Saturday, May 05, 2007
Friday May 04, 2007 [18:00]
There is no doubt that Frederick Chiluba is truly a thief; he stole millions of dollars from the Zambian people and totally abused the office of President of the Republic of Zambia entrusted to him by his fellow countrymen and women. Chiluba tried all sorts of gymnastics to ensure that the truth over his thefts did not come out. He unsuccessfully challenged the English court’s jurisdiction over him and his tandem of thieves before the High Court and the Court of Appeal. He even tried to go as far as the House of Lords but his petition for leave to appeal was dismissed.
Here at home, in Zambia, Chiluba tried to politicise the proceedings in the English court, dismissing them as an imperialist plot against him for refusing to sell the country’s mines to a consortium they had favoured.
Chiluba tried to confuse Zambian politicians with chicken hearts and manipulated them to defend his crimes, his thefts. Political opportunists hoping to cash-in on the money he had stolen and the patronage that it could engender, were not ashamed to drink chibwantu with him in the hope that he could help increase their political fortunes.
Some to this very day still organise cadres to receive and dance for him at the airport whenever he comes from South Africa where he receives expensive medical treatment at the expense of the people he robbed.
It is clear from the judgment of the Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of England that Chiluba was a shameless thief who had no trouble taking millions of dollars from government coffers when the majority of our people were struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day. He has shown no remorse for taking more than a million dollars to Switzerland to buy his pathetic tailor-made suits and high-heeled shoes.
It is good, as the English judge has said, that every time Chiluba appears in public the people of Zambia will now know that he is wearing stolen clothes and he is walking tall on high-heeled shoes he acquired using stolen funds.
This judgment offers us an important opportunity to reflect on the way our country has been governed. It shows us the low level of accountability that has been present in our government. It also gives us an opportunity to review the way our government is run. No single person should be allowed to wield the kind of unbridled control over public resources that Chiluba seemed to enjoy and abuse. We should never rely on the discretion of one person to protect our public resources. Accountability must be clearly revisited. Our laws must be amended to address the clear flows that allowed Chiluba and his wicked friends to steal such colossal sums of money with impunity.
And let us not forget that the amounts that were the subject of proceedings in England are nothing but a tip of the iceberg. They represent a tiny fraction of what Chiliuba and his tandem of thieves stole.
There is still the ZCCM copper and cobalt scam. We also have the Chiluba connection to the Total oil importation scams.
Many Zambians may still remember Kwachamania. That was another scheme by Chiluba and his financial handlers – like Faustine Kabwe – to rob not only the Zambian people directly but also to extract unjustified concessions from the Zambian government. What about Chiluba’s presidential discretionary fund which had in-built mechanisms for abuse without being accountable?
We know that in the 1990s, the importation of fertiliser and maize was a game for vultures. The government-owned Medical Stores became a den of robbers – the importation of drugs was used to cover illicit transactions. We have not forgotten that Donald Chanda, Chiluba’s economic adviser, preferred to go to jail than to divulge what was happening at Medical Stores. And Kashiba Bulaya is in jail today because of theft involving money for medical drugs.
Today Chiluba still lives in a house – 12B Serval Road, Kabulonga in Lusaka - which even the English judge says was bought using stolen public money.
The Zambian people are very kind, are a very generous people; on top of all these abuses and thefts by Chiluba they are still thinking of building him a house worth billions of kwacha in addition to the other benefits he is enjoying from their taxes. This is certainly not right. The only time the taxpayers should be forced to look after someone who has stolen for them is when that person is put behind bars, he is in jail. It cannot be right for Chiluba to enjoy the liberties that he now enjoys using public resources, given the atrocities that he has committed.
It should not be forgotten that when Chiluba was enjoying wearing his stupid and ridiculous multi-coloured suits and shoes, many Zambians were dying from preventable diseases because they had no access to basic health care. Chiluba was plundering their money whilst denying them access to medicine. But today these same people he abused are paying heavily for his medical tourism in Johannesburg while they themselves have difficulties accessing even the cheapest malaria treatment. What type of kindness is this?
President Levy Mwanawasa must explain to the Zambian people why a thief who stole more than US$40m from the Zambian people should continue enjoying the facilities that he is now enjoying at the expense of the people he has robbed.
However, we should be proud as Zambians that such a difficult and emotive issue has been dealt with in this civilised way. Chiluba, for all the nonsense and crimes he committed against the Zambian people, has been afforded access to the proper due process of the law and treated in a very humane way. Let us not take this for granted because Chiluba himself never treated others humanely. We have not forgotten how he brutalised, humiliated and marginalised Dr Kenneth Kaunda, among others.
Chiluba denied Dr Kaunda all his dues – benefits he had worked for 27 years and yet there was no judgment that said our country’s first president had done any wrong or stolen anything from the Zambian people.
We must commend the Zambian people for their patience and respect for the rule of law. In the same regard we must give credit to Levy for the way he has handled this matter given the relationship he had with Chiluba. One does not need a lot of intelligence – if a little is all he has – to realise that this was not an easy undertaking for Levy; it was a very difficult one. It is only under extra-ordinary circumstances that a man can decide to surrender his mentor to law enforcement agencies.
We are also conscious that Levy has paid an extremely high price politically and socially for the position he has taken on Chiluba and his cohort of thieves. It would have been quite easy for Levy to u-turn and abandon this crusade. We do not forget that there has been a lot of contradictions from the government in the fight against corruption. And yet we must acknowledge that on the whole, Levy has delivered the decisive victory for the Zambian people. It doesn’t matter how active and pro-active as a free press, indeed it does not matter how pro-active and militant civil society might be, the victory that the Zambian people have scored could not have been scored without a willing government – Levy deserves a credit.
However, what this brings out is the fact that the press is just one force. And civil society on its own is just another force. The presidency in our country is a force but just one force. What our country needs is a combined force of all these forces. Let us not forget that at the beginning of all this there was one or two forces – the press and one or two politicians. And then came civil society, which helped to create a much bigger force with a much stronger voice demanding the removal of Chiluba’s presidential immunity so that he could be prosecuted. At this point a third force – the Presidency was required to join forces not only with the other forces we have already mentioned but with another force – that of parliamentarians – to remove Chiluba’s immunity and open him to prosecution. But still, Levy’s role was at the centre, it was pivotal and remained decisive. He was required to make tremendous political sacrifices and take unthinkable political risks to deliver this landmark victory for the Zambian people.
And for all our differences with Levy, and for all his shortcomings – which are many, we cannot and we will never deny him this credit. We say this because if for a moment we unfairly deny him this credit, we will not be able to defend our principles and be of value in helping our people and our country to fight the next stages of this battle, of this war against corruption and abuse of our people.
Every fair-minded Zambian should give Levy the credit he deserves. He has established a precedent that no one is above the law.
By Speedwell Mupuchi
Friday May 04, 2007 [16:45]
LONDON High Court judge Peter Smith today ordered former president Frederick Chiluba to pay about US$35 million. This was after judge Smith established that Chiluba had defrauded Zambia of a total of US$41 million through the BK Facility and the Zamtrop account in London. Judge Smith has ordered Chiluba to pay about 85 per cent of total sum (US$41 million) within 14 days upon service of the judgment. Chiluba has been ordered to pay about US $21 million money he misappropriated through the BK conspiracy case and US$20 million in the Zamtrop conspiracy case. The BK facility involved Chiluba's alleged dealings with Congolese businessman Raphael Soriano alias Katebe Katoto for the supply of arms and fighter aircrafts.
This means that Chiluba would be required to pay about US $34.9 million, which the 85 per cent. Judge Smith found that instead of preventing corruption, Chiluba actively participated in it and ensured it happened.
And judge Smith found that government money was used to provide Chiluba's personal wardrobe and that although much of it had been seized, it was plain Chiluba was still benefiting from the wardrobe when he went out in public in Zambia or when he went abroad for treatment.
The judge also said Zambians would know that whenever Chiluba appeared in public wearing a smart handmade suit or a pair of his "signature" shoes that they were acquired by stealing money from the people the vast majority of whom live at subsistence levels.
This is contained in his judgment delivered yesterday in London in a case in which the Attorney General of Zambia took out a civil suit against Chiluba and 19 others who were alleged to have siphoned about US$20 million from the state treasury.
Those co-accused with Chiluba include Cave Malik and Company, Xavier Francis Chungu (XFC), Attan Shansonga, Stella Chibanda, Aaron Chungu, Bimal Thaker, Faustin Kabwe, Francis Kaunda, Boutique Basile, Nebraska Associates Limited, MISSL Associates Limited, Hearnville Estates, Jarban SA, Raphael Soriano Katoto, Belsquare Residence, NV Roland Cracco and Robert Standaert.
In his judgment that was also beamed live in Lusaka via satellite, judge Smith said he was satisfied that Chiluba and former Zambia Security Intelligence Service director general Xavier Chungu were major conspirators and were also in breach of their fiduciary duties.
Judge Smith found that Chiluba's earnings then and before were extremely modest in terms of the sums involved in the action.
He noted that his current assets were equally modest and there was nothing to show from his background that he was in a position to accumulate large wealth.
