MDC leader Morgan Tsvangarai addresses his party members. The defiant President Robert Mugabe speaking at an election rally. The struggle for political stability in Zimbabwe continues.By Khanyi MagubaneIn the wake of violence ahead of the run-off elections in Zimbabwe, African leaders have called for efforts to be made to find a solution to that country’s deepening political crisis.The widespread condemnation of the state of affairs in Zimbabwe’s political unrest was further prompted by the unceremonious withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), from the presidential run-off against President Robert Mugabe.The run-off elections, scheduled for 27 June, had to be held following a narrow–margin win by Tsvangirai in March, which failed to gain him a convincing win as Zimbabwe’s next president.Tsvangirai quits electionsOn Sunday 22 June, Tsvangirai hosted a press conference where he announced his party’s withdrawal.He said running for presidential candidacy had proved to be pointless, as he no longer had confidence in the free and fairness of the electoral process. He accused police of carrying out ‘state sponsored’ violence against party members, “We in the MDC cannot ask [our members] to cast their vote on 27 June, when that vote could cost them their lives,” “We have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process.”The MDC officially handed in a letter of withdrawal from the elections to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on 24 June. The commission announced that the run-off elections would still go ahead as planned, citing electoral laws which made it impossible for the elections to be postponed in the wake of the MDC’s last-minute withdrawal.African leaders speak outOn 25 June, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) defence and security troika attended an emergency meeting to discuss Zimbabwe. These include Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and Prime Minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos. The troika was chaired by Swaziland’s King Mswati III.Swazi government spokesperson Percy Simelane said the troika was called amid allegations of intimidation and killings ahead of the election.“[The leaders] elected to come together and see what they can do as far this situation is concerned,” he said.According to a Malawi online publication Nation Online, civil right groups have also condemned the pre-election violence, which according to reports, has seen hundreds of MDC members killed by militant supporters of Mugabe and over 200, 000 others displaced.Malawi Human Rights Commission chairperson Dorothy Nyasulu said it’s sad that the intense violence had caused Tsvangirai to withdraw from the run-off.“Zimbabweans had prepared to vote. They had wanted to choose a leader of their choice. However, what is happening in Zimbabwe frustrates whatever aspirations Zimbabweans had.”In response to the MDC’s pull out, the government of Botswana voiced its hope that even though the MDC had opted out the two leaders – Mugabe and Tsvangirai would come together, even at this late stage, to form a united government.Botswana’s foreign ministry released a statement urging the leaders to put the people of Zimbabwe first, “Failure to arrest and reverse the current situation of tension can only lead to Zimbabwe sliding further into deep economic and political crisis.”In South Africa, ANC president Jacob Zuma also condemned the continued reports of pre-election violence in the neighbouring country.“We cannot agree with Zanu-PF. We cannot agree with them on values,” he said, addressing the International Investment Conference in Johannesburg.Zuma added that the liberation movement values that the ANC once shared with Zanu-PF were no longer there, “We fought for the right of people to vote, we fought for democracy.”Following his decision to withdraw the MDC from of the elections, Tsvangirai, fearing that life is in danger, took refuge at the Dutch embassy in Harare.According to his spokesperson George Sibotshiwe, the leader received a tip that state police had intended on pouncing on him at his home, which caused him to flee. Other party officials have allegedly also gone into hiding in fear of police arrest.World leaders speak outSpeaking to Australian media, Tsvangirai said he sought diplomatic protection as he no longer felt safe as a citizen of his own country, “This is no joke, over the last three or so weeks I’ve been arrested, I’ve been harassed, I’ve been totally treated like a criminal, when I’m the leading contender in this election,” he said.Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said his country would be part of international efforts increase pressure on Mugabe to allow free and fair elections. He also said that Australia was considering tightening its sanctions on the government.Other countries around the world have also given their support to Tsvangirai’s decision to withdraw from the elections.“A government which violates the constitution in Zimbabwe cannot be held as the legitimate representative of the Zimbabwe people.” said British foreign secretary David Milibrand, adding Britain’s voice to the chorus of condemnation of the violence in the Southern African country.In America, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has also been in touch with Tsvangirai. The democrat said he had spoken to Tsvangirai, “to share my deep concern for the way his supporters are being targeted by the regime, and to express my admiration for his efforts to ensure that the will of the Zimbabwean people is finally respected.”“The United States and the international community must be united, clear and unequivocal: the government of Zimbabwe is illegitimate and lacks any credibility” Obama said.Tsvangirai has also called for a military presence in the country to help bring the country back to calm. He urged the United Nations to isolate Mugabe and called for a peacekeeping force in Zimbabwe.He said while the country did not want armed conflict, it was important for agencies like the UN who had condemned the violence to back up their stance with action, such as sending peacekeeping troops.On the sports front, Cricket South Africa (CSA)has suspended its domestic agreement with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. This was announced by CSA president Norman Arendse on Monday.He said, “In the light of the worsening situation in Zimbabwe, CSA has reviewed its position in relation to Zimbabwe cricket. We have decided to suspend our bilateral agreements with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union until further notice.”The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party, welcomed the move to suspend South Africa’s agreement with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. DA spokesperson for sport, Donald Lee, said the CSA was courageous in their decision, ” [We can] no longer hide behind the failed quiet diplomacy while Mugabe is killing our brothers and sisters,” “We must be very tough when dealing with a ruthless criminal like him.”Useful linksMovement for Democratic Change Association of Zimbabweans based abroadZimbabwe Ministry of Foreign Affairs Do you have any queries or comments on this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at [email protected]
