Saturday, March 01, 2008
...as Parley Committee advises them to come up with alternative tax proposals
By Times Reporter
A PARLIAMENTARY Watchdog Committee has advised mining firms to submit alternative tax proposals following their resistance of the mines tax regime proposed by the Government which they claim is detrimental to their operations. The Expanded Committee on Estimates yesterday told the Chamber of Mines in Zambia (CMZ) that they should come up with proposals and submit to the Committee, which would hear their presentation tomorrow.
Appearing before the Watchdog Committee, the CMZ general manager, Frederick Bantubonse said the new tax regime was unfair to the investors and suggested that an urgent meeting to review the levels of taxation be called.
Mr Bantubonse argued that the proposed tax regime by the Government would undermine the operations and sustainability of the mining industry.
He said although mining companies agreed with the principle of fair and equitable distribution of earnings from the mineral resources, the decision to arrive at the new taxes should be agreed through dialogue.
“It is appreciated and understood that as a sovereign State, Zambia has the right to pass laws as it sees fit in the overall national long-term interest. It is in the light of this that development agreements were entered into,” Mr Bantubonse said.
He said the existing Development Agreements (DAs) which set out the long-term relationship between investors and the Government formed the basis for sustainable inflow of billions of dollars in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Mr Bantubonse said since privatisation, copper production had more than doubled to over 500,000 tonnes per year in 2007 and with further ongoing investments, the output was expected to exceed 1,000,000 tonnes in the next few years.
Lusaka Central member of Parliament (MP), Guy Scott (PF) accused the mining investors of been confrontational, aggressive and defensive.
Dr Scott said since this was the second time that the mining investors were appearing before the Committee, it was anticipated that they should come up with proposals that they felt the Committee should present to the House before finally reaching the Government.
But Mr Bantubonse said that the CMZ members had confirmed their willingness to discuss and renegotiate the agreements in the context of the changed economic circumstances.
He argued that the mining industry was highly capital-intensive and served a market that was unique in nature. He further said the industry required continuous investment for its sustenance and growth.
“It is in this context that the tax proposals have to be seen in terms of equitable distribution of the surpluses rising out of the current high prices. A scrutiny of the new mining tax proposals by tax experts has shown that the effective tax rate is in fact significantly higher than those indicated by the Government,” Mr Bantubonse said.
It was at that point that Mr Beene suggested to Mr Bantubonse that they go back and consolidate their proposals on the tax regime. Mr Beene said since the matter was urgent and of great importance, the proposals from Mr Bantubonse should be brought back to the Committee tomorrow.
“Because this matter is so serious, you have to prepare a consolidated proposal which you should bring back on Saturday. We do not usually sit on Saturday but because of the urgency, we have no option but to do so,” Mr Beene said.
He advised that the mining investors should not underrate the role of the Committee, as the House and the Government as a whole took its recommendations seriously.
Mr Bantubonse, however, continued and said that during this period, the extent of investment and cost of operations had increased substantially due to the increases in the prices of commodities, manpower and other inputs. He said these aspects seemed to have been overlooked in the tax proposals.
“Member companies are concerned that implementation of the proposed tax regime in its current form will adversely affect the long-term sustainability of the mining industry and will not be in the national interest.
‘‘We welcome constructive and open dialogue with the Government as soon as possible, to come up with a viable mining tax regime prior to the current Bill being enacted by Parliament into law,” Mr Bantubonse said.
While the Chamber of Mines did not have comments on the aspects of the Income Tax Bill, it was of the view that the portion of it be relevant to the mining industry. As a result, the Chamber was ready to dialogue with the Government before the Bill was enacted.
On the Value Added Tax (VAT) Amendments Bill, the Chamber submitted to the Committee that it did not have any objections to the definition of ‘‘an operating lease’’ and a ‘‘finance lease’’.
Similarly, the Chamber did not have any objections to the clause that states that ‘‘provide for the eligibility of diplomats and other designated officials to claim VAT paid on eligible goods and services’’.
Mr Bantubonse further said that the Chamber did not have objections to the Customs and Excise Bill.
On the introduction of export levy on cotton seed and copper concentrates, Mr Bantubonse said the current position regarding facilities for the processing of copper concentrates into finished copper were not adequate to process all the concentrates arising from operations in Zambia.
He submitted that there should be revision of customs and excise duty on cement, copper, unrefined copper and copper waste and scrap.
“We will accept the principle of fair and equitable distribution of earnings from the mineral resources for all stakeholders. We do not believe that the proposed tax regime for the mining sector will achieve this,” Mr Bantubonse said.
By KASUBA MULENGA and ANGELA CHISHIMBA
MINING companies yesterday submitted their counter-proposal on the new tax regime in which they agreed on the three per cent mineral royalty but objected to the 25 per cent windfall tax in preference to 12.5 per cent. But Secretary to the Treasury, Evans Chibiliti, said Government would look at the mines’ proposal but would go ahead to enact all the proposed bills on tax. And Government yesterday presented the Mines and Minerals Development Bill to revise the law relating to mining and processing of minerals.
Submitting the counter-proposal to the parliamentary expanded committee on estimates and revenue, Chamber of Mines of Zambia general manager, Frederick Bantubonse, said the mines would only accept the introduction of either the windfall tax or variable profit tax and not both.
But Mr Chibiliti, who was accompanied by Ministry of Finance and National Planning permanent secretary for budget affairs, Emmanuel Ngulube, said cabinet had already directed him to start implementing new tax measures starting on April 1 this year.
He said the decision to come up with a new mining tax regime, was made by Cabinet and that neither he nor the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Ng’andu Magande, had the mandate to change anything.
“The mines should have faith and confidence in us because we have worked with them for a long time. We are not out there to destroy them but we mean well,” Mr Chibiliti said.
Mr Chibiliti said Government was aware that the mines had hired consultants who were making tax calculations for them and urged the mines to consider engaging their own accountants because they understood their operations well.
And when committee chairperson, Godfrey Beene, asked him about Government’s stance on the possible litigation the mines might take, Mr Chibiliti said Attorney-General, Mumba Malila, was ready to defend the tax regime in court.
“The interests of the people override the fear for litigation,” Mr Chibiliti said.
Earlier, Mr Bantubonse said although the mines agreed on the three per cent royalty, they, however, wanted it to be graduating between one and three per cent.
He told the committee that the chamber was against the proposed 30 per cent corporate income tax but wanted the current 25 per cent to continue.
And the mining industry being capital intensive, the chamber was against any changes to the capital allowance structure and recommended a continued reduction of 100 per cent of the capital expenditure during the year of incurrence to maintain viability of investments and companies’ ability to fund the same.
The chamber also objected to the proposal that withholding tax should be levied as indicated in the Customs and Excise Amendment Bill of 2008.
Mr Bantubonse said the levies should be deferred until sufficient smelting and refining capacity was successfully commissioned within Zambia that could process the entire quantities of concentrates, reverts, copper, mattes, unrefined copper, copper waste and scrap.
When Patriotic From member of Parliament for Lusaka Central, Dr Guy Scott, asked why the chamber had made a counter proposal late, Chamber of Mines president, Passmore Hamukoma, said they did not have enough time to meet all their members.
Mr Hamukoma said the proposals submitted to the committee did not reflect all mine owners’ views because some of them could not agree with them.
And REBECCA CHILESHE reports that Government will not officially inform mining companies that there will be no re-negotiation on the proposed tax regime but will compel them to pay in accordance with the new law.
Mr Magande, said this in Parliament on Thursday when he was winding up debate on the budget allocation for his ministry.
He said when the Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill of 2008 is passed, Government would, apart from compelling the mine owners to pay the new tax, also be able to track the accounts and other monies being made by the mining companies.
Mr Magande was answering a question from Mufulira MP Marjory Masiye (PF) who wanted to know whether Government had written to the mining companies informing them that it would not re-negotiate the proposed taxes.
“There is no need for us to put it in writing that there is no room for re-negotiations with these mining companies. We do not have to remind any tax-payer to pay their taxes because they are supposed to abide by the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice, George Kunda presented presented the Mines and Minerals Development Bill to revise the law relating to mining and processing of minerals.
The 2008 amendment bill would repeal and replace the Mines and Minerals Act of 1995.
The bill would be tabled in Parliament for second reading next week.
And Government also presented an excess expenditure Appropriation Bill to approve a supplementary budget amounting to K83, 341, 135, 177 which was required for services during the financial year ending 2005.
Mr Magande presented the bill.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Amusaa Mwanawasa, referred the bill to the committee on estimates.
