Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007; 12:16 PM
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African authorities have unearthed a mass grave containing what they believe are the remains of at least four African National Congress militants allegedly killed by apartheid security forces in the 1980s.
The bodies of two young males with multiple bullet wounds were found in the grave outside Rustenberg, 112 km (70 miles) west of Johannesburg, earlier this week, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement posted on its website.
The bodies of another two men were discovered by the NPA's missing persons investigators in the same grave late on Friday, NPA spokesman Thali Thali told SAPA news agency.
It is believed the four were members of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC when it was fighting to end white minority rule in South Africa, and were among a group killed in clashes with security forces in 1985 and 1986.
"These remains will be subjected to forensic examination with a view to establish whose remains they were as well as locating their next of kin," the NPA said in its statement. It added that it would continue excavations at the site.
Although a total of 21 bodies were found in the grave, investigators said only the four showed signs of foul play. The rest were likely paupers who had been buried there for convenience, they said.
South African officials have embarked on a campaign to locate the remains of hundreds of anti-apartheid activists who disappeared while fighting the apartheid government.
Among the missing is Kwanda Mbeki, the son of President Thabo Mbeki, who disappeared while attempting to join his father and other anti-apartheid activists in exile. His body was never found.
There were hopes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by former President Nelson Mandela to probe crimes committed on both sides of the apartheid struggle, would determine what had happened to many of the missing.
The commission ended its work in 2003.
By Amos Malupenga
Saturday September 22, 2007 [04:00]
Former energy minister George Mpombo yesterday said he stopped the negotiations for Cinergy Corporation to sell their shares in CEC because the government did not agree with certain issues. And Zesco Limited managing director Rhodnie Sisala has said that although he is a shareholder in the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), he does not participate in its management.
Reacting to The Post challenge for him to tell the nation what he knew about the sale of 77 per cent shares in CEC to a consortium of Zambians, Mpombo – who is now defence minister - said he tried as much as possible to protect the interest of Zambians at the time he dealt with the matter in his capacity as energy minister in 2005.
“And all I can tell you is that by the time I left the ministry, we had called off discussions with Cinergy because we could not agree on certain issues,” Mpombo said. “This was after a high-powered meeting we had with officials from CEC and other investors. I personally instructed the then permanent secretary, the late Mr Geoffrey Mukala, to write to Cinergy to explain that negotiations had been called off because I was mindful of the government position on this matter. I don’t know what happened on this issue after I left Cabinet.”
And Sisala said it was not a secret that he held 0.6 per cent of shares in CEC.
“But I don’t sit on the board neither do I participate in the management of CEC,” he said. “So I don’t influence anything.”
Sisala said the three percent shares were offered to senior managers in the Power Division of ZCCM during the privatisation of the mines in 1997. He said the senior managers included himself, Humphrey Mulela, Aaron Botha, Hanson Sindowe and Charles Milupi.
“They sold us the same shares so we could assist the new buyers of the company in running it,” Sisala said.
He said it was incorrect for people to even associate him with the Zesco/CEC bulk power purchase contract which enables CEC to purchase Zesco power at heavily subsidised rates for onward transmition to the mines at huge profits.
“Those contracts were signed in 1997,” Sisala said. “I was not in Zesco at the time. Those agreements were between ZCCM and Zesco before CEC bought that.”
And commenting on rumours that he was being shielded by President Mwanawasa in his position because he holds shares in CEC on his behalf, Sisala said the rumours were malicious.
“I bought those shares long before President Mwanawasa went to State House. And I didn’t buy these shares as an individual, we bought as a group,” Sisala said. “So how do these shares become shares for the first family? That’s not correct. People are just being malicious.”
And sources at the Energy Regulations Board (ERB) revealed yesterday that Cinergy decided to pull out of CEC after a contract to build a 250 kv power line from Kitwe to Kansanshi Mine is Solwezi was given to Zesco.
“CEC had lobbied heavily to be awarded this contract,” the source said. “But as ERB, we went round the country collecting people’s views on this matter. And clearly, many people felt that Zesco, a local company needed to be supported and was given the contract especially that they had capacity to do that. This hurt Cinergy and they decided to pull out by way of offloading their major shares in CEC.”
And a former CEC employee yesterday praised Sisala as a patriot who protected local companies and employees.
“Many people might not know this but Mr Sisala recommended to government that CEC was a very viable and profitable institution which did not require to be sold,” the source said. “His friends were annoyed at this recommendation and they did all sorts of things to undermine him.
Finally, those whites came in and indeed Mr Sisala was vindicated because they declared dividends within a very short period of time.
But these new owners harassed employees through unnecessary retrenchments. Mr Sisala still argued that CEC was a viable company which did not need to retrench employees. Some of us even sued CEC when they did not give us our dues.”
The one vital connection which commentators have not made is the advent of the Scottish moment in British politics, and this to manage the increasingly bellicose, irredentist feeling in that part of the so-called United Kingdom. Both PM Gordon Brown and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Menzies Campbell, are Scottish, the same way Ian Douglas Smith — that most reviled architect of Rhodesia’s UDI — is.
Even Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson, has strong Scottish association, even though he was born in Northern Ireland. I could go on and on, illustrating for you the basis for what I have termed the Scottish moment in British politics.
Short’s so long a letter
But there is another factor in British politics which equally is often unacknowledged. This is the Rhodesian factor which, from the demise of UDI in 1980, has sought worldwide influence, especially in the white world where it is quite entrenched.
I have already made reference to Malcolm Rifkind, himself John Major’s last foreign minister before the political birth and spread of the English TB. Rifkind had something to do with Major’s seven-man 1996 team which made a case for Britain’s continued funding for Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
I am referring to the report which TB, through his equally contagious Clare Short -- then Secretary of State for International Development — proceeded to repudiate in 1997, once Labour ascended to No. 10.
"We do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchases in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links in former colonial interests.
"My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonised not colonisers."
The timing could not have been worse. That same November when the blunt letter was written and delivered, Zanu-PF was gathered in Mutare for its Second Annual People’s Conference, itself too charged a setting for an incident-free postal delivery of such a terrible message. The rest is history.
I notice Dominic Lawson of the Independent admitted a few days ago that the letter itself was "astonishingly ill-judged", adding "it would have been hard to construct a letter more skilfully designed to enrage Mugabe — or even a man with a much thicker skin than the Zimbabwean leader".
He gets even more damning than Manheru: "Short’s amazing assertion — that because her family was of Irish stock there was no need to honour a commitment to Zimbabwe entered into by a previous British government — was an inimitable mixture of shamelessness and sanctimony."
Except his article does no better than Short’s letter, arguing, as it does, for action predicated on the very assumptions that made Short’s letter such a brazen obscenity.
But my focus is not Short’s very long letter, important though it is. Nor is it on Lawson, much as it is quite tempting to see him as an extension of No. 10 Downing Street.
I mean if you have a whole Head of Government who uses the newsroom to address his colleagues in Portugal and the whole EU, surely the conduit for interstate communication shifts from the guarded diplomatic pouch to www.com! My focus is on the Rhodesian factor.
Rifkind was in Rhodesia in the 1970s, and still prides himself for teaching one of Zimbabwe’s former finance ministers at the then University of Rhodesia. As a conservative, it is not difficult to decipher his politics then.
He was for UDI. Clearly, the fact of having done a thesis on Southern Rhodesia’s Land Apportionment Act did not quite help Rifkind appreciate the African struggle for land in the then Rhodesia. Or in Zimbabwe which he seeks to deal with now.
Significantly, he is in the forefront of agitating for the restoration of white land rights in Zimbabwe, an eventuality he legitimises through an anti-Mugabe democracy verbiage. He personifies the opposition Conservatives’ connection with Zimbabwean politics here.
Well, if you want more, you can recall Lord Acton — sickly Judith Todd’s brief or short-term in-laws — who still have vast land interests here.
Quite a number of Conservatives have direct connections to Rhodesia’s white elite which then gets dismantled by Mugabe’s land reform. They share in white anger arising from that drastic but belated measure by Mugabe.
Now the other Brown and Annan
But there is a more direct link. Gordon Brown’s Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the United Nations — George Mark Malloch Brown — is the other white Rhodesian boy with roots in South Africa (which Rhodesian did not have a South African connection?).
He thrived under UDI here until he left for his overseas studies. He grew very close to the British establishment, attested to by his tenure at the Economist, the World Bank and the UN, where he rose to become Deputy Secretary General with special duties in Kofi Annan’s office, on the diplomatic ticket of Britain.
We can say it now: Annan’s funny behaviour in respect of the Zimbabwe issue largely owed to this one man, aided, of course, by Pandergast, another Rhodesian boy at the UN. Blair hoped to use this important connection to haul Zimbabwe before the UN Security Council.
Malloch Brown’s Asian connection, which he now seeks to use to leverage China against Zimbabwe, stems from his role as Corazon Aquino’s campaign manager, against Ferdinand Marcos, as well as an official of the UN refugee agency in Asia. He also dabbled in Chile’s politics. More important, he is intimate with George Soros (he rented Soros’ apartment in New York!), the godfather of Open Society for Southern Africa (OSISA) which is active in subverting Zimbabwe’s establishment for Anglo-American interests. He is no stranger to the politics and schemes of regime change.
Moore at Chatham
I made reference to Michael Moore, who has been part of this week’s anti-Zimbabwe hype. He connects with Zimbabwe’s politics via the Westminster Foundation, itself the first public vehicle for an all-British party funding of the MDC. For three years, he was vice-chairman of this notorious foundation. He is also on the council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, or Chatham House, as it is popularly known. Chatham House was key to defining the British response to Mugabe’s land reform challenge.
