Saturday, June 28, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) The obsession with Mugabe beyond comprehension

The obsession with Mugabe beyond comprehension
Mdelelwa Mdelelwa—Opinion
Thu, 26 Jun 2008 08:23:00 +0000

IT is enthralling to witness the current obsession with President Mugabe that the west and its stooges in Africa are afflicted with at the moment. There is an orgy of initiatives on the part of the British government and its African 'allies' to 'oust' Mugabe and sometimes the noises being made by the likes of Gordon Brown are so childish and prudish that one is left wondering how such people can lay claim to global leadership. Even more astounding is how many people believe all this ‘nonsense’.

Just watching CNN this evening, an extra-ordinary line-up black Zimbabweans talking in treasonous language about the Motherland was paraded. Leading the pack was none other than our dear Morgan who briefly emerged from his latest retreat at the Dutch embassy to utter a few noises about the 'way forward' or something to that effect.

If he was to be arrested, they would have arrested him at his house.

Then a retired ZDF colonel called M. Rupiya tried to help the CNN establish a case for military intervention in Zimbabwe. How a man who rose through the ranks of the army to position of Colonel can utter such nonsense as he did about his own country is incomprehensible.

If this was not about the country of my birth I would simply laugh at the naivety of these people and their gullibility about the West’s’ concern for Zimbabwe’s poor people and its desire to oust our old 'Dictator'. Even Tony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, was on song deliberating on the best form of sanctions to oust Mugabe.

Don’t these people realise they are a pawns in a deadly game — a game that even an amateur on the world stage like Raila Odinga is playing to perfection? Odinga is complicit in many crimes against the people of Kenya perpetrated by ODM after the last Kenyan vote. By volunteering to be imperialism’s shining black 'knight of the realm', he is taking the spotlight from his own crimes which resulted in thousands of deaths just recently.

Today on the CNN’s Your World Today programme (25/06/08) Raila kept urging military action on Zimbabwe. Twice he was asked if the Kenyan government had made any formal contact with Zimbabwe via normal diplomatic channels to voice its concerns. Twice he deliberately failed to answer that question. WHY? I suspect because he knows his megaphone diplomacy is founded on lies and hysteria.

Looking at dear old Gordon Brown and his tantrums on Mugabe can be a spectacle. The man is facing humiliation at the next General Election. Unlike Mugabe who is legitimately Zimbabwe’s elected Head of State, he found his way to power from Number 11 Downing Street by ‘bullying’ his neighbor Tony Blair — whom we now know doubted his ability to win an election.

He has since been tested at the local government polls and found VERY wanting.

So how can one like him, so mistrusted, despised and belittled by his own domestic voters seek to make lofty pronouncements on Zimbabwe? Gordon, like Raila, is using Zimbabwe to divert the spotlight away from his own domestic failures. Hundreds of Zimbabweans can die via sanctions as long as he can gain some political mileage out of their misery. Where are his morals? He is sending 'asylum seekers' back to a place that he describes in such terms.

Looking at the range of African 'leaders' who have condemned Mugabe one sees only inexperienced opportunists in the form of Kikwete, Mwanawasa, Khama, and now some characters in Swaziland. These are more or less people who were still in their diapers when Mugabe was fighting for the very freedom now being abused by Tsvangirai and his band of MDC stooges.

Talking of opportunism and political immaturity brings David Milliband to mind. How old was this British foreign Secretary on 18 April 1980? He was just 15 yet he has the guts to say that Zimbabweans are living under the harshest political dispensation ever. Really?

Remember this is the guy who only discovered this year that President Mugabe was knight of the realm. No wonder the rush to revoke the knighthood as if Mugabe cares for such accolades. The revocation is part of the gesture politics so typical of the ruling 'criminal cabal' at Whitehall whose collective 'crimes are against humanity' in Iraq and Afghanistan are yetto be discussed.

So what point am I making?

Well the point is the Western governments and media trying to make about this saturation coverage and demonization of Mugabe? If they can willy-nilly try to character-assassinate a man, I feel entitled as well rumble on about their questionable practices.

Someone has to answer back to this madness.

Mdelelwa Mdelelwa—Opinion



(YAHOO, REUTERS) African officials wary of Zimbabwe sanctions call

African officials wary of Zimbabwe sanctions call
By Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Johnston Reuters - Saturday, June 28 11:48 am

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Sanctions against Zimbabwe will not work and the world should focus instead on encouraging talks towards a power-sharing deal, several African officials said on Saturday.

Zimbabwe held a single-candidate presidential election run-off on Friday despite international condemnation after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the race, citing violence against his supporters.

Many Western leaders urged the African Union to take action at a summit in Egypt on Monday that was expected to focus on the crisis. But African ministers expressed doubts after Washington said it would consider imposing more sanctions.

"History has shown us that they (sanctions) don't work because the leadership just dig in and dig in and feel persecuted," Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula told reporters at a meeting of African foreign ministers ahead of the summit.

"I think we need to engage Zimbabwe. The route of sanctions may not be the helpful one ... the first and most important thing is for the people of Zimbabwe and their leadership to sit down and talk to each other, instead of talking at each other."

Libya's state minister for African affairs, Ali Treiki, whose country spent years under international sanctions, told Reuters he believed sanctions would "never help".

"Let us envisage that a government of coalition should be formed from both the government and opposition to run the country," he said. "I think the example we did in Kenya is a very good example."

African Union mediation led to the creation of a power-sharing government in Kenya to resolve a post-election crisis earlier this year in which about 1,500 people were killed and 300,000 more uprooted.

Africa's top diplomat said on Friday there would be no immediate solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe, but was sure the AU could sort it out.

"I am convinced it will be solved in a credible way. But please give us time to solve it with our heads of state," AU Commission chairman Jean Ping told reporters at the meeting in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.

Kenya's Wetangula said Nairobi stood ready to help with ideas on how to form a workable coalition.

"I've heard from both sides statements to the effect that they are willing to talk. I think what is important is at what level do we start talking, to whom do we talk, and what do we talk about," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Saturday the United States was working with other United Nations members on a resolution to send "a strong message of deterrence" to Mugabe's government over the violence.

But diplomats at the U.N. said resistance from South Africa, China and Russia would block any Security Council sanctions.

At the AU meeting, Georges Chikoti, Angola's deputy minister of external affairs, said the AU wanted a solution that was acceptable to the Zimbabwean people and the pan-African body.

"We have to listen to everyone ... We have got to take the time necessary so that we do things well," he said.

(Editing by Caroline Drees)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa

Labels: , , ,


(TALKZIMBABWE) BBC, CNN, Sky News losing credibility

BBC, CNN, Sky News losing credibility
Sihle Dube—Opinion
Sat, 28 Jun 2008 14:10:00 +0000

DEAR EDITOR—I am concerned by the portrayal of Zimbabwe in international media and the negativity surrounding the reports on Zimbabwe. It seems like Zimbabwe is breaking news on every channel in the United Kingdom. Can any of your readers care to tell me what the fascination with our country is. I see wars and conflict elsewhere in the world where the news do not even make it to prime time.

Is there something that is in Zimbabwe that these people know about that we don’t – like hidden oil, diamonds or something?

The media onslaught is unwarranted. We need 'real news' not their opinions.

President Mugabe might be bad, but surely not so bad as to warrant such a media onslaught.

Western media’s bias has made it lose its credibility, especially with regards to Zimbabwe.

The BBC, CNN, Sky News unfortunately are exposing their inability to report on complex political crises like in Zimbabwe.

There has been an increasing number of political analysts from the opposition and human rights organisations expressing their ignorance on Zimbabwe.

I wonder how these analysts are selected by these seemingly authoritative news channels, but no more.

I’ll give an example of the hyperbole spread by ‘analysts’. The BBC entertained Wilf Mbanga of The Zimbabwean newspaper saying: “We have a leaked memo saying that the military junta in Zimbabwe is trying to kill off all MDC MPs.”

Now if this is not crazy, I do not have another definition of that term.

And why does The Zimbabwean always have these ‘leaked memos’ that never materialize. It is shocking that the BBC gives such people, obviously shallow analysts, the time of day.

The BBC has to work hard now to regain its credibility.

Sihle Dube—Opinion

Labels: , ,


(TALKZIMBABWE) Is it time for the MDC to take stock?

Is it time for the MDC to take stock?
Thu, 26 Jun 2008 13:16:00 +0000

THREE months after the harmonised elections on March 29, 2008 and after months of extreme tension and unprecedented violence in Zimbabwe, it is a good time to take stock. Is Morgan Tsvangirai the future of opposition politics in Zimbabwe? It is shocking that Tsvangirai’s staunch(est) supporters are reluctant to see his political infantilism, unfitness for political decision-making and the fluidity of his political moods ─ qualities that are responsible for his numerous ruptures with political associates in the MDC.

Suddenly awake and thrashing, he has issued a 24-hour 'ultimatum' to President Robert Mugabe without giving his supporters any electoral outlet for their support in the meantime.

Clothing himself in the robes of democracy, Tsvangirai has offered no alternative suitable programme, but only a litany of complaints, with a Western tone.

The mystery for his supporters is how he will sustain his momentum after tomorrow’s election, and how they can display their support in another period of Zanu PF authority.

New political demands

After these three months, it has become all too evident that the political, social and economic scene must be settled after tomorrow’s election. But what is the role of the opposition MDC in that process?

The demands of Zimbabwean politics have revealed serious shortcomings on the part of the opposition parties, not just the MDC, in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, opposition party loyalty is almost non-existent, instead what you have are gossamer thread political alliances managed by the most consumate politician.

My double-tounged dictionary tells me that there are trapos on both sides of the political fence. But there are probably more trapos on the MDC side because this is where most of the political deals are currently being made in order to bring about ‘change’.

