Monday, September 20, 2010

Zimbabwe News Update: Private Sector Vital for Health Provision, Says Vice-President Mujuru

Pvt sector vital for health provision, says Mujuru

Herald Reporter

The private sector should assist the Government in providing healthcare, Vice President Joice Mujuru has said.

Speaking at a graduation and prize-giving ceremony at Chitungwiza Central Hospital last Friday, VP Mujuru urged the private sector to partner Government in dealing with the effects of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe is currently reeling under the heavy burden of sanctions, thus Government cannot provide all the services required by communities.

"Our current predicament calls for an astute private sector that can see and pursue available opportunities to partner with public institutions to create win-win situations," she said.

She urged the business sector to expand their operations and look beyond their growth and profit margins.

"I therefore call upon the business community to expand their operations through Public–Private Partnerships.

"Government welcomes and invites the private sector to engage in win-win Private-Public Sector partnerships.

"I want to pay tribute to all companies that have partnered Government to provide health services to all."

VP Mujuru urged the graduates to improve their professional skills and further their careers.

Since independence, VP Mujuru said, Government had prioritised health provision and training of medical personnel.

"Five years back, 40 percent of our rural clinics did not have trained nurses. Government responded by introducing a fast-track Primary Nurse Training Programme. It is gratifying to see that there is now at least one trained nurse at every clinic. Government’s focus is to improve the nurse-to-patients ratio."

Chitungwiza Hospital chief executive Dr Obadiah Moyo hailed Government for prioritising health and education.

"A qualification once gained will never be sufficient for a lifetime. Training, retraining, updating will become necessary. In all aspects of endeavour, lifelong learning is necessary," he said.

Sixty-four general nurses, 34 midwives and 71 State-certified medical laboratory technicians graduated.

Western media and Zim’s constitution-making process

By Stephen Mpofu
Zimbabwe Herald

A VICIOUS campaign by contemporary imperialists using Zimbabwean proxies is under way to try to tear up the new Zimbabwean constitution before it is completely wrapped up.

That is probably the only reasonable way to describe attempts by the United States government radio, the Voice of America’s "Studio 7 for Zimbabwe" to pollute the minds of Zimbabweans with toxic propaganda, clearly designed to cause confusion by discrediting the constitution making process through naked fibs.

And to try to legitimise its smear campaign against Copac, the VOA uses Zimbabweans who run Studio 7 and imperialist lackeys in Zimbabwe and those living in neighbouring countries to make it appear as if it is Zimbabweans themselves who are angry at the way the new constitution is being produced.

In one of its "Live Talk" programmes, VOA targeted co-chairman of Copac Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana with Zimbabweans phoning in, commenting from this country and from South Africa, or being hacked in by Studio 7 and Cde Mangwana then being asked for his responses.

Six or more people, two of them from South Africa, fired questions at Cde Mangwana or made comments that suggested above all else that Zanu-PF was a rabble rouser out there in the country with the MDC being presented as the villain, as the gathering of evidence for the new supreme law of the country gathers momentum.

For insistence, one of the two conveners asked Cde Mangwana to comment on reports that homes were being burnt down "in Bikita, an MDC area," obliquely blaming Zanu-PF for the alleged arson.

Cde Mangwana replied that the reported arson involved people who had taken away each other’s wives and was therefore not political.

It was however clear from the way the convener responded to Cde Mangwana’s explanation that he was not satisfied with what he heard.

The same convener said he had heard that Cde Jabulani Sibanda, the national chairman of the Zimbabwe National War Veterans’ Association had travelled to Bikita to address meetings there, and he asked why this was so.

The Copac co-chairman explained that Cde Sibanda had a legitimate right to sound out his organisation’s views on the new constitution.

It has been agreed that political parties may put forward their positions regarding the new constitution for considerations when the country’s top law is finally drawn up.

Cde Mangwana also told VOA that different political party chairmen had been asked to oversee orderly constitution making activities in their districts and that Copac had received no adverse reports from Bikita or elsewhere.