Against all this, it passes for precious little surprise that British Embassy’s Dare warns Zimbabwe against any policy shift with the change of guard at No. 10. She is referring to Rhodesia’s countervailing influence at Whitehall. As India’s lost daughter, she obviously is familiar with the long hand of the Raj.
Britain and coup politics
But still there are surprises within the expected. We can make more disclosures. Between the March 11 MDC debacle and Blair’s departure, Blair’s system was busy urging Don McKinnon and his Commonwealth to prepare to admit Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth, albeit under a military leader.
The Commonwealth protested feebly, reminding the British establishment the Club’s credibility was already suffering from the Musharaff case. In the end, McKinnon did little else except to prepare for that admission, once it would have arrived.
The British were planning and hoping for a coup here. They still hope for one, ask the Swedish ambassador who still expects something to happen this October. I have made repeated oblique reference to this fact. Of course, Blair left; Mugabe remains in office; Zimbabwe is under a constitutional government, its soldiers quite professionally well behaved, and in the barracks.
Soon after Brown’s takeover, again another session was held with McKinnon’s people, this time to warn them to prepare for a shift of policy on Zimbabwe. Brown, the Club was told, intended to take a softer line on Zimbabwe eventually leading to a resolution which would not cost Britain a face. The Commonwealth could help by helping with toning down the anti-Zimbabwe shrill in the British media, themselves real impediments to a policy U-turn, the Brown team told the Club officials.
Brown as hostage
Except this indication caused consternation within the ranks of Labour itself and the
Conservatives, which is why Zimbabwe came under very serious debate soon after Blair’s departure, all meant to forestall any policy change. Thanks to the Rhodesian lobby, Brown’s officials were upstaging him, indeed prepossessing his Zimbabwe policy, leaving him and his policies thoroughly discoloured and wilting. His piece in the Independent, far from suggesting a contemplative and deliberative leadership, does in fact reveal a wimp at the helm, a man so firmly circumscribed by Blair’s machinery to cause little worries of policy change at No.10.
A time like this?
Let me validate the point. Gordon Brown could not have chosen a worse ill-timed moment for announcing a toughened stance against President Mugabe. On the ground, the Mbeki initiative had just announced a major breakthrough in cobbling some working amity between Zanu-PF and both splinters of the MDC.
Economically, the Zanu-PF government was announcing a major breakthrough regarding taming inflation and resolving the whole pricing imbroglio. Socially, Zimbabwe’s declining HIV infection rate was echoing as reduced infant mortality. And a South African research think-tank at an Afrikaner university had just indicated the threat of immigrants from Zimbabwe to South Africa had been overstated to the level of being a hoax.
Within its own belly, Britain’s Commonwealth Secretary General – himself no darling of Zanu-PF — and Britain’s think-tank, the International Crisis Group, were announcing possibilities of a breakthrough, and counselling against megaphone diplomacy or isolating Mugabe.
Within Europe itself, Britain’s anti-Zimbabwe stance was receiving quiet admonition by way of Portugal’s insistence that Zimbabwe must attend the EU-Africa Summit represented by its constitutional head of state. On the African continent itself, Ghana, as the AU chair, had amply indicated Africa would go to Lisbon, one and indivisible. In Sadc, Zimbabwe had just secured overwhelming support and solidarity.
Out of turn or out of power?
Tell me: why would a sane British premier dare a hornet’s nest by scribbling the note Brown did? Why? Why would a sane British premier aggravate sparse EU support for the British position by incontinently communicating with his fellow leaders via a newsroom? What is more, why would a premier truly in charge tickle the sides of his arch-enemy Mugabe by clearly showing he has lost open lines to his colleagues in Europe?
Communicating with fellow Europeans through the British Press clearly indicated British diplomacy had come unstuck. Clearly British diplomacy has foundered in its backyard, with Brown adopting for the rest of Europe Blair’s odious megaphone diplomacy against Zimbabwe.
By so doing, he has challenged the honour of Europe’s oldest imperial power, Portugal. Would Socrates want to be viewed as Brown’s poodle? Wise Socrates? By so doing, Brown has challenged the honour of colonially bitter Africa whose delegation to the summit now has to be passed by imperial Britain. Which self-respecting African leader would want such a stigma?
What is worse, by so doing, he has demonstrated exactly what Zimbabwe has always claimed, namely that the problem is essentially a bilateral colonial one between Zimbabwe and Britain. If it was not, why has the argument trimmed down to Mugabe and Brown, the one pitchy black, the other whitey brown?
Tall and black, white and colonial
Mugabe stands very tall and black. Brown stands white and colonial. It is anyone’s guess who carries world opinion. What is worse, it is clear who stands isolated, even in Europe. Mugabe stands vindicated and can now tell Africa that British colonial arrogance is now bursting banks to flood the whole continent and its "infantile" governments.
Made worse by a food gift of a paltry 8 million pounds. Is that Africa’s worth? And when Brown’s system says it fears a shouting match in Lisbon with Mugabe, does that not suggest their case is implausible? Surely the match will be shouted in English, their English? Which English Scot ever loses a shout done in the tongue of her forebears? Or is Brown deliberately provoking an outrage in Europe and the African continent to manage Blair’s left-over constituency? Surely he could have done it slightly more skilfully?
A pathetic prologue and epilogue
And what a pathetic prologue to Brown’s letter? Some obscure archbishop of an equally obscure "parish" of York, whose name is Sentamu and is originally from faraway Uganda, is made to pay a visit to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of Britain.
The whole event is choreographed as if this was a chance drop-by of a holy man on the home of one of his flock. Come on, let us be serious! You do not just drop by No. 10 as if you are alighting from a train at Victoria Station. I know the rigmarole of minding schedules of leaders.
It could not have been a chance encounter when it did. Give me a break. This planned accident was on a Sunday, unholy Sunday. Then on the Monday, an even bigger accidental encounter happens: one involving a sickly African archbishop of doubtful orientation called Desmond Tutu.
The accident flies him all the way from South Africa, again to No. 10. Accidentally, both archbishops urge Britain to overcome her guilt as a former colonial power to intervene to stop a southern monster called Mugabe whom they describe as reminiscent of Sentamu’s Idi Amin, ironically a dictator whose self-view was that of the genuine king of Scotland – Brown’s Scotland!
Dark, sell-out archbishops
Does that act of so old an imperial government have to be so pathetic? Who is Tutu to Africa? Who is Sentamu to Zimbabwe? Where do both stand in the narrative of Africa’s revolution?
Tutu, that little bishop who would have nothing to do with the ANC in struggle; who would have nothing to do with rebel Mbeki’s wedding in London? Tutu, that little bishop who sought to free apartheid South Africa’s bloody agents imprisoned here in Zimbabwe , all in the name of Truth and Reconciliation? Tutu, the gays’ bishop? Tutu, South Africa’s Bishop Muzorewa, only a little clever? My goodness! Britain, with all her embassies here, must surely know that it is erecting its foreign policy on a manZimbabwe would never meet or do business with before the end of apartheid. Have they bothered to ask why Tutu was never received by the Frontline States? Or are they so desperate for converts that they have resorted to one of their own? And this Sentamu? Who is he? Some little altar boy of Britain’s state church, one who thinks seeing white tongues darting for the eucharist is so wonderful?
A once-upon-a-time Ugandan who has become British, very British. Why stretch the man’s colour? Why stretch the man’s significance? He may have synthetic honour abroad. Not here in the savannah which spat him. And what a poor argument for both men!
If it was not about giving effect to Britain’s colonial status, why approach Brown, and not Russia’s Putin? Surely if it is about states with enough muscle to intervene in Zimbabwe, Britain is the least in ranking — a decrepit once-was in geo-politics. I mean its army cannot handle Basra, tiny Basra. What can they do here against a party with so many years of experience in guerilla warfare? Now Brown remains with a long face, egg-splattered. Made worse by another bombshell from President Mwanawasa, himself the chairman of Sadc.
He will not go to Lisbon unless President Mugabe attends. He adds that the rest of Sadc will follow his cue. Ghana has already given Africa’s position, amplified further by the President of the Pan-African Parliament, a Tanzanian whose language to her European counterparts make her sound like Mugabe in female form. This is how well Brown has radicalised Africa, indeed how well he has consolidated Mugabe’s catchment.
Oh omniscient private media!
What has been happening in Parliament? What’s going on? It was wonderful to watch expressions of consternation from the media bay as Zanu-PF and splinters of the MDC co-sponsored Amendment No.18.
It was like a bolt from the blue, when in reality this has been there, more visible than Mt Everest against a media corps in induced denial. And when Chinamasa disclosed the three sides had met 20 times, well over half of those times here in Harare, the bafflement mounted. How could so many meetings take place without our knowing it? And to arrive at this?
Faces dropped; many needed counselling. That is the price one pays for pretending one can function as journalist while avoiding those who govern, to rely on voices whose claim to knowing what is going on rests tenuously on the discredited fact that they belonged once upon a time.
As it turned out, the principal mis-informant, who sits rather lonely in Parliament, was equally in a tailspin, crowning it all by supporting a Bill he was not privy to via the talks that crafted it. He looked lost; he is lost, experiencing the last rites of his tenure in Parliament, this shameful turncoat!
Rhodesian factor again!
