Top stories August 21-25

MDC says new maize price is a prescription for disaster- The Movement for Democratic Change today said the new maize and sorghum price set by the government at US$390 a tonne is a prescription for disaster because it will be cheaper for traders to import cheaper grain from the region rather than to buy locally. The party said, besides, Zimbabwe was the only country in the region with a grain deficit. All other states had surpluses with Zambia holding stocks in excess of two years of consumption. Prices in these countries were also way below the new price set by the government, the party said, adding that the government must allow local farmers to use genetically modified seed. “So long as the Zimbabwe government continues to deny Zimbabwean farmers security of tenure acceptable as security for bank financing, and continues to undermine land prices through its arbitrary and politically motivated land invasions, farmers will be unable to finance their activities on a sustainable basis,” the MDC said in a statement.  “These problems are compounded by the continued failure of government to get to grips with the ongoing banking crisis associated with the near total absence of liquidity. These fundamental problems are compounded by the refusal of the State to allow new GMO crop varieties to be provided to Zimbabwean farmers so that they can compete with their regional counterparts.  The consequences of this ill advised action by Government are far reaching – the State does not have the money to buy the crop at these inflated prices and the private sector will not be able to do so without running the risk of buying stocks that are overpriced. This means that the maize that remains on farms will not be sold this winter compounding their difficulties in financing the next crop.” Zimbabwe does not allow genetically modified foods in the country but they have been getting into the country somehow.

Forget about elections focus on the economy-opposition leader says

An opposition politician has finally said what people have been waiting to hear. There is too much talk about elections. People need to breathe.  Politicians should focus on fixing the economy. Jacob Mafume of the Movement for Democratic Change Renewal Team said the opposition should take on the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front on the economy rather than elections because if elections were held today ZANU-PF would win.  “We should focus on the economy and play our role as the opposition by keeping the ruling ZANU-PF on its toes. We are the opposition and we will tell them where they go wrong. There is an election overdose in the country and this tends to affect efforts to revive the economy. The focus should now be on fixing the economy. People need to breathe,” he was quoted by New Zimbabwe.Com as saying.  “ZANU-PF did whatever they did but the fact remains they won the elections. Let them govern for the benefit of everyone and work towards reviving the economy. Even if we hold elections, ZANU-PF will win again. This is evident in the by-elections that have been held in the country so far. In any case, who will fund the elections? Certainly not the overburdened taxpayer,” he said. MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said today that Zimbabweans had suffered enough.  “Our position is that only a return to legitimacy through a free and fair election will solve the country’s problems and that is why our call for dialogue has now shifted to only that dialogue that focuses on electoral conditions so that Zimbabweans are enabled to give legitimacy to government through a truly free, fair and credible election.” Mafume said Zimbabwe needed a new leadership. “We want to live the dream of our generation with leaders of our own generation. We cannot have a leadership that does not want to retire from office. People cannot be led by a leadership as represented by Tsvangirai whose best memories are the best price of beer in another country called Rhodesia, people whose memories are the colour of the women they used to date then. We want a new generation of leadership whose focus is on the economy. President Mugabe’s generation played its part in bringing political independence and we now need to move on. ZANU-PF is full of old people. It’s like an old people’s home,” Mafume said.