One of the assumptions that many carried after the harmonised March elections was that Zanu PF had folded and was about to crumble, so it made sense, and was cool, to support the MDC. Those who flirted with this idea did so to the point of near hysteria.

They were supported by co-trapos from many different parts of the world, who also flirted with that idea and helped massage the egos of the would─be leaders (in the MDC), after Mugabe.

Everybody focused on the implications of an MDC narrow parliamentary victory, but forgot that it represented a Zanu PF loss. How was Zanu PF going to respond to a loss? No one was concerned.

Zanu PF, after March 29 parliamentary loss, woke up and regrouped and restrategized while everybody was concentrated on the squeaky victory by the MDC.

Other players went on to demand President Mugabe’s immediate exit, forgetting that the process required a run-off. At least that’s what western media expected: Mugabe’s exit without a fight. How naïve.

Everyone who wanted Zanu PF obliterated found a voice. Even some squirrels under rocks could be seen emerging; joining forces with a world-wide ‘movement for democratic change’ going gang-ho against Mugabe.

No one took time to strategize and restrategize, except Zanu PF.

But no one questioned whether these assembled political forces against President Mugabe were strong enough to put him down. Laying aside (for the meantime) the stratagems and legality of their actions, these people compromised the political opposition and as an alliance, they became weak.

Many of them brought in petty personal intrigues that spoiled the process, and rang a death knell for the MDC.

Incongruent and conflicting voices made the MDC look like a hotch-potch of anti-Mugabe individuals with no clear strategy to handle a supposed transition. They could care less about strategy or policy — they were concerned about the exit of Mugabe. Some even said: “At all costs. Even by military means.”

Such a hotch-potch would be the MDC’s achilles heel and the reason why people ─ even their own supporters ─ in general would then not trust them. Who and what exactly was the MDC? The party became a balimbing – the fruit with many sides.

The self-destructive impulse was set in motion.

The 'cry-baby' tactics

Morgan Tsvangirai’s unpredictability and impetuousness, un-useful and less inspiring, tended to backfire in day-to-day dealings, confusing his friends more than confounding his enemies.

Tsvangirai at the Dutch embassy was the ‘spectacle of the Century’. Coming out to give a press conference and then going back into ‘safety’ was laughable.

He withdrew from the presidential run–off election; but remained mum on the parliamentary election also scheduled for tomorrow.

What should be done Morgan?

How about urging your MPs-elect to withdraw as well? There should be a synchronised election withdrawal. How can you withdraw from the presidential election and not from the parliamentary election? This is a ‘sham election’ afterall…

Morgan cannot have his cake and eat it?

And the ‘24-Hour Ultimatum’ on President Mugabe to negotiate…

To me it seems Morgan is trying to jump the gun and maintain influence over events he has resigned from.

Yet despite the efforts of the assembled host of political forces, the MDC party has failed to push President Mugabe out ─ even in the name of democracy.

As a political force the MDC seems to be loud only to the press, visible only in the West, and at best alliances between the groups are shallow. It has used every trick in the book to agitate the political situation and even recruit more players to champion their cause.

Is it so weak that it has to enlist the members of the clergy, and seek refugee at Dutch embassies?

Will they succeed now after withdrawing from the run-off election? Who knows what cards Fate has dealt this time around. Win or lose, this present MDC will go the way of most weak opposition parties — disintegration.

The rest of their wobbly supporters will be back in the trenches again.

As for Morgan Tsvangirai he is going to have the luxury of an opposition that is not so much focused on the government's agenda as on itself.



(TALKZIMBABWE) S.Africa blocks move to delegitimize Zim election

S.Africa blocks move to delegitimize Zim election
Ralph Mutema
Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:14:00 +0000

COUNTING of votes cast in the presidential election run-off held in Zimbabwe yesterday is under way in the capital Harare, amid reports that South Africa has blocked a move at the United Nations to declare the election illegitimate. President Mugabe is tipped to win by a landslide in the election dubbed a ‘sham’ by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai after he boycotted it.

The United States and its allies in Europe had pushed for a resolution that would have delegitimized the election and questioned its credibilty.

The move was blocked by South Africa arguing that the Security Council was not mandated to certify elections.

The council instead issued an oral statement expressing “deep regret" that the election went ahead after widespread calls for it to be shelved.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, immediately responded to this block and said the US would introduce a UN resolution calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe.

This move was criticized by African foreign ministers meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

They issued a statement saying that getting President Mugabe and the opposition MDC to talk will have better results than punitive measures.

Moses Watangula, in contrast to Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga’s hard-line stance, said the route of sanctions was not going to help the situation in Zimbabwe.


This news came as a blow to MDC leaders whose rhetorid immediately changed in response to the block by the UN.

Ralph Black, the MDC's representative in the United States, who has dismissed a Government of National Unity (GNU) before seemed to change his stance.

He has told a radio programme before that a GNU was “… like asking a cancer patient to heal them self when they need help from a Dr.,” but yesterday he told Al Jazeera that a GNU was the only alternative.

"They must agree to form a government of national unity," he said.

"The two parties must come together to select and share power, but we believe Mugabe must not be part of a unity government — this is because the destruction of Zimbabwe's democratic institutions lies squarely at his feet."

The MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai also seemed to have been cornered and was softening his previous hard-line stance.

On Wednesday he said he would ‘never’ negotiate with President Mugabe if the run-off election went ahead.

He was quoted by CNN and BBC today saying he would go to the negotiating table if the ‘conditions were right’.

Briggs Bomba, a Zimbabwe activist for Africa Action, a non-profit organisation, was quoted by Al Jazeera—the only international news agency allowed to broadcast from Zimbabwe—that the strategy the MDC is using has not been effective.

"What the MDC could have done was to mobilize mass popular support inside the country," he said.

Labels: ,


(TALKZIMBABWE) S.Africa blocks move to delegitimize Zim election

S.Africa blocks move to delegitimize Zim election
Ralph Mutema
Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:14:00 +0000

COUNTING of votes cast in the presidential election run-off held in Zimbabwe yesterday is under way in the capital Harare, amid reports that South Africa has blocked a move at the United Nations to declare the election illegitimate. President Mugabe is tipped to win by a landslide in the election dubbed a ‘sham’ by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai after he boycotted it.

The United States and its allies in Europe had pushed for a resolution that would have delegitimized the election and questioned its credibilty.

The move was blocked by South Africa arguing that the Security Council was not mandated to certify elections.

The council instead issued an oral statement expressing “deep regret" that the election went ahead after widespread calls for it to be shelved.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, immediately responded to this block and said the US would introduce a UN resolution calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe.

This move was criticized by African foreign ministers meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

They issued a statement saying that getting President Mugabe and the opposition MDC to talk will have better results than punitive measures.

Moses Watangula, in contrast to Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga’s hard-line stance, said the route of sanctions was not going to help the situation in Zimbabwe.


This news came as a blow to MDC leaders whose rhetorid immediately changed in response to the block by the UN.

Ralph Black, the MDC's representative in the United States, who has dismissed a Government of National Unity (GNU) before seemed to change his stance.

He has told a radio programme before that a GNU was “… like asking a cancer patient to heal them self when they need help from a Dr.,” but yesterday he told Al Jazeera that a GNU was the only alternative.

"They must agree to form a government of national unity," he said.

"The two parties must come together to select and share power, but we believe Mugabe must not be part of a unity government — this is because the destruction of Zimbabwe's democratic institutions lies squarely at his feet."

The MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai also seemed to have been cornered and was softening his previous hard-line stance.

On Wednesday he said he would ‘never’ negotiate with President Mugabe if the run-off election went ahead.

He was quoted by CNN and BBC today saying he would go to the negotiating table if the ‘conditions were right’.

Briggs Bomba, a Zimbabwe activist for Africa Action, a non-profit organisation, was quoted by Al Jazeera—the only international news agency allowed to broadcast from Zimbabwe—that the strategy the MDC is using has not been effective.

"What the MDC could have done was to mobilize mass popular support inside the country," he said.

Labels: ,


(TALKZIMBABWE) MDC supporters allege harassment in the UK

MDC supporters allege harassment in the UK
Our reporter
Sat, 28 Jun 2008 10:44:00 +0000

A REPORT in the United Kingdom’s Independent newspaper alleges that agents of the Zimbabwean government are operational in the UK and are ‘harassing and intimidating Zimbabwean dissidents in Britain’ in an attempt to silence them. The report also alleges that these agents are trying to disrupt fund-raising activities of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

“Mr Mugabe's ... security force, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), is waging a highly-organised campaign to terrify the 4,000 MDC members living in the UK,” said the report.

“It involves surveillance, threats against family members in Zimbabwe, menacing late-night phone calls and bogus messages saying that fundraising activities are cancelled or disrupted,” added the report.

According to the weekly paper this news was confirmed by British security sources, “who said the targeting of dissidents and MDC members was stepped up in recent weeks” in the run-up to the presidential run-off election.

The report continues: “Police are investigating a number of incidents, including an alleged phone call to an MDC member who was told that his parents in Zimbabwe faced eviction unless he stopped criticising Mr Mugabe.”

The paper quotes MDC officials saying “a key target of the CIO operation appeared to be the money – between £5,000 and £10,000 a month, which was being sent from the UK to back Mr Tsvangirai's campaign until he withdrew from the ballot last week.”

Tendai Goneso, treasurer of the MDC's UK and Ireland branch, is quoted as saying: "It is a highly-organized and co-ordinated campaign to intimidate members and interrupt our ability to send money to support the presidential campaign. Mr Mugabe has exported the methods he has used against Zimbabweans at home to the heart of the former colonial power.”

Gonese is also said to have alleged that MDC-T members were filmed by alleged Zimbabwe government agents and had received phone calls saying they were on a ‘hitlist’ in Harare.

