Saturday, June 09, 2007
By William Blum
June 08, 2007
During the Cold War, if an American journalist or visitor to the Soviet Union reported seeing churches full of people, this was taken as a sign that the people were rejecting and escaping from communism. If the churches were empty, this clearly was proof of the suppression of religion. If consumer goods were scarce, this was seen as a failure of the communist system. If consumer goods appeared to be more plentiful, this gave rise to speculation about was happening in the Soviet Union that was prompting the authorities to try to buy off the citizenry.
I'm reminded of this kind of thinking concerning Venezuela. The conservative anti-communist American mind sees things pertaining to Washington's newest bête noir in the worst possible light (to the extent they're even being sincere). If Chávez makes education more widely available to the masses of poor people, it's probably for the purpose of indoctrinating them. If Chávez invites a large number of Cuban doctors to Venezuela to treat the poor, it's a sign of a new and growing communist conspiracy in Latin America, which includes Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. If Chávez wins repeated democratic elections ... here's the recent Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld: "I mean, we've got Chávez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He's a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."
The latest manifestation of this mind-set is the condemnation of the Venezuelan government's refusal to renew the license of RCTV, a private television station. This has been denounced by the American government and media, and all other right-thinking people, as suppression of free speech, even though they all know very well that the main reason, the sine qua non, for the refusal of the license renewal has to do with RCTV's unqualified support for the 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Chávez.
If there was a successful military coup in the United States and a particular TV station applauded the overthrow of the president (and the dissolving of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the suspension of the Constitution), and if then the coup was reversed by other military forces accompanied by mass demonstrations, and the same TV station did not report any of this while it was happening to avoid giving support to the counter-coup, and instead kept reporting that the president had voluntarily resigned ... how long would it be before the US government, back in power, shut down the station, arrested its executives, charging them under half a dozen terrorist laws, and throwing them into shackles and orange jumpsuits never to be seen again? How long? Five minutes? The Venezuelan government waited five years, until the station's license was due for renewal. And none of the executives have been arrested. And RCTV is still free to broadcast via cable and satellite. Is there a country in the entire world that would be as lenient?
It can be said that the media in Venezuela is a lot more free than in the United States. Can anyone name a single daily newspaper in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Can anyone name a single television network in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Is there a single daily newspaper or TV network in the entire United States that has earned the label "opposition media"? Venezuela has lots of opposition media.
 Associated Press , February 4, 2006
 For further detail see: Bart Jones, op-ed, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2007; www.venezuelanalysis.com; www.misionmiranda.com/rctv.htm
Full Anti-Empire Report
William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, and West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir. Visit his website: www.killinghope.org. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
The G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, had awakened great expectations. We wonder if these expectations have been met by the promises made in Heiligendamm. The G-8 has pledged to spend $60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa. This may sound a big sum of money and a very big promise.
But we know that the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa needs far more resources than this. The new money announced in Heiligendamm is important in the fight against AIDS, but it should be seen for what it is - a small step when we need giant leaps.
It is very clear that the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm has let the goal of halving world poverty slip out of reach. They have not delivered a concrete plan for tackling the crushing levels of African poverty. Millions of African children will continue to die for lack of free health care.
We also know that these promises or pledges are merely promises and pledges; they are not always met or fulfilled. They have become what our people commonly refer to as Leopards Hill Cemetery promises. They promise to turn our night into day but when it comes to doing, they leave us in permanent darkness.
Every little concession, every little aid we have gotten from them has come after a long and gruelling struggle; they hardly give us anything graciously. It takes solidarity struggles by the most progressive people in their countries for them to do any little thing for us. This is not the first time the G-8 has made promises to us which they have not fulfilled.
Despite the hopes raised in Heiligendamm, there is good reason to remain sceptical; year after year, promises have been empty, broken, or full of spin and the practices of many of these countries have been hypocritical. But we can’t stop being hopeful given the crisis threatening the world today; given the need for the G-8 to conclusively attend to the profound political and economic crisis threatening the world.
We have reasons to be hopeful because this summit galvanised many campaigners fighting global poverty, environmental degradation and many other problems facing our world today. We saw thousands of protesters in Heiligendamm protesting against the G-8’s poor record on such issues as these nations have been able to greatly influence international policies to their advantage, often at the expense of our poor countries.
Despite the G-8 countries’ sorry record on these issues, there is need to put more pressure on these governments to honour their promises.
There is no doubt that if these leaders, the leaders of the G-8 countries, want to, they can make their promises into real and effective action. Of course we know that these leaders are not always accountable to the general public’s wishes, and they may continue to seemingly defer to the interest of big business, which is what has characterised these nations in the past. However, it is our duty to make them honour their promises. The 2005 G-8 summit promised a lot of debt relief, which made headline news. But we know that most of it was spin and hype, which did not make the headline news.
The G-8 countries have continued, to varying degrees, with their excessive, unfair, even hypocritical farm subsidies. The world’s richest countries spent just over $1 billion for the year 2005 on aid for agriculture in poor countries, and just under $1 billion each day of that year for various subsidies of agriculture overproduction at home – a less appropriate ordering of priorities is difficult to imagine.
Furthermore, the systematic undermining of African economies, mostly by the rich G-8 nations, has gone on to such effect that if sub-Saharan Africa enjoyed today the same share of world exports as it did in 1980, the foreign exchange gain would represent about eight times the aid it received in 2003. This is what experts are telling us, this is what experts are saying.
There is need for all the progressive people of the world to put pressure on the G-8 countries to deliver on their promises. Yes, there are things the G-8 countries have legitimately asked us to do. For instance, they have stressed the need for us to curb corruption and improve governance. We don’t think our people can be opposed to fighting corruption and improving good governance. Most of our people are committed to delivering on these issues; they are aware of their obligations. But we also need help on this score because part of the corruption our countries experience is perpetrated by their own people and transnational corporations.
Aid is needed in Africa to support social infrastructure, health and education. We really need bigger reforms to make Africa more attractive to investment and integrate it in a beneficial way into the world economy. We shouldn’t forget that there are many promises or pledges that were made in Gleneagles that are yet to be fulfilled. For instance, commitments to a sustained boost to aid, and the pledge to work towards a free trade deal that would remove tariffs on African exports to developed countries have still not materialised.
We need better trade deals for Africa. We should press for an increased share of free trade for our poor countries. But there is need to look at why the G-8 have not fulfilled the previous commitments and they should not be let off the hook and continue to make more empty promises. This will need a strong international campaign by all men and women of goodwill.
By Kabanda Chulu and Inonge Noyoo
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
THE Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries has pledged to spend US$ 60 billion to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa. But civil society organisations (CSOs) and Aid agencies have said the G8 should not be let off the hook to continue making empty promises. And Transparency International's African and G8 chapters have asked the G8 countries to stop the supply side of corruption.
According to a statement released by the German Ministry of Development yesterday, the world leaders turned their attention to Africa on the final day of the summit by committing US$ 60 billion of which the United States of America would account for half of the total amount.
It stated that the G8 have agreed to make up the US$ 500 million shortfall in this year’s spending for education in Africa and they also resolved to keep Africa at the top of the agenda at the G8 summit to be held in Japan next year.
However, some CSOs and aid agencies said much of the money had already been announced and fell short of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals targets.
Stop AIDS Campaign coordinator Steve Cockburn stated that the G8 should do more to meet the commitments they made at their 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
“While lives will be saved with more money for AIDS, this represents a cap on ambition that will ultimately cost millions more lives,” said Cockburn.
And Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace and Development (CCJDP) Zambia social and economics project manager Mulima Akapelwa stated that the G8 had not lived up to the promises made in 2005.
“We should be looking at why the G8 have not fulfilled the previous commitments rather than allowing them off the hook to make more empty promises but this is not to say that some progress has not been made since the Gleneagles summit, for instance, the writing off the debt of 18 African countries has allowed Zambia to expand free health care in rural areas,” stated AKapelwa. “However, other commitments like a sustained boost to aid and the pledge to work towards a free trade deal that will remove tariffs on African exports to developed countries have still not materialised.”
And the Transparency International chapters in a statement at the G8 summit in Germany on Wednesday, asked leaders of the G8 nations to act on specific commitments to better governance and to fight corruption in and for Africa.
They stated that the G8 must not make itself complicit.
“The G8 also has a special responsibility to ensure that its policies and the behaviour of its companies do not make it complicit in corruption, which undermines the best efforts of African countries to fight corruption and improve governance,” read the statement.
“In this spirit, we call on the G8 to make good on their many promises to stem the supply side of bribery, to ensure that G8-based multinationals can no longer bribe with impunity when doing business in Africa.”
The chapters also urged the G8 to refuse safe haven and help recover stolen monies by ensuring that their financial markets and institutions were not complicit in managing the proceeds of corruption.