I hear echoes of "Third Force"! How does another "third" emerge from a "Third"? To become what fraction; what faction? We are in for interesting mutations: MDCs deracinated from their NGO bedrock; MDCs cut from its British handlers; Cross, Bennett, Coltart quite unhappy with the route the natives have taken, and closing the tap.
Tsvangirai struggling with his toilet cabinet; Biti testing a bit of proximity to power, and liking it; Mashakada cultivating Makumbe for executive mayorship which will not exist very soon; Mutambara, aah-h Mutambara, simply hanging his gloves to run away from Zimbabwe. And at the end of it all, Zanu-PF under Robert Mugabe winning in March 2008! A great perturbation of nature.
Icho! l firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Arm-twisting not way to solve Zim’s challenges’ CONDEMNATION of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown over his threat to boycott the Euro-Africa Summit if President Mugabe attends intensified yesterday. Amid growing international consensus that the conference must go ahead even without Britain, the Pan-African Parliament said Mr Brown should desist from behaving like an overlord.
In remarks that received worldwide coverage yesterday, Dr Gertrude Mongella, the Tanzanian president of the Pan-African Parliament, said "arm-twisting" was not the way to solve Zimbabwe’s challenges.
Her comments reflect the determination of the African Union to go ahead as planned and invite President Mugabe to the Euro-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal, in December.
Dr Mongella, attending a conference with Socialist Members of the European Parliament in Brussels, has made it clear that African solidarity might undermine Mr Brown’s "him-or-me" challenge to the summit.
"We do know there are some problems (in Zimbabwe), but if somebody wants to arm-twist Zimbabwe, that’s not the best way to solve the problems," she said.
"I think this is again another way of manipulating Africa. Zimbabwe is a nation which got independence. I think in the developed countries there are so many countries doing things which not all of us subscribe to — we have seen the Iraq war, not everyone accepts what is being done in Iraq."
Dr Mongella urged all African and European leaders to go to the summit — including Mr Brown — to join the talks to "meet, develop a very committed dialogue to solve problems, rather than threatening each other by going or not going".
She said dialogue must be pursued to resolve any disputes.
"I think if we want to move in the right direction, with the African way of doing things, you discuss things under a tree till you agree. So if somebody does not come under a tree to discuss, that is not the African way of doing things."
Mr Brown was also condemned by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Boniface Chidyausiku, who said the prime minister had no right to dictate who should be at the summit or not.
Mr Chidyausiku said President Mugabe had a sovereign right, like all other African heads of state, to attend the Lisbon summit, adding that bigger issues affecting Africa should be prioritised.
Mr Chidyausiku’s remarks follow almost similar sentiments by Portuguese EU legislator Mr Paolo Casaca and the Southern African Development Community chairman, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, on Thursday.
President Mwanawasa even countered Mr Brown with his own threat, saying if President Mugabe is barred from attending the summit, Zambia and probably other African leaders would not go to Lisbon.
Mr Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Aid and Development, signalled Mr Brown’s growing isolation, saying that one person cannot scuttle a key summit between two continents.
"We think that a single individual case cannot take as hostage the relations between two continents," said Mr Michel.
He added that the European Commission would want the summit to go ahead regardless of Mr Brown’s threat.
Writing in a British newspaper, The Independent, on Thursday, Mr Brown provoked sharp international criticism when he said he would boycott the Portugal summit — the first since 2000 — if President Mugabe attends.
Mr Brown, like his predecessor Mr Tony Blair, claimed that the Government had presided over the prevailing economic challenges, ignoring the impact of illegal EU and American sanctions.
He said the EU’s five-year visa ban on President Mugabe must be enforced to ensure that he does not travel to Portugal.
But Mr Michel said the ban does not apply to international meetings.
"I expect it is possible to have a compromise, but if there is no compromise, what can you do? The only option I cannot accept is suppressing the summit," he said.
Mr Brown, who assumed office in June, is said to base his foreign policy on a series of anti-Zimbabwe reports aired by several British media outlets, including the BBC and ITV News.
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown is running scared of a possible confrontation with President Mugabe at the forthcoming European Union-African Union Summit, slated for Portugal later this year. In order to hide his fear, he has issued a public ultimatum that if President Mugabe attends the summit, he will boycott.
Instead of behaving like a schoolboy who runs away with the ball when he is losing the game, the British Prime Minister should show the world how courageous he is by confronting Zimbabwe face to face on any issues he feels need to be addressed.
On his part, President Mugabe has been open to dialogue and prepared to discuss issues with the British.
As we all know, the guilty are afraid. Mr Brown is standing on shaky ground having refused to honour his country’s colonial obligations to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.
Instead of facing the prospect of losing the game at the hands of not only a former colony but a little African country, Mr Brown has decided to hightail it. Probably the images of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s humiliation in South Africa at the hands of President Mugabe haunt Mr Brown.
He need not fear but be bold and be his own man.
Mr Brown has nothing to fear from President Mugabe but has everything to gain by engaging in civilised dialogue that will eventually lead to an agreement over the bilateral dispute between the two countries.
Now that the pretext of using the opposition MDC as a scapegoat is out of the way as both the opposition and ruling Zanu-PF are moving in the same direction, it becomes extremely difficult for the British to justify their continued assault on Zimbabwe.
The British will now have to deal with President Mugabe directly.
The forthcoming summit is the perfect platform to initiate such dialogue and Mr Brown can look for support from his fellow Europeans while President Mugabe will be backed by his fellow Africans.
It is indeed childish, if not silly, for Mr Brown to claim that he will boycott the EU-AU Summit on the basis of Zimbabwe’s attendance when we all know that both leaders will be in New York next week for the UN General Assembly.
Maybe the British will feel comforted enough by big brother America.
The AU has pronounced itself clearly on the summit, with the Foreign Minister of Ghana, the current AU chair, Mr Akwasi Osei Adjei, last week emphasising that all AU member states will be invited to the summit.
Even the summit hosts Portugal, which chairs the rotating EU presidency, has been very clear on who will attend the meeting, saying it has no intention of discriminating against President Mugabe.
One would have thought that since taking over as British Prime Minister, Mr Brown was studying the Zimbabwe situation so as to avoid the same pitfalls that hounded his predecessor’s term of office.
The AU and Sadc have urged London and Harare to find a lasting solution to their bilateral dispute and this certainly cannot be found through boycotts.
Saturday September 22, 2007 [04:02]
The absence of a culture of reading should be a major concern to all who want to see our country move forward. The concerns being raised by Comrade KK on this score deserve serious attention from the government and other stakeholders. This is so because reading is one of the fundamental building blocks of learning. Becoming a skilled and adaptable reader enhances the chances of success at school and beyond. Reading is not just for school or examination purposes, it is for life.
Reading, in all its variety, is vital to our becoming better informed; having a better understanding of ourselves and others; and to our development as thoughtful, constructive contributors to a democratic and cohesive nation.
We shouldn't forget that leading world nations pride themselves on their promotion of reading. They see a high level of literacy as a major source of their competitiveness and social maturity.
The absence of a widespread culture of reading in our country acts as an effective barrier to our development and international competitiveness.
The economic and social health of our nation depends on building a literate nation, able to read widely for practical purposes and for pleasure. This means making the current generation more aware of the pleasure and importance of reading in daily life, and ensuring that they have the level of literacy skills required in modern society.
As things stand today, and as Comrade KK has correctly observed, we have a nation in which the majority can neither read nor write in any language, a nation in which the majority are completely illiterate - unable to read instructions on a medicine bottle or to complete a job application form without assistance.
And millions of our people are functionally illiterate - unable to function adequately in the modern world due to underdeveloped reading and writing skills. We also have a large number of people who are alliterate, able to read but who don't read. This is a major consequence of not having a culture of reading.
It is shocking that in a country of almost 12 million people, the total circulation of newspapers per day is hardly 50,000 copies. We are not saying this to market our newspapers and increase sales but to engage the whole nation in a dynamic effort to build a sustainable culture of reading and writing that also affirms Zambian languages, history, values and development.
There is need to work towards achieving a total national consciousness of the value and benefits of reading.
There is need also to engage all in the reading chain - writers, illustrators, publishers, printers, booksellers, teachers and librarians in support of this.
The corporate sector, civil society, churches and non-governmental organisations also need to be engaged to support and participate actively in the promotion of a culture of reading. Investment needs to be mobilised into a reading promotion initiative of such value to all stakeholders.
There have been some initiatives to promote a culture of reading but these have not succeeded.
These initiatives failed because there was no buy-in from government as a whole and there was a lack of investment of both material and human resources. There was no core government funding committed to creating a culture of reading. Everything, more or less, relied on voluntary labour, on reading activists.
These activists were expected to promote reading and book development on a voluntary basis. While voluntary labour is important and necessary and we do need to promote the spirit of voluntarism in the nation, an over-reliance on voluntarism leads to a massive under-evaluation of the labour of people in the reading and book sector.
People should not be expected to work as full-time volunteers at the expense of their own financial independence and wellbeing. And as volunteers become overworked and burnt out, they are likely to withdraw their labour at crucial moments. Therefore, there is need to invest into the labour of people in the promotion of a reading culture.
There is need to promote the publishing industry that has almost collapsed in our country. A flourishing publishing industry is one of the key ingredients of a vibrant national reading culture. And a culture of reading is inextricably linked with availability of books. It is therefore imperative that we reflect, as a nation, on the state of literature and publishing in our country.
