Saturday, December 20, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Addresses Central Committee; PAC Condemns Invasion Plots; WHO Arrives

‘Better times beckon’

Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe has described 2008 as the most difficult year and urged Zimbabweans to remain united and focused in the face of difficulties as better times were beckoning.

Addressing the 75th Session of the Zanu-PF Central Committee in Bindura yesterday ahead of the 10th National Annual People’s Conference which opens today, Cde Mugabe apologised for the "inadequacy . . . experienced with regards to inputs".

"There have been shortages of seeds. A bit of seeds would be coming through and a little more that we are buying through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe from South Africa.

"It would be distributed between now and December 23 in the same way Bacossi was done," he said.

The President said the RBZ would distribute the seeds through governors and traditional leaders.

He said Zimbabwe was importing large quantities of maize delivered last week and that priority would be given to people living in remote areas hard hit by food shortages.

President Mugabe said following the gazetting of Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill, he would soon invite leaders of the MDC formations to map the way forward.

"We will be inviting the two leaders — Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara — to come and discuss the way forward," President Mugabe said.

He urged Central Committee members and the public to study the Amendment Bill.

"Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill allows the public to look at what is being proposed and the public are free, through their Members of Parliament, to draw their attention to aspects they want to finally come out.

"We would hope the members of the Central Committee would study that amendment and then bring their views either to us in good time or individually through their Members of Parliament."

He said the Bill would be discussed in Parliament after 30 days and would require a two-thirds majority for it to sail through.

President Mugabe said the British and the Americans were against the formation of an inclusive Government in Zimbabwe as it leaves him and Zanu-PF in office.

"I was reading recent utterances by Condoleezza Rice (US Secretary of State) that African leaders are not prepared to topple President Mugabe and bring about regime change.

"She condemned this inability on the part of African leaders. How could African leaders ever topple Robert Mugabe, organise an army to come? It is not easy. I do not know of any African country that is brave enough to do that."

President Mugabe took a swipe at Botswana for being a mouthpiece for the British and the Americans.

"Botswana is making some stupid noises. They are just hollow noises to assure the MDC that the Botswana government supports it and also in response to Britain and America that Botswana is a good mouthpiece of the white men," President Mugabe said.

Scoffing at the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who suggested that he should be charged with genocide because of the cholera outbreak, President Mugabe said the West was now trying to use the humanitarian issue to invade the country.

Africans, he said, were rational enough to know that epidemics do occur regardless of whether one is black or white.

President Mugabe said the cholera outbreak and the current challenges were a result of the illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

He warned delegates to be wary of the enemy who was devising new ways of destroying Zanu-PF from within and urged members to be on high alert.

"Are we sure amongst ourselves, you and me, that there are none amongst us who are being used by the enemy? Are we all clean here? Now when the organisation starts to turn against itself, it does not end there. You might want (Cde John) Nkomo eaten, tomorrow (Dr Sydney) Sekeramayi and so on. Iwe urikudaro uchadyiwawo," he said.

The President said there has been a build- up of incidents of a military nature perpetrated against the people and country.

"Now we notice there is change . . . that change is that the enemy forces should now concentrate on personalities in Zanu-PF. Let’s take care. You are the leaders of the party," President Mugabe said urging party members to guard against "supping and dining" with the enemy.

"Tikadaro chete tapera. Nyaya iyoyi yekucherana ngaipere," he said to applause from delegates.

Most of the Central Committee members shouted "No" when the President asked whether all the members were clean.

He expressed dismay at the skirmishes that characterised Harare provincial elections warning some party members to desist from being too ambitions, backbiting, tribalist and regionalist.

"You might have an ambition but let not your ambition be misguided. We do not want it. Let us avoid it. I hope we can correct that kind of trend, which is developing.

"Varipo vangataura kuti isu tinoda zvechidunhu, nyika yakarwirwa by all tribes. We are Zimbabweans first and foremost. Yes, we keep our cultures, but we should not allow that to divide us . . . As one people we can move forward together faster than a divided people.

"Zvimaparty zvingamuka kana zvikadini zvazvo but as long as they are not based on unity and have no history as that of our party, the political wealth that our party has, they can never last," he said.

He denounced the use of the youths in fighting against each other while the enemy was plotting day and night to win over the party members in a bid to decimate the party.

"Setting one group against the other . . . Zvava zveboxing? The enemy is planning day and night ways and means of winning our people and therefore reduce our membership . . . Let’s have a counter to that," he said.

The President warned Mr Tsvangirai against being used against the people by some Western countries.

"Yes, they will back you to do the foolish business of fighting your people but we are watchful. We are saying that cannot continue."

