Saturday, January 05, 2008

(ZIBB, XINHUA) Zambia to scrap old mining agreements

Zambia to scrap old mining agreements
LUSAKA, Dec 4, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --

The Zambian government said here on Tuesday that it will scrap previous development agreements in the mining sector signed with foreign companies when the country sold most of its mines and assets in 1990s. Minister of Finance and National Planning Ng'andu Magande told a press briefing the government will puts in place a fiscal and regulatory framework to regulate the sector to ensure no special incentives are given to mining companies.

"I must emphasize that with such a regime, there will be no incentive for this administration or indeed any future administration to make changes to the regime as it will provide comfort and minimize the risk for both the investor and the government," he said, adding the government was currently in the process of re-negotiating those development agreements.

The agreements provided tax concessions to the mining firms with the objective of supporting and facilitating the necessary substantial re-capitalization and investment in the mining industry.

The concessions included, among others, the reduction of mineral royalty tax from 2 percent to 0.6 percent, reduction of corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent and withholding tax on interest, dividends, royalties and management fees paid to shareholders and affiliates reduced from 15 percent to zero percent.

However, following the increase in copper prices on the international market, various stakeholders have said there was need to re-negotiate the agreements because mining firms were not paying sufficient revenue to the government .

According to analysts, the conditions which necessitated the provision of concessions to the mining sector no longer exist and that since metal prices are high on the international market, there is need to re-negotiate the agreements.

The Zambian minister decried inequality in the sharing of the revenues from the country's mines.

"This clearly demonstrates the lopsidedness of these agreements, and under such circumstances, it is extremely difficult for the government to continue signing new agreements under the same terms, " he said.

According to government figures, earning from the mining sector amounted to about 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2005 and 3.1 billion in 2006. Of these amounts, taxes paid to the government only amounted to 26 million in 2005 and 76 million in 2006.

In 2007, the mining companies are projected to earn about 3.5 billion while their tax contribution is estimated to be 198 million only.

He said a government appointed team to negotiate the agreements did extensive work including consultative visits to major mining countries in the world, and concluded that Zambia had the lowest fiscal regime governing the mining industry in the world.

"According to the team's findings, there is need to reform both the fiscal and regulatory regime further if Zambian people have to equitably benefit from their natural resources," he said.

The establishment of this regime will ensure that Zambians get a fair and equitable share of earnings from the mining industry.

The current deals were signed during the privatization of the country's mining companies in the 1990's, during which companies were given special incentives, including lower mineral royalty tax of 0. 6 percent and lower corporate tax of 25 percent, with a view to re-investing in the poorly recapitalized mines at the time.

After the recent rise in copper prices, the country feels there is need to re-negotiate the deals because mining companies are earning a lot of money.

Zambian Minister of Finance and National Development Ng'andu Magande announced in this year 's budget in February that the government intended to raise mineral royalty tax from 0.6 percent to 3 percent and corporate tax from 25 percent to 30 percent, adding the government would institute new negotiations with the mining firms.

Copper production in Zambia reached 300,000 tons per year in the 1990's and early 2000's but current statistics show the production is over 500,000 tons.

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(SF GATE) YouTubers aren't necessarily breaking copyright laws

YouTubers aren't necessarily breaking copyright laws

YouTube creators aren't necessarily breaking copyright laws even if their clips borrow from copyrighted music, movies and television shows, researchers at American University said. Researchers at the school's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property and Center for Social Media reviewed hundreds of videos on YouTube, MySpace and other Web sites, and concluded in a report released today that the clips, in most circumstances, could be ruled legal under "fair use" laws.

The clips fall into a number of protected categories, including satire, criticism, parody and negative or positive commentary, the report said. The rise of YouTube is spurring a new culture as people mash up, or mix, clips, publish homemade videos and create amateur and semi-professional movies.

But with YouTube and online video sites adopting copyright protection software to stop piracy, some of that "participatory media" could be lost, the researchers warn.

In one example, a short clip of a "dramatic prairie dog" was taken from a Japanese television show. It inspired hundreds of copycats, such as reworking the clip to turn the prairie dog into James Bond.

In another, a fan created a tribute to the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter who was killed last year while filming a television segment. It mixed professional photographs and images grabbed from television and the montage to Men at Work's popular song "Down Under."

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(BLACK BRITAIN, IRIN) Mugabe looks set to remain President of Zimbabwe until retirement

Mugabe looks set to remain President of Zimbabwe until retirement
17/12/2007 | africa
War veterans behind Mugabe's revival

We have confidence in our leader and we believe the suffering being experienced is to be expected, because he is reversing unfair economic structures, which, in the past, benefited a few colonial settlers

Zimbabwe's war veterans are camped outside the conference hall of a critical congress of the ruling ZANU-PF party this week, determined that President Robert Mugabe, 83, stays in office until he retires. B

Mugabe, who has led the party since 1977, seemed on the ropes 12 months ago. Last year's congress refused to endorse a resolution for him to remain in power beyond the end of his term in 2008. Moreover, Zimbabwe's economic and humanitarian crisis spelled electoral doom for ZANU-PF, and his rivals knew that only with Mugabe gone would the international community consider bailing the country out, analysts said.

But Mugabe seems to have succeeded in turning the tables on internal dissent, led by wealthy, regionally based political heavyweights, and analysts predict that he will almost certainly be elected party leader and candidate in next year's elections at the extraordinary congress this week.

Mugabe's political comeback owes much to his alliance with the veterans and, more recently, the party's youth and women's leagues. Immediately after last year's congress the veterans began a campaign of pro-Mugabe "solidarity marches" to mobilise local party support, culminating in a "Million man and woman march" on 30 November in the capital, Harare, which ZANU-PF politicians could not ignore.

"The war veterans are being used to intimidate those opposed to the president, and that is a sign that he is not wanted anymore by his colleagues in the ruling party. They are an informal structure being used as storm troopers," said Pedzisayi Ruhanya, programmes manager of the pro-democracy civic group, Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe.

"We will oppose all renegades and counter revolutionaries," chairman of the veterans, Jabulani Sibanda, told IRIN. "We have confidence in our leader and we believe the suffering being experienced is to be expected, because he is reversing unfair economic structures, which, in the past, benefited a few colonial settlers."

Pro-democracy groups want an overhaul of Zimbabwe's political systems

Even if Mugabe was replaced today, as long as the next leader inherited the existing political structures, with a culture of violence and intolerance, then we might create somebody even worse than Mugabe.

Pedzisayi Ruhanya, Crisis Coalition
Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of recession. It has the world's highest rate of inflation, eight out of 10 people are unemployed, there are shortages of most basics, from food to fuel, and the country's once impressive social indicators seem stuck in reverse. Yet ZANU-PF, under Mugabe, will head into elections, tentatively scheduled for March 2008, riding high.

The chiefs in the countryside, ZANU-PF's heartland, have remained loyal. They control their areas, dispensing food aid, agricultural inputs and patronage - allegedly on a partisan basis - and intimidation means that the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has failed to effectively mobilise in the rural areas. The MDC is in disarray, split into two main factions, and analysts argue that the likelihood of voter apathy would boost ZANU-PF's electoral advantage.

Zimbabwe's unreformed electoral machinery is also likely to work in the ruling party's favour. A constitutional amendment agreed to by the MDC in September has increased the number of constituencies from 120 to 210 elected seats, but the electoral commission has gone ahead with delimitation without the guarantees of impartiality that the MDC demanded.

Laws limiting public assembly and free speech, described by human rights groups as undemocratic, have not been repealed. "The main issue is that Mugabe is now looking at self-preservation by dying in office, in order to avoid being arraigned before international criminal courts," commented Prof Gordon Chavunduka, former vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.

"But the issue is much bigger than Mugabe," said the Crisis Coalition's Ruhanya. "Even if Mugabe was replaced today, as long as the next leader inherited the existing political structures, with a culture of violence and intolerance, then we might create somebody even worse than Mugabe. What is needed is a democratisation of all state institutions and the political parties themselves."

Report reprinted with kind permission of IRIN News.

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LETTERS - The National Budget

2008 budget
By Osman Mapiki
Saturday January 05, 2008 [03:00]

As people look forward to the 2008 budget, a quick reflection on 2007 budget and indeed all previous MMD government’s budgets shows that they are not workable. All they give us are the same platitudinous statements like; “We are going to reduce poverty.., we are going to improve health care..,” and so on . But have they improved anything really? The answer is NO.

What these budgets have achieved so far is to fatten the pockets and bellies of those individuals in the system, leaving the nation with the same perennial problems of poverty, sanitation, bad roads, fewer schools and many more.

This cyclical process of a ‘good’ budget every year but with no improvement reminds me of what a Caucasian German friend observed. He said Zambia and many African countries are in this state because its occupants are mad. My initial reaction then was anger and rage. But after a thorough review, I have identified two types of madness; Group madness and individual madness.

How else would you call a situation where the government spends hundreds of millions of wachas on a by-election in a constituency instead of solving serious water crises, impassable roads, sanitation and other problems people are facing?

