Sadc Council of Ministers to strategise on regional integration

Source: Sadc Council of Ministers to strategise on regional integration | Herald (Opinion) Correspondent The SADC Council of Ministers set for Windhoek, Namibia will deliberate on a wide range of issues, including progress towards implementation of priority regional initiatives, as well as the approval of the budget to coordinate the implementation of identified action plans. […]

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Source: Sadc Council of Ministers to strategise on regional integration | Herald (Opinion)

Correspondent
The SADC Council of Ministers set for Windhoek, Namibia will deliberate on a wide range of issues, including progress towards implementation of priority regional initiatives, as well as the approval of the budget to coordinate the implementation of identified action plans.

Allocation of adequate financial resources to coordinate the implementation of agreed regional activities, programmes and projects is critical in ensuring that the integration agenda of southern Africa is a success. The SADC Council of Ministers meeting will run from March 15 to 16.

This is in light of the fact that more than 70 percent of the SADC budget comes from international cooperating partners — a situation which compromises the ownership and sustainability of the regional agenda.

In this regard, the 2019 /2020 SADC budget to be discussed by the Council of Ministers is expected to consider alternative financing modalities that will allow the region to take full control of its development plan. These modalities include the operationalisation of the proposed SADC Regional Development Fund, as well as the finalisation of the development of the SADC Resource Mobilisation Framework (Alternative Sources of Funding SADC Regional Programmes).

The alternative sources of funding framework identifies a number of options such as the introduction of an export and import tax; a tourism levy; a financial transaction tax; a lottery system; philanthropy; and regional events.

It is estimated that SADC can earn in excess of US$1,2 billion annually from these alternative sources, a development expected to remove the current dependency on external funding, and thus improve the implementation of regional priority initiatives and strategies.

According to a statement released by the SADC Secretariat ahead of the Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for March 15-16, another key issue for discussion is progress made towards implementing decisions of the 38th SADC Summit.

Running under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” the 38th SADC Summit urged member states to involve the youths in the integration agenda as well as to promote infrastructure development.

The focus on youth empowerment is aimed at ensuring that the region harnesses its human capital dividend through the youths, who make up the majority of the population in SADC. Furthermore, the youths are expected to reap the benefits of decisions made today, hence involving them in the regional integration agenda makes sense. Closely linked to youth empowerment, the council is expected to deliberate on the operationalisation of the SADC University of Transformation that was approved by the 38th SADC Summit held in August 2018.

A brainchild of King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini, the university will be “in the form of a virtual university, and will focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, commercialisation, technology transfer, enterprise development, digital and knowledge economy to support the industrialisation agenda.”

On the legislative front, the council is expected to focus on how to effectively establish a regional parliament after the political leadership offered high-level support for such an institution during the 38th SADC Summit. The establishment of a SADC regional parliament is an integral representative institution for the SADC citizenry.

Currently, the executive is the main driver of regional integration through intergovernmental institutions at senior officials, ministerial or heads of state and government levels. The judiciary was represented through the now suspended, but soon to be reconstituted SADC Tribunal, hence the establishment of a regional parliament will be a historic development for SADC. The SADC Council of Ministers will also “receive reports on the implementation of the priority areas of the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015-2020 (RISDP).”

The RISDP is the blueprin t for regional integration and development. First approved in 2003, with strategic revision in 2015, the RISDP identifies four main priorities to be pursued by the region from 2015-2020. Priority A seeks to promote industrial development and market integration through, among other things, strengthening the productive competitiveness and supply side capacity of member states as well as improving movement of goods and facilitating financial market integration and monetary cooperation.

Priority B is on provision and improvement of infrastructure support for regional integration. Priority D is on promotion of special programmes of regional dimension under clusters such as education and human resource development; health, HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases; food security and trans-boundary natural resources; environment; statistics; gender equality; and science, technology and innovation and research and development. The above three priorities will be underpinned by Priority C on the promotion of peace and security.

With one year left before the Revised RISDP comes to an end, the SADC Council of Ministers will thus review progress made in implementing the plan. The council is expected to discuss peace and security in the region as well as preparation for elections in some SADC countries. At least seven SADC member states are set to hold elections this year.

