Saturday, October 27, 2007

(HERALD) Land Reform: Pipped at the post?

Land Reform: Pipped at the post?

It is simple. When it comes to the land question, every patriotic Zimbabwean must simply become irrational. Kutopenga chaiko, as Comrade Chinx would say. I am sure even former white-owners of our land expect us to be that flamingly irrational. It reminds me of Bishop Kunonga’s humourous contribution to the "Zimbabwe we want" effort. He recalled a chance encounter with two men — one white, another black — locked in a mortal fight. Upon inquiring on the nature of the differences, which had triggered such a violent encounter, he was cryptically told the two were fighting for land. He says he did not need any more information.

He simply jumped into the fray, knowing fully well that the outcome of the fight would determine the Zimbabwe he wanted. The white antagonist soon found out he had an extra pitchy black torso to subdue, if his vain cause was to prevail. Our very fragile and even broken rural livelihoods as Africans simply exhort us to take an eflexive position on this one cardinal national question.

Hey, the white man is not sleeping

Two weeks back, I drew your attention to two developments on this very emotive issue. I referred to white farmers who had gone back to the courts to challenge the whole land reform programme. Behind them was JAG, the same JAG, which engendered its gender warriors going by the name of WOZA.

But I also made reference to another action by the same group designed to litigate using Sadc’s Windhoek-based Tribunal. I explained the rational, warning this was an attempt to get Sadc to condemn its own escape from the colonial legacy, indeed an attempt to get Sadc to condemn its own emancipation.

I should also add that the international court case on the same matter brought to Paris by both Dutch and British farmers on allegations that Zimbabwe was violating Bilateral Investments Protection Agreements, BIPPAS for short, from October 29 2007. Readers may remember that the EU sought to weaken Zimbabwe’s defences by invoking travel bans on our legal team led by the Attorney General. It would appear certain EU members sought to employ political conditions to engineer a default judgement on the matter, which was then supposed to open the floodgates to further litigation, possibly leading to a reversal of land reforms.

Clearly the land issue is not yet settled. Clearly it is not yet irreversible. From a white perspective, the land issue remains a septic wound: profusely suppurating, insistently nagging well into the night. They do not sleep. They do not forget. They will not forgive. Hence the recent ICG report which demanded that President Mugabe declares an end to the Third Chimurenga.

And hey, is the Blackman woken?

From an African perspective, the land hunger persists, with many still on the waiting list. A significant portion of land remains in white hands: a good 927 farmers at the last count, with possibly 726 materially still on the land. We have also seen strange arrangements taking place outside the agreed parameters of leasing: Some lazy blacks sub-leasing State land to former white farmers. We have seen hostile blueprints of the so-called "post Mugabe recovery economics", all of them predicated on what is termed "an acceptable, internationally supported land reform programme".

Even more sinister, we have seen a new sensibility within the African elite of wanting to ram and fasten the door to further land reforms, simply because they themselves now have the land. It is the I-am-in syndrome, which threatens to reinterpret the whole land reform programme as a limited clearance sell for an African petit bourgeoisie. This sensibility couches its argument around issues of food security, foreign currency earnings and regaining international acceptability. And all these are made synonymous with retaining whites on the land, freezing land reforms to limited beneficiaries, while boldly evicting peasants and war veterans who may have placed themselves or been placed on well capitalised pieces of land.

They convincingly point to vast swathes of underutilised land to argue the present challenge is not completion of land reforms. Rather, it is about turning the already reformed land into a productive and performing asset. It is quite difficult to ignore this view’s start-off premises, namely that of rampant underutilisation. No attempt will be made to challenge this poignant premise. None whatsoever. Land must be fully utilised. Rukuni said so. Utete said so. Manheru says so, too. But is that all? But what are the implications of such a well-founded argument? That, for me, is the question.

Rhodesia’s intellectuals in new lease

This week we have had two white irritants in the form of John Robertson and Bruce Gemmill. The latter was part of Rhodesia’s leftover white farmers; the former, Rhodesia’s organic intellectual. From the above I-am-in-so-stop-the-revolution mentality, whose existence is by the way well known to the white land lobby, a thought milieu has been created for bold resurgent white racism. Reporters who went to Chegutu will tell you they ran into despicable Rhodesian white racist arrogance expressing itself in open contempt of land reforms and the new black farmer.

The reporters will also tell you there were officials from the British and American embassies, both towed by JAG, both illustrating the still abrasive Western dimension of our land question. All this reorganised white interest needs an intellectual framework and defence.

Dutifully, the Zimbabwe Independent reports on an "agriculturally connected NGO" which it does not name, whose sub-committee has undertaken "to study and recommend how and why agriculture should be reconstructed".

The paper excerpts that sub-committee’s "reasoning and conclusion". The opening of that excerpt reads: "From approximately 1900 to 1977 Rhodesian agriculture was divided by race and law into two systems, namely the white populated system of large scale-commercial agriculture, holding its land under freehold title and confined to the commercial farming areas. Secondly, the black populated systems of peasant farming, holding its land under communal title and confined to the communal areas, land holding rights being at the discretion of the local chief".

Perfunctorily acknowledging this racialised land tenure system to be a political problem, the sub-committee hurries to redefine the source of subsequent problems: "This inequality was pumped and hyped to the maximum by the present government (Zanu (PF), that is] to justify the destruction of commercial agriculture.

It was a politically driven act of retribution against a section of the population, both black and white, who were supportive of the opposition party, the MDC. It had nothing to do with land reform". The outcome was "massive injustice and misjudgment… foisted on the whole population".

Another Clare Short in male form

The excerpt leaps beyond the matter on hand to make a large statement about colonialism and African independence, clearly in a manner reminiscent of Clare Short: "We recognise there were many injustices directed against the black population during white minority rule, such is the nature of colonialism.

History cannot be changed, only the future has relevance when planning economic recovery and poverty alleviation.

This is not a callous dismissal of colonial injustices but a recognition of today’s reality. Agricultural and economic realities should prevail over populist and racial politics if we are serious about achieving a civilised standard of living for the population of Zimbabwe".

Just in case you are not insulted enough, get this: "In contrast [to commercial agriculture], peasant agriculture is the hallmark of underdevelopment…. Peasant agriculture is regarded as the bottom rung of human existence".

Harkening Zimbabwe-Rhodesia

Let us temporarily forget about the hand behind the pen, to deal with these wrinkled ideas which strike me as a determined assault on black Zimbabweans. First the benchmarking in the report. 1900 to 1977 neatly coincides with both the rise and consolidation of white Rhodesian land-based power, which is the essence of the land question, as we have known it.

The year 1977 was especially significant in that UDI laid, through a phoney internally generated "de-racialised" land reform programme, a foundation to a superficially reformist land programme which the Rhodesians through Lord Carrington sought to foist on the Patriotic Front at Lancaster House.

It allowed for some modicum of adjustment to land ownership, and even a sprinkling of black farmers in hitherto white commercial zones, but without changing the essence of Rhodesia’s land tenure. This is what Robertson and his colleague are glorifying. In a sense, Rhodesia was adjusting its land regime to prefigure the Internal Settlement and the subsequent birth of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia under a black face.

The same document, albeit in mutated form would re-emerge at the ill fated 1998 Donor Conference. The overriding goal for these initiatives and that which we are examining in this analysis has always been the preservation or restoration of white landed rights with which Zimbabwe’s commercial agriculture is made synonymous.

False closure

What is worse, the two dates give an illusion of closure to white land-based injustices: these began in 1900 and ended in 1977! Politically, this is a late invitation to get us to embrace the Internal Settlement as the era of African emancipation.

In terms of the country’s agrarian reforms, this claim seeks to postulate that Rhodesia made and unmade its own land colonialism.

Considering that we say the struggle was about land, it means we were liberated by white volitional generosity, not by black arms of war.

A real assault on liberation history, as we know it! This is staggering. After 1977, land justice had been restored, Robertson tells us, thanking white sense. It means all those who claimed to be fighting after 1977 were simply bloodthirsty, power-hungry tyrants!

Turning causes into consequences

Second: the piece reduces the whole land reform programme which started in 2000 to "political retribution" and "massive injustice", a real return to antediluvian times or "the bottom rung of human existence". We are back to Dell’s "voodoo economics" only put on Rhodesian tongues. The programme had no takers and was thus "foisted on the whole population".

It is a view that does not recognise any land need among Africans, something I thought the white world had at least conceded early on in the debate.

To that extent, it marks a hardening of positions, in fact a repudiation of concessions made earlier. Except many MDC members were happy to receive land, which suggests they were happy victims of this unwanted land reform.

They are happier to have received implements for working that same land. Their leadership does acknowledged the need for land reforms, only contesting the way it was done. So which MDC is this study referring to? And how many MDC officials or supporters had land before 2000 to have been dispossessed, alongside Rhodesia’s embittered white landed gentry whom these two gentlemen defend?

What is worse, how would the Zanu (PF) government visit political retribution on landless black MDC supporters through land reforms, as claimed? How do you dispossess a person who wields no land? In any case what started, the land issue or the MDC?

The era of noble savages

Third: we are told peasant agriculture is "the bottom rung of human existence". This is our world so vainly castigated. We are children of peasants. So why did modern Rhodesia create and preserve a peasant sector until 1977? Was it because Africans were exactly that: African and too unreconstructed to be taken into an era of "civilised standards of living", itself Ian Smith’s favourite phrase? You begin to see unrepentant Rhodesian racism that is at the core of this whole so-called study. It is a statement of racism a condemnation of Africans as un-evolved and un-evolving.

And since the independence government is both vindictive and economically irrational to levels of destroying "civilised standards", clearly the subcommittee’s reasoning and conclusion imply political governmental reforms fashioned after white Rhodesia.

