Tuesday, July 29, 2014

(STICKY) Chikwanda wants govt to pay mines $600m in VAT refunds
Edited by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe

COMMENT - So the state borrows $1 billion through a Eurobond, and they don't know what to do with it? And they have the gall to say we need another Eurobond, because 'we need something for agriculture'? If they ran out of ideas, I have few ideas that not only spend the money well, but would create massive returns to the state - a concept that seems to elude the present government. And no, I don't trust the UPND, let alone the MMD who had 20 years to develop the economy. Giving borrowed money to the mines! Outrageous. - MrK

FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda wants the government to pay mining companies the disputed US$600 million (about K3.6 billion) in value-added tax repayments over a staggered period.

ZRA has withheld over US$600 million in value-added tax repayments to mining companies that have failed to provide importer documentation required to qualify them for VAT reclaim on the zero-rated copper exports.

The minister [Chikwanda] says our current fiscal space is severely constrained for us to refund these mining companies of their VAT but that we can only clear the huge backlog by negotiating staggered repayments with the mining companies after we have instituted a more prompt VAT refunds regime,” according to the sources within Ministry of Finance.

The sources said the government currently did not have sufficient funds to offset the VAT refunds being claimed by mining companies.

“The minister says the only way for the government to clear this backlog promptly is to allow Treasury access some funds from the recently-acquired US$1 billion which currently was ‘sitting’ at the Bank of Zambia. Of that US$1billion Eurobond, only US$300 million has been disbursed so far and remaining the US$700 million is still with the Central Bank.

The sources also said that Chikwanda contended that VAT General Administration Rule Number 18, which required ZRA to obtain information from importers outside Zambia’s jurisdiction had proved impractical and was blamed for delayed processing of VAT refunds for the mines.
VAT Rule 18 was aimed at assisting the government collect more accurate trade statistics.

In line with VAT general administration Rule Number 18, for any exporter to qualify for VAT zero rating of its exported goods, they must satisfy requirement which included copies of export documents for the goods bearing a certificate of shipment provided by ZRA, copies of import documents for the goods bearing a certificate of importation into the country of destination provided by the customs authority of that country.

Rule Number 18 also required exporters to provide proof of payments by the customer for the goods, tax invoices for the goods exported, documentary evidence, proving that payment for the goods has been made by the customer into the exporter’s bank account in Zambia [as introduced in January 2013], and such other documentary evidence that might reasonably be required by the authority.

But according to sources, Chikwanda had proposed that ZRA should amend Rule Number 18 to limit it to regulation and verification of exports and bank certification of receipt export proceed in order to clear the uncertainty and restore the confidence in the economy that was undermined by adjustment to Rule 18.

Last year, the government streamlined administration of the VAT refunds for the mining sector which included introducing rules requiring provision of documents from importers of copper to authenticate the final destination of copper being exported out of Zambia and the export revenue needed to be paid directly to a Zambian bank although some mining companies were paid through foreign accounts.

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has taken ZRA to the Lusaka High Court over a K3.2 billion tax bill relating to a retrospective 16 per cent VAT charge on exports from January 2011 to March 2013.

Some companies, including those in the mining sector, found to be complying with Rule Number 18 include KCM, Mopani Copper Mines and Zambezi Portland.

“The problem is that some mining companies and even other exporting companies allude that ‘they sell their products mostly to international traders who take ownership of the product either at the mine/factory gate or as soon as they are put in a ship at Dar es Salaam, Dubai or Durban,” the sources within ZRA said. “For purposes of VAT, a sale at the mine/factory gate is a local sale and should therefore be standard rated sale at 16 per cent of the sale and not zero-rated.”

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

(LUSAKATIMES) Ministry of Finance in wrong hands-Nawakwi
Time Posted: January 21, 2014 11:11 am

Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi has charged that the ministry of Finance is currently in wrong hands.

Commenting on Finance Minister’s Alexander Chikwanda remarks that the country is within sustainable growth and there is no possibility of failing in another debt trap, Ms Nawakwi says she is worried because President Michael Sata will have to bare the brunt of the country’s economic mismanagement.

Ms.Nawakwi said that by the time the Patriotic Front leave office, the country would have accumulated about 8.2 billion dollars in borrowing due to reckless expenditures.

Ms Nawakwi stated that it is only fair for President Michael Sata to persuade Mr. Chikwanda to retire and take into consideration that he is not relevant to the economic aspirations of the country.

Ms. Nawakwi has also challenged the ministry of Finance through the central bank to tell the nation how much is in the foreign reserves.


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Bikita land dispute: Headman battles for life
January 21, 2014
George Maponga in Masvingo

One of two village heads locked in a boundary dispute in Mukanganwi communal lands is reportedly battling for his life at Silveira Mission Hospital after he was severely assaulted by a group of women angered by the ongoing demolition of homes belonging to Rozvi clan members in Bikita.

Mr Richard Mukari (age not given), who is the Vanhukwavo village head, is said to have sustained severe injuries yesterday morning when he was allegedly pummelled with logs and sticks by a group of women.

The women oppose the eviction of 26 Masunda families from their ancestral land. The Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council called on the feuding village heads to promote peaceful co-existence between their different clans.

Police yesterday descended on the restive area and arrested several people in connection with the alleged assault of Mr Mukari and related violence.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Peter Zhanero said; “We have just received information that there are people who were beaten in Bikita in connection with a boundary dispute between two clans. We do not have information on how many people were injured and the extent of the injuries.

“We have made some arrests but we cannot give the exact number of those arrested because screening of the suspects is still ongoing. We will only give full details once we get all the facts on the table.”

Sources said women from Furanyi village, accompanied by youths, confronted Mr Mukari and demanded to know why he was evicting Masunda family members from the land of their fathers.

The situation degenerated into violence with the women and youths using logs, sticks and other weapons to beat him resulting in him sustaining severe body injuries.

ZCC president Chief Fortune Charumbira said clannish and tribal divisions had no place in communities.
“While the matter is now before the courts, we feel there was no need to rush to the courts for a solution over a mere boundary dispute between two village heads. There should have been an attempt to exhaust the arbitration by our traditional leadership,” he said.

Mr Mukari,a member of the dominant Duma clan in Bikita, won a High Court order to the families last year. Five homes have already been razed to the ground.

Things took a nasty turn last week when villagers in Masunda violently blocked the Deputy Sheriff and police from carrying out further evictions.

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Political leadership and selflessness
By Editor
Tue 21 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Sampaya Sampaya, chairperson of Southern Province Civic Educators Association, says selflessness is an attribute that should not lack among political leaders in the country.

We agree with Sampaya, but we go further to say that selflessness is an attribute that all leaders, including civic leaders like himself, and all human beings should possess.

Che Guevara aptly put it: "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. Perhaps, it is one of the great dramas of the leader that he must combine a passionate spirit with a cold intelligence and make painful decisions without contracting a muscle."

And addressing the UNIP national council in April 1968, Dr Kenneth Kaunda observed: "To be leader at any level at all and in any scheme of things, you have got to love your fellow human beings, you've got to be ready to sacrifice for their good, you've got to be able to learn to respect the feelings of your fellow men."
Leadership is, therefore, the ability of a single individual through his or her actions to motivate others to higher levels of achievement, of conduct. Accordingly, leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions. Selflessness must start at the highest level of leadership; it must begin at the top. Selflessness is a leadership issue and those at the top of leadership must set the example.
Tough times never last and because of this, selfless leaders will always be needed. A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.
At no time and in no circumstances should a leader place his personal interests first; he should subordinate them to the interests of the people he is leading, to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence, selfishness, slacking, corruption, seeking the limelight, and so on, are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one's energy, wholehearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect.
A political leader should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the masses as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the masses. A political leader should be more concerned about the masses than about any individual, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered to be truly a leader.
Every political leader must understand that the supreme test of his words and deeds is whether they conform to the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.
A political leader must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interest of the masses; a true political leader must be ready at all times to correct his mistakes, because mistakes are against the interests of the masses.
A true political leader should be a friend of the masses and not a boss over them, an indefatigable teacher and not a bureaucratic politician.
It is selflessness and compassion that creates a sense of trust that allows us to open up to others and reveal our problems, doubts and uncertainties. Peaceful living is about trusting those on whom we depend, that is our leaders, and caring for those who depend on us - our followers.
If we cherish others, then both others and ourselves, both deeply and superficially, will be happy. When we cherish ourselves more than others, we produce various types of suffering, both for ourselves and those around us.
Political life requires an ethical foundation, everything should be pursued from a moral basis.
Leaders, political or otherwise, should work for the welfare of others. Their daily thoughts and actions should be directed towards the benefit of others. They should share the suffering of their fellow human beings and practice compassion and tolerance, not only towards their loved ones but also towards their political opponents.
As teachers of others, leaders, before teaching others, before changing others, must they themselves change. They must be honest, sincere, kind-hearted.
If they adopt a self-centred approach to life, by which they attempt to use others for their own self-interest, they might be able to gain temporary benefit, but in the long run, they will not succeed in achieving even their personal happiness.
By showing concern for other people's welfare, sharing other people's suffering, and helping other people, ultimately one will benefit. If one thinks only of oneself and forgets about others, ultimately one will lose.
Most of the good or beneficial effects that come about in the world are based on an attitude of cherishing others. The opposite is also true.
And purity of intention is very important for a leader. Political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments.

Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, fair ideas. Once you have pure and sincere motivation, all the rest follows. You can develop this right attitude towards others on the basis of kindness, love and respect, and on the clear realisation of the oneness of all human beings. With a pure heart, you can carry on any work and your profession becomes a real instrument to help the human community.

One wants happiness and doesn't want suffering, and on the basis of that, one enters into good actions and avoids bad actions. It is always good for a leader to be guided by realism, moderation and patience.

The reason why we seek to behave in a good manner is that it's from good behaviour that good fruits are derived. One's own actions create one's life situation. Tolerance and patience with courage are not signs of failure but signs of victory. Actually, if you are too important, that's a real failure.

Selflessness towards others, true compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. A truly selfless and compassionate attitude towards others does not change, even if they behave negatively.

To experience genuine selflessness is to develop a feeling of closeness to others combined with a sense of responsibility for their welfare. Each of us in our own way can try to spread compassion into people's hearts.

Selflessness compels us to reach out to all living beings, including our so-called enemies, those people who upset or hurt us. Irrespective of what they do to you, if you remember that all beings, like you, are only trying to be happy, you will find it much easier to develop a selfless attitude towards them.

Genuine selflessness must be acting on the basis of respect, and the realisation or recognition that others also, just like myself, have the right to be happy.

It is important for a leader and indeed every human being of goodwill, to put others first. Our doings and thinkings must be motivated by compassion for others. The way to acquire that kind of outlook is to accept the simple fact that whatever we desire is also desired by others. And to develop this does not involve any kind of religiosity we normally associate it with. It is for everyone, irrespective of religion or any political affiliation. Love and kindness are always appropriate. Whether or not you believe in rebirth, you will need love in this life. If we have love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace.

The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Human beings are social creatures, and concern for each other is the very basis of our life together. Since at the beginning and end of our lives, we are so dependent on others' kindness, how can it be that in the middle, we neglect kindness towards others?

Clearly, a good mind, a good heart, warm feelings - these are the most important things in a leader, especially in a political leader.



Legal opinion was not classified information, Kabimba
By Francis Lungu
Tue 21 Jan. 2014, 16:00 CAT

JUSTICE Minister Wynter Kabimba this morning told the tribunal investigating him that the professional legal opinion he got from Solicitor General Musa Mwenye was not classified information.

He also said he does not interfere with the independence of the Judiciary and that he stands to uphold its integrity and independence in its dispersion of justice.

"I respect the integrity and the independence of the Judiciary; I shall work to uphold those. I have not interfered with any member of the judiciary. There was no pecuniary advantage as a result of that opinion," he said. "And as a public officer, the Solicitor General has a duty to render legal opinion to political parties."

This is in a matter in which the PF secretary general is cited for abuse of office, breach of secrecy of oath and interference with the independence of the Judiciary for copying a professional legal opinion from Mwenye to PF lawyers, Ellis and Company and acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda on election petitions.

Lucky Mulusa, former MMD Solwezi Central MP whose election was nullified by the Supreme court on grounds of election malpractice and a Brebner Changala are the complainant.

The two want the tribunal to probe Kabimba for allegedly breaching parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct and interfering with the independence of the Judiciary.

He was testifying before the tribunal chaired by acting Supreme Court judge Evans Hamaundu, who sat with judges Gertrude Chawatama and Justine Chashi, and led by his lead counsel Bonaventure Mutale, Kabimba said there was nothing wrong with him seeking professional legal opinion from Mwenye over the seats that were nullified due to corruption and whether the corrupt candidates could re-contest the elections or not.

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Social cash transfer to begin in Nalolo
By Stuart Lisulo in Nalolo
Tue 21 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

NALOLO district commissioner Mundia Samwene says residents in the district will start receiving funds under the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme in February.

And Samwene says the beef and rice 'value chain programme' will soon enable businesses in the district to export finished products to neighbouring countries.

In an interview in Nalolo district on Saturday, Samwene said his district was expecting funds to be received under the STC programme, this would enable the most vulnerable residents to receive cash handouts next month.

Nalolo, as one of the several districts around the country is also part of the SCT due to receive funding under the programme. We will soon start implementing the programme in February; people will be receiving funds - the most vulnerable will be given cash every month as social cash transfer, he said.

Samwene said, in addition to the SCT, the Resilience programme initiated by the

World Bank was another mechanism about to be implemented aimed at targeting the poorest and vulnerable in rural districts across the country.

''2014 looks positive in the sense that we are looking forward to being self-reliant.

Their (World Bank) target is to see the poorest person in society improve the standard of living by making sure we target the resilience of the climate change by providing schools, hospitals, bridges and even digging of canals so that the most vulnerable person can do farming and be self-sustainable in terms of agriculture,'' he said.

And Samwene said the beef and rice 'value chain programme' initiated by the Citizens Empowerment Commission (CEEC) aimed at setting up industries in Nalolo district looked set to empower the rural community in the area to the extent of enabling entrepreneurs to export their produce to neighbouring countries.

What we are now targeting is to put an added value to meat production so that we can do the processing; look at how we can improve our breed on the local level; and see how we can combat diseases so that we fully make Nalolo a disease-free control area, and can even export our meat to neighbouring countries. First of all, we are going to feed Western Province, the excess will feed other provinces in Zambia, and what will remain after, that we will feed other countries like Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Tanzania. If you have tasted rice from Western Province, it is different from any other rice that is produced from any other part of this country. Industrialisation is taking place because this is real and people are doing it. So, all we need to do is put value on whatever they are producing and open up the markets throughout the country, and even outside this country, he said.

Meanwhile, Samwene said the district further plans to develop, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, fish farming as a means to ensure the annual fish ban does not affect fish farmers.

We want to come out with aquaculture, making dams around here. Nalolo plains are fully fledged with rivers and waters. So, all we need to do is make aquaculture practical so that we can produce fish during the annual fish bans for re-sale within and outside the district - we should not only rely on the Zambezi waters, said Samwene.



Mumba can't be trusted on alliances - Nawakwi
By Henry Sinyangwe and Kombe Mataka
Tue 21 Jan. 2014, 14:01 CAT

NEVERS Mumba cannot be trusted on issues of alliances, says opposition FDD leader Edith Nawakwi. And Hakainde Hichilema says he will not discuss the proposed opposition alliance openly.

MMD leader Nevers Mumba yesterday said at a briefing that he is ready to sacrifice party presidency and work under any leader that would be chosen to lead the proposed alliance.

Mumba, who was flanked by leader of ABZ, Frank Bwalya, one of those spearheading calls for unity, announced that he would table the matter before a National Executive Committee meeting to be held in 30 days' time.

"If to remove the PF to save this country means that Nevers withdraws, that somebody else runs, Nevers will withdraw so that somebody else can run, if that is the one the people want and all of us presidents must come to that agreement," Mumba said.

"The MMD is totally prepared to consider a working arrangement towards the opposition working together in regard to the nullified seats and eventually for the bigger picture."

Mumba said the needs of the many Zambians far out-weighed those of a few individuals.

He said he would not put his individual ambition and fixation to become president for the sake of it ahead of a much nobler cause, which was to fix the country.

Mumba, however, warned that no opposition political party should come to the round-table to discuss the proposed alliance without accepting that its president may not be the one elected to lead the alliance.

"If you come to the table without that mindset, you're wasting our time. Please just go and run your own campaign," he said.

Mumba said MMD was looking for serious parties to partner with in order to remove the PF from power.

But Nawakwi said Mumba had betrayed the opposition parties before when he was entrusted and sent to present a petition to former president Levy Mwanawasa but ended up getting a job as vice-president.

"This is the same Nevers. We had teamed up in the opposition and sent him to present our petition to Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. My brother went and got a job as a vice-president, so where do I even get the moral high ground as Edith to think that things have changed, because we chose him in the opposition during Mwanawasa's time to be our spokesperson and representative because we only thought that our brother has a moral standing which we could draw our strength on," Nawakwi said.

She argued that there was need to create systems of governance to check the excesses of individuals in government rather than aiming at unsettling the ruling party.