PAC condemns Zim invasion calls

Herald Reporter

THE Pan Africanist Congress of Azania has criticised sections of the Western world calling for the invasion of Zimbabwe saying the advocates of aggression were responsible for the problems facing the country.

PAC member Dr Motsoko Pheko this week said the cholera outbreak stemmed from sanctions.

"War noises on Zimbabwe are becoming louder, they are made by countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. These sanctions have aggravated the economic situation in Zimbabwe. They have resulted in the cholera that killed hundreds in Zimbabwe and destroying the country," he said.

Dr Pheko said advocates of invasion had opposed similar measures against the Ian Smith and apartheid South Africa regimes.

He said Zimbabwe was being punished through sanctions for taking land from the British kith and kin.

"Some (of these) leaders are those like George W Bush who have campaigned for a long time for ‘a regime change’. The imperialist forces still want to rule Africa through its puppets who negotiate by day and change their minds at night when their masters call them to order over agreements they think are not in their interest," Dr Pheko said.

He said it was shameful and disgusting that some African leaders also called for the invasion of Zimbabwe.

Dr Pheko said war and sanctions would not resolve the current challenges facing the country.

"The invasion of Zimbabwe would be a dangerous precedent and a license that any African country can be invaded or have western sanctions imposed on it with impunity while no such thing was ever done in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia…"

He said the West should let the Sadc-appointed facilitator Cde Thabo Mbeki resolve the political impasse in Harare.

President plants tree at conference venue

Bindura Bureau

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday planted the tree of the year at Bindura University of Science Education to mark this year’s National Tree Planting Day.

The National Tree Planting Day falls on the first Saturday of December, but it has become the norm for President Mugabe to plant a tree before officially opening a Zanu-PF conference or congress.

The tree planted by President Mugabe — Mutsangu/Umkhaya or Winter Thorn tree, which is also known by its botanical name Faidherbia albida — is one of the fastest growing indigenous trees.

It is common along the Zambezi Valley and low-lying areas of Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo and Save Valley in Manicaland where rainfall ranges between 250mm and 600mm per year.

Mutsangu can grow up to 60 metres in height and two metres in diameter.

Vice Presidents Cde Joseph Msika and Cde Joice Mujuru as well as the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Cde Didymus Mutasa also planted their own trees at the occasion.

VP Mujuru planted the Musasa tree which is known in IsiNdebele as Igonde and whose botanical name is Brachystegia spiciformis.

The Musasa tree, that reaches a height of between 10 and 15 metres, is mostly found at medium and high altitudes and is usually dominant or co-dominant in Miombo woodlands.

It is commonly found in nearly all of the country’s provinces thanks to its tolerance to different soil types.

VP Msika planted Muchechete — Mimusups ziheri or Red Milkwood tree — some of which are found at Great Zimbabwe where they sandwich the Conical Towers.

The tree, in some instances, grows into a shrub but can grow up to 15 metres and provides edible fruits to human beings, birds and animals.

The fruits have a fairly high Vitamin C content.

Cde Mutasa sealed the day by planting the Mupambangoma or Mukweshangoma, which is known as Impaca or Wisteria tree.

Several other senior Government officials and the Mashonaland Central political leadership witnessed the asion.

WHO boss arrives


WORLD Health Organisation regional director for Africa Dr Luis Gomes Sambo (pictured below) is in Zimbabwe on a routine visit and will assess the cholera outbreak that had by yesterday claimed 1 111 lives and left 20 581 infected.

Dr Sambo arrived in Harare on Wednesday.

An official from WHO Zimbabwe offices confirmed the arrival of Dr Sambo, but could not provide further details of his itinerary.

Dr Sambo could not be reached yesterday since he was locked up in meetings with health officials.

The WHO regional website, however, said Dr Sambo’s visit was linked to the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and its regional implications following reports that South Africa and Botswana had reported outbreaks.

Early this month, SA health authorities said the country had recorded more than 400 cholera cases and nine deaths related to the epidemic in areas bordering Zimbabwe while Botswana had so far confirmed three cases — all Zimbabweans.

Three cases have also been reported at Chirundu Border Post close to Zambia.

Dr Sambo’s visit comes at a time when WHO has partnered Government in the fight against cholera by sending epidemiologists, a water and sanitation expert and a logistician from its Geneva headquarters.

WHO has also sent medical supplies to treat 50 000 people for common conditions for three months as well as 3 200 moderate cases of cholera.

The UN agency is currently working with the Government and other partners to establish a Cholera Control and Command Centre to facilitate a co-ordinated response to the epidemic. — HR.

Ironies and paradoxes of the Zimbabwe crisis

By Joram Nyathi

UNITED States President George Bush wants President Robert Mugabe’s head for his valedictory party and as a Christmas turkey for his Republican and European supporters to cap his bloody legacy.

