Friday, December 21, 2007
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it’s a good place for all of us to live in. This year’s budget was bandied around as a pro-poor budget. What pro-poor budget? Despite some improvement in the performance of the economy, poverty has continued to deepen. The economic growth has not been for the people. What we see are economic casualties; we all see the casualties.
They are not be to found among the leaders and some of the enthusiasts; they are to be found amongst the people whose jobs are destroyed, whose services are crushed, whose living standards are pushed down to deeper depths of insecurity and misery. These are vile times under these neo-liberal economic policies, and we have to secure the opportunity to change things.
We need a system that truly puts jobs and services first before other considerations.
These may be hellish choices to make under the current circumstances but we need a government and politicians who can make such choices. We need politicians and a government that can find ways. We understand the challenges. And we agonise with our leaders in the choices they have to make – very unpalatable, totally undesirable, but they have to make them. They have to use all their creativity to find ways that will best protect those whom they are elected to serve and defend. We need leaders who are prepared to take decisions, to meet obligations and to give service. We need leaders who know that life is real, life is earnest – too real, too earnest to sacrifice on the alter of political expedience. And we should not mistake economic growth statistics for an accomplished fact; life is too real, too earnest for one to mistake a slogan for a strategy, to mistake barking for bitting. We should not accept to be dragged into a situation where everybody can either stand on their own feet, or live on their knees.
The service of Zambia, a pro-poor budget, means the service of, and a budget dedicated to, the millions of our people who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity. It should be our ambition to wipe every tear from every eye. That may seem to be beyond us, but for as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work should continue to be the champion of the causes of the poor. And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. The future beckons us. Whither do we go and shall be our endeavour? To bring opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of Zambia; to fight and end poverty, ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman. There should not be resting time for any of us till we make all the people of Zambia, especially the poor, what destiny intended them to be. But to achieve this, unity is needed in the nation because no divided nation can seriously tackle its problems. We must always be mindful of this one thing, whatever the trials and tests ahead. The ultimate strength of our country will not lie in infinite resources or boundless wealth, but in the unity of our people.
There is also need for honesty in the way we govern the affairs of our country; in our politics. Those who govern our country today can be said to have won elections on the strength of their promises. It is true they haven’t carried them out. Deception is always a pretty contemptible vice, but to deceive the poor just to get their votes is the meanest of all crimes. We cannot think of a more contemptible man – our power of imagination fails us to bring into our minds’ eyes a more despicable man than the man who deceives the poor.
We should not forget that the budget is introduced not merely for the purpose of raising barren taxes, but taxes that are fertile, taxes that will bring forth fruit. The provision for the deserving poor and the aged – it is time it was done. It is rather a shame for a government that claims to be doing very well and having achieved a lot on the economic front that it should allow those who have toiled all their days to end in penury and possibly starvation. It is rather sad that they should find their ways to the gates of the tombs, bleeding and footsore through the brambles and thorns of poverty. Why are we placing the burdens on the broad shoulders of our poor people? Why should we put burdens on the poor in our budgets? Why should we add one grain of trouble to the anxiety which they bear with so much patience and fortitude?
Clearly, the growth of our economy, instead of bringing comfort to the masses of our people, is imposing additional burdens on them. At the bottom of the social scale, there’s a growing mass of poverty and misery.
We think that the true test of economic progress in a nation is not the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, but the elevation of a people as a whole. At this rate, it won’t be long before we start to witness a conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess. And this conflict is the central condition of progress. But the supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.
Hence, there is need to avoid the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future. Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles; ‘if only’, they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen’. Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical. At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time, the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) Development Studies lecturer Tiyaonse Kabwe has said this year’s pro-poor budget is the highest order of deception because it has not uplifted people’s lives. In an interview on Wednesday, Kabwe said if the government really wanted to have a proper pro-poor budget, it should channel billions of Kwacha into agriculture and social sectors like health and education.
“The pro-poor budget is not true and again these are deceptions of the highest order. We are being fooled; the poor people are being fooled, what trickle down effects have gone to the poor?” Kabwe asked. “How have the people benefited because these poor people have just been living the same way. They don’t have access to proper farming inputs; they don’t have access to good health facilities etc nothing has changed. We are living the same old life.”
The government has been implementing an activity-based budget aimed at poverty reduction. He said there were few urban and rural people whose lives had improved due to pro-poor budget.
“Only when a lot of money is pushed into agriculture sector and help peasant farmers to grow crops and monitoring them to ensure that things are happening in rural areas will we say yes this is a pro-poor budget,” he said. “What pro-poor budget is that when farmers are not assisted, no proper measures to address urban poverty? How many poor people have they upgraded in urban and rural areas? We continue to hear about poor sanitation and poor social services.”
Kabwe wondered where the resources saved from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion point were spent.
“Resources should have been freed for better things like effective investment in rural areas and subsidies on farming inputs. But we don’t know where resources are going. We haven’t seen the benefits of HIPC,” he said. “We talk about single digit inflation, but people are not feeling that. Instead of talking about single digit inflation we should be talking about the benefits trickling down.”
He observed that even bus fares had been increased.
“If we are stuck at one poverty level, we are not moving anywhere, our salaries are not increasing, we can’t rejoice upon hearing the so-called single digit inflation, it’s not an achievement,” said Kabwe.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
Business consultant Robert Sichinga has said there must be a minimum percentage of foreign investors’ profits that must be re-invested in the Zambian economy to yield more profits. Commenting on government’s incentive for foreign investors to have full and unrestricted repatriation of 100 per cent of thier profits, Sichinga said although he was not against 100 per cent repatriation of profits, the foreign investors must re-invest a certain percentage in the Zambian economy.
“I am not against investors repatriating 100 per cent of their profits so long this is backed by law. I would have thought that they would have used Zambia Development Agency Act of 2006 to give effect on that,” he said.
“It’s necessary that mechanisms are put in place to make sure that 100 per cent is not a reduction in capital that has been invested. There must be a minimum threshold for which the investors need to keep within for it to start yielding its profits.”
He also said there must be room for investors to plough back into the economy because the country needed long term investments.
“We need to have long term benefits of that investment,” Sichinga said. “In my opinion, 100 per cent repatriation of net profit will not be bad if there is local participation.”
Sichinga said externalisation of money earned from foreign exchange should be stopped.
“If they (foreign investors) are taking the money, the earnings of the forex proceeds and keep them outside the country then that is definitely wrong because it will not create the profitability and employment and investment that we require, that has to be stopped right away,” he said.
He said the Citizens Economic Empowerment (CEE) would empower Zambians to participate in the improvement of the economy.
“We need to implement the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act of 2006 as quickly as possible so that part of that amount is given to Zambians through the stock exchange,” he said. “So that there is local ownership, not just something that is going to stay for a short while but there must be a good percentage to be held by Zambians.”
Last week, University of Zambia head of Development Studies department Chrispin Matenga said there was need to enact a law that would compel foreign investors to keep at least 50 per cent of their profits in the Zambian economy for a stipulated period.
By Zumani Katasefa
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
PELTON Finance Limited has given out K500 million as loans to over 100 marketeers at Kitwe’s Chisokone market. Zambia National Marketeers Association (ZANAMA) chairman general Elvis Nkandu disclosed this in an interview. Nkandu said his association helped the marketeers to access the loans from the firm by linking them to the company.
“Five hundred million kwacha has been extended to our markets to help them improve their business that they are already engaged in. These marketeers who are over 100 were linked to this organisation by ZANAMA,” Nkandu said.
Nkandu said his association would strive to help marketeers improve their businesses by making sure that they had access to financial institutions which would help them with finances.
He said marketeers would be required to pay back a certain amount daily towards clearing their loans.
Nkandu also bemoaned lack of government protection for people in the informal sector. And Nkandu complained that his association had not been invited for the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
By Nomusa Michelo
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
Government is currently consulting the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to come up with regulations on uranium mining, mines minister Dr Kalombo Mwansa has said. In an interview, Dr Mwansa said the Ministry of Justice was currently liaising with the UN agency so that the country’s laws are in conformity with international regulations.
“Uranium being a sensitive item, we needed to consult both internally and externally. So where we are now is that, we have finished the draft set of regulations which will guide production, storage, transportation and sale of uranium,” he said.
“The Minister of Justice is now liaising with the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Dr Mwansa said as soon as consultations were concluded, the government would publish regulations on the mining, transportation and sale of uranium.
“Once the consultations are finished, then we’ll publish the statutory instrument as part of the law and then we’ll begin the processes of receiving applications and processing them for uranium production,” said Dr Mwansa.
