Thursday, July 03, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: AU Backs SADC-led Dialogue; Thanks for Voting Against Imperialism, Says Mujuru; Western Sanctions Doomed

AU backs Sadc-led dialogue

From Itai Musengeyi in Cairo, Egypt

AFRICAN Union leaders on Tuesday adopted a Sadc-initiated resolution encouraging the continuation of dialogue between Government and the opposition MDC-T in the post-presidential election run-off period following what sources described as tough debate.

According to the sources, Angola — which chairs the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security — introduced the resolution at the start of the discussion of the Zimbabwean issue in a closed session and was supported by Ethiopia, Uganda, The Gambia, Swaziland, Namibia and Senegal.

"Angola introduced the resolution calling on, among other things, for the AU to support the Sadc initiative and encourage the parties (Zanu-PF and MDC-T) to engage in talks and consider an all-inclusive government," a source who attended the closed session said.

The source said after the introduction of the resolution, President Mugabe gave a report to the summit of the situation in Zimbabwe chronicling South African President Thabo Mbeki-brokered talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC-T and the achievements made so far in the dialogue.

Cde Mugabe said President Mbeki’s mediation had resulted in amendments to key laws such as POSA and AIPPA, electoral laws and a constitutional amendment jointly sponsored by Zanu-PF and the MDC-T.

"He told the summit that these were all achievements made through the facilitation of President Mbeki and pointed out that the dialogue continued even up to the March 29 harmonised elections," the source said.

The general feeling during the debate was that Zimbabweans should be allowed to solve their own problems and that Sadc, which had done well in facilitating dialogue between the major parties, should be allowed to continue with the mediation.

Although some countries such as Botswana, Liberia, Nigeria and Burundi were against the resolution, the group that supported the resolution argued strongly in favour of the Sadc-proposed resolution and backed the Zimbabwean Government.

The group that supported the Sadc resolution argued that Mr Mbeki should be allowed to continue his mediation and should be the only one to request for the inclusion of more people in the mediation if necessary.

"Following the tough debate the resolution was adopted as proposed," said the source.

The MDC-T and its Western backers were pushing for the inclusion of other mediators from the AU, presumably those who could influence the process since President Mbeki has steadfastly refused to be told how to handle the Zimbabwean issue.

President Mbeki has stood his ground, particularly against the West who have their own agenda of effecting regime change and reversing the gains of the liberation struggle, notably the land reform programme.

President Mugabe flew from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo after the summit on Tuesday night en-route to Harare.

MDC’s push for inclusion of other mediators outside Sadc has been seen as a ploy to undermine unity in the regional bloc as desired by the British and American governments in their rabid quest for an illegal regime change agenda.

The Government of Zimbabwe has always reiterated its commitment to Sadc-brokered talks and strongly believes that Sadc is the way.

AU Observer’s body repatriated

Herald Reporter

THE body of the secretariat member of the African Union Observer Mission, Professor Brehanu Abebe, who collapsed and died in Harare on Monday, was yesterday repatriated to Ethiopia.

A spokesperson for the Ethiopian Embassy said the body was flown to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"The body was flown to Ethiopia today (yesterday) for burial but the cause of the death is not yet known," she said.

Prof Abebe, from Ethiopia’s civil society, collapsed at Holiday Inn and was rushed to the Avenues Clinic where he died on arrival.

Head of the AU Observer Mission and former President of Sierra Leone Mr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah expressed shock at the death.

The observer mission was composed of Pan-African Parliament legislators, senior officials of election management bodies, prominent individuals and members of the civil society organisations drawn from various African countries.

West’s sanctions, regime change bid doomed: Ambassador

Herald Reporter

ATTEMPTS by the West to use the United Nations to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe are doomed to fail as the world body has no mandate to subvert internal constitutional processes, the country’s permanent representative to the organisation has said.

Cde Boniface Chidyausiku said the US and its allies were presently trying to coerce the United Nations Security Council to impose a sanctions regime on Zimbabwe but these efforts would not succeed.

"Zimbabwe complied with its Constitution during the recent election period and no one has the right to reverse that.

"We have been lobbying members of the Security Council telling them that Zimbabwe is not a threat to regional or international peace and stability and therefore should not be a Council issue," Cde Chidyausiku said.

He likened the current onslaught on Zimbabwe to the one that preceded the invasion of Iraq by US President George Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair after they had lied that the late Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"After invading Iraq it was found that they had lied to everyone. This is exactly what they are doing to Zimbabwe right now.

