Saturday, August 25, 2007
Saturday August 25, 2007 [04:00]
Politics is supposed to be a very noble undertaking where only the most honest, the most principled, the most trusted, the most humble and the most competent are allowed to serve. Politics is not supposed to be a profession for all sorts of crooks, thieves and jackals. We say this because politics deals with the lives of people, the future and destinies of nations. How can such a very important undertaking be left to the scum, to crooks?
For all the years he has spent in politics, old Daniel Munkombwe should know better and be the last person to defend those who fall short of such standards to take up public office. But probably it's understandable that old Munkombwe's politics have not been very much about principles, about values - they have been much more based on expedience and sometimes outright opportunism.
And it's very difficult to understand why a political party that wants to part company with poor political standards would make old Munkombwe a provincial chairman. What are things coming to? In the same breath, the MMD is fighting corruption while defending the vice!
It requires little intelligence - if a little is all one has - to realise that application of such a policy upon someone who is believed to have flouted the required standards of political leadership throws the whole system of values of a political party in confusion.
Anyway, this is what happens in a nation when values are lost, when ideas are lost.
As we have stated before, virtue must be nourished but vice springs out spontaneously like weeds and grows by itself. We must bear that in mind. If we do otherwise, while nourishing virtue we are simultaneously paving way for vice. That's a reality we must not lose sight of. For if good ideas foster other good ideas, bad things, on the other hand, can foster other bad things.
This country - and even the MMD - is not short of men and women of integrity to take up political leadership positions. Zambia is not short of people of integrity for us to cling to Katele Kalumba and Michael Mabenga. There are a lot of other things these two gentlemen can do. Politics doesn't need the likes of Katele and Mabenga; it needs men and women of high integrity. And political leadership shouldn't be seen as just like any other career which one can take up to fulfil a personal ambition or pleasure.
In politics one should be out to fulfil a duty; it requires a spirit of sacrifice. Politics is about serving our people whole-heartedly and never for a moment divorcing oneself from the masses. It requires one to proceed in all cases from the interests of the people and not from one’s self-interest or from the interests of a small group. In politics, one is always supposed to be a servant of the people and whatever one does should be to serve the people. This being the case, how can we allow people who have shown or demonstrated very high tendencies for selfishness, how can we allow those with sticky fingers to be political leaders and occupy public office? The duty of every politician or indeed anyone holding public office should be to hold himself or herself responsibly to the people. Every word, every act and every policy that they come up with must conform to the people's interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected - that is what being responsible to the people means.
It is not right for old Munkombwe to defend and justify corruption in the way he is doing. No strong nation, or indeed even a political party, can be built on the shifting sands of evasions and opportunism.
We admit that corruption has taken root in our country, it has almost become a way of life and will be very difficult to uproot. But this does not mean we should resign ourselves to it. This would be to renounce all hope for progress in our country and resign ourselves to misery and backwardness. No matter how enormous the difficulties, no matter how complex the task, there can be no room for pessimism. We can change things for the better, we can build a better and more honest, just, fair and humane nation. Moreover, belief in the possibility of change and renewal is perhaps one of the defining characteristics of politics.
Our country can only progress if there's discipline, and where there's no discipline, there can be no real progress. It will be extremely irresponsible of us as a nation to allow people who have abused their offices and public resources to continue to be our political leaders and hold high public offices. There is need for discipline in the nation and in whatever we do. Impunity should not be allowed. Yes, we acknowledge the fact that in a democracy people should feel free to stand for whatever positions they want and the electorate should be the final deciders. This can be said to be so where there's no corruption because where there's corruption the electorate is manipulated and does not make free choices. Moreover, democracy is not only about forming political parties and contesting presidential and other elections, but also living in a way that respects and enhances the lives of others.
Corruption is a plague that must be erased from the face of our country because it stands in the way of progress. The important thing is to give happiness to our people and this cannot be done under corruption or where corruption dominates.
If we are proud of our country, we will not allow elements like Katele and Mabenga to run for high political office.
Pride in our country should be a common bond between us all. It should be the essence of our new patriotism, the patriotism of the 21st century. The onus is on us, through hard work, honesty and integrity, to reach for the stars.
As we have already stated, Zambia is not short of men and women of integrity. There's nothing special about Katele or Mabenga. In fact, if one had an opportunity to come into close contact with history and analyse these matters, one would realise that humans tend to make fools of themselves if they think too much about themselves and their self-importance. It would be wiser to aspire to a modest, simple, even anonymous place in life, because, if one has a true measure of the power of people as individuals, one will realise that it is so fragile and such a small thing that it really doesn't make sense to magnify the role of any individual, no matter how intelligent, brilliant or able they may be. There have been many able, intelligent, meritorious figures in the course of history. Therefore, we should be unassuming and limit ourselves to doing our duty to the best of our extremely limited possibilities.
If you are honest, truly honest, you won't be corrupted. If you are unassuming and have a clear understanding of the worth of people and of yourself, you won't be corrupted.
By Joan Chirwa
Saturday August 25, 2007 [04:00]
WORLD Bank and IMF research officials have advised the Zambian government to ensure transparent management of natural resources in view of the expected increase in fiscal gains from copper exports. In a Joint Staff Advisory Note (JSAN) of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) progress report for Zambia prepared jointly by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is noted that the mining sector in Zambia had recovered because of large investments and favourable global market conditions.
“In this regard, Zambia’s intention to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, which supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the verification and full publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining, is a welcome first step,” the Bretton Wood institutions have noted.
The objective of the JSAN is to provide focused, frank, and constructive feedback to the country on progress in implementing its second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)-the Fifth National Development Programme (FNDP).
The report released on Wednesday, commended the government for taking steps to reform the fiscal regime of the mining sector while preserving Zambia as a competitive, credible, and attractive investment destination.
The two Bretton Wood institutions are however calling for the inclusion of an additional revenue-sharing mechanism that would capture a higher share of mineral rents for government during the period of abnormally high international prices for minerals.
The IMF and World Bank note that such a device is currently not part of the proposed reforms.
They have also urged the government to pay its bills on time and rebalance tariffs in the utility sector such that they reflect full cost, attract investors and allow for increased access to electricity, water and sanitation services and at the same time improve Zambia’s competitiveness.
“In many utility sectors, however, tariffs are not set such that they cover full costs or are set in a manner that they decrease competitiveness or favour a particular sector,” they stated. “In addition, arrears between government agencies and utilities continue to cause difficulty within the sector.”
The World Bank and IMF also indicate that improved implementation of the Private Sector Development (PSD) and the Financial Sector Development Programme (FSDP), as emphasised in the 2007 budget speech, was essential if the growth objectives of the FNDP are to be realised.
“The PSD initiative, including Zambia’s FSDP, articulates many of the key measures needed to create a better business environment and investment climate in Zambia. The concern is, therefore, with implementation, as progress under both the PSD initiative and the FSDP has been slow,” they stated. “For example, ease of trading across Zambia’s borders continues to rank in the bottom deciles of countries in the “Doing Business” indicators, the license fee for an international telecommunications gateway remains prohibitively high, while the resolution of insolvent non-bank financial institutions has faced repeated delays and overall access to the financing system is low, with fewer than 15 per cent of Zambians holding a bank account.”
By Amos Malupenga, Laura Mushaukwa and Namakau Nalumango
Saturday August 25, 2007 [04:00]
Regina Chiluba will be re-arrested because the evidence against her is overwhelming, Task Force chairman Max Nkole said yesterday. But former president Frederick Chiluba's wife, Regina, expressed disappointment at the state's decision to enter a nolle prosequi in her case, saying her prosecution was malicious. And Ndola Principal Resident Magistrate Chilombo Phiri has ordered the state to give back the property which was seized from Regina and pay her costs.
Commenting on the nolle prosequi entered by the state in the case where Regina was charged with nine counts of failing to account for possession of property believed to have been stolen, Nkole said the case was still active.
“She will be re-arrested so we can re-start the matter with a new strategy,” Nkole said. “We have to do that in the interest of justice, in the interest of the accused, the state and the court.”
Asked to comment on the court ruling ordering the state to give back to Regina whatever was seized from her, Nkole said the ruling was pre-emptive.
“The court is being pre-emptive,” he said. “I think the court is jumping the gun because the court should be aware that when a nolle is entered, the case is still alive and can be restarted anytime. It is premature for such a court order. In fact, this confirms our fears. We had some fears, that is why we have to re-start this case with a new strategy. This matter has to be handled to the satisfaction of all parties involved.”
Nkole said his team was convinced that they had overwhelming evidence against Regina.
“The DPP Director of Public Prosecutions is of the same view,” Nkole said. “He was heavily consulted before the arrest was effected. Even this nolle was entered with his guidance and direction.”
But Regina expressed disappointment at the nolle.
“I am disappointed that the state decided to bring a nolle at such a late stage, but above all I want to thank my God who is faithful and who is our vindicator,” Regina said. “I would like to thank my husband who has been very supportive and also my lawyers Simeza Sangwa and Associates.”