"It's never about how we as Zambians should create systems to check the excesses of individuals, but how we can be forward-looking to develop our country. It's always about individuals and I am getting tired of this story that, 'let's team up because there is an individual in State House'. I want us as Zambians to team up on the core business of governing ourselves," Nawakwi said.

She said there was need to start presenting individual party manifestos to the public, on which they could be assessed.

"When we band up together, we need to know what is our policy for the future? What is the programme for the people? This call of 'please opposition, get together' is not a good call. People need to start examining the manifestos of each political party and get all of us together," said Nawakwi.

And Hichilema said he does not want to discuss the proposed opposition alliance openly.

He said he had learnt from past experience that discussing such issues in the media could not work.

"We know each other's numbers, we have been to each other's homes and we talk to each other in camera," he said. "No one discusses strategy in the media."

And Mumba said the MMD would effect a political lockout on justice minister Wynter Kabimba if President Michael Sata does not remove him from his position pending the outcome of the tribunal probing him.
"Our members can be positioned at his office to stop him from going there, including PF members, whom we know will be very happy to do that. We can mobilise them so that we stop him from going there. We call it a political lockout," Mumba said.

"Why should he embarrass himself? In any case, that job, the kind of money they get, he can survive without it. Nga ifwe (what about us), how come we are surviving? We were ministers and vice-president but we are looking okay. Am I not looking okay? Fwe malofwa (we who are jobless), are still wearing suits. So naba Wynter, he will be okay. The flag does not make him, he makes the flag."

And Mumba said the PF should give Zambians a new constitution by October this year or risk facing what he called a direct political reaction.

Meanwhile, Bwalya said that a joint press briefing would be held on Friday to discuss the proposed alliance at the NAREP secretariat.

Bwalya refused to disclose which political parties had responded to his calls for unity and the names of the leaders who would be present at the briefing.

Among those who will be in attendance are NAREP leader Elias Chipimo and People's Party leader, Mike Mulongoti.

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UPND converting MMD structures - Mulusa
By Kombe Chimpinde
Tue 21 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

THE UPND has now gone flat out to convert MMD structures to itself, says losing Mufumbwe member of parliament Stafford Mulusa.

And Stafford says former Solwezi Central MMD member of parliament Lucky Mulusa should show gratitude to him because he (Stafford) gave up an opportunity to contest the seat in 2011 so that Lucky could be adopted as he had just lost employment.

Lucky revealed that UPND had been blackmailing him into re-contesting the seat on its ticket.

Lucky, who said the UPND had put a gun to his head, said he was shocked that the opposition party had taken advantage of problems in MMD to poach its members, including Stafford, whom it has adopted for the Solwezi Central by-elections after he refused to defect from MMD.

But Stafford, who also contested the Mufumbwe by-election but lost to PF's Steven Masumba in November 2012, said he was the favourite to win the Solwezi Central seat in 2011 but was convinced by party officials to give Lucky a chance and to help market him as he had been in South Africa for some time.

He said time had come for him to contest the Solwezi Central seat and that he was surprised by Lucky's claim that he would ride on his name.

"I have applied to stand because I gave him (Lucky) chance to stand in 2011. A lot of people came to say, 'no, give your brother chance, he has lost employment' and I gave him chance. Because of my name, he won. As you know, I stay in this constituency. I have never stayed in South Africa for a long time like him. I have been in Solwezi, Solwezi Central in particular," Stafford said.

"I am surprised that Lucky Mulusa is actually speaking like that. I gave him chance in 2011 (in the adoption process). His name was nowhere here. We helped him win the election here."

He said Lucky would not retain the seat and that victory in the by-elections was certain for him going by his performance in Mufumbwe where he lost by a small margin when he stood on the MMD ticket.

"I am surprised that he is saying that I am riding on his name because even now if you as The Post come, they will tell you that 'we know Stafford Mulusa, we don't know this Lucky Mulusa'. I don't think he is going to win even if he is standing on a finished party, MMD. Also you see the problem with MPs is when you are chosen as an MP, you run away from your people so the link with the people is not there. The people are saying it is even good his (Lucky) election was nullified because they could have suffered. He has never been with the people and so he has found it difficult to come back to say, 'I am now standing'," Stafford said.

And Stafford explained that he moved from MMD because it was sinking.
He said the UPND was now converting the MMD structures to itself.

"People have realised that MMD is sinking. All the structures of MMD here have moved to UPND, those that haven't are waiting for a time when we start campaigning so that we start demolishing them one by one. Otherwise there will be no MMD here. I don't even think a split of votes can be there even if MMD fields Lucky but should they field a candidate, they will be the least or come third runners-up," said Stafford.

"Us we stand with the people. If the people are saying, 'this thing is finished, you move to another place', we move. Immediately we are done with this constituency, we will go round the districts to convert MMD structures to UPND. That is my job and everyone else in UPND, even at provincial level."

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Explaining development to the people
By Editor
Sat 18 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Senior village headman Simankawa of Sinazongwe says there is need for the government to conduct a deliberate sensitization campaign about the development programmes it is undertaking to enable people understand and appreciate the services being provided to them.

And Captain Lawrence Nyambe (Rtd) says "so much is being done on development and yet so little is known". Capt Nyambe, who is Mongu Patriotic Front publicity and information secretary, says, "What is expected is for us to roll out and reach out to every village and household so that we can expose the developments that are currently being done by President Sata."

But the question is: who is supposed to explain the government's development programmes to the masses of our people? It is usually expected that the Ministry of Information and its departments should explain government programmes to the people. Yes, they should take part in explaining to the people what government is doing. But the greater part of this responsibility should fall on the ruling party, on its leaders and cadres.

It is the duty of the Patriotic Front to explain what its party in government is doing. Moreover, those in government, including the civil servants, are not carrying on programmes of their own. They are there to implement the policies and programmes of the ruling party, of the Patriotic Front, as explained in its election manifesto and by the various policy decisions of its central committee.

The ruling party has a major role to play in the implementation by government of its manifesto. If the ruling party sits back and waits for civil servants and other public workers to do everything for it, it is bound to fail.

The programmes that the government is implementing were not, strictly speaking, initiated by civil servants and other public workers but by leaders and cadres of the ruling party.

But there has been a tendency in Zambia since 1991 for the ruling party's positions and policies to be totally ignored by the government. The input of the ruling party in the policies and decisions of the government diminished since the MMD took over power from UNIP in 1991.

Those in government governed as if they were not sponsored by a political party that had a manifesto and an economic and social programme. Everything started to be decided by technocrats in government and their ministers. The party increasingly started to have very little input in government policies and programmes. Those in cabinet considered themselves to be the party and whatever they decided as the party's decision. The party per se lost check and control on what those in government did or did not do.

In a similar way, the implementation of government programmes became the preserve of ministers and their technocrats. The only way for party leaders and cadres to participate was through business contracts. Those who were lucky won some tenders and in this way 'participated' in the implementation of government programmes. Only tenderprenuers were able to play a role in the implementation of government programmes. The ordinary ruling party rank and file had no clue on what was going on - they were totally left behind. The only time they came closer to the implementation of government projects is when they went to dance for or cheer the president at groundbreaking or official opening ceremonies.

Development programmes belong to their creators. And if their creators are alienated, it is difficult for the development programmes to succeed. Development programmes are supposed to belong to the party in power and not necessarily to a small group in government.

The result of all this is that the majority of the party leaders and cadres do not understand where the government created by their party is going or is doing. And those party leaders in government take very little trouble to explain but expect everyone to understand and support what they are doing.

Here, there is a clear case of alienation of the ruling party and its cadres from government programmes. And these being party programmes, if the ruling party cadres are removed from them, no one is left to explain them to the masses of our people. Civil servants are not political cadres and are usually not very skilled in issues of explaining political programmes. This is a job best done by political cadres.

A government performs its tasks well only when it is able to avoid being isolated from the masses of our people and is able to lead the whole mass forward.

It is only through the ruling party that the masses of our people can be able to meaningfully participate in the programmes being implemented by government. And people's participation in such programmes is the true meaning of democracy. And this is why it is said that the true meaning of democracy is a growth in the confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves. It is a growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding and creating together.
The ruling party is not there just to organise and manage by-elections and general elections. It is there to strongly participate in the day-to-day governance of the country. It is the ruling party that should give daily guidance to government. And to participate in the work of government, a ruling party leader or cadre do not necessarily need to have a government position or office. It is the party that is in government. And being in government, the party governs. Therefore, the party is not simply the president and those he has appointed to be ministers. That's why it is possible to even have non-party members in cabinet because party leaders and cadres participate in the governance even if they are not in cabinet or government in general. Those in government should take their instructions and orders from the party. We should not forget that it is the party that came up with a manifesto and programmes that civil servants and other public workers are supposed to implement. And it is the party that won the election on the basis of its manifesto and programmes. And having won the election, it is the party that should govern. Leaving out the party from government programmes will certainly lead to a huge gap in what is being done and ultimately to failure. It is the ruling party that is supposed to explain its programmes that government is implementing with it and on its behalf.