FNB Stadium is one of the legacies of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.(Image: Bongani Nkosi)The legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup will stand South Africa in good stead, as the country prepares to stage yet another spectacular football tournament, this time the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).South Africa received the nod to host Afcon 2017 after being pipped by Morocco for the 2015 event. The two were the only nations bidding after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) pulled out.The Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced its decision on 29 January in Lubumbashi, DRC, after evaluating bids from the two competing nations.The South African Football Association’s (Safa) delegation, comprising its president Kirsten Nematandani, vice president Danny Jordaan and outgoing CEO Leslie Sedibe, concluded their bid in a 45-minute presentation before Caf’s announcement, as did Morocco’s representatives.Safa wanted the 2015 rights as it felt the country is more than ready to host Afcon within the next four years.“Considering that we have all the resources in place, our preference was to host the tournament in 2015,” said Nematandani in a statement.The country’s 2010 Fifa World Cup infrastructure has been widely acclaimed. Dazzling venues like FNB in Soweto, Moses Mabhida in Durban, Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth and the eye-catching Cape Town Stadium are part of the international tournament’s legacy for South Africa.Billions were spent on building new and reconstructing old stadiums. Even low-key provinces like Mpumalanga and Limpopo now have world-class venues.The 43 500-seater Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga was built at a cost of R1.5-billion (US$140-million). Peter Mokaba Stadium in Limpopo cost the tax-payer about R1.24-billion (US$150-million) and can accommodate more than 45 000 spectators.The football World Cup’s 64 matches were staged in 10 stadiums across eight of the nine provinces. With such a wealth of experience, South Africa will not find it difficult to prepare for 2017.“I think we’ll rely on the legacy of the World Cup. Our stadiums are in good condition,” said Safa’s spokesman Morio Sanyane in an interview.“Our roads are also good,” Sanyane added. “We did a great job in transporting people during the World Cup.”While main roads were transformed for the international spectacle, public transport also received a major boost in cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, where efficient Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems were introduced.Road to 2017Though Safa lost the bid for 2015 Afcon, it does not feel hard done by Caf and has congratulated Morocco. “Safa has welcomed the decision of Caf,” Sanyane said.“We congratulate Morocco and wish them all the best in hosting this project of continental importance,” Nematandani said.Part of the preparations for the 2017 event will be to review Safa’s 2014 vision, a strategy that focuses on competitions like the 2012 Afcon in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.“Our strategy has to incorporate various aspects that will lead to the successful hosting of the 2017 Afcon,” said Nematandani. “2017 may seem far away, but the work starts now so that we are better prepared come the time.”Safa has confirmed that they will bid for the 2014 Fifa Club World Cup tournament, whose 2010 edition was hosted by the United Arab Emirates last December.Preparing Bafana for gloryIn 2017 it will be exactly 21 years since South Africa hosted Afcon. The historic 1996 contest took place in the four host cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth, and national team Bafana Bafana snatched the top honours from Tunisia before 80 000 fans in magnificent style.But Bafana’s Afcon performance has slumped after their debut victory in the tournament. The best results the team has produced since then are runners up in 1998 and third places in 1999 and 2002. They went out in the first round in three Afcons between 2004 and 2008.Fans around the country were devastated when Bafana failed to qualify for the 2010 Afcon in Angola.However, the team started their 2012 qualifying matches rather well in 2010. Bafana, which beat France in the World Cup, went on to thump Niger 2-0 in their first Afcon qualifier at Mbombela Stadium in September 2010.They played to a 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone in an away match. The next qualifier is a contest against the resilient Egyptian team in March in South Africa.Bafana have four important home and away matches where they have to achieve top points to secure a place in next year’s tournament.Then it’s the race to qualify for the 2013 Afcon in Libya, and Bafana will also need to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
15 January 2014 The government has launched an updated bio-economy strategy that seeks to harness partnerships with industry and academia in order to accelerate the development of bio-based services, products and innovations in South Africa. The science-based Bio-Economy Strategy, approved by the Cabinet in November and launched by Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom on Tuesday, positions bio-innovation as essential to the achievement of the country’s industrial and social development goals. Speaking to journalists at the launch in Pretoria, Hanekom said the strategy improved on the National Biotechnology Strategy of 2001 by “going beyond the mere generation of new technologies to ensuring that technology development is informed by the needs of the country and people, and that social and economic value is generated”. The strategy calls for industry, science councils, government departments and academia to cooperate closely to ensure that biotechnology and bio-innovations are market-relevant and find easier application in South Africa. According to Business Day, the strategy’s proposals include the setting up of a R2-billion venture capital fund to support initiatives that extract economic value from the country’s rich biological resources. “One of South Africa’s greatest assets is the combination of its rich biological diversity and its wealth of indigenous knowledge,” Hanekom said. “Our country is the world’s third most biologically diverse country and is home to almost 10% of the world’s known plant species and 15% of all known coastal marine species – including a newly identified lobster that has been named after Madiba (munidopsis mandelai). “This capital can be used to the country’s advantage in the current economy through multidisciplinary approaches, including providing raw materials for the natural product sector, bio-prospecting with the aim of developing pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical and industrial applications, and using indigenous plants and animals as food sources.” The government’s aim, Hanekom said, was to grow the bio-economy through strengthened partnerships with industry, and to extract the full potential of the country’s living systems “through the application of our collective competencies and capabilities. “The benefits to society will include the more sustainable use of resources, the development of new products, and improved job prospects.” According to the Department of Science and Technology, the Bio-economy Strategy is closely aligned with the country’s National Development Plan (NDP), which holds that advances in science, technology and innovation will underpin advances in South African economy and society. “It is expected that by 2030 biotechnology and bio-innovation will be making a significant contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product through the creation of bio-based services, products and innovations, intellectual property management and support for bio-entrepreneurs,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday. “In addition, the strategy recognises and builds on the important contributions that indigenous knowledge can and should play in the development of our bio-economy.” SAinfo reporter