Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Update: Mbeki in Talks With President Mugabe; Chissano Blast West Over Sanctions; Opposition Leader Charged With Treason

Mbeki in talks with President

Herald Reporter

SADC-APPOINTED mediator on Zimbabwe, South African President Thabo Mbeki, jetted into the country yesterday for an evaluation of the progress made in preparations for the June 27 presidential run-off.

President Mbeki, who was accompanied by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, was received at the Harare International Airport by Vice President Joseph Msika and South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Professor Mlungisi Makhalima.

He held talks with the MDC-T leadership in Harare before flying to Bulawayo to meet President Mugabe.

He left for his country last night.

Last night, Presidential spokesperson Cde George Charamba said President Mbeki had come to make an appraisal of the election preparations.

He said President Mbeki had "come in the context of the assignment which Sadc heads of state gave him in Tanzania" last year.

"He came against the background of next week’s election to satisfy himself that all systems are in place, in fulfilment of his mandate.

"After all, it is Sadc that is ultimately responsible for the political process in Zimbabwe,’’ said Cde Charamba.

MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed the meeting between President Mbeki and his party leadership but refused to give details.

"We had the meeting with President Mbeki but I cannot give you details," he said.

President Mbeki was mandated by Sadc to facilitate dialogue between Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions and has been effectively doing that.

The African Union has also accepted the regional initiative as providing the official and proper negotiating forum to settle issues facing Zimbabwe.

Chissano blasts West over sanctions

AFP-Herald Reporters

Former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano has blasted Europe and the United States for being obsessed with attacking President Mugabe while Zimbabweans suffer.

"We must think of the people who are suffering under an embargo-like situation. No one co-operates with Zimbabwe anymore," Mr Chissano told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published yesterday.

"The Europeans and Americans are focusing too strongly on (President) Mugabe."

Mr Chissano said whether or not President Mugabe steps down after next week’s presidential run-off election against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was not as important as the need to rescue Zimbabwe’s economy, which has been crippled by illegal economic sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and their allies.

"Africans and the rest of the world must try to ensure that the election takes place peacefully and properly and appeal to the parties to respect the outcome. Then a new start must be made to improve the economic situation. For me, it is not important whether (Cde) Mugabe steps down, but whether there is a new start."

He told Sueddeutsche Zeitung heaping pressure on President Mugabe’s Government could be counter-productive.

"The election is not over, so I cannot say yet whether (Cde) Mugabe must go. One must leave him the opportunity for dialogue.

"Change that is brought about by pressure does not last. Whenever pressure has been exerted on Zimbabwe, the situation has worsened."

Meanwhile, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whose supporters were behind post-election violence that killed almost 2 000 people in order to get into power, is parroting the Western stance on Zimbabwe by seeking to discredit the June 27 presidential election run-off.

On Tuesday, the Kenyan premier — who is understood to have given shelter to MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti during his self-imposed exile soon after the March 29 elections — said the international community should ask President Mugabe to step down and send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe to oversee free and fair elections there.

Odinga claimed the conditions in Zimbabwe were not conducive for a free and fair election, alleging the election had already been rigged.

Odinga, who used violence to force President Mwai Kibaki into a power-sharing deal, criticised African leaders for failing to speak out against Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off.

But Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity Cde Bright Matonga yesterday said Odinga was not qualified to comment on Zimbabwe because he has not visited the country to see the situation on the ground.

"Normally, African protocol does not allow me to comment on statements made by a prime minister or a president but we respect him as a father-in-law because his sister went out with Cde Edgar Tekere.

"He is a father-in-law. We would urge him to visit Zimbabwe first, sit down and chat with His Excellency President Mugabe.

"After that meeting, he would be qualified to make informed comments on Zimbabwe." — AFP-Herald Reporters.

Land root of our row with UK: President

Bulawayo Bureau

BRITAIN’S dispute with Zimbabwe stems from the land reform programme and talk about the rule of law and democracy are mere excuses to camouflage the former colonial power’s neo-colonial machinations, President Mugabe said yesterday.

Cde Mugabe was addressing thousands of supporters at Manama Business Centre.

It was his second rally in Matabeleland South Province yesterday, after he addressed another at Malala Primary School in Beitbridge, where he said Government was moving fast to curb border jumping and illegal activities.

Cde Mugabe said the road to freedom was a long and arduous one with the Rhodesian leader Ian Smith vowing that there would never be majority rule in the country.

