Saturday, March 10, 2007

100% profit externaliation suspicious - Magande/

GOVERNMENT has said it was suspicious of foreign investors who externalised all their profits. Minister of Finance and National Planning, Ng'andu Magande, said while Government allowed foreign investors to externalise their profits, it got suspicious when they did not leave any of their profits. He said in Lusaka yesterday that Government got suspicious with the externalisation of 100 per cent profits because it did not know where such investors would get the money from to continue with their operations. The minister said this when the visiting Malaysian investors paid a courtesy call on him at his office.

"Zambia is very hospitable to foreign investors. Any one is free to come and invest in any business and we do not care what they do with their profits except when they externalise 100 per cent of their profits," the minister said. Mr Magande said after getting out of huge debts following the completion of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), Zambia had reached levels where none of the parameters could threaten the country's economic performance.

He said inflation and bank interest rates had been lowered to better levels and that the country was now in a comfort-zone in terms of economic performance. Mr Magande said Zambia's foreign exchange regime had become one of the most open in the world and that Government was now working on tightening the management of financial institutions to create confidence in the sector.

He also told the team that despite not having its own airline, Zambia could still become the world's centre for communication particularly where investment opportunities were concerned.

And earlier, Mr Magande met the executive directors of the Africa Development Bank Group at which he appealed to the international financial institution to consider helping Zambia develop the entire agricultural sector. He also announced that the bank had given Zambia about US$3 million for feasibility studies on the construction of the Kazungula bridge. The minister said the bank had since 1971 committed itself to helping Zambia improve sectors such as transport, water, health, education and general infrastructure in various parts of the country.

He hailed the bank for its continued support to the development agenda of the Zambian Government since its establishment which had to date committed about US$900 million. Mr Magande said the bank was also supporting some development projects in Zambia like the rural water and sanitation in Central Province and the Agriculture Sector Investment Programme in Eastern Province.

Others include the small scale irrigation project, agriculture marketing and processing project as well as the Lake Tanganyika Integrated Regional Management Programme. The minister said once completed, the Lake Tanganyika project would raise living standards of the people who live around it and result in ending conflict among them.

He also thanked the bank for having written off about US$387 million, which Zambia owed. Mr Magande however urged the bank not to give more funds to Zambia when it asks for more if the savings from the debt write-offs were not put to good use.

And bank's executive director for Belgium, France and Italy, Francesco Pittore, said the financial institution would ensure that it opened an office in Zambia to improve interactions with Government.

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Political stability and economic growth

Political stability and economic growth
By Editor
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

IT is good that President Levy Mwanawasa is assuring the nation that the transition to his successor will continue to be as peaceful as it has been before. We are saying this because, as President Mwanawasa himself rightly observes, the transfer of power in most African countries has been problematic and has in most cases led to political instability.

That Zambia is a peaceful country is not an exaggeration. But that is not to say that political stability should also be taken for granted. In most cases, it is actually the acts of politicians that have led otherwise stable and peaceful countries into civil strife. Sometimes it is the irresponsible behaviour of politicians that lead countries into instability. There are many countries, be it in Africa or other parts of the world, that have experienced political instability as a result of the conduct of their politicians.

Another point to keep in mind is the fact that the absence of physical conflicts such as civil wars in a country does not necessarily mean that there is political stability. A country may not be going through a conflict per se, but it could be experiencing or undergoing political instability in a number of ways. Perhaps this is why it is important to go beyond the question of whether or not there is political stability in a country. Simply put, we could say that maybe there is a need to critically evaluate and assess some of the factors that lead to or pass for political instability.

For example, the realities of high poverty and unemployment levels may be a source of political instability if not well handled. It is also true that political instability has arisen out of economic instability. We saw this a few years ago in Argentina where governments were crumbling as soon as they were formed because of the economic instability that the Latin American country was going through at the time. We agree with President Mwanawasa that political instability is not good for investment attraction to the country.

But let’s not forget that political stability is not a guarantee for good economic growth or development. Today, the relationship between economic growth and political stability raises a lot of questions in view of the fact that even countries such as the United States, which are considered to be good examples of political stability, are now experiencing great economic inequality. Although the United States prides itself in terms of political stability and a democratic culture founded more than 200 years ago, we are aware of the economic inequalities that exist there. Zambia itself as a country has enjoyed more than 40 years of relative political stability but it ranks poorly on the world map when it comes to economic development.

Holding democratic elections every five years does not mean much if those who are elected at those intervals are doing nothing to address economic inequalities such as unemployment, which are themselves a potential source of political instability. It is a known fact that some countries of the world, including a few in the Middle East, which do not run any elections but are ruled by emirs have themselves made more economic progress and improved the welfare of their citizens than countries like Zambia which have had a number of elections.

We should not be misunderstood here. We are not dismissing the idea of democracy and the need to make sure that those in government get there through a democratic system such as periodic elections. What we are saying is that there are several factors that can lead to both political stability and economic growth. For example, a country may have a constitutionally elected government which in the process turns itself into a kleptocracy, with leaders looting its resources at will. Even if such a government was elected through a democratic process, it is impossible to expect economic equality or stability in such a case.

In the case of most poor countries, including Zambia, economic development has been elusive owing, partly, to external forces such as imposition of economic policies on local economies by institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We still have not forgotten about the failed structural adjustment programme (SAP) and how myopic people like Frederick Chiluba blindly embraced such a policy, which was later to be denounced and betrayed by its proponents. Through SAP, we saw how many of our school children were thrown out of school as a result of the decision by Chiluba and his government to impose school fees even at primary level. We saw how medical health centres in rural areas became inaccessible as a result of the introduction of medical user fees which most of our people could not afford.

Yes, President Mwanawasa can plead for foreign investment to flow into the country. No one should discourage him from doing that because we need more investment into the economy if we are to develop our country. But as we do that, it should not only be to the benefit of foreign investors while we end up as losers. Already, we are seeing how outsiders are making millions of dollars out of our own natural resources such as copper and yet there is nothing much to show in terms of a general improvement in the lives of our people.

And we hope that by saying that Zambia has learnt from some of its mistakes and it is making corrections, President Mwanawasa is also telling the nation that the government will in future be very careful in the manner it makes its economic decisions so that the country’s wealth is not just given away to outsiders without due consideration of the consequences. Therefore, as much as we should strive for political stability and work towards economic development, let us also pay attention to some of the factors that actually lead to instability, both to the economy and in our politics. Political instability is not desirable for any country, yet political stability is not the panacea to good economic growth. If anything, eradication of economic inequalities - through sound economic policies - is more likely to lead to political stability. This is how we look at things.

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Transition to next leader will be peaceful, assures Levy

Transition to next leader will be peaceful, assures Levy
By George Chellah
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:03]

THE transition to the next President will be peaceful, President Levy Mwanawasa has assured. And President Mwanawasa said Zambia has learnt from some of its mistakes and was quickly making corrections. Addressing the visiting Malaysian business delegation at State House on Thursday, President Mwanawasa said Zambia was a peaceful country.

"Contrary to what may sometimes appear in international media that all of Africa is in turmoil, you will learn that here the contrary is true. We are a peace-loving people devoid of any turmoil and violence that you sometimes see in the news about other countries," President Mwanawasa said. "We run a democratic system of government with very peaceful elections every five years. On my part, my term ends in 2011 and I have all the confidence that the transition to the next President will continue to be as peaceful as before."

President Mwanawasa assured the delegation that their investment was safe in Zambia. "We follow our laws very strictly. Whenever government loses a court case, which we normally do, we never employ arm-twisting tactics to ignore the ruling. Court rulings are always obeyed," President Mwanawasa said. "In any case, as you will learn, there is a law in this country which makes it very hard for the state to expropriate people's investment. Expropriation in Zambia, if any, requires the approval of Parliament and even then, it may only be done with full compensation."

