Friday, July 18, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Fertilizer Firms Holding Us to Ransom, Says Farmers

Fertilizer firms holding us to ransom, say farmers

Herald Reporter

FARMERS’ organisations yesterday express-ed outrage at the failure by fertilizer companies to fulfil their pleage to produce the commodity in time for the forthcoming summer cropping season despite being allocated US$10 million by the central bank.

The farmers said the failure to produce the required fertilizer on time was tantamount to aiding the illegal sanctions against the country.

The farmers said the continual shifting of positions by the fertilizer producers was affecting national planning and efforts to increase agricultural production and ensure food security.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union vice president Cde Edward Raradza said the fertilizer industry was holding the country to ransom while blame was being heaped on the Gover-nment.

"ZFU strongly supports President Mugabe as there is no reason why the companies cannot produce when they are receiving foreign currency allocations from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"By not producing they are sabotaging the country and aiding the illegal sanctions preferred on Zimbabwe by its enemies. If that is the case, then there is no reason why they should be treated with kid gloves. For them it’s time to repent. They have failed farmers before and the country cannot allow this to happen again," he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wilson Nyabonda said the stance taken by President Mugabe would help weed out companies and individuals working against the indigenous empowerment drive.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers’ Association president Mr Wilfanos Mashingaidze said he was impressed with the urgency that President Mugabe had put on the need to secure farming inputs.

"The companies should know they are businesses to service the country and its people," he said.

All set for Gwanda agric show

Beitbridge Bureau

PREPARATIONS for the Gwanda Agricultural Show, scheduled to run from July 31 to August 3, are at an advanced stage, organisers have said.

Gwanda Show Society president Mr Misheck Ndlovu yesterday said 48 exhibitors had so far confirmed their participation with some already putting final touches to their stands while others were still making enquiries.

"We expect the show to be a bigger event this year as compared to last year when we had 45 exhibitors.

"Several exhibitors from outside the country have also been making enquiries and we expect quite a number of them to take up some of the stands.

"In terms of logistical preparations, we have covered a lot of ground and we are calling on all new farmers to participate in the event.

"This is an opportunity for them to seriously market their wares and compete with traditional players in various fields.

"Participating in such big events gives them an opportunity to learn and it is a good way of encouragement. Their turn-up has been very low in previous years," said Mr Ndlovu.

He also called on members of the public to come in their numbers, saying a lot of entertainment activities had been lined up for the event.

Mr Ndlovu said this year’s theme was "Sustainable Utilisation of Natural Resources for Improved Livelihood".

"We want our communities to make effective use of natural resources in their areas in order to sustain themselves and champion development," said Mr Ndlovu.

Last year, the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Abednico Ncube, officially opened the show.

Mr Ndlovu could, however, not disclose this year’s guest of honour.

Pressure mounts on Tsvangirai

Herald Reporter-Sapa-AFP

Pressure yesterday mounted on MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to commit himself to the ongoing inter-party talks following his last-minute decision to withhold his signature from a Memorandum of Understanding setting the agenda for dialogue between his party, Zanu-PF and the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction.

The First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe, yesterday said Tsvangirai had proved beyond all doubt that he was serving the wishes of the West.

Addressing thousands of people at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu, where she donated agricultural machinery and food hampers, Amai Mugabe said Tsvangirai should be ashamed of being an unrepentant puppet of the country’s erstwhile colonisers.

She reminded Tsvangirai that the talks were a result of the ruling party’s determination to resolve the country’s problems.

Traditional leaders and churches urged Tsvangirai to commit himself fully to dialogue saying this was the only way the current challenges could be addressed.

"The refusal by Tsvangirai to sign the MoU is a sad development in our country. It is unpatriotic and ‘un-African’. By not committing himself, it means he wants to see the suffering of our people go unabated. Nyika vanhu, zvino kana vakafa nenzara unozovatonga sei?" said President of the Chiefs’ Council Chief Fortune Charumbira.

"Pachivanhu chedu, chero parufu chaipo vanhu vanotaurirana even if emotions are high. Talking is an element of adequate emotional intelligence."

Chairperson of the Heads of Christian Denominations, Bishop Goodwill Shana, urged politicians across the political divide to put self-interests aside.

"Our appeal to politicians is that we need solutions to our situation urgently. Things are not looking good for the people and there is need to put aside our narrow interests," he said.