"At the (1976) Geneva conference, Smith did not stay; he said that was nonsense, he had better things to do back home. That is what he said. Tasvika zvino muna 1979 arohwa nemaliberation forces coming from Zambia and Mozambique, now he said majority rule can come. Aimboti never in a thousand years, never. At Lancaster House he agreed, this is where they pledged that Britain would fund the resettlement programme," said President Mugabe.

He said land issue was a thorny issue at the Lancaster House Conference and it was only after intervention by the Carter administration in the United States that Britain accepted its colonial obligation of funding Zimbabwe’s resettlement programme.

Cde Mugabe said although the Conservative Party led by Mrs Margaret Thatcher and later Mr John Major agreed to fund the programme, the Labour government under Mr Tony Blair reneged on the pledge through a letter written by one of Mr Blair’s ministers, Ms Claire Short.

"The Labour Party did not want to co-operate with us. They reneged on the agreement. ‘We derive our own authority from our own principles, not the Conservative Party,’ they (the Labour government) said," said the President.

He said the Government tried to reason with Mr Blair but to no avail. "Takatifungai patsva. Think again. No! Fungai patsva. Think again. No! Mawar vets amaona apa akati kana akadaro we now take the land and the responsibility for compensation lies with the British. That is the policy. We take the land. Kana vasingade ndezvavo izvo," said President Mugabe.

He said the willing buyer-willing seller approach had failed with the British refusing to pay compensation for the acquired land.

"Then we said, keep your money, we keep our land. Fair, fair, zvabharanza. So arikuchema ndiani? Why should they now cry foul?" asked President Mugabe amid applause.

"The British realised that they could not argue with us on the land issue and hatched a plan to rope in their allies into the dispute by fabricating excuses such as allegations that there was no democracy in Zimbabwe, no rule of law, no freedom. Hakuna democracy? Was there freedom when maBritish ruled this country? Did they give you democracy? We had no vote at all. We were denied the right to vote. The white man could vote for another white man," said President Mugabe.

"There was racial discrimination, so you would talk of native education and European education as well as native reserves ivo vatora pakatorwa nyika naRhodes, fertile lands."

He said the black majority were reduced to "mere squatters on our land". During Rhodesia, blacks were not allowed into shops such as Barbours and were not allowed to buy certain items regarded as a preserve of the whites even if they could afford them.

"When entering shops, you were told khipha longwani kawena. You were nothing. You are not a voter. There was no rule of law. You could be arrested for anything, anywhere. Ingave nyika yakadaro?"

He said they tried to protest against the racial discrimination but their protests fell on deaf ears.

"We thought if we spoke loudly they would listen. Kunyepa! They would never listen. We figured that the only way we can now win, the only language which the settlers and the British could understand is the language of the bullet. Bara, bara! Ndopatakavamba the struggle."

He said Zipra and Zanla fought the war as one family.

"We are only one family, we should not quarrel. People can’t be made to suffer under us when they suffered under the Boer. Let’s unite across the country from Plumtree to Chirundu. Even when he died VaNkomo, Silundika, JZ Moyo, Mangena and vakaenda. I thank God ndichiripo. Saka what is my role? Ndorega nyika ichiendeswa kumabhunu neMDC? When I am still alive that will never happen, never ever! Let the British hear this, it will never happen," said the President amid applause.

He said the way white former commercial farmers started trooping back into the country when they had heard the lies that Tsvangirai had won the presidency showed how the MDC was a British front in a neo-colonial plot on Zimbabwe.

"Britain are the creators of the MDC. They — Labour, Liberals and Conservatives — poured money into the MDC through the Westminster Foundation Fund. MDC was created as a party to fight the revolutionary party of Mugabe and Nkomo. They united to create a party here. They talk of democracy and non-interference in the affairs of others going against the United Nations Charter. There are viola-

tions of that charter. Democracy inoreva kuzvitonga. Kwete kutongwa nevarikunze."

Cde Mugabe said when the British thought about forming a party to challenge Zanu-PF they targeted the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions led by Gibson Sibanda as president and Tsvangirai as the secretary-general.

"UGibson angithi uvela lapha (Matabeleland South) and Tsvangirai elsewhere. MDC is a British-sponsored party and to this day the British give it money. Mukanzwa vanotaura vachisupporter MDC it’s Britain, Australia, United States and Canada, all these countries are English-speaking. In Australia, when Mr John Howard was still prime minister he gave a vote of 18 million Australian dollars to the MDC, (British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown gave MDC a vote of 3,3 million pounds, (United States President George W.) Bush US$7 million for MDC. Is that fair play? Kupa ivavo? Inopiwa manon-governmental organisations kuti vange vachiti tirikukupai kudya vhoterai MDC, mukavhotera Zanu-PF hatidzoki," he said.

