Tuesday, March 18, 2008
By Mwala Kalaluka
Tuesday March 18, 2008 [03:00]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa yesterday said he is not for the idea of adopting any of the five expelled Patriotic Front (PF) members of parliament because the MMD has capable people. And President Mwanawasa said the problem of load shedding of electricity which is prevailing in the country has become unavoidable. Addressing the press before departure for Angola, President Mwanawasa directed members of the MMD’s national executive committee to develop a habit of consulting the top leadership before issuing important statements that bordered on policy.
President Mwanawasa said the expulsion of the five PF members of parliament was a sad development but that it was not his intention to comment on how other parties chose to conduct their own affairs. “Now, I am very skeptical about fresh elections because I do not know where this thing is going to end; they might decide to go to court,” President Mwanawasa said.
“If ultimately there should be by-elections, and I want to clear the point which was said by the chairman for information and publicity Benny Tetamashimba which appeared in the paper that we are going to adopt the six expelled members; I want to say that members of the national executive committee, when it comes to making important statements of policy, please develop a habit of consulting the top leadership. We have not decided whether we are going to adopt them all.”
President Mwanawasa said speaking for himself, he would not recommend the adoption of the expelled parliamentarians because it would be a discouragement to the ruling party membership.
“I can only speak for myself and this is the position I will take when we meet. I will not recommend that we should adopt any of the six,” President Mwanawasa said. “We have our own members who are quite capable of participating.”
President Mwanawasa said they adopted people from other parties in the past because such resigned from their parties before they were fired.“In this particular case, they waited until they were fired,” he said.
On the forthcoming general elections in Zimbabwe, President Mwanawasa said the best people could do for the moment was to “keep silent and pray that the best man wins”.
“To do otherwise is campaigning. So, I will not be drawn into discussing the situation in Zimbabwe,” he said. And President Mwanawasa said Angola was a very important neighbour to Zambia.
“Angola, after the long civil war, is a very important neighbour to this country and we would like to diversify trade with that country,” he said. “Angola is the closest route to the sea and so we would like the rail line to Lobito to be opened and that it should come to Lumwana, Solwezi and Chingola. We are busy trying to look for an investor who can do this. We produce a lot of products that can find ready market in that region.”
President Mwanawasa, however, declined to give more comment on the new mining tax, saying things had reached a stage where it seemed as if the government was at loggerheads with the mining investors, when in fact not.
“Most of them are beginning to see why we have increased this tax. What is important is to bring them closer so that we can develop this country,” he said. “It is already law.”
And President Mwanawasa in a statement last evening said there were things that could be done collectively by Zambians to even possibly minimise the effects of load shedding.
“I share the serious concerns of each and every one of our citizens on the disruption that this load shedding is causing on our industries and lives,” he stated. “Everyone would have noted that except when there is a technical fault, load shedding usually takes place in the morning, at lunch time and in the early evening.”
President Mwanawasa stated that it was therefore cardinal that citizens took actions such as the less use of electricity as a way of reducing load shedding.
“Government is also looking at encouraging coal based electricity generation using the Maamba Coal Mine, which will soon be revamped after a strategic partner comes on board, but it will take years for these efforts to produce increased capacity because of the long lead time required to construct the facilities and to get the generators manufactured,” President Mwanawasa said.
He assured that in time the generators being rehabilitated would return into service at least by March next year.