"We are not a threat to anyone, but the West is waging a war of attrition and they want to use the offices of the UN to effect regime change," Ambassador Chidyausiku said.

Zimbabwe’s Mission in New York had also been briefing Security Council members on the tranquillity prevailing in the country and President Mugabe’s overtures to all Zimbabweans on the way forward for the nation.

"We have exposed Morgan Tsvangirai’s flight to the Dutch Embassy as a ploy to ratchet up international condemnation of Zimbabwe and I can assure the nation that we are fighting from all angles and deploying all the necessary resources to ensure that no UN sanctions are placed on the country."

Ambassador Chidyausiku said Zimbabwe had a number of confirmed allies in the Security Council who had made it clear that they, too, will oppose any attempt to institute sanctions.

These included China and Russia, who are permanent members who can therefore veto any decisions, as well as South Africa, Libya, Indonesia and Vietnam, the current president of the powerful organ.

"Just the other week, Condoleezza Rice was in China trying to get them to support sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"Beijing subsequently issued a statement that says the Chinese will support dialogue among Zimbabweans because it is only the people of this country who can find their own solutions.

"They also made it clear that they support Sadc’s mediation and that Zimbabwe does not constitute a threat to regional or international peace and security," he said.

Cde Chidyausiku said most of the countries in the Security Council have indicated that they would take their cue from Africa’s position so in this regard the outcome of the African Union Summit was key.

Already, China has said it supports efforts taken by the African Union and Sadc in trying to resolve the situation in Zimbabwe.

Chinese special envoy Liu Guijin indicated on Tuesday that the Chinese government supported a resolution brokered by Sadc through President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

Liu, China’s Special Envoy on African Affairs, made the remarks at a Press conference on the sidelines of the high-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council, which opened on Monday.

"We hope that the stakeholders in Zimbabwe could work together and make further efforts to stabilise the situation there," Liu said. "That is of most importance.

"We hope that the situation there in Zimbabwe could be addressed and the relevant stakeholders . . . with the assistance of the regional countries of Sadc and the African Union,’’ he said.

Govt introduces bio-fuels policy

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has come up with a new policy measure to speed up the re-introduction of biofuels to cushion the country against the escalating oil prices, save foreign currency and adhere to cleaner fuels, Energy and Power Development Minister Cde Mike Nyambuya has said.

Addressing a Press conference on measures being put in place by Government to alleviate energy challenges bedevilling the country, Minister Nyambuya said the policy instructs all oil companies to carry out their business activities within the confines of this policy.

"One of the projects under the bio-fuels programme is the resuscitation of petrol-ethanol blending. The plant has been commissioned and production of fuel-grade ethanol has already started.

"As Government, we believe that we can achieve significant self sufficiency with time.

"Running parallel to this petrol-ethanol blending project is the Jatropha bio-diesel project," he said.

Government is currently working on promoting the growing of Jatropha curcas to create feedstock to produce at least 100 million of bio-diesel by 2010 if we are to achieve our 10 percent import substitution in the sector.

He said a proper implementation of the bio-fuels policy would increase the country’s energy security, reduce net national fuel imports, provide employment, curb pollution and help reduce carbon emissions in Zimbabwe.

Blending ratios had been set at 10 percent meaning for every 90 litres of petrol, 10 litres of ethanol will be added — a rate characteristics of the blended petrol are same with those of unblended petrol.

Through blending fuel ignition combustion levels can be increased.

Thank you for defeating imperialism, voters told

Herald Reporter

ACTING President Cde Joice Mujuru yesterday said Zimbabweans had — by voting for President Mugabe in the presidential run-off — sent a strong message to the agents of regime change that they wanted to defend their independence, sovereignty, land and defeat imperialism.

Addressing mourners at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare during the burial of Zimbabwe’s late ambassador to Sudan, Cde Lloyd Gundu, the Acting President said voting for the opposition would have meant "selling our birthright and our heritage through the stroke of a pen".

Cde Gundu passed away on June 27 when Zimbabweans voted wisely and gave Cde Mugabe another deserved five-year term.

"We voted wisely. We defended our independence, our sovereignty and our land. We defeated imperialism.

"It was not to be and I am sure I speak for him (Cde Gundu) and other heroes buried here and elsewhere, that we did them proud. We did not betray them by selling our country," she said.

The nation, she added, voted for total independence, total sovereignty, thus putting to shame the agents of regime change who had invested heavily in man and resources to achieve that.

Cde Mujuru said it was time to close ranks and focus on rebuilding the nation because Zimbabweans were a peace-loving people.