She hoped the state would abide by the court order and release her assets. Regina said her prosecution was motivated by malice.
The matter was yesterday scheduled for ruling on a case to answer but the complexion of the case changed after senior prosecutions officer Dennis Simwiinga informed the court that the state intended to discontinue the matter by entering a nolle prosequi pursuant to section 81(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Magistrate Phiri closed the case at the last sitting after the state failed to produce witnesses despite several of her warnings against delaying the matter.
However, magistrate Phiri granted Simwiinga’s application, saying the court had no powers to question the state’s entry of a nolle prosequi.
But defence lawyer Robert Simeza opposed the application contending that it was not competent for the DPP to enter a nolle at this stage after the case was closed for a ruling.
“We seriously oppose this application on the grounds that it is not competent for the DPP to enter a nolle at this late hour after the case has been closed and a ruling is about to be delivered,” Simeza said. “It was open to the DPP to discontinue prosecution before they closed the case. Your Honour this is a classic case of the worst kind of abuse of the court process and malicious prosecution. They should not be allowed.”
At this point Simwiinga chipped in saying the DPP was empowered by section 81(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code to discontinue a matter even when a ruling or judgment was about to be passed.
Simeza then made two applications relating to restitution of property that was seized from Regina and ordering the state to pay costs as a deterrent from bringing about unnecessary prosecutions.
“I wish to make two applications, the first one is for restitution of the property seized from the accused which is being used as exhibits before this court and this is anchored on section 179 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” Simeza said. “Your Honour, the property in question includes the motor vehicles, bank accounts which have been frozen and the rest of the property. The second application is an order that my client be awarded costs for these clearly unnecessary and malicious proceedings which were brought against her. It was clear from the beginning that the state had no case against my client but they went ahead to put her at great expense in order to defend herself. The state must be made to pay expenses arising from this action to act as a deterrent so that they should think twice next time. The state should not be allowed to abuse its authority and power to its citizens.”
Simeza noted that the state decided to discontinue the case after they realised that their case had collapsed.
“Your Honour, don’t allow your court to be abused by the state,” Simeza pleaded.
Simwiinga objected to Simeza’s application, contending that the accused was discharged, not acquitted, meaning the state could still re-arrest her and the same exhibits could be used.
“You cannot question a nolle, on the exhibits we submit that the application should not be allowed as the state may re-arrest the accused person and use the same exhibits,” Simwiinga argued. “On the second application Your Honour, the accused person was brought before this honourable court through the normal legal procedure as to whether this prosecution is malicious is a matter of evidence. The defence cannot allege abuse of authority without evidence. Costs should not be awarded. Section 81(1) is law, the state did not make it neither did the court. The court’s duty is to interpret the law and the DPP is merely exercising his legal powers.”
But Simeza dismissed Simwiinga’s argument as illogical, saying the proceedings had ended, meaning his client was free and that if the DPP decided to start new proceedings, they would be under a different cause.
He wondered what would happen to the exhibits in the event that the DPP did not start new proceedings or if the new proceedings were to be brought before a different court.
“What happens to these exhibits, are they forfeited?” asked Simeza.
He argued that it was not a matter of evidence that the prosecution was malicious because things spoke for themselves and that the conduct of the state needed to be frowned upon.
Meanwhil, there was jubilation inside and outside the courtroom as Regina’s supporters sang worship and praise songs such as Ba Lesa ba weme while Regina waved at them and walked around the court precincts in an ecstacy of joy.
The supporters escorted Regina, swarming her car until she drove away while police tried to control them.
By Laura Miti-Banda
Saturday August 25, 2007 [04:00]
And so President Levy Mwanawasa figures that poor Zambians who cannot afford to educate the children they bring into the world should keep their zips up. He cannot understand why the majority poor people in the country do not know better than to involve themselves in activities whose by-product is children.
Leave sex to us the rich damn you; he just about said at that place from which he loves to announce official government policy- the airport.
Very annoyed he was you see at the suggestion that parents of the poverty stricken children were finding it difficult to pay PTA fees at schools. What kind of nonsense is that, the big man exploded in response to MMD Copperbelt Province chairman, Terence Findlay? The man had ventured to relay to the powerful one this cry for help from the deprived, some gathered to welcome him. How can anybody in their right mind claim that they are not able to pay a little something towards their children’s education, the mighty President railed?
The government has scraped school fees for goodness sake. What else do you want us to do? All that you ungrateful poor people are asked to do now is pay PTA fees. These PTA fees (Levy argued somewhat bizarrely) should be easier to cough up because, unlike school fees, they do not come to government. PTA fees are not part of the government revenue that I and my ministers use to pay for our children (who unlike yours had the right to be born) to go to the 10 million kwacha a term Chengelo School.
It is not from those amounts that I fly up and down to different airports to address you. That money (which each school can set as it pleases in the name of school bus fund, wall fund, floor polish fund on and on ad infinitum (he might has well have added) stays in the school. So what on earth are you complaining about?
The President did not end there. He had more to say to the foolish man who had dared raise such a stupid issue with him and so he went on sounding more disgusted with each point: Next thing, Levy said, these poor people will be saying to government buy clothes for our children because we are too poor to clothe them. I have one thing to say. You have come to the wrong person with your whining.
You will find no sympathy with me. I say to you stand up and plead guilty to your poverty. Do not bring children into the world if you cannot take care of them. Child-bearing is the prerogative of the rich. As for you poor people, just keep on gathering in large crowds like this to welcome me when I arrive at airports. This kind of thing makes me very happy.
I guess the President was suggesting that for a society to function, each class must know its place. It is not for the poor to propagate (their inferior genes.) Levy must think also that if poor people were wise enough, the population in townships and villages would by now have reduced considerably. In that way he could rid himself of all the annoying civil society activists endlessly moaning about poverty alleviation strategies when the answer is the hands of the poor themselves –no copulation.
To be quite honest, I have kind of been waiting for President Mwanawasa to say that he was misquoted by The Post when they reported this diatribe. Yes we have become quite accustomed to the man’s by turns arrogant, bizarre or downright dumb public statements. With this one however, one has to ask, what on earth was the man thinking? (Or was he not, as usual?)
Interestingly in this same week, Levy found time to announce once again that he is a “lawyer wama lawyer.” The best there is. So is Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Greatly educated men these ones( with the right, of course, to do the things with their wives and girlfriends that lead to child-bearing) One is forced to ask, how did one Levy Mwanawasa, like most people his age, a son of a not much educated father and almost certainly illiterate mother end up being this “great lawyer”?
At the time he himself was born, did his parents have the right to give birth to him? Was it written in the stars the day of his conception that he would end up at the University of Zambia getting a law degree.
Had this Levy been born at this time to his very parents, under a President like him how far would he have gone in education? Is he suggesting, I wonder, that all those dusty, wet-nosed children we see running around the compounds with stomachs distended from malnutrition and worm infestation are vermin? That the government has no responsibility to them because they should not have been born anyway? Does he really think there are “lawyer wama lawyers” there?
Simply, what kind of buffoon does this country have in state house that he does not know that every child is 100 percent potential? It is a government’s prime duty to seek to develop that potential knowing that nobody knows from where the next Yotam Muleya, Lucy Sichone, Charles Mando, Paul Ngozi, Emmanuel Mulemena, brilliant Zambians that this country has failed thus far to replace, will come from.
In short I am saying Levy owes the country an apology for insulting the majority Zambian population. In stating that the poor among us have no right to hope that the child they hold in their arms may be a great light in their lives one day, he once again displays for all how totally out of touch with the needs and aspirations of the people he presides over this Levy Mwanawasa is.
lauramiti AT yahoo.co.uk
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
21 August 2007
THE Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed that mining companies are under declaring their profit margins hence the failure to remit dividends to the Zambia Consolidate Copper Mines Investment Holding (ZCCM-IH). The PAC expressed concerns when Mines and Minerals Development Permanent Secretary, Leonard Nkhata, appeared before the committee in Lusaka yesterday in the company of ZCCM-IH chief executive officer Joseph Chikolwa.
Nchelenge member of Parliament (MP), Ben Mwila, (NDF) said copper prices were trading well on the international markets and therefore, the profits declared were below the expectations. Mr Mwila said the price of copper was currently at US$7,000 per tonne resulting in mining firms making profits that should be correctly declared.
"These figures of losses are not correct. Prices of copper are too high. If the profits are going to be like this, Zambians are not going to benefit anything. You have to monitor the profitability," Mr Mwila said.
Luena MP, Charles Milupi, (independent) who is also chairperson of the committee said it was important for ZCCM-IH to realise that the institution was cardinal to the economy of the country. He said ZCCM-IH was the eye of the Zambians and should ensure profits realised by mining firms were correctly declared.