Tsvangirai warns Mugabe not to bring back militias

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai today said he had information that President Robert Mugabe was determined to confront the people by bringing back the militias to cow the nation instead of solving the current crisis and warned him that this would not be tolerated. “Let him be warned, that if we cannot live as free men and women in the country of our birth, we would rather die as free people,” Tsvangirai said in a statement.  “We know that we shall be able stare history in the face, with pride, after having successfully discharged our generational mandate to bring freedom, democracy, prosperity and development to the heroic people of this great country.”  The MDC leader said the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was now caught in a cul-de-sac that they had created. “The divisions, fights and succession battles are all indicative of a party with no united solution to the crisis we face. For ZANU- PF, all focus and attention is on their party Congress in December while the country burns.” Tsvangirai said 700 companies had closed since last year’s elections and more were likely to go down. He also said his party had opened up doors for rebels that had contested last year’s elections as independent candidates.  “ In light of the big tent, which we have called for as a party, the national executive accepted the recommendation from the Office of the National Chairman, who chairs the disciplinary committee, that amnesty be offered to all offenders who stood as independents in the last election who had shown signs of remorse and had reapplied and complied with party procedures.  The same office also reported to the executive that over 60 members who recently defected from the party wished to rejoin the struggle and were committed to promoting unity. In light of our big tent mentality, and consistent with our traditional magnanimity as a democratic party, we have offered an olive branch to all members, without exception, who feel they wish to some back and renew their commitment by rejoining the party,” Tsvangirai said. He said the door would be open up to the end of this month. The party is holding its congress in October.


Why Mnangagwa will not sign any death warrants

Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa says he will not sign any death warrants because he believes that the death penalty is unfair. The new constitution provides for the death penalty though it spares women and those below 21 or above 70. There are 97 prisoners on death row in Zimbabwe and only one is a woman. Mnangagwa, who was once sentenced to death, says the death penalty should have been abolished a long time ago. “I know there are a lot of people … who believe in the death penalty; I don’t! The difference between you and me is you have not been sentenced to death. I have been sentenced to death so I know what I am talking about.” Mnangagwa was sentenced to death in 1965 when he was convicted of acts of terrorism for his role as a member of the Crocodile Gang that was responsible for killing at least one white farmer and sabotaging Rhodesian government operations. Mnangagwa was one of the first cadres to receive military training in Egypt and China and to operate in the then Rhodesia. When members of the gang were sentenced to death Mnangagwa was spared from hanging because he was under the age of 21. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment instead.



No billions from China- Hakuna mabillion ari kuuya ari munhava

Information Secretary George Charamba says Zimbabwe is not looking for a cash bailout from China but is looking for infrastructural investment.  “Variku expecter kuti tichauya nema billion ari munhava don’t know the strategic direction of Zimbabwe. We are looking at ourselves as the investors, we are looking at inward investment,” he said yesterday as he left for China with President Robert Mugabe. A huge Zimbabwean delegation comprising Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Transport Minister Obert Mpofu and Industry Minister Mike Bimha was already in China. It is being joined by Mugabe, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi. “We are largely looking at investment of an infrastructural nature and the focus is on energy, that is coal and thermal, hard communication by way of road networks, rail, locomotives. We are also looking at areas to do with agriculture to take forward our programme of mechanisation. We are looking at strengthening the telecommunications sector, possibly broadcasting,” Charamba, who is also Mugabe’s spokesman, said dismissing claims that Zimbabwe was looking for a US$4 billion bailout from China.  Mugabe, who told Southern African Development Community leaders not to rely on aid, had come under a lot of flak for doing exactly that by dashing off to China, only days after urging his colleagues not to rely on aid. China has been described as an all-weather friend of Zimbabwe, but it has demonstrated that business is business. Zimbabwe has to prove itself before any bailout.



Former Air Zimbabwe boss set free

Former Air Zimbabwe chief executive Innocent Mavhunga was today set free after a Harare magistrate refused to grant a further remand and said the State could proceed through summons once it has put its house in order. Mavhunga was to face trial with former Air Zimbabwe secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi over an insurance scam in which they allegedly inflated the cover for the national airline. When prosecutor Valerie Ngoma told the court that investigations were not yet complete, Magistrate Hosea Mujaya refused to grant a further remand to the two. Mavhunga can, however, be brought back to court once the State has put its house in order. Pfumbidzayi is already on trial for the same insurance fraud but is charged with another former Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba. Pfumbidzayi argues that what she did was above board while Chikumba says his trial is political. It is meant to deny him his terminal benefits from Air Zimbabwe.



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