Friday, October 16, 2009

Zimbabwe, Southern Sudan to Strengthen Ties

‘Zim, Southern Sudan to strengthen ties’

Herald Reporters

ZIMBABWE will soon open a consulate in Southern Sudan to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, Vice President Joice Mujuru said on Wednesday.

VP Mujuru said this at a dinner she hosted for Sudan First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit who is also Southern Sudan President.
"I wish to inform you that Zimbabwe will soon open a consulate in Juba (Southern Sudan capital), with a view to broadening and deepening our bilateral cooperation," she said.

VP Mujuru said relations between Zimbabwe and Southern Sudan date back to the early 1980s when the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement was launched to rid Africa’s largest country of all forms of injustices.

"The history of co-operation between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the SPLM is well documented.

"We would want to underline that when the SPLM, under the late charismatic John Garang took up arms to fight, what they were fighting were the relics of injustice.

"Because the fight in Sudan was aimed at eradicating all forms of oppression we found common ground with them as we had also fought to unshackle ourselves from the yokes of colonialism," said VP Mujuru.

She called on the international community to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between SPLM and the Government of Sudan to end the civil war in that country in 2005.

"I wish to call upon the international community to resolutely support all efforts leading to the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

"As you may be aware, Zimbabwe is in the process of implementing its own Global Political Agreement and we understand the value of international support in such initiatives.

"We want to underline, however, that there is a clear distinction between support and interference. We believe support should be based on the concept of sovereign equality of nations," said VP Mujuru.

She also urged Zimbabwean businessman to take advantage of investment opportunities in Southern Sudan.

"To all business people and prospective investors in our midst, here is a generously endowed country waiting for a Midas touch to assume its rightful place among the economic giants of Africa.

"I am informed that Southern Sudan is home to some of Africa’s perennial rivers. As a farming nation ourselves, we can only conclude that given its size, rainfall patterns and soil fertility, Southern Sudan is naturally an attractive partner for us in agricultural development," she said.

The Sudanese Vice President thanked Zimbabwe for the assistance it extended during their struggle.

"I came here to thank you and all brothers and sisters in Sadc for all the assistance and the important role you played in our struggle.

Although we are late in thanking you we are mindful of our friends and will never forget you," said VP Mayardit. He said his government needed support because there was little or no institutions of infrastructure in Sudan.

"Things were not easy for us when we came from the bush because there were no institutions in the first place, we did not have any infrastructure. You are a government that has been there for a long time and we have a lot to learn from you," said VP Mayardit.

VP Mayardit arrived in the country on Wednesday to consult and update President Mugabe on the peace agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the government in Khartoum.

More power to women

Herald Reporters

THE Government will continue empowering women through access to land and requisite inputs and other materials needed for them to increase agricultural productivity and improve their financial well-being, President Mugabe has said.

He said this while officiating at the inaugural Women’s Economic Summit in Harare yesterday.

"It is our sincere wish that women’s food-generating activities can be improved to lead to financial security realised from their sale of their produce. This, ladies and gentlemen, can only occur when and where appropriate policies regarding women’s access to land, and the provision of vital farming inputs and credit are put in place on time.

"In Zimbabwe, we continue to do our best in prioritising allocation of land and farming inputs to our women and thus empowering them, through our much-maligned land redistribution programme."

President Mugabe said special financing mechanisms that took into account the needs of women were needed.

"Reflecting on our seasons past and present, it is clear that we need a special financial window that will take into account the financial needs of women. For this to happen, appropriate legislation, where presently it may not exist, will need to be crafted to remove the minor status of women with regards to signing contractual obligations, in their own right independent of their spouses."

President Mugabe said the improvement of women’s status needed joint efforts from both sexes.

"While the subject is one that relates directly to women, it is a subject for all of us. We all must join hands as we develop the status of our women in society. We all must work together, men and women must work together to improve the status of women."

While women constitute 52 percent of Africa’s population, President Mugabe lamented that it was worrying that their contribution to food security on the continent was limited.

"With 52 percent of Africa’s population made up of women, it is without question appropriate that the continent’s political and social activities reflect this population composition. The good news is that these statistics are now well accepted and documented.

"The challenge thereof is to strengthen efforts that are being made for women to get assistance in producing food, not only for the sustenance of their families, but for the well- being of their communities, countries and their neighbouring countries as well."

