Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Accuses West of Double Standard on Climate, Human Rights

President Mugabe accused the West of holding to a double standard under which it failed to move with dispatch to address global warming while taking the developing world to task over alleged human rights abuses

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday chided the West from the podium of the United Nations summit on climate change in Copenhagen for what he charged was a double standard under which it fell short on addressing global warming while taking developing countries to task over human rights.

Mr. Mugabe told the climate change summit: "When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it's we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die."

He complained that polluters are not pursued by Western governments with the same zeal they show in castigating abusers of human rights.

"Why," asked Mr. Mugabe, "is the guilty North not showing the same fundamentalist spirit it exhibits in our developing countries on human rights matters on this more menacing threat of climate change?"

He appeared to single out the United States in his remarks, demanding, "When a country spits on the Kyoto Protocol by seeking to shrink from its diktats, or by simply refusing to accede to it, is it not violating the global rule of law?" The United States has declined to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

He said the developing world would be called upon to clean up the mess left by the industrialized West, therefore deserved ample climate-related funding.

"We who bear the burden of healing the gasping earth must draw the most from the global purse for remedial action," Mr. Mugabe declared.

The Zimbabwean president's arrival in Copenhagen caused a stir among critics who said he should not have been admitted to the country let alone the climate summit given his record on human rights and general issues of governance. He has drawn such fire on numerous occasions at U.N. conferences, particularly the annual gathering on food security in Rome where skeptics have contrasted his country's dire situation after a decade of land reform with his rhetoric.

Denmark and the 26 other European Union states have barred Mr. Mugabe and many other ZANU-PF officials and supporters from travel within the economic and political bloc – but such sanctions do not apply to U.N. gatherings.

President Mugabe’s delegation of 70, meanwhile, came under fire at home given the cost incurred by such a large entourage. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai canceled his plans to attend the summit with a smaller group citing massive official travel costs since the unity government's formation in February.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmessen was called upon to explain Mr. Mugabe’s presence to human rights activists and responded that “nobody can be in doubt about my attitude toward Mugabe and Zimbabwe,” but defended the diplomatic decision to admit Mr. Mugabe to his country.

Geneva-based human rights lawyer Marlon Zakeyo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Mr. Mugabe can attend such meetings under diplomatic rules regarding U.N. meetings - but must be reminded of his excesses.

Sources in Harare said meanwhile that Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai and the third unity government principal, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, have told their negotiators to address all remaining contentious issues on the table in the latest round of talks and submit a final report to them before Monday.

The three principals issued the instruction after meeting on Monday to discuss a preliminary report submitted by their negotiators on progress to date.

A statement from President Mugabe’s office published in the state-run Herald newspaper said the principals agreed on some of the recommendations from the negotiators for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, but disagreed on others.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to Mr. Tsvangirai's office, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the principals want to achieve closure on the so-called outstanding issues before Christmas.

Elsewhere, Harare correspondent Irwin Chifera reported that Parliament's select committee on constitutional reform said public consultations on redrafting of the basic document, postponed several times, will finally begin next month.

Studio 7 for Zimbabwe

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SA urged to arrest Zim rights violators

By Alex Bell
15 December 2009

A High Court appeal in South Africa could force the state to prosecute known Zimbabwean rights violators who travel to the country, after the South African government’s vehicle for criminal prosecution refused to do so, earlier this year.

The appeal was brought forward by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles forum in the Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, following a decision by the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) not to prosecute 18 known Zimbabwean human rights violators.

The Litigation Centre had last year submitted a dossier to the NPA with evidence that the 18, who regularly travel to South Africa, were responsible for numerous human rights violations in Zimbabwe. The dossier also included a written legal opinion reminding the NPA about South Africa’s obligations to arrest rights abusers on their territory, according to the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which South Africa is a signatory to.

The ICC legislation gives South African authorities the power to investigate and prosecute acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, no matter where those acts have been committed. This applies even if the perpetrators are not South African nationals.

The dossier by the Litigation Centre was submitted two weeks before the start of 2008 presidential elections got underway in Zimbabwe, the results of which would eventually lead to the horrific campaign of violence and rape meted out against supporters of the opposition MDC. Litigation Centre head Nicole Fritz explained to SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that after more than a year of correspondence with the NPA following the submission, the Litigation Centre in June this year finally received a letter from the then acting NPA director, Mokotedi Mpshe. He stated that he had been advised that the police did not intend investigating the matter.

Fritz explained that the case is the first of its kind for the country, and is aimed at preventing South Africa from becoming a safe-haven for those who commit crimes against humanity. She said the case will be a real test for the government’s commitment, not only to the ICC, but also to its own constitution, which is so stringent on human rights.

“South Africa has been a vocal supporter of the ambitious legislation of the ICC, because it falls in line with their own constitution,” Fritz explained. “So this is a real test for the government and their commitment to the protection of human rights.”

The case has been set down for March next year, and if successful means known perpetrators of rights abuses in Zimbabwe will not be allowed to travel to South Africa. The list of names held by the Litigation Centre has not yet been made public, but it is likely to be a high level contingent of ZANU PF loyalists, who were responsible for the 2008 election violence.

SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UN launches new appeal as farmers lament failed agricultural season

By Alex Bell
07 December 2009

The United Nations has launched a multi million dollar appeal to help Zimbabwe bolster health, education, sanitation and food security, with officials explaining that an alarming number of people are still set to face hunger next year.

