Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Bilateral Economic Agreements to be Implemented With Iran

Iran, Zim move to implement bilateral economic agreements

Herald Reporter

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammad Reza Bagheri jetted into Zimbabwe on Tuesday as the two countries move to implement agreements signed during President Mugabe’s visit to the Middle Eastern country in 2006.

Dr Bagheri, who is on a five-day official visit, yesterday paid a courtesy call on Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi at his Munhumutapa Offices ahead of scheduled meetings with President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, starting today.

The visiting minister is also expected to meet Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge, Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu and Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera.

Dr Bagheri is also expected to hand over a consignment of drugs to Government at Natpharm today.

Speaking after meeting Dr Bagheri, Minister Mumbengegwi said the visit would give the two countries an opportunity to work on ways to further co-operation between the two countries.

"Our two countries share bilateral economic relations which date back a long time ago and we have developed co-operation politically at various fora such as the Non Aligned Movement, G77 and G15, among others.

"President Mugabe also visited Iran in 2006 and a number of agreements were signed between the two countries and this visit will afford Zimbabwe and Iran to find ways and means to further co-operation on the agreements," he said.

Some of the agreements signed include the establishment of tractor assembly plant in Zimbabwe as well as other agri-based projects.

"The administrative aspects of the tractor assembly project have already been implemented and we are waiting for kits to start arriving into the country so that the assembling, which would cover Zimbabwe and the region, will begin," Minister Mumbengegwi said.

He said the two countries were looking at working on projects between the Industrial Development Corporation and Iranian companies.

Zimbabwe and Iran have enjoyed excellent relations with the latter providing support to the former especially when the West moved to push for United Nations sanctions on Zimbabwe in the past two years.

Iran also gave Zimbabwe US$4 million to fund the establishment of the tractor assembly plant in Harare while a deal was signed between IDC, Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company and the Iran Foreign Investment Company.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Zimbabwe has commended the promotion of a reading culture in the country.

In a statement issued after the 2009 Zimbabwe International Book Fair, the embassy’s cultural section said: "After touring several exhibitions and publisher’s stands at the book fair, His Excellency Mr Rasoul Momeni, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, highly commended ZIBF for its sterling work in promoting a reading and writing culture in Zimbabwe. He encouraged the organisers to keep it up."

The Iranian Embassy’s cultural section has been a traditional supporter of ZIBF and at this year’s event it exhibited several religious, history and fiction books.

"During the book fair, the cultural section met with book publishers, film-makers and prominent authors and discussed how the Teheran International Book Fair is administered in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"The meeting was very successful in that after the discussion, a committee comprising publishers and authors was formed."

ZDF: A true people’s force

Herald Reporters

Thousands of Zimbabweans on Tuesday thronged Gwanzura Stadium in Harare and other stadiums in provincial capitals throughout the country to commemorate Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day, bearing true testimony that the ZDF is a people’s force.

The main event was at Gwanzura Stadium where the Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF President Mugabe started the festivities by inspecting the parade in his traditional command rover.

The commemoration came to life when the Head of State and Government entered the stadium and inspected the parade, which comprised all ZNA and Air Force of Zimbabwe units.

The crowds were thrilled by marvelous drill displays exhibited by the ZDF parade while the drummer from the Zimbabwe Corps of Signals Band drew loud applause from the crowd that marvelled at his skills.

The parade marched past the saluting dais in slow and quick time and after that they marched in review order, sang the National Anthem before giving what has become their trademark "war cry" of: "Zimbabwe is a sovereign State, we shall defend it with our own blood."

President Mugabe stood to attention again when the ZDF junior soldiers parade from Headquarters 2 Brigade Primary School started their display, which they mounted in his honour.

The school children, some as young as seven years old, were clad in military camouflage and exhibited excellent drill displays and karate skills that were appreciated by the crowd.

The Air Force of Zimbabwe Traditional Dance Troupe and the mock battle drill by the Parachute Regiment also left those who attended the celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium asking for more.

In Masvingo, thousands of people both young and the old joined the rest of the nation in commemorating Defence Forces Day at Mucheke Stadium.

Proceedings got into high gear around mid-morning when Masvingo Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke inspected a parade mounted by four detachments from Four Infantry Brigade in the company of Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Francis Mtisi.

Thereafter, the Governor read President Mugabe’s speech to an appreciative crowd.

The crowd was then entertained with drills by members of the Defence Forces who did quick and slow marches that were punctuated by continued ululation from the stands and the VIP enclosure.

There was also time for mock battle displays, which were well-received by attendants who included the President of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, and other top Government officials.

Hundreds of people converged at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera for the Defence Forces Day celebrations where Mashonaland East Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Aeneas Chigwedere inspected a parade by the Mutoko-based 2.1 Infantry Battalion before he read the Commander-in-Chief’s speech.