President Mwanawasa said he was hopeful that people in the delegation would each find an attractive area for investment. "As the experts will tell you, Zambia is full of profitable opportunities in all areas like manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, services and many more," President Mwanawasa said. "I urge each one to be very alert to the possibility that even though you may have had certain interests when you arrived, these may well change after you have seen and heard about other opportunities." He said he was confident that when the multi facility economic zone is completed in two years' time, it would offer wonderful opportunities. "For those wishing, take advantage of Zambia's central location to exploit the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) market which stretches from Southern Africa all the way up to North Africa with several hundred million consumers," he said.

President Mwanawasa said Zambia had learnt from some of its mistakes and was quickly making corrections. "Since 1991, Zambia has undertaken major economic reforms. These reforms have included improved macro-economic management, reducing the involvement of the state in owning and managing enterprises through one of the most ambitious privatisation programmes in Africa," President Mwanawasa said. "Drastic financial liberalisation including the outright abolishing of all forms of exchange controls, rehabilitation of key infrastructure and putting more money into education and health." He said the external debt burden, which a few years ago was a major problem for Zambia, has been wiped out to insignificant levels.

He said he would count on the delegation to be Zambia's ambassadors to Malaysia and Asian investors. "Let me once again thank you for coming to Zambia to look at the opportunities available in this country. I hope and trust that you will have good memories of Zambia even when you are back in Malaysia. Kindly speak to as many business people as possible about the opportunities available in Zambian and our friendship," said President Mwanawasa.

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New constitution before 2011 - Sata

New constitution before 2011 - Sata
By George Chellah and Speedwell Mupuchi
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata has vowed that a new Republican constitution would be in place before 2011 whether President Levy Mwanawasa likes it or not. And Sata said President Mwanawasa should deal with local government and housing minister Sylvia Masebo's thuggish conduct if he wants the PF councils countrywide to operate. And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said Zambians were entitled to engage in politicking if the constitution they so desired was delayed.

Reacting to President Mwanawasa's statement that he had been denied a chance to write a new constitution and that some people were preoccupied with demonstrations against the government, Sata said PF would continue to mount pressure on the government until Zambians got a constitution before 2011. "The fact is there will be a new constitution before 2011 whether Levy likes it or not," Sata said. "Zambia needs a sane person who will listen to us and what we are saying. Levy can't do that because he is medically impaired."

Sata said President Mwanawasa was afraid of enacting a new constitution because he knew that it would be difficult for MMD to remain in power. "He just wants to continue stealing votes. He is scared that once he does that he won't leave MMD in power. I am a victim of a defective constitution so we have to sensitise Zambians on this issue," Sata said. "We are just demanding for what belongs to us and we are going to get what we want."

Sata said PF did not shun the prayers at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross last Sunday as suggested by President Mwanawasa. "We were not invited so how can we attend? They only invited Levy, that's why they found that the seats were empty and that's not for Levy to complain. In the past we have attended thanksgiving prayers, prayers for women and youths because the organisers invited us by card," he said.

On President Mwanawasa's remarks that PF councils had failed to deliver, Sata accused President Mwanawasa of playing double standards. "PF has not refused to work. He (Levy) has employed a thug for a minister who has concentrated on interfering with our council operations. Let him tell his minister not to frustrate our councils. Let him deal with his minister's thuggish behaviour or conduct, let him remove her and we will operate freely," Sata said. He said due to the interferences from the state, the council on Monday resolved not to sit. "They unanimously resolved not to sit because the place was surrounded by riot police and yet it was supposed to be a council meeting. So they refused to sit, saying that 'we can't operate under intimidation'," Sata said.

But a source from Lusaka City Council yesterday said the police were called in to keep law and order because PF had hired buses to ferry cadres to the council where PF councillors were supposed to move a motion to suspend mayor Susan Nakazwe in line with Sata's instructions. "They called off the council meeting because they were told that they needed to issue a notice of motion some days in advance and also they are supposed to give reasons in the motion," the source said. "This was not done so they postponed the meeting. This postponement had nothing to do with any intimidation from anywhere."

And Sata said PF would mount pressure to push Rabobank of the Netherlands out of Zambia.
"Now that Magande has failed to explain, we will mount pressure to push Rabobank out of Zambia. They must keep their hands off the bank. I am only grateful to the Rabobank because they are honest," Sata said. "Without PF pressure on government, the nation would not have known the truth. We are gaining confidence of investors that's why they met us. They were accusing us of being unfriendly to investors but how are we attracting them now?"

And Hichilema said too much politicking was caused by the fact that the government had not provided a new constitution. He said Zambians were entitled to engage in politicking if the constitution they so desired was delayed. "We don't need to be acrimonious about it. We need the new constitution by close of 2008. There is no need to quarrel over this document," Hichilema said. He said anyone who wanted to quarrel over the Constitution would just infuriate Zambians.
"Let's put up a constituent assembly to deliver the Constitution so we put away this matter which is eating into our resources," Hichilema said.

Recalling how Parliament was moved prior to the 1991 elections to make amendments to the Constitution and former president Dr Kenneth Kaunda was forced to cut short his term, Hichilema said that no one should think they could stall the constitution process. Hichilema also said there was need for the electoral Act to be reviewed to provide for automatic verification of results where there were genuine complaints. "We don't have to fear anybody or anyone to threaten Zambians over the issue. You can't threaten the 11 million Zambians. We should be level-headed in handling this issue. The government should be level-headed and we should also be level-headed. However, this must not imply that we do not do the correct thing; to provide the new Constitution," Hichilema said.

He said there was already enough tension in the country and there was no need to increase it further by denying Zambians a new constitution. "Poverty is enough tension, poor levels of income is enough tension so we do not need any more tension," said Hichilema.

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LETTERS - Misplaced priorities

Misplaced priorities
By Francis Liyambo.S, Namibia
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

It was indeed a disgraceful momentum on Monday evening when I heard His Excellency, the incumbent President of Zambia at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross when he publicly degraded the constitution like any other document in a company.

First of all, I thought misplacement of priorities was just a thing known by honourables like Brian Ntundu who instead of debating real issues like poverty alleviation, would rather talk about Jaguars, suits, payslips and so forth.

Unfortunately, this contagious disease has spread to the highest office of the land. Now the President is saying the amount of money scheduled for the constitution is too much in preference to the Zambian people. Country-men and women, let’s be realistic and turn the coin to the other side by asking: Isn’t it biased and too much to allocate one billion kwacha for the house to be built for the President and neglect many Zambian people who are suffering?

As the saying goes: “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. A constitution is a benefactor document for the whole nation, not personal property like the house. This is pure misplacement of priorities at its highest point.

In conclusion, I would advise the President through his Cabinet to help him work rightly and above all, I wish him good health and God’s wisdom to help him set his priorities right.

Public announcements
By Concerned citizen
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

I would like to make an earnest appeal to Mwanawasa to take control of the situation in as far as making public announcements is concerned. The current chaotic situation in making public announcements cannot be allowed to continue.

The situation is getting out of hand and irritating some of us. First, we had the deputy minister of home affairs announcing that issuance of permits by the police to hold public rallies had been cancelled. A few hours later, the minister of home affairs nullified the announcement.

Next we had the President himself announcing that K3 trillion had been stolen by some civil servants, only to discover later that the amount was actually K36 billion. And then we had been told that the earlier announcement that Women’s Day which falls on March 8 would be a public holiday had been nullified and that the correct position was that this public holiday shall be effective March 8, 2008 and not this year.