Although the financial rewards in western countries with huge book markets are certainly greater, here it is not very profitable. And therefore incentives to encourage our writers to publish are needed.
We think it is a sad reflection on the literary and publishing community, our government and wealthy individuals in our country, that we are unable to mobilise resources to build and strengthen the publishing industry in Zambia.
A massive investment in improving access to books through public institutions such as schools and libraries is not a luxury but a matter of absolute urgency.
Clearly, books and libraries are not a developmental luxury but are essential, especially in our so-called information age where knowledge and information have acquired the materiality of capital and commodities, whose uneven accumulation dictates the wealth and poverty of communities.
In a country that is plagued by the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the absence of reading materials on nutrition, health and prevention of HIV and AIDS is truly alarming. Not enough materials are produced and those that are produced are not widely circulated.
We shouldn't also forget that increased investment in and production of books would generate much needed employment. We would have to rely less on book aid boxes sent from abroad. Well-meaning people spend considerable amounts of money sending books to us.
Those same resources would be of much greater benefit if they were used to buy books written by Zambians, published and printed in Zambia. And apart from jobs created in the publishing and printing industries, a flourishing book industry also contributes towards tourism.
There are people in the world who will visit a country on the basis of having read a book. Literary tourists are a niche market that should be seriously cultivated. Building a sustainable culture of reading and writing will also help to affirm Zambian languages, history, values and development.
We therefore need leaders like Comrade KK to lobby continuously for increased investment in language, literature and libraries. We need to develop a bold vision that can convince those that control our national purse that Zambia has potential in this sector.
There’s need to show our finance minister Ng'andu Magande, as he prepares his next budget, that the development of a flourishing publishing industry is not only good business sense, it is a pre-requisite to realising our dream for a more developed, prosperous and poverty-free Zambia.
It is therefore a duty of every one of us to struggle without respite for a nation of avid, life-long readers who read widely and who value Zambian literature and languages; for a government that vigorously promotes the value of reading at national, provincial, district and local levels; for an education system that integrates reading at the core of the curriculum, at all levels, and encourages reading for pleasure and life-long learning; for a flourishing writing and publishing industry to support the heightened demand for books and other reading materials from the education sector and from the general public; and for a strong library network backed by an equitable book distribution system that ensures that everyone has access to a wide range of reading material, regardless of economic status or geographical location.
We are accordingly appealing to minister Magande and his staff at the Ministry of Finance to seriously and deeply meditate and reflect on these issues as they try to pen down the next budget of our country.
We need to achieve a quantum leap in the culture of reading and the book chain.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday September 22, 2007 [04:00]
IT'S regrettable that we are not a reading nation, Dr Kenneth Kaunda has said. And Dr Kaunda has said it is important to create a conducive atmosphere in which the media can operate independently without undue influence from any quarters. During the opening of the Lubuto Library Project at Fountain of Hope street kids drop in centre in Lusaka's Kamwala area yesterday, Dr Kaunda said while Zambians inherited a strong culture in oral history, they were regrettably not a reading people.
"Yet vast amounts of knowledge, useful creative information that could change you and me are still in the print media, in black and white, in books and magazines. A lot more is available in the electronic media, but for a variety of reasons, this is still the privilege of a few," he said.
He said in addition, most of the best books and magazines were still in English yet there were millions of children who could neither read nor write in English or any local language.
"They are truly disadvantaged, truly poor. They present a serious challenge to society especially educationalists and national leadership. We should not have a nation in which the majority can neither read nor write in any languages," he said.
He challenged the nation's writers of books in local languages to produce even more creative and inspirational works in all languages that would help people open opportunities for access to the best that Zambia and the world could offer to defeat poverty and create hope for a bright future for all.
"Let us get into libraries and grow in knowledge and power for the good of our country and mankind. No one is too old to learn to read. Only last week, a unique senior citizen of this world made history in South Africa. At age of 101 she graduated from a literacy class! She was on television practicing the art of reading. She had a mission, developed a passion for education and learned to read. You could see the excitement on her face. This is your challenge and mine, follow her and you will come out of the darkness that blurs your vision and keeps you in the vice-grip of poverty," he said.
Dr Kaunda said as a teacher, he saw the potential for strengthening the efforts of government in improving the levels of literacy in the country.
He said Zambia had tremendous challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) yet the catchment area for children who should be in school was huge.
Dr Kaunda said school places were inadequate and the result was that thousands of children were squeezed out of the school system at a tender age, thrown into the cold and cruel world without hope in their future.
"Worse still, many young girls fall prey to idleness and become victims of early pregnancies and early marriages. Even some in school fall out and join the victims of fate. Their future is destroyed. In a crime-ridden world which offers them no hope, many young children also fall prey to anti-social behaviour such as alcohol and drug abuse and even stealing," he said.
He said many of these children were brilliant, with qualities to excel in their performance in and outside class and had the potential to make tremendous contribution to the development of their communities and country.
Dr Kaunda said libraries as vast reservoirs of productive information provide opportunities for education.
He said rural areas faced an educational crisis of major proportions which needed to be resolutely addressed but this should not be left to government alone to tackle.
"As responsible citizens, we must each play our part," he said.
And United States first lady Laura Bush in a message read for her by US Ambassador to Zambia, Carmen Martinez, said libraries stand as beacons of knowledge and inspiration.
Laura said reading was the secret to people's greatest success.
And launching the 2007 to 2011 Panos Southern African strategic plan on Thursday evening, Dr Kaunda who is also Panos Southern Africa patron said it was necessary that the public was well informed on issues of governance and social interaction among others.
He said the public needed to make informed decisions on issues that affect them.
Dr Kaunda said in order to achieve this, it was necessary to have a conducive atmosphere in which information was freely disseminated to the public without bias, fear of intimidation or persecution.
"This is very important in any democracy because the media should play an important role in providing checks and balances. This can only be attained where there is genuine freedom of the press," he said.
He said the media's role was to inform and entertain the public and in fulfilling this role, it was important that the media does so without fear or favour especially in presentation of editorials.
Dr Kaunda said in this way, the public could be assured of receiving unbiased and uncensored information on many issues including economic, social and political developments.
He said the general public worldwide usually took as gospel truth information that was disseminated by the media.
"The media is therefore a very powerful institution which can either destroy or build the standing in society of governments, organisations of individuals. This is why it is extremely important, in keeping with the rules of natural justice, for fairness and balance in its dissemination of information," he said.
Dr Kaunda said the media could to a very large extent act as an oversight to government functioning as well as to the conduct of the private sector.He said this called for investigative journalism in order for the truth to be brought forth and where necessary, action taken by relevant authorities.
Dr Kaunda said during elections, it was important that the media gave fair and equal coverage to all political parties contesting elections.
"This is necessary in order to level the playing field for all the contestants. The media therefore should have no favourites or enemies in executing its role of dissemination of information," he said.
And Panos Southern Africa regional director Parkie Mbozi said the new goals redirect Panos' energies to empowering the poor and the marginalised to be in the driving seat of development.
Mbozi said the new plan would ensure that those sitting in the margins of development were afforded opportunities, channels of communication and timely and appropriate information for sustainable development in the areas of heath, HIV/AIDS, environment, natural resources, governance, gender and poverty alleviation.
And Swedish/Norwegian HIV/AIDS team regional head for Africa Kristina Ramstedt said Sweden attached great importance to the undisputable role that the media plays in democratic and development processes.
By Florence Bupe
Saturday September 22, 2007 [04:00]
THE National Council for Construction (NCC) has called on the private sector in Zambia to positively utilise the prevailing cement shortage on the local market to expand their business horizons. NCC executive director Dr Sylvester Mashamba said the government’s announcement allowing business houses to import cement in order to help avert the shortage on the Zambian market should encourage the private sector to innovate additional business ventures.
“The countrywide cement shortage that has hit the Zambian construction industry has continued unabated amid accusations of who is at fault,” Dr Mashamba said. “There has been a lot of talk about importing cement to mitigate the shortage and yet this is not forthcoming.
In as much as the cement shortage is haunting the Zambian construction industry and the national economy as a whole, it must surely be taken up by the private sector as a welcome business opportunity.”
Dr Mashamba reiterated that the cement shortage was detrimental to Zambia’s construction industry growth.
“We should not be misunderstood of celebrating amidst the cement crisis, let us reaffirm the position of the NCC that the ongoing cement shortage is not good for the industry as well as the economy, but surely the limited business opportunities in the country, coupled with massive youth unemployment, should make Zambians utilise the crisis to gain profitability,” he said.
Dr Mashamba advised that the private sector should seriously consider importing increased quantities of cement and enhance production as solutions to the prevailing shortage in the short term and long term, respectively.
He said the private sector should liaise with the government on incentives to encourage cement importation instead of dwelling on criticism and finger pointing.
“Government departments and institutions like NCC and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry should be in the forefront to provide the necessary support and vital industry statistics to the business community so as to enable them make informed, profitable and sustainable business decisions,” said Dr Mashamba.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday September 22, 2007 [04:01]
UNITED Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota has urged the government to formulate policies that will mitigate the effects of rural-urban migration on the development of houses in cities. In a statement yesterday, Sikota suggested that the government and the local authorities adopt the low-income settlement upgrading programmes in all towns and cities to solve housing shortages.
“This approach has the advantages of incorporating the needs of the poor and encouraging community participation which is a necessary ingredient in all development projects,” Sikota stated.