He said experience in Bangladesh had shown that women had the lowest defaulting rate when it comes to repaying loans.

"It is important to note that the experiences of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank have shown that women have the lowest defaulting rate when it comes to loan funds," said President Mugabe.

On the current constitution-making process, President Mugabe urged women to actively participate so that their views and aspirations were adequately captured.

"As most of you here present may know, Zimbabwe is in the process of drafting a new people-driven constitution. It is our sincere hope that all women’s groups will take an active interest in this exercise and provide valuable input to come up with a constitution that truly empowers them."

President Mugabe bemoaned the under representation of women in positions of authority in both political and business fields.

"I note that one of your conference’s goals is to improve women’s leadership capacity, which I am sure, extends to socio-economic-political spheres as well as to the corporate world. Indeed, that there is a paucity of women leadership in these areas in much of Africa is not debatable. In the corporate world, many of the positions in companies’ top management and corporate boards are mainly taken up by men.

"The same extends to the political leadership, where for now, there is only one woman president in Africa and that is President Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia in a continent, we should remember, where women constitute 52 percent of the population."

The President said for women to attain these leadership positions, they must be equipped with the requisite education, training and skills and urged them to lead in pursuing educational opportunities and career paths they aspired for.

"Barring cultural practices that have tended to militate against the girl child educationally, women should be in the forefront in pursuing educational opportunities and career paths which lead them to the critical positions they aspire to. It is also through education and training that women will realise their aspirations for emancipation and empowerment."

He, however, said the drive by women for greater involvement in all facets of life would not be easy given deep-rooted traditions held by some men.

"Naturally, there will be resistance from some men who will see such ‘encroachment’ into traditionally male domains as threats to their positions and livelihoods. That is to be expected and women should craft strategies for dealing with such eventualities," he said.

President Mugabe urged the women to implement decisions and strategies they would agree upon during the conference.

Addressing the same event later in the day, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the imbalances that existed between men and women were a threat to Zimbabwe’s efforts to achieve set development targets.

"Our inheritance is fraught with situations which disadvantage women and fail to acknowledge their invaluable presence as an essential natural resource and equal partners for human development. Our ability to realise our global goals shall suffer permanently unless we take a radical and visible path to rectify the glaring imbalances in our society," said PM Tsvangirai while delivering the keynote address.

PM Tsvangirai said while a lot had been done in areas of advocacy and legislation, more still needed to be done to change mindsets that inhibited gender relations.

"A lot of movement has taken place in the area of advocacy and legislation, but there seems to be a general failure to tackle primitive mindsets, which continue to place road-blocks to the transformation of our human relations across the gender divide. This is an evolutionary challenge that requires clarity of vision and an unfettered commitment to the sovereign rights of all women," he said.

PM Tsvangirai said gender discrimination had hindered development and in many cases perpetuated poverty, unnecessary tension and humiliation and failure of societies to advance and grow.
He concurred with President Mugabe that a small number of women occupied leadership positions nearly 30 years after independence.

"Nearly 30 years after independence, there can never be any justification for the limited numbers of women in positions of political leadership in Government, in all our political parties and in business.

"As Government and in particular during this period of inclusion, we must demonstrate our sincerity and go beyond mere political posturing. If democracy is a conversation, as they say, our discourse must never be limited to narrow transitional issues. Our conversations must take advantage of the fast changing scenes and evolving political dynamics to scan our social landscape, removing socially embedded stereotypes and traditional acts of backwardness," he said.

Speaking at the same event, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe said the summit would enable women to share experiences on challenges they were facing.

"As a woman leader, I feel that it is vital that we share experiences and challenges faced by our colleagues in leadership positions and identify possible solutions that will enable us to drive the economy," she said.

DPM Khupe said women in leadership positions faced many challenges from men and other cultural taboos.

"It is up to us as women to move the goalposts in our favour since we constitute about 52 percent of the population," said DPM Khupe.

She said the inequalities would affect Africa’s ability to achieve targets under the Millennium Development Goals.

"The UN MDGs of September 2 000 aimed at reducing poverty in Africa by 2015 will only be possible if women are given the opportunity to participate in economic growth and development strategies in agriculture, construction and infrastructural development, mining, tourism and manufacturing," she said.

Delegates — mainly women drawn from the country’s 10 provinces and others from Swaziland, South Africa and Pakistan — are attending the summit.

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