"It is somewhat ironic that he was initially elected on an anti-corruption ticket against the first President of the Republic Dr Kenneth Kaunda. This case shows how he too rapidly succumbed to the lure of having access to large sums of money which he was unable to keep his hands off," judge Smith stated.
He said the claims against Chiluba were US$2,995,369 maximum currently for breach of fiduciary duty.
He said the figure was not appropriate and asked the Attorney General to seek the same figure as was claimed against XFC and Stella Chibanda (SC) which is US$25,754,316 plus US$600,000.
"He was uniquely positioned to prevent any corruption. Instead of preventing corruption he actively participated in it and ensured it happened. It is difficult to find an adjective that adequately describes the failure on the part of FJT," he said.
"He has defrauded the Republic. He has deprived the people over which he was exercising stewardship on their behalf of huge sums of money which was supposed to be spent for their benefit."
Judge Smith said Chiluba had diverted those monies for wide ranging benefits of the co-conspirators but had not shown restraint in the amount of money which he "plundered" from the government coffers.
"It is a shameful series of actions and he should be ashamed," he said.
He stated that Chiluba initially participated in the proceedings and served a defence.
"On 31st May 2005 he swore an affidavit of means which disclosed limited assets. His defence was an inadequate document. He only participated in the proceedings as long as it suited him to try and stop them. Once that ruse failed he 'discontinued participation'. He has therefore made a deliberate decision not to serve a witness statement or give oral evidence despite the fact that every reasonable and fair step was taken to ensure that all of his fears were allayed. He gave no genuine reason for not giving evidence," he said.
"When the trial started in London he issued a statement which broke the terms of the ring fencing order designed to protect him. He was provided with transcripts until the provision of transcripts was abused by one of the Zambian based defendants by leaking it selectively to the press."
He said that as former president in the light of the serious allegations made against him, Chiluba ought to have in conscience explained himself to the Zambian people.
He said Chiluba was in a position so to explain in the proceedings without any fear of compromising any defence in criminal proceedings and without any fear that the evidence he gave could be misused by the Attorney General.
Judge Smith said Chiluba was provided with all the documents and did not lack anything in terms of the case.
Judge Smith said he was quite satisfied that Chiluba had an active role in the setting up of the Zamtrop account and its operation.
"I am also satisfied that on occasions he actively participated in payments made to it and he received substantial personal benefits. The first personal benefit occurred as early as 29th December 1995 when $20,000 was transferred to Basile. That payment was authorised by XFC," he said.
"Significant sums were spent on benefits for his children in terms of cash, business class air tickets, expensive school fees or similar. He did not have the resources to fund this. The only slender possible justification put forward is that the Zamtrop account was fed by beneficial donors and this money was used. I reject that as being incredible."
He said he could not conceive that an innocent person would mix donation monies with government monies in a government account if it was a genuine government account.
"Second no evidence has been adduced to show any such donations. Third even if there were donations there is a procedure for declaring the donations; it is not supposed to be hidden away in a secret account which is monitored by FJT, XFC and the Auditor General. In other words FJT is simply lying," he established.
Judge Smith said that the "Picture payments" (so called with some hilarity by the Zamtrop officials who administered it by reference to a picture of FJT on the wall) whilst not clearly identified as having come from Ministry of Finance and into the Zamtrop account, nevertheless were sums that Chiluba ought to have declared and accounted for if they came from third parties.
He said these monies were however not available for Chiluba's private use unless they are fully declared and accounted for.
He said Chiluba well knew about the payments.
"On at least one occasion he discussed them with Beauty Kaluba the ZANACO Branch Manager in London. Absent any explanation for these payments (and there is none) I conclude any third party payments were made dishonestly to repay or secure favours from FJT," he said.
Judge Smith also said it was disingenuous for Chiluba in his interview statements with the Task Force and his defence to suggest that any questions over operation of the Zamtrop account be addressed to Xavier Chungu.
"First it ignores FJT's overall control of the Zamtrop account via the Financial Charter and his right to have that account audited. Second, it ignores the fact that he received significant benefits from the Zamtrop account without any justification for such entitlement," he said.
"The best example is again the Basile clothes. He has created for him a wardrobe of stupendous proportions. He knows he has not paid anything towards it. He knows therefore that somebody must have paid for it and he knows in fact that XFC has arranged the payments through the Zamtrop account," he noted.
"He knows therefore that government monies have been used to provide his own personal wardrobe. Much of it has been seized but it is plain that he is still benefiting from the wardrobe when he goes out in public in Zambia or when he goes abroad for treatment as the press photographs show."
Judge Smith stated that if Chiluba had carried out his duties of checking the audit and operation of the Zamtrop account he would have known he had received substantial benefits from it.
"He either made no enquiries because he knew full well the money was being dishonestly misappropriated (inter alia) for his own benefit. Alternatively he made no enquiries because he knew dishonest activity was being carried out on that account and he did not wish to make any such enquiries. The latter is the less likely scenario because he himself received substantial benefits," judge Smith said.
"Nevertheless it makes him responsible for the full losses caused by the conspiracy and the breach of fiduciary duty."
He said Chiluba raised a number of specific points in paragraphs 13 and 15 of his defence.
Judge Smith said Chiluba denied ownership of the Ndola farm known as Monkey Fountain.
He said he was satisfied on the basis of the evidence led by the Attorney General that the property was bought by Fountain Estates Ltd a company incorporated on 13th August 1999 in Zambia with BBT as a director and shareholder for Chiluba's benefit.
He said Fountain Estates was used to purchase the farm and Faustin Kabwe said it was owned by "FJT".
"He said it was set up on instructions from XFC through Cave Malik. There is no reason why Faustin Kabwe FK should lie about FJT owning the property. Cave Malik CM was plainly used to conceal the true ownership of the company behind the nominee shareholders," he noted.
Judge Smith also noted the Attorney General's allegations over properties purchased for Chiluba's solicitors.
"Zamdaell Ltd purchased two properties under an agreement dated 7th February 1997 for the benefit of FJT's lawyers Eric Silwamba and Vincent Malambo in lieu of legal fees owed by FJT to them. FK (Faustin Kabwe) in his defence says that he and AFSL acted on instructions of XFC. AC's (Aaron Chungu) defence is similar. Their justification was that the purchase was for ZSIS purposes and they were not entitled to enquire further and had no need to," he said.
Judge Smith said that was not a sufficient answer when a transaction puts a person on enquiry as to its correctness.
"However that does not apply to FK and AC because I am satisfied that they well knew what the purpose of the purchase was and this statement is merely a lie to justify their role in an attempt to legitimise it. There can be no ZSIS purpose to justify this purchase," he noted.
Judge Smith also noted that although Chiluba listed the £30,000 received from Cave Malik as an issue he failed to deal with, it was impossible in his view to think of any lawful justification for monies in the Zamtrop account being handed over in cash to Chiluba.
"It simply shows how FJT regarded the Zamtrop account as a 'cash cow' for him and the other conspirators to take from as he wished. In the terms of his salary this represents nearly 45 per cent of his total salary received over 10 years," he noted.
He also said he was satisfied that the purchase of 12B SERVAL ROAD by River Properties (using government monies) with a Cave Malik nominee company as director and secretary and BT as a shareholder was for Chiluba's benefit.
He said the total amount expended appeared to be US$145,000 purchase price and US$297,500 for chattels.
"FJT still lives in this property and there is (to put it mildly) an ambiguity as to whether or not he is supposed to be a tenant. There is more detail on this transaction in respect of claims against BT but I am quite satisfied that the property was intended to be purchased for the benefit of FJT beneficially and that beneficial interest was deliberately obscured by the way in which it was acquired. It belongs to the Republic as do the chattels," he established.
He said the faint suggestion that the property was a government pension provision was untenable because if it were, there would be no need to hide the acquisition through obscure nominees.
Judge Smith noted that between February-September 2002 BT (Bimal Thaker) effected large payments ($74,730) to or for the benefit of Chiluba and/or his children.
He said no justification was forwarded by Chiluba which showed that he was entitled to the monies.
"In his defence he denied that it was government property and that the transfers were illegal and he says that he did not authorise a transfer of government money to Cave Malik and demands Attorney General proves this. FJT however provides no evidence as to the source of the funds other than misappropriated government monies," he noted.
"The preferable interpretation (which I accept) is that FJT knew that these payments were funded out of government money which had been transferred under the direction of XFC from the OOP to CM between July - November 2001. He knows this money is coming in because he received £30,000 in cash in November 2001 at the hands of BT personally he asked for it in advance according to BT."
"The significant point about these payments over and above the fact that they were made for the benefit of FJT and/or his children is that they were made after the huge publicity in Zambia about the corrupt activities. This is an example of the conspirators carrying on in the same old way finally removing the last elements of stolen money from the CM client account. It is done with the connivance of XFC because he authorised the original payments, with the connivance of FK because he directed CM to effect the payments and with the connivance of FJT because he received the benefit of the payments."
Judge Smith stated that the US$74,730 paid in such short period represented 75 per cent approximately of 10 years of Chiluba's salary.
He also noted that Chiluba received for his benefits payments from the Zamtrop account amounting to US$308,255.54 between December 8, 1995 and July 10, 2001.