Saturday March 01, 2008 [03:00]
If our country is to move forward, honest and hard work is demanded of all of us. And employees have a strict duty to give their employers efficient and conscientious work for which they have the right to a just salary or wage.
For our brothers and sisters who are Christians, work provides an opportunity for each one of them to show that they are images of God. This is because they believe that God is creator and they show forth God’s image when they continue creation through their work, their labour, their engagement in shaping the future of our country.
But the dignity of work must be recognised with just wages and safe conditions. All those who employ others should give employees an honest salary and then ask them for more substantial support.
We should condemn all forms of businesses that place profit before persons and are based on the ruthless exploitation of one man by another. All workers have the right to receive a just salary or wage. And every effort should be made that the enterprise becomes a community of persons.
This is the way both employers and employees and their representatives in the labour movement should approach work. Failure to adhere to these principles causes a lot of problems in the working place.
Low salaries or wages lead to demoralisation of the workers. And where this prevails, moral decay sets in. Malingering, pilfering, thieving and all sorts of vices creep in.
Productivity declines. And when this happens, it becomes increasingly impossible for salaries or wages and working conditions to be improved. It is a vicious cycle.
Therefore, we have to simultaneously avoid two things: laziness among the workers, and injustice, unfairness from employers.
A life of ignoble ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack of either desire or power to strive after great things, is as little worth of a nation as of an individual.
We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbour; who is prompt to help a friend; but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail; but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present, merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom this purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, he shows he deserves his good fortune.
But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labour as a period not of preparation but of mere enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer on the earth’s surface; and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise. A mere life of ease is not in the end a satisfactory life, and above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world.
As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is a nation that has no history.
Thrice, happy is the nation that has got a glorious history forged through hard work and sacrifices. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
We say all these things because we are not seeing much work being done to improve the working and living conditions of the working people of this country.
It is difficult to understand why our opposition members of parliament whom, some of them, not many years ago participated in putting up and pushing through Parliament legislation whose net effect was the castration of our trade unions, paving way for the owners of capital to rape and humiliate the workers of this country. There is very little that the Ministry of Labour, under the current laws and conditions, can do to meaningfully improve the conditions of our workers.
It is also not good for our brothers and sisters who have taken up leadership in the trade unions to do very little other then cry for mercy and hope this will help improve the conditions of their members. It seems we want to achieve good things without working for them; without putting up a good fight as if the workers of this country have ever achieved anything for themselves without a grueling fight.
What can be achieved with men who fear the strenuous life, who seek victory without a fight and who fear the only national life which is really worth leading?
They seem to believe in that cloistered life which saps the hardy virtues in a nation, as it saps them in the individual; or else they are wedded to that base spirit of gain and greed which recognises in commercialism the be-all and end-all of national life, instead of idealising that, though an indispensable element, it is after all but one of the many elements that go to make up true national greatness.
No country can long endure if its foundations are not laid deep in material prosperity which comes from thrift, from business energy and enterprise, from hard work, unsparing effort in the fields of industrial activity; but neither was any nation ever yet truly great if it relied on material prosperity alone.
Our country calls not for the life of ease, but for the life of strenuous endeavour. Let us therefore boldly face the life of hard work, resolve to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods.
This is the way we believe we should look at our labour issues. This is the only way we can build for our workers’ better conditions. We say this because you cannot build a nation without building the people.
This is the way we should look at the work of our labour movement and our trade union leaders. This is the way we should look at the duties of the Ministry of Labour and the rights of our workers and the obligations of those who employ others. It is often said that there can be no sweet without sweat.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday March 01, 2008 [03:00]
‘PROUDLY Zambian’ campaign chairperson Mabel Mung’omba has said promoting consumption of locally produced goods and services provides the best option to deliver social freedom to the majority poor. And Trade Kings Limited has said the current power outages posse a threat to the successful implementation of the ‘Proudly Zambian’ campaign.
Commerce minister Felix Mutati has implored sectors involved in the Proudly Zambian Campaign not to relent because the campaign would achieve its intended goals.
Speaking during the ‘Proudly Zambian’ campaign stakeholders pre-launch meeting at Sandy’s Creation on Thursday night, Mung’omba said while the economy had recorded positive growth at macro level, most people at the bottom were still living in poverty.
“We have seen that the economy has somehow been doing well at macro level because all indicators are showing positive signs but at micro-economic level the situation is different,” Mung’omba said.
“So we feel the support of locally manufactured goods and services will help us achieve social freedom for all the people in the country because once the people at the bottom get empowered they will eventually choke those at the top and eventually rise to the top themselves.”
And Trade Kings human resource manager Christopher Pasomba said the current power shortages had negatively impacted on the productive sector.
“The current power shortages are a threat to the successful implementation of the Buy Zambia Campaign,” Pasomba said.
“The continued shortages of power if not carefully managed may compromise the quality of our products which will in turn not only affect the quality of life of the Zambian consumer but the region as a whole where these products are sold. Similarly, load shed is slowing production as more and more man hours are being lost as result.”
Earlier, Mutati thanked the private sector for having actively participated in the campaign.
“I know we can do it if we work hard. It is achievable,” said Mutati.
By Brighton Phiri and Patson Chilemba
Saturday March 01, 2008 [03:00]
Lusaka lawyer Dr Rodger Chongwe has described President Mwanawasa’s appointment of two agriculture ministers as gross abuse of public authority. Commenting on President Mwanawasa's decision to appoint Sarah Sayifwanda as second agriculture minister, Dr Chongwe said the President's action was unprecedented in Zambia and the Commonwealth as it was not supported by law.
"There is no provision in the Constitution or practice in either Zambia or Commonwealth where a President appoints two cabinet ministers to run one ministry," Dr Chongwe said.
"That is unprecedented to have two full cabinet ministers to run one ministry. That is an abuse that is impeachable by law."
Dr Chongwe reminded President Mwanawasa that his exercising the presidential powers to appoint and dismiss ministers was guided by the law.
He wondered why President Mwanawasa relieved former foreign affairs minister Mundia Sikatana on grounds of ill-health and yet decided to maintain agriculture minister Ben Kapita, who was equally facing problems of ill-health.
Dr Chongwe asked President Mwanawasa to immediately rescind his decision, saying it was not supported by law.
"This kind of abuse of power is unacceptable because if we leave it, we shall have a situation where five ministers run one ministry," he said. "President Mwanawasa's decision amounts to gross abuse of public authority."
President Mwanawasa last Friday said Sayifwanda would be working along with ailing Kapita.
President Mwanawasa explained that he had decided not to retire Kapita because he was not satisfied that he was sick beyond redemption.
But chief government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti said the Constitution gave the President power to create and abolish offices.
He said if Dr Chongwe was aggrieved, he should seek appropriate fora.
"I think what he should have done was to write to the President first on the issue, then if he doesn't get any appropriate response, then he can go to the courts," Mulongoti said.
Chongwe was legal affairs ministers under the Frederick Chiluba government.
By Lambwe Kachali
Saturday March 01, 2008 [03:00]
PATRIOTIC Front’s political immune system has become more vulnerable and the party will be an empty shell in 2011, defence minister George Mpombo has charged. Mpombo was reacting to PF president Michael Sata’s remarks that his party was enjoying enormous support following its victory in last week’s Kanyama by-elections.
Mpombo said Sata should start putting his house in order because PF’s meltdown had begun following the slim difference by which MMD was defeated.
He said unlike in the 2006 general elections where the ruling MMD came third and was beaten by a much bigger margin of more than 8,000 votes, PF would not be a force to reckon with in the 2011 elections.
Mpombo said the Kanyama difference of 441 votes was hollow and not worth celebrating.
“Kanyama result is a referendum. For example, in 2006 elections PF polled 17,741 followed by UPND with 14,467 and MMD came third after polling 9,657. So there was a whooping difference of more than 8,000 votes. And if you make a comparative analysis on Kanyama vote difference, it will show you that MMD has gained a lot of popularity,” Mpombo said.
He said Sata’s claims that his party was more popular in the country was an indication that he was engaging in an exercise bordering on “self-deception”.
Mpombo said Kanyama polls were a testimony that Sata was declining at an amazingly rapid rate.
He said PF would become an empty shell in the 2011 general elections, ending Sata's political career that he said was being perpetuated by his unstoppable hunger for State House and not service for the country.
Mpombo further said Sata should not engage in political futility by debating the minimum education qualifications for presidential candidates outside the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
“I think Sata is just shedding crocodile tears because discussing age limit, minimum education qualifications for presidential candidates outside the NCC is nothing. The man is just beating propaganda drums. All this will not help him unless he freely allows his MPs to fully participate in the constitution- making process. But if this does not happen, I am sorry Sata’s ambitions will not be fulfilled,” said Mpombo.