According to media reports, we were told that the day was declared a pulic holiday effective this year following a Cabinet meeting. Does this mean that whoever made the announcement had no mandate?

What is the role of the so-called chief government spokesperson?
It seems to me that his role is just to correct wrong pulic annoncements being made by his colleagues in Cabinet and other government officials to save the government from embarrassment.

If this is the case, then the title of chief government spokesperson is misleading and irrelevant. If Mwanawasa does not correct the situation, these costly mistakes he and his government officials are making, will one day throw the country in turmoil.

Justice and fairness
By Concerned citizen
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

I suppose Rolf Shenton’s letter to The Post of March 7 2007, on the arrest of Ross Michelson is meant to draw us (the public) into the issue. Well, if as potrayed by Rolf, Michelson has suffered unfair and unjust actions, then I for one offer my sympathy to him and his family.

Let me however, say that Shenton’s viewpoint and tone are misplaced. He seems to suggest that Michelson does not deserve the treatment he has received, on grounds that he is an investor who has contributed much to the development of our country.This viewpoint is rather unfortunate because it smacks of the "us and them" idealogy which advocates for preferential treatment of a section of society.

Shenton, I agree with you, Michelson and indeed all other people living in Zambia should not receive unfair and arbitrary action from anyone. We should not apply double standards in advocating justice and fairness. Justice should be for all and should not be measured on people's status in society, perceived personal contributions, colour, creed or nationality.

I find it unfortunate that the need to create a favourable environment for investment in Zambia is often abused by some people. At the rate we are going, it will not be surprising for some people to start advocating a special investor constitution. Investors are not missionaries driven by religious convictions to offer service.

They are businessmen whose motivation for investing is profit.Yes, we do badly need the investors to help us in creating jobs and wealth. They also need our resources and available opportunities to make profits for themselves. There thus is need for mutual recognition of each other's importance and the obligations that go with that.

Land allocations
By Concerned Citizen
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

I would like to appeal to our new lands minister to push for the de-centralisation of land allocations and title deeds to provincial level. Currently, the system only favours the few who are well-to-do. Application fees and hiring land surveyors from Lusaka are very expensive.

I feel for people in the rural areas who must travel to Lusaka or Ndola, and still wait for months and months before acquiring these documents. May people in authority, those we voted for, begin to work for us if the electorate is to be satisfied and see the need to re-employ them in 2011?

Cleaning Lusaka City
By Baston Mwadalo
Saturday March 10, 2007 [02:00]

I would like to make an observation on the issue of littering on our streets and market places and I hope the local authorities will buy my opinion as they did with the relocation of the bus stop in the Kamwala area en route to Chilenje. You may agree with me that the garbage and litter on our streets is distasteful and an eyesore to most of us. The introduction of the litterbins on the commuter buses has not yielded any positive impact. This issue can surely be sorted out in one way or the other. My suggestion is that the system of a fine for persons throwing litter in undesignated places be introduced.

As a deterrent, some penalty fee for anyone throwing litter for example K5000 for individuals, K25, 000 for privately-owned vehicles and K50, 000 for passenger buses would be workable. This can in turn create some form of employment for the idle youths in our cities to book the culprits and at the same time create some revenue for our cash-strapped councils and ultimately our cities will be cleaner. Also each concerned citizen should be duty-bound to take down the registration number of the car where litter has been thrown from and report it to any relevant authority that will be dealing with this mess. I for one am ready to volunteer and I believe many others are too.

Prior to the introduction of this suggestion to members of the public, a sensitisation and public awareness campaign should be implemented together with provision of litterbins every 200m in the city centre and at all the bus stations. I have a strong feeling that this will be a welcome move by the majority of the Zambian people.

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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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LETTERS - Leadership; Land; Mininum Wage; Nurses; City Planning

Selfish leaders
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

Fellow country men and women, we may have all along been docile but it is now time to stand up and fight this selfishness. How on earth can a poor country afford to spend billions to build castles for its past presidents, when thousands and thousands of our people are homeless? Money to build castles is suddenly there when the President has always been claiming the government has no money. What greed!

Surprising enough, no civic leader, no church leader, no opposition leader, not even the vibrant UNZASU has seen anything wrong. Zambia has never had leaders but only rulers. If we had, the country would not be sacrificed the way it is being sacrificed.

I love the state of Israel, they don’t just give prime ministership on silver platas, unless you have sacrificed for the country. Country men and women, even docility has a limit, time to oppose this greed is now. If we don’t, posterity will not forgive us.

Minimum wage
By L.M.K Esq, Lusaka
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

I truly support Aeneas Chuma’s comments on the minimum wage and the food basket.

There is true mathematics in this: According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO) food basket as at February 2007 stood at K713,507 for a familiy of six per month. Other needs = K1,160,448 per month. Now, K713,507= Food per month for six people. Basic needs = K446,941 per month for six people.

Therefore, if the minimum wage as it is now is K268,000 what labour laws do they talk about?
What can someone buy from this change? It’s true they should review these labour laws they think they have successfully imposed because as at now no one is benefiting.

If we had people like Chuma who would stand and speak for the people who sees the true suffering of Zambian and K268,000 as babaric minimum wage, we would have been liberated. This to me must be a debate for all Zambains to freely participate in on both national radio and television. When is a Zambian going to enjoy true independence and freedom? Thanks to Aeneas Chuma.

Nurses' conduct
By Concerned citizen
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

I want to say something about rude nurses. These professinals are basically there to give medical care to the sick. But what happened to my family in Monze on 31st December 2006 was so sad.

On this day, we lost our mother around midnight but instead of showing sympathy and respect, this particular young nurse displayed only rudeness and roughness as we mourned and waited for someone to certify our mother dead. We had to wait until 05:30 hours when a clinical officer (who apparently had been sleeping in one of the offices) came and attended to us.

Honestly, did it have to take so long to certify someone dead? Where is the professionalism?
Why did we have to suffer arrogance by this nurse who seemed to have been forced to join this profession? Do they ever teach them in training school anything about courtesy?

Shame on all these peaple who are messing up the profession of nursing!

City planning
By Duke
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

I read the story of ugly buildings in Lusaka and other places in our country with a feeling of anger, all because of luck of capable leadership in the council. These buildings have been allowed to come up because the council has failed to monitor their constructions or there is no building engineer at the council. This raises questions as whether our architects or the so-called construction association do see these buildings come up and can’t do anything.

This situation is not in Lusaka alone but also in many parts of our country. In Kitwe the council is allowing ugly buildings to come up. They have allowed the so-called investors to mess up the former Provident House with makeshift shops. They have failed to find someone to develop the area where Astra Cinema used to be. That place needs a design that will add beauty to the city. For instance, the council can come up with a design of how they want that place developed and whoever buys that place must build according to that design, period!

The other problem that is there is the issue of political cadres who take it upon themselves to be ministry of lands. How dare they go round giving out plots as if they have the authority to do so! And the leaders have allowed it because they have done nothing to stop the rot. Look at Mulenga compound in Kitwe, from nowhere plots were given and everyone is building despite the presidential order to stop. That place is a disaster in waiting because of the way the whole thing has come up, including the materials being used in constructing the same houses.

Can we have a leadership that can give direction to this rot and not look for votes but rather put an end to this already out-of-control situation?

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PAZA condemns killing of Russian journalist

PAZA condemns killing of Russian journalist
By Patson Chilemba
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

PRESS Association of Zambia (PAZA) vice-president Amos Chanda has condemned the mysterious death of a Russian journalist Ivan Safronov who died last week. Commenting on the death of Safronov who reported on military affairs and mysteriously plunged to his death from the fifth floor of his apartment building last week, Chanda said Russia was a major global power that should paint a positive image regarding the promotion and protection of media freedoms.