"Once again FJT asserts that money received by him and his family through the Zamtrop account was private money. I reject that again as a lie. No justification for these payments has been provided by FJT," he stated.
Judge Smith also rejected Chiluba's explanation that a picture payment of US$91,664.01 out of the Zamtrop account to former chief Justice Matthew Ngulube and his family that was private money.
He said Chiluba procured the payment and was liable for it.
He also rejected as not credible Chiluba's defence that he did not remember ordering payments of US$179,000 from the Zamtrop account to churches in America.
Judge Smith also dismissed Chiluba's denial that he paid US$1,029,400 of government money to Boutique Basile.
"This is not credible. Who did he think paid for all these clothes? In this context I reject the faint suggestion of IM in his closing that the difference between the invoiced amount ($557,803) and the amount actually paid ($1,029,400) (excluding the payments made by CM) could be cash paid to Basile for ZSIS operatives. First there is not a shred of evidence to support that. Second Basile has not said that," he said.
"I am not required to determine why the excess money was paid and where it has gone. There is no lawful justification for it. I am satisfied that it was paid away as part of the conspiracy. The conspirators are therefore liable for the entirety of the payment whether it went on Emperors clothes or was pocketed by Basile or was otherwise remitted back to them unless they adduce evidence to show it was properly spent. No such evidence has been adduced. The conclusion I draw therefore is that it was stolen in its entirety."
"The people of Zambia will know that whenever FJT appears in public wearing a smart handmade suit or a pair of his 'signature' shoes that they were acquired by stealing money from the people the vast majority of whom live at subsistence levels."
Judge Smith stated that Chiluba's personal effects seized by the Task Force were considerable.
"First there were 349 shirts. A large number of these bore the FJT monogram on them and they were from virtually every designer outlet. Second there were 206 jackets and suits. A large number of these were from Basile bearing the FJT monogram. Third there were 72 pairs of shoes. A large number of these were hand made by Basile with the FJT logo. All were for FJT's unique personal specification (high heels)," said. "Many of them were in their original shoe covers and had not been used. There were a large number of other items."
Judge Smith also found that Chiluba benefited Bob Standaert's purchase of materials for his re-election
"I have already referred to the amount of $660,000 transferred from the Zamtrop account to an account held by Bob Standaert and his evidence as to what it was used to discharge. FJT's assertion that Standaert had not said that FJT had instructed him and that he denies authorising it or having any knowledge is simply disingenuous. The amount of expenditure that has been incurred is huge by Zambian standards and it was incurred to procure FJT's re-election," he said.
"I am therefore satisfied that all of the above leads to the inevitable conclusion that FJT was a major conspirator and was also in breach of his fiduciary duties."
"The conspiracy quantum is the same figure of that of XFC. Although AGZ limits the amount of breach of fiduciary duty I am not persuaded about that. GT has specifically traced from MOF monies the sum of $140,847 and $11,000 to FJT. I refer to the other payments which AGZ contends are attributable to FJT. In my view as I have said this level is too low as regards breach of fiduciary duty. It is too low as regards the conspiracy claim.
"In case I am wrong I am of the opinion that all of the items are properly recoverable from FJT as a minimum. The only inference to be drawn from the transactions given his modest background is that these represent government monies which have been misappropriated for his and his family and friends' personal benefit. He is therefore accountable in full for these amounts as they have been paid in breach of his fiduciary duties."
But Chiluba has said the matter was political and that its outcome was predetermined.
He said the outcome of the case had immediately prejudiced and seriously undermined the proceedings and outcome of the criminal trial currently taking place against him in the magistrate's court.
Chiluba said the judgment was an affront to justice; to run in two parallel trials simultaneously based on the same facts and circumstances.
"I have maintained that I will not recognise the authority of the London High Court on its attempt to try me in matters that are Zambian as it has no jurisdiction," Chiluba said.
"It is in this regard that I have refused to submit myself to this court process and consequent findings in its so-called judgment. Matters to note are the following; there is no reasonable justification to have taken this case before a foreign jurisdiction as I am not facing charges of crimes against humanity or human rights violations. Simply stated, this case is a case of allegedly common fraud and corruption."
Chiluba said it was legally folly to have proceeded with a civil claim when the criminal proceedings in the magistrate's court were on-going.
He said the case proceeded without his defence and representation and its outcome smacked of political malice and was inevitable and designed to suit the sponsors of the process who were the British government.
"The repeated but false assurances from Justice Peter Smith that his proceedings will be ring fenced and shielded away from media and the public, that matters before the Lusaka magistrate court are not prejudiced or influenced, are contemptuous as he has read the judgment in open glee," he said.
"My fundamental right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court in Zambia as guaranteed by the Republican constitution has been violated by this ruling. And of public interest is the irrational decision to pursue a claim whose cost has run in million of dollars and cost more than the money the claim intends to recover."
On Xavier Chungu, judge Smith found that the quantum of the claims in conspiracy against him was US$25,754,316 plus $600,000 payments to Cave Malik from OOP (conspiracy) and US$25,754,316 for breach of fiduciary duty in the alternative.
"XFC by his control of the Zamtrop account knew that transfers were being made for improper purposes (see the clothing purchases for himself and FJT, the jewellery from Fine Jewellers, the donations to the President's favourite causes, school fees and other payments for the benefit of the FJT children and others)."
Judge Smith also said Chungu effected transfers of large amounts of money from the Zamtrop account both to Redcliffe and Attan Shansonga.
He said he was satisfied that those transfers were effected as part of the conspiracy of which he was a party.
"I make the same observation in respect of transfers from the Zamtrop account through the clients' account in London of MCD and CM. There is no reasonable interpretation for this routing of money other than a desire to hide the source of the money (the government) and to use significant amounts of the money so routed for non-government purposes," judge Smith said. \
"It is equally clear that in 1995 he came to a secret arrangement with FK to use AFSL as the medium for further laundering of government monies. IM was recruited to this operation by XFC and FK at the Churchill Hotel meeting in London in 1995."
He said Chungu received traced benefits of US$164,775 plus US$90,453. WM
Friday, May 04, 2007
Zambia's ex-President Frederick Chiluba has been found guilty of stealing $46m (£23m) of public money by a UK court. The judge said that Zambians should know that when he appeared wearing his trademark designer clothes, they were paid for with stolen money.
Mr Chiluba's spokesman told a Zambian newspaper that the ex-leader did not accept the court's jurisdiction. Mr Chiluba was not in the London High Court but the ruling could lead to the seizure of his assets. The civil case was brought on behalf of the Zambian attorney general.
Justice Peter Smith said Mr Chiluba had a global reputation as a "smart and expensive dresser", with his "FJT" monogram on shirts and suits and specially made shoes with high heels. He officially earned about $100,000 while in power from 1991-2001 and yet he paid an exclusive boutique shop in Switzerland $1.2m.
This is an historic victory for the people of Zambia
"This was at a time when the vast majority of Zambians were struggling to live on $1 a day and many could not afford more than one meal a day," the judge said.
Two years ago, he was furious when hundreds of his designer suits, shirts and shoes were seized from a warehouse where he had stored them.
"What they have done is to bring my underpants out to the general public," Mr Chiluba told reporters.
Mr Chiluba laundered the money through two London-based law firms, the judge said.
The UK government backed the Zambian law suit and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn welcomed the court ruling.
"This is an historic victory for the people of Zambia and shows their commitment to bringing those who steal from the state to account - however powerful they are," he said.
"The money recovered can now be returned to the government of Zambia to be invested in the people's future - such as education or clean drinking water for some of the 7m Zambians living in poverty."
Unfit for trial
Before the ruling, Mr Chiluba's spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba told Zambia's The Post newspaper that local courts should handle any prosecutions. "Dr Chiluba has refused to recognise the jurisdiction and authority of the London court. He has stated that he will not submit himself to its findings," Mr Mwamba said.
President Levy Mwanawasa has led a fight against corruption
He has always denied the allegations.
A Zambian court last year ruled that Mr Chiluba was medically unfit to stand trial on corruption charges.
Mr Chiluba, a former trade union leader, ended 31 years of one-party rule when he won the 1991 elections.
He was defeated in an attempt to change the constitution to let him seek a third term in 2001.
His handpicked successor, President Levy Mwanawasa, has been pursuing an anti-corruption drive against Mr Chiluba's former government.
Mr Mwanawasa said that he would grant a presidential pardon to Mr Chiluba if he admitted the allegations of corruption and returned 75% of the cash he allegedly stole.
SMALL to medium-scale entrepreneurs clinched lucrative deals from both local and international businesses during the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mrs Sithembiso Nyoni, said yesterday.
In a telephone interview, she described this year’s ZITF as a "trade fair with a difference" with the entrepreneurs sealing deals with countries such as Botswana and China, among others.
"Most of exhibitors this year were SMEs and their products were of high quality. This is why they experienced brisk business, their products were viable," she said.
This year the ministry sponsored 20 SMEs to exhibit at the fair in a bid to promote and expose them to new markets. "Our goal was to expose them to the local, global and international market and we managed to do that. We had one SME from Marondera who exhibited at one of our stands. He made 440 deals to supply hotels with poultry, including some from Botswana," said the minister.