That is group madness. Imagine how many boreholes could be sunk from that money. A by-election empowers only one ‘honorable’ person whose only job is to say, ‘yah, yah, yah’ to House motions. Boreholes would benefit over 30,000 constituency members, solve water shortages and improve sanitation.
(And that is just one of the many examples). Individual madness is the foundation of group madness although most of the times it is induced by group madness. Consider a person who hasn’t secured his future due to dropping out early from school. He or she starts producing children whom he or she can’t feed, educate or clothe, expecting other people to feed them for him.

Although his leaving school early could have been due to government’s failure (group madness) to build enough schools in his area, that is individual madness. The two forms of madness are reciprocal to each other and symbiotic too.

The indicated remedy to our economic problems is to treat the two vices. A budget can be written on the most expensive material and with the best financial phrases to smoothen its readability but it will remain a useless paper if its implementation is affected by group madness.

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Heavy rains compound the poor's problems

Heavy rains compound the poor's problems
By Editor
Saturday January 05, 2008 [03:00]

The heavy rains of the last few days have brought upon the poor who live in our shanty compounds additional health problems to bear. The sanitary situation in our compounds poses serious health risks to all those who live in these areas. Most people in our shanty compounds use poorly built, unimproved pit latrines and receive no official assistance to empty them.

And in most of these compounds, there's completely no household refuse collection. In these compounds, hygiene promotion usually only takes place when there's an outbreak of cholera or other infectious diseases. Diarrhoea is endemic. It kills many people every year and costs our country a lot in lost productivity.

Unless the authorities learn to be more responsive to the needs, demands and interests of the poor communities, our urban environments are likely to become ever more unsanitary. But how can we do more to provide the most marginalised of the urban poor with adequate sanitation services?

We can't continue to be unaffected by the situation in our compounds. We can't continue to see pit latrines overflowing with human waste that is emptied into the wells from which our people draw water for their household needs. We can't continue to watch children play in such filthy environments.

A lot of things have improved in most of our rich neighbourhoods - roads have been tarred, drainage systems have been cleared. But the situation has not improved much in our poor neighbourhoods where the amount of money needed to improve things is much smaller.

Every human being of goodwill should be moved with indignation at the unsanitary conditions we are seeing in the compounds. Every human being of goodwill should be committed to changing the social order that is clearly cruelly unjust - that allows billions of kwacha to be spent on a tiny fraction of the population while the majority of our people live in such unhygienic conditions.

To refuse such a commitment would be to make oneself an accomplice to injustice. If we don't commit ourselves to changing a system that prevents most persons from living a life fit for a human being and achieving personal fulfilment, then we are not helping our people to live out their vocation. In short, we are betraying our mission to serve the progress of our people.

The poverty situation, we feel, is the product of unjust socio-economic structures. Faced with this intolerable situation, we feel that we must do something to change things. We are products of a society that has taught us to look coldly on the impoverished plight of our fellow citizens. We must try to draw nearer to the poor.

We cannot just dedicate a small portion of our time to the poor; we must dedicate more of our thoughts and feelings to the cause of the poor, for only then will we be able to change the situation radically. The limits of self-sacrifice must be set by real life, not by the standards of a society that tends to look coldly on the plight of our impoverished brothers and sisters.
Only close experience will teach us the great magnitude of the problems that afflict the majority of our people who live in shanty compounds.

We must therefore reform the structures of our society so that such contact really takes place. So long as we do not actually share the problems of these people, the poor - lack of basic necessities, insecurity, unemployment, and so on and so forth - we will not really identify with the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the great majority of our people.

The experience lived by our people leads us to reject the current order, in its economic expression as well as in its ideological basis, which favours individualism, profit, and the exploitation of humanity by humanity. We should therefore aim at the creation of a qualitatively different society.

By this, we understand a society wherein the willingness of justice, of solidarity and equality reigns, one that will respond to generous aspirations and the search for a more just society and where values, particularly freedom, responsibility, and an openness to things spiritual, which will guarantee the integral development of every one of our people will be realised.

In order that this kind of society be developed, it is necessary that the education of all the people include the social and communal meaning of human life, in the total context which includes culture, economics, politics, and the whole society.

Education thus concealed will lead to the creation of a new human being and a new society - social human kind and a communal society, where democracy is real through the effective political participation of all our people, through the human concept and realisation of work, through the submission of capital to the needs of the whole society.

Of course, those who benefit from the current order, and wish to keep doing this, will oppose and denounce what we are saying.

But we know from the basics of our Christian teachings that the diagnosis is not enough. By his example, Christ taught us to live what he preached. Christ preached human solidarity and proclaimed that love should configure all our social structures. Even more importantly, he lived out his message of liberation to its ultimate consequences.

He was condemned to death. The power brokers in his nation saw his message of liberation, and the real-life love to which he bore witness, as a serious threat to their economic, social, religious and political interests.

Today, as always, the Spirit of Christ is actively giving impetus to history. It shows up in solidarity, in the unselfish commitment to those who struggle for liberty and evince authentic love for their poor brothers and sisters.

The structures of our society must be transformed from the roots up. The task is more necessary today than ever before because those who benefit from the unjust order in which we live are defending their interests in an aggressive way.

They use all the means at their disposal - propaganda, subtle ways of dominating popular consciousness, and dictatorship if necessary - to prevent a revolutionary transformation from taking place.

Only by gaining economic and political power will the poor be able to construct a society of the humble and the poor, by the humble and the poor, for the humble and the poor that is qualitatively different from the existing one and in which everyone will have the same possibilities for human fulfilment.

Of course authentic charity cannot gloss over the struggle unleashed by those who exploit the people and who seek to defend or increase their own privileges.

These are our own reflections on what is going on in our country, on the plight of the poor and the shanty compound dwellers.

We publicise our reflections because we believe that they can help to inspire other citizens and persons of goodwill to reflect along with us and to set out in the quest for some way to radically transform the structures that now prevail in our country.

We say this because we sincerely believe that the poverty situation in our country today is the product of unjust socio-economic structures.



Mulafulafu bemoans poor state of roads in compounds

Mulafulafu bemoans poor state of roads in compounds
By Mutuna Chanda and Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday January 05, 2008 [03:00]

THE poor should not only be looked at when politicians want their votes, Caritas Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu has said. And Islamic Council of Zambia (ISZ) president Rashid Phiri has called on the government to urgently address the poor state of roads in most townships in the country.

Commenting on the state of the roads in compounds, Mulafulafu said it was unfortunate that there were two classes of citizens, the rich and the poor who were being treated differently.

"If you look at the state of roads in areas like Kabulonga and if at all they were not attended to, you would see the residents in these areas making all the noise and they would receive the attention that they need," Mulafulafu said.

"But when you look at the state of the roads in compounds, they are in such terrible state that all you find are pools of water and they are not being attended to. People in compounds also need good roads."

Mulafulafu said the poor state of roads in compounds has been an issue for a number of years without anything being done. He said the roads in compounds which harboured pools of water in the rainy season compromised the residents’ quality of life.

"When you look at the overall sanitation situation in the compounds, because of the poor state of the roads when it is rainy season, the people are vulnerable to communicable diseases and these are people that do not even have the money to access medical services and drugs," Mulafulafu said.

And Phiri said most roads were in a deplorable state during the rainy season. Phiri urged Zambians to maintain peace and called on the leadership to lessen the tension that was currently in the country.

He urged political parties to concentrate on developing the country and solve whatever differences they had through dialogue.

"Last year was very challenging and we should make sure that whatever differences we have, be it religious or political, we solve them through dialogue. As government preaches, they need to do more and show that they are doing something. Poverty levels are still high, the road infrastructure is in a bad state," Phiri said

He said there was need to ensure that the peace that the country enjoyed continued.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Levy is being advised wrongly, says Chirwa

Levy is being advised wrongly, says Chirwa
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday January 04, 2008 [03:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa is being advised wrongly about me, MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa has charged. And Prof Chirwa is seeking a meeting with President Mwanawasa in order to present his political and economic vision for the country. And finance deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa has disassociated himself from supporting Prof Chirwa for MMD presidency.

Meanwhile, MMD spokesperson Ben Tetamashimba has accused Prof Chirwa of ignoring President Mwanawasa at an airport in Germany when he (President Mwanawasa) went there for a state visit.

Reacting to MMD spokesperson Ben Tetamashimba who warned to bar him from the convention if he continued to be stubborn over the party presidency, Prof Chirwa said it was now clear that President Mwanawasa was being wrongly advised about him.

Prof Chirwa said his political and economic vision for Zambia was long term, built to eradicate poverty, corruption and make the country proud.

He said it was important that he met President Mwanawasa to clear the air.
“I therefore request His Excellency to meet up with me so that I can present to him about myself, my vision and how I want to continue with his legacy and everything he has started economically and politically,” Prof Chirwa said.

“My vision is long term and is built to eradicate poverty, corruption and make our nation smiling again right down to those in compounds. I ask His Excellency once again to listen to me. I am prepared to meet His Excellency anytime when he is not occupied.

If he tells me that the person he has in mind has better vision for our party and country than me, I will stand by that person and help him/her win the third term for MMD.”

He said he supported President Mwanawasa’s economic policies and he was ready to improve on where he would stop.