"Our members are being filmed, they are whispered to that they are doing the work of the 'white man', they receive phone calls saying they are on a list in Harare," he was quoted as saying.

The Independent, said it had carried out its own independent investigation which was ‘corroborated by British security sources’.

Areas identified where these tactics were rife included the West Midlands and The North (Wolverhampton) where reports had been received.

The Zimbabwe Guardian’s attempts to contact officials in Zimbabwe proved fruitless as many of them were said to be out of the office.

Labels: ,


(HERALD) Run-off ends peacefully

Run-off ends peacefully
Herald Reporters/Ziana

THE presidential run-off poll contested by President Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T closed peacefully yesterday evening with massive voter turnout recorded in most parts of the country. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started counting the votes when polling closed and said results would be released as they come.

"We will announce the results as they come at constituency level and we hope to start tomorrow (today)," ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Mr Utloile Silaigwana said.

Police confirmed that peace and tranquillity prevailed throughout the country with chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena urging the electorate to remain calm.

"We did not get any negative reports and the situation was calm," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

He, however, urged the voters to return home after casting their ballots and wait for the announcement of the results by ZEC.

In Harare South constituency, hundreds of voters had by 5am queued at various polling stations, with the biggest number at Ushewokunze Housing Co-operative where more than 550 people were waiting to cast their votes around mid-day.

Some of the voters who had been queuing for long hours said ZEC should have put more polling stations at Ushewokunze to speed up the process.

At Gazaland Technology Centre, Shirichena Primary School, Western Triangle Bus Terminus and Canaan Bus Terminus in Highfield, long queues had formed as early as 7am.

The situation was the same at Zuva Rabuda Primary School in Glen Norah and in Mbare’s Number Five and Seven grounds, where a heavy presence of police officers was evident.

Voting started peacefully but on a slow note in Kambuzuma, Warren Park, Kuwadzana and Norton with scores of people trickling in throughout the day.

At Kuwadzana Community Centre, a queue of about 30 metres had formed by mid-afternoon while in Norton a large number of people voted in the morning.

The presiding officer at Nyamunda polling station in Katanga said they were busy in the morning as a large number of people turned up to vote but the number decreased as the day progressed.

In Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Kambuzuma, few voters trickled in to cast their ballots by the close of polling station at 7pm.

Voters in Goromonzi North, South and West had as early as 7am formed long queues which could still be seen at mid-day.

The biggest turnout was at Chinamhora Hall in Goromonzi West where about 400 voters had cast their ballots by noon.

A small number was turned away at Arcturus, Goromonzi and Ruwa as well as at Groombridge and Hellenic primary schools in Harare East for lack of proper documentation or because they were aliens.

Some of those turned away had brought drivers’ licences or photocopies of national identity cards that were not recognised in the presidential run-off.

Others were turned away after it emerged they had already cast their votes through postal ballot or did not appear on the voters’ roll.

In Mt Pleasant and Harare East, voters had queued as early as 6.30am.

In Seke and Chitungwiza, most polling stations had received more than 100 voters by 10.00am in a peaceful atmosphere.

A ZEC official at St Eden’s Primary School polling station in Chitungwiza described the process as slow in comparison to the March 29 harmonised election where people had queued as early as 2am.

By end of day, more than 470 people had cast their votes at Chigunguru makeshift polling station in Zengeza West compared to about 3 000 in the March poll.

In Wedza, where turnout was low, groups of villagers were seen at polling stations waiting patiently to cast their votes as the process progressed smoothly.

However, some villagers who had travelled all the way from Harare to cast their votes failed to do so when their names were not found on the voters’ roll.

The voter turnout in Bindura was described by presiding officers as "just slightly lower than that recorded in the March harmonised elections" while others said there was no difference.

Mr Frank Nyama, an election officer at Chipadze Primary School polling station, said the numbers were almost the same as those recorded in March.

He said a total of 210 people had cast their votes by 10am.

At another polling station in the town centre, 370 people had cast their vote by 4.30pm while at other stations the figures varied between 75 and 120.

"Voting has been moving on well," said Mr Grasian Zviazia, a polling officer at Chipindura High School.

Vice President Joice Mujuru cast her vote at Madzivanzira Open Space polling station in Dotito, Mt Darwin, around 1.30pm.

Cde Mujuru said the presidential run-off was very vital in the history of Zimbabwe because it showed the nation’s commitment to defending the land.

She encouraged Zimbabweans to remain steadfast and support President Mugabe who had remained steadfast in preserving the country’s independence and sovereignty.

One ailing voter had to be ferried in a wheelbarrow to Chihoko polling station while at Kandeya Business Centre and Chihoko polling stations 109 and 172 people had cast their votes by 9.30am.

More than 200 people braved the cold weather in Marondera to cast their ballots at Dombotombo Hall polling station where they had queued as early 6am.

Mr Jorum Tapfuma, the presiding officer at the polling station, said they had started late because they were processing postal ballots.

The processing, Mr Tapfuma said, involved crossing out from the voters’ roll people who had voted by postal ballot.

But voting at Rugare Street Market polling station and Ruware Primary School, where about 50 people had cast their ballots within an hour of the opening of the polling station, commenced as scheduled at 7am.

Ms Eunice Ndoro, a presiding officer at Mbuya Nehanda Hall, said voting proceeded without any


A team of Sadc observers kept a presence in Marondera Central constituency that had 30 polling stations.

A representative of the team said they had observed proceedings at 10 polling stations between 7am and 8am and had witnessed no incidents of violence.

By noon, officials said 700 people had cast their votes at three polling stations while 176 had been turned away because they did not have the required documents.

A presiding officer at Rimuka Light Industrial polling station, Mr Isaac Denhere, said that by 11.05am, 226 people had cast their votes.

At Rimuka Hall in ward 7, presiding officer Mr Emmanuel Kwenda said 217 people had voted by 11.15am.

A slightly higher figure of 245 people had cast their ballots before noon at Lady Tait Primary School in ward 12.

No incidents of violence were reported in and around Kadoma where police had been deployed in large numbers.

There was a slow start in Chegutu where a presiding officer at Mutowa polling station said 64 people had cast their votes by 9.30am.

The polling officer, however, said high turnout was expected in the afternoon.

Eight people whose names were not on the voters’ roll were turned away at Mutowa polling station.

Ms Joyce Mhondiwa, the presiding officer at another polling station in Chegutu, said no one had been turned away but she declined to say how many people had voted by mid-morning at the centre.

Three-hundred people had voted in Mhangura at Doma Primary School by 2pm while 70 had been turned away.

About 140 people had turned up to vote at Muchiedza Primary School in Mande by 10am while 34 people had been assisted to vote.

At close of business, more than 500 people had voted at Charles Clark Primary School in Magunje.

Presiding officer Mr Julius Homera said 100 people were turned away.

In Ngezi, more than 400 people had voted by 3.30pm while 90 had been turned away for lack of required identity documents or their names were not on the voters’ roll.

Rusape witnessed a smooth start with the presiding officer at Kature Business Centre, Mr Sitshengiso Manyenya, saying 312 of 1 692 registered voters having cast their ballots by mid-day.

Polling stations at Vhengere and St Luke’s primary schools recorded a high voter turnout in the morning with a handful coming in the afternoon.

Mr Charles Mazambani, who presided at St Luke’s, said 376 people out of 2 709 registered voters in the constituency had visited the polling station by 2 pm.

Most polling centres in Masvingo Rural had long queues as early as 6am while in urban areas the turnout was low as seen at Mucheke High School and Yeukai Crèche in the sprawling Mucheke suburb.

A record turnout was at Sikato Primary School in Nemanwa just outside Masvingo town and another bumper crowd was at Chirichoga Secondary School in Masvingo Central.

At Chirichoga Secondary School, people complained of waiting for too long in queues because of the slow voting process as a result of the high turnout.

That was the same scenario at Vuranda Business Centre in Madamombe communal lands in Chivi where scores of people waited for long hours before having their turn to vote.

Another huge turnout was at Bvute Primary School where Chivi-Mwenezi Senator-elect and former Masvingo Governor Cde Josaya Hungwe cast his vote.

Cde Hungwe — buoyed by the huge crowd — declared that the high turnout in the run-off was a victory for the people of Zimbabwe.

"This is a clear victory for Zanu-PF and the people of Zimbabwe. The people have spoken and their will should be respected," said Cde Hungwe soon after casting his vote.

In Gutu, Bikita and Zaka, the voting process was smooth and thousands of people turned up to cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere.

Acting officer commanding police in Masvingo Assistant Commissioner Mekia Tanyanyiwa said there had not been any incidents of violence.

The police were, however, on high alert in case the situation went changed.

Beitbridge town polling stations opened with small queues forming outside while rural Beitbridge recorded a relatively high turnout.

Rural areas visited had by noon seen an average of 400 voters with a number of people turned away because their names did not appear on the voters’ roll while some had gone to wrong wards.

In Malala, Tongwe, Chicago, Tshapfuche, Makhakhavhule, Shabwe, Lutumba and Dumba, people came in small groups of about six and by 10am 168 people had voted at Beitbridge Mission Primary School.

Some election officers said they expected the numbers to peak by the end of the day.

Traffic was also low at the border post as very few traveLlers were coming into the country.

The polling stations at Nkayi Centre and other surrounding areas opened at 7am with more than 700 people casting their ballot by 9am.

Presiding officer Mrs Grace Ngwenya said 15 people had been turned away for various reasons, including not having proper identification documents and having come to a wrong ward.

Long queues were the order of the day at Nkayi with most of the voters saying they could not wait to exercise their votes to choose a president of their choice.