Mrs Nyoni applauded the Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono for allocating $16 billion to SMEs, and urged other ministries to work directly with such enterprises to upgrade them.
"We are glad that the governor noted that SMEs have the potential to turn around our economy. As the ministry we are geared to uplift the small entrepreneurs to medium and medium to big business people." she said. Our role has always been to wean small entrepreneurs from SMEs to big enterprises."
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday May 04, 2007 [04:00]
THE London High Court is today expected to pass judgment in the case in which former president Frederick Chiluba and 19 others stand accused of siphoning about US$20 million (13.5 million pounds) from the state’s treasury. But Chiluba’s spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba said in an interview yesterday that Chiluba would not recognise the judgment and pronouncements of the London court trying him for the plunder of state resources allegedly orchestrated during his term of office.
Mwamba said he was not aware that the judgment in the case where Chiluba and 19 others stand accused of siphoning about US$20 million through a London branch of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) was coming today in London.
"I am hearing it from you. I am not aware,"
He said all he could say was that Chiluba had always objected to being tried by a court in London when the local courts could sufficiently handle the matter.
The Zambian government last year filed an affidavit of notice of intention to block a petition made by Chiluba and four others restraining the London High Court presided over by Lord Peter Smith from proceeding in their case of plunder of state resources.
Those co-accused with Chiluba include Cave Malik and Company, Xavier Chungu, Attan Shansonga, Stella Chibanda, Aaron Chungu, Bimal Thaker, Faustin Kabwe, Francis Kaunda, Boutique Basile, Nebraska Associates Limited, MISSL Associates Limited, Hearnville Estates, Jarban SA, Raphael Soriano Katoto, Belsquare Residence, NV Roland Cracco and Robert Standaert.
Chiluba has also been accused of plundering the resources of Zambia with several cases on his helm.
But Mwamba said Chiluba does not recognise the jurisdiction and authority of the London Court.
"Dr Chiluba has refused to recognise the jurisdiction and authority of the London Court. He has stated that he will not submit himself to its findings," Mwamba said.
"He will not respect this court process and its pronouncements."
He pointed out that this was the more reason Chiluba had asked the Attorney General to take the issue before the Zambian courts in line with the country's sovereignty and independence.
Mwamba, who said Chiluba was still on medical treatment following his return from South Africa, further said he could not see how Chiluba could get a fair judgment in the London Court when he had not tendered his defence before the court.
"This has been an exercise in futility because he (Chiluba) has not tendered his defence in the proceedings and I do not see how this judgment can be fair," said Mwamba.
The long-awaited civil proceedings against Chiluba and others before the London High Court started via video conferencing in November at Chikwa Magistrates' Court last year and the former president could face bankruptcy if he is found guilty today.
Mwamba said apart from not recognising the jurisdiction of the London Court, Chiluba had not been notified of today's judgment.
"We have not yet received any notice, although previously we have been sent correspondence of the proceedings of the court in London," said Mwamba.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday May 04, 2007 [04:00]
AGRICULTURE and co-operatives permanent secretary Richard Chizyuka has emphasised the need for increased funding towards agricultural production in the country. Chizyuka said the proposed 10 per cent budgetary allocation towards agricultural development among African governments should target productive areas.
Zambia and other African countries agreed to the Maputo commitment to allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to the agriculture sector.
And early this year during the Food Summit in Abuja, African Ministers of Agriculture recommended the formalisation of the Maputo commitment to allocate at least 10 per cent of national budget to agriculture and rural development by 2008 in their focus to eradicate poverty by 2030.
Zambia this year apportioned 8.8 per cent of the K12 trillion budget towards agriculture development, a jump from about 5.5 per cent allocated the previous year.
“We are looking forward to a time when the 10 per cent budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector would support productivity at different levels,” Chizyuka said.
“This will definitely be a wonderful thing for Zambia, unlike the present scenario where most of the money meant for agriculture goes towards crop marketing. For now, we are only moving in nominal terms but in real terms, we are still below the requirement.”
Chizyuka also said the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) was a good component which needed serious support.
Last week, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC) intensified their efforts to compel African countries to allocate at least 10 per cent of their budgets to agriculture.
The two regional bodies (ECA and AUC) indicated that they would use their convening power to ‘prick’ the conscience of African policy makers on the promises made by their leaders, so that the commitments on allocations towards agriculture were taken seriously.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
FAIR USE 2I think it is right if I continue to share selected articles from The Post in a manner that is not in violation of Fair Use.
I will continue to share selected articles, the knowledge of which is in the public good, and will be mainly limited to:
- The impact on Zambia of international events, mainly restrictions or scandals involving the IMF, World Bank, mining contracts, production agreements.
- Changes in the political and economic infrastructure of the country, mainly the introduction of a new constitution, important legislation regarding the SME and agricultural sector.
- Economic progress or regress.
I realize I gave my word not to post The Post content, but I am now wondering who I gave my word to, considering a comment on this website cannot be seen as an official request. Nor was a reply address to The Post included.
If you want to know, please e-mail me at email@example.com
From The 50 Years Mailing List: Venezuela to quit IMF, World BankRuth at 50years.org wrote:
The Bretton Woods Institutions suffered yet another blow this week, as Venezuela formally announced that it is pulling out of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. President Hugo Chavez explained his decision, by pointing to the institutions' current crisis.
The 50 Years Is Enough Network has long argued the that the Bank and Fund's legitimacy, role and solvency is in decline. At the end of last year, a report published by the first big external audit of World Bank research concluded that the Bank used "questionable evidence to proselytise on behalf of its development policies, without taking a balanced view of the evidence." This year a report published by CEPR raised doubts over the IMF's analysis of projected growth rates in Argentina and Venezuela, pointing to political bias for repeated errors. The institutions are scrambling for a new role.
Meanwhile the IMF is facing a very bleak financial situation. By 2010 the IMF is expected to have an estimated shortfall of $900 million. At the end of January a panel of experts which included Alan Greenspan among others, suggested the IMF sell $6.6 billion worth of gold to pay among other things, staff salaries. At the same time, alternative funding sources are emerging for countries in the Global South-- examples include the Bank of the South, and China. Pablo Davalos provides useful insights to this changing financial architecture in his recent article "Southern Bank: A road towards a new financial architecture."
President Chavez's announcement highlights the opportunity we have to reduce the power of the IMF, and the Bretton Woods Institutions more broadly. As one of the founders of the "IMF: Shrink It or Sink It Campaign," 50 Years Is Enough is seizing this opportunity. We have compiled a list of relevant articles, for further reading: http://50years.org/updates/.
Enjoy the article.
Peace and solidarity,
Venezuela to quit IMF, World Bank
Reuters. Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:05PM EDT
By Saul Hudson
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will withdraw from the Washington-based lending organizations, the IMF and World Bank, in a symbolic move that distances leftist President Hugo Chavez from much of the international economic community.
Chavez, who plans to create an alternative lending bank run by South American nations and funded in part with his OPEC nation's high oil revenue, said on Monday Venezuela no longer needed the institutions dominated by U.S. "imperialism."
Leaving the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank would severs ties between the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States and the world's leading lenders to emerging nations.
"We don't need to be going up to Washington ... We are going to get out," Chavez, who calls Cuban leader Fidel Castro his mentor, said at an event to celebrate May Day workers' rights.
"I want to formalize our exit from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," he said.
Chavez blames the organizations' decades-old economic recipes of tight budget control, privatizations and open markets for continued poverty across Latin America.
He wants to build a socialist state based on policies rejected by the institutions in Washington, such as those he announced on Monday -- a 20 percent minimum wage hike and a gradual reduction in the working day to six hours.
The move to quit the multilaterals is politically symbolic but should have little immediate financial impact.
Since Chavez first took office in 1999, Venezuela has gradually reduced its cooperation with the organizations and, after years of strong oil prices, said it paid off its last debts to the World Bank this month.
Venezuela is one of several countries, particularly in Latin America, that have in the last few years reduced their dependence on the multilateral agencies and so tempered the lenders' global clout.
Some leftist Latin leaders hosted by Chavez at the weekend proposed quitting a World Bank body that arbitrates between foreign investors and states as they seek greater freedom to dictate the terms of foreign investment in their nations.
Chavez is nationalizing huge swathes of the economy this year and on Tuesday will lead a massive rally to take over the operations of multi-billion dollar oil projects run by some of the world's largest companies.
He said it marked the end of an era of Washington-dictated policies and returned Venezuelan resources under the state's control.
"The wheel has turned full circle," he said.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Rondon)
Thursday May 03, 2007 [04:00]
As it has been since the United Nations proclaimed May 3 as World Press Freedom Day in 1993 following the Windhoek Declaration of 1991, today marks an important moment for us who work as journalists or media professionals. In fact, this day is not only important to us as journalists or media professionals, but to all of us. It is an important day when all of us - whether we are ordinary citizens, governments, civil society or the Church - should spare a moment to remember and celebrate the crucial role that a free press plays in democracy and development.
