Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: President To Get Invitation For EU Summit; Namibia, Angola Calls for Lifting of Sanctions

President to get invite: Portugal

Herald Reporter-AFP

PRESIDENT Mugabe will be invited to the second European Union-Africa Summit slated for Lisbon, Portugal, in December, a Portuguese official has said.

"Everyone will receive the same invitation," Mr Pedro Courela, advisor to Portugal’s Secretary of State for Co-operation Mr Joao Gomes Cravinho, told reporters yesterday when asked whether Zimbabwe was included.

Mr Courela said the invitations would be issued "in the next few days", while speaking by telephone on the way to Accra for a meeting between Portugal, which holds the rotating EU presidency, and Ghana, which has the African Union presidency.

Mr Courela’s statement follows a recent decision by EU parliamentarians and their African counterparts to invite President Mugabe to the summit.

The Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, yesterday said he expected Cde Mugabe’s invitation to come through the AU chairman and Ghanaian President John Kufuor.

He scoffed at moves by some media organisations making queries through his office as to whether Cde Mugabe’s invitation had come through.

Cde Ndlovu said he found the questions about the invitation strange, as they were not being asked about other African presidents.

"The invitation was something that we never doubted as the position with other Sadc and EU countries has been consistent. We appreciate the support that we received from these states."

Head of the EU parliamentary delegation Mr Michael Gahler and Pan African Parliament chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on Relations with the European Parliament Mr Marwick Khumalo announced this at a joint Press conference in South Africa.

They had discussed and resolved that Cde Mugabe should attend the summit to give Zimbabwe’s side of the story and discuss problems facing Harare.

The two bodies have previously been against Zimbabwe and made a number of attempts to sponsor anti-Zimbabwe resolutions in their meetings.

Portugal has consistently said Zimbabwe should be invited because it is part of Africa.

Early this month, Lisbon said it respects Africa’s position that President Mugabe should attend the summit while the EU said Britain’s stance on Zimbabwe was against European interests.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Mr Luis Amado said Cde Mugabe could attend the EU-Africa Summit if that is what African nations want.

Despite Zimbabwe’s problems, no country "can be pushed aside from dialogue and from the development of long-term strategic relations between the EU and the continent", Mr Amado said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he may boycott the summit if Cde Mugabe is present.

But Mr Amado said the summit — scheduled for December 8-9 in the Portuguese capital — at the end of Portugal’s six-month preside- ncy, could not be run by special cases.

The 12-member EU — at the instigation of Britain — has imposed illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, which have hurt the economy and ordinary Zimbabweans.

— Herald Reporter-AFP

Lift Zim sanctions, say leaders

The Southern Times-Herald Reporter

Windhoek--Namibian and Angolan presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba and Jose Eduardo dos Santos have declared that economic sanctions which the West imposed on Zimbabwe are illegal and unjustifiable and urged Western countries to immediately lift them.

In a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day State visit by Angolan President dos Santos last Friday, the two leaders said they were concerned about the economic embargo against Zimbabwe.

President dos Santos jetted into Namibia last Wednesday for a State visit, which culminated in the signing of 11 bilateral agreements ranging from power generation to security matters and law enforcement.

A statement issued at the end of the visit said the two leaders exchanged views on economic and political developments in Zimbabwe and the Southern African region in general.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was appointed by Sadc to spearhead talks between Zanu-PF and both factions of the opposition MDC.

Progress has been made in the talks, resulting in a landmark agreement on the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill.

Both parties are still at the negotiating table.

"The presidents reiterated their concern over the economic sanctions and other harsh measures imposed on Zimbabwe, which are causing socio-economic hardships to the people of Zimbabwe," the statement said.

"The presidents (Mr Pohamba and Mr dos Santos) called for the immediate lifting of these sanctions as they are illegal and unjustifiable," said the joint communiqué.

The call by the two leaders — which reaffirmed the position taken by Sadc at the extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 31 — comes at a time when the whole of Africa and much of the European Union have closed ranks with Zimbabwe in its bilateral stand-off with Britain.

African countries — speaking through the African Union, Sadc and Comesa — have vetoed Britain’s attempts to have President Mugabe barred from the EU-Africa Summit set for Lisbon, Portugal, on December 8 and 9, saying the summit can only take place if the whole of Africa is invited to engage with the EU.

Summit host Portugal, France and Germany are among key EU states that have said the dispute between Harare and London should not be allowed to scupper the summit that has been on ice since 2003 when Africa refused to give in to British demands to hold the summit minus Zimbabwe.