Uranium had been discovered in parts of the country and Dr Mwansa said licences would be awarded to companies for exploration of uranium as soon as laws were in place.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
Zambia can earn a lot of foreign exchange from its honey owing to the product’s high quality, an agricultural marketing consultant Alex Price has said. Price, who is winding up his consultancy work with the Small Holder Enterprise and Marketing Programme Agribusiness Development Component (SHEMP-ADC), said adding value to locally produced honey could enhance its competitiveness on the international market.
“There is a lot coming from the forests in Zambia. This country is among the producers of the best honey in the world and a lot of money can be earned if we do a little more in terms of adding value to the product,” Price said.
“What we need to develop is a strong honey sector that can add to the country’s economic growth.”
And Zambia Honey Council (ZHC) coordinator Bill Kalaluka said locally produced honey was facing stiff competition from imported products.
“There is still a lot of honey coming from other countries onto the local market,” Kalaluka said.
“It is important therefore that we try as much as we can to support the honey sector so that there can be well packaged and high quality honey being sold to the people.”
Kalaluka further said the honey council was looking at establishing sufficient bulking centres for honey producers to avoid wastage.
“Bulking centres are very important because beekeepers will be having their honey kept at the centres for collection by the packers,” said Kalaluka.
And Price said the short message service (SMS) market information system of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) had become so popular among the local farmers.
A number of farmers are now able to access prices of different agricultural commodities via their mobile phones.
Honey was recently added on SMS market information system, meaning honey producers can now link themselves to a number of buyers across the country using their mobile phones to enquire about the prevailing prices on the local market.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Victoria Ruzvidzo’s article in The Herald of Thursday, November 15, 2007, headlined "Government to launch biodiesel plant today", was great. I congratulate Zimbabwe for being foresighted. However, as a follow-up article, I feel that the historical, economic and scientific context why Zimbabwe and the whole world should switch from using fossil fuels to biofuels should be explained to the readership and to average person who uses fossil fuel.
Victoria Ruzvidzo wrote: "Crude oil prices, currently averaging US$96 per barrel, are expected to breach US$100 before the end of the year, a situation that would translate into a higher fuel bill for Zimbabwe."
In fact, current predictions indicate that fossil fuels are going to be unaffordable by 2010.
Fossil fuel will suddenly become expensive, as happened during the oil shocks of the seventies.
An oil shock occurs when there is a sudden and sharp price increase in oil followed by a sharp drop in supply.
When the world passes that point, the five main oil-producing Middle Eastern nations will control the world market. They will undoubtedly use their control to increase world oil prices, sending the world into a permanent oil shock.
History tells us that by 1930, 17 billion barrels of crude oil had been extracted worldwide.
The annual extraction rate was 17 billion barrels in 1970 and by 1997, 807 billion barrels of crude oil had been extracted from the earth’s crust, leaving about 995 billion barrels which can be tapped at current production costs.
If consumption worldwide remains constant at the current rate of 24 billion barrels per year, the world will come to a standstill in 2040. But then consumption is not static; it is instead increasing at the rate of 2 percent per annum.
Demand for crude will outpace supply way before 2040. At some point between 2010 and 2025, energy from fossil will be too expensive for the average person to afford. Clearly when that happens Zimbabwe and the rest of the world will depend largely on the actions of oil producers.
For this reason, car manufacturers and power utility companies are experimenting with compressed natural gas (CNG) as the future fuel, but then natural gas, like fossil fuel, is non-renewable and will dwindle at the same rate as oil supplies. In fact, in 1970, the annual consumption of natural gas was 30 trillion cubic feet; today it is over 70 trillion cubic feet and is increasing at 3,5 percent per year. An annual increase in consumption of 3,5 percent will deplete natural gas reserves by 2050. These, my fellow countrymen, are the realities of our reliance on a diet of fossil fuels.
On the other hand, the economic realities of a dependence on fossil fuels are that the economies of non-oil producing countries shrink in direct proportion to utilisation. For example, when Zimbabwe uses fossil fuels, it does so by sending money to oil-producing countries in return for fuel.
Some countries go to the extent of sending military troops, jobs, and infrastructure. These countries do so because they are unable to produce fossil fuels. They have little or no fossil fuels, and rather than produce their own renewable fuel, they elect to procure fossil fuel from the Middle Eastern countries at whatever cost. In order to get fuel, tankers are sent to the Persian Gulf. When those tankers arrive, they are guarded and defended by peacekeeping forces which are paid from taxpayers’ money.
An economy that runs on fossil fuel undermines itself by exporting money and resources away to other economies and not receiving the return on investment of that money in goods and services. One would expect the prices of fuel to reflect the increasing costs of fuel production and procurement, but no, the price of oil is kept low via industry and governments’ price controls.
Instead of being paid at the pump, the increased cost of fossil fuels is paid from taxes. The consequences of paying the excess costs of fossil fuel using tax is three-fold.
First and foremost, it keeps the price of fossil fuels deceivingly low.
Second, it allows oil companies to work from a huge base of government subsidies and support rather than having to seek that support from those that use fossil fuels.
Third, and not least in importance, it evenly distributes the excess cost of fossil fuels among taxpayers. This is clearly unfair.
Wars such as the Persian Gulf War deplete resources from the economies of countries involved in them to ensure that there is a healthy supply of energy from overseas. Governments involved in such wars consider the loss of human life and economic expense as necessary tradeoffs. The cost of fossil fuels is similar to using a MasterCard or Visa credit card – the bills come later and in different ways.
The first cost is the social services that a country forgoes because it exports so much of its citizens’ tax money As the debt grows, military campaigns are waged to secure oil. The quality of education, health care and social services suffers as a consequence.
The conclusion from the latest report on the science of climate change from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Paris, was that continuing pollution "business-as-usual" practices are likely to increase the global average temperatures by between 1,1°C and 6,4°C above the 1980-1999 levels by 2095, leading to more droughts, heat waves, floods and stronger hurricanes, rapid melting of ice-sheets and rapidly rising sea levels.
While temperature increases of a few degrees might not sound so dramatic, it will have dramatic effects on our climate. That is why it is vital that action is taken now to reduce emissions and keep warming below 2°C to prevent a catastrophic climatic impact. Burning fossil fuels contributes to higher levels of carbon monoxide and other noxious gases in the atmosphere.
To stop the increase of these gases, we must first stop burning fossil fuels. However, in doing so we don’t need to cripple economic growth. We can make a safe and sustainable transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy a reality, a step Zimbabwe has taken now by launching the biodiesel plant.
We can have reliable renewable energy, and use energy more smartly to achieve the cuts in carbon emissions required to prevent hazardous environmental changes. This can be done by gradually phasing out damaging and dangerous fuel sources. Lessons from chemistry and physics tell us that there is a finite amount of each element on earth, but there is an infinite amount of energy.
The sun is the source of that energy. Every hour, enough energy in the form of sunlight hits the earth to fuel all of mankind’s activities.
Most of the energy turns into heat and some of it is absorbed by plants. Plants transform solar energy in the form of hydrocarbons. Whereas fossil fuels come from plants which grew millions of years ago, biofuels come from plants which are constantly grown and replenished. Compared to fossil fuels which took 40 million years to produce, biofuels are "liquid solar fuels" that can be produced in as little as a couple of months.
Renewable fuels are carbon neutral. Plants can capture all the carbon dioxide emitted from burning renewable fuels. Plants separate carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen, put some of the carbon back into the ground and release some of the oxygen into the atmosphere. When we use renewable fuels, plants naturally balance the carbon dioxide emissions.
Vegetable oil that some plants store in seeds is full of carbon and hydrogen. The hydrocarbons found in these oils are fats. Anyone who exercises to burn fat knows it takes a lot of work to use the energy stored in fat. When you burn fat or vegetable oil, carbon dioxide is released. Humans release it from their lungs; cars release it from their exhaust fumes.
When vegetable oil is burned in an internal combustion engine, the carbon in the oil is turned into carbon dioxide and is released into the atmosphere. The next crop of plants grown for vegetable oil will sequester the exact amount of carbon dioxide.
The plants will release oxygen and combine carbon with hydrogen to make vegetable oil hydrocarbons. Instead of a system where hydrocarbons are extracted from the ground and carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, the use of renewable fuels creates a closed cycle where hydrocarbons are grown and carbon is moved out of the atmosphere and into plants.
A crop of oil-producing plants will absorb exactly the same amount of carbon dioxide in order to produce a gallon of vegetable oil in the same proportion as the one earlier emitted when it was burned in an engine.