“Above all, low income settlement upgrading programmes are a cheaper method of providing housing to the poor. Given the lack of major investment in housing development by government this approach could be the best solution in solving the problem of housing in the short term.”
He stated that it was the governments responsibility to provide decent shelter capable of meeting diverse physical, social and psychological needs of the people.
Sikota stated that the government should implement appropriate policies that would reduce rural-urban migration.
“These can include providing better opportunities in rural areas and small towns so that capital cities are not the only centers of attraction in Zambia,” he stated. “There are also inadequate institutional frameworks for urban housing in most towns resulting in haphazard growth of urban areas.”
Sikota stated that with regard to institutional inadequacies in urban areas, policies must be formulated to integrate housing programmes with multiple problems of society.
“It has been noted by experts that generally there is lack of co-ordination and integration of economic planning with physical and social planning in Zambia. This housing strategy must take into account the socio economic needs of the beneficiaries,” stated Sikota.
Friday, September 21, 2007
THE Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 18 was yesterday unanimously passed by the House of Assembly, amid thunderous applause from both Zanu-PF and MDC legislators. The Bill now awaits transmission to Senate for approval after which it would be gazetted and become law. The Bill — which seeks to harmonise next year’s presidential, parliamentary and local government elections — went through its third reading.
At least 111 Members of the House of Assembly out of the 150, including chiefs, provincial governors and the two Vice Presidents Cde Joseph Msika and Cde Joice Mujuru, who were present, voted in favour of the Bill.
A total of 100 votes are needed for a constitutional Bill to pass in the House of Assembly, which is a two-thirds majority.
A two-thirds majority, 44 out of the 66 Senate votes, is also required for the Bill to pass in the Upper House.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Cde Kumbirai Kangai announced the results.
"The results are 111 Honourable Members voted in favour of the third reading of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill Number 18 Bill (H.B.7, 2007). None have voted against the Bill," Cde Kangai said.
"I therefore, declare to the House, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act Number 18 Bill has been passed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe."
Vice President Msika said the event was historic and showed the world that Zimbabweans were a united people.
"I want to thank this honourable House for having me to say a few words after this historic occurrence where our people have demonstrated that we, as Zimbabweans, are capable of solving our own problems.
"We need no external advisers except where we feel it’s necessary," Cde Msika said.
He called on legislators to work together for the development of Zimbabwe irrespective of political affiliation.
"I must say people of Zimbabwe we should get ourselves committed to working together in spite of our political affiliations."
Cde Msika saluted South African President Thabo Mbeki and his government for the support and the role they played in efforts to resolve challenges facing Zimbabwe.
"We have amended our Constitution without any dissent in order to move on and push our development," he said.
Cde Msika urged legislators to continue to be united and continue with that spirit.
"May we keep it like that. Never ever should we fail to love our nation. We should put the love of our people first.
"This is the legacy I want to leave with you. As you know, I have come a long way, it’s time for me to depart. Work together as a nation," Cde Msika said amid resounding applause.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Leader of the House Cde Patrick Chinamasa, who steered the Bill, also congratulated legislators for the unity they had shown to develop the nation.
"I too join you and the rest of the august House to thank you for the support you have shown in trying to shove and move the country forward," Cde Chinamasa said. Lawmakers ululated and broke into song after the Bill sailed through the House.
"Ngatibatane pamwe chete, ngatibatane pamwe chete (Let’s be united, let’s be united)," the legislators sang.
The Bill seeks to increase the House of Assembly membership to 210 from the current 150.
It also stipulates that all members be directly elected
by voters registered in the 210 constituencies that will be delimited.
The Senate will now be comprised of 93 members made up as follows: six Senators per province directly elected by voters registered in the 60 Senatorial constituencies; 10 Provincial Governors appointed by the President in terms of legislation governing the appointment of governors; the president and deputy president of the Council of Chiefs; 16 chiefs, being two chiefs from each of the provinces other than metropolitan provinces; and five Senators appointed by the President.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will take over the delimitation of House of Assembly and Senate constituencies and council wards.
There will be a consequent repeal of section 59 and 60 of the Constitution.
Under the Bill, all four elections for President, House of Assembly, Senate and Local Authorities are to be synchronised and take place on one day to minimise logistical problems.
In determining the limits of council wards, the ZEC will be empowered to ensure that no ward falls into two or more House of Assembly constituencies.
This change introduces a ward voters’ roll and a voter can only cast a ballot in the ward in which he or she is resident and registered as a voter.
The variation percentage from the mean (average) constituency population will be reduced from 25 percent (as per Constitution Amendment Number 18 Bill) to 20 percent as per the current Constitution, which means the status quo is being maintained.
The Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders is to be consulted in the appointment of the Public Protector (proposed new name of the Ombudsman’s Office) and Deputy Public Protector as well as the appointment of the Chairperson of the proposed Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
The title of the Police Commissioner will be changed to Commissioner General of Police under the Bill and under him will be commissioners responsible for operations, finance and administration.
The post of Deputy Chief Justice will be introduced under the Bill to help ease the burden on the Chief Justice, who has had to discharge both administrative and judicial functions given the expansion the judiciary has undergone since independence.
Labels: THE HERALD
By Godwills Masimirembwa
LAND is the basis of nationhood, life, and earthly existence. We live on it. We get buried in it. It is from land that we eat and drink. It is on land that we build houses, schools, hospitals, factories and other structures too many to mention. It is from land that we derive our very humanness.
It is on land that the colonialists found us as Zimbabweans tilling our land, hunting on our land, enjoying our freedom, fighting our fights on our land, in short, living on our land.
It is on this land that the colonialists fought us, and by dint of superior weapons, conquered us and violently dispossessed us of our land.
It was on this land that the colonialists looted our cattle and coerced us into exploited labour.
It was on this land that the colonialists started building houses, mining, agriculture, building factories, establishing farms, cities and towns.
It was on this land that the colonialists perpetuated the most horrendous forms of injustice, cruelty and oppression against the black people of Zimbabwe.
It was from this land and on this land that black Zimbabweans resisted colonialism, strategised on how to dislodge colonialism, fought resistance battles against colonialists.
It was on this land that black Zimbabweans marched to neighbouring lands and flew to friendly faraway lands in search of arms of war, ideological enhancement and other forms of support to enable them to execute the armed struggle on these our Zimbabwean soils.
It was from the foreign lands that the children of Zimbabwe marched to Zimbabwean soils and waged a bloody, bitter and protracted armed struggle to dislodge colonialism.
It was on foreign lands that Rhodesian forces massacred the children of Zimbabwe, in refugee camps.
It is on foreign lands and Zimbabwean soils that thousands of Zimbabwean freedom fighters and refugees lie buried today. What they fought for and died for was the crown; the crown that is called the soils of Zimbabwe, the landmass that is called Zimbabwe. They did not die in order to occupy a house, a factory or any infrastructure on the land.
They fought and died in pursuit of one primary objective, that of repossessing the land. That there was infrastructure on Zimbabwean soils at the time of independence was just accidental.
The fight was for the land. Even if there had been no improvements on the land, the children of Zimbabwe would have taken up arms and waged the same fight against settler colonialists.
What infrastructure was there when the First Chimurenga was fought? Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi did not fight in order to occupy a house in Borrowdale, Highlands, Chisipite or a factory in Workington, for these were not there. What they fought for was this, our land.
Houses, factories, roads, bridges and all other forms of improvements may disappear, and indeed the September 11 2001 destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York, USA, was a dramatic visualisation of how infrastructure is temporary, here today gone tomorrow, how ancient civilisations may have disappeared, but the land remains, and indeed our Zimbabwean soils will remain in perpetuity as a heritage to black Zimbabweans, even if all the improvements disappear. With land you have the capacity to fight another battle, to rebuild and effect other improvements.
Thus, the fight between Britain and us is about land, not the infrastructure on the land.
Thus the fight between us and Britain is a fight in which we justly seek to continue to defend, protect and preserve our heritage, this our land, and yet on the other hand Britain’s unjust fight is to enable its kith and kin to continue to illegally possess our land despite being vanquished in the war of liberation.
It is a fight between a just and an unjust cause. We stand and fight for justice. Britain stands and fights for injustice.
Do not be told lies that the fight is about alleged abuses of human rights. Where was the Western world’s conscience when we were under the yoke of their brothers and sisters, when our land was crying out for freedom?
Do not be told lies about alleged lack of freedom of the Press, of assembly, of association or whatever other freedoms one may think of.
The fight is about land, for without land there can be no Press, no place of assembly, no association, nay, no earthly life.
That human rights must be respected is a truism recognised and protected by our Constitution.
But the traditionally talked about human rights are not the base. The base is our land. Land is the foundation of human rights.
Human rights, apart from land, are part of the superstructure, jealously guarded in times of peace, heavily proscribed during emergencies and times of war. Read any constitution of any country in the world.
But peace or no peace, war or no war, this our land will be the basis of the peace or the war. Peace is enjoyed while living on the land. War is fought on the land. Land is the key to life. Without it we are nothing as a people. We become vassals on our land or in other people’s land.
With land under our control, we determine the use it is to be put to.
With land under our control, we determine who invests on it.
With land under our control, we determine our destiny.
With land we are rich, for we have an opportunity to farm and feed ourselves.
With land we are rich, for we have an opportunity to invest, explore, develop, improve and move from one level of development to another.
So land is the beginning. Constitutions take it for granted that the land belongs to the framers of the constitution, for without land, what is the relevance of a constitution? But because we were once conquered and violently dispossessed of the basis of our life, our victory constitution had of necessity to address the repossession of this, our land.