“This entails cooperating with investigators in African countries to trace, freeze and return stolen assets.
Transparency International reminded the G8 leaders of their commitments to anti-corruption and better governance under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Convention and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
“The G8 and International Financial Institutions must ensure African leaders are not hampered in decision-making power over their own economies, good governance initiatives and anti-corruption efforts,” read the statement.
“We ask that the governments of the G8 bear in mind that all efforts towards greater well-being and economic justice for the poorest - and even the challenges of climate change - will be unmanageable without good governance and markets free of corruption.”
The statement was adopted on May 26, 2007 by Transparency International- ‘s national chapters in Africa: Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
By Brighton Phiri
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
THE forthcoming referendum will be a vote of no confidence in President Mwanawasa’s leadership, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata said yesterday. And Sata has alleged that President Mwanawasa and his ‘minions’ had taken the path of rigging in their favour the results of the forthcoming referendum.
And Sata has alleged that President Mwanawasa and his ‘minions’ had taken the path of rigging in their favour the results of the forthcoming referendum.
Reacting to justice minister George Kunda’s statement that the constituent assembly would only be established if 50 per cent of eligible Zambian voters cast in favour of it during the forthcoming referendum, Sata said the referendum would be the right exercise for Zambians to cast their vote of no confidence in President Mwanawasa's administration.
“This referendum will be a vote of no confidence in Mr Mwanawasa,” Sata said.
Sata said President Mwanawasa and the government could not be trusted to provide an accurate figure of eligible Zambian voters.
“Mr Kunda’s statement confirms that President Mwanawasa and his minions are
Preparing to rig the results during the referendum. If they can cheat with registered voters, how can we trust them on an imaginary figure of eligible voters?” he asked. “What is this trick of eligible voters? How are we going to determine the number of eligible voters?”
Sata said the 50 per cent requirement should be based on the registered voters instead of eligible voters.
He said if the government insisted on eligible voters, PF would take the matter to court for determination.
“Mr. Mwanawasa must remember that in 1991, the MMD demanded to use NRCs during the elections, but the courts rejected it on grounds that it could be difficult to ascertain who had voted,” Sata said.
Sata said the government’s recent outburst suggested that it had already worked out the results of the referendum, contrary to the people’s desire.
“If they can cheat us with registered voters, what makes us believe that we shall get the right results during the referendum?” he asked.
He expressed fear that the census would be manipulated considering that President Mwanawasa had announced his decision to vote against the constituent assembly.
“This is a futile exercise,” he said.
He called for continuous voters’ registration exercise.
On Thursday, Kunda challenged those calling for the constituent assembly to campaign enough to attain the threshold of 50 per cent of eligible voters during the referendum.
“If 50 per cent of the persons who are entitled to vote approve the constituent assembly, we shall go by that,” Kunda said.
When asked whether the government had taken into account apathy that characterised elections in the country, Kunda said Zambians were free to stay away from an election. Kunda said Zambians were now free to campaign for or against the constituent assembly before the referendum.
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
THE Media and Information Commission (MIC) has rejected the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) board’s resolution on Zimbabwe, stating that information given to conferences is highly selective and never verified. And the MIC has stated that media activist organisations such as Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF) and the CPJ had no credibility in Zimbabwe because their double standards were astounding.
Reacting to the latest WAN board’s resolution on the media situation in Zimbabwe, MIC executive chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso yesterday stated that the resolution was similar to those issued by similar organisations in the past concerning Zimbabwe.
“The Media and Information Commission has been monitoring scores of statements and resolutions issued by various media associations and NGOs lying about the media situation in the country. The latest of these is the resolution on Zimbabwe issued by the Board of WAN attending the 60th World Newspaper Congress in Cape town, South Africa, from 3 to 6 June 2007,” Dr Mahoso stated. “Instead of protecting and promoting those professionals who have identified themselves to the public as journalists and are accredited as such both by the MIC and by their associations, the statements on Zimbabwe tend to focus on unaccredited individuals working clandestinely for unknown organisations.
“Indeed, the only person specified in the WAN resolution as a journalist murdered for his courageous work had not worked as a journalist for ten years at the time of his murder.”
He stated that the MIC’s public register of journalists was created in 2002 and (the late) Edward Chikomba has never appeared in that register all these years.
“Our information is that he was last employed as a journalist in 1997, long before the establishment of MIC or the creation of the access to information and protection of privacy Act,” he stated.
Dr Mahoso stated that the MIC could also confirm that Chikomba never applied for accreditation as a journalist between 2002 and the time of his alleged murder on March 29, 2007.
“The people who claim that he was working as a journalist and murdered for doing courageous journalistic work must fully own up to exactly who his employers were and what kind of assignment he was doing, since they appear to know so much about it,” Dr Mahoso stated. “What the commission knows is that if Chikomba was doing media work without accreditation and an identifiable and registered employer, most legal systems in most democracies would classify him as a spy.”
He stated that the US and the UK were responsible for the deaths of more than 170 journalists in Iraq since March 2003.
“Yet RSF has the audacity to tell the world that the US ranks No. 56, the UK ranks No.27, and Iran ranks No. 162 in the protection of press freedom while Iraq ranks on No. 154! There is no media policy in Iraq which is independent of the occupying military authority made up of the US and the UK,” Dr Mahoso stated.
“So why do the ICJ and RSF fail to see that their rankings of the US and UK is a travesty? And how can countries such as Iran, Cuba and China be credibly presented as worse for journalism than the Iraq holocaust under US-UK occupation?”
He stated that it was necessary, therefore, for the MIC to go beyond the WAN resolution in order to bring out the context within which such a “world-wide” resolution could be issued based on lies.
“Our mandate and responsibilities are based on an Act of Parliament and we operate in terms of publicly gazetted rules and regulations.
This means that we are a public information agency and we value accurate public information. The issue of press freedom, the Daily News and the other papers mentioned at so many fora is a public information issue,” Dr Mahoso stated. “But reports coming out of Zimbabwe are usually not verified. The Commission values very highly any inquiry based on a genuine need to know what exactly happened to Edward Chikomba, Gift Phiri, Bright Chibvuri, the Daily News, the Tribune and the Weekly Times and why.
“In order for that objective of establishing the facts to be achieved, it is important for those seeking to know to avoid lies, innuendo, invective and slogans, which may do well in conveying opinion, anger and even hatred but always fail to solicit accurate information. The product in such cases is the stigmatization and demonisation of a whole people, not public information.”
Dr Mahoso stated that the highest number of journalists murdered anywhere in the world since 2003 was in Iraq, which is occupied by the very same powers trying to stop Zimbabwe from merely regulating journalists and publishers.
“The problem with the words used by WAN, MISA, RSF and CPJ to describe the Zimbabwe media situation is that such words as draconian, repressive, free press, undemocratic, unrepressed, human rights and so on- are all detached from actual content and context,” he stated. “A certain media service in Zimbabwe does not automatically become free, independent and robust just because someone sitting in Britain, the US, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa has given it that label.”
He stated that there was need to be careful with who the sources of information are and what motivates them to give such selective information.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, the people who could give the WAN congress information on the other side of the Zimbabwe story are banned from Britain, the US and Europe, for fear that their side of the story may convince concerned Europeans and North Americans to look again and listen again,” Dr Mahoso stated.
“A while ago, the US Ambassador to the FAO attacked the head of the FAO for allowing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to visit Italy, attend the FAO conference and speak. Have the WAN or CPJ written to President George Bush or Prime Minister Blair to tell them not to ban and silence Zimbabweans who have their own story and point of view to add to what the British government and its white allies normally like to hear? No!”
He stated that it was obvious from reading the various resolutions and statements on Zimbabwe that the information given to conferences was highly selective and never verified.
“There are two critical questions to ask when assessing sources of information on Zimbabwe. The first question is whether the group or individual source is sponsored. If the group or individual is sponsored, is it possible to identify the sponsors and the reasons for sponsorship? Sponsorship of sources in journalism is a serious ethical offence. The second question is about the ideological orientation of the group or individual,” he stated.
Dr Mahoso stated that what was even worse than sponsorship in this was the glaring appearance of orchestration.
He stated that the media bodies had no credibility in Zimbabwe because their double standards were astounding.
Dr Mahoso stated that the main reason why the so-called “independent media” in Zimbabwe could not regulate themselves was because they were heavily sponsored.
“The Daily News was 95 per cent British-owned when it started. It also received free newsprint from foreign donors. Maybe that is what being independent means to some people,” he stated.
In a resolution passed at the end of its 60th World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, the WAN board accused the government of Zimbabwe of harassing, arresting, detaining and stifling press freedom.