"But here in Gwanda South, amhlophe, amhlophe! You have stood your ground, won all the council seats (during the harmonised elections), the senatorial seat. Even your vote for me was outstanding. Rambai makadaro. Stay where you are."

Turning to Tsvangirai, Cde Mugabe said he was a coward who abandoned the struggle and ran back home.

"Kuzouya ichi (Mr Tsvangirai) chakatiza hondo. ‘Ndivhoterei neMDC for change.’ Change yacho inotipei? ‘You (President Mugabe) gave land to the people, wonai varikufa nenzara. Ini ndikawina ndodzosera mapurazi to the whites’," said Cde Mugabe.

"He says he will reverse everything that the Zanu-PF Government has done, that is agricultural programmes, educational policies. Uchiita reverse kuenda kupi? For whose benefit? So it’s reversals. Even Heroes Acre, tinochera vaende kunovigwa kumusha kwavo. Ko chakurwadza chii? You are there today because of the independence that was brought by these national heroes."

President Mugabe said that re-colonisation of this country would not happen.

"That day will never dawn on this country," he said amid thunderous applause.

"That is what the silent voice of my dead colleague is asking me. Chii chirikuitika? Where are the people going? What are you doing? When you are right like you are doing here, I say we are standing firm. On the land, I respond, the land is the people’s land. Umhlabathi ngowethu. It’s still our land. We have not given it up. Freedom kuvanhu, tinayo unity, we are still united. Imperialism is our enemy. Neo-colonialism," he said.

"Handitengese vanaNkomo nanaMuzenda. I still stand. I will stand with you as long as this issue remains in question. I will be with you and stand firmly leading you. So don’t doubt. Tiritose, I will never yield. Don’t doubt. Andidududze panyaya iyoyo. This is not the time to surrender. You (people of Gwanda South) are the light and this place we can call Ekukhanyiseni. Let others see what you have done, learn from you. Let your determination inspire them. Vamwe vanga vatengwa vamwe vanga vaenda."

Cde Mugabe said although there were hardships brought by sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe this was not a reason to mortgage the nation.

He said to ease the hardships being faced by the people, Government had bought 50 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa and redoubled efforts to transport the grain by both rail and road.

Cde Mugabe, who received a rousing welcome when he arrived for the rally in the afternoon, appealed to the people of Gwanda South to vote resoundingly for both himself and the party’s candidate in the constituency’s House of Assembly by-election, Cde Orders Mlilo.

In Beitbridge, President Mugabe said Government has stepped up efforts to develop strategic areas such as border posts to curb border jumping and illegal activities.

Addressing thousands of people at Malala Primary School, 8km west of Beitbridge town, President Mugabe said the ongoing development projects at Beitbridge are meant to transform the border town into a world-class city.

"As the Government, we want to deal with key and strategic areas, particularly our border posts, so that we have businesses and factories operating in those areas. You will also note that currently several projects are going on in Beitbridge as we want to transform it into a world-class southern city," said President Mugabe.

He urged the youths to desist from the inclination of illegally crossing the borders into neighbouring countries.

"We want to continue developing Beitbridge and other key areas so that our children work here rather than continuously border jumping into South Africa yet our country is very rich in natural resources such as minerals. Let me remind youths to desist from border jumping as if it’s a sport," said President Mugabe.

He said the Government was working tirelessly to develop Matabeleland South, as it was an important province which gave birth to patriots and nationalists such as the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo and national hero Cde Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo.

President Mugabe said that Matabeleland South was largely a drought-prone, hence the need to encourage irrigation farming and animal husbandry.

"We have Limpopo River and Zhovhe Dam, and as the Government we want to construct irrigation schemes along the canals and we want to do that through the mechanisation programmes. We want to improve food security here in Beitbridge and other parts of the province," he said.

President Mugabe hailed Zimbabwe’s education system, saying it was the second best on the continent after Tunisia.

"Education is our top priority and therefore as Government, we continue to educate our children and empower them with the necessary academic and technical skills. We don’t want our schools to collapse and we are doing our best, as we want to see the country having more mechanical engineers, water engineers, agronomists and veterinary surgeons," he said.