On Monday Sata said his party was becoming more and more popular than MMD and UPND despite the huge amounts of money those parties pumped in the Kanyama by-elections.
Friday, February 29, 2008
By Patson Chilemba
Friday February 29, 2008 [16:00]
GOVERNMENT’S directive for the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to withdraw the administrative memorandum on the proposed increment of new road user charges is temporary and deceitful, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has charged. And minibus drivers today picketed Parliament to declare the user fees null and void in the interest of good governance and peace in society.
Commenting on Transport and Communications minister Dora Siliya’s directive to RTSA management to withdraw the administrative memorandum and wait for consultations with her ministry, which would issue the applicable statutory instruments, Sata said there was no need to make any consultations.
He said it was fruitless for government to consult because what the Zambian people have demanded was that there should be no alteration to the existing user charges.
“She has done a temporary good gesture with lots of hidden deceit in that thing,” he said.
Sata charged that government had an input in the new user charges because if it were not so, RTSA could not have gathered the courage to announce them.
He said former transport ministers Peter Daka and Sarah Sayifwanda should explain to Zambians their input in the “corrupt” user charges.
“The minister (Siliya) acted on impulse because she knew by Monday, there would have been no transport because Zambia could have been on a standstill. Probably, people could have used ministers’ vehicles or in far flang areas, the President’s jet,” Sata said.
He said government agencies such as RTSA, Energy Regulation Board (ERB), and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should be scrapped off because they have proved inefficient.
Sata said in the case of RTSA, government should instead empower the Zambia Police service to carry out traffic related matters.
On Friday, Siliya said the public should ignore the fees which were supposed to be effected today and instead wait for an announcement from the ministry.
RTSA had resolved, among other things, that people wishing to have personalised registration numbers for their cars would pay K10 million per mark from the current K1 million.
And motorists yesterday said they would reject any alteration to the user charges. The drivers picketed parliamentarians as they made way into Parliament grounds.
In a letter addressed to Siliya, which was also distributed to all members of parliament, the Zambia Association of Motorists stated that as far as they were concerned, RTSA had no legal powers to prescribe or revise user fees because fees could only be revised by an Act of Parliament or a statutory instrument.
“Standing procedures require consultations with our body and other interested persons before new road user fees are introduced,” read the letter in part.
The motorits stated that it was in this vain that they were asking Parliament to declare the new fees null and void.
Some parliamentarians, especially those from the opposition, took the letter as they made their way into Parliament.
However, some ministers just drove in and did not get the letters.
The motorists’ peaceful protest was short-lived when police from Chilanga were brought in to monitor the situation.
The motorists who seemed intimidated at the arrival of the police quickly rushed into their buses and left.
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
It seems the attitude and behaviour of transnational corporations exploiting our minerals will never change. They started, under the British South African Company, as a government making all the laws and other regulations in their own favour. And they continued this even after mining corporate rule in this country ceased. They got all the tax concessions they wanted from the British colonial office.
It is this arrogant and selfish behaviour that partly led to the nationalisation of the mines in 1971. They shouldn’t push this country on that path again. They shouldn’t think it’s impossible to nationalise the mines again. It is being done all over Latin America today. The Russians are re-nationalising. It can be done here. If this government can’t do it, another willing government can be put in place to do it.
They shouldn’t pretend in any way that they are here on a charitable mission to help Zambia develop. They are here to make profits and to maximise their benefits. Let’s look at their behaviour and see what they did over the last few years when they were reaping gigantic profits, windfall profits.
Not even one day did they go to the Zambian government and say, “ Zambian Minister of Finance, we are making very high profits as a result of unexpected very high copper prices, please increase the taxes we pay so that the Zambian people can benefit a bit more from their copper!”
Not even one day did they rise and say, “Zambian workers working on our mines, we have windfall profits, here is your share of that!” If anything, we witnessed some strikes by Zambian workers seeking salary increments over this same period of windfall profits. This is how greedy these elements are, this is the vanity of these characters – they are here not to help but to rape.
Whatever we get from them will only come after a grueling fight, a relentless struggle. And it doesn’t matter whether it is the government seeking an increment in taxes or workers asking for increased wages – it has to be accompanied by a relentless struggle.
Jeromy Allen is saying the mining companies are not against the new taxes proposed by the government but are only in favour of a well-structured tax regime that would take into account the positions of the parties involved. Allen is lying.
They are not in favour of increased taxes. If they were in favour of increased taxes, they would in no way oppose these new taxes because they are very modest. That is why even the International Monetary Fund is saying our mining taxes are extraordinarily low. And this is an institution that doesn’t speak for the people but always represents the interests of capital, of transnational corporations.
Allen says “what we need is a win-win situation”. This is not true. They were reaping gigantic profits but not even one day did Allen and his friends see it fit to invoke this “win-win” idea and come up with a formula to share the windfall profits. If anything, they kept silent as if nothing good was going their way. And today Allen wants to tell us that he wants a win-win situation. This is an affront on our intelligence. This is not a country of 11 million fools.
Truly, “Zambia needs re-investment for a robust economy.” And no one can disagree with Allen on this. But it can’t be only in one sector of the economy. It has to be in all sectors – tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and even in the social sectors.
But if those operating in these other sectors were behaving in the same arrogant way as Allen and his friends are, where would the government raise taxes from? If all businesses in all sectors in this country behaved with the same arrogance that the mining companies are exhibiting, what would become of this country? Where would government raise taxes?
Allen is saying the mining companies are doing a lot for Zambia and should be given time to discuss the proposed tax regime with experts. It is the duty of government to decide what taxes to levy. If every sector had to be treated the way the mining sector wants to be treated, we wonder what would become of this country. Schools, hospitals, police stations and other state institutions would close.
Yes, the mining companies may be doing a lot for Zambia but the Zambian government is doing more for the mines than they are doing for it. Look at the infrastructure that the government has set for these companies not only to mine but also to transport their minerals to the ports. We have heavy trucks on our roads carrying copper and causing so much damage to these roads.
At least unlike these characters of today, Cecil Rhodes built a rail for the transportation of his minerals. These are just sucking the blood of the sufferer like vampires – from the poor Zambian businessman and worker taxes are collected to maintain roads and other infrastructure for the transportation of these exploiters’ minerals. Allen can’t see all this, he is blinded by profits.
We agree with Guy Scott that this is the time for the mines to pay taxes like others have been doing. And if they don’t, they are headed for a serious showdown with our people and they may risk getting their operations paralysed by protests. They may not be able to ship a single tonne of copper to the ports on roads and rail networks built with our taxes.
Yes they can negotiate with government, but at the end of the day, our government must decide what is in the best interest of this country and levy appropriate taxes without being threatened or blackmailed in any way.
And Allen and his friends shouldn’t talk to us as if copper mining is new to this country. There was mining in this country long before he was born. And our people know what they have been subjected to. Kenneth Kaunda has explained the situation and in total agreement with what Levy Mwanawasa’s government is trying to do. This country will not be blackmailed over its copper. If Allen and his friends feel they are getting a raw deal, let them pack and go. If it’s a question of giving back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to the people what belongs to the people, let it be so.
These are new times with a new breed of Zambians who will not accept a raw deal. This is a generation that is today seeking a more fair, just and humane world – and which sees it as its duty to do so, to struggle for such a world.
The Zambian government needs taxes and somebody has got to pay, but the mining companies would rather that somebody was somebody else not them. These new mining taxes were introduced not merely for the purpose of raising barren taxes, but taxes that are fertile taxes, taxes that will bring forth fruit – help remove our people from poverty and provide for the security of our country which is paramount in the midst of all and which without no mining activities can take place. We want a functioning government.
Those who are not interested in that type of government should go to Congo – but even there it won’t be long because our brothers and sisters in that country are trying everything possible to bring sanity to the exploitation of their mineral resources and it won’t be long before they start doing what we are trying to do.
It is clear that the day of reckoning for the mining companies in this country is at hand. We believe, like many others, that the mining taxes the government has proposed are fair, just and moderate and we see no injustice in them.
All we can say is this – being given a mining licence is not merely an enjoyment, it is a stewardship. It hasn’t been reckoned as such in the past but times have changed or are changing. No country can permanently afford to have quartered upon its revenue a group which declines the duty which it was called upon to perform. By that test, we challenge the mining companies to judge the new mining taxes.