These are Botswana, the Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Agriculture and food security remains a top priority for the council following low rainfall and drought conditions that affected most parts of the region during the 2018/ 2019 farming season.

The focus for the council will be on continued implementation of the Regional Agricultural Policy in order to improve production, productivity, competitiveness and trade in the agricultural sector, natural resources and environment.

With regard to trade, the council is expected to discuss how the region could work with other regional economic communities to conclude efforts to operationalise the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) as well as establish the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The TFTA and the CFTA aim to facilitate the smooth movement of goods and services across borders, as well as allowing member countries to harmonise regional trade policies to promote equal competition. The SADC Council of Ministers, which traditionally meets annually to review implementation of regional decisions and approve the SADC budget, will be preceded by various technical and senior officials meetings from 11-16 March.

The council consists of ministers from each member state, usually from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economic Planning, or Finance. It meets twice a year in February/March and immediately prior to the summit in August or September.

The Council of Ministers oversees the functioning and development of SADC, and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.  sardc.net

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What’s driving the crisis in Zim?

Source: What’s driving the crisis in Zim? | Daily News OVER the course of his nearly 40 years in power, former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe demonstrated again and again how disconnected his rule was from the needs of his people. The violent pogroms he ordered in the 1980s against a largely imaginary enemy in the […]

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Source: What's driving the crisis in Zim? | Daily News

OVER the course of his nearly 40 years in power, former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe demonstrated again and again how disconnected his rule was from the needs of his people.
The violent pogroms he ordered in the 1980s against a largely imaginary enemy in the west of the country and the land nationalisation programme of the first decade of this century he carried out without any economic plan to ensure continued productivity are cases in point.

Mugabe was ousted in a coup in 2017, and since then, many Zimbabweans have hoped for a change of course, including economic reform. Soon after taking office, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor, proclaimed the country “open for business.” But his rhetoric has not translated to action, and the new president seems no less disconnected than Mugabe did from his nation’s woes.

Just last month, Mnangagwa announced one day that the government would more than double gasoline prices and flew off on a European tour the next. Given the country’s currency shortages and other economic difficulties, the price increase was sure to cause hardship to ordinary Zimbabweans, but the president seemed oblivious.

For Zimbabweans, the new tax was a last straw. The increased cost of transportation would make looking for work, and even food, far more difficult. Riots erupted, particularly in the poorer outlying suburbs of Harare and Bulawayo that depend on commuter buses for transport into the city centres. The protests turned violent, and the State security services responded with shocking force, shooting protesters, beating hundreds near to death, and raping women. The violence became so intense that Mnangagwa had to cut his European tour short, cancelling a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos to return home.

The military crackdown on protesters took place on the watch of the country’s vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, who was acting as president during Mnangagwa’s absence. And the turmoil that has followed stems from divisions within the ruling Zanu PF, particularly between those around Mnangagwa and those around Chiwenga, a retired general and the country’s former Defence minister.

For now, the president and vice president work uneasily together. But the two men — one preaching openness, the other with a reputation for violent ruthlessness — have come to embody contrasting views of the future, both for their party and for Zimbabwe.
While Mnangagwa propagates a mantra of Zimbabwe’s being open for business, Chiwenga’s preoccupation is security and control of political discourse.

For him, economic stability means stability within the public sector and conditions of employment there. He has no sympathy for protests against poor conditions and pay. And much as Mugabe’s government did in the last years of its rule, the leaders of today’s ruling party have their minds far more on power plays than on sound economic policy.

The crackdown was so brutal that even some senior police officers expressed horror at the actions of men in army uniforms. Immediately upon his forced return, Mnangagwa announced that the security personnel guilty of the worst excesses would be punished.
But the incident was not the new government’s first use of violence against protesters, and the fact that Chiwenga was the one to deploy the security services in this instance has exposed the  administration’s internal tensions.

Immediately following Zimbabwe’s last election, in August 2018, supporters of the opposition party massed to protest delays in announcing the results. The military responded with gunfire that killed six. Zimbabwe analysts such as Ibbo Mandaza believe that Chiwenga was the official behind the military response then.
Now rumours are circulating in Harare both in Zanu PF party circles and among the general public that the vice president ordered the recent crackdown in order to goad Mnangagwa into moving against him, thus giving Chiwenga an excuse to depose the president by force.