"Russia is a global power playing a major role in the global balance of power and therefore they have a huge responsibility on the protection and promotion of media freedoms," he said.

Chanda said it sent a chilling effect to the rest of the world whenever a journalist was murdered or media freedoms were contravened, especially in powerful countries like Russia.

"It can give an example to other countries that that's how things should be," he said.
Chanda said serious investigations should be launched and bring to book the culprits in Safronov's death.

Last week, Safronov, a respected Russian journalist, died mysteriously - making him the 14th journalist to die under questionable circumstances in Putin's Russia - according to statistics compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

More than 1,000 journalists and their support staff have died in the past decade, with Iraq and Russia topping the list as the deadliest countries for the profession, according to an Associated Press report released on Tuesday.

The report came as detectives investigated the suspicious death of Safronov, a military correspondent for Russia's top business daily - Kommersant - who died last Friday after falling out of a window in the stairway of his Moscow apartment building. Colleagues suspect foul play.

Russia was singled out in the report as a country with a growing list of slain journalists, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot and killed outside her apartment last October while investigating abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya.

The October 2006 report by a France-based non-governmental organisation, Reporters Without Borders, ranked Russia as 147th on a list of 168 countries in terms of protecting journalists and media expression.

End violence, intimidation against journalists
By Editor
Friday March 09, 2007 [02:00]

Last Friday, another Russian journalist met his death in what has generally been described as mysterious circumstances.

Ivan Safronov, a 51-year-old defence correspondent for the newspaper Kommersant, was found dead on Friday. He apparently fell from a fifth-floor window and his body was found outside his flat.

Safronov was a former colonel in the Russian Space Forces, who wrote about military and space issues for Kommersant. Most recently, he had written about changes in the defence leadership and problems in military training that had led to the deaths of young soldiers. He also wrote about defence technology and military testing failures that often went unacknowledged and unreported by the army.

Last December, and to the dismay of Russian authorities, Safronov wrote about the third consecutive launch failure of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile. It has been reported in the media that since he started working for Kommersant in 1997, Safronov had been questioned a number of times by the Federal Security Services (FSB) on suspicion of publishing state secrets but was never charged.

But what is more depressing is that the death of Safronov comes a few months after the death of another journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who lost her life in what appeared to have been a contract murder. The killing of Anna at her Moscow home on 7 October, 2006 sparked international protests from governments, the European Union and other non-governmental organisations.

Before her death, the courageous and world-renowned journalist had worked for the paper Novaya Gazeta, and for many years had campaigned against the war in Chechnya and corruption and shrinking freedoms throughout the Russian Federation.

It is becoming very clear that something needs to be done to protect the lives of journalists operating in Russia. We are saying this because the number of journalists who are dying mysteriously is not going down; it is on the rise. In 2006 alone, three journalists were murdered in Russia, bringing to 21 the number killed doing their job since President Vladimir Putin came to power in March 2000.

As journalists, we are obviously concerned with what appears to be a spread of social violence and failure to punish the killers of journalists in Russia. We are concerned because it would appear that Russia is not providing a safe environment for its journalists. The unabated mysterious deaths of journalists in Russia has an effect of intimidating or scaring the otherwise brave journalists to do their work without fear. And since the death of Anna last October, we have not heard much in terms of what has happened to her assassins.

The intimidation of journalists in particular and the media in general should be condemned because it goes against the basic tenets of freedom and democracy. In countries which profess to be democracies, we expect that respect for fundamental human rights - such as press freedom - is highly exemplary.

And it is not only Russia where journalists face intimidation in their work, including the threat of death. There are several other countries which need to do more in terms of providing adequate freedoms for journalists and the media.

Within our country at the moment, we are beginning to witness the emergence of counterproductive elements in as far as the protection of journalists and rights such as press freedom is concerned. Only the other week, we heard and saw for ourselves how some members of parliament are willing to sacrifice the fundamental rights contained in Article 20 of the Constitution just for their own selfish and narrow ends.

It was depressing to see some members of parliament agitating for statutory media ethics legislation, a move which goes directly against the very principles upon which press freedom and other rights such as freedom of expression have been provided for in our Constitution.

Instead of making progress on the much stalled legislation such as the freedom of information Bill which stands withdrawn from Parliament, some members of parliament now want to be part of those who do not want journalists to enjoy press freedom.

We are not saying that as journalists we are immune from mistakes and we bear no responsibilities for what we do. Like everybody else, we do occasionally err in our work. Where it so happens that we have made mistakes, we have acted on our responsibility in various ways. And we can prove this.

We are therefore very surprised that there now seems to be a campaign to legislate against the media, to start making laws which will nullify the same freedoms that make the work of the media and journalists less difficult. Instead of enacting laws that actually make the work of journalists easier and providing a less hostile environment for the media, there are manoeuvres to stifle our work, to gag us. This is the challenge that we face as journalists operating in societies which do not fully appreciate our role.

But it should be realised that the media and journalists still have a great role to play in terms of oversight on the government and those who run it. Instead of intimidating the media either through repressive legislation or harming individual lives of those working within the media, it is important to find ways and means of providing a safer environment for them.

We therefore call on all governments of the world, to ensure that there is not only an end to violence against journalists, but also that there should be respect for press freedom and ways should be found to protect, and not to destroy, such freedoms.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Levy complains about those pulling him down

Levy complains about those pulling him down
By Bivan Saluseki and Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has complained about some people trying to pull him and his government down. And Southern Province MMD chairperson Daniel Munkombwe yesterday said professional liars must be ‘amputated’ from the party. Speaking at Livingstone International Airport en route to the Zambezi Sun, President Mwanawasa wondered why Zambians could not emulate American politics.

"Why can't we borrow from our friends in the US? When elections are over, they all rally behind the elected government. They will even protect it," he said. "Here we always want to pull him down (PHD). Why the primary occupation until the next election? This is not the time to campaign."

President Mwanawasa said even when the government had created investments, other people were pulling government down. He said the same people damaged the economy which his government was trying to repair. President Mwanawasa said the government was cleaning up the same damages left by others who were pulling him down.

He said the clean-up would take time. "They shouldn't be behaving as if we are the cause of the problem. They caused the problems. Sometimes we are criticised for acts of God," he said. President Mwanawasa said the same people were criticising him for acts of God such as floods, which were also damaging roads. He said government could not repair roads overnight. President Mwanawasa said government had earlier announced the sourcing of a US $39 million loan for road making equipment and even before the equipment arrived, people were already criticising him. He said he shuddered to think what would have happened to the country if some of the opposition political parties won the elections. "It wouldn't have been chaos, it would have been pandemonium," he said.

President Mwanawasa said despite the criticisms, he was glad to be President of both Zambia and MMD. He said he was glad that he belonged to MMD, which would be in government for some time. President Mwanawasa said he wanted the party to be well organised in Southern Province and to do that, it needed resources. He said he was aware that there had been complaints from district and constituencies that people were not receiving allowances. He said since January, the party had not sent money to the provincial executive committees to give to lower organs.

President Mwanawasa said Copperbelt and Southern provinces had been culprits in terms of not releasing money to lower organs. He said he was still watching other provinces and though he had received bad reports, he had not yet confirmed them. "When I confirm, they will also join the leagues," he said. President Mwanawasa said supporters and friends who were pleased with the way MMD was running government were donating the money MMD was giving out to its organs.

