Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: Reclaim Breadbasket Status; US Continues Wrong Approach; MDC-T Agrees to Join Government

‘Zim can reclaim breadbasket status’

Herald Reporter

MINISTERS from six African countries have commended Zimbabwe’s 2009 agricultural season, saying the country has the potential to reclaim its breadbasket status.

Speaking after touring an A2 farm in Beatrice yesterday, Kenya’s Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Mr Gedion Ndambuku, said what Zimbabwe’s farmers were doing was not only a pride to the nation but to the African continent as a whole.

Mr Ndambuku is part of the Governing Council of Ministers of the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa, a six-member bloc that is holding its 32nd session in the capital.

The organisation is constituted by Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe while Lesotho and Angola attended as observers.

Yesterday, the group toured Albion Farm, owned by Mr Mutami Zishiri and located 30km from Harare along the Harare-Masvingo road to have an appreciation of Zimbabwe’s agrarian reforms.

"It is really a pride not only to you but to Africa. We want you to succeed, to prove to the world that we can do it. We wish all those who were given farms to do the same as what we have seen today," said Mr Ndambuku.

He said Zimbabwe‘s agricultural mechanisms were in place for a brighter future, what needed to be addressed was the political side through an inclusive government.

"You can reclaim your glory of producing maize and beef, what is only left is the political side and then we can take off for good," he said.

Tanzania’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Mr Mohamed Muya said the state of the country’s agriculture was an indication that Zimbabwe has the potential to transform its fortunes and become a country to reckon with.

"We have seen it that it is possible, every farmer needs to produce and ensure food security for the country and the region," he said.

Acting minister of Agriculture, Cde Joseph Made said Government’s mechanisation programme had gone a long way in empowering many farmers.

"We are now going to extend the same to the mining sector. They have requested us to do that and very soon we would be moving to that area through the Ministry of Mines," said Cde Made, who led the foreign dignitaries in the tour.

Mr Zishiri’s farm has more than 70 hectares under tobacco, 60ha with maize and 28 soya beans.

The 538-hectare farm also has more than 400 cattle.

WASHINGTON 26 January 2009 Sapa-AFP


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "very concerned" about the situation in Zimbabwe, a spokesman said Monday as he urged South Africa to put pressure on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

"Clinton is very focused on this issue. She's very concerned about it," spokesman Robert Wood told reporters as Zimbabwe suffers from a massive cholera outbreak and economic meltdown amid a continuing political deadlock.

"And we're obviously going to be reviewing the situation in southern Africa to see what we can do," said Wood.

President Barack Obama's administration is pursuing his predecessor George W. Bush's line on Zimbabwe by asking regional powers for help, even if it is taking a new tack on the war on terror, the Middle East and climate change.

"Certainly the membership of SADC can do more," Wood said of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, which includes heavyweight South Africa and is meeting in Pretoria.

"We encourage South Africa to do as much as it can to try to put pressure on Mugabe to do the right thing. But to date, Mugabe hasn't seemed to have any interest whatsoever in bringing about an end to the crisis in this country," he said.

SADC leaders were pushing Monday for a unity government, agreed to four months ago, that leaves Mugabe as president and creates a new prime minister post for Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader.

But the pact has foundered over which party will control top public posts, including the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police.

Analysts said some countries in the region lack the political will to force Mugabe into a deal, while other leaders remain sympathetic to the man who was once seen as a grand statesman among the continent's liberation movements.

Zimbabwe is battling a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 2,800 people, infected more than 50,000, and spilled into South Africa and other neighboring countries.

That has only worsened the daily hardships in Zimbabwe, where half the population needs food aid, while hyperinflation has destroyed the national currency.

MDC-T agrees to join inclusive Govt

Herald Reporters

ZIMBABWE’S three main political parties agreed to form an inclusive Government by February 13 at the Sadc Extraordinary Summit which ended early yesterday morning in Tshwane, South Africa, though MDC-T seceretary-general Tendai Biti made a sudden U-turn, contradicting a communiqué issued after the meeting.

According to Sadc chairperson and South African President Cde Kgalema Motlanthe, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai had agreed to the Sadc position in a closed-door session, only for the party to renege on that position in a statement issued to the media.

This is not the first time that MDC-T has turned against propositions by Sadc in the regional body’s efforts to salvage the September 15 broad-based agreement signed by President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC leader Arthur Mutambara.

Last week, Tsvangirai agreed to a proposition by Sadc facilitator to the talks, former South African president Cde Thabo Mbeki, and Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for the formation of the inclusive Government, but made a counter-proposal after making "consultations".

MDC-T has disregarded several Sadc proposals for the implementation of the agreement, saying it wanted "outstanding issues" to be resolved before they could join the Government.

According to a communiqué issued by Sadc yesterday, the summit noted that Zimbabweans are faced with difficult challenges and suffering that could only be addressed once an inclusive Government was in place.