“If I was to be president I will continue on and move far much further so that the job he started could be realised in such a way that he will feel very proud as the initiator. I would like to guarantee his well being as the President of Zambia,” he said.

Prof Chirwa also said he did not believe in political revenge, especially against former presidents.

He said former presidents should be respected and have a pension that would allow them to further represent the country as senior mentors.

On his membership, Prof Chirwa said he joined the MMD during its inception except that he was not a paid up member with a card.

“I have been MMD. My father (Mr E Chirwa) has been and he is still the MMD chairman for the Katuba Ward (Kabanana area) since the party was created.

I have supported the party morally. The card was sold to me at Lusaka district and the card was printed by the district secretary and signed by the district chairman who presented it to me with other executive members of the district. According to me, I am a fully paid up member.

I do not need to go to the NEC to buy an MMD card for it to be recognised. On the day I bought my card, there were thousands of other Zambians who became members. Are all these people not recognised? Why is my joining different?” he asked.

Prof Chirwa further said it was unfortunate that some people were insinuating that he was a foreigner from Malawi.

“There are rumours which are being spread by the same people saying that my parents and I come from Malawi. This is not true. I have already on several occasions tried not to discuss this. Since His Honourable Minister of Information has raised this once again, then I would like to put this to rest.

My village is Nyada near Mugubudu located between Chipata and Lundazi, and not in Malawi. My father moved from here to work on the Copperbelt where I was born and grew up,” Prof Chirwa said.

He said if the convention would be held before 2010, he would still attend it as a delegate and seek office at lower levels of responsibility.

“But if we go by the book of our constitution (MMD), anybody within the party can stand. The democratic forces will be able to choose the best person for the job. That person will present his/her case to the delegates and to the nation as a whole,” Prof Chirwa said.

“If we do not go through this route, we will be seen as not being transparent and that will greatly jeopardise our election prospects. Remember, we have been in power for many years.

If we want to win, we need fresh ideas that will unite the party as a whole and hence sell ourselves to the nation.

MMD currently has two camps that need uniting quickly and promptly. If we don’t do this quickly, we might lose a lot of MPs.”

And Shakafuswa said knowing the stage at which the matter between MMD and Prof Chirwa had reached, it was helpful that he remained silent and he would rather concentrate on his duties as deputy minister of finance.

“I am sorry I have nothing to say. I have no comment. Knowing where this issue has reached and where it is going, I am sorry I have no comment. I would rather concentrate on my work as Deputy Minister of Finance.

This is a new year and I don’t want to involve myself very much in politics, more particularly on the saga of MMD presidency and Prof Chirwa. Its better I disassociate myself from that. I will not say anything,” Shakafuswa said.

On September 5, 2007 Shakafuswa confirmed that Prof Chirwa had joined the MMD in Katuba Constituency where he (Shikapwasha) is the area member of parliament. That time, Shakafuswa described Prof Chirwa as MMD's biggest catch and he was the future of the MMD.

Shakafuswa said Prof Chirwa discussed with him the possibility of joining the MMD.
“I'm actually overwhelmed that he has decided to join the MMD. Professor Chirwa is the future of MMD.

We need politicians who are of the calibre of Professor Chirwa so that they can help put Zambia where it is supposed to be.

There are some people in MMD who just want to reap without adding any value," Shakafuswa said.

“The MMD will soon flush out low calibre leaders. Those whose morality does not match Professor Chirwa, we will start kicking them out. The new MMD is the party of the future. The bad habits of Chiluba will be flushed out.

In fact, I can say Professor Chirwa is the biggest catch we have ever had in the party. He is actually buying a card from Katuba Constituency."

But Tetamashimba said Prof Chirwa ignored President Mwanawasa in Germany.
Tetamashimba said it would be difficult for Prof Chirwa to meet President Mwanawasa.

“We got the information that Prof Chirwa shunned President Mwanawasa at the airport in London. What happened is that when President Mwanawasa arrived at the airport, Prof Chirwa was there but failed to come closer and welcome the President. Now, he is the same professor who wants to aspire for the party and Republican presidency.

No! We will not allow him. At the airport, Prof Chirwa only greeted other people and never cared for President Mwanawasa. He actually ignored him. To us as MMD, that is leadership disqualification,” said Tetamashimba.

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Mazabuka cops nab 3 over killing of farmer

Mazabuka cops nab 3 over killing of farmer
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday January 04, 2008 [03:00]

Police officers in Mazabuka have arrested three men in connection with the fatal shooting of a 70-year-old Monze farmer last Thursday. Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Guy Robinson confirmed from Mazabuka yesterday that Tom Savory of Morring Farms was killed at his farm house by suspected thugs.

“I am aware that a farmer was shot dead and what has happened is that police have acted fast and efficiently and investigations are going on,” he said.

“It is very sad this man has been shot because he was a very good man. He was 70 years old and his grandfather started farming there in the 1800s; so it means that his family has been in the area for a long time.”

He urged the farming community to be vigilant against any crime activities and assist the police in dealing with the problem.

Asked how the shooting of Savory has affected the farming community in the Mazabuka-Monze area, Robinson said the farmers were on alert and were geared to collaborate with law enforcement officers in crime prevention undertakings.

“Savory was a very good man and it is very sad that these vandals have robbed him like this,” he said. “They got away with virtually nothing, but they killed a very nice man.”

Robinson said Savory’s wife, a medical doctor, was running a clinic at their farm, which is assisting in the provision of health services in the surrounding communities.

Inspector General of Police Ephraim Mateyo also confirmed the shooting of Savory at a press briefing yesterday.

“One farmer was shot dead and as at now, we have arrested three people and the weapon used has been recovered,” he said. “I have received a report from Southern Province that one farmer was shot by criminals. The three are in custody and the gun and rounds of ammunition have been recovered.”

Mateyo said his office was trying to get more details on the shooting.

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Dr Gono warns banks against money laundering

Dr Gono warns banks against money laundering
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday January 04, 2008 [03:00]

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Dr Gideon Gono has warned banks against money laundering. And Dr Gono assured the nation that the cash shortages facing the country would soon end. Speaking in Harare at the RBZ headquarters, Dr Gono urged banks to observe the country's anti-money laundering laws and report any suspicious deals.

"Our message and advice to the financial sector is that we have talked to one another for a long time now, we have appealed to your good selves long enough and we issued many circulars and guidelines on the subject of money-laundering and other undesirable banking practices," Dr Gono said.

"Now is not the time to continue with such talking or lecturers anymore but action and as a central bank we shall not be found wanting in this direction so that together and in partnership, we can rid our economy of the cash-hoarding and money laundering menace."

He said the central bank felt let down by some stakeholders who continue to run underhand schemes meant to counter and scuttle well-meant programmes.

"Over the outlook period, the Reserve Bank will continue to stand guard and work tirelessly to reduce inflation, stabilise and grow the economy, whilst paying sufficient attention on other critical areas requiring extraordinary interventions for the survival of the economy," Dr Gono said.

"Through this refined policy position on the currency front, as the central bank, we are very confident that the current cash shortages will end, allowing our productive sectors to run smoothly without payment constraints."
Dr Gono said the RBZ would continue to be alert.

"The Reserve Bank is intensifying its bank supervision, exchange control and anti-money laundering surveillance systems so as to ensure that the economy does not relapse into the cash shortages mode again," Dr Gono said.

"We hail the collaborative efforts of various arms of government, including the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the judicial system, exhorting them to remain hard and steadfast in the present campaign to deter the destructive economic crimes that threaten our economy.

"As a bank, difficult as things are, we continue to be guided by the never-say-die spirit which resides in the undying slogan "failure is not an option"."

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean junior doctors have returned to work after staying away from work since early December last year.

Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals chief executive officer, Thomas Zigora announced yesterday that the doctors had resumed work.

He said some medical cases were still being referred to Chitungwiza Central Hospital.
Junior doctors and nurses went on strike early December last year.

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Nigerian company plans to invest $50m in cement, oil

Nigerian company plans to invest $50m in cement, oil
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe and Joan Chirwa
Friday January 04, 2008 [03:00]

A Nigerian company has declared interest to invest US$50 million (about K190 billion) in cement manufacturing and oil explorations in the country, according to commerce permanent secretary Davidson Chilipamushi. And cement prices in Lusaka have remained at an average of K70,000 per 50 kilogramme pocket, following the increasing demand for the commodity.

Chilipamushi, in an interview, could not, however, mention the name of the company but stressed that institution’s profile looked firm.

“They have shown interest to invest in various sectors of the economy which include setting up a cement plant manufacturing plant and in mineral explorations,” Chilipamushi said. “It would be premature for me to give you the name of the company at the moment but all I can say is they look a well established company in Nigeria.”

Chilipamushi said the company proposed to set up a cement plant that would produce twice as much as the current production capacity of manufacturing companies in the country.

He said representatives from the company had already met officials from the Ministry of Commerce and that the matter was currently being handled by the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA).

“We discussed with them when they came here and we were satisfied that their offer looks quite serious and we are very positive about it,” Chilipamushi said. “Right now, relevant authorities like the ZDA are looking at the matter, but all in all we are talking about an investment of not less than US$50 million.”