Because plants produce hydrocarbons and absorb carbon dioxide, renewable fuels do not contribute significantly to global warming. As a result, they are referred to as carbon neutral.
In a nutshell, renewable fuels strengthen the economy. At the time of writing this article, the renewable fuels industry is so small that it does not account for much of the nation’s gross domestic product. However, the renewable fuel industry has the potential to create millions of jobs.
For example, in the United States it has the potential of adding over US$50 billion to the economy each year and that would decrease the trade deficit by at least 30 percent.
If not controlled, the monetary reserves of a country will eventually be depleted and it will go into debt and, like we all know, if left unpaid, the national debt can destabilise the economy.
If you do not believe me, check this out: the US had a trade deficit of US$ 5 billion in 1965, US$2 billion was from petroleum imports.
At that time, the national debt was roughly US$320 billion. By 1995, the US trade deficit had ballooned to US$174 billion with petroleum imports accounting for US$53 billion. During that same year, the national debt stood at almost US$5 trillion.
The US Department of Employment estimates that for every US$1 billion reduction in the trade deficit, the US can gain 27 000 jobs. By producing 100 percent of its fuel locally, the US could decrease the annual trade deficit by over US$53 billion and create 1,43 million jobs in the biofuels and supporting services industries. It, therefore, makes economic sense to invest in biofuels.
Using energy smartly can double energy efficiency by 2050. With a few simple steps, every one of us can do our bit.
Revolution and evolution are unforgiving forces. Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of either. But it’s time to choose: all of us are either part of the [r]evolution, or we’re part of the problem. And unless all of us are part of the solution, all of us have a problem.
Shakespeare K. Chigwerewe Ph.D.
King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA
Mail to: email@example.com
THE revived Agricultural Marketing Authority will start operations early next year, Agriculture Minister Mr Rugare Gumbo has said. Mr Gumbo said the ministry was in the process of removing bottlenecks that were hindering the appointments of new boards to key agricultural institutions, a factor that was central before the relaunch of AMA.
"As you are aware, we are busy running around to ensure that everything that is required for the 2007/2008 farming season is provided and after that we will concentrate on AMA," the minister said.
In a speech read on his behalf during the 13th annual congress of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union held in Mutare in September, Mr Gumbo said the parastatals that needed new boards include Tobacco Industry Markerting Board, Tobacco Research Board, Pig Industry Board and the Agricultural Research Council.
Agribank, which was then on the list, has since got a new board, joining three other parastatals whose respective boards were appointed recently.
These include the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, whose board is now headed by Dr Tobias Takavarasha but is currently chaired by Mr Basil Nyabadza, in an acting capacity.
The others include the Cold Storage Company board, which is chaired by Professor Lindela Ndlovu and the Grain Marketing Board, under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Chikaura.
The GMB also got a new general manager Albert Mandizha who replaced acting chief executive officer Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti.
Mr Eric Mvududu is expected to take the reins at Arda in the new year. He will replace Dr Joseph Matowanyika who was fired early this year.
This time Mr Gumbo said he expects the parastatals to perform in order for AMA to have something to regulate.
The revival of AMA has been on the cards for sometime with farmers pushing for its revival, arguing that the agriculture industry could not functions properly without the regulatory body.
Early this year, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Edward Raradza said the authority was relevant as it would assist in securing inputs for farmers as well as market crops and safeguard agianst the misuse of farm implements and ensure transparency in the distribution of all agricultural inputs.
Mr Raradza’s statements were in response to comments made by the then Agriculture Minister, Dr Joseph Made, that AMA was no longer a priority.
Dr Made then said Government did not have enough financial resources to establish the AMA board.
The lack of a proper marketing authority for the agriculture industry had given rise to side-marketing by farmers seeking super profits and circumventing non-viable prices offered on the official market.
The practice has, however, threatened to scuttle contract farming as contractors were not getting real returns on their investment as farmers were taking the produce they would have produced using the contractors’ inputs to fly-by- night buyers who wooed them with cash on the spots.
By Netfa Freeman
IF Kwame Nkrumah were still able, how would this revolutionary Pan-Africanist classify Zimbabwe today? According to Nkrumah’s very instructive Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare Africa can be broken down into three zones distinguished by certain political states of affairs.
This is commonly known as his Three Zone Theory or Three Zone Analysis, with the three being "liberated zones", "contested zones", and "enemy controlled zones".
So, is Zimbabwe a contested or liberated zone? This question arises regarding Zimbabwe because of the assertion by some that it is a liberated area or zone and because others still doubt this. So then, a critical examination becomes necessary.
It should be apparent that Zimbabwe is not an enemy controlled zone since that is defined as a state under imperialist control through a foreign manned administration, a puppet government, or a settler minority government.
Since such is what determines an enemy controlled zone, Zimbabwe cannot fit that description and if it did, it would not be under such heavy attack by the West.
Because the complexity of Africa’s politico-economic situation has changed considerably since the time Nkrumah formulated these classifications, it becomes necessary to refine how we further apply the analysis.
A closer examination reveals the following: A contested zone is defined as an area that starts under enemy control then becomes contested when "the revolutionary forces in activity there, are either on the verge of armed struggle or have reached an advanced stage of revolutionary organisation.
"In such a situation the enemy is only in superficial command and relies exclusively on support of the police, civil service and the army, where it retains control only as long as the force of habit remains unchallenged."
Zimbabwe is clearly beyond this stage since the forces of the liberation struggle have already rid the people of what was settler minority rule and now, the liberation forces themselves have control over the police, civil service and the army.
The Government of the liberation forces is recognised internationally as a sovereign nation.
To call Zimbabwe contested is to legitimise as "revolutionary" the forces of neo-colonialism, who are openly and shamelessly supported and encouraged by imperialism that is, the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and a plague of NGO’s or "non-governmental organisations", etc. all of which work to blur the lines between individual versus social/collective rights through their opposition to the Government and which mirror the imperialist agenda against Zimbabwe.
Some would maintain, however, that because Zimbabwe’s economy is still dominated internally and externally by capitalism, this classifies it as contested at best.
It is true that major industries and enterprises, such as mining, hotels, etc are still predominantly capitalist owned and controlled; a legacy of settler colonialism.
Hopefully this fact will be short-lived and we can see the first concrete steps toward state seizure of mining since independence.
Such things cannot happen overnight but this past November, the Government did release a 60-page draft proposal for amendments that strip foreign control of mining and give control over key mines to the state.
Regardless, nowhere does Nkrumah’s
analysis suggest that an area must have completely rid itself of all vestiges of capitalism and/or have in place a socialist economy in order to graduate from contested to liberated status.
Furthermore, is such a scenario even possible today with the global economy now more intricately integrated and with neo-colonialism so firmly entrenched on the continent?
Nkrumahist-Tureist ideology — named in honour of the theoretical and practical contributions of Presidents Osageyfo Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Ture — holds that political independence is one of the preconditions for socialist revolution and that by definition socialism is still a class stratified-society, which will have varying and particular manifestations of capitalism.
As Nkrumah once said, "Seek ye first the political kingdom."
Politics means a disposition of power, which is what allows a people to control their economy.
Some changes that have occurred in Africa’s politico-economic situation are relevant to understand capitalism’s continued dominance over Zimbabwe.
First, at the time when Nkrumah formulated the three-zone analysis a strong socialist block existed, offering an alternative with which to trade and collaborate.
In addition, the call for socialism enjoyed a much greater and broader affinity among the African masses and in the Diaspora.
Neither of these conditions exists today. In addition, Africa as a whole has deviated from her revolutionary path towards political and economic integration or continental unity, which Nkrumah foresaw as necessary to overcome her dependence on capitalism and the West.
Lastly, the West’s pressure on African nations to subscribe to multi-party systems, so-calling them "greater expressions of democracy", is used to polarise the people, as what it is really meant to do.
Nkrumah warned us of this phenomenon. In such parliamentary governments, multiple parties including reactionary ones serving neo-colonial interest, can hold seats and influence policy. Unfortunately Zimbabwe has been no exception.
Although Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe’s ruling party did not originally have the objective of sharing power with other parties this was one of the compromises of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement that brokered Zimbabwe’s independence and has been used to preserve settler privilege and manufacture alternative poles of attraction.
It may be unknown or disputed, but since its inception there has always been the struggle internal to Zanu-PF to further the cause of socialism. History reveals that the fast track land reclamation process was not the first step in breaking capitalist control in Zimbabwe.
Adopted at the Second People’s Congress in August 1984 was the Leadership Code, which was established to "impose on (Zanu-PF)
leaders a strict code of behaviour with a view to assuring the advent of socialism in Zimbabwe".