“The recurrent violations of journalists’ basic rights and the complete disregard for the rule of law of the Zimbabwean leadership and law enforcement agencies are unacceptable...the WAN board calls on President Robert Mugabe to put an end to arbitrary and violent arrest and detention of journalists, to firmly commit to uphold international standards of freedom of expression and freedom of the pres in Zimbabwe,” stated the resolution.
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
BOLIVIA’S President Evo Morales is in Cuba on a working visit and met President Fidel Castro. President Morales, according to a brief notice, held an emotive and fraternal exchange with President Castro. During a three-hour discussion the duo ran over achievements of the Cuban-sponsored Eye-Operation project, Operation Miracle, in which almost 90,000 Bolivians have had their sight restored.
Presidents Morales and Castro analysed advances under the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). ALBA is a socially oriented trade block rather than one strictly based on the logic of deregulated profit maximisation. Established by Venezuela and Cuba now joined by Bolivia and Nicaragua, ALBA appeals to the egalitarian principles of justice and equality that are innate in human beings, the well-being of the most dispossessed sectors of society, and a reinvigorated sense of solidarity toward the underdeveloped countries of the western hemisphere, so that with the required assistance, they can enter into trade negotiations on more favorable terms than has been the case under the dictates of developed countries.
President Morales was also to meet with Cuba’s acting president and army general Raul Castro.
He was received at the Jose Marti International Airport by Vice-President Carlos Lage. “On invitation of Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, comrade Evo Morales, President of the sister Republic of Bolivia, begins a working visit to our country today (Thursday),” read a notice in the Granma earlier on.
“This latest visit by Evo comes in the context of the excellent relations between the two nations in every sphere, and constitutes a further demonstration of the solid ties of friendship and solidarity that unite our peoples and governments.”
President Morales, a leftist, is the first indigenous leader to rule the Andean nation of Bolivia in 500 years. He is also pursuing agrarian reforms and has recorded remarkable success in nationalising the energy sector.
By Chibaula Silwamba in Petauke
Saturday June 09, 2007 [04:00]
ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) commissioner Joseph Jelasi has blamed political parties and NGOs for the voter apathy and spoiled ballot papers that characterised the Kapoche by-election. In an interview after the elections, Jelasi, who headed the ECZ team to the Kapoche by-election, said political parties did not do enough to educate people on the importance of the elections. About 13,700 out of about 27,500 registered voters cast their votes while 276 votes were spoiled. This is less than 50 percent of the total number of registered voters.
“The political parties themselves don’t seem to do much in voter education. It’s their responsibility to sensitise the people thoroughly,” Jelasi said. “They should not just do it a few days before elections and should not just concentrate on talking about the mistakes of their opponents.”
He advised political parties to make early decisions on the persons they wanted to field as a candidates so that the voters and ECZ knew them well in advance.
Jelasi said some NGOs engaged in electoral process were mere armchair critics.
“I expected the NGOs to be very active in Kapoche but there was conspicuous absence of NGOs. NGOs are armchair critics that just issue statements in newspapers,” Jelasi observed. “But they are supposed to be in the field sensitising the people and monitoring the elections.”
He said the NGOs did not even take advantage of the two community radio stations in Petauke to reach a wider audience to educate the people on the electoral process.
Jelasi observed that people were getting tired of by-elections. “People were asking me, ‘why are we having elections again but we had elections recently? What is it for?’ So the impression I am getting is that people are tired of by-elections,” said Jelasi. “So people should be sufficiently educated about by-elections.”
Friday, June 08, 2007
The Heinrich Boell Foundation has issued a special Memorandum to the G8 summit and all leaders worldwide. The full document can be found here. Below we are reproducing the executive summary.
To Have and Have Not
Despite their wealth in natural resources, many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America suffer from ever-increasing poverty as the exploitation of their resources is often accompanied by serious environmental and social impacts or even violent conflicts in the producing regions, while the current growth paradigm of consumer classes around the world is increasing the pressure on the natural resource base.
How natural resources are accessed, how contracts are negotiated, and how economic benefits are managed and used are crucial factors in the struggle to alleviate poverty. These elements of resource governance are also critical in bringing about and maintaining national and regional stability, in fostering truly democratic governments, and in avoiding conflict. The G8 summit in Germany is an appropriate occasion to appeal for a policy change regarding the governance of natural resources.
The challenges for the natural resource sector in the 21st century are numerous and closely interrelated. They include: macroeconomic conditions (terms of trade, investment regimes), climate change, high consumption rates, peak oil, energy security, social and environmental impacts, corruption, human rights abuses, and conflict resources.
Macroeconomic conditions for development. Rules have to be installed and existing rules have to be enforced for investors in the resource sector with the aim of fairly sharing costs and benefits between investors and resource-rich countries. The existing International Investment Agreements (IIAs) emphasise investors’ rights rather than the development interests of the host countries. They should be reframed with development linkages. At the same time, the deteriorated terms of trade, which fuel indebtedness of resourcerich countries, need to be improved.
Governance of natural resources. Corruption and mismanagement of revenues contributes to the discontent of populations and to political instability. The key stepping stone for improving governance is transparency at all levels, including revenue flows, contracts, and the allocation of concessions. Natural resources have often played an important role in providing money to maintain and to prolong armed conflicts. The international community is providing armed groups and corrupt regimes with unfettered access to world markets. With the UN Security Council as a key player, the international community must address the economic base for conflicts and wars and establish corresponding rules and regulations to control the flow of finances. A first step is to agree upon a common definition of what a “conflict resource” is. Private and public banks play a key role within the network of trusts and companies acquiring and generating money from corruption and crime, which is used for personal profit or the maintenance of conflicts. Although in the last few years a network of laws and regulations was established, the money still finds its way into the international financial system. Existing rules and regulations have to be strengthened. Transparency initiatives need to cover the financial sector as well.
Forests – time for a change. Forests request special consideration as 1 billion people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for their livelihood and more than 350 million people living in and around forests are heavily dependent on them. The enormous ecological importance in terms of biodiversity and climate change underline the need for the implementation of special rules and regulations. The industrial-scale export-based logging paradigm has nowhere contributed to sustainable development in tropical forestrich countries. Alternative models of forest use are given little chance. The industrial log9 ging model is even enhanced by the undifferentiated import customs of timber-demanding countries, of which only the G8 nations import around 40 per cent of illegally traded timber. The forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be a focal point for a paradigm change, and the window of opportunity to act is now, since large concessions have not yet been given out to timber companies.
Here is a news announcement from Global Witness. Global Witness "exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses." Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds' and awarded the Gleitsman Foundation prize for international activism in 2005.
Cambodia's corrupt political elite is stripping the country of its natural resources, according to a new report published by UK-based NGO Global Witness on June 1, 2007.
The report, ‘Cambodia's Family Trees', reveals for the first time how family members and business associates of the prime minister and other senior officials are illegally destroying Cambodia's forests with complete impunity.
Launched ahead of an international donor-Cambodian government meeting on future aid to Cambodia scheduled for June 19-20, the report calls on the donors to start using their influence more effectively.
"Despite the huge amount of aid flowing into the country, the political culture of corruption and impunity means that Cambodians are still among the world's poorest people," said Global Witness Director Simon Taylor. "When are the donors going to start addressing the asset-stripping, mafioso behaviour of the current regime?"
The report details the activities of Cambodia's most powerful illegal logging syndicate - known as the Seng Keang Company - which is controlled by individuals related to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chan Sarun and Director General of the Forest Administration Ty Sokhun.
This syndicate is the driving force behind a major illegal logging racket in Southeast Asia's largest lowland evergreen forest, Prey Long. Under the guise of a government-mandated rubber plantation, it has illegally logged vast tracts of forest, yielding a timber haul worth more than US$13 million annually. Its targeting of resin trees has damaged the livelihoods of hundreds, if not thousands of families living in the area. As the report shows, leading members of the syndicate are heavily implicated not only in illegal logging, but also in tax evasion, kidnapping, bribery and attempted murder.
Illegal logging in Cambodia not only fills the pockets of the political elite; it also funds the activities of a 6000-strong private army controlled by Hun Sen. The Brigade 70 unit runs a nationwide timber trafficking and smuggling service, catering to prominent tycoons, that generates profits of US$2 million to US$2.75 million per year. A large slice of these profits goes to commander of the prime minister's Bodyguard Unit Lieutenant-General Hing Bun Heang.
Despite evidence of widespread illegal activities and human rights abuses by Cambodia's armed forces, some donors, notably the US, have resumed military assistance to the government.
"If Cambodia's donors want the country's natural resources to be managed in a way which benefits the Cambodian people, then they must confront the high-level corruption which allows groups such as the Seng Keang Company and Brigade 70 to operate," said Taylor. "At a minimum, they must link all non-humanitarian aid to reforms that will make the government more accountable to the country's citizens. They can start by insisting that a credible anti-corruption law - which the government has been stalling for over a decade now - is passed immediately."