And a survey conducted in selected outlets around Lusaka revealed that prices of cement have stabilised at around K70,000, from the recommended price of around K45,000. This follows the increasing demand for the commodity as a result of the growing construction sector.

In order to accommodate the high demand for cement, Lafarge Cement Zambia – formerly Chilanga Cement Plc – embarked on an expansion programme which will see the plant producing around 2,000 metric tonnes of cement per day.

Zambia currently produces around 680,000 metric tonnes, with Lafarge Cement accounting for the largest production of 650,000 metric tonnes while the newly constructed Oriental Quarries’ capacity is about 100 metric tonnes per day.

The completion of the Zambezi Portland Cement plant in Ndola will increase the country’s cement production capacity when it starts operations on its 1,000 tonnes per day factory.

Meanwhile, Chilipamushi said it was good that as Africa continued to post good indicators for economic growth, intra-continental trade was enhanced.

He said it was good that Africans were now taking a lead in enhancing investment within the continent.

“This is also good for intra-Africa trade. It is good to see that investments in the continent are being spearheaded by the Africans themselves,” said Chilipamushi. “With the positive outlook the continent is recording, it is important that the surplus income we use it for investing in each other’s country rather than externalising everything.”

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Prof Chirwa will be barred, says Teta

Prof Chirwa will be barred, says Teta
By Lambwe Kachali
Thursday January 03, 2008 [03:00]

PROFESSOR Clive Chirwa will be barred from the convention if he continues to be stubborn over the MMD presidency, party spokesperson Ben Tetamashimba has warned. And Tetamashimba has disclosed that the MMD convention will be held before 2010. Meanwhile, Tetamashimba has demanded that Prof Chirwa discloses the person who sold him an MMD party card.

Reacting to Prof Chirwa’s declaration that he would go ahead to contest the party presidency despite President Levy Mwanawasa brushing him aside, Tetamashimba said MMD was aware that Prof Chirwa was trying to bring confusion and divisions in the party.

Tetamashimba said going by the MMD constitution, Prof Chirwa was not even in the right position to declare his intentions for the party presidency.

He said President Mwanawasa was right to say that Prof Chirwa could not succeed him because the party was not short of capable leaders.

“This person has been in MMD for less than a year. I am surprised to hear him declare to contest the party presidency. Where did he get all this audacity? I am sure Prof Chirwa wants the worst from us. Yes, we do respect him by virtue of being a Zambian but he should not bring confusion in the party,” Tetamashimba said.

“If he continues to be stubborn, we will have nothing but to bar him from attending the convention. The statement from President Mwanawasa was crystal clear for someone like Prof Chirwa to understand at once. MMD is not short of people or capable leaders and at no time did MMD request the candidature of Prof Chirwa.”

Tetamashimba said President Mwanawasa’s statement that Zambia was not short of capable leaders was enough message for Prof Chirwa to understand that the entire party was not interested in him.

He said Prof Chirwa was a political armature who could not unite the party and the country the way President Mwanawasa had done.

“He has outlived in the foreign land. Imagine, even if you are desperate for quality leadership, how do you allow someone who has been out of the country for such a long time to lead you? Could you say you mean well for your party or country? No! We can’t allow such a situation to happen in MMD. If he is really a professor who understands, it’s time to take this statement final,” he said.

Tetamashimba said President Mwanawasa’s statement over his preferred candidate did not mean that he would take a simple party cadre to succeed him.
He said the party would reject President Mwanawasa’s choice if it happens that the person he (President Mwanawasa ) chooses a difficult candidate to sell to the electorate.

“I think this is one factor that has troubled Prof Chirwa. Since he feels more educated, he thinks the person President Mwanawasa will choose might not match his knowledge of understanding issues as far as development is concerned,” Tetamashimba said.

He said Prof Chirwa should not be cheated by what he called ‘wind support’ of cadres who were only interested in his money.

“We know that when he comes from UK, he brings a lot of dollars and pounds with him and it is this money in which party cadres are interested. Because as far as MMD is concerned our people do not support him neither do they know him. And so, if he says he has a lot of support from ministers and party cadres, Prof Chirwa is cheating himself. I can tell you that Prof Chirwa will be politically and financially disappointed. Let him proceed to be stubborn and we shall see who will be the loser,” Tetamashimba said.

He advised Prof Chirwa to look for an alternative political solution other than relying on MMD.

“We are actually aware that he had lunch with UPND president Hakainde Hichilema when they were discussing their political moves and development. Why can’t he just join UPND rather than bring unnecessary confusion and division in our party? Let Hakainde accommodate him in his party. There is no place for Chirwa in MMD,” he said.

And Tetamashimba said Prof Chirwa should disclose the MMD officials who sold him the party card.

“Why I am saying so is because we don’t know whether it is true that Prof Chirwa is a member of our party or not. As far as the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) is concerned, we have not seen his card. And how do we allow someone to be confusing us when we are not aware about his membership?” Tetamashimba asked.

Meanwhile, Tetamashimba said the MMD convention would be held before 2010 to enable the party have more time to sell its candidate.

Asked if it was just a planned move of preventing Prof Chirwa because he said that some MMD officials told him that the convention would be held in December 2010 by which time he would have qualified to stand for a position in the party, Tetamashimba said Prof Chirwa was being misled by his acclaimed supporters.

“Who told him that our convention would be held in December 2010? These people feeding him with such information are merely misleading him,” said Tetamashimba.

“Our plans are already under way and that we might be having the convention any time but before 2010. We will either hold it end of this year or next year. We want to know our presidential candidate early enough so that we can have ample time to sell him or her. MMD has no time to waste, and if he (Prof Chirwa) thinks we will wait for him to attain three years in the party, that is totally a lie.”

But in August last year, finance deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa confirmed that Prof Chirwa had joined MMD in Katuba constituency where he is an area member of parliament.

Shakafuswa described Prof Chirwa’s joining MMD as the party’s big catch.

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Lessons from Kenya

Lessons from Kenya
By Editor
Thursday January 03, 2008 [03:00]

The events of the aftermath of the general elections in Kenya have once again reminded us that no election is perfect. From our own experience here at home as well as in other democracies, we have seen that each election faces a myriad of problems, irregularities and legal violations, the impact of which can be quite great in some cases. In short, what we are saying is that no election is administered flawlessly.

In the case of Kenya at the moment, we can see that the impact of alleged electoral irregularities has had a toll on human life, where estimates indicate that more than 200 Kenyans have lost their lives as a result of the dispute over the outcome of last week's elections. The supporters of Raila Odinga have rejected the results which declared incumbent Mwai Kibaki the winner and they have taken the law into their own hands to an unfortunate extent that lives are now being lost.

However, while it is acknowledged that electoral violations and irregularities are a reality of any and every electoral process, we also hold firmly the belief that any genuine and democratic electoral system should be designed to survive any and all problems that do occur. But this can only happen if the system itself is viewed as a legitimate means through which the people can express their democratic choices.

But when the people - the voters - feel that the electoral system itself is part and parcel of electoral fraud, the reaction is what we are seeing in Kenya, where the supporters of Odinga feel the electoral system has doctored the results to present Kibaki as the winner. In the absence of empirical evidence, there is no way of ascertaining the veracity of such claims and they therefore remain mere allegations, innuendos or insinuations requiring objective evidence.

Nevertheless, that is not to say that those who are aggrieved over the Kenyan elections have no case at all. We may not agree with the methods of violence being resorted to by those aggrieved by the outcome, but we do appreciate the nature of their complaints.

It is truly regrettable that some aggrieved Kenyan voters have resorted to violence because they feel the electoral process there has betrayed them. This is so because in democratic systems, electoral processes should provide an alternative to violence as a means of achieving governance.

But there is one good lesson we can draw from the Kenyan election - that when an electoral process is perceived as unfair, unresponsive, corrupt or fraudulent, its political legitimacy is compromised and stakeholders are motivated to go outside of the established norms to achieve their objectives.

And this is exactly what we are witnessing in Kenya. When people lose faith in an electoral system which is supposed to be the best and rational referee during elections, electoral conflict and violence become tactics in political competition, much as their consequences may not be desired.

The reason electoral systems must be designed in such a way that they epitomise fairness, genuineness and honesty is primarily that when they become conflictive or violent as the case is in Kenya, their function as an umpire for social decision-making is damaged and the credibility of whatever they do is questionable. We have to arrive at a realisation that the failure to conduct an election that is judged fair by all sides can pre-empt a democratic transition. And what is worse is that repeated failures can lead to violence and chronic instability and we have seen this in many countries.

We have not forgotten our own experience in 2001 in the election which the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) felt was stolen by the ruling MMD government to usher in President Levy Mwanawasa's government.

And we cannot delude ourselves and foolishly ignore the fact that the election of 2001 was fraught with many problems which made it easier for the losing parties to question and doubt the outcome to the point that they took the matter to the Supreme Court for adjudication.

Although the rest of the story is history, we still remember that even the Supreme Court, despite not nullifying the election of President Mwanawasa, did take note of the fact that there were numerous irregularities which the Electoral Commission needed to pay attention to. In last year's elections, the opposition Patriotic Front also felt that the MMD stole the vote.