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Sata joins Facebook

By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Sat 18 Jan. 2014, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has created a Facebook link, saying he has decided to network and connect with the people "by means of this platform".

In one of the postings earlier yesterday, President Sata stated: "My friends on Facebook, today, I have decided to network and connect with you by means of this platform. This page will enable you to have a glimpse of my thoughts and ideas on various issues relating to our great nation. Let's interact," he stated.

Later on, President Sata posted that he had sent transport, works, supply and communications minister Yamfwa Mukanga to Kitwe to officially hand over 57 low cost houses and two churches.

According to his special assistant for press and public relations
George Chellah, President Sata's link is https://m.facebook.com/President (external link) Michael Sata.
"Comrades, I can confirm that the link below is His Excellency, Mr Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia's official Facebook page. https://m.facebook.com/PresidentMichaelSata (external link)," Chellah stated.

And President Sata also posted on the new link that the infrastructural development in Kitwe was for the people who would be displaced to pave way for the construction of a bridge.

"Good morning friends. I have this morning sent my minister of
transport, works, supply and communication Hon. Yamfwa Mukanga to Kitwe to officially hand over 57 low cost houses with electricity, water supply and flashable toilets and two churches in Ipusukilo and Kawama Townships, including a 1.5 kilometre access road in Mufuchani area of the city of Kitwe. All this is for the people who will be displaced to pave way for the construction of the Mufuchani Bridge across the Kafue River in Kitwe. Natwikatane chapamo bane tutwale ichalo chesu pantanshi Let's unite and develop our country together," stated President Sata.

Many Facebook enthusiasts welcomed President Sata's decision to open a Facebook page, saying that would encourage dialogue and information sharing.

Godfrey Simwinga Chitalu responded to Chellah's announcement saying, President Sata had "always taken a bull by the horn".

"Kwati bufi, (It's like a lie) this is great for our pragmatic president, who always takes a bull by the horn. Next, Mr President, introduce a toll free hotline that citizens can use to complain, suggest, report and compliment your government. The three mobile service providers can pay for its set up so that we the ordinary citizens can have access to have our say, even if its just recorded
and followed up later. Wise move and we love you," stated Chitalu.

Justine Wilfred Simbeye simply wrote "that is wonderful" while Hebert Macha said: "This is a great platform to network, dialogue, engage and share information, great initiative."

And Ebenezar Jeff thanked President Sata for having a heart for the people and asked the head of state to find a solution to youth unemployment.

"...About youths being employed we need to give them skills (education). Thank you for loving Zambia," said Jeff, while Trascillar Chibuye Mambwe Kayumba said: "Wow that's very good my president, but also consider us who are in Solwezi. Our roads are in a very bad state. When u are on the Copperbelt, u feel like u re in Zambia bt wen u re in Solwezi, its another world. We need u 2 shake these Solwezi MPs. Thank u sic."

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Zamtel disconnects KCM over K8m bill
By Joan Chirwa-Ngoma
Sat 18 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

KONKOLA Copper Mines has lost critical underground communication network after Zamtel disconnected the service yesterday owing to a debt of more than K8 million accrued over a year.

Sources have disclosed that Zamtel had no option but to disconnect Konkola Copper Mines (KCM)'s emergency phone lines being used for communication underground after holding a series of meetings to find ways of settling the outstanding bill.

This means that the country's biggest mine will carry out its underground operations without emergency communication lines until the bill is settled.

"Big as they are, KCM now have no emergency communication service. Meetings were held at a high level between KCM and Zamtel for the mine to settle the bill, but nothing has happened so far. This is why Zamtel's management decided to just cut off the service until the bill is settled. This has been outstanding from January last year (2013)," said the source.

Another source said KCM had always been telling stories about the debt.

"They are nuisance; they are always telling stories about reconciling the debt. They have not paid for over a year. They have so far committed small amounts so that we can re-connect them but we cannot consider that," said another source.

KCM's public relations department could not respond to a query by press time.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

(STICKY) (VOICES OF AFRICA) Organic farm in Benin looks to set example for Africa
Posted on: June 24, 2014
Posted in: Business, Lifestyle
Comments: 1 Comment

With his pilgrim’s staff and panama hat, Father Godfrey Nzamujo nips up and down the paths of Songhai, the organic farm he created nearly 30 years ago to fight poverty and rural migration in Africa.

The small farm covered barely a hectare when it was set up in Porto Novo in 1985 but has since become a pilot project for the rest of the continent badly in need of new ideas to maximise yields.

The centre in Benin’s capital now stretches over 24 hectares and employs an army of workers and apprentices, who toil from sunrise to sunset growing fruit, vegetables and rice, as well as rearing fish, pigs, poultry.

“Nothing is wasted, everything is transformed” according to Nzamujo’s principle, with even chicken droppings turned into the bio-gas that powers the centre’s kitchens.

Father Godfrey Nzamujo, director of the organic farm Centre Songhai. (Pic: AFP)

Songhai in tiny Benin has big plans for Africa. It already has similar operations in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and wants to set up shop in 13 more west and central African countries.

Nzamujo’s raison d’etre is how to help Africans increase yields through simple techniques, without using pesticides or fertilizers, and while cutting production costs and protecting the environment.

The Nigeria-born priest, who was raised in California on the US west coast, said he was shocked by the appalling images of famine in Africa on television at the start of the 1980s.

He then left to discover the continent to see how he could put to good use his university training in agronomics, economics and information technology and fight against poverty on his own terms.

How it began

After visiting a number of countries, he ended up in Benin where the country’s then-Marxist government gave him a small plot.

“It was abandoned land, killed by chemical fertiliser and conventional agricultural practices. It didn’t work,” he told AFP.

“There were seven of us. We dug wells and watered with our own hands. And during the main dry season, this grey surface became green,” he recalled with a smile.

Nzamujo’s secret is in imitating nature, encouraging “good bacteria” present in the soil to maximise production without having to rely on chemicals.

Yields at Songhai speak for themselves: the farm produces seven tonnes of rice per hectare three times a year, up from one tonne per hectare once a year at the beginning of the project.

“Songhai is facing up to the triple challenge of Africa today: poverty, environment and youth employment,” said Nzamujo proudly.

The cleric’s system centres on local production and distribution, creating economic activity to tackle poverty head on.

At Songhai, jam simmers in large pots while chickens are roasted and soya oil, rice and fruit juice are packaged for sale in the centre’s shop or served at its restaurant.

Discarded parts of agricultural machinery are reused to create ingenious contraptions and used water is filtered using water hyacinths.

A man wheels coconuts in a wheelbarrow at the Centre Songhai. (Pic: AFP)

The centre also has an internet point and even a bank so that local people can avoid going into the city centre.

Youth employment is encouraged and some 400 farm apprentices – selected by competition – are trained every year. The 18-month course is entirely free.

Apprentices, interns

Paul Okou is one of them. The 25-year-old from Parakou, northern Benin, would like to follow his parents into farming but is hoping to work in a more profitable way.

“My parents use traditional, archaic methods while at Songhai we learn the modern way, albeit makeshift,” he said.

“What we used to do in two days now we do in two hours.”

The apprentices are sent into villages where they apply what they have learned. Once in charge of a farm, they join the Songhai network and are checked regularly.

Songhai also welcomes interns who are paying for their own training.

They include Abua Eucharia Nchinor, a Nigerian in his 30s, and Kemajou Nathanael, a 39-year-old former salesman from Cameroon, who both want to open an organic farm in their respective countries.

According to Nzamujo, Songhai is not a cure-all for Africa’s problems but tackles their root causes.

“Imagine if all the young people who hang around big cities did their training here and we equip them. … Imagine the productivity of Africa today.” he said.

Cecile de Comarmond for AFP

One Response to “Organic farm in Benin looks to set example for Africa”

Nkgephu Martins Langa #

I am a pro-organic farmer from South Africa, i will like to communicate withFather Godfrey Nzamujo , please provide me with his website or email address.

Best regards,

June 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm Reply

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

(STICKY) (HERALD ZW) EU sanctions suit: Britain in no show
June 17, 2014
Takunda Maodza and Fidelis Munyoro—

COMMENT - Upon close examination, the economic (in this case the EU's) sanctions fall apart. It was the British government under Tony Blair and Claire Short, which reneged on it's obligation to fund the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller land reform program (See the link to Swan's article, "The Spark", from November 1997, years before the Fast Track land reform program.