President Mwanawasa said people were spending too much time politicking and pulling him down instead of focusing on development. President Mwanawasa further said MMD had the right to govern the country by virtue of their having been voted into power. He said people should change their culture of talking politics all the time. "We very rarely talk of development. I want the culture to go. I want to stop for a while talking of politics," he said.

And Munkombwe said although there were problems in Livingstone, the mood in the area was rising because members wanted to be united. Munkombwe said the province would not elect people who were terrorising others in MMD. He said MMD wanted to elect clean people and not rumour-mongers and liars. "Some people are professional liars, we must amputate those liars," said Munkombwe. Munkombwe, a veteran politician, made a protocol blunder by proceeding to call upon President Mwanawasa to address the cadres but President Mwanawasa indicated to him that he was supposed to be introduced by provincial minister Joseph Mulyata.

And Mulyata said government had done a lot for the province and called on people in the province to trust the MMD government. After addressing cadres, President Mwanawasa had slightly a longer discussion besides his presidential vehicle with MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga. After the discussion, Mabenga, who had accompanied President Mwanawasa on the presidential jet, remained at the airport and had a meeting with Munkombwe.
The contents of their discussions are not known.



Fighting for the dignity of our women

Women condemn gender violence
By Inonge Noyoo
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

IT is very difficult for a Zambian woman who has been abused or discriminated against to find relief, Women for Change field animator Esnart Banda has observed. And women's rights activist Sara Longwe has said there is need to have a human rights approach to deal with issues of gender based violence. Discussing this year's theme of the International Women's Day which falls today, on Radio Phoenix on Tuesday, Banda said although women were still disadvantaged on the basis of their sex, there was no solution and relief to most of their abuse cases due to inadequate laws.

Banda said the existing laws needed to be amended. "We have been running with the same laws for a very long time. Things have changed and so have people and societies. We keep on hanging to laws that were left by our colonial masters, as a result it's very difficult for a woman to find relief because the Penal Code can't provide for such," she said. Banda said women were also still disadvantaged when it came to land ownership. "The woman is basically not supposed to own land and may not be able to inherit even after a male relative dies because one can only own land if it's connected to a male relation and if this male relation does not exist then you may never own land," she said.

And Longwe said there was need to remind society that gender violence was an evil. "In a way we have legislation because we have the bill of rights to specifically deal with gender violence. But what we currently have is only the Penal Code which deals with any form of violence or injustice against other people but it does not quite spell out the violence based on one's sex," she said.

Longwe said the lack of a legislation to deal with gender-based violence was partly due to law enforcers who do not believe in basic rights for everybody. "Part of the reason is that we have enforcers of law who are believers of patriarchy, male dominated belief which makes people think that women are inferior and can be treated like any piece of horrible junk they do not like any time. Sometimes worse than the dog kind of thing," she said. Longwe said the legislation would be of great use especially that gender-based violence was on the increase. "Gender-based violence is so prevalent. It is getting more and more of a daily occurrence and so we need another law," she said.

Longwe said there was need for a constitution that would address gender-based violence. "What we need is a new Constitution although we have some protection in the constitution at the same time these clauses take away from us especially the article that deals with prohibition of discrimination because at the same time that same article has a sub clause which dilutes using sex and gender as a way of discrimination," she said. Longwe said the current provisions in the Constitution allow for some gender based violence practices to prevail. "As women we are very disappointed that the current and the previous MMD government has not facilitated for a new constitution. The Constitution is taking too long on. In the mean time people are dying, girls and women are being maimed, eyes sometimes completely destroyed and if they survive they don't have a good quality life," she said. "But it looks like that won't happen especially with the President's statement that the money has been diverted to floods. They will find excuses and we may again go to the next polls without a new Constitution that protects women and girls."

She said the government needed to realise that by not giving enough money to the constitution making process, it was the women who were most affected. She said gender based violence was in some cases perpetuated by culture and religion. Longwe said the majority of women were not aware of their rights and do not have knowledge of any piece of legislation. "This is because of the way these laws are made which isolates them from the people who suffer. There is an expert group that knows how to draft such laws and there is the expert group that is supposed to enforce them," she explained.

And WILDAF board chairperson and WILSA national coordinator Joyce Macmillan expressed displeasure at the increase in gender-based violence. Macmillan hoped that the new Constitution would be adopted as soon as possible as a way of reducing cases of gender based violence.

Fighting for the dignity of our women
By Editor
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. This is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. On this day, women on all continents come together to celebrate as they look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development. This day is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. It is therefore encouraging and pleasing to note that the Zambian government has, with effect from this year, declared March 8 as a national holiday to observe the International Women’s Day. Of course, this action signifies the importance that our government seems to now attach to this day in general and women issues in particular.

This year’s international theme is “Ending impunity for violence against women” and our local theme is “Zero tolerance to violence against women in Zambia”. This theme is very appropriate for this year in the sense that the numbers of women who are physically and even verbally abused by men have been skyrocketing lately. In Zambia, cases of domestic violence against our women are ever on the increase, including in high places. Our government has been called upon several times to address the high incidences of this violence against women by way of providing stiffer punishment against people that perpetuate violence and other forms of abuse against women but nothing so far seems to be in place. Violence against women, or the battering of women by men, has serious consequences on them and their self-esteem in that they are not only physically but also emotionally abused.

The extremely low levels of self-esteem among abused women make them conclude that they are not worth much and probably deserve the violence against them. It is this low esteem that sustains the cycle of violence because women tend to accept that they deserve the beatings and once they are beaten they are supposed to remain quiet about it. But it should be pointed out that men who physically abuse women are animals whose place should be in the bush. And since it might not be practical to take such men into the bush, the only way to curb this animal behaviour is for the government to provide stiffer punishment for such offenders so that they can stay in prison longer than what the current laws provide for. In this connection, it is heart-warming to note that our Zambian women have under a very hostile environment put up a relentless fight for their rights and those of the communities they live in . However, it is sad to note that despite all these efforts, no positive reaction is forthcoming from our government. While the idea of adopting specific legislation on domestic violence or violence against women in general has been discussed informally by the government over the past few years, there appears to be no positive movement on this issue. Again, we would like to call upon the government to urgently discuss, draft and adopt specific legislation for the prevention, prohibition and punishment of people perpetrating the violence against women. As we have said before, this legislation should be drafted in the manner that covers both physical and psychological violence.

Today should be used by women, and men alike, to reflect on how positive change can be effected using the theme. So much talk has been done in the past and today can be a turning point in coming up with a lasting solution to this problem of violence against our women. Let the government commit itself that it will come up with appropriate legislation to deal with the problem of violence against women. It is said that words are good but action is better. There has been just too much rhetoric on this issue. It’s time we saw positive action. But as we zero in on the theme for this year, we should also look at the women’s struggle for equality, justice, peace and development in full. International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history. This day is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. And today, the world has accepted that gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation.

Our Zambian women have also been involved in this struggle for equality, justice, peace and development in the recent years. But these issues are not new on the scene. Today, all over the world, our women are commemorating this day with the same demands, same concerns, same fears and the same challenges as they did last year and many years before. In fact, new challenges have continued to emerge in addition to the many problems our women faced last year and the years before. In Zambia, there has been a very active talk on the topic of women’s participation in decision-making positions. This talk, even at higher levels, has not translated into the desired numbers - the 30 per cent of women in all key decision-making positions whether at political or other levels. People talk big but achieve small. The talk is more than 75 per cent but the achievement rate is below 15 per cent. And it is clear from experience that our women are still marginalised even in cases where they prove to be better performers than men. But sometimes women themselves perpetuate this marginalisation.

