Monday, July 14, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Government Thanks China, Russia for UN Veto

Zim thanks China, Russia for UN veto

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT yesterday thanked Zimbabwe’s true and trusted friends for thwarting efforts by the West to impose more sanctions on the country through the United Nations Security Council last week.

In an interview yesterday, Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity Cde Bright Matonga hailed China and Russia for vetoing concerted efforts by Britain and the United States to victimise Zimbabwe.

He also thanked Libya, South Africa and Vietnam for their unreserved support for Zimbabwe.

"We are grateful to our all-weather friends, particularly China and Russia. We thank them wholeheartedly for their continued support and for the work they have done before, during and after independence. They continue to support us even during these difficult times," he said. "We are very grateful for their support.

"As Zimbabweans, we now need to work together as a united front. We have to put our house in order and be organised. This is the time for nation building."

Cde Matonga said it was important for Zimbabweans to put their differences aside and join hands for the development of the country.

"We have to work together as a nation. We must be united and disciplined. We do not need to take our friends for granted by always putting them in difficult circumstances as they might fail to defend us next time," he said.

Cde Matonga acknowledged the support the country was receiving from Sadc and the African Union but noted that some African countries were being compromised by the budgetary support they receive from the West.

He said there were no divisions in Sadc and the AU over Zimbabwe although the West had tried to use divide-and-rule tactics.

"The enemy has not rested. The enemy is very bitter, vindictive and racist. We should not relax and say we have defeated them. It may look as victory, but it is not. We did not want to be on the agenda. We have to focus on nation building," Cde Matonga said.

Moves in the Security Council to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe at the UN level failed on Friday when Russia and China, two of the 15-member body’s permanent members, vetoed the US draft resolution that could have widened the current illegal embargo against Zimbabwe to include an arms ban, among others.

The US, Britain, Italy, France, Panama, Croatia, Belgium, Costa Rica and Burkina Faso voted in favour of the sanctions while China, Russia, Libya, Vietnam and South Africa voted against. Indonesia abstained.

The negative vote of a single permanent member kills a resolution.

Russia condemned the move, saying it was an attempt to take the Security Council beyond its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.

It noted that such "illegitimate and dangerous attempts" could unbalance the whole UN system, adding that the problems in Zimbabwe could not be solved by the imposition of sanctions.

Stung by their failure, Britain and the US criticised Russia with America’s UN envoy saying Moscow’s veto cast doubt on its reliability as a G8 ally.

But Russia slammed the accusation as "unacceptable".

"Representatives of the United States and Britain have declared that our vote betrayed the G8 Tokyo summit accords on Zimbabwe and that this posed questions about Russia’s reliability as a partner in the G8," government spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement.

"We consider such statements unacceptable," he added.

In a separate statement, the Russian foreign ministry condemned violence but warned the proposed UN resolution would have set a "dangerous precedent" for interference in countries’ internal affairs.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said they would shift to the European Union to see what further action to take against Zimbabwe.

Zanu-PF supporters commended

Herald Reporter

ZANU-PF supporters in and around Harare have been applauded for voting overwhelmingly for President Mugabe during the June 27 presidential election run-off.

Addressing hundreds of ruling party supporters in Epworth last week, Harare Metropolitan Province Governor Cde David Karimanzira said the elections were as historical as those of 1980.

He said some of the people who had voted for MDC-T during the March 29 joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections had realised afterwards that the opposition was being used by Britain and its Western allies to effect illegal regime change in the country.

Cde Karimanzira said when voting, people should know who they would be voting for and not to sell the country to the former colonisers who still had a hidden agenda to occupy Zimbabwe.

"This is the reason why they form opposition political parties to be at the forefront for them so that they would benefit when it wins," he said.

Cde Karimanzira said now that the elections were over, it was time for people to unite and work together for the development of the country.

He said now that the land was in the hands of the people, it was time to move to the industries, some of which were owned by the British.

"As part of its ongoing empowerment initiative, Zanu-PF has put in place a bold legislative dispensation to ensure that Zimbabweans own at least 51 percent of strategic companies across the national economy. This programme is ready for implementation," he said.

Also last week, Zanu-PF Secretary for External Affairs Cde Kumbirai Kangai said land reform was irreversible and Zimbabweans should continue safeguarding the gains of the liberation struggle.

Addressing hundreds of ruling party supporters in Buhera at the reburial of the remains of a freedom fighter who was shot and killed by Rhodesian forces in Rushinga District, Mt Darwin, during the liberation struggle, Cde Kangai said Zimbabwe would never be a colony again.

Cde Silver Sebastian Mutomba, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Edson Chikwata, was killed in 1977 and buried in a mass grave.

He was a brother to the Member of the House of Assembly-elect for Buhera North Cde William Mutomba.

The reburial ceremony was done at his Mutomba homestead in Soro Village in Buhera.

We’re not pulling out, say SA firms

AFP-Herald Reporter

JOHANNESBURG-- South African firms are staying in Zimbabwe resisting calls for them to pull out, as they wait for a settlement that will see business surge.

The companies are hoping they will be in prime position to benefit from a future upturn.

The Zimbabwean economy has been weighed down by the Western-imposed illegal sanctions making operating difficult for both local and foreign companies.

Britain, the United States, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and Australia slapped an economic embargo on Zimbabwe because they are opposed to the land reform programme.

Of late, foreign companies — particularly British-owned ones— have come under increasing pressure from the Labour government in Britain to withdraw from Zimbabwe following President Mugabe’s victory in the June 27 presidential election run-off.

So far British retail chain Tesco has said it will no longer buy farm produce from Zimbabwe although others such as Barclays Bank have said they will not pull out while British Members of Parliament with investments in Zimbabwe are opposed to further sanctions against the country.

