Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Hails FAO; Mujuru, Nkomo Land VP Posts

President hails FAO

From Hebert Zharare in ROME, Italy

President Mugabe has thanked the Food and Agriculture Organisation for assisting Zimbabwe boost household food security through a US$70 million input facility targeting smallholder farmers.

Briefing the media after a meeting between President Mugabe and FAO director-general Mr Jacques Diouf here on Sunday, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Deve-lopment Minister Joseph Made said the exchanges had been fruitful.

"It was a very excellent meeting. His Excellency thanked FAO for assisting us in mobilising some farming inputs for the smallholder farmers under the US$70 million facility that is going to assist over 700 000 farmers.

"It (FAO) mobilised the farming inputs from some non-governmental organisations and was supported by some European Union countries," he said.

He said one of the issues raised in the meeting was the need for governments to come up with policies that could be implemented.

Minister Made said President Mugabe pointed out that Zimbabwe had dealt with the challenge of declining rainfall by setting up a Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.

"During the meeting with Mr Diouf, we looked at Africa’s food security challenges in relation to development of irrigation schemes in order to enhance productivity on farms, support for the smallholder farmers by supplying them with seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

"It was agreed that US$65 billion is needed in order to develop water sources in Africa," Minister Made said.

Due to climate change, conventional rains are no longer reliable and farmers have to complement them by establishing irrigation schemes.

Zimbabwe is one of a few countries on the continent to come up with strategies to boost irrigation capacity through the central bank-driven Farm Mechanisation Programme.

The efforts to improve irrigation infrastructure were also designed to recoup losses suffered when some white farmers vandalised equipment when their farms were allocated to new black farmers under the land reform programme.

President Mugabe had also told Mr Diouf that Zimbabwe had introduced its own input subsidies, Cde Made said.

He said under the subsidy, smallholder farmers would purchase a 50kg bag of fertilizer for US$6,75.

"After looking at a number of factors, we have said the smallholder farmers and those in communal areas must buy a 50kg bag of fertilizer for US$6,75 and seed for 51 US cents per kg.

He said details on how farmers could access these subsidised inputs would be disclosed shortly.

President Mugabe, who is the Head of State and Government as well as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, will today address other world leaders attending the summit.

Mujuru, Nkomo land VP posts

By Lloyd Gumbo

ZANU-PF national chairman Cde John Nkomo has all but wrapped the Vice-Presidency after winning support from six provinces that nominated him as the ideal candidate to fill the post that fell vacant following the death of fearless founding nationalist, Vice President Joseph Msika, in August.

Bulawayo, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Masvi-ngo, Matabeleland South and North have already confirmed Cde Nkomo despite the latter submitting two nominations for the post.

This means the two posts of Vice-President are all but secured after VP Mujuru received the endorsement of eight provinces apart from Masvingo, which nominated Cde Oppah Muchinguri, and Midlands, which was still to nominate candidates.

In an interview yesterday, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa said the nominations had gone well and in line with party procedures.

He, however, said the Midlands Province — which did not sit for the nominations last week — had not officially communicated to him their position and thus he expected nominations from all provinces by the end of this week as outlined in the guidelines.

A senior party official in Matabeleland North who spoke on condition of anonymity said the province had nominated two candidates for each post — VP and chairman — because some cadres refused to go for a vote to nominate the two candidates only and decided to submit all the four names.

Attention has now been turned to the chairmanship race where a fierce tussle is now expected among senior party cadres — Cdes Mutasa, Simon Khaya Moyo, Obert Mpofu and Kembo Mohadi.

However, a political analyst yesterday argued that the real race was between Cde Mutasa and Cde Khaya Moyo with the former counting on yet to nominate provinces.

He lamented failure by other provinces to nominate candidates for the VP and national chairman posts, saying this was tantamount to "match-fixing" as their choices would be influenced by other provinces.

He argued that the rule was that all provinces should nominate at the same time to avoid cases of undue influence from other provinces as their choices were to be autonomous.

"The real battle is between Cde Mutasa and Cde Khaya Moyo without taking anything away from the other cadres.

"To me, these are the comrades who are contending for the post seriously. However, concern is around the failure by other provinces to nominate candidates to fill such posts as VP and chairman.

"Cde Mutasa will obviously be counting on yet to nominate provinces, especially Harare, Mash East and West and Midlands, because information on the ground is that these provinces are supporting him, while Cde Khaya Moyo will keep his fingers crossed for Masvingo and Mat North to change their minds."

In separate interviews, Cde Amos Midzi (Harare) and Cde Ignatius Chombo (Mashonaland West) said they were awaiting Matabeleland region to advise them on their nominations.

Cde Midzi — who is the Zanu-PF provincial chairman for Harare — said they deferred their nominations for the two posts to allow Matabeleland region to nominate as per party guidelines.

"We are still waiting for official communication from our colleagues on what position to take. Matabeleland hasn’t officially communicated their position, so we will wait.

"We don’t rely on unofficial information which comes through newspapers. The party has structures of communication," Cde Midzi said.

Cde Chombo, who is the party’s provincial secretary for lands in Mashonaland West, said they were also awaiting indications from Matabeleland region before carrying out their own verifications.

He was, however, confident that they would be able to meet Saturday’s deadline when the nominations would be submitted to the party’s secretary for administration.

"Nothing has been officially communicated from Matabeleland as of now on whom they have nominated for the two posts.

"However, we are confident that we will complete the process within the time stipulated by the secretary for administration," Cde Chombo said.