The world-over, May 3 should serve as an important reminder that although most of our constitutions guarantee us the right to freedom of expression, this right is often violated with impunity. May 3 is a day of mixed feelings because although it is essentially supposed to be a day when we celebrate our role in society, it is also a day when we remember the violence that is perpetrated against us and against our work.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, the plain truth is that impunity against us is not relenting. Many of our colleagues the world-over are languishing in jail while many others have paid with their lives for performing the duties and responsibilities that go with our work.
As we speak today, one of our colleagues, the British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent in Gaza, Alan Johnston, has been in the custody of kidnappers for more than 50 days now and no one really knows where he is or what has happened to him.
All this is a stark reminder to us that the price for press freedom does not come cheaply.
This is why as we celebrate this day, we should keep reminding each other, especially those in government, of our duty and responsibility to respect and uphold the people's right to freedom of expression. This is an important right which is adequately guaranteed under a number of conventions including the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers". Further, the African Charter on Human and People's Rights states: "Every individual shall have the right to receive information.
Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law." The Declaration of Chapultapec, adopted by the Hemisphere Conference on Free Speech in Mexico City on March 11, 1994 is perhaps more emphatic when it states: "No people or society can be free without freedom of expression and of the press. The exercise of this freedom is not something authorities grant, it is an inalienable right of the people." The American Convention on Human Rights also states that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice."
So as we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, let us remember that it should be an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press as well as to remind governments of their duty and responsibility to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under various conventions, including the constitutional guarantees by various national constitutions.
But we should also use this occassion to reflect not only on the achievements that we have recorded over the preceding year but also to take stock of the unresolved issues that are still an obstacle to our work.
Focusing our attention on the situation in our country, we know that there is still a huge task in order to ensure that press freedom and freedom of expression are adequately guaranteed. For instance, although freedom of expression is expressly guaranteed under Article 20 of the Constitution of 1991 (amended in 1996) in Zambia, it is clear that there are still several statutes that critically limit it.
Furthermore, we know today that although there was a ruling recently on the implementation of both the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, we are yet to see action in that direction to ensure that the broadcasting landscape in the country is as it should be. Also, the enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill, which remains withdrawn from Parliament, should be considered urgent if the media is to enjoy more rights in as far as they can be allowed to access government-held information once this right is enforceable through legislation.
It is our considered opinion that freedom of expression - and its extension, freedom of the press - deserve serious legislative and policy attention so that their exercise is not hindered by any barriers, be they legislative, administrative or economic.
And this is why we think that the recommendations contained in the Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission must be seriously considered in order to do away with all the vague terms that restrict freedom of expression and that of the press.
For us as The Post, as we continue our journalistic role in the service of mankind, we take advantage of this day to stress our commitment to remain resolved to the maintainence our editorial independence, not only from newsmakers or media owners, but from international forces as well. We make this commitment because we have a critical role to play in the good governance of our young democracy. We shall continue with our role of ensuring transparency, accountability, promoting participation and the rule of law, including contributing to the fight for economic development and against all forms of poverty. We believe that the fulfillment of our journalistic roles, duties and responsibilities that have been placed on our shoulders is equally essential to press freedom.
Otherwise, as we celebrate World Press Freedom Day, let us keep remembering that freedom of the press, like all other freedoms, is not cheap and we should always endeavour to protect it.
By Brighton Phiri and Nomusa Michelo
Thursday May 03, 2007 [04:01]
WOMEN for Change executive director Emily Sikazwe has asked journalists to take interest in the fight for a new constitution. And World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) organising committee chairperson Amos Chanda has said public accountability cannot exist in an atmosphere of secrecy.
In her solidarity message to the journalists as they commemorate World Press Freedom Day to be commemorated under the theme 'Protection for Journalists and impunity' and the local theme of "Imperatives of Freedom of Information in enhancing Public Accountability" today, Sikazwe asked media practitioners to use the day to reflect on their contribution towards the constitution-making process.
"If the media is serious about press freedom and freedom of information, they must make the issue of the constitution as a first priority," she said.
"We are tired of having our journalists being battered by the police. In solidarity with you, we must ensure that we achieve our desire for a new constitution."
She asked the media to make its stand known over the constitution-making process and begin to question members of parliament in their respective localities to explain their stand over the matter.
"Begin to invite the members of parliament for interviews and ask them to state their positions on this matter," she said.
And giving a presentation at a media conference yesterday titled 'Freedom of Information for Accountable Leadership' at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre (MICC) yesterday, Chanda justified the need for the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FoI) law.
Chanda said any state that failed to open up to public scrutiny would fail the test of public accountability.
"This is where the case for a freedom of information Act comes to play...Public accountability would not come about in an atmosphere of secrecy," he said. "It will not come in an environment where the bulk of public information is held under a veil of secrecy."
And United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema said the media in the country has called on the government to repeal repugnant laws that stifle media freedom.
"There is need for the government to quickly enact the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill. As argued the FoI Bill will not only enhance the country's governance system but will specifically benefit the fight against corruption," he said.
And Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) executive director Joel Simon has said democracy's foothold in Africa is shallow when it comes to press freedom.
The CPJ has listed Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Gambia as three countries in Africa where press freedom has deteriorated the most over the last five years.
Commenting on the CPJ report to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, under the theme 'Safety of Journalists and Impunity' Simon said Ethiopia, the DRC and the Gambia despite their transition to democracy are not moving toward press freedom.
"These three African nations, as diverse as they are, have won praise at times for their transition to democracy - but they are actually moving in reverse on press issues. Journalists in Ethiopia, Gambia, and DRC are being jailed, attacked, and censored, a picture far worse than what we saw only a few years ago," Simon said.
"The behaviour of all of these countries is deeply troubling, but the rapid retreats in nations where the media have thrived demonstrate just how easily the fundamental right to press freedom can be taken away."
And in issuing its report to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, CPJ is calling for attention to the long-term erosion in press conditions.
The CPJ said the African nations of the Gambia and the DRC join Russia and Cuba among the world's worst "backsliders" on press freedom.
According to the report, Cuba and Ethiopia have become two of the world's leading jailers of journalists in the past five years.
The report states that Morocco, often cited as a regional model for press freedom, is now tied with Tunisia for the dubious distinction of sentencing the most journalists to prison in the Arab world.
Among the CPJ's "Top 10 Backsliders" are Ethiopia,; Gambia; Russia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Pakistan, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Thailand.
And the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has called on governments and their agencies to guarantee public availability of officially held data, information and archives accessible under Freedom of Information laws or related legal provisions.
"Stricter security classifications may be called for when it comes to sensitive military and intelligence issues, but there must also be strict reviews to guard against unjustified attempts to limit public scrutiny, particularly that of political decisions," the WAN stated.
WAN has also called on governments to guarantee the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources of information, as a necessary requirement for a free press.
By George Chellah and Brighton Phiri
Thursday May 03, 2007 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said that his party will not attend President Levy Mwanawasa's proposed indaba because it is useless and a waste of valuable time. Sata said he was only ready for President Mwanawasa at the proposed Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) presidents’ summit next month.
Meanwhile, Lusaka lawyer, Rodger Chongwe, has said that President Mwanawasa's reverse action on the constitution-making process would cause animosity and confusion among Zambians. Sata yesterday said President Mwanawasa was wasting Zambians’ time by proposing a national indaba to discuss the constitution-making process.
“An indaba for what? Levy is a liar and I cannot trust him. On public functions, he is a different person and at State House he is also a different Levy. He called an indaba last time at Mulungushi and proposals were made during that meeting, but did that indaba yield anything?" Sata asked.
"So it's a waste of valuable time and I can't trust him because he had done it before. Levy's indaba is useless and a waste of time and PF won't attend it because we don't need another talking workshop. We need things to happen now, we want a new constitution now! It's time for action."
He urged President Mwanawasa to just give in and let the people's will prevail. "Let him not continue being stubborn," Sata said.
Asked whether he was ready to meet President Mwanawasa at the ZCID's summit of presidents, which will be held sometime next month, Sata replied: "I will very much be there...I am ready for him. We will be there to meet him since it's dialogue. Even if he will, he becomes emotional and begins speaking in tongues like he usually does when he sees me. I will also speak in tongues from Mpika... it's dialogue."
And during MISA-Zambia’s Face the Media programme on Radio Phoenix yesterday, Sata said there was need for pressure to force President Mwanawasa on the constitution. "Nothing comes for nothing. Anybody trusting this government on this matter is wasting their time. Let's rise and get a referendum to amend Article 79 to bring a constituent assembly. Let's all be united without violence," Sata said. "This government is provoking us so that we get involved in violence. They want to come and say that there is violence so we can't do this."
And Joyce Macmillan from the Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) said the existing constitution has no clause for its self-destruction. "The government's argument is an obstacle. The new constitution is urgent for us as women. Women constitute half the population of this country. You can't expect this country to develop if women continue to be where they are," she said.
And Lusaka lawyer Dr Chongwe said President Mwanawasa's reverse action on the constitution-making process would cause animosity and confusion among Zambians. Dr Chongwe asked President Mwanawasa to revisit his promise to go by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) recommendation on the adoption of the new constitution through a constituent assembly. "Zambians should not be quarrelling because the Constitution is a national issue. We are all reminded that the CRC recommended that the new constitution should be adopted through a constituent assembly," he said. "There was no provision in the terms of reference of the CRC that suggested that the new constitution should be adopted through an Indaba."