Again these are just claims without much veracity. However, when one looks at the number of members of parliament whose election has been declared null and void due to electoral irregularities, it is easy to accept the reality that a lot more ought to be done to make our electoral system more acceptable and believable in whatever it does to enhance the people's right to a democratic choice of their leadership.

As a nation, we should take interest in what is happening in Kenya today and learn not to be poor students of history who are likely to repeat the mistakes of the past or those of others. If there is one thing that is clear in all this, it is the need for us as a nation to start working on our electoral system and push for reforms in areas of potential conflict or disagreement.

There is no point in behaving like ostriches when we know the areas of difficulties insofar as our electoral system is concerned. There are many areas that need to be addressed both in our Electoral Act and the Constitution. They range from issues such as appointment and composition of the Electoral Commission, sources of finance for campaigns, media access, freedom of assembly and/or association, among others.

It should be hoped that the elections we have held so far have provided us an opportunity to learn the areas of weakness in terms of election administration and we expect that serious consideration will be given as to what reforms could be made in these areas that may ultimately reduce the incidence of electoral complaints or the potential for post-election violence.

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Learn from Kenya's election experience, HH urges Zambians

Learn from Kenya's election experience, HH urges Zambians
By Mwila Chansa
Thursday January 03, 2008 [03:00]

Zambian should learn from Kenya’s election experience by ensuring they put in place an electoral Act that will pave way for the establishment of a truly independent electoral commission, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has advised. And Hichilema has observed that corruption and greed are the main reasons why African leaders cling on to power even though the majority of their people do not want them.

Commenting on the violence in Kenya that has been sprang by disputed poll results, Hichilema said the outcome of the elections in Kenya should be a wake up call for Zambians not to mishandle the constitution making process.

“For us it means the constitution making process should be handled without selfishness, it should result in the establishment of an electoral Act that will bring about a truly independent electoral commission,” Hichilema said.

“It is sad that so many lives have been lost and for us we think it did not have to go that way. What is happening in Kenya today could have happened in Zambia in 2001 and 2006 but it is just because Zambians are known to be cool people. But for how long will they remain cool?” Hichilema asked.

He said the violence in Kenya should also be a lesson for people entrusted to manage elections that they had a huge obligation because elections were capable of sparking trouble if not handled properly.

Hichilema also called for the introduction of common standards of setting up electoral commissions by the African Union (AU) to avert similar situations in future.

“What is happening in Kenya is very sad to Africa and Kenya in particular. It is a challenge to democracy and its tenets,” he said.

And Hichilema said it was sad that African leaders wanted to be presidents at all costs even when the majority of their people had rejected them.

“That is why we think some African leaders hold on to their positions because of self gain, excessive greed because if it is service they want to provide to their people, they cannot hold on if they (people) say no,” Hichilema said.

He added that corruption also made African leaders cling to power or hand pick stooges who would protect their wrong doing when they leave office.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

K900bn from 2007 budget not spent, reveals Chibiliti

K900bn from 2007 budget not spent, reveals Chibiliti
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wednesday January 02, 2008 [03:01]

SECRETARY to the Treasury Evans Chibiliti has revealed that about K900 billion of the budgeted money in last year’s budget has not been spent. And Chibiliti said the treasury was working out modalities of expediting budget implementation to accelerate execution of developmental projects.

In an interview in Lusaka, Chibiliti attributed the slow budget implementation to what he called structural deficiencies orderliness which shortened the implementation cycle. “What that means is that because of this underutilisation, we can’t build more schools, construction of the roads and repair of bridges cannot be undertaken on time, hospitals cannot be attended to on time,” Chibiliti said.

Chibiliti said the huge chunk of the money was kept at the Bank of Zambia while the rest of it was with the commercial banks.

“About 600 billion to 700 billion is still with the central bank while K200 billion was with the commercial banks,” Chibiliti said.

He said the current government expenditure cycle was short and that the treasury was working out modalities to ensure that controlling officers in the ministries expedited implementation of the budget programmes by starting expenditure earlier than the current trend.

“Just look at budget system, Parliament only approves it at the end of March when we are already three months into the year and for the treasury to release the money to various ministries, it would take maybe another three months, so the controlling officers only get the money and start spending in June when we are half way in the year,” Chibiliti said. “And in this country our tender procedures take about 90 days, so when it comes to the actual implementation some of these projects, it somewhere in September.”

He said the treasury was currently implementing reforms that would enable controlling officers to start implementing budgeted programmes almost immediately after Parliament approved the budget.

“The problem is that controlling officers only want to start spending when the money is in their accounts,” he said.

Chibiliti also revealed that the treasury had worked out a modality that would ensure speedy implementation of next year’s budget.

He also revealed that the treasury had already finished preparing this year’s budget and had already informed controlling officers in all the ministries of their expected allocations in next year’s budget, a move he said would enable the officers to prepare in advance as they await approval of the budget by Parliament.

“Hitherto, we used to experience this problem, but now it is crystal clear as to where we were getting it wrong. Now, I am optimistic that the greater part of this year’s (2008) budget would be implemented,” said Chibiliti.

Recently, most stakeholders have bemoaned the low budget execution in the country.
During the first half of last year, the government ministries and departments were reported to have spent less than was budgeted and less than was released by the finance ministry.



Prof Chirwa vows to go for MMD presidency

Prof Chirwa vows to go for MMD presidency
By Lambwe Kachali
Wednesday January 02, 2008 [03:00]

I AM going ahead to contest the MMD presidency despite President Levy Mwanawasa brushing me aside, MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa has declared. And Prof Chirwa said he met UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata because they are Zambian citizens.

President Mwanawasa in an exclusive interview in Mfuwe with The Post managing editor Amos Malupenga said he was against Prof Chirwa and that he commands a lot of support, saying none of his supporters would support Prof Chirwa.

President Mwanawasa further said Prof Chirwa’s meeting with Hichilema and Sata was suspicious.

But in a telephone interview from the United Kingdom, Prof Chirwa said President Mwanawasa’s statement was extremely unfortunate. Prof Chirwa advised President Mwanawasa to be tolerant and accommodate anybody with intentions of contesting the MMD presidency.

“The President’s statement is extremely unfortunate that he has brushed me aside…as one member within the MMD. What should be done is for him to say, yes Prof Chirwa is an MMD candidate, and he has come forward in a democratic party. He should have said that everybody is allowed to do that but I have my own preferred choice that I want to become president. Brushing me out like that is not good,” Prof Chirwa said. “What wrong have I done for the President not to allow me to become MMD presidential candidate, first of all? All I have done is that I have put my name forward as a candidate for MMD.

Therefore, it would have been nice for President Mwanawasa to diplomatically say, okay, I have my own preferred candidate but everybody interested within the party should bring their candidature forward. That should have been the words from the President rather than scaring me.”

He said he did not want to involve President Mwanawasa the time he declared his candidature because he knew that the convention was still away from taking place.
“There is diplomatic language which is supposed to be used in such particular cases. So far, I have not tried to involve President Mwanawasa because I understand who he is and therefore, I want to make sure that before I start involving him in, we are near to the convention, where I will be presenting my case,” he said.

Prof Chirwa said he would not look back because his objectives were to serve Zambia.
He said Zambia had many problems, which needed to be addressed; saying his vision for the country was strong, effective and efficient.

“I have seen in many countries where the incumbent president may support his preferred person, but does not prevent other candidates from contesting positions of their choice.

This is a democratic society and my decision is a personal and national cause. I have policies to take this country far much further than where we are now. It’s not all about money, it’s not about where you come from, but it’s about who is gonna take this country, truly drive this country from where it is to far much ahead,” Prof Chirwa said. “And also to see that this country becomes one of the most developed countries in the world. This is what I am talking about. I am talking about bringing workable policies and answers to problems our society is facing.”

On President Mwanawasa’s remark that he had been living in a foreign environment for a long time and that he (Prof Chirwa) should not think that people are foolish or incapable to provide leadership at home, Prof Chirwa said he was coming back to Zambia to serve the country and people in general.

“There is nothing of being shy or fear when you have a vision for your country. I should not be intimidated because I have been out of the country for some time. That is not an issue. Let me tell you something Kachali, if you look at the statistics in terms of money people living outside contribute, it’s so much more. Last year alone, statistics show that over US$250 million dollars came from people living outside the country. Money is coming in as far as I can see. So, what I am saying is that I have been contributing to my country all the time in those lines.

That is point number one,” Prof Chirwa said. “Point number two, is that now I want to help my country at government level in ensuring that our riches trickle down to the poor in villages and shanty areas. These are people who have had no tangible help for a long time. That is where my focus and support is.”
Asked if he had support from Zambians and other government officials, Prof Chirwa said he was satisfied with the support he is receiving from both ordinary Zambians and MMD officials.

“I have got ministers who are giving me a lot of support. They actually call me all the time here in the UK. But that is not the case. What I mean is that support is there, but I am not supported as Clive Chirwa living outside but because Clive Chirwa has got good economic policies. And these are the policies I will put forward to save this nation from poverty,” he said.

