Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: ZANU-PF Politburo Meets; Gono Re-appointed; European Land Suit Dismissed, etc.

Zanu-PF politburo meets

Herald Reporter

THE ruling Zanu-PF politburo met in Harare yesterday to review preparations for the forthcoming National People’s Conference set for Bindura next month.

The party’s deputy spokesperson, Cde Ephraim Masawi said the ruling party’s top decision making body was happy with progress made so far.

He said there was, however, a possibility that the conference could be pushed forward to accommodate a Politburo meeting ahead of the conference because of logistical issues.

The National People’s Conference is tentatively set for December 10 but Cde Masawi said the opening was likely to be brought forward to December 9.

"The Politburo was briefed by the various sub-committees preparing for the conference and we are happy that they (preparations) are going on quite well. There, however, could be a change in the opening with the conference likely to be brought forward to December 9 but the closing date would not change," he said.

Cde Masawi said among the major issues discussed was the finance committee report indicating that enough funds had been mobilised for the conference while more money was still being received from various donors.

"Enough food has been mobilised for the conference including transport to ferry delegates to Bindura. The health committee also assured the meeting that they were working hard to make sure that problems could be averted during the conference," he said.

Cde Masawi said the meeting had also resolved that accreditation for delegates would be done at provincial level.

"Party officials would be going to the provinces to accredit delegates for the conference so that we avoid distractions at the venue," he said.

The Politburo, Cde Masawi said, was also briefed on cholera with the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa and the ruling party’s health department indicating that the fight against the disease has been intensified across the country.

"The Politburo also received an update on the state of preparedness for the current agriculture season with reports that Government is working flat out to bring more seed and fertiliser into the country.

"The report indicated that there was a good response by individuals importing seed and fertilisers from neighbouring countries to complement Government programmes," he said.

Preparations for the National People’s Conference are underway with the party’s restructuring and rejuvenation currently on in the provinces. Elections to choose provincial leaders have already been concluded in Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, East and Central Provinces.

Nurses, doctors defy Govt directive

Herald Reporter

NURSES and junior doctors have ignored Government calls to return to work despite incentives to provide them with transport to and from work and a monthly food basket.

Nurses said they would only return to work if Government exempts them from the $500 000 maximum cash withdrawal limit since they are considered "essential staff" while doctors vowed not to resume duty unless Government starts pegging their salaries in foreign currency. Junior doctors are proposing at least US$2 500 a month.

Both junior doctors and nurses said the proposed food basket offered by Government did not go enough as an incentive, saying it was not commensurate with their professional status.

Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association president Mrs Doreen Choruma said she was not aware of the contents of the food basket.

"We want cash to provide services. If we are essential services, then our employer should be able to push the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to consider our grievances," she said.

Mrs Choruma said the issue of payment in foreign currency also remained critical in the sector.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association secretary-general Dr Malcolm Masikati echoed the nurses sentiments, saying if they were critical staff, then Government would positively respond to their grievances on time.

Dr Masikati said Government informed them that they would only consider their plight in January, which was when they would return to work.

He also said they would rather have money to buy food of their choice than be provided a food basket.

"The food basket is nothing to rely on. We want money to enable us to buy the food we want. Such a solution reduces us to destitutes," he said.

The refusal by doctors and nurses to return to work further compromises conditions of patients seeking medical attention at public health institutions.

Currently, only senior nursing staff and doctors continue are manning the institutions.

Bombs: Reward offered

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police is offering a substantial cash reward to anyone who provides information about last week’s bombing of the CID Headquarters and Harare Central Police Station.

Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, who made the announcement yesterday, could not divulge the amount apart from saying a huge sum of money was on offer.

"We are offering a substantial cash reward for information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of the bombings of the CID Headquarters and Harare Central Police Station.

"Anyone with information should contact their nearest police station or phone the following hotline numbers: (04) 703631 or 700171," Snr Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

The reward offer comes at a time police are intensifying investigations into the explosions that are suspected to be inside jobs.

Sources close to the investigations said a number of officers had been quizzed in connection with an earlier bombing, which occurred in August at Harare Central Police Station.

According to police, the bombs appeared to have been planted by someone with expert knowledge of explosives.

No arrests have been made since August. — Crime Reporter.

Gono gets new term

Deputy Business Editor Jeffrey Gogo

DR Gideon Gono has been re-appointed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor for another five-year term, Finance Minister Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi announced yesterday.

The appointment, sanctioned by President Mugabe, is effective December 1 and ends on November 30, 2013.

Dr Gono became RBZ Governor in the first week of December 2003 and his current term expires on Sunday.

"I congratulate Dr Gideon Gono on his re-appointment," Dr Mumbengegwi said.

Dr Gono refused to comment on the renewal of his term.

"I think the statement from the Minister of Finance is enough for the time being," he said.

He is the fourth head of the central bank since Independence in 1980.

Dr D.C. Krogh was Governor between 1976 and 1983 and was replaced by Dr Kombo Moyana (1983-1993). Dr Leonard Tsumba was in charge between 1993 and 2003 when Dr Gono took over.

At the time of his appointment, Dr Gono inherited a weakening currency, runaway inflation, unattractive interest rates and rampant indiscipline within the financial services sector.

He managed, within a few months, to briefly stabilise inflation during the first half of 2004, returned sanity to the banking sector and tried to reform the foreign exchange rate to spur export performance.

Dr Gono has also played a key role in building broad national consensus around formulation and co-operative implementation of monetary, fiscal and structural policies, including the inception of a comprehensive framework to turn around and privatise public sector enterprises.