The preamble of this code and the Zanu-PF constitution declare Zanu-PF a "Socialist Party". A detailed account and critical analysis of Zimbabwe’s history has to be made to explain the set backs and challenges along its revolutionary path and why capitalism still dominates the economy today.
What must also be taken into consideration is the evolving complexity of the global economy and imperialism, as it resists and adapts to oppressed people’s struggle for justice.
The question is; should not Zimbabwe be defined by including the objectives of its ruling party, Zanu-PF or merely by the situation in which the current circumstances confine them and the rest of world? When compared with Nkrumah’s description of a liberated area, we see that it is not a stretch to say Zimbabwe stands the test of scrutiny.
Liberated zones are defined "as territories where: [a.] Independence was secured through armed struggle, or through a positive
action movement representing the majority of the population under the leadership of an anti-imperialist and well-organised mass party.
[b.] A puppet regime was overthrown by a people’s movement (Zanzibar, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt), and [c.] A social revolution is taking place to consolidate political independence by: 1). Prompting accelerated economic development 2). Improving working conditions 3). Establishing complete freedom from dependence on foreign economic interest."
While Zimbabwe clearly conforms to item (a.) and item (b.) does not apply, item (c.) needs more critical examination. A social revolution has been taking place in Zimbabwe that started with accelerated economic development during the first decade of independence.
According to Deborah Pott’s Structural Adjustment and Poverty: Perceptions
from Zimbabwe, the economy enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 4 percent with reputable achievements in public health and education.
This occurred while cutting its debt-service ratio in half between 1985 and 1989. Only the World Bank’s Economic Structural Adjustment Programmes taken on in 1991 that began Zimbabwe’s plunge into its current economic challenges interrupted these achievements.
Surely, the working conditions since independence were a marked improvement over those of Rhodesian settler colonial apartheid. Zimbabwe has not, however, established complete freedom from dependence on foreign economic interest.
"Complete freedom" from foreign economic interest is difficult to determine and seems it may be impossible until a more revolutionary unity exists in Africa as a whole.
It can be said that Zimbabwe is in the process toward this freedom with its Land reclamation programme, the 2000 abolition of the ESAP (a fact for which the Government rarely gets credit, but is often condemned by so-called progressives for the mistake of adopting the ESAP) and we should not forget the aforementioned developments in the mining industry.
These are things for which all African people should be proud of Zimbabwe and surely more such bold measures against capitalism and imperialism are inevitable there.
Things are undeniably not as they should be in Zimbabwe. What’s more, the difficulties entrenched on the continent of Africa as a whole do not help the situation.
However, all things considered, Zimbabwe seems to have earned Nkrumah’s designation of a Liberated Zone and as such deserves the support and encouragement of all genuine revolutionary Pan-Africanists.
l Netfa Freeman is the director of the Social Action & Leadership School for Activists at the Institute for Policy Studies. Freeman is a longtime activist in the Pan-African and international human rights movements. Netfa is also a co-producer/co-host for Voices With Vision, WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington DC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was first published on www.blackstarnews. com.
CORRUPTION LINKSLink to information on corruption in Zambia
TIZ Transparancy International Zambia
Transparancy International Zambia Country Case Study by dr. Alfred Chanda
USAID Zambia fact sheet
ZAMBIA-ZIMBABWE: Little hope of lost maize millions being repaid article on Ari Ben-Menashe's maize deal with the GRZ (Thursday 20 December 2007)
Zambia’s corruption conundrum; It’s ‘make hay while the sun shines’Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 at 09:11am Written by: Sam Kaseba
Transparency International Hails Zambia’s Court’s Graft Ruling By Peter Clottey, Washington, D.C. (01 November 2007)
Business Anti Corruption Zambia Country Page
Vulture Fund Threat to Third World article by Greg Palast and Amy Goodman
Thursday December 20, 2007 [03:00]
It cannot be denied that the allowances being paid to those participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) are excessive. Even President Levy Mwanawasa knows very well that what our people who have been nominated or selected to participate in the NCC are earning on average exceeds even his salary as President of the Republic of Zambia. Why should this be so? The truth is these huge or excessive allowances were designed to attract participation and stem off opposition or boycott of the NCC.
And this being the case, it is unacceptable arrogance on the part of President Mwanawasa to denounce those who are questioning these allowances. This is not his personal money; it is taxpayers’ money and every taxpayer in this country has a legitimate right to question the use of such taxes.
Instead of denouncing those who are questioning or criticising these allowances, President Mwanawasa is supposed to explain and justify these allowances to the taxpayers of our country. But with this type of arrogance and lack of humility, it is not possible for President Mwanawasa to take time and justify these allowances. This is simply because he doesn’t truly see himself as a servant of the people, employed by the people to carry out their wishes.
It is clear that, in truth, President Mwanawasa sees himself as a master of the people. And he does not see the money he is spending on the NCC as people’s money; he sees it as money belonging to his government, a government he owns and controls and therefore no one should question how he spends government money. How else can one explain this arrogance, this lack of humility by President Mwanawasa?
It is dishonest and unfair to try to mislead the public by making them believe that those who were calling for the constituent assembly didn’t care about expenditure. Proponents of the constituent assembly never suggested paying huge allowances to anybody. And we challenge President Mwanawasa to prove his claim. Let us learn to dialogue and discuss with each other in an honest, fair and humane manner. There is no need to tell lies on matters that are very clear. This type of language doesn’t engender confidence and trust in our political leadership; it actually undermines them.
Our people have many unsatisfied needs and it is their desire and in their interest to ensure that public funds are utilised in a thrift manner. Thrift should be the guiding principle in all our government expenditure. We have to learn to practice economy in whatever we do. We must particularly advocate diligence and frugality in whatever we do; we must pay special attention to economy.
We don’t think our people are opposed to seeing their fellow citizens serving on the NCC improve their lives. But certainly not in this way; not through unjustified excessive allowances. We say unjustified excessive allowances in the sense that no one, including President Mwanawasa himself, has been able to justify these allowances. No one is saying people shouldn’t be paid anything.
What our people are saying is “pay but justify; if you can’t justify don’t pay because if you do so, you will be questioned, you will be criticised”. But because of arrogance and lack of humility, because of lack of respect for the fellow citizens he is elected to serve, President Mwanawasa doesn’t think anyone should question such allowances, the allowances he has decided to give those sitting on the NCC. Without a justifiable explanation, to us these allowances appear to have a character of bribes. And without justifiable explanation, it will not be unfair for us to accuse President Mwanawasa of corruption over these allowances. We say corruption because when we talk about corruption, it is not simply just about the stealing of public funds but also the abuse of public resources to achieve one’s desires, arrogance and lack of humility.
And since we all feel very strongly about corruption, that is, us and President Mwanawasa, we ask him to justify these allowances and answer all the questions our people are raising over these allowances. If they are justifiable, no one will have any problems with our people receiving such allowances as long as the government can afford to pay.
These are the things our people mean when they talk about accountability. What we need is an enthusiastic but calm state of mind and intense but orderly work. We shouldn’t wait until there is a crisis to explain things. The concerns being raised are legitimate and they seek honest and polite answers. We should always use our brains and think everything over carefully. A common saying goes, “Knit your brows and you’ll hit upon a stratagem.” In other words, much thinking yields wisdom.
Clearly, there is no need to indulge in personal attacks, vent personal spite when things can easily be explained. Some of our leaders are increasingly becoming arrogant and high-handed in their behaviour towards the people, always denouncing the people who are supposed to be their masters, but never caring much to explain themselves; always seeing fault with others but never their own shortcomings, and always welcoming flattery but never criticism. We should all endeavour to eradicate these faults. All these things become encumbrances or baggage if there is no critical awareness, if we cling to them blindly and uncritically. That is a truth we must always bear in mind.
Our political leaders must not assume that the masses of our people have no understanding of what they themselves do not yet understand.
And it is time our leaders realised that the only way to settle controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, of criticism, of persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion, intimidation, manipulation or repression. We must undoubtedly criticise wrong ideas or practices of every description. It certainly would not be right to refrain from criticism, look on while wrong ideas and practices spread unchecked and allow them to monopolise the field. Mistakes must be criticised and poisonous weeds fought wherever they crop up.
However, such criticism should not be dogmatic, and the metaphysical method should not be used, but efforts should be made to apply the dialectical method. What is needed is convincing argument. To criticise people’s shortcomings is necessary, but in doing so we must truly take the stand of the people and speak out of whole-hearted eagerness to protect and educate them. To treat critical citizens like enemies is not fair and just.
