Wednesday, November 26, 2008

South African Groups offer aid to Zimbabwe

Social sector working groups have indicated to President Kgalema Motlanthe that they will assist in alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, the presidency said on Tuesday.In a briefing following a meeting between Motlanthe and working groups from higher education, women, youth and religious leaders, presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe said it had been agreed that assistance would be rendered, but only once a government of national unity was formed."They understood very well the position of government."They were saying to the president that 'we are ready to go into Zimbabwe, but once the conditions exist for us to go in there and work'.
"They all agreed that the critical step in Zimbabwe now is the implementation of the agreement."The working groups agreed that it would not be possible to assist the country until a government of national unity was formed."The Zimbabwean parties themselves understand that yes they face a serious situation but that they need to move without any further delay to implement that agreement that was signed on September 15."He was referring to the power sharing deal which has since been met with delays in implementation.Masebe said the R300 million earmarked for agricultural assistance would be given over only once there was an inclusive government in place.The religious leaders group said it was "willing and ready" to offer humanitarian support to the people of Zimbabwe.Bishop Ivan Abrahams said the forum had been approached by the department of agriculture enquiring how it could help in the distribution of seeds and fertiliser."While we have given an unqualified yes to that there seems still to be an hiatus with the legitimacy of the Zimbabwean government but the national religious leaders forum has come out in support."The council on higher education said several steps had been taken to "come to the rescue" in terms of offering moral support to colleagues in Zimbabwe's academic sector."There are strong indications that the systems there have ground to a halt. There is practically no schooling," said Duma Malaza.He said a meeting would be held shortly with the council's equivalent in Zimbabwe to assess the extent to which help could be rendered from within South Africa.He said the fees and financial commitments of Zimbabwean students at higher education facilities was also being addressed."We are also concerned about the plight of Zimbabwean students who are studying in our institutions; who are having problems meeting their fees, their commitments," he said.Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change factions and Southern African Development Community mediator, former president Thabo Mbeki, were set to meet on Tuesday to discuss amendments to the power-sharing agreement. - Sapa

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