He said it was possible for the Zambians to agree on the adoption of the new constitution without calling each other names. "President Mwanawasa publicly agreed to the recommendation of adopting the new constitution through a constituent assembly. Maybe President Mwanawasa has forgotten...we have not forgotten. He can't have a reverse action," Dr. Chongwe said. "The only option is for the government and the stakeholders to agree on the Constituent Assembly. We should not be fighting."
On Tuesday, President Mwanawasa said it would be cheaper to adopt the new constitution through an indaba. He said he was prepared to call for a national convention to discuss the constitution-making process. "When we met to discuss the issue of the national indaba, my proposal was well received by the civil society who were present at State House. But I don't know whether State House ties people's mouths such that they cannot speak out while inside there. But when they went out, they went to renounce what we had agreed on the national indaba," President Mwanawasa said.
"That proposal is still open. It will be cheaper for us to adopt the Constitution... for us to ensure that those portions of the Constitution that require amendment are looked into. It will be cheaper...yes, I know that some people will not get the money from the donors which they are getting for waging war against us. But I agree, the option is still open. I am prepared to call the national convention, but that can be when it is supported by the people."
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2007
By Caesar Zvayi
THERE are a few stubborn facts the pretentious Bush administration has to know are common knowledge. Firstly, the United States is not an independent country, but the largest settler colony that has systematically decimated the original inhabitants, the Amerindians, the same way Australia has deposed Aborigines and New Zealand, the Maoris. As such, Americans have no moral ground on which to claim to be spearheading the liberation of any other people when they have not granted independence to the rightful owners of the land they claim is theirs.
Zimbabweans know that at the height of the Second Chimurenga, when the progressive world closed ranks against Rhodesia and the UN, for the first time in its history, imposed mandatory legal economic sanctions on the rogue Smith on December 16 1966; which it broadened to a total embargo on May 29 1968; the US had no qualms engaging in illicit trade with the Rhodesian regime. Washington actually passed the so–called Byrd Amendment of 1971 that it used to circumvent UN sanctions in order to get chrome from Rhodesia to use on its monstrous automobiles.
So to Uncle Sam, chrome–plated car bumpers were more important than downtrodden black Zimbabweans.
Secondly, it is common knowledge that the US is the largest abuser of human rights dating back to the days of the Trans–Atlantic Slave abductions when millions of black people were yoked like animals to work in plantations and help build the so–called Free World.
To this day, the descendants of African slaves live like captives in the country their forebears broke their backs to build.
Thirdly, the US is the largest sponsor of terrorism across the world, a fact proved by the likes of Osama Bin Laden whom it created and used against the Russians in Afghanistan, but who it disowns today, simply because he has chosen to give Uncle Sam a taste of his own medicine.
Fourth, though it has a federal structure, the US is just another country, one of the 192 members of the United Nations whose charter espouses "equality between states, big and small," as such it was never ordained by anyone to masquerade as a global policemen.
Fifth, the US is guilty of more crimes against humanity, probably more than all other states combined. One needs only look at the use of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, banned weapons like cluster bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses, and the continued detention of people of primarily Arab descent at Guantanamo Bay simply because they look like Osama Bin Laden.
It is against this background that the US State Department report: "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US record — 2006," should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
The first contradiction is in the title of the report itself, as the US did a lot to undermine human rights and democracy across the world in 2006 such that to have Washington make pretensions at safeguarding these values is akin to having the devil preach Godliness.
One needs only look at US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the senseless war on Lebanon where innocent civilians were annihilated with the aid of banned weapons of mass destruction to understand the depth of Uncle Sam's depravity last year.
As such, the report is a clumsy attempt to disguise American destabilisation by deodorising it as a quest for democratisation.
As Russia pointed out, the report, covering all countries, portrays the human rights situation in countries that kow–tow to US foreign policy favourably while those that refuse to indulge Washington are portrayed as human rights abusers.
The most revealing aspect is that Israel, a state that committed so many atrocities against the Lebanese and Palestinians, has been omitted, probably because Uncle Sam could not find anything to disguise Israel's crimes.
Though the report has sections dealing with all other countries in the world, Zimbabwe was given extensive treatment as it has the largest section. More so, the entire report opens with a quotation from the self–exiled publisher of The Independent and The Standard, Trevor Ncube, who is reported to have said:
"If they think they can stop me from speaking against injustice, corruption and misgovernment . . . then they are mistaken. It will not stop me."
The use of this uninspiring quotation from Ncube, who is identified as "a Zimbabwean journalist harassed by the Government," was clearly meant to ensure that any reader would not miss the section on Zimbabwe, and by extension gave the impression that the entire report was on Zimbabwe.
What is even more scandalous is that though the report claims to be covering the period January to December 2006, it surprisingly opens with scatological remarks about the 2002 presidential elections and the March 2005 general election that it dismissed as having been unfair.
Yet these elections, when compared to the charade that brought George W. Bush to power in 2000 and again in 2004, were models not only for Africa but the entire world, one needs only look at what happened in Nigeria last week for emphasis.
The report then delves into alleged arbitrary arrests and torture of political opponents, though nothing of that sort happened at all. Through it all, the MDC factions which were battering each other all over the place before US ambassador, Christopher Dell struck an armistice, are presented as the great victims of State repression.
Nowhere in the report was Tsvangirai censured for his violent forays into the Mutambara camp though people like Trudy Stevenson, David Coltart, Gibson Sibanda and Welshman Ncube gave harrowing accounts of their torture at the hands of Tsvangirai's goons.
Operation Murambatsvina, which occurred in mid–2005, was also roped in and Anna Tibaijuka's lies that 700 000 people were displaced were given pride of place yet the disgraced UN–Habitat official admitted that her numbers were based on mathematical formulae and not actual findings. More so, official statistics released by the Zimbabwe Republic Police showed that by June 28 2005, the time the operation wound up, only 50 193 illegal structures had been demolished in all ten provinces, and 40 000 people were affected, which is realistic, for the reasons cited above.
Perhaps the most laughable attempt was the US' claim that the Government had restricted freedom of speech:
"The Government regularly used repressive laws to restrict freedom of assembly, speech, and press. In an attack on the independent media, the Government jammed broadcasts of the popular Voice of America Studio 7 programme, one of the few sources of uncensored news throughout the country, and seized radios belonging to listening groups in rural areas."
Is there no end to Uncle Sam's contempt for all people outside the US?
Who does not know that Studio 7 is not an independent station, but a special broadcast by the US propaganda station Voice of America that is funded by the same State Department that released the scandalous report?
So how independent is Studio 7, and independent from whom? At least we now know that everything labelled "independent" by Washington will be intrinsically linked to the US' policy of subversion.
Zimbabwe, if indeed it did, had every right to jam the pirate broadcast the same way the US itself blocked broadcasts from Radio Moscow at the height of the Cold War by removing the Short Wave band from all radio receivers produced in the US.
The same goes for the alleged confiscation of the receivers distributed by US running dogs in the rural areas. Zimbabweans do eat US propaganda, what they need is the immediate revoking of that illegal sanctions law, the so–called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
That racist law, more than anything else is the reason the economy continued to decline, with skyrocketing prices, widespread shortages, and rapidly deteriorating social services," not the alleged "Government's command and control economic policies," which the US gloated about.
Another blatant lie was the claim that the US had managed to "expand international support of sanctions against Government and ruling party officials responsible for human rights violations."
US sanctions are not against the Government and ruling party officials as Uncle Sam and his henchman Christopher Dell would have people believe. The US sanctions law clearly says in Section 4 (c):
" . . . The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against; (1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or (2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution."
Thus, only a fool would read "Government of Zimbabwe" as referring to Zanu–PF, because the Government borrows on behalf of the country, as such what the MDC and other myopic people celebrate as "targeted" sanctions, are sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe.
And as many saw last year, US executive directors compelled the IMF to deny Zimbabwe voting rights and access to lines of credit in terms of this illegal Act.
Contrary to US claims that support for the sanctions expanded, it was actually the converse as we saw at the African Union Summit held in Banjul, The Gambia, where the then outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan pledged to use his offices to have the sanctions scrapped. His efforts were, however, a little too late as Mr Ban Ki–moon of the Republic of Korea was already standing at the door.
Washington needs only look at the outcome of the extra–ordinary summit of Sadc heads of state and government held in Tanzania at the end of March to see the hollowness of that lie.
The only good thing about the US report is that it explains Dell's strange behaviour as it explicitly exposed US involvement in Zimbabwe's internal politics, Washington clearly acknowledged that it is bankrolling the opposition's attempts to unseat the Government.
"The US strategy for fostering democracy and human rights in the country is three–fold: to maintain pressure on the Mugabe regime; to strengthen democratic (read opposition) forces; and to provide humanitarian aid for those left vulnerable by poor governance . . . To encourage greater public debate on restoring good governance in the country, the United States–sponsored public events that presented economic and social analyses discrediting the Government's excuses for its failed policies."
What followed was a shocking detailed expose of the extent of US funding for opposition activities in Zimbabwe, and the so–called civil society comprising non–governmental organisations and "non–governmental individuals," so–called advocacy groups, newspapers, newsletters, some Church leaders and journalists.