In Kwekwe, the biggest turnout was at Chana Primary School polling station in Mbizo ward 16 where about 500 people had cast their ballots by 2pm while in Amaveni ward 8, 600 voters had been processed by 3pm.

Although the turnout in Gweru, Shurugwi and Lower Gweru was low, Tongogara Growth Point in Shurugwi recorded a higher turnout with voters in Mkoba trickling in throughout the day while the polling station at the District Administrator’s office in the city centre was deserted.

Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Insiza district in neighbouring Matabeleland South Province saw a huge number of people casting their votes.

At Nyaradzayi Hall in Maglas Township, Zvishavane, there was 50-metre-long queue while at Oasis Business Centre another long, winding queue of voters had formed as early as 6am.

High figures were also recorded at Gwatemba, Amazon and Wanezi polling stations in Insiza and at Gwarenyama, Msume, Marirazhombe and Chizungu in Mberengwa. — Herald Reporters/Ziana.

Labels: ,


I feel very fit, upbeat and hungry - Mugabe

I feel very fit, upbeat and hungry - Mugabe
By George Chellah and Kingsley Kaswende
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:00]

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday said he felt very fit, optimistic, upbeat and hungry after casting his vote. Speaking to journalists at Mhofu Primary School, in Harare's high-density suburb of Highfield where he cast his vote, President Mugabe - who was accompanied by first lady Grace and the family - expressed confidence that he would emerge victorious from the presidential runoff that had been boycotted by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
span class="fullpost">
"I feel very fit, optimistic,upbeat and hungry," President Mugabe said before leaving the polling station at around 11:00 hours.

The turnout in most urban polling stations was very low in the election in which many urban voters warned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to expect many spoilt ballots.

Polling stations opened at 06:00 hours but some that are located in central Harare had not recorded a single voter by 08:00 hours. There were, however, sizeable queues in high density suburbs such as Mbare and Chitungwiza.

The opposition MDC, which withdrew from the race last Sunday because the prevailing conditions are not conducive for a free and fair election, has its strongholds in many urban areas around Zimbabwe.

The United Nations, SADC and other African leaders had called for the election, whose preparation was marred with widespread violence, to be postponed but President Mugabe was defiant, saying the election proceeded according to Zimbabwean law.

Some voters spoken to said Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should expect a lot of spoilt ballots especially in urban areas.

They said they had been forced to vote because rumours circulating were that ZANU-PF activists would be moving around on Saturday checking people's fingers for the indelible ink, which is the evidence of one having participated in the voting.

"Without the ink they will beat you up," said Shingi Matesa, who cast his vote at Avondale Junior School polling station. "This was a protest vote. I went to vote but I voted for nothing. ZEC and Mugabe should expect to spend sometime counting spoilt ballots."

Another voter, Tiny Hurungwe, said she had gone to cast her vote because she wanted to be safe.

"I just crossed out the whole ballot paper," she said.

And the MDC urged its supporters to spoil the ballot once they reached the polling booth.

MDC spokersperson Nelson Chamisa told The Post yesterday that the ruling ZANU-PF was planning to deploy fake MDC polling agents to give an impression that MDC is participating "in this sham in a desperate bid to secure some semblance of legitimacy in the so-called runoff poll".

"As MDC, we have since made it clear that we will not be participating in tomorrow's circus. The conditions on the ground are not conducive to the conduct of free and fair elections. The region, the United Nations and the international community, have also made it clear that what is going to happen tomorrow is a sham," Chamisa said.

He said the SADC summit held in Swaziland last Wednesday made it clear that the conditions in Zimbabwe were not conducive for a free and fair election.

And first lady Grace Mugabe has said MDC leader Tsvangirai pulled out of yesterday's presidential runoff because he was afraid of defeat.

And President Mugabe said ZANU-PF would not be arrogant but magnanimous if it emerges victorious in the presidential runoff polls.

Addressing a public rally in Harare on Thursday, Grace criticised Tsvangirai for withdrawing from the run-off election.

"Tsvangirai wrote to the Zimbabwe Election Commission saying that Mugabe's wife has threatened war against me if I win. With his big cheeks, how can I threaten him as a woman? He is just afraid of defeat," she said.

Grace said she had confidence in her husband because he was not a coward.
"Tsvangirai has a house in South Africa but President Mugabe hasn't got one. So is he the person you can vote for?" Grace asked. "Even if I am given a trillion US dollars as Mugabe's exit package, I will not accept it. I do not mind your trillion US dollars."
Grace said though things in the country were difficult, Zimbabweans could not afford to sell their country.

"This is our country and the resources are ours. The country is ours even if they say whatever they want. We have developed a thick skin," said Grace.

And President Mugabe said Zimbabweans would resolve their differences whilst warning that Britain should not set the terms for discussions.

"We will remain open to discussions. If there are any proposals that they would want to make to us, we will listen to those proposals. The moment the outside world would start dictating to us, we will not proceed. We will not be dictated to even by the AU African Union," he said.

President Mugabe further condemned calls for the cancellation of elections, saying his government was conducting elections in accordance with the constitutional demands.

"We hear voices coming that we should cancel the elections, what stupidity is that? No party will go into oblivion after the elections. The MDC have more seats in Parliament than us. So there is a role they will play in Parliament," President Mugabe said.

"They are saying we must do what they did in Kenya. Kenya is Kenya and Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe. Victory by us does not mean death for the MDC. If we emerge victorious, we will not be arrogant. We will be magnanimous," he said.

President Mugabe urged the British government to keep quiet on the Zimbabwean situation.

"The British have been hypocritical, devilish and extremely evil. They have avoided discussing the land issue. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is saying nonsensical things, in some cases much more idiotic than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was. I pity the Americans. I pity Mr Bush because this fight is not theirs.

Whether we win or lose, the land will not go back. If MDC, in case of course, wins and attempts to take the land, they are asking for war," President Mugabe said. "We have no problem with the Queen and the British people but we have a problem with Number 10 Downing Street.

The demons in Number 10 Downing Street must be exorcised by someone; they need a priest. Unfortunately, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is supposed to do that has lost his Christ because he is supporting gays and so he cannot exorcise Downing Street."
President Mugabe warned MDC leaders against issuing treasonable statements.

"For MDC to call for military action here, which the leader of opposition is denying to have said, that is treason. Let them stop making these irresponsible statements that will bring trouble," said President Mugabe.

Labels: ,


Chikane bemoans politics of individuality

Chikane bemoans politics of individuality
By Mutuna Chanda
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:00]

POLITICS of individuality are not relevant to today's African context, South African High Commissioner to Zambia Moses Chikane has said. And High Commissioner Chikane said the Thabo Mbeki-led SADC mediation in Zimbabwe is needed now more than ever. In an interview on Thursday, High Commissioner Chikane said the talk on reconciliation in Zambia's political scene would expose those who pushed the agenda of being seen as having done things alone.

"Politics of individuality or self portrayal are not relevant to the African context today," High Commissioner Chikane said. "What is relevant is collective leadership.

So the reconciliation among Zambia's political leaders will expose those who have the 'I' mentality of 'I did this, I did that'. We should be able to say 'we did this together' regardless of political affiliation."

He said all political parties on the campaign platform stood for creating jobs and improving the welfare of people and wondered why they could not work together on national issues.

"We need to identify areas that are essential for the survival. For a country like Zambia, unemployment is high, industrialisation is quite low but if we have a common perspective from political leaders, instead of them blaming each other for the problems that are being experienced, then it would be positive," High Commissioner Chikane said.

"If we continue saying that people in province x are unemployed because they do not come from the same province or tribe as the President, then you are polarising society and are agitating the people.

You should be able to deal with the problems sincerely and speak collectively. It is in this area that I appreciate the spirit of the Zambian people and leadership. Through the recent reconciliation that we have seen, they have spoken from a common platform."

However, he said once political leaders have agreed on the common direction for development in areas such as infrastructure, they should be able to criticise each other if funds were diverted for other programmes other than what was agreed on.

And High Commissioner Chikane said the mediation led by South Africa's President Mbeki in Zimbabwe was needed more today than at the time there was peace in that country.

He said much as observers had seen flaws in the mediation effort of President Mbeki, it was not an easy course.

High Commissioner Chikane said the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which tasked President Mbeki with the mediation effort, reserved the right to determine which course of action to take.

"In mediation, you work until you have no work to do," High Commissioner Chikane said. "The objective of SADC was not to facilitate elections which were left to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The objective of SADC was that 'things have gone out of rail and need intervention', that is why they called on President Mbeki to mediate.

"The mediation becomes more relevant now given that there are reported killings and violence because we don't want Zimbabwe to go to war with itself.

The mediation is needed now more than at the time there was peace. Without mediation, such conflict would affect the region.

"It's not a comfortable job. President Mbeki didn't apply to do it, he was just chosen."
When asked why President Mbeki did not avail timely information to SADC chairperson President Levy Mwanawasa on the situation in Zimbabwe, High Commissioner Chikane declined to comment on the matter saying he did not know what happened between the two Presidents.

President Mwanawasa on Sunday during a press conference at State House in Lusaka complained that he was being denied information as SADC chairperson.

President Mwanawasa said he had twice attempted to contact President Mbeki a day before to get a briefing on the situation in Zimbabwe and was informed that the South African leader would get back to him as he was busy on both occasions.

President Mbeki, by the time of the press conference, had not contacted President Mwanawasa to brief him on the situation in Zimbabwe.

High Commissioner Chikane also said South Africa agreed with President Levy Mwanawasa's position that elections in Zimbabwe were supposed to be postponed.
He further said it was not too late for talks between President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"They should talk to each other as Zimbabweans and find a solution to Zimbabwean problems. Although we wish that talks should have come up earlier, they can still talk to save lives of us ordinary people," said High Commissioner Chikane.

