Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Madame Grace at a ZANU-PF rally. The President will stand for reelection on March 29.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
By Patience Nyangove
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
PRESIDENT Mugabe has blasted Britain, America and their allies for imposing illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe saying these are intended to weaken the country’s unity and stability.
Speaking during the commissioning parade of regular officer cadets 3/24/06 at the Zimbabwe Military Academy in Gweru on Friday, President Mugabe said Zimbabweans would never give back their country to neo-colonialists and imperialists.
"Perish the thought that we will allow them to do so, for we shall never deliver Zimbabwe to the neo-colonialists and imperialists. Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again," Cde Mugabe said.
Cde Mugabe said Zimbabweans should understand that the liberation struggle was a permanent feature in the country’s history, a feature that had shaped and would continue to mould Zimbabwe’s future.
"Part of that future is the economic empowerment of our people, resonant today in our land reform programme and soon to take effect in other spheres such as our country’s mining, manufacturing and tourism resources.
"Thus our war of liberation cannot be wished away. It made us Zimbabwe, it made us a nation among nations whose development should of necessity fight all residues of racist settler colonialism," Cde Mugabe said.
The President said he was pleased to note that out of the 134 officer cadets that graduated and were commissioned to the rank of second lieutenant, 26 of them were women.
He said this development was in line with the Government’s much acclaimed national gender policy that seeks to treat women as equal members of the society.
Cde Mugabe said he was pleased to note that the course’s syllabus was blended with crucial subjects that include the creation of a gender responsive environment at the workplace which were done with the assistance of resource persons from the Midlands State University.
The 20-month course was divided into three distinct phases, which emphasised basic soldiering skills, conventional warfare and low-intensity operations.
Other course elements included command and leadership, skills at arms, drill, field raft, map reading, military administration, military law, service writing and first aid.
President Mugabe paid tribute to the Zimbabwe Military Academy for diligently carrying out its mandate and responsibility of educating, training and inspiring junior officers in order to provide the nation with future military leaders of exemplary character and loyalty.
"The defence of this nation must always be entrusted to principled and patriotic leaders endowed with professional rectitude," Cde Mugabe said.
He called upon the graduands to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the various military units they are posted and expressed hope that they would become effective and efficient in leading their fellow countrymen and women in ensuring lasting peace, stability and security for the country.
The commissioning parade was also graced by the Minister of Defence Dr Sydney Sekeramayi; Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Philip Sibanda and Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri among other service chiefs.
Sunday Mail Reporters
PRESIDENT MUGABE yesterday took his campaign for next Saturday’s elections to Chitungwiza and Harare where he ordered business to peg prices of basic products and services at affordable levels, warning that Government would take drastic action if they fail to comply.
He also warned that the Government might be forced to take action against the 400 British companies operating in Zimbabwe if Britain does not lift the sanctions it has imposed on Zimbabwe.
The President started off in the morning in Chitungwiza at a packed Chibuku Stadium and then followed up with another rally at Shawasha Grounds in Mbare before rounding up his day in Dzivaresekwa.
With just under a week to go and with a lot of ground having been covered in the various provinces, the battle seems to be for the major cities. On Friday independent presidential candidate Dr Simba Makoni had also successfully addressed rallies in Mabvuku and Chitungwiza where he said Zimbabweans from all backgrounds should unite with the common goal of rebuilding the country’s economy.
Dr Makoni followed this up with a news conference yesterday at which he welcomed the decision taken by the Government and all opposition political parties to campaign freely ahead of next Saturday’s harmonised elections. Dr Makoni said since he joined the presidential election race, he had managed to campaign freely and fairly in all areas he had visited.
The former Zanu-PF Politburo member said police had been very helpful and took charge when supporters from rival parties attempted to disturb his rallies.
The news conference was attended by both local and foreign journalists as well as election observers from Sadc countries.
MDC faction president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to address rallies in Harare beginning today.
President Mugabe’s rallies have drawn capacity crowds and yesterday was no exception. Speaking at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza, Cde Mugabe said some businesspeople with access to Government funding were acting in bad faith by raising prices astronomically.
He said the recent wave of incessant price hikes that has swept across the local market has seen many families failing to cope. This, he said, had left Government with no option but to intervene in the event that business continued to profiteer.
"I have warned them about prices before. They may think I am politicking ahead of the elections. But I do not say what I do not mean," said Cde Mugabe.
"We are telling them to drop those prices to the levels they were at. If you don’t do it, we will do it for you. However, you should be rest assured that it will not just be the prices dropping: you will drop with them!"
Cde Mugabe said business and Government were often locked in stakeholder consultations during which industry’s production requirements are discussed.
He said the State makes available the necessary funding to industry on the understanding that they produce goods at affordable prices. Cde Mugabe highlighted that business had, however, failed to keep its promise, as it continues to hike prices.
"We can’t work with people like that. Indeed, we know (opposition forces) have bought some of them. They want the people of Zimbabwe to suffer, turn against the Government and eventually vote for the opposition MDC," he said.
"But I promise you; I have been to the provinces (during this campaign period) and it is Zanu-PF all the way. They will never win here."
Cde Mugabe added that he was aware of the food shortages as well as water, electricity and transport problems that Zimbabweans are facing.
He said Government had since lined up various programmes to address these problems. He pointed out that the country was facing a food deficit owing to the heavy rains that have destroyed much of this season’s crop.
The Government was importing grain from the region with inflows into Zimbabwe continuing to improve. The President also revealed that Government had set up a taskforce to deal with water supply.
He said the taskforce had already begun sourcing water treatment chemicals from South Africa. He highlighted that although inadequate water treatment chemicals had inhibited water supply, Harare’s ageing water distribution infrastructure had compounded the problem.