The response of Mnangagwa seems to have been to wait until Chiwenga was out of the country, receiving treatment in India for an undisclosed illness, before retiring four senior generals with close links to Chiwenga and his approach to security by violent enforcement. The sad truth is that no one in Zimbabwe’s government has an economic plan to secure the country’s future.

The Zanu PF is an oligarchic party that seeks to stay in power so that its elite leaders can retain their privileges. But the party’s shared interest in maintaining power does not prevent its leaders from engaging in power struggles. After all, very little ultimately threatens the party’s monopoly. Nelson Chamisa, the candidate of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the MDC Alliance, almost forced a run-off in last year’s presidential election but Chamisa is more popular than his party, which was heavily defeated in the parliamentary polls.

Like the Zanu PF, the MDC has a reputation for politicised corruption; but unlike the Zanu PF, Chamisa’s party is not in power and therefore not constrained by the need to ensure that one of its constituencies actually benefits from its actions. But the need to placate key constituencies ignores the need to uplift the nation as a whole. The sad truth is that no one in Zimbabwe’s government has an economic plan to secure the country’s future. Mnangagwa has worked futilely to coax investment into Zimbabwe, but the country is so heavily indebted, and its political situation so unstable, that major investors are unwilling to play ball.

On his European tour, Mnangagwa sought investment from countries such as Ukraine that lack the capacity to relieve Zimbabwe’s enormous shortage of capital. The president can rely only on small, short-term, speculative investments for the foreseeable future. He may be able to secure some funds for specific infrastructure projects but will not be able to stabilize the country’s budget or import subsidised fuel. (South Africa reportedly refused to export fuel to Zimbabwe at subsidised rates in December, leading to the price hikes in January.)

For 20 years, Zimbabwe financed itself by borrowing. Now no one will lend the country more money — not even China, which has invested heavily elsewhere in Africa. Mnangagwa had hoped investment would stave off the day when serious engagement with the International Monetary Fund becomes inevitable. The IMF wants Zimbabwe to meet its debt obligations under what is called the Lima process, a repayment schedule of loans already outstanding whose targets have not been met and would in any case require the country to adopt painful austerity measures.

Mnangagwa may have inherited many of Zimbabwe’s economic problems, but his government has still managed to create some that are new and were likely avoidable. In a country with a hugely diminished formal economic sector, there had remained some vibrancy in the informal sector, which now provides income to the majority of the urban and peri-urban population. Mnangagwa’s minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube, tried to broaden the country’s tax base in late 2018 by imposing a tax on cell phone financial transactions.

But because the Zimbabwean economy lacked bank notes bearing real value (such as US dollars, the main currency used nationally), and because the bond notes printed by the government failed to instil trust or acquire value in the minds of the public, virtual transactions conducted by cell phone monetary transfers became popular in the street markets of the main cities. In the absence of sufficient hard currency, people hoped that virtual transactions would be recognised by the banks as bearing the same value as those made in hard currency.

These were sustaining the entire informal economic sector, upon which the majority of Zimbabweans depend. In one stroke, Ncube destroyed confidence in the virtual economic sector by imposing his tax on cell phone transactions. The fuel price hikes were a similar exercise in incompetence. When an item is in short supply, the textbook response is to dampen demand by raising prices. But raising the price of fuel grinds entire commercial and industrial sectors to a halt.

Ncube’s national budget reveals how desperate Zimbabwe’s situation really is, in that it allocates hardly any funds for investment and stimulus. Nor are there funds for import subsidies, not even of essential products. The budget seeks to alleviate a particularly pointless tax on sanitary products, but this is at a time when women in many parts of the country can no longer access sanitary products at all. It is a real crisis, particularly in rural areas, where women, including young women in school, can no longer find sanitary products and miss education when having their periods. Such imported items are in short supply because the country has ever scarcer funds available to meet its imports bill, which is far greater than its exports revenue.

Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe became a country of borrowing, of acquisition, of accumulation. It ceased to be a country of production, capital investment, and circulation and shows no sign of changing course. The oligarchy around Mugabe, and now around Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, purchases beautiful mansions and acquires farmland for ostentatious display but, in the case of the farms, seems disinclined to invest in productive capacity, in machines, in infrastructure, and in all the ingredients required for a successful agriculture industry. The sense seems to be that more money can always be stolen rather than generated by economic productivity.

