Sunday, January 20, 2008

Zimbabwe News: Mujuru Warns Against Abuse of Power; New Bills Passed; Cuba Stands Against Western Sanctions

Don’t abuse senior positions : Mujuru

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT misjudged some people and thrust them into senior positions which they are now corruptly using to access scarce resources, Acting President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

She was reacting to a report by Mashonaland East Governor and Resident Minister Cde Ray Kaukonde in which he said some people in senior positions were demanding large quantities of basic commodities from National Foods Limited.

Cde Kaukonde is the chairman of National Foods.

Cde Mujuru made the remarks when she officially launched the National Food Ltd’s $300 billion Red Seal Feed Zimbabwe programme at Hupenyu Hutsva Children’s Home in Highfield.

"When we appoint some of these people, we assume that they are capable, but I think to some extent we have misjudged some people who hold important positions.

"They are full of the individualistic feeling and practice. We know what happened during Operation Restore Order.

"This is what we call corruption, it is not good. For fear of victimisation, some people are burning inside. Let’s not beat about the bush. Our society is no longer clean. It’s like we are developing crooks. We want to remain a dignified and respected society," said Cde Mujuru.

Influential individuals were said to be causing trouble at National Foods Ltd almost on daily basis.

Cde Kaukonde said the influential people brought trucks, declared who they were and demanded large quantities of basic commodities.

National Foods Ltd produces a number of basic goods, including cooking oil, mealie-meal, rice, sugar beans and salt,among others. Information gathered indicated that such individuals were taking advantage of their influential positions to channel scarce basic commodities onto the black market.

Cde Mujuru lamented the widening gap between the rich and poor in the country, which was reflected in the disappearance of the middle class.

The Acting President said the police, Agritex officers, teachers and other professionals used to belong to this class.

She said one is now either filthy rich or "poor as a church mouse".

"Kwava nevakapfumisa nemurombo chaiye chaiye, vanonzi havana chokubata vasingakwanise kudya kamwe chete pazuva."

Echoing Cde Mujuru, Cde Kaukonde castigated people indulging in shady deals.

"Nyika yava kufa nemadhiri . . . Vanhu hatichada kudya cheziya asikuti ndaita mabillions mangani . . ."

Some people in senior positions had taken advantage of the current shortage of basic commodities and are using their positions to access the commodities, which they are allegedly channelling to the black market.

Some were said to be sponsoring foreign currency dealers, after using their positions to access cash from the banks.

The National Foods Ltd’s $300 billion Red Seal Feed Zimbabwe programme will cover all the country’s 10 provinces and is targeted at feeding the vulnerable members of society.

Cde Mujuru hailed National Foods Ltd for volunteering to assist the needy. She said it was heartening to note that the programme was conceptualised within the context of the country’s Millennium Development Goals.

One of such goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger through the implementation of mitigating strategies targeting orphans and the elderly.

"As National Foods you have, indeed, demonstrated your social responsibility by giving back to the communities that sustain your business. By endeavouring to enhance the quality of life of every Zimbabwean, especially the disadvantaged members of our society, you are acknowledging that this is a collective responsibility," Cde Mujuru said.

She added that Government was committed to improving the standards of life of the less privileged but its efforts needed to be complemented by other stakeholders.

"As Government, we are delighted by the initiatives that National Foods has put in place to complement Government efforts. This includes the supply of food to the needy in all the 10 provinces over the next 50 weeks," Cde Mujuru said.

She urged other companies to emulate the gesture by National Foods Ltd, as an indigenous donor. Yesterday, National Foods donated food worth $40 billion to the underprivileged.

Changes to AIPPA, POSA gazetted

Herald Reporter

THE amended Public Order and Security Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Electoral Laws Amendment Act are now part of the country’s laws following assent by the President.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda made the announcement in a general notice in an Extraordinary Government Gazette published on January 11.

Amendments to the Acts were fast-tracked through Parliament last month with very little debate as both Zanu-PF and MDC lawmakers threw their weight behind them.

In explaining the urgency of the Bills, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, told Parliament that the Bills were a result of the Sadc-brokered dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC.

He said that they needed a longer timeframe to implement hence the need to fast-track them before the harmonised March elections.

The Electoral Laws Amendment Act amends the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and the Electoral Act to make provisions for various matters arising from the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Acts Number 17 and 18.

The Act provides for ZEC’s new procedures, powers and functions.

It also imposes additional obligations on ZEC commissioners and employees not to divulge confidential information gained through being a commissioner or employees.

The Act allows ZEC to receive donations or grants from any local or foreign source with the approval of the responsible minister.

It inserts a new clause into the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act to empower the Commission to regulate the conduct of the news media in relation to elections.

Public broadcasters would be obliged to afford parties and candidates contesting an election free access to their services in accordance with the regulations made by the Commission.

One of the amendments to the Public Order and Security Act is that those who intend to organise public meetings, political rallies or demonstrations will now appeal to the magistrates’ court if the regulating authority (the police) prohibit them from holding the planned meetings or demonstrations.

Previously, they were required to appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs.

But there is a new section that prohibits a gathering within the vicinity of Parliament, a court or any protected place or area declared as such in terms of the Protected Areas and Places Act unless permission is given by the Speaker, Chief Justice, Judge President or responsible authority.