"In a few years time, Cambodia will become an oil-producing country," added Taylor. "It is not too late for donors to insist that the government lay the foundations for transparent revenue management. Without this, however, Cambodia's projected oil billions are likely to be siphoned off by corrupt politicians and their cronies."
Cambodia's Family Trees can be downloaded from http://www.globalwitness.org
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
Conditions are changing all the time, and to adapt our thinking to the new conditions, we need good education, we must study. Through good education we can learn what we don't know. In our attempts to transform our poor country into a prosperous one, we are confronted with arduous tasks and our experience is far from adequate.
This means we must be good at learning. And this is much more so for our young people, our youths. This is because the world is theirs, as well as ours, but in the final analysis, it is theirs. Young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the morning sun. Our hope is placed on them. We must help all our young people to get a good education so that they can face the future with confidence.
Education is a major factor for social change. Therefore, more resources and attention should be paid to education. We should accept the role of our universities as active agents of national integration and social justice in Zambia. And we should not forget that lack of education opportunities lies at the base of the inequalities and injustices in our country today.
The problems that the University of Zambia is experiencing are primarily a result of inadequate funding. Although our country does not have enough resources, it could do much better if education was prioritised. At the moment only less than 40 per cent of the University of Zambia's budget has finances allocated to it by the government. The University of Zambia today owes over K200 billion to suppliers and other creditors. There is no way the university will manage to settle this liability without government giving it the money to do so.
This means that the University of Zambia is not creditworthy, making it very difficult for it to get supplies on credit. There is need for the government to clear all the university's liabilities and give it a new start. These liabilities should be transferred from the university's books to the Ministry of Finance and settled there. And this should be accompanied by increased funding of not less than 100 per cent of the university's budget.
If we can find money to build or repair roads, similarly we should be able to raise enough money for the university's operations.
We shouldn't cheat ourselves that we can develop this country with poor university education in the country. We need to see qualitative and quantitative improvements in university education. We still have a lot of our young people with good grade 12 results who cannot enter university not because their grades are low. But simply because the university can only enrol a limited number of students.
We think our country should work tirelessly so that our people, especially the young people, are enriched culturally, intellectually and technically without restrictions on this process. So that if everyone wants the honour - and we mean the honour, because it would be impossible to consider it in any other way if this were the general rule - if everyone wants the honour of having a university degree, then everyone should have the chance to get one; without, of course, this implying that if everyone has a university degree, then everyone is going to have a job that corresponds to that degree.
But this is a problem that has to be solved by creating facilities for study, by improving the capacity of our universities and improving the quality of tuition, and, of course, in the knowledge that having a degree will not automatically guarantee a job that corresponds to that degree. We say this because it is important that we understand that while there was an enormous shortage of university graduates, every university graduate with that degree could immediately get the appropriate professional job.
But the day when our country has tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions with these degrees, then we won't be able to consider university studies as a way to get a job or a professional position. But we must find a solution to this contradiction and instead of saying, "so you want to study? Right, we are going to give you every opportunity to study," without this implying, as we have said, that when an enormous number of people are getting degrees, everyone will have a job that corresponds to that degree.
The time will have to come - and it will come - when jobs like that of engineer of any kind, or doctor, teacher, economist, or whatever, will be allocated on the basis of one's university record. Some way will have to be found. But we shouldn't stop this, even at the risk of becoming a nation of intellectuals. What will a nation of intellectuals be like, anyway? Nobody knows.
Now, we have not yet reached this stage, and since we still need many university graduates in many fields, technicians in many fields, let's come back down to earth to suggest that we take great care to channel this university study effort toward the basic careers in which there is greater need at the present time in Zambia, and above all toward faculties of technology.
Let's put more and more resources in our universities because the future of our country will depend on how many educated people we have and the quality of their education. We cannot wait to provide adequate resources to our universities in the future; we have to do it now because the future is built on the thresholds of today. We will not be able to build the future in the future. The decisions we take today; the priorities we make today will determine what kind of future our country will have.
The problems of the University of Zambia cannot be solved without increased financial resources. It is impossible for any administrator to run this university properly without increased funding. Even financial accountability becomes impossible without increased funding. Auditors require to be paid and for a big institution like the University of Zambia, the auditing and accounting fees can be enormous.
This may explain why this university has not had a proper and complete audit since 1997. This is not a healthy situation, especially in an institution where public funds are used. Without increased funding to the university we will continue to be hoping for the impossible; to reap where we did not sow. Strikes and other disputes will be the order of the day if funding to the university is not increased.
By Chansa Kabwela and Joan Chirwa in Cape Town
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) deputy president Jacob Zuma has defended South Africa 's quiet diplomacy over Zimbabwe. And the 60th World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and 14th World Editors Forum on Wednesday came to a close with media representatives calling for commitment to innovation and long-term investment into the industry.
During an Editors' lunch at the just ended congress in Cape Town, Zuma said he did not think that South Africa had the right to issue instructions to Zimbabwe.
Zuma said it was not South Africa 's right to act as a 'big induna' on the situation in Zimbabwe.
He also said the media should be responsible in its reporting.
Zuma said press freedom had to be balanced with factual and objective reporting, fairness and respect for human rights and human dignity.
"...Nor should the media allow themselves to be used as a tool by political leaders, organisations or governments. Once they allowed this, they would lose objectivity and gradually lose credibility," he said.
Zuma said the media was fortunate to have an organisation such as WAN which highlighted violations of press freedom and campaigned for the rights of journalists.
"However, ordinary citizens do not have organisations representing them if their rights have been violated by the media. They have little recourse if they are on the receiving end of incorrect or malicious reporting," he said. "It takes nothing away to apologise when you have made a mistake. In fact, if you did so, it earns you respect."
Zuma said the media had gone overboard in their reporting on him and he believed that he needed to do something to address the issue.
He explained that he was not suing some sections of the South African media for money or other interests but that it was an issue of respect for human dignity and the right to privacy.
Zuma was last year charged with raping a woman at his home in 2005.
However, South Africa 's High Court judge Willem van der Merwe ended a marathon summary with the words, "The accused is found not guilty".
Zuma always maintained his innocence and had said there was a political conspiracy to remove him from running for the country's next presidency.
According to Zuma, the media, in their reporting, had tried and literally convicted him even after a judge agreed he was innocent.
And delegates to the WAN congress called on the media to invest in the future and devise clear editorial strategies.
The delegates called for an evolving culture of collaboration, a change in management style and interactivity with the community.
The congress also placed emphasis on the importance of delving into online news which had various advantages such as immediacy and interactivity but added that the competitive advantage of the newspaper remained fundamental.
And a report by the Innovation International Media Consulting group for the WAN stated that newspapers remained a vital source of information worldwide.
The annual report launched at the end of the congress and World Editors Forum highlighted key issues that newspapers need to adopt in terms of news coverage, advertising and circulations, bearing in mind the needs of the readership.
It noted that online news and information would soon replace television network news as a leading source, although newspapers still maintain their position on the information market.
Newspapers have therefore been urged to remove bias and narrowness in their presentation of news but should always stand for the truth.
The report noted that bias and narrowness in news coverage reduced newspaper readership, and subsequently the papers' sales volumes and revenues.
The 2007 World report on newspapers indicates that as local information continues to be of preference to the readers, there appeared to be a new and urgent need for worldwide news.
It emphasises the need for presentation of valuable information to communities in both text and graphic form.
The report also highlights the importance of improving newspapers' websites by focusing on local information, content as well as incorporating user comments and rankings to complement the print edition.
And chairman of the Newspaper Association of South Africa (NASA) Trevor Ncube stated that African editors and publishers needed swift and smart thinking in order to withstand persecution in countries with prickly presidents and parliaments.
"When state adverts dry up, usually on order from on-high, new business models have to be invented on-the-fly," stated Ncube in the foreword of the 2007 World Newspapers report.
The 2007 summit meetings of the world's press in Cape Town ended with a resolution that the 61st WAN congress and 15th World Editors Forum be held in Goteborg, Sweden from June 1 to 4, 2008.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
Justice minister George Kunda said yesterday that the constituent assembly would only be established if 50 per cent of eligible Zambian voters cast in favour of it during the forthcoming referendum.
Addressing journalists at his office on the constitution-making process, Kunda challenged those calling for the constituent assembly to campaign enough to attain the threshold of 50 per cent of eligible voters during the referendum.
"If 50 per cent of the persons who are entitled to vote approve the constituent assembly, we shall go by that," Kunda said.
When asked whether government had taken into account apathy that characterised elections in the country, Kunda said Zambians were free to stay away from an election.