After all, "all evidence stacks up in favour of commercial agriculture (read white agriculture)". Robertson and Gemmill are not writing for a Zanu (PF) Government or anything close to it. They are writing for a protean political governmental creature founded on a combined Rhodesian and

Mutability in Immutability

Fourth: History cannot be changed! I suppose it can only be destroyed in favour of "uncivilised standards". Robertson and Gemmill repudiate subaltern history of struggle with such frightening finality. It is an attempt to suggest that "Rhodesia never dies", but one proclaimed on its very tomb. The two men hanker after Rhodesia and its land dispensation. Robertson may be genuinely mistaken; surely Gemmill cannot. His present state and bitterness away from the colonially ill-gotten land, does confirm that indeed Rhodesian history has been challenged and changed!

What is worse, the whole import of their sub-committee is to challenge and change another history — to them clearly African and therefore unpalatable — defined by and formed through the 2000 land reforms. The two men want to reverse Zanu (PF)’s land reforms, which means challenging Zanu (PF) and its history which, willy-nilly, is the history of all black Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation. Both Tsvangirai and Mutambara have now recognised that the land question is indeed an African national question that cannot be ducked in the name of fulfilling oppositional functions.

Succour from a fissure?

What is the significance of all this? Well, this is an indicative piece, indicative of the mood in the white camp. Shell shocked by the land reform between 2000 and 2005, the white tribe appears to have taken on a new feeling of defiant resurgence, a feeling that a new milieu tolerant of its racist arrogance and drivel is finally come. This may suggest either of the two following things: That the white vlok has detected a fissure within Zanu (PF) leadership, giving succour to its resurgence. Or that there is a real desperation in the country that the ruling party is about to be ready to collapse or to clutch at a serpent.

I happen to know that Zanu (PF) is not about to collapse; quite the contrary, it is feeling quite sanguine. It is importing agricultural equipment like a party that is not about to go away. It has divided the EU, a real novel feat in the history of the interface between Europe and Africa. Its candidature for March 2008 is as good as decided. Its opponent, the MDCs, is in disarray. The economy is beginning to respond to its policy importuning. So there is no question about a collapse. Which leaves the first item possibly.

Place of white man in Zimbabwe

I have always said it will be a very sad day indeed if any forum within Zanu (PF) burns its time and ardour debating the place and role of the white man in independent Zimbabwe. That simply should not be an issue. While it is true that the struggle was against a system, not a race, it is ineluctably true that the system depended on a specific race for its sustenance. It still depends on that same race for its survival in post-independence, which is how it continues to mould, forces which keep Zanu (PF) busy.

Zanu (PF) cannot dodge the issue of race in its effort to found a new society. White power remains paramount in the economy. It remains paramount in the very indigence of post-colonial Africans. Certainly the struggle was not about weighting the rights and interests of a mere 900 white farmers as equivalent to the rights of 13 million black Zimbabweans for whom 90 years of colonial rule would not end until 2000.

Why would so much energy be burnt on the fate of remnant white farmers to the exclusion of 30 000 plus African farmers already on the land? What have we given these 30 000 to expect results from them? What? Surely seed packs alone are not enough? Surely fertilizer alone is not enough?

To all intents and purpose, 2007 is the year which the Zanu -PF government has made a real and telling intervention to follow through on its emphatic land delivery between 2000 and 2005. The year 2007 is the year Zanu-PF has begun to address the issue of productivity.

It cannot expect the result a day later. Not even a season later. That never happened with white Rhodesians who had years and years of assistance from their Government. Why judge the underprovided new farmer so harshly in terms of tractors and farming loans he or she is just beginning to get? Is it not better to se what Muzvondiwa does to land with the new implements than to condemn him in favour of Beattie well before he had made the first furrow?

Do we abandon the people because we want Beattie for a civilised neighbour? Do we condemn an agricultural model that reared us for decades, indeed which made us who we are merely because we have big power, big means and big white friends? The spirits of little bird nzo are always in the nest. Let us know where we came from and who made us. Zanu-PF cannot survive the morning after without a correct position on land.


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Real issues, not basic statistics

Real issues, not basic statistics
By Editorial
Saturday October 27, 2007 [04:00]

Unemployment, especially among young people, remains a very serious problem for us as a nation and it is assuming intolerable levels. As things stand today, nobody can deny that unemployment - particularly youth unemployment - has reached unacceptable levels, especially at a time when politicians are relentlessly chorusing about high economic variables.

While our politicians are busy narrating the positive economic figures to the nation, the majority of the Zambian people continue to feel alienated from the much-hyped economic progress - they are not seeing the tangible benefits of what those in positions of power are seeing.

Young people like Mubanga Kangwa, who are a living symbol of the effects of unemployment, deserve to be listened to. But as they say, deeds and not words is what counts. We are not questioning the authenticity of the economic indicators which government leaders consistently refer to in their justification for the economic progress which our country is registering.

What is bothering us, like many other concerned stakeholders, is that these indicators do not seem to be making much sense to the majority of Zambians who, despite such a positive economic outlook, are failing to find their way out of the poverty trap.

Yes, we heard President Levy Mwanawasa on the eve of our Independence Day admitting that Zambia still faced numerous challenges and that it was now time to focus on economic independence.

Well, we must say that there is nothing completely new in the talk about economic independence because we have heard it for many years now and it should now be thrown into the trash can of political rhetoric where it really belongs.

What the people of Zambia are interested to hear from their leaders is not a reminder of basic and indisputable facts such as the growth of the economy at 5.8 per cent, the single-digit inflation, low interest rates or huge investment flows. Rather, Zambians are interested to know how significant, if so at all, these indisputable facts have been in terms of actually transforming their lives for the better.

What we ought to be clear about is that addressing the problem of unemployment is related to addressing broader structural economic problems in our economy and we should not pretend about this fact, no matter how positive economic indicators have been so far. If we are interested to fully appreciate the problem of unemployment in our country, we have to start at the structural level and address some of the structural problems in our economy.

First, we must admit that much as we can point to some growth in our economy, we have not adequately developed and diversified its industrial base. Our leaders may not want to hear this but the reality is that our economy is still oscillating around the same old sectors - mining, agriculture and tourism.

And we cannot expect to create many more job opportunities for our people as long as the economy is still largely dependent upon the same old sectors. What is even worse is that there has not been much effort to try and revive the industrial base which not only used to service the mining sector but was a significant factor in terms of job opportunities for Zambians.

In the past, before the destruction of our industries by Frederick Chiluba and his group, we had several manufacturing centres which used to service the mining sector and in that process, a lot of jobs were made available to the Zambian people. And because some people had a short-term view of everything they did, our economy's industrial base has basically been wiped out.

In our view, the government should start looking at reviving our country's industrial base. What we are saying is simply that there is need for a strong policy by the government to ensure that a diversified manufacturing and services base is built on top of other sectors such as mining, agriculture and tourism which are clearly failing to absorb our entire labour force. As long as we do not design an adequate industrial policy to support the growth of manufacturing, we will continue to talk about lack or employment for the people.

We cannot continue to pretend that unemployment is just a small problem and go on with the status quo, leaving things to fate when we know very well that joblessness has profound implications for poverty, human rights and political stability.

Let us not pretend and ignore the fact that unemployment is associated with extensive and deep poverty at household level. Unemployment is especially so cruel in a situation like ours where we have no social assistance programmes to lessen its effects on those without jobs.

The point is that the majority of the unemployed Zambians face a daily struggle to meet their basic needs. Unemployment is a serious problem in this country and we cannot continue to deal with it as though it were just a petty problem.

Today, in our compounds and in the villages, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show why, if we truly have a conscience, we need to tackle the problem of unemployment with the importance that it deserves. We are sending children to universities and colleges but most of them are ending up on the streets after completing their studies because there is no employment for them.

So, instead of getting intoxicated with basic economic facts, those in leadership must recover from their hangover and realise that the problem of unemployment stares them in the face for solutions.

We want to believe that those in leadership are wise and capable enough to be ruminating about real solutions to unemployment, instead of regurgitating statistics which do nothing much except to fatigue us. Let's begin to address real issues, instead of hanging on to basic statistics.

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Chaisa youth bemoans high levels of unemployment

Chaisa youth bemoans high levels of unemployment
By Kelvin Tembo and Namakau Nalumango
Saturday October 27, 2007 [04:00]

ZAMBIA should not have such high levels of unemployment 43 years after independence, a youth from Lusaka’s Chaisa compound has said. Mubanga Kangwa, who trades from Kaunda Square Stage One market, complained that there were no jobs for young people, a situation he said was forcing them to get involved in crime.

“It was good we got our independence, but so many years down the line we are not seeing the benefits,” Kangwa said.

He said the government should seriously look into the unemployment problem because it was causing the increase in the crime rate.

“We do not have jobs so we are forced to get into businesses which are not even profitable,” Kangwa said Jerry Njovu,

same area, said it was good that Zambia got its independence, but added that it did not carry much meaning because its people were still suffering from abject poverty.
Njovu also complained that elected leaders like members of parliament and councillors do not fulfil their promises because immediately they are elected, they disappear.
“We used to see them walking around the compounds soliciting for votes, but we no longer see them now,” Njovu said.

He said he goes round in compounds with his trampoline for which he charges K100 for children to play on just to take his children to school.

Njovu appealed to the government to look into job creation as most people especially youths were being forced to go on the streets.

He added that the only good thing in the country was democracy because people were able to speak out because there was freedom.

Njovu said people in leadership positions should share the national cake with those at the grassroots.

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I deserve respect - Levy

I deserve respect - Levy
By Brighton Phiri
Saturday October 27, 2007 [04:00]

I DESERVE respect, President Levy Mwanawasa said yesterday. Speaking at State House during the swearing-in ceremony for deputy ministers and Permanent Secretaries, President Mwanawasa said he should be respected and obeyed but not feared by law-abiding citizens.

"I am very pleased to receive you and take oath in your various positions. Now you have taken oath... I heard you say I swear to the President. You did not say I swear to President Mwanawasa. So your loyalty, sincerity and goodwill is going to the President of Zambia as an institution," he said.

