Monday, February 22, 2010

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Says Inclusive Government a Rarity

Inclusive Govt a rarity: President

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE inclusive Government is expected to perform better this year, as its members have identified key areas of the political arrangement that need improvement, President Mugabe has said.

Speaking to ZTV on the eve of his 86th birthday which falls today, Cde Mugabe also revealed that Zimbabwe will soon conduct its first sale of diamonds mined at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

He said the inclusive Government was a rarity which had seen the country recording more gains.

“Of course, we would want to celebrate (the first anniversary of the formation of the inclusive Government) more when we look at the functions and performance of the Government as a whole,” he said.

“It is as we celebrate that we also acknowledge the shortcomings that have arisen and the inadequacies. But inadequacies come where there have been adequacies; where there has been performance on one side.

“And so, I believe personally, and I am saying this from inside knowledge, that we are bound to perform better this year. We are bound to add on to what we did last year and there won’t be any need for us to find each other, discover each other, any more.

“We have done so and know what we are capable of. We also know the areas where it is necessary for us to improve — to improve politically; to improve in respect of getting our unity much more intact and to improve in terms of competence.

“But when all is said and done, there is need to ensure that there are adequate resources to back the programmes of Government that we have put in place, and this is the area where I think there has been a great shortcoming.”

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the formation of the Government reflected Zimbabwe’s unity.

He said disagreements over “outstanding issues” between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations would not result in a breach of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which gave birth to the Government.

He added that much more had been gained “by way of working together”. However, the MDC-T’s reluctance to actively advocate the lifting of Western-imposed sanctions was a point of difference.

“To tell you the truth, we are negotiating about nothing. It is the nothings that are holding us back.”

All that was important is enshrined in the Global Political Agreement and there is hardly anything we are now discussing which falls within the purview of the agreement,” said the President.

“. . . What comes within the orbit of the agreement that is outstanding and, is a main area of it, is the issue of sanctions and that one naturally needs much greater attention.

“One wonders whether we all are at one in regard to it.

“But we also recognise that the persons or countries that need to act are outside Zimbabwe — those who have imposed sanctions on us: Europe and America.

“But our role as members of the inclusive Government is to call upon them to remove the sanctions.

“And we have said, those of us who feel we are weaker in performing that role because we never were responsible for calling upon these countries to impose sanctions, let those who called upon Europe and America to impose sanctions now call upon them to remove the sanctions, and that is the only area of difference between us and the MDC-T.

“The MDC-M has done it in a very vigorous and open way, and we would want the MDC-T to do it.

“They should not be ashamed of doing it because that’s what must be done now. We would actually congratulate them for doing it. But psychologically, perhaps, they find it difficult to do so.”

Cde Mugabe said the country was expected to soon sell diamonds extracted from the Chiadzwa diamond fields. He revealed that a significant amount of carats were stocked at the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe offices.

The impending sale comes after concerted efforts by some Western countries to influence the Kimberly Process to shun local precious stones.

“I understand things are ok. The Kimberly Process have now sent a man to monitor us here and sooner or later we will begin selling,” he said.

“I understand we have quite a number of diamonds piled up in the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe offices. They are the ones approved by the Kimberly Process, not the Reserve Bank. So, they will be selling soon, according to the ministry.”

The President said Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mines — the two companies operating in Chiadzwa — had so far performed to satisfaction.

He, however, highlighted the need for them to maintain honesty.

Responding to queries on the commissioning of the companies, he said Government had used normal procedure to select them.

“How are companies established at all? Why should people look at companies there as differing from companies elsewhere? The Ministry of Mines has got its system of processing.

“They processed applicants and short-listed them and brought these to the top. We looked at them, I looked at them.

“. . . I understand the inclusive Government team led by Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara was satisfied and actually satisfied beyond measure that the equipment they saw there was quite up-to-date, modern and very efficient.”

US must do away with ZDERA

THE last time the US Congressional delegation led by Mr Gregory Meeks visited Zimbabwe they only made a whistle stop at State House to meet President Mugabe on their way to the airport.

They had spent more than a day in the country, meeting leaders of the MDC formations and other regime change projects.

They did not think meeting the President was important.

But last week they met the President for more than an hour and half.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Meeks described President Mugabe as "a great man" and said his delegation looked forward to continuing working with him until the right relationship has been established.

How times have changed.

When they were last here someone had misled them into believing that President Mugabe was no longer a factor; that the centre of power had shifted to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and that the regime change project was ripe for consummation.

But we knew sooner or later they would come to know the truth. In the same way the US government, their British allies and other Western capitals have tried to delude themselves into refusing to recognise President Mugabe, time has shown the folly of their actions.

As Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, President Mugabe calls the shots. Anyone seeking to engage Zimbabwe has to do so through him. And this is what the Congressmen have found out and we are glad they have corrected their ways.

The message of dialogue that they brought is a welcome one.

In fact, we would want to acknowledge the refreshing efforts of US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Charles Ray to build bridges between Harare and Washington.