Mr Nkhata had earlier submitted that AHC Mining Municipal Services had accumulated loss of K13.2 billion as at March 2005, while Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which was bought by Vedanta Resources as the majority shareholders, accumulated a loss of $186 million.
Since 2005 however, KCM had paid dividends of $2.3 million to ZCCM-IH.
Mr Nkhata argued that mining firms were not declaring dividends because of the losses they incurred and cash flow constraints which most of them experienced. He also explained that Roan Antelope Mining Corporation of Zambia (RAMCOZ) never made a profit and eventually went into liquidation. In 2004, its assets were sold to J&W and the company was renamed Luanshya Copper Mines.
In 2004, Luanshya Copper Mines incurred losses amounting to $1 million. Other mines that made losses include NFC Africa Mining, Chibuluma and Chambeshi Mines.
Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) was the only firm that recorded a profit of $6.8 million in 2003, $85.7 million in 2004 and $28.1 million in 2005.
"Mopani Copper Mines made a profit of $75.9 million over the period 2003 to 2005. The profit was ploughed back into rehabilitation and expansion projects, but it was not enough," Mr Nkhata said
However, Mr Chikolwa said his management team was currently working at coming up with a policy on dividends.
He said this in response to a question from Mbabala MP, Emmanuel Hachipuka, (UPND) who wanted to know whether there was a policy on declaring dividends.
Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources permanent secretary, Russell Mulele, told the committee that the Zambia National Tourist Board (ZNTB) was undergoing reorganisation because of the proposed Zambia Tourism Board Bill.
Chipangali MP, Vincent Mwale, (MMD) asked Mr Mulele whether it was justified for ZNTB executive director to be entitled to a salary of K42,240,000 per month.
The remuneration were relatively high when compared to other organisations like Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) where the chief executive officer gets K22,306,900, National Heritage Conservation Commission where the officer is entitled to K15, 149,192 and the Museums Board, where the officer is entitled to K12,250,177.
Mr Milupi also asked Mr Mulele whether Zambia was getting the benefits from paying such an amount to the ZNTB executive director.
Director of Tourism, Justina Wake, said it was justifiable to pay such an amount arguing that the number of tourists coming into the country was on the increase.
In 2005, 650,000 tourists came into the country while 690,000 came in the year 2006.
By Times Reporter
THE Governement has questioned the high interest rates being charged by micro-finance-lending institutions in Zambia resulting in some people shunning credits. Finance and National Planning Minister, Ng’andu Magande described the interest rates by financial institutions as exorbitant and a recipe to the culture of not settling debts.
Speaking during the launch of Finca-Zambia Matero Branch in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Magande said the Government, through the Central Bank, was taking keen interest in the operations of financial institutions and would ensure the interests of the public were protected.
He urged Zambians to improve the debt servicing record if they were to access more facilities from lending institutions instead of defaulting. He commended Finca-Zambia for being exceptional and offering relatively low interest rates that would serve the lower-income population of Zambia.
The minister commended Finca-Zambia for applying for a licence with the Central Bank despite it being a non-governmental organisation. He said the decision by Finca-Zambia to register with the Central Bank showed its commitment to work in partnership with the Government in creating wealth among the people.
Mr Magande said people should have access to financial support from banks and micro-financial institutions so that the pronouncement of Government’s economic reforms could be attained. The minister said the Government welcomed the development in the micro-finance industry and the growth of financial innovations although the challenge of conformity with the law still remained.
He urged the Central Bank to supervise micro-finance institutions in a manner that would encourage them to extend their services further into the rural areas and develop customised products for rural areas. Mr Magande said the enactment of the Banking and Financial Services Act of 2006 was a milestone in recognising the important role of micro finance in the economy of Zambia.
Through the supervision of micro-finance institutions, the Central Bank would accumulate valuable information that would be used to advise and strengthen the sector.
He said Finca-Zambia had grown steadily in Zambia and had about 12,202 clients by June this year with over 1,600 of them based in Matero. Finca-Zambia board chairperson, Anthony Singleton said the success of his institution in Zambia depended on the support it was getting from the community and Government.
Mr Singleton said Finca-Zambia was targeting the poor community of Zambia by providing minimal financial support. He said 90 per cent of their clients in more than 21 countries where the company existed were women.
He said Finca-Zambia was not aspiring to be a commercial bank and it would maintain its present status of being community based.
Friday August 24, 2007 [04:00]
The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Luena independent member of parliament Charles Milupi, has been raising a lot of important issues that need to be followed up by the whole nation. In the work they have done so far, Milupi's committee has revealed many abuses and the inefficient, ineffective and disorderly utilisation of public funds. But very few citizens, including the most critical ones, seem to be taking a keen interest in the very valuable work of these honourable members of parliament.
Why? Why are we not interested in the way politicians and other government officials are using our money, our taxes, the money our government borrows and the donations or grants it receives from other peoples on our behalf? There is something seriously wrong somewhere that needs immediate correction. If we don't remedy this, we will be resigning ourselves to continued underdevelopment and poverty.
Where one is using other people's money, accountability should be at the fore. Government has no money of its own. Government uses our money as taxpayers and money which it borrows on our behalf and donations it receives on our behalf from other generous people in the world. This being the case, every ngwee, every cent or penny needs to be accounted for; needs to be used in an efficient, effective and orderly manner and in our best interests as the ultimate owners of that money.
Truly, there's so much stealing, abuse and wastage of public funds. And as Milupi's committee has correctly observed, some of this wastage arises from lack of capacity on the part of those managing the affairs of government. It also arises from a deliberate attempt on the part of government officials to swindle the people of Zambia. In short, corruption has much to do with what is going on. If the cases going on in our courts of law are anything to go by, it is clear that there's a lot of corruption in the way government contracts are being awarded and implemented.
There's clear connivance between government officials and the 'contractors', who, as we are today seeing or hearing in the courts of law, are often one and the same people. It is very clear that the interests of government which are supposed to be the interests of the people are not being properly or adequately represented. And because of this corruption, the cost of running government has become very high. A project that should normally cost government say K1 billion, is usually being completed for not less than say K30 billion.
And this may probably explain why most government projects are not being completed. How can they be completed when the money that is supposed to be used to complete them is simply being stolen by government officials and their bogus constructors, or indeed by the government officials themselves who invariably are the contractors?
Where there's corruption there cannot be accountability. We saw under the Chiluba regime how impossible it is to have accountability in a system that is absolutely corrupt; where almost everyone from top to bottom is corrupt. Let's admit it, painful as it may be, we have a corrupt public service. And this is no lie. And as long as things continue like this very little will be achieved in terms of development. Whatever money we pour into development projects will end up in a bottomless pit of corruption. Honourable Milupi and his colleagues have been very generous in their description of what is going on.
They have avoided being very categorical in their analysis of what is going on. What is going on is nothing but naked corruption. The whole system is reeking with corruption in every pore.
Clearly, corruption remains an anchor keeping our country from progressing. Yes, we have very limited resources. And that in itself should be a good reason for not allowing any bit of our public resources from being stolen, abused or mismanaged in any way. The less resources one has, the more he is required to manage them in the most efficient, effective and orderly manner.
We believe that corruption is the first thing we must tackle if we are to make any progress in bettering the lives of our people by providing them the services needed in an organised society. Nothing will be achieved if whatever goes into government coffers ends up lining the pockets of corrupt officials and their conspirators in the private sector. Without leaders of integrity, however, this will continue for a very long time and will be very difficult to eradicate.
Corruption can only be tamed when government agencies are set up to make corrupt behaviour difficult by opening government to public scrutiny, carrying out bidding for government contacts transparently, paying government officials decently, investigating public officials who seem to be living beyond their earned income, cutting red tape and restructuring government offices to remove opportunities for bribery. We cannot continue to have a system where people can own anything, even what appears to be beyond their means, without being made to account. Today civil servants and other public workers are the richest people in the country; they own most of the large houses and farms in and around Lusaka without any loans anywhere.
We are aware that Frederick Chiluba tried to explain this phenomenon through travel allowances. But that doesn't make sense and it's a lie. The true source of this wealth is unearned income; corruption. Unearned income or one living beyond his means is a prima facie case of corruption. Corruption benefits leaders and government officials personally.
It rewards supporters and greases the political machinery. Many times we have heard people say they are joining the ruling party because they don't want their businesses and themselves to suffer, to miss out on government business and contracts. How? What does this amount to? Corruption!
And anyone who really tries to fight corruption makes a host of inconvenient and perhaps dangerous enemies. It needs a permanent source of political pressure from citizens - not just general disgust, but advocacy for specific reforms or changes.
Corruption always carries its own powerful lobby. Look at how many people - politicians, pastors, members of parliament, chiefs - hired themselves out to defend Chiluba and the corruption of his league. Honest government needs one as well. Lives will change for the better when people can rely on earned income rather than corruption and when competence replaces nepotism as the basis for employment and awarding of government contracts.