WHAT COMES NEXT?
Where does the state of Zimbabwe’s government and economy leave the abject protesters? General Chiwenga will likely not be ordered to behave more carefully. Some of his close allies in the military may have been retired over the last week, but his influence in the army runs deep and he has a considerable following in the party at large. But his heavy-handedness is far from helpful. He once dealt with striking nurses by firing them all — in a country that needs medical capacity.

Time and again, Mnangagwa has had to come to the rescue in crises his vice president has caused. Protests continue to flare as the country goes downhill, and the state security services will likely crack down on them again, leaving Mnangagwa to repeat his rescue act of smoothing over the situation.

The deeper conflict in a securitised Zimbabwe may be not the one between the security forces and citizens protesting the cost of living but the one within the security forces themselves. Civilian intelligence is at odds with military intelligence, while the police are aghast at the strong-arm tactics of the military. The military probably contains several factions — elite forces vs. regular forces; younger officers vs. older commanders such as Chiwenga — but even among the older commanders, not all admire Chiwenga’s draconian ways.

South Africa will also play a role in Zimbabwe’s future. In private briefings given to journalists, the South African government has made it clear that it will not tolerate a coup by Chiwenga. Whatever economic lifeline Zimbabwe has left comes from or through South Africa. Thus it has leverage to prevent another constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe caused by a coup. Still, if Zimbabwe has no economic policy for the future, South Africa has no organised policy as to what to do about Zimbabwe.

President Cyril Ramaphosa likely won’t turn his mind to the country until he has gotten his own national elections out of the way later this year. He has enough problems on his hands at home without the need to take risks over Zimbabwe.
The South African elections are expected in May, meaning there will likely be three months of continuing political drift in Zimbabwe, and possibly more if Ramaphosa is weakened in his elections and must deal with pressing domestic issues of his own. Zimbabwe thus remains a problem on hold, provided turbulence does not overspill its borders.

Without any sign of foreign direct investment arriving on a major scale in Zimbabwe, the economic outlook remains dire. Any IMF programme of debt relief will involve even greater austerity and thus even greater suffering for a country that has, under Mugabe and now Mnangagwa, lost its way. — Foreign Affairs

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ED tracing Mugabe steps … Zanu PF leader is stuck in the past

Source: ED tracing Mugabe steps … Zanu PF leader is stuck in the past | Daily News While Zimbabweans had hoped that the fall of former president Robert Mugabe last year would herald a new era, recent events where the State responded viciously to citizens’ protests — killing 17 in the process — has taken them […]

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Source: ED tracing Mugabe steps ... Zanu PF leader is stuck in the past | Daily News

While Zimbabweans had hoped that the fall of former president Robert Mugabe last year would herald a new era, recent events where the State responded viciously to citizens’ protests — killing 17 in the process — has taken them aback.

Analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday said Mugabe’s successor — President Emmerson Mnangagwa — and his administration have remained attached to the 95-year-old teetotaller’s umbilical cord in a classical case of new wine in old bottles.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said expecting a radical shift to democracy from Mnangagwa who is the architect of Mugabeism — having been the enforcer for the 95-year-old former strongman for more than three decades — is the highest level of political naivety.
“The problem is with people who expected to harvest apples from a thorn tree because Mnangagwa is incapable of reforming,” Hlatywayo said.

During the struggle for independence from Britain in the 1970s, Mnangagwa was assigned to be Mugabe’s assistant and bodyguard, accompanying him to the Lancaster House negotiations in London, which resulted in Zimbabwe attaining independence in 1980.
After independence, Mnangagwa held a series of senior Cabinet positions under Mugabe.

From 1980 to 1988, he was the country’s first minister of State Security, and oversaw the Central Intelligence Organisation, among several other portfolios he held until the November 2018 coup which saw Mnangagwa succeed his mentor. Hlatywayo insisted that because Mnangagwa is leading a group of hardliners that used to, along with him, block democracy on several occasions during Mugabe’s rule, it is next to impossible to reform.
“They have clear footprints on Zimbabwe’s darkest moments, including Gukurahundi and the 2008 massacres.