Nominations for the Presidium and Central Committee members began on Saturday and full lists are expected on Saturday when the secretary for administration receives them from the provinces.

Regional military training crucial: Mnangagwa

Herald Reporter

Cross-pollination of ideas between armies in the region is of great importance as it fosters unity in the face of common enemies, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

Addressing 56 Junior Staff Course graduates at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare last week, Minister Mnangagwa said regional military training programmes were vital to development and security.

"It is important that forces belonging to a regional body train together as this provides them with an opportunity to share ideas and understand each other.

"The skills and knowledge they acquire will be of great help to them when they conduct joint peacekeeping missions," he said.

Minister Mnangagwa said continuous training would help to improve efficiency and professional standards.

"The main objective of the course was to equip you with the requisite knowledge and skills necessary for your success in the uniformed forces.

"It was also aimed at moulding you into versatile and proficient officers in the areas of tactics, logistics, leadership, training and general management," he said.

He urged the graduates to maintain high standards of discipline that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was renowned for.

Minister Mnangagwa urged the foreign students to be good ambassadors for Zimbabwe when they returned to their countries.

"Before you came here, you heard several bad things about Zimbabwe, but now that you have been here for 20 weeks, you definitely got a real picture of Zimbabwe," he said.

Zimbabwe Staff College commandant Brigadier-General Thomas Moyo said the course was aimed at grooming the next generation of army leaders.

"The course was aimed at grooming the officers to be able to successfully tackle challenges and command men on the battlefield.

"The officers are the future leaders of the 21st century, thus it is important that they are well-versed with latest war trends and skills. "Their curriculum included tactical, administration, peace support operations and the law of armed conflict," he said.

‘Desist from seeking external support on political disputes’

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS have been urged to desist from seeking external support to solve internal political disputes, as this would compromise and undermine the country’s sovereignty.

Addressing Joint Command and Staff Course number 22 students at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare yesterday, Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mawampanga Mwanananga said Zimbabweans should solve their own problems without external interference.

"It is not wise to internationalise your country’s problems and politics just to gain worldwide sympathy and intervention.

"Foreign assistance always brings its problems, chief among them, it undermines national sovereignty and security. We should only seek advice and guidance and not to be told what to do by external forces," he said.

He also said African nations should join hands in fighting poverty rather than relying on international assistance from Western powers.

"Africa must unite and increase trade among its members rather than trading with Westerners. The region has vast resources, which if properly administered will greatly improve the whole region from its current status to be the richest.

"We are our own saviours, let us work together like brothers and sisters who share the same continent and resources," he said.

Mr Mwanananga paid tribute to the Sadc region for its assistance during the time of conflict saying Western powers were there to destabilise so that they plunder resources at will. He also hailed the agreement between Zimbabwe and DRC of free movement of the nations’ citizens, saying the move is a positive development that promoted unity.

Zimbabwe Staff College invites foreign high profile dignitaries to present lectures about their countries foreign and defence policies to military students, among other issues.

Bennett’s trial opens

Court Reporter

THE High Court has ordered the State not to lead hearsay evidence in MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett’s trial on allegations of possessing dangerous weapons and inciting acts of terrorism and insurgency.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu also turned down an application by the defence for his recusal from hearing the trial.

Bennett’s lawyer, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, had sought Justice Bhunu’s recusal, arguing that he once presided over Bennett’s alleged accomplice Peter Michael Hitch-mann’s bail application.

The court found that there would be no prejudice to Bennett and that the trial should start immediately.

Bennett yesterday entered a plea of not guilty and Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana called the State’s first witness, Chief Inspector James Makone, to testify.

While he was giving evidence, Ms Mtetwa raised an objection when he was about to tell the court what Hitschmann said to him during a search for weapons at his house.

Justice Bhunu ruled that the witnesses should restrict themselves to what they did rather than telling the court what they heard from Hitschmann.

The State has lined up 13 witnesses — including Hitschmann — to testify.

It is understood that most of the witnesses’ evidence hinges on Hitschmann’s statement.

Justice Bhunu said if Hitschmann’s statement was not admitted in his own trial, it would be absurd to use it against Bennett.

He said the State should first satisfy the court that the evidence was admissible against Hitschmann himself before it could be used against Bennett.

After that ruling on inadmissibility of hearsay evidence, Mr Tomana asked for a postponement to prepare the State case, saying they had not anticipated the development.

The trial continues today with Chief Insp Makone concluding his testimony.

Chief Insp Makone narrated to the court how he arrested Hitschmann in 2006.

He said he was part of a team of police and State security agents who arrested Hitschmann at a fast food outlet in Mutare.

Chief Insp Makone said they recovered a pistol and over 2 000 rounds of ammunition and proceeded to Hitschmann’s house where they recovered more weapons.

He was stopped before telling more.

In his defence, Bennett denied committing the said offence, saying that Hitschmann had since disowned the statement on which the State is relying.

Ms Mtetwa said none of the State witnesses had evidence incriminating Be-nnett.

Bennett denied possessing the said weapons, alleging that the charges were trumped up by his political opponents who were determined to block him from taking up the post of Deputy Agriculture Mini-ster in the inclusive Government.

He denied having communicated with Hitschmann via e-mail, saying that evidence could have been created and doctored by State agents.

The court also heard that Hitschmann once publicly vowed not to testify in the case.

Hitschmann’s lawyer, Mr Mordecai Mahlangu, tried to stop the AG from summoning his client as a witness and was arrested on a charge of defeating the course of justice.

He is awaiting trial.

No comments: