Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: VP Mujuru Hails Relations With China; Gov't Probes Businesses, etc.

Mujuru hails China-Zim relations

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT is committed to fostering a strong working relationship with China in agricultural development, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

Speaking after meeting a high-powered delegation from the China National Machinery and Equipment Company in Harare, Cde Mujuru hailed co-operation between the two governments.

"I would like to express our gratitude to the Chinese Government for being an all-weather friend from the days of our liberation struggle. The arrival of the equipment fits in well with our Government’s Look East policy and vision of empowering our people as enunciated by President Mugabe," she said. Government was happy with the progress made by the Chinese company in the delivery of components for assembling 1 000 tractors and 1 500 motorbikes.

"We have already received most of the equipment we ordered from China and this equipment is being used to assemble tractors and motorbikes at various centres in the country," she said.

The Vice-President hailed the Chinese company for sub-contracting Zimbabwean companies to provide back up service.

"I would also like to express Government’s commitment to ensure that the equipment is put under good use while we are also grateful to CNMEC for providing experts who are helping in assembling the equipment," she said. CNMEC general manager, Mr Yang Yinan said his company was committed to honour its contract with the Zimbabwe Government.

"We have managed to bring most of the equipment we have been contracted to deliver to Zimbabwe except for components of 70 combine harvesters that are currently at Beira in Mozambique and would be in the country soon," he said.

Mr Yang said his company was contracted to provide services to the Ministries of Agriculture, Agriculture Engineering, Mechanisation, and Irrigation and Water Resources and Infrastructural Development as part of a US$20 million contract signed between the two governments in 2006.

The team is in the country following up on the delivery of the equipment that has been ordered by the Government as part of the soon to be launched Fourth Phase of the Agricultural Mechanisation Programme.

The company, one of China’s largest State-owned firms, has been contracted to deliver components of tractors, combine harvesters, irrigation equipment, agro-chemicals, fertilizers and motorbikes for agriculture extension officers.

Govt probes business over empty shelves

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT is investigating the flooding of locally-produced basic commodities in neighbouring countries when shelves here are empty, President Mugabe has said.

Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters in Mutoko yesterday, Cde Mugabe castigated some businesses for pursuing the illegal regime change agenda.

"VaGono vaindiudza musi uno kuti takange tichida kutenga sugar kuNamibia. They (Namibians) said the sugar that we wanted to buy came from us (Zimbabwe). Tiri pakuongorora nyaya yacho. Tine vanhu varipakuputsa nyika yedu neHurumende nehumenemene," he said.

President Mugabe said the current wave of price hikes was not in response to corresponding increases in production costs as claimed by business.

He said the Government would sit down with business and assist where necessary.

"Tichagara pasi navo kuti chii chiri kumbonetsa, kana iri foreign currency tokupai mitengo idzike."

President Mugabe warned that the Govern-ment would take over businesses that unilaterally increase prices to inflict pain on the people in order to cause a revolt.

He urged people not to lose heart because of the current economic difficulties.

"Tirivanhu vane nhoroondo. Haungati nekuti dambudziko randirwadzisa handichada musangano, handichada Chimurenga," he said.

President Mugabe said the fluke win by MDC-T in the March 29 harmonised elections did not mean that the opposition party’s support base had increased.

"Mavhoti eMDC tichicherechedza neemuna 2005 akadona ne100 000. Havana kuwana mavhoti matsva," he said.

President Mugabe said Zanu-PF did not trounce MDC-T in the March polls because thousands of its supporters did not vote and urged the supporters to come out in large numbers on June 27.

He called for unity in the party in order to defeat MDC-T and keep the Zanu-PF Government in power.

"Rambai makabatana tiri kutungamirirwa nemusangano weropa; ndiwo watinoda kuti urambe urimuHurumende. Ini ndakamirira musangano. Ndikahwina party yahwina, ndikaruza iparty yaruza. Hurumende haizobva kuparty yedu."

President Mugabe said MDC-T was a puppet of the West bent on reversing the gains of the liberation struggle.

"Tsvangirai akabvunzwa kuti ukahwina chii chauchazoita zvikanzi ndinongomononora zvese. He will reverse all the policies asi chikuru chiripo is the land policy," he said.

