Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Deal Sealed With One MDC Faction; Defence Forces Celebrate 28th Anniversary

Deal sealed

By Mabasa Sasa
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe and MDC leader Arthur Mutambara yesterday reached an agreement paving the way for Cde Mugabe to form the next Government.

Although MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not sign, it was expected that negotiations would continue until he appended his signature to the agreement.

South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, who has been facilitating the negotiations, is expected to issue a statement today.

Insiders last night said Tsvangirai refused to append his signature to the political settlement after being advised to only proceed with the talks after a "cooling-off period".

The insiders indicated that Tsvangirai had been changing positions during the talks and that he had even misled his negotiators who had been meeting in South Africa over the past three weeks.

However, the sources said, this did not mean that the talks had been concluded and President Mugabe and Mutambara were still willing to talk to Tsvangirai.

"President Mugabe and the leader of the opposition MDC have signed the agreement. Tsvangirai refused to do so at the last moment, but this does not affect progress.

"The principals of the other two parties have agreed that they cannot wait any longer and the nation demands progress. As such, President Mugabe will go ahead and form the next Government and Parliament will soon sit.

"President Mbeki understands that the negotiations cannot be stalled any longer," one of the insiders revealed.

He said President Mbeki would be flying to Angola today to brief the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security on the progress of the talks.

Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos is the current chair of the organ.

"President Mbeki will brief Angola as the chair of the organ on defence. The negotiators found it unfortunate that Tsvangirai pulled out at the eleventh hour, but the talks are not over."

It is understood that the three party leaders had been appending their signatures to agreements as they were reached in the presence of President Mbeki .

However, yesterday Tsvangirai reportedly came to the talks with a new position paper that overruled the agreements that had already been reached and this did not go down well with any of the negotiators, including those from his own party.

It is believed that the new position paper was compiled by a Western embassy and that it was deliberately tabled to force a deadlock.

The sources said the document, a copy of which was shown to The Herald and is titled Notes on the Dialogue to Date, sought to repudiate agreements reached thus far.

In it, Tsvangirai states that the basis for any negotiations is the inconclusive March 29 election — a position that the West has been vocally advocating.

"After presenting it, he could not even defend it and this led the parties to the negotiations to believe that he was not its author.

"The paper came as a surprise even to Tsvangirai’s negotiators and everyone objected to its introduction as it sought to override the agreements that had already been reached by the three parties.

"It seemed that reason would prevail for the sake of progress, but at the last minute Tsvangirai declined to sign. That is why you saw (Tendai) Biti saying afterwards that he was confident the negotiations would continue.

"The fear is that Tsvangirai might take too long to sign the agreement, in which case the other two parties will simply go ahead and form the next Government," the source said.

Biti, who is Tsvangirai’s secretary-general, told the media that there were "sticking points" but the talks were likely to continue.

"The talks have not collapsed. We are on a time-out and we are most likely to continue tomorrow (today). There are some sticking points still there," he said.

Mutambara said he would address a Press conference today updating the nation on the status of the talks.

President Mugabe told the media that the talks would continue. "As long as we have tongues we will continue talking," he said.

It could not be established if the three parties would be meeting again today.

President Mugabe is now expected to announce a new Cabinet while Parliament would be called into session "soon", the source said.

ZDF marks 28th anniversary

Herald Reporters

ZIMBABWEANS countrywide yesterday joined the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in commemorating the military’s 28th anniversary.

ZDF Commander-in-Chief President Mugabe officiated at the main event at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare where Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant General Phillip Sibanda and Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri were in attendance.

Other dignitaries included Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru and several Government ministers, officials and military officers.

Also present at the celebrations were the ruling Zanu-PF Politburo and Central Committee members.

A parade mounted by the Presidential Guard, Air Force of Zimbabwe and all calls of the ZNA marched into the stadium before the arrival of dignitaries.

The arrival of President Mugabe marked the beginning of the proceedings with the Commander-in-Chief taking a salute from the parade before the national anthem was played accompanied by a flypast in diamond formation by AFZ jets.

The parade marched in slow and quick motion and then advanced in review order before a prayer by the Chaplain General.

President Mugabe later conferred medals to outstanding serving, retired and deceased officers before making his address.

The parade marched off the arena before the crowd was thrilled by ZDF displays that included the AFZ traditional dance group, displays by recruits from the Imbizo Barracks Recruiting Training Depot, and the Inkomo Mounted Infantry while the Commando Regiment performed a mock rescue operation before a display by the Artillery Regiment.