Labels: ,


Matoka attributes xenophobia to economic marginalization

Matoka attributes xenophobia to economic marginalization
By Agness Changala
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:01]

THE violence in South Africa should be a reminder that no one should be left behind as a country achieves national prosperity, University of Zambia Development Studies lecturer Dr Peter Matoka has said. During the discussion organised by Chevening Alumni Association (CAA) at the British Council whose theme was 'Xenophobia:
economic or conflict', Dr Matoka said it was everyone's obligation to ensure that the less fortunate in society did not feel economically marginalised because that resulted in xenophobia.

"The xenophobic attacks in South Africa, callous and inhuman as they were, are a chilling reminder to all of us that we have an obligation to ensure that our less fortunate brothers and sisters in society must not feel left behind even as we strive to achieve national prosperity," he said.

Dr Matoka said there was need to collectively take measures that would guarantee those families, communities and the country that they would not witness the horrors of xenophobia again.

He said it was naïve and reckless to assume that the occurrences of xenophobia in other countries was a problem which the affected countries would grapple with and contend.

Dr Matoka added that xenophobia knew no borders and its fault line appeared to be spreading even to the most hospitable countries.
He said racial attacks had the capacity to turn a country's well-intended economic and social policies into a fertile breeding ground for conflict.

He urged Zambians to be reminded of the eagle on the flag because it depicted their ability to soar above the challenges faced including xenophobia.

And former Zambezi East UPND member of parliament Maxwell Mukwakwa, who was in the audience, expressed disappointment with the violence in South Africa.

Mukwakwa said African countries must learn to pay tribute to countries that helped them get liberated.

South African High Commissioner to Zambia Moses Chikane partly attributed the xenophobic attacks in that country to economic marginalisation.

British High Commissioner to Zambia Alistair Harrison said political leaders must make sensible decisions to address the problem of xenophobia as it had the capacity to destroy the good relations at regional and continental level.

Labels: , , ,


Girasoli urges dialogue for stable democracy in Africa

Girasoli urges dialogue for stable democracy in Africa
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:01]

VATICAN Ambassador to Zambia Apostolic Nuncio Nicola Girasoli has said stability and democracy in Africa can only be reached through dialogue and a persuasive attitude. In welcoming the bishops who are attending the Association of Member Episcopal Conference in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), which starts today and ends on July 6 under the theme ‘Reconciliation, Justice and Peace’, Archbishop Girasoli said in this world, where globalisation took over nationalism and selfishness, international isolation was the worst that could happen to a country or to a community.

He said reconciliation through justice meant being ready to move a step forward and to acknowledge one’s own limits.

Archbishop Girasoli said what was impossible to achieve by a single person or government may be achieved collectively.

He said Africa was a continent of smiles and tears.
“This causes concern. The Church has to be an instrument of reconciliation and promotion of social justice, thus preventing more calamities.

The events of these days, let us understand more that the solution for stability and democracy in this beloved continent and especially in this region can be reached only through dialogue and a persuasive attitude which overcomes the borders of a single country,” he said.

Archbishop Girasoli said the AMECEA region had remarkably reached a substantial progress to be a prophetic voice by speaking out and practicing the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.

He said this plenary could also strengthen links of cooperation among the local churches in the region in order to achieve a more concrete impact for improving the everyday life of people.

“Do not be afraid of reconciliation, at all levels in society, in politics and in the Church. In fact, reconciliation leads to unity, which is a supreme value for people and society.

We have to be ready to dialogue and to put aside our own views. In a word, we all have to be ready to be more flexible and to be open especially in those matters concerning social justice and a peaceful living,” he said.

Archbishop Girasoli said the mission of the Church was to proclaim the good news.

“This is about deep spirituality, moral responsibility, cultural respect, economic liberation, social tranquillity, amicability, deliverance from structures of sin, healing heart and body from unbearable diseases.

During your Plenary Assembly, you have a unique opportunity of working together towards these mentioned topics. Do your best for growing mutual respect and acceptance among Africans first and to the greater world,” said Archbishop Girasoli.

Labels: , ,


SADC ponders regional food reserves

SADC ponders regional food reserves
By Joan Chirwa
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:00]

ESTABLISHING regional food reserves can provide a solution to looming food shortages in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, the Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) has noted. And the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives said SADC member countries have been tasked to study the establishment of regional food reserves as agreed by ministers of agriculture during the 2007 heads of state summit in Lusaka.

PAM executive director Paul Kapotwe said SADC member countries should critically look at having a regional food reserve to mitigate impacts of food shortages being experienced in some countries.

"Some countries in the region are already having food shortages while others are restricting exports of crops," Kapotwe said. "The best we can do is to have a regional food reserve which can service all member countries regardless of their production capacity in order to avoid food shortages."

And agriculture minister Ben Kapita said SADC ministers of agriculture last year held extensive discussions regarding the setting up of regional food reserves, adding that the venture needed to be carefully studied before individual countries could make decisions.

"In the first place, establishing this facility will not be cheap. We also need to decide whether we will have physical stocks or have the reserves in cash. Another problem that comes in is on the country that will host this facility.

The other problem is how to solve the genetically modified organisms (GMO) issue. Some countries in SADC accept GMO foods while Zambia's policy restricts the use of GMOs," said Kapita.

Labels: ,


ZSIC introduces investment plan for average Zambians

ZSIC introduces investment plan for average Zambians
By Fridah Zinyama
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:00]

ZAMBIA State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) has introduced a Classic Investment Plan for the average Zambian who does not have access to other financial markets. The Classic Investment Plan is a five-year endowment policy, where the policyholder will have to pay premiums at monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly installments.
The premiums paid are split into an investment component and a risk (protection) component.

Responding to a press query, ZSIC unit linked funds manager Tontela Siwale said the company had introduced the Classic Investment Plan for the ordinary Zambians due to the growth of the financial markets and heightened investment awareness in the country.

"We have recently seen the oversubscription of LuSE IPOs Lusaka Stock Exchange Initial Price Offers, the launching of a number of unit trusts and even the development of interesting mortgage products," he observed.

"All of these investment opportunities are very attractive and lucrative but seem to only offer their benefits to the more affluent segment of our society."

Siwale said it was on this basis that ZSIC's Life Assurance, which is one of the oldest and most misunderstood investment vehicles, has offered these benefits to a wider segment of the Zambian society.

"Life Assurance has developed into an important investment product which also offers financial protection," he said. "ZSIC has the most developed distribution channels and can thus offer these opportunities to a larger segment of our society."

Siwale explained that Life Assurance contracts were split into two broad categories - those that have only a protection element and those that have a protection and an investment element.

"The Classic Investment Plan offered by ZSIC, thus falls into the second category," explained Siwale. "This product is a unit linked endowment policy, which means that the value of the policy is linked to the performance of units in the ZSIC Life funds."



ACC retires Banda

ACC retires Banda
By By Amos Malupenga
Saturday June 28, 2008 [04:01]

Nixon Banda has been retired as Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director general, ACC commissioner Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika (Aka) confirmed yesterday. Aka said Banda’s retirement arose from the fact that he had reached the retirement age of 65. He said according to the ACC Act, the director general is not supposed to be more than 65 years.

“The law is categorical and it has to be followed,” Aka said. “Following this development, the ACC deputy director has been asked to act purely for administrative purposes.”

Asked to comment on rumours or speculation that President Levy Mwanawasa refused to extend Banda’s contract on the pretext that he Banda was targeting the President’s relatives or associates for prosecution, Aka said:

“That is not true. The law is very categorical and nobody should start fishing for other reasons.

If the President had signed that, then he could have gone against the law. This law is very clear. Maybe I should give you a copy of the ACC Act for you to understand this. That clause in the Act speaks for itself; it is sufficient and there should be no other reason. ”
When reached for comment, Banda said he had no comment to make on the matter.

Labels: , ,


Friday, June 27, 2008

Rev Jesse Jackson offers to broker Zim talks

Rev Jesse Jackson offers to broker Zim talks
Nyarai Chidemo
Wed, 25 Jun 2008 10:52:00 +0000

AFRICAN American civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson has urged President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to show their commitment to peace through negotiation and offered to broker talks between the two leaders to end the crisis in the country. Jackson who was speaking to Voice of America radio said he was aggrieved by the suffering of the Zimbabwean people.

"We are pained, given the tremendous role that Zimbabwe played in liberating southern Africa from colonial rule. Now we must work diligently, together with President Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai to get Zimbabwe back into a reconstruction mode again," he said.

Jackson called on all people to assist the people of Zimbabwe find a way out of their current political crisis.

"If this were a white regime in Zimbabwe seen as holding up an election, the world would cry out to ask for fairness and open, free fair election without violence so we can again begin to get resources back into Zimbabwe to reduce inflation, to revive the economy. Zimbabweans need food and health and housing and capacity to restart their economy," Jackson said.

Jackson said some Western voices have not been loud enough about elections in other countries where the opposition there had complained about irregularities. But he said Africans should not look for a reason not to work for peace.

"We should not stand idly by and by some romantic notion of friendship be too weak to take a stand for openness, fairness and democracy for all of the people. If the AU (African Union) cannot resolve this crisis, it weakens itself by its inaction. If it cannot address in a meaningful way Zimbabwe, it cannot address in a meaningful way the Congo, Kenya, or Liberia, or Ethiopia, or any place else on the continent," Jackson said.

Jackson said it is time for leaders to step forward to help build a bridge over Zimbabwe's troubled waters.

He said if need be, he's willing to make himself available to help bring about what he called the restoration of growth in Zimbabwe.

"We must attempt to get some leaders who will take the risk and the burden of trying to build a bridge. And I'm certainly willing to reach out to other leaders and be available myself to help do what must done to help bring about the restoration of growth in Zimbabwe. It's our moral obligation. We did it for the freedom of South Africa and we cannot stop now in this quest for people to live freely and without fear and with hope," Jackson said.


