Saturday, October 20, 2007
SA reggae star killed in front of his children GUNMEN shot and killed South African reggae star Lucky Dube in front of his children in one of the country’s highest-profile murders, uniting political rivals in a call for urgent action against violent crime. Dube, who was 43, was driving a Chrysler sedan when he was killed in an apparent carjacking attempt on Thursday evening shortly after 6pm in Johannesburg’s Rossettenville suburb and police are searching for three suspects.
News reports said two men who approached Dube when he was dropping off his son and daughter — aged 15 and 16 — opened his door and shot him twice before he tried to drive away and died after crashing into a car and a tree.
"They allegedly tried to take his vehicle, but then shots were fired and he was fatally wounded," police spokesperson Superintendent Eugene Opperman said.
"His son was already out of the car. When he saw what was happening, he ran to ask for help."
Gauteng Police Commissioner Perumal Naidoo has handpicked a team of investigators to track down the reggae star’s killers, it was announced yesterday.
"Commissioner Naidoo has expressed his abhorrence at this murder and has appointed an investigation team," said Opperman.
"He’s got a lot of confidence in this team, who will do everything possible to identify and arrest those responsible for this.
"Director Charles Johnson, a very experienced senior detective in Gauteng, will now oversee every step of the investigation."
Opperman said the seven-member squad was "rather experienced".
The murder of South Africa’s biggest-selling reggae singer cast a shadow over the national mood, a day before the country’s rugby union team face England in a World Cup final and the 2010 Soccer World Cup to be held in the country.
Some callers to radio stations said the South African team, known as the Springboks, should play wearing black armbands.
South African President Thabo Mbeki said his countrymen should fight crime together.
"Even as we prepare to celebrate the victory of the Springboks, we must also grieve the death of an outstanding South African and, indeed, make a commitment that we shall continue to act together as a people to confront this terrible scourge of crime, which has taken the lives of too many of our people — and does so every day," he said.
Opposition political parties and the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress condemned the killing.
"Urgent and extraordinary measures need to be taken to stop violent crimes once and for all," the ANC Youth League said in a statement.
The opposition Democratic Alliance said the murder showed crime was out of control in South Africa.
"The circumstances surrounding his murder again illustrate that violent crime in South Africa is out of control and that the government’s remedies to address this scourge have failed," DA parliamentary leader Sandra Botha said.
South Africa has one of the world’s worst murder rates with an average of 50 killings each day. A total of 19 202 murders were recorded between April 1, 2006 and March 1, 2007.
The number of rapes, carjackings and assaults are also high with United Nations crime statistics saying one in three Johannesburg residents has been robbed.
Dube recorded more than 20 albums in his career and won over 20 awards locally and internationally.
His record company said the murder was senseless.
"Lucky wasn’t just big in South Africa, he was big in Africa and the rest of the world where he had a huge fan base. He was a fantastic ambassador for South African music, because he was always out there promoting South African music and reggae music around the world," said Gallo Music chief executive officer Ivor Haarburger.
During his career, he performed across the world and shared the stage with musicians such as Sinead O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Sting. Paul Boateng, Britain’s ambassador to South Africa, told Talk Radio 702 he was shocked by Dube’s death.
"Both my wife and I are big fans . . . It is a great loss to music internationally." — International Herald Tribune/Sapa.
Strange things are happening I tell you! While most Zimbabweans regard MDC politics as negatively anti-people and anti-nation, very few appear to have budgeted for MDC’s latest histrionic: that of pasting its name-tag on every dead body in Zimbabwe.
It is indeed politics taken to bizarre limits. MDC seems unaware that the dead doth not voteth, which is why it spends precious campaign time on cadavers. Of course, I have never died myself. Nor do I look forward to that ineluctable, unknown, but still dreaded state.
Like all things human and mutable, I am set to die some day, die but once only, never to get the joy of telling the living whether or not the dead do have political predilections. For now and in this human state, I am inclined, without of course barring the benefit of hindsight in death, to assert that dead men and women hold no political opinion.
Chinja! in the graveyard?
I see disbelief on your face, gentle reader. The MDC cannot sink to this bizarre level, I hear you say. I will make things a little lighter and gentler for you. I will give the MDC some momentary reprieve. I will assume I am being metaphoric, to encourage you to suspend a bit of your disbelief for the sake of this discourse.
When a whole party burns its ardour and sparse resources lobbying Blair, Bush and Brown who are not registered to vote here in Zimbabwe, what is the difference with shouting "Chinja!" in an eerie graveyard?
When a party exiles a good part of its constituency to Britain and South Africa, in an electoral environment of constituency-based (now ward-based!) voting laws, how different is this from building a political cell in sepulchral Granville?
But that is death as a political metaphor, which is not what I am talking about. I mean real dead bodies which the MDC has turned into campaign tools.
Last week we got all sorts of fatuous claims from MDC’s Chamisa alleging the resurgence of inter-party violence. Of course, he was taking his cue (he always does) from Sekai Holland also quite active in New Zealand, supported by the disgraced former judge, Paradza.
There she told Helen Clark that political violence was mounting, voicing the threat of pulling out of talks. Biti countered. The MDC knows that the outside world has always donated on the bogey of political violence, which is why its inflows are as good as its synthetic descriptions and images of violence. In this drive, not even holy parts of woman are spared, which is why we have seen the MDC begging through bare bottoms.
With very few bottoms now left, the MDC has got to find another cynosure for donor compassion and generosity. The MDC, through one Kerry Kay, its "welfare" officer claims the parry had one of its cadres politically murdered in Marondera.
Curiously, no police report is generated to validate that alleged political violence. Instead, a murder report is filed with the local police by the family of the victim.
The same case which the MDC claims is political violence is reported as a fatal brawl at a beer party. It involves drunken youths whose parents, ironic enough, are high-ranking officials of Zanu (PF)! Undeterred, the MDC tags its name on the resultant corpse. Case one.
Kerr Kay again
Several weeks ago, we had a report of an allegedly thieving farm labourer who is beaten to death allegedly by soldiers after a pilfering incident at a farm owned by a Cabinet minister.
The report implicates the minister’s wife and some soldiers at a nearby Air Force base. Several weeks later — this week — we are told again by the same Kerry Kay that apparently the dead man and his surviving colleagues were all MDC supporters!
Another tag on another cadaver. Case two. You get case three, four, five fatuously coming from Chamisa by way of dire threats to Zanu (PF), motivating the impressionistic Financial Gazette to fear for the ongoing talks.
Replaying victim politics
Since then, the MDC hierarchy has been enjoying this newfound escape from the gnawing and nagging challenge of stretched cohesion. Claiming dead bodies regardless, has become Chamisa’s formula for getting his fissiparous party out of the winter of discontent.
Expelling loud farts of statistics of what the evil party terms "rights violations" is its latest way of drawing donor attention to itself. The story is not that the MDC is once again playing its victim politics; it is that the ruse still has avid takers.
To create an impression of deteriorating rights situation, the lonely crowd called NCA has now found a purpose. Without police authority, it is taking to demonstrations, deliberately to provoke police reaction.
It is clear Madhuku’s wallet is deflated, and it’s time to inflate political temperature! Then Woza, the Woza. It has now started spewing its mindless viragos, again to provoke situations for a loud count for the world. Also Zinasu.
Whys and Wherefores
Why all this? Well, to help Brown make a decent case for boycotting Lisbon. Between now and Lisbon, there will be countless provocations, all of them photogenic to help with the British cause. After all, is that not MDC’s reason for existence? Additionally, the MDC hopes claims of violence will justify the despatch of a self-fulfilling EU human rights envoy they fully know Zimbabwe will never entertain. Or better still a UN envoy through whose report Zimbabwe will crash-land in the Security Council as a subject for collective international action.
More important, there are compelling dynamics within the MDC for playing up the thesis of gratuitous political violence. Put aside fund-raising which is just as important.
Take in the growing factionalisation of Tsvangirai’s MDC, and you begin to come closer. The inter-party talks have had the unintended effect of raising the profile of some, while taking profiles of others to the nadir.
And Biti, whose fortunes have risen considerably, has not helped matters. Using this new-found clout, he has suspended women leaguers led by Lucia Matibenga.
On this one he has the support of Mrs Tsvangirai who wants to see Ian Makone’s wife rise in substitute.
Talks-derived clout has morphed into decisive disciplinary action. There is a wild flutter in the dove-coat. Those in the corner are fighting back and have targeted the talks – poor talks — for attack.
They imagine Zanu (PF) would be the loser should the talks come to grief. Pity them! Their calculation is simple: you break the talks’ amplitude, you ground the soaring Biti.
So the Mukonoweshuros, the Chamisas, the Goneses, the Mashakadas, the Hollands, the Kays, the Bennetts are all united and ranged against Biti via the talks. The timing of the attack is curious.
The talks have dealt with 18th Amendment, the draft Constitution, POSA, AIPPA, the Electoral Act, etc, etc. Biti comes to Harvest House waving these victories of sorts, in the process wrecking the prospects of the likes of Madhuku. A Biti holding a draft constitution kills Madhuku’s one-cause struggle, does he not? But then how will Madhuku eat? A fight from the belly is definitionally vicious.
A uniting shot
Both sociology and psychology teach that the quickest way of forging solidary relations in a variegated group is to fire an unexpected shot.
Everyone becomes a victim in a way that unites. The MDC hierarchy badly needs such a uniting shot to keep everyone bonded on the deck. The British love it. The Americans love it. An MDC which opts out of talks ostensibly on grounds of violence, checks the current momentum towards Western irrelevancy in Zimbabwe’s politics.
It puts Mugabe back on the spot. It contains the independent-minded Mbeki. It restores MDC’s sagging fortunes in the eyes of the Western community, currently so badly united or ambivalent. The other EU and its new members are not quite clear on what stance to take regarding Brown’s threat to boycott Lisbon.