Let us not forget that where corruption is present the nation at large suffers. It debilitates the judicial and political systems that should be working for the public good by weakening the rule of law and silencing the voice of the people. As a result, citizens' trust in government officials and in national institutions dwindles. Corruption is not only an endogenous matter, but is also and mostly exogenous.
The necessity to take measures against it is every day increasingly becoming evident and everyone has a role to play in stopping corruption. We shouldn't forget that government is more than the sum of all the interests; it is the paramount interest, the public interest. It must be the efficient, effective and orderly agent of a responsible citizen, not the shelter of the incompetent and the corrupt.
Let's start to pay a lot of attention and develop a lot of interest in the work of honourable Milupi's committee and give it the support and the voice it needs to make the resources of our country work for the people.
By Fridah Zinyama
Friday August 24, 2007 [04:00]
THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed concern over the billions of kwacha that the government is losing through projects that are not completed on time by the Ministry of Works and Supply. The PAC, chaired by Luena member of parliament Charles Milupi, has since asked Secretary to the Treasury Evan Chibiliti - who appeared before it during the week - to find a lasting solution to the problem.
"We have observed that almost 100 per cent of the contracts that are undertaken on behalf of government by the Ministry of Works and Supply are never completed on time and money is always lost," Milupi said.
He said there was urgent need for the ministry in question to improve its contract negotiation capacity, as there appeared to be deficiency in that area.
"We have observed that within contract negotiations, there appears to be capacity lacking or there is a deliberate attempt on the part of officials in the ministry to swindle government," he observed.
Milupi wondered why government officials in most cases requested for money to be released even before a contract payment certificate was ready.
"We see a weakness in contract negotiations and a half-hearted attempt by contractors to act as if they are following international standards of contract negotiations," he said.
Milupi said it appeared most government officials were conniving with contractors. "We are concerned that there is no one who represents the interests of government," Milupi said.
And Chibiliti acknowledged the fact that most projects were under-funded and that there were delays in releasing funds because finances were tied up in most ministries.
"To this end, we are coming up with a department that will help to enhance the monitoring and evaluation of finances when they are released to particular projects," he said.
Chibiliti said most ministries had a tendency to request funds and this always tied up the much-needed funds in other areas.
Of late, there have been several complaints especially from the Ministry of Works and Supply over the lack of funds and that this has led to delays in completion of various projects.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday August 24, 2007 [04:00]
Dr Kenneth Kaunda has urged Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other African leaders to fight for economic emancipation of Africa. And Dr Kaunda was on Monday awarded with the Association of SADC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) presidential award for his contribution during the liberation struggle of Southern African countries.
Speaking after receiving the ASCCI presidential award in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr Kaunda explained that some independent countries in the region established Southern Africa Development Co-ordinating Conference (SADCC) to increase their support for the liberation movements, which were waging a relentless struggle against apartheid and foreign domination, and lessen their economic dependence on apartheid South Africa.
"For we knew that maintaining close economic links with racist South Africa would weaken our determination to help our brothers and sisters who were fighting for change in their countries," Dr Kaunda said. "SADCC was, therefore, our vision for a viable strategy for the attainment of regional economic integration."
He explained that SADCC was transformed into SADC in 1992 after Namibia and South Africa attained political independence.
Dr Kaunda said SADC was one of the regional organisations on the continent, which were necessary building blocks for the attainment of integration of Africa.
"The ultimate goal is to have free movement of people, goods and services throughout the continent. This requires that our regions do attain goals for sustainable development," he said.
He said even though SADC had become a vibrant region, there should be no room for complacency because more needed to be done so that the people could enjoy acceptable living standards.
Dr Kaunda said SADC still faced many challenges among them, rising poverty levels, underdevelopment, ignorance, illiteracy, crime, diseases such as malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and the growing number of orphaned children. He called for closer partnership between governments and the private sector in addressing the needs of the communities.
Dr Kaunda further called for harmonisation of tariffs among SADC countries before they established the customs union by the year 2010. He asked SADC countries to add value to their raw materials by setting up factories to process the raw materials.
"We have a duty and responsibility to do what is necessary to enhance development in our region," he said.
Dr Kaunda said the founding fathers had a vision for Africa that in a larger freedom, the people of Africa could attain greater degree of prosperity, their succeeding generations could move the continent to higher heights, African countries would work for unity and prosperity and attain peace, stability and understanding among all its people.
"The founding fathers played their part. It, therefore, remains the responsibility of all in business and government to join hands in order to realise the dreams of our inspiring founding fathers and the aspiration of our people."
According to ASCCI chief executive officer Sipho Mseleku, the presidential award was granted to exemplary individuals who demonstrated through actions and stature, continuous, studious and tireless leadership in advancing the profile of the African continent.
He disclosed that the first recipient of the ASCCI presidential award was former South African president Nelson Mandela and that Dr Kaunda was the second recipient.
"Your commitment to the liberation struggle of the continent, throughout the years of your presidency was not only inspiring, but changed the political and economic landscape of our continent.
Even today, you continue to inspire us with your work with HIV/AIDS and other programmes. It is true to say that an organisation like ASCCI would not exist today had it not been for the foresight of leaders like yourself in creating the political and economic environment which had contributed to the created of ASCCI," read Mseleku's letter to Dr Kaunda.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday August 24, 2007 [04:00]
ZAMBIA is a breadbasket in Southern Africa, first lady Maureen Mwanawasa has said. Speaking at State House yesterday when she received donations of fertiliser and rice on behalf of the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI), Maureen said Zambia had produced enough food for local consumption and export.
“Zambia is a breadbasket in the region. We are proud that the food is grown by subsistence farmers,” Maureen said.
She said the MMCI was aware that agriculture played an important role in national development. Maureen said the fertiliser, which Zambian Fertiliser donated, would help the women and vulnerable people produce their own food.
“This will help us drive agriculture forward,” she said.
Maureen said women needed to have food to take care of their children and have good living standards. She said women had been carrying faces of hunger for a long time but through donations from MMCI’s cooperating partners, the women could now carry faces of happiness. She said the MMCI wanted to empower women to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“We rely on our cooperating partners to achieve the MDGs,” she said.
Maureen also observed that Zambian products had become competitive on the local and international markets.
She encouraged Zambians to support and buy Zambian products.
“Let us promote our Zambian products,” said Maureen.
Zambian Fertiliser donated 1,000 bags of fertiliser while Van De Ghinste Group of companies, which produces rice in Zambia, donated several bags of rice.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
By Noel Sichalwe
Friday August 24, 2007 [04:00]
Party leaders facing corruption charges in courts of law are free to contest the MMD presidency, Southern Province chairman Daniel Munkombwe said yesterday. In an interview, Munkombwe said the law presumed any accused person innocent until proved guilty. He was commenting on the possibilities of MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba and national chairman Michael Mabenga contesting the party’s presidency.
Kalumba is facing corruption charges in the magistrates’ court with others while the Supreme Court in 2004 found Mabenga guilty of misappropriating about K27 million from the Constituency Development Fund.
However, Munkombwe said the MMD would determine at a later stage as to who should contest for the presidency. He said what was clear is that the party would not choose mediocre leadership to take over from President Mwanawasa.
Munkombwe said although there could be people going around campaigning for the party presidency, the right time would tell as to which candidate would be best for the MMD presidency.
“The party constitution provides for any person to be elected to any position,” Munkombwe said. “In our justice system, a person is innocent until proven guilty.
Therefore, even those accused of corruption can stand for the party presidency.
If they are not found guilty by the court of law, they are not guilty. But those convicted will not be allowed to contest for the MMD presidency from jail. If they are not convicted, they can stand for elections and then the convention will either receive or reject them.”
By AMOS CHANDA
MINISTER of Justice, George Kunda, says Zambia’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process should move away from the corridors of the elite in society to the doorsteps of ordinary citizens. Mr Kunda said for the process to succeed, it should be wholly-owned by the people at the grassroots. He was speaking at the opening of the APRM brainstorming session in Zambia at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday.
“This means people should be fully involved and consulted at all stages of the process,” Mr Kunda said.
“There should be a conscious effort to move the process away from the corridors of the elite to the doorstep of the ordinary citizens.”
He said the APRM was designed to provide a platform to identify strengths and weaknesses in Zambia’s governance systems.
Mr Kunda said Government was committed to the successful implementation of the APRM process and urged participants at the session to develop initiatives that would be implemented country-wide.
Zambia is one of the 27 countries that has acceded to the APRM.
President Mwanawasa signed onto the process on January 22, 2006 during a ceremony that was held on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Khartoum, Sudan.
Following the accession, the Minister of Justice, who is the APRM national focal point person, launched the process on July 8, 2007 after Cabinet approval.
Mr Kunda said the brainstorming session was an important exercise that should generate a common national purpose that would guide the APRM process.
“It is, therefore, important that the outcome of this session should raise serious recommendations, especially in view of the vast experienced human resource represented here,” he said.
Mr Kunda said it was important that recommendations were made on a broad parameter upon which the APRM terms of reference for the national governing council would be based.