The Mutambara-led MDC faction urged negotiators in the inter-party dialogue to have faith in South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is facilitating the inter-party talks.

President Mugabe, Mutambara and Tsvangirai were expected to sign the MoU in Harare on Wednesday.

In an interview yesterday, the spokesperson for the Mutambara-led MDC faction Edwin Mushoriwa urged negotiators to have faith in President Mbeki.

"There is no option to the Zimbabwean crisis besides dialogue. We remain hopeful that reason will prevail and all political parties would commit themselves to the talks," he said.

"Our position is that the facilitator is not the person who makes things happen. We have no problems with President Mbeki. A mediator is different from an arbitrator. President Mbeki is just a facilitator, and solutions should come from Zimbabweans themselves. We should continue with the negotiations being facilitated by South Africa."

Mushoriwa was hopeful the MoU would soon be signed to pave the way for fully-fledged talks.

Political analyst Dr Tafataona Mahoso said after winning the June 27 presidential election run-off, Cde Mugabe should appoint a new Cabinet.

"People are waiting for him (President Mugabe) to appoint a new Cabinet. If he (Tsvangirai) does not want to sign, from the position of the people as reflected on June 27, he can get lost in the Dutch embassy."

Tsholotsho MP-elect Jonathan Moyo was quoted on online new agencies condemning the opposition leader for continuously shifting goalposts.

Moyo said Tsvangirai’s MDC "keeps jumping around, shifting the terms of the preconditions for talks".

"Today it’s this condition that must be met, tomorrow it’s something else," Moyo said.

"They are trying their level best to defeat the progress of mediation so that Britain will say ‘Look, no mediation . . . so what? Let’s use sanctions’!"

Moyo accused British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of trying to frustrate President Mbeki’s mediation thereby destroying the Sadc-initiated dialogue and have a basis to impose more sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"Brown appears so convinced that (President) Mbeki will fail and that leads me to believe he will use Tsvangirai to scuttle the mediation. There is enough evidence already that Tsvangirai’s group is not co-operating. Britain is angry with (President) Mbeki also, they want him to have egg on his face. It is clear the British strategy is to go back to the UN via the road of failed mediation, and people must wise up to this challenge. People must understand where Tsvangirai’s instructions are coming from."

In comments to the Star newspaper in Johannesburg, Tsvangirai confirmed he had not yet put his signature to an agreement but wanted to wait until African Union Commission chairman Mr Jean Ping met President Mbeki in Pretoria today.

"It is not that we are refusing to sign, but that the processes need to be tightened," he said.

Tsvangirai has been pushing for greater involvement from the AU, but South Africa this week said the issue of an additional mediator was fake and a media creation.

"It is a fake issue . . . I don’t know of any formal position on this, except in the media," South African Deputy Foreign Minister Mr Aziz Pahad told a Press briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday.

He was speaking soon after Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions had already met on Monday and agreed on the MoU.

Mr Pahad there had been no indication — to his knowledge — that an additional mediator was needed.

An additional mediator was diverting from the fundamental issue that talks were ongoing.

"I don’t believe that any new body . . . simply to be sitting there is what is required."

Mr Pahad said he had been given no proof to substantiate claims that an additional mediator was needed, allegedly because President Mbeki was taking sides.

He said earlier reports that Mr Ping was arriving in SA for an "urgent meeting" were not true.

"There is no emergency. If there was an emergency Ping would have been here last week."

President Mbeki will meet with Mr Ping today. However, this is part of a constant briefing to liaise on any progress made in talks to resolve the Zimbabwe issue, said Mr Pahad.

On Tuesday South Africa described as "unacceptable" suggestions by a US ambassador at the United Nations that President Mbeki was "out of touch" regarding Zimbabwe’s issue.

"The extraordinary and unacceptable statements made will be taken up through diplomatic channels," Mr Pahad said.

"A British representative said South African mediation efforts had come to nought and we have achieved nothing," he added.

"The US representative made remarks about Russia not being a worthy member of the G8 and suggested that President Thabo Mbeki is out of touch with his own country.

"These are not acceptable statements and we will take it up with those governments."

The United States last Friday launched a scathing attack on President Mbeki after Pretoria’s UN envoy voted against more sanctions against Zimbabwe at the United Nations Security Council.