The only support for the British position has come from some Scandinavian states that have, however, not indicated they will support British Premier Gordon Brown’s threats to boycott the summit if Cde Mugabe attends.

To this end, EU parliamentarians have since invited President Mugabe to the summit, saying he should be afforded the chance to give his side of the story and discuss problems in Zimbabwe with other world leaders.

Presidents Pohamba and Dos Santos also expressed concern at the security situation in the volatile eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which they attributed to rebel military activities.

They encouraged Sadc member states to continue supporting the government of the DRC to consolidate peace and stability.

The Southern Times-Herald Reporter.

Lift barrier on Cuba, UN assembly votes

UNITED NATIONS--The UN General Assembly yesterday voted overwhelmingly for the 16th year in a row in favour of lifting the 45-year-old US trade embargo against communist-ruled Cuba.

By a vote of 184 in favour, four against one abstention, the 192-member assembly reiterated its "call upon all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures (such as those in the US embargo) in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law."

In a virtual repeat of last year’s vote, the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted against the resolution, while Micronesia abstained.

The resolution again urged "states that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime."

The vote came less than a week after US President George W. Bush vowed the US economic sanctions against the Cuba would remain in place. "As long as the regime maintains its monopoly over the political and economic life of the Cuban people, the United States will keep the embargo in place," Bush said. — AFP.

Empower women, girls to take charge

EDITOR — I watched a very interesting movie on South African e-TV on October 25 2007, and encourage ZBCTV to air it for the benefit of all Zimbabwean women with access to television.

I believe the movie, Enough starring Jennifer Lopez, it is quite relevant, particularly as we enter the 16 Days of Activism against Domestic Violence.

With the current debate on the Miss Rural saga, I couldn’t help but realise how important it would be for all concerned citizens and responsible authorities to learn the power of the individual’s inner strength — how important it is to empower women and girls to be able to draw the line and respect it.

To be able to declare and take the responsibility to say "Enough" — for themselves and also to take the necessary action to support their stance. I have heard cases of women in truly abusive environments, who get "rescued" and offered shelter only to return to the abusive environment again at times with tragic consequences.

Not that I condone the violent killing of abusive people, but I truly learnt something about the power of the self against all odds. We could declare all rural girls vulnerable and build safe houses for them. But they still need to be re-integrated, what then? This year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism against Domestic Violence is "Demanding Accountability and Implementation".

In my opinion, as concerned citizens we should be demanding that accountability of ourselves as women and as mothers to say where are we going wrong?

With all the information about abuse and indeed all the resources that are being channelled towards the empowerment and protection of women and girls, why then are our girls still being taken advantage of? Why are the various messages and programmes not effectively reaching them? Where do we need strengthening and how? Vast resources are being channelled towards the empowerment of women and girls as well as activities towards that effect. Perhaps we should be demanding more, given the level of need existing in the rural settings.

The current popular position towards the Miss Rural Zimbabwe pageant seems to be "the problem is out there". Rather I would encourage more effort to be directed towards the girls themselves.

I believe there is more strength and focus when it is directed from within.

Effort therefore should be to enable the woman or girl to know when lines have been crossed and where to turn to when lines have been crossed and what course of action to take when such lines have been crossed.

Equip the women and girls with the necessary strength of character to face the challenges of life head on without settling for compromises. Yes, we say they are reduced to beggars and then fall victim to those with money. Our women and girls should know that not having money is not an excuse to lose one’s integrity.

Not having money is not an excuse either for one to lose sight of their life goals. There are so many organisations that are currently dependent on donations from individuals and corporations, teach the girls the safe ways of receiving such funds without compromising themselves.

I appreciate that we all mean well and want to keep women and girls safe. But one thing that I have also learnt is that in many cases, women and girls are highly abused in their own homes. Here we are calling for the young girls to be teaching other girls about home-based care. Not that there is anything wrong with learning home-based care since already women are the designated caregivers and nurturers of families. But then what are we saying about their aspirations, their outlook towards improving rural life, interaction at levels beyond rural settings?

What are we saying about their ability to impact city girls and being role models for the city girls on the morals and behaviour of ideal rural Zimbabwean girls.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that beyond a certain level, it ceases to just be about the basic daily issues that we deal with.

As human beings develop and fulfil the lower needs, it then becomes necessary for them to pursue even higher needs.

Our Miss Zimbabwes and other City Misses do not remain confined to being role models of Zimbabwean girls and perhaps teaching them how to dress appropriately. They get to travel the world, interacting and networking at higher levels.

Let’s put an end to the Cinderella complex and empower women and girls to take charge of their own lives.


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