Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Acting Ministers Set to Take Over MDC-T Posts; Relations With Namibia Hailed

Acting ministers set to take over MDC-T posts

By Mabasa Sasa
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe may soon have to appoint acting ministers to carry out duties that MDC-T Cabinet members are refusing to discharge, Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu has said.

Minister Shamu yesterday said the impending agricultural season increased the likelihood of President Mugabe appointing acting ministers so that farmers would not be hampered in their preparations by MDC-T’s "disengagement" from the Government.

In a separate interview, Agriculture, Mechani-sation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said the "disengagement" was negatively affecting the activities of the inter-ministerial committee on agricultural inputs.

MDC-T ministers did not attend Cabinet yesterday for the second successive week and for the third time since the formation of the inclusive Government in February.

Minister Shamu said: "With the agricultural season upon us, the issue of portfolio leadership at ministerial level has to be addressed by His Excellency the President as the Head of State and Government one way or the other.

"His Excellency may have to consider appointing ministers in an acting capacity to key ministries for the sake of a successful agricultural season and general economic turnaround.

"Important Cabinet decisions have to be translated into action expeditiously," he said.

The agriculture-related ministries headed by MDC-T appointees are Finance, Economic Planning, Energy and Water Resources among others.

"The inter-ministerial committee on agricultural inputs comprising myself, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Industry and Commerce is being hampered.

"The nation relies on the Minister of Finance to financially guarantee Government’s commitment and to seek lines of credit for input procurement and distribution through Grain Marketing Board depots.

"In his absence, our hands are tied to the detriment of expectant farmers. The rainy season is upon us and the season cannot wait for MDC-T to decide to reverse their decision.

"If a planting deadline is October 15, it will not change because someone has disengaged. It means the whole country has to wait for October 15, 2010," said Minister Made.

He said farmers had "taken enough" over the years and did not need to be frustrated by politicians.

"We missed the winter wheat season and now we cannot miss the summer cropping season because of a stayaway."

Meanwhile, details of Monday’s meeting between the principals to the GPA have emerged.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai presented a document to President Mugabe in which he claimed Zanu-PF was not implementing its part of the deal.

He said his party’s treasurer-general Roy Bennett — who was recently indicted to face terror-related charges in the High Court — had not been sworn-in as Deputy Agriculture Minister, the GPA had not had its six-monthly review, the Attorney-General and the Reserve Bank Governor had not been sacked and provincial governors had not been re-appointed.

However, it was pointed out that Bennett could only take office if he was cleared of his criminal charges; the review of the GPA was taking place through a Sadc team that arrives today; and the appointments of AG Johannes Tomana and RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono were not in the agreement.

The document makes no mention of the fact that MDC-T itself is still to call for the lifting of the sanctions it invited on the country.

Mr Tsvangirai also made no mention of pirate radio broadcasts of hate speech into Zimbabwe.

The document calls for the "reform" of State security arms and the adoption of an MDC-T-crafted National Security Council Bill.

Mr Tsvangirai demands the right to chair Cabinet in President Mugabe’s absence.

However, the GPA is clear that President Mugabe chairs Cabinet while Mr Tsvangirai chairs the Council of Ministers.

Informed sources said President Mugabe told Mr Tsvangirai he would not concede on these demands, noting that MDC-T was yet to make any concessions itself.

Yesterday MDC-T spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa told New Ziana that his boss’ demands had been rejected.

"Attempts to resolve differences have failed. There is still disagreement and deadlock," he said.

A source close to developments, however, said: "It was disconcerting that the issue of the State security services ranked high in comparison to the yawning absence of the issue of sanctions.

"The President stuck by the Zanu-PF Politburo resolution that he should not make anymore concessions until MDC-T started acting on its obligations under the GPA.

"In the end Mr Tsvangirai relented and asked for concessions on two points; firstly on Bennett’s appointment and secondly on provincial governors.

"He said he was prepared to attend Cabinet if Zanu-PF conceded on these two. The President said Bennett would first have to be cleared and that negotiators had erred in apportioning governors seats as they were not mandated to do so.

"The President said he found it odd that Mr Tsvangirai was preoccupied with personnel issues when the focus should be on things like sanctions and food security, which affect the nation.

"The President said the inclusive Government was not formed to gladden a few individuals in MDC-T who wanted jobs and attention should be paid to the needs of the people," a source said.

We’ll not interfere in Zim’s internal affairs: AU

Herald Reporters

THE African Union and Sadc will not unnecessarily interfere in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, AU Commission chairperson Dr Jean Ping has said.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the First Ordinary Session of the Second Pan-African Parliament at the Gallagher Convention Centre yesterday, Dr Ping said AU members should be given an opportunity to address domestic problems before the matter could be tackled at regional and continental level.

He said the AU would remain guided by "the principle of subsidiarity".

His statement came as the Sadc secretariat confirmed a team of foreign ministers from the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security would jet into Zimbabwe today on a scheduled visit to review the inclusive Government and Global Political Agreement.

In South Africa, Dr Ping said: "We implement a general rule: the principle of subsidiarity. If this country can sort out disputes alone then we don’t need to intervene." This was in response to a question on the union’s position on MDC-T’s "disengagement" from the inclusive Government.