President Mwanawasa said citizens and civil servants had no choice but to respect the institution of the presidency because it was enshrined in the Constitution.

"It does not matter what your feelings are about the person who holds that position, but what matters is that this is an institution which exists according to the constitution and therefore you must respect it," President Mwanawasa said.

"When somebody is elected to that office, he is clothed with trumpets of the President of Zambia and therefore he deserves respect and obedience."

He asked Zambians to read the Bible scripture Roman 13:1-7 that underscored that leaders were agents of the Lord.

"They administer discipline and punishments on behalf of our Lord. You do not need to fear a leader if you are law abiding. Yes that scripture is important because I always say that I should be respected and not feared," President Mwanawasa said.

"If you are very quick at touching public property for your personal good, then you should fear me because of my anti-corruption crusade."

He urged the newly appointed public officers to do their part towards implementation of government programmes.

Those that took oath were home affairs deputy minister Misheck Bonshe, education deputy minister Clement Sinyinda, tourism deputy minister Toddy Chilembo, works and supply deputy minister Mundia Ndalamei, Central Province minister Ackimson Banda, Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary (PS) Medson Lisati, Lusaka Province PS Elijah Chisanga, Ministry of Gender and Development PS Caroline Yeta, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives PS Dr Isaac Phiri and North-Western Province PS Jeston Mulando.



Influx of Chinese labourers worries Mutati

Influx of Chinese labourers worries Mutati
By Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday October 27, 2007 [04:00]

COMMERCE, trade and industry minister Felix Mutati has called for enforcement of labour laws to address the problem of influx of Chinese labourers in the country.
In an interview in Lusaka on Thursday, Mutati admitted that there had been concerns about the influx of Chinese labourers in the country.

“That concern has been expressed from many quarters about the employment and bringing in of labour, etc. We have labour laws in this country which are very specific and clear,” responded Mutati when asked about Chinese labourers coming to Zambia. “But the challenge for us is basically enforcement of the law. So we need to enhance our enforcement efforts. That is all it requires.”

Mutati observed that there was a perspective that was developing that Africa was surrendering itself to the invasion by China, particularly in the area of trade and that the continent must re-look its relationship with China.

“Now if you look at the scale of trade globally you will see that the trade between China and Africa is probably less than five per cent compared to the trade between the Western world and China. And one of China’s biggest trading partners is the US. So from an African perspective what we are saying is that given the volume of trade and investment between the West and China which obviously has been sustainable, we ask a question: If it’s good for them, why should it be bad for us?” Mutati wondered.

“They are the ones that are doing big business with China. Now they are saying it’s bad for Africa. That is a contradiction, isn’t it? Specific example in Zambia, there is the expansion programme of Chilanga Cement now called Lafarge which is owned by Lafarge of France. Now when they were carrying out an assessment to offer the contract for the expansion programme, I think the expansion is about US$150 million there about, they searched around the world for best delivery, cost and technology, and sitting in Paris they offered it to a Chinese company. We did not pick the Chinese contractor, they made their own assessments and they saw the merits in awarding that particular contract to Chinese.”

He said another example was at Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) where NFC of China was sinking a shaft.

“Again KCM is owned by a company listed on the London Stock Exchange,” he said. “So all we are saying is that our colleagues are making decisions to trade and invest in China and vice verse and Africa is saying they shouldn’t be denied the similar opportunity.

We remain alive to the fact that trade with China obviously like any other country in the world may have its own difficulties but these are the challenges that individual countries have to address.”

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Raise income for smallholder farmers - IDE

Raise income for smallholder farmers - IDE
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday October 26, 2007 [04:00]

INTERNATIONAL Development Enterprises (IDE) Zambia director Keith Henderson has said there is need to raise income levels of smallholder farmers in order to improve their standard of living. During the launch of the four-year US$2.5 million Rural Prosperity Initiative (RPI) project, Henderson said the programme would focus on smallholder farmers, who currently earn less than US$2 per day.

Henderson said IDE would implement the project together with partners from Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in order to increase the farmers’ incomes.

He said the RPI would promote the increased use of low cost irrigation technologies by smallholder farmers and development of a sustainable supply chain.

“It is hoped that this will create demand for the technologies and encourage sustainable participation of local manufacturers, dealers, traders and other service providers,” said Henderson. “Mainly our project will focus on raising the income of living levels and raise them out of poverty and our typical target groups are smallholder farmers currently earning less than US$2 per day.”

The RPI is a four-year project targeting 14, 000 smallholder farmers in Zambia that mainly produce vegetable crops to raise their income levels.

The project is funded by the Gates Foundation and its target areas are Kabwe, Lusaka, Kafue, Monze, Pemba, Choma and Livingstone and already 5,000 smallholder farmers have been engaged.

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Reforming for the common interest of humanity

Reforming for the common interest of humanity
By Editor
Friday October 26, 2007 [04:00]

Over the last few years, calls for reform of the world’s multilateral institutions have become louder and more numerous. But they appear to be falling on deaf ears, at least going by the fact that the calls have not been matched with any progress. On our part, we have made it as plain and clear as possible that the reform of the world’s multilateral institutions - the United Nations, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) - is inevitable.

And when we call for reform of these institutions, we are aware that reform is a process, not a one-time event, and it can therefore take a long time. However, we think that the procrastination that surrounds the reform of the world’s multilateral institutions has much to do with the same concerns those who are calling for reform harbour.

It is clear that the few rich and powerful nations of the world which control these institutions are not ready to give up their monopolistic hold on power in these organisations which were originally created to be an egalitarian platform for all nations of the world or at least for all member states.

However, when one looks at the transformation that the world has gone through since the creation of most of these institutions, it beats logic that the amount of resistance to reform is so vehement. And the irony is that those violently opposed to reform are nations which keep pounding into our heads the theories, tenets and principles of democracy, transparency, et cetera.

What has to be realised is that the needs of the world are constantly changing and there is definitely need to keep rearranging these multilateral institutions in order to realign them to the real needs of the world today. Of course we are appreciative of the fact that it will be impossible to fully satisfy the needs of each and every nation of the world in terms of how far or how much these multilateral institutions need to reform.

The fundamental point is that reform of the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO is an important process which needs to be undertaken and it will have to be a continuous process for as we have already stated, the needs of the world are constantly changing and we face new challenges which require new approaches in terms of trouble-shooting.

It is gratifying and encouraging that Fr Pete Henriot is again reminding us of the need to reform multilateral organisations because, as he has put it, these institutions were set up without the interest of the developing countries and there is, therefore, need to reform the power structures of these international institutions so that they are more representative.

As for the UN system, students of history will recall that these demands, despite having been brought up many years earlier, were formally presented by then United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan in 2005 at the UN General Assembly. It should be recalled that Annan had initiated a reform programme for the UN immediately after he assumed office in 1997.

According to Annan, the need for reform would have to be “from overhauling basic management practices and building a more transparent, efficient and effective United Nations system to revamping our major intergovernmental institutions so that they reflect today’s world and advance the priorities set forth in the present report, we must reshape the Organisation in ways not previously imagined and with a boldness and speed not previously shown”.

The calls for reform of UN are many, ranging from increased UN power and presence around the globe to an entire redesign of the UN Security Council. If anything, much of the debate has had to do with redesigning the Security Council so that it begins to reflect a post-World War II form as opposed to the present setup where power is centralised in the five most powerful countries during the post-Second World War world - the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France and Russia.

Considering the dramatic changes that the world has undergone since the Security Council’s formation after World War II, it is important that some reform is undertaken, in order to fairly balance power and in the interest of the present realities of the world.

As for the IMF and the World Bank, our position is still the same. There is need to reform these institutions so that their real function or purpose becomes that of promoting development and not perpetuating the misery of poor countries as the case is at present. It is well-known that these institutions were created for the sole purpose of rich nations controlling poor countries’ policies.

And this is how they continue to operate, although once in a while they come up with different economic policies which they claim are targeted at the development of poor countries.

But we know how disastrous these so-called economic policies have been in our countries and we do not have enough space in this column to outline the details of the not-so-nice neo-liberal policies from the IMF and the World Bank.

As for the WTO, its conduct over the years has shown that it is not a legitimate body - in its present form - to superintend the world’s trade affairs. The WTO has proved beyond any doubt that it is there only to protect rich nations’ markets and not to ensure free and fair trade between and among nations of the world.

Given all this, we have to admit that the present set- up of the world’s multilateral institutions has failed, or at least it is failing poor nations like Zambia, and it is this system which many people around the world are saying no to.

Yes, we live in a globalised world but we also know that globalisation at present is controlled by a few rich nations and basically driven by an insatiable appetite for more and more wealth and power for those who already have enough, if not more than enough.
What we are therefore calling for is a reform of the world’s multilateral institutions so that there is more democracy, representation, openness and accountability.

What we need is to reform and redesign the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO so that they can begin to respond to the common interests of humanity, not to the narrow and parochial interests of a few rich and powerful nations of the world. When we call for reform of these international or multilateral institutions, this is precisely what we mean.

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Fr Henriot calls for democratisation of UN

Fr Henriot calls for democratisation of UN
By Sheikh Chifuwe in Antigonish, Canada
Friday October 26, 2007 [04:00]

JESUIT Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) director Fr Pete Henriot has called for the democratisation of the United Nations and the international financial institutions if development and peace were to be meaningful. Addressing St Francis Xavier University students and the community of Antigonish in Canada on Tuesday evening under the theme, “global perspectives on the work of development and peace”, Fr Henriot said one of the solutions to underdevelopment was to make the international institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation more democratic.

"These institutions were set up without the interest of the developing countries. They need to reform the power structures of these international financial institutions and the UN so that they are more representative," he said.

Fr Henriot also challenged the governments of the south to become more transparent and accountable to the people as the only other alternative of ensuring there was development and peace within their countries.