"One is free to stay away from an election. Apathy will not account because the law states that we must reach threshold in favour of the motion," Kunda said.
Kunda said Zambians were now free to campaign for or against the constituent assembly before the referendum.
"Those that are for the constituent assembly must campaign...after all they are saying government will be defeated during the referendum," Kunda said.
Kunda announced that finance minister Ng'andu Magande would in the next few days issue a gazette notice fixing the time period during which the director of Census and Statistics at the Central Statistical Office (CSO) would conduct a sample census.
He explained that the sample census would determine the number of persons entitled to be registered as voters for the purpose of the forthcoming referendum.
Kunda said government was gratified that most of the major stakeholders were preparing themselves for the forthcoming referendum.
"During the referendum interested parties shall be at liberty to campaign for or against the constituent assembly as per our democratic norms," Kunda said.
Kunda said the Constitution Review Process Implementation Committee (CRPIC) would soon release a work plan for the activities to be covered this year.
He explained that apart from the census, the registration of voters would be conducted in accordance with the referendum Act.
"The referendum will then be held in order for the people of Zambia to decide whether amendments should be made to Articles 62 and 79 of the Constitution so as to introduce a constituent assembly," he said.
He disclosed that government would embark on sensitisation programmes through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services.
Kunda said government was expected to spend about K202, 563, 823,000 as provided for in the national budget.
Among CRPIC members are permanent secretaries Getrude Imbwae, Emmanuel Nyirenda, Buleti Nsemukila, Police Commissioner Francis Kabonde, chief state advocate Dominic Sichinga and Electoral Commission of Zambia director Dan Kalale.
Civil society organisations have vowed to defeat government during the referendum and ensure that the constituent assembly was established in accordance with the will of the people.
By Noel Sichalwe and Inonge Nooyo
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
LONDON High Court judge Peter Smith yesterday increased former president Frederick Chiluba's liability to the Republic of Zambia to US $58.2 million. The figure was increased from the initial US $41 million by Zambian lawyers in London after calculating the costs involved in the case. And judge Smith has also ordered the valuation of Chiluba's 12b Serval Road, Kabulonga residence to ascertain its actual market value.
During a hearing that was aimed at reconciling figures involved in the matter, live from London through a video link, judge Smith accepted that Chiluba should pay US $52,293,724, Xavier Chungu US $58,112,727 and Stella Chibanda US $58,112,727. Others are Aaron Chungu US $27,193,136, Faustin Kabwe US $53,757,867, Francis Kaunda US $100,575, Boutique Basile US $ 1,815,736 and Raphael Soriano US $29,609,582.
However, judge Smith said the figures would remain valid unless challenged by the non-participating defendants.
The Zambian lawyers further argued that Chiluba's house in Kabulonga was bought with public funds and was subject to seizure.
The lawyers argued that the Zambian government was entitled to possess Chiluba's house because it was bought with public funds.
The lawyers said when the house was about to be seized in 2003, someone filed an injunction against the seizure and that the matter was still in court.
After hearing the submissions, judge Smith ordered that the house be valued to ascertain its market value then rule whether it should be added to the judgment figure or be substituted.
Judge Smith further rejected Faustin Kabwe's submission that he should be drawing about 2,000 British pounds for his upkeep.
He said he could not allow Kabwe's submission because he had not justified how he would use the money in a country where such an amount could help over 3,000 people.
The lawyers further referred to a press conference that Chiluba held after the judgment, saying the money claimed to have been stolen was received from well-wishers and travel allowances.
They contended that Chiluba had not identified the well-wishers that gave him the money and that he could not justify his claims.
Judge Smith said he had already determined that Chiluba was using money stolen from government.
He further said his findings in the judgment were based on the balance of probability.
"People in Zambia must be aware that Dr Chiluba is entitled to a fair trial," judge Smith said. "I am aware that Dr Chiluba's trial is in August. I can see the deputy registrar refused to stop the trial because of my judgment. I have made my findings on a balance of probability. This judgment is on a civil standard and not a criminal standard."
Last month judge Smith established that Chiluba and others 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 and others to pay about 85 percent of the total sum (US $41 million) within 14 days upon service of the judgment.
This is 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.
Judge Smith said he was satisfied that Chiluba and former Zambia Security Intelligence Services director general Xavier Chungu were major conspirators and were also in breach of their fiduciary duties.
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.
And in the case in which Donegal International was awarded about US $15 million over the Zambian debt they purchased from the Romanian government, the lawyers complained that during the hearing yesterday, there were some lawyers from Donegal International who were trying to see how they could exert pressure on the Zambian government to pay their money.
They complained that Donegal was trying to bully the government to release the money owed to them.
The lawyers complained that Donegal had even attached the MOFED account in their attempt to get their money.
They said this implied that Donegal could get all the money from MOFED account if they were successful with their attachment process.
Judge Smith has since ordered that he will hear the Donegal application together with the third party debt order.
By Fridah Zinyama
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
A Lusaka based economist, Lloyd Sichilongo has said the tax system in the country should be revised in order to make it more equitable. During the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) seminar on ‘How the government budget can be used to improve equity’, Sichilongo said equity was not just a goal but also a means to fostering economic growth.
“Zambia cannot talk of equity when it comes to sharing the national cake,” he said. “Areas that are critical to the nation like education and health have really been sidelined by this government,” Sichilongo said.
He said this could be witnessed by the budgetary allocations that had been set aside for the health and education sectors. Sichilongo added that it was unacceptable for the equity burden of the country to be based on individual taxpayers.
“In this year’s budget, individual tax will account for 26 percent of the total domestic revenue,” Sichilongo said. “This is in contrast to corporate tax which will only account for 11 per cent of the total domestic revenue.”
He said even more shocking was the fact that the mining companies would only pay 1 per cent of the total revenue.
“This situation should not be allowed to continue as the money that most of these mining companies have stashed away in foreign accounts is more than the total revenue of this country,” Sichilongo said.
He said at the moment Zambia was losing out from gaining from the only means of revenue that could help the country develop.
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
THE Zimbabwean government has pledged to continue supplying subsidized fuel at Z$ 450 per litre. The normal pump price for both petrol and diesel is Z$ 48,500 per litre (equivalent to about K 4,850). And the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) has reintroduced bus services in the suburbs of the capital Harare following the withdrawal of services by some private transport operators alluding to viability problems.
But in a statement, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo guaranteed the private transport operators that the government would continue to supply subsidised fuel at Z$ 450 per litre.
“Government continues to avail subsidised fuel at a cost of Z$ 450 per litre, enough to meet the operators’ optimal daily mileage,” Chombo stated.
Chombo however, stated that the operators concerns were over costs arising from operational aspects such as spares.
He said Zupco was working on improving its fleet in the worst affected urban areas and to open discussions with the private bus operators on the way forward.
“It is expedient for me to advise the commuting public and indeed all stakeholders on the current commuter transport challenges in our urban areas, especially Harare, consequent upon a significant withdrawal of the private operators’ fleet,” Chombo stated. “I wish to assure the nation, as I hereby do, that government is actively engaging private transport operators with a view of coming up with a consensus on the way forward.”
By Fridah Zinyama
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
MINISTRY of Commerce permanent secretary Davidson Chilipamushi has said Zambian companies need to improve their products and services if they are to capture the local and international markets. During the 2007 Customer Service Expo organised by SS Media group Limited, Chilipamushi said when the business community improved their products and services it would be easy to use specialised forums to showcase their products to their local customers.
“What we need at the moment are more specialised forums such as this expo which accords the opportunity to the business community and various institutions to showcase their products,” he said. “The Customer Service expo will help the business communities to demonstrate to their existing and potential clients what they are doing to improve their services.”
Chilipamushi said the expo would afford the business communities with feedback of what their clients feel about their products.
“Government is also doing its part in ensuring that the business environment in the country is good,” he said. “We have realised that in order to improve service delivery, we will have to form partnerships with the private sector.”
Chilipamushi urged the private sector to take the initiative in those areas where they can add value to their products and services. “Government would like to see more private sector initiatives that help to translate government policies into action,” he said.
And Chilipamushi added that government’s commitment to superior service delivery could be seen in its deliberate measures to restructure key institutions that provide critical services to the business community.
“The formation of Zambia Development Agency is meant to help facilitate investment and trade opportunities, company registration, product quality standards and certification and support to small and emerging businesses through specialised agencies that constitute ZDA,” said Chilipamushi.
By Saka Sokontwe
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
Those who are keen followers of the game of chess will know the word “check”; “situation of the chess king in danger of being captured by the opponent’s piece”; “a difficult position that one is placed in by the opponent” and “a setback experienced by someone who becomes aware that their calculations were wrong, or their hopes have not been attained.”
