Saturday, January 17, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: SADC Trio Due in Harare Monday; Regional Aid Pours In; UNICEF Director Meets President

Sadc trio due in Harare

Herald Reporter

SOUTH African President Cde Kgalema Motlanthe, Mozambican leader Cde Armando Guebuza and Sadc mediator Cde Thabo Mbeki are expected in Harare on Monday to resolve differences between Zanu-PF and MDC-T that have stalled the formation of the envisaged inclusive Government.

President Motlanthe is the Sadc chairman while President Guebuza is the deputy chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

According to a statement posted on the South African government’s website, Zanu-PF and the MDC formations’ negotiating teams are also expected to meet and discuss "outstanding" issues.

"President Kgalema Motlanthe will on Monday 19 January 2009 lead a Sadc delegation to Zimbabwe where discussions will be held with leaders of the country’s political parties involved in the inter-party dialogue," the statement said.

"The delegation will include President Guebuza of Mozambique and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, the facilitator in the Zimbabwe inter-party dialogue."

According to the South African government’s statement, negotiating teams are then expected to discuss "outstanding matters".

"The meeting of the leaders will be followed by a meeting of the negotiating teams which is expected to discuss outstanding matters related to the implementation of the Global Political Agreement, including the processing of Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment 19.

"The meeting of the negotiating teams was initially scheduled for Friday 16 January 2009, but had to be postponed at the request of one of the parties," the statement said.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in self-imposed exile in Botswana for over two months, is expected in Harare today ahead of an MDC-T national executive council meeting convened to find the way forward regarding the envisaged inclusive Govern-ment.

On Thursday, Tsvangirai acknowledged for the first time that he had requested President Motlanthe to arrange a "confidential meeting" with President Mugabe.

It could not be confirmed yesterday whether Monday’s meeting was in response to Tsvangirai’s request, but earlier indications were that President Motlanthe had told the opposition leader to return to Zimbabwe and join the inclusive Government.

President Motlanthe reportedly pointed out to Tsvangirai that Cde Mbeki was the Sadc-appointed mediator, and as chairman of the regional bloc, he would not undermine that mandate nor facilitate a meeting that excluded Professor Arthur Mutambara.

Monday’s meeting comes at a time Tsvangirai has declared that he would not be part of the envisaged Government until all his demands are met.

He has indicated that he would not join the inclusive Government until Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill became law, and demanded the reversal of the appointments of provincial governors, among other conditions.

Processes to establish the inclusive Government are underway with Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill having already been gazetted and President Mugabe has invited Tsvangirai and Prof Mutambara to come for swearing in as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

Sadc states pour in more aid

Herald Reporter

SADC countries continued to pour assistance to help Zimbabwe fight the cholera outbreak with Zambia becoming the sixth nation in the region to donate medical supplies, equipment and food.

Yesterday, Zambia donated a consignment of food, medical equipment and drugs that included 20 000 tubes of IV fluids, 5 000 sachets of oral rehydration solution, 5 500 litres of chlorine, 20 bicycles, 400 blankets, 400 tents, maize meal and malaria drugs among an assortment of other medical goods.

Zambia joins Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and Botswana which have so far heeded Sadc executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao’s request for regional countries to help Zimbabwe fight the cholera epidemic.

Presenting the consignment, Zambian Charge d’Affaires to Zimbabwe Mr Chabakola Kasukumya said the donation was their helping hand to their brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe.

He said Zambia and Zimbabwe shared a common history. "I feel honoured that I am here to physically hand over the donation to the people of Zimbabwe and show that Zimbabwe and Zambia are one.

"We share the same colonial history and are supposed to be one, hence we should always endeavour to build our relationship so that no one can divide us. The message to the world is we are in this battle together and we will always strive to bring good health to Zimbabwe," he said.

Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, who was accompanied by the Minister of State for Policy Implementation Cde Webster Shamu, said the drugs would immediately be distributed to different cholera treatment centres in the country.

"This is one unique donation that we have received that is also very practical because it consists of bicycles, sprayers, food and malaria drugs. These are critical for our medical personnel who have to move from one area to another. The food will be used to feed cholera patients at CTCs.

"We are more grateful for the malaria drugs since malaria is one problem that affects the region during the wet season, hence we need to be proactive," he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the bicycles would be given to environmental health technicians and village health care officers who are critical in bringing health to communities.

A number of countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia and humanitarian organisations have also donated to Zimbabwe’s fight against the cholera epidemic.

President meets Unicef boss

Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday met United Nations Children’s Fund executive director Ms Ann Veneman, who acknowledged efforts by the Government and other stakeholders in fighting cholera in the country.

In an interview after meeting the President at Zimbabwe House in Harare, Ms Veneman said everyone in the country was working hard to contain the cholera outbreak.

"I think everybody is trying hard to fight cholera, but I do not think it is yet under control," she said.

Ms Veneman said her discussions with President Mugabe centred on children’s issues.

She said Unicef was providing assistance to 250 000 orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

Ms Veneman said Unicef was playing a big role in Zimbabwe, including the provision of essential medicines and water treatment chemicals.

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Francis Nhema; the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa; senior Government officials and the United Nations resident representative Dr Agostinho Zacarias attended the closed-door meeting.

Ms Veneman arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday and is set to leave for her New York base today.

Earlier, she paid a courtesy call on Acting President Cde Joice Mujuru at her Munhumutapa offices.

Last year, Unicef provided aluminium sulphate for water purification enough to last four months. Unicef has also contracted trucks to expedite the removal of refuse in Harare and curb the spread of cholera and is providing water bowsers in suburbs facing erratic supplies.

Unicef launched a 120-day emergency response to intensify relief efforts in the country’s educational and health sectors in December under which it is expected to increase health outreach services, provide nutritional supplements and boost school attendance, among other things.

Unicef has since appealed for US$17,5 million to boost its 120-day emergency plan.

This followed an appeal by the Government for assistance to combat cholera and to resuscitate the health sector, which has been hit hard by illegal Western sanctions.

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