He said Zambia should not suffer the same problems other countries had experienced where institutional structures did not achieve the set objectives.
Mr Kunda said when that occurred, the credibility and integrity of the process suffered.
He said the core of the process was to capture the voices and concerns of ordinary citizens.
The brainstorming session, which ends tomorrow, is presided over by former National Economic Advisory Council chairperson, Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika.
Thursday August 23, 2007 [06:34]
THE issue of women representation in political and other decision-making positions is of paramount importance and should not be left to chance. In politics, those who make decisions on our behalf should be representative of the population as a whole. And more than fifty per cent of our population is female - women and girls. A more balanced group of representatives is needed.
We cannot continue for too long with the current situation where more than eighty per cent of our representatives are male. We believe that a more balanced group of representatives - with not less than fifty per cent women - would lead to better decision making and political priorities that more closely reflect voters' concerns.
But experience has shown that this desired balance will not come by itself, and the only way to significantly increase the number of women in political representation is to use positive action measures. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) through its protocols is trying to do this.
In 1997, SADC came up with a declaration on gender and development in which member states committed themselves to progressively increasing the number of women in decision making to thirty per cent by 2005. This target was later revised in line with an African Union commitment to increasing female representation in decision-making positions to fifty per cent by 2015.
SADC had set 2005 as the deadline for having thirty per cent of decision-making positions occupied by women, reflecting demands in the Platform of Action developed at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.
There has been slow progress by SADC member states in attaining the set target and this needs speeding up.
Women have an irreplaceable role in society, yet their contribution is not acknowledged, nor are they accorded equal participation with their male counterparts. This marginalisation is felt in all sectors of life: economic, social, political, cultural, racial, sexual, religious and even within the family itself. But it cannot be denied that the removal of the marginalisation of women is part and parcel of the stopping of the marginalisation of all the poor.
The marginalisation of women is deeply connected with that of the poor. Therefore, the women's struggle is deeply connected with the efforts of all the poor and the marginalised who are struggling for their upliftment in all aspects of life. But this won't be easy. It requires and calls for a serious struggle. There is need for us to broaden our understanding of women's situation in our socio-economic, political, and even religio-cultural realities.
We need to articulate our reflections on women's realities and struggles and deepen our commitment and solidarity work towards full humanity for all.
It is incontestable that women played critical leadership roles in the early Christian church. Priscilla, for example, seems to be have been at least the equal of her husband Aquilla in the work they did together as teachers (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; 1 Cor. 16:9; Rom. 16:3).
The Apostle Paul taught that women could lead worship and that the sexes were equal before God. In some ways the early Christian movement appears to have been a bold experiment in egalitarian inclusiveness.
But as the church began to adjust itself to its environing culture, something changed. In the generation that followed Paul, the male leaders surrendered to the pressure they felt to deprive women of the role they had once played (1Tim. 2:11-12).
We see as decisive to the progress of our country the virtues women bring to the struggle to create a more just, fair and humane society: generosity, steadfastness, openness to universal love, courage, capacity to endure suffering, forgiveness.
We cannot have meaningful participation from women in the development of our country without the removal of their marginalisation. All that we need is to look at the effect that equality - equal opportunities and equal treatment - has on human beings and their happiness to understand why women cannot give their best under these conditions of marginalisation.
There is need for us as a nation to educate every one of our citizens to have a more correct view of women and to actively participate in the efforts to redress the injustices done to women in our country, including in family life.
Women must not be treated as mere passive participants in national development. They must be allowed to enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms befitting all human beings, both in domestic and public life. Women should be treated justly in families, workplaces and public life. We say this because women are the backbone of our families and play major roles in our economy, especially in rural areas.
The life and health of women have central importance to the future development of our country. We therefore call for the true empowering of women to enable them to participate in decision making in our country on equal footing with their male counterparts.
Women bring special gifts to the progress of our nation. If they are not listened to and are marginalised, then we simply will not have sustainable and equitable progress. For this reason, we should all be involved in promoting women's participation in the affairs of our country. Advancement will not go very far unless women are enabled to participate in decision making at all levels and in numbers that are not less than those of men.
And we agree with Young Women Christian Association executive director Katembu Kaumba that the fifty per cent SADC women representation declaration in political and decision-making positions should cater for all sectors of the economy. Women must be represented at decision-making levels in both economics and politics for us to sustainably achieve development goals. In whatever we do, we should make all efforts to involve women in decision making if the SADC goals are to be realised.
As we have already stated, this will not come easily. It will require a lot of effort - and will have to struggle on every front with the same tenacity that we are accustomed to seeing in other important struggles.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Thursday August 23, 2007 [06:55]
THE SADC declaration on 50 per cent on women representation in political and decision-making positions should cater for all sectors of the economy, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) executive director Katembu Kaumba has said. Commenting on the upgrading of the SADC declaration on increasing women's representation in political and decision-making positions from 30 to 50 per cent, Kaumba said YWCA welcomed the move but it was the implementation strategy on how to put it into effect that mattered. She said talking about numbers was not enough.
"Is it going to be 50 per cent for urban women or will it be inclusive of rural women or is it just politics?" she asked.
Kaumba said it was important as a country to put in place a strategic process of making sure that it reached the 50 per cent target.
"It should look at all sectors of the economy, be it social, economic, political. It should cover all boundaries not just members of parliament. It should cover education where the number of female and male teachers employed should be even. Even the enrolment for girls and boys in schools should be even," Kaumba said.
The low female representation comes against a background of the 1997 SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in which member states committed to progressively increase the number of women in decision-making to 30 percent by 2005.
The 30 per cent target was later revised in line with an AU commitment to increasing female representation in decision-making positions to 50 per cent by 2015.
Last year's SADC summit held in Lesotho endorsed the process of drafting a SADC Gender Protocol and directed the SADC Secretariat to ensure wide consultations with member states.
This, the summit observed, would speed up activities towards the consideration of the protocol, which was to be presented to the just-ended summit in Lusaka.
The protocol was introduced at the Lusaka summit but leaders felt that each country needed more time to study it.
And Kaumba said she was concerned about the increase in cases of gender-based violence despite the awareness.
"Just yesterday (Tuesday) we had a woman who ran away because she was being battered and we have people passing through on a daily basis. Last week we had three women who passed through the drop in centre," said Kaumba.
By Nyambe Muyumbana in Mongu
Thursday August 23, 2007 [07:01]
MONGU Mayor Charles Akende, acting town clerk Frank Kalenga and two police officers on Tuesday escaped lynching by an angry mob as they attempted to demolish an illegal market in Limulunga Royal Village at the behest of the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE). Akende and Kalenga escaped the mob’s wrath but one of the police officers was not so lucky. The three, acting on instructions from the BRE, went to remove a wire fence belonging to Abel Liwoyo who was suspected to be operating an illegal market at his premises. Most of the markets in Mongu are owned by the BRE.
When some villagers and marketeers realised what was happening, they mobilised themselves and threatened to manhandle the two council officials and police officers. One of the armed police officers shot in the air to scare away the mob but the mob advanced and lifted the other police officer. However, the police officers were rescued after a 20-minute struggle by Joy Rural Ministries pastor Daniel Nawa, who told the mob to resolve the matter amicably.
The mob then asked the two officers why they were removing the wire fence where they were trading from since the market was full. In response, the officers said they were acting under instructions from the BRE and the council.
After that, the mob decided to go and see the Litunga since they were told that he was outside the palace for the enthroning of chief Mwenechiengele but were stopped by Pastor Nawa who told them not to act out of emotions.
The owner of the concerned plot said there was nothing wrong for him to fence his premises and help those without stands in the market to trade from his yard. He said it was a violation of human rights for the council to remove the fence around his yard by force, saying that he was not charging the people trading from his yard but was merely helping them.
But inside sources from the BRE who did not want to be named disclosed that the Kuta (BRE court) had resolved that the fence be removed since more marketeers had resorted to trade inside it and refused to pay market fees to the BRE.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Thursday August 23, 2007 [07:00]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa yesterday dismissed foreign affairs minister Mundia Sikatana due to his failing health. According to a statement released by special assistant to the President, press and public relations John Musukuma, President Mwanawasa has since transferred tourism minister Kabinga Pande to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the same capacity.
"I very much regret that I am terminating your services as Minister of Foreign Affairs with immediate effect. You will retain your nominated membership of the House until I have allocated another ministry to you or if I do not, after one year from the date hereof, until I have revoked that nomination," President Mwanawasa said.
"I wish to thank you very profusely for all that you have done for the nation. Our agricultural policies are responsible for the tremendous achievements, which we have made in agricultural production and food security. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you have been able to discharge your duties with distinction until recently when your health appeared to be failing."
President Mwanawasa in a letter transferring Pande to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
"Honourable minister, this appointment underscores the tremendous confidence that I have in your ability and leadership qualities to guide this important ministry which I have assigned you. You will no doubt agree that the efficiency of your ministry is critical if the performance of our economy is to improve appreciably."