Asked what he would do if the MMD convention is held before September 2010, as the party’s constitution does not allow someone to contest for presidency when they have not served in the party for three and above years, Prof Chirwa said if that was done then it would be clear that someone was behind to cut him off.

“Because what I have been told by some senior MMD officials is that the convention will take place in December 2010, which will mean by then I will be eligible to vie for party presidency. But if the convention is held before December 2010, then someone within the MMD system is trying to cut me off. However, I am a democrat, I will simply say no!

Since you have disqualified me, I am not going to participate in the MMD presidency, and that I am going to stand down. I am a democrat and I believe in the law and should actually be adhered to. Yes, I am not gonna go with my candidature,” Prof Chirwa said.
Asked further whether he would join other parties such as UPND or PF in an event that he is barred in the MMD, Prof Chirwa said he was not prepared to be jumping from one party to another.

“No! I will remain MMD. I have made up my decision to be an MMD member and I am going to work hard with anybody in the party because I have more respect to this party,” Prof Chirwa said.
And Prof Chirwa said he met Hichilema and Sata because he believed in politics of development and dialogue.

“When I met Honourable Hichilema and Honourable Sata, it was because they are citizens of Zambia, because they are also contributing to this country. I am not yet an MMD president, I am just a candidate and therefore there is nothing wrong meeting fellow Zambians. I actually met citizens of Zambia who according to the bill of rights in our Constitution allows everybody to meet anyone whether being a foreigner or not. And I met them on that particular basis,” Prof Chirwa said.

He said it was wrong for President Mwanawasa to suggest that he was planning to merge MMD with the opposition.

“I am not in office yet, I am just a university professor at the moment. So, I am allowed to meet anybody so that I learn one or two things from them. And doing that as an expert in learning is extremely important, really it’s very important for me to understand how our country is being portrayed to other people from different perspectives as well as in the opposition eyes,” he said.

Prof Chirwa said he would continue to meet people countrywide in an effort to identify problems they were facing.

“It’s not about merging with others at all. It’s all about learning from others, especially those who have contributed a lot to this country. These people are Zambians and being in the opposition is not a disqualification to an extent that they should not even be greeted,” said Prof Chirwa.

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Good results, but efforts must be stepped up

Good results, but efforts must be stepped up
By Editor
Wednesday January 02, 2008 [03:00]

The grade seven results announced by education minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa on Monday may not be desirable, but they point to a positive future if only the pace of progress can be stepped up.

Looking at the statistics, it is clear that something positive has come out in terms of the number of primary school children who will move on to another important stage of their education. The pass rate of 60.33 per cent when compared to last year's 52.65 per cent is a feat not to be simply ignored and we should hold all those involved in achieving such a result in very high esteem.

Of course number one on the list of those to be praised are the teachers, who despite being subjected to difficult conditions in recent years, have stayed faithful and committed to the noble cause of ensuring that our children continue to benefit from a full course of education.

We are saying all this because we are fully aware that the right to education not only occupies a central place in human rights but is also very essential for the exercise of all other human rights, especially those inclined towards human development. As an empowerment right, it cannot be disputed that education is a key vehicle through which economically and socially marginalised children, youth and adults alike can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.

There are many reasons why as much as possible, it should be endeavoured that children are kept in school systems because we know that schools not only offer a safe environment for them, but are an avenue through which children learn to pick up life skills that are necessary as they grow up and develop into adults.

For the usually vulnerable girl children who are exposed to all sorts of risks when they are not in school, putting them into school provides a safe environment against vices such as sexual abuse, exploitation and early marriages. For many children in rural areas where life conditions are difficult, schools also provide a safe haven for them because in most cases that is the only place they are likely to have access to latrines, clean water and possibly meals and health care.

But as we speak right now, amidst excitement with the progress registered this year for grade seven results, most of the basics required for a decent education for young children do not exist and a lot has to be done if we are to claim a desirable state of education for children. For instance, we still need to be concerned that out of the 315,177 pupils who entered for the 2007 exams, only 288,708 actually wrote the exams.

We should probe and find out why a total of 26,469 candidates were absent during the examinations. What really happened to them? Where are they? Do they have a future to look forward to? What about the other 39.67 per cent of the 288,708 children that have not made it to the next level? Where are these children going? Are they all going to be repeaters or is this the end of their road to education? All these questions are important and they need to be answered.

Further, now that the numbers are going up in terms of pupils qualifying to secondary education, do we have the institutional and infrastructural capacity to absorb the new numbers? As the number of pupils going to grade eight goes up, are there corresponding efforts in terms of increasing capacity both in terms of institutional and infrastructural development? How many more new schools are being built in order to take care of the new numbers without necessarily overstretching or overburdening the few schools that are available? Are we training enough teachers for secondary or high school education in order to match the obviously increasing demand from the high pass rate being recorded at primary level?

We are asking these questions because we know that while it may not be realistic, the ideal situation should be that all the candidates who sit for grade seven examinations should be guaranteed of a place in some school within our education system in case the most improbable happened that all of them made it to the next level. We are saying this because we are acutely aware that education for all is one of the Millennium Development Goals that need to be met by our country by the year 2015. However, for the education goal to be met, we believe that whatever actions we take will need to address both human and material needs - infrastructure, materials such as books as well as teachers - and of course the organic requirements of getting all children into school and making sure they complete a quality education. These may also include gender equality in society, good health and nutrition, and particularly the strong backing of governments and communities for all education policies.

As we stated at the beginning, it is encouraging that this year's grade seven results reflect a positive outlook for the future and if they can be improved upon year-by-year, the future of the children of this country may glitter more and more with the passage of time. Again, this will entirely depend upon the kinds of actions to be taken by the government and other stakeholders. Progressive and pragmatic - and not utopian - actions will be required to ensure that every child benefits from a full course of primary education not only by 2015, but for the foreseeable future as well.

So as we bask in the glory of a 60.3 per cent pass rate, let us not forget that there is actually need for every effort to be made in order to step up the pace recorded thus far.



NEPAD notes progress in good governance

NEPAD notes progress in good governance
By Joan Chirwa
Wednesday January 02, 2008 [03:00]

THE New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has said several African countries, Zambia inclusive, made notable progress towards good governance during 2007. And the institution has stated that the quality of governance in African countries this year would be dependent on the extent to which foreign investors require good political governance as a precondition for conducting business.

NEPAD, an African Union (AU) initiative aimed at eradicating challenges faced by African countries, has expressed optimism that the trend in good governance would continue.

In its weekly electronic publication, NEPAD further noted that the initiation of legal proceedings against Zambia’s former president Frederick Chiluba on corruption charges was a good sign of good democratic governance for the country.

“The overriding trend over the year was towards democratic and peaceful changes of political leadership,” NEPAD stated. “Nevertheless, as governance crises persist in Zimbabwe and the Horn of Africa, and as Chinese investors make fewer demands on African countries to respect democratic principles, optimism on the future of good governance in Africa should be tempered with caution.”

NEPAD further stated that Chinese investors, in particular, had been willing to grant developmental and financial assistance with little regard to governance and human rights records, removing the incentive for African countries to comply with standards of good governance.

Sudan, in particular, continued to be the greatest recipient of Chinese foreign direct investment despite a continuing governance crisis in its western Darfur region.
“While standards of governance vary from country to country, there seems to be reason to be optimistic,” NEPAD stated. “More African governments appear to be willing to open themselves to scrutiny and to create more transparent political systems.”

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Combating the wildest enemy

Combating the wildest enemy
By Editor
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

WE agree with President Levy Mwanawasa when he says that on the basis of the macro-economic statistics so far, some head start has been made towards economic development and poverty eradication. As the Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu tells us, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We cannot deny that a few things here and there have been put in place by the government in a bid to fight poverty and in order to reduce the intolerable levels of inequality which exist in the country.

However, like many observers have repeatedly said, poverty is not about positive economic spreadsheets alone. It is about reality. Poverty is about hunger, shelter, sickness, unemployment and social services such as education. If many of our people still can not afford a decent meal, we would be mocking the hungry by telling the nation that the economy has improved by 6.2 per cent. And when the poor say they are not going to eat figures, that is exactly what they mean because they know the face of hunger as it is a phenomenon they meet squarely on a daily basis.

So, as we sit comfortably in our swing-chairs in our air-conditioned offices and descend into dogmatic mantras and theories about poverty and underdevelopment, we should be aware that there are a lot of Zambians who know poverty not by meaningless nomenclatures or some other vague language codes, but through their daily encounter with it. Those affected by poverty know it through hunger, lack of medicines in hospitals, through failure to send their children to school and through lack of jobs. And nobody - regardless of their scholarly refinement or ideological positioning - can better define poverty to the poor than they can themselves.

And when people say the poor are angry about their state of affairs, one may wonder and pose the question: "Angry at who?" Well, it is a difficult question, especially in a world where we have 'positive' or motivational speakers who tell us that being poor is a choice because we all have an opportunity to do something about our situation and that as long as we do A,B,C and D, then we can see ourselves at the top of the social ladder.

