Friday, September 25, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Government to Review Salaries; Solidarity With China Hailed, etc.

Govt to continue reviewing civil service salaries: Mujuru

Herald Reporter

Government will continue reviewing salaries and working conditions of civil servants as the economy improves, Acting President Joice Mujuru has said.

Speaking at a police passout parade in Harare yesterday, Acting President Mujuru lauded the force for its commitment and dedication to duty in the face of mounting occupational hazards.

"May I take this opportunity to thank those who have remained in the Zimbabwe Republic Police for your resilience and patriotism.

"I want to assure you that as the economy improves, the Government will continuously review salaries and working conditions for public servants, including yourselves," she said.

Acting President Mujuru said the country witnessed a spate of armed robberies this year that threatened the lives of police officers and the public.

"Despite threats from these unruly elements within our society, the ZRP has proved to be a force to reckon with.

"I want to particularly applaud the Zimbabwe Republic Police for the remarkable inroads that have witnessed the nabbing of notorious armed robbers," she said while also calling upon members of the public to be law abiding.

Acting President Mujuru said the police in conjunction with other civil protection agencies, should be commended for their untiring efforts aimed at containing road carnage.

"May I implore you to continue monitoring our roads so that they do not become death traps," she said. At least 252 officers graduated after undergoing a six-month training course at Morris Depot.

Of the 252, 189 were men, while 63 others were women.

They covered subjects such as criminal law, police powers, procedures and the law of evidence, first aid, human rights, political history of Zimbabwe and community policing.

Acting President Mujuru said the programme sought to create a police cadre equipped with the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude to tackle the over demanding challenges of policing duties in a dynamic environment.

She said yesterday’s event came at a time when the Government had embarked on the national healing programme.

"Thus your role as police officers in promoting national healing becomes paramount," she said.

The Acting President said it was pleasing to note that the force had well-educated, qualified and competent police officers dedicated to duty.

"To this end, we have witnessed several men and women of the organisation undergoing several development courses both within and outside the country," she said.

She urged the graduands, who aspire to go up the professional ladder to take advantage of various programmes on offer.

Acting President Mujuru urged graduands to shun corruption and other malpractices that might end up tarnishing the force’s image.

"Those found on the wrong side of the law will face the full wrath of the law. In addition, we expect the ZRP to take further disciplinary measures against them," she said.

Acting President Mujuru said the force had earned itself a reputable name, regionally and internationally as evidenced by the continuous invitation by the United Nations for peacekeeping missions.

Sino-Zim traditional friendship hailed

Herald Reporter

The Chinese government values its traditional friendship with Zimbabwe and views the country as a trustworthy and important partner, Chinese Ambassador Xin Shunkang said yesterday.

Speaking at a reception to mark China’s 60th anniversary, Mr Xin pledged to continue working for the enhancement of the bilateral relations.

"The Chinese Government and people value its traditional friendship with Zimbabwe, view Zimbabwe as a trustworthy friend and important partner," said Mr Xin who assumed office a month ago.

"China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to further strengthen the existing friendly relations and co-operation to bring more benefits to our people."

He said China firmly supported Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle and the bilateral relations had continued even after independence to date.

"The two countries have enjoyed frequent high level contacts, enhanced political mutual trust and ever deepening co-operation in such fields as economic development and trade, culture, education, health and regional affairs," he said.

"The Chinese side highly appreciates Zimbabwe’s firm commitment to the One-China policy and its support of China’s great cause of reunification."

China has in the past years assisted Zimbabwe in many areas such as transport, agriculture and the media.

Speaking at the same occasion Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge said Zimbabwe’s bilateral relations with China dates beyond the liberation struggle, as the two countries traded minerals during ancient times.

"I want to remind you that the relationship between Zimbabwe and China is older than the liberation struggle.

We used to export huge volumes of gold and ivory and people would not go to see the Chinese king without gold or ivory . . . That was a time associated with the glory of Zimbabwe," said Minister Mudenge who is also Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.

"It was therefore (befitting) that when we struggled for independence, the first people who gave us meaningful assistance were the Chinese."

Minister Mudenge, who is also a historian, said it was therefore crucial for the international community to understand why Zimbabwe had a special relationship with China.

The minister commended the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, saying they were embracing good marketing principles.

Among those who attended the event were Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa; Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa; Science and Technology Minister Heneri Dzinotyiwei; Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Mpariwa; State Enterprises and Parastatals Minister Gabbuza Joel Gabuza; and Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda.

Senior Government officials, diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe, and Zanu-PF Politburo members also attended the event.

Land beneficiaries commended

Herald Reporter

THE visiting Namibian Minister of Lands and Resettlement has commended beneficiaries of the land reform programme for taking pride in working hard to produce on their farms.

Speaking to journalists after touring a Model A1 resettlement scheme at Glen Grey Farm in Glendale and the Henderson Research Station in Mazowe District, Minister Alpheus Naruseb, said the farmers’ attitude would lead to the success of the agrarian reform in Zimbabwe.

"The positive lesson I have learnt during my tour was that people are taking pride and owning up to produce on the pieces of land that they got during the resettlement programme.

"The farmers I have seen at the A1 farm do not wait for Government to lead their programmes and have been using their own initiatives to improve production on the farms," he said.