President Mwanawasa has also appointed Michael Kaingu as Minister of Tourism. Kaingu was until his appointment deputy minister in the Ministry of Tourism. President Mwanawasa also appointed Professor Fashion Phiri as deputy minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Labels: MUNDIA SIKATANA
By Brighton Phiri
Thursday August 23, 2007 [07:02]
CABINET Office has sent its protocol officer Lovewell Jere on forced leave for allegedly insulting the local journalists during the just-ended Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Lusaka. Sources at Cabinet Office confirmed Jere's suspension. The source said Jere had been asked by Secretary to the Cabinet Joshua Kanganja to submit a report on allegations that he insulted local journalists covering the SADC summit.
"All I can say is that Jere has been sent on forced leave in connection with the media reports that he insulted the local journalists during the SADC summit. He has been asked to submit an incidence report and some names of people who were there when the incident took place," said the source who declined to be named.
Last Thursday, local journalists accredited to cover the SADC heads of state summit were showered with abusive language by Jere before he denied them entry into the banquet hall. Jere crudely told the local journalists to remove their "stinking bodies" away from the hall at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, saying they were going to spoil the food meant for the invited guests.
By Brighton Phiri, Nomusa Michelo and Masuzyo Chakwe
Thursday August 23, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION Patriotic Front president Michael Sata yesterday asked President Levy Mwanawasa to reflect on his background before telling people to stop bearing children if they cannot pay school fees. And Women for Change executive director Emily Sikazwe said President Mwanawasa should apologise and retract his embarrassing statement.
Commenting on President Mwanawasa's statement on Tuesday that the poor people who could not afford to pay school fees should not be bearing children, Sata said it was sad that President Mwanawasa, a beneficiary of free education system, had turned against the poor people.
"Mr. Mwanawasa himself, his wife, all his ministers and permanent secretaries are beneficiaries of the free education system. Why is he trying to deprive others the service which he benefited from?" Sata asked.
"Who is Mwanawasa to tell the people that they should stop bearing children?" Sata warned that President Mwanawasa's statement was a replica of the Chinese policy on children bearing.
"There are worse things to come...very soon Mwanawasa will be telling us to stop producing children because we cannot pay for their medical fees and food," Sata said.
And Sikazwe reminded President Mwanawasa that it was a right for anyone to have a family.
"Is he telling us that since we are poor we cannot have children?" Sikazwe asked.
"Is he saying the right to having children should be the prerogative of the rich, who have plundered our resources?" She said.
President Mwanawasa should be mindful of the fact that one of his job descriptions was to reduce poverty among Zambians, who were his masters. Sikazwe said President Mwanawasa's statement confirmed that the poor were not protected under the current constitution.
"Hence, our fight for a new constitution that will include both the social and economic rights," she said.
Sikazwe asked President Mwanawasa to apologise and retract his statement because it was an insult to the majority Zambians who were poor, not by design but due to poor and unproductive government policies.
She challenged President Mwanawasa to tell the nation which background he came from before becoming a lawyer and Republican President.
"We want to know who paid for his education...was it his family or government?" she asked.
And United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) country representative Lotta Sylwander said poverty would not stop people from having children. Sylwander said having children was the most natural thing, which happens everywhere in the world and nothing could stop people from bearing children.
"It's natural to have children and it is happening all over the worked. It's the most natural thing and poverty is not going to stop them," she said.
"I think in that case government should provide proper programmes to prevent people from falling into poverty."
And Apostolic Church in Zambia pastor Duncan Simukonda said the words uttered by President Mwanawasa should not come from a Republican President.
Pastor Simukonda said President Mwanawasa was implying that those who had money were the ones who should have children.
"A President should not be using such words that promote division between two groups in society especially that the majority of Zambians are poor. A nation cannot develop without children. It is government's responsibility to ensure that poor children get an education because if they don't, the poor will remain the larger population," he said.
He appealed to President Mwanawasa and the general leadership to seriously consider their statements every time they spoke to the nation.
"What they say can build or destroy a nation," he said.
And child activist Godfrey Simukonde said the government should come up with better policies on education because there were children from poor families that had grown up to be influential people in society.
On Tuesday, President Mwanawasa advised people against having children if they could not look after them.
He said this when MMD Copperbelt Province chairman Terence Findlay reported to him that he was receiving a lot of complaints from parents who said some schools were charging fees when it was not supposed to be the case.
"Mr provincial chairman, you have talked about the fees that are being charged by the schools. I would like it if I could get more details on this: which schools are charging school fees and we know schools have been allowed to charge PTA charges and in this case you know what it is used for," President Mwanawasa said.
"It's not meant as a fee in the essence that the money does not come to government. I ask you that any parent who has a school child should be in a position to pay a little money, which is called Parents Teachers Association PTA. I want to encourage you to plead guilty to poverty because if you are so poor that you can't afford to bring up children and put them in schools then don't have children because the next thing you will be saying is that we can't buy clothes for the children, the government should buy clothes for these children.
"If the complaint is the charge for PTA, tell the people who came to complain to you that I am a wrong sympathiser because I support the concept of them contributing to the extra tuition fees charge which I think is not too much for them that it should raise a lot of complaints."
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
By CHISHALA MUSONDA and NKWETO MFULA
PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has revealed that Zambia is losing an estimated US$7 billion annually due to the rampant illegal exports of gemstones by dubious business people. President Mwanawasa was speaking at the official opening of the Gemstone Processing and Lapidary Training Centre in Ndola yesterday. Government and donors spent K2 billion and US$80,000, respectively, on the establishment of the centre.
The President said Zambia’s gemstone deposits could act as a catalyst for employment opportunities in the small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) sector and accrue to the nation a lot of foreign exchange.
So far, 50 people have been trained in gemstones polishing.
The centre is under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocation Training.
"Zambia is endowed with numerous precious and semi-precious stones that can fetch billions of Kwacha on the world market.
Nearly every province has its share of gemstone deposits,” he said.
"Zambia is estimated to account for 20 per cent of the world production figures with a value of about US$7 billion per annum."
Unfortunately, Zambia was not earning much from its vast gemstones wealth largely because the gems reached the market in very raw form due to lack of skill and appropriate technology for value addition among small-scale miners.
Mr Mwanawasa said the gemstone sector was characterised by rampant illegal trading accounting for more than 50 per cent of the country’s total production.
But with the opening of the training centre, the President was hopeful people living in the gemstone mining areas would now be able to acquire lapidary skills and own businesses in the precious stones sector.
"It is really ironic that people surrounded by rich deposits of expensive minerals should be poor while a few from distant places should come to the gemstone areas and make huge amounts of dollars, sometimes using the poor villagers as casual labour,” he said.
"This unfair exploitation of citizens by unscrupulous gemstone dealers must come to an end.
Let people learn how to create wealth from the raw materials that God gave them by adding value to the stones and selling the polished products at established markets."
The President said graduates from the lapidary training centre would need support from Government in order to become players in employment creation and entrepreneurship development.
He said when his Government came into office in 2002, it redefined economic priorities including mining which was placed as a priority sector for income generation.
He told the gathering at the centre on the former Lever Brothers premises that they were witnessing the birth of a training centre for small-scale gemstone miners.
"Our cooperating partners, the World Bank and the European Union have spent close to US$80,000 on the purchase of equipment," he said.
Minister of Science and Technology, Peter Daka, said the establishment of the lapidary centre, the first of its kind in Zambia was a milestone because Government realised the need for Zambia to benefit from the gemstones wealth.
After the official opening, the President had a closed-door meeting with chiefs on the Copperbelt.
Meanwhile the President announced that the Chinese government has finally approved the US$39 million concession loan for the manufacture of equipment for use in road construction and rehabilitation.
President Mwanawasa announced the development in Luanshya yesterday when he commissioned the Luanshya-Masangano by-pass road.
He said the long-awaited loan was approved by the Chinese government to improve the road infrastructure in Zambia.
He said the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia informed him that the loan was signed on Thursday last week.
“I want to commend the Chinese for making the loan available.
We want to develop like yesterday and not tomorrow,” he said.
And President Mwanawasa said the Luanshya-Masangano road was an important road that led into Luanshya and also an important by-pass for heavy trucks.
The rehabilitation gobbled K33 billion.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) contributed 88 per cent and the World Bank put forward 12 per cent.
Mr Mwanawasa said the road sector investment programme by Government and donors had seen investments of US$1.6 billion over a period of 10 years on the core road network accounting for 40,000 kilometres that would have been improved to good condition by 2013.
He said this should be done together with the other objectives of creating 30,000 jobs and fostering economic growth and prosperity.
“I wish to express my sincere gratitude to OPEC and the World Bank for facilitating the successful achievement of this important milestone in the road sector investment programme,” he said.
He urged the Ministry of Works and Supply to prioritise the enhancement of safety on the roads such as the Chingola-Kitwe where many lives were lost to rampant accidents.