The African connection
But there is another fear, deep fear which is coming through human rights NGOs. The Zimbabwe Government has fielded Secretary Mangota for the chairmanship of the AU’s African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
It is Sadc’s rightful turn and his prospects are quite bright. Until now, the ACHPR has been an important plank for Britain and her poodles here.
They are likely to lose it. In desperation, they hope that if they can get Zimbabwe’s rights image tarnished, Mangota’s prospects can be reversed, or at the very least dimmed. It is a bit too late but they will still try. Meanwhile, anyone with a dead body, including the Medical School and its 300 cadavers, could sell it to the MDC!
The church, the loin
Gentle reader, I take it you have not ignored the sub-plot from the pulpit which runs parallel to national politics.
I am referring to the goings-on in the Anglican Church. I have always thought that the church, being His sacred body, would be a place of sacred amity and holy deeds.
Even its misdeeds, one believed, arise as inadvertency, indeed arise in the spirit of striving for righteousness.
Judging by the news from the Church this year, it would appear there is greater passion and rheum in the Church than there is in secular politics. The Church seems governed from the human loins.
First, we had the case of the then Archbishop of Bulawayo facing allegations
of feeding on his flock. In the end he resigned as if to suggest that indeed he faced real allegations! In a show of bravado, he promised to fight it all out in a secular court. It gets some of us confused when holy men prefer earthly salvation. But the loins had had their day in challenging the spire.
Loving sin or the sinner?
Then you have this brand new furore over gays between scriptures, this time in the Anglican Church. Not that the Anglicans are unclear on this one vexatious matter.
Their position seems so clear and unadulterated: homosexuality is outside God’s wish as expressed through His scriptures. Declarations to say so have been passed, apparently with remarkable unanimity and communion.
But the same Church urges bishops to handle those affected by the misdeed with sensitivity, the same way the scriptures urge a compassionate handling of sinners. Jesus did not join in the stoning of the woman accused of adultery.
Therein lies the confusion. What did he mean by that action? Did compassion for the sinner exonerate the sin? Amazing how the Church has not recovered from its propensity for bloody, schismatic disputes. I am sure my readers are aware that well before the rise of Protestantism, Catholics slaughtered one another over a simple question: If a fly drowns in the priest’s blest wine, is the fly blest, or is the wine defiled? What started as a simple dispute became a basis for drawing blood and with time, a basis for schism .
Those who suggested the wine would have been defiled were accused of underestimating God’s ability to cleanse sin, or overestimating sin’s power over holy goodness; those who suggested the fly got blest suggested redemption comes by a sheer happy misfortune, never through sustained penitential effort.
I can also recall John Milton and his Paradise Lost series. He would have died on the stacks, save for time which was beginning to challenge church verities, including the notion of apostasy.
His "sin" was to turn God and Satan into competing characters in his epic series. As a fallen archangel, Milton’s Satan comes through as a shrewd, calculating character of unparalleled brilliance. As humans who share in his foibles, we tend to gravitate towards him, indeed to identify with him.
God, on the other hand, emerges as a flat voice of holy edicts, seemingly hostile to fallen man’s enterprise. He can’t fit in the narrative, or else he ceases to be God. So he is no match for the restless and striking Satan. In the end Milton comes through as for the Devil, but without intending it, itself a deadly sin given 18th century bigotry.
The church, the pimp?
Today the Anglican Church gives us yet another hefty ecclesiastical dispute over what to us mere mortals appears a straightforward matter.
Surely the Lambeth position decries homosexuality as a sin, but without calling for the persecution of the sinner? Surely, handling the sinner with redemptive compassion is not to embrace the sin?
The idea was never to get gays to perform the offices of their strange love, leaning against the pulpit. Or using the holy cloth to mop beads of sweat from ill joy.
It was to understand their sin in order to defeat it. This is the Kunonga line which people like Bishop Taonezvi, apparently less from their own sexual preferences which I hear to be normal, and more from the need to secure resources from rich gay-happy churches overseas, do oppose. Can the Church prostitute its body the same way a hungry street kid does when faced with a tempting offer from a hungry rich gay? Does the Church want morally impoverishing and aggravating secular riches?
But it is worse. Assuming Kunonga has to be tried for causing schisms, apparently by fanatically upholding the holy testament, who tries him? Who prosecutes? Triple Gs? Who presides? Justice Chitakunye? If those who claim to defend the Church really want to be taken seriously, why have they not familiarised themselves with church law? Why have they not arraigned him in an ecclesiastical court?
How do they raise charges against a bishop using secular law and in a secular court? Why Triple Gs? What has happened to the church’s legal desk? And why issue out pastoral laws ahead of the trial? Pastoral laws with intemperate language reminiscent of secular politics? It gets quite baffling.
Beyond the phallic
Until of course you get to know the underlying politics. When President Mugabe compared gays to cats and dogs, he sounded like an angry old man showing what the media has come to term "homophobia". I have never understood what that means, or that getting a bad name for a good reaction to something sinful, necessarily dignifies the evil.
If Mugabe is a homophobe, why are these strange men and women not homos in the censorious sense? Many could not understand why the President reacted so sharply, simply because few realised that sexual permissiveness was a carnal correlative to an ideological position.
It is a vivid metaphor for neo-liberalism’s give-ness. It is a way of overthrowing our values by challenging the mores around a foundational reproductive assignment. Tell me: is it very difficult for a man who agrees to become a woman to another man, to also agree to shift from being a major in his country to being a minor? A minor who undresses and bends to gratify the unholy passion of an outsider? What greater conquest can ever visit such a man, such a people. To be made pimps? To be made pimp people? A nation of eunuchs? Indeed, this assault on our sense of sexuality was followed by a greater assault which has taken us to this day.
This is why what is happening in the Anglican Church must be properly understood, namely as a sub-plot to national politics. Remember that political conquest always has its phallic side. Beware. Icho!
Saturday October 20, 2007 [04:00]
The talk or search for President Levy Mwanawasa’s successor is necessary but can be dangerous both to the ruling MMD and the country at large, if not controlled. And it is good that Levy has finally shown interest in playing an active role in as far as the choice of his successor is concerned. A few months ago, Levy merely talked about what he thought should be the attributes of his successor.
He asked the MMD to look for a man or woman of high integrity with good morals, someone who detests corruption. As he said this, Levy didn’t seem to be so interested in getting involved in the process of ensuring that a successor with his preferred attributes is found and enthroned.
This was going to be suicidal because there is a shortage of men and women of the kind of attributes as those outlined by Levy. Levy will have to dig deeper to find a person that will answer to his prescribed attributes of a successor.
This is because the MMD currently seems to be home to most of the dubious characters that are fighting to gain political power in order to protect themselves. Most of these elements are like the eyes that cross a flooded river; they long for things that are beyond their reach.
However, Levy should be objective in his search for a successor because this successor will not be running his personal businesses, but the country. So if Levy is a farmer and is President, it will be illogical for him to insist that his successor should also be a farmer.
We hope Levy made this statement to illustrate a point that if he hates corruption, his successor should also hate corruption. Otherwise, Zambia will be lumbered with a farmer who has no idea about running a country.
Levy has to do a thorough search for a good successor. Some of the people offering themselves as good candidates for the job are as glossy as the appearance of a wild apple that is bitter inside. Levy should remind himself continually that appearances are deceptive, and that not all that glitters is gold.
However, in saying this, we are not in any way suggesting that MMD has completely no men and women of high integrity and good morals as prescribed by Levy. This is because we realise the fact that a log may stay in the water for a long time but it will not turn into a crocodile. Someone who abhors corruption will not succumb to temptations, in the company of the corrupt people.
What we are saying is that such people are so overshadowed by corrupt and dubious elements in the MMD that they might not be seen by naked eyes. That is why it is good that Levy has taken interest in ensuring that a good successor is found.
And we hope Levy is taking that interest for the good of the country; not his own good.
We say this because it is common for most African leaders to choose puppets for successors. This country does not need puppets for leaders. It requires men and women with independent minds and capacity to deliver for public good, not personal good.
Of course, the choice of a successor or a leader in any political party can be controversial and divisive. It can divide the political party involved; it can even divide the country.
We saw how the MMD was divided in 2001 when Frederick Chiluba picked Levy as his successor. That is why a lot of care must be exercised in finding Levy’s successor. This should not be allowed to get to levels where the whole country starts to feel the heat from those fighting to succeed Levy.
The infighting for Levy’s successor that has rocked the MMD should be checked before it affects the way the party in government is to deliver national development. It is actually surprising that this talk about Levy’s successor started even before Levy took oath for his second term in office. And today, things seem to have worsened.
The pulling and pushing between Griver Sikasote and Lameck Chibombilimo in Kasama where Levy is visiting is about nothing but Levy’s successor. It looks like people are ready to slaughter one another over this matter.
But is this necessary? In fact, this should be an indicator that all these characters who are pulling and pushing to succeed Levy are not suitable candidates. They want to ascend to power purely for personal reasons but under the guise of a strong desire to serve the nation.
It should be remembered that a person should be born for the role of king, not to fight for it. A king is born, not created. Natural leaders are born with leadership qualities.
By Bivan Saluseki in Kasama
Friday October 19, 2007 [11:31]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has hinted that his successor should be a farmer like himself. And there was confusion at Kasama Airstrip on Thursday when MMD chairman Griever Sikasote and Northern Province minister Lameck Chibombamilimo tried to outwit each other on who should greet the President first and who should introduce him, prompting President Mwanawasa to intervene and asking the duo to sort out their rivalry.
Meanwhile, Sikasote said MMD in the province would not tolerate any MMD presidential campaigns without the National Executive Committee giving a go ahead.