If we look at things this way, it is easy to understand why some of our people are questioning the allowances being paid to NCC participants. It is also easy to understand why we feel President Mwanawasa and his government need to justify these allowances, lest they are dismissed as bribes.
By Brighton Phiri
Thursday December 20, 2007 [03:00]
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa yesterday urged the National Constitution Conference (NCC) delegates to produce a document that would be accepted by the next president because a ruling party and president come and go. And the NCC yesterday commenced its sittings at Mulungushi International Conference Centre with the delegates intense campaigning for the chairmanship of the conference.
Addressing the delegates, President Mwanawasa said the conference was a solemn and privileged responsibility, which should be discharged by all the delegates in a very responsible, objective, non-partisan and patriotic manner, bearing in mind that the nation's interest was paramount in the exercise.
"This exercise is not about opposition political parties versus MMD and its government or opposition political parties, certain churches and civil society organisations versus Levy Patrick Mwanawasa," President Mwanawasa said. "If we approach this task with such attitude then we will hurt the national interest because ruling parties, governments and Presidents come and go. We must make a document which will stand the test of time, a document which any government or President will find acceptable to work with and a useful guide in the discharge of national duty, a document which will protect the rights of the people, individually and severally."
President Mwanawasa said people should not be complacent that they would always have a government, which would allow them the freedom of criticising it.
"There is a chorus in the lenje language which says...Nakasha kolya koinuka...which is a warning to a duiker or an impala that she should not always graze looking down but she should graze and stoop from time to time," President Mwanawasa said. "It is healthy to constructively criticise the decisions of government but dissent must be reasonable and should at all times avoid to be malicious."
President Mwanawasa said he did not understand why some sections of the community raised vexatious dissent and criticised the allowances allocated to the NCC delegates when they initially objected to government's argument that it was expensive to adopt the new constitution through a constituent assembly.
President Mwanawasa said the fact that one or two political leaders, some civil society organisations and a major church subsequently raised their objection to the NCC Act demonstrated the ideology that was emerging in the country that suggested that if the process was led by a mass political party, it was not acceptable.
"It must be legitimised by the instruments of civil society organisations (the church and some political leaders) for it to be acceptable. This is a negation of democracy," President Mwanawasa said.
He said he was anxious to see the conference come up with an acceptable document, which would meet people's aspirations and desires.
He urged the NCC delegates to consult their respective constituents extensively and ensure that the views and concerns of the people whom they represented were taken into account as the conference deliberated.
Among the names being floated for the position of NCC chairperson were Lusaka lawyer Dr. Patrick Matibini and FDD vice-president and Chasefu member of parliament Chifumu Banda.
Some of the delegates engaged in secretive campaigns in favour of their respective candidates.
According to the initial programme as outlined by the convener of the meeting Justice minister George Kunda, the delegates were yesterday scheduled to be addressed by someone from the Electoral Commission of Zambia on the electoral issues. Kunda said the electoral briefing would be followed by nominations for the positions of NCC chairperson and spokesperson.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Thursday December 20, 2007 [03:00]
Albidon Limited has announced that the Munali Nickel project contains about 1,500 tonnes of nickel and 43,800 ounces of platinum. According to the statement obtained in Lusaka, the estimations follow the results for initial resource of its voyager deposits for its Munali project.
The statement further read that the total indicated and inferred resource for the Munali project has now been increased to over 10.3 metric tonnes of ore.
The company also stated that a scoping study for the Voyager resource would begin early in 2008 and that Voyager would add to either the current mine life of Munali or the production rate per annum.
Munali is one of the biggest new nickel sulphide mining projects currently under way and now looks as if it could be in production well ahead of schedule, although there are still some potential constraints on achieving the targeted start-up date.
According to Albidon Limited's own review of progress published recently, the project is now significantly advanced and is progressing ahead of the previously advised schedule.
A new revised schedule has been prepared following a review of the critical path items and progress to date on construction of the concentrator.
The updated schedule indicates that first ore into the concentrator is expected in the middle of the second quarter of 2008, several months in advance of the previous plan.
The project area comprises the enterprise deposit and a number of other nickel prospects in the Munali intrusion, the most advanced of which is the Voyager prospect.
A positive bankable feasibility study was completed in July 2006 and site works began in September, following government approvals.
A capital raising was completed in October to provide US $35 million of equity finance for the project. An off-take agreement was recently signed with the Jinchuan Group and final documentation on a funding package of US $20 million in subordinated debt and a US $5 million equity investment by Jinchuan was "well advanced", Albidon said.
The US $60 million financing was subject to completion of due diligence and detailed documentation, which Albidon expected to finalise before the middle of the year.
By Joan Chirwa
Thursday December 20, 2007 [03:00]
A BUSINESS Processes Audit (BPA) has said establishing strategic relationships between government institutions and district business associations could serve as a mechanism for increasing information flow.
The Business Processes Audit supported by the Zambia Business Forum (ZBF) and Zambia Threshold Project notes that information flow to remote and outlaying districts still remained a serious challenge, especially in places without internet connectivity.
“Improving transparency procedures and processes largely depends on increased public access to information pertaining to service delivery,” said Augustine Mkandawire during the presentation of a draft report at a validation meeting held in Lusaka on Tuesday.
The meeting was called to discuss the Business Processes Audit conducted by the Corporate Services Bureau Zambia Limited, which focused on institutions such as the ZRA, Immigrations, Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRO), Zambia Bureau of Standards and Ministry of Lands.
The report noted that the Zambia Threshold Project had significantly contributed to the improvement in efficiency levels in select public institutions and agencies, through the implementation of reforms.
Its main focus was on how far the government institutions have gone in implementing the Zambia Threshold Project activities with respect to reducing administrative barriers and promoting business economic freedom.
And Zambia Indigenous Business Association (ZIBA) chairperson Philip Chilomo said government institutions needed to look at existing business structures to make services more available to different entrepreneurs.
Chilomo said a number of entrepreneurs living outside Lusaka were facing problems in accessing services offered by institutions such as the Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRO) and the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
“For example, there could be someone running a business whose turnover is around K300 million and eligible to apply for a VAT refund, but that person will be discouraged to claim because of the distance between Lusaka and far flung places,” said Chilomo said.
By Sandra Mulowa
Thursday December 20, 2007 [03:00]
THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has arrested a former Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) officer for possession of unexplained property. ACC acting public relations officer Wendy Mwachilenga in a press release yesterday stated that Lillian Nampemba, 33, of House number 23, Uganda Avenue, Kabwe, was arrested on Tuesday December 18, 2007 and charged with six counts of being in possession of pecuniary resources or properties disproportionate to her present or past official emoluments, contrary to Section 37 (c) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act number 42 of 1996.
Mwachilenga said on dates unknown but between January 1, 2001 and March 31, 2005 at Lusaka, Nampemba a former data entry officer at ZRA headquarters, was in possession of a motor vehicle, Honda CRV registration number NAM 5 valued at K36 million, a plot number 31353 Lusaka and cash deposits amounting to over K423 million in various bank accounts.
"Nampemba has been released on bond and will appear in court on 15th January 2008," she stated.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
Economic growth should not be for the sake of showing favourable economic statistics. If economic growth does not result in improved living standards for our people it is useless, it is of no value. All our economic activities should be aimed at giving our people a sense of dignity that comes with having a solid roof over their heads, running water, electricity, education and health services and all the other services required in an organised society.
All our economic activities must be targeted at meeting the needs and wishes of the masses of our people, especially the workers and the poor. We must at all times act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses. All that our government does must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well-intentioned.
The concerns raised by our finance minister Ng'andu Magande and outgoing Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Terje Vigtel raise serious questions about the way our government is being run and the way the affairs of our people are being managed. It doesn't profit anyone to record some good economic growth in the country when at the same time poverty is deepening. This raises the question of where the money is going.
And we are glad that Magande is being very honest on this issue at the risk of antagonising himself with his fellow ministers and the appointing authorities. But this is the way things should be - obligations to the people should take precedence over being nice to one’s government colleagues and to the appointing authorities. We must be responsible in the use of money made available to meet the needs of our people.
We should never forget that no matter how good the economic indicators may look, if they are not translated into the provision of the basic services to our people, they will mean nothing. There is nothing which makes people more appreciative of a government than that it should be able to deliver services.
It is difficult to understand how ten million dollars meant for the treatment of livestock diseases in Western Province was used because there is nothing on the ground to show for it.
Ten million dollars is a lot of money which, if spent properly in such a poor province as Western Province, should leave a big impact and its results should not be difficult to see. It is clear to us that we will not achieve much as a nation if we do not work hard at organisation and approach practical problems using our own heads. This may seem to be an abstract and rather vague opinion but it is something very important.