I hear some call the repossession of our land, land invasions, chaotic land resettlement and other demeaning descriptions. I hear some talk about willing buyer, willing seller. The truth is, land invasion was when settler colonialists violently dispossessed us of our land. There was no willing seller. There was no buyer. There was a thief, a dispossessor and a looter.
Stolen property, property obtained through armed robbery, remains the property of the dispossessed, no matter how long the dispossession. The thief, the robber and his accomplices cannot cry foul when the rightful owner repossesses his/her property, even by violent means. It is not for the thief or robber to define the method or manner in which repossession must be effected.
A thief or robber cannot seek compensation for having improved the stolen property. A thief steals a car; gets it repaired or serviced, then demands compensation when caught and dispossessed of the ill-gotten loot!
Our land was stolen. Our labour was used to improve the land. We fought the thieves, the illegal settlers, defeated them, and repossessed our land. The matter should have ended there. But we paid and continue to pay compensation for improvements.
To this writer, compensation for improvements on stolen land was and remains a national and international public relations exercise, for settler thieves and their successors in illegitimate and unjust title did not and do not deserve compensation.
To my brothers and sisters in the cities and towns, in the low and high-density suburbs, let there be no confusion on fundamental issues. Yes we need food, but let us not betray our land for the sake of a loaf of bread, a packet of sugar, a packet of maize meal.
In the face of adversity contrived and perpetuated by our former masters and their accomplices, let us remain resolute in defence of our land.
Let us soldier on with the little on our tables, seeking always to defeat the enemy, improve our lot, and knowing always that our just fight will bring joy in the morning.
The acquisition of farming equipment by the Government of Zimbabwe for distribution to resettled farmers, the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities, the funding of agriculture, the pursuit of a just and equitable industrial and commercial shareholding dispensation is premised on the fact that the land is ours. Without land all these endeavours would be meaningless.
Some among us cannot stand the heat from neo-colonialists, baulk from the slightest hunger pangs, and so like the children of Israel in the desert, are demanding to go back to Egypt where they thought food was in abundant supply.
Some in our midst want to go back to Rhodesia where there was a mirage of plenteous living. There was suffering in Rhodesia. The land had been stolen and we were made slaves in our own land. We were fed crumbs from the master’s table.
Let those in the know redouble their efforts and resolve to teach our lost brothers and sisters and bring them back into the fold. The fold of the spirit of nationalism, patriotism and the defence of our motherland, this, our Zimbabwe. We must not tire to repeat the words: "Land is the economy, the economy is land." Land is the author and finisher of our earthly life. You can only improve that which you have. We now have our land. Let us defend it, as we improve it.
The land is our heritage. We owe it to ourselves, today, tomorrow and to posterity to guard and protect it. As we prepare for the 2008 harmonised elections, let us hold fast and steady to the truth — that economic suffering is transient, but our land is our heritage, compelling us to reject those who want to turn back the clock of time to colonial days, but retain in political office a political party that fought for and brought back the stolen crown, this our land.
Friday September 21, 2007 [04:00]
It is time for the British government to rethink its position on Zimbabwe. It is very clear that the British policy of trying to isolate the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe is bound to fail. There is growing support for Zimbabwe in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The British government should realise that their attempts to isolate and strangulate Zimbabwe have no support in SADC. The leaders of this region have not forgotten that those who are today championing the economic and political isolation of Zimbabwe never did so, or were very reluctant to do so, when Ian Smith was in charge of a criminal, brutal and racist white minority regime in that country.
The British government and its friends used to argue that sanctions don’t work, that they end up only hurting the same people they are intended to serve. They even had similar arguments in their defence or support of the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa.
The leaders of SADC understand this very well. And probably that is why they are opposed to the political and economic isolation of Zimbabwe and are calling for the removal of sanctions against this country.
No one can deny that there are issues of governance in Zimbabwe that need to be resolved so that national unity and stability is increased in that country. But from the behaviour of the British government towards Zimbabwe, it is clear to us that the problem here is not primarily that of democracy or human rights.
If lack of democracy or human rights were a preamble to political and economic isolation, many countries would today be shunned by Britain and its key allies. The problem lies elsewhere and governance issues – despite being legitimate – seem to be used as a pretext. The true reasons seem to lie elsewhere – probably in the land question.
If our European friends are truly interested in finding a solution to the current economic crisis and other problems going on in Zimbabwe, they should mull over things and listen to what the SADC leaders are saying and consider their feelings and the positions they have taken.
If they don’t do so, the ending of this whole issue will not be nice, it will start to look like a struggle between Britain and the SADC region and other African countries who are supporting Zimbabwe. This can be avoided by Britain allowing the SADC initiatives in Zimbabwe a chance to be implemented. The leaders of SADC have taken certain initiatives that they consider right and legitimate to try and address the Zimbabwe’s problems.
The SADC leaders recognise that Zimbabwe needs both economic and political assistance from all progressive countries of the world. This is so because there is no way a country that has been so weakened by sanctions and internal political divisions can solve all its economic and political problems by itself.
There is no way a country plagued by so many problems and difficulties, a country that has been so undermined and weakened, can overcome by itself all the challenges and difficulties Zimbabwe is facing today. Zimbabwe needs help and support and not further isolation and strangulation.
The problems in Zimbabwe cannot be solved by blackmail and bullying. Now the British government is not only trying to blackmail Zimbabwe but the whole of Africa. But as it can be seen, many African countries will refuse to be blackmailed by the British government over Zimbabwe. And the SADC countries are today saying they will boycott the forthcoming European Union (EU), and African Union (AU) summit in Portugal if Mugabe is not allowed to attend.
We agree with President Levy Mwanawasa’s position that blocking Mugabe from attending the EU/AU summit will not help solve the problems in Zimbabwe. It is immoral for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to declare that he will stay away from this summit if Mugabe attends. And the SADC leaders are saying if Mugabe is not allowed to attend, they too will not attend.
This is a serious stand-off that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. It is tantamount to Britain telling the AU to boycott or isolate Zimbabwe. But from the conduct of SADC leaders, it is clear that this will not happen – they will not work to isolate Zimbabwe. For the SADC countries who stood together to fight colonialism, this is really a question of honour.
Which SADC country can today agree to support Zimbabwe’s isolation at the insistence of a country which not very long ago was their coloniser or supported racist or apartheid regimes in our region? If that happened, would such a country and its political leadership retain any measure of credibility with the people of our region?
It is time the British government started to respect the positions being taken on Zimbabwe by SADC leaders. They should learn to listen to others and not only to themselves. Our countries may be poor but that doesn’t mean our political leaders are also poor in the brains. They are capable of coming up with solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis.
Brown wants the entire African continent to subscribe to his government’s position on Zimbabwe but he is not prepared to listen and adopt the position that is supported by 14 SADC governments. Even simple democracy shows that there is something wrong with Brown’s approach to the Zimbabwean crisis.
We welcome the position taken by SADC in solidarity with Zimbabwe because that country’s problems can only be solved by a rational and intelligent engagement. And the best time for a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe is now.
We say this because the starting point for developing a framework within which to approach some large questions in the negotiating process is to answer the question: why should we negotiate or dialogue? There is need to dialogue because as a result of its escalating economic crisis, the Zimbabwean government is no longer able to continue ruling the country in the old way and is genuinely seeking some break with the past.
At the same time those who, like the British government, are seeking a regime change in Zimbabwe are clearly not dealing with a defeated regime and the question of removing Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power cannot be realistically posed.
For the past five years or so, the British government and their friends had their say. It is now time for the leaders of SADC to have their day. There is growing impatience with the British government’s approach to the Zimbabwean crisis. Zimbabwe needs support.
By Bivan Saluseki
Friday September 21, 2007 [04:00]
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) is on the right track with Zimbabwe, executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao has said. Dr Salomao said on Wednesday at Lusaka International Airport that SADC was there to stand by Zimbabwe.
"You cannot change the situation in Zimbabwe over-night. The situation is complex, is difficult. What is important is that SADC stands up and is there to help and to assist Zimbabweans overcome the difficulties they are facing," he said.
"That is the most important part of the problem. I don't know what means but some of the Western countries would like to see tough decisions on Zimbabwe but the problem is then, who manages the implications of such decisions. I think that we are in the right track because as a region we know exactly what they are doing and what we would do."
He said the West could not dictate to SADC on how it should handle problems in Zimbabwe.
"We have our own rules and ways of doing things. Nobody can come over and dictate how SADC can run the Zimbabwe issue. You are aware that when SADC met in Dar-es-Salaam in March at the extra ordinary summit, a decision was taken to mandate President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between the parties," he said.
Dr Salomao said he was also tasked to make an assessment of the economic situation in Zimbabwe so that SADC could assist. He said President Mbeki made a report to the troika of the organ. Dr Salomao said the troika, too, submitted a report on what was being done in Zimbabwe.
"I don't see where the member states were divided on the issue of Zimbabwe. Member states expressed their own views but when it came to the decisions, member states were together. There is no way somebody from elsewhere can come over and try to dictate how SADC should deal with the issue of Zimbabwe. I think that SADC believes in what we are doing and I think that we are in the right direction, let's proceed," he said.
Dr Salomao said on the economic front, the decision of the summit was to have ministers of finance to meet and draw up a plan on how SADC could help. And Dr Salomao said President Mwanawasa had been invited to Botswana to check on the refurbishment of the SADC secretariat.