Ahistorical lawyers and reporters are deployed to make fateful decisions on the causes and solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems while Sadc and African Union leaders are cajoled to back the first American-engineered military coup in the region. There is a desperate urgency in Bush’s call. He has been rejected by the Americans and leaves the US mired in unwinnable deadly conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Getting rid of President Mugabe would be a victory, no matter how pyrrhic; it should be the silver lining on his dark reign which everyone wants to forget very quickly.

It’s no less devilish that this despicable agenda is cloaked as a democracy campaign (remember Iraq!), with the cholera outbreak as the casus belli.

We have become vermin to be called through a military operation before the disease can be contained. And leaders like Raila Odinga want Africa to bless this diabolical act!

The dilemma Zimbabwe faces is not helped by phoney and fawning euorcentric media most of whose callow practitioners can’t grasp concepts such as "social justice" abd "universal human rights" as enshrined in the UN Human Rights Charter of 1948.

While they are happy to cite convenient sections from it, nobody dares interrupt the bandwagon by pointing out that as late as 1970, ten years before Zimbabwe’s Independence, the Rhodesian Front Government was kicking Chief Rekayi Tangwena and his people off Gairesi Ranch.

Their single crime was that no indigenous African had title to land, so they could not have human rights without legal rights. That’s the context of the Sadc Tribunal’s ruling on Zimbabwe’s vexed land issue.

It dovetails with the usual rhetoric: the need to correct past wrongs is not disputed — so long as there is prompt "market-related" compensation "in foreign currency". None of those saying so wants to part with "his" land much of it measured in thousands of hectares and lying fallow. They know no African government can raise the foreign currency they demand. Listen to the ruckus in South Africa. We all know there was corruption in land redistribution and rampant abuse of resources allocated by Government.

But what I cannot understand is the claim by the Tribunal that implementation of "the Land Reform Programme might be legitimate if and when all lands under the programme were. . . distributed to poor, landless and other disadvantaged and marginalised individuals or groups". This is strange logic demanding of Zimbabwe something without precedent in the world.

So correcting a colonial property ownership injustice must be limited only to the poor and vagrants and not include anyone who fought for the land if they have so improved themselves that they now own a house? Who said this was the aim of the liberation war?

Fortunately most Sadc and AU leaders have rejected this veil of unjust legality. The dispute is not purely about human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These ideals can’t be enjoyed in a vacuum. Americans know this from their independence war and the civil war a century later. Europeans know this from the French Revolution. Those struggles were about property ownership rights, and there were a lot of expropriations from those who lost the war.

Zimbabweans want not less, no more than ownership and control of their natural resources, starting with land. If this had been let to run its course like in America and France, I am sure it would have been wrapped up in five years and deserving farmers compensated and spared us this racist acrimony.

This leads me to the biggest paradox in this saga.

It is a paradox which has confounded the denialists of the centrality of land in our crisis and why most Europeans cannot understand why African leaders respond with icy resentment to external goading to "deal" with President Mugabe. Put crudely: the political party purportedly seeking to establish the rule of law in Zimbabwe is viewed in African eyes as trying to achieve this by restoring and entrenching the status quo ante 1998 in land ownership pattern while a weary incumbent regime is pioneering a revolutionary post-colonial property ownership pattern on the continent.

A cursory reading of John Stuart Mill’s theory of the greatest happiness to the greatest number makes this self-evident. If one cannot understand this paradox, it is impossible one can understand why Thabo Mbeki was forced to leave power before President Mugabe, the main target of the onslaught in the region.

Having failed to execute his task as Bush’s pointman to dislodge Mugabe, Mbeki was portrayed in the South African media and abroad as the archetypal evil who could not call Mugabe the devil. The campaign of vilification and calumny worked insidiously, creating chinks in the governing ANC and quickly found concrete expression in Jacob Zuma’s vaulting ambition.

Too late, Zuma is realizing how he has been used to undermine the party which should have carried him to power and fortified his empowerment policies among SA’s marginalised urban and rural poor. In the context, Bush’s requested Christmas present is the ultimate insult to Africans who loathe the West’s condescending attitude.

Under military attack, given it geographical location, Zimbabwe would create a flaming vortex worse than the DRC war in 1999 and kill the raison d-etre of Sadc as a political and economic bloc and the benefits therefrom.

These are the ingredients of regional instability in which no nation can guarantee the security of its own interests. White capital flight will hit staggering proportions overnight, hitting hardest Sadc countries calling for a military solution to what is clearly a political problem.

--Joram Nyathi is the deputy editor of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper. This article appeared in the Independent of 12 December, 2008.

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