"This is the time to close ranks and focus on rebuilding our nation; reviving the economy, all of us putting our hands to the plough and ensuring greater productivity on the land, in the mines, in industry and in all our stations in life," she said.

In a number of regrettable incidences, she said lives were lost, people injured and property destroyed through uncalled for acts of arson.

"Ngativei vanhu vane hunhu, ubuntu, vanotya kuuraya for the sake of kuuraya," she said.

Cde Mujuru chronicled Cde Gundu’s heroic deeds beginning with his challenging of repressive colonial laws while at Bernard Mizeki Mission in Marondera, leading to his expulsion at the tender age of 13.

She described Cde Gundu as an indefatigable, brave freedom fighter who was among the first group of cadres to receive military training in China alongside Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the late Cdes Felix Santana, Robert Garachani, Phebion Shoniwa and John Chigaba.

"He used his newly-acquired military skills to fight the enemy here in Zimbabwe. Cde Gundu’s guerrilla exploits in Mutare, Kwekwe and Harare put him on the most-wanted list of freedom fighters targeted by the colonial regime’s security agents," she said.

Cde Gundu was inevitably arrested in March 1964 and sentenced to death for blowing up the offices of the African Daily News, the propaganda tool of the settler regime.

The sentence was later commuted to life in prison until his release on April 16 1980.

Even in jail, he remained an active member of the liberation movements where he shared a cell with the likes of Minister of Home Affairs Cde Kembo Mohadi and Cde Mnangagwa.

Because of his dedication to duty, Cde Gundu rose through the ranks to the post of director in the President’s Office.

"He was an untiring, hardworking intelligence officer, humble, unassuming, affable, pleasant and loyal to the State and his organisation," she said.

Before his deployment to Sudan, Cde Gundu was Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Yugoslavia. She said in both stations, Cde Gundu minded Zimbabwe’s interests diligently.

The Acting President urged other ambassadors and civil servants to emulate Cde Gundu in putting the interests of Zimbabwe first to the extent of laying down their lives to ensure that Zimbabwe, our motherland, is free from the shackles of white colonialism.

"These are the values of the liberation struggle that we must emulate in order to forge ahead and defend our heritage," she said.

Govt donates tractors to irrigation schemes

Masvingo Bureau

GOVERNMENT has donated a tractor each to eight irrigation schemes in Masvingo to complement the ongoing drive to improve food security in the drought-prone province.

The tractors were handed over by Vice President Joice Mujuru during a recent tour of Masvingo to drum up support for President Mugabe ahead of the June 27 Presidential run-off which the President has since convincingly won.

Masvingo provincial administrator Mr Felix Chikovo yesterday hailed the donation, saying the tractors would help unlock the province’s irrigation potential.

"We hope the donation would stimulate a lot of agricultural activity at the schemes that have benefited in line with Masvingo’s goal and plan to fully utilise its irrigation potential that was being hampered by shortage of equipment such as tractors.

"We are very grateful to the Vice President (Cde Mujuru) and the Government at large because the province has got an ongoing drive to make sure that we achieve food security at household level.

"Considering the rainfall that we receive, irrigation is the only way we can achieve that," said Cde Chikovo.

The irrigation schemes which received the tractors are Smilingvale and Chipisa schemes in Gutu, Fuve-Panganai and Mabvute in Zaka, Chilonga and Tshovani in Chiredzi, Mushandi-ke in Masvingo and Makonese in Chivi.

Cde Chikovo said the tractors were given to individual farmers who would keep them on behalf of other plot-holders at the respective irrigation schemes.

He said the donation of the tractors dovetailed with Masvingo’s drive to harness its irrigation potential to end chronic food shortages largely blamed on erratic rains every year.

The Masvingo provincial leadership has since drawn up a provincial irrigation development masterplan to identify and develop potential schemes.

At least 2 500 hectares of additional irrigation land are envisaged to be developed in the province this year as implementation of the master plan gathers steam.

Two years ago, the provincial leadership formed the Masvingo Provincial Irrigation Development Committee at the behest of President Mugabe, who had expressed dismay at food shortages in the province when there was a lot of untapped and underutilised water in dams dotted around Masvingo.

President Mugabe is the patron of the committee, while Masvingo Governor Cde Willard Chiwewe is the co-ordinator.

‘Opposition should recognise President’

Herald Reporters

A SENIOR MDC member yesterday said the opposition should unreservedly recognise President Mugabe as the constitutionally-elected Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces if meaningful political dialogue is to be initiated.

