Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: Unicef Airlifts 140t Medical Supplies; Govt. Scoffs at Calls for Regime Change, etc.

Cholera: Unicef airlifts 140t medical supplies

Herald Reporter

THE health sector got a major boost at the weekend when Zimbabwe received 140 tonnes of medical supplies airlifted into the country by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

This in response to the Government’s December 4, 2008 request for assistance to combat cholera and revive the health delivery system.

As part of its 120-day emergency plan launched soon after the Government’s request, Unicef pledged to procure essential medicines for 1 780 health facilities in the country and supply cholera treatment centres with medicines and equipment.

Unicef acting representative to Zimbabwe Mr Roeland Monasch said the delivery, which arrived in batches on Sunday and yesterday, comprises intravenous fluids, oral rehydration supplies, drip equipment, essential drugs, midwifery and obstetric kits to be used in the cholera response and provision of essential services to expectant mothers.

"This is a strategic measure to address a desperate situation. We are already supplying 70 percent of the country’s essential drugs and these airlifted supplies will further boost Unicef’s life-saving support," said Mr Monasch.

Two of the three planes carrying the drugs landed in the country on Sunday morning while the third arrived yesterday.

At least 750 people have died of cholera while nearly 24 000 cases have been reported in Zimbabwe.

However, the disease has been contained and cases are on the decline.

According to Unicef, the closure of major hospitals owing to a prolonged nurses and doctors’ strike, lack of drugs and equipment worsened the situation.

Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Joseph Weterings said the Netherlands would do everything to help Zimbabweans.

Responding to Government’s request for assistance to combat cholera and put the health delivery system back on track, the Netherlands has allocated an additional US$11,7 million in humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. This comes in addition to the US$15 million already made available to Zimbabwe this year.

Unicef is supplying more than half a million litres of potable water every day, and 3 800 tonnes of treatment chemicals for all urban areas in Zimbabwe, among other life-saving interventions during the current emergency.

Since Zimbabwe declared cholera and the health system a national emergency, a number of donors and diplomats have come in with sizeable donations.

Over the weekend, Tanzania donated 40 tonnes of medical supplies to fight the cholera epidemic while Sadc has launched an emergency request for medical aid.

Last week, the United Nations Population Fund donated five tonnes of surgical sundries towards central hospitals’ maternity services for a period of at least three months.

A fortnight ago, Namibia responded to Government’s request for assistance with a donation of US$200 000 worth of drugs.

Two weeks earlier, South Africa had partnered Government to contain the cholera outbreak in Beitbridge.

Other non-governmental organisations and UN agencies have also assisted through the provision of incentives for staff working in cholera treatment centres, logistics and experienced staff.

The assistance from the donor community is earmarked either for cholera or revival of the health sector.

Govt scoffs at US regime change calls

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT has dismissed renewed atte-mpts by the United States to instigate illegal regime change in the country, labelling the fresh onslaught the "last kicks of a dying administration".

This follows US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer’s statements that Washington would not recognise any Government that would have President Mugabe.

This is despite the fact that the country’s three main political parties have already signed an agreement that upholds President Mugabe as Head of State and Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

In addition, a mutually agreed-on Constitutional Amendment to give legal effect to this arrangement has already been gazetted.

"We have lost confidence in the power-sharing deal being a success with (President) Mugabe in power," Frazer told the media in South Africa.

She was in Pretoria to "consult with regional leaders about the deteriorating political and economic crises in Zimbabwe" and to communicate Washington’s stance on the envisaged inclusive Government.

Frazer also tried to "bribe" the opposition to pull out of the broad-based agreement saying the US would cancel Zimbabwe’s debt to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund if illegal regime change was effected.

She indicated that the US would not extend any assistance to fight cholera as long as President Mugabe remained in power, vindicating Government assertions that the West was trying to use the outbreak for illegal regime change purposes.

Yesterday, Britain’s Africa Minister Mark Malloch-Brown echoed Frazer’s call, saying: "Power-sharing isn’t dead, but (President) Mugabe has become an absolute impossible obstacle to achieving it."

Secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba, who is also President Mugabe’s spokesperson, scoffed at Frazer’s utterances, saying they were nothing new.