Just before President Mwanawasa arrived, some MMD members grabbed a banner which had a message congratulating President Mwanawasa for his doctorate and appointing a 'hard working Chibombamilimo
'The message seemingly did not please some senior members who grabbed it, folded it leaving only one where President Mwanawasa was being praised.
Immediately, President Mwanawasa's plane touched down, Sikasote raised his MMD sign higher than Chibombamilimo and almost getting to the plane's wings.
When President Mwanawasa came out, Sikasote was the first on the line of dignitaries instead of Chibombamilimo.
But President Mwanawasa, apparently having been told what was happening on the ground by intelligence officers, went straight to greet Chibombamilimo before greeting Sikasote.
Sikasote was the closest to President Mwanawasa and led him to the podium with Chibombamilimo trailing behind.
During introduction, the master of ceremonies requested Sikasote to address the people but President Mwanawasa instructed that Chibombamilimo be given the microphone.
"Before I say something I would like to call upon the provincial chairman to say a few words," said Chibombamilimo.
When Sikasote took over, he said all party officials who were pursuing personal agendas, personal interest, including corrupt practices would be dealt with by the party mercilessly.
He thanked the President for coming.
"I wish on behalf of MMD, the people of Nrthern Province and indeed on my own behalf to welcome you to Kasama and Northern Province as a whole. I wish to thank you for coming to Northern Province.
I congratulate you for having been awarded a law degree. I also want to bring to your attention that as MMD in the province, we have decided that we put Northern Province first.
And all party officials who are pursuing personal agendas, personal interest, including corrupt practices will be dealt with by the party mercilessly. Another issue, there will be no MMD presidential campaign in the province because we want to focus on the development agenda in the province.
If we allow the campaign without NEC giving the green light, we will destabilise the party and lose focus on the development agenda.
With those few words your Excellency, my I take the opportunity, the privilege of calling upon your Sir to address the people," said Sikasote as people clapped.
He immediately realized that he had left out Chibombamilimo before he exclaimed: 'ooh.'
Chibombamilimo tried to get the microphone and call on the President but President Mwanawasa cut him mid way through his sentence.
President Mwanawasa said he was sad to hear stories of disunity in Northern Province.
"I want this party to continue to be strong and win even the next, next, next elections and form government.
If we are weak and we allow ourselves to be voted out of office, you will never forgive ourselves. MMD today occupies a very important position in this nation. We have the experience, we have the knowledge," he said.
He said anyone to replace him should be like him.
"We don't want to have this campaign disrupted.
I want, ine president inga nalikwata ifibala, no wukampyana wine afwile akwata ifibala (If me as President I have farms, even the one to succeed me should have farms).
So you allow a leopard to be succeeded by a hippo or to be succeeded by a hippo which has turned...capsized a boat?
Then there is nothing which you are doing. It is important that these quarrels which we have should be resolved as quickly as possible.
I understand that there is much rivalry between the provincial chairman and the provincial minister. This is why I was forced to do the unexpected.
It is the provincial minister who receives me and introduces and calls on the provincial chairman to speak. It all started from the aircraft. The moment I came out, the provincial chairman wanted to greet me. It's not done that way. So provincial chairman, you are a leader.
Show them the good example. If you quarrel among yourselves then you are making your supporters to also quarrel. They will also be at each other's neck.
"President Mwanawasa said he was happy with the reception he got in Kasama.
He said people were set for the installation of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu.
"I hope that you are all geared to witness both this event. I wish on behalf of government to congratulate you. We respect the fact that he was picked by the royal electorate.
Those who love that he was the one chosen and those who were very much against him should not fall behind him, rally behind him to give him every possible support," President Mwanawasa said.
"I hope that this fighting and bickering to disrespect somebody elected should be left to the Office of the President. If you don't respect them, then you are saying we are not worthy being respected ourselves. Now that is a very unfortunate thing."
On his doctorate, President Mwanawasa said it was honorary.
He said he would not use his doctorate to go to a personnel manager and ask for a job.
He said he was proud that people who were thousands of miles away were appreciating Zambia and that he was happy that they saw him fit to get the honour.
And in an interview later, Sikasote said there was no rivalry and everything would be resolved.
He said he would not comment because President Mwanawasa was going to meet them.
By Tabitha Mvula
Saturday October 20, 2007 [04:00]
Patriotic Front president Michael Sata has said the oil deals between President Levy Mwanawasa and a named bank are very suspicious. Commenting on the disclosure by President Mwanawasa that he was involved in resolving the fuel crisis that rocked the country in recent weeks, Sata said Zambians had not forgotten issues to do with the procurement of oil over the years.
"The issue on the deals between Dr Levy and a named bank over the supply of oil to Zambia is very suspicious.
I would like to urge President Mwanawasa to resign or he should be impeached so that investigations are carried out properly and impartially, otherwise this issue will end up like the cases of suspended Drug Enforcement Commissioner Ryan Chitoba, Luapula Province minister Chrispin Musosha, and others," he said.
"He should resign like Richard Nixon did over the Watergate scandal."
Sata said Zambians had not forgotten how the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) had been overruled when Zambezi Oil
Transport (ZOT) wanted to establish a plant by the roadside in Ndola a few years ago.
"The Ndola City Council and the ECZ turned down the application by ZOT but they were overruled by Levy. Zambians have not forgotten," he said.
"If Dr Mwanawasa does not want to be humiliated, he must emulate Richard Nixon when he resigned after the Watergate scandal. Dr Levy started breeding corruption in the oil industry when he overruled the Environmental Council of Zambia when Zambia Oil Transport wanted to establish a depot on the roadside but now Levy is very close to ZOT."
He said the oil deal between President Mwanawasa and a named bank was a scandal and that there was need for the government to tell the nation the truth on its dealings with named businessmen.
"He should be the one to resign instead of moving Dr Buleti Nsemukila (former Ministry of Energy permanent secretary) who obeyed the law that he wanted competitive tender both for syndication of the money and supply of the oil," he said.
Sata said if President Mwanawasa did not resign, the PF would wait for 2011 to deal with him.
"We know to impeach him will be difficult with the current Parliament but we'll wait a few more years. We'll establish a truth commission which will include lawyers, managers and civil servants," Sata said.
"When we receive an actionable report from the commission, that's when we'll present to Parliament to have his immunity removed so that he can answer charges that will be levelled against him."
Sata also said President Mwanawasa had 'assaulted' democracy when he poached members from opposition political parties to the MMD.
"Levy has defrauded his own (MMD) constitution by picking Chimumbwa who hasn't been in the MMD for three years," Sata said.
During a press briefing on Tuesday, President Mwanawasa said there was no excuse he could give the nation over the fuel shortages.
"We had received an offer from a bank and it was prepared to finance the purchase of one ship of crude oil but the persons who were responsible declined to deal with that bank and they wanted the Tender Board of Zambia to advertise the tenders for people to import oil to Zambia," President Mwanawasa said.
"The result is that they never did anything about it until the last minute; after 14 days the last stock of oil was finished. When I asked Ministry of Energy PS what is happening, they said we cannot deal with this man because the tenders have not been advertised.
I told them this is not your money, which you are using, so I told them to get out of State House and get things done and asked them to accept the offer from this bank."
By Zumani Katasefa and Patson Chilemba
Saturday October 20, 2007 [04:00]
The government has sent 4,600 by 50 kilogramme bags of D Compound fertiliser to Chingola district. But the move has received sharp criticisms from some parliamentary candidates taking part in the Nchanga parliamentary by- election scheduled for November 8, 2007. In an interview yesterday, Chingola district commissioner Tobby Maliti confirmed the development and said the district was awaiting urea and seeds which were going to be delivered soon.
"Yes I can confirm that so far the district has received 4,600 by 50 kilogrammes of D compound fertiliser but we are yet to receive urea and seeds," Maliti said.
"What we have received this year, translates to half of what we received last year. About 1,155 farmers are going to benefit from the seeds," said Maliti.
But opposition Patriotic Front (PF) candidate in the forthcoming by-election Wylbum Simuusa said it was not right for government to deliver farming inputs to the people of Chingola during election time.
" We should try by all means to play a fair game," he said.
Simuusa said voters should not be wooed, using such tactics when government had not been doing enough to help uplift the living standards of the people.
Simuusa also bemoaned the living standards of the people of Nchanga Constituency especially those living in the peri-urban areas.
He said many people in the area lacked proper medical facilities, security and good roads.
"I am very much aware of what problems people in the peri-urban areas of Chingola are going through. They lack medical facilities, security and proper road infrastructure," he said.
Simuusa said it was sad that despite its huge contributions to the economic growth of Zambia, Chingola district had little development.
He said there was need for government to ensure that the district received enough in terms of development as it was making huge contributions to the wealth of the country.
Simuusa also said the people of Chingola lacked proper representation in the National Assembly.
And the United Party for National Development (UPND) said it was not scared of the MMD.
UPND provincial chairman Joe Kalusa said his party was the only one which had a candidate that could effectively represent the people of Nchanga in the National Assembly.
He urged people of Nchanga to consider voting for UPND's candidate Alvin Simwinga during the forthcoming by elections.
And Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) president Stanley Mhango said it was not in order for government to send 4,600 by 50 Kilogram bags of D compound fertiliser to Chingola when a by-election was around the corner.
Mhango said the fertiliser could influence the electorate to vote for the MMD in the upcoming Nchanga by-election.
"Firstly, as FODEP, we are on record saying anything that might be construed as trying to induce voters to vote in a certain way is against genuine democracy. We see that anytime there is a by-election such tendencies continue to be perpetuated.
It's not in order for government to send that fertiliser to Chingola when an election is around the corner. That activity is going to influence voters.