Labels: ,


(TALKZIMBABWE) Voting begins in Zimbabwe

Voting begins in Zimbabwe
Floyd Nkomo
Fri, 27 Jun 2008 10:18:00 +0000

Voters line up to cast their ballot in the township of Mbare, Harare. 27 June 2008. Photo credit: AP

VOTING has started in Zimbabwe in a presidential run-off election despite the withdrawal of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party’s leader Morgan Tsvangirai and calls to postpone the election which the ruling party defied. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who officially withdrew from the run-off on Tuesday citing mounting violence and intimidation and called on MDC supporters not to vote.

Reports from Harare, the capital say voting began shortly after 0500 GMT and turnout was low at many polling stations. Polling is scheduled to end at 1700 GMT.

The Associated Press reported that in the capital's high-density Mbare suburb, lines built up at polling stations as voters arrived in groups.

The news agency quoted a voter, Livingstone Gwaze, who said he had voted for President Mugabe as saying: "Things will get better. There is darkness before light," he said.

Approximately 5.9 million Zimbabweans are entitled to cast their ballots, overseen by African but not Western monitors.

Western observers and ‘unsympathetic’ foreign journalists, who were keen to cover the election, were barred from the country.

The election comes some 13 weeks after an initial ballot did not secure an outright victory for any of the candidates. President Mugabe 43.2 percent of the vote against 47.9 percent for Tsvangirai. None of the candidates got the required 50 plus one per cent required to declare outright victory.

The opposition MDC party distributed party fliers overnight calling for a boycott of the election.

There were calls to postpone the poll mainly from organisations outside Zimbabwe which President Robert Mugabe defied saying they had no right to interfere in Zimbabwe’s affairs.

Addressing a rally in the town of Chitungwiza, near the capital yesterday President Mugabe said ‘we will not defy our own laws’ and call off an election and attacked African leaders who said he should delay the election.

"Even today they are saying do away with the election, what stupidity is that,” he said urging people to vote in large numbers.

While confirming that he would attend an African Union summit in Egypt next week, President Mugabe said the regional body had "no right in dictating to us what we should do with our constitution and how we should govern this country".

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Tsvangirai’s withdrawal was a ‘nullity’ and deployed thousands of polling officers across the country and distributed ballot boxes and papers to more than 8,000 polling stations.

Post election period

President Mugabe has indicated that he would be willing to negotiate with the opposition MDC, but only after the run-off election.

"When the process is done (Friday), as a country, we (will) have a win that I think should include all the other players," said Bright Matonga, the deputy minister of information to CNN.

"This is the reason why my president says, “Look, Zimbabwe is too big a cake to eat for ZANU-PF, bring everyone in'. As a country ... we can mend bridges.”

Labels: ,


Talk directly to leaders of Zimbabwe, urges KK

Talk directly to leaders of Zimbabwe, urges KK
By Masuzyo Chakwe in Lusaka, Kingsley Kaswende and George Chell
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

DR Kenneth Kaunda yesterday said people that want to help resolve the Zimbabwean political crisis should talk directly to that country's political leaders instead of speaking through the press. And MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he will not negotiate for a political settlement after today's deadline he has given President Robert Mugabe if the veteran leader goes ahead with the election in which he is the only competitor.

Commenting on the recent development in Zimbabwe ahead of today's presidential runoff polls, Dr Kaunda said if people were going to help, they should talk to both the government and opposition leaders directly.

"It is very important that if we want to succeed in our efforts to help the extremely difficult situation in Zimbabwe, we must talk to the leaders of Zimbabwe, not to the leaders of the press. We value what you (press) are doing very much indeed but if we are going to succeed, we must talk to them. Lets go there," he said.
Dr Kaunda, who did not want to say much on the situation, still insisted on a government of national unity.

"Come these elections or not, I beg that we should work for a government of national unity, that also means talking to leaders there," he said.

On the position that the current SADC chairperson had taken on Zimbabwe, Dr Kaunda declined to comment.

And as of yesterday, the SADC, United Nations, African leaders and other global leaders had called for the election to be put off, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Tsvangirai's withdrawal was invalid and the election would proceed today.

ZEC chairperson justice George Chiweshe told journalists at Harare's Rainbow Towers Hotel that the commission had deliberated on the content and effect of Tsvangirai's letter where he cited various reasons.

He said after deliberating on Tsvangirai's letter, the commission concluded that the MDC leader's withdrawal was a nullity.

"It was unanimously agreed that the withdrawal had, inter alia, been filed well out of time and that for that reason the withdrawal was of no legal force or effect," justice Chiweshe said. "Accordingly, the commission does not recognise the purported withdrawal.

We are, therefore, proceeding with the presidential runoff election this Friday as planned. The ballot papers have been printed and dispatched. We are advising Mr Tsvangirai accordingly."

Asked if the withdraw would have an effect on the legitimacy of the election, justice Chiweshe responded: "The pullout has no legal force. In fact, there has been no pullout."

He said ZEC was ready for the elections and that the results of the presidential run-off would be announced as soon as they were ready.

Tsvangirai, who withdrew from the run-off and called for a negotiated political settlement, said the deadline for negotiations was today.

"I have been prepared to negotiate before June 27, not after," he said. "Negotiations will be over if Mr Mugabe declares himself the winner and considers himself the President. How can we negotiate?"

Tsvangirai said if Mugabe approached him after today, he would tell him that the time for negotiations was over.

"I would tell him that I made these offers, I made these overtures, I told you I would negotiate before the elections and not after because it's not about elections, it's about transition.

You disregarded that, you undertook violence against my supporters, you killed and maimed, you are still killing and maiming unarmed civilians, the army is still out there. How can you call yourself an elected President?

You are illegitimate and I will not speak to an illegitimate President."

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai said the only way to end the impasse in Zimbabwe would be to establish a transitional mechanism that would recognise the results of the March 29 election.

"I am asking the African Union and SADC to lead an expanded initiative, supported by the United Nations, to manage the transitional process. We are proposing that the AU facilitation team, comprising eminent Africans, set up a transitional period which takes into account the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The African Union team would lead in the constituting and character of the transitional period. The transitional period would allow the country to heal.

As the MDC, we have always said we will be magnanimous in our victory. Genuine and honest dialogue amongst Zimbabweans is the only way forward. The MDC is a people's project; we value our county and our people," he said.

"I want to emphasize that the basis of any settlement must recognise the fundamental principle of democracy, that is, the respect for the will of the people to choose their own leadership.

Over and above this, the Zimbabwe political solution must recognize the following - stability, inclusivity, acceptability, and credibility.

The sum total of all this is legitimacy. A negotiated political settlement which allows the country to begin a national healing and the process of economic reconstruction, provision of humanitarian assistance and democratisation would be in the best interest of the country."

Earlier, the SADC's security troika urged the postponement of Friday's election, saying the re-election of President Mugabe could lack legitimacy in the current violent climate.

The troika, comprising Tanzania, which doubles up as African Union chair, Swaziland and Angola, during a meeting in Swaziland called for talks between the two leaders before a new runoff date could be set.
However, ZANU-PF insisted that the election would go ahead today despite calls for it to be postponed.

Since Tsvangirai pulled out on Sunday, it has been business as usual for President Mugabe, who has been campaigning, holding more than 15 rallies in different parts of the country since Sunday.

ZANU-PF's insistence was even fuelled by ZEC's declaration of Tsvangirai's withdrawal as invalid.

But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the party would not recognise the election as well as its outcome because it would be illegitimate.

"We are not even surprised with (ZEC's) decision. They are the ones who failed to put down conditions for a free and fair election. Our case is clear. An election is not possible in the current conditions," Chamisa said in an interview. "ZEC can sympathise with ZANU-PF but that will not be an election. There will be no election held in our view.

This is just a circus. How can one man contest alone? You can't have a race in which you are the only competitor and say you have won. They will have no legitimacy because it is a mock election, an artificial construct of an election."

Chamisa appealed to African and world leaders not to endorse what he called an illegal regime.

Earlier after he received a donation for the Kenneth Kaunda Foundation from the Egyptian government, Dr Kaunda said Africa without the unity of other countries on the continent could not go very far.

He said the example shown by the Egyptian government should be emulated by other excellencies in Zambia and beyond.
Dr Kaunda said HIV/AIDS and malaria were diseases that were killing thousands every day.

"So your contribution to our great struggle is outstanding and we are very grateful indeed, I will convey to the Egyptian President in writing through you Mr Ambassador, may the good Lord Almighty continue guiding you and your great country," Dr Kaunda said.

And Egyptian Ambassador to Zambia Sherif Shaheen said his country would support Dr Kaunda in the fight against AIDS.

Dr Waza Kaunda said the focus of the foundation was on children.
Dr Waza said they were currently supporting orphanages by improving the infrastructure.

Labels: ,


SADC observers to leave Zim after runoff

SADC observers to leave Zim after runoff
By George Chellah and Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

THE SADC election observer mission will remain in Zimbabwe until after today's presidential election runoff, head of mission Jose Marcos Barrica has said. And Barrica said the mission was not bound by the decision of the regional bloc's Troika on Politics, Defence and Security, stating that the Troika only deliberates on matters and does not make resolutions.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Barrica said the election observer mission would stay in the country until after the presidential runoff.

"We will stay put until after June 27," Barrica said. "We may have our ideas, but that is the responsibility of the authorities."
He said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the government had the responsibility to decide whether the country should hold elections.

Barrica, who is also Angolan Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, said the regional bloc - SADC - and not the Troika on Politics, Defence and Security only bind the election observer mission.

Asked about the SADC troika, which met yesterday in Mbabane, Swaziland and recommended that the Zimbabwean runoff be postponed, Barrica responded that the troika only deliberates on matters and does not make resolutions.

