Friday, January 16, 2009

Zimbabwe News: US to Continue Destabilization Efforts; Western-backed Opposition Holds Out on Joining Unity Government; Cholera Fight Continues

U.S. to continue confronting Zimbabwe's Mugabe, says Obama's UN Designate

U.S. Ambassador designate to the United Nations Susan Rice said here on Thursday that the incoming Obama administration will continue to confront Zimbabwe led by President Robert Mugabe.

"I hope very much that under President-elect Obama's leadership, we will work with southern Africa and bring their private condemnation into the public sphere ... so that the people of Zimbabwe's suffering can finally end," Rice said at her Senate confirmation hearing.

Outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration have been trying to isolate Mugabe's government, accusing the latter of violating a power-sharing deal with the southern African country's major opposition party -- the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Rice, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for UN ambassador, also vowed to upgrade America's role in the United Nations if she is approved to take the position.

"My most immediate objective, should I be confirmed, will be to refresh and renew America's leadership in the United Nations and bring to bear the full weight of our influence, voice, resources, values, and diplomacy at the United Nations," she said.

Rice also promised to promote U.S. leadership at the UN on climate change, nuclear proliferation and human rights in addition to strengthening UN members' ability to train and equip peacekeepers for global hotspots.

Tsvangirai dithers over joining Gvt

Herald Reporters

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday once more dithered over joining the envisaged inclusive Government, saying he would only do so if all his demands are met, confirming the ruling party’s assertions that he is being instructed by the West to frustrate the agreement.

Speaking at a Press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tsvangirai acknowledged for the first time that he had requested South African President and Sadc chair Cde Kgalema Motlanthe to arrange a "confidential meeting" with President Mugabe, though he stopped short of admitting that the request had been summarily rejected.

President Motlanthe reportedly told Tsvangirai last week that he should instead return to Zimbabwe immediately and join the envisaged inclusive Government.

The South African leader also pointed out that Cde Thabo 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, who is part of the envisaged Government.

Tsvangirai, who was expected in Zimbabwe yesterday but postponed his return to Saturday, has consistently refused to finalise the implementation of the broad-based agreement in ine with instructions from the United States and Britain that he is "too weak" to work with President Mugabe.

"I wrote recently to His Excellency, President Motlanthe of South Africa, and to Mr Mugabe indicating the urgent need for myself and Mr Mugabe to have a meeting. I requested President Motlanthe, in his capacity as the Sadc chairman, to organise this meeting," Tsvangirai said yesterday.

The opposition leader indicated that he would not join the envisaged Government until Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill became law, among other issues, meaning the earliest he wants the agreement finalised is in February.

President Mugabe, on the other hand, has made it clear that the country cannot go on without a new Government and is said to be in the process of setting up a new administration.

To that end, President Mugabe has already terminated the executive appointments of ministers and deputy ministers who failed to secure parliamentary seats in last year’s harmonised elections and were subsequently not appointed non-constituency senators.

Cde Mugabe has also met with Prof Mutambara to explore ways of finalising the agreement — a meeting that insiders said worried Tsvangirai who thinks the other two sides are drawing closer to each other and might proceed without him.

Tsvangirai has stayed in Botswana as a guest of President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and has not been to Zimbabwe in three months and has instead embarked on what he calls a "diplomatic tour".

MDC-T’s national council earlier this week ordered Tsvangirai to return, a directive he has also defied.

At the Press conference, he claimed that the roles of President and Prime Minister needed to be properly defined, further fuelling belief that he signed last year’s agreement without understanding its full import.

MDC-T is plagued by a leadership wrangle centred on the implementation of the agreement that has seen some senior party members questioning Tsvangirai’s leadership credentials as well as his constitutional right to lead the opposition in the inclusive Government.

Secretary-general Tendai Biti is understood to be leading a rebel faction that believes Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe do not have the mettle to direct party affairs in the envisaged Government — a view also held by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer.

Biti has reportedly lobbied the party to recall Tsvangirai because he has led the party for 10 consecutive years, which is the maximum allowed by the party’s constitution.

The secretary-general has apparently got the support of senior officials like former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri and party secretary for international affairs Prof Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. MDC-T’s white Rhodesian element, led by Roy Bennet and Iain Kay, is also said to be questioning Tsvangirai’s leadership capabilities and is supporting Biti’s bid for a boardroom coup.

However, the Bennet group is demanding that should succeed in his bid, Biti hands over the control of all ministries that oversee lands, agriculture, mines and security to them.

This is not the first time a serious leadership crisis has rocked Tsvangirai’s party in the recent past.

In October 2005, the party split after Tsvangirai unilaterally barred the MDC from participating in that year’s Senate elections.

The opposition split into two factions: one under Tsvangirai’s leadership while the other was led by Prof Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda, who subsequently brought on board Arthur Mutambara.

‘More still to be done’


THE success recorded in the fight against cholera so far should not distract the country and its partners from intensifying efforts to thwart the outbreak, as more still needs to be done, Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.

Receiving drugs worth one million pula donated by the Botswana Red Cross to the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society yesterday, Dr Parirenyatwa said singular efforts in the national response would collectively make an indelible impact on the national cholera response.

"Let us work together so that our combined impact is greater. Together, we can make a life-saving difference for millions. The benefits of working together are far greater than the sum total of our activities as individual actors.

"Statistics at hand have shown that there are still some sporadic outbreaks of cholera, but generally the epidemic is under control.

"This is a feat that we should be proud of, but it must never make us bask in the sunlight of victory because a lot still has to be done," he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said the Zimbabwe Red Cross was playing an important role by complementing Govern-ment efforts in the fight against cholera.

"There is need to harness the power of partnership as we collaborate in assisting the most vulnerable members of the community," he said.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society president Mr Edmore Shamu also commended the response by Government and its partners in the fight against cholera. — HR.

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