Police loyal to President Robert Mugabe raided a house used by the prime minister’s supporters Saturday and accused them of hoarding weapons in a move that is likely to push Zimbabwe’s fragile coalition government closer to collapse.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change said Saturday the police raid on a house where the party’s executives stay was provocation by Mugabe’s party which wants the coalition to fail.
Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai, the country’s longtime opposition leader, in February after disputed elections last year. Tsvangirai withdrew temporarily from the coalition government on Oct. 16.
Mugabe, 85, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and many fear he will hang on to power at all costs.
Finance Minister and MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said about 50 armed police “ransacked” a house used by party executives in Harare on Friday night.
He said a guard, Moffat Nyandure, and his wife were assaulted. Police told Nyandure to dig in the yard around the house in search of weapons, he said. Nyandure was made to dig with his bare hands for five hours.
A room occupied by a party official, who was at the house at the time of the raid, was searched and “valuable party documents” were taken, Biti said. Police “claimed” they had a search warrant, he said.
The house is used by MDC executives who visit from outside of the capital.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena had no immediate comment.
“They are behind this attack,” Biti said, referring to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. “Our decision of pulling out of the inclusive government infuriated ZANU-PF and this is the price we now pay for that decision.”
Tsvangirai’s boycott has been a setback for the country’s struggle to emerge from political gridlock, economic collapse, and international isolation and sanctions.
Both parties have said they are committed to the coalition but it has been strained by disagreements that have paralyzed the country.
Tsvangirai has condemned unilateral moves by Mugabe to fill government posts, continuing human rights violations and attacks on activists by ZANU-PF militants and security forces.
The only positive sign for unity and democratic reform in Zimbabwe came weeks ago when the Supreme Court released nine activists and dropped terror charges against them because they had been tortured and beaten in jail.
But the catalyst for Tsvangirai’s withdrawal was the prosecution of Roy Bennett, a popular party member nominated as deputy agriculture minister.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to send Bennett back to jail to await trial on charges linked to discredited allegations that he had plotted the violent overthrow of Mugabe.
Biti said the MDC was adamant it would not return to the coalition until there was movement from Mugabe’s party.
“These acts of harassment are an attempt to intimidate us but we will not be intimidated and our disengagement will not be reversed until outstanding issues are resolved,” Biti told reporters Saturday.
Tsvangirai is looking to regional leaders to help resolve the stalemate. This week he met with the leaders of neighbouring countries and a team of southern African ministers will also visit the country Thursday.
However, Mugabe and his party have treated Tsvangirai’s boycott with contemptuous indifference.
In his first comments on the issue Friday, Mugabe called the split a “non-event” and said his party would not change its course.
“No amount of pressure will make ZANU-PF yield to any one of their demands,” he told state television on his return from a summit of African leaders in Uganda.
“What the MDC wants is to have complete executive authority and that we cannot allow,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe has demanded that Tsvangirai do more to get international sanctions lifted and foreign aid and investment restored. He claims the sanctions have been illegally imposed by Western nations and have contributed to the country’s economic decline.
However, sanctions such as those imposed by the European Union are largely targeted against Mugabe and his cronies whose assets have been frozen and travel restricted.
Critics blame Mugabe for Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown which began after he ordered the seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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