He said developing countries needed more regional co-operations and strengthened regional bodies such as the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

He told the audience that globalisation had impacted negatively on Zambia and other developing countries as it had left most of the already poor people without employment due to its profit-oriented approach.

"The process is within the discredited neo-liberal market paradigm where they want to pursue economic reform without consideration of the social impact," Fr Henriot said.

"The political structures of the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) do not effectively include participation of government or civil society."

He said the imposed policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme/Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper had weakened cultural values once cherished among the Zambians because of entrenched poverty.

He said there was no fullness in trying to transform the world economically in the absence of justice. Fr Henriot added that development was about movement of people from less human conditions to more human ones.

"We live in a country where economic indicators are taking off but people are remaining behind," he said.

He challenged the church to stand up for social teaching and campaign for social justice among the citizens of the world. Fr Henriot urged the church to pay special attention to controversial global issues.

"Influence church people to become activists, not just in charity but in justice. Development and peace must continue to grow and flourish," said Fr Henriot.

Women for Change executive director Emily Sikazwe thanked the organisers of the event for inviting participant from Zambia to address them.

The discussion was hosted by the university's Development Studies Students' Society.
Sikazwe is in Canada conducting a lecture at the Coady International Institute.

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Task Force currently probing cases in Europe - Makayi

Task Force currently probing cases in Europe - Makayi
By Noel Sichalwe
Friday October 26, 2007 [04:00]

TASK Force spokesperson Victor Makayi yesterday said senior Zambian investigators are currently in Europe working on various outstanding cases including the alleged frauds at ZCCM between 1991 and 2001. In a statement, Makayi said that the Task Force had fostered closer contacts with the International Centre for Assets Recovery in Switzerland with the view of tracing plundered Zambian assets. He also said recently, officers from the Serious Fraud in London had a working visit to Zambia.

He said Task Force chairman Maxwell Nkole was happy with the growing international cooperation in the area of asset recovery and investigations.

Makayi said the Task Force on corruption has traced assets worth over K116 billion which were either plundered, stolen or unlawfully obtained between 1991 and 2001.

He said out of the total recoveries, about K85 billion worth of assets plundered have been surrendered to the state for disposal.
“There has been recorded cash and other asset recoveries at home and abroad, including the 30 Belgium apartments worth over US $8 million.

Cash recovered through Task Force investigations has normally been surrendered to the Ministry of Finance Asset Recovery Account kept with Bank of Zambia. Government would soon decide what to do with the proceeds of Task Force successful asset recovery programme,” stated Makayi.

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Construction sector still facing credit challenges - Stanbic

Construction sector still facing credit challenges - Stanbic
By Fridah Zinyama
Friday October 26, 2007 [04:00]

STANBIC BANK has said Zambia's construction industry still faces challenges in obtaining long-term financing although the sector has expanded significantly.
According to a survey on the industry by the bank, the construction industry has grown but players still find the high interest rates by the banks prohibitive. The bank notes that the recent extension of the yield curve by banks to 15 years would facilitate the pricing of long-term infrastructure projects.

"The issuance of longer-term bonds has been well received by domestic and foreign investors. Domestic appetite stems from pension funds and insurers and is expected to drive yields down," the bank states.

Stanbic Bank noted that the scenario would however improve with a lower reserve requirements' ratio, which was expected to increase loanable funds to the sector.

"It is anticipated that the lower reserve requirements ratios will translate into lower lending rates which is further expected to support further easing of the cost of credit," the bank states.

Stanbic Bank states that interest rates are expected to ease over the medium term, thus increasing the accessibility of credit.
"However, the prospective transfer of the government's deposits to the Bank of Zambia may counter the effect of the cut in the reserve requirements ratio, to some extent," the bank observes.

The bank states that to ease the financing constraints, contractors seeking to build infrastructure or other large development projects are pursuing public-private partnerships.

"The authorities, with the assistance of donors, can provide the financing and the private partner can bring in the management expertise," Stanbic Bank states.

According to a member of the National Council for Construction (NCC), the lack of skills is a significant constraint in the development of the construction industry, which could manifest in an imbalance in the relationship between the private and public partners.



Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zambia has fallen prey to unscrupulous Chinese investors - Sata

Zambia has fallen prey to unscrupulous Chinese investors - Sata
By Brighton Phiri
Thursday October 25, 2007 [12:55]

ZAMBIA has fallen prey to unscrupulous Chinese investors, Opposition Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has charged. In his presentation to the United States of America (USA) based Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies Events Series on Wednesday, Sata said Zambia had been invaded by rogue Chinese investors.

"Zambia has also found it difficult to attract genuine investors and has become the prey of the rogue Chinese investors that have no regard for the welfare of those that are unfortunate enough to work for them, let alone the countries that have allowed them to exploit their natural resources and people," Sata said.

He said Chinese investments such as large scale-mining and construction firms had created industrial disharmony due to poor working conditions, which did not comply with Zambia's labour laws, environmental regulations and the occupational health and safety standards.

"They also pay slave wages. The Chinese investments have also created only a limited number of skilled and unskilled jobs for Zambians, because most technical and managerial positions, as well as a significant number of unskilled jobs are reserved for, and held by the Chinese workers, who have come along with the investment," he said. "The situation is worsened by disparities in wages paid to the Chinese and Zambian workers doing the same jobs, with the Chinese being paid substantially more."

Sata said due to the favorable treatment given to the Chinese by the immigration service, there were currently more than 80,000 Chinese nationals in Zambia.

"Government also ignores very serious reports of abuse of Zambian workers by their Chinese superiors. Failure to observe the occupational health standards at the Chinese government owned explosives factory even resulted in the death of 50 Zambian casual workers, in an explosion that destroyed the entire plant, but in which not a single Chinese life was lost," said Sata referring to the BILGRIMM Explosives accident in 2005. "Many questions surrounding the death of the 50 Zambians workers at the Chinese explosives factory to this day remain unanswered."

He said Zambia's failure to curb the violation of industrial and labor laws could be attributed to the overbearing influence of the Chinese government on its Zambian counterpart, through provision of generous gifts to the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) and the powers that be.

He said the Chinese private investment had also brought into Zambia unfair competition.

Sata said the Chinese traders sold cheap low quality products from China ranging from clothes to electronic household goods, which did not meet the local standards.

"The garments, for example, wear out after being washed once, but they cost substantially less, and uninformed poor people, buy such garments at the expense of stronger locally made garments," he said.

"Such trading activities are killing the local industry and taking away livelihoods from local people, such as tailors and traders selling better quality garments, not to mention the textile firms, most of which have collapsed not only in Zambia, but in Southern African region as a whole."

He said the entry of Chinese traders into the micro enterprise sector had worsened competition in an already over-crowded informal economy, which supported the bulk of the labour force.

Sata said the private investors from China enjoyed an unfair advantage over their competitors in Zambia because they had access to generous Chinese government loans and grants provided only to Chinese nationals and enterprises through the Bank of China, which had opened branches in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

Sata said the increased clout of the Chinese in Africa had a bearing on consolidation of democracy and a culture of respect for human rights, because China did not subscribe to democracy and was inconsistent in upholding human rights at home.

"We should also bear in mind that poverty in Africa is pervasive, and has hardly spared any one, including the political leaders. The Chinese are aware of this, and are preying on the poverty of many African political leaders," he said.

He asked Africans to engage China in a more intelligent manner than they were currently doing.

Sata said the development of Africa and its people could not be achieved on the basis of designs and strategies of other people.

"The Africans ought to take responsibility and protect their heritage and the future of those yet to come. It is, therefore, critical for African countries to review their engagement with China," Sata said.

"The foreign policies of African countries should be based on the universal values of democracy, good governance, protection and respect for human rights. A human rights approach to policy formulation in Africa would guarantee human dignity and peace.

"It is for this reason that the Patriotic Front in Zambia finds it more prudent to cultivate relations with Taiwan, a democracy and a more advanced country than China, which can provide high quality investment and more equitable trading opportunities."

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(HERALD) Cash boost for wheat farmers

Cash boost for wheat farmers
By Zvamaida Murwira

COMMERCIAL wheat and barley growers will be paid a bonus of $29,25 million a tonne while growers of seed for both crops will get $35,1 million a tonne as part of a cocktail of incentives to boost production. The bonus means commercial wheat farmers will now get a total of $71,25 million a tonne since the Grain Marketing Board buys the cereal at $42 million a tonne.

Wheat and barley seed growers — who are paid $50,4 million by seed houses, the Grain Marketing Board and other contractors — will now get a total of $85,5 million a tonne.

Announcing the measures yesterday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono said under the new scheme, wheat and barley farmers for both commercial and seed crops have the option to be paid either 100 percent in local currency or 50 percent in foreign currency with the remainder in local currency.

Wheat and barley prices have been set at US$250 a tonne for commercial production and US$300 a tonne for the seed crop with seed prices being calculated at 20 percent above the producer price of the commercial crop.

Dr Gono was speaking at the weekly Government media briefing at Munhumutapa Building. The weekly briefings were introduced by the Ministry of Information and Publicity last week to keep the nation informed of developments in the agricultural sector, the mainstay of the economy.

Yesterday’s briefing — which was attended by the Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu; Minister of Agriculture, Cde Rugare Gumbo; and Minister of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Irrigation, Cde Joseph Made — was meant to update the media on farming preparations for the 2007/08 farming season.

Farmers who choose to be paid in local currency shall receive $71,25 million a tonne for the commercial crop, calculated at US$250 multiplied by Z$30 000 (the official rate) adjusted by the overnight investment rate, which is currently pegged at 850 percent.

For seed wheat and barley, the grower shall receive $85,5 million a tonne.

Dr Gono said the GMB, registered contractors and seed houses would continue to pay the Government-announced producer price of $42 million a tonne for the commercial crop and $50,4 million a tonne for the seed crop with the central bank paying the bonus balance of $29,25 million a tonne for the commercial crop and $35,1 million for the seed crop.