" I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers. "


" Again, I am told there were discussions in 1989 and 1996 to explore the possibility of further assistance. However that is all in the past. "

- MrK

BRITAIN failed to make its representation in the hearing of a case in which Zimbabwe is suing the European Union for the imposition of illegal economic sanctions when the matter opened in the General Court of the European Union last Tuesday in Luxembourg.

The case, which was not against Britain but the EU, was heard by three judges from Sweden, Bulgaria and Greece in an open court last week and it lasted the entire day.

Zimbabwe did not cite Britain in the lawsuit but the United Kingdom begged the court to be included when it successfully applied for an intervener in 2012 claiming it had a personal interest in the case.

Zimbabwe’s legal team led by David Vaughan and Maya Lester of Brick Court Chambers in London argued that, “it is only the Security Council of the United Nations that have the lawful power to impose sanctions on a member country while the rest of the member countries’ obligation was supportive only.”

The lawyers said since independence, Zimbabwe has never been the subject of any such sanctions.

“In fact there were attempts by the United Kingdom to present a draft resolution to the Security Council in 2008 “targeting” 14 persons in the Government of Zimbabwe. The resolution was not passed because the test was not satisfied, that is Zimbabwe’s conduct needed to amount to a threat to international peace and security to attract UN sanctions,” the lawyers said.

The UN Security Council refused to impose sanctions or even condemn the Government of Zimbabwe.

“There is, therefore, no legal basis upon which the EU can continue to target persons and entities associated with the Government of Zimbabwe and or Zanu-PF,” the lawyers argued.

The oral hearing remains open for a period of two weeks to allow for the filing of further documents by all parties and in the case of the United Kingdom, to allow it to make its oral submissions, if any.

A hearing would be handed down in the course of the year.
Instructing attorneys are Michael O’ Kane of Peters and Peters Solicitors from UK, Jacob Mutevedzi of Mutamangira and Associates, and Gerald Mlotshwa of Titan Law Chambers, both of Zimbabwe.

Legal experts yesterday described Britain’s no show as ample evidence that the erstwhile coloniser had no justifiable legal explanation for the ruinous embargo that has bogged down the economy costing the country over US$42billion in lost revenue since the turn of the millennium.

Britain advocated the imposition of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe after the Zanu-PF Government successfully embarked on the fast-track land reform programme in 2000 to correct historical land ownership imbalances in the wake of the British Labour government’s refusal to honour its colonial obligations.

A Zimbabwean delegation led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, comprising Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana and the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula, attended the hearing.

In a statement, the Zimbabwean delegation said: “The United Kingdom, which had intervened at its own initiative in the case, did not, however, attend the hearing. The reason for the United Kingdom’s absence is yet to be known.”

Zimbabwe’s lawsuit seeks to nullify the illegal sanctions imposed on 112 persons and 11 corporate entities associated with the Government and Zanu-PF.

Legal expert Mr Joseph Mandizha said the attitude of the British government in filing the intervener application, shallow and ill advised as it was, vindicates the position that Zimbabwe has always been communicating to the international community that the sanctions the sanctions were a bilateral issue.

“Harare’s position, which is on record, has always been that the real fact of the matter was that sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe were a consequence of a bilateral dispute between it and its former colonial power and that it was profoundly unfortunate that the rest of Europe was allowing wool to be pulled over its eyes by the British government through the sanctions dispute,” he said.

“It must, therefore, be very embarrassing to the EU that Britain has disingenuously conducted itself in a manner that lends credence to Zimbabwe’s position. It is incumbent upon our Government, however, not to celebrate this court victory and allow the matter to be, but rather to continue to demonstrate to the rest of Europe that it is willing and able to engage with or without the British government.”

Another lawyer Mr Terence Hussein said the failure by Britain to appear in court was a deliberate ploy to delay proceedings.

“Britain is either using delaying tactics to avoid the finalisation of the matter or they are afraid to come to court to justify their case in a court of law,” said Mr Hussein.

He said it was clear that the sanctions were unlawful and motivated by spite.

“Britain should do the honorable thing and show leadership within the EU by conceding that the sanctions had no basis and convince its allies to unconditionally drop them,” said Mr Hussein.

Advocate Fred Gijima concurred adding that the UK’s application was malicious and frivolous, and meant to frustrate the proceedings initiated by Zimbabwe.

“It clear that they are bent on maintaining the sanctions through the back door and did not want to come out on to the play ground and defend their decision in court of law,” said Adv Gijima.

“It is also clear that they have no reason at all whether, legally, socially, economically or politically to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and encourage the EU to do likewise. They should simply do the honorable thing and concede that the sanctions be removed unconditionally.”

Constitutional lawyer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said by failing to appear for the hearing Britain was liable to pay “wastage costs”.
Zimbabwe wants the sanctions declared illegal on the grounds that there was no proper legal basis for imposing sanctions on the individuals and companies associated with Government and Zanu-PF.

The sanctions were based on reports from faceless dubious websites and internationally discredited NGOs.

Zimbabwe also argues that in imposing the sanctions the EU failed to give adequate or sufficient reasons for targeting the said individuals and entities.

It failed to provide particulars or evidence to the affected persons and entities to allow them to comment on the case against them.

The EU infringed, without justification or proportion, the applicants’ fundamental rights including their right to protection of their property, business, reputation and private and family life.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

(STICKY) (HERALD ZW) President calls for new world order
June 14, 2014
Mabasa Sasa in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

President Mugabe has called for the Group of 77+China to be at the forefront of creating a global order that represents the interests and aspirations of downtrodden people and oppose domination by Western powers. The President said this soon after landing in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, yesterday where he will attend today’s 50th anniversary Commemorative Summit of the G77+China, which runs today and tomorrow.

President Mugabe is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and other senior Government officials.

On arrival, President Mugabe inspected a guard of honour and was then treated to two displays of Bolivian cultural dance and music.

Thereafter, he addressed scores of people who had gathered to welcome him to the South American country, saying Zimbabwe would join the rest of the G77+China in fighting oppression and advancing developing countries’ interests.

“We should come together economically, come together politically, come together socially to form a really, really active and operational Group of 77 that will stand firm and can be relied on to protect our interests and aspirations,” President Mugabe said.

The G77 was established in 1964 and is the largest inter-governmental organisation of developing countries operating within the United Nations system.

Founded by 77 countries, its membership has grown to 133 covering Africa, Asia and Latin America, but retains its original name and continues to pursue development of South-South co-operation and co-ordination of mutually beneficial positions at the UN.

On Wednesday, Xinhua reported the host President Evo Morales saying Bolivia could afford to host the summit because it was “financially solvent thanks to the nationalisation of the energy sector”.

Leaders and their representatives are expected to discuss issues such as unemployment, poverty, climate change and food security.

A matter most participants are looking forward to is presentation by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of evidence of a United States-backed plot to assassinate him.

“We are going to show the evidence of assassination plots, implicating opposition leaders and US officials,” President Maduro has said.

Venezuela has experienced widespread destabilisation since the death of the iconic President Hugo Chavez last year, with opposition groups reportedly getting financial, technical and moral support from Washington to overthrow President Maduro’s government and undo pro-poor policies implemented over the past 15 years.

The choice of Bolivia to host the commemorative summit could not have been more inspired.

President Morales is Bolivia’s first democratically-elected leader from the indigenous population.

Morales’ administration has busied itself with poverty eradication, nationalisation and economic empowerment and eroding the influence of the United States and big Western corporations in the local economy and body politic.

President Morales has exacted more taxes from the hydrocarbons sector, has instituted agrarian reforms and boosted literacy.

Expectations are that he will be re-elected by a landslide in polls later this year.

Bolivia itself is named after Simón Bolívar, who died in 1830 and is considered one of the most influential politicians in Latin America’s history.

Bolívar was a soldier and politician who was instrumental in ending Spain’s colonisation of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, playing a central role in the creation of a union called Gran Colombia, which he led from 1819 to his death.

The politics and economics of self-reliance and South-South co-operation are central to the ideology of the G77+China.

At their last meeting at the UN headquarters in the United States in 2013, foreign affairs ministers of the G77+China resolved, among other things, to maintain focus on poverty eradication and food security of their peoples.

“Ministers stressed that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development . . .

“Ministers further stressed that, in order to enable governments of developing countries to effectively eradicate poverty, developing countries must ensure national ownership of their own development agenda, which entails preserving their own policy space backed by a strong political commitment to reduce poverty in line with their national priorities and circumstances.”

They also called for strengthening of the UN system and reform of multilateral lending institutions and the international financial architecture to make them more democratic, and debt restructuring.

“The ministers firmly rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions against developing countries, and reiterated the urgent need to eliminate them immediately,” their declaration read.

“They emphasised that such actions not only undermine the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and international law, but also severely threaten the freedom of trade and investment.

‘‘They, therefore, called on the international community neither to recognise these measures nor apply them.”