A caller from South Africa who claimed that he hailed from Tsholotsho alleged that things had not gone well in his home area, to which Cde Mangwana said he could not comment on people’s "dreams" as no Copac meetings had as yet taken place in Tsholotsho.

Another caller suggested that "other countries" should intervene in the constitution making exercise and a convener commented that the caller implied that the situation concerning the constitutional exercise was chaotic.

Then the convener asked why the Central Intelligence Organisation attended meetings where people’s views on the constitution were gathered.

Cde Mangwana, who had patiently listened to the various callers as calmly as his legal profession demands, at this point became evidently upset and pointed out that in the United States of America, as in Zimbabwe, intelligence organisations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Central Intelligence Agency attended meetings and other events in the course of their duty of policing national security.

Thus Zimbabwe’s security organs are present at these meetings, as complained of, to ensure that these events were genuine and not a contravention of national security.

He then asked, "why do you media people fight your own country?"

Subjected to the acid test, the conveners dissolved in the best way they knew how.

"Sorry, Mr Mangwana (or any other person) time is not on our side," and off the air they went.

It came through from the show that for reasons best known to themselves, or such as probably being hell bent on subverting the making of the post Lancaster House Constitution, those taking part in Studio 7’s Live Talk programme appear to give the impression that the constitution making programme was a Zanu-PF project, not a national one.

But nothing could be further from the truth as the supreme law now in the making is, like the existing one, is neither for Zanu-PF, the MDC formations nor any other political organisation.

It is political-party-neutral as any party; even those not yet in existence, forming a future government will be bound by that supreme law.

That is why some foreign countries are dying to have a niche in the new constitution in order to immortalise their imperialist designed agendas because they know that a country’s constitution is not changed over night, at the whims and caprices of any new party that gets into power.

Next door, in Zambia, work on a new constitution for that country since independence from Britain in 1964 has also been under way and the only major complaint aired to VOA was from opposition leader Michael Sata protesting a requirement by the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy that any new state president should possess a university degree, which Mr Sata does not have. Zambians were not heard airing such uninformed and ludicrous comments through VOA as those aired by Zimbabweans an which VOA feasted in pursuit of the United States’ outdated but persistent regime change campaign.

Is it any wonder then that Ethiopia banned VOA broadcasts to people in one of its regions and a certain East European country also banned VOA and BBC broadcasts in order to protect their people from what is obviously regarded as insidious propaganda by the two Western media stations?

How Zimbabweans may also be protected from obnoxious propaganda by some imperialist countries is the big question?

The writer is a former Editor of the Chronicle.

Indigenisation plus for mining industry

From Garikai Chengu in MASSACHUSETTS, United States

ZIMBABWE is undoubtedly among the richest nations on earth with respect to untapped natural resources per person.

With only 13 million people and over 40 exploitable minerals, vast gold deposits, the world’s second largest platinum reserves and the capacity to be the world’s top diamond producer, Zimbabwe is poised to become the jewel of Africa.

Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines expects gold output to rise to 50 tonnes within four years from 3,5 tonnes last year, while platinum output could reach 1 million ounces a year within 15 years from the current 170 000 ounces a year. Zimbabwe is also expected to account for 25 percent of the world’s diamond production within only three years.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act will help rather than hinder the mining industry and ensure that 13 million Zimbabweans benefit from the nation’s abundant natural resources.

In order to illustrate how the Act will serve as a catalyst for the mining industry, a popular misconception has to be rebuffed. Government’s nuanced approach to individual mines as well as the importance of indigenous diamond beneficiation must also be understood.

The flawed and yet popular misconception is the belief that potential foreign investors in the mining industry will be deterred by the 51 percent local ownership requirement.

For a start, there are many extremely successful and wealthy investors that own far less than 50 percent of the corporations they invest in. For instance Warren Buffet, who is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors, with a net wealth in excess of US$50 billion dollars, does not own more than 50 percent of any corporation with a threshold over US$500 000.