The central bank will pay US$125 a tonne for the commercial crop and the US$150 a tonne for the seed crop, being 50 percent of the import parity price to growers who choose the foreign currency option.

The foreign currency component will be deposited directly into the individual farmers’ Foreign Currency Accounts, under the same conditions as those applicable to corporate FCAs.

The FCA retention period for farmers shall be a maximum of 30 days during which the farmer can exercise the option to sell their FCA entitlements to the central bank and still access the once-off interest overnight window return.

Dr Gono said the central bank had, within the past 24 hours, finalised the financial and logistical arrangements to import an additional 12 400 metric tonnes of maize seed.

The delivery of the maize seed is expected within the next few days and the seed houses involved have since been granted the import licences by the relevant authorities.

"We have signed contracts for funding arrangements, seed houses have already been given import licences in 45 minutes. That’s uncharacteristic efficiency," said Dr Gono.

"Faxes of import licences were sent to Botswana and Zambia and they have confirmed receipt and said delivery would start next Monday."

The central bank chief said packaging firms have been assisted with funding and would produce 30 million storage bags to be warehoused at an undisclosed place for the next harvest of maize.

"We have secured a line of credit with a Western country for the manufacture of packaging material," he said.

With immediate effect, said Dr Gono, banks are required to decentralise their decision-making to allow processing and disbursement of loans at branch level.

Banks are expected to process all applications from farmers within five days as they were no longer required to submit applications to Fiscorp (Private) Limited Company, a subsidiary of the central bank, disbursing the money within 48 hours.

Applications exceeding $50 billion would continue to be submitted to Fiscorp, and banks are only required to submit schedules of approved projects and total funding required.

"Banks should expeditiously reply to applicants so that if it is a regret they can start looking for alternative sources of funding because seasons know no time or respect bureaucracy. We are now doing away with the bureaucracy in banks," he said.

"Where a branch manager or staff seeks a favour or bribe,, we would like to know. We call upon those people being frustrated to let us know. We are trying to make sure that there is agility in everything."

Turning to the availability of goods in shops, Dr Gono said there has been a marked improvement but people should appreciate the need for a balance between viability of business and affordability.

"There must never be expectations from consumers that prices should be at the same level as three months ago. There is also an animal called inflation and the National Incomes and Pricing Commission. Prices of goods like newspapers, for example, must be decontrolled so that they are available," said Dr Gono.

"Consumers need to realise that in an inflationary environment, it was inevitable that producers need some modicum of price adjustments to create the capacity to meet their next and successive production and purchase order schedules."

He urged the business community to actively interact and conform to guidelines of the NIPC.

Dr Gono said beneficiaries of the Government-initiated farm mechanisation programme would from this week start receiving their invoices.

He said preparations for the third phase of the farm mechanisation programme, set for January next year, had since gathered momentum.

"The coming week marks the delivery of truckloads of implements to various provinces," he said.

Cde Made said Government seeks to fully equip commercial and communal farmers in the next three months with tractors.

"The full impact of mechanisation would be felt next season," said Cde Made.

Cde Gumbo said all provinces must by the end of this week have submitted their cropping programmes and hectarage to his office so that focus would be on production.

He emphasised the need for all households to plant at least one hectare of crops to boost food security.

The Press conference was also attended by Secretary for Information and Publicity Cde George Charamba; Secretary for Agriculture Engineering, Mechanisation and Irrigation Dr Shadreck Mlambo and Secretary for Agriculture Mr Ngoni Masoka.

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(HERALD) Foreign-owned firms prepare for empowerment legislation

Foreign-owned firms prepare for empowerment legislation
By Walter Muchinguri

SOME foreign-owned companies are beginning to take positions ahead of the enactment of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill into law. The Bill is awaiting presidential assent after it sailed through the Lower and Upper Houses. The Bill will seek to enforce the empowerment of indigenous people through the acquisition of majority shareholding in foreign-owned companies. It stipulates that at least 51 percent of a foreign company’s shareholding should be locally owned.

Although there are no notable empowerment deals that have been linked to the issue there has been indications that there have been movements in this regard. The country’s leading mobile services provider, Econet, which is one of the country’s largest black controlled group, recently confirmed receiving overtures from large international groups looking for an empowerment partner but said it has its own priorities and was, therefore, not interested in such deals.

Econet said the companies wanted it to take up a controlling stake in their businesses in Zimbabwe so that they could comply with the new legislation on empowerment.

"We have our own priorities as a company, and they are not about empowerment. If you see us acquire a stake in a business, it is because it fits into our own strategic plan, and it is likely to be something we were already working on for a long time," he said.

Impala Platinum (Implats), the majority shareholder in Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings (Zimplats), recently indicated that it had made concessions ahead of the implementation of the Bill.

The company recently reaffirmed that it had agreements in place that would be taken into account when Government assesses compliance with the Bill.

Under the agreement signed between the Government and Zimplats in May last year, the latter agreed to cede its mining claims in exchange for a combination of empowerment credits and cash.

The Government also agreed to recognise social spending by the company which included building infrastructure such as roads and schools for a combination of empowerment credits.

In this regard Zimplats agreed to release claims amounting to 36 percent of its resource base on the Great Dyke which comprise 51 million ounces of platinum or 99 million ounces of 4E (platinum, palladium. rhodium and gold).

Recently a diversified black-owned group Migdale Holdings acquired a controlling stake in leading freight concern Allan Wack and Shepherd.

Although both parties have indicated that it was a purely business transaction, the market was awash with speculation that the deal was structured with the new law in mind.

There have been other deals that have been cited but these have relatively been low key since they involve smaller companies.

A number of indigenous business people are believed to be lining up to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise as a result of the empowerment legislation.

Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono in his Mid-Term Monetary Policy Review Statement proposed a gradual takeover process of companies depending on their capital intensity.

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Sata, the hired gun

Sata, the hired gun
By Editor
Thursday October 25, 2007 [04:00]

Not long ago, home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha described Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata as a shameless old man. Some people might have felt that Lt Gen Shikapwasha was being hard on the old man Sata. But things have to be called by their names. Sata is, in truth, a shameless old man.

And he should be told that no amount of misinformation and propaganda will bury the truth. He can call us names, accuse us of anything but the truth will always remain the truth. After all, what haven’t we been accused of? And this is not the first time Sata has accused us, nor will it be the last. When it suits him, we are pro-MMD; we are compromised by the MMD, we are converted.

However, we don’t lose sleep at such empty accusations because we are always accused of this or that. When it suits the MMD, we are pro-Sata or pro-opposition. And when it suits the opposition, we are pro-the ruling party.

We don’t have to defend ourselves because the work we do is in public domain for the public to judge. And in doing our work, we are guided neither by emotions nor ill-will; we are guided by principles. Unlike Sata, we criticise when there is reason for us to do so. In the same vein, we give praise where it is due. And we do not choose whom to criticise or praise.

We know that Sata and his minions will accuse us of harbouring a vendetta against him. They will accuse us of wanting to destroy their saviour, Sata. We have no vendetta against Sata and we don’t have to destroy him because every time he speaks, he shoots at himself.

Look at the events of this week. We stated in our editorials that Sata’s mission of discrediting China in favour of Taiwan was not based on any principle but was motivated by personal benefits. We added that Sata has never been known to do anything on principle. Everything he does is based on expedience, political or other.

Without saying a lot, we will demonstrate this point by using just one example.

A few months ago, Sata stumbled on information which revealed that President Levy Mwanawasa’s principal private secretary Alfred Chipoya had withdrawn, from Finance Bank, several hundreds of millions of kwacha within a period of one month. Sata wrote to Levy, accusing Chipoya of money laundering, saying he was a mere civil servant who could not afford to have such amounts of money in a bank.

In response, Levy stated that friends and supporters of MMD contributed that money using his personal account at Finance Bank. He stated that the money was legitimately raised for the purpose of campaigns during last year’s elections. Levy further stated that the money was actually utilised as intended because it was given out to parliamentary candidates, hence Chipoya’s withdrawals from the bank.

Sata did not buy this explanation. He questioned why Levy put MMD money in his personal account. He said this amounted to corruption or money laundering.
But when Sata last month wrote to his Taiwanese sponsors, requesting them to give him US $50,000 for his mission to discredit China, he asked them to deposit the money in his personal account at Finance Bank.

And when we suggested that Sata was discrediting China because he was being paid for doing that, Sata said his party had asked for support from various sponsors, including Taiwan, to fund his mission to discredit Taiwan.

We ask the question: If it is wrong for Levy to keep MMD money in his personal account, why should it be right for Sata to keep PF money in his personal account? If it is corruption or money laundering for Levy to keep party funds in his personal account, why should it not be corruption or money laundering for Sata?

This is what we mean when we say Sata stands on no principles. He behaves like a dog of the wind. He is a restless person who changes direction as often as the wind does. In short, he has no direction. He doesn’t even believe in what he says.

Today, he will deny that his fight against China in favour of Taiwan is motivated by personal gains but the truth will remain that Sata is just a hired gun. He chose to commit himself to fighting China because he realised that it would be a lucrative task for him to pursue.

And his blind followers like Guy Scott are busy justifying Sata’s fight against China, not knowing the true reasons that are motivating him into such fights. We wonder what other intellectuals in PF have to say about this, including PF’s shadow minister of foreign affairs Robert Simeza.

Maybe this explains why Sata can’t leave active politics despite his advanced age. It seems he is using politics to keep him going.

In justifying his US $50,000 request from the government of Taiwan, Sata says Taiwan was just one of the sponsors of his trip to the US because PF had asked for funding from a lot of institutions and organisations both locally and abroad.

He said these institutions and organisations responded favourably. But did Sata really need to raise US $100,000 for a week’s trip to the United States? For him, this trip to the US was an opportunity to fundraise.

When we asked him to explain all these matters, all Sata could do was sound more zealous than sensible. He called us all sorts of names, saying we don’t understand corruption and are defending China blindly.