"All this is being worked on," said Cde Mugabe. "Last time I promised Chitungwiza that the sewer problems that it was facing then would soon be over.
"Yes, we fixed them then, but we have gone back to the previous state. I know the MDC wants to use this in their campaign, but let me remind you that they are the ones who were running council when this problem started.
"That is why Government had to take over the water supply responsibility and sewage management. So, we are working on all these aspects under the various programmes we have lined up. I am not politicking, these are initiatives we had since enunciated."
On power supply, he pointed out that electricity shortages were not peculiar to Zimbabwe, as they were a regional challenge. Government was working on setting up two turbines at Kariba Power Station and increasing power generation at Hwange Power Station.
Work is also underway at Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati thermal power stations. He said the State was working with various companies to set up a power generating plant in Gokwe while high-output generators would be distributed to different parts of the country after Saturday’s elections.
He added that Chitungwiza would soon receive buses under the National Transport Enhancement Programme, which is expected to provide affordable transport to various centres.
Funds have also been made available to the District Development Fund (DDF) for the repair of the country’s roads. Cde Mugabe urged the electorate to vote for Zanu-PF in the forthcoming elections, as the party would protect Zimbabwe’s land.
He highlighted the need to be wary of the British hand that is working through the MDC to reverse the Land Reform Programme and to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
Addressing another rally in Mbare, the President said Zimbabwe would press ahead with the indigenous economic empowerment of its people and once again warned that businesses that continue to hike prices would soon be made answerable for their actions.
Speaking at a rally attended by more than 8 000 people at the Shawasha grounds President Mugabe warned that Government would retaliate against the British-instigated sanctions by taking action against the 400 British companies that are still operating in the country.
"Let the British keep their money and we will keep our land. It is treasonous for the MDC to aid the British involvement in our country. They must take due precaution because after the elections we will act against their companies. How dare Tsvangirai and his party continue to bow down to the British? In this day and age, when we have fought for the restoration of our dignity and sovereignty of our people, the MDC still panders to the British?
"A party that is full of white Boers and the white farmers? The likes of Bennett (Roy) are still masters in the MDC. And this is the party that wants you to vote for them to rule this country? Never in my lifetime will the MDC rule this country. I swear by Mbuya Nehanda, that will never happen," he said.
He said it is the MDC that needs to change their way of thinking instead of them persuading Zimbabweans to sell their birthright.
"We will not be forced to change our resolve to empower people through the land redistribution. It is you, Morgan Tsvangirai who needs to change your ways," said President Mugabe.
He said that the Zanu PF-led Government had ensured that Zimbabwe has the best-educated and well-trained human resources.
"In education we are ranked second to Tunisia in Africa in terms of the best quality education and training by Unesco. Our Look East policy is paying dividends as soon a joint venture between Government through the Industrial Development Corporation and the Iranians will be assembling Massey-Ferguson tractors at the Willowvale Motor Industry."
President Mugabe said now that he had assented to the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, foreign businesses operating in the country would be required to have local ownership of 51 percent.
"Today’s challenges will cease to be challenges. Even workers in urban centres can open small businesses. We have the machines to help the people set up their businesses. We are not doing this for ourselves but for generations to come."
He chronicled the history of the white man’s takeover of Zimbabwe and said they should not lecture Zimbabweans on democracy as it was Zanu-PF that brought democracy after engaging in a guerrilla warfare that brought independence.
"What human rights do the British talk about? We fought and brought democracy here. I spent 11 years in jail fighting for the one-man one-vote principle. They even hanged Mbuya Nehanda, the spirit medium who led the first resistance to the whites. Hanging a woman? Now they want to deport Benjani (Mwaruwari) because he is a Zimbabwean playing football in their country."
He said Government with the assistance of the Reserve Bank would next week distribute ambulances and generators for all hospitals and said the procurement process for drugs was now in motion.
"Doctors have been complaining of shortage of hospital equipment and I want to assure you that through the Reserve Bank ambulances and generators would be distributed to all hospitals. Other hospital equipment is being procured with the scanning machines that we bought with a donation already being used in these hospitals. People were being forced to go to South Africa just for diagnosis but that can be done here now," said President Mugabe.
He said the teachers that are presently flocking to South Africa would come back once the economic turnaround being worked out by Zanu-PF is completed.
President Mugabe also presented ten 40-seater buses from the 300 that were sourced by the central bank that he said would be used in Harare. He said another batch of 300 buses has already been ordered and of these 25 would be for use in Harare to ease the transport problems encountered by residents.
The President held his last rally yesterday in Dzivarasekwa where he started by chronicling the liberation struggle and how it was won adding that when Zimbabweans go to vote next Saturday, they will be defending the gains of the country’s independence.
He said Zimbabweans should not vote for Mr Tsvangirai because he is the one who called for the imposition of sanctions that are causing untold suffering of the people.
He said Britain and its allies were fooling the MDC that if it gets into power they will give it money to revive the economy.
"I have told the British to ‘keep your England and we keep our Zimbabwe’. What is it that they still want from us? They should leave us alone," said the President.
He told the packed stadium that the Government was looking into the water and electricity problems adding that with assistance from the country’s friends in the East, the country will soon overcome its problems.
Earlier on, the President had commissioned about 254 houses that were built under the Nehanda Housing Co-operative with assistance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which initiated credit facilities through the FBC Building Society. The housing co-operative is under the chairmanship of Cde Never Kowo, a war veteran. President Mugabe later commissioned 18 state-of-the-art minibuses that will ply the Dzivarasekwa-City route.