Entertainment was provided by the Prisons Brass Band, the Macheke-based More Fire Crew, military drills and martial arts displays by the ZDF.

Later in the afternoon, the crowd was treated to a soccer match pitting Marondera Select against a Security Forces Select side.

The commemorations were also attended by provincial administrator Mr Cuthbert Ndarukwa and other senior Government officials as well as representatives from all the country’s major political parties.

In Mashonaland West, the centre of proceedings was Chinhoyi Stadium where Governor and Resident Minister Faber Chidarikire inspected a four detachment parade mounted by members from the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

He read the President’s speech before people were treated to martial arts drills by ZDF personnel.

The thousand-strong crowd also had an opportunity to "experience" a real war situation through mock displays.

In Bindura, people thronged Chipadze Stadium for the provincial Defence Forces Day celebrations in Mashonaland Central.

Official proceedings started at around 12 noon with the Governor and Resident Minister Martin Dinha inspecting a parade mounted by the ZNA’s Artillery Brigade.

The crowd observed a minute of silence in honour of the late Vice President Joseph Msika before Governor Dinha read the Commander-in-Chief’s speech.

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Lazarus Dokora was among the dignitaries in attendance.

Similar commemorations were held in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Manicaland and Midlands provinces where Provincial Governors led the proceedings by inspecting parades and reading the Commander-in-Chief’s speech.

The 29th ZDF Anniversary was held under the theme "Creating a peaceful environment conducive to investment, productivity and economic growth.

Zim-EU dialogue to resume

Herald Reporter

Government says dialogue with the European Union to normalise relations between the two will resume in Harare soon with both sides working on their commitment plans.

In separate interviews yesterday, both Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his Regional Integration and International Co-operation counterpart Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the talks were progressing.

Despite this optimistic outlook, the Swedish Embassy in Harare yesterday chose to claim the talks were at a standstill and blamed Government for lack of progress.

Sweden is the current EU president.

Minister Mumbengegwi said: "There is movement in the sense that both sides are working on their commitment plans and will soon meet to discuss issues."

He would not say when dialogue was expected to resume, but Minister Misihairabwi-Mushonga said this would be "within a week’s time".

"We instructed our officials to proceed with the engagement and they would be meeting EU ambassadors soon to restart dialogue," she said.

She dismissed claims by the Swedish Embassy that the talks were at a standstill.

"There is nothing like that. We went to Brussels and launched the EU discussion.

"We agreed on the terms of reference. We also agreed that EU ambassadors would meet our senior officials to start dialogue.

"Dialogue is starting soon as we gave the senior officials the political mandate to restart it," she added.

The Swedish Embassy yesterday said it was waiting for "movement" on Government’s side.

"The EU is waiting for movement on the Zimbabwe Government side. It has waited for 10 weeks now for that movement. There has been no movement since June," said an embassy official who declined to be named.

The EU set up a troika comprising the Swedish and Czech ambassadors in Harare and the Head of the European Commission in the country to interface with Zimbabwe Government officials to facilitate the normalisation of relations between the country and the bloc.

Zimbabwe is represented in the dialogue by senior officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Regional Integration and International Co-operation, Justice, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, and Industry and Commerce.

The Zimbabwe delegation is expected to table its commitment plan in implementing the Global Political Agreement and a timeframe for thrashing out issues of concern to the EU.

On the other hand, the EU is expected to submit its commitment plan to address the illegal sanctions it imposed on the country and the restoration of normal relations.

The current efforts to normalise relations started when Minister Mumbengegwi met the former British Junior Foreign Minister Mark Malloch-Brown in South Africa on the sidelines of President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration as President in May this year.

Zimbabwe and the EU subsequently decided to hold a high-level meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

However, the resumption of formal dialogue nearly failed to take off following attempts to bar Zanu-PF officials in the Government delegation from travelling for the talks.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had to intervene at the 11th hour as per President Mugabe’s instruction to force British and French embassies to issue visas to three Cabinet ministers, namely Minister Mumbengegwi, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Mines Minister Obert Mpofu.

Even then, German officials detained Minister Chinamasa for six hours at Frankfurt International Airport and he missed the opening session of the talks.

The talks were held in the context of Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which provides the parameters for engagement between EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific bloc.

‘Msika a peacemaker’

Herald Reporter

Vice President, national hero and founding nationalist Cde Joseph Msika, who died last Wednesday, was a true peacemaker who spent his entire life fighting for the unity of the people of Zimbabwe regardless of race and tribe.

In a recent interview, Zanu-PF secretary for information Cde Nathan Shamuyarira, who interacted with the late Vice President from the early years of African nationalism, described Cde Msika as a man of the people.

He said VP Msika was a nationalist who easily crossed the tribal boundaries to lead the struggle and was one of the politicians who championed the concept of "Mwana Wevhu" (Son of the Soil).

Cde Shamuyarira said following the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953, there was a feeling that African nationalism had been destroyed but the late VP Msika worked tirelessly to unite Africans to resist the unpopular move.