We are not here to defend China. And what Sata is doing against China could probably be politically correct but morally wrong. We are concerned about this moral aspect of Sata’s politics.

We find it immoral that Sata can pursue a personal agenda as though it were a national one. He wants the public to believe that he is opposed to China and its investment in the country for genuine reasons when the real reason is that is getting paid for it.

We have said it before that no economy in the world today can afford to alienate itself from China despite all the problems that China has. And it is true that not all is well with the Chinese investment in the country. But this is not to say we cannot co-operate with China as a country. If big economies like the US can no longer ignore China, what about a limping economy like ours?

It is better to isolate areas of concern regarding Chinese investment in the country and try to deal with those problems. Trashing China completely will not be helpful for the country and indeed for Sata himself.

But because Sata is a hired gun by the Taiwanese, he will keep shooting in all directions just so he can deliver to his financiers. We wish him all the best because, at least, we all know now that Sata is fighting China for personal gain. It’s a lucrative deal for him.

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Sata will sell Zambia - Ronnie

Sata will sell Zambia - Ronnie
By Chibaula Silwamba and Nomusa Michelo
Wednesday October 24, 2007 [21:20]

SATA will sell this country because he loves money, home affairs minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha has said. And acting chief government spokesperson George Mpombo has wondered why civil society and the Church have not come out to condemn Sata’s actions. Commenting on Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata’s soliciting of US $50,000 from the Taiwanese government to enable him travel to the United States to discredit China, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said on Wednesday (October 24th, 2007) that Sata had been exposed as a fake person.

“First of all I am happy that you brought it (Sata’s soliciting for money) out for the rest of the nation to understand that Mr. Sata cannot be a leader to lead this nation. Sata will sell this country because he loves money,” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said. “It’s important for the nation to know that what The Post brought out was good and well researched.”
Lt Gen Shikapwasha commended The Post for exposing Sata.

“We commend the work of The Post for exposing people who are fake,” said Lt Gen Shikapwasha.

And Mpombo said Sata’s actions were humiliating for the country. He said Sata was not the kind of leader Zambia should have because he could easily mortgage the country out of selfishness.

Mpombo said the Church and civil society were always quick to condemn when the government did something wrong, but had remained silent on Sata’s actions.

According to his letter titled ‘Fight Against The People’s Republic of China Against Your Country’, to Taiwan’s Ambassador to Malawi dated September 10, 2007, Sata asked for US $50,000 to cover the costs of his travel and upkeep to the United States.

This follows Sata’s invitation by Harvard University for him to speak on human rights at a conference themed ’China-Africa: The Yin and the Yang’. He was scheduled to address the conference yesterday.

And Sata has justified his requesting for US $50,000 from Taiwan saying there was nothing wrong with that because other political parties also received funding from abroad.

Meanwhile, Sata – who was on his way to the United States - on Monday made a U-turn in London after a Chinese porter at Crown Plaza Hotel in London allegedly stole his passport.

Sata was given a travel document by the Zambian Mission in London to enable him return to Zambia. When he arrived in Lusaka on Tuesday, Sata managed to get a new passport and a visa for the United States and left the same Tuesday.

“I completed my mission, now I am going back to America specifically for the Chinese,” Sata told The Post before departure at Lusaka International Airport.

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Russia will fight any power setting up military bases in Africa - envo

Russia will fight any power setting up military bases in Africa - envo
By Oliver Sinyangwe, Maluba Kaindu-Jere and Mutale Kapekele
Thursday October 25, 2007 [04:01]

We will resist attempts by any foreign power to set up military structures in Africa, Russia’s Ambassador to Zambia Dr Anvar Azimov has warned. And Ambassador Azimov has said Africa should sort out its own problems without external interference. Addressing 24 trainee journalists at Post Newspapers in Lusaka on Monday, Dr Azimov said Russia would fight any power setting up military bases in Africa because it was opposed to any foreign military presence in Africa as it was an act of imperialism.

“In my opinion, Americans are not approaching Zambia much on the AFRICOM. We questioned why the US should expand its military operations,” he said.

Recently the US proposed setting up a military base in one of the African countries. Some African countries have objected to the idea while three countries, among them Sierra Leon and Liberia, seem to favour the idea.

Ambassador Azimov said Russia was in favour of peace and stability in Africa and hoped that Africa would settle her internal disputes.

Dr Azimov also appealed to the US to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and let the United Nations take over.

“If Africa wants progress, she has to settle all her internal disputes. It is up to the African Union with the help of the UN to solve Africa’s problems. Other countries can offer technical assistance in peace keeping missions,” he said. “If there are military problems, they must be solved by the AU. If it fails they can apply for assistance from the UN.”

He said this stance did not imply that there was enmity between Russia and America. He said the US was Russia’s strategic partner in development as there were no ideological barriers between the two countries since Russia had also become a capitalist economy.
He also said the US was one of the important export markets for Russia’s resources such as petroleum and gas.

“We no longer have ideological barriers. America is our strategic partner but unfortunately they are trying to establish military bases in Africa. Any foreign military presence in Africa is inconsistent with development,” Dr Azimov said.

He also reiterated President Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that Russia would not take kindly to any attacks by the US on Iran, Syria or North Korea. Dr Azimov said Russia would never allow what happened to Iraq to happen to any of the countries perceived by America as advancing nuclear ambitions.

He said that Russia was in a good position economically and militarily at the moment to counter any US military action, unlike at the time when America invaded Iraq.

“We appeal to the US to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan because they will not succeed to defeat the Talibans. Let them solve their own problems,” he said. “I’m sorry to say this, Russia has got superiority in nuclear and atomic weapons over America. It is also the biggest supplier of military equipments in the world.”

On the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Dr Azimov said it was dangerous and Russia would fight it.

“As a member of the UN Security Council, we are opposed to uranium enrichment for military purposes but at the same time we shall not allow military actions against Iran by the US and sanctions are not the best solution as they affect the ordinary people like is the case in Zimbabwe,” Dr Azimov said.

And Dr Azimov said Russia was helping the Ministry of Defence to modernise armed forces whose armament was mostly Russian. He said Russia was also giving technical support to the defence forces as well as helping 40 Zambians attend peace-keeping training.
He also praised the government’s foreign policy which he described as bold and positive.

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K3bn north tourism fund to boost economy - Kaingu

K3bn north tourism fund to boost economy - Kaingu
By Fridah Zinyama
Thursday October 25, 2007 [04:00]

The allocation of K3 billion to the northern circuit for tourism development will boost further growth of the economy, tourism minister Michael Kaingu has said. And Kaingu has called on financial institutions in the country to lend flexibly to people who want to invest in the tourism sector.

Kaingu said the K3 billion injected into the northern circuit out of the K3.5 billion allocated to the Tourism Development Credit Facility (TDCF) would give impetus to the growth of the tourism sector in the region through infrastructure development and other projects that will help to add value.

He said the northern circuit has been recognized as a tourism gem because of its richness in flora and fauna.

Kaingu also disclosed that Nsumbu National Park would be restocked with various animal species.

He said government through the Kasaba Bay Tourism Development Project was promoting holistic public-private sector partnerships to accelerate tourism development in the northern region.

And in an appeal to financial institutions, Kaingu said it was important to introduce flexible lending terms such as longer re-payment periods so that more people could borrow to invest in various sectors of the tourism industry.

He said the rate of failure in tourism and hospitality sectors was minimal compared to other sectors of the economy.

Kaingu said it was important that banks and other financial institutions supported tourism investment because of the proven economic benefits the industry was bringing to the country.

He also encouraged Zambians to ensure that they paid back loans in order to cultivate trust for further borrowing.

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Non-food inflation high despite economic growth- BoZ

Non-food inflation high despite economic growth- BoZ
By Fridah Zinyama
Thursday October 25, 2007 [04:00]

Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has observed that non-food inflation has always been high despite the country's economic growth. Commodities like transport and communication, rent, fuel, lighting and household goods are always on the high side. The central bank indicated that inflation for items like clothing have been on the high side because the textiles industry in the country is very small and Zambia depends on expensive imports of material.

"Zambians like superior quality clothing and are willing to pay the price for such quality," the bank noted.

BoZ indicated that three factors that contribute to high non-food inflation include high transportation costs, expensive tastes, and a negligible textiles industry.

"Given that Zambia has a negligible textile industry, the manufacturing of clothing, footwear and furniture is on a very small scale and due to diseconomies of scale, too highly priced for its quality," BoZ observed. "To meet the demand and the superior taste of Zambians, these items are imported."

BoZ stated that fuel was also expensive due to the country's positioning and its poor road infrastructure.

"The regional sources of the bulk of Zambia's imports are South Africa and Zimbabwe; however, with the decline in the latter economy this implies that the regional hegemony supplies a larger share of imports and most of it has to be transported into Zambia by road," the bank indicated.

"A poor regional road network, fuel shortages in Zimbabwe, interruptions in fuel supply from the Indeni refinery, and high international oil prices all contribute to inflated transportation costs, which are passed through to the Zambian consumer."

The bank noted that the current construction and rehabilitation of the road network, the plans to upgrade the railway through Malawi to Nacala and connect Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA) to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and DRC were expected to reduce transportation costs in the medium to long term as well as reduce the prices of imported goods.

"To make further inroads into the high prices, Zambia's dependency on imports must be reduced through the development of more value added activities, including a local textile industry," noted BoZ. "Zambia is currently a producer of cotton but exports most of it in its raw form. A larger textile industry would reduce the demand for imports and contribute to the moderation of domestic prices."

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Zesco to start manufacturing transformers

Zesco to start manufacturing transformers
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday October 23, 2007 [04:00]

Zesco Limited managing director Rhodnie Sisala has said plans to start producing transformers locally would raise the country’s competitiveness in terms of exports of finished industrial goods. The power utility has entered into a partnership with El-Sewedy Electronics – an Egyptian firm specialised in electricals – to establish two factories in Ndola for the manufacturing of transformers and electric meters.