There is no disaster in Chingola which will need them to take fertiliser now," Mhango said. "The fact that there is an election next month, that fertiliser should not be sent now. That is tantamount to electoral corruption."
Mhango said the decision by government should be condemned. He said the best government could have done was to hold on to the fertiliser until after the elections if the move was genuine.
"What if they tell the voters that if you don't vote for MMD you won't receive the fertilizer?" he wondered.
By Fridah Zinyama
Saturday October 20, 2007 [04:00]
ZAMBIA National Farmers Union president Guy Robinson has said the union is setting up a commercial wing to help it become self-sustaining. During the 102nd Annual congress on Thursday at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Robinson said once the union lost donor support it would be difficult for them to sustain their operations.
“This is why we are setting up a commercial wing that will help us to manage our affairs in a business like manner,” he said. “We need a commercial wing as it will help us to generate the much needed funds for the union.
We should all work to be self-sustaining, and all the district associations should ensure that they recruit more members who will be able to pay their membership dues to the union.”
Robinson also said the union would not take kindly to the actions of unscrupulous traders who sold food-coloured commercial maize as seeds to farmers.
“Last year, we had a nasty experience where some traders where selling maize meant for consumption to farmers as seed,” he said. “We will not take kindly to such actions and any perpetrators who are found selling this maize will be dealt with.”
He advised traders not to compromise the work of farmers.
“They should not negate the efforts that the farmers have accomplished,” he said.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday October 20, 2007 [04:00]
THE Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday said Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC)’s competitive age and profitability is nose-diving following failure by the government to clear its debt with the parastatal. And Finance Permanent Secretary Dr Mbikusita Wamundila Lewanika told PAC that the government opted to deal with private insurance companies other than ZSIC in order to comply with tenets of a liberalised economy.
Dr Lewanika was making submissions on the report of the Auditor General on the accounts of ZSIC for the financial year ended March 31, 2003 to 2005.
Following Dr Lewanika’s submission, Mbabala UPND member of parliament Emmanuel Hachipuka charged that the government was the major reason behind ZSIC’s problems.
Hachipuka said there was need for Dr Lewanika to assure PAC that the K25 billion that the government owed ZSIC would be paid back to resuscitate the corporation’s operations.
“If you (government) pay back the money, you will be stocking up money and you will be stopping them from having these overdrafts,” he said. “Forget about the issue of how much you owe Professional Insurance and these others.”
But ZSIC finance director Stanley Phiri explained to PAC that the corporation’s profit margin was indicating a negative slant because of the on-going restructuring process.
He pointed out that following a change in the insurance sector’s legal framework, ZSIC was moving away from offering insurance services in a composite manner.
Phiri said ZSIC was unbundling the composite insurance structure through the formation of two companies that would serve general and life insurance services separately by January 2009.
He also expressed hope that once the board-approved business plan for the corporation had been conclusively dealt with, the profit margin would take a positive slant.
Hachipuka, however, noted that restructuring could never affect the profit regime of an institution.
He also urged ZSIC management to avail PAC with the copies of the business plan, which it intended to use to get back the institution to its feet.
Contributing to the discussion, PAC chairman Charles Milupi said ZSIC could contribute significantly to the country’s coffers, amidst the competition it was getting from emerging insurance companies, if the government debt was liquidated.
Milupi also advised ZSIC to look inwardly and see how it could become a fully commercialised entity.
Responding to some of the concerns, Dr Lewanika said the debt the government owed ZSIC was a historical one but that efforts were being made to pay it off following verification.
PAC members also wondered why the government had stopped doing business with ZSIC.
Siavonga UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima raised concerns over why the government opted to deal with other private insurance companies other than its ‘baby’ and Dr Lewanika said this was done to comply with tenets of a liberalised economy.
“If the government only does business with ZSIC, it would kill the spirit of competitiveness,” said Dr Lewanika.
Dr Lewanika said ZSIC’s performance had improved as reflected in the corporation’s turnover in September 2006, which had exceeded the turnover for the whole 2005.
Friday, October 19, 2007
What Was Behind the Honey Bee Wipeout?
by Gina Covina
If we listed beehive collapses of the last 20 years, this winter's would not make the top five. The world's honeybee population had already declined by half in 30 years. Previously, winter losses of 5%-10% of a beekeeper's colonies were the norm.
Then mites jumped from other species to honeybees. First tracheal mites in the '80s, then varroa mites, which carry 25 different viruses, in the '90s. The mites increased yearly losses to 25% by the late '80s and now 40% or higher.
For tracheal mites, beekeepers developed nontoxic preventive treatments. In the mid-'90s, American beekeepers began using chemicals in beehives. European keepers, who have had the varroa mite longer, use Integrated Pest Management.
Another challenge is a fungus, nosema, that's tolerated by healthy bees but not weakened ones. Add in hive beetles, an African native recently found in Florida. Aggressive African honeybees attack the beetle, but European bees, bred to be docile, let it overrun the hive.
Cell phone interference has been proposed since in the presence of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation, tested bees were unable to find their way home. However, no bee taken from its hive for the first time, as was done in the study, could have. Bees navigate primarily by landmarks; their first few excursions are short orientation flights.
Thirty years ago growers relied on native insects and local honeybees for most crops. Now apples and blueberries rely on relocated honeybees for 90% of their pollination, peaches 50%, and oranges 30%. Farmers won't bother planting squash or melons if they can't get beehives in place by bloom time. One third of all US crops depend on honeybees.
It takes most of this country's commercially operated pollination colonies to cover California's almond monoculture -- over 800,000 Central Valley acres, mile after mile of bare soil and almond trees, that support no life but the target crop. It's not just almonds; most crops are grown on factory farms.
Being pollinators for industrial-scale agriculture for much of the year, when bees are out foraging they are likely to ingest a monocultured diet -- nothing but almond, then nothing but apple, then only watermelon.
While the bees roll down the highways or wait in yards, they're fed a high fructose corn syrup with soy protein -- not any more nutritious for bees than for humans. And genetically modified corn and soy contain bacterial insecticide. Are bees not insects? While Bt corn pollen does not kill healthy bees or brood reared on it, Bt pollen reduces the number of bees in hives already weakened by varroa mites.
The country's best bee forage habitat was the Midwest. There marginal areas were left to asters and goldenrods that are high-quality pollen sources in late summer when bees need to raise the generation that will overwinter. Now even the edges grow GM corn as a source for ethanol.
Bees are exposed to pesticides used on their forage crops as well. And very hot weather, more usual as climate changes, can damage the protein content of pollen, decreasing its food value for bees.
The difference with this winter's losses is not having a definite cause. Malnutrition might be the culprit. The only beekeepers doing substantially better are the very small percentage practicing non-chemical mite control coupled with little or no trucking or artificial feeding.
JJS: Way before factory farming, before the Industrial Revolution, in English law (and American), farmers enjoyed environmental rights. If your neighbor’s fire burned your field, if his dam flooded your garden, he owed you compensation. The court ruling which created limited liability for corporations changed all that (why corporations in the UK are called “limiteds”; they’re called “corporations” because they originally were public “bodies”). As more of us see Earth as commons, we’ll reform liability limits to end corporate license and require perpetrators to bear the burden of proof -- want to alter nature? prove it’s safe. Then our world becomes much healthier for humans and our bee buddies, too.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
By KANGWA MULENGA
PRESIDENT Mwanawasa has directed Food Reserve Agency (FRA) executive director, Anthony Mwanaumo, to submit a report on the status of maize storage facilities following the onset of the 2007/08 rainy season. Dr Mwanawasa made the directive yesterday when he officiated at the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) 102nd annual congress at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
“When I was in the USA recently, I received reports that some maize bought by FRA and still lying in some parts of the country had gone bad because of the rains, yet we gave FRA a lot of money to ensure that the maize was safe,” Dr Mwanawasa said.
“So, I want a full report on the storage status next week on Monday.”
Dr Mwanawasa said Government would not allow any grain to go to waste when the FRA had the capacity to look after the maize properly.
“I would like to urge FRA to ensure that all the produce that they bought is put under good and safe storage,” Dr Mwanawasa said.
Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa has invited ZNFU to State House to discuss the problems in the livestock industry.
Dr Mwanawasa extended the invitation after ZNFU president, Guy Robinson, requested for a meeting to discuss the way forward on diseases in the livestock industry.
“I have accepted your request to come for a discussion on the future of the livestock industry.
I have recently appointed a permanent secretary, Dr Isaac Phiri from University of Zambia, at the Ministry of Agriculture, so he shall be glad to discuss the state of the livestock industry,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mr Robinson said there was need for a radical approach to solving the problems affecting the livestock industry.
By Walter Muchinguri
THE signing of a memorandum of understanding by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and the Republic of Congo’s Confederation of Employers Confederation and Chamber of Commerce should be viewed as a magnificent opportunity for local businesses.
While the MoU is devoid of the necessary government-to-government backing it was refreshing to note the importance which the presidents of the respective organisations placed on the MoU. Congo depends mostly on imports for its basic commodities, among them beef.
This presents a golden opportunity for locals to tap into that market as the quality of the country’s beef is revered the world over. A number of key issues were raised by the three presidents in their speeches preceding the signing ceremony.
CZI president Mr Callisto Jokonya stressed the need for Zimbabweans to be risk takers, the absence of which has been the major handicap for Zimbabwean business people for a long time now.
He urged Zimbabweans to go out and explore the Congolese market which, he said, was cash rich and could open the doors to the vast central African region whose population is estimated at more than 130 million.
Mr Jokonya was quick to mention that language differences between Zimbabwe and the Congo should not constitute a barrier to trade as French was taught at some schools and tertiary collages.
Analysts believe that the issues raised by the CZI president are valid and should spur people into action.