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Tobacco exceeds targets, sales near $600m
10/06/2014 00:00:00
by The Source

ZIMBABWE’S tobacco output for the 2014 season on Monday reached 185 million kilogrammes, surpassing the season target by 5 million kg, latest figures show.

The sector continues to recover as resettled small-scale farmers find their feet, but output is still shy of the all-time high of 236 million kg achieved in 2000 before the onset of land reforms. Output plunged to a record low of 48 million in 2008.

Tobacco is a major foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe. Last year, the country sold 167 million kg of tobacco.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) statistics show that by Monday, day 74 of auctions, 185 million kg had gone under the hammer, up from 140 million kg sold during the same period last year. The selling season normally spans 90 days.

Revenues amounting to $587 million have been generated compared to $520 million in 2013. Total sales amounted to $577 million last year.

The price, at which the leaf has been sold since opening of floors in February, has declined 14 percent to average $3.17 per kg from last year’s $3.70.

The government has said a jump in production was anticipated following a 29 percent increase to 91,278 in the number of farmers involved in the production of the crop this season, with 90,000 hectares put under the crop.

Zimbabwe has three tobacco auction floors while six contractors have also been licensed to buy the crop this season.

Major exports markets for Zimbabwean tobacco include China, Belgium, Philippines, United Kingdom and Spain.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

(GLOBALRESEARCH) Terrorism with a “Human Face”: Rebranding the Public Image of Syria’s Al Qaeda Brigades
By Phil Greaves
Global Research, January 07, 2014

SYRIA: Testimonies from Homs Reveal Identity of Terrorists and Mercenaries involved in Atrocities

Western corporate media, its Oil and Gas counterparts (GCC), and the various acolytes and paid-propagandists in the “tailored analysis” industry, are once again attempting to bolster and rebrand the public image of the fundamentalist rebels in Syria.

In the space of a week, two new formations of armed rebels mysteriously appeared across the mass-media lexicon and declared war on the dominant extremists through the usual “activist” social media accounts. The new brigades have virtually no historical record in the conflict, and appear to be largely a creation of the impotent exile opposition and its western sponsors. An abundance of reports relay stories of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) simply abandoning their posts and being turned over by this supposedly “moderate” new force.

Yet, in reality, the most predominant militia in Syria – those of a Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalist bent, who now fight under the umbrella of the Islamic Front (IF), and are led by Hassan Abboud of Ahrar al-Sham, and Zahran Alloush of Liwa al-Islam – have made a concerted effort to avoid sowing discord between themselves and the overt Al Qaeda affiliates of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN).

The new narrative emerging draws heavily from the Sahwa (Awakening) in Iraq, in which Sunni tribes from the western province of Anbar took up arms against, and eventually defeated, the Al Qaeda insurgency that followed the US invasion and occupation of that country. Western and Gulf media are now attempting to reinvigorate the rebels’ public image by concocting a portrayal of brave “moderates” taking on the extremists within ISIS. Yet contrary to the Syria-Sahwa narrative, the vast majority of opposition forces, as much as one can generalise, have in fact been shown to share far more in common with their extremist equivalents than they have differences, particularly in regards to their reciprocal – and sectarian-laden – religiopolitical ideologies.

According to Western and Gulf propagandists, Jabhat al-Nusra ostensibly represent the “homegrown” Syrian Al Qaeda branch. Whereas in actual fact, the claim is entirely false; JaN’s militia hold a distinct foreign contingent and many of its commanders have also been found to be of foreign descent – particularly Iraqi. Jabhat al-Nusra, therefore, should be correctly viewed as a semi-Syrian militia at most, built and sustained by ISIS and its former incarnation: the Islamic State of Iraq, (ISI) also formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

The ideologically aligned Salafi-Jihadists of Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and more recently ISIS, have formed the spearhead of the insurgency throughout the entire Syrian crisis, leading offensives against Syrian army installations, whilst also having enough manpower, funds & materiel to attack, encamp and militarily fortify civilian areas across the country. Most notably in Raqqah, which has become a virtual Al Qaeda statelet under the control of either Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS.

Examples of the dominant role fundamentalists have played in the insurgency are abundant, during an interview with TIME magazine, Ahrar al-Sham fighters – who, as we have seen through a plethora of evidence, are inextricably linked to Jabhat al-Nusra – freely admit they were planning a violent insurgency in Syria well before any peaceful protests occurred in 2011, and that recruits with underlying sectarian agendas made efforts to sanitize and mask their true Jihadist cause during the earlier phases of the conflict in order to win over the Syrian population. Whats more, a recent report in the National relayed much the same admissions from supposed “FSA” rebels operating in the south of Syria around Dar’aa.

The rebels interviewed admitted that

“They [JaN] offer their services and cooperate with us, they are better armed than we are, they have suicide bombers and know how to make car bombs,” rebel sources went on to say that “the FSA and Al Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don’t want to frighten Jordan or the West,”.

During the interview rebels further elaborate on the efforts made to boost the public image of the western-backed imaginary moderates saying that “operations that were really carried out by Al Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own,” and that supposed moderate FSA fighters “say that Al Nusra fighters are really from the FSA to enable them to move more easily across borders,”. The reports bolster earlier analyses that contradict the dominant narrative, often dismissed as “conspiracy theory”, which indicated such actions were being undertaken, and that the armed groups responsible for the initial violence in March-April 2011 were indeed religious fundamentalists, not the secular “freedom fighters” endlessly lionized by the lackeys of western governments and media.

Such candid rebel admissions once again expose the falsehoods that liberal opportunists rely on when blindly repeating the Imperialist narrative of a peaceful protest movement simply morphing into an Al Qaeda-led insurgency. In reality, the generally small and legitimate protests calling for reform were used as a fig leaf by Syria’s various internal and external enemies to hide the extremist-led militant insurgency they were orchestrating and colluding with.

As evidenced in numerous interviews and statements from Abboud and Alloush, the Islamic Front is not by any stretch of the imagination a “moderate” force opposed to JaN, ISIS, or Al Qaeda ideology in general (unless one utilises the doublespeak of the US State Department when describing their “moderate” Wahhabi-Salafi monarchical clients in the Gulf). Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa a-Islam and other various proto-Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front have repeatedly fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and taken part in offensives that have targeted towns and villages on the specific criteria of the sect of the civilian inhabitants. The massacres committed upon the civilian residents of Latakia provide just one recent example of such sectarian barbarity – committed not only by the extreme elements, but with the full cooperation and participation of supposed moderate “FSA” militia. A more recent example of the Islamic Front cooperating with its Al Qaeda-affiliates came in December, when the IF took part in the attack and ensuing massacre of civilians in the workers district of Adra, Damascus – another rebel war-crime almost totally omitted from western media, regardless of the fact the BBC’s chief foreign correspondent was a mere 20 miles away while the massacres were occurring.

When framed in the correct context, it becomes clear that the vast majority of rebels in Syria are in fact ideologically allied to the very Al Qaeda affiliates the media is trying to portray them as opposed to. A recent communique from the political head of the IF, and leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud, was disingenuously portrayed as a Islamic Front “warning” to ISIS. Opposition-friendly media outlets and analysts are in effect conflating the Islamic Front with imaginary “moderates” and in turn attempting to portray them as ideological opponents to their more extreme Al Qaeda counterparts. This narrative is turning reality on its head, as Abboud’s recent statement is actually a “warning” against discord with ISIS. Abboud encourages the Syrian population to treat the Muhajirin (foreign jihadists busy murdering Syrians) “kindly”, and further encourages ISIS to emulate the “more healthy” manner of their supposed “home-grown” incarnation Jabhat al-Nusra. Accordingly, one can safely conclude that Abboud, Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and the various Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front – the largest militant force of the opposition – have close to zero ideological disparity with ISIS or JaN.

Even if what seem to be inflated reports of discord and infighting between the Islamic Front and the supremacist ideologues in ISIS were to result in a considerable loss for the latter, it would simply be replaced at the top of the fundamentalist food-chain by the next militia willing to impose its barbarity and coercion in the most effective way. This is ultimately the inherent nature of fundamentalist militant insurgencies, they are designed, indoctrinated, equipped, and funded to impose upon states and peoples through murder, coercion and fear, not through the appeal of a popular political doctrine and the mass support of the people. The simple facts that the insurgency as a whole is under no central hierarchy, and holds little to-no support inside Syria and is therefore susceptible to becoming reliant and subordinate to its foreign patrons, are clear indications that it will not be cohesive, regardless of the varying shades of fundamentalism the dominant groups have attempted to enforce.