Sisala, in an interview, said he is optimistic that the venture, once fully established in Zambia, would be expanded in order to meet the demand of the export market as well.

He noted that with the increasing demand for electricity in the region and efforts of countries to enhance power generation and transmission within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, Zambia is likely to earn a lot of foreign exchange from the export of transformers and electric meters.

“There are two factories that we are setting up. The first one is for the manufacturing of transformers in Ndola. The main components that go into the transformer are steel tank made of steel.

The second part is the copper winding which is the most expensive and the third part in the manufacturing of transformers is insulating oil,” Sisala said.

“We mine copper in Zambia and all of it is exported and we get it back in finished goods. All we are going to be doing now is to add value to copper which is mined locally in the manufacturing of transformers and this will reduce the cost of the product in the region.”

Sisala said the joint venture between Zesco Limited and El-Sewedy Electronics is likely to boost Zambia’s base metal industry, considering that copper was the most critical and expensive component in transformer production.

“This business will be part of adding value to our copper. As we go into the future, we see the business expanding and we will be exporting the transformers instead of exporting copper cathodes which we have been doing,” Sisala said.

“The Ndola City Council has given us some land and we have already done up the designs for the factory and all we are waiting for is approval of the plans.

Through this project, jobs will be generated and we will be able to provide a much better and efficient service to our customers. Zambia as a country will also contribute to high technology exports.”

Sisala said construction of the transformer manufacturing factory is expected to begin early next year, and production likely to kick off before the end of the year.

“We should be through with construction works by August next year and production of transformers is then expected to start towards the end of the year,” Sisala said.

“The second venture we have with El-Sewedy is the manufacturing of electric meters. One of the biggest issues is to ensure that all our customers are metered and by manufacturing these in Zambia, we will be able to reach our target as well as create jobs for a number of the unemployed youths in the country.”

Sisala noted that the utility’s import bill on electric consumables such as meters would drastically reduce as the commodities will be manufactured locally.

“The meters will be cheaper than sourcing them from outside. Prices will be much lower because we will not have to pay duty and value added tax (VAT) that have been increasing costs of these products,” Sisala said.

“These two projects we have embarked on are aimed at improving service delivery in the electricity sector in Zambia. For the meter factory, there is a building which we have bought.

We are trying to make new designs for this building and once that is done, we will begin with renovations and we are expected to start manufacturing by March next year.”

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

(HERALD) Illegal sanctions must be denounced by all

Illegal sanctions must be denounced by all

EDITOR — As you know, the issue of illegal sanctions is relevant for Zimbabweans and Cubans, with the latter having been subjected to an economic embargo for over 47 years. On October 30, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly will once again consider the resolution entitled: "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

For the 16th consecutive occasion, this issue will be debated and voted at the UN General Assembly, and as on the previous 15 times, Cuba expects that the overwhelming majority of UN member states will vote against this abhorrent policy imposed on Cuba by different US administrations over the past 47 years.

I am quite sure that the issue of sanctions sounds very familiar to everyone here in Zimbabwe, because after testing this policy against Cuba, now they are trying to implement the same policy against the brotherly people of Zimbabwe.

The present US administration has stolen more commercial brands and additional millions from Cuban funds frozen in the United States. It has adopted sharper reprisals against those who do business with my country or establish relations with Cuba based on cultural or tourist exchanges. It has put stiffer pressure on our allies to subordinate their relations with Cuba to the aims of "regime change," the driving force of its policy of hostility against Cuba.

In that way, Washington is trying to add more governments and countries to its policy against Cuba, in accordance with the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts that legalised the extraterritorial nature of the blockade. Under these two Acts, Cuba is not allowed to purchase medicine and food from US subsidiaries in third countries, and any ship that enters Cuban waters is not allowed to enter any port in the US until six months have elapsed. The secretary of state can deny the entry into the US of foreign employees and directors of companies "violating" the blockage.

George W. Bush approved the implementation of the measures included in the report of the so-called "Commission for Assistance to a free Cuba", aimed at intensifying the blockade by discouraging tourism and investments in Cuba, by restricting financial flows and visits to the island, by placing more restrictions on family remittances and visits to the country and, furthermore, by cutting off any educational, cultural, sport, religious and scientific exchanges between the US and the Cuban people.

State terrorism is carried out systematically and inhumanly by the US government against the Cuban people regardless of sex, age, race, religious belief or social position. It is part and parcel of the hostility, blockade and the aggression, which has cost the Cuban nation more than 3 000 lives.

According to conservative estimates, the blockade has resulted in direct economic suffering to Cuba to a total of more than US$89 billion in almost 50 years. The sectors of the economy that have been more affected all these years are food and health care, precisely those that have a direct impact on the quality of life of Cuban people.

Denunciation of these unjust sanctions against our people will be kindly acknowledged by the people of Cuba and the rest of the world. Zimbabwe’s support gives us strength to go on with the struggle.

Cosme Torres Espinosa.

Ambassador of Cuba to Zimbabwe,


18 mining firms get uninterrupted power supplies
Bulawayo Bureau

AT least 18 mining companies have signed up to pay for power in foreign currency and receive uninterrupted power supplies under a deal between Zesa Holdings and the Chamber of Mines.

Chamber chief executive Mr Douglas Verden yesterday said that more companies were coming aboard.

"When the memorandum of understanding was signed we had about eight companies who entered into the deal but now the number has doubled to more than 18," he said.

Some of the companies were being delayed by problems of connecting to the national grid.

"Most companies do not have a dedicated line that connects them to the national grid. Under the agreement, companies must have a line that will directly connect the mine to the main source of power."

However, some of the companies were failing to meet the extra costs of erecting a dedicated line.

In other cases, for some companies, their power lines pass through other firms that are not interested in the deal.

"Due to the extra costs, some companies that are nearer to each other have teamed up to erect a dedicated line that will feed both of them," he said.

However, Mr Verden said the power deal has significantly improved production in mines.

Meanwhile, Mr Verden called for a review of the gold price, adding that the price announced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, early this month — of $5 million per gram — had now been eroded by inflation.

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(HERALD) EU deals Brown a body blow

EU deals Brown a body blow
By Sydney Kawadza

THE European Union has dealt British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a body blow after its parliamentarians invited President Mugabe to attend the EU-Africa Summit set for Lisbon, Portugal, in December. EU parliamentarians and their Pan African Parliament counterparts jointly announced the invitation in South Africa last Friday.

Head of the EU parliamentary delegation Mr Michael Gahler and PAP chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on Relations with the European Parliament Mr Marwick Khumalo announced at a joint Press conference that they had discussed, and resolved that Cde Mugabe should attend the summit to give his side of the story and discuss challenges confronting Zimbabwe with other leaders.

The announcement by the EU and PAP MPs came barely 24 hours after Mr Brown — still smarting after Africa and other EU states refused to endorse his anti-Mugabe stance — clambered from his high horse, saying he would not oppose President Mugabe’s attendance.

Mr Brown — who held informal talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki ahead of the rugby World Cup final in France on Saturday — reportedly assured Mr Mbeki that he was not trying to stop anyone from attending the summit.

The EU and PAP parliamentarians will hold a pre-summit meeting a day before the official opening of the EU-Africa Summit as they hope to influence deliberations by the heads of state and government.

The announcement by Mr Gahler, first vice president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, is significant given that he hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in June this year after conspiring with the German embassy in Harare to deny visas to the Zimbabwean delegation to the 13th Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Forum in Wiesbaden, Germany.

The delegation was supposed to present a draft resolution condemning EU sanctions on Zimbabwe for consideration in Wiesbaden.

PAP has also, on numerous occasions, tried to sponsor anti-Zimbabwe resolutions in its meetings.

Mr Brown has cut a lone figure as most EU member-states, the AU, Sadc, Comesa and other regional groupings have refused to endorse his campaign to have President Mugabe excluded from the summit.

He has, however, found sympathisers in the Nordic countries that have not echoed his boycott threats.

EU president and summit host Portugal has said it respects Africa’s position that President Mugabe should attend the summit and said Britain’s stance on Zimbabwe was against European interests.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Mr Luis Amado said no country "can be pushed aside from dialogue and from the development of long-term strategic relations between the EU and the continent".

European Commission chief Mr Jose Manuel Barroso concurred, saying the summit should not be derailed by the standoff between Britain and Zimbabwe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said all African leaders, including President Mugabe, should attend the summit.

The last EU-Africa Summit was held in Cairo, Egypt, in December 2003, and there has been no other summit for the past four years as Africa refused to give in to British demands to hold a summit excluding Zimbabwe.

Africa has maintained that the summit should involve leaders from the continent and invitations should not be selective.

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(HERALD) Regime change needed within MDC

Regime change needed within MDC
By Caesar Zvayi

ST JUDE, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes would really be proud of the MDC, a party that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘‘with a friend like you, who needs enemies (read with leadership like this, who needs an opponent)?’’

This is because with the party’s propensity for gaffes it apparently does not need Zanu-PF to lose elections given Morgan Tsvangirai’s predilection for shooting himself in the feet to the point of being unable to pose any serious challenge to Zanu-PF.

The sheer stupidity and shallowness of MDC politics makes Student Representative Councils look sophisticated. One can’t help but wonder whether the MDC leadership devise the hare-brained schemes or simply pander to what their foreign handlers, ignorant of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic or political context, decree.

For instance, over the past few months, MDC leaders have been sitting down with their Zanu-PF counterparts, under the aegis of the Sadc initiative on dialogue, to thrash out areas of concern. So successful have been the meetings that they culminated in a landmark agreement on Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Bill. No small feat given that exactly two years back, the original MDC broke up because of differences over the provisions of Amendment (No. 17) Act, which reintroduced a bicameral legislature.