"Sadc would only be asked to try and help if the country cannot sort out the dispute.

"If the region cannot also help, then we and subsequently the United Nations, can come in."

He said Sadc’s mandate carried the authority of African leaders, adding that the regional bloc would be the first port of call if the country was unable to handle its internal problems.

"The agreement was to share power through Sadc assistance and, of course, we were also on hand to assist and we applauded that," he said.

The ministerial Troika will arrive in Harare today.

The troika is made up of ministers from Angola, Mozambique and Zambia.

Yesterday, Sadc public relations head Ms Leefa Martin confirmed the Troika’s visit and mandate.

"This is the agreed review that was set to take place six months after the establishment of the inclusive Government," Ms Martin said.

"Sadc will only be in a position to state its position once the Troika has visited
Zimbabwe and know exactly what the progress that has been made thus far," she said.

Ms Martin said the visit had been "slightly delayed" by the recent Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit.

"It was to happen in September but as you know, that was the same month that we had the 29th Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government," she said.

The Troika will meet President Mugabe, Zanu-PF, MDC-T, MDC and civic bodies.

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Nelson Chamisa yesterday insisted that if the Troika did not act on their demands they would seek a full Sadc summit.

"If the meeting fails to break the deadlock, we will push for a Sadc summit. If Sadc fails then we will push for a framework that would ensure free and fair elections," he said.

Prior to his Press conference, Dr Ping addressed the main parliamentary plenary where he advocated Africa’s political and economic integration.

He said the continent would emerge a powerful voice if its people promoted collective objectives.

He hit out at the West for interfering in international justice systems, saying it was time Africa constituted a court of justice.

"It is humiliating that The Hague is only for African ‘criminals’. This is a
double-standard and undiplomatic because other ‘criminals’ are allowed to move about with impunity.

"The former US president (George W. Bush) went into Iraq (without the authority of the United Nations), thereby breaching statutes of the UN Charter.

"I know I am going to face criticism over this."

Dr Ping said work was underway to confer full legislative powers to PAP.

He said his commission had hired experts to draft amendments to the protocol establishing the grouping of African legislators.

Libya’s PAP representative, Dr Mohamed Elhouderi, said the continent’s economic development remained constricted because of colonialism and its successor — neocolonialism.

"Africa’s economies and people were colonised so they fear the coloniser’s on-going attempts to profit from their resources and to enslave their citizens," he said.

Mr John Cheyo of Tanzania said PAP’s transformation was urgent.

He, however, advocated that the institution’s membership be drawn from national parliaments instead of universal suffrage.

Ms Juliana Katengwa of Rwanda said: "PAP is the only institution that broadly represents the voice of Africans.

"It, however, remains voiceless without legislative powers: we should be able to pass laws for the good of our people."

VP nomination: Zanu-PF to follow procedure

Herald Reporter

ZANU-PF will not change the procedure and criteria of choosing a Vice President to suit "daydreamers’ wishful thinking".

The party’s acting national political commissar Cde Richard Ndlovu said Zanu-PF had laid down procedures and policies, which could not be amended overnight to satisfy other people’s desires.

"All people in the party should realise that we are guided by policies and procedures which were agreed to in 1987 (when the Unity Accord was signed between Zanu-PF and PF Zapu)," Cde Ndlovu said in an interview yesterday.

"We are going to follow that trend in filling the Vice Presidency vacancy. All the comrades will have to understand that as a party we follow what obtains in the party and everyone should be speaking with one voice on party policies."

Cde Ndlovu said everyone in the party was bound by what the party policies stipulate, reiterating that those interested should stop campaigning through the media.

He added that the party’s position was that the Vice President is elected by the 10 provinces and there was no need for those interested to campaign in the media.

"No one is independent from the party’s position. Everyone will have to stand with the party’s decision to avoid creating confusion. I believe we would have come up with one position by the time we go to the congress because the 10 provinces would have elected the right candidate for the position," Cde Ndlovu said.

He also quashed claims that the party was trying to impose someone to fill in the vacancy, saying the right candidate would be elected.

Cde Ndlovu said those who would have failed to meet the requirements should not lose hope as their time would come.

"We are not imposing anyone, that is why the vacancy is going to be filled through election from the country’s 10 provinces and to me that is not imposing anyone.

"Those who would have failed to make it should not lose heart, but wait until their opportunity comes," he said.

Asked if the jostling for the post would not divide the party, Cde Ndlovu said he did not foresee divisions in the party because it was united and would not be split over positions.

He said he believed those who would not have made it would support whoever would have been elected to the post.

The post fell vacant in August following the death of Vice President Joseph Msika and a number of cadres have expressed interest in succeeding the late veteran nationalist.

Among the aspiring candidates are Deputy President of the Senate Cde Naison Ndlovu, Bulawayo Governor Cde Cain Mathema, Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri and Politburo member Cde Obert Mpofu.

The Zanu-PF politburo directed three provinces of the party in the Matabeleland region — Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North — to select a candidate for nomination. The party’s supreme decision-making body said the selection process should be "exhaustible, transparent and candid to enable a popular candidate to emerge".