"We have no time for US President George W. Bush’s diplomatic flute. We are talking about an administration whose sun has set. Why bother?"

He said Gordon Brown’s administration was also on its way out in Britain and the British prime minister was ill-advisedly trying to gain relevance back home through posturing on Zimbabwe.

Bush leaves office on January 20 and the Government has accused him of trying to use Zimbabwe to salvage his poor foreign policy record. Washington has imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe through the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 and has been actively agitating for a military invasion of the country.

Independent MP, Professor Jonathan Moyo scoffed at Frazer’s comments saying they were an indictment on the MDCs, particularly the faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

‘‘The announcement by the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, that the US has withdrawn its support for Zimbabwe’s September 15 inter-party political agreement is not only a pathetic self-fulfilling prophecy since the Bush administration did not support that agreement in the first place, but is also the clearest evidence that the US government’s arrogantly neo-colonial stance on Zimbabwe is premised on the sad but real fact that America has a regime change puppet in Zimbabwe in the form of Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party who are ever ready to parrot an American line on Zimbabwe no matter how harmful,’’ Prof Moyo said.

Prof Moyo said in the circumstances nobody should be surprised if Tsvangirai starts parroting Frazer’s statement, and that the MDC-T leader should prepare himself for rejection by Zimbabweans.

Another political analyst questioned the logic of Malloch-Brown’s statement saying: "How can he on one hand say power sharing is dead while at the same time saying President Mugabe should not be part of it when he is not only a signatory to the September 15 agreement but also the Head of State as endorsed even by the opposition here?"

Officially opening Zanu-PF’s 10th National People’s Conference in Bindura last week, President Mugabe described Frazer as a "little girl" who was out of touch with the reality in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

"There is this little girl called Jendayi Frazer. She was in South Africa recently making all sorts of noises.

"She thinks that Africans are idiots, little kids who cannot think for themselves.’’

The US, Britain, France and their African askaris like leader of the Botswana military junta Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, have been calling for military intervention in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa was quoted by AFP as saying: "It is their (Britain and US) own view and we will not be drawn into commenting on it."

These calls have been rejected by Sadc and the African Union and last week Tsvangirai also dismissed military invasion as an option.

Tsvangirai is currently holed up in Botswana.

However, Botswana has backtracked on its recent sabre-rattling, with Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani saying: "I do not think the army of Zimbabwe would remain in their barracks in the face of a foreign invasion. The problem with an invasion is that innocent civilians would be killed."

The British media have also warned against invading Zimbabwe saying that would be akin to sacrificing Britons against ‘‘the tried and tested veterans of the Congo,’’ in reference to Zimbabwe’s exploits during Operation Sovereign Legitimacy.

National hero Sibanda’s burial set for today

Herald Reporter

FORMER Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army High Command member Retired Major Gordon Sibanda, who died last week, will be buried at the national shrine today.

Thousands of people — among them colleagues, relatives and friends — are expected to converge at the National Heroes’ Acre to witness the burial.

Cde Sibanda’s body arrived at 1 Commando Brigade in Harare last night where it was expected to lie in state before being taken to Stodart Hall in Mbare this morning where President Mugabe will lead mourners in viewing the body.

Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi said everything was in place for Cde Sibanda’s burial.

"Everything is set for the burial of Cde Sibanda tomorrow (today)," Cde Mohadi said.

Cde Sibanda, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Gordon Munyanyi Terror, contributed immensely to the liberation struggle, having joined the then Zapu in Kitwe, Zambia.

He graduated from the Cher-chel Poll Arms Academy in Algeria where he emerged as a second lieutenant in a commando course at Phillipville in the same country.

On completing his military training in 1966, he was deployed to Morogoro in Tanzania, the then Zipra training centre, as an instructor.

He rose through the ranks to become a military intelligence chief.

At independence in 1980, Cde Sibanda joined the Zimbabwe National Army, rising through the ranks to become major, a position he held until his retirement.

Cde Sibanda will become the 80th hero to be interred at the national shrine. His burial comes barely two weeks after that of another national hero, Zanu-PF national political commissar Cde Elliot Manyika, who died on December 6 in a car accident.