The UN assistant Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and deputy humanitarian coordinator, Catherine Bragg, said on Monday in Harare that social conditions in the country had improved since the formation of the unity government in February. Bragg was speaking during the launch of a US$378 million emergency aid appeal for Zimbabwe under which more than 70 aid agencies have said they would need at least that much to meet Zimbabwe’s humanitarian needs in 2010.

“I want to note that Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to recovery following political changes that positively affected socio-economic conditions,” she said.

Bragg on Monday said priority would be given to rehabilitation of water facilities in urban and rural areas, where an estimated six million people have no access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. Bragg also stated that more than 1.9 million people are likely to remain food-insecure in the first three months of 2010, while about 650,000 communal farmers would require agricultural inputs.
The UN appeal is half as large as in 2009 when the UN asked for US$718 million. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has explained that the reduction in the appeal is partly as a result of ‘improved’ agriculture and other economic improvements in the country. The group however noted that humanitarian assistance was still critical as millions of Zimbabweans still remain vulnerable from the erosion of basic services and livelihoods.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) President Deon Theron on Monday explained the UN’s outlook is surprisingly positive, considering the country is facing yet another failed agricultural season. The commercial farming community remains in chaos as a result of the renewed land grab campaign, which has seen more than 80 productive farms forcibly seized by mainly ZANU PF loyalists in this year alone. Farmers and their workers have been prevented from continuing their farming activities, despite the country still facing critically low food production levels. Theron explained that it was unlikely that there would be enough food produced to feed even a small percentage of the country next year.

Meanwhile Theron’s elderly mother, who was sentenced to jail unless she vacated her dairy farm by Tuesday, has been granted a temporary reprieve by the courts.
79 year old Hester Theron, was sentenced last month under the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act, for refusing to leave her dairy farm, which has been her home since the late fifties. She was sentenced to three months behind bars, suspended for five years on condition that she vacates the property by this week Tuesday. But Theron has successfully launched an appeal against the sentence, and High Court Judge, Justice Joseph Musakwa, last week said she should not be evicted from her farm until her application has been heard.

SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

UN halves Zim humanitarian appeal

Monday, 30 November 2009 06:38
food_aidHARARE –The United Nations has halved the humanitarian appeal for Zimbabwe in 2010 from the US$718 million sought this year but cautioned against continued “structural problems” faced by the southern African country still recovering from a decade of political strife and economic meltdown.

(Pictured: School children take home food received from a relief agency)

Zimbabwe's appeal is half as large in dollar terms as in 2009 when the UN asked for US$718 million “because a generally good harvest has reduced the number of severely food-insecure Zimbabweans”.
According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), early recovery (ER) support would be a key priority for the 2010 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for Zimbabwe as aid agencies seek to consolidate recent humanitarian achievements and to ensure that results are maintained.
“Direct restoration of basic social services, infrastructure and livelihood opportunities will not be able to get off the ground without support for the CAP’s ER strategy,” the UN arm said.
The UN agency said priority would be given to rehabilitation of water facilities in urban and rural areas where an estimated six million people have no access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Attention would also shift towards provision of livelihood support to vulnerable groups – including female and child-headed households, people with disabilities, internally displaced persons and people living with HIV/AIDS – to reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance.
“Without transitional recovery activities in place, populations risk becoming increasingly dependent on emergency aid, losing self-reliance and the capacity to manage their own development in the future,” the UN agency said yesterday during the launch of the humanitarian appeal.
It said more than 1.9 million people in Zimbabwe are likely to remain food-insecure in 2010 while about 650 000 communal farmers would require agricultural inputs.
Without these inputs, there will be little chance of reducing reliance on outside food assistance.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to recovery following political changes that positively affected socio-economic conditions.
Following the economic downturn and political polarization that culminated in the protracted elections of 2008, an Inclusive Government was formed in February 2009.
This development led to greater cooperation between the international humanitarian community and the Zimbabwean authorities, improvement in the country’s socio-economic and humanitarian situation, and improved humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
The world body warned that while the improvement of general conditions in Zimbabwe has improved following the formation of the coalition government in February, the donor community was still approaching the country’s humanitarian situation with “cautious optimism”.
“It should not distract from Zimbabwe’s structural problems,” the agency cautioned.
An estimated six million vulnerable people would continue to feel the impact of the erosion of basic services and livelihoods over the past years.
Cholera re-emerged in October, raising fears of the resurgence of last year’s outbreak that affected 55 out of the country’s 62 districts, with 98 531 cases and 4 282 deaths recorded.
Despite improvements in food security, the country still faces a substantial national cereal deficit and an estimated 1.9 million people will need food assistance at the peak of the 2010 hunger season from January to March.
The country has the fourth-highest crude mortality rate in Africa.
Child malnutrition is a significant challenge to child survival and development.
More than a third of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished while seven percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is one of the highest in the world, despite a recent drop to 13.7 percent.
Some 1.2 million people live with the virus and 343 600 adults plus 35 200 children under age 15 urgently need anti-retroviral treatment.
The education sector is characterised by severe shortages of essential supplies, high staff turnover and sporadic teachers’ strikes.
This particularly affects Zimbabwe’s 1.6 million orphaned and vulnerable children, including more than 100 000 child-headed households.
“The need to support ‘humanitarian plus’ or early recovery programmes is highlighted by the deterioration in existing infrastructure and loss of employment opportunities,” OCHA said.