Helicopter displays, a netball match and a match between Premier Soccer League ZDF sides Chapungu and Black Rhinos were part of the entertainment for the crowd.

In Bulawayo, child army cadets stole the limelight at the celebrations at White City Stadium with a vintage display of military marches.

Hundreds of people who attended the celebrations were entertained by the child cadets led by pint-sized 12-year-old Innocent Mujuru.

The children did military marches with such precision and aplomb that they got a standing ovation from the crowd.

Innocent also recited a poem that he wrote about empowerment in which he urged Zimbabweans to unite and be masters of their destiny.

Warrant Officer Class Two Paul Martin, who is in charge of the children, said the junior cadets movement was started by the army last year to groom children for the army.

"We wish to groom the children for the army and at the same time instill self-discipline and confidence in them. If they wish to join the army after their formal education, it then becomes easy for them because they would already be used to military life," he said.

The army’s mock battle display was another hit with the spectators, especially the children.

ZDF officers fired blank bullets at each other and ran around the arena in battle formation.

Schoolchildren also recited poems about the country and a women’s soccer match capped a splendid afternoon’s entertainment.

The commemorations started in the morning with the army marching through the suburbs surrounding the stadium.

Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Resident Minister Cde Cain Mathema, who was the guest of honour, read the President’s speech.

Among those who attended the ceremony were the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zanu PF provincial chairperson Cde Mcleod Tshawe, Commander One Brigade Brigadier General Chris Mupande and the Deputy Commander of Bulawayo District, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Pride Muchero, among other service chiefs.

In Mashonaland East, hundreds of people gathered at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera to commemorate Defence Forces Day.

Mashonaland East Provincial Governor Cde Ray Kaukonde officiated at the event and read the Presidential speech.

Cde Kaukonde hailed programmes by the army which included Operation Maguta aimed at ensuring the country’s food security situation.

The crowd were treated to army drills, drum majorettes, poetry recitation and traditional dancing.

The ceremony was also attended by provincial administrator Mr Cuthbert Ndarukwa as well as service chiefs.

In Mashonaland West Province, Governor and Resident Minister Cde Nelson Samkange led celebrations to mark Defence Forces Day at Chinhoyi Stadium where thousands had gathered.

Cde Samkange inspected a four detachment parade comprising members of the Zimbabwe National Army’s 2.3 Infantry Battalion and Field Air Force base before reading the President’s speech.

The celebrations were also attended by Chinhoyi Mayor-elect Mr Claudius Nyamhondoro of the MDC -T.

The crowd was treated to drills and mock battles by the army.

There were drum majorette displays and choral music by Makonde Revolutionary Choir including their song Nzira Dzemakudo which implores people to desist from retrogressive actions such as abusing Government loan and inputs facilities.

The event was attended by 2 Brigade Commander Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba, Zanu-PF deputy provincial chairman Cde Christopher Shumba, and Central Committee members, among others.

In the Midlands, the commemorations were held at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru where about 1 500 people were in attendance.

Helicopter and dog displays, an army mock battle, drum majorettes and a marimba band from Bata Primary School entertained the crowd.

Gweru Mayor Councillor Fungai Desmond Mufunde of MDC-T attended the commemorations.

Midlands Governor Cde Cephas Msipa inspected a guard of honour and read President Mugabe’s speech.

The programme ended with a soccer match between Zimbabwe Military Academy and Thornhill Air Force teams.

Chipadze Stadium in Bindura was the venue for the celebrations in Mashonaland Central Province presided over by the Governor Cde Ephraim Masawi.

Cde Masawi read the Commander-in-Chief’s speech after inspecting a parade mounted by the Artillery Brigade.

The crowd was treated to various kinds of entertainment including arms drills, foot drills and gun drills.

Drama group Swerengoma also thrilled the people with a sterling performance.

President hails defence forces

Herald Reporter

President Mugabe yesterday commended the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for remaining steadfast in defending the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests.

Speaking at the ZDF’s 28th anniversary at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare, Cde Mugabe — who is the Commander-in-Chief — said the sterling achievements by the Defence Forces have overcome the numerous concerted efforts from some sections of the international community to destabilise Zimbabwe’s peace and stability to create confusion in the country.

"The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have demonstrated unparalleled patriotism and professionalism in the way they have carried the constitutional role of defending our nation," he said.

President Mugabe acknowledged the peaceful and stable environment under which the commemorations were being held.

"It is indeed a result of the alert, vigilant and patriotic manner in which the ZDF and our other security forces have conducted their day-to-day duties.