Labels: WINDFALL TAX
By Joan Chirwa
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
MINING companies are doing a lot for Zambia and should therefore be given time to discuss the proposed tax regime with experts, Chamber of Mines council member Jeremy Allen has said. But Lusaka Central PF member of parliament Guy Scott has said time had passed for negotiations with the mines as the new taxes would pass without any amendments considering that all Zambians were in favour of a tax hike for the mining companies.
Appearing before a parliamentary extended committee on estimates yesterday, Allen, who is also general manager for First Quantum Mineral Resources, said mining companies would decide to stop developing the industry once government implements the new tax regime without engaging into discussions with the investors.
“If government says it wants to take so much from the mining companies through high taxes, then we can also decide to stop developing the industry and this will not be a good thing to do because what we need is a win-win situation,” Allen said.
He said mining companies were not in any way against the new taxes proposed by the government but were only in favour of a well-structured tax regime that would take into account the positions of the parties involved.
“It’s not that we don’t want to pay taxes but what we are saying is that the tax should be well structured. If the proposed tax is implemented, I am afraid there would be less re-investment in the mining sector,” Allen said. “Zambia needs re-investment for a robust economy.”
Earlier, Chamber of Mines general manager Frederick Bantubonse said the proposed mining tax regime would undermine sustainability of the industry and Zambia’s economy.
“We appreciate the need for the government to get more money from minerals. The Zambian government is entitled to formulating its own laws,” Bantubonse said. “Companies that are signatory to the development agreements (DAs) are willing to sit down with the government and negotiate. People should appreciate that mining is capital intensive and is a long-term venture full of ups and downs. We welcome a constructive and open dialogue with the government in order to arrive at a solution to collect mines for the state to run.”
And Scott said government’s tax proposals for the mining companies would pass without any amendment.
“The mines don’t have any representative in parliament and all the 150 MPs, the government and just ordinary citizens of Zambia are all for the idea that taxes should be increased,” Scott said.
He said he would personally lead demonstrations on the Copperbelt Province against mining companies once they take legal action after new taxes take effect in April.“The government heard the voices of people who wanted a fair share of resources. It is now time for the mines to pay taxes like others have been doing,” Scott said. “This is the time for the government to make hay while the sun shines when there is still a boom in copper prices on the international market.”
After a heated debate, expanded committee chairperson Geoffrey Beene, who is Itezhi-tezhi member of parliament, advised the mining companies to reorganize themselves and come up with actual proposals on what percentage increase they needed for the taxes. Beene said the mines should come up with proposals by tomorrow, giving parliamentarians only today to make consultations on the matter for presentation in parliament next week.
President Levy Mwanawasa and finance minister Ng’andu Magande have both indicated that the government would not allow for negotiations before the implementation of the new tax regime, which will see the mining companies contributing at least 47 per cent in taxes to the government treasury.
Effective April 1, 2008, mining companies will be expected to pay corporate tax at 30 per cent; mineral royalty rate on base metals at three per cent of gross value; withholding tax on interest, royalties, management fees and payments to affiliates or subcontractors in the sector at the rate of 15 per cent and a variable profit tax of up to 15 per cent on taxable income, which is above eight per cent of the gross income, will be introduced.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
DR Kenneth Kaunda has castigated the Tilyenji-led UNIP leadership for its failure to organise the former ruling party into a formidable force in the country. Commenting on UNIP cadres' attacks on The Post journalists earlier in the week, Dr Kaunda asked the party leadership to begin reorganising UNIP instead of resorting to violence and attacking innocent journalists.
"I can only ask the UNIP leadership to go all out and organise the party's supporters according to the party's constitution because UNIP is currently not properly organised," Dr Kaunda said. "They are required to do that. Zambia is a very big country...if only the UNIP leadership could follow the example of the founding leaders."
Dr Kaunda reminded UNIP leaders that the party was founded on non-violent practices. "That is the more reason why we carry the picture of that great son of the world Mahatma Gandhi because he guided us in Southern Africa and India on how to fight for our liberation using non-violent methods.
But his idea failed in South Africa because the white settlers were violent and our black comrades from South Africa had no choice but to pick up arms," Dr Kaunda said. "But remember, Zambia under UNIP leadership helped in the liberation struggle using non-violent methods by bringing the white settlers to talk to our colleagues from the ANC. We condemned the white settlers' violence and following our condemnation, they stopped."
Dr Kaunda advised UNIP cadres to engage their leaders peacefully if they found that something was going wrong instead of resorting to violence because violence would not resolve any of their problems.
Dr Kaunda also asked the UNIP leadership to read The Post's recent editorial comments on their party, which he said contained good guidance for them.
"This is now the second time we have seen The Post write guiding editorial comments on UNIP. Let them read these editorial comments with seriousness in order for them to do the right things," said Dr Kaunda.
The Post editorial of February 27 stated: "If UNIP does not move quickly to sort out its leadership crisis, it runs the risk of being extinct. The problems UNIP is facing today are not necessarily as a result of its membership, it's because of its poor leadership. It is the party leadership that has failed and not its membership.
“Of course leaders lead, but in the end the membership determine the future of the party. There is a lot of work UNIP need to do to bounce back to power, to see a reversal of fortunes."
By Chibaula Silwamba, Friday Zinyama and Florence Bupe
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
THE electricity situation in Zambia is grave, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has observed. And SADC director of infrastructure Remmy Makumbe has revealed that power load shedding might continue for the next five years due to the electricity deficit in the region. In a press statement yesterday at the end of an IMF mission’s visit to Zambia, the delegation stated that reforming Zesco was critical for the economic viability of new power generating projects.
The IMF advised that urgent action was needed to ensure that there was additional power generating capacity.
“The electricity situation in Zambia is grave, with available generating capacity falling well short of demand,” the IMF stated. “This situation is compounded by the regional power shortage. External borrowing will likely be needed for investment in additional capacity but should only be undertaken for economically viable projects so as not to undermine debt sustainability.”
The IMF also stated that proposed fiscal regime for the mining sector was expected to generate substantial additional government revenue.
“In implementing the new regime, particular care needs to be taken to maintain Zambia’s attractiveness as a destination for mining investment. Also, it is important to ensure that the additional resources are used transparently and effectively,” it stated. “The IMF mission welcomes the government’s intention to set aside in a special account revenue accruing from the new regime in 2008 for spending in subsequent years when greater capacity for capital spending would have been built up.”
The IMF noted that the 2008 budget maintained the prudent approach to fiscal policy of recent years.
“Zambia’s economic prospects remain good, although not without risk. Real Gross Domestic Product is expected to continue to expand at six to seven per cent per year over the medium term on continued investment in mining and manufacturing, a modest recovery in agriculture and buoyant construction and telecommunication sectors,” the IMF stated.
And addressing journalists yesterday on the electricity problems and resolution of energy ministers from SADC countries that met on February 21, 2008 in Botswana, Makumbe said the power supply was likely to stabilise by 2013.
“The option we have is the power conservation programme. We need to change our habits, even the industry needs to synchronise its activities in such a way that they optimise power,” Makumbe said. “The projects are on-going but once they are completed between 2008 and the year 2013, we will basically be having adequate power supply within the region to provide the demand in terms of the capacity requirement of the region.”
He said generally most power utility companies in the SADC region were reducing power supply to their clients by 10 per cent.
He said the short-term programme SADC had put in place to reduce the shortage of electricity would cost about US $5 billion (about K 18.7 trillion), which would generate about 5500 megawatts and expected to be completed in 2012 or 2013.
“But the long-term programme which is going to give us about 45, 000 megawatts is going to cost us about US $42 billion (about K157.5 trillion). So obviously the issue of financing is very critical,” Makumbe said. “We are currently working with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Africa Development Bank and NEPAD, with a view to assisting our members states in terms of financing.”
Makumbe also revealed that the task force of energy ministers approved a roadmap to address the problems of power shortages in the region.
“The first factor was to ensure that all the programmes on the ground of power generation capacity are commissioned within the stipulated time line. To this effect the ministers resolved that it is important that we have structures at national level, at regional level that drive these processes,” he said. “In terms of transboundary projects like the Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya interconnector, these will also have some boundary projecting as well as transboundary committees that will work very closely with the SADC secretariat and the Southern Africa Power Pool and there will be very close monitoring of these projects.”
He said the whole SADC region now had a shortage of about 1500 megawatts.
“This situation as we know has been exacerbated by a number of factors, firstly in the last 20 years we have not invested in any power generation capacity, secondly the economic growth in SADC has been very high, if you look at Zambia in particular the opening up of the mines has demanded a lot of power,” said Makumbe.
Meanwhile, the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) has expressed concern that Zesco Limited and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) have not availed themselves to discuss the problems of power.
