peoples of Africa and the ultimate aim of the PAP is to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage.

PAP is one of the nine AU organs provided for in the treaty establishing the African Economic Community signed in Abuja, Nigeria, in 1991.

Kaunda to meet Brown over Zim

By Ruth Butaumocho recently in LIVINGSTONE, Zambia

FOUNDING Zambian president Dr Kenneth Kaunda has plans to meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss bilateral issues between Zimbabwe and Britain.

Without giving a specific date, Dr Kaunda said the meeting would discuss the land issue and other problems Zimbabwe was facing as a result of illegal sanctions being championed by Britain and the United States.

"We are set to meet soon to discuss the Zimbabwe land issue and the subsequent problems that the country was going through.

"I don’t believe that there is no solution to what is going on between the two countries. There is a solution and we need to find it soon," he said in an interview.

Dr Kaunda said it was wrong for the world to take a myopic view on policy issues in Zimbabwe without looking at failed promises that Britain made for years in resolving the land issue.

He was responding to questions on Zimbabwe, while addressing participants at the British Council Interaction Programme from 20 African countries,

"When I look back at the road that this man (President Mugabe) has walked, I don’t understand how the world can just choose to look only at the current problems that Zimbabwe is facing without looking holistically on the country’s history, particularly on the land issue."

The land issue, he said, had shaped events in Zimbabwe.

"Yes, there are problems in Zimbabwe at the moment. But it would be unfair for all of us here sitting in this room today, to just demonise (Cde) Mugabe, without tracing the roots, from which the problems are emanating today."

The former Zambian leader, who was among the African leaders at the forefront of assisting liberation movements in the struggle to dismantle colonialism in Zimbabwe, chronicled the history of the country’s struggle.

He narrated the hurdles that nationalists such as Cde Mugabe and the late Dr Joshua Nkomo had to overcome on the road to freedom.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Britain have been strained since the country embarked on the land reform programme.

Britain has instigated the European Union, the United States, Australia and New Zealand among other western countries to impose illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

London and its allies have at every opportunity fought for the isolation of Zimbabwe including trying to have Harare discussed at the United Nations Security Council without success.

Of late, Mr Gordon Brown has threatened to boycott the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal in December if President Mugabe is allowed to attend.

But Africa has stood its ground and said all its leaders must attend the summit.

Some African countries — notably the Sadc region — have even threatened to boycott the summit if President Mugabe is barred.

Portugal has said it respects Africa’s position that Cde Mugabe should attend while other EU members have said all African leaders must attend because the summit is an opportunity for dialogue.

The EU Commission has even castigated Britain for hurting European interests because of its stance on Zimbabwe.

China pledges to continue supporting Zim

Herald Reporter

CHINA has commended the Zimbabwean Government and pledged to continue supporting the country in tackling its economic and political challenges.

The remarks were made this week by China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Yuan Nansheng at the Zimbabwe Staff College where he was addressing senior officers on China’s foreign and defence policies.

"First on the political front, we support the efforts Zimbabwean people have made to restore social tranquillity and develop national economy and oppose any exterior interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe in any form.

"We believe that the Government of Zimbabwe has the ability to solve the problems on their own," Amb Nansheng said.

He said China would continue to rally behind Zimbabwe and continue strengthening the strong ties, which dated back to the liberation struggle.

"We will maintain exchange of high level visits between our two countries. On the other hand, we will always enjoy the support from you on the One China Policy and any other issues in international affairs," he said.

Mr Nansheng called upon Chinese companies to continue investing in Zimbabwe.

"On economic co-operation we encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Zimbabwe based on the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results," he said.

He said the Chinese companies should take social responsibilities to benefit the ordinary Zimbabwean people.

"We will implement the outcome of the Beijing Summit especially the eight measures in Zimbabwe. We will further expand the bilateral trade," he said.

HARARE 10 October 2007 Sapa-dpa


New Zealand is a strange country down under that Zimbabwe does not recognize, a minister in the African nation's government said Wednesday.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga made the remark in
response to calls on Tuesday by New Zealand's Green Party for the country to take a firmer stand against President Robert Mugabe's government.

"New Zealand is some strange country down under and the majority don't care whether the party is green or blue, what they are saying is irrelevant to Zimbabwe," Matonga said in comments carried in Zimbabwe's official Herald daily.

Green Party MP Keith Locke on Tuesday referred to Zimbabwe as a disaster zone, and called on Prime Minister Helen Clark's government to step up pressure on Harare for a return to the rule of law and democracy.

"Helen Clark should press other Commonwealth leaders, when they meet in Uganda this November, to take a strong, united stand for a return to democracy," Locke said in a statement.

The statement was issued following a visit to New Zealand by Sekai Holland, a senior official from Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and a grandmother who was one of dozens of opposition officials and activists brutally assaulted by police during a crackdown by state agents in March.

Holland said on Tuesday that her party, which is currently engaged in talks with Mugabe's ruling party to try to ease political tensions ahead of elections next year, would pull out of the dialogue if the ruling party continued to use violence against the opposition.

"Sekai Holland is a living example of why the world must keep
pressing Zimbabwe to return to the rule of law," noted Locke.

But Zimbabwe's deputy information minister dismissed the New Zealand MP's comments, saying Zimbabwe was no longer a member of the Commonwealth.

"She (Holland) is on a fundraising campaign and is saying these things to please New Zealand but that is a strange country that we never recognize," Matonga claimed.

"She is addressing the wrong forum and audience. If she wants to discuss issues of Zimbabwe, she should approach the government," Matonga was quoted as saying.

1 comment:

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