“The RDA must endeavour to curb over-speeding and overloading on roads,” he said.
Minister of Works and Supply, Mr Kapembwa Simbao, said the ministry was yet to embark on the rehabilitation of the Kitwe-Kalulushi road.
A K7.5 billion contract had been awarded to China Henan.
And WB country manager, Mr Kapil Kapoor, said the bank was happy to be a partner with Government in its road sector investment programme.
By Baston Mwedalo
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]
I would like to highlight a few but cardinal issues as regards Zambia’s economic development. Much has been said but little has been done to alleviate poverty among the Zambian citizenry. As much as I appreciate some of the MMD government’s policies in the agriculture sector, I think more drastic and bolder steps need to be taken. Granted now that we have good and improved crop harvests, these harvests go to waste simply because of poor marketing policies, poor road infrastructure, lack of industries to process the crop into finished products, thus adding value to the produce.
The government needs to seriously consider giving tax rebates to the manufacturing sector for it to grow as well. Time and again, the chairman of the Manufacturing Association of Zambia, Diego Cassilli, has lamented the hardships this sector is facing but to no avail. All the products on our shelves are imported from either South Africa or China. When are we going to buy goods manufactured in Zambian ?
I for one, I’m fed up with imported stuff. Where is our pride as a country if we cannot even manufacture tooth picks, sewing needles, jam to mention but a few? The country is well endowed with vast natural resources that we choose not to exploit. There is an urgent need to boost the manufacturing industries to produce affordable and quality Zambian commodities.
Companies such as Lyons, Mwinilunga pineapple plant, Mansa Batteries, Dunlop etc need to be revived as soon as possible to create employment for the many educated Zambians roaming the streets. Enough of the mining fiasco, let’s promote other sectors of the Zambian economy as well.
The health sector is another area that needs serious and urgent attention. I believe the Panado being used at Morningside Clinic in South Africa is the same being used at UTH. If so why are all the Zambian politicians being flown out to RSA for BP check ups and panado, when they can be attended to here at home? Why can’t Mwanawasa’s new deal administration bring in similar facilities so that many Zambians can benefit as well?
Last, the mining industry is one sector where tangible benefits were supposed to be realised, but alas the benefits from the mineral sales are not being appreciated at all despite the mining machinery being brought into the country at zero rate. Companies such as National Milling can be seen promoting boxing in this country. Where are the mines’ contributions apart from a paltry K35 billion royalties?
A taxpayer is contributing more than 25 per cent of his income to the national budget whilst these mines are contributing 0.01 per cent. This is utterly ridiculous! The road network in all the mining towns is full of potholes.
What are the benefits of having these mines? Magande and your cronies, you need to speed up the negotiations with the mining companies or face the boot. Do not also shield Chinese “investors” to reap huge profits at the expense of the Zambian worker. You are a disgrace to the Zambians and should not be trusted with our coffers and national interests.
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday August 21, 2007 [09:08]
COUNTRIES in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been reminded to urgently implement the main power generation and transmission projects in view of the looming power deficit in the region. During the SADC council of ministers’ meeting held in Lusaka last week, member countries were advised to speed up the interconnector projects and ensure the availability of adequate regional energy security in order to meet the projected demand.
Zambia and many other countries in the SADC region are facing a looming power deficit, a situation that is likely to negatively affect the economies of the region and potential investors, considering that electricity is a critical component in production.
The council of ministers noted that SADC ministers responsible for energy in countries such as Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, assisted by their respective utilities, should formulate a programme to address the diminishing generation surplus capacity in the region.
According to recent statistics compiled by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), power demand in the SADC region has been increasing at a rate of about three per cent per annum over the last 15 years.
But there have been no corresponding investments in generation and transmission infrastructure to match the increase in the demand, and as a result, generation surplus capacity has been diminishing steadily over the past few years.
The total installed capacity in countries included in SAPP is about 53,000 mega watts, but available capacity is only 45,000 mega watts due to technical limitations.
The dependable capacity is further reduced to 41,000 mega watts as the available hydro capacity varies depending on season and other constraints.
The peak demand in 2006 was 42,000 mega watts resulting in load shedding in some extensive parts of the region.
Zambia’s power utility Zesco Limited is currently carrying out rehabilitation works on all its major generation and transmission plants, a project that is likely to take the next four years before it is completed.
As a result of the increasing demand which has for many years been outstripping supply, Zesco Limited is implementing load shedding across the country in order to ease the pressure on its machinery.
The company’s current generation capacity stands at around 1,200 mega watts of electricity against a peak demand of over 1,400 mega watts, meaning the power utility has to either import the deficit of about 250 mega watts or carry out load shedding in order to stabilise the system.
Rehabilitation works and up-rating of Zesco's major equipment is being undertaken, with hopes of increasing installed capacity from the current 1,670 mega watts to close to 2,000 mega watts at the end of the project
In order to cushion the impact of load shedding, Zesco Limited says it has been spending an average of US $2 million (approximately K7.5 billion) on monthly imports of energy to supplement the current generation capacity of around 1,200 mega watts.
The rise in regional power demand has been largely on account of economic expansion in member states requiring more power to supply the new industries, increase in population of most SADC countries, non-economic tariffs in most member states that do not support re-investments in power generation as well as insignificant capital injection into generation and transmission projects from either the private or the public sector.
By Noel Sichalwe
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]
Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka yesterday charged that justice minister George Kunda is misleading the nation by claiming that the proposal to require judicial officers declare assets is unprecedented in the Commonwealth region.
Lifuka was reacting to Kunda who claimed that the proposed measures in the private Judicial Code of Conduct (Amendment) Bill were unprecedented in the entire Commonwealth and were a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary.
Kunda said this when submitting on a private member’s bill sponsored by Kabwata Patriotic Front member of Parliament Given Lubinda.
But Lifuka said there were several countries in the Commonwealth that had such legislation and that Kunda should correct the wrong impression he had created.
“We challenge the Minister of Justice to correct the wrong impression given to Parliament and we wish to draw the attention of the Speaker to the rather unfortunate act of misinformation by the Hon. Minister of Justice,” Lifuka said. “We read with disbelief the statement attributed to the Minister of Justice that the proposal to require judicial officers to declare assets is unprecedented in the Commonwealth and that the bill is the only one of its kind in the Commonwealth.”
Lifuka said TIZ fully supported the move to have such legislation passed because they firmly believed that corruption in a justice system distorted the proper role of judges that were supposed to protect the civil liberties and rights of the citizen to ensure fair trial by competent and impartial courts.
He said in corrupt judiciaries, citizens were not afforded their democratic right of equal access to courts nor were they treated equally by the courts.
“The merits of the case and applicable law are not paramount in corrupt judiciaries but rather the status of the parties and the benefit the judges and court officials derive from their decisions,” Lifuka said. “However, we equally would like to state categorically that the Minister of Justice was not entirely correct in his assertion that this intended amendment was unprecedented in the Commonwealth.”
Lifuka said TIZ submitted to the Parliamentary Committee and the evidence clearly highlighted that there were countries in the Commonwealth and in Africa who required judicial officers to declare assets and liabilities and among them included Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana.
He said in Kenya, the Public Officers Ethics Act of 2003 applied to all public officers including judicial officers. He said this was an Act of Parliament to advance the ethics of public officers by providing for a code of conduct and ethics for public officers and requiring financial declarations from specified public officers.
Lifuka said Tanzania had the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Chapter 398 of the Laws of the United Republic of Tanzania which applied to public leaders who included the President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, Chief Justice of the United Republic Attorney General, judges and magistrates, chiefs of the defence forces, Inspector General of Police and the Regional Police Commander, as well as the director general of intelligence, among others.
“In the case of Ghana, there is a law referred to as the Public Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification Act, 1998) and this applies to public officers who include the President of the Republic, the Chief Justice, Justice of the Superior Court of the Judicature, all judicial officers including members of the regional and circuit tribunals, and presidential staffers and aides among others,” he said.
“These are clear examples of where judicial officers are required to declare assets and liabilities and we find it unfortunate that the Hon Minister of Justice misled the Parliamentary Committee and in turn Parliament on this matter.”
Lifuka said TIZ was fully alive to the need for the judiciary to be independent of outside influence, particularly from political and economic powers.
“But clearly, judicial independence does not mean that judges and court officials should not be accountable for their actions,” he said.
“Judicial independence is founded on public trust and to maintain this, judges and court officials should uphold the highest standards of integrity. We are aware of the tension that exists between the principles of independence and accountability. As far as we are concerned, however, the judiciary, broadly speaking, like other branches of government, must be accountable directly or indirectly to the general public that it serves.”
Kunda told Parliament last week that the proposed amendments in relation to officers in the judiciary could be easily manipulated and used to scandalise judicial officers whose private and personal affairs would be exposed in the public domain.
He said with the kind of possible abuse, the judiciary as an institution could be destroyed.
He said the Bill was the only one of its kind in the Commonwealth.