Second, it is assumed that in many democratic societies like ours, every citizen has a role to play in terms of the destiny of their society and they can, for instance, choose or recall leaders as and when they deem it fit. And that every citizen should have a say in whatever happens in their society, be it in the economic, political, social or cultural spheres.

However, things do not usually work out as they sound idealistically. In addressing poverty, there are many factors and variables we need to consider. In addressing poverty, we also have to look at the material conditions that exist.

For instance, if the material conditions are historically designed in order to perpetuate inequality between one set of people and another, no amount of motivational speeches will alter the balance in favour of the poor or the historically disadvantaged. For example, if there is abhorrent inefficiency, chronic corruption, severe nepotism and all other superlative-laced isms in our government system, there is very little to be expected by the disadvantaged or poor from such a system insofar as their economic emancipation is concerned because such a system only works to self-replicate or to self-reproduce so that the status quo is maintained.

In short, what we are saying is that much as we do not expect the poor to sit idly and hope for manna to fall from heaven, those in leadership of the country should create conditions necessary for the ability of people to progress upwards in many ways of their lives. Yes, we are alive to the fact that nobody holds the monopoly of wisdom in terms of finding answers to the historical question of poverty and underdevelopment.

However, what we are saying is that the government should also be seen as trying to remove the contradictions that exist everywhere so that its conduct does not provide an opportunity for one set of people to perpetually stand in an advantageous position while the rest of the majority of the people are deeply steeped in the painful jaws of poverty.

Let those who are charged with the responsibility of governing not deliberately create conditions that make poverty an endemic phenomenon and make it look like it is an insurmountable challenge. As Charles Darwin says, if the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin! So that is the message to those in the government. Great is your sin if poverty will be caused by the conditions you create for the people.

It is unacceptable that while the majority of the poor and hungry Zambians lie frozen to death, a small section of wealthy Zambians should have food rotting behind their gates, especially when it is possible for the government to create conditions for equal, fair and just distribution of our resources.

We therefore urge the government to consider poverty the number one enemy of the people of this country and demonstrate through pragmatism that it is capable of eradicating poverty, especially by starting to eliminate the long list of man-made contradictions and vices - such as corruption, inefficiency, nepotism - that work to perpetuate the misery of the majority of the Zambian people. This is urgent because we are all agreed that poverty is the wildest enemy which we need to combat ourselves against.



Let's make poverty our sworn enemy, advises Mwaanga

Let's make poverty our sworn enemy, advises Mwaanga
By Florence Bupe
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

LET us make poverty our sworn enemy as we enter the new year, former information minister Vernon Mwaanga has advised. Giving his reflections on the year 2007 yesterday, Mwaanga said although Zambia had recorded limited successes particularly at macroeconomic level, there were also a number of failures and disappointments for ordinary citizens.

“2007 has been a year of mixed blessings. We have witnessed limited successes, particularly at macroeconomic level, but it has also been a year of failure and disappointments. We have witnessed a growing Ramadan of discontent among poor people who feel we are not doing enough to address their needs,” he said.

Mwaanga said the country had recorded significant statistical achievements, but empahsised that there was need to do more to meaningfully reduce poverty levels.

“During the last year, we also experienced statistical achievements by way of the single digit inflation rate, exchange rate stability and enhanced GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth. However, poverty levels in the country have remained disturbingly high,” Mwaanga said. “I’ve always accepted that the fight against poverty is not going to be a sprint run, it’s going to be a marathon. So it’s important to get fundamentals in place and do more to fight poverty.”

Mwaanga warned that it was not in order to leave the fight against poverty to cooperating partners but that their efforts should only be complementary.

“Our cooperating partners can only help but as Zambians, we need to do more to address the problem of poverty and glaring inequalities among our people. Statistics show us that a great majority of our people are poorer now than they were at independence, and this is not a credit to all of us collectively,” Mwaanga said. “The economic trickle down has been painfully disappointing. No matter how successful the economy may be, if it does not deliver the basic needs such as food and employment, the people will become disillusioned and angry.”

Mwaanga recommended that this year, the government should focus on beefing up resources in social sectors such as education, health and housing infrastructure.

“The struggle for economic independence should be about bridging the gap between pronouncements and achievements. We need to tone down the trumpets of pronouncements and focus on achievements. If we don’t practically address the growing poverty levels, we risk losing the gains that have been made,” he said.

And Mwaanga observed that the country has registered progress on the political scene.

“I must accept that one of the major achievements is the constitutional making process which is in progress. I must, however, urge those mandated to draw up the country’s constitution to build on this progress that has been made as we enter this new year. As we embark on the process, it is also important for our leadership to show high levels of maturity,” he advised.

He reiterated that Zambia needed a good constitution that would protect its people long after its architects were gone.

“The people who are making the constitution will not always be there, so it’s important that they put aside personal interests and concentrate on coming up with a constitution that will protect every Zambian at every level of society,” said Mwaanga.

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Zambia to join meeting on Nacala corridor

Zambia to join meeting on Nacala corridor
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

ZAMBIA, Malawi and Mozambique are early next month expected to hold a meeting where top on the agenda will be the review of port facilities at Nacala. The meeting, organised by the Central East African Railways, will also present an opportunity for the three countries to exchange ideas for fostering greater economic growth as well as attract new investors from each other.

“This is the Nacala Port users’ conference which is taking place during the first week of February in the Northern Province of Mozambique,” said Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EPCCI) chairperson Dr George Chabwera. “A number of members of the Eastern Province Chamber will take part in this conference as they are closer to the Nacala port. This is also mainly because of the Chipata-Mchinji railway line currently being worked on, which is going to connect Zambia to the Nacala port.”

The Central East African Railways is currently managing the Malawian and Mozambican railway lines.

“There are a number of issues that are going to be discussed during the meeting such as benefits that Zambian businessmen can get from Nacala,” said Dr Chabwera.

Since the Great East Road connects the rest of Zambia to the Nacala corridor in Malawi and Mozambique, the European Union recently said the road needs more attention to ensure that infrastructure is in good condition.

The EU has also provided funding towards the rehabilitation of part of the Great East Road under its 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

The 10th EDF will however not fund the complete rehabilitation of the road, but will allow other co-operating partners to assist in funding for the road, which links Zambia to the Nacala corridor.

The Nacala corridor is seen to be one of the best transport options from Zambia to the ocean for different exports such as sugar and other locally produced goods.

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Enact new constitution in peace and tranquility, Levy urges Zambians

Enact new constitution in peace and tranquility, Levy urges Zambians
By Ntalasha Mutale
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has urged Zambians to unite and enact a new constitution in peace and tranquility as they enter the new year. In his New Year message to the nation on Monday night, President Mwanawsa urged Zambians to preserve the peace that he said has been enjoyed for so many years, even in the festive season.

“We as Zambians should show the maturity and magnanimity that we have always demonstrated and prove that there can be unity in diversity. Let us bury our differences, deliberate issues objectively, and bequeath ourselves a constitution which posterity shall cherish,” President Mwanawasa said.

President Mwanawasa urged all stakeholders to show unity of purpose and commitment to the constitution making process.

“I would like to reiterate government’s commitment to ensuring the successful enactment of a people driven constitution. The National Constitutional Conference has been constituted to drive the process,” he said.

President Mwanawasa also said Zambia’s governance has recorded the country recognition by the international community as a favourable investment destination.

“As we enter the New Year, we should enhance good governance and prepare to be reviewed under the NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism,” President Mwanawasa said.

He said government in the past years through the Task Force followed up a number of cases of plunder and recovered several properties and monies.

He said the proceeds from the sales of these properties would be used for various programmes in the needy social sector.

President Mwanawasa also said government would in the coming year step up efforts aimed at reducing infections, expanding anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and mitigating mother to child transmission to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the social-economic development of the country.

“HIV/AIDS has been one of the contributing factors to the high number f children on the streets in the past few years,” he said.

He said the government had made headway in the rehabilitation of street children which had drastically reduced the number of children on the streets.

And President Mwanawasa said the incidences of child abuse and defilement were a great concern to the government.
“I am therefore happy to note that the judiciary has continued to impose stiff and appropriate punishment on the offenders as a deterrent. I call upon guardians, parents and communities to ensure that the safety and protection of children is treated as a priority,” President Mwanawasa said.

He also said government was aware of the enormous challenge of providing adequate housing, water and sanitation and the building of capacities in local authorities.

“Enhanced capacity in the local authorities should enable them to take greater responsibility over their resources and improve service delivery within the context of the decentralization policy whose implementation is underway,” he said.

President Mwanawasa also said government would increase access to private sector investment through the programmes of Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission for Zambians to participate in the global economy.

He said that was a way of ensuring that women and youth were given an opportunity to exploit their entrepreneur capabilities to the fullest.
He said the creation of the multi-facility economic zones in Chambishi and Lusaka was another way of empowering the people and uplifting their living standards through job creation.

And President Mwanawasa said government had continued to ensure food security.

“This is a sign that our farmers have responded to the progressive government policies and to call for hard work. We pray to God to give us good rains this season so that our agricultural and horticultural production can increase further,” said President Mwanawasa.