Secondly, foreign investors in the mining industry are steadily streaming into Zimbabwe for four main reasons: first, they appreciate that the return on capital in their own nation is not adequate; second, the potential return on capital in a nation whose mining industry is predicted to barrel along at 30 percent per annum is simply irresistible; third, they seek to reduce the cost of production by combining their capital with Zimbabwe’s low cost labour; and finally, they seek to use Zimbabwe’s abundant natural resources near their origin.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act will not change any of this.

In fact, in spite of the Indigenisation Act, Imara, the pan-African investment group, has reported steady increases in FDI in the mining sector as old mines recapitalise and new mining projects begin.

Rio Tinto has announced that it has begun work on a US$300 million expansion programme for its Murowa diamond mine.

There has also been mention of Zimplats committing a further US$500 million for a platinum smelter on top of its stage-two expansion of US$445 million.

All in all Zimbabwe’s booming mining industry is too profitable to resist: It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. International investors with money are no different.

Thirdly, the Indigenisation Act will prohibit high levels of foreign shareholding in mining companies. This is desirable because these levels result in excessive profits and dividends being repatriated by foreign investors and worsens the nation’s Balance of Payments position.

In fact, from the time Zimbabwe was under the bondage of colonial misrule it has failed to prosper from its natural resources — human and mineral — while the companies that mine or otherwise employ those resources have.

Indigenisation and empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said that last year mines had export receipts of over US$1 billion but only US$44 million accrued to the State in taxes and royalties.

Opting to raise levels of corporate tax and mining royalties would merely stifle production. Instead government should ensure that the nation benefits from mining production by ensuring that those that produce, employ, pay taxes and are beneficiaries of government spending are Zimbabweans.

Fears that Government would use a bludgeon where a scalpel is needed by blindly enforcing the 51 percent ownership rule across the board are overblown and unfounded.

Government has made it absolutely clear that it will not sacrifice much needed investment for indigenisation, nor will it scale back attempts to redress the wrongs of the past for investment: Government can achieve both simultaneously.

In order to achieve both objectives Government has set up 13 sectoral committees to look at the implementation strategies of the Indigenisation Act.

The mining sectoral committee is expected to submit recommendations to relevant authorities about the minimum net asset value threshold for specific mines required to comply with the regulations.

Crucially, the mining indigenisation committee will be flexible and not apply a one size fits all attitude towards the industry.

Such flexibility is shown by the committee’s acceptance of empowerment credits that give companies the option to build schools, railways and pave roads in exchange for retaining greater foreign ownership in their businesses.

The final area that illustrates how indigenising the mining industry can catalyse the industry’s growth is that of diamond beneficiation and value addition.

Zimbabwe is set to become the largest producer of diamonds in the world by 2013.

The nation is expected to produce 40 million carats per year and earn annual revenues of approximately US$ 2 billion.

The importance of focusing on beneficiation lies in the fact that were Zimbabwe to cut, polish and retail the gems internally this figure would quadruple.

Currently, the Government is struggling to deliver services and pay civil servants wages commensurate to their contribution on a meagre budget of US$100 million per month. Set alongside this, beneficiation has the potential to transform the nation’s fortunes.

Indigenous beneficiation’s potential should be unlocked by firstly, ensuring that as many local small scale miners as possible are awarded claims within the approximately 66 000 hectares that are potentially diamond rich.

Preference should be given to women, youths, war veterans, aids orphans and disabled groups. This will not only empower the local population, but also provide a broad based catalyst for economic growth.

Secondly, the establishment of a multi-million-dollar Diamond Technology Centre should provide Zimbabweans with the opportunity to venture into new industries associated with the cutting, polishing, dealing, manufacturing jewellery, and ultimately retail of diamonds.

Thereby serving as a catalyst for other downstream industries directly or indirectly related to diamonds, such as banking, jewellery making, security, information technology, and even tourism.

It is therefore heartening that the Affirmative Action Group has reserved units within the Diamond Technology Centre exclusively for indigenous people to be active participants in value addition and beneficiation activities.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act is not merely a moral initiative designed to redress the wrongs of the past, nor will it hinder the mining industry’s future.

It serves as a pragmatic growth strategy for the mining industry that is designed to realise the nation’s full economic potential.

Garikai Chengu is a researcher at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at He writes in his personal capacity.

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