"The mere fact that there is that commitment by the Congo Brazzaville Confederation of Employers Confederation and Chamber of Commerce to send a delegation to Zimbabwe, moreso a whole president and vice-president, should not be taken lightly but deserves follow-up.
"It is now incumbent upon our businesses to stand up and be counted, as it were, because the Congolese have extended an olive branch to us.
"Even in the absence of a government-to-government agreement it does us no harm to explore the opportunities that exist in that market and obviously the CZI and ZNCC should take the lead in this regard," said one analyst.
Mr Jokonya also raised another pertinent issue when he indicated that CZI was looking for reciprocity in trade and hinted that a Zimbabwean delegation would be visiting Congo Brazzaville in January or February next year.
His comments were echoed by ZNCC president Mrs Marah Hativagone who reiterated the same point.
She also talked about the need for African countries to increase trade among themselves as brothers.
The president of Congo Brazzaville’s Confederation of Employers Confederation and vice-president of that country’s Chamber of Commerce, Dr Galessamy Ibombot, described Zimbabweans as brothers who were welcome to invest in Congo Brazzaville.
Dr Ibombot said his goal in coming to Harare was to lure Zimbabweans to visit his country and explore business opportunities since they were lagging behind other foreign nationals who were already doing business in his country.
Oil also came up for discussion during the signing ceremony with the general secretary of Congo Brazzaville’s Confederation of Employers Confederation, Mr Romuald Endzandza, indicating his country would not have problems meeting Zimbabwe’s needs once the necessary agreements and logistics were in place.
Analysts described this as a positive development that needed to be followed up as a matter of urgency.
"Here we have a situation where the Congolese are looking for expertise from us and they have something that we desperately need in this country.
"Doing business with them will not only cement our relationship with them, but it will certainly open up new avenues for us because we can use our exports to leverage fuel supplies to the country," said another analyst.
ZIMBABWE’S leading seed maize producer, Seed Co, has challenged growers to increase their hectarage and ensure national and regional seed security to bolster self-sustenance. Speaking at a growers’ workshop held in Marondera yesterday, Seed Co managing director Mr Dennis Zaranyika said the country had the potential to produce surplus seed and seed growers had the potential to increase production.
"You should increase your hectarage for this year to increase our yields for the upcoming season. We have capable and skilled farmers in this country that can produce enough for this country and for the region," he said.
Mr Zaranyika said Zimbabwe required 45 000 tonnes of seed, of which it produces close to 30 000.
"If we increase our hectarage this season, we could assure the nation of seed security," he said.
By Enacy Mapakame
CFI Holdings Ltd will take up 10 percent equity holding in a multi-billion-dollar new regional grain holding firm called Beira Grain Terminal (BGT), based in Mozambique. The firm, a joint venture with US firm Seaboard Overseas Management Company, is expected to enhance grain imports into the region. CFI chief executive Mr Steve Kuipa said yesterday the new terminal will hold 400 tonnes of grain hourly and will have an initial storage capacity of 30 000 tonnes.
At full capacity, CFI and its partners expect to lift storage capacity to 60 000 tonnes over the next four years. The project is also in line with the ideals of the Beira Corridor Group.
It facilitates the importance and position of Zimbabwe, as part of the hub in the regional trafficking of grains and the associated tariffs on traffic passing through Zimbabwe.
Mr Kuipa said maize, wheat and rice destined for regional countries including Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe would be handled at BGT. The facility will also handle exports of grains from the region as required.
"The necessary equipment is currently being purchased and construction work is expected to start soon," explained the CEO.
"Research indicates the cheapest port of entry for sub-Sahara African imports is Beira.
"Through this project CFI will be able to achieve savings on the costs of grain imports for its own group requirements and on behalf of others in the milling industry in Zimbabwe, thus also saving foreign currency in the process," Mr Kuipa said.
CFI has since received the green light for the deal from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
CFM (Mozambique Harbours Authority), Cornelder, Nectar and Rainbow International are the other BGT shareholders.
CFI is an industrial conglomerate principally involved in agro-processing. The group is involved in manufacture of animal feed, flour, maize products and irrigation equipment, retail trade and property management.
In early morning trade yesterday, CFI shares were up 4 percent at $28 000 with 590 000 shares traded.
In the half-year to March 31, 2007, CFI reported inflation-adjusted net earnings climbed 2 914 percent to $70,4 billion from a year ago on revenues of $267 billion, increasing 80 percent.
Earnings rose 2 806 percent to $137,75 per share from $4,74 a share from a year earlier.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
PANNAR Seed Zambia Limited has successfully penetrated the Mexican market for maize seed exports, with an initial 30 metric tonnes of the commodity earmarked this month. And agriculture and co-operatives minister Ben Kapita said the seed industry in Zambia had responded positively to the policy of liberalisation as pronounced in the National Agriculture Policy.
This is the first time that Zambia is exporting maize seed to Mexico, after the country's already established market within the continent.
In an interview after the opening of a Pannar Seed processing plant in Lusaka on Wednesday, managing director William Rutherford-Smith said the company had achieved one of its targets for this year by exporting 30 tonnes of locally produced maize seed to Mexico for the first time in Zambia's history.
"This maize seed we are talking about was grown in Mkushi and it is very good news for Zambia because it is the first time we are exporting to countries like Mexico," Smith said. "We have been exporting to a number of countries in the region and all this is because of the growth of the seed industry in the country."
Smith further said the opening of a Pannar Seed processing plant in Lusaka was as a result of the government's good investment policy on agriculture.
"Our intention is to continue to invest in and expand our research and seed production capabilities in Zambia as needed, thereby contributing on an ongoing basis to food security, economic growth, training and employment in this country," Smith said.
"Through its interaction with Pannar Group companies in other countries in Africa, Europe, the US and South America, Pannar Seed Zambia is well positioned to access and incorporate excellent high-yielding and adapted genetics and the latest in cutting-edge technology into the varieties that we breed for and offer to both small-scale and commercial farmers in Zambia."
Pannar Seed also has its presence in Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, with about 30 years of testing and product selling on the Zambian market.
And Kapita said the policy framework on the seed industry had provided a fertile ground for private seed companies to transact.
"The subsection on National Research and Seeds Policy of the National Agriculture Policy advocates for the separation of responsibilities between private and public sectors," said Kapita.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
PARLIAMENTARIANS in developing countries should search for innovative ways of making debt work for the poor, Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda has said. Presenting a paper on Zambia’s challenge on debt management during the Jubilee prayer breakfast in Washington on Tuesday, Lubinda said Zambia, like many other developing countries, was still grappling with high levels of poverty despite the amounts of debt contracted in the previous years, hence the need for the involvement of all stakeholders in debt management.
“The bitter experiences of one billion people in the world living under one US dollar per day, where every three seconds a child dies from extreme poverty, and where 12 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa, must give us parliamentarians the impetus to search for innovative ways of making debt work for the poor,” Lubinda said.
“We must be compelled to eradicate those conditions that make debt hurt the ones it is meant to serve. Zambia can well demonstrate that debt relief can reach the poor.”
Members of the United States Congress have sponsored a Jubilee Act that calls for responsible lending and expanded debt cancellation in order to assist poor countries in the management of debt acquired from developed nations.
“For the noble intentions of the Jubilee Act to have meaningful effect, the other side of the equation ought to be put right and the Zambian Parliament is cognizant of the fact that our country too has to engage in responsible borrowing and responsible utilization of borrowed and own resources,” Lubinda said.
The Zambian Parliament over the last few years has been working on reforming the legal framework governing not only loan contraction processes, but also the management of the budget cycle.
Lubinda said it would be difficult for Zambia to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if any debt acquired does not benefit the poor.
“I appeal to all parliamentarians globally to exert pressure on our governments to deliver on the United Nations MDGs,” said Lubinda.
“I appeal to the people of America to insist that the government of the United States of America takes the leading role in delivering on MDG number eight which calls for building a global partnership for development, addressing the needs of least developed countries, developing an open trading and financial system and dealing comprehensively with the debt of developing countries.”
By Concerned citizen
Wednesday October 17, 2007 [04:00]
Among numerous problems plaguing our Zambian governing system is the lack of proper checks and balances between the legislature and the executive. This problem is well highlighted by the provision in the law allowing the Minister of Finance and National Planning to acquire large debts without getting checked by parliament.
Supposedly, these ‘technocrats’ in the executive are competent enough to make decisions meant to benefit the citizens of Zambia. However, the citizenry must be given the opportunity to evaluate the neccessity and understand the magnitude of the loans the government acquires.
If the people have the opportunity to approve expenditure through the national budget presented to parliament, then we also deserve to be aware of the origin of the money being borrowed. After all, parliament exists to represent the paramount authority of our democracy, the citizens.
The perception that input from the citizens through parliament would hamper the process of acquiring debt is justifiable.
However, the inconvinience of delaying the acquisition of loans due to the people’s input pales in comparison with the possible future burden of Zambia being, yet again, at the mercy of foreign profiteers and opportunists.
Regarding large sums of money, the Zambian citizens, who ultimately will be responsible for the debt, have a right to examine the terms, conditions, and intended use of the loans the government acquires.
This can only be effectively done through our representatives in parliament. Hence the need for proper checks between the executive and the citizen-elected parliamentarians.
Politics of bootlicking
By Jenkins Chisoni Glasgow
Thursday October 18, 2007 [04:00]
It is not my intention to seem to defend Brigadier General Miyanda in my submission as he is a very capable self-defender, but I certainly cannot keep quiet about ‘muzungu wanga anikonde’ politics of the likes of George Mpombo.
Surely, who can speak better for himself than the President himself on matters he tells the nation? Does he need the services of ministers like George Mpombo to clarify his feelings and expresions?
Mpombo does not need to explain to us in the whole nation what the President meant in his speech. We all got the message and Miyanda simply reacted just like all of us are doing including KK’s reaction on Monday.