EIZ had earlier threatened to de-register some engineers at Zesco if it was established that the power outage that the country experienced was due to negligence on their part.
In an interview, EIZ president Mundia Muya said his institution had requested to meet Zesco and ERB following a nationwide power outage in January but the two institutions did not avail themselves.
“In spite of the country being endowed with abundant resources for power development and supply, it is sad that the country is experiencing power deficits,” he said.
Muya said the recent power outages and the frequent load shedding have the potential to undo the economic gains that the country has so far achieved if not urgently addressed.
Muya said EIZ was committed to ensuring that engineers mandated to manage technology-based organisations dedicated themselves to promoting the welfare, safety, economic and social well being of the population the profession serves.
Patriotic Front Lusaka Central member of parliament Guy Scott charged that the prevailing frequent power outages were evidence of Zesco’s lack of long-term planning.
“When I served as a consultant for Zesco in 1980, there was talk of the need to expand power generation in view of a future deficit, but nothing was done to equip the country for this period. The power deficit that the region is facing is not something that has just come up now or a few years ago, it has been expected for a very long time,” he said.
Scott said Zesco was failing Zambians by continually making commitments to supply mines with power at the expense of domestic consumers. Scott also castigated Zesco management for limiting media access to vital information on the power situation.
“Zesco is selling itself short by not accessing itself to the press, where is the transparency we are always talking about?” he asked.
By Gabriel Banda
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
THIS week, some International Monetary Fund (IMF) directors have been around Zambia. They praised Zambia's implementation of economic policies. On their score sheet, Zambia is a leader, doing well, and an example in Africa. As it praised the country’s economic performance, the team pointed out areas needing attention and action. The IMF team has been fetted by Zambia's institutions and officials. Sadly, some officials even made hints about more assistance from IMF.
Our hope is that the IMF team and Zambia's officials also frankly discussed how the IMF’s economic policies and programmes have contributed to the current country’s situation.
Under imposed programmes of the IMF and its twin, the World Bank, many people in Zambia and other parts of the world have greatly suffered. Given past policies and programmes, we should be asking whether Zambia should continue relations with the IMF and World Bank.
What should be the nature of the relationship with the IMF and World Bank? We need to consider past, current, and future programmes. Through tactics of deception, failed or destructive past programmes have had names changed but essentially remained the same in intention, design, and action. The destructive seeds of the past are still in our current arrangements.
Some negative seeds, old and new, are still in the grain bank, waiting to be planted and nourished. The IMF and World Bank are currently ‘unrepentant’ central bankers, to use a term used by Condoleezza Rice about terrorism, of destructive economic policies and practices.
The IMF and World Bank policies continue to result in many deaths and poverty. Through nourishing crime, corruption, and poverty, they threaten the harmony and integrity of social relations and societies.
They have reduced the capacity of nations to advance in various fields-from education and health to the general administration of organisations.
We have argued that there should be no further funding from the IMF and World Bank. It leads to further debt and harsh conditions.
The IMF and World Bank should in fact be involved in supporting the rehabilitation and healing arising from the results of their imposed policies and programmes.
There should be no further loans to pay under IMF and World Bank dictatorship as this will lead to worsening of conditions. The relationship with IMF and World Bank should be focused on compensation and reparations to deal with the negative impact of the IMF and World Bank policies and advice.
The IMF and World Bank will continue trying to influence and puppeteer economies through persons and agents they nourish in various institutions of society. Governments also fear to defy the IMF and World Bank and be independent because of potential economic sanctions that will lead to stress in societies and even the removal of governments.
Many NGOs and civil society members are now silent on the IMF and World Bank injustice because their jobs and incomes are, directly or indirectly, sustained by funds from the couple.
In May 1987, because of their policies’ openly harsh impact, Zambia's government made efforts to break from the IMF programmes.
Sanctions were imposed and, without support from other governments undergoing similar harsh programmes, Zambia went back to IMF. This led to further poverty and decline in national capacity in various fields.
IMF forced user fees and removal of public support for education, health, and other basics. This led to a decline in the quality and access to education and health services and people's . Many boys, girls, and their families have not recovered from these measures.
At the same time was put into place a poor marketing system for farming and rural produce, thereby affecting incomes and economies in rural areas.
Infrastructure in rural and urban areas became poor, unmaintained, and not expanded. In urban areas, poverty increased while services declined. Many persons have died at the hands of the policies of the IMF and World Bank machinery. Social cohesion and integration, vital bases for advancement, have been threatened.
The HIV and AIDS situation is not helped by policies of the IMF and World Bank machinery. It is difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals with negative IMF and World Bank programmes in place.
Zambia is now struggling with the issue of royalties and taxes from mining. Some IMF team members have now expressed support towards the call for the mines to pay more royalties and taxes. But the IMF and World Bank machinery, which designed and forced the privatisation of the mines, bears responsibility for the poor and unfavourable mine agreements.
From the beginning, it was self evident that the conditions of sale were unfair. Through incompetence, error or scheming, the mine agreements made Zambia lose out on many things, including public incomes which would have been used to strengthen many sectors.
How much has been foregone? The IMF and World Bank must be made to compensate for the loss from mines.
They must compensate for the decline of education, health, and various sectors. There should be compensation, not new loans.
Those in IMF supporting a new tax regime should concentrate on working within the IMF and World Bank to make compensation for the harm of imposed destructive policies.
In Australia, Rudd's government has apologised for the Stolen Generation, the injustice against Australia's Aborigines. The IMF still does not officially apologise. They have functioned like Shakespeare's Shylock, who demands a pound of flesh which actually comes together with blood, that sustaining current of biological life.
Recently, considering the destructive policies, Latin America has shown the IMF the door out. They have cleared their debt and the IMF told to leave. It is not too late for Zambia, Africa, and other governments.
They can still assert their strength, justice, and autonomy for the common good. In late 2002, Zambia showed autonomy and strength by refusing to accept a genetically modified grain donation. It is possible to act for the benefit of current and future generations.
There are definite alternatives to the IMF and World Bank machinery. Is it not time to disengage? In future, it should not be said that there are heavy yokes on necks and burdens because of the collaboration of current administrations with the IMF and World Bank.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
POVERTY reduction becomes a much more challenging task when the poor fail to participate in the growth process, a study released by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has stated. And CUTS International deputy executive director Bipul Chatterjee has stated that pro-poor and pro-development policies must be considered as integral parts of a just and anti-poverty trade policy regime.
CUTS, through its Trade, Development and Poverty (TDP) project, manifests the policy relevance of international trade on poverty reduction.
The TDP project, with a three year implementation period ending this December and supported by the Department for International Development (DFID), the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, is also meant to assist in articulating policy coherence between the international trading system and national development strategies for trade to facilitate human development and poverty reduction.
“The next important aspect is the relationship between growth and poverty. There has been some concern amongst the policymakers that the benefits of growth are often not equitably distributed,” stated a study on trade, development and poverty linkages for sub-Saharan and Asian countries recently released by CUTS International. “When the poor cannot participate in the growth process, poverty reduction becomes a much more challenging task.
The term ‘pro-poor growth’ is therefore coined to emphasise the inclusive nature of the expanded economic activities. As trade adjustment is more likely to create a group of ‘winners’ along with ‘losers’, distributional consequences need to be understood carefully for assessing the implications for poverty reduction efforts.”
The study further noted that while Zambia, Tanzania and Sri Lanka had low export growth and poverty reduction rates, the deterioration in the poverty situation for Kenya and Pakistan made them rather unusual in the landscape of TDP project countries.
“On the whole, therefore, the project countries seem to suggest that despite the general relationship, the relationship between overall output growth, export expansion and poverty reduction is much more complex,” stated the TDP study.
And Chatterje stated that the linkages between international trade, development and poverty reduction had gradually begun to receive increased attention in many developing countries.
“Since trade policies affect poverty through their effects on economic growth and equitable income distribution, a pro-poor growth policy has a significant impact on poverty reduction rather than growth per se,” Chatterjee stated. “The benefits of economic growth resulting from international trade can positively impact on the poor through increased spending on health, education and social welfare, an increase in employment opportunities and the acquisition of new skills and technologies.”
By Namakau Nalumango
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
NORTH Western Rail line (NWR) has said reluctance by Kansanshi and Lumwana mines to commit themselves to using the railway line may delay financing of the project. NWR chairman Enoch Kavindele said in an interview that the reluctance by the two mining companies in the province to sign the off-take agreement committing themselves to the use of the railway line might delay the release of funds by financiers.