Seventy-six farmers, who own between six and 10 hectares of land, grow a variety of crops that include horticulture products such as peas, sugar beans and potatoes.

Minister Naruseb said he was impressed by the land utilisation at the farms.

He applauded interactive activities between the Namibian and Zimbabwean governments in promoting agriculture in their respective countries.

"We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and while it creates a conducive environment for exchange of expertise, it also affords farmers from the two countries an opportunity to work together in various areas of interest," he said.

Minister Naruseb, who was accompanied by Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister, Herbert Murerwa and Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister Martin Dinha, said his experience in Zimbabwe was totally different from what was propagated through the media.

"This is not my first time in Zimbabwe, but what I have seen on the ground is in total contrast with the media reports we get from outside.

"I just hope the true Zimbabwean story will be told someday so that the people understand why President Mugabe has been vilified over the land issue," he said.

The Namibian minister met with Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the leadership of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union.

Fewer Zimbabweans HIV positive: NAC

Health Reporter

Fewer Zimbabweans are HIV positive as prevention programmes and behavioural change bring down prevalence rates in the sexually-active population.

The death of some of the positive people has also lowered the percentage of those still HIV positive.

The national HIV prevalence rate in the 15-49 year age group has decreased from 18,1 percent in 2006 to 13,7 percent in 2009, the National Aids Council said yesterday.

This is the most sexually-active demographic group and HIV and Aids trends within it largely reflect the national picture.

NAC also said the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women had decreased from 17,7 percent to 16,1 percent over the same period.

Presenting the latest national HIV estimates in Harare yesterday, NAC operations director Mr Raymond Yekeye attributed the decline to behavioural change among the sexually-active population, and effective prevention and treatment programmes.

However, he indicated that a high death rate had also contributed to the decline in prevalence.

Further quantifying HIV national projections, Mr Yekeye said the adult prevalence rate was at 14,7 percent in 2007, decreased to 14,1 percent in 2008, and was expected to fall to 13,7 percent by year-end.

Prevalence among the 15-24 years age group remained unchanged between 2007 and 2009 with female youths recording a higher percentage of 7,5 percent compared to their male counterparts whose prevalence rate stood at 3,5 percent.

The prevalence rate among children below the age of 14 stood at 2,1 percent over the past three years.

Of the 1 102 864 people estimated to be HIV positive, 997 123 are adults above the age of 15, and 594 847 of these are females.

The estimated number of new HIV infections in adults (15-49 years) peaked in 1992 at an estimated 234 999, but declined to 62 883 in 2008.

However, the new adult infections are estimated to increase to 66 156 this year.

"This increase is a reflection of the increases observed among pregnant women attending antenatal care in public sector clinics," Mr Yekeye said.

According to the latest estimates, at least 343 460 adults are in need of anti-retroviral therapy.

Currently, 150 000 people are receiving ARVs in State programmes, with donors supplying the bulk of the drugs, while thousands more are buying their own or getting them through medical aid.

Aids and Tuberculosis Unit chief co-ordinator Dr Owen Mugurungi said there was a shift of high incidence from rural and urban areas to growth points, mining towns and large-scale farming areas.

Dr Mugurungi said 16,1 percent of a total of 7 363 pregnant women who attended 19 selected antenatal clinics in the country aged between 15 and 49 years were HIV positive in 2009.

Among the 4 050 pregnant women aged between 15 and 24, the prevalence rate was 11,6 percent.

Since 2002, most antenatal sites experienced a decline in HIV prevalence which continued between 2006 and 2009.

Notable declines were recorded in Kadoma (23,9 to 10,9 percent), Musume (22,8 to 15,5 percent), Sadza (34,2 to 11,8 percent), Gwanda (32,4 to 19,7 percent), Banket (30,3 to 22,9 percent), Beitbridge (28,8 to 23,5 percent), St Mary’s (28,1 to 11,4 percent) and Kuwadzana (20,3 to 12,2 percent).

A few sites, however, have registered an increase in prevalence between 2006 and 2009.

The highest rise was at Murambinda Hospital, which recorded an increase from 21,3 in 2006 to 25,6 percent this year.

Dr Mugurungi attributed the increase to an influx of patients from other towns owing to poor service delivery in their home areas.

He said a third of pregnant women who visited Murambinda Hospital were from other towns.

Other increases among pregnant women were recorded at sites in Victoria Falls, Karanda and Binga.

Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora applauded the gains but quickly reminded health officials and other stakeholders to intensify interventions to achieve a single-digit prevalence rate by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

Zimbabwe has already surpassed the initial target of halving HIV prevalence over the past decade.

The prevalence rate was over 30 percent at the turn of the millennium.

"The prevalence of 13,7 percent is still very high, so we have to redouble our efforts and commitment and keep the sense of hope that indeed one day we will get to single-digit prevalence.

"We have also noted a shift of the epidemic into resettlement areas and growth points. Therefore, we have to scale up our prevention, care, treatment and mitigation efforts in these areas," Dr Mombeshora said.

The country has been experiencing a decline in prevalence since the late 1990s.

The Zimbabwe National HIV and Aids Estimates 2009 Report is the fourth locally produced compilation of estimates.

United Nations agencies, non-governmental and State agencies assisted in compiling the estimates.

The UN has in the past lauded Zimbabwe’s HIV and Aids intervention initiatives.

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