He also said the government was working on long-term measures to deal with intermittent disruptions in the supply of petroleum. WM

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Kakoma advises Levy not to block Prof Chirwa from contesting MMD presi

Kakoma advises Levy not to block Prof Chirwa from contesting MMD presi
By Noel Sichalwe
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

United Party for National Development (UPND) spokesperson Charles Kakoma has advised President Mwanawasa not to block Professor Clive Chirwa from contesting the party presidency. Kakoma was commenting on President Mwanawasa's revelation that Professor Chirwa cannot succeed him. Kakoma said the MMD should realize that what happened in their party had a greater effect on the entire political landscape of the whole country.

"If President Mwanawasa does not believe in the forces of democracy, how then can he claim to be a democrat?" he asked. "In our view, he is then simply a hypocrite. We have raised this concern because this MMD tendency of disregarding a democratic election is what leads to electoral malpractices and stealing of votes. Now this shows the people of Zambia in general and Professor Chirwa in particular that the MMD is incapable of being champions of democratic development in our country."

He said leadership should be treated as a preserve of every bonafide Zambian and not only for a few that could be woken up in the night to be handpicked to be Zambian President.

""As Head of State, President Mwanawasa has a constitutional duty to protect and promote democracy at all levels of governance. Already if Mwanawasa is speaking like this, what are his plans for the 2011 general elections? What forces does President Mwanawasa want to use to determine the 2011 elections outcome if he is against democratic forces," he asked.

In an exclusive interview last Wednesday at South Luangwa National Park where he was on holiday, President Mwanawasa said he was against Professor Chirwa succeeding him pointing out that Zambia did not have a shortage of leaders.

"Now, let me give a timely warning to people who have been outside. They have been outside living in a foreign environment. They come back to the country and think that we are all foolish; we are all incapable of providing leadership and now they are God sent people," President Mwanawasa said. "I am against Professor Chirwa and I command a lot of support in the MMD and my supporters will not support him."

Professor Chirwa has been living in England for close to twenty years. He is now lecturing at Boston University as a Professor of Crashworthiness. He intends to come back to settle in Zambia in 2009 in readiness to initially contest the MMD and later the Republican presidency.

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ZMD suspends operations

ZMD suspends operations
By Florence Bupe
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

THE Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) yesterday temporarily suspended operations following two subsequent power failures. ZMD senior meteorologist Jacob Nkomoki confirmed in an interview that the department had lost vital weather forecasting data as a result of the power failures.

“We have been facing intermittent power failures since yesterday (Sunday) and this has affected our system. Our computer systems are down and we have already instructed our technicians to try and retrieve the lost data,” he said.

Nkomoki disclosed that the data that was lost was the one running from December 30.
However, he explained that there would not be much of a shift during the next few days from the rainfall conditions that characterised the last dekad.

“There hasn’t been much of a change from the last forecast. We expect similar conditions to prevail over the next few days,” he said.

The last dekad from December 11 to 20, 2007 saw the country record widespread rainfall, particularly increased amounts and distribution in Southern Province as a result of Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) activities.

And ZMD has advised farmers who have not yet completed their planting activities to plant early maturing maize seed as the planting season draws to a close.

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Zambia to join meeting on Nacala corridor

Zambia to join meeting on Nacala corridor
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

ZAMBIA, Malawi and Mozambique are early next month expected to hold a meeting where top on the agenda will be the review of port facilities at Nacala. The meeting, organised by the Central East African Railways, will also present an opportunity for the three countries to exchange ideas for fostering greater economic growth as well as attract new investors from each other.

“This is the Nacala Port users’ conference which is taking place during the first week of February in the Northern Province of Mozambique,” said Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EPCCI) chairperson Dr George Chabwera. “A number of members of the Eastern Province Chamber will take part in this conference as they are closer to the Nacala port. This is also mainly because of the Chipata-Mchinji railway line currently being worked on, which is going to connect Zambia to the Nacala port.”

The Central East African Railways is currently managing the Malawian and Mozambican railway lines.

“There are a number of issues that are going to be discussed during the meeting such as benefits that Zambian businessmen can get from Nacala,” said Dr Chabwera.

Since the Great East Road connects the rest of Zambia to the Nacala corridor in Malawi and Mozambique, the European Union recently said the road needs more attention to ensure that infrastructure is in good condition.

The EU has also provided funding towards the rehabilitation of part of the Great East Road under its 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

The 10th EDF will however not fund the complete rehabilitation of the road, but will allow other co-operating partners to assist in funding for the road, which links Zambia to the Nacala corridor.

The Nacala corridor is seen to be one of the best transport options from Zambia to the ocean for different exports such as sugar and other locally produced goods.

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EPAs will not advantage Zambia, says DPI

EPAs will not advantage Zambia, says DPI
By Nomusa Michelo
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

DEVELOPMENT Partnership International (DPI) Zambia media and strategy coordinator Richard Musauka has said the interim Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) will not advantage the country if there is no industrial development. In a statement, Musauka said the setting up of industries would undoubtedly put African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries on upright track to supply the open world markets with competitive value added products.

“The recently signed interim Economic Partnership Agreements cannot advantage Zambia and other African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries which have signed, unless substantial assistance from donors is targeted at the setting-up of industrial infrastructure which must target increased, balanced and sustainable trade with the developed world,” he said.

He said in order to reach a level of industrialisation, there was need to eliminate the threat of expensive imports from industrialised countries that ACP countries have been subjected to due to the lack of industries.

“The other important factor which must be taken into account is that of industrial technology transfer from the industrialised world into the ACP countries which have to enable the developing world and particularly sub-Saharan Africa which in the African region is much behind in achieving the MDGs,” he said. “If the steps to setup sufficient and suitable processing and manufacturing public and private infrastructure are put into place in the ACP countries and in particular, the case being for Zambia we are not going to make advantage benefits from the interim Economic Partnership Agreements.”

He said the government should seriously take into consideration to ensure that more industries are set up so that the country is not exporting a lot of raw material.

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More funds required for road rehabilitation works, says RDA

More funds required for road rehabilitation works, says RDA
By Mwala Kalaluka in Choma
Tuesday January 01, 2008 [03:00]

THE Road Development Agency (RDA) has said the demand for funds to rehabilitate collapsed infrastructure will increase this year due to the unusual rain patterns being experienced in the country. And the RDA has blamed the washing away of two vital bridges on the 69 kilometre Maamba-Batoka road on vandalism. The development, which has been caused by fast flowing water channels, has led to the cutting-off of Sinazongwe from the rest of the country.

RDA acting chief executive officer Erasmus Chilundika said in an interview that this year’s financial requirement for emergency repair works on infrastructure damaged by the rains would undoubtedly exceed last year’s K13 billion.

“No doubt there is need for more money, but also for timely releases of the monies, because if funds are released in September and you have a backlog of repair works, that leads you to the rainy season. So far, though our engineers have started repairing some of the infrastructure (for 2007), but there is very little they can do under such conditions,” Chilundika said. “The total budget was K13 billion and I think K4 billion was released, with another K2 billion being released last month and so that brings to about K6 billion released out of the K13 billion that was budgeted for.”

He said more roads and bridges were already getting damaged following the onset of the rainy season.

“So we need more money and we need that money now so that preparatory works can begin and so that during the dry season we can complete those damaged structures,” Chilundika said. “We are going to join hands with the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU). We just need to give them a report of what emergency materials we need.”

And Chilundika described the situation on the Maamba-Batoka road as precarious.
“The issue here is that the culverts have been vandalised, weakening the whole structure,” he said. “But more than that, the rainy patterns have been unusual, that being the case the structures have been weakened.”

He said the RDA would place some bailey bridges at the spots within the next three days in order to open up the road.

Meanwhile, over 250 vehicles were stranded on both sides of the Katwereza Bridge on the Lusaka-Chirundu road after a culvert gave in on Sunday.

The busy road has also been cut-off after a section collapsed in Siavonga’s Lusitu area.
And about 3,000 villagers in chiefs Hanjalika and Mwanachingwala of Mazabuka have been left homeless after the Magoye River burst its banks causing severe flooding.
Several herds of cattle, goats and chickens have not been accounted for while household property and maize fields have been destroyed.

Mazabuka district commissioner, Misheck Chiinda, who inspected the area, described the situation as a disaster.

Chiinda soon after the tour of the affected areas urged the Office of the Vice-President to quickly send tents, food, blankets and chlorine to the affected areas to avert a possible outbreak of disease.

He said 520 homes and 30 toilets have been completely submerged in water.

Chiinda said in Magoye township 60 homes and 30 toilets have been submerged in water, while Chitongo area in chief Hanjalika had 60 homesteads swept away by the floods.
He also said a villager of Chitongo was trapped on an island with his 15 herds of cattle because of the high water levels.

Chiinda said the bursting of the river started around midnight on Sunday.
He, however, said no casualties had been recorded and that the stranded villagers had been accommodated at Chitongo and Magoye basic schools.

In chief Mwanachingwala’s area, five villages along the banks of the Magoye River have also been swept away by floods leaving 400 families stranded.

Chief Mwanachingwala described the situation as a disaster which needed urgent government attention.

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