He further said the observer mission had made some progress in attempting to bring the Zimbabwean political players to negotiate.
Barrica said there were positive signals that could move the process forward. "There is light at the end of the tunnel that can bring the two sides together. We think we have the way prepared for the leadership to go forward," Barrica said.

The SADC troika on politics on Wednesday resolved that the election in Zimbabwe must be postponed to allow the two leaders have talks before a new runoff date could be proposed.

Labels: , ,


Levy accuses HH of cheap politics

Levy accuses HH of cheap politics
By Chibaula Silwamba in Milanzi and Lambwe Kachali in Lusaka
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has charged that UPND president Hakainde Hichilema is practising cheap politics. And President Mwanawasa said it must be compulsory for every child to go to school. Addressing a rally at Kagoro Basic School on Wednesday where he was lobbying Milanzi electorates to vote for MMD parliamentary candidate in yesterday's by-election, Reuben Chisanga Banda, President said he was unhappy with the behaviour of an opposition political party leader - in reference to Hichilema - who paid medical bills for two students of University of Zambia (UNZA) who were shot at by police during a demonstration.

"My colleagues in the opposition political parties, you should be truthful, you should be frank, and you should exhibit high levels of integrity. Don't cheat," President Mwanawasa said. "The students at the university are injured, a few of them are admitted to the hospital, you go there and you offer to pay hospital fees and say you have done something which deserves the people to vote for you. That is very cheap politics. You take television cameras to the ward and begin insulting...yes it is insulting. What we saw recently by a political leader Hichilema did not impress me and it did not impress all reasonable thinking members of society. That was cheap campaigning, cheap politicking."

President Mwanawasa said there were so many problems in Zambia which Hichilema should help out on quietly instead of publicising them to gain political mileage.

"We have so many orphans who cannot go to school, and we have so many people who are going hungry. Why don't you contribute money so that you can alleviate their suffering without even talking about it?" President Mwanawasa asked.

"You Hichilema urge them students to demand more allowances, you don't even stop to think where the money is going to come from. You are an educated man with a good job and good income, why don't you pick 10 students from the University of Zambia and sponsor them 100 per cent."

President Mwanawasa advised Hichilema not to make noise about the help he offered to the needy in society.

"If you help because you want to get a simple vote, it's very unfortunate," he said. "There are many things which we are doing for this country beyond paying medical fees for three or four students. We are building schools, health centres, hospitals, we are buying materials and equipment for all these institutions, and they cost a lot of money."
President Mwanawasa said it was not deliberate that his government had failed to achieve everything that people need.

"It simply means we can only do so much," President Mwanawasa said. "Otherwise the performance of this administration over the past seven years is beyond comparison."

Last month, Hichilema paid medical bills at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) for two UNZA students that were shot at by police when they and other students protested, demanding increased meal and book allowances.

Hichilema was prompted to pay the bills after he visited the students and was told that they had not been treated because government had not paid their medical bills.

But Hichilema said President Mwanawasa should be ashamed and embarrassed for having failed to help the students. He said he paid for the students not to gain political mileage but to save life.

"Is President Mwanawasa telling Zambians that if a politician finds someone in an accident or someone dying, he should not help that person for fear of political mileage? I think a sound mentally person, especially the President himself cannot utter such a statement. When I was helping those students, journalists found me and it was the media that reported the matter not me. So, what is President Mwanawasa talking about? His ministers (Mike Mulongoti and Geoffrey Lungwangwa) failed to render any help. I think Levy should be a shameless President," Hichilema charged, adding that Zambians should judge who was practising cheap politics between President Mwanawasa and himself.

He further said President Mwanawasa should not brag of any development because people's lives had not improved despite the fact that MMD has been in power for a long time.

Hichilema said UPND would not treat President Mwanawasa with kid's gloves the way Patriotic Front president Michael Sata was doing. He described Sata as President Mwanawasa's mail messenger.

"Imagine the whole of Sata has now been turned into Levy's mail messenger, mail man where he is delivering letters to him all the time. What type of an opposition is President Sata trying to lead? This is a sad political development for Zambia," said Hichilema.
And President Mwanawasa said at the same rally that he would like Zambia to have plenty schools.

"Mr. Minister of Education, you and I are very educated and I want these children to receive the same if not better education than we have gone through," he said. "This is why I get particularly concerned when I find institutions of learning unimproved. We must ensure that as soon as possible all the fact it must be compulsory for children to go to school. I want the schools to be plenty. As we say in Lamba, fililelele as you say here vilimbwembwembwe, vilivinandi, plenty."

President Mwanawasa said this after he discovered that Kagoro Basic School had not been renovated even after he had recommended in 2006 that it should be rehabilitated at a cost of K19 billion. He said the time he went to Kagoro, he was told that the school was built in 1943 but he was disappointed that nobody seemed to care to preserve such an important institution.

"I announced that the government was going to spend K19 billion to rehabilitate the school and I used the opportunity to attack the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) who want to insist on a feasibility study being taken at a place where a school has been since 1943 and you find that they charge exorbitant amounts of money. Instead of that money being used for purposes of construction, it goes into some other useless Environmental Council of Zambia. No!" President Mwanawasa said.

He directed education minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa to ensure that the rehabilitation works at the school were completed soonest.

"At least when I come back I would like to spend an hour giving a lecture to pupils here," President Mwanawasa pledged.

Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa publicly 'cross-examined' the MMD parliamentary on his campaigns, performance of the government and what he intended to do for the people of Milanzi once elected.

"I have deliberately decided to ask these questions in the presence of the people here so that when I give you instructions on what you must do for the people of Milanzi, I don't want you to swear to me that it's too much. I expect you to work hard for the people of Milanzi," said President Mwanawasa.

Labels: ,


Levy's statement should be opposed seriously - Sata

Levy's statement should be opposed seriously - Sata
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata has said President Levy Mwanawasa's appeal that the opposition should stop contesting elections and allow MMD candidates win unopposed is undemocratic and unacceptable. And Sata has again delivered two letters to President Mwanawasa on what he called the most important and contentious issues. Featuring on 5FM's Burning Issues programme yesterday, Sata said PF would never be swallowed by the MMD.

Sata's comments come in the wake of President Mwanawasa's remarks last Tuesday at a rally in Kawaza village in Milanzi to drum up support for MMD parliamentary candidate Rueben Chisanga Banda, where he urged all opposition political parties to stop contesting elections and allow MMD candidates win unopposed because the party in government was delivering to people's expectations.

Sata said PF would continue to participate in all by-elections until the 2011 general elections. He said President Mwanawasa's statement was contrary to democratic principles and urged the opposition not to take it serious.

Sata said if the statement was targeted at PF in view of the reconciliation, it had fallen on deaf ears.

He said as far as he was concerned, his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa did not mean that PF should be swallowed by the MMD.

"President Mwanawasa's statement is undemocratic and should be opposed seriously. That statement is not part of our reconciliation and all I want to tell the President is that PF will never be swallowed by
MMD because it is a government in waiting," he said.

Sata likened his previous relationship with President Mwanawasa to that of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"Where, when President Mugabe spoke on the platform, Morgan also replies. And when President Dr Mwanawasa spoke, I also replied and so we did not achieve anything," he said.

Sata claimed that since he started talking with President Mwanawasa directly, they had achieved many things on issues that President Mwanawasa was being misinformed on by his ministers.

"For example, my committee yesterday we received a communique from the University of Zambia (UNZA) where Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa education minister has allowed enrolment of 3,000 students at the university.

There are no rooms and one of the conditions is that those students will not be given rooms. Second condition they will pay K5 million per semester, third condition they will not go to school during the day but in the night.

Now, I am not very sure if Levy Mwanawasa is aware about that. Now if a person from Chipata or Kafue wants to go to University, how will they go to school at night? How can a university be turned into a night school?" Sata asked. "There are a number of things that I am discussing with President Mwanawasa."

Sata also criticised the decision by the council to demolish people's stands at Lusaka's town centre.

Asked about the proper meaning of his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa now that he doubted it, Sata responded: "Listen, you cannot reconcile with MMD government, you cannot reconcile with MMD party because these ministers have survived on lying to President Mwanawasa for their survival. And as they have survived, they have survived as ministers and as party officials on lying to President Mwanawasa and the easiest way they go and lie about Michael Sata.

There are many things the President is not aware, for example I am very much doubtful if George Kunda (justice minister) went to tell the President to say, he is giving the Attorney General to represent Faustina Sinyangwe PF Matero member of parliament in court because she has been expelled from PF."

Sata said it was extremely sad that President Mwanawasa was not informed about the many anomalies by the government ministers.

And Sata said he would continue to write to President Mwanawasa on issues that he thought needed urgent attention.

Sata said he had decided to give President Mwanawasa more information on taxation and the National Constitution Conference (NCC).

"President Mwanawasa agreed with what I raised in the first two letters that I delivered last week and I have decided to give him more information. These are important national matters."

Labels: ,


China admires Fidel's courage

China admires Fidel's courage
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

COMMUNIST Party of China's political bureau member He Guogiang has said China always admired Fidel Castro's struggle and courage. During his two-hour meeting with leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro in Havana on Tuesday afternoon, He who is also the secretary of the Central Commission of Disciplinary Control of its Central Committee invited Fidel to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing if his health permitted.

Apart from relaying Chinese President Hu Jintao's message of best wishes to Fidel's continued recovery from the intestinal surgery he underwent in July 2006, He admitted he admired Castro's will.

"We have always admired your struggle, your will and your courage," said He while recalling that during his youth in China he had participated in many demonstrations in solidarity with Cuba.

He emphasised the importance of Fidel's ideas for his
people in the development of socialism and the strengthening of their spirit of struggle.