I have taken trouble to use this term in view of President Mwanawasa and the MMD national executive committee’s proposal for a referendum to determine how the constitution must be adopted.
Their arguments; that the constitution will financially strain government coffers, the government has a road map, certain articles need to be repealed, those who are grieved about the constitution-review process can seek judicial guidance and now the referendum has undoubtedly been countered by their 'opponents'.
The MMD’s efforts to give Zambia a people-driven constitution in general and its adoption in particular have been faulted since they took power in 1991.
They have propagated a false sense of impartiality, striving for consensus based on the ability to speak on behalf of the Zambian people when in actual fact, they are representing a particular interest group.
They have desired to construct a Zambia whose ideals can only be realised through their legacy. Yet the legacy of of MMD in the constitution -making process is marred by controversy, greed, demonising well-meaning people and a narrow sense of tolerance.
I must say that the MMD are shunning facts of history and instead are looking for answers to the constitution-making process hypothetically. They are definitely acting as outsiders offering no practicable alternatives to this process.
This is one clear indication to what absurdity, pride and intolerance lead, when each man is so sure of his position and believes he is right to the exclusion of the rest of the citizens.
Let me end by reminding the MMD that in chess, you must watch your moves when your opponent says “check.”
Public discussion with Levy
By Mthoniswa Banda
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
From the calls and letters, the President comes out as the sole depository of wisdom and knowledge on matters pertaining to the Zambian way of life. He comes out as the only intelligent person in this country, who can single-handedly steer the cause of the country and economy without regard to the views of other people.
In his letters, Mwanawasa seems to think that his re-election was a confirmation that he can spend the Zambian resources in any manner he deems fit and can solely determine the pace of development that this country can aspire to.
Mwanawasa seems to forget that his very luxury at State House and that of his family is paid for by the sweat and hunger of the millions of Zambians that struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day.
The sacrifice of the people has never been meant for Mwanawasa to threaten them or insult them with his arrogance but for him to get on his laurels and facilitate for the smooth operations of Zambian ways of life and the nation's economic growth.
If Mwanawasa has a lot of things to say to the Zambian tax payers, let him be brave enough, like Thabo Mbeki, KK among other leaders to appear on live discussion and debate programmes on radio and TV stations so that we can hear his views and debate with him.
Let him write his views in the columns of our newspapers, giving us his e-mail addresses so that we can react to his views.
If he ignores this, Mwanawasa might go down in history as the only president that never faced a live and intelligent audience in any debate on any issue during his tenure of office. What is he afraid of? Zambians want their country to compete with the G8 and not to always beg from them.
Leaders of intergrity
By Yetambuyu Munalula Livingstone
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
It is good for Zambians to have woken up and seen for themselves that it is time for them to vote into power or governments people of integrity and morality, and this is final!
I would also like to congratulate Levy Mwanawasa for setting a standard, and The Post for their untiring fight to educate Zambians on what is good and bad by informing the majority.The above, we cannot pretend that they have done nothing even if they have their own weakness in one way or another. The truth is the standard has been set for people aspiring for presidency.
I am writing in reference to Fr John K. Kafwanka from London who wrote to say : “It is very interesting and sad to read many letters in search for the right person to succeed President Levy Mwanawasa as head of MMD and national President, and it appears many people are convinced that MMD will have something to offer politically, economically and so on.”
As much as one may wish to hate MMD, the fact that they are a political party in power, they still play a major political role in the nation hence the demand from the people they are ruling that they conduct their affairs well or face the red card.
If some people demand that someone clean and of integrity has to come on board, in this I see nothing wrong because we are all Zambians and we are all seeking something better for all to benefit.
And this goes to all political parties, but the appeal especially had to go to MMD as a major political player and this we cannot hide. Who knows if they will clean themselves and have a credible person at the helm that things can change? This I know is debatable.
Honestly, Levy with all his weakness has at least shown a different style from the “Chiluba” type of eating everything from your field of work! We need leaders of integrity and morality!
We need modern infrastructure
By Marvin Chibuye
Friday June 08, 2007 [04:00]
We continue to mourn the soccer fans who died due to a stampede at Konkola Stadium after the Zambia-Congo game last Saturday. It is heartwarming that families that lost beloved ones are being helped by the government and well-wishers but the truth is that it will only ease the burden but the pain will linger for a long time.
This could have been avoided if the government listened to peoples’concerns. With due respect, it’s evident that they swing into action very quickly when a crisis occurs but no mitigating measures are ever put in place to avoid a recurrence.
It is now a chorus that we need new or modern infrastructure in this country and many people have cited the benefits. Alas, it falls on deaf ears. Our politicians are only bent on ensuring they acquire wealth for themselves and no thought of the populous ever occurs to them.
This is evident in misplaced priorities that can be cited from our national budget. If we had modern stadia with capacities of 60,000 or 75,000 with many open exits due to negligence these gates may not be opened the tragedy could have been avoided.
The death traps we call stadia were meant for fewer people but Zambia has since outgrown the numbers.
Politicians, wake up!
There is nothing wrong with putting up a Commission of Inquiry to determine the cause of a calamity but we need mitigating measures.
Many soccer fans were crammed into a stadium that is not meant for such capacities; after all tickets in excess of the Konkola Stadium capacity were sold, with no thought of safety.
There are also no floodlights at Konkola and to add salt to injury the game ended late for known reasons, forcing people to panic as darkness loomed.
The fact is no other stadium is suitable to host international matches after the death trap we call Independence was banned by FIFA. Come on politicians, Zambia has no suitable stadia for international games.
Unless the government revisits its priorities, another tragedy looms. I am not a prophet of doom but it seems risk management is not critical to our government. On June 16 Zambia plays Chad and the question is from where? Of course, Konkola, the only FIFA-approved stadium if it is also not banned following the tragedy.
Soon and very soon, the Chipolopolo and soccer-loving Zambians will be destitute and deprived when our home games will be played away from here due to safety concerns.
It is the same old story when it comes to the road infrastructure. Lusaka is congested with traffic and no action is being taken to remedy the situation. All we hear is talk and no action. The government is waiting for a catastrophe so that they can set up a commission of inquiry.
To improve road safety, let us build bypasses to let vehicles flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up areas.
In fact, Lusaka urgently needs flyovers or overpasses; these are bridges formed by the upper level of a crossing of two highways at different levels. This will not only solve the safety aspect but beautify the city as well. These projects can then be extended to other cities and towns.
Well, I am sure some politician will remind us how poor Zambia is but they can afford to pocket US$ 55,000 in car loans, K 500 million in gratuity as MPs. And Zambia can even afford a US$ 28 million helicopter and other expenses. For once, politicians act! We are not as poor as you make us believe.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Thursday June 07, 2007 [04:00]
Zimbabwe needs and deserves the help and support of all. There is no way a country that they have so much weakened with sanctions and internal political divisions can solve its economic and political problems all by itself. There is no way a country plagued with so many problems and difficulties, a country that has been so much undermined and weakened can overcome all by itself the challenges and difficulties Zimbabwe is facing.
There is no question that the current political leaders of Zimbabwe made serious strategic and tactical errors that opened that country to imperialist strangulation. They did make enormous mistakes by failing to foresee the consequences of what they were doing and by not doing the right thing to reach the goals and purposes they proclaimed - which, of course, were necessary and legitimate. Imperialism couldn't have dealt such a devastating blow on the Zimbabwean economy if the Zimbabweans themselves hadn't done so first, if the political leadership and government of that country hadn't weakened and divided their people and their country's economy.
But this does not mean the Zimbabwean people should be abandoned in their hour of greatest need. No country could have come out clean from the sanctions and blackmail Zimbabwe has had to endure over the last decade or so. We therefore welcome the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiatives to help Zimbabwe overcome its problems. No country in the world can solve all its problems by itself. Zimbabwe needs both economic and political assistance. There is no way a country that is split into several parts can be in a position to solve its problems.
Therefore, Zimbabwe needs unity, the unity of all its political forces - unity is the main thing for them. Without unity all efforts will amount to very little. The problem in Zimbabwe is not primarily that of democracy. It is not lack of democracy that has brought Zimbabwe to its knees economically. If lack of democracy in the world were a preamble to social change many of the capitalist countries we know today would not be there, they would have disappeared a long time ago, because capitalism was developed on the basis of force and repression. It still uses them: when people take to the streets in protest, demonstrations, special police forces repress them with teargas and riot shields; when workers go on strike and hold demonstrations, the police repress them.
We are not talking about Third World countries, but European countries. A capitalist regime is maintained on the basis of force - a highly sophisticated, well-organised force. It employs force not only to prevent social change but also to put down people's protests. When one analyses the Zimbabwean problem from all angles, one can't say the problem in Zimbabwe is primarily that of democracy. As we have said, if lack of democracy were to cause governments and economies to collapse, many capitalist countries we know today and their economies would have collapsed a long time ago.
