Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe in Rome for FAO Conference; US Undermines Mbeki's Role; ZANU-PF Eyes Victory

President in Rome

PRESIDENT Mugabe arrived in Rome on Sunday night to attend the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation conference.

Some European Union leaders immediately tried to protest the President’s presence in the Italian capital, but FAO stood its ground, saying the conference had nothing to do with EU sanctions on Zimbabwe and its leadership.

"The fact that President Mugabe and other leaders the West may not approve are attending a UN meeting in Rome is not a scandal," a spokesman for the agency, Nick Parsons, was quoted as saying. "The UN is about inclusiveness, not exclusivity, giving all nations the right to participate."

Parsons added that "in the face of the looming, impending food crisis that FAO first warned about a year ago", a high-level meeting between countries "is the serious issue, the rest is irrelevant to the overall significance of what this meeting is about". — HR.

US seeks to undermine Mbeki’s mediation role

Herald Reporters

WITH 25 days left to the run-off, the United States government has intensified efforts to abet the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe by trying to have the region sideline South African President Thabo Mbeki as official mediator in Zimbabwe in favour of the leadership of Zambia and Botswana.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa recently received US$71 million from the US and began making a series of questionable decisions and pronouncements on Zimbabwe, the latest of which was his attempt to convene a special summit on Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the just-ended 4th Tokyo Conference on International Development.

A meeting held in Washington DC on May 28 and attended by, among others, Zimbabwean journalist Ray Choto, who is now a senior editor with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Project at the Voice of America’s Studio 7, urged Sadc leaders to ‘‘apply focused pressure on (President) Mugabe to leave’’.

The meeting, held at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, was also attended by Jamal Jafari, formerly with the British-funded Amani Trust in Harare; Dileepan Sivapathasundaram, an activist once arrested in Zimbabwe for assisting the opposition with technical support; and Gayle Smith, a journalist who has worked in Africa for more than 20 years.

The meeting resolved that while the US government could be the engine that drives ‘‘a solution’’, the details of such a solution should arise from partnerships with regional governments.

"Past regional efforts have presumed that South Africa would take the lead in negotiations with Zimbabwe due to the close relationship of the two countries and its reputation as an economic powerhouse on the continent. However, efforts have not been backed by action.

"The US should sidestep South Africa and conduct continued high-level consultations with other key Sadc members, specifically Zambia and Botswana," the document says.

The meeting suggested that the new approach ahead of the run-off should consider both political settlement and diplomatic intervention as possible solutions to the ‘‘Zimbabwean crisis’’.

"In the absence of a process to seat the legitimate winner, international actors should assist with negotiating a transitional authority that would oversee the development of a popularly supported constitution, paving the way for free and fair elections.

"The US diplomats should," the meeting averred, "impose a cost through their diplomats who should urge the UN Security Council to investigate allegations of violence in the country and impose targeted sanctions on Government officials.

"The US and its European allies on the Security Council should press for the case of Zimbabwe to be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court."

In the event that the above approach fails to yield the desired result, the US government was urged to use the "carrot-and-stick" approach to achieve a deal that would "develop and present a proposal for a settlement, including immediate financial and reconstruction assistance, after (President) Mugabe’s exit".

Part of the "carrot approach" is to convince militia members to disband with promises of assistance from the international community while the "stick approach" entails referring the case to the ICC, imposing targeted personal sanctions and isolating Zimbabwe.

In conclusion, the document urges Sadc leaders to "publicly recognise gross abuses of law by Zanu-PF and develop an African solution to an African problem by applying focused
pressure on (President) Mugabe to leave, side by side with meaningful incentives for a solution".

"The West should provide support for this effort, but be prepared to take strong action should that pressure fail to materialise," the document says.

Such efforts by the US have led some Sadc leaders to convene meetings to discuss Zimbabwe, starting with the Lusaka summit called for by President Mwanawasa in April this year where the region reiterated its support of President Mbeki’s role as mediator.

Last week Mr Mwanawasa tried to convene another meeting on Zimbabwe at the TICAD summit but was snubbed by other leaders.

This comes amid revelations that the British were also changing their regime change agenda approach by roping in churches in Zimbabwe and Britain.

The opposition MDC-T has also been calling for President Mbeki’s head. accusing him of supporting Zanu-PF and President Mugabe.

In a letter Morgan Tsvangirai purportedly wrote to President Mbeki on May 13, the opposition leader accuses the South African President of "complicity and connivance with Zanu-PF".