George Mpombo has no right to call any of us malicious. He should keep ‘muzungu wanga’ politics and his kneeling before Levy to himself and leave us, the rest of citizens, alone to talk to our President in our own ways. It is our right to talk to our President without uninvited third parties like Mpombo.
The President does not need any defending by his ministers on matters he has directly told the whole nation. We want to know how we shall be committing treason if we say or react on the new NCC law simply because it has become law. How malicious is that, Mpombo?
By Keith Matwi
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
I have decided to write this letter because this is the second time I have seen defence minister George Mpombo on his knees while talking to the President.
To show respect does not mean we must crawl or kneel or even prostrate ourselves before our President. We can kneel before a chief as required by our traditions and customs but certainly not before the Head of State who is not a monarch.
Mpombo should realise that he is the de facto number two in the country by virtue of the sensitivity, strategic and importance of the portfolio he holds.
He must learn to stand or sit shoulder to shoulder with the Head of State and discuss matters of national security on a man-to-man basis. Crawling, kneeling, prostrating and showing humility will not buy the President’s trust.
Telling him the truth without hiding anything is what will help Levy run this country effectively and this should be done respectfully because he is our Head of State and is older than a good number of us.
In short, I am advising our Vice-President, ministers, members of parliament and defence chiefs not to exaggerate their respect for the President by kneeling before him, which he might not even be interested in.
By George Makubalo, South Africa
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
My comments are prompted by what I perceive to be a continuous marginalisation of higher education on the list of the country's priorities. While others may argue to the contrary, evidence shows that higher education continues to be seen as a luxury, or something that can be taken away with no repercussions on society.
Studies have shown a close correlation between high level skills, productivity and growth in national economies. Whilst other countries are doubling their efforts in growing the skills base, Zambia is seemingly stashing away talent by under-funding higher education and continually disrupting learning cycles: The continuing closure of the Copperbelt University being a very immediate case.
These closures of universities cannot go on unabated. In the past three years I have worked for three universities in South Africa where student protests and labour disputes also take place.
However, closing institutions because of a strike is not seen as a way out. I think this is because people rightly believe that the closure of an institution does not make the problem disappear.
However, in Zambia there is a different logic in times of crisis: closure of universities is what comes first to the minds of government functionaries and university administrators.
In my view this hastiness to close universities is chiefly motivated by one factor: money.
Closing a university, I suspect, means millions will be diverted to inconsequential political events such as hosting the SADC heads of state summits, or indeed theatrical ventures such as the now infamous NCC.
Without seeming to be an alarmist, I believe national survival depends on getting national priorities right. If nothing drastic is done, what will happen in the future, and signs are already there, is that foreigners will be running the country because there are no skilled people.
Newspapers in South Africa and Australia are replete with adverts for jobs in Zambia to work on the mines and other crucial sectors of the economy because there are supposedly no qualified people in Zambia to occupy those positions.
The nation needs to engage some serious soul-searching as to the place of higher education in society. There is a serious need to re-read the commitments that were made by the country's founding fathers (and mothers) when the Uinversity of Zambia was being established in the 1960s.
There is a serious need to put higher education high up the national agenda or else the promise of development and prosperity in this age will remain illusory.
By Hilary Mulenga Jr, Lusaka
Wednesday October 17, 2007 [04:00]
I want to urge PF’s Given Lubinda not to give up in fighting for what is right despite unfortunate attacks from people like Musosha.
Indeed, the nation sees where Lubinda stands as a beacon of hope and an icon of patriotism. Lubinda has always transcended politics of personal gain and it is no wonder that selfish politicians like Musosha will do everything to shut him up.
Musosha’s utterances are misplaced because they are coming from a senior member of government who should have thought first before he made his pronouncements.
One wonders what is wrong with our leaders because they seem to think after they speak. Besides, the threats border on personal grudges that are irrelevant to the corruption allegations.
The issue at hand is that Musosha, like any other person, is not immune to investigations especially abuse of authority of office . His government is always at pains trying to make us understand that it is not selective when it comes to fighting corruption.
In fact, he should be happy that Lubinda is suggesting to him a golden opportunity to wash his hands clean and save his government from shame.
Musosha should not hold any hatred against Lubinda. Let him take a leaf from Lubinda‘s political smartness so far. Let him reserve those punches for a lesson from Lubinda. I am sure many people will agree with me that Musosha has a lot to learn from Lubinda on how he should conduct himself in politics.
Lubinda, unlike Musosha, has always been selfless. He has stood by his principles through and through. I am sure any sensible person would surely learn from such a man, instead of showering unnecessary insults on him.
As for Lubinda, the nation is there to see how he has ‘Given’ himself to the people. I trust that he will not be deterred by cheap politicians whose interests are their own. Let Lubinda ‘bark’ if that is what it takes to protect Zambia from selfish leaders.
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
We share the concerns genuinely raised by the Catholic Church and Transparency International Zambia over President Levy Mwanawasa's involvement in the procurement of public goods and services in the country. It was actually surprising that Levy was on Tuesday bragging about how he told Ministry of Energy officials to leave his office when they were attempting to explain to him the tender procedure requirement they were faced with over procurement of crude oil.
How embarrassing it was that Levy could brag about how the government had received an offer from a named bank that was prepared to finance one ship of crude oil but that the persons who were responsible declined to deal with the bank in order for the Zambia National Tender Board to advertise the tenders for importation of crude oil to Zambia.
From the outset, we have to say that what Levy is doing - to involve himself in procurement deals for national goods and services - is not right. We are not disputing the fact that Levy, as head of state, should take particular interest in national affairs, including the flow of fuel in the country.
As head of state, we expect that Levy should be on top of things in terms of whatever is going on in the country. However, we are totally opposed to Levy's direct and deep involvement in business deals with business people, even if the benefit is to the nation. In the first place, Levy's direct or deep involvement in business deals opens him very much to any form of corruption, whether he likes it or not.
Second, in the interest of fair competition and transparency in the business sector, Levy should try as much as possible to keep a long distance from business persons seeking business deals with the government directly with and through him.
Over the procurement of crude oil, for instance, we agree with other stakeholders that former Ministry of Energy permanent secretary Buleti Nsemukila was in order to insist that the deal should be done through a public tender procedure. After all, this is what the law requires of any public officer, especially a controlling officer at that level.
The Zambia National Tender Board Act was put in place as a piece of law to, among other things, regulate and control the procurement of goods and services for the government and parastatal bodies. And this law requires that there be tender committees established at different levels for the procurement of goods and services.
The Act provides for establishment of a central tender committee, a provincial tender committee, a parastatal tender committee as well as at ministry level.
According to this law, the functions of a ministry tender committee includes such functions as to invite and accept tenders relating to the procurement of goods and services for its ministry within the limits provided for in Part VI of the Act and that such a committee shall consist of, among others, the controlling officer (permanent secretary in this case) who shall be the chairman; an officer of at least deputy permanent secretary rank, who shall be vice-chairman; the head of the accounting unit; the head of the procurement unit; the heads of departments; and a senior supplies officer, who shall be the secretary.
In our view, the Zambia National Tender Board Act is quite adequate to ensure that procurement of public goods and services is done under the most transparent and fair atmosphere.
And we think that Levy's behaviour over the crude oil deal with the named bank is discouraging to those public officers who are still interested in ensuring that the law is applied all the time with regards to procurement of goods and services.
In fact, Levy should be ashamed that instead of praising such public officers for their honesty, he is at the forefront of ensuring that tender procedures are bypassed, flouted and ignored in the procurement of such gigantic amounts of fuel which involve a lot of money.
Assuming that the law allows Levy - especially that he keeps telling us that all executive powers are vested in his office - to bypass tender procedures and offer business deals to persons or entities of his preference, that itself will seriously erode confidence in the manner the government conducts its business with other business partners.
If Levy is truly leading a government of laws and not that of men, why is he wittingly breaching the law as regards tender procedures when it comes to procurement of goods and services?
Of late, it has become common for Levy to announce publicly, without any shame whatsoever, that he is negotiating with this or that business person in order to procure such a service.
We have not forgotten that recently when he was in Chipata, he told a crowd of his cadres that he was in discussion with a chairman of a certain local bank in order to help secure some K200 billion credit for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to purchase maize from farmers.
The idea itself is not bad but Levy should not think that Zambians are fools and they cannot see through some of his schemes and dealings. He may not mention the business persons he discusses with in order for them to access government business deals, but Zambians are not too naïve to interpret what is happening.
As if his involvement in the FRA deal for K200 billion were not enough, Levy was on Tuesday again telling the nation, without mentioning names, that some local bank had expressed interest in assisting the government to procure crude oil? Which local bank is this? For the sake of transparency and fairness, can Levy tell the nation exactly which bank has expressed interest in helping his government to procure crude oil?
We are interested to know because this business involves huge amounts of money and we are certain that all players in the economy would want to have a share of this business opportunity.
In short, what we are saying is that it is not right for Levy to be deeply involved in business transactions that can actually be handled transparently and fairly by other government officers or agencies responsible for the various sectors of our economy.
We need not return to the Frederick Chiluba era where business deals were being cut and sealed at State House. Instead of entertaining business people seeking business opportunities or favours from him at State House, Levy should start looking at how his government can improve on the institutional capacity of all sectors so that business can be conducted in a more predictable, transparent and fair manner for the benefit of all players.
If laws and regulations are in place, there is no need for anyone, not even Levy, to start cutting corners or taking short-cuts in the name of urgency or expediency.
When there is institutional capacity in our systems, there certainly should be efficiency, effectiveness and orderliness in whatever we do. And that is where Levy should be paying his attention to, not to be selectively entertaining business persons who are scared of fair competition on the market.
