Friday, March 09, 2007

Levy, Kapijimpanga differ

Levy, Kapijimpanga differ
By Speedwell Mupuchi
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa and MMD chairperson for land Judith Kapijimpanga have differed over land administration and empowerment of cadres and the general public. And President Mwanawasa said there was no honour among thieves. In her letter dated January 7, 2007 to President Mwanawasa and copied to MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba, Kapijimpanga stated that access to land in Zambia was difficult especially by the low-income populace.

She stated that unlike what was obtaining today, cadres in the first and Second Republics were empowered through land alienation and control of markets and bus stations. Kapijimpanga stated that land was vested in the President for and on behalf of the people. "This sentence speaks volumes. I would propose that the President through the Commissioner of Lands could, maybe put in place a deliberate policy (administratively) to ensure that our cadres at grassroots level and the general populace especially the low income bracket are given priority in accessing the commodity," Kapijimpanga's letter read in part.

She stated that for the mechanism to work, the Commissioner of Lands needed to be more user-friendly and sympathetic of the needs of the grassroots. She stated that cadres during campaigns were widely used to lobby for votes from Zambians but once campaigns were over and the needful done, the picture painted was that of marginalisation as cadres felt discarded until during elections and conventions. "Your Excellency, this time around you have done something for a few of our cadres like Hon Njapau (Grace), who is now deputy minister as well as Hon Patricia Mulasikwanda and Hon Mulongoti. I commend you highly for what you have done but we need to look at a broader picture in terms of empowering our cadres because not everyone can be appointed as minister," Kapijimpanga stated.

She said historically, vigilantes in the First Republic had a stake in land alienation where ward chairmen and councillors were allowed to alienate land in compounds and controlled markets. "We did not hear of any lawlessness. Of course I do not know how this was done but somehow it worked and cadres of that time were empowered. Cadres were also sent to the Eastern Bloc countries like what is currently obtaining where cadres have been sent to China but at that time it was purely for skills development," Kapijimpanga stated.

She stated further that the Minister of Lands at the time also played a part in ensuring that cadres at any time benefited quietly from any piece of land alienated. Kapijimpanga also cited an example where in South Africa cadres popularly known as majimbos were currently controlling the markets in townships through a well structured programmes through the black empowerment policy. "The current situation obtaining in Zambia was that chairmen at provincial and district levels in Lusaka do access land but were too selfish to share. When land is alienated they are asked to submit names, which are purported to be of other members of the party and yet they are pseudo names," Kapijimpanga stated.

She stated that it was true that cadres and other people were illegally occupying land, parcelling and selling land and sometimes even killing innocent people over the same. "With the advent of citizens empowerment Act, it would be prudent for MMD as a party to ensure that our cadres are taken care of under this umbrella deliberately. With the introduction of Youth Empowerment, let's ensure that our youths (cadres) are also taken care of," Kapijimpanga stated.

She further suggested that cadres also benefit from any land alienation and that provincial and district chairmen be sensitised for them not to be selfish. "Let the Commissioner of Lands put in place some administrative mechanism to ensure that our cadres access the commodity. This can be realised through the party President, since he has only delegated his powers of grants and dispositions to this office," Kapijimpanga stated.

In his reply to Kapijimpanga's letter, President Mwanawasa in a letter dated February 2, 2007 stated that he found Kapijimpanga's suggestions totally unacceptable. "You articulate things and theories which you did not do when you were Minister of Lands because quite obviously, you knew then that these things were wrong and illegal," President Mwanawasa stated.

He stated that to argue that because the so-called cadres worked hard in the election campaigns and therefore should be empowered with land which they could distribute anyhow without regard to planning permission made him shudder as to what MMD was heading to. President Mwanawasa admitted that delays were experienced at Lands Department but it did not give the excuse for people to take the law in their own hands to distribute land as if they were in a village environment. "I have on a number of occasions spoken about corruption at your former ministry and I have said that the answer lies in removing these corrupt practices in order to have a smooth administration of land," President Mwanawasa stated.