So far he has kept his word, which he gave when he presented his credentials to President Mugabe last year, that he would work for the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the United States.

His efforts are in stark contrast to those of the other Western ambassadors in Harare, who are persevering with their racist efforts to undermine the inclusive Government.

They continue to work towards the disabling of Zimbabwe’s economy. The recent decision by the European Union to renew sanctions against Zimbabwe is informed by reports emanating from European embassies here in Harare.

Mr Ray’s latest pledge to assist a delegation of members of the inclusive Government to visit Washington and engage authorities there is commendable. It is a departure from the previous US attitude to only welcome members of the inclusive Government from the MDC-T.

We recall that when Prime Minister Tsvangirai visited the US last year he allowed one of his ministers, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, to be locked out of one of the meetings even though he was part of the delegation.

The time has come for Zimbabwe to present its case before the US authorities and top of the agenda will be the need to have the heinous US sanctions law — ZDERA — done away with.

We believe an inclusive delegation from Zimbabwe, speaking the same language, would help to put across Zimbabwe’s argument more convincingly.

We have every reason to believe that there could be a change of attitude from the US given its magnanimous decision to support the restoration of Zimbabwe’s voting rights at the IMF.

The parties to Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement have worked hard to implement most of the things that they agreed on. Only extraneous matters remain and these don’t seem fundamental enough to ruin the inclusive Government.

The leaders of Zimbabwe need to be encouraged to continue working towards full implementation of what they agreed on.

It is international engagement rather than isolation that will bring the necessary impetus to these efforts.

EU undermining GPA

By Tandayi Motsi
Zimbabwe Herald

SO the European Union has finally resolved to extend the illegal ruinous economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by another year?

And the reasons? "Lack of progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement."

One wonders what lack of progress the EU is talking about.

Yes, there are still outstanding issues in the GPA, but is it not true that the achievements of the inclusive Government far outweigh the remaining hurdles?

We have a stable economic and political environment.

What benchmark or criteria is the bloc applying in determining the progress in the implementation of the GPA?

In whose interest is the EU maintaining the sanctions?

The message calling for the removal of sanctions has been loud and clear starting from Zimbabwe, Sadc, Non-Aligned Movement, Pan African Parliament, among others.

Only last month, the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, called for the removal of the economic embargo that has caused untold suffering to ordinary Zimbabweans.

It is instructive to note that in its journal while announcing the renewal of sanctions, the EU said: "In view of the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular the lack of progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008, the restrictive measures . . . should be extended for a further 12 months."

What restrictive measures? These are economic sanctions imposed first in 2002 and have been renewed annually with devastating consequences to Zimbabwe’s economy.

The EU has opposed IMF extension of financial assistance to the Southern African nation and has also barred companies from trading with their counterparts in the EU bloc.

So is this what they call "restrictive measures"?

Furthermore, it does not need a rocket scientist for one to know that the illegal sanctions are hurting the economy.

However, it is heartening to note that the inclusive Government is united against the sanctions.

President Mugabe, speaking to journalists after officially opening the Pan-Africa Tourism Investment Conference in Harare, said Zimbabweans should ignore the EU’s decision of extending the illegal sanctions and concentrate on exploiting the country’s vast natural resources.

"In Ghana they say ‘don’t mind’. We know their attitude. They do not want anyone, any country in the developing world to make any meaningful development strides.

"That attitude is pronounced in regard to Zimbabwe," he said.

The President said the bloc was envious of Zimbabwe’s abundant natural resources and was scuttling efforts to use them for development.

"We have resources which they envy, natural resources that belong to us.

"There is the issue of land here. When they make those noises, it is because they have lost that which they occupied illegally, which is now in our possession," he said.

Coming to the crux of the matter, President Mugabe said: "We are all against sanctions, but some among us, because of their past, might think it is difficult to call for their removal."

I am sure the statement that the inclusive Government is united against the illegal economic embargo might have sent shock waves within the EU community, simply because this was a slap in the bloc’s face following the renewal of the economic embargo.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who still refers to sanctions as "restrictive measures", recently said there is urgent need for the inclusive Government to speak with one voice regarding the lifting of sanctions especially now when the country is facing a looming drought.

Addressing people gathered at Mataga Growth Point, PM Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe could not afford to continue being isolated by the international community.

"As the Government of National Unity, we are all agreed that we cannot revive our economy including our agricultural sector, as long as these restrictive measures are in place.

"Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Southern Africa and for us to regain this status, these restrictive measures must go," he said.

To this end, PM Tsvangirai said there was need for the country to engage, especially the EU countries, so that they could support efforts of the inclusive Government in reviving the economy.

"This is therefore a challenge to us in the inclusive Government to make sure that we engage international partners and friends to fight this drought," he said.

Deputy PM Professor Arthur Mutambara is on record as saying the illegal sanctions should be removed immediately as they are eroding the country’s ability to access credit lines and financial assistance.