Very few of our economic gains will reach our people if corruption is not curbed. In all walks of life in Zambia, corruption is rampant. This malady has turned into an epidemic, taking into its grip the whole nation. Politics is perhaps worst affected by it since politics is the last resort of a scoundrel.
Unscrupulous and immoral ways to accumulate wealth and usurp political power are the order of the day.
Today very few of our politicians don't consider it their birthright to grease their palms with public money obtained in all sorts of ways, including dubious government allowances and contracts. If leaders of our nation, the representatives of our people and public servants are corrupt, abusing and misusing public funds, how can honest living be expected of a common man?
Government business is certainly not conducted in an efficient, effective and orderly manner.
Government contracts are not being granted to the most honest, competent and fair businessmen. They usually go to the most corrupt and shrewd dealers who don't usually deliver but are generous at sharing their loot with our representatives and public servants.
These are the ones who don't hesitate to make huge donations to those in government and the ruling party. The result of all this corruption is that a public project that would generally cost, say one million dollars would be completed for not less than 15 or 20 million dollars. Where is this type of money going to come from in a poor country like ours?
Magande and Ambassador Vigtel's concerns are well supported by the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee reports.
But the question is: Why have things turned out this way? Is it a question of lack of a serious and committed leadership? Or is it simply a question of competence of the political leadership of our country? We believe it's a combination of all these things.
The civil and public service is full of very senior officials who have been given an opportunity by the President to make money over their three-year contracts.
Most of them are at sea with their jobs because they don't have the experience of running such big public organisations with such huge budgets. For some, their only qualifications for these jobs are their connections with the President or those close to him.
Instead of the lives of the masses of our people, whom these officials are paid to serve, improving, what we are seeing is a disproportionate improvement in the lives of these officials. They cannot really be said to be servants of the people - they are the masters; the primary beneficiaries of all this economic growth.
There is need for the so-called servants of the people to serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorce themselves from the people and their needs; they should in all cases proceed from the interests of the people and not their own self-interests.
This is what it means to be servants of the people. Their duty is to hold themselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy of theirs must conform to the people's interests.
To make Zambia prosperous needs intense effort, which includes among other things, the effort to practice strict economy and combat waste - the policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything.
Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government's expenditure. It should be made clear to all civil servants and public workers that corruption and waste are very serious crimes. Our campaigns against corruption have achieved some results, but further efforts are required.
By Lambwe Kachali
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
IT is difficult to convince people that there is economic growth in the country because it has not trickled down to the ordinary Zambian, finance minister Ng’andu Magande has said. And outgoing Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Terje Vigtel said there was need to put honest and right people in the ministries to ensure proper distribution of national resources.
During a farewell family party for Ambassador Vigtel organised by former Task Force chairperson Mark Chona on Sunday, Magande said he sometimes felt ashamed to face Zambians because of poverty.
Magande attributed this development to failure by some ministers to implement and monitor their budget allocations. He said when he was first appointed finance minister, the Danish government wanted to give US $10 million to the Ministry of Agriculture for the treatment of livestock diseases in Western Province but they were hesitant to release the money because they were not sure if there were officials in the province who could utilise the money for its intended purpose.
Magande said although he was excited at the intention for financial help from the Danish government, he was afraid to sign for the money because he had not consulted the then agriculture minister Mundia Sikatana. He said after he discussed with Sikatana – who was also excited - the Danish government released the US $10 million to the Ministry of Agriculture for the treatment of livestock diseases in Western Province.
However, Magande said there was no one to carryout the treatment project but he recommended to Sikatana that retired veterinary officers should be used as opposed to the serving civil servants.
Magande said officials from the Ministry of Agriculture still went back to him and reported that they were unable to find retired veterinary officials. He said he promised to help in this area since he knew a Zambian veterinary doctor who had worked in Botswana for close to ten years and was now back at home.
“But surprisingly, this doctor came to my office two months later and said the people at the Ministry of Agriculture had refused to work with retired veterinary doctors, that they would like to use the serving civil servants,” Magande said. “And this gentleman said since ‘my country has refused to utilise my expertise, I am leaving for the UK to join my wife who is a resident there.’
That is how this gentleman left for the UK and since then, no one knows how that US $10 million dollars was utilised. But what is true is that the livestock diseases in Western Province have almost doubled now and I am ashamed to face that Danish ambassador who assisted us with the US $10 million.”
Magande said it would be difficult for the ordinary Zambian to feel the impact of the economic growth if the monies in various ministries were not used properly. He said although the country had reached a single digit inflation rate, people on the ground were still poor.
Magande said money in Zambia was not a problem but how it was being utilised. He said there was a problem on the distribution of money in various ministries to income-generating projects. He said the function of his ministry was to ensure that all the monies allocated to ministries in the national budget were released.
Magande said that it was incumbent upon respective ministers to monitor and ensure that money was properly distributed to designated projects.
He also said the Ministry of Education had a project to construct 25 High Schools across the country this year.
“Today (Sunday) is the 16th December, which means that we are remaining with 14 days before the end of the financial year…you go and ask the Minister of Education how many high schools his ministry has built as per allocation,” Magande said.
“For instance, for each pupil to have a single desk, it will have cost the ministry K90 billion but in this year’s budget the ministry was allocated about K900 billion and this money has already been released by my ministry. Also in the Ministry of Agriculture, for every agricultural officer to have a bicycle, they would need 2,000 bicycles which can cost the ministry about K8 billion. But the ministry was allocated about K1 trillion in this year’s budget.”
Magande said even if the government increased the tax base in the mining sector as proposed by some stakeholders, it would still be difficult to improve people’s lives unless the financial monitoring system was improved.
And Ambassador Vigtel said currently the government ministries were not functioning well. He said there was too much money laundering within the system.
“We have been giving this country a lot of money, but what happens to that money we don’t know. This is a matter of the media to expose what is happening in these ministries.
It is also a matter of the politicians to protest if the national resources do not reach the ordinary people in their respective constituencies. So you have a huge problem in this country,” Ambassador Vigtel said.
He said Zambia had the potential to grow economically and that there was need to strengthen the anti-corruption crusade.
“A lot of money is going out of the country illegally. Money that is allocated to alleviate poverty does not reach the intended people and poverty levels are increasing at a high rate. For you to fight all this poverty, you really need right administrators in these high officers to administer your resources.
Currently there is too much corruption, meaning you don’t have the right people in place. Also the law enforcement should be strengthened because as it is now, it is very easy to get involved in illegal practices and the police do not prosecute most of these people. You should also strengthen the law if corruption can be tackled effectively,” said Ambassador Vigtel.
By Muyoyeta Simasikuuser
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
In Zambia, many of us have this sickening problem of unnecessary and extravagant spending. Almost the entire country has a problem of misplaced priorities. For example, a person will buy an expensive designer suit or car, while his or her family are starving at home. This problem is induced from the top by an irresponsible government.
This is a government that can afford to pay K300 million In allowances to individuals gathered at a conference to adopt a constitution that is destined to be a sham, while its own people are dying every day from treatable diseases due to lack of basic drugs and equipment in hospitals. Where are our priorities in this country? Isn’t this irresponsibility of the highest order?
And are the donors watching and approving this mischief? I am going to write a protest letter to all Zambia’s potential donors, asking them to freeze any future aid.
We are also a bunch of hypocrites because even those who talk the loudest to oppose this kind of gross mischief are now silent over the issue. Why? Well, because they are laughing all the way to the bank. They only talk when they are not direct beneficiaries.
But because they are now direct beneficiaries, they are pretending all is well and they are even prepared to fight anyone who stands in their way. Let’s face it, who would resist the temptation of a K300 million?
To be honest even I wouldn’t resist. But I would look myself in the mirror and walk with shame whenever I pass by a funeral procession of starving people who died as a result of lack of basic drugs in our hospitals.
There’s no justification whatsoever on the amount of money being paid to the NCC delegates, other than to buy their souls. The justification being issued by Magande is not satisfactory; i.e. ‘because it was budgeted for, so it’s alright to excessively spend it’. Really?
Aren’t we ashamed in this country? Why do we have this kind of gross mismanagement, misappropriation and extravagant spending in a country where the majority can’t afford basic necessities of life?
Culture of allowances Clinton has been
By Evans C.
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
It is a deep-rooted culture in Zambia to award hefty allowances to participants at any meeting or workshop. Most people only attend these meetings to get this money.