But what is happening in Zimbabwe shows, for the nth time, that democracy without social justice is worth no more than our devalued currencies. Political democracy is an empty formality if not accompanied by economic democracy. In Zimbabwe we had a strange form of democracy under which a minority of the population owned and controlled most of the country's economic sectors. And when this minority felt antagonized politically and otherwise, it pulled the plug on the economy.
It is good that today SADC is opposing, and calling for the removal of, the sanctions against Zimbabwe. If this is the position SADC and other African countries had taken from the very beginning Zimbabwe wouldn't be in the situation it is in today. It's good that in spite of the stratagems that have been designed to limit our ability to think for ourselves, the leaders of SADC are starting to see things for themselves, to analyse things for themselves and to make their own decisions.
This is an important and highly welcome approach. We shouldn't forget that Africa represents one of the most important, if not the most important, fields of battle against all forms of exploitation existing in the world, against imperialism and neo-colonialism.
There are big possibilities for success in Africa, but there are also many dangers. The present possibilities of a much more rapid development than even a few years ago due to the aid which some rich countries can likewise provide under certain conditions - but on this point we must be always vigilant. What we consider to be the principle danger for Africa is the possibility of division among our people which appears to be continually rising.
On the one side they are the lackeys of imperialism, on the other the peoples seeking to free themselves along the roads suited to them. We have concrete reasons for fearing this danger. With increased internal unity and the support of SADC countries politically or otherwise, Zimbabwe can with some effort get out of its current crisis. There is no need for any SADC or African country to support or encourage sanctions against Zimbabwe. We shouldn't forget that those who are today championing the political and economic isolation of this country never did so when Ian Smith was in charge of a criminal, brutal and racist white minority regime in that territory.
They used to say that sanctions don't work, that sanctions only end up hurting the same people they are intended to serve; they were opposed to the isolation of that regime. They even had similar arguments in their support or defence of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
President Thabo Mbeki understands this very well and probably that's why all along he has refused or resisted to take the line that was being pushed on him by some countries and some political forces within his own country.
President Mbeki's line seems to be yielding some positive results. Today people like British Prime Minister Tony Blair who had opened direct confrontation with the Zimbabwean government and were openly pushing for a regime change are starting to rethink their positions and are moving more closer to President Mbeki's approach.
The SADC initiatives in Zimbabwe need the support and cooperation of all Zimbabweans of good will; they deserve the support of all African countries and all progressive countries of the world.
By Kingsley Kaswende in Harare
Thursday June 07, 2007 [04:02]
A TEAM of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) economists has commenced an assessment of Zimbabwe’s economic situation which will allow SADC to come up with measures to help the country. SADC executive secretary Dr Thomaz Salomao accompanied the three economists, who arrived in the country over the weekend.
Their visit is a follow-up of the mission Dr Salomao was assigned by the SADC heads of state and government at the last extraordinary summit in Dar-Es-Salaam to undertake a study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose measures on how SADC could assist the country’s economic recovery programmes.
The directives also included a mandate for President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa to facilitate dialogue between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition.
The SADC economists, who include a Malawian national Mapopa Chipeta, and a Tanzanian, would remain in the country for another week meeting various economic stakeholders while Dr Salomao leaves at the weekend.
The team has so far held talks with officials of the Zimbabwean ministry of foreign affairs, and is expected to meet other ministries such as finance, agriculture, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other economic movers.
SADC has recommended an approach to economic assistance where the region is expected to assist in the implementation of Zimbabwe’s existing programmes, a departure from other approaches touting regime change.
After the study, Dr Salomao and the economists are expected to compile a report that should be presented to the SADC troika by the end of June 2007.
The report will contain recommendations on how SADC countries can help it fly over its economic challenges.
In Dar-Es-Salaam, SADC made major decisions on Zimbabwe which included a demand for ending all forms of sanctions against the country, the need for the former coloniser, Britain, under the Lancaster Agreement, to honour its obligation to compensate for land reforms and chose South African president Thabo Mbeki to mediate between government and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
By Inonge Noyoo
Thursday June 07, 2007 [04:00]
FORMER president Fredrick Chiluba has sued UPND president Hakainde Hichilema for defamation claiming K20 billion damages. Chiluba has claimed that Hichilema's sole motive when he likened his tenure of office to a monkey in charge of maize field was to tarnish his reputation and integrity and to destroy his legacy. But Post editor Fred M'membe has defended Hichilema's statement as a correct description of Chiluba's presidency.
"It's ridiculous for Chiluba to claim that Hakainde's motive was to tarnish Chiluba's reputation and integrity and to destroy his legacy. What reputation can Chiluba talk about? The reputation of banditry and looting of public coffers to buy suits and high-heeled shoes from European boutiques! What integrity can Chiluba talk about? Is there integrity in stealing public funds?
And what legacy of Chiluba can one destroy? The legacy of corruption cannot be destroyed by anyone saying Chiluba is a thief; that would only be destroyed if Hakainde had said Chiluba was an honest man, and he didn't steal public funds. In that way Chiluba's legacy would be destroyed," M'membe said.
He urged Chiluba to join The Post to the suit. "It is The Post who published the story and not Hakainde. Let him join us to the suit or even sue us alone and leave Hakainde in peace. We are ready to face Chiluba in any court and prove once again that this man is a thief whose behaviour is that of a monkey given to be in charge of a maize field or a rat put in charge of groundnuts. We are ready to receive his writs and statements of claim.
The billions of kwacha he is demanding from Hakainde he won't get them. If he has squandered the US $41 million he took from public funds he will have problems finding money to pay the London High Court judgment sum. He won't be able to get such amounts of money from fraudulent libel suits," said M'membe.
According to the statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court by his lawyer Simeza Sangwa and Associates on Tuesday, Chiluba stated that on unknown dates but between the 10th and the 18th of May 2007, Hichilema spoke, uttered and published the words extensively quoted on the front page of The Post Newspaper dated May 18, 2007 under the headline 'Hichilema likens Chiluba to a Monkey'.
Chiluba claimed that Hichilema falsely and maliciously caused to be published of him and of his reign defamatory words. "The defendant falsely and maliciously caused to be published of the plaintiff and of office of his reign of the following defamatory words; ' It is horrifying to see the extent of thieving by those tasked with responsibility to look after affairs of the nation ...what we have seen is the person at the top is the one in the forefront of looting the treasury. It is disgraceful. It is shameful that Chiluba even had the audacity to say he did nothing wrong, it is not correct for people to allow the treasury to be ransacked.
And he even has the audacity to say there is nothing wrong," Chiluba stated. "And Hichilema likened the Chiluba term of office as president to having a monkey in charge of a maize field. How can you make a monkey to be a captain of a maize field? You know that a monkey eats maize. So what do you expect?" Chiluba claimed that on or about May 29, 2007 Hichilema again spoke and published through The Post Newspapers an article on Page 4 of issue No 3876 of Tuesday May 29, 2007 under the heading 'I'm ready to meet Chiluba in court -HH'.
Chiluba stated that the following excerpt from the said article was defamatory; 'the courts are there if he wants he can go to court. Compensation! My comments about the monkey are in regards to the actions that he committed, what happens to thieves? If you steal do you expect us to glorify you? The question of compensation does not arise.
The money that was stolen could have been used to improve our hospitals and schools'. Chiluba contended that the said words in their natural and ordinary meaning meant and were understood to mean that he was a thief. Chiluba argued that the published articles also meant that he was, and was even before being elected as Republican president, a common thief who could therefore not be entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the nation's treasury. Chiluba claimed that the said words meant that he was guilty of theft of public funds and that he was not a fit and proper person to have held office as Republican president for 10 years.
Chiluba argued that the said words meant that he behaved like a monkey and that Zambians must have been foolish to elect a monkey into public office and that he was mean and greedy and his term of office was characterised by theft of public resources. He averred that the statements meant that he was unpatriotic, lacked integrity and that the publication was exceedingly defamatory and injurious to his personal capacity and character.
Chiluba claimed that Hichilema caused the said words to be published maliciously or alternatively was reckless and intended to injure him in his personal character. He asserted that by reason of the publication of the said words, he had been seriously injured in his character, credit and reputation and had been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt.
Particulars of Chiluba's claim of aggravated exemplary damages were that Hichilema's attacks on him were unprovoked. He claimed that the publications of the defamatory words were done in a sensational manner. Chiluba contended that Hichilema knew or ought to have known that he had never been convicted of theft of public funds by any court of competent jurisdiction. He stated that Hichilema caused the said words to be published in the knowledge that they were libellous or with a reckless disregard as to whether or not they were libellous.