Cde Mugabe said whites trooped back into the country and threatened to reclaim their former farms following premature reports that Tsvangirai had won the March elections.

"Makaona zvakaitika? Varungu vakadhirika vakauya mumapurazi. Ndomafaro akange ava nevarungu iwayo."

The First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe, pledged to buy trucks for farmers in Mutoko for the easy transportation of their produce to the market.

Retired General Solomon Mujuru, Mashonaland East Governor Cde Ray Kaukonde, Cde Elliot Manyika and other senior party officials attended the rally.

Govt to screen local observers

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT yesterday said it would screen local observers for the presidential run-off to ensure the electoral process is not compromised.

Addressing journalists in Harare, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa said local observers who were extensions of foreign interests would not be allowed to observe the elections.

Cde Chinamasa said Government had ample evidence that some local observers who participated in the March 29 elections influenced the electoral process.

"We have evidence that some of the observers went and stayed in the polling stations corrupting election officials, the situation we witnessed in the tampering with V11 forms," said Cde Chinamasa.

"We are going to assess the status in respect to their independence and neutrality. We are going to invite those with no pre-conceived ideas about the outcome of the elections."

Cde Chinamasa said local observers with political inclinations were not qualified for the task and should seek accreditation as polling agents.

Observers, he said, should have open mind in respect of reality not the figment of their own imagination.

Cde Chinamasa said the ministry had received in excess of over 50 000 applications from several local non-governmental organisations seeking to observe the elections.

But the ministry could not handle such a huge number and asked them to reduce the applications to 10 000.

He said in the March elections there were 1 958 polling stations nationwide and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was expected to have a similar number for the run-off.

"Given the number of 50 000 applications, it is clear our electoral system cannot accommodate this number without disturbing the smooth operation of the process to handle the situation.

"We have asked them to scale down their representatives so that we end up with a number our system can cope with," he said.

Cde Chinamasa also noted with concern the escalating acts of politically motivated violence instigated by

suspected MDC-T hooligans in the rural.

He said the attacks that were committed in various forms such as common assault, murder, arson and malicious injury to property were targeted at Zanu-PF members, particularly the war veterans.

"MDC thugs and hooligans are being bussed from urban areas to commit acts of violence in rural areas and their major targets being Zanu-PF strongholds.

State lifts ban on some NGOs

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has lifted the suspension of field operations for non-governmental organisations running supplementary feeding schemes and those involved in Aids-related issues.

Last week, the Government suspended field operations of all NGOs to vet their activities amid suspicion that most of them were dabbling in politics.

In a circular sent to the NGOs last Friday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Acting Secretary Mr Sydney Mhishi said supplementary feeding and anti-retroviral drug rollout did not entail community mobilisation hence could not be affected by the suspension.

"The suspension does not prohibit those on ARV therapy and those benefiting from home-based care programmes to continue accessing drugs and therapeutic feeding from clinics and hospitals.

"Supplementary feeding is a community-based programme which does not entail community mobilisation by NGOs, hence it falls outside those affected by the suspension," said Mr Mhishi.

The circular was sent after Government met with civil society in Harare last Thursday seeking clarification on the definition of field operations, interpretation of suspension, reasons for suspension and duration of the suspension.

Mr Mhishi said the NGOs had not been necessarily banned or de-registered but were only suspended pending investigations.

He said the NGOs were suspended to allow for investigations but head offices have not been affected.

"Since suspension does not imply banning operations at head offices, regional and district offices are not affected, except field operations," Mr Mhishi said.

On the position of churches, he said no church was registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act, therefore in terms of the suspension, churches were not affected.

Other suspended NGOs would be allowed to resume normal operations as soon as investigations were complete.

Contacted for comment, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations communi-cations manager Mr Fambai Ngirande welcomed the lifting of the suspension and hoped this would be extended to all NGOs.

He said while HIV and Aids organisations had been cleared to resume operations, people living with HIV and Aids did not just need ARVs but a lot more support including food.

Zimbabwe has more than 400 NGOs involved in HIV and Aids-related work.

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