So if the three principals to the GPA are united against the economic embargo on what basis is the EU extending the sanctions by another year?

It appears in extending the illegal sanctions the EU has sinister motives, especially taking into consideration the debate building up to the extension of the embargo.

It is imperative to note that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently told the UK House of Commons that they would be guided by MDC-T on the sanctions issue.

Furthermore, the issue of the removal of the illegal sanctions is one of the outstanding issues in the GPA.

So by renewing the sanctions by another one year, is the EU trying to rock the inclusive Government boat?

Much to the chagrin of the bloc, President Mugabe was able to read between the lines and has rightfully advised Zimbabweans to ignore the extension of the much-discredited sanctions.

Yes, Zimbabwe is making efforts to re-engage the EU as it cannot live in isolation. But that does not mean that we have "to be whipped into line" in order for us to dance to the whims of some powerful rich nations. NO.

The renewed sanctions, which include an arms ban and restrictions on trade, will run until February 20, 2011.

So does it mean that in the meantime we have to bury our heads in the sand, crying and waiting for February at the mercy of the EU?

As President Mugabe rightly pointed out, this is the time to exploit our resources for the benefit of the nation.

If by the grace of God the sanctions are finally lifted, this will be a bonus.

This is our moment of truth.

IMF restores Zim’s voting rights

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday unanimously restored Zimbabwe’s voting rights in a move that underlines the international community’s confidence in the political and economic reforms of the unity Government.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who made the request to restore the voting rights, was in jubilant mood yesterday, as he celebrated the decision, which he said was a great victory for Zimbabwe.

“Yes, we got back our voting rights. It was a unanimous decision of the 24 directors. There is great excitement here,” said Minister Biti from Washington DC, the United States.

“As a restored member, we can now fully enjoy the privileges of membership. These include access to resources and technical assistance. More importantly, embarking on this step means the beginning of our rehabilitation and re-integration. For instance, in the not-so-distant future it is important to secure decent credit ratings from bodies like Moodies or Spoor & Fisher.

“At a sovereign level, bilateral countries will only look at your standing with the fund. Put simply, the sad reality of modern financial geography is that the fund is the gatekeeper.”

Minister Biti said the gate had been opened for Zimbabwe to deal head-on with the debt arrears that were chocking it.

“As I have argued elsewhere, arrears are the biggest and cheapest excuse or reason for refusal to re-engage Zimbabwe. We therefore need to execute an accelerated arrears debt and development strategy.

“In short, yesterday’s unanimous vote is the opening gambit in the long chess game of development and re-integration. Sadly, many of us don’t understand that like the great game itself, every move is part of an intricate build-up. More importantly, the game is not won in the end game but in the first five moves.”

The restoration of the voting rights raises hope that other financial sanctions on Zimbabwe will also be lifted.

The financial sanctions have been regarded as the most critical and destructive of the embargoes against Zimbabwe.

In a statement after the crucial meeting on Friday, the IMF said the decision meant that Zimbabwe would have the opportunity to negotiate for extension of further funds.

“The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided today to restore Zimbabwe’s voting and related rights, and its eligibility to use resources from the IMF’s General Resources Account (GRA), following a request from Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

“However, the country would have to first take steps to clear its US$140 million debt with the monetary authority.

“Notwithstanding the restoration of the eligibility to use GRA resources, Zimbabwe will not be able to use resources from the GRA or the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) until it fully settles its arrears to the PRGT (US$140 million),” the IMF said.

The country would also have to abide by other IMF conditions.

“Access to IMF lending resources is also subject to IMF policies on the use of such resources, including a track record of sound policies and the resolution of arrears to official creditors, which would require donor support.”

The monetary authority said it was committed to assisting Zimbabwe, adding that it would continue to address other outstanding issues to normalise relations with the country.

Some of the outstanding issues include the non-co-operation, the suspension of IMF technical services and the removal of Zimbabwe from the list of PRGT-eligible countries. In an earlier interview with ZTV, President Mugabe said it was important for the country to craft home-grown solutions to address Zimbabwe’s international debt, which stands at US$5,7 billion, regardless of the restoration of the voting rights.

He said the debt was “really no money” as Zimbabwe could service it by fully utilising its vast natural resources.

“There are some people who think we must become economic Bushmen and go begging on our knees for assistance (to reduce the debt). We say no, that US$5,7 billion is really no money.

“We owe it, yes, but it’s no money if you take what we have by way of resources. Why can’t we negotiate with countries for the debt to be managed otherwise?” he said.

The Government has been making positive steps to reduce the IMF debt as it has been paying quarterly payments of US$100 000 since May last year. The IMF voting rights were suspended in June 2003 after the economy deteriorated and the Government fell behind on debt repayment.

Zimbabwe has 0,22 percent of shareholding and the ability to use it means the country can negotiate for the extension of funds
Before Friday’s crucial meeting, Minister Biti had told local and international media that the United States, Britain and Germany, three of the IMF’s most influential members, indicated they would support the restoration of voting rights.

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