He said the physical infrastructure would cost between US$32 to US$35 million.
He said he had been in Lusaka to meet government authorities as a follow-up to the just-ended SADC meeting.
Dr Salomao said SADC member countries should focus on realising Africa's integration.
He said member states should not be pushed on which organisation they should belong to before assessment.
"We are not here to fight. No! We are here to avoid duplication, we want to facilitate free movement of goods and services," he said.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday September 21, 2007 [04:01]
SOUTHERN Africa Development Community (SADC) countries will boycott the forthcoming European Union (EU)/African Union (AU) summit if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not allowed to attend, President Mwanawasa declared yesterday. Speaking before departure for New York, where he was scheduled to attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, President Mwanawasa said blocking President Mugabe from attending the EU/AU summit scheduled for Lisbon, Portugal in December, would not help resolve the problems in Zimbabwe.
“So if Great Britain will not attend the Portugal summit because President Mugabe will be there that is very unfortunate as far as this region is concerned. And I must say that in that case, the EU/AU summit hangs in the balance. I don’t know how some of us will be prepared to go to Portugal without President Mugabe,” President Mwanawasa said.
“I will not go to Portugal if Mugabe is not allowed. That is not to say I agree and I am happy with the situation in Zimbabwe. But I feel that there is need to continue dialoguing with our colleagues in Zimbabwe. If Robert Mugabe is not allowed, then the whole basis of dialogue is removed. As far as I concerned, that includes even failing to go.”
President Mwanawasa said it was important for British Prime minister Gordon Brown to meet President Mugabe in the interest of dialogue in order to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwwe’s crisis.
“As SADC chairperson and also as Zambian President, I have always said that dialogue is important to resolve any problem. You cannot resolve problems unless you discuss and meet the person whom you perceive as the wrong doer,” he said. “From that premise it is very clear that those with a born to chew with President Mugabe have to agree to meet him. If they don’t agree to meet him then the solution will not be found.”
President Mwanawasa disclosed that he would hold meetings with members of the private sector and other heads of state while in New York. President Mwanawasa said he would seize the opportunity to woo some investors to Zambia.
“In addition to the UN General Assembly, there will be several meetings which I will attend. I look forward to these meetings because I have the chance to meet the private sector, to woo investors to Zambia,” President Mwanawasa said.
“I will also be meeting with the Clinton Global Foundation. I will also hold some meetings with my fellow heads of state during which we will discuss matters of mutual interest.”
On former foreign affairs minister Mundia Sikatana’s statement that he was not interested to hold on to the position of nominated member of parliament and that he was fit, President Mwanawasa said he was convinced that Sikatana was not fit to serve in government before taking his decision.
“I did what I did because I was convinced of what I said. I am glad to learn from Sikatana’s statement that he is fit...fit indeed to contest as Republican president. But during the time of my discussion with him, I had explained to him in great detail the basis of my contention that he was not well,” President Mwanawasa said.
“Mundia is a great friend of mine. It pained me that I had to ask him to leave. As you know I have nominated him as MP twice.”
President Mwanawasa was accompanied by foreign affairs minister Kabinga Pande, science and technology minister Peter Daka, agriculture minister Ben Kapita and several other senior government officials.
According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report yesterday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown had said he would boycott a summit of European and African leaders if President Mugabe attends the event.
According to the BBC report, Prime Minister Brown said President Mugabe’s presence at the conference in Portugal would divert attention from important issues such as poverty, climate change and health.
Prime Minister Brown told the Independent newspaper that President Mugabe had an EU travel ban for a reason - “the abuse of his own people”.
The European Union-African Union summit will take place in Lisbon in December.
Prime Minister Brown described the EU/AU summit as a “serious opportunity” to forge stronger partnerships between Africa and the EU.
“I believe President Mugabe’s presence would undermine the summit, divert attention from the important issues that need to be resolved,” he said. “In those circumstances, my attendance would not be appropriate.”
Prime Minister Brown said Britain had a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, who find themselves in an “appalling and tragic” situation.
Quoting a senior source in the Portuguese government, the BBC report stated that no invitation had yet been sent to President Mugabe.
The BBC’s Europe editor, Mark Mardell, said he understood diplomats were being “very active in trying to find a compromise”.
“This could involve inviting another Zimbabwean representative, such as a junior member of the government or a civil servant, so that Mr Brown could attend,” he said.
Portugal, which holds the rotating EU presidency, is keen to invite every African leader for the summit on 8 and 9 December.
However, the Portuguese may let the African Union decide which leaders should attend.
BBC world affairs correspondent Allan Little said criticism from Britain, the old colonial power, was a double-edged sword, because in both Zimbabwe and South Africa, this could be portrayed as an attempt to re-assert the interests of the white minority.
In order to allow President Mugabe to attend the conference, EU member states would have to convene before the summit and agree to lift the travel ban currently imposed on him. But Prime Minister Brown is urging EU leaders to keep it in place.
“There is no freedom in Zimbabwe: no freedom of association; no freedom of the press,” said Prime Minister Brown, who was chancellor in 2004 when Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time, was pictured shaking hands with the Zimbabwean leader at the UN.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday September 21, 2007 [04:00]
ZAMBIA can manage to make good economic decisions without the involvement of co-operating partners, Plant Development Zambia Limited managing director Dr Bruno du Parc has said. Dr du Parc said while Zambia appreciates the role that international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have played, it was important to realise that the country could score great successes using its own development mechanisms.
"Zambia's development has been made from years of hardships and belt-tightening by all citizens and the entire nation," said Dr du Parc in response to IMF resident representative Birgir Arnason who expressed concern at Zambia's low earnings from copper and other mineral resources.
"I was here in Zambia at the time of privatisation when the Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA) was conducting discussions with Anglo American Company. When those left the negotiating table, all the international bodies, led by the IMF put terrible pressure on our government to privatise the mines immediately, at almost no cost.
Now how can IMF say that they are concerned that Zambia is not getting more from the mines when they are the ones who pushed the country into signing the agreements with the mining companies?"
Arnason, a couple of weeks ago, indicated it was tragic that the copper sector is not significantly contributing to government revenue at a time when world market prices for copper are at a historic high.
He said in an interview that the IMF was concerned about Zambia's failure to fully benefit from the current high earnings of the copper mining sector owing to the historic high world prices.
"It is very unfortunate, if not tragic, that the copper sector is not contributing very significantly to government revenue at a time when world market prices for copper are at a historic high.
This is because of the way the development agreements were structured at the time of privatisation," Arnason said.
"The IMF hopes government will be able to obtain more favourable terms in its negotiations with the mining companies. Copper is Zambia's most important natural resource, and Zambia should benefit more from it than it is doing right now.
The IMF therefore fully supports what government is trying to achieve in the renegotiation of the development agreements."
Zambia's mining sector has recorded enormous growth over the years due to a rise in copper prices on the international market, although insignificant amounts through taxes are being paid to the government.
Re-negotiation process of mining agreements is currently in place in an effort to raise mineral royalties from 0.6 per cent to three per cent for base metals and two to three per cent for precious metals.
By Amos Malupenga
Friday September 21, 2007 [04:01]
Former energy minister Felix Mutati last year gave consent for CEC major shareholders to offload their shares to a consortium of Zambians contrary to government position and without authority from President Levy Mwanawasa, Post investigations have revealed. Commenting on last Friday’s Post editorial comment that called for a probe of Zesco managing director Rhodnie Sisala concerning his involvement in Zesco and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and all the deals in CEC that have disadvantaged Zambians, Zesco sources disclosed during the week that Mutati, who is now commerce minister, would have more explanations to make than Sisala.
The editorial stated that Sisala, a shareholder in CEC, was even unable to deliverCEC to Zesco when the major shareholders in CEC were offloading their shares because he wanted his friends to acquire the shares.
“We also wonder how many people at the Ministry of Energy are participants in the CEC deal. George Mpombo and Felix Mutati who happened to be ministers of energy at the material time need to explain to the nation what happened, why it happened and if also, like Sisala are shareholders in CEC,” the editorial stated.
Zesco supplies power to CEC at heavily subsidised rates for CEC’s onward supply to the mines at huge profits. This in turn has an adverse effect on Zesco customers who have to pay high electricity tariffs to keep Zesco afloat as it services CEC almost at a loss.
And Sisala last week complained that it was unacceptable for Zesco to continue subsidising mining companies through CEC when the mines were now making huge profits.
Giving a historical perspective of the power supply on the Copperbelt, a Zesco source said power on the Copperbelt was supplied by a company called Rhodesia-Congo border which was formed in the 1950 as a subsidiary of the mining companies.
According to the source, after Zambia’s independence in 1964, Rhodesia-Congo border Company was renamed as Copperbelt Power Company (CPC) but when the two mining companies on the Copperbelt were merged to form Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), CPC became to be known as Power Division of ZCCM.
“But in 1997, as you recall, there was that programme by the Chiluba government to privatise the mines,” the source said. “During that process, there was the unbundling programme of the mines. This saw the Power Division of ZCCM becoming CEC.”
According to the source, CEC was formed in November 1997 as a venture between the Zambian government, Cinergy Corporation of the United States of America, National Grid Transco of the United Kingdom and five private investors who are referred to as the Local Technical (LTTPD). These private investors (Sisala, Humphrey Mulela, Aaron Botha, Hanson Sindowe and Charles Milupi) worked for CEC.
“Cinergy Global and National Grid each owned 38.5 per cent shares while the Zambian government owned 20 percent shares through ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM IH),” the source said.