The historical record of Western-GCC-backed insurgencies in the Arab and Muslim world provides copious amounts of evidence to show that invariably the United States and its Saudi partners have always utilised, fomented, and sponsored reactionary forces to meet geopolitical ends, particularly when subverting or attacking nationalist governments that refuse to abide by the Anglo-American capitalist order – with disastrous consequences for the countries in which the fundamentalist proxies are set upon.

One needs only to glance at the very recent history of Libya to negate the establishment falsehood that if the Syrian government had been overthrown quickly the fundamentalists would not have gained in strength. Again, this is turning the historical record on its head, as the joint NATO-Al Qaeda war on Libya has once again shown; the swift overthrow of a state’s government and leadership inevitably results in reactionary fundamentalists taking advantage of the power vacuum left behind. The US-Saudi-backed insurgency in Afghanistan during the 1980?s, which fought against the Soviet-backed Communist government, provides perhaps the definitive example of the type of proxies the United States and Saudi Arabia choose to employ to destroy target states. As with Syria and Libya, the original “Afghan Arab” insurgency – which helped to create and empower Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Hekmatyar, the Haqqani network and a host of other fundamentalist militancy – was wrought with infighting, extremism, warlordism, and reaction, this trend has continued in virtually every state the US and its GCC partners have targeted for “liberation” via jihadist proxies.

Perpetual infighting evidenced throughout the Syrian insurgency is in fact a result of the long-standing fragmentation of the various opposition forces, their varying degrees of fundamentalism, and the battle to win influence, arms, and funds through foreign donors and exploitation.

The evidence-free narratives of supposed existential disparity between what actually represent ideological allies, the patterns of ever-changing nomenclature and rebel rebranding, and the efforts to scapegoat the most overtly extreme elements for the systematic crimes of the opposition as a whole, are nothing more than public relations exercises, designed to whitewash the massive crimes of the “rebels”, whilst extricating the Western Elite and their GCC partners from the criminal act of sponsoring extremists for geopolitical ends.

Phil Greaves is a UK based writer on UK/US Foreign Policy, with a focus on the Arab World, post WWII. http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/

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Why is MMD opposing Sata's indeco idea?
By Editor
Wed 08 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

The MMD leadership is questioning the rationale behind the re-introduction of the industrial development corporation. It is not difficult to understand their problem. The MMD in government blindly pursued neoliberal policies which have not brought any meaningful development to the country for the two decades they were in power. What meaningful benefits have their capitalist policies brought to the poor of this country?

Let us not be carried away with labels and ideological prejudices and objectively face the challenges before us. We are living in a very different world. This is the first thing we need to understand.

Furthermore, the world we live in today is globalised, really globalised. It is a world dominated by the ideology, the standards and the principles of neoliberal globalisation.

The leadership of MMD should realise that when we speak of "the economy" or "an economic system", we are speaking of policies and plans which control the wealth and resources of a country, about how resources are distributed between people, and about how the means of production - such as land, factories and technology - are owned and controlled. It is sometimes suggested that economic laws, like the basic laws of nature, are beyond human control; that we can no more influence them than we can defy gravity or stop the motion of planets.

Therefore, it is argued, the existence of poverty and unemployment, and the inequitable distribution of wealth, are the result of inescapable economic laws, and must be accepted as such. When suffering and even death flow from these "inevitable facts of economic life", that is simply unfortunate, it is said, just as it is unfortunate when suffering and death result from a natural disaster. Although we sympathise with the victims of an earthquake or a flood, we do not consider such natural occurrences unjust or immoral. In the same way, the argument continues, we should not regard an economic system as unjust or immoral, though we regret the suffering that may be part of such a system. Some people will be poor and some rich, inevitably and unavoidably, just as some will be the victims of earthquakes and floods, and some will not.

This argument must be rejected because it fails to take into account the fact that economic consequences come about as a result of human agency. At the heart of every economic system lie human needs, human abilities and human decisions, and it is the choices which we make in addressing those needs, sharing those abilities, and making those decisions, that determine the justice or injustice of an economic system. The more powerful our economic position, the greater our freedom of choice, with the poor and the marginalised having very little effective choice in their economic decision making. There is thus a moral quality about an economy, a quality which has its roots in the morally correct or incorrect choices by people; and it is the moral quality of the economy that enables us to make judgements about whether or not it is a just economy.

We are not surprised that President Michael Sata's decision to re-introduce a developmental state through the industrial development corporation is being opposed by a political party that for two decades presided over the plunder and abuse of our people and their resources. Michael's approach to economic management from the viewpoint of the poor and suffering, his condemnation of their suffering and his unambiguous call for bold and profound changes in the political and social structures that perpetuate that suffering, was destined, from the beginning, to generate opposition and conflict from other sectors of our society that seek to maintain the status quo or even to increase their share of economic and political power. It is time we converted both our hearts and our institutions to respond to the cause of the poor by searching for effective strategies to transform the structures that are the root causes of their suffering.

It is important to emphasise right from the beginning that we do not think this opposition to Michael's industrial development corporation is going to end in some form of reconciliation in the foreseeable future. When one identifies with the interests of the poor, one will undoubtedly come into conflict with the interests of other sectors of society and their allies. It is therefore important in these initiatives of Michael to emphasise the virtue of fortitude - the refusal to abandon the poor in their sufferings. And these same poor - by what they give and what they ask - should inspire Michael and his comrades with that fortitude, the strength to remain steadfast in whatever they do.

When a system ceases to promote the common good and favours special interests, we must not only denounce its injustice but also break with the evil system. We must be prepared to work with another system that is more just, fair and humane and more suited to the needs of the day.
If what Michael is suggesting to do is socialism, and if what Dr Kaunda and UNIP did was socialism, then all persons of goodwill cannot but go along with this; they cannot help but rejoice over the appearance of another social system that is more just, fair and humane.

It is surprising that the same people, the same political party, that declared this country a Christian nation favour greed and oppose policies that are more just, fair and humane. Tomorrow's Christians must follow the lead of Michael and KK, retracing the Christian roots that lie behind the moral values of solidarity and fraternity.

Christians must show that authentic socialism is Christianity lived to the full, in basic equality and with a fair distribution of goods.

Instead of opposing it, we must learn to accept joyfully a form of societal life that is better adapted to our times and more in tune with the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, we will prevent people from equating God and religion with those things that oppress the workers and the poor: that is capitalism and imperialism. These inhuman systems have spawned other systems that proposed to free peoples, but ended up oppressing them.

We must always side with those who seek to build a more equitable and fraternal society among the family of God's children. We should therefore, with pride and joy, greet the new initiatives Michael is coming up with, which do not honour money accumulated in the hands of a few.

It is primarily up to the poor to effect their own betterment. They must regain confidence in themselves. They must educate themselves and overcome illiteracy. They must work zealously to fashion their own destiny. They must open their ears to those who can awaken and shape the conscious awareness of the masses and, in particular, listen to progressive politicians like Michael and the apostle of our independence struggle, KK.

Changes must be made to the way we manage our economy; present conditions must be improved.

The people are hungering for truth and justice, and those who are entrusted with the task of teaching and educating them should do so with enthusiasm. Certain erroneous viewpoints must be wiped away without delay.

We cannot claim to love God without loving our fellow humans. If some try to monopolise for themselves what others need, then it is the duty of public authority to carry out the distribution that was not made willingly.

In like manner, we cannot allow rich foreigners to come and exploit our impoverished peoples under the pretext of developing commerce and industry; nor can we allow rich nationals to exploit their own nation. These things incite the exasperating strains of excessive nationalism, which is hostile to meaningful co-operation and collaboration.

It is high time that the poor, supported and guided by their legitimate government, defended their right to live. When God appeared to Moses, it was said to him: "I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt, I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave drivers… I mean to deliver them" (Exodus 3:7). Jesus took all humanity upon himself to lead it to eternal life. And the earthly foreshadowing of this is social justice, the first form of brotherly love. When Jesus freed humankind from death through resurrection, he brought all human liberation movements to their fullness in eternity.

We should direct all our efforts to work together toward the construction of a society in which all persons will find their place, and in which they will enjoy political, economic, cultural and religious equality and liberty.

The present situation in our country, as in many countries on our continent, calls for some radical change.

Every human being of goodwill should be committed to changing a social order that is cruelly unjust. To refuse such commitment would be to make oneself an accomplice of injustice. If we do not commit ourselves to changing a system that prevents most persons from achieving personal fulfilment, then we are not helping our people to live out their vocation and attain union with God.

The poverty situation, we feel, is a product of unjust socioeconomic structures. Faced with this situation, we have no choice but to support the changes that will help better the living standards of our people. We do realise full well that we are the product of a society that has taught us to look coldly on the impoverished plight of our brothers and sisters. Our actions must be inspired by real love, not by the standards of a society that tends to maintain the present situation.

Our organisations must somehow get close to the poor, because only close experience will teach us the great magnitude of the problems that afflict the majority of our people. We must therefore reform the structures of our organisations so that such contact really takes place.