Parties set to approve, sign draft No. 19 Bill

Bulawayo Bureau

PRESIDENT Mugabe and the two leaders of the MDC formations are expected to approve and sign draft Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill, to pave way for the implementation of the Septe-mber 15 power-sharing deal.

South African government spokesman Mr Themba Maseko revealed this over the weekend.

He said the approval of draft Constitutional Amendment No. 19 would see the formation of an inclusive Government within days.

The negotiating parties signed the draft Amendment Bill in South Africa early this month.

In terms of Clause 15 of the proposed law, the Executive shall consist of a President, two Vice-Presidents, Prime Minister, two Deputy Prime Ministers, 31 ministers and 15 deputy ministers.

Cde Mugabe shall occupy the Presidency and he and/or Zanu-PF will nominate the Vice-Presidents.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai shall occupy the office of Prime Minister while his party and MDC will both have a member as Deputy Prime Minister.

On ministers, the clause says Zanu-PF will nominate 15, MDC-T 13 and MDC three. Zanu-PF will also nominate eight deputy ministers, MDC-T six and MDC one.

The Government’s executive authority shall vest in and be shared among the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet with the three expected to exercise this power subject to the Constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe.

Mr Maseko said negotiators from the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC formations met with the mediator, Cde Thabo Mbeki, in South Africa last week. The ruling party and MDC-T had disagreed on the management of the Ministry of Home Affairs, but a full Sadc summit, held early last month, resolved that both parties co-manage that portfolio.

President Mugabe last week wrote to self-exiled MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai inviting him to be part of the new Government.

Mr Tsvangirai is currently living lavishly in Botswana and has said that he would only return home if the Government gives him a passport.

He apparently fears that local law enforcement agents could arrest him for using an expired emergency travel document.

However, the Government has assured that Mr Tsvangirai would not face prosecution.

Analysts suggest that the implementation of the September 15 power-sharing deal is the only solution to problems bedevilling the country.

Let’s guard our national unity jealously

ZIMBABWEANS yesterday commemorated National Unity Day, a special day marking the unity achieved between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, the two liberation movements that brought independence to Zimbabwe.

This is the 21st anniversary of the signing of the unity agreement, when on December 22, 1987, the President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF, Cde Mugabe, and the president of PF-Zapu, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo, appended their signatures to a three-page document that opened a new chapter in the history of our country.

We view the unity achieved between the two liberation forces as one of the greatest things to happen to this country after independence in 1980.

It united those who fought for the liberation of this country and indeed brought national unity and peace.

The commemoration of this day will remind us and our children about the history of this country.

Sadly, we are celebrating National Unity Day on the back of a relentless onslaught by enemies trying to reverse the hard-won gains of our country’s independence.

There is today more pressure from outside and within to divide Zimbabweans and create an environment for regime change.

We now see sinister manoeuvres by rebellious elements in our midst who wish to see the Unity Accord dead and have been working day and night to revive PF-Zapu.

It should be made clear that a few disgruntled elements must not be given any room to reverse national unity, which has brought peace and harmony in this country.

The biggest challenge is that complacency on the unity agreement has been allowed to creep in and grow to its highest level in a long time.

We, therefore, urge the ruling party to guard against this wane in enthusiasm on the Unity Accord, which President Mugabe termed at the time of signing as the fulfilment of an "expensive and dear dream’’ for the vast majority of the people of Zimbabwe.

At the time of the signing of the unity agreement, the late Dr Nkomo also bemoaned suspicion and selfishness among certain individuals, whom we today see making attempts to revive PF-Zapu.

The objective of these misguided elements is to erode the support of the ruling party, particularly in Matabeleland.

Zimbabweans must be reminded that the Unity Accord did not die with Dr Nkomo, but was instead enhanced by his death.

We concur with Cde Mugabe’s call to forge national unity by rejuvenating the party machinery and cultivating organisational enthusiasm right from the grassroots level.
Unity eliminates tribalism, regionalism and ethnicity in the country.

It is only when united that individuals, the community and the nation at large can focus on development and achieve their goals. It is our belief that the threat posed by outsiders and local rebellious elements is sufficient unifying force, which should keep Zimbabweans inseparable.

Let us all jealously guard national unity as we stand to gain when the country is united.

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