But analysts say the dozens of South African companies — ranging from mining giants and banks to tour operators — which are still hanging on are confident that things are bound to get better at some stage.

"I believe that the decision by companies to stay in Zimbabwe is more of a long-term business strategy than a humanitarian gesture. They are simply positioning themselves for an anticipated economic recovery," said Johan Rossouw, chief economist at Cape Town-based Vector Securities and Derivatives.

South Africa has traditionally been Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and, according to the Department of Trade and Industry in Pretoria, around 20 major companies and scores of smaller enterprises are still operating in Zimbabwe.

Among the biggest still toughing it out is Standard Bank, which trades under the name Stanbic in branches throughout Zimbabwe.

"Doing business is very difficult but we continue monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe and our business operations," Clive Tasker, chief executive of Standard Bank Africa, told AFP. "We have no intention of pulling out."

South Africa’s largest supermarket operator, Pick ‘n’ Pay, is also keeping its foot in the door through its 25 percent stake in Zimbabwe’s TM Supermarkets chain even though it has not received any dividends in the last four years.

"TM continues to trade under exceptionally difficult economic conditions with procurement being their biggest challenge," said a statement from Pick ‘n’ Pay. "We continue to support our colleagues and hope for political and economic stability in the near future."

As well as the high street giants, South African mining firms are still clinging on in Zimbabwe despite the ever growing problem of finding parts and coping with load-shedding.

The Johannesburg-based Impala Platinum, the biggest foreign investor in Zimbabwe through its subsidiary Zimplats, said it was working out how to circumvent some of the problems it had experienced and was hoping to increase production four-fold by 2010, according to The Sunday Times.

"We are in talks with neighbouring Mozambique to import electricity for our mining operations in Zimbabwe," a statement said.

Tour operators are still arranging holidays for thousands of foreigners to visit the country’s premier attraction, the Victoria Falls.

Tommy Edmund, chief executive of the Johannesburg-based Tourvest, said the Victoria Falls benefited from its location next to the Zambian border. "All supplies for the hotel are transported from Zambia, including food and fuel," he told AFP.

"That makes us least affected by the (economic situation). We have always been using the US dollar currency, so we did not feel the impact of the Zim dollar collapse."

However, most of the food being imported from Zambia is made in Zimbabwe and exported — sometimes through unscrupulous means — to neighbouring countries. — AFP-Herald Reporter.

‘More women in Zimbabwe access reproductive health care’

New Ziana

Zimbabwe has made great strides in championing the rights of women as well as improving reproductive health, an official with the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association has said.

Speaking at a family planning workshop, which coincided with commemorations for World Population Day on Friday, ZWLA director Ms Emilia Muchana said more women in Zimbabwe now had access to health care while gender equality had also improved over the years.

She urged stakeholders, particularly the private sector, to continue assisting Government to ensure it maintained and boosted its record on women rights and reproductive health.

"Zimbabwe’s legal framework on women rights and reproductive health is encouraging," she said.

"More and more women now have access to health services," she said, adding this was one of the most important basic human rights.

Ms Muchana said the National Family Planning Act, which led to the establishment of a National Family Planning Council, was evidence of Government’s efforts to provide access to reproductive health and the right for all people to be able to decide the number and timing of their children.

The Domestic Violence Act also showed the country’s commitment to the interests of women.

Meanwhile, Ms Muchana urged Government to improve implementation of the Termination of Pregnancy Act so as to allow women to terminate the pregnancy in cases such as rape.

"There is lot of bureaucracy in this process," she said, adding a number of women had since given birth to "unwanted kids" due to delays in granting them the go-ahead to terminate such pregnancies.

Termination had also been confused with abortion, which was religiously wrong.

The one-day workshop brought together women organisations, civic society, the private and public sector. — New Ziana.

Pakistan pledges continued support to Zim

Herald Reporter

Pakistan will stand by Zimbabwe in its challenging times and continue to render assistance in every way possible in an effort to cement the already cordial relations between the two countries.

Speaking at a function to mark the first anniversary of the Pakistan-Zimbabwe Friendship Association and inauguration of the association’s executive in Harare on Friday, Pakistani Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Rifat Iqbal said the formation of the friendship association was a symbol of continuing solidarity between the two countries.

She said the friendship between Pakistan and Zimbabwe dates back to the war of liberation during which Pakistan extended moral and material support to Zimbabwean freedom fighters.

"The establishment of the Pakistan-Zimbabwe Friendship Association is a step in the right direction and will contribute to the cementing of the relationship between our two countries," Mrs Iqbal said.

She said the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations marked by mutual respect and commonality of views on important issues.

"In the field of education and training, Pakistan continues to allocate scholarships and training programmes for capacity building to Zimbabwe in the spirit of South-to-South co-operation," Mrs Iqbal said.

The chairman of Pakistan-Zimbabwe Friendship Association Mr Munawer Husain Butt said Pakistan has over the years identified with Zimbabwe as both countries have suffered under the yoke of colonialism for many years, which denied their people the right to self-determination.

He said that despite the economic hardships in Zimbabwe, Pakistani investors continue to explore for investment opportunities in Zimbabwe.

The Minister of Policy Implementation — who is the patron of the Pakistan-Zimbabwe Friendship Association — Cde Webster Shamu said the support the Pakistani community continues to give to the country was a sign that they believe in the rights and freedom of the people of Zimbabwe.

He said Zimbabwe also respects the sovereignty of other countries and expressed Government’s commitment to ensuring the cordial relations between the countries continue to grow.

Last year, the association donated computers and printers, among other equipment, to the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Harare Central District to aid the force in maintaining law and order.

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