Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: GPA Principals to Meet; ZANU-PF Walks Out of Parliament in Protest; Idigenise Nestle

GPA principals to meet

Herald Reporter

THE three parties to the Global Political Agreement have agreed to "holistically" look at divisive issues affecting the inclusive Government and a meeting of the three principals might take place soon, a senior Government official has said.

In his address at the launch of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Manufacturing Sector Survey, Industry and Commerce Minister and MDC secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube said there had been efforts at rapprochement over the past two days.

The news of a possible breakthrough following MDC-T’s decision to "disengage" from the inclusive Government came as South African President Jacob Zuma poured cold water on calls from some quarters to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe and impose an arms embargo on the country.

Reports from South Africa said President Zuma was responding to a question in Parliament by Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mr Athol Trollip on MDC-T’s "partial pullout" over the indictment for trial on terror-related charges of party treasurer Roy Bennett.

The South African government yesterday also issued a statement denying that President Zuma would meet Mr Tsvangirai as claimed by MDC-T.

"There is no such thing. Some of these statements made by politicians are made to draw the attention of the public.

"President Zuma has a tight schedule for this week, and it does not accommodate the MDC president, Mr Tsvangirai," said President Zuma’s spokesperson, Mr Zizi Kodwa.

The MDC-T leader had unsuccessfully sought a meeting with President Zuma in Cape Town yesterday. But MDC-T functionaries in South Africa insisted that a meeting between the two was scheduled for today.

Yesterday, Prof Ncube revealed: "I am happy to say that in the last 48 hours, the leadership of the three political parties have resolved that they need to holistically look at the issues that have led to the current situation.

"We hope that in the next two to three days there will be a meeting of the three leaders to discuss those issues."

Prof Ncube said it was imperative for politicians to behave responsibly because their actions had already fuelled scepticism among investors that the GPA would hold.

"The principals need to talk to each other and agree on things that they agree on and disagree on things that they disagree on.

"But more importantly, they need to find a way of living with what they disagree on and continue to talk about those things," he said.

In South Africa, President Zuma told Mr Trollip that issues to do with Zimbabwe had been dealt with comprehensively at the Sadc Summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month.

That summit resolved that the GPA was being adequately implemented and also repeated the bloc’s call for illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted.

President Zuma said South Africa was willing to work with Sadc to assist the inclusive Government to resolve any outstanding issues pertaining to the implementation of the GPA.

Mr Tsvangirai is touring the region to drum up support for their decision to "disengage" from the inclusive Government. Internet news reports said he was yesterday also seeking a meeting with DRC leader and Sadc chairman President Joseph Kabila.

Mr Tsvangirai is flying around the region in a hired South African-registered private jet with close advisors Mr Ian Makone and Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.

The meeting with President Kabila — whose occurrence could not be verified last night — follows a similar one with Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is the chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, on Tuesday.

Details of that meeting were not available at the time of writing.

Mr Tsvangirai is also set to travel to Angola where he hopes to meet President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

Indications yesterday were that he had cancelled a meeting with ally Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Government has said MDC-T’s "partial pullout" will not stop the operations of the Executive because Cabinet does not make decisions through a vote or by the constitution of a quorum.
On Tuesday, Cabinet met without MDC-T ministers for the second time since the formation of the inclusive Government in February.

According to Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, Cabinet business proceeded well and all matters on the agenda were exhausted.

Zanu-PF MPs walk out in protest

Herald Reporter

Zanu-PF legislators yesterday walked out of the House of Assembly and slammed the behaviour of MDC-T MPs after they denigrated the Head of State and Government President Mugabe.

Mberengwa East Member of the House of Assembly Cde Makhosini Hlongwane led his fellow lawmakers out of the house after Masvingo Urban MP Mr Tongai Matutu (MDC-T) made a contribution they found to be insulting.

In his contribution on the President’s speech while opening Parliament last month, Mr Matutu said the address should have been directed to "people at Engutsheni and Mlondolozi."

Engutsheni and Mlondolozi are rehabilitation institutions for people who are mentally challenged.

Observers last night pointed out that Mr Matutu obviously did not know that the President’s speech at the opening of a Parliamentary session was prepared as per the guidelines from all Cabinet Ministers, including those from MDC-T.

The contribution prompted Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Mwenezi East, Zanu-PF) to object to Deputy Speaker Mrs Nomalanga Khumalo (Umzingwane, MDC), saying Mr Matutu should withdraw his statement.

However, she failed to respond conclusively and a lot of heckling and arguing ensued during which the Deputy Speaker failed to restore order.

Zanu-PF MPs immediately rose and walked out of the chamber in protest.

Mr Matutu made the statement after Cde Hlongwane had finished his contribution in which the Zanu-PF legislator had castigated MDC-T for "disengaging" from attending Cabinet and Council of Ministers because white ex-commercial farmer Roy Bennett has been indicted for trial in the High Court on terror-related charges.

Cde Hlongwane pointed out that the "disengagement" was not consistent with what President Mugabe had said when he officially opened the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament where he called for co-operation in developing the country.

After this, Mrs Khumalo allowed Mr Matutu to contribute to the debate.

Only Cde Bhasikiti and Cde Obert Matshalaga (Zvishavane) remained in the House. No Zanu-PF minister was present when the incident occurred.

There were heated exchanges throughout most of yesterday’s debate as legislators heckled each other.

Indigenise Nestle: AAG

Herald Reporters

The Affirmative Action Group has implored Government to indigenise Nestle Zimbabwe, saying its decision to stop buying milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate was illegal and against the spirit of the Global Political Agreement.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, AAG president Mr Supa Mandiwanzira, said Nestle Zimbabwe’s actions were a result of failing to indigenise some of the local firms.

"As AAG, we cannot accept this continued harassment of the Head of State. The First Family is a symbol of economic empowerment and they have taken a battering, simply because of the steps they have taken to empower the majority.

"We are taking a legal approach against Nestle Zimbabwe and not a confrontational approach.

What we are now seeing are the consequences of not indigenising. Nestle Zimbabwe should be indigenised," said Mr Mandiwanzira.

He defended the indigenisation programme, saying it should be viewed as a guarantor of any foreign investment.

"Indigenisation is a guarantor of investment. Anyone who wants to operate in Zimbabwe should partner locals so that they secure their investment," he said.

Mr Mandiwanzira said the refusal by the Switzerland headquartered company to purchase milk from the First Family’s dairy farm was illegal.

"It is illegal to segregate customers and it is illegal to segregate suppliers. They are against the laws of the country. We cannot have a company operating in Zimbabwe perpetuating an imperialistic agenda. It is unacceptable and Nestle Zimbabwe has crossed the line.

"When the Prime Minister was in Spain, he called for the removal of the restrictive measures.

"Nestle Zimbabwe’s actions are going against the gain in the inclusive Government and the progress it has made. Nestle Zimbabwe has buckled under the pressure of right wing Rhodies who do not want the inclusive Government to work," said Mr Mandiwanzira.

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