Chiluba claimed that Hichilema caused the words to be published with a view of establishing the prospect of material advantage of himself as a more credible and deserving candidate to be considered as president of Zambia in future.
Chiluba contended that Hichilema, notwithstanding the demand for an apology from him, did not show any remorse for his reckless statement but instead went to the press and became even more arrogant, vulgar and repeatedly calling him a monkey and a thief. Chiluba claimed that Hichilema further asserted that the allegations made by him were true and that he would meet the plaintiff in court if he so desired.
He claimed that he did not deserve the unwarranted attacks and therefore prayed that he may be awarded exemplary or aggravated damages in the sum of K20 billion and interest on the sums found due to current commercial bank lending rates.
Chiluba is praying that the court grants him an injunction restraining Hichilema, whether by himself, his servants or agents or otherwise from publishing or causing to be published the said or any other similar words defamatory of him and costs.
By Staff reporters
Thursday June 07, 2007 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Mwanawasa will be humiliated during the referendum on the constituent assembly, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata said yesterday. Reacting to President Mwanawasa's letter to Oasis Forum spokesperson Musa Mwenye, in which he asked him to advise his organisation to be ready for a referendum, Sata said PF would join forces with stakeholders that were calling for a constituent assembly to ensure that President Mwanawasa was defeated.
Sata said President Mwanawasa should not cheat himself that he would use the referendum to buy off Zambians to support his opposition to the constituent assembly.
"Mwanawasa will not win, he will be humiliated during the referendum but does Levy feel humiliated?...because he has a thick skin," Sata said.
"As PF we will campaign vigorously in support of the constituent assembly." Sata said there was no guarantee that President Mwanawasa would act on the outcome of the referendum, going by his conduct on the constitution making process.
"Levy is a lair, dishonest and unreliable. The man is insincere...this is the man who has not acted on anything of national importance except on the corruption on Chiluba," Sata said.
"Will he enforce the verdict of the referendum if the people vote for a constituent assembly? Levy is acting like a man holding a whip on his right hand and a bone on his left hand, and he is calling a dog to come and get the bone."
Sata said President Mwanawasa did not want to tamper with the current constitution because he feared signing for his 'quick exit and bad ending'. "Levy should learn from what Chiluba is going through because he hand-picked him," Sata said. Sata challenged President Mwanawasa to provide the nation with the details of the referendum. "In the absence of details, then we are wasting our time," he said.
Sata said President Mwanawasa's threats on the Oasis Forum and other Zambians championing the enactment of a new constitution was like 'the panting of a dying tortoise'.
"The threats by Levy Mwanawasa are not new in Zambia. People of Zambia experienced threats by Kenneth Kaunda when he threatened the Catholic Church in 1991 elections when he said come November 2 you shall travel on the rosary. Now these threats which Levy Mwanawasa is doing are the panting of a dying tortoise," Sata said.
"Mwanawasa is so desperate because he knows that he is going and because he knows that he is going he has become so irrational; this is when people of Zambia must become more united and put more pressure on him."
Sata observed that President Mwanawasa was not interested in the constitution making process because he was only interested in his wellbeing. "So you can't trust that man. He is so cruel like Tony Blair and George Bush," Sata said.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka described as unfortunate President Mwanawasa's intimidation of Mwenye.
"TIZ is concerned at the increasing levels of desperation being exhibited by the Mwanawasa administration in their attempt to dissuade the Zambian people from demanding for a quicker implementation of the constitution review," Lifuka said.
"The intimidation of ordinary citizens is definitely calculated as it is not confined only to President Mwanawasa but we have heard brazen threats of treason from the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services on his current sensitization tour on the Copperbelt. We have previously heard similar threats from the Minister of Justice.
"Undoubtedly, President Mwanawasa and his government have failed to provide leadership on the matter of the constitution and they have now resorted to the use of might in order to cow everyone into submission."
Lifuka said the MMD government was prepared to dilute the gains of democracy simply to get their way in terms of the new constitution. He said those opposed to the government view points were now vilified and disparaged in the desperate hope that they could be isolated and almost banished from commenting on an important subject.
"We urge President Mwanawasa and his government not waste our time by engaging in unnecessary delaying tactics and simplistic arguments about numbers. The die is cast; we the people will not relent in our fight for a new constitution," he said.
"We will not be intimidated into silence on this matter because we desire a good constitution as a basis for the very socio-economic development which this government wants to use as a main reason for not establishing a Constituent Assembly. It is a pity that the deceit which we feared right at the beginning of the constitutional review exercise is now becoming apparent."
Lifuka said it was tragic that President Mwanawasa and his ministers had found it fashionable to mislead Zambians on basic facts on the outcomes of the Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC) especially on the issue of the mode of adoption. He said the CRC was asked to recommend the most appropriate mode of adopting the constitution and they considered various options by recommending the Constituent Assembly.
"It is not right, therefore, to state that Constituent Assembly was recommended by the people who submitted but by the CRC," he said. "The CA (Constituent Assembly) is a recommendation of the CRC and when government attacks the proponents of the CA, in effect, they are attacking the CRC which unanimously voted for this submission."
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Chips need rare metals, economies need precise prices
Dwindling of Rare Metals Imperils Innovation
Scientists keep finding better ways to make the gizmos we like, but more and more of us like them, buy them, and deplete the reserves of the rare metals that go into them. Are we between a rock and a hard place? It might not be so bleak as some prognosticators think - if we start recycling now. But how could recycling compete with mining?
by Jeffery J. Smith
We’re using up the ingredients for our favorite hi-tech devices. Without these key components, we could not make anything from cell phones to solar panels. The stuff we put into liquid-crystal displays – indium – and plan to turn into next-generation semiconductors – hafnium – might no longer be found in nature by 2017 (InformationWeek, 29 May 2007).
David Cohen writes in his audit of "Earth's natural wealth" that reserves of elements from:
* platinum (used in cars’ catalytic converter and in fuel cells) to
* indium (used in flat-screen TVs and computer monitors) and
* tantalum (used in mobile phones)
are "being used up at an alarming rate." These are elements; unless Merlin figures out how, we can not synthetize any substitute substance.
As India and China and other rapidly developing economies consume more common metals like zinc and copper, even those once plentiful supplies dwindle. Over the last year as the price of copper soared, so have thefts of copper from power lines and electrical substations. Some predict the world's zinc will be gone by 2037.
These shortages could hinder the development of more efficient solar panels. At a time when our world is getting low on oil and hot from burning fossil fuels like coal, better solar panels could come in handy. Without them, China would resort to burning its millions of tons coal; already on America’s Pacific coast, 10% of the air pollution is from Chinese factories and powerplants.
People who estimate these reserves disagree widely. Yet whoever’s right, some day we must deplete them. As we do, we provide yet another reason why Moore's Second Law – the cost of developing new and more complex chips increases geometrically – is true. (via reader Stewart Goldwater).
However, while it’s good for worriers to have another problem to worry about, the alarm was not raised by a recycler. Each year, America throws away as much metal as it consumes. Logically, for at least one year, America need not mine one new ton of ore – if we recycle.
Why don’t we recycle now? The expense. Why is it cheaper to dig up ores – and pile up broken and worn out electronic devices in landfills – than to leave land alone and recycle valuable parts and ingredients? The answer is not mere convenience. Mining is not easier than recycling. And it’s not consumer preference. Buyers don’t know if the metal in their laptop used to be in an ancient desktop or recently under tons of cubic earth.
The answer is politics. Modern, efficient recycling costs more than wasteful mining as a byproduct of entrenched policy. As a hangover from the century before last, we favor mining corporations, specifically with taxes and subsidies.
Who wouldn't want to be a prospector given these breaks?
* To claim the public land which harbors precious ore, they get to pay the same number of pennies per acre that they paid back in 1872.
* What do we charge them for despoiling the land and leaving behind waste (called “tailings”)? Anything from little to nothing.
* What size of tax write-off do we offer for using heavy equipment? Heavy ones. What size for hiring workers to do things like take apart old TVs? None.
Get the picture? When you pay taxes that become subsidies, you buy the most effective way to run out of rare metals. So, if you want to reuse the ingredients in old computer monitors, what should you do? Reverse public policy. Make people pay taxes for what they take, not for what they make.
And let people get a share of the value of nature. Spreading the natural wealth around, more people could invest their money where their heart tells them – for “greens”, into recycling. And getting an income supplement, more people could afford to take off time to advance their own ideas, like a better way to recycle or an alternative to a basic ingredient.
Sure, feel alarmed that our appetite for rare metals roars undiminished. But realize there is something we can do. Correct prices by correcting taxes and subsidies – a new policy called geonomics.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.