One of the amendments to POSA deems notice to the regulating authority to have been properly given if it is delivered to the most senior officer present in the police station closest in proximity to the place where the gathering is proposed to be held.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been amended to reconstitute the Media and Information Commission as the Zimbabwe Media Commission, consisting of a chairperson and eight other members appointed from a list of not fewer than 12 nominees submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

There is now a provision setting up the Media Council responsible for developing and enforcing of a code of conduct and ethics for journalists and mass media services to be observed.

The amended Broadcasting Services Act will see the reconstitution of the existing Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board.

Three of its members will be appointed by the President from a list of six nominees submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

Both the AIPPA and BSA amendments contain clauses that mitigate the rule that Zimbabweans alone must wholly own or control broadcasting services or a mass media service.

Uphold principles of unity — Manyika

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS should uphold the principles of unity and avoid violence in the run-up to the harmonised elections set for March this year so that the country avoids post election violence that is rocking Kenya, the Zanu-PF national political commissar, Cde Elliot Manyika has said.

Speaking in Harare on Thursday, Cde Manyika said Zimbabwe was a country whose values of unity were adopted from revolutionary leaders since the First Chimurenga.

"We have got to be united so that what happened in Kenya could be avoided. Peace is necessary as we go towards the forthcoming elections," he said adding that since the start of the Second Chimurenga, nationalists have led the country through unity from the period of the African National Council, through the liberation struggle and the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu.

"Our nationalist leaders have upheld unity since the days of the ANC, the People’s Caretaker Council, Zanu, the Patriotic Front and the Unity Accord in 1987.

"So these principles of unity among the people of Zimbabwe should be upheld until elections are held in March," he said.

This was in response to the opposition MDC’s calls that a similar situation to that in Kenya could happen in Zimbabwe if the opposition party loses the forthcoming elections.

The opposition party’s spokesperson, Mr Nelson Chamisa, is said to have told an election campaign launch in Harare last weekend that the opposition would resort to violence if it loses the elections.

"You saw and heard what happened in Kenya. Its nothing compared to what would happen here if (President) Mugabe rigs the elections again," Mr Chamisa was quoted as saying by news agency reports, although he later on claimed that he was misquoted.

Post election violence in Kenya has claimed more than 700 people after the opposition parties disputed results that retained President Mwai Kibaki to power.

However, Cde Manyika acknowledged the challenges being experienced in the country, adding that these were being caused by illegal sanctions imposed on the country.

"The country has been under sanctions since 1998 and we are not receiving any donor funding. These are not targeted sanctions, what would a person like me gain from travelling to UK. We are still standing on our own despite the sanctions," he added.

He said most companies in Zimbabwe were foreign-owned hence their owners are controlling production leading to shortages of most commodities in the country.

"What we are dealing with is a political issue and once we overcome this problem then we would look at effectively transforming our economy," Cde Manyika said.

He said the country was chasing a few goods with a lot of money, hence the ever rising inflation and corruption was also rife because of these shortages.

He, however, added that the only solution to all these problems was increased production.

"The country is currently spending 70 percent of its foreign currency reserves on imports but if we improve production on our farms, SMEs and other industrial sectors we can overcome these challenges," he said.

He urged Zimbabweans to be always on the lookout for the imperialist enemies who were trying to effect regime change in the country.

"The imperialists’ agenda is to divide the nation and their last attempt to destroy the nation was on rampant prices increases and if the Government did not come up with a taskforce on price controls that preceded the National Incomes and Pricing Commission, there could have been chaos in Zimbabwe," he said.

He said President Mugabe would not give up the fight against outside forces working against the country and would continue to empower the people.

Cuba backs Zim in fight against illegal sanctions

Herald Reporter

CUBA will continue to support Zimbabwe in its fight against illegal sanctions imposed by Western governments led by Britain and the United States.

Addressing journalists at the belated 49th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution commemorations yesterday, Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Cosme Torres Espinoza said the Zimbabwean situation resembled that of Cuba, since the US always imposes sanctions on whoever does not toe its line of thinking.

The Cuban Revolution celebrated its 49th anniversary on January 1 this year and will go to general elections tomorrow.

"I can see similar trends in the way America deals with Cuba and Zimbabwe. The economic blockade has resulted in Cuba being prejudiced of over US$86 billion through loss of trade and exports, but in spite of these sanctions the revolution has progressed.

"The Cuban Revolution has been successful because our people understand the goals of the revolution and have benefited from the independence. The revolution created new sources of jobs, and numerous measures were introduced to eliminate the scourge of unemployment, and the social security to all the working population.

"We are therefore prepared to work with Zimbabwe in its quest for economic, social and political freedom.

"Cuba enjoys cordial relations with Zimbabwe that has seen it set up a joint commission to look at ways of co-operation. This co-operation has also seen exchange programmes like the Bindura University of Science Education and the Bio Lavicidin Malaria Control Programme launched recently," he said.

He said Zimbabwe was being punished because it had chosen to be independent and had distributed land to its people which was against the will of the West.

On the forthcoming Cuban 7th General Assembly elections, Mr Espinoza said the US government had launched a diatribe against his government saying the country did not enjoy freedom and democracy.

"The cornerstone of the Cuban electoral system is that the Cuban people are the only ones with the faculty to nominate the candidates by direct ballot to the municipal level and through its representatives also to the provincial level.

"The Communist Party of Cuba has no right to nominate candidates, even to support them," he said.

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