Kavindele said the off-take agreement was a pre-condition for the financiers to release the funds for the project which is expected to be completed in 2010.
“Surprisingly, both Lumwana and Kansanshi mines are dragging their feet and are reluctant to sign the off-take agreements committing to the use of the railway in 2010,” Kavindele said.
Kavindele noted that in any project financing structure, the financiers wanted to know the anchor clients and although other mines were expected to open in the North Western Province, Lumwana and Kansanshi were the existing mines hence the need for them to sign up immediately.
He said the mines were so far taking a casual approach to the damage caused to the roads.
“As it stands, the repair and rehabilitation costs are borne entirely by the government and cease to be their problem. In the next three years, both Kitwe to Chingola road and the Kitwe to Lumwana road will be completely damaged,” he said. “All this heavy traffic combined with all other road users will place an extraordinary strain on all services, utilities and infrastructure.”
Kavindele said it was urgent therefore that the mines signed the agreements so that the construction of the rail line could take off.
He said the combined Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambian mines related freight volumes in 2010 would be 2,400 000 tonnes of copper ore per annum.
“In Chingola, this will translate to having a truck on the roads every three minutes to and from. Roads in the town will become completely congested with the route between Chingola and Kitwe becoming almost impassable not to mention the hazardous conditions that will be faced by normal motorists and pedestrians,” he said.
He also said US $2 million had been budgeted for people who might be displaced as a result of the project.
Kavindele also announced a new Board of Directors for NWR that includes Dr Ludwig Sondashi, chief Mumena, Dr Bwalya N’gandu, and Joe Chisanga.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday February 29, 2008 [03:00]
FIRST Quantum Minerals, the holding company of Kansanshi and Bwana Mkubwa copper mines, has urged the Zambian government to resolve the uncertainty over its future investments following the introduction of windfalls taxes. Last month, the Zambian government proposed a number of changes to the country’s tax regime relating to the mining industry.
First Quantum president Clive Newall yesterday stated that there was urgent need to hold talks with government officials in order to resolve uncertainties over the future of its investments.
“Among other things, the government is proposing an export levy on concentrates, a windfall tax that is triggered by higher metals prices and increases to the royalty rate and standard income tax rate, Newall stated. “And the impact of the changes, if they were enacted into law, on the company, is not clear yet, but they can be material, so First Quantum would like to have discussions with a number of government officials, both to assess the situation and to attempt to influence the outcome.”
First Quantum Minerals had six operational mines, including the Kansanshi open pit copper and gold mine, the Nkana underground copper mine and cobalt refinery, the Mufulira underground copper mine, smelter and copper refinery, the Bwana Mkubwa mines in Ndola, the Lonshi open pit and Frontier copper mine in the DR Congo and the Guelb Moghrein copper-gold mine in Mauritania.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
By Speedwell Mupuchi, Lambwe Kachali and Christopher Miti
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
UNIP national women secretary Beatrice Kayuni yesterday apologised for harassing Post reporters, Lambwe Kachali and Angela Ntentabunga, on Monday. And UNIP spokesperson Reverend Alfred Banda said The Post was not their enemy. Meanwhile, Lusaka Province political secretary Exildah Chisenga and district secretary for women affairs Elizabeth Zimba apologised to The Post for the harassment of the journalists.
“We don’t intend to insult any Post reporter. If that happened, let me apologise. We are very sorry of what happened, forgive us,” Kayuni said. “It is portraying a bad picture on us. We don’t intend to extend such words to reporters. If we uttered bad words we want say that we are sorry.”
And Rev Banda, flanked by Kayuni, Judith Mutebi and UNIP losing candidate in the just ended Kanyama by-election Hasty Mwachilele, said it was not in the interest of his party to harass reporters from any media because they were partners in governance.
“Post is not our enemy, we can’t do without The Post, it’s a tool we rely on to disseminate information with regard to our party,” Rev Banda said.
He said the people who caused problems were hired thugs and police have since arrested them and charged them with malicious damage to property. He said the thugs broke doors to the party offices.
But Chisenga and Zimba explained that the cadres turned violent when UNIP leaders did not want to meet them when they went to deliver resolutions of some party members who met in Kabwe.
“We went to Sheki Sheki in a group of party cadres to deliver the message to the self-styled leaders that their leadership has failed us, we have been calling for congress since 2000 but nothing has come out,” Chisenga said.
“Our intention of going to Sheki Sheki headquarters was to give them the very good message that we had but they refused and locked themselves up in offices. This angered cadres who started hitting the door wanting them to be removed from the office.
The so-called vice-president Njekwa Anamela called the police and gave them false statement that we have been raided by bandits armed with pangas, axes, even guns. Police rushed to the scene armed with guns ready to shoot and this forced cadres to scamper but I told them (police) to hold their fire and talk to me.
“I told them that these are not bandits but cadres but Mr Njekwa told the officers to enter the office and asked me to go out but I refused. I told them that cadres came to deliver a message.”
Chisenga charged that the current UNIP leadership was running the party like animal farm.
“These leaders want to reap where they did not sow. Tilyenji, Njekwa, we don’t want them in office. We are giving them 90 days to call for congress where we will elect new leaders,” said Chisenga.
She also said the law must take its course on those who harassed journalists.
Meanwhile, MISA Zambia chapter chairperson Henry Kabwe said UNIP was burying itself. Kabwe said harassing journalists in such crude manner as the UNIP officials did was taking the country back.
Kabwe said it was unthinkable and unreasonable for the media to continue working under threats.
He said what UNIP had committed was an unforgivable offence which needed to be followed up so that perpetrators were brought to book.
Kabwe said The Post was doing a recommendable work in promoting good governance and the fight against corruption.
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
WHAT has happened and is happening in Kenya should not be allowed to happen in Zimbabwe or indeed any African country. The Zimbabwean opposition should not deliberately start a process in their country that will lead to the violence and anarchy that we are seeing in Kenya.
And the Zimbabwean authorities should ensure that everything possible is done to remove all factors that may lead their citizens to even think of doing what their Kenyan brothers and sisters have done or are doing to their country.
All Africans of goodwill would like to see Zimbabwe conduct its March elections in an atmosphere that will result in the holding of free and fair elections in that country.
Next month’s elections will be very important for Zimbabwe and should be conducted in a manner that will help that country resolve some of its key political problems and consequently its economic and financial crisis. What Zimbabwe needs is a government that is seen to be deriving its authority solely from the consent of the Zimbabwean voters.
We say this because these elections will be the primary mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority through the holding of free and fair elections. These elections should not be seen to be merely symbolic – they must be competitive, inclusive and definitive elections in which the chief decision-makers of the government will be elected by citizens.
These elections must be free and fair so that the citizens of Zimbabwe will be confident that the results are accurate and that their next government does, indeed, rest upon their consent.
With its current problems, Zimbabwe needs peace and unity more than anything else. But peace is the fruit of honesty, truth and solidarity; it is the tranquillity of order. And to guarantee peace in that country, all Zimbabweans are called to maturity, tolerance and responsibility. And if there is to be peace in that country, the primary requisite is to eradicate the cause of dissension between the opposition and the ruling ZANU-PF and its government.
Peace is something that the people of Zimbabwe must work to obtain. And if peace is to be established in that country, all parties will be required to respect each other and all of them in turn to recognise and respect the government as a legal institution.
Peace will not be established in Zimbabwe through threats by the police to deal with this one or that one. It will not be established by police brutality and killings.
The police in Kenya have been very brutal and have killed many but they have not succeeded in bringing peace and order to that country. Zimbabwe’s police chief Augustine Chihuri can make all the threats he wants but they will not guarantee that country much peace. Peace, in the political sense, will only come to that country if the causes of dissension are eradicated and not through police brutality or full use of force.
And to remove dissension, next month’s elections should be held in a free and fair manner so that those who are bent on anarchy, on political crime are robbed of their tool. If this is done, there will be no legitimate weapon for those who want to replicate in Zimbabwe what is happening in Kenya.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that what is happening in Kenya did not start in a vacuum or from without. Fertile ground was well cultivated for Kenya’s dissension that has left over a thousand innocent citizens of that country dead and property worth many millions of shillings destroyed.
There is need to bear in mind that in next month’s elections, the struggle will not be to determine which candidate or political party commands the greatest public support in Zimbabwe, but who can most effectively motivate his or her supporters to convert their opinions into votes. And these elections should not be a fight for survival, but a competition to serve the Zimbabwean people.
And when these elections are over, the losers must accept the judgement of the voters. If the ruling ZANU-PF loses, it must turn over power peacefully. No matter who wins, both sides, all the people of Zimbabwe must agree to cooperate in solving the common problems of their country.