"The late VP Msika had been working for unity since the start of the struggle for African nationalism in Zimbabwe and was responsible for the unification of the Salisbury and Bulawayo branches of the Youth League.

"After the formation of the Federal government, which brought piecemeal unity between blacks and whites, it was felt that African nationalism was dead but through the efforts of the late VP Msika and others, the (Southern Rhodesia) African National Congress continued to hold meetings between 1952 and 1957.

"The formation of the Federation saw some African intellectuals and nationalists like Jasper Savanhu and Masotsha Hove joining the Federal Party, weakening the nationalist agitation for Independence," he said.

VP Msika, Cde Shamuyarira said, continued to organise the nationalists against the Federal government, leading to the formation of a stronger ANC with other early nationalists such as the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo and Cdes James Chikerema and George Nyandoro.

"VP Msika was again instrumental in the formation of the Patriotic Front that spearheaded the struggle for liberation.

"A true nationalist, VP Msika was again instrumental in the founding of the Patriotic Front as one of the negotiators between the Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union during the liberation struggle. After Independence, he was again instrumental in the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord between the two liberation movements.

"Cde Msika was one of the negotiators from PF-Zapu who worked immensely to achieve the unity that Zimbabwe is enjoying.

"His entire life has been spent on brokering peace in the country."

He said the late nationalist was a straight talker who did not mince his words when he felt the country’s peace and unity were threatened.

Cde Msika died at the age of 86 and was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre on Heroes Day on Monday.

Senior army officer Mataruse dies

Herald Reporter

A SENIOR officer in the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Mataruse, has died. He was 51.

Lt-Col Mataruse, whose Chimurenga name was Darlington Munyaradzi, died at Mabelreign Medical Centre last Saturday.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces public relations department said Lt-Col Mataruse has been declared a provincial hero.

He will be buried at the Harare Provincial Heroes’ Acre today.

Born in Kadoma in 1958, Lt-Col Mataruse joined the liberation struggle in 1975 in Mozambique.

After basic military training at Tembwe Lt-Col Mataruse did an instructors course at Takawira Training Camp in Chimoio before he was posted to China were he did an officers course at Nanking.

Upon his return he worked as one of Zanla security and secretariat officers in Chimoio before he was transferred to Maputo to head the secretariat department.

He also acted as a military attaché following his promotion to being a member of the Zanla General Staff.

At independence, Lt-Col Mataruse was appointed core-secretary to the Joint High Command. He later joined the ZNA on November 1, 980 and rose through the ranks to lieutenant-colonel in 1991, a rank he held until the time of his death.

Lt-Col Mataruse held several appointments that include Personnel Staff Officer to the Commander ZNA, Quartermaster Staff Officer Grade One, Staff Officer Grade One Finance and Procurement, Administration and Quartermaster Grade One and Staff Officer Grade One Defence Policy Staff.

During his stint in the army, Lt-Col Mataruse was awarded the Independence medal, the Liberation medal, Ten Years Service medal, the Long and Exemplary Medals, Mozambique Campaign and the Democratic Republic of Congo Campaign Medals.

Doctors strike over pay review

Herald Reporter

DOCTORS at Government hospitals have gone on strike pressing for an urgent review of their salaries to US$1 000 and the reinstatement of the car loan scheme.

The doctors are earning a salary of US$220 plus US$170 allowance from donors.

In their petition to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the doctors contend that the salary and allowance they are getting were not enough for their monthly needs.

Investigations by The Herald revealed that provincial doctors had been on strike for the past two weeks while those at Harare Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals downed their tools last week.

The doctors wrote to the ministry seeking an increase in the allowance, arguing that hospitals were beginning to generate income that should be used to improve their salaries.

In an interview, the president of the Hospital Doctors, Association, Dr Brighton Chizhande, yesterday said the US$220 salary they were receiving from Government and the US$170 allowance from donors were not enough to meet their monthly requirements.

"The association wrote to Government with a proposal that Government review the salaries as our economy improves, but there was no response.

There has been a massive and overwhelming influx of patients at our central hospitals paying consultation fees, money for investigations, procedures and surgical operations," said Dr Chizhande.

"We also urged donors who have pledged to support health workers to do so in a predictable manner while the hospital provides on-call allowances, transport allowances, housing allowances and free medical attention to health workers."

Dr Chizhande said the payment of the allowances would go a long way in retaining staff at the central hospitals and curb brain drain in the country.

Doctors at Government hospitals have been getting retention allowances from Crown Agency but are complaining that the payments were not consistent.

Government last month started paying civil servants salaries after more than five months of giving them a $100 allowance.

The salaries, which saw most civil servants getting between US$130 and US$200, have been widely condemned by workers’ representative groups as falling far below the poverty datum line.

Efforts to get a comment from Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera yesterday failed.

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