“The private investors owned 3 per cent. But the government also owns a Golden Share with limited specified rights. Therefore, Cinergy Global and the National Grid jointly became the major shareholders in CEC with 77 per cent shares.”
The source said CEC purchases the bulk of Zesco’s electricity and is responsible for the distribution of power to the mines.
“This accounts for 70 per cent of electricity consumption in Zambia,” the source said. “And this bulk purchase contract between CEC and Zesco is for 15 years so it will come to an end in 2012. This is the contract Mr. Sisala was saying there will be need to renegotiate it since the mines are now making huge profits. Basically, the price is US cent 1.7/Kwh which represents a 30 per cent price differential over what Zesco charges other customers.
This CEC/Zesco bulk supply contract represents a CEC significant asset base that can raise their funding requirements.”
But in 2005, the CEC major shareholders gave notice that they intended to offload their shares to a new entity, at the time, called Zambia Energy Corporation (ZEC) who were the potential purchasers of the shares. ZEC, which was incorporated on June 7, 2005 comprises three Zambians in the names of Abel Mkandawire, Hanson Sindowe and Malumo Siyanga. It also comprises an English company called ALDWYCH, DBSA (Development Bank of Southern Africa) and a Dutch development finance institution called FMO, among others.
According to information at the Patents and Companies Registration office, ZEC’s nature of business includes farming, safaris and travel agents, investment and property management, haulage and passenger transport.
According to the source, when this development arose, the government maintained that its objectives of ensuring that the operations and ownership of CEC remained under technically and financially qualified owner would be sustained.
“This was because the government realises the importance that CEC occupies in the development of the country’s energy and mining sectors,” the source said.
“The energy minister at the time, George Mpombo, suggested that for these reasons, Zesco or ZCCM-IH should be allowed to acquire those 77 per cent major shares in CEC or an international company from the UK called Fleming which also expressed interest in the purchase of those shares or indeed other potential suitors in CEC,” the source said.
“I am told President Mwanawasa was also of this view including Mr Sisala who I hear even wrote to Mr Mpombo in this connection.”
However, the CEC major shareholders at the time opted to sell their shares to ZEC.
According to the source, the government through the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy rejected this intended transaction between Cinergy and National Grid on one hand and ZEC on the other. The permanent secretary stated that government would not give consideration to any further proposed sales.
According to the source, this decision was based on the fact that the government had rights of the special (golden) share.
“But some technocrats argued that while the government held the special share to give consent to any change in control of the shareholding, such consent could not be unreasonably withheld,” the source said.
“They suggested that the government would have to give justifiable reasons for such rejection in case the matter was referred for determination by experts. The technocrats further said that shares were a private property and that the special share held by the government in such a transaction could either have positive and adverse impact on Zambia as an investment destination.”
It was also argued that while the government and ZCCM-IH had limited pressure points, they had strengths in approaching the major shareholders in that ZCCM -IH could increase its 20 per cent shares on condition that it offloaded the additional shares on the stock exchange. The source also said the government could also block a change of control of shares in the new shareholder was not financially and technically capable.
“But legal experts also advised that the ability to sell one’s shares was a core right for shareholders and corporate law left it to the market,” the source said. “They said in this case, market existed for Cinergy and National Grid shares.
Therefore, it was suggested with this in mind that while government did not have any say in the sale of share process by the CEC major shareholders, the process could be helped by the government making known its position in order to avoid delays in providing consents required under the special share.”
The source said it was resolved, at this point, that a Task Force team be established under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Energy but with members from ministries of commerce and mines and ZCCM-IH. This team was then to negotiate with CEC’s major shareholders.
“But before this was done, it was resolved that Cinergy and the National Grid should not insist on dealing exclusively with ZEC because they had a duty of being responsible corporate citizens and should therefore give or have given an opportunity for the government to address its concerns on the nature of the shareholder to replace them in CEC,” the source said.
“It was also felt that since CEC occupies an important role in Zambia’s future mining development, adverse long term effects would occur if the transaction was not properly handled.”
And on August 5, 2005, ZCCM-IH held a board meeting where it was re-stated that Cinergy and National Grid was considering selling their 77 per cent in CEC to ZEC. In a letter to President Mwanawasa dated August 8, 2005, mines minister Kalombo Mwansa stated that although CEC was debt-free, its majority shareholders’ intention was to make CEC borrow US $50 million out of which CEC should pay its shareholders a special dividend totalling US $47.9 million.
“The majority shareholders would then sell their shares to ZEC, leaving CEC with the debt,” Mwansa stated. “All CEC assets would then remain as collateral to the debt.” Mwansa further stated that ZCCM-IH was uncomfortable with the collateralisation and payment of the special dividend.
“While ZCCM-IH cannot stop the exit of the majority shareholders from CEC, it wants to see CEC left with the capacity to meet the growing demand of electricity in the mining industry, and with a strategic partner that has experience in the electricity industry and the technological and financial strength to move CEC forward,” Mwansa stated. “Your Excellency, I share the concerns of ZCCM-IH and therefore support its intention to express the concern to the majority shareholders.”
And on September 1, 2005, the then energy minister George Mpombo wrote to President Mwanawasa, expressing concerns that Cynergy and National Grid were disregarding the rule of law in their bid to offload their shares in CEC.
“Today…Mr. A. Sindowe of CEC came to brief me that they are on course with the arrangements to buy 77 percent of the shares,” Mpombo stated. “Mr Sindowe is leading the CEC backed consortium. He further revealed that the US $100,000,000 deal has been supported by ABSA Bank of South Africa and FMO of the Netherlands. The fact that government holds a golden share through ZCCM IH on pre-empt rights basis has been ignored with impunity.
“I stressed to Mr. Sindowe that government will do all it takes to protect the interest of Zambians and will not surrender an inch of its sovereignty to National Grid or Cynergy.”
And another Zesco source revealed that when Felix Mutati succeeded Mpombo, he continued on this assignment but with a different determination and zeal. The source said at one point, there was even an announcement in the media that the majority shares in CEC had finally been offloaded.
Later, Mutati – on behalf of the Task Force team comprising officials from his ministry and those of mines and finance - wrote to President Mwanawasa on March 2, 2006 asking for his guidance on the recommendations by the Task Force team that the government, as a special shareholder, should consent to the sale of CEC shares.
Mutati stated that his team arrived at this recommendation through a series of meetings which established that earlier concerns by ZCCM-IH had been taken care of because Cynergy and National Grid were to sell shares to ZEC without placing CEC in debt.
He further stated that ZEC’s financial and technical competence had been assured by the financial support that included a US$50 million for capital expenditure in CEC, and by a two-year contract for National Grid to continue providing its technical expertise.
Mutati stated that Cynergy and National Grid had informed them that there was room for other investors to take up shares in CEC although this could only be done through the Lusaka Stock Exchange where ZEC would place 22 per cent of their shares.
“It is a condition of the lenders of funds to Zam-En (ZEC) that these shares should be placed in this way. Documentary evidence for this requirement is attached,” stated Mutati.
But in his response to Mutati’s letter, twelve days later, President Mwanawasa stated that he was unable to comment because he was not earlier briefed on the same.
“…I regret that I am unable to comment on this matter on which I would have expected you to brief me before reading in the press that the shares of the two companies have been sold and I assume therefore that that was done with your support ostensibly giving the consent of the Government of the Republic of Zambia to the transfer of the shares,” President Mwanawasa stated. “I am aware that many difficulties will arise but it is my hope that you will be capable of resolving them.”
President Mwanawasa, in another letter to Mutati on March 27, 2006, stated that he was disappointed with Mutati because he allowed the two companies to dispose off their shares without affording ZCCM-IH an opportunity to exercise their option.
He stated that after studying and analysing the necessary documents, he discovered that the transaction (sale of shares) would be based on CEC borrowing US$73 million of which US $47.9 million would “be utilised to pay a special dividend to the current shareholders i.e. a share of US $38.3 million between Cynergy and National Grid US $9.6 million to ZCCM-IH whilst US $2.1 million remains with CEC as working capital”.
“Indeed, this is exactly what the previous Minister (Mpombo) feared would happen as ably explained in his letter dated 8th August, 2005,” President Mwanawasa stated.
He stated that the documents availed to him did not demonstrate ZEC’s officials’ financial standing. He stated that at least they should have provided letters of comfort from their own personal bankers since they were not corporate.
“I do not doubt their personal standing in society but what is important is to give confidence in the business community especially the mines that if anything goes wrong e.g. an accident, the new owners would be in a position to mobilise enough resources to rectify or attend to the problem,” President Mwanawasa stated.
But when reached for comment to confirm whether or not he gave consent for the major shares in CEC to be offloaded without authority from President Mwanawasa or Cabinet, Mutati said on Tuesday that while there was consent from the highest authority, he would rather that the chief government spokesperson responded since that was a government transaction.
However, information minister Mike Mulongoti who is chief government spokesperson, also refused to comment on the matter.
“I was not a chief government spokesperson at the time these things were happening so I might not be conversant with that issue,” Mulongoti said. “But since Hon Mutati told you that there was consent from the highest authority, you contact that highest authority for comment or clarifications.”
And when contacted on Wednesday, President Mwanawasa said: “Yes, I was consulted on that issue but for one and half years, I kept on refusing and later the consent was given without my authority. That’s all I can say for now. Tomorrow (yesterday), I will be leaving for New York. When I return, I will give details on that issue at a press conference.”