He also stated that Kapijimpanga's mention that vigilantes in the First Republic had a large stake in land alienation and took control of markets was incorrect. He explained that the administration of land then was neat and not as corrupt as it was today and that this was because ward chairmen and other officials were not interfering in the works of lands officers and local authorities. "I was employed by a local authority myself and I never heard of any councillor being allowed to alienate land in the compound or anywhere. My father was a marketeer and councils controlled the markets. Market officers were employed by the council and they collected levies on behalf of the council and these were properly accounted for," President Mwanawasa stated. "I never saw party officials coming to collect levies contending that as party cadres they were authorised to do so." President Mwanawasa stated that Kapijimpanga could not be serious when she stated that cadres in the Second Republic were empowered to control markets and bus stops. He stated that if markets and bus stops were empowered to cadres, it meant they were given the properties and could therefore not be taken away from them.

President Mwanawasa said he did not agree with Kapijimpanga's argument that cadres in the Second Republic controlled bus stations although the practice might have happened in the last administration (of Frederick Chiluba). "We as a government to which you were party decided that this is wrong and extortion of money from marketeers by party cadres was also wrong," President Mwanawasa stated. "We decided that this would be abolished. I directed that instead we will pass a law establishing Market Boards and Bus Station Boards which would be controlled by marketeers and passenger transporters themselves in partnership with councils."

President Mwanawasa stated that the boards would collect the money, employ workers and maintain buildings and that the boards would use the money with a percentage going to the council. He said the measure was well appreciated but that he had been let down when it came to implementation. "The Minister of Local Government is only now talking of taking legislation to Parliament and in the process she is antagonising our all-weather partners the ZANAMA whom she is ordering to stop collecting market levies and leave these to local authorities," President Mwanawasa stated. "ZANAMA has a lot of influence in the markets which they control and I am sure they will be the dominant organisation in the market boards which will be formed." President Mwanawasa stated that he was of the view that market and bus station boards were a democratic means through which people could be empowered. He stated that if the boards were also MMD members and they employed cleaners, levy collectors and other staff that would be good.

President Mwanawasa said the trouble was that MMD officials were not doing enough to sensitise members to attend meetings at which representatives of the boards were elected. He stated that it amounted to corruption to state that party officials who assisted in campaigns would be assisted with empowerment to collect levies. "The party which I am privileged to lead does not encourage these corrupt practices," President Mwanawasa stated. He said he did not find any correlation between controlling markets and popularising the party. He also noted that most of the vices were done in Lusaka and that it was in Lusaka where consistently the MMD had been unpopular.

President Mwanawasa also told Kapijimpanga that she misunderstood the policy of black empowerment as applied in South Africa because the Majimbos did not operate in an uncoordinated manner and that the nearest the Majombos could be compared to would be the market boards. He also stated that Kapijimpanga contradicted herself when she accused chairmen at district and provincial level in Lusaka of selfishness. "That is what happens when illegality is allowed to prevail. There is no honour among thieves!" stated President Mwanawasa

Kapijimpanga had also stated that it was important for the Ministry of Lands to speed up the putting together of the land policy whose consultative process started in 2002 and was due to be completed in September 2005. "Perhaps its conclusion will put in place acceptable mechanisms/channels which will pave way for a transparent and more accessible means of accessing land by our ordinary Zambians especially the blind and handicapped, widows and orphans and party cadres," Kapijimpanga stated.

She also noted that the centralisation of almost all core systems for land administration in Lusaka contributed to its inefficiency and the prevalence of corruption within it. Kapijimpanga stated that the Ministry of Lands currently lacked an adequate process that could speedily facilitate its contribution to wider land alienation.

Kapijimpanga also said the Ministry of Lands had recently revoked the agency of some councils for perceived mal administration of land. She said the law on revocation was very clear, stating that the minister may revoke and may instead appoint another agency to administer land. "But this was not done (in the case of Lusaka City Council). As a result people have continued parcelling out land with the absence of planning authorities whose agencies have been revoked.