“They are architects of violence and brutality. What we see today in terms of August 1 human rights abuses and the recent clampdown on opposition and civil society is a continuation of their wicked ways. We must brace up for more State-sponsored human rights abuses. The so-called ‘new dispensation’ is a sick joke”

Another analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Mnangagwa is not only following in Mugabe’s footsteps but has also worsened the culture of impunity whereby the army now brazenly abuses citizens.
“While Mugabe used the police to beat and arrest, Mnangagwa simply uses soldiers in his words to bring order,” Mukundu said.
“That order unfortunately means the death of tens of people and injuries to as many. The new dispensation is a continuation of the past warts and all”.

After nearly four decades as Zimbabwe’s supreme leader — Mugabe routinely unleashed violent youths, war veterans and law enforcement agents to crush dissent.
At the height of his power, he even boasted at one time that he and Zanu PF had “degrees in violence” — in mortifying comments which shocked the world. Mukundu said statements by Mnangagwa last week while addressing a Zanu PF rally in Mwenezi where he threatened to be ruthless with dissent was representative of the Zanu PF thinking under him.

“This statement demonstrates that Zimbabwe has not moved from the past despite attempts by Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa to white-wash Mnangagwa’s statements.
“Those statements must be taken seriously in light of the events of August 1, 2018 and also January 2019 in which tens of people were killed, hundreds injured and others arrested. “Essentially, we have a president who has declared war on his opponents and this does away with the cheap talk on dialogue and Zimbabwe being a democracy. “Zimbabwe is a military state in which the president prides in unleashing soldiers on unarmed civilians and threatens human rights defenders.”

Mnangagwa told his supporters last week at a rally in Masvingo that he is ready to thwart any form of demonstration against his government. “They (the MDC) are planning violence but we would like to say to everyone in the country that if you are against peace, be part of them those who want peace, stay at home, so that we deal with those that want violence. We will deal with them. If you are invited to the demonstrations don’t join them,” said Mnangagwa.
Last month, disgruntled workers downed tools in protests to fuel price hikes and the ever increasing cost of living that has rendered many people’s salaries useless.

To quell the protests, Mnangagwa dispatched the military in a clampdown that was condemned by the western world due to its heavy-handedness as well as reports of rape and torture of unarmed civilians.

When Mnangagwa’s administration came to power via coup in November 20 it immediately set out to win the hearts of the international community which had isolated the country in protest over then Mugabe’s angry mob policies. Mnangagwa has particularly sought to project himself as a liberal by inviting foreign investors to come to Zimbabwe to do business with no strings attached under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.

However, Mnangagwa has presided over the death of civilians following the August 1 fiasco as well as the violent protests that led to the death of 17 civilians at the hands of the State.
Renowned academic and political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said: “He (Mnangagwa) is not following Mugabe’s footsteps but continuing with what he was doing as his foot soldiers and hangman. He is new wine in old bottle. A new face with an old spirit.”
“You can’t say we are open for business and re-engaging while saying everything to eviscerate the spirit and principles of re-engagement. He is clueless.”

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ED is ruling without Rod of Rulership, Mugabe didn’t surrender it: Pastor Ndlovu gives prophecy (VIDEO)

Well-known man of God pastor Ian Ndlovu of the Divine Kingdom Baptist Ministries has released powerful prophecy over ED Mnangagwa’s presidency. He said Mnangagwa will never run the country smoothly if he does not get the rod of rulership (sceptre) from…

Well-known man of God pastor Ian Ndlovu of the Divine Kingdom Baptist Ministries has released powerful prophecy over ED Mnangagwa's presidency. He said Mnangagwa will never run the country smoothly if he does not get the rod of rulership (sceptre) from former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. “All this violence and commotion that is happening in […]

State media lies EXPOSED as Botswana govt trashes US$600 million bailout package for Zimbabwe reports

The Government of Botswana has described as unfounded media reports that they are extending lines of credit amounting to $600 million to Zimbabwe’s private sector. A statement issued by the Botswana government reads: “The Office of the President wishes…

The Government of Botswana has described as unfounded media reports that they are extending lines of credit amounting to $600 million to Zimbabwe’s private sector. A statement issued by the Botswana government reads: “The Office of the President wishes to inform members of the public that the Government of the Republic of Botswana and the […]