By Staff reporters
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
The Catholic Church and Transparency International Zambia have taken issue with President Mwanawasa's involvement in the procurement of crude oil. Reacting to the disclosure by President Mwanawasa that he was involved in resolving the fuel crisis that rocked the country in recent weeks, Caritas Zambia (formerly Catholic Centre for Justice, Development and Peace) director Sam Mulafulafu said President Mwanawasa was setting a dangerous precedent, which could lead to corruption. And TIZ president Reuben Lifuka challenged President Levy Mwanawasa to explain why the government opted for a single sourcing of fuel.
During a press briefing at State House on Tuesday, President Mwanawasa announced that the government had received an offer from a named bank that was prepared to finance one ship of crude oil but the persons who were responsible declined to deal with the bank and they wanted the Tender Board of Zambia to advertise the tenders for the people to import oil to Zambia.
Mulafulafu said it was not right for State House to be involved in business dealings with business persons.
“I agree that poor management of fuel flow in the country is harmful to the economy and livelihoods in general and those charged with this responsibility should be on top of things, otherwise they become irrelevant in their jobs,” Mulafulafu said.
“What I take issue with is the interference in the procurement procedures by the President even if, as he claims, it was meant to resolve the vexing fuel shortage problem.”
Mulafulafu said Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Buleti Nsemukila was right in insisting that the procurement be done through the public tender.
“Aren’t these our own financial and procurement rules? Where in the public procurement rules and procedures does it say that a prospective supplier can just go to the state President and cut a business deal?” Mulafulafu asked.
“I think we have gone through this before with the previous regimes and that is why we are where we are now with corruption. A government and leadership that claims high moral ground on issues of corruption cannot encourage business people to be dealing with State House whenever they want to do business with government.”
Mulafulafu said President Mwanawasa’s decision to replace Nsemukila with Peter Mumba, whom he described as a close relative of the President, raised a lot of questions.
“What is this intended to imply?” he asked.
And when addressing trainee journalists at Post Newspapers head office on Wednesday, Lifuka contended that there could have been other banks that would have offered to procure fuel at a more competitive rate.
“I don’t know how many of you (journalists) took an interest when the President yesterday (Tuesday) said that an American bank offered to buy oil on our behalf. How many of you took an interest to find out, say, at what cost and is it comparable with what another company would offer? And if the price they are offering for procuring the oil is comparable, how did government settle for only one buyer?” Lifuka questioned.
He said such type of arrangement of the procurement mechanism raised a lot of suspicion as to how government procures some of the services and goods as well as single sourcing.
“Unless you have very good reasons on why government opted for a single sourcing, such deals can be a conduit for corruption. There is no need for single sourcing of such huge government contracts unless there’s good justification,” he said.
Lifuka reasoned that even with the Zambia National Tender Board Act (ZNTB), one was required to get permission from the ZNTB if one opted for a single sourcing.
“The question is; did the Ministry of Energy and Water Development get authorisation from the tender board to go for a single sourcing or was it because someone was told to get out of my office? President Mwanawasa needs to explain why government opted for single sourcing. We need to be provided with information and full disclosure on what is contained in the contract,” he urged.
Lifuka said the information on what led to fuel shortage was being given in drips because there was a lot more happening behind the scenes. He said the scant explanation, President Mwanawasa gave on what led to the fuel shortage showed that the government lacked leadership.
“We should not allow the levels of desperation to violate the law and the lack of planning on the procurement procedure which could set a precedence,” he cautioned.
And Lifuka maintained that government has not made strides in the fight against corruption. He said there were so many issues that the government was supposed to put in place before condemning the TIZ Corruption Perception Index CPI.
“The CPI is not compiled by the TIZ, it is compiled by different people and organisations including government officials, the media should interpret these documents,” Lifuka said.
“Let government communicate to us what it has done in the fight against corruption. Let them show proof that they have made strides in this fight.”
He said the Task Force on Corruption had a narrow scope of work because it only focused on the ten years of Chiluba’s government.
“Who will investigate the corruption of Mwanawasa’s ten year rule? What came out of the evaluation of the Task Force funded by the British government has not been disclosed. The Task Force has not performed as per expectation and there’s need for a specialised unit to fight corruption because it has a new dimension.”
He wondered which organ would take up the cases that the Task Force was investigating if Cabinet decided to do away with the Task Force.
“There’s need to intensify the capacity of the Anti Corruption Commission if they are able to handle high-level corruption or come up with a specialised unit like the SITET in the UNIP government,” he said.
He also observed that the country had no anti-corruption policy and lacked an action plan on corruption.
Lifuka said the government should come up with a mechanism to provide checks and balances in the contraction on loans and tenders.
“In the Mwanawasa government that is fighting corruption, no law has been put in place to fight corruption. All the laws on corruption are porous and are hanging. For example, the law does not empower ZNTB to blacklist a company that is found wanting,” Lifuka said.
He said the President had excessive powers that could dilute the separation of powers.
“The problem of vesting more powers into one person is that there is propensity for abuse President Mwanawasa is not telling Zambian why he needs more powers. As far as we are concerned, he has excessive powers such that he appoints almost everyone which in turn dilutes the separation of powers,” Lifuka said.
Lifuka said there was need to enact the freedom of information Bill as it would help curb corruption. He said the TIZ would not participate in the NCC because it was providing space for “arrogance of numbers”.
Lifuka said the government should show goodwill in the constitution-making process.
And Mulafulafu said it was strange for President Mwanawasa to insist that his threats to arrest all those daring government on the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) were backed by law because his home affairs minister Lt General Ronnie Shikapwasha, information minister Mike Mulongoti and Attorney General Mumba Malila defended him, saying his statement was misunderstood by some critics.
“Despite the fact that the remarks were heard and seen by all who watched the news clip on his arrival, Malila, Shikapwasha and Mulongoti, in their routine insult to the intelligence of the Zambia people, went on to insist that those who were raising issue with President Mwanawasa on those remarks misunderstood what he said. I suggest therefore, that these three Honourable men join the Archbishop in the presidential tuition class because, according to the President, they do not seem to understand the Penal Code (Cap 87) as quoted by the President,” he said.
On President Mwanawasa’s intention to meet MMD national executive committee over the selection of his successor, Mulafulafu said President Mwanawasa’s move was a repeat of former president Frederick Chiluba’s. He said it was not for President Mwanawasa to anoint his successor because his successor should come out of an uncoerced and unfettered democratic process.
“This paternalistic and know-it-all approach to issues that need genuine consensus has negative consequences on Zambia’s political maturity and development,” Mulafulafu said.
“Today we have most of heads of our political parties either self-proclaimed or anointed by their predecessors and this culture and mentality is carried even in the structures and processes of national governance when such parties are given an opportunity to govern.”
President Mwanawasa said there was no excuse he could give on behalf of the government over the recent fuel shortages in the country. He said his threats that those daring his government over the NCC risked being arrested for treason were not a laughable matter because they were backed by the law.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
GOVERNMENT has started negotiations with Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to find affordable ways in which farmers can access the K37 billion irrigation development fund. Agriculture minister Ben Kapita yesterday said the government has realised that several farmers would not afford to meet the huge collateral being demanded by Finance Bank, which is disbursing the fund.
“We have started discussions with ZNFU to see if farmers can access the irrigation development fund using their irrigation equipment as collateral because we have realised that what the bank is demanding is too much for our farmers,” Kapita said.
“We are doing this because we want to ensure that small scale farmers access 75 per cent of the funds in order to ensure food security.”
He said the promotion of irrigation would reduce the dependency by farmers on rain-fed agriculture and would ensure the availability of food throughout the year. Kapita said the irrigation development fund was an inexpensive credit facility that would result in lower production costs and affordable foodstuffs on the market.
Last month, Kapita launched the K37 billion irrigation development fund and the proportion for lending to borrowers is that 75 per cent would go towards the supporting of small-scale and emergent farmers. Large and commercial farmers would access 16 per cent with nine per cent going towards manufacturers and technology developers that were engaged in research and development.
The irrigation development fund was meant to put an additional 70,000 hectares under irrigation in the next five years from small, medium and large scale farmers.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
THE Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) has approved 12 projects to start operations in various parts of the country. But the ECZ has rejected True Companion Steel Company’s proposal to establish a steel bar production plant in Lusaka.
According to a statement issued by ECZ public relations officer Justin Mukosa in Lusaka yesterday, the ECZ approved the proposals of the 12 projects on conditions that they comply with the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) reports they had submitted to the ECZ.
“Based on the information provided for the developments, site verification inspection findings and input from authorised agencies, ECZ has approved 12 projects and rejected one,” Mukosa stated.
He stated that among those approved is the proposed Kaputa Bio Gasifier in Kaputa by the Ministry of Energy and Water Development.
“The biomass gasification plant is designed for 1, 000 kW output compared to the existing 500kW output from the current diesel generator. The gasifiers will have the capacity of multi-fuel option to provide flexibility in using agro residues or forest residues as fuel,” Mukosa stated.
He added that ECZ had also approved the proposed Ndola training centre bio gasifier project in Ndola under the Ministry of Energy and Water Development.
Mukosa stated that the ECZ had also approved a bulk emulsion manufacturing plant facility by Bulk Mining Explosives Zambia Limited at Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi.
“The proposed site for the bulk emulsion manufacturing plant is part of a waste rock dump owned by Kansanshi Mining Plc. ECZ has approved the project subject to conditions, among which are:
bulk mining explosives Zambia Limited shall not discharge effluent from the plant to Kansanshi dambo, shall ensure no oil spills occur during construction to prevent pollution of environment, shall construct sumps and bund walls around the plant effluent is contained and recycled back into the process,” Mukosa stated.