Zanu-PF eyes emphatic victory

Herald Reporter

ZANU-PF has taken its campaign to the family level where it is now focusing on ordinary people who are not necessarily party members to ensure that it gets an emphatic victory for President Mugabe in the June 27 presidential run-off, the party’s political commissar, Cde Elliot Manyika, has said.

In an interview yesterday, Cde Manyika who is leading the ruling party’s mobilisation committee ahead of the polls, said the presidential run-off was an important election for Zimbabwe against imperialist forces trying to reverse the gains of the country’s independence.

"The mobilisation committee is currently in the thick of things focusing on people who are not its supporters.

"Committees at provincial and district levels have already been formed and are now going directly into the wards," he said.

Cde Manyika also said the mobilisation team was aiming at nothing else than an emphatic victory for President Mugabe.

"Everyone should understand that if we lose this election we would be going back to the period where we were under the control of the white man."

Cde Manyika said the people have realised what an MDC-T victory would mean following premature celebrations by white former commercial farmers who were quick to return to farms they previously owned.

"Everyone noticed that imperialists are behind the MDC-T campaign and regime change agenda after the former farmers rushed to designated farms following premature announcements by the MDC-T.

"Zimbabweans have also noticed that the MDC-T agenda is foreign-sponsored and know that the country detached itself from colonialists when the Union Jack was lowered in 1980."

He said the West has imposed illegal sanctions for their regime change agenda but people have to be wary of imperialists’ machinations to control the country by remote control.

"The Western imperialists are not kind people. They do not do anything because of compassion but are just trying to run the country by remote control to loot our resources," he said.

Cde Manyika said the campaign, which has been taken to the family level, had been quite successful. There has been greater consciousness among the people on the consequences of losing the election to the MDC-T.

"We are calling on patriotic Zimbabweans to respect the ideals of the living and fallen heroes for the total emancipation of the people.

"We want people to go and vote to ensure that these ideals are preserved forever. A Zanu-PF victory will maintain total independence and 100 percent empowerment to the people while voting for President Mugabe would bequeath to the future generations total independence, freedom and control over our resources," he said.

Cde Manyika urged police to decisively deal with perpetrators of the post-March 29 election violence that has erupted in some parts of the country.

"We condemn all forms of violence against our supporters by the MDC-T who are targeting unarmed people. Look at the way they shot unarmed people in Mutoko.

"This is callous murder, but we need to make sure that there is never Kenyan-style violence in Zimbabwe.

"We want to urge security agents to act swiftly and bring to book those responsible for these acts of violence," he said.

He said peace should be maintained during the presidential run-off while urging people campaigning to use their power of persuasion rather than resorting to violence.

Help strengthen inter-country relations, Govt told

Herald Reporter

COMMUNITIES living along the Zambezi Valley escarpment have called on Government to strengthen relationships with neighbouring countries as they have inter-dependence with communities living along the borders of neighbouring countries.

A councillor for Chapoto Ward in Kanyemba, Mbire District, Mashonaland Central Province located in the north-western tip of Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique and Zambia, Mr Christmas Kachasu, said the three communities were socially inter-dependent.

Mr Kachasu said villagers from Chapoto buy daily groceries such as bread and soap and other necessities, seek medical treatment in either Zambia’s Luangwa or Mozambique’s Zumbo villages instead of travelling to their nearest shopping centre at Mushumbi Pools.

Chapoto Village is less than 10km of either Mozambique or Zambia as compared to about 100km to Mushumbi Pools for the same services.

"Our referral hospital is Chitsungo Mission, which is in Mushumbi Pools whereas Zumbo Rural Health Centre in Tete, Mozambique is just across the river therefore, in most cases we go across to seek health care or other daily needs," Mr Kachasu said.

Sharing of resources and collaboration in developmental initiatives between the three border communities of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia is termed the ZIMOZA Cross Border Collaboration.

"We are appealing for political commitment from our leadership to recognise and maintain the relationship that we have with our relatives across.

"Although the valley separates us, we are affected by the same problems. This requires a combined strategy by our governments in seeking solutions to common problems," said Mr Chitsungo.

A health official from Mozambique, who preferred anonymity for protocol reasons, echoed his Zimbabwean counterpart’s sentiments saying the three communities — Kanyemba, Zumbo and Luangwa — had a stronger relationship compared to their country’s district centres.

"Some of our relatives are in Zimbabwe while some are in Zambia so we are just the same people hence there is no reason for not working together.

"However, shortages of resources sometimes hinder our cross border collaboration programmes," he said.

Member of House of Assembly elect for Mbire Constituency, Cde Paul Mazikana, echoed sentiments from his colleges saying some non-governmental organisations reach to communities in Zumbo and Luangwa through Kanyemba.

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