"We are surprised by what appears as (President) Mbeki appearing to protect (President) Mugabe," US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad said.

"I think he (President Mbeki) is out of touch with the trends inside his own country." — Herald Reporter-Sapa-AFP.

Sadc land case: Zim lawyers walk out

Herald Reporter

LAWYERS representing the Government of Zimbabwe at the Sadc Tribunal Court in Namibia in the case in which white former commercial farmers are challenging the compulsory acquisition of land for resettlement yesterday walked out of court protesting against the manner in which the proceedings were being conducted.

What irked the lawyers was the reactivation of the contempt of court order against the Government of Zimbabwe that was thrown out on Wednesday by the tribunal.

The former farmers, claiming that the Government of Zimbabwe was not complying with an interim order to allow them to return to their farms granted last year, brought about the charge.

According to one of the lawyers, Advocate Martin Dinha, the tribunal reactivated the application of contempt of court that was heard after they had walked out.

"We sought to have more evidence heard from the security organs and Zanu-PF to prove that the Government of Zimbabwe was not in contempt of court, but the tribunal denied justice to the Government of Zimbabwe. They did not allow for evidence to be led from the relevant Government organs," he said.

Adv Dinha said they also wanted to prove that one Gift Moyo and other people in Mashonaland West were not assigned by the Government and that they had since been arrested for acts of violence, theft, vandalism and assault.

"We cannot legitimise the kangaroo process where rules of the court are not properly applied and manifest unfairness against our Government and its security organs by a Sadc tribunal funded by the European Union, the US and the British government," he said.

Adv Dinha said the Sadc Tribunal allowed itself to be an "instrument" of the so-called regime change agenda and to injure the sovereign interests of Zimbabwe.

He said the purpose of the contempt of court case was to have the matter referred to the Sadc summit and have the United Nations impose more sanctions on Harare.

"We will defend the interests of our country and we will not allow the Sadc Tribunal to be a football pitch where US and British interests become the soccer match," Adv Dinha.

On Wednesday, the tribunal was forced to throw out the application following a strenuous protest by the lawyers representing the 345 beneficiaries of the land reform programme.

The lawyers had insisted that the intervener application filed by the beneficiaries should be heard first before any inquiry into the alleged contempt of court by the Government of Zimbabwe.

The 345 resettled farmers who were affected by the interim order granted to white former commercial farmers by the Sadc Tribunal filed a substantive intervener application with the regional tribunal last month.

This was after 77 other white farmers had filed intervener applications that have now been consolidated against the Government to lend weight to the case brought by Michael Campbell to the tribunal.

The case opened in October last year and Campbell, the former owner of Mount Camel Farm in Chegutu, successfully obtained an interdict order blocking Government from acquiring his farm.

The tribunal on Wednesday deferred the hearing of the intervener application to a date yet to be set in September, but it heard the main application in circumstances which legal experts have described as strange and unprocedural.

The setting down of the intervener application for hearing in September means the main case is supposed to be determined after the interlocutory application.

The tribunal cannot determine the main case unless it hears the arguments and reserve its ruling — until it hears arguments from the intervener before making a proper decision.

In their application, the beneficiaries are arguing that they have a right to be heard in accordance with principles of natural justice on a matter that affects their peaceful and
lawful occupation of the farms allocated to them.

On the other hand, the farmers claim that Section 16B of the country’s constitution constitutes a breach of the rule of law and human rights and violates provisions of the Sadc Treaty.

The section states that in the event that the Minister of Lands compulsorily acquires land, the decision to acquire that land cannot be challenged in court.

Advocate Adrian de Bourbon and Advocate Jeremy Guantlet are representing the white farmers while the Deputy Attorney-General (Civil Division) Adv Prince Machaya assisted by the Director (Civil Division) Mrs Fatima Maxwell and Adv Dinha is representing the Government of Zimbabwe.

Parties’ alliance slams sanctions

Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Organisation of Opposition Political Parties, an alliance of small political parties, has slammed the imposition of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying foreigners should not be allowed to meddle in the internal affairs of the country.

Speaking at the official launch of the alliance, ZOOPP president Mr Gift Gotora said sanctions hurt ordinary persons and not the intended targets, adding that they should never be used as a tool to settle any differences.