This has further retarded progress and created more confusion and has turned out to be a recipe for corrupt vices, e.g. in Solwezi, there is a high demand for land but the agency has been revoked. Could the minister possibly give the people an alternative solution?" Kapijimpanga asked. She also said in 2004 government removed cadres from bus stops and markets which were a source of survival and that they should have come up with alternatives of empowering them. "Maybe they would not have pounced on illegally allocating land which has now turned out to be their means of survival," Kapijimpanga stated. "This vice can also be viewed as a protest action by our cadres because they always feel left out after elections."

Kapijimpanga stated that the anticipated decentralisation of land alienation within confines of local government decentralisation policy grants and disposition of land would be made at provincial level. She explained that this would mean that presidential powers would be devolved and wondered whether lands officers could execute such powers since it was not provided for under the Act. "Can the Commissioner of Lands who had delegated powers from the President further delegate his powers to the Chief Lands Officer to execute presidential leases on behalf of the President in the absence of express appointment? All this is not provided for under the Act but the President has already signed the policy! What next?" Kapijimpanga asked.

Kapijimpanga also made mention of various conflicts among land agents in Zambia and proposed that skilled manpower in the Ministry of Lands be well remunerated or given allowances like other professionals in order to reduce impropriety and corruption. But President Mwanawasa stated that there was nothing wrong in the Minister of Lands revoking the agency of a local government to handle and administer land if he gave that power to his ministry.

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At 10:05 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Wow. Who on earth would put unelected cadres in charge of land distribution? This is extremely screwed up. Land distribution should be a professional process that only looks at the zoning regulations and possible criminal history of the applicant. Having land distributed by political operatives is criminal and corrupt. That the minister of lands does not see that only means that she is not right for the office. Just saying 'somehow it worked' is garbage.

I am sorry for keeping hammering on this, but again and again, it is obvious that much of Zambia's development is lagging, because of the absence of well funded local government. If there were 350 councils, receiving $1 million from national revenues every year, there would be the money for proper administration; for properly trained and professional police officers; for well paid nurses and doctors; for motivated teachers and well equipped schools and classrooms.

The bottom line is: 1/3 or 1/2 of national revenues have to be paid out to local government, instead of going to 29 ministries, recurrent department charges, and personal enumeration. Essentially, Zambia is overfunding central government, and not funding local government at all.

At 1:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

appointing people for "thankyou"
purposes has its problems and this is one of them, in practise kapiji has not done anything wrong because she has no clue of what her duties are,cadres were promised land as "thankyou".
Our brains and minds are being tailored to think in a particular direction, corruption is not only for those who have fallen out with the boss, katele, mwaanga and all those who are damaged goods should be investigated,unless theres a new class of cadres, right now cadres are running the show wherever you may be.
Iam very upset that a poor woman is being demonised a day after the lip service of Womens International Day, where is judy's rights shes being messed up by her boss or rather harrased, if he was adamant about how things should be, he could have called her to his office and told her in confidence what is expected of her and waited to see weather she was performing accordingly and then sacked or sent her to were she could fit in and exercise her duties.
what is the underlying reason to this war of words and showing who knows best and whose dad worked were,
am sure I can tell my partner about my dad, why on earth surely should I tell a junior at work about how I think my marketeer father did things???? this is just say the least.
Its evident the presidential adviser's post is currently vacant.

At 4:27 AM , Blogger MrK said...

" in practise kapiji has not done anything wrong because she has no clue of what her duties are, "

Sounds like the way Adolf Hitler ran his government. :)

No one knows precisely what their duties are, and several organisations have overlapping duties.

What is clear that there has to be an overhaul of government, including local government, so everyone is certain of what their duties are, and there is a minimum of repetition of tasks.

The only way Levy Mwanawasa could even begin to tackle that, is if he started to act like a modern president, and started appointing real professionals to either ministries or task forces, and make the required budgets available.

Is he going to do that, or is he going to pretend nothing is wrong?


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