Those who will be in the opposition after these elections should be able to continue to participate in public life, with the knowledge that their role is essential to the development of their country.
There should be a realisation that those who are going to compete in these elections don’t necessarily have to like each other, but they must tolerate one another and acknowledge that each has a legitimate and important role to play. And because of this, the conduct of these elections and the electoral campaigns that will accompany it must encourage tolerance and civility among the Zimbabwean politicians and their supporters.
Those who will be in the opposition will need to be loyal – loyal not to the specific policies of the government, but to the fundamental legitimacy of the state, and to that country’s democratic process itself.
Truly, there are great lessons to learn from what has happened and is today going on in Kenya. We know that it is not easy to organise elections – there are a lot of problems in organising elections. But these are not insurmountable problems if all Zimbabweans put their heads together and invest adequate resources in the conduct of the March elections.
An unfair competition is a very dangerous one not only in politics but also in all spheres of life. We have seen it even in sporting competitions where poor refereeing decisions have resulted in chaos, violence and in matches being abandoned.
We hope the experiences of Kenya will positively be taken into account by those organising this March’s elections in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans have no sensible alternative but to hold free and fair elections and make all the necessary compromises to guarantee this.
No election is perfect. Each election faces a myriad of problems, the impact of which can be quite great in some cases. In short, what we are saying is that no election is administered flawlessly.
However, while we acknowledge this as 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 likely to be what we are today seeing in Kenya.
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. When people lose faith in an electoral system, conflict and violence may 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.
Let us 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.
There is a good chance for Zimbabweans to hold free and fair elections that will be seen as such and respected by the people and governments of SADC and indeed of the whole continent of Africa. If this happens, those in some far lands who want to see nothing but a regime change in Zimbabwe will be left dry and impotent.
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
ZIMBABWE’s police chief Augustine Chihuri has warned that the police was ready to use full force, including firearms to stamp out violence during next month’s harmonised presidential and parliamentary elections. Addressing journalists at police headquarters, Commissioner-General Chihuri said police could invoke the Public Order and Security Act, which permit officers to use firearms and other weapons, if they found other methods to be ineffective or inappropriate.
“In our dealing with unruly or rowdy elements we are empowered to use minimum force necessary in circumstances to quell a disturbance. In certain circumstances we are also empowered to use full force, including, the use of firearms.
I reiterate that the police will never treat perpetrators of political violence with kid gloves. Please be warned,” Commissioner-General Chihuri said.
He appealed to Zimbabweans to desist from any actions that might necessitate or compel the police to use force.
“There has been talk from some opposition circles and civic organizations of street protests or Kenya-style riots if the ballot does not go in favour of one’s political party,” Commissioner-General Chihuri said. “Machetes, axes, bows and arrows cannot put anybody into office. We will never allow that to happen in this country. We will nip it in the bud. We are adequately resourced to cover this election.”
Commissioner-General Chihuri said the western world has sought to distort their patriotism and loyalty partnership.
“We have also been accused of selective enforcement of the law. Is the Zimbabwe Republic Police indeed partisan and selective in enforcing of the law?” Commissioner-General Chihuri asked.
“We are Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and owe our allegiance to Zimbabwe. We have sworn our allegiance to the country, people and the laws of this nation. Zimbabwe is an independent state with its own laws and ways of doing things.”
He said the use of force by police world over had always attracted criticism, cynicism and was deliberately exaggerated most of the times for a purpose.
“This is a sticky point so-designed to undermine and discredit the entire electoral process. We are not deterred by the utterances of hate from the western world concerning this issue as it is in their interest to discredit all who are not their puppets in their quest to defend their interests,” Commissioner-General Chihuri said.
He called upon campaigning political parties and individuals to conduct their campaigns within the confines of the law.
“As they go about campaigning, words should be used to foster healing among people with efforts directed at fixing problems rather than laying blame,” Commissioner-General Chihuri advised. “We urge all political parties to avoid provocative means of campaigning, loose talk intended to incite violence, threatening and intimidating behavior.”
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
VISITING Chinese vice minister of commerce Gao Hucheng has said that Chinese technicians and engineers are not in the country to grab jobs from Zambians. And Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima has called for effective dialogue between Zambians and Chinese investors to iron out various perceived differences between them.
Speaking when he visited the construction site of the Chambishi Copper Smelter on Tuesday afternoon, Hucheng said that more technical staff was brought into Zambia from China to help speed up the project and not to get jobs from Zambians.
Hucheng said once the project was completed, all the Chinese technical staff would return to China and all the jobs would be left to Zambians. He also expressed happiness that the Zambian government had been supportive of the Chinese investment in the country.
“I am happy that the project is moving at a good speed. I must appeal to the minister to explain to the people that Chinese technical staff who have come here have not come to get jobs from Zambians, but to help speed up the project and this can be evidenced by the fast rate the project has been moving at,” he said.
And Mbulakulima said there was need to meet from time to time to discuss various problems that Zambians and Chinese might be facing in their operations.
He said China had been Zambia’s all weather-friend and it was important that the relationship was further strengthened through effective dialogue.
He said the proposed economic zone in Chambishi was a multiplier project and needed to be supported by all patriotic Zambians that wanted to see development in the country.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
THE Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRO) has revealed that over 55 per cent of registered companies in Zambia contravene the companies Act by not filing their annual returns to PACRO. And PACRO registrar Anessie Banda-Bobo has advised councils not to issue trading licences to companies that have arrears in filling annual returns at PACRO.
In an interview on Monday, Banda-Bobo said though in the past compliance levels were very low, the situation was improving.
“In 2006, only between 30 and 35 per cent of registered companies filed returns. However, in 2007 the situation has improved and the compliance rate has increased to between 40 and 45 per cent of registered companies. It is anticipated that this year the situation should improve further given the measures that we have put in place.”
She said as part of its reforms, PACRO had put in place measures to ensure that companies comply with statutory requirements as contained in the companies Act.
Banda-Bobo observed that banking and other financial institutions had 100 per cent compliance level because of the stringent regulatory measures which the Bank of Zambia had instituted.
“However, with non-banking financial institutions, the percentage is about 80 per cent,” she said. “PACRO has penalties for late filing of annual returns as well as non-compliance with increase in nominal capital. Defaulting companies are required to comply before they can be provided with any other service at PACRO. Additionally, the Act empowers the registrar to strike-off the register any defaulting companies.”
Banda-Bobo warned that defaulting companies risked being prosecuted.
She said PACRO had been liaising with financial institutions such as the banks to discourage them from conducting business with non-compliant companies.
“The Act gives power to the registrar to prosecute directors whose companies are in default. Using such powers, defaulting companies may have their directors appear in court for non-compliance with the requirement of the companies Act,” Banda-Bobo warned.
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
I wish to respond to comments opposing the decision by President Mwanawasa to appoint two parallel ministers for agriculture. This also happened in Uganda in 1978 when Idi Amin Dada was leader. When ministers failed to produce results, he sent them on leave allowing for deputies to take over.
The deputies actually did very well during that period prompting Amin to extend the leave of his ministers with the message, ‘Now that your deputies are doing extremely well in your positions, I have decided to indefinitely extend your leave during which you will receive your full salaries.’
The results were there for everyone to see! We, therefore, have precedence to recent appointments back home.
By Kaunda Wisdom
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
The harassment of Post journalists by some UNIP officials clearly shows the calibre of politicians in our country.
A few weeks ago, we witnessed violence in the Kanyama by-elections. Politicians should know that the interest of the people must be given priority.
It is not surprising that most MPs do not visit their constituencies after being elected.
Politics entails having the heart to serve the people and not the thuggery and trickery we are seeing in our country. Most politicians lack dignity and are not ashamed of their conduct.
Dignity is like virginity; once lost it cannot be restored. We need people of integrity to run political parties in order to have quality leadership in our country.
By Sunday Chanda
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
I am concerned at the recent pronouncements and actions by President Mwanawasa. Not very long ago, he told the Kanyama electorate not to vote for Sata because that would be serious embarassment to the nation.
He however got it all wrong because the people of Kanyama and indeed Zambia understand that the MMD government is determined to stop Sata from contesting the 2011 elections, whether through the unpopular NCC or indeed Mwanawasa's open statements in public.
The recent days have also proven that President Mwanawasa is very inconsistent and seems to open his mouth and puts his foot in it. He fired Sikatana on grounds of ill health and now has appointed two agriculture ministers because he does not want to offend his friend, Ben Kapita. This President is embarrassing himself and his government and what is most unfortunate is his seemingly short memory.