And He thanked the Cuban people, government and party for their support to the Chinese people during the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province and especially Fidel for his personal concern and solidarity.

He also said he had read the Chinese edition of 100 hours with Fidel and the Cuban leader's prologue dedicated to the Chinese people.

He also discussed the "Reflections by Comrade Fidel" column that Castro recently devoted to the history and current struggles of the Chinese people.

According to a communiquŽ, He and Castro exchanged opinions on bilateral relations, provocations by the West in Tibet, the situation in Taiwan, the crude manipulation of the human rights issue against socialism, the food crisis, the information society and other issues.

They discussed with particular interest then forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.

The duo spoke of the great effort being made by China to host the sports event, preparations for which were moving along satisfactorily, as well as the great expectations for the duel in the 110-meter hurdles
competition between Chinese Olympic champion Liu Xiang and Cuban world record holder Dayron Robles.

Fidel Castro expressed his confidence that China would
organise a brilliant Olympics.

On this point He invited Fidel to attend the event if his health would allow it and predicted that Cuba would win several medals in athletics.

Castro stressed the Chinese people's advances and the importance of the concept of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

He declared his admiration for China's culture and its
people's spirit of collective work.

Castro asked that his appreciation be conveyed to the news agency Xinhua for the precision and seriousness of its work when reporting about Cuba.

Castro also highlighted the immediate and effective response by Chinese authorities to the recent earthquake that hit Sichuan Province claiming thousands of lives.
He said the actions honoured the Chinese party and the

Castro thanked China for accepting the Cuban medical brigade, which included three Chinese students studying medicine in Cuba, in the aftermath of the quake as part of an offer of solidarity.

On Cuba, Castro highlighted the efforts by the leadership of the revolution especially those of President Raul Castro in relation to the issues of unity, productivity, increasing agricultural production and conservation which were of great importance.
"What do I do?" retorted Castro.

"I help by gathering news and facts and making analyses of the most serious international problems which I contribute to the party leadership and the state. I make use of my time to gather a great deal of information to which I devote almost the entire day."

Earlier, He met with President Raul Castro with whom they highlighted the level that had been reached with respect to economic-trade relations and the willingness of both governments to further promote

He said he was convinced that with the joint efforts of both parties, his visit to Cuba until Wednesday would be a total success.

He indicated that the trip achieved the objective of "getting to know one another better and of consolidating the traditional Chinese-Cuban friendship as well as increasing political trust and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation".

He informed President Raul of the political-ideological work of the Communist Party of China discussed during the 17th Congress that was held in 2007.

Labels: ,


Govt strategises on rising fuel costs

Govt strategises on rising fuel costs
By Joan Chirwa and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

THE government is devising strategies on how to mitigate the impact of rising costs of fuel on local consumers, acting Secretary to the Treasury Dr James Mulungushi has said. Dr Mulungushi could however not clearly state whether the government would bow to calls for a review of the fuel tax structure.

“Government will explore every option available to mitigate the impact of rising oil prices on the international market,” he said.

Dr Mulungushi said he was not in a position to say which option would be taken.

Energy permanent secretary Peter Mumba recently said suggestions would be made to the finance ministry for a review of the fuel tax structure.

A barrel of crude oil a week ago hit an all-time high of US $140, with analysts predicting a further rise of up to US $200 per barrel sometime next month.

And British Airways (BA) is implementing ways of making the airline efficient in view of the rising fuel prices.

BA commercial manager for East and Central Africa, Suneel Tyagi said BA was working at increasing the frequency of flights into Lusaka.
“One of the things we are putting into place is to change operation procedures to try to conserve fuel by buying new aircrafts because they are more fuel efficient and retire some of the older airplanes,” he said.

He however, ruled out holding fuel as a way of overcoming the cost, stressing that the airline would consider hedging in fuel purchasing.
“In terms of our operations cost, fuel is a very serious problem. This year alone we expect fuel to be our biggest single cost and it will be more than our staff costs for the first ever. To mitigate this effect, we hedge in our fuel purchase…so we buy some of our fuel in advance,” said Tiyagi.

Labels: ,


Prudent management of our water sector

Prudent management of our water sector
By Editor
Friday June 27, 2008 [04:00]

UNLESS we pay special attention to the challenges our people are facing in the water sector, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to bring about sustainable socioeconomic development to our country. We are well aware of the staggering human and economic cost of our crisis in water and sanitation. It is the poor who feel the most immediate and damaging effects of this crisis.

Not only does this crisis hurt the poor disproportionately - it keeps them poor too. Therefore, ensuring that the poor have access to water is central to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals.

Attaining the goals, including those for water and sanitation, is possible. We do have the knowledge and we can build or mobilise the financial capacity required to address the water crisis.

What is missing is sufficient political will, and concerted and agreed action. This is where our commitment is needed.

We say this because our water crisis is attributable much more to an absence of power, wealth and control than to an absence of water.

We have large rivers, big lakes, vast wetlands and limited, but widespread groundwater resources. Moreover, we have a high potential for hydroelectric power development.

Those most affected - the poor, women and children - don't get enough clean, affordable water because they have the least voice in policy and decision-making.

And as Transparency International Zambia has emphasised, governance is the key to addressing this inequality. Sustaining inclusive economic growth requires the development of water resources.

But investment into water management and major water infrastructure often excludes or even negatively impacts the poor, magnifying inequalities and widening the economic gap between the rich and poor. Pro-poor impact must take greater precedence in policy-making, as well as investment in water.

Improving water governance and boosting investment in water brings returns in a broad spectrum of human development: within a decade, it would almost certainly significantly reduce income poverty, hunger, disease, child mortality, gender inequality and environmental degradation.

We need a governance strategy which strategically targets accelerating the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goal targets on water to address the crisis and this includes financial and human resource commitments.

There is no question that we can mobilise resources required to address this water crisis. There is also no question that the required investment would bring tremendous returns.

And it is important to refer ourselves back to a statement in the Africa Water Vision of 2025, which says:

"It is apparent that water and socio-economic development are mutually dependent on each other. They can be nodes in a vicious cycle that puts societies in a downward spiral of poor economic development and poor access to safe and adequate water supply and sanitation.

Alternatively, they can be nodes in a virtuous cycle, reinforcing each other in an autocatalytic way, and leading to an upward spiral in which improved socio-economic development produces resources needed for improved development of water resources that, in turn, buttress and stimulate further socio-economic development."

We believe this is a very apt statement that depicts the vital nature of water, and nowhere is this statement more relevant than in our context.

Given this rather poignant linkage between water and socio-economic development therefore, it is evident that the efficient and sustainable use as well as the protection of water resources must underpin the belief that is enshrined in the New Partnership for Africa's Development by African heads of states that we can break free of poverty and overcome the 'development trap' that confines us to a vicious cycle of underdevelopment, conflict and suffering.

And efficient and sustainable use of water resources would catalyse our rejuvenation and lead to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

We must however face several challenges if the envisaged desirable outcomes for the water sector are to be achieved.

Financing the interventions required to meet these challenges is a huge challenge by itself, given our economic context. Huge amounts of money would be required to be able to meet these challenges. The huge financing requirement may further compound the path to ensure successful outcomes.

It is however our conviction that, given clear policies and strategies and real commitments to implementation, the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals could be met, and water would help eradicate poverty, reduce water-related diseases and help us achieve sustainable development.

We will not make much progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals unless we develop approaches that have a common goal of improved water supply and sanitation services.

Action should be undertaken to increase public awareness and strengthen the political will needed for sustainable development and management of water resources. And the building of human and institutional capacity is crucial for the implementation of whatever schemes we come up with.

The level of financial resources needed calls for a renewed, bold commitment and approach by all stakeholders. In this respect, innovative ways of raising finance are required.

It is clear to us that the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without adequate water and sanitation by 2015 cannot be met without a major paradigm shift in this sector.

And if increased investment is critical, even more critical is the urgent need to find more successful mechanisms for providing the poor with water and sanitation. It is interesting to note that in the 1980s, corruption and poor governance were the major reasons cited by most aid agencies and development banks for withdrawing from large-scale capital projects in this sector.

Many local authorities still underestimate the importance of inclusive practices of good governance in priotising the delivery of services to the people. Successful water demand management at the level of the local authority can reap benefits for the whole community.

We must wake up to these realities; the international community has set the targets, but if we are not to meet this challenge, then we must be prepared to look at everything anew.

We must reassess our strategies; we must look at our policies again and ask why we failed in the past; we must innovate strategies of meeting global goals through local action; we must invest more funds in water and sanitation infrastructure.

Most of all, we must wake up to the fact that one of our greatest challenges is poverty.
As water is essential to life, lack of it can undermine human security.

We should now double our efforts in this sector. Good governance needs to be promoted and capacity must be built for us to pursue appropriate water policies, and financial resources should be properly directed to the water sector in a more efficient and effective way, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the water and sanitation sector, and to reverse the current trend of environmental degradation through the protection and balanced management of natural resources.

The greatest challenge lies in building competent, efficient, business-like, and service-oriented institutions. But we shouldn't forget that sustainable service provision is only possible where customers themselves cover the cost of operation and maintenance, capital costs recovery is not always possible, but often requires predictable public subsidies.

If we are ever to attain the Millennium Development Goals, greater levels of finance will need to be raised, and sound systems of governance should be in place to manage them.

There is need for us to realise that supplying clean water to people, at the scale required to achieve international targets, would require more than laying some pipes. To attain internationally agreed water targets all sources of finance should be tapped. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals would require us to at least double the existing finance.

And there is no question that a prerequisite for achieving these targets would be an improvement of the sector’s governance, better cost recovery and some national public funding. And whatever we do, we should not ignore financing options to reach the poor. Economic growth depends in the very first place on social progress.

Labels: ,