Women should be treated as equal partners in national development, otherwise real development will remain a political pipedream. We have seen many women who have made a big difference in politics, a big difference in society and a big difference in economic and other sectors. Even at family level, women or mothers have played pivotal roles in almost all the successful families. We call upon the girl-child, who is the woman of tomorrow, to stand up and be counted in whatever she is doing. It is not a curse to be a girl or a woman and, therefore, all the bad and weaker things should not be associated with being a woman or a girl.

Women have the right to live in dignity, in freedom from want and freedom from fear. And as we commemorate the International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to making this a reality. Let us fight the system that reduces the dignity of our women, the system that exploits and dehumanises them. We should today meditate deeply over the challenges our women are facing as we commemorate International Women’s Day. Let us make today a milestone in the movement for gender equality and the advancement of women in our country.

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Magande's democracy
By Chishimba Chilekwa
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

I could not agree more with your editorial in The Post of Tuesday 6th March, 2007. I wish to add that the Republican Constitution is a political as well as social concern. Politics are an indispensable attribute of democracy and democratic governance. For as long as we do not have the new constitution and long after we have one, it will still be political. The MMD government would do well to recognise this.

For clarity's sake, political herein should be understood to mean "connected with the state, government or public affairs. To suggest that the current floods 'should' affect our new constitution shows how inept the planning of the current government is. Surely, the annual budget has a component for disaster management.

I also want to comment on Magande's reported questioning of the meeting between Sata and Rabobank. Although the current constitution protects the rights of , inter alia, assembly, speech and conscience, the minister thinks we need his permission to speak. And when we do speak, the minister would like us to speak about the youth.

Our speaking on issues of public interest should now be phased. How ridiculous. I wonder what item on the agenda poverty is. The minister clearly does not understand democracy and our constitution.

Mining development agreements
By Mwiya Nawa, Lusaka
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

The arguments advanced by Fredrick Bantubonse of the Chamber of Mines as reported in the Business Post of March 6 are shocking. They are nothing but a justification on how mining companies should continue reaping much while giving the government peanuts in revenue.

His arguments that renegotiating the development agreements will erode investor confidence are not true. Investors in the mining sector are today reaping billions of dollars and if they decided to pull out, it would certainly be on account of other factors and not the renegotiation of the agreements. Renegotiating business deals is a common practice the worldover and there is nothing peculiar about the Zambian case.

In any case, going by the current mineral prices, even if mining firms paid three per cent in mineral royalties, they would still be making huge profits. I agree with him that mining is a long-term investment but it is only true that the incentives that the mining companies have enjoyed from the time they bought the mines have been enough for them to buy machinery and do other reinvestment ventures.

Indeed, as Bantubonse said, Zambia did not enter into the agreements blindly. The agreements were dictated by the conditions at the time which Bantubonse as a mining expert fully acknowledges. But maintaining conditions that were agreed upon when copper prices were low would itself amount to blind reasoning. The government is, therefore, right to ask for more revenue from the mines because the circumstances have since changed.

If the mining companies want to use the threat of pulling out, it won’t work. If they want they can go and gamble and see how they will be quickly replaced by other international mining houses that will find the conditions in Zambia favourable.

Political antagonism
By Concerned citizen
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

I will always salute you The Post team for your good job.
It is unfortunate that the opposition parties and the ruling have always quarelled instead of directing their efforts on developing our nation.

My understanding of the role of the opposition is not to oppose the government of the day but to provide checks and balances and the ruling party must be willing and ready to work with the opposition to foster economic development. It is disheartening to always read how the opposition insults the President.

What is even more retrogressive is the battle in the running of the local councils. Please you people know that when the elephants fight, it is the grass which suffers. My sincere appeal to you the ruling party is that you should just provide the needed funds to run the councils as if they were run by you and opposition do not offer unnecessary opposition, ask yourselves if what you are doing is in the best interest of the nation.

Zambia’s development is concomitant to cooparation but not derogatory and inflamable statements.

Youths' plight
By Hilary Mulenga Jr. Ndola
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

Finance minister’s failure to comment about Rabobank’s meeting with Sata because we should be “talking about youths” makes an interesting reading.

In the first place, I am among the several youths who have been hurt about the manner in which Zanaco has been sold. The secrecy behind the government’s dealings with Rabobank is surely a matter of concern for all. I also understand that Zanaco was born out of the need to help ordinary Zambians and not some foreign investors.

Looking at the plight of the youth in Zambia today, one would expect our leaders to make concerted efforts in protecting this younger generation. Honorable Magande is in a better position to understand that the decisions his government makes, whether right or wrong, have a bearing on the future of this country.

The noise that has been created on the sale of Zanaco is a clear indication that not all is well and more especially for us, the younger generation who will have to bear the brunt of the mistakes of the current administration.

It is in this line that I feel it is a mockery for Honorable Magande to pretend to “talk about the youths” at the expense of not explaining to the nation the very things that are relevant to our future. I even wonder what kind of ‘talk’ the minister is talking about if it is not about addressing issues of unemployment, poverty and destitution that the youth have found themselves in.

Gone are the days when people fell for lip service. What we need now are leaders who are realistic enough more especially in securing a better future for the younger generation. My advice to Magande is that he should serve his breath if he is not ready to address issues of concern such as the sale of Zanaco. Otherwise, his words will be irrelevant to the youth.

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Shakafuswa annoys MPs

Shakafuswa annoys MPs
By Nomusa Michelo
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

FINANCE deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa on Tuesday annoyed members of parliament when he said they should debate from a position of knowledge instead of barking. Contributing to policy debate on the allocation for the office of the Auditor General, after Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda, Shakafuswa said people should debate from a position of knowledge and not just bark.

At that point deputy chairman for committees of the whole House Mkhondo Lungu asked Shakafuswa to withdraw the word barking, amidst demands by members of parliament for him to apologise. Shakafuswa said he withdrew the word simply because there was a difference of understanding. And Shakafuswa said the officers who touched public funds would be retired from the public service. He said government would give support to the office of the Auditor General and would ensure that all financial reporting in all ministries was up to date.

Lungu had a tough time to control members of parliament during the debate as they kept making noise and raising points of order. Giving guidance earlier to the members of parliament on how to proceed with debate, Lungu last week said during policy debates, it was observed that members of parliament were drifting into general debate, which tended to go outside the specific heads of expenditure being debated. "Honourable members as you are all aware the committee of supply is now debating the votes of specific ministries, departments or institutions and is dealing with individual items of those ministries, departments or institutions," he said. "In many cases this led to repetition of what was already said during the general debate on the budget motion."

Lungu advised the members to stick to the specified minister, department or institutions. "I appeal to the honourable members to be more focused in their debates and avoid repeating what they said during the general debate on the budget motion," he said. Lungu also advised the members of parliament to be calm in their debate and avoid raising emotions, which tended to slow down the pace of passing the budget. "The debates should be dignified and should avoid confrontation which degenerates the House and compromises its honour and dignity, thereby inciting unjustified negative comments from the press and the public," said Lungu.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Trade vital for sustainable economic growth - expert

Trade vital for sustainable economic growth - expert
By Fridah Zinyama
Wednesday March 07, 2007 [02:00]

A TRADE expert has observed that Zambia has no hope of attaining sustainable economic growth without a substantial increase in its productive and trade capacity. In a presentation during a meeting organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Doha, Quatar, Dennis Chiwele of Zambia’s DNC Consultants said the private sector should actively be involved in the country’s development strategy and efforts to reduce poverty. “This means that sector-specific strategies should adopt trade as a crosscutting issue and incorporate the need to promote and facilitate trade,” he said.

Chiwele said the use of the value chain approach by the private sector and government in identifying constraints that exporters experience and using the results was good, as it would stimulate the growth of agricultural trade. “There is need for support to both private and government institutions which promote trade and put measures that ensure exporters deal with both the supply and market penetration,” he said.