"ZOOPP does not agree that our economic problems can be solved by imposing sanctions of any size to the country. If anything, the effect of sanctions, targeted or not, tends to hurt most of the innocent than the intended targets, because the intended targets are part and parcel of the nation and are thus difficult to target without bruising the innocent," said Mr Gotora while addressing journalists in the capital.

"It is, therefore, the intention of ZOOPP to seek to enlighten the international world on the consequences of sanctions to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. Ever since the introduction of sanctions against Zimbabwe, the standard of living of the majority has gone from worse to worst which in our honest view is not the intended result of these sanctions."

The alliance’s secretary for foreign affairs, Reverend Gerald Mubaiwa, denounced foreign interference and castigated Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga for his remarks deriding Zimbabwean authorities.

"We do not want imposed democracy. External forces should not determine who is going to rule Zimbabwe," said Rev Mubaiwa, who is the leader of the Multi-Racial Christian Democracy.

Turning to talks between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, Mr Gotora said there was need for the process to be all-inclusive.

"As a group, we want to participate in the current and any future talks. We believe these talks should not be partisan, but national. We believe we are partners with Government in tackling national issues," he said.

Political parties that constitute ZOOPP include Zanu Ndonga, Patriotic Union of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe People’s Progress Democratic Party and Zapu-FP. None of them has representation in Parliament.

Mr Gotora said ZOOPP was formed with the aim of inculcating a culture of tolerance among rival political parties.

Remain resilient in face of sanctions, Zim urged

Masvingo Bureau

THE First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe yesterday urged Zimbabweans to remain resilient in the face of sanctions saying the progeny was going to enjoy the fruits of steadfastness in the face of Anglo-American neo-imperial machinations.

Addressing thousands of people at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu before handing out farm equipment and food, the First Lady lamented the existence of deep-seated factionalism in Zanu-PF, which she said almost cost the country dearly in the March 29 harmonised elections.

"We should always be united as a nation despite the economic hardships being caused by illegal sanctions imposed on the country.

"There should not be any factionalism in Zanu-PF. Factionalism must end, it can not be allowed to continue because it would affect us especially when we are preparing for elections," she said.

Amai Mugabe said Zanu-PF would not be able to function properly when there is factionalism in the party adding that the party leadership should work against it.

She, however, said Zimbabweans were lucky that they finally got an opportunity to make amends resulting in President Mugabe emphatically winning the June 27 run-off.

Amai Mugabe later donated 100 tractors, 1 000 scotchcarts, 1 000 ploughs, 3 000 chains and various other farming equipment and implements such as boom sprayers, disc harrows, two grinding mills and two generators for the province.

She also donated 10 tonnes of maize-meal and food hampers to under-privileged members of society among them orphans and the disabled before commissioning some of the basic commodities to be provided to the rural areas under the Bacossi to the people programme.

Present at Mupandawana were top Government and Zanu-PF officials including Masvingo Provincial Governor and Resident Minister, Cde Willard Chiwewe, Politburo member Retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe and both winning and losing Zanu-PF candidates in the March 29 harmonised elections.

Minister praises Chinese doctors

Herald Reporter

HEALTH and Child Welfare Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa yesterday met Chinese specialist doctors who are on a two-year working visit to Zimbabwe under a bilateral agreement between the two governments.

The eight specialists have been working in the country since April this year.

Dr Parirenyatwa expressed satisfaction with the work that the medical team has done so far and hailed the long and cordial relations that exist between the two countries.

"It is gratifying to note that China is one of the few countries that still provide medical specialists to Zimbabwe. I have heard that you are working very well.

"We appreciate that you have come to assist and should get back to us if you encounter any problems during your stay here and at work," Dr Parirenyatwa said.

The team includes orthopedic surgeons, anaesthetists and radiologists.

Three of the doctors have been deployed to Harare Central Hospital, another three at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo while the remainder are at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

The Chinese government is paying the doctors’ salaries and allowances with the Govern-ment providing accommodation.

Dr Parirenyatwa said he has already engaged and agreed with his Chinese counterpart to send traditional medicine specialists to Zimbabwe to look at traditional medicine and make recommendations. "We have a lot of Chinese traditional medicine here and we are also working at improving our own," Dr Parirenyatwa said. Team co-ordinator of the Chinese doctors Mr Dingyue Hu assured the minister they would perform their duties to the best of their abilities and added that they had not encountered major problems so far.

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