Monday, September 22, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: $80 Million Financial Deal; Parties Agree on Agrarian Reform; VP Mujuru Calls for End to Culture of Dependence

Zim gets $80m financial deal

By Munyaradzi Huni
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

THE African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has approved credit facilities worth US$80 million to Zimbabwe, as the international community starts opening up its doors to the country following years of isolation due to the illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and its allies.

The facilities were approved following presentations by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr Gideon Gono, at the bank’s 64th board meeting that was recently held in Casablanca, Morocco.

In a letter dated Saturday September 13 2008 addressed to Dr Gono, a senior director at the Afreximbank, Dr B. O. Oramah, said the facilities were aimed at assisting Zimbabwe in the importation of oil and grain, among other issues.

"I am pleased to inform you that at its 64th meeting held on September 12 2008 in Casablanca, Morocco, the executive committee of Afreximbank’s board of directors approved the following transactions in favour of Zimbabwean entities:

"US$5 million pre- and post-shipment line of credit facility to Interfin Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe; US$25 million oil import financing facility in favour of Zimbabwe; US$25 million grain import financing facility in favour of Zimbabwe and US$25 million amortising gold sales contract prepayment facility for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," reads part of the letter from Dr Oramah.

He added that Afreximbank’s banking operations department would "shortly be contacting you and the different beneficiaries" with regard to concluding conditions precedent for utilisation of the facilities.

Said Dr Oramah: "We take this opportunity to put on record, with appreciation, the role you played and continue to play in ensuring that our Zimbabwean facilities operated effectively and without problems even at a very difficult period for Zimbabwe.

"We look forward to your continued support as we implement these new facilities. We will like to assure you that we will continue to review the situation with a view to increasing our assistance in support of on-going reforms in Zimbabwe."

Dr Gono, who for the better part of last week was in Casablanca negotiating for the facilities, yesterday said the outside world was beginning to open up to Zimbabwe and the business community should not wait for the central bank to negotiate for such lines of credit.

"The businesspeople should not wait for the RBZ. They should go all out to negotiate for such facilities," said Dr Gono.

He said more lines of credit were in the offing, adding that the RBZ was on the verge of securing another deal with another regional financial institution.

In reference to the signing of the agreement between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, the Governor said: "Let’s rally behind the new dispensation and make it work, recognising that it’s only us who can make the difference that we want and not outsiders.

"Outsiders can only come to assist when we are united, when we show we are serious, when we show that we mean well and when we show that we are prepared to walk the talk.

"What the nation witnessed last week is the birth of a new Zimbabwe which is screaming for hard workers and for less of pointing fingers at one another. The work to turn around the economy should not be the responsibility of one party Zanu-PF or the two MDC formations. It should not be the responsibility of individuals or regional groupings but the responsibility of all of us.

Ultimately, the future belongs to those who are able to adapt to new circumstances as opposed to clinging to the past way of doing things."

Commenting on rumours that circulated in Harare last week that he had fled the country after realising that he would not be accommodated in the inclusive government born out of the signed agreement, Dr Gono said:

"Do I look or sound like someone who is easily moved by rumours and all the innuendoes that are written or said about me? If I took note of what all the idle and uninformed minds write and say about me, I wouldn’t do a quarter of a day’s work at all.

"All I can tell your readers is that no weapon formed howsoever by whosoever and for whatsoever purpose against the innocent and sincere will ever succeed in its desired (evil) intentions. That I am certain about just like the sun is going to set today and rise tomorrow. Let’s get on with our respectable work and duties. There is too much work that lies ahead of all Zimbabweans to worry about small minds." He asked why those peddling all the rumours about him were not courageous enough to come out in the open for open debate.

"Isn’t is ironic that all these rumours and innuendoes are orchestrated by faceless individuals who don’t want to identify themselves or come out in the open for an open debate? So how do I answer zvidhoma?" asked Dr Gono.

Parties agree on agrarian reform

Chief Reporter: Emilia Zindi

THE historic signing ceremony of the agreement between Zimbabwe’s main political parties, Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, in Harare dominated newspaper headlines in the past week.

It brought together regional and international leaders to witness the event.

Newspaper headlines bore testimony of the significance of the event. The Chronicle headline read: "DEAL SIGNED". The Zimbabwe Independent screamed, "IT’S A DEAL",

The Herald of September 17 headlined the story: "DAWN OF A NEW ERA".

The Financial Gazette published after the signing had its headline as, "CABINET PUT ON HOLD", The Manica Post could not ignore this historic event either with the headline "UNITY DEAL HAILED".

But after the excitement of the signing ceremony, it is proper to look at the issues the agreement raises. The land question was and is still at the centre of the political contest in Zimbabwe, and the agreement addresses this issue well.

Article V (The Land Question), is among the top five issues addressed by the agreement.

For the first time the political parties agreed that land was at the core of the crisis that Zimbabwe faces today. For the first time the parties agreed to recognise that colonial racist land ownership patterns established during the colonial conquest of Zimbabwe and largely maintained in the post-independence period were not only unsustainable, but against the national interest, equality and justice.

They also agreed that in addition to the primary objective of the liberation struggle to win one man one vote, democracy and justice, the land question, namely the re-distribution of land to the majority indigenous people of Zimbabwe, was at the core of the liberation struggle. MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti said: "We want the land issue dealt with. The first step could be setting up an independent commission. That can be done through an Act of Parliament.’’

Mr Biti said the commission would be expected to weed out multiple farm owners as agreed in the agreement by the three principals.