Chiwele added that there was also need for government to reduce the cost of doing business, as it would improve the business climate in the country. “Raising the country’s competitiveness in foreign markets can be done by reducing the cost of doing business in Zambia which has been the main complaint of producers in the country,” Chiwele said. He said urgent measures needed to be put in place to remove inefficiencies in key infrastructure sectors such as transportation and telecommunication. “On transportation, the current strategy of continuous rehabilitation of key roads is paying dividends and should be sustained and the concessioning of Zambia Railways is likely to raise efficiency of this railway system,” he said.

Chiwele emphasised the need for Zambia to become the hub for regional air transport but that this could only be accomplished with more investment into the sector. “The liberalisation of the telecommunication system in the country will also go a long way in bringing efficiency, gains and reducing tariffs,” Chiwele said. He also stressed the need for further deepening of financial markets, with a view to bringing down interest rates to make the cost of borrowing more affordable especially for small and medium enterprises and help to reduce exchange rate volatility.

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ACC, DEC question Kapiji

ACC, DEC question Kapiji
By Nomusa Michelo
Wednesday March 07, 2007 [02:00]

. . .over 25,000 hectares of land applied for by Amanita in Mpika

FORMER science and technology minister Judith Kapijimpanga was on Sunday evening questioned by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) over the 25,000 hectares of land applied for by Amanita Oil Products in Mpika. Kapijimpanga, who before serving as science and technology minister was lands minister, confirmed in an interview yesterday that she had been called in to explain her involvement in the land allocation. "They wanted to find out more on the Mpika land. I was not involved in the allocation of that land," Kapijimpanga said. "My only involvement in that 25,000 hectares was just to organise a meeting with the district commissioner of Mpika who in turn organised a meeting with all the stakeholders with the investor. I even asked my Commissioner of Lands and a senior surveyor since the Surveyor General was not available at the time to attend that meeting," Kapijimpanga said.

"I thought it was desirable for the ministry to be present. I didn't see the minutes to the meeting. “Shortly before I was moved from the ministry (of lands), I was invited to attend a meeting where the chiefs and the investor were present, and at that meeting there was no land allocated to the investor. That was what the end of my involvement because I was moved to the Ministry of Science and Technology on 3rd August, 2005.” And Kapijimpanga said she had no political interest in seeing the proposed Palm Oil and Jatropha Plantation project by Amanita Group take off in Mpika where she is former member of parliament for Kanchibiya constituency. She also denied being involved in the named Muma Plantation, the name her daughter bears. “Muma is a very common Bisa name in the royal family. My mother’s name is Muma and I named my daughter after my mother. Senior chief Kopa’s name is Alphonso Muma Banda, so maybe that is where the name Muma came from” she said. “It was not named after my daughter.”

Kapijimpanga said as far as she knew, no land had been allocated to Amanita for the project.
Kapijimpanga was called to the Ministry of Lands around 16:00 hours and only left the building around 21:30 hours. “I was there from 16:00 but I was only interviewed around 20:00, so it didn’t take long. I was just waiting for a long time.” According to a letter dated March 7, 2006 by suspended Commissioner of Lands Frightone Sichone to Amanita Premium Products Limited, the company was informed of the approved 10,000 hectares allocation. “We wish to advise that following the meeting on 6th March 2006, at the Ministry of Lands with the honourable Minister of Lands, the permanent secretary and the Commissioner of Lands, his Royal Highness Senior Chief Kopa and Chief Luchembe, Mpika district council chairman and the district secretary, it was decided that your application be considered successfully and you will be granted 5,000 hectares of land in each chiefdom and thereby getting 10,000 hectares in total. You may therefore proceed to effect developments on the said parcel of land while the processing of certificates of title is going on,” Sichone’s letter read in part.

Yet in another letter dated March 23, 2006 to Amanita Premium Products Limited managing director, Sichone withdrew the allocation to Amanita Oil Products. The letter of withdrawal was referenced: “Withdraw of approval of allocation of land in senior chief Kopa and chief Luchembe in Mpika district to Amanita Oil Products Limited”.

The letter read in part: “Reference is hereby made to the captioned subject and to the letter addressed to you on the same dated 7th March, 2006. We wish to advise that the contents of our said letter dated 7th March 2006 in which we approved the allocation of 5,000 hectares in senior chef Kopa and 5,000 hectare in chief Luchembe in Mpika district are herby withdrawn. The decision to withdraw our approval is precipitated by your non-satisfaction of the granted 10,000 hectares of land. Our earlier approval stands void and no certificates of title would be processed in your favour regarding the said land.” The letter was copied to Nyirongo, former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands Mukuka Zimba, chief Kopa and chief Luchembe and the Mpika council secretary.

Meanwhile, on November 30, 2006, Amanita Zambia managing director Diego Casilli and Muma Plantations Director Amos Wambili wrote a letter to President Levy Mwanawasa asking for his irrevocable intervention on the matter, in order to facilitate the allocation of land. The two explained in their letter that although they had applied for 25,000 hectares of land, they were served with a letter allocating 10,000 hectares to start with and advised them to make full use of the initial allocation.

“Your Excellency, at the time we felt we had provided the necessary requirements hence complied with the procedures and were expecting a title deed, we received a letter indicating that our application was unsuccessful, however, without providing us with any grounds much to our amusement. During the course of well over one and a half years of pursuing the application of land, we were asked to submit various requirements to which we complied but alas, we are to date denied. It is not our intention to dwell on speculations but suffice to mention that the details of the denial are not understandably clear to us,” the duo’s letter read in part.
Casilli and Wambili stated that the project would create not less than 2,000 jobs and would be a turning point for economic revolution to the nation and would avoid depending on importations of raw materials as Amanita currently imported 60 per cent of its raw material requirement.

They also stated that there was misinformation that Amanita held huge tracts of land in other parts of the country. They stated that Amanita did apply for land in Nyalugwe area under Lunsemfwa Safaris Limited, which it did not get. The two also assured the government that that the Amanita group was doing its best to revive operations at Mansa Batteries and awaited government’s decision in order to concretise the memorandum of understanding signed during President Mwanawasa’s state visit to China.

But in response to the duo’s letter, President Mwanawasa on January 3, 2007, stated that while he appreciated Amanita’s efforts to promote agriculture investments and employment of the Zambian people, the 10,000 hectares of land applied for was too much for one single project. “It is my view that you undertake your project in phases and upon successful implementation of the first phase, more land can then be allocated to subsequent phases. It is policy that normally land in a traditional area can only be put on title for an initial 250 hectare lease and future extensions can be given on merit depending on how the initial 250 hectares was used,” President Mwanawasa stated. “With regards Mansa Batteries, I am pleased to note that you have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese firm to invest in this company.

Here again, it is difficult for government to extend incentives when there is no production and the company still remains closed. However, incentives are provided for under the law. Others can be negotiated normally when the company is fully operational and in production. I wish you well in your endeavours.”

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By Editor
Wednesday March 07, 2007 [02:00]

On the occasion of their 50th independence anniversary, which fell yesterday, we greet the people of Ghana and we express our hope that they shall continue celebrating their freedom for many more years to come. Yesterday was an important point in the history of Ghana as it was the day which marks half a century since Ghana became the first black African country south of the Sahara to gain independence from colonial rule.

March 6, 1957 remains very historic to the liberation of the peoples of Africa. With Ghana’s independence on March 6, 1957, a pattern was set for the continent to tread on a path to political freedom. Within a decade from the day of Ghana’s independence, most African countries had freed themselves from the colonial yoke.