Mukosa stated that the ECZ also approved Grain Storage Solutions’ proposal to construct storage facility for agricultural commodities in Lusaka, K and K Property Development Limited’s proposed new clusters development in Lusaka and Kembe Cold Storage Company’s proposed construction and operation of Kembe abattoir in Monze.
Mukosa further stated that others that had been approved were Mana/Leanne Investments’ proposed manufacture of Foam Mattresses and various plastic products, First Quantum Mining and Operations Limited’s proposed housing estate in Ndola and the Rural Electrification Authority (REA)’s proposed electrification of Chipapa Basic and local court in Kafue and electrification of Machiya Basic School and rural health center and government offices in Mpongwe district on the Copperbelt.
He said the ECZ had approved African Explosives Limited Zambia Plc’s proposed bulk emulsion plant upgrade and Nina Fishing Camp’s Nina fishing camp in Sesheke.
Mukosa said True Companion Steel Company Limited’s proposal to establish a steel bar production plant had been rejected.
“ECZ has rejected the project because the proposed project site borders the Zesco Coventry Power substation and is within the way leave of a Zesco high voltage power line; this poses a risk to the Coventry substation which supplies power to a large part of Lusaka city. True Companion Steel Company Limited is advised to find an alternative site,” stated Mukosa.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday October 19, 2007 [04:00]
Proffesor Michelo Hansungule has asked all stakeholders to pay for their participation in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) in order to avoid any undue influence by the government Prof Hansungule, who is law lecturer at University of Pretoria, said it was possible to find committed women and men in the country, who would pay for their expenses during the NCC sessions.
“We need women and men who will pay for their expenses instead of being paid by the government for participating in NCC so that they are above any influence. Money is the source of all evils and we can see that even if the NCC Act is reconstructed to provide a much more fairer ground, money will still influence the process,” he said.
Prof Hansungule said money takes away the sacredness of the constitution and reduces the document and its content to a mere paper and ink, respectively.
“Stakeholders must work flat out to fight this because it is a serious danger to the whole concept. It should be possible, for example, to find women and men particularly the chairman and executive members of the Conference that will declare in advance that they are not in it for money,” he said.
Prof Hansungule said the constitution-making process should reflect certain minimum values.
“It being the most important activity the country engages in as a collective, it is hardly surprising that values must come first. It is important to recognise that more than the narrow provisions of the NCC Act, the real outcome of the Conference will flow only from its values,” he said.
“In other words, in reading the NCC Act, one must try and go beyond the provisions to the values beneath it to fully understand the whole story.”
Prof Hansungule said Zambians should be cautious with the government’s announcement that a sum of money had been set aside to fund the process when they had been, for many years, using the lack of money argument as the main obstacle against the holding of the Constituent Assembly demanded by various stakeholders.
“This is not exactly good news. It is good that money has been found to pay for the venue, paper, logistics like transport costs, etc. What is seriously worrying is that a big chunk of it will go towards compensation to the delegates,” he said.
“This is worrying because it is equal to corruption. All through Zambia’s constitution making processes, government has paid those appointed for writing the Constitution. The Constitution is a sacred document. It should not be driven by money. Hefty allowances paid to commissioners in the past and to be paid to the delegates grievously affects this sacredness.”
Thursday, October 18, 2007
GOVERNMENT has secured enough seed, fertilizer, farming implements and fuel in anticipation of a successful 2007/08 farming season, says the Minister of Agriculture, Cde Rugare Gumbo. Speaking at a Press briefing in Harare yesterday on Zimbabwe’s agricultural preparedness for the forthcoming season, dubbed "The Mother of All Farming Seasons," Cde Gumbo said everything was in place.
"But we really want to stress that emphasis is on yields and not hectarage. As the situation stands at present, most of our people are ready for the summer season. There is much enthusiasm," the minister said.
Cde Gumbo said the country has targeted to put at least 2 million hectares under maize, 400 000ha under small grains (sorghum and millet), 600 000ha under tobacco, 120 000ha under soyabeans, 200 000ha under groundnuts, 400 000ha under cotton and 56 000ha under sugarcane.
"These are the targets we want to achieve. The fact that we have indicated these figures does not mean we will stop," he said.
Cde Gumbo said the targets along with the anticipated good rains projected by weather forecasts should contribute to the success of the farming season.
"We are in a way comforted by the weather forecast that we may have normal to above normal rainfall this season and we want to ensure that we have a bumper harvest," Cde Gumbo said.
Acknowledging the existence of other challenges such as erratic electricity supplies, his ministry had engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to mitigate the problems.
"In terms of tobacco everything is okay, the only challenge is irrigation and power outages. We have enough seed for soyabeans, cotton, and sugar cane," he said.
There was a small deficit of fertilizer particularly compound D, but the central bank was making frantic efforts to ensure that farmers received adequate supplies.
Cde Gumbo told journalists that Operation Maguta/Inala, spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, had already started supplying communal and A1 farmers with fertilizers and seed.
"We are pleased with the performance of the operation in terms of providing inputs to rural areas," he said.
He commended Government for phase two of the Farm Mechanisation Programme, which he said would go a long way in enhancing production among communal farmers who contribute at least 85 percent of the national maize output.
Under phase two, Government distributed more than 50 000 animal-drawn implements including harrows, ploughs, cultivators and discs.
In addition, Government distributed more than 1 200 tractors and combine harvesters to farmers as it intensifies its efforts to enhance agricultural production.
Massive production of all agricultural products, Cde Gumbo added, was the best weapon against food shortages and inflation.
"The ministry’s thrust for the 2007-2008 farming season is massive production of all products, be it beef, chicken, pork as this is the only way we can stop food shortages.
"If we go into farming in a massive way we are sure inflation will go down, prices will also go down and retain our status as Southern Africa’s breadbasket," Cde Gumbo said.
RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono described the forthcoming agricultural season as the solution to all Zimbabwe’s challenges.
"This farming season is going to be the mother of all farming seasons. A mother symbolises stability, care and everything good about life. So we are looking forward to the coming season we have termed ‘The Mother of All Farming Seasons’," Dr Gono said.
He said at least 50 000 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer was available while 1 440 tonnes was with the GMB.
"I can report that of Compound D we have 30 000 tonnes of Amonium Nitrate and 1 440 tonnes is with the GMB while 396 000 tonnes is with our suppliers," he said.
He said 17 000 tonnes was expected to be delivered before November. Dr Gono said 12 964 tonnes of LAN fertilizer was also with the GMB while another 2 000 tonnes was in transit from an unnamed supplier.
"Twenty-five thousand tonnes of LAN fertilizer is expected to be delivered between October and January while 10 000 more will be delivered from February onwards," he said.
Dr Gono said a further 50 000 tonnes of Compound C for tobacco was in stock at the GMB while 35 000 tonnes had already been released to farmers. A further 7 000 tonnes was expected to be delivered in three weeks’ time.
Although the country had adequate land, adequate inputs and the technical know-how, he said the tools of the trade were equally important for the nation to achieve greater success.
Dr Gono said Government had launched the mechanisation programme to equip the farmers with the necessary implements.
"On June 11 we unveiled the launch of the mechanisation programme with 925 state-of-the-art tractors being distributed. This is a programme that has never been done in the history of the country and we mostly paid cash for the tractors with money from our own resources," Dr Gono said.
". . . prophets of doom thought it was propaganda. Last week we saw 1 200 tractors and over 50 000 animal driven implements of all kinds being distributed,’’ he said.
He said even the so-called industrialised countries had never distributed such a significant number of implements in one year.
"The programme goes beyond 2007 and we want to see all farmers getting their set of all the farming implements," he added.
Dr Gono also said timely availability of inputs to farmers was critical, adding that 50 000 tonnes of maize seed was already secured.
He said the central bank was going to support the local industry with foreign currency to play its part in meeting the national requirements.
He said power outages were also preventing local industry from fully utilising installed capacity but Government had come up with measures to address the problem.
He added that the mining industry has also been given the green light to import electricity directly to minimise interruptions to production.
On coal and fuel shortages, Dr Gono said Government was also doing its best to address the challenges.
"We are making efforts and we are expected to launch a programme next week that guarantees only enough fuel supplies but not excess," he said.
"You can see why we think the coming agricultural season is going to become a ‘Mother of All Farming Seasons’."
"Farmers should work hard to complement efforts by Government. Let’s put every inch of soil under crops or grazing. Let’s see Zimbabwe being all green and let’s see a hive of activity in the rearing of livestock as well," he said.
On the pricing of agricultural produce, Dr Gono said the Government had now come up with an import parity-pricing framework.
Under this framework farmers can now be paid half of their deliveries in foreign currency and the reminder in local currency.
Dr Gono said this move was also meant to encourage farmers to deliver their produce to the Grain Marketing Board and curb smuggling, side marketing and boost productivity on the farms.
"This incentive has already been extended to wheat farmers. Those who have delivered their grain to the GMB will get 50 percent in foreign currency," he said.
Dr Gono also urged the banks to expeditiously process farmer’s loans so that their farming activities did not suffer undue delays.
He said farmers should be able to access loans within five working days, from the day of application at their nearest banks in their various locations throughout the country.
"Often farmers have applied (for loans) and wait for two months before they get a response. Time is critical in farming and it doesn’t wait for anyone, they (farmers) should get their loans timeously," he said adding that the central bank has a complementary system that processes the applications in 48 hours.
The Press conference, organised by the Ministry of Information and Publicity, sought to inform the nation on the developments in the agricultural sector.
"The Press conference was convened as result of Government’s quest to tell the nation and the world on the progress of Zimbabwe agricultural sector and success story on agricultural development told by us not from the imperialists’ view," the Minister of Information and Publicity Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said.
He said such Press briefings would be held on a weekly basis so that the nation was kept up to date on developments in the agricultural sector.