Speaking to the media at the Harare International Airport after returning from the summit, which dragged on from Monday until 4am yesterday, President Mugabe confirmed that the opposition had finally agreed to join the inclusive Government.

Despite the confirmation from President Mugabe and the release of a communiqué by Sadc leaders explicitly stating that Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC had agreed to form a government very soon, Tsvangirai’s party yesterday would not come out clearly stating that they would go along with the agreement.

President Mugabe said he hoped that this marked the beginning of a new era in Zimbabwe’s politics.

"We did agree that an inclusive government should be formed. Dates have been stipulated for the various activities, which include the formation of the government itself with the swearing-in of the top people, that is the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers, then the ministers, and then that government should be in place," President Mugabe said.

Tsvangirai should be sworn in on February 11 along with his second-in-command Thokozani Khupe and MDC leader Arthur Mutambara as Deputy Prime Ministers.

President Mugabe said once the Government was in place, it would start looking into the concerns raised by MDC-T, including the issue of the appointment of provincial governors.

"This shall start with the constitutional amendment in Parliament which will legalise this whole framework. It (Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill) should be debated in Parliament soon. We do hope that things will open up now. This is a new chapter in political relations in our country and in the structure of Government," Cde Mugabe said.

Under the agreement, President Mugabe remains Head of State and Government, Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Chair of Cabinet and Chair of the National Security Council — currently constituted as the Joint Operations Command.

Asked how the efficacy of the inclusive Government will be determined, President Mugabe said: "The enforcement shall be by us. We have an in-built mechanism to monitor this. And after six months, there will be a review of the progress made or the lack of it.

"In light of this, there should be compliance, I certainly hope there will be."

However, the MDC-T, after "consultations" with suspected British and American intelligence officers, issued a conflicting statement against the Sadc position.

Speaking to the international media yesterday, party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa dismissed President Motlanthe’s statement, saying Sadc had "fallen far short of our expectations".

"We did put to the summit our position on the outstanding issues. Unfortunately, our expectations were not met, our case was not received. In fact, there was no objective understanding and assessment of the situation," he said

However, Sadc leaders were unequivocal in declaring that the parties had agreed to implement the agreement.

In the communiqué issued after the summit, the leaders said the government must be constituted within the coming two weeks.

President Motlanthe said the parties should endeavour to cause Parliament to pass the Constitutional Amendment 19 by February 5.

He said the summit also decided that Tsvangirai, Mutambara and Khupe should be sworn in by February 11.

Ministers and deputy ministers should be sworn in February 13 to conclude the process of the formation of the inclusive Government, the regional bloc said.

President Motlanthe said the Joint Monitoring Implementation Committee provided for in the Global Political Agreement should be activated immediately.

"The first meeting of JOMIC shall be convened by the facilitator on 30 January 2009 and shall, among other things, elect the chairpersons."

The summit said the allocation of ministerial portfolios, endorsed by the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held on November 9 last year, should be reviewed six months after the inauguration of the inclusive Government.

"The appointment of the Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney-General will be dealt with by the inclusive Government after its formation (while) negotiators of the parties shall meet to consider the National Security Bill submitted by the MDC-T as well as the formula for the distribution of the provincial governors."

Expressing its appreciation for Cde Mbeki, the facilitator of the political dialogue, for helping to find an amicable solution to challenges facing Zimbabwe, the regional bloc encouraged him to continue in his efforts to find a lasting solution to the challenges.

Sadc also commended the parties to the agreement for their openness and constructive engagement in finding a solution to the challenges facing Zimbabwe.

"Sadc shall remain seized with the Zimbabwe situation in keeping with its obligations as guarantor of the Global Political Agreement."

The extraordinary summit directed President Motlanthe to present to the African Union at its forthcoming summit a progress report on the implementation of the Sharm-El-Sheikh Resolution.

Meanwhile, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, one of Zanu-PF’s negotiators to the talks, confirmed that an agreement had been reached.

"The representatives of the parties are to meet soon to discuss the formula for the sharing of governors’ posts, such sharing which will occur if and when vacancies fall due. They will also meet to discuss the draft Bill to be tabled by MDC-T for the setting-up of a National Security Council.

"As you know, this is an MDC-T request and as was proposed last week and accepted by us and Mutambara’s MDC, the onus lies on them to draft the Bill.

"By January 29, the parties are to submit the names of members to serve on the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, whose creation is facilitated for under the agreement.

"It will be responsible for overseeing aspects that need to be implemented and if things are on course. Reviews of the performance of the Government will be carried out," Cde Chinamasa said.

He added that Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill would be introduced on February 5 and it was hoped that it would be passed into law expeditiously.

Zimbabwe’s main political parties signed an agreement to form an inclusive Government in September last year, but have failed to implement it following several demands by MDC-T, which – in turn – rebuffed Sadc recommendations.

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