"This faithfulness to their mission statement is key to the laying of a solid foundation for the social, economic and political development of our country."

He said since 1980, the ZDF have been "outstanding both locally and on the international front, metarmophosing gradually into a formidable force that is the envy of many a nation".

President Mugabe paid tribute to the ZDF for taking part in peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations under the auspices of the United Nations since the early 1990s.

"This has seen the ZDF being deployed to various parts of the world to maintain and, where necessary, enforce peace. The continued participation of the ZDF in United Nations missions speaks volumes of their level of professionalism and discipline as well as the confidence that the international community has in them."

Currently, the ZDF have 12 military observers in southern Sudan, three officers in Darfur and two military observers each in Côte d’Ivoire, Nepal and Liberia under the auspices of the UN.

He said the role played by the ZDF extends into peacetime, through assisting civil ministries and civil authorities.

"Between last year’s celebrations and today (yesterday), military personnel were seconded to the GMB where they assisted in distributing grain and farming inputs; Air Zimbabwe, where Defence Forces technicians and engineers assisted the airline’s technical department; and to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, where firefighters and fire tenders provided cover.

"The Defence Forces were also deployed to the ministries of Science and Technology, Agriculture, and Transport and Communications, where they assisted in various capacities, while military medical personnel were seconded to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to buttress the nation’s health delivery system."

President Mugabe said the ZDF also participated in the Sadc regional indoor and outdoor Zambezi Malaria Expedition residual-spraying programme, which was an important intervention as part of global efforts to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

He said the forces have also worked well with the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in effecting border control operations to curb illegal crossings and smuggling of goods across the borders.

President Mugabe paid tribute to the Defence Forces for assisting the Registrar-General’s Office and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in the voter registration and constituency delimitation exercises respectively, by facilitating the movement of election material and personnel in areas that had become inaccessible following the above normal rainfall last season.

The Air Force of Zimbabwe also assisted ZEC in ferrying election material and personnel during the March 2008 harmonised elections and the June presidential run-off election, he said.

"As a responsive force, the Defence Forces are always prepared to assist the nation whenever and wherever there is need.

"When floods broke out in Muzarabani, Middle Sabi Valley, Mwenezi and Gokwe areas, the ZDF moved in to evacuate marooned residents. In addition to the evacuation process, AFZ helicopters were also utilised in ferrying food relief supplies to the affected areas."

The Defence Forces Day celebrations were held under the theme: " Zimbabwe Defence Forces: Creating a Peaceful Environment Conducive for Investment, Productivity and Economic Growth".

President Mugabe said the success of efforts by the ZDF in this regard has found evidence in the operations to remove landmines planted by Rhodesian forces along the country’s borders.

"To date, the Army Engineers Corps have cleared an area of 213 500 square metres and removed a total of 4 531 anti-personnel landmines in the process.

"It is particularly pleasing to note that the ZDF engineers are still in the process of demining the Sango Border Post to Crooks Corner area.

"We look forward to the total clearance of this minefield, which will pave the way for enhanced access onto the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and, in turn, assist our economic development through increased tourist activities."

President Mugabe said the ZDF have undertaken various local and external training and development programmes for its members to enhance their state of military preparedness.

"Several officers and men are currently in countries such as China, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia, while others are at various local training institutions."

He said the ZDF have always supported joint training programmes for their members with other forces in the region and other parts of the world in an effort to enhance best military practices.

"In this regard, five flying instructors and six aircraft technicians are currently seconded to the South African Defence Forces to assist in the ab initio (initial) training of pilots. In the same vein, our military training institutions continue to enrol students from other regional defence forces."

President Mugabe said Government recognised and appreciated the constitutional obligation of the ZDF in safeguarding the nation’s independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and interests and would continue to review members’ conditions of service.

"In the face of the hyperinflationary environment obtaining in the country, the Government has continued to cushion the Defence Forces by awarding them regular cost of living adjustments."

He expressed gratitude to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for providing 21 vehicles to army doctors under the Zimbabwe Health Service Retention Scheme.

"It is our hope that the move, in tandem with other skills retention measures, will go a long way in keeping medical staff within the Defence Forces."

President Mugabe said various comprehensive housing schemes to ensure that all members of the ZDF are provided with decent accommodation were underway around the country.

He said the Defence Forces had also received substantial financial support from the RBZ, which enabled them to procure blankets, mattresses and vehicle tyres, among other requirements.

"This support has gone a long way in meeting various logistical requirements."

He paid tribute to the government of China for facilitating the procurement of military clothing material to make uniforms.

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