The University of Zambia has been given a raw deal when the NCC has been allocated over K300 billion to rubber-stamp Mwanawasa's "ideal constitution".
The stakeholders such as the church, civil society and Patriotic Front who have stayed away from the NCC would then be justified because this is at great expense to the key sectors in the nation. It is likely that the UNZA's next academic calendar will be disturbed because this government does not value education.
The students and indeed the Zambian people will not sit and watch UNZA management increase student fees when this government could have done better. 80 per cent of our people are poor and the majority of these students are counting on the government providing bursaries for them because their families cannot afford to meet the costs that go with tertiary education in this country.
It is therefore illogical and irresponsible for this government to allocate K74 billion to the University of Zambia and more than K300 billion to the talk show called NCC.
President Mwanawasa and his MMD government have continued to embarrass the people of Zambia and must not be given the vote in 2011. Let President Mwanawasa show responsibility and ensure that the UNZA crisis is handled before the next academic calandar.
Zesco power systems
By Muyoyeta Simasiku
Thursday February 28, 2008 [03:00]
It is embarrassing that we as a country can’t seem to manage any area of our lives effectively. From politics and the economy to social services such as water, housing, transport, electricity, and so on – everything appears to be in chaos.
The nationwide power outages the country is experiencing are outrageous and unacceptable. It’s high time we regarded power as a necessity.
Whatever the problems at Zesco – whether machinery or management, or both - the continued power cuts cannot be justified.
How did we fail to foresee the extra demand for power even as we privatised mines and the economy’s expansion? This is poor planning on the part of those responsible.
Nonetheless, it’s strange to learn that a company as big as Zesco doesn’t have backup systems for its power production. It is actually scary!
What would happen if we were at war with an enemy country (God forbid) and Zesco power systems were sabotaged? It appears the whole country would grind to a halt. Just how can such a strategic company fail to have backup systems which they can revert to in an event of production systems failing so as to prevent a nationwide power failure?
Furthermore, how can Zesco carry out maintenance work on all their production machines simultaneously? I think any maintenance work on production systems must be carried out at night so that power is disconnected from residential areas only.
Why should we accept to have daily power cuts in Zambia? We have a small population and we are not even a heavily industrialised nation. Not very long ago, we took pride in ourselves as a country with such a fairly stable power production system and I was told we even exported power to neighbouring nations. So what has happened over time?
This BBC 4 documentary shows the linear connection between the methods developed by German colonial powers during the Herero and Nama genocides. It also shows the direct link between the actors of the Second Reich, and the Third Reich, such as Franz Ritter von Epp. It also shows the origin of land hoarding in Namibia today.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Kenya's stability is threatened following the suspension of talks to restore peace in the country. Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete is in Nairobi to try and salvage talks between President Mwai Kibaki and the Orange Democratic party leader Raila Odinga. Negotiations between the two parties led by Koffi Annan were adjourned on Tuesday following bitter disagreement over power sharing.
Observers warn the talks are at a critical stage that if unresolved could slide the country into further chaos. Can Koffi Annan rescue Kenya? What options do the opposition and Kenyan government have? How should the power sharing deal between Kibaki and Raila be made to work? Is power sharing the best way to end the country's political crisis? Send us your views.
If you would like to join Africa Have Your Say to debate this topic LIVE on air on Thursday 28 February at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published. You can also send an SMS text message to +44 77 86 20 20 08.
By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent, BBC News
Achanté, 2, is one of those who has been immunised
Trials in children of a new TB vaccine are underway in South Africa.
The experimental jab was developed by scientists at Oxford University, and I travelled to witness the trial first hand in Worcester, north of Cape Town. In a large garden outside a small vaccine clinic, a group of boisterous two, three and four-year-olds is playing. Their mothers sit in the shade watching. All these children are taking part in a vital stage of a vaccine trial.
They will be among the first children in the world to receive an experimental vaccine known as MVA85A.
There is already one TB vaccine - BCG. It is no longer routinely used in the UK, but is given at birth throughout the developing world.
The problem is that BCG is not very effective - a fact made plain when you consider that more than 1.5m people a year die still die from TB.
The aim of the new vaccine is that it should be used as a booster, in addition to BCG.
I watched as first one, then another child was injected. Karin Beukes breastfed her two-year-old daughter Achanté to comfort her, as the needle went in.
Simthembile,3, has received also the jab
She has good reason to volunteer her daughter.
"My former partner died from TB," she told me. "I had TB five years ago and was very sick -that's why I want Achanté to be protected."
The second child to be immunised was three-year-old Simthembile.
He didn't even blink as he was injected - the nurse said he deserved a lolly for being so good.
Later I went home with him and his mother.
They live in a makeshift house in Mandela - an informal settlement in Worcester.
The small houses are single storey shacks, part wood, part mud bricks and corrugated iron.
Densely crowded with several people sleeping per room, these homes make ideal conditions for the spread of the bacterial disease.
Huge potential impact
The vaccine is also being tested on adults with HIV.
TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV in South Africa.
One of the volunteers, Nandipa, told me she knew several people with HIV who had died of TB.
The vaccine was not developed in the research labs of a large pharmaceutical company.
Rather it is the brainchild of a scientist at Oxford University.
Dr Helen McShane, who is funded by the Wellcome Trust, says an effective new vaccine would have a huge impact throughout the world.
"It would reduce mortality and morbidity from this disease - obvioulsy in the developing world where the need is greatest," she said.
"But it would also be of use in areas of Europe and indeed the UK where BCG is routinely given because the prevalence of TB is so high."
Developing any new vaccine is a lengthy process.
Infected sputum samples help scientists develop the vaccine
Human testing of the new TB vaccine started six years ago, but there are still another eight years of trials needed before it could be licensed.
Most of the trials to date have been to assess safety and scientists are confident that it does no harm.
Furthermore, they know that it induces a significant immune response - stimulating T-cells - exactly what they hope an effective vaccine would do.
But the proof of concept trial will not begin until next year.
If that is successful the vaccine will go into what's called a phase three trial involving perhaps 8,000 participants.
A licence might come in 2015 - but there is no guarantee that it will be successful.
After decades of inactivity when the world seemed to have turned its back on the disease, there are five other novel TB vaccines being developed.
None is as far advanced as MVA85A, but we'll have to wait a number of years before we know which, if any, is ultimately successful.
The alleged victims vomited after being made to eat fouled food
Several white students in South Africa face criminal charges after allegedly forcing black campus employees to eat food that had been urinated on. A video has surfaced which appears to show the students instructing five elderly workers to drink beer and perform athletic tasks. At one point, the University of Free State employees are apparently forced to eat food which has been urinated on.
The rector at the university has strongly condemned the video. Students and staff joined a protest march at the campus in Bloemfontein, and student groups say they are now planning to call nationwide anti-racism demonstrations. All these issues must be brought forward so that all the people of South Africa can see that racism is still a dominant feature in South African society
The video was reportedly recorded in protest at moves to integrate black and white students in the same residences at the University of the Free State. The BBC's Mpho Lakaje says the university is known for having predominantly white students since the days of apartheid.
In recent years it has encountered difficulties trying to integrate people from other racial groups, and the latest incident is viewed by many as a clear indication of racial intolerance, he says.
The video shows five black people allegedly being instructed by a group of white students to down full bottles of beer, reports our correspondent, who has watched it. The university workers are then led to a playing field where they are told to display their athletic skills.
But it is the final extract of the film that has angered members of the public. It shows a white male urinating on food, and then - shouting: "Take! Take!" in Afrikaans - apparently forcing the campus employees to eat the dirty food, and causing them to vomit.
The alleged perpetrators are current or former students at the University of the Free State, say reports.
Its rector, Frederick Fourie, told the BBC that he was "extremely upset about the incident".
"We are having a management meeting. And there's a strong condemnation of this from everybody concerned," he said.
The university says it has begun procedures to suspend the students allegedly implicated in the video, and says the alleged victims have received psychological support.
On Wednesday, hundreds of black students and workers from the institution handed over a list of demands to management.
Siviwe Vamva, from the South African Students Congress, said the group was planning to call a national strike on Thursday 6 March to raise the profile its anti-racism campaign.
He said racism was also still a problem in other universities. "It's not only the University of Free State," Mr Vamva said.
"We are saying that all these issues must be brought forward so that all the people of South Africa can see that racism is still a dominant feature in South African society."
The South African Institute of Race Relations has said this incident and several others over the past month could threaten general improvements in race relations since the end of apartheid.
The institute also condemned the shooting of four black people by a white youth, and the decision by the Forum for Black Journalists to evict a white journalist from a meeting.