The bill seeks to compel judicial officers (Supreme Court and High Court judges, Industrial Relations Court chairpersons, magistrates, and local court justices, etc.) to declare income, assets and liabilities annually with the Judicial Complaints Authority.
Labels: GEORGE KUNDA
By Henry Chibulu in Mazabuka
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]
Chief Mwanachingwala of Mazabuka has called on the Ministry of Works and Supply to install speed humps and road signs to reduce accidents on the Mazabuka-Monze highway. Chief Mwanachingwala complained in Mazabuka yesterday that the road had now
become a death trap as evidenced by the high number of accidents reported daily.
He observed that foreign and local trucks were overturning at Magoye Bridge because it was narrow.
He said there was need for the Ministry of Works and Supply to put in place measures that would protect motorists before a major disaster occured.
Over the weekend, a truck belonging to Capital Fisheries which was transporting imported fish from Namibia plunged into the Magoye river after the driver lost control of the vehicle.
Two other trucks transporting coal to the Democratic Republic of Congo from Zimbabwe also overturned within a stretch of 200 metres.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]
THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit has arrested two employees of the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) for money laundering offences involving over K200 million. And the Commission has arrested a Burundian refugee from Maheba Refugee Camp among 19 people that were arrested for trading in cannabis in various parts.
DEC public and press liaison officer Rosten Chulu disclosed in a press statement yesterday that Ian Mabvuto Mbazima, aged 29, a revenue collector at RTSA of Flat 28, Kuomboka Flats in Kabwe and Alex Mutambalika, aged 32, a clerical officer at the same institution residing at 2157 Chimanimani in Kabwe, were arrested for the above offence.
“The two accused persons jointly and whilst acting together in their capacities are alleged to have stolen K278, 384, 300 government revenue and used the same for their personal gain,” he stated.
And Chulu stated that Zakaria Minai, aged 58, a Burundian refugee residing at Zone G Road 98 Maheba Refugee Camp has been arrested for trafficking in 6.8 kilogrammes of cannabis.
“Also arrested in North Western Province is Mwelwa Mendela, an amateur footballer residing at F100 Wusakile, Kitwe for trafficking in 80 grammes of cannabis,” Chulu stated further. “In Northern Province Kennedy Musonda, aged 30, a businessman residing in Musenga Village has been arrested for trafficking in 76 kilogrammes of cannabis.”
Chulu also stated that Boyson Masanta, 45, of Mukolwe in Ndola rural was also nabbed for trafficking in 10.2 kilogrammes of cannabis.
Chibwe Lukwesa, 47, also of Mukolwe area was nabbed after he was found trafficking in 8.2 kilogrammes of the same banned substance. The other people arrested for trafficking in cannabis include Masautso Zulu, 39, of Old Buntungwa (6.5 kilogrammes), Bernard Chileshe, 37, of Kwacha Township, Kitwe (3.6 kilogrammes).
Others arrested in the same province are Collins Chama, aged 26, Obert Mwila, aged 27 and Chali Nshindo.
“In Lusaka the Commission has arrested and jointly charged Rose Mumba, 30, of Chibolya compound, Richard Phiri, 28, a taxi driver of John Laing and Vicensio Tembo, 26, of Misisi compound for trafficking in 108 kilograms of cannabis concealed in three different sacks,” Chulu stated.
“Others arrested in Lusaka Province include Obby Chimowa, 29, of Siavonga turn-off for trafficking in 150 kilogrammes and Bernard Phiri, 34, of Zumbo in Mozambique for trafficking in 427 kilogrammes of cannabis.”
In Eastern Province, the Commission arrested Bernadette Mbewe, 50, of Chingalilwe village for trafficking in 80.3 kilogrammes of cannabis and Gerald Tanga, 24, of Kapata Location for trafficking in 7.3 kilogrammes of cannabis.
Chulu stated further that the Commission nabbed and jointly charged Chilufya Chishimba, 19, a remandee and Sydney Mwape, 28, a convict at Nchelenge Prison for trafficking in 0.6 kilogrammes of cannabis.
“All suspects will appear in court soon,” stated Chulu.
Wednesday August 22, 2007 [04:00]
SOME of our political leaders need to be given lessons in courtesy.
It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't cost anything to behave like decent and civilised people when you are decent and civilised. It must be some job playing the role of a civilised person without being one. It is a problem that a lot of our politicians have in this country.
They are in the habit of thinking and seeing things in a selfish and arrogant way. They have no respect for their fellow citizens who don't conform to their dictates. They talk to, or about, them as if they are talking to little children or some aliens. Who do they really respect? They don't respect anybody.
It is not respectful or courteous for the President of the country to tell a citizen who is complaining about failing to pay PTA fees to stop having children because the next thing he will be saying is that he can't buy clothes for the children and the government should do so.
There is need for our politicians to realise that the responsibility to look after children is not only a family affair; it is a community and national responsibility. Whatever efforts are made today to look after children, educate them, protect them from diseases, prevent their death, provide them with food, housing, medicine, clothing will shape the basic human qualities of the future population of our country. If we don't look after these children in this way, what sort of country will we hand over to these children? What sort of life lies ahead for these millions of mouths that have to be fed in our poor country, those millions that have to be clothed, shod and sheltered, the millions of minds that will strive for knowledge, those millions of children who will struggle for a decent life, worth at least of the human conditions? What will the quality of their life be like?
It must not be forgotten, however, that the population phenomenon, its growth and impact on the evolution of our country's economy cannot be seriously and rigorously analysed if the social and economic factors that are the basis and main cause of that growth are not taken into account. Our people, the great majority of our people who are poor and constitute over seventy per cent of our country's population, are not poorer or hungrier, nor do they suffer from disease, nor are they illiterate, as a result of their high birth rates.
The production of many children does not respond solely to biological factors; it is above all, precisely the product of the social, economic and cultural conditions to which our people have been subjected through exploitation and marginalisation. It is evident that people's development in itself leads to a reduction in birth rates. One could speak about birth control, family planning, population policy on a moral, ethical and truly human basis if the first action is aimed precisely at solving the factors that give rise to the problem.
The uneven income distribution in our country is still subject to unjust and discriminatory social relations and indicates the need for deep essential changes in our political, economic and social structures which will guarantee the broad majority access to the benefits of development policies.
Consequently, the causes of the current dramatic problem of poverty, of failing to pay PTA fees lie elsewhere. Hunger is a phenomenon intimately associated with poverty, with the market income imbalances in our country, with lack of opportunities, with ignorance, inequalities and injustice.
As long as services like education and health fail to be considered as a fundamental right of man and a duty of the community; as long as the responsibility of the state and of society in regard to education and healthcare fail to be recognised; as long as inequalities in the distribution of education and health services fail to disappear; as long as poverty, hunger, ignorance and squalor fail to be directly fought against, little will be achieved in improving the conditions of our people.
While poverty is the basis of the present situation in our country and is directly related to the serious problem of low income for the large segment of our country's population, it is in turn closely linked to the employment situation.
The phenomenon of unemployment and underemployment is another facet of our present social situation. It cannot be seen as a mere quantitative issue but as a qualitative result of the irrational and unjust nature of our existing system of economic relations. From it stems the paradox that productive human capacity is not fully used in a country where there is so much poverty and where the most basic needs of millions of human beings are not being met.
And amidst all this, it shouldn't be forgotten that in general, women suffer incredible exploitation and discrimination in our country and are forced to bear the brunt of poverty in the economic sphere as well as in the sphere of education and health. As a sector of our society, women suffer doubly all the calamities related to living conditions that exist in our country. This is simply because they are the ones that bear the heavy burden of the home, of raising the PTA fees, they are the worst hit by lack of hospitals, medical care, schools, children's institutions, child-mother programmes, hygiene, and so on and so forth. An extremely high number of our women receive no attention during pregnancy. A much higher percentage die during delivery without any type of care; and it is women who must see half their children die before they are fifteen years old.
The failure by some parents to pay PTA fees is a singular national economic and social phenomenon that needs to be addressed in a serious and thoughtful manner - and not telling citizens to stop producing children if they are not able to pay PTA fees. It is first and foremost, a political fact. While it may be isolated for individual analysis, all its manifestations are integrated into a single whole, the basis of which is but an unjust economic order and blatant inequality in the distribution of wealth among our people. For some people, like our President and ourselves, paying PTA fees is nothing, it is done without effort or thought but for others, it is a big problem.
A comprehensive approach is required to address this situation and to struggle for diminishing or eradication of such poverty and inequalities. It is not, as some say, a matter of people stopping producing children or lowering fertility and birth rates separately to check or control irresponsibility among parents. It is a question of improving the quality of life.
The trend which serves as the basis for the sombre immediate outlook for our country are the most obvious expressions of the unbelievable situation of injustice prevailing in our country today. But they are not necessarily inexorable. We can, if we really want, act to change that increasingly unjust future for one that is bright and equitable.