We ought to sharpen the awareness of our duty of solidarity with the poor, to which charity leads us. This solidarity means that we make ours their problems and their struggles, that we know how to speak with them. This has to be concretised in criticism of injustice and oppression, in the struggle against the intolerable situation that a poor person often has to tolerate, in the willingness to dialogue with the groups responsible for that situation in order to make them understand their obligations.

We should openly express our desire to be very close always to those who work for and struggle with the poor in order that they always feel our encouragement and know that we will not listen to parties interested in distorting their work.

What has been said before and the experience lived by our people lead us to reject neoliberal policies that were imposed on our people by the successive MMD governments; we reject capitalism, in its economic expression as well as in its ideological basis, which favours individualism, profit, and the exploitation of humanity by humanity. We should therefore aim toward the creation of a qualitatively different society. By this, we understand a society wherein the willingness of justice, of solidarity and equality reigns, one that will respond to generous aspirations and the search for a more just society and where values which will guarantee the integral development of our people will be realised.

In order that this kind of society be developed, it is necessary that the education of all people include the social and communal meaning of human life, in the total context which includes culture, economics, politics and the whole society.

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Constitution making hijacked by individuals to undermine the will of the people - Sata
By Joseph Mwenda and Kombe Mataka
Wed 08 Jan. 2014, 16:00 CAT

THE constitution-making process has been hijacked by individuals with an objective to embarrass, humiliate and politically undermine the sovereign will of the people, President Michael Sata.

In a statement released by his special assistant for Press and Public Relations George Chellah, President Sata said it would be highly reckless and irresponsible to hastily release the constitution only to satisfy an ill-intended political scheme.

"The country already has a functional Constitution and the state will not be pushed into fast and reckless conclusions by individuals with dubious agendas," he said.

President Sata said the government remained dedicated to the constitution making process.

"The recent biased political maneuvers surrounding the process confirm the ill-intentions of the persons at the helm of this misplaced crusade. Right from the start, this government has been dedicated to the process, no wonder the committee handling the matter was left without any interference. But it's clear that the well intended process has been hijacked to embarrass, humiliate and politically undermine the will and interest of the majority of Zambians," he said.

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Support indeco, Chitala advises Zambians
By Allan Mulenga
Wed 08 Jan. 2014, 14:01 CAT

DR Mbita Chitala has urged Zambians to support the re-introduction of the industrial development corporation, saying that all countries have advanced on the basis of revamping parastatals.

Commenting on MMD acting president Michael Kaingu's statement that establishing indeco would take the country backwards, Dr Chitala said the government intervenes in the market to safeguard the public good.

"There are two views in academia; the first view, which is correct, is that when there is a market failure, the state always intervenes and put up a company or project to ensure that public good is implemented. For instance in our case, the problem of the Railway Systems of Zambia, it required the government coming in and intervening and providing a public good on which all other sectors of the economy will enjoy," he said.

"The Railway Systems of Zambia was completely collapsing but now it has been revitalised. So, in the area of industry and commerce, I think we should learn from what has happened in other countries such as South Korea, which has advanced on the basis of parastatals."

Dr Chitala urged the government to manage indeco professionally.

"From the point of theory, there is nothing wrong in the government getting involved in the management of parastatals whenever there is a market failure. The challenge on the state establishing indeco is the challenge that all countries have, that there must be professionalism for the sake of national development," he said.

"The state should only come in where there is market failure; where the market cannot efficiently and equitably operate. The same way I have said about Zambia Railways, where there is so much money required to revamp it and it is only the state that can do that."

Dr Chitala, however, said Zambians were afraid that the establishment of indeco would breed nepotism, and bad governance, as was the case in most parastatals during the days of the one-party state, may be coming back.

On Kaingu's assertions that Dr Kenneth Kaunda was influencing President Michael Sata to make certain policies, Dr Chitala said there was no need to discard all policies UNIP formulated.

"The bottom of this matter is that what UNIP did was not all bad. Certain policies of UNIP were good, of which our politicians must be magnanimous enough and learn from. They may have managed the parastatals badly, but there was professionalism in the manner they were handled," said Dr Chitala.

On Friday, Kaingu, at a press briefing, urged Zambians to reject the re-inrtoduction of indeco, saying it would take the country backwards.

"We are wondering, what is this government trying to do? What ideologies is this government following? Is it socialism? Is it capitalism? Does it want to prioritise the mines again? Does it want to enter the private sector and get shares? Does it want to nationalise again? These are the questions that everybody is asking. What is this indeco about? Tomorrow it will be Zimco, then Mindeco," said Kaingu.

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Magande advises PF to consult on governance
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wed 08 Jan. 2014, 14:01 CAT

ZAMBIA should start preparing incoming governments thoroughly in view of the experience the country has had with PF's first two years in office, says Ng'andu Magande.

Magande, Zambia's longest-serving finance minister, said most of the mistakes the PF had made in its first two years in office were as a result of not understanding how the government systems operate. Magande said it was very clear the PF made key decisions without understanding how the country operates.

"This is a party which has never been in power and if they said 'we are going to take one or two years to study the situation', people would still have understood that 'these people have never been in government, so, let them understand what goes on in government'," Magande said in an interview.

"But what happens is that here we don't have an American system where you find the incoming government starts learning by going to the offices. Here you just end up in place and you don't even know where you stand."

Magande urged the PF to work closely with civil servants to ensure they fully understand the civil service and general government operations before they plunge the country into serious governance issues.
Magande observed that the first two years of the PF had been characterised by ad hoc and not well-thought through arrangements.

He said key economic decisions such as the removal of consumer subsidies on maize and fuel had not benefitted the intended sections of the Zambian society.

"Today, who is buying maize at K80 per 25 kilogramme? It is the ordinary people in Chilubi and Kalingalinga…the same poor people they said they wanted to protect," said Magande.

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Sichinga tells millers to act responsibly on prices
By Stuart Lisulo
Wed 08 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

THE stalemate between the Millers Association of Zambia and the government over the rising price of mealie-meal looks set to continue.

But agriculture minister Robert Sichinga insists the millers should act responsibly to help reduce mealie-meal prices, which have reached unprecedented levels, selling at over K70.00 per 25kg breakfast bag in selected outlets in Lusaka.

Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Allan Sakala said in interview on Friday that the millers were still waiting for the government to respond to calls for an urgent meeting to seek clarity on the actual price of maize to be sold following the government's hike to K1,700.00 per tonne through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

The hike in the price has caused consternation among the millers, who insist they are only able to comply with the government's
directive to sell breakfast and roller meal at K65.00 and K45.00 per 25kg bag, respectively, if maize is sold to millers at K1,600.00 per

"We are still waiting for government to react because this is a national issue; once they have reacted, we will take our next course of action. The ball is in their government's court," Sakala said.
He said since the price of maize was very high, it was virtually impossible to adhere to the prices directed by the government.

"The only problem is that the maize itself is expensive; we are landing maize into the mill at about K1,900.00, something like that. And FRA has not yet started offloading [the maize - they are still working out the modalities of how we are going to get the maize. As long as the maize prices remain high, I do not see how we can address that situation unless the agriculture ministry comes up with
conducive prices which we can digest; then we will be able to resolve the issue of mealiemeal prices," he said.

But Sichinga in a separate interview said: "We have offloaded maize onto the market.

As government, we have done our part; when you talk about liberalisation and private sector participation, we expect the private sector to act responsibly."

He said there was no need for any consultative meetings between the government and stakeholders because last month's meeting "sufficiently resolved" the issue of mealiemeal prices. "There are no plans on the part of government to hold another consultative meeting.

All of them had the opportunity to say what they wanted to say and participate and all the issues were concluded, not just with the millers, but grain traders and ZNFU," Sichinga said.

He reiterated that the onus was on the millers to help reduce the prices of the mealie-meal.

"They are supposed to show good faith and confirm that some of their millers have received additional maize; the price at the moment they are supposed to determine; the price is not being fixed by government - it is supposed to be as a result of supply and
demand, and we expect that they will act responsibly.

The truth of the matter is that they are not prepared to lower the prices because they want to make super profits, and Mr Sakala knows that," Sichinga said.

He further said consumers should be questioning the millers and not the government on the ever-rising prices of mealie-meal as government had already done its part.

Sichinga also explained that since the removal of subsidies on fuel and maize early last year, the price of maize sold by FRA could not go any further than the K1,700.00 per tone limit.

"When we removed subsides, it means we cannot sell maize at a price lower than is being dictated by FRA - they have to break even.

The price at which we are selling is, in fact, much more modest because FRA buys its stocks in areas where the private sector do not go, so it is a much more extensive assignment for them to bring those stocks to the market," said Sichinga.

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