In fact unconfirmed reports say Zanu-PF and MDC negotiators have since made other landmark agreements, that will leave the likes of Lovemore Madhuku and the so- called MISA-Zimbabwe without causes. The maturity MDC legislators across the divide showed on Amendment (No. 18), and the touching addresses the legislators gave in Parliament, all of which indicated that they were committed to putting Zimbabwe first in everything they do, won the MDC a modicum of respect from progressive people the world over.

This is because this was the first time the opposition party had done something meaningful for nation building, it was the first time MDC leaders acknowledged that they are Zimbabweans first, before being ‘‘strategic partners’’ or ‘‘allies’’ of the western world as Arthur Mutambara would love to put it. Surprisingly all that momentary sensibility has come to naught, the MDC is back to its lackey mode of trashing African processes by threatening to pull out of the talks accusing Zanu-PF of ‘‘intensifying repression and violence against MDC members.’’

Last week the Tsvangirai faction held a Press conference at Harvest House to announce that they would pull out of the talks if Zanu-PF does not stop alleged intimidation, and murder of opposition supporters.

Nelson Chamisa claimed MDC supporters have been killed over the past few months, and that the Government was closing democratic space as the police were refusing to sanction MDC rallies? The question that springs to mind is when did the police start doing this because since January, Chamisa’s information and publicity department has been gloating about ‘‘people power’’ and churning out copious Press statements lauding the success of the rallies the faction was holding throughout the country. Every week Chamisa announced that the MDC held successful rallies in various parts of the country, drawing ‘‘huge crowds that showed Zanu-PF’s game was up.’’

A good example of these statements was the one he released on February 6 2007 where he said, among other things;

‘‘The MDC leadership at the weekend heightened its nationwide campaign to rally the nation in demanding a people-driven Constitution and rejecting plans by the Zanu-PF regime to extend its tyranny.

"In Harare, the national chairman, Isaac Matongo, addressed huge crowds in Mufakose and Mabvuku at the weekend, where he told the people to resist plans by the regime to extend the people's suffering to 2010.

‘‘Next week, the national chairman and other senior party leaders will address another rally in Epworth in Harare South as the defiance campaign gathers momentum. In Manicaland, President Morgan Tsvangirai addressed two rallies at Zhawari and Gwirindindi business centres in Mutare West, the President congratulated the people in the two wards for voting for MDC councillors in the rural district council elections held last August.

‘‘In Chiredzi South, members of the Liberation team led by national organising secretary Engineer Elias Mudzuri addressed several rallies over the weekend. Throughout the provinces and across the length and breadth of the country, the MDC has various teams that are interacting with people at grassroots level."

In fact it was this momentum that saw the Tsvangirai faction announcing that it would launch its presidential campaign at Zimbabwe Grounds on September 8.

So what has changed now, why is Chamisa singing a different tune? The answer is simple, the Tsvangirai faction is now in election mode, and this is how it prepares for elections. But, unlike other political parties, the preparation does not involve campaigning through selling party programmes and policies to the electorate, it involves preparing for the post-election environment and grandstanding to the foreign gallery.

The MDC leadership does this by creating self-fulfilling prophecies and scenarios to use as justification to reject the outcome of the elections, and to back its claims that there is no democracy in Zimbabwe.

And this, more than anything else accounts for the MDC’s dismal showing in all elections held since 2000, not the tired allegations of rigging. The Tsvangirai faction does not campaign for the minds of Zimbabweans, but for the benefit of its western sponsors who badly need it to play the great victim, to justify their ruinous engagement with, and sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Contrast the MDC Tsvangirai faction’s approach to what Zanu-PF was doing, and you get this feeling that those in the MDC are beyond salvation. At a time Zanu-PF, through the Government, was busy clamping down on profiteering businesses, Tsvangirai was rabidly opposing and telling the world ‘‘Mugabe embarks on a clearance sale.’’

At a time Zanu-PF was empowering newly resettled farmers with agricultural implements under phase one and two of the Farm Mechanisation Programme, Tsvangirai was touring Australia and the United States asking for more sanctions and thanking his masters for the sanctions they imposed in the quest for illegal regime change.

And Tsvangirai expects to win when he squares off against Zanu-PF at the polls? How childish can one get? But why is the MDC so desperate to torpedo the Sadc initiative?

It appears the latest MDC campaign of demonisation is designed to serve three purposes.

The first and most urgent one is to abet British premier, Gordon Brown’s anti-Zimbabwe agenda ahead of the EU-Africa Summit set for December 8/9 in Lisbon, Portugal. This is because Brown is looking increasingly ridiculous in claiming there is political intolerance in Zimbabwe at a time the main political parties Zanu-PF and the fractious MDC are engaged in serious talks that have since borne tangible results. What is more, most of the meetings were held in Zimbabwe in the absence of South African facilitators, which proved that Zimbabweans have the capacity to sit down and resolve their problems.

This spelled doom for the anti-Zimbabwe campaign that thrives on alleged political repression and intolerance. What is more, the west justifies their illegal sanctions by claiming that they are meant to help ‘‘oppressed Zimbabweans’’ and with the MDC dutifully playing great victim, the claims find purchase among the gullible.

Amity between Zanu-PF and MDC destroys that platform which is why the westerners are opposed to the initiative. This explains why Tsvangirai is now singing their tune.

The second reason tied to the first, of course, has to do with Brown’s increasingly futile campaign to lampoon Zimbabwe ahead of the EU-Africa Summit to justify his threats that he will boycott the EU-Africa Summit if President Mugabe is invited. Brown badly needs a limping MDC, even a playacting one, as evidence of ‘‘Mugabe’s brutality.’’ It appears the MDC will stop at nothing, even fabrication, to give him a dossier to save face. The allegations that MDC supporters are being brutalised and murdered are just that, allegations. Consider the following cases from Mashonaland East the MDC is using in its attempt to justify claims of ‘‘Government repression.’’

Ian Kay, the faction’s Mashonaland East provincial secretary for local government is the architect of the campaign as he is busy trying to gain cheap mileage by misrepresenting ordinary incidents as acts of violence against the MDC.

The first case involved one Herbert Chapendama, the MDC Marondera district vice secretary, his wife, Christine and four children who were admitted at Marondera hospital on October 10 complaining of nausea which later developed into diarrhoea and vomiting.

The family is suspected to have drank poisoned water from their well in the Dhirihori area before falling ill.

On admission at the hospital, all other family members were treated and discharged while Herbert was detained for observation. Samples were taken from the family to establish the cause of the illness, but Kay saw an opportunity to turn this unfortunate incident to his faction’s advantage.

Two days later he transferred Herbert to Borradaile hospital, a private health centre in Marondera where he was detained for observations despite being reported to be out of danger at Marondera hospital.

He was later discharged on 13 October. During Chapendama’s stay at the private hospital Kay made frantic efforts to locate the Studio 7 contact person in Zimbabwe to have the incident broadcast as political persecution by Zanu-PF claiming Chapendama had been assaulted.

The second case involved one Jabulani Chiyoka, the Tsvangirai faction’s youth assembly secretary for policy implementation who, on August 23, was stabbed to death at Wenimbi country club in Masikana area following an altercation with one Palastky Sakala, the murder suspect.

Chiyoka is alleged to have challenged Sakala as to why he was putting on a look-alike Zimbabwe National Army camouflage jacket when he had never been attested into the army. Sakala who was in the company of his two cousins Tadius and Ronzai Saurombe was incensed and a fist-fight ensured between Sakala and his cousins on one hand and Chiyoka and other MDC activists Tafirenyika Nyandoro and Jabulani Vandi on the other.

Chiyoka and Nyandoro were stabbed during the melee and Chiyoka died on admission at Marondera General Hospital while Nyandoro was treated and discharged. Sakala was later arrested after being implicated by Nyandoro.

He appeared in court on August 30 2007 facing murder charges and was remanded in custody pending further investigations. Despite, obvious indications that this was a criminal case, Kay held a meeting at his house in Marondera on August 27 to implicate Jorum Mbizi, Zanu-PF Marondera DCC secretary for security as an accomplice in the murder.

Kay is alleged to have asked Chiyoka’s relatives who attended the meeting to complete affidavits linking Mbizi to Chiyoka’s murder. The affidavits accused Mbizi of having threatened Chiyoka for causing political discord in the area through his MDC activities. During the meeting Kay indicated that he was going to have Chiyoka’s death published in the western media in order to tarnish the Government.

Consequently, the human rights group, Zimbabwe Peace Project in its August 2007 report singled out Mashonaland East as having "a definite increase in the level and degree of violence" in reference to Chiyoka’s death.

The third reason, as Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru pointed out has to do with infighting within the MDC, where sections linked to Tsvangirai believe Tendai Biti’s profile is being boosted by the agreements he is reaching with Zanu-PF. These concessions, when contrasted with Tsvangirai’s puerile, abortive combative approach of the past seven years, expose the naivete of Tsvangirai’s approach, which is why his advisors reportedly believe Biti has to be stopped at all costs, even if it means withdrawing from the progressive inter-party dialogue.

What these scenarios indicate is that the MDC Tsvangirai faction is a mere non-governmental organisation masquerading as a political party, because what is paramount to its leadership are the interests of its leadership, and their foreign sponsors. This is because since the MDC was formed eight years ago, its leadership has always proved, with reckless abandon, that they value western opinion more than the opinion of Africans and even Zimbabwean voters. This is why Tsvangirai sees it fit to campaign in Australia and the US than in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe yet Zimbabwe has a constituency-based voting system.

This is why Tsvangirai would want Zimbabweans to continue suffering the depredations of the sanctions he refuses to condemn to this day, as he mistakenly believes that he stands a chance of assuming power either on the strength of protest votes or on the back of a popular uprising.

The Sadc initiative on dialogue is the first step in the two stage road map Sadc proposed for the resolution of the problems, and Tsvangirai does not even want to see the first stage — dedicated to resolving political problems — go through. Isn’t it high time Zimbabweans sent the strongest message to him come 2008 that the only regime change needed is within the MDC?

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