Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Tells West to Lift Sanctions

‘Support us or leave us alone’

Herald Reporters

President Mugabe yesterday said countries that have imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe have an agenda to destroy the inclusive Government and warned them to leave the country alone if they cannot support the arrangement.

Addressing the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Mugabe queried the motives behind the sustenance of the economic embargo.

"In the Global Political Agreement, we have defined our priorities as the maintenance of conditions of peace and stability, economic recovery, development, promotion of human rights and improvement of the condition of women and children.

"Regrettably, while countries in the Sadc region have made huge sacrifices and given Zimbabwe financial and other support at a time when they too are reeling from the effects of the global economic crisis, the Western countries, the United States and the European Union, who imposed the sanctions against Zimbabwe have, to our surprise and that of Sadc and the rest of Africa, refused to remove them.

"What are their motives? Indeed, some of them are working strenuously to divide the parties in the inclusive Government.

"If they will not assist the inclusive Government in rehabilitating our economy, could they please stop their filthy clandestine divisive antics.

"Where stand their humanitarian principles when their illegal sanctions are ruining the lives of our children?" he asked.

President Mugabe also called for the removal of American sanctions on Cuba.

"We similarly call for an immediate end to the coercive, illegal and unjustified 50-year economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba which is estimated to have cost Cuba so far a total of US$96 billion, causing untold suffering on that country and its people," he said.

The General Assembly has for nearly two decades now overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the immediate lifting of the sanctions on Cuba.

Zimbabwe, he said, joined the Non-Aligned Movement in condemning the use of "unilateral coercive measures" in violation of international law and the principles of the UN Charter.

The Zimbabwean Head of State and Government — who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces — called for multilateralism in promoting global peace and development.

"It is our hope that through our unity, solidarity, co-operation and commitment, the challenges facing the international community could be addressed," he said adding that Zimbabwe was ready and willing to play its part.

"Our unchanging conviction is that all international institutions should abide by the universal principle, which underline multilateral processes of decision-making, particularly, the principle of equality among states and the right to development," he said.

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe supports the revitalisation of the General Assembly to make it more effective.

"As the pre-eminent deliberative and policy-making body of the United Nations, the General Assembly should play a more active role in mobilising action against such challenges today as peace and security, the financial and economic crises, economic and social development and climatic change.

"Accordingly, the encroachment of other UN organs upon the work of the General Assembly is of great concerns to us. We therefore reiterate that any process of revitalisation should strengthen the principle of accountability of all principal and subsidiary organs of the United Nations to the General Assembly," he said.

He once again called for the reform of the Security Council, saying: "The fact that Africa, a major geographical region, remains under-represented and without a permanent seat on the Security Council is not only a serious and antiquated anomaly whose time for address is overdue.

"It is also clearly untenable violation of the principle and practice of democracy. The reform of the Security Council should urgently take full notice of the African position which demands two permanent seats, with complete veto power, plus two additional non-permanent seats," he said.

President Mugabe reiterated his position that there was urgent need for a substantial increase in investment in agriculture in developing countries.

"The need to ensure global food security has been raised and re-stated at many international forums. It is critical that provisions of agricultural inputs, seeds, fertilizers and chemicals be put in place for small scale farmers, particularly women.

"To achieve this, there is need to channel more support towards agriculture, which has dwindled over the last few decades.

"In addition, we call upon the developed countries to remove or reduce their agricultural subsidies and to open up their markets for agricultural products from developing countries," he said.

In the area of health, President Mugabe said efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, combating HIV and Aids, malaria and tuberculosis still fell short of agreed targets despite commitments made at national and international level.

He noted that Zimbabwe had made huge strides in the fight against HIV and Aids, notwithstanding limited resources.

"However, the country still faces a major challenge in increasing the availability of affordable antiretroviral drugs.

"We, therefore, continue to urge the international community, in co-operation with pharmaceutical companies to assist in increasing access to affordable essential drugs, particularly for people in Africa."

On the global financial crisis, he said the devastating effects of the meltdown had exposed the folly of leaving management of the global economy in the hands of self-appointed countries and groups.

To this end, he welcomed the reservation of three seats on the executive board of the World Bank for African countries.

"We, therefore, welcome the recent decision by the World Bank to establish three seats for Africa on its executive board.

"We are similarly pleased that, earlier this month, the IMF finalised the re-allocation of Special Drawing Rights on the basis of the US$250 billion pledged by the G20 at its meeting in April 2009.

"Regrettably, only a mere US$18 billion of this money was allocated to low-income countries, while the developed countries, which caused the crisis, got the lion’s share."

From New York, President Mugabe is scheduled to attend the Africa-Latin America Summit in Venezuela.

Former Canadian PM Meets President Mugabe

From Obi Egbuna in New York

President Mugabe met former Canadian Prime Minister Mr Jean Chretien who paid a courtesy call on him on Thursday.

After the short meeting, Mr Chretien was questioned about the potential of playing a role in normalising relations between the West and Zimbabwe similar to the one former US president Jimmy Carter has played in connection to Israel and Palestine also the US and Cuba.

In response, Mr Chretien said he would only consider a task of that magnitude if officially asked by the current European Unions leaders.

The former Canadian PM said throughout his involvement in politics, handling matters with extreme complexities required an intimate understanding of the issues and at the moment he did not have first hand knowledge of the dynamics of Zimbabwe re-engaging the west.

Mr Chretien said it would be beneficial to all parties involved if the US government and the EU normalise relations with Zimbabwe.

He said the normalisation of relations would have a positive and immediate impact on the economy.

Govt to release more 99-year leases

Herald Reporter

Government will soon release more 99-year leases ahead of the forthcoming summer agricultural season to ensure security of tenure for resettled farmers.

Speaking to journalists in Harare recently, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa said the move would ensure that farmers concentrated on boosting agriculture production.

He said parties to the GPA had agreed that land reform was irreversible but there was need to ensure productivity on the farms.

"There is, however, need to empower the people so that they start producing on the pieces of land they acquired and they need security of tenure.

"Government will soon release 99 year leases for the farmers so that they feel secure on the farms and they concentrate on increasing production," he said.

Minister Murerwa, however, expressed displeasure at reports of disputes between resettled farmers and former white commercial farmers.

"We have heard reports and it is quiet disheartening but we need to check on these reports and get the true facts on the ground," he said.

Government, Minister Murerwa said, was concerned since such reports affected production on the farms.

"We are trying to create an environment that will make land available to all Zimbabweans but there is currently a problem of farmers with offer letters failing to access their land because of litigation.

"There are also problems of boundaries and infrastructure found on the farms and we are working hard to find ways of resolving the problems," he said.

Minister Murerwa said Government would also launch a land audit to determine production levels on the farms.

The programme will also include land survey and land valuations so that farmers are able to use the farms as collateral.

Government has also urged farmers to use the 99-year leases as collateral when they apply for inputs under the 2009/10 Government Input Support Scheme.

Government, in November 2006 issued the 99-year leases to resettled farmers in a bid to boost agriculture production in the country.

The leases — a demonstration of Government’s commitment to empower beneficiaries of the land reform programme — were issued to provide farmers with security to access loans to procure inputs.

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