Mr Gabriel Chaibva’s comments came as the MDC-T top leadership — Morgan Tsvangirai and his secretary-general Tendai Biti — have issued contradictory statements regarding their party’s position on talks with Zanu-PF.

While Tsvangirai and Biti want the presidential run-off result to be considered null and void, Mr Chaibva said it was time the opposition leadership accepted the reality that President Mugabe is the Head of State.

"Unless Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai are prepared to approach President Mugabe, shake his hand and say ‘Mr President’, we will not move forward and there can be no talks," said Mr Chaibva.

On his suspension as MDC spokesperson for attending President Mugabe’s inauguration on Sunday, Mr Chaibva said he had no regrets over the suspension because in the long term what he did was the right thing.

"In 2002, we said we would not recognise President Mugabe’s legitimacy and where did that get us? We cannot keep on engaging in actions that do not take the nation forward. It is time to think of the wishes of the people," he said.

He said there was a serious lack of visionary leadership, strategy, clear ideological orientation regarding the land issue and lack of effective organisational capacity.

"We have to be frank with ourselves and admit our failures. But, more importantly, we have to be honest with ourselves and do what is expected of us as leaders.

"Political confrontation and polarisation has not helped and we need to now sit down and move forward," Mr Chaibva said.

Mr Chaibva said the opposition had under-estimated Zanu-PF and overestimated itself hence the continued friction that could lead to its total collapse.

"We risk a complete and total rejection of the people. Let’s be frank, even if the African Union was to come and organise another election you will be surprised to find most people would vote for President Mugabe. So, our politics should be relevant to the people and that is why we have to talk and chart a new way forward," he said.

He urged the opposition leadership not to be foolish because the people would leave them behind as they moved forward saying the people do not vote for change in the context of getting a new president.

"They do it in the context of socio-economic change. And as leaders we must be at the forefront of working for that change. We should forget personal ambitions and put the people first," he said.

Mr Chaibva added that as a senior in the MDC he was aware of foreign influence in opposition politics, which needed to be cast aside to create ground for dialogue.

"Some people will say it is not true but I will tell you it is there and it was quite influential in perpetuating disunity in the opposition.

"When the MDC split, we made it clear that we were for land redistribution. We were nationalist and pan-African.

"But the providers of capital see this as a threat to their permanent economic interests in Zimbabwe. That is why just before the elections the two MDCs failed to unite.

"The Americans and the Germans produced a report telling Tsvangirai that he would win 85 percent of the vote on March 29 and that he didn’t need the support of Mutambara. It’s ironic really that they thought they would get 85 percent."

Mr Chaibva reiterated that Zimbabweans should not lose this opportunity for dialogue and national reconciliation, pointing out that failure to do so could lead to dire consequences for the opposition.

"In 1992, Angola held elections between President Eduardo dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi and it ended in a run-off.

"Savimbi decided to listen to his foreign backers and boycotted the poll and the country descended into chaos that ended in his own death resulting in a weakened Unita going back to the negotiating table in 2002," he explained.

Mr Chaibva, who urged Zimbabweans to be wary of external influences in local politics, said these were dangerous similarities.

He said these examples were encouraging analogies to draw from African history and Zimbabwe’s own history.

"Who would have thought that in 1980 people like Ken Flower (head of CIO under Ian Smith) and General Peter Walls would be incorporated in the administration?"

He said his stance was not meant to have him included in President Mugabe’s next Government but that he was merely doing so for the sake of the country.

Mr Chaibva yesterday attended the burial of former Zimbabwean ambassador to Sudan Cde Lloyd Gundu at Heroes’ Acre in Harare.

There are serious rifts within MDC-T where Tsvangirai is willing to negotiate on set conditions while his secretary-general Biti has dismissed outright prospects for talks. This emerged yesterday after the two issued separate statements.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Tsvangirai said that his party was committed to a negotiated solution to the crisis the country is facing.

"We are not dismissing the question of talks but we are saying it cannot just be dialogue for the sake of dialogue; it has to be principled dialogue to find a solution to the crisis," he said.

Although he dismissed reports that there were talks currently taking place between Zanu-PF and his party, Tsvangirai said:

"Lessons are that at the end of the day, conflicts are resolved through negotiations."

The opposition leader said there was no substitute for sitting down to map the way forward, taking examples from conflicts that had taken place on the African continent. However, in his statement, Biti said the June 27 presidential run-off that was won by President Mugabe had "totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement".

"It is now the firm view of the MDC-T that those who claim they have got a mandate to govern should govern. Chitongaitione,’’ he said.

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