During his first term, the Reserve Bank has been key in funding crucial national development programmes, among them the four phases of the Farm Mechanisation Programme.

Dr Gono’s biggest enemy remains hyperinflation, which catapulted to 231 million percent at the end July, followed by stabilising foreign exchange rates.

Dr Gono, who is in his early 50s, is married to Helen and the couple has four children, two boys and twin girls.

The Reserve Bank is responsible for crafting Zimbabwe’s monetary policy. Its primary responsibility is to maintain the stability of the national currency and money supply but more active duties include controlling subsidised-loan interest rates, and acting as a lender of last resort to the banking sector during times of financial crisis.

The RBZ traces its roots to the Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, created in March 1956 as a central bank for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Reserve Bank was the successor to the Central Currency Board, which had the sole right to issue currency.

The bank operates under the RBZ Act, Chapter 22: 15 of 1964. The Act provides for the board of directors and the post of Governor who is responsible for the day-to-day administration and operations of the bank. Three deputy governors assist the Governor.

The Governor and his three deputies are appointed by the President for renewable five-year terms. The Governor chairs the board of directors, and its membership includes three deputy governors and a maximum of seven other non-executive directors appointed by the President and representing key sectors of the economy.

Talks on No. 19 Bill begin in SA

Herald Reporter

DISCUSSIONS between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations on draft Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill opened in South Africa yesterday amid mounting pressure on MDC-T to join the envisaged government.

The ‘‘Elders’’ group, led by former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, which had earlier adopted an anti-talks stance, was yesterday singing a different tune urging the MDC-T leadership to join Government.

Reports from South Africa confirmed the parties had begun looking at the draft Bill without revealing the venue of the meeting and progress made with the draft Bill that seeks to create the position of Prime Minister, his two deputies and nine non-constituency senators, and pave way for other constitutional amendements

The Government’s legal department completed the draft Bill and forwarded it to Cde Mbeki for scrutiny last week.

A German news agency, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, quoted ‘‘Elder’’ and former US president Jimmy Carter as saying Zanu-PF and MDC-T should quickly implement the September 15 broad-based agreement.

Carter was also quoted as saying the MDC-T could try to redress their grievances through Parliament after the inclusive Government was in place.

"We don’t see this likelihood tomorrow of all issues being resolved. But if there are any obvious inequities subsequently in the proper sharing or dividing of power, they can be corrected. Some of them at least not only by immediate changes to the law but over a period of time until the new constitution is in place or over the next 18 months," Carter was quoted as saying.

Both South African President Cde Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC boss Cde Jacob Zuma said the parties should agree for the sake of the people.

President Motlanthe appealed to the parties to begin constitutional processes that will lead to a unity government.

He said the next step was to ensure that the parties unblock the impasse to enable them to take Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill through the Senate and House of Assembly.

"Let us find a way to implement the agreement for the sake of Zimbabweans. We cannot stay with the agreement without implementing it," he told reporters on Monday.

Anti-cholera drive

GOVERNMENT is reviewing the strategies being implemented to curb the spread of cholera and is also intensifying information dissemination to effectively combat the disease.

In an interview yesterday, the chairman of the Civil Protection Unit, Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira, said stakeholders had resolved to increase information on the do’s and don’ts to combat the disease.

"The CPU will release, on a regular basis, information on possible outbreaks as well as engage both the print and electronic media to improve the coverage of cholera in the country," he said.

Mr Pawadyira said the borehole-drilling programme was progressing well with three boreholes having been completed so far.

He said the number of boreholes would be increased depending on the availability of resources. — Herald Reporter.

Court dismisses Danish land suit

Herald Reporter

THE Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a constitutional lawsuit brought by the Danish former owners of Nyahondo Farm (Private) Limited in Chinhoyi who were challenging the compulsory acquisition of the farm for resettlement.

The farm was allocated to Retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumanei and the former owners had challenged Government’s acquisition citing the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) between Zimbabwe and Denmark.

However, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Justices Wilson Sandura, Misheck Cheda and Paddington Garwe as a constitutional bench, dismissed the appeal.

"The order being sought is hereby dismissed in its entirety. There will be no order on the costs. Detailed reasons would be handed in due course," Justice Malaba said.

One of the former owners, Mr Kim Birketoft, represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri, had argued that the farm was covered by BIPA and could not be acquired for resettlement.

Mr Birketoft also argued that the farm was not lawfully acquired and, as such, he had not lost dominion over the farm.

However, Rtd Brig-Gen Tapfumanei argued through his lawyer, Mr Gerald Mlotshwa of Antonio and Company, that the acquisition was lawful.

Deputy Attorney-General in charge of the Civil Division Advocate Prince Machaya; who represented the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Cde Didymus Mutasa, who was also cited in the case as a respondent, had argued that the BIPA between Zimbabwe and Denmark allowed for compulsory acquisition of an investment subject to the conditions stated therein.

He submitted that the Danish company was entitled to compensation and interest to date of payment saying that can be enforced under Zimbabwe’s supreme law.

Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17) Act confirmed the acquisition of land for resettlement purposes pursuant to the land reform programme that began in the year 2000, and provides for the acquisition in the future of agricultural land for resettlement and other purposes.

The amendment empowered the Government to deal with legal bottlenecks that arose in the implementation of the land reform programme as white former commercial farmers were delaying the process by appealing to the courts.

Under the Act, all land is vested in the State and anyone who wants to use land will do so as a tenant on a 99-year lease.

This is the same system used in various European countries, including Britain where all land is vested in the Queen, who holds it in trust for all Britons.

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