In short, the report confirms that Uncle Sam has the entire opposition camp in his pocket, and the noises the so–called activists make are merely sponsored psalms for their supper.
Particularly interesting was the State Department's revelation that that it sponsors, and has editorial influence in certain weeklies that peddle anti–Government sentiment. Uncle Sam waxed lyrical about how his commentary is given acres of space, and alleged human rights abuses prominence in the newspapers.
The newspapers are identifiable by the way they almost go pornographic with lurid displays of inflamed buttocks of opposition activists they allege would have been tortured by the Government.
Far from serving its intended objective of mobilising opinion against Zimbabwe, the US report actually confirmed that the US, and its lackeys, is not on a democratising mission but a mission of subversion to serve American interests.
The report is, thus, a greater call for action on the part of Government to tighten the registration of NGOs and to re–table the NGO Bill as a matter of urgency.
Zimbabwe can not afford to continue suffering the excesses of sponsored groups, whose only agenda — apart from the selfish profit motive — is the realisation of the Anglo–Saxon neo–colonial agenda.
There it is then, with such a background, can anyone in his/her right mind expect an objective report from the Bush administration that openly confesses — in the same document it hopes trashes an opponent — that it is "seeking to discredit the Government" by "supporting people who criticise the Government?"
By Sandra Lombe
Wednesday May 02, 2007 [12:07]
A 37-year-old Ndola woman has died after gloves and cotton wool were allegedly left inside her abdomen following an operation. Regina Mwape of Kabushi township died on Wednesday last week nine hours after she was operated on at Ndola Central Hospital. And Mwape's family has threatened to sue the hospital for negligence.
A relative of the deceased Paul Sunkutu said that Mwape was taken to the hospital on April 22, 2007 after she complained of suspected malaria and pain in the legs.
He said a malaria test on her came out negative.
"They did an operation on her on Tuesday at 14:00 hours and by 16:00 hours she was taken back to the day room ward instead of the sub acute ward. Around 17:00 hours she started complaining that she was feeling some movements in the abdomen," he narrated.
Sunkutu said Mwape later removed the plaster on one of the wounds that was not stitched.
He explained that a glove was seen protruding but people looking after her thought it was an intestine.
Sunkutu explained that relatives by her bedside then called the nurse on duty who told them to consult the personnel from the theatre section.
"Around 01:00 hours on Wednesday the poor soul died and the following day we went to the mortuary with people from Saint Anne to collect the body. On Friday when they (St Anne) were preparing the body, they discovered that she had two big wounds and a glove was protruding," Sunkutu said.
Sunkutu said he then rushed to Ndola Central Police to report the matter. He said the police retrieved the body from Saint Anne and took it back to Ndola Central Hospital for postmortem.
Sunkutu said during the post-mortem two more gloves and cotton wool were found.
"I have given instructions to our lawyers to take up the matter further," he said.
Both police and Ndola Central Hospital director clinical services Dr Charles Masase confirmed receiving the report.
Dr Masase said the action was justified.
"I learnt of the issue when relatives came to report the matter, they wanted post-mortem. The post-mortem was done in the presence of the family, consultant pathologists, consultant surgeon and myself. I can't go into details," he said
"We left them because the patient had abscesses (infection with puss inside) in the right side of the abdomen under the skin."
Dr Masase said the doctor who operated on Mwape opened the area to allow puss to come out.
"About a litre of puss came out. The doctor left the gloves to help in the drainage of puss hopefully that the patient would recover," he said.
"We explained to the relatives the reason the glove and cotton wool were left in the body. There was no negligence. The action was justified."
By Inonge Noyoo and Carol Jilombo
Wednesday May 02, 2007 [12:12]
Five hundred street vendors from Lusaka's main streets have sued local government and housing minister Sylvia Masebo over the demolition of their stands. And the Unemployment Association of Zambia (UNAZ) has given the government a 29-day ultimatum to remove police officers from the streets in town centre or face demonstrations from the vendors.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court by opposition Patriotic Front lawyer Matthew Pikiti on behalf of the vendors, Christopher Kangwa and 502 others who were initially located at town centre market but relocated to the streets of Chiparamba, Freedom Way, Cha Cha Cha, Katondo, Nkwazi, and Kulima Tower, have sued Masebo, Lusaka City Council (LCC) and the Attorney General.
The vendors are demanding that each be rewarded K50 million for their destroyed stands, goods, loss of business and capacity to look after themselves and their families. They are claiming that they had valuable goods worth millions of kwacha which were destroyed during an operation by LCC.
They also want the court to order Masebo to pay adequate compensation to each of them for loss of business and malicious damage of their goods and stands and that Masebo together with LCC and the Attorney General should allow them to trade as vendors on the appropriate streets until alternative locations were found.
The vendors are further pleading with the court to order the LCC to find them alternative market locations within a reasonable time. In their statement of claim, the vendors are claiming that Masebo took personal interest beyond her powers as minister by directing the council to demolish their stands. They stated that Masebo directed the demolition of the stands without the council passing a resolution as the local authority in charge of the City of Lusaka.
The vendors also alleged that officials of LCC and Zambia Police on personal instructions of Masebo took part in the destruction of their stands and goods without obtaining the approval of the council.
They averred that since they were paying daily vending permits, vending was duly authorised because if they were illegal traders such permits would not have been issued to them.
The vendors argued that the press release issued on behalf of LCC as notice to all street vendors, illegal car washers and illegal land developers was issued in bad faith and without authority of the city council because there was no council resolution to allow such an action.
The street vendors stated that they were not illegal vendors to be ambushed and have their properties destroyed at will. They stated that they had families to look after and to meet other obligations and they needed an alternative location where they could continue trading to enable them meet their daily obligations.
They also asserted that the demolitions of their stands had totally curtailed and reduced them to nothing as they were no longer capable of meeting costs of all their needs, requirements and obligations.
They stated that they were clear beyond reasonable doubt that Masebo, LCC and the Attorney General were responsible for their current incapacitation to meet their responsibilities.
The vendors are being represented by Pikiti who is also member of the PF committee on local government.
And UNAZ president Mpundu Mwanamwelwa condemned the government for resolving to use what he called 'heavy' guns and violence to remove poverty stricken vendors without addressing the high levels of unemployement in the country. He said the association did not support street vending because it was illegal but that they were blaming government for the increasing number of street vendors in Zambia.
By Brighton Phiri and Nomusa Michelo
Wednesday May 02, 2007 [15:00]
IT will be cheaper to adopt the new constitution through an indaba, President Levy Mwanawasa said yesterday. And President Mwanawasa said Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) should not expect the government to improve workers' conditions when public funds were being stolen by some of its members.
Speaking during the commemoration of the International Labour Day at Lusaka's Freedom Statue, President Mwanawasa said he was prepared to call for a national convention to discuss the constitution-making process.
"When we met to discuss the issue of the national indaba, my proposal was well received by the civil society who were present at State House. But I don't know whether State House ties people's mouths such that they cannot speak out while inside there. But when they went out, they went to renounce what we had agreed on the national indaba," President Mwanawasa said.
"That proposal is still open. It will be cheaper for us to adopt the constitution... for us to ensure that those portions of the Constitution that require amendment are looked into. It will be cheaper...yes, I know that some people will not get the money from the donors which they are getting for waging war against us. But I agree, the option is still open. I am prepared to call the national convention, but that can be when it is supported by the people."
And President Mwanawasa threatened to shun any event being organised by companies that invited him during their official opening but were shunning the Labour Day celebrations. "Some of the companies invited me when they were opening... They don't want to see me after I have opened them... Let them not call me for any other event if they are not prepared to dance with the people they employ. We are happy that they are making money, but not happy that they are not giving us support at all. I expect that those companies that have not participated today, they know themselves, should be in attendance next year," he said.
Acting ZCTU president Sam Phiri expressed his disappointment on the absence of some of the private investors during the Labour Day celebrations. "As evidenced here, most of the workers who have attended this ceremony are from government departments. And yet we have several private companies who have been in this country for many years. Where are they?" he asked. "Are we really promoting sustainable workers' rights in this country?"
Phiri complained that foreign investors were in the habit of referring them to the laws of their countries each time they were approached to discuss workers' conditions. "Whenever we approach the foreign employers in order to discuss the workers' conditions, we are being told in our country we do not do it this way. We have been forced to react because this country has laws.
We don't want to be told what happens in South Africa, Bulgaria, Taiwan because we have laws in this country, which need to be followed," he said. "We feel insulted whenever we are referred to the foreign laws while we have our own government and Ministry of Labour."
Phiri said it was sad that Zambian workers have been turned into slaves in their own country.
He reminded government that its claim over reduction in the inflation rate did not have any bearing on the plight of the workers. He said the call for improved productivity among the workers would be meaningless if the workers' conditions were not being improved.
"How do you become productive when some of our people live under abject poverty with an average weight of 45kg," he asked. "Some of our workers resign to buying groundnuts for K500 during lunch time and five litres of water if they manage to get access to the tap, and you expect them to be productive in the afternoon?"