He said it would also be expected to physically establish those farmers that are physically on the ground and whether they had the capacity to utilise the farms. Mr Biti said the farm maximum size concept should be followed. "The regulations on farm maximum size are already in place and they have to be followed,’’ he said.

The issue of security of tenure should be speeded up as only a few had the 99-year leases.

The parties agreed for the first time to accept the inevitability and desirability of a comprehensive land reform programme in Zimbabwe that redresses the issues of historical imbalances and injustices in order to address the issues of equity, productivity and justice.

They acknowledged that compulsory acquisition and redistribution of land had taken place under a land reform programme undertaken since 2000. They, however, differed on the methodology of acquisition and redistribution. The two MDC formations for the first time admitted that in the current Constitution of Zimbabwe and further in the Draft Constitution the primary obligation of compensating former landowners for land acquired rested on the former colonial power.

The two parties agreed to recognise the need for women to access and control land in their own right as equal citizens. The parties have set the stage for a comprehensive, transparent and non-partisan land audit, during the tenure of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe, for the purpose of establishing accountability and eliminating multiple farm ownership.

The agreement clearly states that all Zimbabweans who were eligible to be allocated land and who applied for it would be considered for allocation of land irrespective of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation.

Security of tenure, which has always been an issue among the beneficiaries of the land reform programme, would soon be a thing of the past as the two parties agreed to ensure security of tenure was given out to all land holders.

The three parties for the first time agreed to work together to secure international support and finance for the land reform programme in terms of compensation for the former landowners and support for new farmers. They said they would work towards the restoration of full productivity on all agricultural land.

Eliminate culture of dependence: Mujuru

From George Maponga in Bikita

VICE-PRESIDENT Mujuru yesterday urged Zimbabweans to eliminate the culture of dependence on donors if the country is to realise its full economic and political potential.

Addressing hundreds of Zanu-PF supporters at Nyika Growth Point in Bikita, she said it was critical for Zimbabweans to develop a culture of self-reliance if the country is to be counted as a truly independent African state.

Cde Mujuru, who was speaking after touring a "pedigree" cattle-breeding project at Bikita Minerals, challenged people to also optimally use the land that is engendered under the land reform programme for Zimbabwe to reach the zenith of economic prosperity.

"We need to move away from this culture of over-dependence on donors because it is those donors who come to us and give us food, maize seed and many other things, at the end of the day inculcate a culture of laziness and dependence," she said.

"On top of that, they also take away our brains, leaving us with nothing and we end up mere importers when we could be producers of value-added products that can compete on the global market, thereby earning the country the much-needed foreign currency."

She lamented the fact that most organisations in Zimbabwe were in the habit of citing the foreign currency shortages as the reason for failure instead of initiating developmental projects that could improve Zimbabwe’s economy through prioritising production on farms.

The Vice-President added that it was imperative for the cattle-breeding programme to be taken to all the four corners of the country in order to help restore Zimbabwe’s prime position as an exporter of quality beef.

She also urged communal farmers to venture into other economically viable projects like cattle rearing, which has the potential to restore Zimbabwe’s position as a net beef exporter.

"We need this cattle-breeding programme to expand throughout the country like veldfire because we think it is the only answer to on-going efforts to replenish Zimbabwe’s depleted beef herd," said Cde Mujuru.

"We need to restore our position as a beef exporter where we earned foreign currency thereby developing our country. Through this cattle-breeding programme, we hope Zimbabweans can learn a culture of self-reliance rather than relying on farming crops such as maize.

"This is the opportune time for diversification. Companies and individuals from all corners of the country should come and join this programme."

The Vice-President said Zimbabwe was in the process of procuring seed, including small grains, to ensure that farmers had enough stocks ahead of the impending rainy season.

Shifting focus to the political settlement that was signed between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, she stressed that Zanu-PF still remained an independent political party.

She pointed out that the agreement was a result of President Mugabe’s sincerity. She said Zanu-PF remained a formidable revolutionary party as the political settlement was only aimed at ensuring Government operated smoothly with the restoration of Zimbabwe’s economic stability.

"Takati regai anogona kuteya bere azviteyere. They (MDC) are the ones who brought the sanctions that are afflicting this country and they are the ones who know how to remove them," she said.

"So this settlement does not change anything — Zanu-PF still retains its revolutionary colours. President Mugabe signed this agreement out of sincerity over how Zimbabweans were suffering, so they (MDC) should remove these sanctions."

Before addressing people at Nyika, Vice- President Mujuru had first toured a facility where breeding cattle belonging to communal farmers from Gutu and Bikita could be housed awaiting the breeding process from seven "pedigree" bulls sourced by Bikita North (Private) Limited.

Vice-President Mujuru had the opportunity to personally inspect the bulls and the breeding cattle from the neighbouring communities. Indications were that at least 700 cattle would have been serviced by February next year.

Zimbabwe’s sole lithium producer, Bikita Minerals, pumped out over R7 million to procure the seven bulls which are going to be used for the breeding exercise.

Besides sponsoring the purchase of the bulls, Bikita Minerals is also financing the establishment of a laboratory that will specialise in animal health research.

Cde Mujuru also toured Marozva Irrigation Scheme in Bikita where she donated a tractor and a disc harrow. The Vice-President was accompanied by the Minister of State for Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation, Dr Joseph Made; the Minister of Agriculture, Cde Rugare Gumbo; Policy Implementation Minister Cde Webster Shamu; and Masvingo Governor Cde Titus Maluleke, among others.

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