This practice is so widespread that whenever a workshop is organised, participants rush in to get their monies and then sit back to wait for another workshop. As can be expected, they don’t even bother to follow through whatever is learnt at these meetings as they are only interested in the money.
This type of greed has introduced corruption; participants are being selected to attend meetings based on friendship and in some cases they are asked to remit part of their allowances to the selecting authority.
We all understand that our salaries are nothing to write home about but surely integrity should prevail. Some meetings are shunned because there are no allowances to be collected. My advice to our leaders is that they should pass laws that will make it illegal for anyone to receive extra money if they are performing duties within their job description.
It is embarrassing to see our managers chasing after allowances; they even go to an extent of ordering junior officers to allow them to sign attendance registers when they did not attend the meetings. Why should a leader be paid to address a meeting that is part of his job description?
Even those outrageous allowances being given to NCC participants are not justified. Which economist came up with these figures? These people attending the NCC are supposed to be ordinary Zambians with the same necessities as everybody else; why then should they be given all that money when they will end up buying food for 20 thousand kwacha only?
Let the things that we do as a country reflect our economic health. No wonder developed countries laugh at our way of doing things in Africa. We always spend more than our income! What a shame!
Hefty NCC allowances
By Natemwa Chabu
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
After reading Fr Miha, Muyoyeta Simasiku and Chibuta's insights and concerns on the hefty allowances to NCC delegates, I thought it wise to add my voice to the issue.
Having realised that stealing the "Chiluba way is dangerous", the MMD government has devised an "official method" of plundering our nation through allowances.
Nurses, teachers and other civil servants do not receive such allowances at all. Our MPs and councillors have sitting allowances plus salaries.
In addition, they are going to receive extra allowances for sitting on the NCC! Maybe it is time teachers and nurses got standing allowances as well. As Father Miha said, this is the worst form of plunder in our nation.
Since this form of plunder cannot be justified, we should stop it at all costs. The fact that it was in the budget does not make it right.
The MMD should account for the money plundered by senior government officials in name of "immoral" allowances.
By Nomusa Michelo
Wednesday December 19, 2007 [03:00]
THE Ministry of Local Government and Housing has warned property developers along Kafue Road commercial zone to develop their property before the deadline or risk repossession. This is according to a public notice issued by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing physical planning and housing director Matilda Okpara.
Okpara said following the stakeholders meeting held on November 23rd at the Lusaka City Council Chamber between property developers from Kafue roundabout to Makeni junction and the Department of Physical Planning and Housing in conjunction with the Ministry of Lands and the council, it was resolved that all landlords begin to seriously develop their plots , failure to which the ministry would recommend to the Commissioner of Lands to repossess such plots after 28 days effective the date of the meeting.
Okpara also said the marking of 300 metres zone will be undertaken to determine the boundary and access roads within the zone.
She also said the identification of overspill area for relocation of affected families currently occupying access roads would also be undertaken.
Okpara also said investors would facilitate the determination of compensation to affected families through the government valuation department.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
AT least three people have been killed in floods in Muzarabani this year, even though that part of Zimbabwe is known to be prone to flooding and is badly hit, even in lower rainfall years. The Civil Protection Unit does its work each year, and helps affected communities cope with flooded homes and the dangers of displacement. But we note that there are obviously better solutions.
Schools are turned into emergency accommodation, so obviously whoever builds these takes a good hard look at the terrain, asks around and then builds them in safe areas.
Surely, it should be possible to build homes on higher ground yet fairly close to the fields farmed by those regularly hit by floods?
The Muzarabani floods are not like the cyclone floods of the lowveld, occasional disasters. They are a common occurrence in that area.
We believe, especially with land reform, that it should be possible to effect other more permanent solutions.
For floods to occur within a few weeks of the start of a rainy season, runoff must be swift. That in turn suggests that trees and other dense vegetation has been stripped from far too many parts of Muzarabani, and other areas prone to flooding.
A more permanent solution might involve planting at least belts of forest, if whole forests cannot be restored, to hold the waters better.
This would not only ease the danger of flooding, but also ensure that more water is available in the dry seasons when so many need it.
Dams and weirs may also be required to control the floods, and again these will store water for the drier months.
These solutions probably require, in turn, that whole communities are resettled, although if they are given adequate priority there should be suitable land fairly close.
Zimbabwe has enough scientists to investigate this perennial problem and come up with solutions that will work.
Then they and planning officers can start a process that will end this annual scourge in the north of Mashonaland Central.
Flooding, like drought, is likely to become more common as Zimbabwe is ever more affected by global warming.
This will produce more extreme weather in the country. Rainfall will probably be less, on average, but intense periods of rainfall will be more likely.
The only effective way of combating these extremes will be to treat the land more carefully, planning housing better and using land in ways that do as little damage as possible to the natural ecologies.
We know that the natural Muzarabani ecology must have been able to cope with high rainfall.
Otherwise, over a few hundred years, the whole area would be turned into a rocky desert with no soil. It was not, so much of the problem must date from more recent times.
Many of Zimbabwe’s weather problems are man-made, and are usually the result of acute overcrowding and subsequent land degradation as a result of racial land policies of the colonial era.
Land reform has to do more than simply restore equity to land distribution. It must also be a tool to restore ecologies where necessary.
RESERVE Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono last week commended the banking sector for reaching into previously unbanked rural communities.Addressing delegates at the extraordinary session of the Zanu-PF congress held in Harare last week, the Governor highlighted that notable strides had been made by banks to reach rural areas and growth points.
"When we undertook Sunrise 1 we went throughout the country observing the state of banking in the rural areas where we found that many people were suffering from lack of financial service centres.
"I am pleased to report that the financial sector has made notable efforts towards increasing their outreach to the previously unbanked or underbanked communities," he said.
Since January this year, six commercial banks have opened more than 26 branches countrywide.
Agribank, Zimpost, POSB, Barclays Bank, CFX and CBZ now have a presence in areas such as Chibuwe, Lusulu, Centenary, Mutoko, Ngezi and Nkulumane. Urban areas have also benefited from the expansion drive, with Westgate and Borrowdale having new branches rolled out. The drive to establish financial entities in remote areas is set to gain momentum in 2008.
"We are aware that some banking institutions are working on the establishment of branches in rural and growth points including Nyika, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Muzarabani, Mount Darwin, Lupane, Plumtree and Murehwa.
Despite hyperinflation and the recent cash constraints banks are bracing for the future with optimism as envisaged by the branch roll outs. Shareholders and clients should also expect an expansion of product range as e-commerce comes on board and greater network expansion especially amongst the top commercial banks.
By Lizzy Ngobeka
AS the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) closed its maize buying exercise two months ago, records showed that Eastern Province had sold the largest amount of maize compared to any other province in the country this year. And Mkaika member of Parliament, David Phiri, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services deputy minister, confirmed that Government allocated the largest portion of money for maize buying to Eastern Province because of the huge maize production recorded in the province. The expectation is that the province will have sufficient food to see the people through to the next harvest season.
But contrary to this belief, Eastern Province faces an imminent serious hunger situation which, if not urgently addressed, would lead to starvation as some people are already surviving on wild fruits.
Recently, the Katete district disaster management committee went in the villages to assess the hunger situation on the ground and found that the situation was serious.
In an interview with ZANIS, committee chairman, Garry Siatwiinda, said people in the area did not have food and were depending on raw mangoes and wild fruits for survival.
Mr Siatwiinda added that locals were also selling the few ripe mangoes in the villages to raise money to buy small packs of mealie meal commonly known as ‘pamela’, which are sold at K3,000 each.
He said a good number of hunger-stricken people in Katete district were entering neighbouring Mozambique illegally to look for food, while others are engaged in piece work both in Zambia and in Mozambique. Mr Siatwiinda, who is also an agricultural officer, said the situation would affect the harvest for the current farming season because people were spending more time looking for food than farming.
The seriousness of the hunger situation in the province also came to the fore early in October when Mr Phiri toured Katete district and found that people in some parts of the district had already started feeding on wild fruits commonly known as Mpundu and roots known as Mpama.
At the public meetings the deputy minister conducted in various places in the district, several village head persons pleaded with Government to send relief food to the area before the onset of the rainy season. Songwe village headman told the minister that lives would be lost if relief food was not delivered to the area immediately.
Traditional rulers in the province, the likes of Chief Mbang’ombe, Katumba and Kawaza of Katete, Paramount Chief Mpezeni, Chief Msolo of Mambwe district, and many others, have also expressed worry at the looming hunger situation in the province.
And Katete district commissioner, Elemani Mwanza, says it has proved difficult for his office to solicit for relief food for Katete due to the notion that the province produced the largest amount of maize this year, beating eight other provinces in the country.