So far, Bulawayo Province has nominated Zanu-PF national chairman Cde John Nkomo.

Zim, Namibia relations hailed

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE has commended Namibia for the support it rendered to the nation at the height of Western powers’ aggression in which they were pushing for regime change in the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said this during the official opening of the fifth session of the Zimbabwe-Namibia Joint Commission in Harare yesterday.

"May I, at the outset, convey my Government’s most sincere appreciation for the steadfast support and solidarity extended by the Government and people of Namibia when Zimbabwe was under attack from some Western countries.

"Our close relations are indeed based on a shared history of common struggle against colonialism, imperialism and foreign domination. Through this support, Namibia has proved that it is not only a staunch ally but also an all-weather friend," he said.

Minister Mumbengegwi commended Namibia and other Sadc member-states for facilitating the signing of the Global Political Agreement between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

"It is through the unflinching support and patient facilitation of Namibia and other countries in the region that the main political parties in Zimbabwe were able to sign the GPA leading to the formation of the inclusive Government," he said.

The minister, however, said while the socio-economic conditions had generally improved in the country, Western powers continued with their hostile approach meant to destabilise the inclusive Government.

The recent "disengagement" from Government by the MDC-T has been cited as an example of Western countries’ continued meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

Minister Mumbengegwi also commended the bilateral relations between the two countries as seen in co-operation in the areas of energy, agriculture and education among others.

Namibia’s power utility, Nam-Power assisted with the refurbishment of the Hwange Power Station for the benefit of the two countries.

"The Government of Zimbabwe is grateful to the Government of the Republic Namibia for the special offer of the Dry Port Facility at Walvis Bay," he said. The facility is aimed at enhancing trade between the two countries.

Namibian Foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku said there was need for the two countries to fully exploit their resources for the betterment of their people.

"We must re-invest in our natural resources and assist our people to become agents of their own economic growth," he said.

Minister Hausiku also called for the relaxation of trading conditions between Zimbabwe and Namibia. He commended Zimbabwe for supporting Namibia in education even when the country was facing difficulties.

Since 2005 about 741 Namibian students have graduated from Zimbabwe’s tertiary institutions.

The fifth Joint Commission is negotiating for agreements in trade and commerce, agriculture, energy, transport, environment and tourism among others.

Chando declared national hero

Herald Reporters

BINDURA-SHAMVA Senator Cde Misheck Takaedza Chando, who died in a car crash last Friday, has been declared a national hero and will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa, accompanied by Politburo members Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi, told the Chando family and mourners gathered at Bamboo Creek Farm in Shamva yesterday that the decision had been unanimous.

"As we researched and asked those who knew him, after receiving a request from the province, all 34 Politburo members present unanimously agreed to accord him national hero status," he said.

Cde Mutasa said the Politburo had recognised Cde Chando’s immense contribution to the liberation struggle and national development programmes after independence in reaching the decision.

He said Zanu-PF received the news of Cde Chando’s death with shock, saying he had left a void that would be difficult to fill.

Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios said they were grateful that the Politburo recognised Cde Chando’s works, adding that the province found solace in his conferment of national hero status.

"We as the province are deeply pained that our leadership is perishing on the roads, but at least we get solace when their good works are recognised and they are bestowed deserving status.

"I would like to call on the Government to ensure the history of our living heroes is compiled and that their works are recognised instead of only doing so upon bereavement," he said.

The Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central Province wrote to the Politburo on Monday requesting that Cde Chando — whose Chimurenga name was Cde Makasha — be declared a national hero.

Condolences continued to pour in yesterday.

The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions expressed deep sorrow at Cde Chando’s death and described him as an astute freedom fighter who would be sadly missed by all progressive Zimbabweans.

In a statement, ZFTU secretary-general Mr Ephraim Tsvaringe said: "The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions has received the sad news of the death of Senator Misheck Chando with deep sorrow and grief.

"It is unfortunate that Cde Chando has died before enjoying the benefits of independence fully. It is cadres like him who sacrificed their lives for the freedom we now enjoy."

The ZFTU said his legacy was an inspiration to all workers in the continued fight for economic emancipation.

Cde Chando’s contribution to the country’s liberation is legendary.

Born on February 12, 1941 in Murehwa’s Jacob Village, he joined the liberation struggle in 1971.

In 1972 — together with late Cdes Josiah Magama Tongogara, Robson Manyika and 150 others — he was transferred to Mgagao in Tanzania for further military training.
In 1975, Cde Chando was among the cadres who went to Chimoio to receive President Mugabe, Cde Edgar Tekere and the late Chief Rekayi Tangwena.

He was deployed to Gaza where he was involved in a battle that left him critically injured and was taken to Maputo Military Hospital.

On his discharge, he was appointed camp commander for Tembwe in Tete Province and was later commander at Maroro, Fingwe and Doroi camps.

During the 1979 ceasefire, Cde Chando was assigned to remain with 250 comrades in Tembwe Camp so that he and others would maintain graves for some of the fighters buried there.

He is survived by two wives and 18 children.

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