Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some Hope For Zimbabwe Economy

Billions of rands could pour into Harare

    July 20 2008 at 11:32AM

By Fiona Forde

African Union commissioner Jean Ping held a round of secret talks with President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in Harare on Saturday in a bid to secure agreement on power-sharing talks due to get under way in the coming days.

In his separate meeting with each of the party leaders, Ping appealed to them to sign a memorandum of understanding that will guide a two-week round of intensive talks to negotiate a political solution to the crisis.

The signing ceremony would take place in Harare and pave the way for the talks to move immediately to a secret location in South Africa.

Although Zanu-PF and the Mutambara faction of the MDC reiterated their willingness to sign, Weekend Argus understands Tsvangirai outlined a number of concerns that continue to pose problems for his participation.

"There are still a number of things we asked for that aren't there," he said.

However, he would not say when he would be in a position to join his rivals at the table.

Ping told the party leaders he was meeting with them in his capacity as AU commissioner and as the AU representative to the newly-appointed reference group which Thabo Mbeki constituted on Friday.

The group is also made up of special representatives from the SADC and the UN and is intended to interact with Mbeki's facilitation at a strategic level on an ongoing basis as talks proceed.

Should the talks produce a negotiated settlement, Harare stands to attract billions of rand in the near future from Zimbabwe's main donors.

Weekend Argus understands Britain has committed R15 billion, America has pledged R11,4-billion, the United Nations Development Plan a further R6bn and the European Union R3-billion, with more in the offering from a number of other sources, all under the guise of a rescue plan.

From those four sources alone, Harare stands to attract at least R35-billion in the near future, an enormous amount of money for a country that has been miraculously staving off economic collapse for a number of years.

It is a sum that will be hard to ignore in the future talks.

The bulk of the money carries stringent conditions, however, and the ultimatum that it will not be released until Mugabe steps down.

US officials have repeatedly said they are only willing to lend a hand in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.

When the EU chief for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, announced his package some weeks back, he stipulated a similar condition, saying that while the money would be available, it would only be committed vis-a-vis "a post-Mugabe assistance plan in union with our African partners".

However, it remains to be seen whether the world's superpowers would consider a power-sharing authority of some sort, which seems increasingly likely, rather than veto the prospect of stability.

What is also unclear are the intentions of the incoming US administration and whether the future US president would be willing to assist Zimbabwe, even with Mugabe in some ceremonial role.

    • This article was originally published on page 2 of Cape Argus on July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Great Leader Reaches An Incredible Milestone

Nelson Mandela marks 90th birthday with call for South Africa to help the poor Nelson Mandela has marked his 90th birthday by appealing for his fellow South Africans to do more for the poor who have seen few material benefits from his victory against apartheid.

"Poverty has gripped our people," said Mr Mandela at his rural home in Qunu, surrounded by gifts from well-wishers. "If you are poor, you are not likely to live long.

"There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty."

Mr Mandela was speaking deep in the impoverished Eastern Cape province, with the family he was separated from during the 27 years he spent in prison after being convicted of terrorism.

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He promised "a better life for all" when he was elected president in the country's first democratic elections in 1994, but even 14 years later three in 10 South African households do not have running water, and one in five do not have electricity.

By contrast a relatively small group of black South Africans, many of them with political connections, have become extremely wealthy – the so-called "black diamonds".

Amid the formal and informal events marking his birthday, the anniversary has prompted some observers to contrast the hopes of 1994 with the fractionalisation of the governing African National Congress and the mixed record of Mr Mandela's successor Thabo Mbeki as president.

In an editorial, the Mail and Guardian newspaper said: "The sweet celebration of a life of leadership, service and generosity is mixed with the sour taste of a legacy being polluted in front of the old man's tired eyes."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Michael DeBakey--An Incredible Life!

Tulane Talk
> July 14 , 2008
> Over the weekend we lost one of the most distinguished alumni in the history of Tulane University. Dr. Michael DeBakey, who would have been 100 years old in September, passed away Friday night at Methodist Hospital in Houston.
> Shock seems an odd word to use when you receive such news concerning someone so advanced in years. But for such an extraordinary man, who was responsible for so many advances, who counted among his patients Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Jordan's King Hussein, who was performing heart surgery into his 90s and who, just a few months ago, received the Congressional Gold Medal, shock is, for me, an appropriate emotion. Gratitude for a life well-lived and the honor of having known Dr. DeBakey is another.
> I had the great pleasure of first meeting Dr. DeBakey about 10 years ago. I remember that initial meeting like it was yesterday. We met in his Houston office and I was immediately impressed by his personal warmth, genius and physical presence (at 90 no less). He regaled me with life stories that were inspirational, humorous and heart warming. We became immediate friends and saw each other about once a year for each of the last 10 years. I will forever remember him as a giant among men and a person who made a profound difference in the lives of so many.
> Dr. DeBakey's was a life filled with "firsts." A native of Lake Charles, La., Dr. DeBakey earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Tulane University and, from 1937 to 1948, was a faculty member of our School of Medicine's Department of Surgery. While still a 23 year-old medical student at Tulane, Dr. DeBakey invented a pump for blood transfusions that was used in the first successful open-heart operation.
> By World War II, Dr. DeBakey had achieved a national reputation as an authority on vascular disease and had a promising career as a surgeon and teacher. However, he put this career on hold and volunteered for military service, joining the Surgeon General's staff and rising to the rank of colonel and chief of the Surgical Consultants Division. It was here that Dr. DeBakey's recommendations led to the development of MASH units responsible for saving the lives of so many of our military.
> After the war, Dr. DeBakey's proposal to create specialized medical centers to treat wounded veterans evolved into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center System. In 1948, Dr. DeBakey joined the Baylor University College of Medicine, where he developed the first surgical residency program in the city of Houston. In 1953, DeBakey performed the first successful procedures to treat patients who suffered stroke-causing aneurysms and later developed a series of innovative surgical techniques for the treatment of aneurysms.
> In 1964, Dr. DeBakey performed the first successful coronary bypass operation and was named chairman of the President's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke by President Lyndon Johnson. Two years later, Dr. DeBakey was the first to successfully use a partial artificial heart for a patient who could not be weaned from a heart-lung machine following open-heart surgery.
> In 1968, Dr. DeBakey supervised the first successful multi-organ transplant, in which a heart, both kidneys and lung were transplanted from a single donor into four separate recipients. Dr. DeBakey also pioneered the field of telemedicine with the first demonstration of open-heart surgery transmitted overseas by satellite.
> In 1969, President Johnson honored Dr. DeBakey with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction and in 1985 President Ronald Reagan conferred on him the National Medal of Science. Dr. DeBakey also worked with NASA engineers, refining existing technology to create the DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device, which may eliminate the need for heart transplantation in some patients.
> Believe it or not, this is just a partial list of Dr. DeBakey's achievements and accomplishments. The countless lives he touched and saved during both his time on earth and for generations to come, offer the most eloquent testimony to his greatness. These lives include the hundreds of Tulane medical students and residents Dr. DeBakey welcomed to Baylor College of Medicine, which gave our medical students a place to continue their education as Tulane recovered from Katrina.
> I was honored to know Dr. DeBakey personally and to count him as one of Tulane's most distinguished alumni. We were fortunate to have him as part of our community and our memories of his greatness and humanity will always serve as an inspiration for a life worth living.
> Scott