Phiri complained that both the local and foreign investors were engaged in suppressing workers' rights and preventing them from forming unions at their work places. "Some of them have gone to extent of using their lawyers to block the Labour Commissioner and labour officers from entering their premises. It is shameful for these investors to threaten the labour minister because we have laws that need to be respected in this country," he said.
President Mwanawasa said the government was resolved to promote workers rights through the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) and would direct its efforts toward the observance of labour standards at workplaces by facilitating more random checks to ensure compliance with the law.
"Regular labour inspections shall be complemented by educational awareness campaigns with regard to the provisions of the employment Act, industrial relations Act, minimum wages and conditions of employment Act and the factories Act," he said.
He also said there was need to educate the majority of workers in the country on the provisions of the law so that they could claim their rights whenever they suffered any infringement at work. "Government on its part will endeavour to maintain a sound industrial relations climate for conducting business," he said.
President Mwanawasa said the government would now concentrate on creation of more jobs to absorb school leavers and graduates to gainful employment.
He said the approach would focus on the productive sectors of the economy such as agriculture, tourism and mining where many more jobs will be created. "Already with increased investment in the above sectors, 100,000 jobs have been created in the last two years," he said.
President Mwanawasa also said the problem of child labour in the country still posed a serious threat by compromising the quality of the future labour force. "It is a well known and widely acknowledged fact that child labour denies many of our children education and prospects for improved quality of life in their adulthood," he said.
He said as a phenomenon that is constantly influenced by poverty and HIV/AIDS, child labour could only be effectively tackled through a multi-dimensional approach involving various stakeholders.
He also said HIV/AIDS has been ravaging the economically productive population on whose shoulders the country's economic development lies.
And President Mwanawasa paid tribute to workers around the country for their tireless contribution to economic development in various sectors of the economy.
And Phiri said it was unacceptable for the government to continue to tell people that it had no money to increase their wages when there had been blatant revelations by the Auditor General's office of massive abuse of funds by those appointed to carry out development projects on behalf of the people.
"How can government convince us today that there is no money to buy drugs when K24 billion has literally been thrown into the sea through carelessness on the part of controlling officers," he said. "We demand that appointing authorities put an end to this recklessness by dismissing all controlling officers who have been exposed by the Auditor General's report."
Phiri said citizens were being denied access to basic utilities such as water, sanitation and electricity, education, and health simply because some controlling officers had diverted funds for such purposes to areas they considered their priorities.
"This is totally unacceptable and time has come for all concerned Zambians to take action," he said. "If the President as the appointing authority does not take action to reverse this trend, we will find ways and means of reminding him that the funds that are being misapplied are taxed from our hard earned income. There should be no compromise over this issue."
Phiri said while the government continued to sing about its achievements in the area of economic growth, the labour movement felt that this economic development be accompanied by social development.
"We see social development as an intrinsic and essential component of economic development," he said.
He said the union was opposed to its members paying fees for various social services because they were poorly remunerated and remained victims of exploitation by employers including the government.
Phiri said the union saw the highly acclaimed economic growth as a ruthless growth because it was visibly accompanied by growing and glaring income inequalities in which ten per cent of the population gets 48 per cent of the country's wealth.
"Clearly this makes our country a nation polarised into two extreme groups, a very small minority living in obscene opulence while the majority remain trapped in grotesque, excruciating poverty and human deprivation," he said.
Phiri also called on workers to be united and struggle against those who sought profit from deprivation.
"Let us continue to remain united against violations of our rights, both as workers and human beings. No one can fight this fight for us," he said. "Do not be cheated by employers who will tell you that unions simply want to promote their agenda, that is to profit from your misery."
And Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) president Dann Musenge called on workers and employers in the country to create symbiotic work relations.
"We believe as employers that this recognition goes a long way in motivating workers and for them to be dedicated, honest and diligent in their application of efforts for the achievement of corporate goals and objectives," he said.
Musenge also called on employers in the country to treat their workers with respect as partners in industrial productivity.
He said one of the most important duties of an employer is to give every worker what is justly due to them, while the worker also had the obligation to diligently and honestly work for the employer.
And International Labour Organisation (ILO) representative for Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia Gerry Finnegan said ILO together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and other stakeholders will this month launch the national Decent Work country programme. The said programme is grounded on the national priorities and the national development plans to improve work conditions in the country.
The Labour Day celebrations drew participation from 60 ministries, 55 companies and two political parties, the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) and the United Liberal Party (ULP).
Organisers of the International Labour Day celebrations expressed disappointment at Shoprite who despite being informed about the commemoration said they were not aware of it.
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Wednesday May 02, 2007 [15:26]
CUBAN President Fidel Castro has said economic recession in the United States of America is a risk to the world. In his message for May Day, which also condemned Brazil's road to massive ethanol production using cereals, President Castro stated that it hurts to think that 10 billion tonnes of fossil fuel was consumed every year.
President Castro, who did not attend the Labour Day activities, called for energy revolution in the world. "Another risk of a different nature facing the world is an economic recession in the United States," he stated. "In the past few days, the dollar has broken records in losing value. On the other hand, every country has most of its reserves in convertible currencies precisely in this paper currency and in US bonds."
President Castro stated that it was imperative to have an immediate energy revolution that consisted not only of replacing all the incandescent light bulbs but also of massively recycling all domestic, commercial, industrial, transport and social electric appliances that required two and three times more energy with their earlier technologies. "It hurts to think that 10 billion tonnes of fossil fuel is consumed every year. This means that each year we waste what it took nature one million years to create," he stated. "National industries are faced with enormous challenges, including the reduction of unemployment. In that way, we could gain a little time."
He stated that while he held nothing against Brazil, the issue of using of bio-fuels that country had agreed with the US would contribute to global warming. "I hold nothing against Brazil, even though to more than a few Brazilians continuously bombarded with the most diverse arguments that could well confuse even people who traditionally have been friendly to Cuba, we might sound callous and careless about hurting that country's net income of hard currency," President Castro stated.
"However, for me to keep silent would be to opt between the idea of a world tragedy and a presumed benefit for the people of that great nation."
He stated that while Brazil hopes to use sugarcane for producing ethanol, "history shows that sugar as a mono-crop was closely associated with the enslavement of Africans, forcibly uprooted from their natural communities and brought to Cuba, Haiti and other Caribbean islands."
President Castro stated that in Brazil, the same thing happened with sugarcane cultivation. "Today, in that country, almost 80 per cent of sugarcane is cut by hand. Sources and studies contributed by Brazilian researchers affirm that one sugarcane cutter, a piece-work labourer, must produce no less than 12 tonnes in order to meet basic needs," stated President Castro.
"This one worker needs to perform 36,630 flexing movements with his legs, make small trips 800 times carrying 15 kilogrammes of cane in his arms and walk 8,800 metres in his task.
"He loses an average of eight litres of water every day. Only by burning cane can that productivity per person be achieved. Cane cut by hand or by machines is usually burned to protect people from nasty bites and especially to increase productivity. Even though the established norm for a working day is from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon, this type of piece-work cane cutting tends to go on for a 12-hour working day. The temperature sometimes rises to 45 degrees centigrade by noon."
President Castro stated that he had cut cane in 1969 when Cuba tasked itself to produce 10 million tonnes sugar and four million tonnes of molasses.
"We never reached that goal although we came close," he stated. "The USSR had not disappeared; that seemed impossible. The Special Period, which took us to a struggle for survival and to economic inequalities with their inherent elements of corruption, had not yet begun.
"Imperialism believed that the time had come to finish off the Revolution. It is also fair to acknowledge that during the years of bonanza, we wasted resources and our idealism ran high along with the dreams accompanying our heroic process."
He reminded workers that at the end of World War II, fought by the peoples against fascism, a new power emerged that took over the world and imposed the absolutist and cruel order under which citizens of the world lived today.
"Nothing is preventing US and European capital from funding the production of bio-fuels," President Castro stated. "They could even send the funds as gifts to Brazil and Latin America. The United States, Europe and the other industrialized nations would save more than US$140 billion every year without having to worry about the consequences for the climate and the hunger which would affect the countries of the Third World in the first place. They would always be left with enough money for bio-fuels and to acquire the little food available on the world market at any price."
And Cuban acting President Raul Castro on Tuesday presided over the overwhelmingly attended Labour Day activities at Havana's Jose Marti Revolution Square without uttering a single word.
Raul, who is also Army General, arrived at the square in jovial mood but immediately ushered the union leader to open the activity.
He never said a single word to the gatherers apart from waving at the marching islanders to signal solidarity with the workers.
Ocassionally, he spoke to his comrades who included Vice-President Carlos Lage and National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcon among others.
Raul presumably could not speak since President Fidel Castro had already issued a message in which he asked workers to reflect on bio-fuel issues, including the immediate need for energy revolution and also the US economic recession.
Nonetheless, Cuban workers commemorated their day in style as they formed columns without hiding their joy and their determination for more productivity and efficiency.
The colourful event took close to three hours as the unending resemblance of the biblical exodus marchers poured through while Raul who is also second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, kept on waving at them.
Workers trooped to the square as early 05:00 hours and chanted anti-terrorism slogans while reaffirming their defence of socialism and motherland.
In Havana alone, they were over one million Cubans who marched, with the total number countrywide estimated at over six million.