He said authorities from the Vice-President’s office found it difficult to believe that Katete, in particular, was hunger-stricken and yet this is the truth on the ground.
But where does the problem lie, that the highest maize-producing province should itself be on the brink of starvation.
While it is true that the province sold the largest quantity of maize to the FRA, it is also true that floods in the province during the previous rainy season destroyed most crops and the expected overall maize yield was adversely affected.
The question then is where did the large quantities of maize recorded to have been sold in the province come from.
This imbalance in the actual maize that was harvested in the province and the quantity of maize FRA bought needs to be rectified before it costs the country.
The contradiction could seriously mislead national planning authorities to think that the province has sufficient maize for consumption when in fact the local people were actually starving.
One may ask where all that maize came from when the farmers themselves were starving as early as October.
Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) agriculture marketing officer for Katete district, Godwin Mumba, attributes the contradiction in the quantity of maize purchased by FRA in the district and the actual maize that was produced to the massive inflow of the grain from Mozambique and Malawi in search of the perceived good FRA maize price.
Mr Mumba said that some unscrupulous businesspersons went on rampage buying large quantities of maize from Mozambique and selling it to the FRA, who in turn thought the province had produced a lot of maize.
He also noted that some Mozambican and Malawian farmers were also selling their maize direct to the FRA in Katete and other parts of the province.
The ZNFU marketing officer further notes that the massive inflow of the crop from outside the country disadvantaged the local farmers as foreigners overloaded the FRA sheds before the locals could sell their crop.
He said the situation also posed a high risk of another invasion of the larger grain borer in the province like the previous year.
Chief Mbang’ombe agrees with Mr Mumba and has asked the Government not to be misled by the large quantities of maize bought by the FRA in Eastern Province and deny people relief food because the crop was coming from neighbouring countries.
The chief observed that some local business people were buying the crop from Mozambique and Malawi where it was cheaper and later sold the commodity to FRA in the province.
He urged the Government to halt all maize sales to neighbouring countries and ensure that people are fed first.
The chief suggested that Government should not take to Lusaka the maize in the FRA sheds in Eastern Province so that the same is given to the people as relief food.
An agriculture research officer for Lutheran World Federation in Katete, O’Brien Mashinkila, also admitted that the hunger cry by chiefs in the province was genuine.
He said due to poor maize yield in the province, the NGO failed to recover the seed and fertiliser loans it offered to farmers because of poor harvest.
And Katete District Commissioner, Elemani Mwanza, in part laid the blame on farmers themselves for lack of planning and their propensity to depend on relief food hand-outs.
He observed that farmers sold all the little they had harvested to FRA without reserving enough for their domestic consumption.
Mr Phiri (the MP) echoed the district commissioner’s concerns, urging people to be responsible and store enough maize for consumption before selling to the FRA.
He said it was a bad culture to always want to rely on relief food because one day there would be no relief food and people would starve to death.
The MP observed that there was no justification for people to rely on relief food when the Government was offering highly subsidised farming inputs to improve the agricultural sector.
He, however, assured the affected people that the MMD Government would send relief food to the province because of the seriousness of the situation.
The hunger situation in Eastern Province cannot be over-emphasised. The situation calls for quick action by the Government and other collaborating partners to save life in virtually all parts of the province.
The situation also comes as a reminder to the Government to strictly monitor the border points so that maize and other crops produced in neighbouring countries do not find their way on the Zambia crop market and distort the realities on the ground. —
By Times Reporter
CHIEF Government spokesperson, Mike Mulongoti has challenged United Party for National Development (UPND) president, Hakainde Hichilema to tell the nation his role in the liquidation of some former parastatal companies.
Mr Mulongoti said that Mr Hichilema should “come clean” on the matter and state what he gained during the exercise before he could criticise Government on the fight against corruption. “Many people who had worked for the affected companies died before getting their benefits.”
He said the opposition leader who had been part of the liquidating team for some of the former parastatal companies should, therefore, explain himself.
Mr Mulongoti said this on Muvi television news when he commented on Mr Hichilema’s statement that the settlement between the Government and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga governor, Moses Katumbi would frustrate Zambia ’s corruption fight.
By Amos Malupenga
Tuesday December 18, 2007 [03:01]
CHILUBA is still vindictive and bitter about my restoration after he tried to destroy me in 1997, Mahtani Group of Companies executive chairman Rajan Mahtani said yesterday. Reacting to former president Frederick Chiluba’s recent statements urging the government to clarify rumours that there were instructions for some parastatal companies and government ministries to divert business from ZSIC and Zanaco to Professional Insurance and Finance Bank owned by his group of companies, Mahtani said he was aware that Chiluba was on a mission to pull him down.
Mahtani said Chiluba had on two occasions in the recent past made adverse comments and unprovoked attacks on his person.
“This is most disappointing, painful and hurtful and attach a stigma to my character and integrity,” Mahtani said. “Despite having been close friends and brothers in Christ, it is incredible that the former president, when in office, chose to incarcerate me on false and trumped up charges of treason cognisant of the fact that such an offence was not bailable, his master mind concocted a charge in order to ensure that I was incarcerated. Can he explain to the nation why he chose to incarcerate me and link me with the 1997 coup attempt and Captain Solo?
“Why was he so vindictive? Is this not the action of an evil dictator? Can this be construed to be an action of a person who respects human rights, democracy, rule of law and fair play? Is this the reward that you give to a friend and brother in Christ?”
Mahtani said the grave injustice caused to him, his family and operations by Chiluba were premeditated and deliberate with the intent of taking his life with impunity and ruining all his businesses he was associated with. He asked whether or not Chiluba honestly believed that incarceration in Zambian prisons on false and malicious charges was a reward for an innocent friend.
“Does he have a conscience over actions that proved abuse of office by virtue of power or does he claim drug inflicted amnesia?” Mahtani asked. “Does he believe in the empowerment of Zambians or in the contempt of pulling everyone down for his own benefit or desires?”
Mahtani said he had chosen to follow biblical principles in forgiving Chiluba because he vehemently believed that vengeance was not his but the Lord’s. He said although he kept silent for these reasons, he was requesting Chiluba to at least be serious in his Christian faith.
Mahtani said he was a living testimony of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ which has kept him and his family through very trying times.
He said he would remain indebted to the legal team that obtained his complete discharge and release, following the trumped-up treason charge against him. He said that team was headed by President Levy Mwanawasa and his wife Maureen, George Kunda, Stephen Malama, Robert Simeza, Alfred Roberts and Keith Musaba.
“I am convinced that former president Dr F.J.T Chiluba remains vindictive and is bitter over my restoration,” said Mahtani.
By Ntalasha Mutale
Tuesday December 18, 2007 [03:00]
MOSES Katumbi's case is a hammer against the anti-corruption fight, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Bishop Paul Mususu has said. In an interview, Bishop Mususu said although the Church was behind the government’s efforts to fight corruption, it would not agree to injustices pointing to the closure of Democratic Republic of Congo Katanga Province governor Katumbi’s cases without an explanation to the people.
“Could it be that Katumbi has dealings with the current leadership in Zambia such that his prosecution could unearth a lot of their illegal deeds?” Bishop Mususu asked.
He said Zambians deserved an explanation on the decision by the government to close Katumbi’s cases.
“We don’t want to imprison or loosen Katumbi, but justice must prevail. Previously, it was government’s position to bring Katumbi to justice, but what has changed now?” he asked.
“And now government should close the case, it raises more dust.”
Chief government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti recently announced that the government had dropped all criminal charges against Katumbi after reaching a settlement.
Mulongoti has since declared that Katumbi has not stolen anything from the Zambian people and was free to visit and go back to the DRC.
And Bishop Mususu said Zambia was facing a very sad situation where top leaders entrusted in curbing corruption were with the forefront breaking the law.
“If the law enforcers are the ones being corrupt, then how are we going to survive?” he asked. “These leaders should be setting a good example to others.”
He also said the allowances being paid to those sitting on the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) should be proportionate to the wages an average Zambian receives.
“The hefty allowances are an indication to us that the Cabinet has been getting the same amount of money for their monthly wages,” Bishop Mususu said.
Bishop Mususu further added that the NCC was bound to fail looking at the composition of the Act.
Bishop Mususu also said Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata was right to exercise discipline on his councillors who had gone against party directives not to participate in the NCC.
“Sata is not wrong to exercise discipline if he is playing the rules of the party. But other solutions should be found to deal with that situation rather than expulsion. It would be a waste of resources. As people of Zambia, we will lose to have 25 by-elections,” said Bishop Mususu.