Friday, March 07, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Leading Figures, VP Mujuru, Pledge Support to Mugabe; Gender Equity Programmes

HARARE/JOBURG 6 March 2008 Sapa-dpa


Political heavyweights in Zimbabwe rumoured to be behind ex-finance minister Simba Makoni's bid for the presidency are in public at least stolidly proclaiming their support for President Robert Mugabe.

When in February Makoni announced his shock bid for the top seat, there were rumours that senior ZANU-PF figures including Vice President Joyce Mujuru, her husband Solomon, Vice President Joseph Msika and Mashonaland East provincial governor Ray Kaukonde secretly supported him.

But all are now firmly maintaining their allegiance to Mugabe, who has ruled this southern African country since independence in 1980. He is seeking a fourth term in office when Zimbabwe goes to the polls on March 29.

Only Zimbabwe's former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa has openly broken ranks, along with a few less senior officials. Dabengwa is now widely shunned.

The official Herald newspaper on Thursday reported that Vice
President Mujuru told ZANU-PF supporters she was "confused" by
Dabengwa's defection.

"This is not the first time that we have lost our dear ones because of defections," she said during a briefing in Insiza South constituency in southern Matabeleland province.

"It is confusing and I do not understand it. When I think of ubhudi Du (Dabengwa), I say what has happened? I joined the (1970s) struggle (for independence from white minority rule) when he was already there, so what could have gone wrong?" she said.

Later she instructed rally-goers to vote for Mugabe. "By voting for President Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe would have reaffirmed the ideals of the revolution," Mujuru is reported to have said.

Mugabe maintains a vote for the opposition - either Makoni or Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - is a vote for former colonizer Britain.

The 84-year-old president refuses to accept any blame for Zimbabwe's biting economic crisis, blaming widespread shortages of food, fuel, drugs and foreign currency variously on drought and Western sanctions.

The announcement of the surprise election bid by Makoni was greeted with excitement among sections of Zimbabwe's educated elite, limited enthusiasm by the main opposition MDC and anger by Mugabe.

But since then its been difficult to measure exactly what support the former finance minister has.

"I know Simba. I've sat on boards with him. Im on first name terms with him. I don't think he'd do it on his own without a masterplan," a former colleague of Makoni's told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Makoni's strategists confidently predict he should win 90 per cent of the urban vote and 60 per cent of the rural vote, which is traditionally Mugabe's stronghold.

Remarkable progress recorded in gender equity programmes

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has made tremendous strides in implementing gender equity programmes that need to be complemented through a budget that pushes women empowerment, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri said yesterday.

Although this year’s international commemorations are being held under the theme; Financing for Gender Equality, Zimbabwe has adopted a national theme of "Gender budgeting for women empowerment."

Speaking at the launch of the International Women’s Day, Muchinguri said this year’s theme has come at a time when Government is implementing the gender budgeting programme launched in April last year.

The theme also focuses on the equitable distribution of national resources of the country.

The International Women’s Day is commemorated annually worldwide on March 8 and Zimbabwe will launch its official commemorations on March 14 at a local hotel.

"Zimbabwe has made remarkable progress in institutionalising the gender budgeting initiative. Our engagement with the Ministry of Finance has resulted in the 2007 Call Circular (which) mandated all line ministries to have gender consideration in their ministerial bids," he said.

She said the Government has also established and trained gender focal persons in gender budgeting with the main responsibility of ensuring that their ministries’ budget is gender sensitive.

"This has resulted in the increment of the ministry budget allocation from 24 percent in 2007 to 98 percent in 2008 of what the ministry had requested," she said.

Muchinguri said women constitute more than half of the population in Zimbabwe and 70 percent live in rural areas while the majority live below the poverty datum line.

"Through the gender budgeting programme, the Government has invested more in women in agriculture, mining, health environment and education.

"This is in line with achieving the Millennium Development Goal number one on poverty eradication and number three of achieving gender equality and women empowerment," she said.

She called on all stakeholders including Government, civic society and the corporate world to join hands and ensure that the country’s budgets, programmes and policies are gender-sensitive.

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