This day also helps us to recall and acknowledge the role that was played by Ghana’s founding father, Kwame Osagyefo Nkrumah, not only in the struggle for the political freedom of his country, but for the rest of the African continent.

There is no ambiguity about the fact that Nkrumah emerged as one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the 20th century who dedicated a lot of his time and efforts against the evils of colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism.

We do realise that as a leader of his new government, Nkrumah did indeed encounter a number of challenges. It is true that under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana took enormous steps forward. For instance, as a way of lifting the nation out of poverty, Nkrumah created a welfare system for the people of Ghana, apart from initiating various community programmes, as well as establishing schools.

To further commerce and communication in Ghana, Nkrumah worked hard to ensure the construction of roads and bridges. And in the interest of the nation’s health, he had tap water systems installed in the villages and ordered the construction of concrete drains for latrines.

Also very important to note was Nkrumah’s strong commitment to the promotion of Pan-Africanism. Political history shows us that Nkrumah was one of the architects of the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner to the present African Union. His vision was to see that not only were African countries united, but that the continent, having won the struggle for political freedom, also led the struggle towards economic emancipation.

It was unfortunate that the strong influence and machinations of imperialism brought down his government in February 1966. Nkrumah had no option but to leave for exile in Guinea-Conakry where he was made honorary co-president by his host Sekou Toure. He died in April 1972 from skin cancer.

Owing largely to his legacy, especially his commitment to the liberation and development of the African continent, Nkrumah remains one of the most respected leaders in the history of Africa.

But as we celebrate with the people of Ghana their many years of political independence, the sad reality is that the African continent in general is still faced with the same challenges that Nkrumah sought to deal with from the outset.

Today, we are aware that even though nearly all African countries can make a claim for political independence, the same cannot be said in so far as economic freedom is concerned. Yet we need not be reminded that political sovereignty and economic independence go hand-in -hand.

If a country does not have its own economy, if it is penetrated by foreign capital, then it cannot be free from the tutelage of the country it depends on. This is the case for most of our African countries. Today, there may be no colonial master directly superintending the political affairs of our countries, but there are plenty of masters who determine how our economies should operate.

And this is why Africa’s forefathers such as Nkrumah lay emphasis on the fact that the continent’s pillars of political sovereignty, which were put in place with the independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957, would only be totally consolidated when economic independence was achieved.

As we look back and take stock of Africa’s affairs since the independence movement was launched with the independence of Ghana, let us learn to seriously start counting that which is of great value to our countries’ total independence.

Let us remember that our African countries will only be truly independent when they develop their own means, when all their natural resources start making value for their own people and not for foreign capital.

African countries will only celebrate true independence when their economies are no longer dominated by foreign multinational capital, which has long been diagnosed and associated with the terrible disease of excessive capital flight.

African countries will only claim true freedom from the subjugation of other nations or forces of the world when their economic policies are no longer written or drawn by trainee students of Western economics, students who are completely detached from the realities of the continent of Africa, but hired by the pre-eminent faces of imperialism - the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Africa will only claim true freedom when, through balanced and equal-terms trade negotiations with the rest of the world, it will make sure that no unilateral action or decision by any foreign power can prevent it from expanding its geographical boundaries - like the powerful nations have done - on the world trading map.

In other words, with the same zeal that the African people fought and won the fight for political freedom, so should they apply their enthusiasm in fighting for Africa’s total economic independence.

Otherwise, we once again salute our Ghanaian brothers and sisters for having set the trend for the political freedom of their brothers and sisters elsewhere on the African continent.



High Court awards Post editor K40m for defamation

High Court awards Post editor K40m for defamation
By Noel Sichalwe
Wednesday March 07, 2007 [02:05]

LUSAKA High Court judge Anthony Nyangulu yesterday awarded Post editor-in-chief Fred M'membe K40 million damages for defamation. Judge Nyangulu ordered Weekly Angel Newspaper and Federal Democratic Party president Alfred Sayila to pay M'membe K20 million as general damages and another K20 million as exemplary or aggravated damages. This was a matter in which M’membe had sued the Weekly Angel Newspaper and Sayila for defamation.

The alleged defamatory article was published in the December 13 - 19, 2004 of the Weekly Angel and later repeated in the July 4 - 11, 2005 edition. Part of the defamatory statement read: “We have been told of an editor of some independent newspaper who has received huge bribes from a former leading political figure in this country in order to make good mention of him so as to regain his former political glory. The newspaper has actually made itself into a public relations arm of the old political leader who is ably using it as a propaganda tool.”

Delivering the judgment, judge Nyangulu said the defendants failed to put up a strong defence apart from stating that the article was not referring to M’membe. “...the defendants offered no apology and told obvious lies on oath. He showed contumelious disregard for the plaintiff’s right. Collectively the defendants’ conduct was certainly wilful and reckless,” said judge Nyangulu.

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Katumbi is my nephew, like it or not - Kazembe

Katumbi is my nephew, like it or not - Kazembe
By George Chellah
Wednesday March 07, 2007 [02:00]

MOSES Katumbi is my nephew whether people like it or not, Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people of Luapula province has said. In an interview on Monday, Mwata Kazembe, who was reluctant to discuss the matter, said Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi was his blood relation and nobody could change that fact.

"You know I usually don't like giving my thoughts on cases of corruption because most of those people involved are my relatives. People like Chiluba, he is my son from here. So if I talk about that some people might think I am biased that's why I don't like talking about it," Mwata Kazembe said. "But for Katumbi, Katumbi is my nephew and nobody can change that whether people like it or not, Katumbi is my blood relation. He is my nephew." When asked whether he has attempted to advise his nephew to come back and answer the corruption charges he is currently facing in Zambia, Mwata Kazembe responded: "Katumbi has been willing to come back to Zambia on condition that he should be put under house arrest and not to take him in jail... to Chimbokaila," Mwata Kazembe said. "So if the powers that be can meet those conditions, Katumbi is willing and can return to Zambia even tomorrow."

Last week in parliament, Vice-President Rupiah Banda said authorities would question Katumbi if he visits Zambia. And on complaints by losing MMD Mwansabombwe parliamentary candidate Maybin Mubanga that he (was intimidating witnesses in the Mwansabombwe petition, Mwata Kazembe denied the allegations. "I don't know what is wrong with Mubanga. I can't intimidate his witnesses and I will never do that. I understand how bitter Mubanga is for having lost an election but I will never intimidate his witnesses. I understand the law better than Mubanga himself,” Mwata Kazembe said. "In fact, I am even on record of encouraging him to go to court so that we can settle this matter once and for all. People should learn to accept defeat honourably. These people... the MPs are just passing birds, they come and go that's why our current MP is Chitonge for now. Mubanga can come and contest in 2011 if he wants." He advised Mubanga to use his money properly and not on costly activities like he was doing. He also advised him to be respectful. "Even the person he is saying that I was intimidating, Mubanga doesn't live with us here so who told him that? Let him give you the number of that same person I intimidated so that you can get exactly what happened from the person herself," Mwata Kazembe said. "This person came all the way from her place to come and provoke me at the palace. I even told her that you people are embarrassing me... in fact, I was going to cane her because she just came to provoke me. "As for Mubanga, I am the Mwata and he is my subject and let him accept that."

But Mubanga said Mwata Kazembe was threatening witnesses in his petition case, where he has asked the High Court to nullify the election of Samuel Chitonge. And Mwansabombwe PF member of parliament Samuel Chitonge advised Mubanga not to draw the Mwata in his petty politics. "Mr Mubanga has petitioned so what else does he want? Let him just wait for the courts to determine the matter. He should even have respect for the Mwata because that sort of behaviour is the highest level of insolence," Chitonge said.

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