"In terms of health we have built several hospitals across the country, but, however, we continue to face the challenges of drug shortages due to lack of foreign currency as a result of sanctions imposed on us by the West."

"In Matabeleland North, we are building a university in Lupane and a Government complex to house our departments since it is the provincial capital," said Cde Mugabe.

Cde Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to go in large numbers and vote for Zanu-PF, saying it was a tried and tested revolutionary party which brought about the liberation of the country from colonialism.

"Iyi iZimbabwe yakarwirwa neZapu neZanu-PF. Musangano wedu uyu wakaumbwa neZapu neZanu-PF, tisu chete misangano miviri (Zanu and Zapu) iyi yakarwira rusununguko,"

"Tisu takaunza zvakare ivhu iri, umhlabathi, then kwakuita vamwe vanoda kukanganisa independence yose. Kwaita vamwe vakatengwa navarungu nemaBritish," he said.

Cde Mugabe urged people to remain united and strengthen the Unity Accord signed in 1987.

"In the past election some of you voted for MDC because we were divided. If you vote for MDC on 27 June, you would have killed yourself, liyazibulala, because you will lose your land because we saw the white farmers coming back soon after the 29 March elections.

"We don’t want a repeat of what happened in the previous election. We should strengthen the party and Government.

"Rega kuita hope dzemusi wa29 March takarara, kumele sivuke and conquer MDC," he said.

Zanu-PF officials, church leaders meet

Herald Reporter

Church leaders held a meeting with Zanu-PF officials in Harare yesterday to propose a way forward to deal with the current economic, social and political challenges after next Friday’s presidential run-off election.

Heads of Christian denominations — made up of representatives from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Council of Apostolic Churches — held discussions the Zanu-PF national presidential public relations sub-committee chaired by Cde Sithembiso Nyoni.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa and the committee’s deputy chairperson, Cde Walter Mzembi, also attended the meeting that discussed a number of issues, including the possibility of establishing a government of national unity after the run-off.

The clergy presented a document titled "A Position Paper to (the) Zanu-PF Leadership on the Church’s View of the Current Situation and its Recommendation of the Process that they Think will Bring Transformation to Zimbabwe".

"We need to foster collaboration with others to achieve the ideal. This is the reason why the Church recommends a ‘government of national unity’ for Zimbabwe after the elections for a specified period," reads the document.

"Such a government will include business, labour, the church, political parties and other sectors as stakeholders. Competition almost never results in the best performances; pursuing excellence is a collaborator’s game."

The chairman of the heads of Christian denominations, Bishop Goodwills Shana, said the church wanted a government of national unity before the run-off but this was not possible because constitutional and electoral requirements had to be respected.

"Initially that was our preferred stance. We believe unity is more paramount than elections but because of the electoral and constitutional requirements, it was difficult to circumvent elections," he said.

Cde Nyoni and Cde Mutasa described the meeting as "very positive".

"We have had a very good meeting. This is the beginning of the engagement process. Solutions are in Zimbabwe.

"There is no solution that is not here and this is what all of us here have said. We should say hallelujah at least we have started a new spirit," Cde Nyoni said.

"We did not know each other. We are having a way forward from where we were before we started this meeting. We want to go back where we came from with new perceptions, new messages." She pledged to arrange a meeting with President Mugabe.

PAP poll observers to investigate political violence reports

Herald Reporter

THE Pan African Parliament election observer mission says it will investigate reports of political violence it has received to verify them.

Addressing journalists at a media briefing on Tuesday evening, PAP leader Mr Marwick Khumalo said they had received several reports of politically motivated violence across the country and their observers would be deployed today to get to the bottom of the matter.

He said their observations would form part of the election observer report, which they would compile and present to the Government and to the continental assembly in Midrand, South Africa.

Mr Khumalo said his team was concerned with reports of violence ahead of the presidential election run-off and called for peace ahead of the polls.

Government has accused the MDC-T of fanning the violence with President Mugabe saying the State would soon be compelled to hold the opposition leaders responsible for attacks being perpetrated against Zanu-PF supporters.

"In view of the political magnitude of these elections, the PAP decided to increase the team to 40 Members of Parliament representing all the five regions of Africa, as well as 24 support staff," said Mr Khumalo.

"During the harmonised elections in March, the PAP deployed 10 teams of two MPs each in all the 10 provinces.

"This time, the PAP is deploying 16 teams in all the provinces in order to strengthen its observation capacity. Obviously, some provinces will be covered (more) than others."

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